Knitting understated pieces for the art-to-wear market is a peculiar thing to do for a living. If I were to break it down, I really just design a sweater that I want to wear, I get really inspired about that new design, the yarns, colors and look/feel of the piece, then I make a bunch of those sweaters. It's honestly quite a self-centered, solitary process. Then comes the sticky wicket of selling this work. (I have extraordinary yarn bills!) This is the confession part. Selling - to me it's kind of a surprising secondary piece where my brain grinds to a sputtering ball of confusion. My eyes start to roll in my head when I hear words like "branding", "marketing," "advertising," "strategy," "competition." Ha, but I am not alone in my endeavor! I have wonderful friends and allies who encourage me in an effort to get these quiet sweaters out into the world. My treasured circle of allies has widened within the last couple of months. I am greatly honored and delighted to have my work included in two on-line market places - Artful Home and Selvedge Magazine Artisan Emporium. So, I carry on my little knitting path feeling quite fortunate for another day in the studio.
Knitting for spring and summer can seem counter-intuitive, I know. But I always want that little bit of a top layer, even during warmer months. I prefer cotton and linen, as I live in the humid Southeast. The last few weeks I have been knitting up loads of cotton and linen pieces as fast as I can. I have even mixed in some bright colors - a departure from my usual neutrals. I am excited to be presenting these at my first show of 2017 -- American Craft Council in Atlanta. I will be in booth 110 from March 17-19 at the Galleria. This is such a fun show that is full of unique and beautiful work created by many talented makers/artists. Be sure to get there early, the best stuff sells quickly!!
"Cloth is the body’s first architecture; it protects, conceals and reveals; it carries a body’s weight, swaddles at birth, covers in sleep and in death." - Ann Hamilton http://www.annhamiltonstudio.com/
A friend turned me onto artist, Ann Hamilton's work and her On Being interview. Below is a tidbit that hit home for me as I work within the "slow fashion" model.
"... I think that in many ways, it’s like how do you let things take the time they actually need? That — it seems like this whole efficiency thing is really — doesn’t work very well, because in fact, there’s this thinking that’s always going on inside the thing that you’re engaged with and, you’re not really having the experience if you’re rushing off to the next thing, right? So, even when you’re really, really compressed for time, how do you cultivate just being in the time you have at that moment? And how do you — how can you just be present, even if it’s like, you know, a few minutes. "
As the new year approaches, I have been reflecting on 2016. Quite a year. The world seems to be in such a strange place. I have alternated between overwhelming myself in news and reading too many social media posts to completely shutting it all off and simply going about my business. Aside from the political maelstrom, a couple music icons that I dearly admired have passed. I was struck by sadness in the pasta aisle last week when a David Bowie song played in the grocery store. Nevertheless, I feel extremely fortunate to continue to be a maker - it is a privilege to be able to knit almost every day while so many people are just trying to live. I ask myself how I can help, how I can be of service. Random acts of kindness and really listening to people have become small steps in that direction. I don't always get it right, but I catch myself faster when I drift out of the present moment. I still ask for guidance on a daily basis, and think Bowie was right. "We can be heroes - Just for one day." Happy New Year to all.
Fall shows are complete, I am finishing up orders, and it's time to relax a bit, settle down, plan for the holidays and allow myself time for designing. How do I get out of my own way and allow creativity to flow through me? I return to the quiet world of needle knitting.
I didn't realize how much I had missed my needles until I happened upon this project at SAFF -http://saffsite.org/ in Asheville last weekend. The Hatteras Cardigan designed by Kate Salomon from Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont- http://www.spinnery.com/ called out to me. Kate was a joy to consult on the pattern, and she took the sweater off her back to let me try on! I love the toothy wool that is just soft enough. It glides through my fingers well, despite the teeny weeny needle size. This is the first time I have ever used a size 3 needle! I am finally trying out the handcrafted hexagonal needles made by Indian Lake Artisans http://indianlakeartisans.com/
So, if you happen to be attending the River Arts District Studio Stroll in Asheville on November 12 & 13 from 10-5 - http://www.riverartsdistrict.com/ - you will see me probably working on this. My knitting machines and I will be taking a wee rest.
