Getting Ready to do a Craft Fair

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It’s been more than a dozen years since I rented a table at a craft fair. The last time was when I lived in Albany and was making and selling my own design of “shoulder shawls.”
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I will have a few for sale on November 23 at St. Marks Art and Craft Fair here in East Longmeadow. (If you don’t live in nearby and see anything you might like to buy, leave a comment on this post and I will get back to you. I will let you know if I can get it to you before the holidays. Chances are, I can.

Mostly I will have is what I’m calling “fun knits for fashion-forward females,” or “fun wearables for tweens, teens, and the young at heart.” Just about every one of these items is my own design, and they are all one-of-a-kind because I make them up as I go along. If you have a young girl in your family, these make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers.

Recently I drafted a young neighbor to model a few of the things I will be selling. Here’s a glimpse of somethings for teens.
txtshirt1txtshirt3 These are oversized polar fleece lounge or sleep tops for girls who "love to text." The fleece pieces are crocheted around the edges and sewn together; then a bottom section is knitted onto the crochet edge. They are machine washable and dryable and look great over leggings or skinny jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. I also have a smaller version with a different print for a younger girl.

This can be worn as a shawl, a scarf, or a head cowl. After I took the photo of it worn by my young model, I decided to add to the top section, which can be rolled, folded over, or not.
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I will have some fun stuff for little girls as well: leg warmers, hand warmers and some sets. As with most of my legwarmers and boot socks, they can worn right side up, upside down, with our without a decorative band, and folded up or down. Lots of choices.
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These are examples of some of my multi-purpose machine washable and dryable boot socks/leg warmers. You can wear them as either. Most are one-size-fits all.
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And, I will have an assortment of wristlets/handwarmers in a variety of sizes. They are made to keep your fingers free and hands warm for texting, driving, eating, shopping, and reading. Some have ruffles, so they are just fun to wear. And they can be pulled up to become wrist warmers if you need your hands completely free. I made a pair for a woman in a nursing home whose hands were always cold but wearing gloves all of the time was a nuisance. This is an example of a no-frills basic pair, shown as both a hand warmer and wrist warmer.
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kidswrist-horzAbove are examples of ruffled wristlets and also an example of how you can layer a pair over thinner gloves. Lots of choices.

Finally, here are some images from the internet of examples of how to wear the kinds of knit accessories I will be selling. Hope to see you at St Mark’s Art and Craft Fair.

legwarmer sneakers-horz

Funk and Folly

Funk and folly. That’s sort of been the theme of my life over the past several months. Funk gets in the way of lively living, so I’m trying to add a “y” and move toward “funky” — a place where I’d much rather be.

Last month, I had to put my 17 year old cat down for the count; I’m never getting another pet, but the family has added an adorable kitten, Kasza, to the two other big male cats who already live here. The spunky little female now rules the kingdom. Spunky. Rhymes with Funky. So far so good.

I ran out of energy volunteering several times a week at the geriatric center. Part of it is that it’s winter, and I just want to hibernate; part of it is that I really took on too much responsibility there, and they need to be more organized. I’ll probably go back, but with a much lighter schedule.

I will be 73 next month, and I am reminded that my father passed away at age 73. Of course, my mother lasted until 94, so who knows which way I’ll go. In the meanwhile, however, I need to have some fun.

I always feel better when I’m engaged in a hands-on creative outlet, and I love playing with fabric and yarn. I had made some funky walker bags and gave them to a few of the women at the geriatric center; they really like them and I loved making my own designs and playing with the materials. I think I want to try to sell them. Thinking about an Etsy store. How about “Kalilily’s Funk and Folly” for a name? “Funk and Folly.” I think I’ll make that my official trade mark right now.

My living space is filling up with funky creations in wild colors and combinations of materials — hats, wristlets, leg warmers, boot socks. I might try a variation on a kind of overhead shawl I designed and made years ago. It might all be folly, but it’s fun folly. Fun, funky, folly.

By next winter, I should have enough stuff to do a holiday craft fair. Just for fun. I need something fun toward which to look forward.

Funk and Folly — fun stuff to wear and share.

my “walker purse” project

As I spend time trying to engage folks at the assisted living center and small memory impaired community, I notice that those using walkers seem to need a handy place to keep tissues, cough drops, and other small items. This seems especially true for the women; men seem to just load up their pants pockets.

So, my new project is designing and making “walker purses.”

An online search for “walker bags” turns up all kinds and sizes, even some hand made. One of the women in the memory impaired unit has a beautiful quilted one, which must have cost close to $40.

I like combining yarn and fabric, so I made a couple of samples that I’m going to ask some of the women to try and and let me know if they find them useful. If they do, maybe I’ll make more and try to sell them through the facility’s gift shop or online.

