Tiny Creative Joys: Mighty Ugly Podcast Episode 109

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 109 image: Tiny Creative Joys

We're gonna be in this for a long while, dear listeners. We'll be experiencing waves of grief over a long time. So it's time to focus on tiny joys, and on how our creativity can help us create some of those joys for ourselves.

Tiny Creative Joys: Mighty Ugly Podcast Episode 109
Supermoon over Vancouver, BC, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Show Notes


Find our weekly Zoom chat schedule and info on our video chat room over on our community site. It's free to join, and it's a super place to hang out with other creative folks.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, share it with a friend and please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 108: Time Is Warped

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 108: Time Is Warped

Time is so weird right now. It's movings so slowly, and so distantly, so fluidly. There are no good words for it, really, but I think we can all agree we're living in a Twilight Zone.

In “normal” life, I talk with folks a lot about finding and making time for creativity and creative projects in our daily lives.

But when time is all screwed up, and when we may feel inclined to think we have way more of it on our hands than we actually do, does the challenge of fitting in creative projects go away?

It sure doesn't.

Have a listen for some more on this, and for some ideas for fitting creativity into your quarantine time. (Hint: I'll be doing the 100 Day Project. Maybe you, too?)


Find our weekly Zoom chat schedule and info on our video chat room over on our community site. It's free to join, and it's a super place to hang out with other creative folks.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, share it with a friend and please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 107: Dispatch from Quarantine

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 107: Dispatch from Quarantine

We're nine days into self-quarantine because the last person we saw before going into self-isolation last Monday called a few days later to tell us he'd been exposed. In many ways, this isn't any different an experience than what we'd been expecting, except we can't go shopping for groceries and the like. Which, at this point, actually seems like a massive difference. My kingdom for a change of scenery beyond what we get walking the dog.

I'm keeping the podcast going outside of my initial plan to release an eight-episode first season. I don't yet have a predictable schedule to work with for recording and editing, and my brain is half mush these days. So at the very least, what I'll send into your ears is what we have today: some musings on quarantine and updates on how I and our community are working to keep creative folks connected and making stuff, and maybe a bit of birdsong I recorded in the woods by my house a few days ago. It's a sound that brings peace to me, and maybe to you, too.

Find our weekly Zoom chat schedule and info on our video chat room over on our community site. It's free to join, and it's a super place to hang out with other creative folks.


Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, share it with a friend and please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 106: How Creativity Will Help Us Weather This Crisis

Mighty Creative episode 106 main image

My friend Erin has been keeping me sane these last few days that have felt like centuries.

She's a new friend. We've only known each other for a few months. But meeting her felt like we were always meant to be friends, and we started texting each other daily pretty much from the start. So in these days when I'm thinking about all the folks whose friendships I've taken for granted and whom I haven't spoken with in ages, I'm also taking solace in the habit Erin and I made from the start of just checking in on each other every day.

When I had to miss posting a new episode of the pod last week, for reasons that aren't even worth going into now, seven days and three hundred years later, I knew that my next episode had to break form.

I needed to ask my new friend, who's a legit, bonafide psychiatrist, to come on the show and talk about how creativity is a tool that will serve us well in this overwhelming, mind-boggling time.

Dr. Erin Griffiths is a holistic psychiatrist whose practice is entirely online. Our conversation made me feel better. A whole lot better. I hope it'll help you feel better, too.

We talked about brain chemistry and how making things makes us feel better. We talked about how we need to be creative in more than what we make right now, but also in how we decide to live and stay connected. We talked about what to do if we're feeling so overwhelmed that we feel we can't do or make much of anything.

Find a video of our unedited conversation over in the Podcast forum; look for Episode 106. And hit reply to let me know what you want from this podcast in the coming weeks. My listening habits are already changing, and I suspect yours are or will soon, too. Let me know where you want Mighty Creative to fit in, if there are topics you want me to cover, if you prefer heavy stuff or light stuff or what.

