Friday Links

countdown chain at amyhoodarts.com

Our countdown chain. (Get it? Links!)

I retweet lots of interesting things that pass my way on Twitter, but I thought it might be nice to collect them in one place. Given the title, it sounds like maybe I’ll try to do that weekly. Maybe. It really depends on the week now, doesn’t it?!

For this week, though… a hodpodge of interweb goodness for your enjoyment:

Squam announced their 2014 retreat schedule and classes. I am drawn, oh-so-drawn, to September’s retreat this year. The classes look fabulous. It’s always held over our anniversary, though, so I never really feel like it’s an option. Maybe it is for you, though?

Ellen posted a roundup of bag tutorials at The Long Thread.I have 1, 2, 3 Sew, and I’m not sure why I haven’t made the market tote yet. This roundup reminded me I want to (and all the included patterns have links to online tutorials).

Still on the crafty front, Diane at Craftypod is offering to swap a back issue of her Christmas zine for a holiday card. I mailed a card to her yesterday. This is a pretty hard offer to pass up! Plus I’m happy to add her to my list–I’ve taken two of her classes, and she runs my fantasy football league (where I have a fantastic team on paper that manages to lose every week; I’m the Gary Kubiak of fantasy football–an in-joke for you fellow football lovers).

For you fellow makers and do-ers, Seth Godin’s post Trash Talking Important Work is an excellent read. “In fact, this is an important thing you’re about to do, and denigrating it undermines the very reason you’re doing this work in the first place.” Go read it, if you haven’t already.

If you need some reinforcement that your passions are, in fact, worthy of time and effort, read the poem Your real quest over at Bentlily. You want your life to “thunder with joy,” don’t you? I need to print this one out and tape it to my wall.

Moving into one of my passions…there’s a great portrait of Piet Mondrian, taken by Arnold Newman, on the deCordova website. He’s the Featured Artist in the current issue of Art Together, and I love his evolution towards simplicity in his work, the distillation down to the bare minimum of what he felt was necessary. Although to be honest, my favorite of his is an earlier work, The Grey Tree. Those lines!

And finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the chorus of “I want!” at this time of year, despite your best efforts to place your attention on the non-material portions of the holiday season, take a look at Christine Carter’s post Are We Wired to Want Stuff? It helps to understand what’s going on (warming–she gets into brain chemistry!) so at least we can talk about it. And admit it, even as an adult, it’s hard not to want, even a little bit, at this time of year. Christine explains what’s going on.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll be back on Monday with my Giveaway Day post. See you then!

 

 

 

Making + Listening

Now that Issue Two is out in the world, I really want to get my hands into some off-computer creating. Of course lots of art-making goes on while creating the magazine, but the last push is very much on the computer, and the very last bit is sorting out the tech-stuff, which is getting easier but still gives me a bit of a headache. So it was a treat to put together this card to send to a pen-pal.

notecard at amyhoodarts.com

That’s a hand-carved stamp printed on Kraft card stock, colored in with a colored pencil, surrounded by a glued-on watercolor/salt effect border. Yay! Making things with my hands is so…necessary.

I also started a pair of socks for my eldest, having finished his mittens. (He has gloves, too, but at 12 he still appreciates and wants hand-knit mittens from his mama. Love.)

beginning of a sock at amyhoodarts.com

He isn’t typically a bright-color kid (his mittens are black), but he only wears handknit socks to bed, so I’m guessing that explains this rather bright yarn. We were more concerned if it felt okay. It would be nice to have these finished in time for Christmas, but knitting socks for him no longer means quickly whipping up some kid-sized socks; it’s just the same as knitting a pair for me. His new snow boots, in fact, fit me. (!!) However, he’s a good-natured kid and will happily accept partly finished socks and a promise, if it comes to that.

As for the listening part, I’ve been listening to my youngest nonstop. We’ve also been listening to Christmas music, but when I need a break–and sometimes I do–I turn it to the 80s station to pep myself up a bit. And I’ve been overdosing on Of Monsters and Men and loving it.

How about you? What are you making and listening to? I’m linking up with Dawn again here.

