31 August 2015

See You September 7th!

I'm taking the week off to get my kids settled in at school. I'll see you back here September 7th. Have a great week, friends!

26 August 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Balance [Part Four]

This week I've been reading the chapter entitled "Double Sunrise" in Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea. (If you are just starting this series with me here is part one, two, and three.) What a gift this chapter was to me. Let me share a few quotes with you:

"Two people listening to each other, two shells meeting each other, making one world between them... And then how swiftly, how inevitably the perfect unity is invaded; the relationship changes; it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world."

"One resents any change, even though one knows that transformation is natural and part of the process of life and its evolution."

"...functional relationships tend to take the place of the early all-absorbing personal one. But woman refinds in a limited form with each new child, something resembling, at least in its absorption, the early pure relationship... one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of two people existing only for each other..."

Lindbergh has captured the struggle of many a relationship. We often fight against the natural progression and stages of a relationship, fearing that something has been lost if things are not the way they were before. However, we can re-find a bit of that honeymoon glow in our relationships and in our creative work, as long as we are willing to recognize the temporary nature of this rekindling.

The only way to have a relationship existing permanently in this state of honeymoon bliss is to the exclusion of all other relationships. What a loss! It is the same in our artistic work. In order to experience the bliss of fresh pen to blank paper or the infinite possibility of a new project just begun, we must have a break from our work to balance the needs of life. Additionally, stepping away from my work for a bit rekindles my excitement and joy when I am in a rut.

I find I can lose myself in creating and drawing, but this state is untenable artistically and unfair to my family. I, in particular, must take care to balance my artistic endeavors with my family life. Three little people and one patient husband also need of my time and attention. Balance is the best of both worlds.

So here's where I stand so far:
1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude
3 --- Balance

24 August 2015

What Is Rewinding?

This weekend I have been thinking about all things 1990s from my childhood. I had to dig out an old tape to sketch for the inspiration for my next Spoonflower challenge pattern. Embarrassing as it is, we regularly use a VHS player in our house and while I love the benefits of DVDs, I think it is a good lesson in patience for my kids as they learn about rewinding. Yes, I actually had to explain rewinding. What are you working on this week?

20 August 2015

Hankey Blankey on Etsy

My sister and I on her wedding day
If you are anything like me, you love to give and receive handmade gifts. I like to keep a list of favorite places to buy special gifts from and today I have an Etsy shop to add to your list.

My sister, Hannah, just started sewing a few months ago. My mom gifted her a sewing machine and taught Han how to sew over FaceTime! Passing down handcrafting traditions may look a little different in the digital age, but it makes it no less special. I love how they were able to connect despite the miles between them.

Han opened an Etsy shop and sews baby burp cloths. I am so proud of her for working on this goal and can't wait to see where it takes her. Check out Hankey Blankey on Etsy to see more.

19 August 2015

Spoonflower Sample --- A Pear of Apples

Have you checked out Spoonflower's new Sport Lycra yet? Here is my pattern A Pear of Apples on Sport Lycra. It is so, so soft that I am dreaming up all of the projects I could make with this. I wish they'd had this during all of my years of dancing!


INSPIRATION --- This interview of Lisa Solomon and Christine Buckton by Lisa Congdon and the epic rainbowtizing by Katy Dill, especially on her instagram.

18 August 2015


It's no secret I love reading. Here are a few more (See Part One here) of my favorite books because I am always on the lookout for a recommendation.

1 --- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - A haunting book set in India. The reflection of the turmoil of the characters lives reflected in the turmoil in the country will captivate you.

2 --- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway - A deceptively simple story that will leave you examining yourself. (Also, one of my husband's favorites!)

3 --- Emily Dickinson poetry - I was introduced to Dickinson's work in high school when she was assigned to me for the capstone English project. That project started my life long love of her work.

4 --- The Crucible by Arthur Miller - A powerful play that I first read in high school and think about quite often to this day.

5 --- A Separate Peace by John Knowles - Another book I first read in high school. This was the first novel in which I explored the ideas of symbolism and imagery.