Like all walker bags, mine loop over the front bar, providing an accessible pouch for a few necessities. They are 10 inches wide and 6 inches deep, are lined with the fabric trim, and are fastened with velcro. I’m wondering if I need to add a zipper along the top — although that would be a lot more work and would therefore make them more expensive.

It’s no Eden.

A volunteering moment: A memory-impaired nonagenarian pats me on the butt. I just ignore it, since earlier today, for the first time, he actually conversed with me and willingly participated in a group activity. I can’t save the world, but today I make a sad old man smile.

Twice a week I volunteer at a geriatric facility that includes folks in assisted living (where I lead “Trivia” and other such group sessions) and a separate space for individuals who are memory-impaired (with whom I sing songs, share photographs and stories, go out for walks, and even play kids’ games). I think doing these things is my way of compensating for the fact that so much of this world is in such a large scale mess that I have no power to affect any of it in any positive way.

I don’t have the money to contribute to saving abused animals, abused environments, and abused people; listening to Sara McLachlan sing in the ASPCA commercial only makes my distress worse, so I avoid even doing that.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all of the horrors of the “big picture,” I cut out a piece of the “little picture” that I might be able make a little better. Maybe this geriatric facility is not the worse place in the world for elders to find themselves, but it’s no Eden, either. However, it is a place where I can make a difference without the effort impacting me in a negative way.

As a matter of fact, I’m always surprised at how much of the time I spend with these folks that I actually enjoy. Sometimes I even get inspired in crafty ways that I’d never expect.

For example, I noticed one woman had a really pretty quilted pouch attached to the front of her walker. It’s just big enough to hold some tissues, a few photos, and a pair of glasses. You can buy similar ones online for about $35. It’s a handy little item that I realized other women who use walkers would find helpful. So, I’ve been inspired to design my own version that combines crochet and fabric. Maybe I’ll try to sell them online. Maybe I’ll just give them as gifts. Either way, I now have the kind of creatively useful project that I like to work on at home as I sit around in the evening and watch escapist television.

In her post today on Time Goes By, Ronni Bennett confesses to having become a “cowardly” about dealing with the overwhelming problems in the world around her. She says:

Confronted with calamity – personal, private or global – I have always been strong, eager to understand and self-confident in my ability to do my best to help when I can and pass the word on to others who might have more resources than I.

Now, I’ve become a coward. If I cannot look at the photos, will not read the news stories, won’t listen to the appeals for starving children and abused animals, how can I possibly be part of any solution.

In a real way, it’s my similar cowardice that has led me to volunteer where I do. I can feel I’m helping to make the lives of at least a very small part of the human population a little better, in only three or four hours a week. And, as it turns out (as it so often does when you give of yourself), I get back unexpected appreciation and inspiration.

Although I can do without the nonagenarian’s pat on the butt.

my latest yarn improvisation

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back


hexagon motif

I layered it over a long sleeved shirt for photo contrast, but it looks much better layered over a white camisole — which is how I’m going to wear it when I go to Saratoga this weekend. No, I’m not going to the racetrack, although this is the season for that. I’m going to see the production of an original script performed by a new company with whose founder I worked and whom I’ve known since college.

After Saratoga, I’ll be spending a few days in Lake Luzerne with my long-time group of women friends. And, if all goes well, I will motor one afternoon over to Northville to visit another former colleague and still friend with whom I play Zynga on FaceBook.

I’ll be taking along my latest plarn market bag project to work on as we sit around in the evening drinking Comsos and getting therapeutically giggly.

But back to my latest improvisation, for which I had no pattern and no plan. I found a pattern for the hexagon and I wanted to try it with a lighter yarn that I had purchased ages ago on sale. I’m not even sure they sell it any more, so I’m glad I bought as much as I did, because I used every ball I had.

I started with one hexagon and just kept adding others, figuring out the shape as I went along. I wound up with it being too wide at the bottom. Hmm. I had to figure out what to do to make it work.

My mother had a saying in Polish that translated into something like “a dumb person will not even notice, and a smart person will think that’s how you intended it to be.” She used that saying a lot with me, since I’ve always embarked on projects by the seat of my pants and then had to improvise to figure out how to make them work.

So, I made a pleat in the back of the sweater to take up the slack. It looks like it was actually designed that way. Works for me!

On a whim, I tried to search for the exact saying in Polish, and, while I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did come across this wonderfully outrageous Polish crocheter whose work is on exhibit now until February at the the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Be sure to watch her short video.

I could learn a lot from her, on lots of levels.

I know that there are women who continue to be outrageous right up until the end. The extent of my outrageousness these days is wearing my latest improvisation with matching orange sandals and white cropped pants.

Oh, and I I’ve had my hair cut sort of like Andy Warhol. Well, maybe more like Sharon Gless on “Burn Notice.” But a little longer.