It's hard to believe 2016 is more than half over. I feel like I have knit a bazillion of these great crumpled tanks over the summer. Linen and silk-wrapped stainless steel is a great combination! I still have a few of these at the studio in chocolate, graphite, saffron, ink and natural. They are lightweight and very sheer - perfect over a tank or sundress for these last few weeks of sultry summer. I am just busting out the merino wool and so excited to start knitting fall/winter. Stay tuned...
I don't have cable TV, so I always miss the Oscars. But for me costumes in the movies hold an irresistible appeal, and I pay attention to these supporting characters, especially the knitwear. Of course. Here are a few favorites from the top of my head. Audrey Hepburn, who was a knitter in real life, knitting that giant red scarf(?) as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" - oh so charming. How do you not fall in love with her? Lyra in "Golden Compass" wearing her gorgeous bulky coat, which looks like it was knit from Noro yarn. You just know that she will remain safe & warm and retain her innocence in that pink/orange palette. Trinity exudes the sheer bleakness of her situation in her Skif sweaters in "Matrix." She smolders "Do not F--- with me." Jennifer Beals in those legwarmers and ripped sweatshirt in "Flashdance" was it on a stick as far as I was concerned in the 80's. There is the goofy holiday sweater scene in "Bridget Jones' Diary" which had me doubled over. And lately, it seems like I get asked to make the Katniss wrap or some chunky cowl from "Highlander". Of course, these soft armor pieces are beautiful creations. I love the boldness, resourcefulness and courage they bring to the strong female characters. Not only can they kick ass, but when they finish up with you, they will go home and whip up their own clothing, thank you very much. Maybe one day I will see one of my very own sweaters on the silver screen. A girl can dream, can't she?!
The corset cardi is my version of the holiday sweater - minimal, romantic, subtle, soft, unearthed... notice the woman, not the garment.
2015 has just zoomed! Over the past year I was fortunate to be in many great shows, work in a great studio, and meet so many interesting people. As Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I am ever grateful for my family and my community and deeply thankful that I had so many opportunities this past year to expand my knitting practice and step outside of my comfort zone, which always informs a maker's work. The Piedmont Craftsmen show, November 20-22, is my last show of the year. I will be knitting at Curve Studios until Christmas Eve. In January Cara May Knits moves to a new studio in Riverview Station in the Asheville River Arts District. I am excited to be sharing studio space with the uber-talented Barbara Zaretsky - check out her beautiful work at www.bzdesign.biz. I hope everyone is looking forward to resting and celebrating over the coming holiday season. Warmest wishes for love, light, laughter, and most of all, Peace.
Yes! My favorite season has returned! I love living in the mountains of Western North Carolina during this time of year, & I love bundling up in one of my sweaters and grabbing a hot coffee in the morning before work, shopping, errands and dog hikes. Life is sweet! If you are in Asheville visit me at Curve Studios in River Arts District Asheville. I am there most days. If you are lucky enough to be in Santa Fe, check out homefrocks for new Cara May Knits paired with the beautiful homefrocks line. Later this fall, stop by my booth at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands October 15-18, or the Piedmont Craftsmen's 52nd Fair in Winston-Salem November 20-22. Happy Fall, ya'll!
It's funny to me that I can fit my entire professional life into a Nissan Juke and drive it to an exhibition hall, then set it up into a 10'x10' space. (Well, in this case a 6'x8' space. It's a good thing that sweaters can be packed pretty tightly.) Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands is taking place in Asheville this Thursday, July 16 - Sunday, July 19. I am in booth #62. After doing a few shows now, I am a bit more comfortable, and even looking forward to it without too much nervousness. I still pinch myself that I am a member of this guild and get to hang around so many talented makers. I still feel somewhat like an interloper in this world - that any minute now they are going to run me out of there yelling "Fraud!" Not sure that feeling will ever completely dissipate. For now I quietly tell my inner critic (Sheila Sharp) to pipe down. It's show time.
Update from the studio -- Summer knits - (or how I spent my summer vacation). Making lots of very sheer crumpled tanks with silk stainless steel and linen or ramie to layer over tissue-weight tees or camisoles. Also making some longer linen layering tunics - great over a simple linen shift. Just sent a bunch out to homefrocks in Santa Fe. Looking forward to the July Southern Highland Craft Guild Fair in Asheville. As the solstice happened yesterday, I am contemplating fall designs and starting to look at some different yarns for inspiration. In the meantime, happy summer!
