Tag Archives: Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen


from the inside out


My mentor in college had a rare, rare gift. She dealt with the work of her students from the inside out. That is, she had the ability to understand your work’s intentions, to find out where you would like to take the piece, and to advise you on how to actually communicate that intention to your audience.

This was useful to me as an artist, but even more as a teacher: deeply useful feedback doesn’t start with the teacher’s ideal style or product. It starts with what the student would like to achieve.

Sounds basic, right? But I’m finding that giving that kind of feedback needs practice, practice, practice.

I teach a lot of standalone classes, 2-3 hours long. My biggest challenge, in that brief amount of time, is to connect with each of a dozen or more students long enough to pick up on his or her aims – and then help them forward.

In a monotype workshop a few weeks ago, I got lots of practice giving feedback and then getting out of the way while students made decisions.  The group was flexible and fun, willing to be stretched, and all knew each other well.  And I think every student left with something they were proud of.P1018123

Not that there weren’t bumps along the way! One student in particular hated everything she made with the initial assignment in mind. After our mid-class check-in, she decided to go in the opposite direction. Immediately, her body language relaxed and she completed six pieces in quick succession, which truly took advantage of the unique properties of vellum + akua ink (lots of lovely transparent color and some light texture). They also fit her poetic interests – small, boiled down to essentials, intimate.

I was happy to see my assignment pushed out of the way while she charged headlong in her own direction. In a lot of different ways, every day, we have to make those decisions. Do we keep going in the same direction? Do we stick with what other people want or expect from us? How do we figure out what we want?

P1018146In an art class, the answer is much easier: always, always, my loves, follow your own voice.


Gift or Grinch?

Whew! I completed a knitting commission this week, and learned something very important about myself.

the knitting commission

When I’m busy knitting something on a deadline for someone else, I dream of a thousand more new designs than when I’m actually working on a new design.

So this yarn cake, and that yarn cake, and that blue, and that cable, and this lace, and that sweater, oh, and a giant lace and beads project… those are all getting cast on this week (or at least charted, so I can evaluate their design-worthiness).

I'm casting on the Tassel Hotel Wrap from Knitting Architecture. Yarn is in Knit Picks' Shadow Lace yarn in color Midnight Heather
I’m casting on the Tassel Hotel Wrap from Knitting Architecture. Yarn is in Knit Picks’ Shadow Lace yarn in color Midnight Heather. I’m adding beads and including it as part of the #summeroflaceandbeads knitalong.

I’ve been super inspired this week by the brain trust which is Instagram’s knitting community – so you can follow the daily progress of my knitting over there. I’m hashtagging the #grinchalong, the #summeroflaceandbeads, #projectsweaterchest, #knitsonik, the #sssalong (Selfish Single Skein knit-a-long), and #matchymatchykal.

Considering Lauriel by Ysolda Teague as one of my #grinchalong projects
Considering Lauriel by Ysolda Teague as one of my #grinchalong projects

Although I am doing mostly selfish knitting at the moment, there are a few gifts on my radar. I bought most of my Christmas gifts at the local Guild fine craft fair this year. So although I’m not the one making them, they are handmade and beautiful.

One of my favorite things was a flameworking demonstration by glass artist Jim Byrnes
One of my favorite things at the craft fair was a flameworking demonstration by glass artist Jim Byrnes

What are you knitting now that it’s freezing outside? Leave a link and make my queue explode.