Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creativity Run Amok: President's Day Project

I met "Alpaca Granny" through her blog and enjoyed reading about the daily challenges of a retired school teacher turned alpaca farmer. Eventually I was lead to her etsy shop, North Star Alpacas, where I couldn't resist making a purchase of 104 yards of hand dyed, hand spun Alpaca Merino Mohair yarn from Indy, the alpaca pictured below!
When the yarn arrived, I was in love with it. It came packaged in a glassine envelope with a lavender sachet tucked inside and a tag with Indy's photo on it and a complete product description. It wasn't a lot of thread, so whatever I was going to make with it would have to be inspired. I put it in my yarn basket and over the past year I have taken it out every now and again and felt the texture, inhaling the lavender, wishing for creative inspiration.

Then, President's Day 2010 arrived. I had the day off from work and bemoaned the continued chilly weather we've been experiencing here in sunny, south Florida. I do so love to work in the yard, but that wasn't an option this holiday. The weather report said it was going to be cold all week, with night time lows in the 40s. And, that, my dear reader, is "unseasonably cold" by Florida standards. And, it was this that inspired me to use the beautiful hand dyed, hand spun thread I'd purchased.  I was guessing when I started crocheting ... some might call it "designing." I had no pattern; just my knowledge of crochet to guide me. I used a size N hook, something I'd never done before! My! But, it's a big hook! By Tuesday morning, when I'd finished my coffee, I had a beautiful neck scarf to keep me warm for the rest of the week!

When I got to the office, I was once again inspired to take photos, and when I saw them on the computer screen, I knew they belonged in my blog!  This beautiful scarf is excellent at keeping the back of my neck warm in the harsh winter wind. And, the knowledge of where the fur came from combined with knowing who dyed it and spun it into thread for me makes my creative spirit feel warm as well.
Now, it's nearing the end of the week and the meteorologists are saying we'll see temperatures in the 70s by Saturday.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my hand dyed, hand spun, hand crocheted scarf!  Ah! The joy of creativity! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Creativity Run Amok, Part 3: Valentines

I occasionally open the HP News & Notes email message I receive along with the numerous other artsy messages of interest that arrive in my mailbox every day. The words, "Make Your Own Valentine" in the subject line last week inspired me to read on.  After scouring through the do-it-yourself cards, I found a border I could use that allowed me to import my own photos and choose the color I liked, so ... I created a photo collage of my darling husband. This lovely man endures my constant picture taking of everything from the food we eat to the neighbor's dogs, with fashion doll shoots and nature adventures in-between, so I thought it apropo to share all the wonderful shots I've captured of him over the past few years. 

After printing it out, I typed tags and messages and printed them on vellum bristol, cut them out and glued them here and there. Liking what I'd done (and, I am very hard to please!), I headed to Target to find a suitable frame and some Valentine paper in which to wrap it.

I'm sort of impressed with myself. Now I wonder if dh will be impressed with his Valentine gift.  Do you think he'll see how loved he is? He surely is!

I'm out of time today, so I'll wrap it up tomorrow in this heart-felt tissue and make a Valentine card! What fun!!!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creativity Run Amok, Part 2

I picked up a copy of Where Women Create  last week, having become a big fan since it began publication, and looking at all those lovely work spaces inspired me to clean off my desk! My darling husband and I share this space and he thought I was coming down with something when he saw me filing and putting things in the trash. I was so impressed with my work, I took pictures. So, here you are ... (drum roll, please) ... where this woman creates!

I haven't seen the mouse pad since last summer!

I love dolls, but I only have one Riley Kish, so she and her little bears keep me company and guide me through my many creative endeavors.

Old pens, a tiny ceramic kewpie and a refrigerator magnet of the first nude male centerfold in Cosmopolitan fill a little dish I inherited from Viele House. (I wonder how old Burt is now?)

Things look so tidy and now I can see where some of my arts and crafts supplies are, which is simply lovely! I am keeping my New Year's resolution to nurture my creativity!

Do I have enough writing tools??

One of the "commissioners" at my job is a creative spirit, too, and last year she gave me this lovely gift of photos that spell out "IMAGINE." I hung it over the door so I can sit in my chair at my desk and "imagine" what I'll do next!  Thanks to Judy for such a great gift!

And, thanks to you, dear reader, for letting me share my home office space with you!  Now, I'm off to create something!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

That Betsey Johnson Dress ...
The photo above was taken in 1994 at a fundraising party for a little theatre company we were all involved with. It was also the "debut" of my new thrift shop dress from a little vintage clothing store next door to the theatre's office on 26th Street.  (I'm the one on the left.)  The dress tag said "Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson" and, at the time, I thought, "How cool. A 'designer' dress without the designer price!" I didn't have a lot of money, but I had (and still have) a passion for fashion!  I loved the dress because it a) looked good on me, b) felt good on and c) was machine washable. I wore it a lot. I wore it to weddings, funerals, at Christmas and for a lot of different social events. It was my favorite dress for quite a few years.

A few years ago, when middle age took over my body, the dress didn't fit the same and rather than embarrass myself, I hung it up and have debated so many times since then what I should do with it.  I told myself that someday I would once again control my body, but in all honesty, that's easier said than done when you reach this stage in life.  Those hormones that we ladies lose are incredibly helpful in helping us to keep our figures.  Without them ... well ... let's just say the dress continued to hang in my closet.

Last week, while waiting for the clothes dryer to finish, I was rifling through a box of photos from those days with the theatre.  When I found this photo (and a few others), I scanned it and put it up on my facebook page in a photo album I created there for the theatre.  The other two women in the picture commented, as did a young woman who is in my Jazzercise class.  She loved the dress, too!  And, so ...

I brought the dress (and its accessory necklace) to her at Jazzercise class and said, "Try it on!"

As you can see in the photo, she looks stunning in it! And, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see the dress go on!  It's a marvelous garment with that flattering sweetheart neckline and a full skirt that is forgiving --- it's perfect for all sorts of occasions and great for travel!  I'm thrilled that it's found a good home and I found I was inspired to do a little research about the designer ...

Back in 1970, Betsey Johnson was working for a place called Paraphernalia and she left her job there because the store was expanding and she didn't want to lose control over the design process. From what I could find in my Internet search, she designed for Alley Cat, a junior sportswear company, from 1970 until 1976.  She had full creative control at Alley Cat, designing everything from the textiles used in her designs to the accompanying shoes. Alley Cat clothing was always priced under $100, making it within reach of the junior market and, in retrospect, I think this may have been a key marketing ingredient for her future success. She was creating clothes for baby boomers, a huge demographic that was only just beginning to make its presence felt in the world of commerce.  

She also worked with Butterick patterns to produce a line of eight Betsey Johnson for Alley Cat patterns, making her designs affordable to small town girls like me. Back in the 1970s, I became familiar with her clothes because of her patterns.  I still have an apron pattern of hers in my sewing box along with some great Vogue patterns from that era!

While I've found a new home for my vintage Betsey Johnson dress, she's still very much a part of my fashion passion.  I have a couple of her handbags, several bracelets and necklaces and a beautiful skirt I found on sale at the Betsey Johnson store in Aventura.  I would love it if she would create patterns again. Especially for my generation. Her clothes flatter nearly every body type (including us more "mature" figures) and because she was a dancer, she brings all the fun of dance costumes to everyday clothes.

Special thanks to Jean for loving my dress! Wear it in good health!