I’ll get around to a photo eventually.

training my brain
while playing with plarn

“What,” you’re thinking, “is plarn?”

If you’re a crafter or recycler, you might know what “plarn” is. If not, here’s a definition:

Plarn is a creative way to recycle plastic bags by turning it into yarn. Plastic bags made into yarn = plarn. Green crafter’s have been using plarn in place of traditional yarn to crochet and knit all sorts of items.

I started experimenting with plarn last summer,when I improvised a crocheted tote bag for groceries.

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The bag was easy to make; making the plarn with which to make a bag, however easy, is tedious and time-consuming — a good thing with which to occupy your hands while watching television so that you keep your hands out of the potato chip bag.

Now, switching to the “brain training” part of this post.

In a recent post at Time Goes By, “Our Plastic Brains — Even in Old Age,” Ronni Bennett reports:

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an essay from Dr.[Oliver] Sacks about how our brains are almost miraculous in their ability to stretch, adapt, overcome injury, retrain themselves and perform feats we could not imagine before.

In addition to giving me an excuse for talking to myself, the TGB post got me thinking about the brain benefits of learning to make and combine knitted geometric shapes.. I could have used regular yarn, but using up our plastic bags gave me a practical point to my creative math exercises.

I started off trying to separate my plastic bags by color. I had a lot of red and white bags from Target, CVS, and Macy’s, so that’s what I started with. Using instructions from a wonderfully simple book, “No-Pattern Knits” (which I bought used cheap from Amazon.com), I made one right triangle, and then added another triangle to make a square (which is one side of the tote bag).

You can see from the photo that the knitted ridges go one way on one triangle and another way on the second triangle. That’s where the Pythagorean Theorum has to be used as well as some algebra to figure out number of stitches for xxx number of inches. I did the second triangle wrong the first time and had to rip it out and figure it out all over again — finally correctly. To make the square into a rectangle, I knitted extra rows on each side of the square.

I was never terribly good at — or interested in — math, and spatial relations was the part of the IQ test I always did the worst at. But combining my passion for knitting with a necessity to use math skills has become a fun way to keep training my brain.

For the second side, I wanted an asymmetrical look, so I used up some bags of other colors and made a mitered square that I positioned as a diamond — with other triangles knitted off the edges to form a large square. Then I added on to one side of the square to make an rectangle.

I made the tote/purse a size in which I could fit a purse organizer that I had purchased a while ago that was too big for the purses I already own. I attached the purse organizer to the inside of the plarn puse with sticky-back velcro.

Plarn is tricky to work with in some ways. The strips can stretch and break as you work, and if you sew it with regular thread, the thread can cut through the plastic. So whenever the plarn purse’s construction required me to sew something, I sewed with a strip of plarn and a yarn needle.

I have every intention of actually using this plarn purse. If nothing else, it’s a conversation piece.

If I ever make another one, I’m going to spend some time coordinating and combining the plastic strips to vary the colors. It’s all a learning process. Good for my brain.

no contest

Well, actually, there was a contest — or, more accurately, a virtual exhibit/contest.

Only it turns out that there were no contestants. Well, actually, there was one. Me.

I follow Vicki Howell on Facebook, own a couple of her books, and submitted my profile for her book Craft Corps: celebrating the creative community one story at a time — in which it appeared, along with dozens of other amateur as well as professional crafters.

Vicki Howell is a young, entrepreneurial, funky, gutsy, energetic, inspirational, and well-known craftsperson. I am pretty much none of those. But I do dabble in various crafts, so when I saw her announcement requesting submissions for “an art piece that reflects your creative passion,” I embraced it as a challenge for me to explore just what that means to me.

Recognizing the breadth and depth of Vicki’s craft community (which includes ceramicists and jewelry designers, as well as fabric and yarn crafters), I began to imagine the kinds of submissions the contest might attract — multi-media, multi-dimensional cutting-edge craft-as-art. Way out of my league, I figured. But I also felt motivated by the challenge to create something that represented my version of “dabbling-as-craft.”

And so this is my three-dimensional wall hanging — featuring, of course, a calla lily.

It includes various quilting techniques, machine embroidery, knitting, crocheting, weaving, and applique — with some button embellishments because I had them on hand.

Since I was the only crafter to submit something before the deadline of August 1, Vicki says that she’s going to put my piece on display at the Creative Connection event, where she is on a panel of entrepreneurial crafters. I could live with that.

Where Goes Wonder Woman??

I am a year older than Wonder Woman, and she was my favorite comic book character beginning on the day I first walked into Mr. Wellman’s candy store and discovered her on the shelves.

wonder woman

But today’s comic publisher is going to turn her into something she was never meant to be, and I, personally resent the insulting “updating.”

