art · craft writing · creativity · fear · flow · growth mindset · illustration · painting · watercolor

Watercolor Painting: My First 100 Day Project

Hello Creative Sojourners,

I decided to start a 100 Day Project, have you heard of this?


Last Fall I fell in love with doodling, drawing, and painting, but I took a break after growing frustrated with my how my projects were coming out.

At the beginning, I felt intense joy at making art. I lost myself playing in watercolor puddles and dabbing acrylic paint like a kid. But as my enthusiasm grew, so did my self-doubt. A familiar pattern reared its ugly head. I discovered more and more artists online as I searched for inspiration, lessons, and ideas. I mooned over their work, longed to be better and make more beautiful things. When I went back to my own papers and canvases, I felt stupid at how silly they seemed. Suddenly, the delighted joy I had felt in squishing paint morphed into intimidation as I started to feel that if I wasn’t good enough, I shouldn’t bother. Wasn’t one creative calling enough? I told myself I should probably stick to yarn and not risk embarrassment with my art.

Also, I was confused. I didn’t know what to work on, why I was doing this, or where it was going. I felt confused about starting paintings, building paintings, finishing paintings. With every painting I did, I reached a point where I had overworked it and felt it was ruined. I often rushed, painting in a kind of frenzy, trying to outrun all of these uncomfortable feelings.

Lately I’ve been feeling the call back to paint, paper, and canvas. I was splashing around with my watercolors on Saturday, and decided to write this quotation in paint. If Georgia O’Keefe, the bold painter of flowers, was as afraid as she says and did her work anyway, then maybe my fears don’t have to hold me back either. I’m often a fearful person, but I wanted to be able to say what she says. I tacked this quote up in my studio months ago, and it always moves me when I see it. It’s good to know that successful people struggle, isn’t it?

Thanks to my learning about the growth mindset, I know that the bridge to becoming better at the things I want to do is cultivating a relentless curiosity, accepting my current level of ability, and PRACTICING. If you don’t have time or inclination to read Mindset, Dr. Dweck has done a TED talk that is worth your time.

The growth mindset asserts that our abilities, traits, and skills are not fixed–we can learn and improve at almost anything we decide to practice. We can grow. This idea has changed my life more than any other in the past three years.

Practice, not talent.

Practice, not talent.

Practice, not talent.

I learned it with knitting and crochet, that was the first time I learned something I thought I couldn’t do. For years I said I just wasn’t crafty, I was a word person. This turned out to be wildly untrue. When I learned about growth mindset, I understood that I had felt its power, but had limited it to one domain–needlecraft. I was still thinking of myself as non-artistic, not a “math person,” and socially anxious, and destined to be this way. The book opened my eyes to how belief in our ability to learn and grow could be applied to many more areas of my life, not just fiber art. It helps with relationships, it helps with anxiety battles, it helps with diets, it helps with learning to play the piano, or cook. It gives you hope. You can do the things you long to do, and become the person you want to be. Don’t write yourself off. You can learn and improve. I can learn and improve.

So I will be practicing watercolor painting for 100 days, perhaps non-consecutive days, but I will work until I’ve done 100 practice sessions.

Today was Day 1. I waited until my daughter’s nap time, and counteracted my starting nerves by setting a basic task: a leaf study. I enjoyed feeling like an artist, going outside to our front yard with scissors in hand to snip a couple of leaf samples. By working very slowly, by paying careful attention to the feeling of the brush in my hand, and by watching colors magically transform in my pan, I found enjoyment in the process. I concentrated. I found flow.

I didn’t feel giddy like I have in times past, but calm and focused, and my first leaf went the best!

The fir twig was next. It was difficult, but became a little more Zen as I experimented with different brush strokes to create all those slim needles.

It’s funny how you think you know what a leaf or a rose looks like, but you really don’t until you look at it and see it, like artists say.

By the end, my paper towel looked pretty to me, and I felt very satisfied and relaxed.

Day 1 is a wrap!


I was feeling so artistic, I decided to wear a headscarf.

Thanks for visiting me today. Is there anything out there that you want to try practicing? Maybe for 100 sessions? Tell me! And keep making your life the way you want it.

Yours in Splashes,

Sara Kay

business · craft writing · crochet · design process · publication

In the Press: Inside Crochet, Issue 90

Hello Crochet Mavens,

I am one lucky designer today! Inside Crochet magazine featured me in a segment about Crochet Entrepreneurs. It’s a lovely write-up, and I was thrilled to be approached.

Inside Crochet is one of my favorite print crochet mags because of their modern vision for craft, contemporary styling and taste, and their respect for crochet fashion–and it’s always so pretty! Apart from that, they hold a sentimental place in my heart because they were my first crochet publication credit, publishing my Printemps Cardigan in Issue 31, back in 2012.