Finally, this podcast and our online community are made possible by Supporting Members. A major perk these folks have enjoyed for over a year is regularly scheduled video chats with me by Zoom. We all decided this week that these chats should be something all community members can take advantage of, so as of next week, all members of our forums can find times each week to hang out face-to-face online with other folks who love to make stuff. I hope you'll join us.

Music: “I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix)” by spinningmerkaba. 2017 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0).

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 105: Creating in a Time of Uncertainty

Creating in a Time of Uncertainty – Mighty Creative Podcast, with Kim Werker

An exploration of how our creative hobbies and interests can help to keep us grounded during times of uncertainty.

Show Notes

Subscribe to Mighty Creative on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

Support the podcast by becoming a Supporting Member, and enjoy super perks, too.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 104: How to Make Yourself a Stress-Free Creative Habit

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 104: How to Make Yourself a Stress-Free Creative Habit

I tried so many creative challenges and failed at every single one. In this week's podcast, hear about what I changed in my approach that finally led me not only to succeed at finishing a challenge, but that enabled me to establish a daily creative practice that didn't stress me out but made – and continues to make – me so happy.

Show Notes

  • Each episode this season begins with a short clip of a maker or artist talking about a recent project they were obsessed with. I recorded all of these in April of 2019 at Camp Thundercraft, a retreat for creative businesspeople held each spring and hosted by the folks behind Urban Craft Uprising. I'm very excited to be going back to teach two classes at the 2020 retreat coming up.
  • This week, we hear from macrame artist Katie George. This is the La Croix project she mentions. 😍 right?
  • In the pod I list four things you can do to set yourself up to succeed at forming or maintaining a healthy creative practice and habit.
  • Plus a bonus you can (I mean, should if I'm gonna get all prescriptive about it) apply to the beginning stages of doing or making anything new.
  • Here's a direct link to the group Alice formed that's just for folks working on a daily project or creative habit. Joining our online community is free!
  • If you'd like more help identifying what you need and want from a creative habit so you can design one that's easy and natural to keep, the Year of Making ebook will help. And be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you hear about workshops as soon as I announce them.

Support the podcast by becoming a Supporting Member, and enjoy super perks, too.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

How To Make Neat Edges in Double Crochet

Years ago, I made a photo tutorial about the most frequent question I get from my beginner crochet students: how do I make my edges in double crochet look neat instead of wavy and wonky?

Double crochet can be super confusing to learn, because it's such a tall stitch. Its height requires a significant turning chain, and that turning chain is what creates the confusion that leads to wobbly edges.

The good news is, you're so not alone if you're confused or frustrated by this! As I said, it's the single most common question I'm asked.

The slideshow below is a new and different way of presenting my photo tutorial, and I hope it helps you! Toggle the “autoplay” switch in the top-right to either advance the slides by clicking, or to have them advance automatically.

Also, you obviously don't need my beginner crochet class. 😁 That's just the way the app listed it when I put it in, and I realized too late that I couldn't move it to the end. But the class is super comprehensive – it covers everything you need to know to get started crocheting, and it also covers loads of things that will help you if you already know the basic stitches. There's three-and-a-half hours of instruction in there. If that sounds good, check it out.

How To Make Neat Edges in Double Crochet by kpwerker on Jumprope.

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 103: Distributed Cognition (Lists!)

Mighty Creative Podcast episode 103 cover art

I first learned about the concept of distributed cognition when I was an undergrad studying linguistics, but I didn't know what it was called until I studied it again in grad school. For an absolutely impenetrable “explanation,” read this.

For our non-academic purposes, let's consider distributed cognition a way to extend our individual ability to keep stuff in mind. We might ask our spouse to help us remember to take our vitamins each morning – this is a way of extending our own memory to be aided by the memory of another person.

