Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yikes Stripes! My Readers and I Love Knitting Stripes

I've received a few emails from readers over the past few days. I thought it would be fun to share them with you all. 

Dear Kristin,
When I first leafed through my autographed copy of Crafting a Colorful Home, I knew that I needed to have your striped afghan in my home.  I had been collecting colors of your yarn for years (how did you create an exceptional brown?  I mean it’s just brown!) and I took the enormously generous gift card from my child and their partner to Webs.  I’ve worked on it off and on for many months, and earlier this week I finally finished miles of mattress stitch, and spread it out on my sofa.  

There hasn’t been a sunny day since I finished, but this pic gives you an idea.  Color, entertainment, beauty, I knit it myself, and as an added bonus, I’m going to be warm this winter.  Many thanks!


Here is the afghan that Anne has finished from my book Crafting A Colorful Home. Outstanding job Anne! It is an heirloom for sure. And from what I hear from Anne - her family is fighting for who gets to snuggle under it. 

Signed copies of my Crafting A Colorful Home book are available here. It will make a great Christmas gift for crafty friends. 

From Patty, a long-time reader and commenter, I got this note.....

Hi Kristin,
Years ago, I could not afford Classic Elite Tapestry. I would buy left overs that were on sale. Those left overs eventually became the attached sweater. Thanks for your inspiration. This sweater one keeps one of my most favorite co-workers warm.


I love the sweater Patty made. It looks like something that I could use everyday here in our chilly farmhouse. I love all the crazy colors mixed together! Thanks for sharing Patty. 

And lastly, this is what I have been knitting lately. It is a pair of Christmas Stockings for some little people. These stockings will hang together for many years. I wanted to design them so they looked good together and the kids would be able to know whose was whose. 

They aren't done yet. Must be washed and then I will add some embroidered ornaments to the trees. 

The patterns I used are available on my website here and here.
Or on Ravelry here and here
I mixed the two patterns together. Lots of designing options and fun. 

Hope you all are staying calm and taking care to travel safely if you are visiting friends and family. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alicia Hunsicker Preview - Get to Know Her Before the Open House

Today I am introducing you all to my neighbor Alicia Hunsicker who is a fine artist. She lives directly across the street from me here on Glen Road and her studio will be open during our Open House on December 5/6. Alicia's work is incredibly detailed and beautiful. I have had the good fortune to watch her painting style morph and develop over the 16 years we have lived across from each other. 

Alicia has a show currently at Gallery In the Woods in Brattleboro, Vermont if you can't get to our Open House. You can find more information here

You can also find Alicia at the following places on the web: 

KN: Alicia - I know you went to university to study art. I also know you to be an incredibly driven artist. Tell us about your schooling and what drives you to paint? 
AH: Yes, I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Printmaking with a Graphic design concentration.   After graduating, I realized that fine art print shops were very rare in Western Mass so I found a job working with Photography.  During that time (the late 90’s) I experimented with painting and found that I grew to love it.  Over the years as my art process has developed I am finding that I have organically incorporated all of these early elements of learning and exploration into how I create my paintings now.

I feel painting allows me to process my inner thoughts, observations, and feelings about this world we live in.  Creating visual art has always been an essential part of who I am.  It’s what I do and how I express myself.  As I explore the world with interests in science and human consciousness through my art, I have developed a body of paintings that reveal a cosmic discussion about the nature of all things.

KN: When did you learn to paint?
AH: I did take one painting class at the UMass. But essentially I am self taught.  I started painting around 1995 but professionally I have been painting for a little more than 10 years. It was around 2005 when I began to seriously show my artwork. I started with oil painting but as my career grew and demand for my paintings increased I shifted to acrylic for its faster drying times.  

KN: What type of paint do you use?
AH: I love oil paint and my favorite brands are Old Holland & Gamblin.  A few years ago though, out of necessity, I found Golden acrylics which come in the transparent colors I loved when I was working in oil. For a short time, I used the acrylics in my under paintings and did the finishing layers of oil on top.  It really saved me a lot of time as I am a slow and painfully detailed painter.  What really set me exclusively into the world of acrylics is when I found Golden Liquid acrylics……Yum!!  I love the colors and the liquid consistency that keep my paintings smooth. I have also enjoyed experimenting with Golden’s interference colors that shimmer and move from one color to another. 

