MU Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase 2015

My crochet display with beloved friends at the 2015 Showcase

2015 was the best Showcase opening ever!

I was thrilled to see more than two dozen friends from Mizzou, my church and my Toastmasters club at the grand opening. I also appreciated the kind notes of support and prayers from those who couldn’t make it. I felt you there in spirit.

I’m thankful for all of you! It was a day of joy celebrating the retro 1970s crochet glory that is my hobby!

The Showcase will continue until Thursday, 3 p.m., in Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union. We have seven new artists displaying for the first time this year. It’s definitely worth the walk to Memorial Union—you’ll see many fascinating types of art: costumes, leather work, paper, hooked rugs and baskets.

I made a little something for our Chancellor, who is famous for his bow ties.

 

Photos from the show

My thanks to Natalie Meighan and Michelle Hall for the photos.

Bonus: Campus Authors reception

The schmoozing continued at the Campus Authors reception I attended in the afternoon, complete with amazing food (note the tiny tasty tartlettes in my paw) and classical music in the rotunda. They told me my book sold out.

I love how this photo (courtesy of Laura Foley) makes me look like a rock star with my shades on. Do you think it’s because my Transitions lenses are slow to change back…or it is because the future is so bright…
Genevieve A. Howard, MU Campus Authors reception

 

I appreciate these good times and look forward to more. God bless you today and all days!

Tuesday Fun-day and you’re invited!

scrapghan

If you’re predicting future thirst on Tuesday, I have the solution for you!

I’ll be part of two separate events on campus, and both of them will have refreshments.

MU Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase Grand Opening
Tuesday, May 19
Noon
Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union

Held in Mizzou’s iconic Memorial Union, the show will feature more than 40 different tables of artwork by woodworkers, painters and fiber artists like me. I’ll have a selection of handmade retro-inspired pieces on display and do a live demonstration of crochet.

I’m grateful for the honor of being one of the speakers this year, so I will appreciate any friendly faces in the crowd!

Enjoy art, refreshments and door prizes at this event that is free and open to the public.

A donation for the Food Bank gets you extra chances for door prizes!

MU Campus Authors Reception
Tuesday, May 19
3 p.m.
Jesse Hall rotunda

As if the word rotunda wasn’t appealing enough, you’ll enjoy light refreshments at this event as well. Held in Mizzou’s other iconic building, Jesse Hall, MU authors published in 2014 will have their books on display…in the rotunda.

This event is also free and open to the public.

(Don’t you think rotunda should be our Word of the Day? As an example used in a sentence, “Oh Winifred, let’s make plans now to mingle with the Mizzou authors in the rotunda on Tuesday.” Way fancy.)

See you there

I hope to see all my friends at one or both of these events supporting my writing and my yarn adventures. You keep me going. Without you, my work would be useless.

Because what is an afghan without anyone to snuggle under it and feel how cozy it is? What is a blog post without anyone to read it?

Thank you for encouraging me with my creative pursuits!

Blessings on your week.

Why I indulge in nostalgia

Me in the 1970s. Note my fashion choice of two different slippers.
Me in the 1970s. Note my fashion choice of two different slippers.

I love the 1970s! They’re over, I know, but I revisit them.

When I was young, growing up in the 70s, I didn’t realize I was part of a trend. I thought that the colors and fashion were just how life was. Only after I grew up, did I see how distinctive a time period can be.

I’ve lived through a few decades’ worth of fads now (uh um, now that I am approaching “vintage age”) and I still love the 70s.

I embrace this love. Why not? It makes me happy to see the choices and ways of old. It reminds me of being young.

I collect old pattern books for knitting and crochet from the 1970s. I enjoy making the patterns and seeing the results. More than that, I just like seeing the wild ideas about what looked good. Fringe? Yes, make it super long. Ponchos? Oh yeah. Macrame, crochet’s cousin? Yes, yes and yes. Let’s wear it and put it in our doorways and best of all, give it as gifts!!

Retro 1970s granny stripe afghan
Retro 1970s granny stripe afghan

When I look at old afghans and search for old pattern books in thrift stores, it makes for a fun hunt. Recently, I had the good luck of finding an afghan from one hunt and a few months later, finding the pattern book with directions on how to make that exact afghan. Amazing 1974-style luck!

Here’s an afghan I recently finished based on this 70s decorating palette. Sunset colors and avocado green, what’s not to love?

