Sunday, December 26, 2021

On The Ending of This Design Anniversary Year

It has been some time since I last blogged, and I cannot believe that we are all facing (thank goodness!) the end of 2021.

To say that the second half of this year was personally momentous would be an understatement. My life fairly exploded (in the best possible way): I made a major move to a different city to start another year-long service project in a team leader capacity. I left the majority of my life for the last 17 years back at my old living space, save what I could mail (and easily handled box sizes would allow), since COVID all but eliminated the ability to rent a vehicle of any sort and professional movers were budgetarily out of contemplation.

I do love this winter's snow!

Then there is the settling into a new place: getting to know things and having to initiate conversations with new people and explain one's life all over again. Since I am a fairly private person who values my autonomy, the latter is personally extremely difficult, despite the fact that everyone else has no problem talking to me about most anything, and which I take as an extreme compliment. Failures of language abound. Perspectives become, at minimum, skewed; at maximum, down right wrong. Relational minefields are unintentionally planted and weaponized. Getting to know the new position still seems like a piece of cake compared to everything else.

All this derailed, as you might expect, the best made plans for my 10 year design anniversary. While I still published new designs (most notably for this year's 5th (!) Progress, Hope, and Happiness summer collection), there were far fewer than I wanted. COVID, of course, also had a hand in that decreased creativity. 

This is going to be a cardi for me.
It is an oh-so-squishy
combination of my hand-dyed
bling base + baby alpaca silk.

I also had big plans for increasing the hand knit and crocheted portion of my wardrobe. That, too, fell by the wayside, although I am doing my level best to end the year on a hand-made-for-me note (after having made something for each of my team members - and almost all of them delivered on time, a true feat indeed). 

Of course, then there's the hand-dyed yarn portion of my business, which was active until the end of August. I am reassessing bases, given all of the COVID-related supply chain issues. if anyone wonders why the independent designer and hand-dyed yarn landscape is constantly in flux (and especially

This year's wee 
(but mighty) tree.

right now),well, it should really be no mystery.

In the end, no matter the scope of change in the second half of this year, it remains the simple pleasures that have brought me much joy. As I have previously blogged, this year's seasonal decorating was again its own sweet interlude, just as arranging my new space and simple, yet tasty, acts of cooking. Throw into the mix some memorable meals with old and new friends, as well as team members. There's little doubt that, despite the fact I am my own largest work in progress, this year has seen some fairly major changes, and it's all good. 

As in previous years, after January 1st I shall be stepping away from social media for a few weeks to contemplate and recharge. I wish everyone a very happy new year - pandemic life has robbed us of so much, so let us usher in 2022 with a renewed sense of hope.

Monday, May 31, 2021

A Memorial Day Wish

Watery reflections taken a few years ago
(c) Voie de Vie
Today is Memorial Day here in the United States - a time to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

I have blogged a few times over the years regarding Memorial Day. This year - some 15 months into pandemic times - I am thinking about how things could and should be different going forward.

Of course the most obvious - an expansion of what it means to serve and sacrifice - and how should we recognize such service and sacrifice. This holiday was conceived to recognize military service, though many who have served (notably women and African Americans, although there are more) at various points have not received the recognition they deserve for either their service or their sacrifice. 
This Arlington National Cemetery
photos I snapped almost 2 decades
ago remains a favorites photo that
tugs at my soul. (c) Voie de Vie

Then, there is service to country beyond the military - governmental service, national civilian service, community service, international service, just to name a few others - how might we 
honor those who serve and sacrifice in these capacities?

More elementally, how might we honor black lives, and AAPI lives, and Native lives not only going forward, but pay more than mere lip service to all their respective peoples' legacies have lost at the hand of injustice and discrimination?

Finally, how might we, individually and collectively, move forward post-pandemic into a life of real meaning and justice? Where we value people and the planet above home delivery of all the things? Arundhati Roy's article on the pandemic as a portal has been oft-quoted since publication. Back in April, 2020, Roy was asking all the right questions, but it's unclear whether anyone was really paying attention:

        "The Covid crisis is still to come. Or not. We don’t know. If and when 
        it does, we can be sure it will be dealt with, with all the prevailing 
        prejudices of religion, caste and class completely in place." 