In today's podcast, I wax on about lists. Making lists is, to me, the ultimate (and delightfully simple) distribution of my cognition. Without making lists, I am a constant victim of my routine failure to remember to do all kinds of things, from the trivial to the very important. Putting these things down into a list means I can rely on the list instead of on my flaky memory – I take each item out of my brain and put it onto paper (or into an app, or whatever).

When it comes to our creative projects and fantasies, getting stuff out of our heads can be just as useful as it is for us to get anything else out of our heads. When we use the tools we have to distribute all the myriad things that are constantly swimming around in our minds, we help ourselves to think more clearly, and to fit more things into our days – because we stop losing things to our fallible memories.

Have a listen, then hit reply and tell me about the creative lists you keep!

Show Notes

  • Each episode this season begins with a short clip of a maker or artist talking about a recent project they were obsessed with. I recorded all of these in April of 2019 at Camp Thundercraft, a retreat for creative businesspeople held each spring and hosted by the folks behind Urban Craft Uprising. I'm very excited to be going back to teach two classes at the 2020 retreat coming up.
  • This week, we hear from artist, designer, and crafts instructor Robert Mahar, whom I did not fangirl upon meeting, I swear to you. I had the pleasure of taking an embroidery workshop from Robert at camp last spring, and it was fabulous. I still pull out the massive project every now and then when I need a quiet thing to do.
  • My list-making system of choice is a bullet journal; I carry mine with me wherever I go. I do not make fancy spreads in it. In fact, I do not make any spreads in it whatsoever. (I have in the past, but I never keep up with them, so I've just stopped wasting my time with them). In addition to my daily to-do lists, I take notes from meetings and workshops in there, jot down project ideas, and put in anything else I want to protect from the bottomless abyss of my unreliable memory.
  • Also, my husband and I share a grocery-list app (also a Google calendar, and I don't know how other people who live together can manage without one of those), and I use Todoist as an online list-maker (usually for things in the future I want to be reminded about).
  • I mentioned my unrealistically long Ravelry queue. I do want to apply such an approach to other kinds of projects I want to make, too. In the podcast I said I'd do this in my bullet journal. But maybe it'd be more useful to keep all the lists on a Trello board…

Support the podcast by becoming a Supporting Member, and enjoy super perks, too.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify, StitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.

What I’m Making: Dyeing Yarn with Avocados (and Tea)

What I'm Making: Dyeing Yarn with Avocados (and Tea)
Top-left to bottom-right: Avocado-dyed wool roving, avocado-dyed superwash wool yarn, black tea-dyed superwash wool yarn (second through the dye bath), black tea-dyed superwash wool yarn (first through the dye bath).

Last weekend, when my kid was sick after missing a few days of school, and we were all stuck in the house despite the first sunny days in ages, it was the perfect time to finally try doing some natural dyeing in my kitchen.

I'd purchased the yarn and rovings blanks years ago, thinking the kid would join me in dyeing them up with Kool-Aid, but my kid is not crafty and had no interest in doing such a thing, so the package sat in my closet. When I learned a while back that avocados produce a pinkish dye, I knew the yarn was destined for some kitchen experimenting.

And oh my goodness, I had no idea how dead simple and fun it would be.

Because, to put it simply, to naturally dye yarn or fabric or roving with avocados here's what you do: simmer the avocado pits and/or peels in water, add natural-fibre yarn or roving or fabric, let it sit, rinse.

What I'm Making: Dyeing Yarn with Avocados (and Tea)
Yarn and roving blanks from Knit Picks.

Here, I'll put it into a list so it seems more official:

Step 1: Prepare the Avocado Dye Bath

Using a stainless steel pot that's large enough to hold all the stuff you're going to dye, bring water almost to a boil (but not to a boil). Put clean avocado pits (alone they'll produce a pinker colour, from what I understand) and/or peels (alone they'll produce a peachy colour) into the water and simmer for a long time. The water will almost immediately begin to take on colour, yippee!