Fifty-nine issues later, I’m being featured as a pro? That makes my head spin a little. In the interview, I had the chance to share about the continual pressure and occasional confusion that comes with being self-employed, but also about the joys and rewards of pursuing something of my own creation, and having my work find a home with people who love it.

Below is the cover of Issue 90, on newsstands now! I always find it at Barnes & Noble, but IC does digital mags and subscriptions too! But you’re my special friend, so you can read the article just by clicking here —> Crochet Entrepreneur Sara Kay Hartmann

IC 90

There is some journalistic license employed for the sake of readability. For example, I never worked at a publishers. To me that sounds like a cool job held by a character in a chick lit novel. In the interview, when asked about my work history, I droned on about a 2-year stint as an assistant editor of an academic journal which translated to: “publishers.” Sadly, I never got to drink coffee while sifting through a slush pile of manuscripts from undiscovered writers or anything romantic like that. I did digital layouts, tore my hair out over Microsoft Word, bothered authors to turn in their revised articles, and crunched numbers related to our readership stats. The truth is often dull, Friends.

Also, my sweet girl is now nearly 22 months old. I wrote the interview in January when she was 17 months. Lead time in publishing will get you every time! It feels weird to speak about yourself in the present while remembering to mentally add 5-9 months.

Thanks for visiting me today. 

Yours in Stitches,

Sara

 

design process · DIY wardrobe · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · one skein wonder · pattern

Lace Beret, A Free Knitting Pattern

Happy Friday, Knitters!

Red Heart Yarns is offering my lovely lace beret design as a free pattern download! It’s sized for adult Small and Medium: 20 (22)” head circumference.

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The skill level on this pretty beret is intermediate because the stitch counts change on certain rows when working the lace, so keep that in mind if you try out the pattern. The beret uses Red Heart’s With Love yarn, which is a plump and soft 100% acrylic yarn. Since it’s not wool, this could be a summertime or winter hat.

Check it out on Ravelry for more details.

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Thanks for visiting me today. I hope you are having fun making whatever you are making! Leave me a comment to tell me about it.

Yours In Stitches,

Sara

chitchat · colorwork · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · pattern

Fox & Fleur: A Knitting Pattern for All Ages

Hi Knitters!

Today I’m sharing a sweet design for foxy folk of all ages. Fox & Fleur is a stranded colorwork hat available to knit in 6 sizes: newborn, baby, toddler/child, adult small (teen), adult medium, adult large.

I designed the original cap as a baby shower gift for a friend’s baby girl on the way. Foxes and woodland creatures were the mommy’s nursery theme, so I ran with that and added a feminine touch with the tiny flower border (fleurs!) that runs above and below the fox faces.

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Mommy & Baby Twinsies!

I had this design test-knit by some awesome folks on Ravelry, and they helped to refine and enhance the pattern, so I know you’ll have a great experience. The pattern contains complete written instructions, a full colorwork chart, and tips for knitting the stranded colorwork.

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Use any aran-weight, smooth worsted yarn that comes in a good range of colors.

 

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It works for all ages, foxes are such a fun motif and so hot right now!

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Check out the Ravelry projects page to see how the hat knit up for others!

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I hope it makes you smile as you knit it and as you wear it. Whenever my daughter and I wear ours, we always get extra smiles from the people we meet. 🙂

Buy now on Ravelry

Buy now on Etsy

Buy now on Craftsy

Thanks for visiting me today!

In Stitches,

Sara

 

crochet · crochet pattern · DIY wardrobe · pattern · sweater

Chloe Cardigan:A Crocheted Sweater

Hi Crocheters,

Today I’m sharing a crocheted sweater design and pattern with you. I released the Chloe Cardigan in February 2015 and it’s been shared by a few people on Ravelry who look great in it!


Chloe is a hip-length cocoon cardi with very simple shaping. The sweater is constructed from a trapezoid shape that creates the back and shoulders in one piece. The shawl collar and body front is worked directly onto the back & shoulder piece. Finally sleeves are worked seamlessly onto the body to create an elegant, easy-fit jacket with no closures, and three-quarter sleeves that are universally flattering. The silhouette is comfortable and modern with drape that skims the body’s curves. If you are new to making sweaters, Chloe’s clever seamless construction is a fun way to get started.


