Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Never underestimate a Bull Terrier

With Leslie in Portland, I'm here in charge of the shop, the cats, and the subject of today's blog - my mini bull terrier, Joon.

Joon is an old lady now; she sleeps probably 20 hours a day, spends a lot of the rest of her time eating or peeing. But in her younger days - what a rapscallion!
I first got Joon when she was retired from the show ring and couldn't be bred due to a heart murmur. The woman I got her from warned me that Joon needed to crated when I wasn't home. One of my friends (who had never dealt with a bull terrier) said, "Oh Maureen, just dog-proof the kitchen. You can put a baby-gate on the door and let that be Joon's room while you're out."
First time I tried that, Joon got the doors open under the microwave cabinet and had herself a Tupperware party. Exit all my plastic containers as every single one had been chewed on. So now that cabinet was empty, so the kitchen was safe, right? Hah.
The next time I went out, Joon got the door open to the half-bath off the kitchen. She found a big jug of laundry detergent in there, somehow got it to the middle of the kitchen floor and started chomping on that. When I got home, there was a rapidly-spreading blue puddle in the middle of the floor, and Joon was walking around smacking her lips with distaste. Not knowing what would happen to a dog who drank Arm & Hammer for an evening cocktail, I called Angell Memorial (the wonderful animal hospital in Boston). The vet tech who answered the phone could hardly control herself. This was the funniest thing she'd heard in a while, and she really lost it when I reported that Joon was burping bubbles. That was the end of Joon's Reign of Kitchen Terror. Back to the crate went she.
On her second birthday, my neighbors and I had a birthday party in our shared yard with Joon and their lovable Golden Retriever, Dillon. Joon shook off her party hat, ate her own treats, stole Dillon's while nipping him on the nose, and then puked. I could imagine the story in the local paper "Teen strips naked at party, assaults boyfriend, vomits in public."
Her most recent birthday (her 13th) was much more sedate. I'm hoping to see at least a couple more for the old girl, as long as they're happy ones.

Monday, January 29, 2007

January- yes Portland, ME- yes Mondays- NO!

Leslie here, reporting from Portland, ME. just seeing what the world off Cape Ann has to offer. In a few short weeks I'll be here at the Doubletree Inn for the Spa Knit and Spin event. I planned on seeing some museums and galleries and introducing myself to the local yarn shops who might want to host my Shawl Pin Making Workshop. Good idea on the wrong day. Museums are closed as are many of the galleries. That said, it's still great to be here. For those of you who visualize me sitting in a trendy cafe with a fancy laptop, sorry. I'm here in the Portland Public Library which is spacious and modern, using their computer.
Well off to find some more LYSs who don't care if it is Monday.
Blog On!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Long Live the Reflector Queen

It was the winter of 1968 and all the girls were getting ready for spring break. When it was sunny many of us skipped class and sat outside the cafeteria where is was protected from the wind. There we slathered ourselves with baby oil mixed with iodine to "protect" our skin and opened up our reflectors. These were large, three foil covered cardboard segments that opened to direct the sun's rays. Most of us were content with one but I do remember one girl with a short late '60's asymmetrical platinum bob who owned three ( face, torso, legs) to keep her mahogany skin, well, mahogany. We were told to wear those tiny plastic eye protectors that look like a cross between a lorgnette and Barbie's push up bra. Yeah, right! I remember being told I would be wrinkled when I was forty. I swear I remember thinking "Me? Forty? (another) yeah, right!
My mom never used a reflector but she gardened and played golf. She literally had a tan line through her shirt from her bra. I remember her regular visits to a dermatologist to undo years of unprotected sun exposure. She began to resemble a raisin. I started using high number suntan lotions.
I spent part of this morning in a waiting room that served many doctors, waiting to see a dermatologist. This was my first visit and I had been warned that I should expect to wait. By the time I saw him I had moved beyond being edgy from the wait to grateful. Sometimes waiting rooms will do that to you. Besides, I live in a small town and there were several people also waiting that I knew. I chatted until my name was called.
He looked: he sprayed; we talked; I left.
Long live the Reflector Queen.
Blog On!


Bright sun shares no warmth
Sea smoke drifts above the cove
Winter's coldest day.