My Wonder Woman had a past, a “backstory” worthy of her mythic and iconic stature. From here:

From her inception, Wonder Woman was not out to just stop criminals, but to reform them. On a small island off Paradise Island was Transformation Island, a rehabilitation complex created by the Amazons to house and reform criminals.

Armed with her bulletproof bracelets, magic lasso, and her amazonian training, Princess Diana was the archetype of the perfect woman from the mind of her creator, William Moulton Marston. She was beautiful, intelligent, strong, but still possessed a soft side. At that time, her powers came from ‘Amazon Concentration,’ not as a gift from the gods.

Wonder Woman’s magic lasso was supposedly forged from the Magic Girdle of Aphrodite, which Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s) mother was bequeathed by the Goddess. Hephastateus borrowed the belt, removed links from it, and that is where the magic lasso came from. It was unbreakable, infinitely stretchable, and could make all who are encircled in it tell the truth.

I first become interested in Greek and Roman mythology because of that original Wonder Woman story.

But now “they” are going to change all that — make her a Superman Clone.

They are taking the awesome “wonder” out of Wonder Woman, and I don’t like it at all.

independence

There is a lingering scent of bug spray throughout the house this July 4, left over from yesterday’s cook-out and trek down the street to watch the fireworks. I had the option of not hanging out in the 90 degree heat with the forty-something-aged parents and their young kids and not standing around in the mosquito and Japanese beetle invested night with the hundreds of others, necks craned to the sky. I chose to hang out in my own cool space, making periodic appearances to gather up my food and drink and interact a bit with the guests.

Such is the privilege of age — especially in my situation, where I have few responsibilities to anyone but myself. (Except, of course, my 94-year-old demented mother, whom I will visit in a few days to help with her care.)

It is Independence Day in another way for me. For the first time in some 25 years, I am off an anti-depressant. It served it’s purpose, and I was done with the lack of depth of feeling that is the both the benefit and the curse of those meds. It took three months to wean myself off, and I am seeing a counselor to help with the transition, but it’s worth it.

I’m writing more, feeling more, doing more. I’m almost done with the three-dimensional wall hanging that I’m creating for this virtual exhibit. I’m quite pleased with the result, and I have ideas for more such projects. And I’ve begun a sweater for my daughter like the one below I made for myself, but in another color.

I’m even feeling more sympathy for my poor mother, and, in a new strange way, I’m looking forward to spending some time with her, trying to ease her weary mind.

I am thinking a lot about being the age I am (70) and what I want for myself, which is seeming to be so very different from what I wanted even a dozen years ago. I am trying out some alternative ways to relieve the pains of joint and spine problems, and they seem to be working.

Today is Independence Day, and despite the turmoil and despair in so many other parts of this world, in this small space that my life takes up, it’s a good day.

Yes, it’s a good day for singing a song,
and it’s a good day for moving along
Yes, it’s a good day, how could anything go wrong,
A good day from morning’ till night

Yes, it’s a good day for shining your shoes,
and it’s a good day for losing the blues;
Everything go gain and nothing’ to lose,
`Cause it’s a good day from morning’ till night

I said to the Sun, ” Good morning sun
Rise and shine today”
You know you’ve gotta get going
If you’re gonna make a showin’
And you know you’ve got the right of way.

`Cause it’s a good day for paying your bills;
And it’s a good day for curing your ills,
So take a deep breath and throw away your pills;
`Cause it’s a good day from morning’ till night

the project of the pink hat

I don’t like to wear hats. It’s more than not wanting to get “hat head.” It’s more the fact that I must have the roundest face in the world and hats make my head look like a pumpkin.

So, I’m not exactly sure why I had the urge to crochet a hat out of strips of fabric. I think it’s because, like “the mountain,” the idea was there and so I had to master it.

The color didn’t matter, so when I found the end of a bolt of sheer pink cotton for $1.50 a yard, I figured why not.

I didn’t have a pattern, but I know how to crochet a circle, and I’ve made hats out of regular yarn before. Used to sell them, back when ideas seemed to automatically turn into energy.

So, I spent one day ripping fabric into 1.5 inch strips and another crocheting a hat that turned out to be too big. I threw it in washer and dryer on “hot,” thinking it would shrink, being cotton and all.

Nope. It stretched

So I undid all of that crocheting and and started over — smaller hook, fewer stitches.

And now I have this pink hat crocheted out of fabric strips, which doesn’t necessarily make my face look less like a pumpkin, but I guess I can wear it when we go to Maine for a late-June vacation. It’s always windy near the ocean, and maybe the big sunglasses will make me look like an aging celebrity. Betty White?

I napped all afternoon today, waking up intermittently during thunderstorms to ponder why I launch myself into pointless projects like the pink hat, why it matters to me that my face is round and sagging, why I am obsessed with my hair, why I don’t write much any more, why am I here?

But here I am, anyway, pink hat, big sunglasses, wattle, and all.

Here I am.