Looking forward to this show in Franklin, Tennessee (near Nashville) March 27-29. New spring/summer pieces in cotton and linen are almost ready. Booth set-up ready. Here we come, Nashville!
I love this image - it is the work of Austin Kleon from his book "Show Your Work!" It just helps me somehow. OK - I am showing my work!! Just moved into a different studio within the Curve Studios family - downstairs at #6 in the Asheville River Arts District. I'm happily nested and knitting diligently in preparation for the Art2Wear show in Franklin, Tennessee (near Nashville) March 27-29. Pulling out the cottons and linens for spring/summer 2015 and developing a new design or two. It's all thrilling & scary at the same time, but I am, indeed, showing my work.
My take on holiday party dress. Understated, of course. In Issue 20 of Selvedge magazine (way back in 2007) Nicola Donovan writes, " Tis the season when normally chic and elegant people, who should know much better, throw carefully cultivated taste and sensibility to the biting winds and indulge in a spot of undignified dressing up. Manufacturers have keyed into the compulsion to revert to an ideal of glamour that is tired and dated... We can opt out and project ourselves as women of personal depth, intellectual strength and individual creativity... free to twinkle with charm, light up with wisdom, be taken seriously." Brilliant! Be merry!
Practicing this now & so very grateful for the upcoming holidays to delight in my family and friends and to mindfully notice the quiet of winter, hibernation, inner space. I wish everyone this peace, & let's all carry it into the greater world somehow. Happy Thanksgiving.
No matter how much I practice breathing, noticing, being in the moment, life seems to move so quickly these days. During fall mostly I am thinking about my business & upcoming shows, orders, etc. Honestly, my personal life gets put on the backburner. I have a feeling that many of us operate this way. Rushed, frenzied. I realized last night that my husband and I have not had a full day off together for about 3 months now. Wow. So, in midst of my working froth I just want to take a small, public moment to acknowledge the fact that I feel so fortunate to be doing what I love to do on a daily basis, but mostly fortunate for all the people in my life who support me in that, mostly my patient & loving husband & sons. I am also hugely grateful to the people who purchase my creations. I love that you "get it." That makes my job so much fun. Peace, out.
Jumped out of "production" mode a couple of days ago & into "design/play" mode to delve into this sweater, which i dubbed morning mist this very morning. Inspired by a Setsuko Torii design & my new studio mate Suzanne Gernandt (http://suzannetextiles.com/) and her beautiful textiles, as well as our conversations about creativity vs. production.
Basically silk stainless steel throughout dropping wool, raw silk & slub cotton stripes in and out randomly. Lots of ends (test in patience) to weave in. I like this direction & I think I will make one larger in a few days after it percolates for a bit.
Wow, from the last post I wrote in July there has been a turn of events. I moved my studio out of my house and into a small space in the River Arts District - Upper Curve Studio #9! Sharing space with four extremely talented artists who make a variety of work. This move has already inspired me to explore some other directions with the knits and has just really put me out in the world a bit more. My aim is to give myself a bit more structure in my day & to gather some momentum from the comaraderie of shared studio space. Heck, if that doesn't work, that bright red floor will energize me!
I have the luxury of exiting my back door in the mornings, walking 30 steps to my studio and getting down to it. Most days this is where I can be found, and this is my view from my knitting machine. Various & sundry items of inspiration, a drawing from my youngest son (a reminder to have fun); shapes of clothes; just cool photos; a couple of artists; pieces of art - including a preponderance of birds. (I just noticed that - hmmm). Writings reminding me to stay present. Smack dab in the center is Quan Yin - Asian goddess of compassion, among other things. I like this version because she seems to be encouraging me, she is also alert yet serene - the sacred place I strive to be. The place I go while knitting. Most of the time I am listening to Global Chill Out Lounge version on Pandora and contentedly zipping along on the machine, often silently chanting words of peace and light while I knit row by row by row. It reminds me of what Kiki Smith (one of the artists on my board) says, "I think there's a spiritual power in repetition, a devotional quality, like saying rosaries." Mmm. This centers me.