(PS–save the date for May 19 at noon and you can see this retro afghan and my pattern books in person! I’ll be a part of the MU Staff Showcase in Memorial Union. Hope to see you there!)

Whether you feel a hankering for the 90s, the 80s or the 50s, indulge your nostalgia when you feel like it. Research shows that it can even be good for you!

The scraps of my life

We pick some experiences in our life. Many more happen to us.

We want joy and pretty sunsets. Sometimes we get pain and time stuck in traffic.

I’m working on a project now that uses up my scrap yarn. It will be an afghan when I’m done. Scrap plus afghan makes scrapghan!

I didn’t pick any of this yarn on purpose. It’s all just yarn that happened.

The variegated rainbow was from a leftover ball a friend at church gave me.

rainbow

The camouflage was from a hat I made for my husband to use in airsoft. It was a terrible hat that had the power to make anyone wearing it look like a mushroom.

The orange was from a vintage afghan I made based on a book from the 1970s. Long live the color sensibility of the 70s!

camo

The stripes are from a project I never finished. I was going to make a stained glass-type wall hanging. Instead, I didn’t finish it and let it linger in a plastic bag for two years.

glass

When I put together the scraps of my life, all my experiences sewn into one, they look beautiful to me. I think this is how we must look to the angels. A mix of joy and sunsets, pain and time stuck in traffic.

May you be blessed today with air to breathe and grace surrounding you. Peace be with you.

full-scrapghan

In the news: red scarf and book launch

red scarf detail
scarf
I finished the six-foot red scarf!

What a pleasure to celebrate our book this week! I felt honored that so many friends and fans chose to come to our book launch party. Despite the rain, we had a full house. Thank you for braving the downpour! You are my people! I loved seeing all of you.

Many of you who couldn’t make it were there with us in spirit. I’ll have photos and videos, stories and moments to share with you in an upcoming post.

My friend Robyn asked me how it feels to be a “celebrity author.”

I will tell you. It feels strange!

It reminds me of a year ago when I cut my hair short. I had many long hair habits I wasn’t aware of, including the pillow habit. When I put my head down on the pillow, I used to flip my hair up to the top of the pillow. For a solid six weeks, my hand went to my head to brush my hair up when I laid down.

Night after night, how surprised I was. No hair!

Then the night came when I put my head directly on the pillow without needing to sort out my hair first. I had no hair to tangle.

I learned how to be a person with short hair.

Now I am learning to be a person who lets her words live in public.

It’s tempting to protect my words. Keep them safe inside.

But how would I have adventures like this week?

I’m grateful to you for making a home for my words in your minds and hearts. Your encouragement keeps me going, keeps me writing. God bless you.

Blessing

Lord, you are strength
when we are bruised, torn and questioning.
You are comfort
when loss crushes us and
we can’t stop the bleeding.
You are love
always seeking us even when
we can’t look up.

In the rain, in the night,
you are love, strength and comfort.

Always seeking us.
Always seeing us.

Tell me your thoughts!

Who is an author you think I should read to help me grow spiritually or as a writer?

Take me out to the art show

Thank you to my visitors at the MU Staff Arts and Crafts Show this week! Hugs to you all! ❤

1970s candy
Bowl of candy from my table: all available in the 70s!

I was thrilled to be included in the show and visit with everyone about the 1970s, crochet and candy. What a success! I don’t think I will have to bring home too many packages of Pop Rocks or Laffy Taffy.

My favorite? Each time someone smiled at the colors in one of my crochet pieces, or told me about a memory of a family member who crocheted. I heard, “My grandma used to crochet,” or “My aunt taught me to crochet.”

Enjoy a few pictures from the art show. And if you’ll be in the Columbia area, the show runs until 3 p.m. Thursday, May 22.

Blessing

Lord, thank you for nurturing
our desire to create connections.
We splash our world with color!
We tell stories of work done before:
My grandmother made me a baby blanket.
My mother made me a sweater.
We realize it is hardly the craft that matters;
it’s always the people.

Stories and scarves,
photos and paintings,
are only ways to say thank you
for this time on earth,
where it can be so bright and
full of goodwill
when we make it so.
Help us make it so.

Tell me your thoughts!

What is an experience you’ve had with an art show? Or yarn?

Celebrate the 70s with me and yarn!

You’re invited!
You’re invited!

I adore the design of the 70s because I am a child of the 70s.

