Friday, September 11, 2020

It's Finally Here - My New Line of Hand-Dyed Yarns!

My crafty friends, it is finally the day. In the midst of pandemic life, on the anniversary of 9/11, in the face of all the racial inequity, and despite the fact that half of the West seems to literally be on fire, I am saying yes to hope - one glorious color at a time - and am ready to launch my new line of hand painted/dyed yarns!

This really started over the summer with the soft launch of 6 new colorways on two bases for our fourth year of the Progress, Hope, and Happiness collection and MAL (make-a-long for any new readers to this blog and yarny life generally). Those six colorways were well received by both makers and designers, several of which used some of the colorways in their own designs and projects.

Since then, I have been tinkering with colorways, bases, and all manner of combinations to arrive at what you see below and above.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be able to reveal all this gorgeous color. Over these last few months I have learned a lot - not only about color and technique, but also about the bases I want to work with, the materials that are working for me and fit with my ethos and approach, and how these colorways can inspire and transform my own designing life (because you know I ain't giving that up, my making friends). 

Of course, bumps will still be occurring because of the pandemic (a base that I love is currently on deep back order, so I will be going to Plan B in the intervening weeks), and I am still developing a few more new colorways for later in the year - but that is par for the course. All I can do is look at all that color and grin from ear to ear - the sight fills me with so much flippin' joy!

I will have a small collection of designs of my own to reveal next week that will help to launch the Voie de Vie line of yarns - and I am also fairly excited about that, too. 

So, if you'd like to ooh and aah over the 15 colorways in the yarn line so far, or make a wee purchase, head on over to my Big Cartel shop. A word about the online shop: the yarn is organized by colorway, and bases that are currently available for each colorway are listed under each individual color. Big Cartel is a little quirky in that it shows the yarn price for the first base listed (or available) for each colorway. Not all colorways will be on all bases, and all bases are different prices. So, basically, read carefully about each base within each colorway.

Taking my 15 minutes of happy dance fun - those colors are ... like ... so wow!!! Take that, my quarantining friends.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

On Unsung Veterans and Labor

Jacqueline Cochran portrait. Original mixed media art,
Denise Voie de Vie, (c) 2015, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

I have only managed to mark the Labor Day holiday twice here on the blog. I expect it is a weekend during which I attempt to not labor. However, given the current disheartening conversations surrounding U.S. military veterans, combined with how we all are re-conceiving our notions of what constitutes essential labor in these pandemic times, I wanted to share some details of the life of one of our first females of flight, Jacqueline Cochran. This is excerpted and re-edited from two different chapters in my first self-published book, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

Jacqueline Cochran: 1906 - 1980

For all her inconsistency, Jacqueline Cochran (born Bessie Pittman in the Florida panhandle) represents the rags-to-riches story that America just loves.

Jackie grew up poor, with no indoor running water or toilet, and knew she wanted more. She wed a young salesman in 1920, had a baby the next year, and then proceeded to leave the upbringing of her child to her parents as she left Florida to start her career.

Jackie eventually landed in New York and, over dinner one night in 1932, she not only met her second husband, but also found someone willing to bankroll her next business venture (cosmetics), as well as flying lessons. Soon she was flying for both sport and business.

A mere six years later, during which Jackie lived through the disappearance of Amelia Earhart (her best friend among female pilots of the day), she went on to win the Harmon Trophy for best female pilot after beating all the male pilots in a transcontinental race. In case anyone thought it a fluke, Jackie went on to win the Harmon trophy a second year in a row, thus solidifying her position as "first lady of the airlanes."

Soon after, WWII broke out, and Jackie went on to head the WASP program - the Women's Airforce Service Pilots. Conceived as a way to get male pilots to train on the B-29 bomber after one of Boeing's best test pilots died during the bomber's testing phase, the WASPs went on not only to train men, but to also fly every type of plane the military used during WWII. WASPs logged more than 60 million miles in the air, 38 women lost their lives flying planes during WWII, and despite Jackie's impassioned efforts to save the WASP program, it was shut down in 1944. These female pilots never received the military status they so rightly, and still do, deserve.
WASP portrait in front of a B-29. Original mixed media art,
Denise Voie de Vie, (c) 2015, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

Jackie, however, went on to receive the Distinguished Service Medal for her WASP program efforts, was the first female to break the sound barrier, and ran for Congress in 1952. She won her party's primary, but lost in the general election to the first Asian-American congressman,Democrat Dalip Singh Saund. 

Her second husband's wealth has (as some commentators have noted) overshadowed Jackie's own business acumen, but she went on to be twice named Associated Press's "Woman of the Year in Business," based on her lucrative cosmetics industry career. Jackie fought hard on behalf of her fellow WASPs, many of which she personally recruited for the program. I expect if Jackie was around today, she would be labelled "ambitious." I also expect she herself would own that label. Ambition and ethics need not be mutually exclusive - Jackie gave selflessly to a program that has yet to be formally recognized by the military.

I initially ascribed "inconsistency" to Jackie's life, but it's more a commentary on American caste than anything else. There is no doubt that Jackie worked tirelessly to improve her station in life. She represents the promise of the American dream, yet many would criticize, in hindsight, her choices, precisely because of the tensions inherent in such a station change.

On this Labor Day weekend, I recognize Jacqueline Cochran, and all the WASPs of the second World War. Their unsung labor and effort (and let's be honest, sheer guts) helped shape the U.S. efforts in WWII. Grit and grace, indeed.