Monday, April 24, 2017

More on Progress, Hope, and Happiness

When I conceived the underlying dyer and designer submission calls for the upcoming Progress, Hope, and Happiness collection and its corresponding worldwide happiness makealong (to commence June 1 on Ravelry!), I wanted it to be an artistic response to the political contraction happening globally. No matter how politically heavy and stifling Brexit and the U.S. election of Trump as president may feel, I firmly believed it is a mere momentary blip in a trend that has been occurring for hundreds (and some might argue) even thousands of year.

I am a designer and artist who has found her artistic stride later in life. My first love was (in case a few of you reading this might not be aware) books. Fiction and the written word has held immense power for me - if you want to understand human motivation, look no further than your nearest, best book of fiction. Good fiction has the power to show us the reality of life much more succinctly than the real thing. So it is no accident that listening to an NPR interview with the writer Mohsin Hamid provided just the right perspective on and put a voice to my feelings about our worldwide political climate. His take: look at the expansion of borders and mix of culture in the U.S. since its founding days, with the original colonies clustered on one coast, in just a little more than 200 years. This is what will continue to occur around the world in the next 200 years, no matter the momentary blips to the contrary.

Of course this moment in the U.S. is not without recent historical precedent - we need look only to 9/11 to see our first shot across the contraction bow. Remember all the promise of the new millenium? I remember how excited I was back in 2000 at all the social progress and potential I felt and saw all around me, and then 2001 happened. Both personally, and as a U.S. citizen, I felt my world get just a teeny bit smaller. At the time, though, all I could do was respond in the best way I knew how: create an environment of safety. 

As Hamid suggests, however, the answer lies in living lives of courage, which I see now means placing a priority on finding like-minded people who live lives of expansion. That is my act of courage. This upcoming collection and maker event is the outward manifestation of that courageous act. I cannot wait to present this collection. I cannot tell you how full this whole process has made me feel. Yes, it is a lot of work, but it has not ever felt like a burden, just a happy assignment. 


And, so, speaking of fun things not at all burdensome, it is once again time for the 2nd annual Indie Dyer and Designer Summer Fun Swap. This year's name: Choose your Favorites, and the rules this year allow swap participants to choose what some of their package contents will be (in a general manner of speaking). All of the rules, as well as sign-up information, can be found in the D+D Summer Fun Swap Ravelry group. Indie dyers and designers who want to get in on the fun and swap with their professional buddies (and hopefully make some lasting social connections in a non-competitive environment) can sign up between now and Sunday, May 7th.

I hope to see all you indies there!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Turning Toward Happiness

I cannot believe it is already mid-April. Where, o where, has the time flown?

I am, however, really pleased that we are just about six short weeks away from the #happinessmakealong2017 - you know, the world-wide making event associated with the Progress, Hope and Happiness Summer Collection that I have been curating/organizing. All of the designers finally have received their yarn (our designer located on the Asian sub-continent was the last to receive her yarn, but it has finally made the long, successful trek to her).

As you will see below, I am working with some wonderfully dyed, original-to-this-collection colorways. Two from a U.S.-based dyer, A Hundred Ravens (which I blogged about here), and a third from an indie dyer in Switzerland, Mulberry Cottage Yarns. I think Franzi did a fantastic job, and on two bases, this vivid, summery blue, entitled "naiads," pops with hints of green. I will let Franzi tell you about the colorway in her own words, from her original colorway submission: "The blue ... is named after a group of water(well) nymphs and is mostly turquoise with specks of yellow-green and some more blueish parts - like a deep, clear pool with some waterplants in it." 

While the collection's release will officially kick off June 1st (and definitely look for more information on that in about a month), the 8 brand new colorways will be available for worldwide purchase by mid-May, so that makers wanting to use them during the along will have time to receive their yarny packages in time for the collection's release. If you are curious about the remaining colorways, as well as sneak peeks of some of the designs in process, definitely check out the hashtag #happinessmakealong2017 on Instagram and Facebook. Don't be shy about reposting any of the colorways and designs that are striking your fancy. The participating dyers and designers will be so thrilled you showed them some reposting love. Independent artists and designers all put their respective heart and soul into their creations (myself very much included!), so receiving positive feedback, in whatever form, really means a lot.

For myself, it is more than merely positive design feedback. Everyone's willingness to participate in the making of this collection and event is a turn toward happiness, and cultural and social expansion. It absolutely takes effort and dedication to willingly seek out worldwide artistic and maker connections - but I think it is more than worth it. Thus far, the dyers and designers have been engaged behind the scenes, working with a lot of mindfulness to create something of which we can all be proud. My heart just swells with the knowledge of this combined effort. Of course, great color and summer design thrown into the mix also doesn't hurt. 

I hope everyone will join us on June 1st. The worldwide maker along (being hosted on Ravelry) will last for six weeks, and you know there will be prizes, surprises, and loads of maker community across many continents and both hemispheres. I pinch myself just thinking about all the awesome possibility.