reflections on Squam, June 2014 edition

1oh Squam. you never fail to intoxicate, rejuvenate and educate me. this was my 9th (!) time at this creative gathering on a loon-filled lake in the woods of New Hampshire. i just read my account of my very first Squam experience and it all holds true to this day. it never gets old.

3the yarn bombing just gets better and better. jenn and kat, you ladies make the beautiful setting even more visually enticing. nature + yarn = nirvana.

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of course i was most drawn to the crochet works, which were plentiful this year.

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so great to finally meet rad Joetta Maue after so many years of knowing each other online. this is an embroidery by one of her students.

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5 of my darling Sweetest Tunic makers. i always admire how Maya manages to capture her whole classes in photos. i always have a few who finish early and want to go dip their toes in the lake, and several who aren’t done until a little while after, so i can never seem to get the whole class at once.

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this time our ice box was on the porch!

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the effervescent Megan in her Squam smock from last year! i saw a bunch of smocks floating about all weekend, so heartwarming…

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veteran Squammies Camille and Anne at the fair saturday night (anne’s wearing her tunic from class)

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such fun meeting Sarah (aka onestitchshort) in person after following her projects from my pattern-drafting workshop. here we are wearing our matching dresses!

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mandatory feet on dock shot with my cabin, Point of View.

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and with hilarious Jeanne and dear Maya, who was also my roommate.

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dappled daylight on the mossy path…

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ice house! one of my (many) most favorite things.

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20super fun times with these two (you are gonna join in on #crochetsummer2014, aren’t you?) as well as so many others! shoutouts to Anna from Tolt, Karen of Fringe Association, and all the other peeps i met or saw again!

i’ll save the pics from my Collage Crochet class for another post, since i already couldn’t edit these photos down to just a few. and for all those who dream of attending Squam some day, be sure to get on the mailing list so you’re in the know when next year’s retreat is announced. they sell out quick and you DON’T want to miss out!

postcard from Squam

lakei’m back from Squam, and it was as glorious as ever. i’m exhausted, energized, inspired, fulfilled and oh so honored and grateful to have been part of it. and this weekend i’m off to Shakerag! look out for a Squam recap post later this week.

oh, and the winner of the Dropcloth samplers giveaway was Kay, chosen by Random.org. thanks to everyone who entered! if you didn’t win, you can always purchase them in the dropcloth shop.

i HEART dropcloth!

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L O V E  that feeling of finishing a project. don’t you?*

i’ve been a fan of embroidery artist Rebecca Ringquist and her *dropcloth* samplers since the moment i first saw the original one at my very first Squam. and i have quite a collection of her hand-drawn printed samplers. which, for the most part, are still un-stitched. embroidery is a fiber craft i’m very fond of, but somehow rarely find the time for; it seems like such a luxury to do hand-stitching. and i tend to put off projects that feel too time-consuming.

however, last month when we were both teaching at the Makerie, i spent my free session in one of Rebecca’s classes (WHAT A TREAT!!!), during which i got to see her new line of Colorburst Samplers up close. SWOON! they are like tasty little morsels of candy-embroidered FUN. i adore the story of how these mini works came to be. doodles. just for fun. no big deal. and that’s exactly what i loved about stitching up the little piece you see above, known as the Starburst. it didn’t feel like a big commitment. i worked it over a couple of evenings, knowing i could leave some elements undone, if i wanted, or stitch over every last one. now i feel inspired to stitch up some of those bigger ones that have been languishing for so long…

the Colorbursts are designed as patches or for other small-scale uses, and a new one is released each month. how FUN is that? they are available as 3, 6 or 12-month subscriptions. i think i may be hooked…

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Rebecca has sweetly offered a 3-month subscription of Colorbursts, PLUS the Starburst one seen here, to one lucky winner! leave a comment below saying what you would do with your mini samplers, before midnight on Sunday June 1. i’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Spread with Pincushions (1 of 1)

*of course, ultimately i want to incorporate this piece into a dress. but it’s done for now.