Announcing Art Together Issue Two: Line

Art Together Issue Two: Line at amyhoodarts.com

It’s a great feeling to let this go into the world. All the last-minute edits and fixes crossed off the list, all the tech taken care of (hopefully correctly–I did the bulk of it well into Monday night because I let the kids stay up late to watch a Christmas special). It’s hard to say, finally, done. Setting my own deadlines helps with that, and I aimed to have this ready the first week of December. So I can say…this one is complete and ready to share, and I hope you like it. All the details are on the Issue Two page. The code HOLIDAY is good for 20% off through December 31, 2013, and Issues One and Two are available as a bundle as well. It’s all right here.

I kind of want to throw confetti into the air, and I just might do that before turning my attention towards Christmas…

Counting Down

countdown calendar 2013 at amyhoodarts.com

With Thanksgiving being so late this year, I needed to take down our Thankful banner right after Thanksgiving and replace it with our countdown calendar. I meant to highlight that tutorial much earlier in the month, but November has simply slid right by. Fortunately, this countdown calendar design has open pockets, which is one of the many reasons I love it so much. I can slip in the activity cards as we go. I’ve said before, I know: our countdown activities are things we’d be doing anyway–getting a tree, writing to Santa, sending out cards, and so on–made extra special because each day’s activity, even the simple ones (have hot cocoa + whipped cream, for example), have an element of surprise from the anticipation of seeing what’s in the pocket. Our countdown always starts the same way on December 1–celebrating my firstborn’s birthday. And then we can begin with Christmas in earnest.

I slip some chocolate in there every so often, but overall, this is about doing simple things, together. The kids look forward to it, too, making sure I don’t forget to include their favorites. “Will we be making snowflakes this year?” my oldest wanted to know. “We can’t forget to drive around looking at Christmas lights,” reminds my youngest. I like to think that this element of simple ritual is something they’ll look back upon when they’re older as a beloved part of celebrating the holidays together.

Meanwhile, I’ve been a bit quiet in this space because I’ve been busy getting the second issue of Art Together ready for release the first week of December. This issue focuses on line, and the kids and I have had fun researching it and putting it together. The featured artist is one of my favorites, Piet Mondrian. We have really enjoyed learning more about him. I’m looking forward to sharing this issue with you (and simultaneously quieting that voice that always says, No, not quite ready, not quite yet).

I’m also counting down to Sew Mama Sew’s Giveaway Day on December 9. I’ve decided to participate this year, so there will be something up for grabs here the second week of December. So many things going on here this month! Finally, a little something for the holidays–code HOLIDAY13 will get you 10% off in the shop through December 31.

Phew. I think I’ve caught everything up for the time being. Now, I have a birthday to prepare for before coming back next week to announce the new issue!

The Christmas Project

My daughter, who just turned five, really gets Christmas this year, by which I mean, she is into it. By nature, she is a Planner. She likes to plan birthdays–her own, and, if allowed, other people’s as well. She plans birthday celebrations for her stuffed animals that go on for days, complete with presents wrapped up in pieces of printer paper. So last week, after a morning of listening to her ideas about Christmas, a combination of things we’ve done in the past that she remembers (“We need to drive around and look at lights, Mama! And go around the big lit-up tree!”) and things she’s not quite sure we do but would like to (“Do you make the cookies shaped like men? Will you?”), I suggested we make a notebook for all her ideas, and planning Christmas can be her project. Planning Christmas starting on Veteran’s Day is not necessarily my thing, but my daughter is All Over This.

Christmas project notebook at amyhoodarts.com

We made a simple notebook with printer paper, a card stock cover, and the awesome long-arm stapler, and she chose stamps for the front and back covers. Then she got to work listing her ideas. She began with decorations.

decorations from the Christmas Project notebook at amyhoodarts.com

My favorite is “Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and all.” I’m not sure where she envisions this, or how large it’s supposed to be…but I’ve agreed to give her small budgets for her planning. She will have to winnow her list herself…and therein lies one of the bonuses of putting her in charge of her own project, even if it’s Christmas. We won’t be arguing or negotiating; I’ll be helping her prioritize within her budget.

She is, in case you’re wondering, incorporating other family member’s wishes, too. I told her to put everything on the lists, so nothing is forgotten–we’ll sort it out. Her categories so far also include “Activities,” “Foods,” and “Things to Do.” I’m not sure how “Things to Do” differs from “Activities,” but she is, and that’s what counts.