- Maureen

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Six Loose Ladies.....and me

Well I finally took my "show" on the road. Yesterday afternoon I pulled up to the yarn store, Six Loose Ladies in Proctorsville, Vermont and walked in to what would be the setting for today's workshop. I could not have asked for a better place. The store is large with an open floor plan that allows for easy browsing. And everywhere there was something to see. Gorgeous yarns and fiber works of all kinds were on display. An installation in finger crochet meandered through a good portion of the shop. The air thrummed with creative inspiration. I was told that Susan, one of The Loose ladies and her husband, Peter had a place for me to say. And what a place.
The Golden Stage Inn was just down the street. My room was cozy and decorated, as was the rest of the inn, in a style to which I aspire. Everywhere was evidence of Susan's creativity. The bathroom was stenciled as was much or the inn's walls with subtle design elements that complimented the fabrics and paint colors. I read, slept and woke early the next morning to be at the shop by 9:00. Sandy and Peter were busy putting out breakfast for the skiers who are fueling up for the morning's caloric demands. I feasted on aplple stuffed French toast, fresh cut up fruit and coffee. The sausages were tempting but I'm still working of the Christmas excess.
I had a wonderful time and met really nice, interesting people. When I get back to Rockport I post my photos .
Till tomorrow, Blog ON!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Aries the Great and the Color Red

Maureen's back. I confess to being one of those people who only believes in her horoscope when she agrees with it. So here's the important quote for Aries from today's Boston Globe:
"Get involved. It's time to give back. Help someone who
can't do for him or herself or volunteer for a cause you believe in."

Well, didn't I feel smug. Not only am I crocheting those Fun Fur hats for Children's Hospital, I just finished two identical scarves for the Red Scarf Project. This project sends as Valentine's Day presents red (or any unisex color) scarves to college students who were foster children and have aged out of the foster system. The project is sponsored by the Orphan Foundation of America for these kids who most likely have no one to send them care packages at school.

Not that I'm so totally noble; don't expect that from an Aries. I had been working with earth tones for a bunch of Christmas presents. The idea of working with a good red really appealed to me, it is the color for Aries, and it gave me a great excuse to buy more yarn. Machine washable yarn was recommended (these ARE college students), so I went with Lion Suede in the Scarlet color. I had tried in a previous project to crochet it using an N hook in double stitch. Not only did I lose that lush, suede look, it wormed out of its stitches, and I had to rip an entire shawl apart. For this scarf, I used a J hook in a seed stitch (hdc, sc). Judge for yourself how it looks. The scarves are to be mailed this month, so my scarves and my friend Katrina's scarf will be mailed on Monday. If you're a fast knitter or crocheter, there's still time.

PS Leslie is away this weekend, teaching another shawl pin workshop. This means that George Clooney could come visit tonight and Hugh Laurie tomorrow night, if they wanted to. Yeah, I'm shallow.

Good night and good luck,


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Redefinition of the Self

It seems that we define who we are pretty early in the game. Most of that definition is fed to us by others and we absorb it without examination. My current focus is to rethink and retool those labels.
Because I am so aware of this now, I find it jarring when I hear people making sweeping statements about themselves that you know are outdated. Many times I hear "Oh, I'm not creative. I'm just having fun It's nothing." Sometimes what they have presented, be it a home cooked meal, a room in their house that they just redid, a photograph they have taken or a smashing outfit they have put together, is really out-of-the-box special. Since I feel the gift of creativity is the best of all, it is sad to me that they don't see how lucky they are.
And my own self-redefinition? It's hard to say exactly where that's going. I just know whenever I hear myself begin a sentence, "I never" or "I don't" or some other sweeping self definition, I stop. I think what might happen if I try a different approach. Curiosity can be a wonderful motivator.
Blog On!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Energy Exchanges, Teaching vs Selling

Both type of exchanges involve energy from me and money from them. There ends any similarities between selling my work and teaching my work.
Yesterday I taught my first shawl pin class to the perfect first students. There was a mother/ teenage daughter duo so I had that nice multigenerational crafting perspective. There was a woman from my needle work guild who taught workshops in needle arts so I had her perspective as a seasoned professional. A second woman from my needlework guild in her 70's bowled me over with her quick ability and design sense. I should have guessed since everything she brings to show is off the charts amazing. My friend, Katie earned the wild card award for her pure "throw myself into it and make something way different" approach. And my friend Barb just came to sit with us and polish her jewelry that had been awaiting her attention for years. Her fruit salad was the perfect side to my veggie Mexican lasagna. My oven has been flukie lately and given the Rockport Community House's unflukie one, I was driven to cook. We lunched in.
I first explained that a shawl pin has only three criteria: have no sharp edges to fray fiber and be easy and dependable to use. In my first demonstration with the wire I commented that it is basically the same to make a pin for shawls as a cuff bracelet. That's when I saw "the look" in my youngest student's eyes. Most of us have had it too. It's when you mentally leap frog from "A" to "Z" and think of all the potential in between and where you want to go with it. What a great feeling to know I had sparked it in someone else. Throughout the day there were mini variations of that moment. The biggest thing I noticed was how energized I was. My mind was a Waring blender full of ideas in many directions. All this and I got paid!
I love working from my studio/shop, but it can be tough to be knocked off course by a customer who has come in. Maybe I am in the middle of the great "Aha", about to boldly go where I had never been creatively before. Maybe I am in the middle of a project with a time limit. Once the "Open" sign goes up I have no control. But unless I work at odd times I just have to accept that as the way it has to be.
Meanwhile, I am already planning the next workshop powered by the head of stream from yesterday's experience.
Blog On!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Giving My First Shawl Pin Workshop