6 --- The Pact by Jodi Picoult - I think everyone and their brother has read a Jodi Picoult novel. This is the first one I read and I appreciate what a masterful storyteller she is and the twist at the end gets me every time!

7 --- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri - This novel invites you to delve into a vivid world, so different than my own. A powerful story about family.

8 --- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - My husband's favorite book and one that makes me analyze myself a little closer each time I read it. It is quite long, but worth the read.

9 --- The Awakening by Kate Chopin - Sometimes when I read a book, I feel as if the author has created a character who is an exact replica of a sliver of myself, a hidden part most often. Identifying with a character makes me feel a little less alone, or strange, for a while. This book captures that feeling for me.

10 --- The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - This book is written by the same author who wrote The Historian which I mentioned in Part One. Another interesting, moody story.*

*Fun Side Note: My father, Dalen Keys, writes children's books and attended the Amelia Island Book Festival a few summers ago. We coordinated our vacation along with the festival and I was able to meet Elizabeth Kostova and get my copies of her books signed. What a fun surprise!

Elizabeth Kostova, Me, Dalen Keys (my father), Michael Morris

17 August 2015

Create, Create, Create

CREATE// Years 3 - 23
In my former life I was a dancer. This morning I was thinking about how my years of dance shaped my tool, my body, into a strong, supple instrument with which to create my temporary art. Dance is not tangible or lasting. It is performed and then it is gone. During these years I worked with a permanent tool and a temporary art.

CREATE// Years 24 - 30
Just a few years after college I started my motherhood journey. After nine months of work, I created something permanent - a person! In the process my tool, my body, was permanently altered as well. Permanent art, permanent tool.

CREATE// Years 30 +
These days I am working with pen and pencil and paper. My temporary tools run dry or get sharpened into useless nibs. The toddler chews my paper into oblivion. Temporary tools, however, my patterns are permanent.

The fabric I order can be held and, this part is even more awesome, turned into something new. I've never created a piece of art that can so easily inspire the next piece of art, a quilt or dress or wall hanging. What a thrill to see this transfer of artistic energy.

13 August 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Solitude [Part Three]

In case you missed Parts One and Two, I am exploring my personal artistic vision and core values as I read through Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea. This week while reading the "Moon Shell" chapter, I was struck by this thought, "I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly."

Today I am thinking about solitude. Lindbergh discusses how the varied tasks a woman must do can drain her physically, emotionally, spiritually, and most importantly, creatively. Without a chance to recharge, her efforts will be lackluster and in vain. As she puts it, "Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim." I see this most clearly in myself in motherhood. Though I hate to admit it, I need a break now and then. A quick trip to the grocery store or the library can rekindle my enthusiasm for the intensity of mothering three young children. It is the same in my artistic endeavors. I must set aside time, without guilt, to pursue my passions. I cannot teach my children to follow their dreams if I do not do so myself.

But time alone, is not the only way I must incorporate solitude into my life. I must remember to maintain solitude in comparison and competition. I must compare and compete only with myself. Lindbergh says, "When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." I need to know myself and push myself to grow without worrying what others are doing. I will lose focus, joy, and time if I spend all of my time gawking at others.

In order to be the still axis around which my family can spin without flying out of balance, I must remember that the solitude I foster in order to create and refill my pitcher is not wasted, vain time. I will water the garden of my family and creativity from the spring of solitude.

So here's where I stand so far:
1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude

12 August 2015

I Am Trying To Be Myself

My second goat pattern.
Do you ever wish that you were someone other than yourself?

Last week I took my husband to the doctor and while I was waiting for him, I decided to do a little drawing. However, an episode of Friends was playing on the television in the waiting room and I found myself doing more watching than sketching. I can't say that I am an avid T.V. watcher, let alone a Friends fan, but I finally admitted defeat, closed my sketchbook and enjoyed the episode.

Now, I don't know if I simply missed a lot of the jokes as a youth, but the show was much funnier than I remembered and I caught myself sitting in a freezing cold doctor's waiting room with a huge smile on my face, amused by the antics of the friends. A few minutes after my realization another woman came in and settled, quite purposefully, in the row of chairs beside me to watch the show.