"Foods" in Christmas Project notebook at amyhoodarts.com

There is a lot going on with the Foods list, as you can see. She’ll have to factor cookie cutters into that budget, looks like.

"What to do" list in Christmas Project Notebook at amyhoodarts.com

Her handwriting, my goodness. It just slays me. She asks how to spell everything, and I either spell it out loud or write it down for her to copy. (In a pinch, her oldest brother helps out with spelling things as well.) Creating this notebook has been great for both of us–she has a place to record all of her ideas, which means I’m not feeling pressured to remember them all. And have I mentioned, she loves to plan? She is telling anyone who will listen that SHE is planning Christmas this year.

As far as I can see, this is a win-win!

Notebooks in the Shop

I’ve added some new items to the shop, including some hand-colored and hand-stamped notebooks, like this one:

daisy moleskine notebook at amyhoodarts.com

And this one:

tree moleskine notebook at amyhoodarts.com

And a couple of others. I also added two new embroidered pouches:

I sewed both of these together this past weekend, and when I was completely finished–turning hole sewn closed by hand, pockets ironed–I regarded them with what can only be described as satisfaction. I am pleased by them, in that quiet way that comes of creating the thing that you envisioned. Sometimes I get that feeling from a piece of writing, too, the sense that it expressed exactly what I was trying to say. That’s a good feeling, a feeling worth slogging through the not-quite-right attempts in order to achieve.

Anyway, I suppose if I ever lose that feeling with these pouches, I’ll have to move onto making something else, because I hope the sense of care and satisfaction hangs around them like an aura, packaged and mailed right along with the pouch.

On My Table

This is another post inspired by a daily prompt at write alm, On my table. You can also read my response to this week’s Kindred prompt, posted today here.

on my table at amyhoodarts.com

I’m sitting at the art table with G and N. The table has gotten a bit out of control since the Big Studio Clean at the end of the summer. Right now on the table we have:

* my sketchbook, pencils, markers, and wire, along with a full roll of wire;

* pirate hockey stick tape, recently bought and needing to be put away;

* my phone, wireless speaker, and camera;

* a jar of paintbrushes;

* colored tape;

* G’s box of fabric;

* bottles of liquid acrylic paints;

* G’s painting that she’s working on, her reference picture, and her palette, water jar, and cloth;

* N’s canvas, reference picture, palette, water jar, and cloth;

* finished works, in a pile;

* a squash, because it wanted to be a still life;

* tubes of Liquitex Basics acrylic paint;

* the big wooden caddy I built at Squam, full of glass jars of sorted supplies;

* a tray holding odds and ends, and a bowl holding other odds and ends;

* a metal ruler;

* a pad of Bristol board paper;

* a handmade snow globe;

* a wooden model of the human figure;

* a box of wet wipes.

My art table is where creativity blooms, where problems are worked out, where some of the best family time happens. It’s also where frustration sometimes blooms–mine, the kids’, alone or together. But it is the center of our finished basement, where the contractor assumed we’d want a carpeted family room with a TV. “No,” I said. “We’re going to have a washable floor, a utility sink, and the largest table we can manage.”

I Dared

I daredThis month, I am following along with the daily prompts posted at write alm. I do this the old-fashioned way, with pen and a plain notebook, and while Amanda encourages sharing, most of my writing doesn’t seem like it would fit into this space for one reason or another. This one, though, I think I can share. The prompt: I dared.

* I dared to move in with a boyfriend at twenty years old, even though my mother and her family were so ashamed, my aunt did not acknowledge the relationship. My paternal grandparents, however, offered us furniture from their basement.

* I dared to move into an apartment by myself when that relationship ended. Not quite twenty-one years old, a senior in college, I dared to be the only person responsible for all the cooking, re-stocking the toilet paper, and my own happiness.

* I dared to head to Europe by myself for a month, also at twenty-one, with only a Eurail Pass, hostel ID, and what I could carry on my back. I dared to ignore everyone who told me a woman couldn’t and shouldn’t travel alone. I dared to talk to strangers in strange lands.

* I dared to fall in love with my best friend.

* I dared to start a family and trust I could do better than what I’d known. I dare every day to stumble, leaving my good intentions in my wake, and pick myself up. I dare to believe I can always do better.

* I dare to act out of love, not fear or hurt. I dare to be wide open, because closing down predetermines the outcome, and wide open means anything is possible.

