Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr.: On Self-Importance and Fools

We are, in the United States, once again celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have commemorated the civil rights leader twice previously on the blog. However, since this year - 2018 - marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader's assassination, I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I went to my personal library to see just how many publications reference, in one way or another, MLK, Jr. Of course one would expect to find him in history books dealing with the relevant time period (I did); my literature readers were the most heavily dotted with King references (which makes this liberal arts major and literature junkie very happy). However, I also took a fair amount of religion courses as an undergrad (mostly plot, plot, plot; history, history, history), and I found one of my old religion texts (appropriately entitled Living Religions) contained a King reference relating to liberation theology. 

That led me to one of King's lesser read pieces on self-importance with which, as a man of the cloth rising in popularity and fame, he internally struggled. On this day, at this particular moment in time, when some pay lip service (and much worse) to civil rights and then hit the golf course, this extremely personal essay from King hits all the right bells and whistles. I leave you with the last two sentences which, when I re-read them, was a goose-bump moment for this very lapsed and definitely non-practicing Catholic:

"This is the prayer I pray to God every day, "Lord help me to see M. L. King as M. L. King in his true perspective." Because if I don't see that, I will become the biggest fool in America."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Year + A Look Back

Happy New Year, everyone! We are already through the first week of 2018 - I cannot believe it! Although, I must admit, I am glad to see last year in the rear view mirror. Man, what a year.

As you will see from the photo recap at left, it was a busy year of making for me, and that's not even all of it. Between original design samples, wardrobe items for myself, and gifts at the end of the year for others as well as my living space, I averaged just shy of 2 projects a month. While certainly not an insane amount, it is nevertheless significant, given the fact that I do have a day job and I curated a summer collection + event. Since my making is a source of much joy to me, given the stats just mentioned, 2017 was absolutely one happy year.

A Voie de Vie original painting, worked up last year as part of  a
larger display, with digital filter applied.
And now, I look to 2018. Never to let grass grow in any amount underneath my feet, I have already announced the dyer submission call for this year's summer dyer and designer event. Year 2: Women and Water will focus on and amplify those two trends from 2017. For all of the submission call details, feel free to check out the deets sheet right here. Dyers will have until Sunday, January 28th, to get their brand new colorways all worked out and submitted to me. There is good initial interest expressed both within the Ravelry planning group for the event as well as via other social media, so I am looking forward to seeing what the indie dye pots produce. 

Finally, and lest we forget, this is an Olympic year. I have been watching the skaters at U.S. Nationals and getting excited about how I will celebrate one of my favorite sporting events. Yes, new designs will be involved (so that excitement is currently tempered by pattern writing nuts and bolts), and hopefully some new-to-me food dishes.

All will be shared within the next few weeks, so stay tuned. Also, if you aren't yet a Voie de Vie Quarterly-ish Newsletter subscriber, now might be a good time to sign up, since the next edition is slated for publication later this month.



Friday, December 8, 2017

It's Gift Making and Light Season

Yes, everyone, it is year five of the Indie Designer Gift-a-long! I am absolutely stunned
that we've hit year five, and that I have participated in the last four gift-making paloozas. 

I made several gifts last season, and this year will be no different; however, I am hoping to get a few of my personal works-in-progress (and so, outside of official GAL submissions) done, as well as perhaps a gift or two for my very self.  Below you'll see the beginnings of several projects, including an epic blanket that is part of a blanket throw down with a fellow designer. I am a lot farther along on the four projects shown below, and I'll update the blog in the next few weeks with my progress and (hopefully!) several finished pieces.

However, because we are celebrating five amazing indie designer gifting seasons, I thought I might go back in the archives and reprint a few of my previous interviews with fellow indie designers. 

So, kicking off this mini trip down interview memory lane, I am reaching back to 2014 (the first year I participated in the GAL), and am reprinting my interview with Mindy Wilkes, human being extraordinaire. 

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Knit Designer Mindy Wilkes

Mindy (on right) with her sister Tracy
at Rhinebeck in 2014.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit accessories? 

I was a microbiologist for a consumer product testing company for several years.  I have a degree in Biology and went to graduate school for Microbiology. After my son was born, I went back to work part-time for a few months then made the decision to be a stay at home mom full-time.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer? 

After finishing and releasing my first design (which came about only because I couldn't find an existing pattern for what I wanted to make), I was completely hooked on designing.

Please describe your personal knit design philosophy? 

I don't design things I wouldn't like to knit. It's why I haven't done any sweater designs. I'm just not much of a sweater knitter; I like small projects.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory? 

I think it would be when I received my first acceptance from a magazine. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the hell out of my husband when I read that e-mail. We were eating lunch out, and when I saw my acceptance e-mail, I was really excited and I may have done a little dance. Maybe. (insert happy face)

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

I'm going to cheat and pick 4 designers. My dinner dates would be Heather Zoppetti, Corrina Ferguson, Katherine Vaughan (who is also my tech editor), and Barbara Benson. We're all friends in real life, and I don't get to see them very often, although I did see Heather and Corrina at Rhinebeck back in October.  I'm guessing our next dinner will be at TNNA this coming summer.

Throw or pick? 


It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use? 

A big, epic, extremely difficult lace shawl in a lace weight wool, cashmere, silk blend.

What trait do you most admire in designers? 

The ability to think outside the box. You know when you see a new design and you think it's the cleverest thing out there because the designer did something totally interesting with the construction or with the stitch pattern but it's not at all difficult? That.

Wilkes' latest shawl design, Brunswick, a sister design
to her popular Holden shawl
What trait do you most detest in designers? 

I don't know if detest is the right word, but I have a pet peeve or two. One of my biggest pet peeves is not using a tech editor for whatever reason. I work at a yarn store and I have seen some patterns that have very clearly not been tech edited, and it's so very, very frustrating to try to convince a customer that not all patterns are as confusing, incorrect, etc. It's hard to hear that a customer will never buy a pattern again because of one bad experience with a pattern. 

You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful – especially your moon shawls collection!), what would you recommend? 

Right now, I'm really enamored with Hilary Smith Callis' shawl-cowl hybrids: Starshower, Luna Viridis, and Adama. I also really like a lot of Melissa Thomson's patterns. It's so hard to choose. There are so many really awesome patterns out there!


I expect that a lot has happened in Mindy's design career since this interview, so I hope (if she reads it), that it will make her smile with fondness. 

All of Mindy's designs, as well as the designs of 310 other indie designers (including yours truly), are eligible to be made during our gift-a-long. So do join me in the Ravelry group with almost 10,000 other makers and get into the holiday light and gifting season, won't you?