Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Persistently Talented

The other day I was painting with a friend and I was given a compliment: I was told I was "talented." It's funny, because I didn't think so. Besides being far from where I would like to be, I knew that the way I paint now is because of the amount of time I've spent on it. I've poured over books on lighting and composition, I've invested in good materials, and I have put the brush to paper many times over. I know that with art, it is really easy to believe that someone is inherently good at it and overlook the amount of time spent on the craft. It is my belief that no one is really talented, people are just persistent... although there may be those who's fine motor skills develop a little faster. After thinking on the idea of talent, I wanted to find a way to prove that it is persistence and not talent that creates great works of art.

I've devised a little experiment to prove my hypothesis which is to learn to write with a non-dominant hand. The idea behind it was to get good at something no one starts off proficient at but everyone is capable of with practice. I know that no one ever really says, "You can write? You are so talented." But if we can get our non-dominate hand to write, it means we can get it to draw. To start off Connor and I are now both writing out the alphabet once each day with our non-dominant hand.  It has already been quite interesting. Both of us found that we were trying to use our whole arm to move the pen rather than the wrist at first. I also noticed that the muscles in my non-dominate hand are not nearly as strong as my dominant hand. I'm not sure where the experiment will end, but I think it will be interesting to see if we can eventually write with both hands.
My letters are on the left, Connor's are on the right. The first alphabet on the page was done with our dominant hand as a control.

I told my Mum what we were up to and she laughed. Something about, "As if you didn't have enough projects going on." Mum might be right. I'm working on my second skein for Tour de Fleece. I'm entirely sure I won't finish this one by the end of it, but I'll be close. I've finished the first bobbin and am a third of the way through the second.
Wonderland Dyeworks 80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk in Coral Reef

I was so excited by my first skein for this year's Tour de Fleece that I already cast on. The pattern is called Primavera. It was written for a 66 stitch sock, but is easily adapted to the 54 stitch sock I am making.

I'm achingly close to finishing my Dad's Peeta Socks. I just have weave in ends and block them. It will happen, I'm just a bit more enthralled with the Primavera socks at the moment.

The Dude Sweater is also growing quite a bit. I am at the point where I need to join the sleeves to the body. It is going to require some concentration that I just haven't had for the last few days, so it will sit a wee bit longer.

So what do you all think? Is talent something you just have or is it something you develop?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tour De Fun

Hello friends! It has been a rather productive week here at the Bear Ears house, but maybe more importantly, it was a fun week. I finished up my skein of Cider House from Greenwood Fiberworks. It came out to 250 yards, which is the same as the last time I spun a braid of Greenwood Fiberworks. I remember wanting that skein to have more yardage just like I wish this skein had a bit more yardage. Maybe it is the fiber and not me? It sure is pretty, though.

I didn't expect to finish the braid of Cider House before the end of Tour De Fleece, so it was a great surprise that I might be able to spin something else. I've pulled out two braids of Wonderland Dyeworks' 80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk in the Coral Reef color way. 

This time around I'm aiming for a DK/Worsted weight two ply. I've made a great start. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll have a second skein by the end of the tour.

Meanwhile, I've kept up on my knitting. Connor and I have been watching Vikings. It is interesting enough that I can't work on anything that requires looking down, but my hands were getting itchy so I found that the many rounds of stockinette in the Dude Sweater kept them happy. I'm at the next stretch of color work though, and I'm a little intimidated. It took me a few days to get though the color work when I was doing it on the sleeves. The sweater body is three times the size of a sleeve... 

Dad's Peeta Sock is also growing. I have found myself in the car pretty often. Although the car rides aren't very long, a few rounds here and there really add up.

Connor and I have also been playing the odd round of Scrabble. I think I mentioned last time that turns can last a while, so it didn't take many games to finish the latest lavender sachet embroidery. I've now got three embroideries waiting to be sewn up. I think I might wait until I finish the sweater body that will need to be steeked before dragging the sewing machine out.

Is anyone else joining in on the fun with Tour De Fleece? Leave a link, I'd love to see your lovely skeins.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sucking The Fun Out Of Fun

Has anyone else had a time in their life where they forgot how to have fun? I feel like that has been me lately. Since the last week of April, I've been staying disciplined by working on getting The Comic up and running. Every day I edit at least two pages and after I get a pile edited, I (digitally) cut them up and Connor posts them. The thing is, I had gotten so efficient that even when I left room for myself to do something fun, like knit, it wasn't fun anymore. My efficiency spilled over into my hobbies. I'd tell myself, "The faster you finish this knit, the sooner you can finish the next one." I made myself into a machine. This isn't any way to live. 

After making myself miserable for the last two plus months, I heard a sermon that snapped me out of it. The sermon itself was about envy, but in it the preacher talked about the movie Chariots of Fire. (A quick aside, I've never seen all of Chariots of Fire. I watched about 10 minutes at which point I realized there weren't going to be any chariots, so I stopped watching.) The plot follows two runners. One is always worried about who is catching up to him and who might beat him while the other throws his head back and enjoys the act of running. I realized I was the worried runner when really I'd rather be the happy one, so I've been practicing mindfulness. When I catch myself strategizing what I need to do next, I write it on the list, then promptly think about what I am enjoying about my current activity... even the ones that aren't really that fun on paper. I'm happy to report that it has been working. I feel like I'm having fun again. An added bonus has been that I've found myself more productive while I've been having fun.

What are those things, you might wonder? Wonder no more! First off, I am happy to say that I have finally finished editing Book 1. Connor and I need to still put the latter half of book 1 on the website, but we have made that a more pleasant experience by listing to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. (We have especially enjoyed episodes 303, 305, and 310.)

I've continued to make great progress on my father's second Peeta Sock and Connor's Dude Sweater. In typing this, I realized that there is nothing on the needles for me. Gasp! Actually, I'm having a great time knitting both projects and I look forward to giving them away when they are done.

I also started work on the next lavender sachet. I have embroidered several now, but had put them aside to stay true to the comic. I pulled it out again while Connor and I were playing Scrabble. We both can take a long time to come up with a word, so I've been able to make good progress on the new one.

And last, but certainly not least, I've been putting time aside at night to work on my Tour de Fleece project. I entirely forgot Tour de Fleece was coming up until a day or so before it started. In an effort to stay in the moment and not suck the fun out of it with too many goals, I only have the modest goal of spinning a three ply sock yarn out of my braid of Greenwood Fiberworks 80/20 Merino/Nylon in the Cider House color way. It's been on my mind for a while, but like the embroidery, I wasn't going to work on it until I had "earned" it by doing enough of the comic.

It seems so silly now that I was punishing myself by not working what I really wanted to. Connor reminded me that everything will eventually get done, and I suppose that is true. And if it doesn't get done, maybe it never really needed to anyways.

Has anyone else had the problem of sucking the fun out of their hobbies?
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