* I dare to ask for help.

* I dare to say, “I don’t know.”

* I dare to stake my space and protect it. (I just closed the bedroom door to continue writing uninterrupted.)

* I dare to admit, “This is my passion,” and share it with the world. I dare to fail, because every effort carries the chance of failure, but not making an effort at all ensures a lack of success.

* I dared to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and hit “publish.”

Her First Embroidery

My daughter, who recently turned five, has been cutting fabric with real fabric scissors for two-and-a-half years now. She has a box that holds her scraps, scissors, and a few pins, because when she cuts the fabric, she wants to pin pieces together. Naturally, she recently asked how to sew the pieces together, so I taught her the running stitch, using a large needle, the full six strands of bright embroidery floss, and some white felt.

sewing practice by 5yo at amyhoodarts.com

“I can’t believe you’re letting me use your materials!” she exclaimed, even though, of course, we share materials in the art room all the time. But up to this point, hand-sewing and embroidery is something she has watched me do, and I took needle and floss for her to use out of the zippered pouch that holds my embroidery scissors and needle case. Kids notice what supplies they’re given, and handing over the “real” supplies for her use demonstrated that I was taking her interest seriously.

After she sewed around all the edges of her practice piece, she decided she knew enough to embroider, so I taught her how to back stitch. After practicing that, she decided she wanted to embroider the first initial of her name. I drew it onto the felt to her specifications, and she set to work.

back stitch embroidered "G" by 5yo at amyhoodarts.com

Those are careful, attentive, small stitches right there–she was working quite earnestly, and she can’t wait to start another project. This piece is now hanging up on her bulletin board in her room. She has always had excellent fine-motor coordination, so I’m not surprised she was able to do this. I also started her with a full thickness of embroidery floss, which is less likely to tangle than sewing thread, and a larger needle, which is easier for smaller fingers to hold. Felt is stiffer than regular cotton and doesn’t require a hoop (although you can certainly use one). Contrasting floss shows up well on the felt, so she can see where she’s sewing or stitching. And I was on hand to quickly help with confusion or mistakes.

I’m pretty impressed with her first embroidery, but more importantly, she is delighted to have learned something new that she wanted to do.

Grounded!

I’ve been looking forward to changing the clocks back because it pushes sunrise early enough that I can fit in a morning run for a few more weeks. However, after some on-and-off calf pain became more severe Saturday, I did the smart thing and didn’t go on any more runs until I saw a sports medicine-minded orthopedist. Luckily, he had a cancellation on Tuesday so I was able to see him quickly. He confirmed what I suspected–a shin splint, only in the left leg. (Weird, right? More on that in a minute.) I need to stop running until the pain is gone, which is hard, hard, hard. It’s my form of active meditation. It’s been integral to my mental health. That’s why I quickly decided it was worth it to get myself to a doctor who’d assess me properly. He referred me to the running clinic at the office’s associated physical therapy center, where I’ll have my gait evaluated–I’m looking forward to that in a tech-y, science-y way too. I have to wait almost three weeks for that, though, because he doesn’t want me running on the treadmill until I’m free of pain. He did say I could walk, though, as long as it doesn’t hurt, so I’m back to sunrise walks. It’s not the same, but it gives me quiet, sort-of-active time alone before the demands of the day descend.

As for the one-leg-only phenomenon, the doctor double-checked that my right leg had no pain at all. “Do you run on the side of the road?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” I said. “Facing traffic.”

“Always?” I confirmed yes, pretty much always. The roads in our neighborhood have a very pronounced camber, and running facing traffic means my left leg is always on the downward angle. I’d love to see a digital recreation of that, with all the forces and angles shown, with equations of how the force is unevenly distributed and messing up my left leg. Interesting, no? In a physics kind of way? That might not be the reason–thus the gait evaluation–but it can’t be helping.

Anyway, I have a stack of books to read, I’m writing daily (following along with Amanda’s prompts), and Wednesday afternoon I spent some time printing onto Moleskine notebooks.

printed notebooks at amyhoodarts.com

Some of these will be teacher gifts, but I think some will end up in the shop. It’s kind of an experiment. As for the running hiatus, I’m trying to keep perspective. The conundrum is that running is a big part of how I keep my perspective with everything else. May the shin heal quickly…