If you are looking for a great layering piece for spring and summer, try Chloe! Below are some links you can use to buy the PDF pattern for Chloe from your favorite platform: Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy.

 on Ravelry

Buy Now on Etsy

Buy Now on Craftsy



craft writing · design process · DIY wardrobe · dressmaking · sewing

Little Lady’s Tea Party Dress

Hello Sewists,

Today I’m sharing a sweet toddler dress I just finished. It’s a generously sized 3T midi length dress that could also work as a tunic top for 4T. It’s a bit big on my little lady (hovering between 2T-3T) right now, but we’ll wear it anyway and hopefully get lots of future wear out of it too!

 

I bought this whimsical Alice in Wonderland themed Cotton & Steel fabric from my local sewing shop when I went in for a relaxing, baby-free browse a couple of months ago.

 

I used my self-drafted toddler dress pattern for a sleeveless A-line dress, cutting a front on the fold and 2 back pieces. I serged the back and side seams to construct the dress, leaving the back neck opening un-sewn. I used double-fold 1/6″ (-ish) hems on the neck opening, neckline, and armholes instead of the bias binding method I’ve used up to now. Truthfully, I procrastinated awhile on this project after cutting the dress pieces because I was dreading that bias binding process. I had reached a point where I needed to knock this project out so I could go on to other things, so I decided:

“It’s my project, and maybe hemming the neck and armholes is not officially sanctioned by the imaginary craft police, but I’m going to try it.”

 

As a completely self-taught crafter, I often worry that I’m doing things wrong or my skills aren’t good enough. Perfectionism or the straight-up fear of not being good enough have stymied my progress more times than I like to think about. Lately my battle cry (in my own head, though sometimes I do say it out loud) has been “progress, not perfection” along with “practice,” and “try it and see what happens.” This mindset is where my creativity thrives–in a state of curiosity, experimentation, and finding solutions to unexpected problems on the road to my goal. But occasionally the imaginary craft police (a nasty set of wenches) show up just as I’m starting to have a good time. They are headquartered in a town called Evaluation seated in the heart of Criticism County. They always come in groups and say nasty things, like mean girls.

With my DIY wardrobe projects, I remind myself that a project only needs to be good enough for me. 

My work doesn’t need to pass an imaginary judging by these uptight, sniffy sewists who would enjoy telling me how I can and can’t or should and shouldn’t do things. They stand with crossed arms, glance at each other, and whisper things like “well, if she wants everyone to know that’s homemade, sure, I guess she can go ahead and do it that way” or “if she doesn’t care about learning to do things the right way, we won’t interfere” or worst of all, “I guess some things are just too hard for her, poor dear. Let her finish her hems that way.”

 

I’ve read enough books about creativity, flow, and innovation to know that the imaginary craft police are bound to join me. But I make them stand in the corner and be quiet. There’s no getting rid of them completely, they are just part of living in Creativeland. And guess what?

 

Once I shut them up, I enjoyed hemming instead of binding! I clipped the armhole curves at less than 1/8″ and pressed, folded over another 1/6″ layer, pressed and pinned, and edge stitched them on my sewing machine.

 

I added the ruffled eyelet trim (right side of eyelet facing wrong side of dress) to sweeten up the whole thing and give it a daintier look. Boil the teakettle! Bring on the crumpets!

 

I used this tutorial to learn how to hand-sew a thread chain to use as a button loop. It is very delicate because I used sewing thread. If it breaks, I will probably re-sew it using embroidery floss or cotton perle instead of thread. Or I might use this sewn button loop tutorial which looks strong and crisp.


And finally, the skirt has a 1/2″ double folded hem. I love how the eyelet peeks out. It’s a little strange that I see smiley faces in the shape of the lace eyelets, but I guess that’s better than frowny faces, right?


Thank you for visiting me today. What are you making? Have the imaginary craft police ever visited you? How do you shut them down? 

In stitches, 

Sara

crochet · crochet pattern · DIY wardrobe · pattern · sweater

Thisbe Jacket: Crochet Cardigan Pattern

Hello Crocheters,

Today I’m sharing Thisbe, a Boho-fabulous lace jacket perfect to crochet for the warm weather that I hope is finally here to stay!

Thisbe’s PDF pattern download contains full written instructions along with stitch pattern charts to guide you through the lovely and interesting lace that makes up the front and back body. The design is written for six sizes: Small-3X.

The jacket is worked sideways in two pieces from the center out. Your foundation chain creates both the front and back of one side of the jacket, you work all the way out to the shoulder, then decrease for the 3/4 sleeve. The opposite back/front piece is seamlessly worked onto the existing center and crocheted in the same manner out to the other 3/4 sleeve cuff.

Some ravishing Ravelers have made Thisbe, so check them out to see how it went!

Here are links to purchase Thisbe from your favorite pattern shop: Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy.

buy now on Ravelry

buy now on Etsy

buy now on Craftsy