KN: What is your process for your paintings?
AH: With my printmaking, graphics, and photography background, I have developed a unique way of working
that combines several methods to achieve my unique style of contemporary painting. First, I choose multiple images and experiment in Photoshop with layers and contrast. I do this until I feel I have an image I would like to work with.  I call this my sketch.  I then make black and white xerox copy of the digital image and go through a printing process called a xerox transfer to apply the sketch onto my painting surface.  I seal it with clear gesso and then I start the painting process by adding layers of color.

KN: Your recent paintings seem to me to be a mix of earthly natural forms and images from outer space? How did you come up with this new series?  AH: My work is in a constant metamorphosis and my visual vocabulary evolves from year to year. 
What stands true for my work over time is the exploration of nature’s patterns and how their context can overlap depending on what you are looking at. For example - when the shape of a root on a tree or plant can also be seen as a vein in the body or the path a river takes through land.  I like to play with the Micro and Macro (heaven and earth) with these organic patterns and shapes.  I also love circles and spheres for this same reason as they can be seen in so many ways from cosmic planets to the tiniest of particles,

KN: I love all the blue you are using in your work. As a colorist, I always wonder why artists pick different colors to use. Why did you choose the blues and turquoises and how do they make you feel when you are painting?
AH: Painting is very meditative for me and the blues and turquoises are definitely calming to the eye and it lends itself to the
celestial aspect of my work seen in the night sky backgrounds.  Prussian blue is my favorite background blue color and I feel it is the most calming of all the blues. In the foreground color I like to use brighter blues like cyan or the bright turquoise shades. In the past I have described my paintings as being “a palette of earth and sky” but now with the appearance of these bright flowers shapes I have added a kaleidoscope of color ranges for this latest series.

KN: What products are you offering at the Open House and what are the different price points?
AH: I am really excited about what I have to offer for this event!  I will have a wide range of sizes and price points for my original paintings which I am happy to offer Special Holiday pricing for this weekend only.

I have a very special treat for this open studio: for the first time ever I am offering a selection of full color, archival prints of my paintings, framed and ready to be wrapped up for that special and unique holiday gift.  These come in two affordable sizes.

I also will have available one of a kind artist prints in soft grey tones with hand painted gold leaf accents, framed in two sizes and a small selection of reproductions on aluminum. 

Small gifts and price points under $30 are also available with items such as unframed prints, cards, catalogs, and hand carved wands, and bargain bin artworks.

I am happy to take orders for color prints and small reproductions on aluminum.
I can also work out payment plans for larger signature works with a deposit down.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deborah Garner Preview - Get to Know Her Before The Open House

Since many of you may be within driving distance of our farm, I thought it would be fun to preview the people involved in our Open House/Open Studio. First off is Deborah Garner - a super smart textile collector, jewelry designer, and artist with a fantastic southern accent. I met Deborah not long after I moved here. I couldn't believe that in this tiny little town, there was a woman who had more textiles than me and the incredible knowledge about where the textiles actually came from and the people who made them. (Me? I collect textiles by color and what I am attracted to.)

For those of you who cannot come to the Open House because of distance, you can luckily shop virtually via Deborah's (Jewelry) Etsy Shop HERE or her website HERE for her exquisite textiles.

KN: What are the different products you will be having for sale at the Open House? 
DG: I have been gathering a colorful and eclectic grouping of worldly goods, consisting of collectible textiles, “Art to Wear” pieces, and natural fiber scarves and shawls. I’ll also be offering my one of a kind, original jewelry designs as well as vintage tribal adornment.

KN: What are the price points? 
DG: For this event I am focusing on attractive gift-giving prices from under $30. up to several hundred for more collectible material… 

KN: Deborah, I know you to have an immaculate eye and sense of style… Tell us a little bit about your background…
DG: As an artist, I have always been inspired by folk-art and the expressive, multi-cultural symbolism found in textiles and ceremonial objects of non-Western traditional peoples.
I have been researching and dealing in “ethnographic material”, items that cultural groups make for their own use, for over 35 years.
I moved to Boston from the Deep South in 1980 to study art. 
As much as that was a dream come true, I missed sourcing interesting treasure for a little shop my best-friend and I created in South Carolina. People were always stopping me on the sidewalks to compliment something I was wearing, saying “Where did you get that, the Peabody Museum Shop?”

I’d never heard of the fabulous, treasure trove, of a shop at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, but eventually sought it out. It was love at first sight…Authentic 19th C cabinets filled with charming curiosities, folk-art, and jewelry. The buyer was amazed that I recognized many of her sources as I was buying from them in Atlanta. She was soon leaving and recommended me for the job. I was there for most of that decade, immersing myself in cultural anthropology and studying the historic collections as I lovingly tended that shop. 

