Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trial and Error learning... why it's critical to the creative process

I used to say that everything I made evolved from a mistake. I entered college as a photography major. As a photo major, I had to take many classes in drawing, painting, color theory, design, sculpture, etc. And since I was comfortable with a camera (the old film kind!) and not the other tools of art, I always felt like an 'accidental' artist. Also, because I'm not the kind of artist who can "see" the end result clearly from the beginning, I thought that perhaps my creations were less legitimate. I didn't know when I set out to create a project (drawing, painting, photo, sculpture) what the end result would look like. In fact, when I did have a plan, it almost seemed to come out worse. As a result, I didn't have much trust in my artistic abilities and I would simply say, "It evolved from a mistake". Meaning, that if it turned out terrible, I didn't have to take as much ownership of it, and if it turned out great, then it could be serendipitous, a delightful surprise.

I have decided that my earlier mantra is the real mistake. It's not that everything I create evolves from a mistake... it's that my creations require a process where I get to decide when it's "done". Now that I look back, I realize that many artists don't create art from their first "try". If I may be so bold as to look at "real" artists... (haha) Picasso used to do "studies" of his paintings first before putting them on canvas. Many sculptors, like Degas, would do miniatures first getting the proportions just right before creating the full-sized piece. Does Tiger Woods go out on the first tee without doing some warm up swings first? NO! So why should I think I am less of an artist (still, having trouble using that word to describe myself) if I am spontaneous, and don't start my work with a specific vision, and allow it to be trial and error, evolving along the way? It's just a different way to get to a result. I'm sure that there are other crochet and knit designers out there who are able to visualize down to the smallest detail how the project should look, and then are able to replicate their vision with perfect accuracy. I am not one of them.

This is one of the many reasons why crochet design (or any art) can't be "taught". You can get tips, you can hear methods, you can improve, but really, can creativity be "taught?" I don't know. I can learn to appreciate music and understand the theory, but really, I'm quite sure that I will never compose a musical masterpiece. This is why I get so confused when people ask me, "how do I become a designer", I just don't know.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fiction (and one non-fiction)

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
A fun quick read. Janet's characters are such characters! They are so vibrant, quick-witted and funny! Again, I chose a book that was in the middle of a series. (I hate it when I do that). But it was easy to understand what was going on. The book was about a bounty hunter, Stephenie Plum who is having a mid-life crisis of sorts trying to figure out the direction of her life. She quits her job hoping to escape the dangerous life only to be stalked by a former suspect. Of course, she is pursued by not one, but two, extremely handsome, competent, manly men who won't take 'no' for answer. There is much flirting and banter going on but it wasn't too graphic and left the juiciest parts for the imagination. A good, easy, quick, fun read.

The Ruins by Scott Smith
I don't usually read horror fiction and I imagine this book was similar to a Stephen King type read. It was good, it kept my interest. I don't want to give too much away but it is about a group of 20 somethings on a vacation to Mexico when they take a day trip that turns into something horrific. To comment about the ending would give it away. I don't even know what I would say if I let myself comment about the ending. I'm glad I read it, I guess I enjoyed it because I finished it quickly. But do I really enjoy horror? Not really. I wish I hadn't finished it so late at night.

The Zookeeper's Wife. by Diane Ackerman. I'm plugging away, it's not riveting, but I keep plugging away. I don't know if I will finish it or not. It is a true story about a family in Poland during WWII who ran a zoo and used the zoo as a cover to help the Underground efforts to free and protect many Jews. An important book, just not terribly riveting in the telling. I didn't finish it. I gave up and gave it back.

Resilience, by Elizabeth Edwards
Wow, she's really mad. I totally get it. I don't blame her for being mad, she's had a difficult (to say the least) life, but I didn't expect her to be so unreserved in her sharing of her feelings. A really fascinating book. I wish her and her children all the best.

Next up: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Monday, September 28, 2009

New haircut and new topics

I got 6" chopped off my hair. DH likes my new do. Yep, Chickee chopped off the top of my head. Oh well.

New topics... I'm trying to make a coherent post about why 'trial and error' is critical to creative design. Tying it in with how the evolving decision making process is how designs become "original". Does this intrigue you? I need to let my thoughts rattle around in my brain a little more before I try to write it down.

Also coming up this week, probably a post on Fiction and maybe book sneak peek #3. Stay tuned!

