The Case for Color

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. ~Pablo PicassoIMG_4498

My best friend is very talented at “Visual Note Taking.”  She is a curriculum director and a teacher trainer, and she attends more meetings than anyone I know!  Her life is ruled by what she lovingly refers to as her “nerdy notebook.”  This is the command central for all of her notes and appointments.  Furthermore, she has always been a very artistic person and once taught art to elementary children (in Bangladesh, but that’s another story.)  Somehow my friend has managed to bring her love of art into the daily grind of meetings and conferences.  Last August, we were sitting next to one another during a keynote speech at a reading conference, and I witnessed the full-extent of her creative note-taking style.  She pulled out a little box of colored markers and managed to capture the essence of the speaker’s message with doodles, sketches, bulleted notes, and creative lettering. (If you want more information about the concept of visual note-taking, I highly recommend Austin Kleon’s website!)

So, when I got my Fall (2014) issue of Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself magazine, I noticed a fantastic project for a roll-up colored pencil case made out of felt.  The moment I saw it, I knew I would have to make it for my friend.

416306913_lgWell, I finally got around to making this project, with her birthday right around the corner, and it turned out perfectly!  In fact, it’s better than I could have hoped! I did modify the dimensions from the written directions in order to fit the number of markers in the package.  I also used a black leather-like cord, instead of felt, as a tie.

IMG_4487 IMG_4493 This was a fun, easy gift to make, and I have just enough fabric left over to make one for myself! By the way, the book I purchased to accompany my gift is called Nature Mandalas Coloring Book by Thaneeya McArdle.  It seems we never grow too old to enjoy some coloring time, do we?

Happy Spring, and Happy Coloring!

Auntie Hangers

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.  ~Pierre Corneille

I am absolutely thrilled to have a short essay and picture published in the latest issue of Uppercase Magazine.  This call for submissions was for all artists who revel in the use of scraps, bits, pieces and left-overs!  I knew right away that I would submit my “Auntie Hangers” to share.  I use every last bit of scrap yarn I have, and these are the perfect stash busters.  I call them Auntie Hangers because I received my first crocheted hangers as an unexpected gift from my great-aunt, Helen.  In fact, you can read the whole story if you hurry and order your copy of Uppercase today!  It is hands-down my favorite magazine full of inspiration for anyone who loves to live a creative life.

In fact, making these hangers is also one of my favorite gift ideas.  Who doesn’t love a pretty, soft hanger on which to hang a special dress or blouse?

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I am in love with this latest issue because it features the beauty of feed-sack cloth its many uses “once upon a time.”  Each issue of the magazine has a small square of actual feed- sack cloth attached to the front.  It’s these extra-special details that make this magazine such a treasure!

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Happy scrapping and Happy Crafting!

A Boy…..And a Girl!

“All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin.”     ~Lord Byron

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I’ve been on a baby-hat making spree lately.  There are lots of babies coming into the world amongst my friends.  This elf-hat pattern is so easy, and looks great no matter what color!  The pattern came from Etsy shop, BeezyMomsCreations, and it was exactly what I was looking for!  The big, fluffy pom-pom on the end really makes it extra special, don’t you think!  It’s the perfect time of year in northwest Montana for staying indoors and crocheting, so more hats are on the way! I can’t wait to see these on the special twins due any day.

Happy February and Happy Stitching!

Snow Day

“January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.”–Sara ColeridgeIMG_4453Is there a teacher or student out there in Northwest Montana today who doesn’t feel like today is a special gift?  I’ve learned to never wish for a snow day, because it has to be REALLY snowy in my neck of the woods for school to be closed, and in twenty years of teaching, I can remember about three such days. That said, there’s nothing as decadent and magical as a free day to sit inside and watch the snow fall.

Calligraphy Revisited

“Certainly the art of writing is the most miraculous of all things man has devised.” –Carlyle

It’s true, I have a hard time throwing anything away, which sometimes makes me very happy.  For instance, when I decide that I want to dabble with calligraphy after about, oh say, 25 years!  Needless to say, I was ecstatic to find a folder with all of the old handouts given to me by the elementary teacher who taught me calligraphy in the sixth grade.  I’m one-hundred percent sure that she ran these pages off on one of those machines that she had to crank the handle!  I shared some of my thoughts about learning to write calligraphy with Janine Vangool at Uppercase Magazine, and she featured my short essay in her online newsletter here.

blog2I also found some of my calligraphy practice sheets.  I can still remember sitting at my old wooden desk – the one with the sloped top and a groove to hold my pencil – and making these letters over and over.  There was always a black ink stain on my middle finger for the rest of the day.

blogI was truly inspired, so I treated myself to some fun new ink colors, but I remained faithful to my old pen and nibs. Over the years, I have enjoyed using my calligraphy skills for certain projects, but I’ve been using the marker-style pens that make things so much quicker and easier.  However, when I decided to go “old school,” I was amazed at how quickly the movements came back to me after all of these years.

