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

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creativity · design process · dressmaking · pattern · sewing

Sewing Simple Clothes

Hi Fiber Friends,

I’ve been in the throes of a new passion! Drafting and sewing simple sewing patterns from old tank tops and t-shirts in my closet to create my own unique tunic blouses. 


The process for each piece is to cut out the front and back, join shoulder seams, join side seams, and add bias binding to the neckline and armholes. It’s a new skill set for me and I’m loving it.


My desire to wear silky, flowy fabrics has motivated me to complete these projects and has also outstripped my ability to work with these materials, but I’m embracing the learning and the little imperfections that come with handmade items.


This is a tiny paper mock-up of an idea for a tee sewn using a striped fabric. Inspiration is everywhere, even on a mundane grocery list notepad.

Of course, my little mite is getting some new clothes as well: skirts, tunics, dresses, and shorts in cheerful quilting cottons. So fun and sweet!



Now all we need is for the weather to brighten up and warm up again so we can wear our lovelies. I hope you’re enjoying your own makes!

Yours in stitches,

Sara

chitchat · creativity · design process · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · pattern

Introducing Annalie

Hello Knitters,

Meet Annalie, a fun pattern for a rectangular shawl or classic scarf. Annalie combines the vintage sweetness of eyelet lace ribs with clean, modern style.

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Annalie is a PDF knitting pattern download  containing full written instructions, knitting charts, and schematic available for $6.00 USD.

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See the Ravelry pattern listing or use the buy now button to buy the pattern. You do not need to be a Ravelry member to use the buy now button.

Here’s a little story about Annalie’s origin.

In another lifetime before I was a knitter, I was a corporate executive assistant and went on a week-long business trip to Luxembourg. If you’ve never been to Luxembourg, it is a country that seems to be right out of a fairy tale complete with castles, cobblestones, and a Duke who lives in center city!

While there I drank the best coffee of my life, tasted my first amuse-bouche on a wide-bowled china spoon (fancy), my first sea scallop (mmmmm), and my first cuttlefish (bleeeeeehhhh) at formal business dinners. I pretended to be a cosmopolitan bomb-diggity twenty-two year old abroad. I also became desperately homesick for my then-boyfriend, now-husband back home in Illinois and felt totally out of place among the throng of cool young professionals working in global finance.

It was early November, and all the Luxembourgers (that’s what they are really called) seemed to be wearing scarves mysteriously wrapped around their necks with the ends tucked in. Over their coats, over their clothes, there was always a scarf. They seemed so stylish in that layered, unmistakably European way of wearing an understated outfit finished off with a beautiful scarf. The choice of scarf added personality and varied from sheer floral silk to cozy wool knit to woven plaid cashmere and everything in between. My scarves had only ever been an afterthought, a long, skinny thing tossed around the neck of my winter coat with the ends flapping in the wind like Snoopy.

snoopy-scarfThese scarves were nothing like that.

Back home, my boyfriend asked me to marry him, I decided to leave corporate life behind, and I began to experiment with wearing wider scarves and wraps coiled around my neck in different ways. If you’ve never seen this amazing video about wrapping scarves, check it out, I guarantee you’ll be digging out your scarves to play. I learned that wearing a scarf is practical, it’s so warm and adds polish to a basic outfit. It’s seasonless, you simply change the fabric or texture as the seasons change. It’s expressive of your taste, your mood since you can wear any sort of fabric, color, texture, or print, and it’s just a lot of fun!

That was about 10 years ago, and my love of the husband, scarves, wraps, and shawls has only grown with time. I hope you enjoy making Annalie because you’re sure to look beautiful wearing her.

Happy scarfing!

art · business · creativity · crochet · doodle · doodling · illustration · knitting · watercolor · yarntoons

Introducing Yarntoons!

Hey Yarnies!

I am really excited to share my new line of fiber art illustrations: YARNTOONS by Sara Kay! Creating Yarntoons is a new passion of mine.

What’s a Yarntoon? It’s a lighthearted artwork doodle that celebrates our love of yarn and yarn-tastic pursuits. I’ve been creating them using permanent ink, a brush of watercolor, and a splash of wit!

If you like them, you can buy my Yarntoons products and downloadable artwork from my Etsy shop to print on anything you please to celebrate your love of yarn, YARNTOON-style!

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Crochet by Sara Kay

 

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K-N-I-T by Sara Kay
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Knit Fast, Die Warm by Sara Kay

 

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Swatch Out! by Sara Kay
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One More Row by Sara Kay
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Balls to the Wall by Sara Kay

Pssst! Don’t forget to check out the coffee mug department at Society 6:

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I love yarn puns, sheep puns, wool puns, puns about balls, irreverent plays on words, and have many more in the works if I could just stop smudging my artworks right before finishing [true story. yes, more than once].

Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for fresh Yarntoons, coming soon!

In Stitches,

Sara