Spirit of Mastery

i’ve always been very attached to the idea of documenting life through photography. family photo albums, both from before i was born as well as after i entered the world are still some of my most treasured possessions. i mean, if i didn’t have this, i would have long since forgotten what it was like selling my papier-mache jewelry on the street in NYC in a brightly-colored Betsey Johnson dress. right?

now, in my self-employed life as a maker/teacher/seller/farmer, photography is even more important. i try to write very clear, detailed descriptions of the classes i teach and the pieces i sell, but i know that nothing really conveys the message like a picture.

you might have different needs, whether recording stages of childhood, documenting your artwork, capturing portraits of relatives, holding onto the essence of a vacation or retreat, blogging about the new recipe you developed… we all have SO many good reasons to take better pictures. and that’s where my friend Thea Coughlin comes in. she’s teaching a new work-at-your-own-pace virtual workshop, The Spirit of Mastery, to help you take control of your camera so you can create the kind of photos you want.

in Thea’s words: “This class is for anyone who would like to learn how to master their camera’s Manual mode, and wants to take full control over the exposure of their images, no matter what the situation. This course also will deepen the connection with their own personal creativity, as well as with the people and objects they photograph.”

Thea takes stunning photographs, and has a gift for bringing out the inner beauty of her subjects. she’s also gifted at showing her students how to develop that magical quality that separates a *real* photographer from all those other people trying to capture a moment with their iPhones. so if you have a camera that you’ve been wanting to master, the time is NOW. begins May 5!

 

design your own wardrobe!!!

do these girls look EXCITED to you? well, let me tell you: they ARE. but their enthusiasm is only about 1% of what i’m feeling as i announce my newest workshop with Creativebug! (oh, and they are wearing samples of the tunics, dresses and shirts YOU can make too after taking it!)

since i’m feeling quite incoherent as a result of bursting with glee, why don’t i SHOW and TELL you what it’s all about:

HOW ABOUT THAT???

sometimes when i teach patternmaking, i worry about not being there for my students as they take their new pattern and go through the process of making and fitting a muslin, correcting the pattern, and then sewing the real thing. my ultimate favorite way to teach in-person is the immersive 40-hour kind of class (like i’m doing at Shakerag this summer) which is rarely possible. but with this online workshop, i can offer you an at-home version that won’t leave you hanging!

Pattern Drafting is the 2nd in our new series of “workalong” classes, meaning each segment will unfold one week at a time, allowing you to work on your projects in between, AND we’ll have a live Q&A chat three times during the month. how FUN is that? so, gather your supplies (there’s a list at the bottom of the workshop page) and get ready (and please tell your friends!), we begin April 1st!

these are two examples of skirts you could make; once you start mixing and matching elements, you’ll see that there really are infinite possibilities!

above are just a few ways you can take your master tunic pattern and stylize it up. as you can see, a whole wardrobe of options…

oh, and leave a comment below, telling me what kind of clothes you want to make yourself, to have a chance at winning a 3-month subscription to Creativebug for yourself and a friend!

4/1/14 edited to add: the contest is now closed; thanks so much for entering!

 

 

the Makerie (part 3): flavor

perhaps the hardest part of writing about art retreats is trying to capture the true flavor of the experience. every one i’ve ever been to has been deliciously inspiring and energizing. yet, even the same retreat from year to year has a slightly different essence. this is where the words fail me, but maybe gobs of pictures can speak better than i can… above are a few favorites from my own album, but take a look at the whole group album if you want to see more.

the thought and planning that goes into this event is, to use Tamar’s favorite expression: BEYOND. the food is delicious. the cottages are adorable, and furnished with lovely textiles. the teachers are stellar. the classes are playful. the surrounding natural environment is stunning. and everyone is just so happy to be there!

registration ends in just a few days for this year’s Makerie in Boulder. also, Day Packages are now available, if you are in the vicinity and can’t commit to the whole shebang. seems like a perfect way to get your feet wet…

the Makerie (part 2.1): workshops/teachers THIS year!

so, who’s teaching at this year’s Makerie? as usual it’s a lineup of talented makers that i’m beyond proud to be part of: helen dardik, rachel faucett, kristen fitzgerrell, jennifer mercede, mia semingson, and my pal rebecca ringquist! i can’t wait to meet these creative ladies and hopefully take one of their classes too. the subjects include textile print design, embroidered patches, pajaki paper chandeliers, doodling, stencilled floor pillows, and…

this year i’m teaching Design Your Own Clothes, in which we’ll draft patterns for a skirt and a shift dress based on your own measurements. i’m also super excited about Kawaii Crochet Jewelry, a chance to play with crochet techniques in small scale which lend themselves to some adorable Japanese-inspired baubles. and my third class is On the Edge; all about using crochet to edge necklines, hems, pillows, or really any project or finished piece that needs a bit of fanciness.

won’t you consider joining us?

the Makerie (part 2): workshops/teachers (last year)

arguably the most important draw for any art retreat is the roster of teachers and workshops, which change from year to year. surely you have artists, designers or bloggers that you follow and admire, and if you learn that they are teaching at one of these creative getaways, i’m willing to bet you won’t regret going!