This is what I came up with….

calligraphyThere’s something extra-special about writing something that takes a little extra time and care.  Hopefully it won’t be another 25 years before I get out my pen and ink to do some “dipping and swirling.”

Happy Writing!

What Color Means to Me

“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?  Can one really explain this? No.” ~Pablo Picasso

I am proud to have a short essay and photograph published in the latest issue of Uppercase Magazine.  Issue 22 was entirely devoted to COLOR, and what a beautiful publication it turned out to be!  The Uppercase website  has a beautiful feature of the issue along with a video that you can enjoy.  The prompt:  What Color Means to Me… inspired me to write about learning to crochet as a young girl.  Crochet continues to be one of my favorite artistic mediums and choosing yarn for a project is such a happy, colorful process.

issue22-heldIf you haven’t had the pleasure of savoring an issue of Uppercase, you absolutely must treat yourself to a copy of this creative, and visually stimulating, publication.  Seriously, head over to the website and start your subscription.  It’s a gift to yourself.  Really. (You can even take advantage of the discount code “roygbiv” for $15.00 off the subscription price.)

U22-colourmeans-spread3That’s my piece in the lower left-hand corner.  (I never get tired of seeing my work in print!)

Best wishes for a colorful day!

Club Little House

“For the person for whom small things do not exist, the great is not great.”     -Jose Ortega y Gasset

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When I was in elementary school, I became quite enamored by dollhouse miniatures.  There was something about the tiny little items that enchanted me.  Of course, I had quite a stint with my Barbies, yet it seemed I spent more time designing their houses than actually playing with them.  That compulsion to decorate somehow evolved into creating little dollhouses inside cardboard boxes.  Then I received a REAL dollhouse kit for Christmas, and my mom let me spread out all of the supplies on the kitchen table, and I glued and painted to my heart’s content.  I still have those minis tucked away, and I absolutely must get them out, dust them off, and enjoy them once again!  My love of miniatures has been dormant for quite some time, yet I recently rekindled my obsession by participating in “Club Little House” which was organized by the wonderfully crafty Amy Powers.
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“Club Little House” littles created by Amy Powers

“Club Little House” participants agreed to construct twelve 1:12 miniature items and ship them to Amy by the deadline.  For a small fee, she graciously packaged up twelve items and sent them to all of us in return.  As a result, we each received a lovely assortment of clever, and lovingly-crafted “littles.”  I am quite in love with everything I received.  You can take a look at all of the items, including mine, here.
I spent quite awhile trying to come up with just the right thing to create for “Club Little House.”  In the end, I decided to make something that relates to my job as a teacher.  Here’s what I came up with….
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“Club Little House” miniature school charts by Kerrie More

They are pretty simple, but to tell you the truth, they were very time consuming.  I love how they turned out, and I hope the recipients who received my “littles” enjoy them as much as I did making them.  (Just a note:  I did not make any money from the creation of these items.  If you like these images, you should go to this site and purchase them, much bigger of course, from – Paper Source.)

I was so impressed by the items in my “Club Little House” box, but imagine my delight when I discovered a sweet “little” from one of my favorite artists, Mary Engelbreit!  Don’t you love them?
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“Club Little House” littles created by Mary Engelbreit

Participating in “Club Little House” was really a lot of fun.  I want to thank Amy Powers for organizing such an enjoyable artistic opportunity and for sparking my love of miniatures once again. I loved it so much, I am already thinking of what I might create for the next “Club Little House!”

Happy Summer and Happy Crafting!

In Case of Fire

“Riches do not consist in the possessions of treasures, but in the use made of them.”  -Napoleon Bonaparte

My friend and I often discuss: “What would you grab first if your house was on fire?” We both have favorite pictures worth saving, and of course, my wedding ring is at the top of the list.  She has a memory book that is very important to her, and everyone in her family knows where it is and that they must “GRAB IT BEFORE ESCAPING!”  Then we say, “Well, if there’s more time, then I would probably try to save…”  I know that ultimately these things are just possessions, and in the end it’s not things that matter.  Some people (other people) can be so free of things.  Their houses are sparse and sleek.  Well, that’s not me because, dang it, I like things!  I gain pleasure from pretty pieces of pottery and lovely books.  My heart sings when someone makes me a gift, or I find pretty vintage figurines or pieces of art at the thrift store.  I seriously hope I never have a fire, but the good news is that most of the items I own, while probably irreplaceable, didn’t cost very much money. One “thing” that would definitely be hard to save in a hurry, but means an awful lot to me, is my collection of Mary Engelbreit Home Companion magazines.

