I believe that making things – especially new kinds of things we’ve never tried making before – should be fun. Fun! I think fun is a great reason to do just about anything. And we adults don’t often include playing with making things in our arsenal of fun (unless we do it with kids).
Something happens to us when we become adults that makes us think we can only have fun making stuff when that stuff turns out fabulous. But what first attempt at making something new ever turns out fabulous? None of mine, that’s for sure.
A first attempt at anything is utterly perfect if it’s made at all. Even and especially if it’s a disaster. Or lumpy or wonky or lopsided where it’s not supposed to be. We can work on fabulous starting with the second or third try. Or the hundredth. But until then, we have to teach ourselves to enjoy getting our hands dirty and trying something new. Because that kind of fun? That’s the kind of fun that can make us happy. Deep-down, pit-of-the-gut happy.
And so I’ve declared myself to be a camp counselor for grown-ups.
My online classes are designed to get you making something new, no experience required. From introducing materials and tools to walking you step-by-step through your first project, there is never an expectation that you’ll get it right the first time. On the contrary, I always expect that your first time will be awkward and possibly miserable. Which is why I nudge you to keep going, and why you can always reach me with questions. And with every class, I assume you’re going to try for a second attempt, and a third. I never leave you hanging with only a brief taste of a craft – what’s the fun in that? My goal is to spark your imagination so trying a new thing becomes something that opens up loads of possibilities for you.
Through Mighty Ugly, I facilitate hands-on and discussion-based workshops and conversations that help attendees confront creative demons, experiment with new approaches to creative expression, gain insight into their creative process, and build confidence in what they make and do. (It’s for all sorts of people, whether they identify as being creative or not.) Look for my book, Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises And Advice For Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty, available in bookstores and libraries everywhere.
I also work as a freelance writer, editor and speaker. I love to explore topics related (even remotely) to creativity and making. I had the pleasure of speaking and doing Mighty Ugly at Emily Carr University of Art + Design Material Matters New Craft Symposium in Prince George, BC, in 2019; speaking alongside authors Leanne Prain and Betsy Greer in panel discussions and events at venues including Powell’s Books in Portland; The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; and The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; and delivering the August 2014 Vancouver Creative Mornings talk on the global theme of failure.
If you would like to chat about a possible writing assignment or speaking engagement, I’d love to hear from you.
I teach classes online at Craftsy/Bluprint and CreativeLive, and on my own as well. Isn’t it just amazing that we can learn pretty much anything online? At our own pace? And ask instructors any questions we have? I think it’s amazing.
I like to explore aspects of creativity and creative life, and to pursue the harebrained ideas I have to team up with people from a variety of disciplines to create things that didn’t exist before.
If you like newsletters that are sort of like letters and come every Friday with awesome links that are right up your alley, you’ll love the Weekly Digest.
From 2006-2008 I was the editor of Interweave Crochet magazine.
In addition to working on the magazines, I’ve also written or co-authored six crochet books and I’ve contributed articles or designs to several magazines and books written by other people. And yes, as I’ve told more than one border guard while traveling between Canada and the U.S., these books are published by actual publishers and people buy them. For real.
In the out-of-left-field department, I helped to found and currently serve as the editor of Clarinet News magazine.
I have a B.A. in linguistics from Binghamton University (SUNY), my honours thesis for which was about the creolization of pidgins. And I have an M.A. in educational studies from the University of Delaware, for which I performed research on babies regarding some particularities of language acquisition. You might surmise from my educational background that it’s possible to find work you love that has absolutely nothing to do with your past schooling. I love my schooling, and I love not working in the fields I studied.
I live in Vancouver, BC, with my partner, our kid and our aging mutt. In addition to my work I enjoy knitting, nachos, making soap from scratch, dabbling in jewelry making, repeatedly trying to make myself into someone who goes for long runs in the woods, and reading books of many sorts. I really want to learn how to skateboard, and I love (some) science fiction television.