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

 

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

book talk · craft writing · crochet · pattern

In the Press: “The Romance of Crochet”

Hi Crocheters,

I Like Crochet Magazine published my article, “The Romance of Crochet” in their February 2016 issue, available now!

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In it, I talk about the unique nature of crochet as a craft and put a different spin on making romantic gifts for our “valentines.” Here’s a little excerpt:

Giving the gift of handmade offers more than picking out an item and spending money. You are giving of your skill, your time and effort, and your loving care for the receiver. That’s pretty romantic, if you ask me!

On Valentine’s Day we tend to focus on sweethearts, spouses, or romantic crushes, but take a moment to think of the other valentines in your life. The ones whose love is supportive, steadfast, and always with us. I’m thinking of our moms, sisters, daughters, and BFF’s. Those who understand, who help, and who encourage us through life’s turbulence. This year, consider making a romantic–in the crocheted sense–gift for one of these wonderful women in your life.

I also got a chance to talk about Poetic Crochet and some of the thoughts that went into developing the concept of the book and working toward my vision of presenting crochet in all its romance and loveliness. Don’t miss it!

PC_2b

Happy Stitching,

Sara Kay

craft writing · crochet · crochet pattern · design process · free pattern · one skein wonder · pattern

Ellie Headband

Hi. Thanks for visiting!

Ellie is a low-stress bit of crocheted fun that I’m very excited to share with you.

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I’m going to chat a little about the idea behind the design, but if you want to get straight to the juicy stuff, the pattern download awaits you at the bottom of the post. If your scroll wheel spins wildly out of control while I’m in mid-sentence, you won’t hurt my feelings. ♥ ♥ ♥
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For months, I admired all the cute turban-style headbands I was seeing on Pinterest, in boutique shops like Francesca’s, Anthro online, (which I troll for the pretties but have never visited a brick-and-mortar store) and of course in mass-market discount stores as well. DSCN0238

I found a few sewing tutorials for making them from 2 tubes of fabric crossed over one another and sewn together with a seam at the back. Ever intrigued by the the voodoo magic of twisting rectangles into something interesting and wearable, [Knitters, see Miss Sadie. Crocheters, see Pip & Emma.] I thought, okay I’m in.

I thought that in crochet, there might be an even easier to create the wrap top without having to stitch 2 separate strips.

There is.
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By crocheting a single long strip…

centering it at the nape of your neck…

criss-crossing into a full twist at your forehead….

stitching down the two short ends to the opposite sides of the band…

and turning the headband right side out…

you get the turban twist from a single strip with no visible stitching!

This method is nice because you can size it perfectly to your [daughter’s/sister’s/roommate’s] head and there’s no double-thickness of crochet fabric beneath you fashionably messy bun or pony tail.

The stitch pattern is just alternate rows of half-double crochet with single crochet which gives a surprisingly nice fabric with a honeycomb look. It’s plain enough to show the knot design, textured enough to keep it interesting, and has enough flexibility to allow the crossed strips to squish softly together without flipping over or pinching over in an awkward way.2

Fun to design! And fun for you to make, I hope!

Here’s the PDF pattern download, just for you.

Ellie Headband

♥ knit, crochet, love; rep from ♥ forever.

Sara Kay