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Status of the Studio – 2020

Status of the Studio – 2020

This is progress; a question or a statement; studio unfolds.

As 2020 draws to a close, a deep sigh follows my gaze as it scans the sun filled scandalously sloven space also known as my studio. Curtain fabric, slip cover pieces, two inch cotton squares and strips and felted projects cover the top layer of all surfaces. Boxes and baskets of felt pieces, carded wool, fabric, notions, yarn and tools aren’t settled in their new home although it’s more than five months since the move.

Light pours in Alanna Nelson's messy fiber art studio

Is this where I want to be?

How do I balance my expectations of my creative space and the reality?

I am where I am. I am what I am. Or, as Amy Porterfield advises, “you are where you need to be.”

Patience and setting reasonable goals were skills I worked on during 2020. With that mantra and perspective, I look again at my space. Of course there is progress. In mid-July, when the movers left, you could hardly navigate the room for all of the boxes (it was a great hiding place for the cat). Not all of the boxes belonged in the studio, but many did. While it’s untidy now, there are definite workspaces defined.

Despite passing on things I no longer needed or wanted, the pile unfinished projects and explorations was significant. In 2019, completing knitting UFOs (unfinished objects) was a priority. In that spirit, I decided not to put away unfinished projects. In my sight means on my mind, right?

As a result, I’ve finished not only curtains for most of the house, but several long-standing pieces. This exercise in patience, practice and persistence brings me joy and encourages me to think about priorities.

As the list of projects in the works dwindles, my mind clears and I get a stronger idea of what I want to create next. Of course, tendonitis constrained my stitching, knitting and just about anything I enjoy this fall. I used the time to read, write and use my rotary cutter.

So here comes 2021. It won’t be perfect and there’s a lot of work ahead. I want to be brave, work hard and dare to do the ideas that come into my head and heart. Let’s see how my studio changes.

No thumb?

No thumb?

Hello my right thumb; favorite strong action torque; you deserve a rest.

In August, I noticed that months of painting beadboard walls and ceilings hurt my thumb. In September, I whacked it hard on something while sailing. In October, I spent many hours on a laptop track pad. In November, my thumb demanded a change. 

That ever versatile, weight bearing, load carrying, needle pulling, felt massaging thumb got an X-ray. Fortunately, there are no breaks nor lesions. It’s just tendinitis, so a splint, more ibuprofen and 9 days of rest should do the trick. No biggie, right? You’d think so. What did I learn?

I am addicted to stitching.

No knitting, no embroidery, no hand sewing or making dorset buttons for nine days. No computer (oops, I’m breaking the rule here…but I’m not using my right thumb when I type :).  Absence makes for restless distraction and lack of focus.

Take a stitch today for me, and thank your hands for all that they do. I’ll sign off for now, but hope to be stitching again soon.

Meanwhile, any coping techniques for the stitch addict?

Pay it forward – Notions & Fabric

Pay it forward – Notions & Fabric

In 2003, someone asked me if I would be willing to take the notions and fabric from her mother in law’s haberdashery. The shop closed temporarily when she had a health problem, never to open again. They were remodeling and just wanted all of this carefully stored inventory to disappear – and be appreciated.

The only caveat? I must take everything.

Two station wagon trips later, my Via Volta studio was full of notions and fabric. With friends, we dissected this treasure trove, giving away, selling, and enjoying for ourselves everything from embroidery floss to shoulder pads, silk velvet to snaps.

View down Via Volta, Monza, Italia near Cafe San Biagio
My old stomping grounds on Via Volta, Monza

Those were wonderful days! When I left Monza, my fabric and yarn friends made me a wonderful scrapbook of those days. During my March Madness painting spree, I enjoyed paging through this wonderful work of love. But I digress…

I’ve made incredible progress on this gift, but it makes sense to #payitforward again. Here’s a list of the notions and fabric I’d like to give to another creative soul or business.

I’m giving it away, and it’s definitely something that can fit into a small car (it’s about 2 medium moving boxes). I ask that you enjoy, make beautiful things and perhaps consider donating to Follow Your Art Community Studios in Melrose if you are able.

Leave a comment below, or find my on Instagram or Twitter so we can arrange delivery. Everything’s been in boxes for more than a month (kind of like me!), so the quarantine time for textiles has passed.

Taking the 4 Saori Weaving Slogans into the Weekend

Taking the 4 Saori Weaving Slogans into the Weekend

Mihoko Wakabayashi of Saori Weaving Worcester spoke to the Common Cod Fiber Guild on Friday night. Already intrigued by her Ignite CraftBoston talk in 2013 (catch her talk on the Common Cod’s Youtube channel), my Friday frazzled brain was ready for another dose of freestyle weaving inspiration.