Tomorrow I start a new direction. I am teaching my first workshop in shawl pin making for people with no previous metal working experience. I have taught many times over the years in situations ranging from one on one in studio to small classes elsewhere. What is different is that I am in a more aggressive push to get me and my work out to a bigger world.
To my mind a teacher's goal is to stretch a student's knowledge while minimizing frustration . There is no creative direction that doesn't involve going down dead ends. How people deal with that is telling. My biggest "teaching" situation was with Beth Williams ( http://bethwilliams.com/ We met when she came to my studio to have a new wedding ring made for her husband. After a few meetings I was impressed with her own creative energy and her organized easy manner. I offered a choice: I could make her ring for money or I could teach her to make her own ring and she could teach me to be organized. And so began a seven year stint of sharing a studio and a friendship that continues to this day. I had always worked alone. I was amazed at what I learned watching her start from scratch.
One day she spent totally focused on one project doggedly inching her way on a complicated piece. My style is more like a spider spinning a web on LSD. I don't recommend it. Her project wasn't going so easily. I asked her what went through her mind as she worked. "Just getting this done," she answered. As I shut up and continued watching I became aware that I had a habit of running a constant negative chatter in my head. I also became aware of the cost of that habit. Awareness does not equal change overnight unless your name is Scrooge.
So as I start this stint of teaching I am reminded that the roles of "teacher" and "student"
do not have fixed boundries. What a gift that is!
Blog On,

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Power of Fiber People

Maureen, here.

In my previous blog, I mentioned the Fun Fur hats for the kids at Children's Hospital. Today, Mini reports that she has heard from 300+ knitters. She also reported that I offered some button covers as a prize, so here they are.

They are made from Premo! polymer clay. I am going to offer six as a set; this photo shows three for clarity. The back of one is visible so that you can see the mechanism. There are a couple of cool things about making button covers with polymer as opposed to buttons. For one, the embellishment can be any shape or size without your worrying about it fitting through a button hole. For another, the polymer clay cannot be dry cleaned, so with button covers, you just pop them on and off.

Back to the Fun Fur hats. I crocheted one last night in a smaller child size, using two strands at a time (black and red). The best results seemed to be with a K size hook, although I may try one with an M hook (no L hook in my case yet). Leslie and I tried to get a picture of one of the cats or my dog wearing the hat, but the results were not usable. We had pictures of the hat sliding off a p-o'd cat or deflated on a sleeping bull terrier's head. But the button covers behaved well, didn't they?

Any questions about the button covers, just email me at maureenmo3 at aol dot com (you know what to do) and be sure to put button covers in the subject line.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Other One

You may have noticed that the name of this blog is plural, implying more than one freak. Well, I am the other one - Maureen.

I crochet well, knit at a novice level, and do polymer clay at an intermediate level. When I'm working in any of the three, it's usually all about the color for me. Oddly enough, my most current project is a black scarf, knit of ribbon yarn with subtle metallic sparkles. It's a belated Christmas present for a friend. She, too, makes all her Christmas presents, so we agreed years ago to exchange presents when they got done, no matter how belated. That's a blessing to have that pressure off.

I'm dying to get to my next project, Fun Fur hats for kids at Children's Hospital in Boston. I found the info about this project on my friend Woolybun's blog but it originated at Minestrone Soup. I highly recommend both these blogs, and if you're a knitter or crocheter, join the project.

Before I go, I must say, Leslie just had me laughing so hard I almost snorted my hot chocolate. She realized that I could take a picture of her unshowered, hair sticking out, and post it, telling the world, "This is what I have to look at!" I told her I'd be afraid she'd sneak into my room at night and take a picture of me snoring, with drool down the side of my face. We would be at an impasse, so the world is safe from those images.

The images I would like to post are of projects, so I'll start that soon. Those should be much more attractive than me with bedhead.