I only left to travel and to eventually do independent research on costumes of tribal groups in Burma, financed by collecting interesting material to sell to museum shops and permanent collections around the country. There were many wonderful relationships formed in the museum world but my favorites were the MFA in Boston, RISD Art Museum, and The Textile Museum in Washington. It was wonderful to help the grand old Boston MFA broaden their non-Western material, to share objects with RISD that may inspire future designers and the Textile Museum because of the beacon of textile scholarship that institution is internationally known to be. A great honor came in 2000 when the research my partner and I had been collecting for years in Burma was published in the Textile Museum Journal.

A decade later, I am still passionate about all of the above, but rediscovering myself as an artist, happily designing jewelry with organic materials and odds and ends from former travels, and peacefully residing in the hills of central New England. The circle is now complete.

KN: Tell my readers why purchasing antique ethnographic textiles is a great investment.
DG: Monetarily, prices have naturally gone up, as supply has evaporated.
The 20th and early 21st C has impacted the traditional cultures through constant marginalization and  the un-escapable influence of Western commercialization in the dominant culture which the young people find desirable and irresistible. Many of the textile skills are simply not being taught or learned, as the traditions fall away and ready-made garments are preferred.

Old textiles are truly artifacts now. When available, they are many times collected by the originating group, as keepsakes to collectively teach younger women the skills their great grandmothers knew at a young age. Global cooperatives are formed worldwide that help women provide for their families and produce charming and whimsical work that is mostly geared toward the Western market.

The older pieces are imbued with a certain quality that approaches soul-fullness. They are snapshots of another world. The symbolism used in the embroidery and weaving has deep meaning, value and protection. It tells the social/spiritual status of the person it was made for. It is many times embellished with exotic materials from outside the culture such as coins, zippers, buttons etc. that suggest local and foreign histories. Antique ethnographic textiles are literally documents of a particular culture with their ancestral timelines woven into the warp and weft.

The “investment” is more interactive than monetary, it requires a broadening of appreciation for humanity and our need to create meaning and beauty, to celebrate rituals of the passage of life, and to adorn the ones we love with something that takes time and heart to create. I’m sure your readers can find resonance there. The reward is an enrichment of one’s life and home environment.

KN: How do you suggest decorating with ethnographic textiles? 
DG: People could certainly take inspiration from your playfully bold layering of pattern and color from the wonderful textiles you mix throughout your house, Kristin! It is always a visual feast.

For more information on traditional framing, mounting, or hanging options some wonderful books have come out over the years. One of the first and best was Living with Decorative Textiles by Barnard and Merrell, 1989, Thames and Hudson Press. There have been lots of Style books published like Ethnic Interiors, and those focusing on different parts of the world. All of them easy to find online…

DG: I personally can’t imagine living without textiles as constant companions! Can You Kristin?
KN: No way. Textiles are part of the beauty of life and home. I am so happy to share my passion with you Deborah and so many others. 

For those of you who cannot come to the Open House because of distance, you can luckily shop virtually via Deborah's (Jewelry) Etsy Shop HERE or her website HERE for her exquisite textiles.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fall Color + Things I Am Thinking About

This post is a little long so you may want to come back to it at another time. I have added some recent photos of nature at the end of the post that were taken in our pastures a few weeks ago when there were still bits of color. 

My days, these last couple of weeks, are filled with lots of making and painting of pottery and ceramics. While I am painting/decorating the pottery with underglaze, I need to have some white noise to fill the space so my brain doesn't overthink what I am doing. I have been watching different YouTube videos on art history to keep me company. (Like these fantastic BBC shows hosted by Art Historian Alastair Sooke about the artists PicassoMatisseWarhol, and Dali. Click on each name to watch the video on YouTube. Super interesting - each show talks about how each artist changed the look of our modern world.) Although I am totally engrossed in the surface design of each object I am creating and painting on the ceramic piece, I listen to what the presenter is talking about and think about actually watching the video later so that I can actually see the art. 

I also listen to different podcasts that interview artists and designers who do similar work to me. Monica and Abby are my favorites. I must say that I find the podcasts that are hosted by women are my favorites. It is kind of like having a girlfriend sitting there with me while I work. 