For most of that decade, I grew up in a fabulous house in southern California with shag carpet and an avocado-colored fridge. It had an intercom that you could press a button to talk to other rooms of the house. The 70s has a reputation for delighting in color. Inheriting the psychedelic palette of the 60s, it embraced a new sensibility of on how to work with brown, rust and mustard at the same time. In short: combine them excessively. In a poncho. With fringe. Wear that poncho proudly.

This is the 70s aesthetic…and I love it.

Relish the tasteless?

Design is continual. Everything that catches our eye today will soon enough look “of a certain time period”. Instead of resenting the old and calling it names like “dated” and “tasteless”, I relish it. I salute the colors that speak with the familiarity of childhood. Devote yourself to thinking back on the world as it was when you were young. By comparing and contrasting how things were with how things are, we can notice the passage of time. This act of noticing stops our lives from becoming a blur.

Finding the familiar is a gift you give yourself. Do you enjoy the hunt of a gas station sign, seeking out roadside antique shops for just the right one? Are you a collector of delicate porcelain figurines, as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother was? Our souls thrive on the occasional comfort of nostalgia.

For the MU Staff Arts and Crafts Show (flyer PDF), I’ll be displaying the 1970s retro crochet pieces I’ve worked on all year. I focused on the colors that come from my personal history: creative ways to say I celebrate the way the world was when I arrived.

I await the show eagerly. I look forward to having fun laughing with people about the outrageous hues and vibrant combinations. I will even be wearing a special outfit during the grand opening reception on May 20 at noon…hope to see you there!

Blessing

Lord, thank you for our life in full color!
We thrive in celebrating and expressing
ourselves in how we create our clothes
and decorate our homes.
Thank you for change.
Thank you for longing.
Thank you for remembering how it was so
we can even better appreciate
how it is now.

Tell me your thoughts!

What brings you happiness to think back on?

Romance of the hook

afghanHow easy it is to fall in love!

Beginnings carry their own rushing wind, as if we start every adventure at the top of a hill and coast down. Then the bike slows and we have to pedal. The thought comes, is it worth pedaling in the direction we’re going?

I started this afghan more than a month ago. Ah, the excitement of the start! I decided to do an afghan to honor my great-aunt. I gathered together my leftover yarn.

This was going to be an amazing afghan! I would use up my leftovers and have something happy.

I grouped the skeins together: purples, brown, sea foam, white, black and khaki.

Missing those bright 1960s colors, I stopped at the store. I got cherry red and orange.

What’s better than the first loop, and the chain to start the afghan? I could pick the size. Of course it should fit our queen size bed! I chained 140 loops.

Pretty Little Moss

This is going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever made! Better than the forest floor prayer shawl. With that project, I had it in mind that I wanted to look like I’d rolled on the forest floor and come up wearing the shawl. It did turn out that way. Unfortunately.

Have you ever seen a six-foot woman wearing a shawl modeled on a forest floor?

I imagined I would look earthy, warm and natural, something from picturesque glades in Northern Europe.

What I looked like in reality was more unkempt—possibly rabid—squirrel than stylish Scandinavian.

All I need is a few twigs in my hair when I wear that shawl and I could pass for a veritable wild woods woman.

Give me a black kettle and a falling down cottage and the look would be complete. So that’s how that project went. I still wear the forest floor prayer shawl. Almost as a dare to see how people respond to it.

I used green fun fur in the shawl, so it’s super soft for hugs. It even feels like a forest floor, mossy and inscrutable!

But this afghan, it’s going to be marvelous!

The need to pedal…and shop

As I started to work on it, I realized I needed more colors. I went to the store for bright yellow and a neon variegated yarn called Blacklight.

Because I’m impatient, I went with double crochet instead of single as my great-aunt did. I figured she was retired; she had the time to single crochet a bed-sized afghan. I have two jobs to work and high school football to watch so double crochet it is.

My ideal timeline for a project is two weeks. Then I’m ready to be at the top of the hill again. Even with the double crochet—and excessive tea drinking that keeps me up in the evening to work on it—this afghan is looking like it will demand three or four months. I’m in the pedaling phase.

I’m six weeks in with more than 9,000 stitches done. Only 18,000 more. But such a big number overwhelms me. Better to think of the fabulous finished project—so happy, so colorful!

This afghan, it’s going to be splendiferous!

I needed more colors for it to truly radiant the 1960s zeitgeist. I got some green and variegated blue.