I've been RAK'd

In a big way. Someone sent me a Random Act of Kindness. You know I have Cory, the small dressform... Someone anonymously, sent me another dressform?! What!? Who?! It arrived Thursday out of the blue and there are no clues and no note. The packing slip didn't offer any information. I'm not sure what to make of this? Someone wants to encourage me to design more garments? Thank you, who ever you are!

I admit, I am very much a compliment junkie. Someone offers me a compliment, I'm pretty much your friend for life. And, all of you, blog readers, compliment me with your continued reading, comments and following. All of you on Ravelry who 'favorite' and 'queue' my work, all that is a huge compliment. The biggest compliment of all is when someone takes the time and resources to stitch one of my patterns. If you make something from one of my patterns, let me know! Let's post it!

Thank you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Candy Store Set Revealed!

Here was the sneak peek again.... and the reveal!
In the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Crochet Today. It's a great issue!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Sneak Peek #2

In case you missed sneak peek #1, here it is again:

And here is book sneak peek #2:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our new pet...

It's got Charlie curious... Chickee has been saving her money for months and she now is the proud parent of .... Sweets! sweet! haha.
I thought I was going to have some reveals for you... but they aren't revealing themselves just yet. I thought I had heard a rumor that 2 more designs were published, but I'm waiting to see evidence of that before I reveal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Giveaway Winners!

Chickee has pulled the names for the prizes....

Drumroll please!

The winner of the yarn and needlefelting kit is.... FRACKSMOM!

The winner of the books is... TRINA!

You both need to email me at:
Ellen @ GoCrochet dot com with your real name and your shipping address by Friday, Sept 25 at 11:00 pm Eastern. If you don't contact me by then, I'm going to re-pull names.

Thanks to everyone for entering and commenting.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Larkspur sweater revealed

Again, here was the sneak peek.... and it on me... and the sweater on Cory (the dressform) and then Interweave's photo. It's previewed in the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet More reveals to come in the coming week! The winners of the Giveaway will be named on Monday, 9/21/9.

Friday, September 18, 2009

How many projects do I juggle?

Recently, someone asked how many projects do I usually juggle at any one time...

The answer varies, of course. Right now with the book, I'm juggling all the projects for the book,

For the book:

2 are done
1 in process, instructions not done
3 boxes of yarn sitting waiting, instructions not done
3 projects of yarn ordered
2 projects haven't decided on colors yet
4 on my mind, not designed

off the top of my head:
12-15 waiting to be published, done. (keeping track of payments, contracts, invoices)
1 waiting for yarn to arrive to make it (design it, write it)
Designs currently submitted? Maybe 8?
Designs that are designed by not currently submitted? Maybe 10?

1 knit
1 Tunisian crochet

How do I keep track of it all? I have a master list/chart that I update whenever there is a change.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book update and sunflower

This sunflower popped up the other day in our backyard. I'm surprised the deer haven't found it yet, pulled it over and ate the seeds out of it. I love deer, but they really eat everything.

Today I'm on a marathon session to try and finish a project by bedtime tonight. I may have been a little optimistic in my goal. Sometimes I forget just how long it takes to make dinner, get someone some milk, read someone a book, help them with homework, pack the lunches for the next day... I also have to bake a cake for school tomorrow. The school is having a fundraiser. I'm making a white cake. Since I'm not going to get a piece, it doesn't have to be chocolate!

Thank you to my new followers! We're up to 90! What a thrill!

The book is going well, I ordered 3 more boxes of yarn yesterday. I'm still learning as we go along. It appears that deadlines are harder to understand than I thought. Some things are due early so that promotional materials/pamphlets can be made. Other things are due later. I just try to do what I'm in the mood to do and then push to make sure that every thing gets done by the right deadline. I'm also trying to submit littler chunks of the book at a time so that I don't have the HUGE deadline of EVERYTHING all at once.

