The most firm goal I articulated at the beginning of last year was to craft from my shelf meaning, if I wanted to make something, I would look to my own library of books and periodicals first for an appropriate pattern. Of the 40 projects completed in 2011 (40? That alone is amazing!), 21 of them were patterns from my library - either books or magazines or paid patterns. Of that number, 13 finished objects are from either my own personally designed and published patterns, or designed from books whose main purpose is to provide the tools for one to design one's own items. I'm not certain what measure of success in this goal 21 of 40 actually is, but I'd qualify those numbers as a mild success.
What is far more amazing to me is the number of patterns I wrote and published last year. Folks, I am absolutely blown away. At the beginning of 2011, I never envisioned publishing 7 patterns, never. I already have six confirmed and in the pipeline for 2012. No one is more surprised, pleased, excited, just a wee bit nervous, and absolutely, positively thankful than moi. I think I've envisioned living a creative life from a very early age, but it didn't start to take any real shape until 2007 (although I picked up my first 35mm camera on my way to South Africa in 2000 and that turned out to be a creatively momentous milestone).
I continue to learn that trusting in myself and my own decisions usually pays off. In a culture that constantly seems to reinforce mindnumbing conformity (despite the U.S. mythology of rugged individualism), or manipulating individual action for corporate or other gain, going my own way might seem distancing to some, but space and time are vital for me. I hope I continue to be able to take the time I need in 2012. That has been one of the biggest gifts of all to come out of the imperfect perfection of 2011.
And so, I start off 2012 the same way I started off 2011 - with a painting, a shawl and a book. For the last two weeks I've been painting up a storm, and although the photos aren't perfect, you can see a sample of one of them to the right. Humanity, a tryptich, is a riot of color. It was a lot of fun to paint, and with holiday music providing a great backdrop, I definitely hit my painting zone during its creation.
The shawl I have to share with you was finished January 2nd, but still officially made the deadline for completing my challenge of 11 shawls in 2011. Phew - I can't believe I did it! My Greeny Warmth Stole (from this Drops pattern) is all bulky weight mohair - lightweight and oh-so-warm. It's a generous 21" x 57", so when not around my shoulders, it will definitely keep my lap warm (as it did while I was crafting it).
The book I want to discuss is Tove Fevang's Totally Simple Crochet. Translated into English last year, this is one of the best beginning crochet books I've come across in a while. Fevang starts at the most basic beginning - with the humble dishcloth. Now, I'm usually not a fan of dishcloths, yet in her hands, the dishcloth rises to a thing of simple beauty. Really. And for the novice crocheter, making each of the discloths in this book is the perfect basis for the rest of the patterns that follow - including the stylish cover scarf and a poncho that I absolutely love. Where Marie-Noëlle Bayard's Crochet! (reviewed here) has rather sophisticated patterns for the novice (which I admittedly love), Fevang's patterns are classic and straightforward. They eminate from a designer steeped in the home needle arts tradition. For a beginning crocheter, I cannot recommend this book more highly.
Thanks so much for being one of the best parts of my 2011; I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2012. Now don't forget to check back with Andrea's blog to see how everyone else is starting off the new year. And to those of you who wish to join us, Andrea's currently hosting a JAL for the La Vitre scarf pattern here on Ravelry.