My son said, “You bought six new skeins of yarn so you could make something that was going to use up your leftover yarn? Do you see a problem here?”

I don’t remember what I answered. I was too busy thinking…

This afghan, it’s going to be magnificent!

Was it grace that made this afghan?

afghanI saw this afghan while visiting my dad. It was the afghan of my childhood, thrown over the back of the couch or folded in the corner, biding its time for winter when it would be used again.

The colors jump out in vibrant combinations. A saturated holiday red with neon orange, mustard yellow and purple, tawny brown, baby pink, true black and icy white, snuggling together for a fantastic effect. The acrylic yarn—showing its origin of the 1960s—reflects a sensibility that cannot be found now.

I didn’t think anything of the afghan growing up. It had use but no particular value. It was one of thousands of items that filled our house, just one more thing in the living room, like my Atari. I didn’t question why the afghan was there or who had made it.

Then almost 30 years later, I saw it again on the back of my dad’s couch. Its outrageous colors caught my attention.

“The afghan!” I exclaimed as if running into an old friend. The 1960s cheap acrylic was tough enough to survive the decades.

long-afghanI stretched it out to look at the stitches. Now that I crochet, I know more. I interpret the language of loops and understand hours of handwork. At first glance, I thought she had made spike stitches. When I looked at the back, I saw it was smooth. I realized she had done front post stitches, raised only on the front.

I counted and made note: 10 sc, 1 FP sc, staggering the raised front post stitch by one with each row. I saw the afghan with new respect.

Large enough to drape over a queen-size bed, I wondered about its maker. I asked my dad and he thought it had been one of his aunts, maybe his Aunt Cena.

Was she at peace when she made it? Was she content to crochet along, making thousands of stitches?

Later I talked to my sister who also had a family afghan of the same vintage. She told me the yarn wasn’t from many scraps, using up leftover skeins as I had imagined but instead from fanciful skeins sold in the 60s, the variegated colors ready-made.  She named off my grandmother’s siblings. She believed our Great-Aunt Grace—a sister by marriage—made the afghans.

close-afghanI know little of my family history. I have no family afghan. But I’m bound to all those who care and have cared enough to create. Items carry our spirit if not our name.

Grace—shown through generosity—makes each afghan. Even the strongest acrylic yarn will fade and disintegrate but grace goes on forever.

Grace is always around, like a family afghan. Not always noticed or appreciated but waiting for you. Find it. Wrap it around yourself. It will warm you, shape you and bless you, if you let it.

Please touch the prayer shawls

I had the opening for my prayer shawl display at the MU Staff Arts and Crafts Showcase this week. What a fun time! If you were one of people who visited with me, thanks for coming. If you didn’t get a chance to make it, don’t worry, you’ll get a taste of the show here.

Please do touchPlease touch

I heard the same remark from more than eight people. It went something like, “I thought your sign said, ‘Please don’t touch the prayer shawls.’ But then I realized that it said to touch them!”

I wanted to invite people to touch the shawls because they are not just for the eyes. The feel of the different stitches and fibers is part of the experience of a prayer shawl. You need your hands to understand the warmth, weight and intention in the shawl.

How many ways are we geared to see what we expect, even when we’re wrong? We think the sign says “Don’t touch” even when it says “Touch!” We have habits of limitation that are worth breaking.

Please do touch the prayer shawls!

More from the show

Demonstrating the prayer shawl creation
Demonstrating the prayer shawl creation
A shawl about finding a true home and belonging
A shawl about finding a true home and belonging
A shawl about fufillment and purpose
A shawl about fufillment and purpose
A shawl about making family out of friends
A shawl about making family out of friends
The purple shawl is about how the unknown might be better than the known, the silver is about compassion
The purple shawl is about how the unknown might be better than the known, the silver is about compassion
A prayer scarf about accepting the gifts from those who have gone before us
A prayer scarf about accepting the gifts from those who have gone before us
A shawl from this Lent about sacrifice and forgiveness
A shawl from this Lent about sacrifice and forgiveness
A shawl from this Lent about comfort
A shawl from this Lent about comfort
A shawl for someone with bright blue eyes and a sparkly personality
A shawl for someone with bright blue eyes and a sparkly personality
This  prayer shawl is about happiness and joy
This prayer shawl is about happiness and joy
My friends who made the prayer shawl wooden racks for the displays
My friends who made the prayer shawl wooden racks for the displays (thank you!)