I took a one-night pottery workshop a few weeks ago, and left knowing that I wanted – that I needed – to learn more. As it happens, Greg has long wanted to learn how to make pottery, too. So we did what any couple with unusual work schedules would do: we signed up to take an eight-week pottery course on Wednesday mornings.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time! I figured I’d catch up on missed work on Wednesday evenings, no harm no foul.
I have to say, though, that this class has been totally stressing me out.
It’s not that pottery is hard. I mean, pottery is hard. But that’s not what I find stressful. I’m totally comfortable with a steep learning curve, and I enjoy being humbled by my inability to catch on quick.
Part of the stress comes from my lovely situation of having lots of work to do. I’m in the midst of a freelancer’s dream: I have lots of work – not too much – and it’s all enjoyable. And that means taking off every Wednesday morning is not the grand stick-it-to-the-man adventure I’d thought it would be. It’s more of a when will I get all my work done aaaaaaah kind of thing.
And part of the stress comes from my desire to work at my own damn pace, thank you very much. Halfway through the course, more than half of our class is behind. I skipped out on class this morning because I needed to work, and the lesson I missed involved making handles. Only thing is, only one or two people in class actually have mugs made to stick handles to.
If I were to do this properly, in addition to every Wednesday class I’d spend an evening or two every week in the studio practicing. But since Greg and I are both taking the class, and we have a kid with an early bedtime, it means we’d have to manage for each of us to be out for an evening or two each week, and not on the same nights. It makes my head spin. And anyway, I usually want to be in my pajamas within five minutes of my kid’s early bedtime anyway.
It’s more than that, though. This class has reminded me of the way I prefer to learn how to make things. That way being: try, try some more, fail miserably, try some more. At my own pace. I want to get started on something and push the limits of whatever that something is, and only then, once I understand the limits, do I want to learn about the next step to take.
I’m a pain in the ass student is what I’m saying.
And I know it. It’s why I love teaching myself how to do so many things, in the comfort of my own space, without someone else telling me how I should proceed.
I joke that I have an attitude problem, and I’m sure it sometimes seems like I do. But really, I just know how I learn how to make stuff, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to allow myself to proceed in the way that works best for me.
In an ideal world, I’d have my own personal pottery studio five steps away from my house, and I’d make some magnificent messes in there and learn from all sorts of sources, and mostly play around until I come up against limitations I can’t overcome on my own; then I’d seek out help.
Given that it’s unlikely I’ll have a pottery studio five steps away from my house anytime soon, it’s quite possible I’ll set this pursuit aside till I have a far more flexible schedule. Maybe when I’ve retired.
One stripe at a time...
See that lone purple stripe a couple from the top? Yeah, with this blanket I'm not sticking to a strict two-row-stripe scheme, in the interest of using up smaller bits of yarn. I thought I wouldn't like it when I gave it a shot, but I do like it. I like it a lot.
Something else I like is taking photos of the blanket as it grows. :)
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If you read my Weekly Digest, you know I returned from my Craftsy shoot last weekend sick. Sick as a dog. Sick like we usually only get sick when we're kids. Antibiotics sick.
So it seemed like as good a time as any to gather together all the larger bits of scrap yarn and odd balls I've had hanging around, and start a new ripple blanket.
I made my first ripple blanket back in 2007, over several months that happened also to involve an ectopic pregnancy, eventual surgery, and health-related calamities from a variety of other family members. That ripple blanket was like my therapy. That and several seasons of binge-watched Buffy.
This new ripple started with strep throat, but I'm hoping the rest of the blanket will be made in relatively good, healthy times.
I'm using a variety of worsted weight yarns, a 5.5mm hook, and the same pattern I teach in my Next Steps in Crochet class (there are seven double crochets between increases and decreases, if you're into knowing those kinds of details). I'm making the blanket roughly twin size, thinking my son might use it on his bed, and it'll be good for sleepovers and camping trips.