last year when i taught at the Makerie it was a special incarnation of the usual retreat, called the Makerie Sewing. the teachers were a dream team of the sewing world: Liesl Gibson, Amy Butler, Jenny Hart, Heather Jones, Kaari Meng, Tamar Mogendorff, and lil’ old me. yeah, i was pretty excited to be there!

one of the very few (maybe the ONLY?) downsides to teaching at awesome retreats is that usually we teachers can’t actually TAKE any of the amazing classes! however, a fun feature of the Makerie is that every teacher gets one free morning or afternoon so that they can (if they wish) take one, which also means that you might have one of us in class with you! last year i was extra-lucky and got to take TWO. first was an indigo shibori-dyeing workshop with the lovely Kaari Meng of French General (her shop in LA sells incredible textiles, and she organizes dreamy “Chateau Getaways” in the south of France!) SO FUN! i took about a thousand more pics than i’m including here, so if you want to see more pop over to my photo album.

we did lots of different resist techniques, some super-easy and some quite labor-intensive, to create different shapes on the cloth when it’s immersed in the dye…

the second was with genius soft-sculptress Tamar Mogendorff (watch the video on her site and you’ll fall in love too; she also teaches on Creativebug and is teaching next month at the Sweet Paul Makerie in NYC). we hand-stitched birds and cages and i just adore mine! it now hangs in my living room.

who would be the teachers at the crafty retreat of your dreams?

the Makerie (part 1): the setting

i’m getting so excited to return to the Makerie in April! i had such an amazing time last year, but — as with many events where i have a super awesome time and take a zillion pics — i never managed to get a blog post up, because i wanted to really do it justice. story of my life! argh. here we are 10 months later, and it’s coming ’round again in just 2 months. i am so honored to have been invited to teach there again!

as another year of teaching and traveling begins, i’m vowing to be better about sharing the stories and magic of art retreats. people often ask me how to choose the right one for them. as a teacher, my perspective is slightly different than it would be as an attendee, but it also means that i’ve been to a variety of crafty gatherings around the country, so i may be able to offer some guidance. to me there are many attributes that make up each unique retreat, among them location, workshops/teachers, flavor, and details. i’m sure there are more, but those are at the top of my own list…

let’s start with location: the Makerie takes place at the Colorado Chautauqua, in Boulder (though this year there’s also another incarnation, the Sweet Paul Makerie, happening in NYC in March). what a place! i am fascinated by the history of the Chautauqua Movement (so in line with our new breed of creative getaways!) but was mostly struck by the stunning landscape and adorably cozy cottages of this picturesque compound. it is set literally at the foot of Boulder’s Flatiron Mountains, and i now completely understand why people from out West scoff and say “those aren’t real mountains” when they see the small rounded mountains we have in New York.

the day i arrived there was an unseasonable and incredibly gorgeous snowstorm blanketing Boulder…

…so pretty! by the next day, temps were in the 50’s and everything was melting. over the course of the weekend sunshine and Spring buds were appearing, and it was just glorious. you know it’s true beauty when even I feel compelled to get up at 6am on a Sunday to go for a mountain hike!

location can be a factor in a few ways, aside from providing a spectacular backdrop. if you’re within driving distance, and especially if you can carpool with a friend (or make one by traveling together!), expenses can be reduced significantly. on the other hand, if you’ve been drawn to visit (or re-visit) an area far from where you live, a retreat can offer an ideal reason. i know of several pairs of sisters, and groups of friends, who use retreats as an excuse to get together and have creative together time, away from family and responsibilities.

it’s not too late to join us this year! registration is open, and there are full and local packages available.

i get around

happy new year peeps! i just wanted to let you know i’ve updated my teaching page with the major trips/retreats i’ve got planned for 2014, thus far anyway. i am thrilled to be teaching in some new parts of the country (Tennessee!!!) and returning to some of the lovely ones i visited last year (Colorado! Texas!). i’m a lucky girl. i have plans to share my experiences at some of these lovely places from last year, so you can consider joining me at some of them. the first one coming up is the awesome Makerie in April (Rebecca RIngquist is coming too!) so that’s my next post!

in the meantime though i also wanted to let you know that in two weeks i’m coming back to the Bay Area, to film some more Creativebug workshops and teach two classes at one of the most amazing fiber shops in the world: A Verb for Keeping Warm. last i heard the leggings class was sold out and there were 2 spots in the dress class. that sunday evening is also the monthly Seam Allowance meeting which by some miracle i’ll be there for, and i couldn’t be more excited. see you on the west coast!

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