My friends Alicia and Deborah and I had a planning meeting for our Open House/Open Farm Days on December 5/6. We aren't sure what to expect this first year and if it goes well, we may do it again next year depending on what we all have going on. Alicia is an amazing fine artist and Deborah is a ethnographic textile collector and jewelry designer (and artist). All three of us have art that doesn't compete with each other and actually - it is going to be a really nice mix. I'll be posting an interview with them both within the next couple days. 

I am producing as much as I can physically to sell at the Open House. Whatever doesn't sell I will put up for sale on my Etsy shop for all of you who live far away. My ceramics are very time consuming because of all the painted motifs and details on each piece. Each piece has to be made out of clay, then dried, painted with underglazed, fired in my kiln, then painted with gloss glaze and fired agin. I am trying to figure out the pricing - to make them fairly priced but also compensate me for the time, the two firings, the clay and the blank dinnerware plates and bowls that I purchase for dinnerware. 

The other night, on the way to the grocery store, I was listening to NPR's Marketplace. The host Kai was speaking with some experts on the economy like he always does. The general gist of the conversation was that Macy's corporate profits were not up to where they should be and that no one really knows where the economy is headed. Well, seriously - do we ever really know? Are consumers going to come out and buy like they used to? Will the big corporations have lots of gains and make lots of money this holiday season? Add to that all the recent uncertainty in the world and consumers don't know where to turn.  

Has the world of commerce and business changed? Has the way you and I buy things changed so that we don't want as much stuff that the big stores are trying to sell to us? Has the economy really gotten better? Do the big chains think that we are back in the go-go 90's and early 00's before the tech bust? Are people going to consume like they did back then? I really don't think so. 

All that talk about big retail businesses making money made me think about the economy that I am participating in and part of. I am trying to make my living by selling virtual knitting and stitching patterns, authoring and selling my books, pottery, notecards and whatever else I dream up to people like you who are reading my blog and following along with me. Besides that, I help out with our small sheep farm which is another story altogether. There are thousands of people like me - potters, seamstresses, woodworkers, bakers, farmers, authors, quilters, Christmas wreath makers selling their wares on the side of the road or in virtual on-line shops -- people living in their own little worlds and homes and studios making and growing things with their hands and their bodies and their brains. 

On Marketplace the other night, they said that the recession has been over for six years. I was quite astounded by that. Doing the math - that would put the end of the recession as 2009. Gee - I thought this one began in 2007 with the financial meltdown. Did it really end in 2009? Not here at this house. I think that giant meltdown began the tides of the change of how consumers spend money. I think people are more careful - as they should be - about plunking down their hard earned money for stuff they don't need. 

I also wonder how much the "handmade" economy is cutting into the standard corporate economies. I'm probably way off the mark here but I think that consumers are realizing that buying handmade things - or products made by small companies that have a story - may be changing how $ is going around in the economy. I am no economist for sure - let's say that was the only class in college that I almost didn't pass! But I wonder - are consumers changing the way they spend their money? Are on-line sites where you can find everything like Etsy and Ebay taking money away from the big department stores and the "normal" way things are marketed and sold in the US? I would say yes - to some degree. 

I wonder how long the big old chain stores will survive - much less prosper again. I know I live in a pocket of New England where things don't work the way they do other places. Here we have very few chain stores and I have to drive 40 minutes to get to a place like Target or Walmart or Old Navy. I'm probably not seeing things the same way you all out there are seeing things. 

This summer when I was hosting my workshops with the fabulous students that drove and flew in from all over the place, I couldn't help but think about how these women and you all out there who read this blog, buy my stuff, and support me emotionally with your comments are helping my family and I keep it all going around here. Between our customers at the Farmers Markets who purchase our lamb, to everyone of you who orders a pattern or maybe a piece of my pottery - or buys a book directly from me ---- all of you are keeping us going, supporting our farm and our family. 

I can't think of a time in my life when I have been supported this much financially by individuals. I told my students this summer that they were my patrons - in the old-fashioned sense of an artist having a patron. That by purchasing from me or taking a class from me, each one of you contributes so much to our family being able to survive and keep our farm and business going. For this - I thank you all so much. 

Enough rambling - I have things to do. Pottery to make, newsletters to write, interviews to do, and a house that needs to be cleaned for Thanksgiving and the Open House. I hope you all have a great day! Enjoy these photos from the pastures below our farmhouse when there was a bit more color out there than now. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Beautiful New Book - Stamp Stencil Paint + A Giveaway!