The only thing is, I'm not entirely convinced I have enough yarn to finish it. Only time will tell...
Here's the project on Ravelry. Follow along!
The night I was asked to pitch a new crochet class to Craftsy, I literally dreamed it up an idea. When I woke up the next morning, the whole class was sitting there, fully formed inside my brain. I filmed the class two weeks ago, and soon it will launch. Click right here to enter to win the class!
Crochet in the Round: Basics & Beyond is a study of making circles in crochet. Which means it’s kind of a geometry lesson (we’ll totally talk about pi), and it’s entirely fun. It’s super crochet-nerdy, too. Like, you know how when you’re taught to crochet a circle, what you really end up making is some kind of straight-sided shape like a hexagon or octagon? We’ll explore that in class. And I’ll also teach you how to make a totally perfect circle, no straight edges or corners to be found.
I designed five projects for this class, all involving circles. (If you’ve followed my crochet work for a long time, you may know I usually do not enjoy designing at all. Not one bit. I’ve always preferred to work with designers rather than to be one, myself. But this class involved solving problems, and, as it turns out, solving problems is the key to my design mojo. I loved designing the projects for this class.)
Not only will you get all five patterns with your class registration, I’ll also teach you how to make them. There’s a basic hat (which, with a bit of imagination, could be made into a million different hats), a beret, a mandala, a floor pouf and a pillow.
We’ll explore finding a good rhythm when working round after round of increases, what to do if your circle starts to warp or ruffle, and what to consider when you crochet projects that will be stuffed.
As with all Craftsy classes, you’ll be able to slow down any parts of the video you want to see in more detail, you’ll be able to put sections onto a 30-second repeat so you can easily watch them again and again till you get it, and I’ll check in regularly to answer any questions you have as you go.
Click right here to enter to win the class when it launches in a few weeks!
M.K. asked the Maker Concierge about making postcards, specifically, but this information will help you get started eco-printing on paper of any size (and, in some cases, on fabric). Just apply what you learn to postcard-sized paper (or cut larger paper down to postcard size) to make pieces to send to all your favourite people!
Eco-Printing Tutorials Online
Books & Magazines
Tips & Notes
I’ve read mixed reports on what people think of using watercolour paper for printing, and some people say that any heavier weight paper will work. My impression overall is that there’s quite a lot of trial and error involved. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to experiment. Try cutting down larger pieces of paper to keep your paper costs low.
From what I can tell, the process of eco-printing on paper and on fabric is much the same, with some minor differences in preparation. I see a slippery slope here, is what I’m saying. :)
In the Honolulu, HI Area
I’m not finding anything local that’s specific to eco-printing, but you might check see if The Green House could be a resource.
Over the last week or so, I’ve remembered why I fell in love with this city when I first came here.
Fourteen years after moving here, I tend to see more flaws and frustrations than awesome aspects to living here, but weeks like this – with gorgeous, warm weather and family visiting and touring around – are a good reminder to keep my attitude in check so I can enjoy the good stuff.
Yesterday, Greg and I had our first pottery class. I was so caught up in it that I didn’t take any photos (also, my hands were covered in clay), but check out the view from my wheel. Not too bad.
Back in November, I took a clay workshop and made a mug (which I totally use, much to my continuing satisfaction). A few months later, the same studio held another one-night workshop, this time including some wheel time. Wheel time! OMG.
So I made that lopsided bowl at the top of these photos, using a potter’s wheel for the first time since I was a kid at summer camp. And since there were only two wheels but about ten people in the class, during my non-wheel time I made the other two bowls. The ring bowl now sits on the ledge above my bathroom sink, where I use it every day.
When I got home after the workshop, I told my husband I’d woken the pottery beast that had been lying dormant in my brain for many, many years. I was ready to go deep. I was ready for a proper, weekly workshop.
Then he surprised me by saying he’s always had a fantasy about pottery, too. I’d had no idea!