With almost 600,000 U.S. deaths, and an as-yet-unknown number dead in her own India in a second wave that has taken the world's breath away, Roy hit this nail squarely on its head with all the accurate writer's insight her years on this planet have given her. 

It can be different; we have the ability right now to walk through that portal into a different future. Will you? Will I? Will we? Only time and courage will tell. Let us hope for the very best, and do everything we can to manifest that different, very best future.

Find out more on Instagram about how to
win a skein of this indie dyer gorgeousness


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Seasonal Update

Hello my crafty friends - happy spring! There is so much new life and hope in the air - tulips are in bloom, vaccinations are occurring (at least in the U.S.) at an astounding pace, and we can start to see all the light at the end of the tunnel. I, for one, am here for every ray of it.

Lest you think I have been doing nothing but waiting for the tunnel roller coaster ride to come to an end, think again, please. I have been creating and making, creating and making. Keeping in mind my commitment to my own wardrobe this year, here's a snapshot of personal projects I've completed since the beginning of the year:

I posted about my main February make on Instagram in early March:

This is the first of the six garment WIPs I have lying around chez Voie de Vie, so believe me I am super thrilled with its completion. 

March saw me completing a lovely spring cowl - this tender shoots-colored version of my Lush Looped Scarf at right. Using a combination of my own hand-dyed yarn (Impressionist Pie for the main body) mixed with some awesome ModeKnit Yarn Modewerk Sock for a green color contrast, finished off with a combination of two different laceweight mohair yarns held together for the out edging, it's my new favorite go-to cowl. 

I am now just about to complete my second long-standing garment WIP, my Swink (if you hit the link, scroll down to see the original Swink). As you'll see in the photo to the left, I am just about done that second sleeve, and then I just have a wee amount of finish work (ends, blocking, buttons) and I will be 1/3 of the way through my WIPs basket!!! This yarn is also my hand-dyed, but one of a kind - more like a mistake on the way to the colorways I really wanted. Additionally, it's on a DK-weight wool/silk base that I ultimately decided not to use in my yarn line, so I am using it up for wardrobe items for myself. The base itself is fine, I was just not consistently thrilled with how the colors dyed up.

I plan on treating myself to a new make or three ... we will see what time allows ... once this pullover is done.

Of course, I am still working on designs for several different projects, so the personal wardrobe making has been interspersed among the designing projects and pattern updates I've been sending out (also an anniversary year task), as well as the dyeing. 

Such is the life of a working hand-knit/crochet designer.

A friendly reminder: I link to things as a courtesy to readers. I never receive any compensation for doing so, nor does this blog ever take advertising dollars. The best, indeed only, way to support what you read here is to purchase Voie de Vie design + yarn and/or other products. Both my Payhip and Big Cartel online stores are linked to in this post, as well as on the blog, generally, along the right-hand side. Please consider purchasing anything you see you like, because the maximum amount of your purchase dollars goes directly to me, the designer.

I have a few things lined up for the blog, so I hope to see you back here very soon.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

My Anniversary Year Celebration Commences

Having just issued 2021's first quarterly-ish newsletter (and you can sign up for it here if you have not already done so), I used it to build on my previous blog post announcing this 10 year anniversary celebration.

One of the things I revealed in the newsletter was one of my main focuses this year: my own wardrobe. This is the year I get real about making a far larger portion of my own clothing. 

For me, this will be no small feat, as I am still a working designer AND now a working hand-dyer. Nevertheless, it is about time I put me significantly into this mix. As I've written so many previous times, I'm a maker at heart. I have slowly, over the last three years, begun to increase the hand-made pieces of my wardrobe. Now, however, my goal is far heftier: to make at least one piece (either top or bottom) in any new outfits I plan to add to my wardrobe going forward, in perpetuity

This means a few things: (1) I plan on getting very intentional with what gets added to my wardrobe; and (2) I have seriously got to get my hooks and sticks flying! I have no less than six - yes, six! - cardigan and pullover WIPs, and that's where I plan on making an initial dent. Of course, I also have so many other wonderful designs in my queue (my own designs as well as other designers) that I have my eye on making this year, and since I already have yarn on hand for several of them, I have all the raw materials needed to get this wardrobe-making party started. I am hoping to finish at least one thing per month for the remainder of the year (and you'll see more posts on this on my Instagram feed).