indexYears and years ago, still in the phase of my life where I moved from apartment to apartment, I started subscribing to the magazine. It was such a thrill to find it in my mailbox – like a special gift. I would wait until I had a good long time to sit down and savor it from cover to cover.  Well known for her colorful and light-hearted artwork, Mary lent her special touch to each beautiful issue.  Each one was bursting with art and pictures of rooms and homes like the one I wanted to create.  These people had collections, and books, and art and things!  I pored over the pictures admiring the eclectic and whimsical decorating styles.  I used sticky-notes to mark my favorite ideas, because I wouldn’t think of tearing out pages like I did with all of my other magazines.
 MEpicThen I decided to get online and try to find copies of all of the issues I didn’t own – the ones from the first few years of publication.  It was like a treasure hunt, and it took me awhile, but I eventually completed my collection.  Finding a copy of the first issue was especially hard, but I felt like I had won a marathon (obviously I don’t run) when I won the auction on Ebay.

img010Once I had them all, I lined up all of my Mary Engelbreit Home Companion magazines on my shelf in chronological order and marveled in the completeness of it.  Then something awful happened.  No, my house didn’t actually start on fire.  To my dismay, the publishers decided to quit publishing the magazine, and for awhile, I mourned the loss of my special quarterly visitor in the mail.  Yet, as each season rolls around, I pull the magazines out and look them over once again.  Around Thanksgiving, I gather all of the Christmas issues and have a mini-vacation going over them again.  In the coldness of January, I find warmth in snuggling up with all of the issues filled with Valentine’s Day loveliness.  In fact, I just took out the summer issues to enjoy, which gave me the inspiration for this post. It’s a little ritual that gives me comfort.  (The fall issues, with all of their Halloween pictures are always my favorite!)
mlulm1Vx4xDKDy10ImZ8l6gI have gotten many an idea, and created some of my most special artistic creations, with inspiration from these pages.  I realize that Mary Engelbreit has moved on from publishing her magazine.  Undoubtedly, the ones I have are such a special treasure. In case of fire, I will do my best to save them from the flames.  However, Mary, if you read this, just let me say, if you decide to start rolling the Home Companion off the presses again, I will be one of the first subscribers, and it will be my mission to write something for its pages.Of course, you can see what Mary is creating now on her lovely website.  I stop by from time-to-time to see her latest art work, and I always love it!

Book Review: “I Just Like to Make Things” by Lilla Rogers

As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life. ~John Lubbock

lillarogersbookDo you find your bliss in the process of creating? For some, our little crafty corners serve as a way to unwind from the daily grind, but for others, the dream of turning their art into a career remains constant. Either way, this practical new book by successful artists agent, LIlla Rogers, provides advice that will help aspiring artists focus their creativity and find the courage to pursue their passion. Rogers shares invaluable insight into focusing one’s style, finding the best outlet for specific talents, and ultimately working with an agent to earn an income. She also encourages readers to complete a series of exercises that help identify one’s own unique talents and style. From the samples of artists’ work, to the photo collages, the entire book is eye-candy! So, jump in, read the inspiring interviews by some of your favorite artists, complete the activities; and be delighted by the fresh new direction your artwork takes. (Oh, and don’t forget to send her a thank-you note when you receive your first contract!)

Happy Reading and Happy Creating!

(This book review originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas magazine.  Check out my other book reviews and some beautiful crafts here.)

Happiness is a Warm Blanket

“Happiness is a warm blanket.”  –Charlie Brown

I haven’t posted many projects in the past few months since I have been focusing on finishing this throw that I started last fall.  I wanted to make something special for my God-daughter when she graduated from high school, so I found out what colors she likes the most and started  making squares –LOTS of squares!  You can find the free pattern download for the Pokey Dots Throw at the Red Heart site.

blanketInstead of using three different colors in each circle as the pattern suggests, I liked the look of the solid colored circles.  (Plus, it’s easier not to have to switch colors so often!) I used Red Heart Colors:  Shocking Pink, Medium Purple, Tea Leaf, Coral, Aruba Sea, Turqua, and Grey Heather.   I also used a size “I” hook.  The border includes:  three rows of single crochet in gray around the squares, followed by one row of each color, and finally three more rows of gray.

blanket2Isn’t it cheerful? I know it will brighten up her college dorm room this fall!I hope she loves it as much as I loved making it for her!

Happy Memorial Day and Happy Crocheting!