First of all, I admired her blunt interest in watching the show. I always feel some need to pretend like I am not interested in communal televisions. (Why is that? I am strange.) Second, she laughed at the show, like out loud. In a silent waiting room her wheezing laughter seemed louder than it probably was, but it really got me thinking. She was unashamed of her pleasure in a silly show. She felt uninhibited by the opinions of others. I liked that. As evidenced by other behaviors this woman was more gregarious and uninhibited than I will ever be, but she is completely herself. I need to learn from that.

Last week I mentioned that I won the Spoonflower Goats contest. I know I am a broken record over here about Spoonflower and the contests, but bear with me. You see, I had made a second pattern for the contest after I completed the one that won. [See above.]

The more I learn about surface pattern design the more blown away I am by the talent out there. There are so many beautiful patterns in the Spoonflower contests every week, let alone on websites, in books, and in every market. I begin to feel unsure and silly and full of doubt about myself. I feel like I am just learning to ski and am flying down the hill and am barely staying upright; one wrong move and my lack of skill will be exposed and I will crash in a messy heap.

Want to know why I went through the effort of making a second pattern even though it meant staying up way too late when I already have a toddler who hates sleep? I wanted to try to be someone other than myself. I tried to make a pattern like the other designers I see. My designs never quite fit in.

My second pattern wasn't bad. It just wasn't me. So, I took a risk, put myself out there, and people responded to that. What a huge lesson for me.

10 August 2015

Reversible Quilted Necklace [Cultivate In Fall Challenge]

To celebrate her latest fabric line "Cultivate", Bonnie Christine teamed up with Art Gallery Fabrics for the Cultivate in Fall Challenge. The challenge was to create an a fun and unique project inspired by the idea of change as we transition from summer to fall.
Using Bonnie's fabrics we made a reversible quilted necklace. I got my mom on board to help me create this necklace that has been bouncing around in my head for a while. Bonnie's fabrics were inspired by tending to her own flower garden and her sweet Pruning Roses Water fabric gave us the perfect focal point for the summer side of our necklace.
With details from Floriculture Noontide we bound the pieces in Row by Row Lit and spaced the pieces with two beads from my father's ever growing collection. Strung on a simple leather cord, this necklace is the perfect piece to finish out the summer with a lightweight statement necklace.

For the Fall side we used Plotted Farm Moss with strips of the eggplant colored fabric in Vintage Vases Eggplant.

For the two smaller pieces we used Everblooming Willow. I love the way it pops next to the binding, which we cut on the bias to create a candy cane effect with the stripe. A little gold thread from Superior gave this side just a bit of subtle sparkle in the quilting.

I am going to miss the warm, lazy afternoons my family has spent at our neigborhood pool, but these colors have me looking forward to crisp fall breezes, big leaf piles for jumping, cozy cardigans, and jack o'lantern carving.

To finish off the necklace we added a clasp, but my favorite part is that this necklace is durable enough for me to wear around my one year old.

Check out Art Gallery Fabric's Pinterest Board "Cultivate In Fall" to see all of the projects and vote with a like (heart) for your favorite projects starting tomorrow, August 11.

Learing Something New

Today I am trying something new. I wish I could say that every day. Oftentimes, I forget that every day is a new chance. A fresh start.
This year I have been pushing myself to learn new things, embrace changes and take little leaps of faith. I hope I can teach my children to do these things as well. Sometimes, I think it is in the unknown that we find the magic of life.

My little project is for the Cultivate in Fall Challenge that Bonnie Christine and Art Gallery Fabrics are teaming up to host.

Hopefully the next time you see the beautiful fabrics they will be in a beautiful new project!

Happy Monday, Friends.

06 August 2015

SPOONFLOWER CONTEST Winner! [The Hilly Billy Goat]

I just found out that The Hilly Billy Goat won the Spoonflower weekly challenge. What fun news! My toddler celebrated my first win by smearing red Jello all over the kitchen floor, just to keep me humble.

The fabric printed by Spoonflower via Spoonflower
I am so grateful for this bit of encouragement on this journey. I will even clean up red Jello with a smile on my face today.