Mihoko learned Saori technique while still in Japan, bringing her skills with her to Worcester in 2000. Founded in the 1970’s by Misao Jo, the Saori Weaving philosophy seeks to establish a worldwide movement to

  weave and learn together in search of our true, hidden selves.

The practice encourages everyone to:

  • Consider the differences between machine and hand made
  • Be bold and adventurous
  • Look out through eyes that shine
  • Inspire one another and everyone in the room.

Saori Weaving Worcester loom at Common Cod Fiber Guild

Mihoko brought the portable Saori Loom for demonstration

I’ve admired weaving and weavers for years, but kept my toes “out of the water.”  When Mihoko opened up the Saori loom, I felt myself tiptoeing closer. Oh, I could have all the fun I want with this loom and it wouldn’t dominate any space in my house.

With my winter focus on the Master Knitter Level 3 portfolio, most of my free time has been dedicated to fitting into tightly defined parameters.  This soul needs opportunities to wander and explore. A Saori weaving day will be in my future, perhaps with other Codders?

I still need to finish the last written details and pattern checking on my Master Knitter portfolio, but it’s very near completion…

I honestly thought that the portfolio would have shipped last week and had signed up for a free Pebeo demonstration at the Fenway Dick Blick store on Saturday. There was a bit of internal discussion… don’t go, focus on the portfolio…go, didn’t you learn anything at the Saori talk last night? You are so ready for a shot of creative playfulness. I’m so glad I did.

Tristina Dietz-Elmes led the group through 2 hours of possibilities using some of the new multi media. She shared a few of the results on her Instagram DietzArt account. As you know, I’ve enjoyed using Pebeo setacolor on silk and cotton since my days in the Castelli Romani. The session opened whole new playful doors.  I had a great time watching Tristina mix, dip and dabble. As one who loves textiles, most of the mixed media products would send me into other creative zones, but that’s ok.  Pebeo’s mixed media line allows acrylics to mix with resin or  reactive paints. And they have new liquid resin panels where you can pour, stir, spread and watch cool things happen.

Wow! What a shot of energy that was for my compartmentalized black and white knitting soul.  It gave me great energy for Sunday’s session with StitchMastery and assorted reference books. Can’t wait to play with the Pebeo Mixed Media line some sunny evening soon.Alanna Nelson Master Hand Knitter

 

Into the craft abyss: Book making

Into the craft abyss: Book making

Drip, drip, drip…
A lifelong avid reader, a doodler and occasional journal writer, my book attraction has broadened over the past few years.

Drip… While working at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, I loved the insights and discoveries of Anne Marie Eze, who at the time was a curatorial fellow (she’s become part of the curatorial staff since then).  Mrs. Gardner was a dedicated book connoisseur before she launched into other art forms. Anne Marie brings the cultural background of many books to life as she explores the collection.

Drip… Pam Parmel mentioned the embroidered caskets collection at the Museum of Fine Arts during her talk at the Common Cod Fiber Guild in 2012. As a member of the Textile and Costume Society, I had the chance to observe more of these incredible works, learning that many book binding techniques were used to assemble the pieces.

Drip… Stacie Dolan published Book Art Studio Handbook and I started thinking about all of the opportunities to mix my love of textiles with book binding.

Drip… An email from the Folk Art Museum leads me to a very cool way kit, which I just have to share on Twitter.

Tactile_TravelTactile_Travel

: V Cool gift idea: Book binding kit (I know you need a new craft idea) http://t.co/GjhMsJKnEd from @FolkArtMuseum 1:15pm, Dec 13 from HootSuite

FolkArtMuseumFolkArtMuseum: @Tactile_Travel Our staff loves that kit. What sort of book do you think you’d make? 3:09pm, Dec 13 from Web
Long pause. I don’t know.  I just want to try the putting together.  No idea about the content.

Alanna Nelson textile artist

Peg and Awl lead you through the book binding process with their Anselm kit.

My darling hub gave me the kit for Christmas. As I attempt to stay focused on completing the master knitter portfolio, I can’t dip in just yet (however, I keep a stack of books on the topic near my bedside table!).

Today’s Writer’s Almanac (January 22, 2014) gave me direction on the book inspiration.  It is enough by Anne Alexander Bingham. Add this to my collection of cherished poems.

Time to develop my book. I wonder how that paper will handle being stitched….