I love the arrival of new books in the fall. Maybe it is a throwback to "going back to school" and since I haven't been in school in forever, books arriving in the marketplace replace those boring textbooks. Today I have another new book to share with you all. And a giveaway at the end of the post. (Please excuse the dark photos - it has been so gray here this week and these really do not do justice to the beauty of this book.)

Stamp Stencil Paint: Making Extraordinary Patterned Projects by Hand is Anna Joyce's first book. Anna is a successful maker with a popular shop on Etsy. She has been featured in a lot of print and digital design media including SFGirl by Bay and Real Simple Magazine. Anna's aesthetic is simple, graphic and modern as you can see by the cover of Stamp Stencil Paint

Stamp Stencil Paint begins with a good introduction to Anna's design background and philosophies. Next up, she introduces the supplies, tools and paints she uses. 

Stamp Stencil Paint is beautifully designed and features photos by Lisa Warninger. It is published by STC Craft and was edited by Melanie Falick. I like what Anna writes in the Getting Started section and I am including it here because I think it explains the aesthetic of the book - including the projects and book design. 

"Each project in Stamp Stencil Paint was designed to be simple, effective, and deliver great results . For some projects you will need to know basic sewing skills or purchase a few special supplies, but most require just the courage to jump in and get started. You will need to relieve yourself of fear and simply make a pattern, by hand, and I will show you how."

The book is divided into the following chapters: 




After Anna introduces each techniques tools, supplies, and techniques - complete with how-to photos, she includes 7 or 8 projects she made with each technique. Here are my favorite ideas from each chapter. 

From the Stamping Chapter, these "Blooming Market Bags" look like a quick fun project. Anna includes 6 different floral motif ideas. I think this project would be fun to do with kids or to whip out as holiday gifts. You could also use the motifs on purchased canvas bags. 

In the Stencil Chapter, Anna includes some more lovely floral projects. The Floral Totebag has a kind of Hawaiian feel to it. Stenciling is done in two colors. 

The Bright Table Linens feature a pretty modern flower with Orla Kiely-ish leaves. Anna has designed the stencils so that they are beginner friendly. This design in particular gives a lot of empty space which helps with the stenciling technique which can be a bit fiddly. 

The Paint Chapter is my favorite - probably because the projects are more free-form and loose. These Brushstroke Kitchen Linens are super simple and stunning. 

The Simple Cotton Quilt is a bigger project but offers tons and tons of possibilities when playing with color. I love to play with blocks of color and I can see this project as a super fun learning experience. 

Lastly, Anna has included painting on ceramics. She gives the supplies you will need to produce handpainted ceramics on plates and this salt cellar. The paints she recommends are for porcelain and do not need to be fired in a pottery kiln. 

Nice job Anna! I hope you all will check out this book and maybe purchase it for a crafty friend or family member for a holiday gift. 

Thanks to STC Craft for supplying my review copy and the lucky winners copy. That's right, one of my lucky readers will win their very own copy of Stamp Stencil Paint. Here's how you enter.......

Answer the following question in the Comments Section: 
If you were to stamp, stencil or paint - which technique would be your first to attempt? If you have no opinion, share your experiences of a DIY project you have done, or want to do with paint. 

U.S. Residents only. Contest ends Monday November 16th at 11:59 p.m. 

As always, please leave an easy way to get a hold of you - blogger id, email, or Rav id. Thanks for that - it makes running these giveaways so much easier for me not having to track someone down in crazy fashion. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Autumn Colors + An Update

This week it has been pretty dreary - cold and wet and gray and fogged in most of the time. That has been good for my work because I have been super busy making things for the upcoming Open House on December 5/6. I'll be back with more information on that at the beginning of next week. My friends and I that are doing this together are having a planning session tomorrow. 

Above are 4 bowls that are painted with underglaze. They will not look like this when they are finished - the colors will be much brighter once the gloss glaze goes on. 

Having the puppies Beau and Sadie is a lot of fun. They take their walk seriously and always end it with a dip in a little spring fed puddle/pond in the pasture. They are getting so big - bigger than Kate and Ness, the Border Collies. I don't know how much they weigh but it has got to be close to 50 pounds each. 

The Collies are not very friendly to the Gt Pyrenees puppies. So far, it has been impossible to get them in a photo together. But we all take our walk together and I love watching the different personalities and antics of each breed. 

Before the memories of autumn color slip away, I wanted to share some of the beauty that I've found inspiring in nature in our pastures and on our road. 

Have a great day everyone!