What snack do you eat most in your house? We eat a lot of apples. I've yet to find a healthy snack with very little waste that rivals the lack of mess and ease of eating for little ones. So, for this week's Spoonflower Contest I decided to make an apple and pear (my favorite!) pattern for the After School Snack theme. Quite accidentally I worked with a similar color palette to last week's pattern and it was fun to try using it in a different way.
Check out the Spoonflower contest page to vote for your favorite designs.

05 August 2015

Spoonflower Sample --- Rocky Mountain Walk

My latest sample arrived from Spoonflower! This time I ordered a yard of Rocky Mountain Walk on Organic Cotton Knit.

I haven't decided what to make yet, but I am thinking a pair of leggings for my youngest for the Fall. I may try this pattern by Nap-Time Creations or this one by Stella-Lillys. (Made by Rae has a cute baby legging pattern if you are looking for one!)

Stretching My Jeans, Stretching My Mind

I just remembered I have to practice having good ideas.

There is nothing like the almost electrical zing of a good idea. It makes me feel as if glittering stars will shoot out of my fingertips and my mind is as wide as the sky.

Like any obsessive passion, pattern making has been on my mind constantly. My husband asks me, "Are you alright?" and I tell him my scowl is just me trying to sort out my next pattern in my mind. I've even started dreaming about surface patterns. It's bad.

I feel like I am stretching my mind. See, I had this pair of jeans that I loved before I gave birth to my third child. Since they were my favorites I wore them every day through my first trimester, then the second until I finally outgrew them in the third. After giving birth and I returned to a somewhat normal size and was surprised that my jeans were too big. It sounds like a new mama's dream, but in actuality I had slowly stretched the jeans out, day by day.

I am hoping the same thing happens to my mind. If I push myself creatively a little bit every day my mind will be bigger and more open and more practiced with good ideas after a while. It is not easy, but I love a good challenge.

04 August 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Simplicity [Part Two]

Last week I mentioned I am reading Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh which is inspiring me to create a clear vision and core values for myself artistically. While reading the next chapter entitled "Channelled Whelk",  I started thinking about when I was a little girl and how I loved to visit my Grandmother's house. We lived quite far away so our visits were often extended trips bulging with many a slow, hot Alabama afternoon. In the quiet hours after lunch, I liked to explore her house. I'd pretend to type imaginary stories on her old typewriter, watch the dust specks float around the array of colored glass bottles in the windows, and run my hands along the pebbled surfaces of chenille and polyester. There were so many interesting things to look at and touch.

Now I have my own home with three young children, each with their own mountain of toys. The laundry is never ending and we have a full dishwasher to run each evening. As I decide how I want to spend my time each day, I am realizing I do not want to spend it cleaning, organizing, fixing, and picking up. I want to draw, paint, play, and read.

The wonder I felt as a girl looking at all of my Grandmother's things was replaced by a sense of burden after she passed away. Our family had to sort through all of those possessions and choose what was most precious. I realized that what we held most dear was our memories and our time with her, not her things.

I have known for a while now that simplicity is important in my family life and in my home, but I could not put my finger on why until I read this, "But I want first of all - in fact, as an end to these other desires - to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can." Does this ring as true with you as it does with me?

Lindbergh also discusses how we have a choice to live a simplified or a complicated life. I often forget that. It is a choice. Warning of fragmentation, she describes how each woman's life is like a bicycle wheel with spokes raying out in every direction, with every manner of interest pulling out from the central hub. Maintaining balance and proper tension is difficult, but simplification can help. Reading all of this I came upon my first core value: Simplicity.

What does simplicity mean to me? I am not entirely sure, but for now I know that whatever I create, I want it to be clear, direct, and concise. I will strive for my voice to be authentic. As Lindbergh says, "The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere." I will put forth my best effort and edit it with a critical eye, instead of retaining distracting elements. I will not take on work that destroys the simplicity of my home.

So here's where I stand so far:
1 --- Simplicity

I will keep thinking about my vision and update you on it next week. Thanks for taking this journey with me.