I characterized this personal making goal as "selfish" in my newsletter, and I suppose to an extent it is. However, it has a lot more to do with my desire to have the clothes I really want in a way that fuels my own ethical stance. If I claim to care about the environment, then I must be willing to ditch fast fashion. Full stop. If everyone just made one thing for their wardrobe, they would have not only new-found respect for all garment workers, the vast majority of whom work in sub-standard and dangerous conditions for poverty wages, but they would be far less likely to throw away their clothes after only a few wearings.

Now, you know I always want maker company, so this goal also has a community maker component to it. In order to celebrate my designs and yarns this anniversary year, I have devised a wee, yet clever, anniversary yarn + design club. For the next 10 months (beginning in February), club members will receive either yarn or a Voie de Vie design download. There are two months in which members will receive yarn; the remaining 8 months a pre-determined pattern. There's more detailed information at the club sign-up in my online store, but this is a natural extension of several prizes I donated during the most recent Indie Design Gift-a-long and Fasten Off Yarn-a-long. Rest assured, there will also be fun surprises, not to mention quarterly prizes! So, for an average price of less than $9 a month, a maker can get all kinds of making gratification for almost the remainder of the year! Slots are limited, however, because everything I do here at chez Voie de Vie has a personal component to it, and that will not be sacrificed, but instead celebrated (!) along with my creative anniversary. (also, there is no shipping charge on any domestic U.S. participants who sign up between now and the end of February). 

There will be ongoing posts about all this not only in my Ravelry group, but also on my Instagram feed (because I want no maker to feel left out or ignored, the monthly festivities will be ongoing in both places). I hope to see you in the maker mix ... and wish me luck on my wardrobe-making goal. I am gonna need it.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Year of Anniversaries


Voie de Vie anniversary original art, (c) 2021. 
Mixed media with digital elements.
It is, amazingly, a new year - 2021!!!! While I usually take the first few weeks off at the beginning of the year to recharge and renew, the beginning of this year has been slightly different. While I have had an only limited presence on social media, it has been a far cry from restful. 

Nevertheless, I am so excited to finally fill everyone in on this most momentous of years - 2021 marks ten years I've been creating! I am absolutely blown away by this, truth be told. 

While there will be much more to write about in connection with the anniversary, I must mention the blog - I've been writing consistently on it for the last decade. That is unbelievable. Fittingly, this 1/1/2011 post fairly sums things up - a painting, a book, and a shawl. While I may have fallen for cowls over shawls, more writing and less reading, and hand-painting/dyeing yarn to painting on canvas (although I still do that!), there has been a clear theme over the last 10 years - creativity and making. It's something I cherish and never take for granted.

This year also marks a different anniversary for me - it's also the fifth season I will be curating/coordinating a summer Progress, Hope, & Happiness collection, complete with, as always, a making event. 

I still cannot believe how far I have traveled along this creative path - from my first designs in the 2011 VKLlive/Los Angeles fashion show, to starting my own line of hand-dyed yarns, with just shy of 150 designs and over 560 blog posts in between, it's been quite a ride. The handknit and crochet business has changed dramatically over the last decade (and so much over the last 2+ years as to be almost unrecognizable), and through it all I have weathered every twist and turn. I have learned a lot about the people in this industry and, equally, a lot about myself in the process. I am so proud of my ability to still be standing, with my own voice still firmly in tact, in this my 10th creative year. There is no doubt that there are more popular designers out there - but popularity for its own sake has never been my aim. To paraphrase Thoreau - we only hit what we aim for; in my case, that aim has been a small, authentically-me business of which I can be proud. 

I will have much more to write about and announce during this very special anniversary year, so I hope you will join me in this 12-month celebration. My maternal grandmere, a New England textile worker, is definitely smiling down on me with that smug I-told-you-so smile. Ok, meme, you had me pegged all along. 

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