Which is how it came to be that next week we’re starting a pottery workshop together.
No, of course we haven’t been dreaming aloud about converting our garage into a pottery studio. That would be insane.
I’ve had a love/hate thing going with Facebook for a very, very long time. I love it for making it so easy to stay in touch with far-flung friends and family; I hate it for making it so complicated to use for business.
But right now, for the first time ever, I’m loving it far more than hating it.
Did you know that Facebook has been rolling out the ability for people to do live video broadcasts, like Periscope? It’s called Facebook Live.
I’d sorta noticed other people doing it, but then I heard Kara, of Kara’s Couture Cakes, describe the details of it, and a giant window in my brain opened right up.
I’ve loved using Periscope to do live video. But I’ve been aware all along that Periscope has some inherent downsides: to watch a Periscope broadcast, you have to have the app on your phone; Periscope is still new, so not that many people have the app on their phone; you can comment during Periscope broadcasts, but twenty-four hours after the broadcast, both the video and comments disappear.
WATCH MY FIRST FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO, AND CLICK ON IT TO SUBSCRIBE!
But on Facebook? Half the world is already on there. And though you can only broadcast using a mobile device, you can watch live videos on any platform including your desktop computer. And the piece de resistance: when a broadcast ends, the video is archived permanently on the broadcaster’s page, and people can continue to like and comment on it indefinitely. There can be actual ongoing conversation!
Which, to me, just all sounds like tremendous fun.
So last week I did my first Facebook Live broadcast. And it was fun. You can see it right here.
And when you hover over that video, click the link to subscribe! That means you’ll be alerted by Facebook whenever I broadcast live. Even if you can’t tune in right then and there, you’ll be able to click the notification to see the archived video whenever you want.
I’m going to share more projects I make on there, and do some tutorials, talk about daily creative habits, and generally wax on about why and how we can all have more fun making stuff. I hope you’ll join me!
(If you’re not on Facebook, or are cynical like I am and don’t want to watch the video over there, I’m posting it below. Go ahead and indulge your curiosity.)
My favourite kinds of projects, no matter the medium, are ones made from scraps. I just love saving perfectly good materials from the landfill, and creating something useful (and maybe sometimes beautiful) from them. (Ok, I also love making truly hideous things from scraps, obviously.)
So whenever I finish a yarn project and I have more than a tiny bit of yarn leftover, I keep it. Then every so often, I feel overcome by a need to make something up on the fly, and I turn to the pile of scraps.
This time around, I got it in my head to crochet a trapezoidal shawl.
Eventually, though, the yarns told me they didn’t want to be a stupid trapezoid, they wanted to be a half-circle. As it happens, I’ve had crocheted circles on the brain for a totally different project (more on that in a couple of months), so maybe it was that. Or maybe yarn really does speak, and it’s our job to just shut up and listen.
Featured in the shawl so far are leftovers from three knitted shawls I loved making, the wedding shawl I crocheted for a friend, and a few random balls I had lying around from projects that never actually got off the ground.
I’d never ordinarily seek to put all these colours and varieties of yarn together in a project, which is another reason I love making things from scraps – the constraint of only using what I have on hand forces me to see possibilities I’d otherwise overlook.
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I’m excited to see where this project goes! It won’t be much longer before I’ll be deciding which colour will go last, and whether I should put an edging on it.
What do you think I should do?
Quilting is an outstanding way to reuse and upcycle old clothing, and quilters have a long tradition of turning worn-out and stained clothing (or scraps) into warm and beautiful blankets. I, too, love using up every last bit of material that would otherwise end up in the landfill, so I was thrilled when I got this question from Kelly in Washington, DC, in my Maker Concierge inbox.
If you’ve ever wanted to turn a pile of well-loved clothing into a warm and snuggly quilt, here’s how to get started!
Quilting & Clothing Recycling Tutorials and Online Classes
Books & Magazines
Tips & Notes
In the Washington, DC, Area