I let the dye pot simmer for about three hours before I put the yarn in, and in my research learned that folks wait anywhere from under an hour to letting the dye steep overnight. This kind of variability is part of what I love about doing things like this – pick a time frame, see how it goes, adjust for the next time based on the results.

Step 2: Put in the Yarn or Roving or Fabric

Unlike for many plant-based natural dyes, you don't need to use a mordant to set avocado dye. I've read that this is because the pits contain tannins that do the job, but I haven't read this definitively so if you have a good source for info on this, please hit reply and let me know.

The yarn I used is superwash wool, so I wasn't concerned about it felting. The roving, however, which I added to the pot a while after I put the yarn in, was straight-up wool, and after I gently put it into the dye bath I realized I had no idea how to get it out without felting it.

So I asked on Twitter! And my friend Jill, who dyes stunning yarns, replied:

Ok! Armed with this advice, I removed the pot from heat after a few hours and left it to cool.

Step 3: Gently Rinse

I took the yarn out before the water had fully cooled, and let the yarn cool on its own. Once it was cool, I rinsed it in cool water until the water ran clear, which happened almost immediately. Then I gently rolled the yarn in a towel as I would a knitted or crocheted item I'd handwashed, and hung it to dry.

I left the roving in the pot till it had all cooled to room temperature, then I very gently removed the roving and gave it a gentle rinse in cool water. As Jill recommended, I put it in a lingerie bag and put it on a spin cycle, which worked like magic. (I'll do that with the yarn next time, too.) By morning, the roving was ready to start spinning.

Dyeing Yarn with Black Tea

The brown yarns in the photo above were dyed in black tea. Unlike with avocado dyeing, you do need to use a mordant when dyeing with black tea. Here's the gist of what I did:

While I soaked the yarn in the sink with about 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water, I brewed about 15 black tea bags in half a large stock pot full of water boiling water. I let the pot simmer and steep for about half an hour, then I removed the tea bags, drained the sink and squeezed the liquid out of the yarn. I put the first hank of yarn in the tea dye and it soaked it up immediately (resulting in the darker brown colour in the far right of the photo). I let it sit in the dye bath for around half an hour, removed it to cool, and put the second hank in (the lighter brown one in the photo). There was dramatically less dye left in the pot at that point, which was super cool to see. Then I rinsed and dried the yarn as I did with the avocado-dyed yarn.

The vinegar here serves as a mordent, to set the dye.

Have you experimented with dyeing yarns or fabric with kitchen scraps or other edibles? I'd love to hear about it!

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 102: Derivative Crafts & Remixing

Mighty Creative Podcast Episode 102: Derivative Crafts & Remixing

My husband sent me a screenshot the other night, of a comments thread on a NY Times recipe for Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chicken and Peanuts:

Screenshot of comments thread

He sent this to me because he knew I'd appreciate it from my crochet editorial days. And boy did I.

What he didn't know is that I'd already recorded this podcast episode, and that I talked about this very thing in it.

The episode is about the derivative nature of crafts – and not in a bad way. In a good way, which involves learning from each other and remixing what we learn to create new things. And it's about craft instructions being guidelines that are not the law! We can chose to change anything we want in the projects we make. Sometimes things may not turn out like we want them to, but that's half the fun.

Hit reply and tell me about a project you made by mixing in elements from a few different sources, or by going off-book from a pattern!

Show Notes

  • Each episode this season begins with a short clip of a maker or artist talking about a recent project they were obsessed with. I recorded all of these in April of 2019 at Camp Thundercraft, a retreat for creative businesspeople held each spring and hosted by the folks behind Urban Craft Uprising. I'm very excited to be going back to teach two classes at the 2020 retreat coming up.
  • Today we hear from artist Zoe Osenbach, who makes incredible works out of found objects.

Discuss this episode in our online community right here!

Support the podcast by becoming a Supporting Member, and enjoy super perks, too.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherTuneInSoundcloud or search for it in whatever podcast app you love. And if you're enjoying it, please rate it so more people can find it and get more in touch with their creativity.