Have a great day. I hear the Interweave Crochet Fall preview goes up tomorrow, 9/18 around dinner time Eastern. I know I will be checking it with interest... hint hint.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WROAR (cheetah noise)

I have a new project bag that I got for a huge bargain! It is a BIG bag and can fit an afghan sized project. I love the cheetah print because it is such a departure for me! I don't think I can pull off a cheetah print outfit, but in a bag... I can do a bag. It's a Ricardo Beverly Hills bag I think I got the bargain because this style is discontinued... (I can hear Dave saying, "And I wonder why?" haha).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Baby Erin got

I finally got to go visit our niece, Erin, who is a week old today! I made for her, this colorful bib out of Coats & Clark's Creme de la Creme,
and this sweet ball out of Lion Brand Cotton Ease Chickee took the photos.
And here is Erin wearing a crocheted cap donated to the hospital by crochet volunteers! She wore it home.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm giving away 2 prizes: The first prize is 12 skeins of Nashua Creative Focus DK yarn in coral with the Pagewood Farms needlefelting scarf kit. The second prize is the copy of Sharon Silverman's Tunisian Crochet and a signed copy of Hooked for Life by Mary Beth Temple. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, Sept 18 at 11PM Eastern time. You can tell me which prize you prefer. I'll randomly choose winners and the first pulled will get their choice. I'm sorry, but this will be open to US residents only because of shipping costs. I'll announce the winners on Monday, what would that be, the 21st? And the winners will have to follow the directions and send me the shipping address.... If I get time later, I'll bring in some links for these items. Happy Monday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Baby Niece's gift

I'm thinking that I would like to make something for our new niece, Erin Elizabeth... what should I make? Something quick, something easy to care for... Maybe the bib? or Jingle Ball (both are in the Chain-Free Crochet Book) or the Sweet and Swingy Dress from Crochet Today. I'll probably start with the ball and bib because I already have enough yarn in my stash for those (I think). Maybe I could get the dress done in time for a Christening gift? Sounds like a plan!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Petunias and getting it done.

Our petunias are some of the biggest this year that I have ever seen. And who gets the credit for our pretty garden? Not me! I'm so busy with crochet that I don't get in any gardening. Of course, I don't really care for gardening. Other than pulling weeds in the few minutes while I wait for the school bus in the morning or afternoon, I don't do much yard work. Yesterday, I got my entire project assembled! Today, I take a break from stitching and work on writing... and catching up on dishes and laundry. Working from home makes it hard to have boundaries. I feel like I should be doing it all, all the time. It's hard to put one task aside to do another. Today, I'm going to do a little of everything.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cooking and Crochet

The trick... it seems... to cooking while you (I) am crocheting is that I set the timer for everything...even if I am just boiling water. Because I tend to lose track of time. I'm just saying...

Cats are funny

On the crochet front, I feel like I'm starting to make progress. I hope to have a book sneak peek up for you by the end of the week. I'm looking forward to having a full day today to work with relatively few interruptions, except for the errand I have to run downtown that is going to take an hour... It's amazing how I can have no "real" job, and technically I am home "all day" but I have so much to do that has to be done! It's confounding, really. Of course, I'll never get anything done if I .... go back to bed.... which is very very tempting.

Today I'm whipstitching motifs together, a task which will probably allow me to watch a movie at the same time... maybe "Rachel Getting Married".

I heard there was some effort to boycott cats on the internet today (or was it yesterday?) Anyway, here's a cat photo. (I'm such a rebel).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


WooHoo! Niece # 7 (on the Gormley side of the family) arrived safely this morning! My SIL and BIL haven't chosen a name yet. Now, to whip up a quick girl-baby project!


I've been gathering items to Giveaway for some time now, I just need to figure out how it is going to work. I'm going to plan to reveal the giveaway details sometime between now and 9/14. In the meantime, we rode our neighbor's horses over the weekend. (Except me, I didn't really ride a horse, I more or less sat on a horse while the one of the neighbor's daughter's walked my horse around). I'm such a rookie. LOL. Like 3 laps around and I thought my legs would fall off. Captain was there too, but he opted to watch.

Chief and Chickee did great! Chickee looks like a natural doesn't she? (Heaven help us if she has an interest in this expensive hobby....)

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I feel a giveaway coming on... stay tuned in the next week or so.

60 Scarves in 60 days event

Dee over at Crocheting with Dee, has started her annual "60 Scarves in 60 Days" for charity Event. All the details are here. Do it, it'll make you happy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

An interview

Have you ever wondered, "What is Chickee's real name?" It's revealed and more in this article for the newsletter. Here is the link. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baby Grannies

Here's another place to get my Baby Grannies pattern. It was spotted in this booklet published by Coats & Clark. It first appeared in an issue of Crochet Today.

Today is a marathon day of crocheting including a race against the clock! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is me, today....

Well, actually, a few days ago... but I'm still in that same spot, still crocheting.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Amore baby cardigan revealed

Also in a Coats & Clark booklet. I'm guessing that the booklet will be available here at some point.