I love my customers!

IMG_0939At the Spring Fiber Expo, I came in late on Sunday. The show didn’t open until 10:00 and I strolled in about 9:45.

This gentleman had come in with some friends of his (they were taking classes) and was transfixed by the Canton cowl sample that was in my booth.

He had been waiting for me to come and open my booth, so he could buy yarn and the pattern.

When I asked him to send me pictures – he obliged. Doesn’t it look great?

IMG_0933He used my June Lee colorway along with the semi-solid Crowley to make this lovely cowl. It’s absolutely beautiful and I know he’s going to wear it forever (or until someone steals it from him).

I have the best customers on the planet.

 

 

maddie & cookies

I have blogged at several different addresses over the years. Then when the interest wanes, I abandon them. Well, not this time. I pulled my old blog over here. You know what surprised me? The drafts came along for the ride.

That is baby Madeline there baking cookies. Why? I don’t know.

Clearly we were creating them for some sort of event. I can’t make out what the stickers on the bag say, but at least the bags are her favorite color.

When were these photos taken? No idea, you’d think with the number of times I’ve baked cookies over the years (count ’em on one hand), I’d remember.

If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner with the tissues…thinking about how long ago this was and how grown up my baby is.

A Year of Creative Habits

I always have good intentions in January. Unfortunately, I try to do too much and I freak myself out. For instance, this year, I wanted to read one book related to creativity every month. (Remember this?) You ever have days where you don’t want to do anything THE MAN wants you to do, even though you are THE MAN? I pushed back against my own plan! Who does that?

A friend tagged me in a group called “A Year of Creative Habits” – can you believe one of the things they’re doing is reading creativity books? I’m in. It has been created by Crystal Moody and here’s what she says…

 

I'm so totally in.
I’m so totally in.

It’s not something you have to officially join nor does it cost anything. It’s just a place to check in and connect with other creatives. There’s a creative challenge, a book club, artist interview, and guest post, updated monthly.

 

I think it’s a sign that the June book club is Steal Like an Artist – which was the first book I wanted to read this year. Book discussion will be on the Facebook group, so you can sign up there if you’re a Facebook user.

I really want to do more than my day job and my business. This may be the way for me to be accountable and enjoy it with other creative peeps. Head over to the website, if you’re interested, and have a look.

April 2016 – that giant whooshing sound

You know how you live through something and you look back and think “How did I ever do that?” I’m having one of those moments. I have been burning both ends of my candle for the last 2 months.

Way back in February, I went to the MidWest CraftCon with my friend Tanya of Maybea Crafted. It was kind of a last minute thing, but it sounded like fun and who wouldn’t want to spend a whole weekend with a good friend? I knew I’d have to do a lot of networking (which I hate), but I figured it would be good for me.

First one to sign up!
First one to sign up!

The surprise was that I had a great time. There were classes, group events, and a marketplace. I participated in the spelling bee, but sadly lost on kaleidoscope. It pushed me out of my introverted shell and I actually had fun with my fellow spellers.

One of the things that was stressed over and over was have a newsletter. So I started collecting email addresses. I’m up to 64 subscribers right now and I just sent out my first newsletter! It’s a little nerve racking, but I’m hoping people like it and one or two even read it!

What does the whooshing sound of April have to do with newsletters? Well, the newsletter is just the latest in a long string of things I’ve been doing to grow cjkoho Designs – based on what I learned at CraftCon. One of the most exciting? The debut of Welcome Home. This is a yarn that started from an idea last September. Tanya has a friend who’s a shepherd and had been sending the wool to the cooperative for years.

Wooly goodness
Wooly goodness

Mary (the shepherd) brought 8 fleeces to the Michigan Fiber Festival and we snapped them up. They went up to Stonehedge for processing and shortly before Christmas, made it back to the studio as yarn.

 

We then spent a weekend in the studio where Tanya got several lessons in dyeing. (Can I just say here, that she’s a bit of a princess and wouldn’t actually get her hands in the dye? – Some story about parent/teacher conferences, blah, blah, blah…) We determined that to get every bit of use out of this amazing yarn, we would put it into kits. Tanya had some patterns that were ready for publication so we went to work winding and packaging. Eventually they’ll make it to the etsy store, but for right now, you have to find me in person to pick one of these kits up.

Back at CraftCon, we ran into Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood – creator/publisher/writer of CraftSanity. She was interviewing all the creative peeps attending and we made an appointment to talk about Welcome Home. We talked with her for almost an hour about Mary and the sheep, Deb at Stonehedge, dyeing and designing. We had a blast! If you’re interested, the episode is #185 and it’s on the CraftSanity webpage. If you only have a few minutes, I highly recommend the video of Mary. She looks so incredibly happy among her sheep.

 

deadlines

 

Margaret Sanger, 1879-1966

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger, 1879-1966

The representative from the third wing of The Dinner Party is Margaret Sanger. This wing represents the Age of Revolution (from the American to the Women’s Revolutions)  Sanger popularized the term “birth control”, opened the first birth control clinic in the US (1916), and created the precursor to Planned Parenthood – the American Birth Control League in 1921.

I’m always curious about the path people take to get to their life’s work. Sanger’s mother had 18 pregnancies with 11 live births in 22 years (that’s roughly 16 years of being pregnant). Anne Higgins died at the age of 49. She was the sixth of the 11 surviving children and spent a lot of time assisting with the younger children and household chores. As a result, she was a great proponent of women determining when to bear children and while abortion was sometimes justified – it should be generally avoided. Contraception, according to Sanger, was the only practical way to avoid using abortion (legal or otherwise) as birth control.

There was no readily available information on preventing pregnancies – through the medical profession or in public libraries, so she started a monthly newsletter called The Woman Rebel. The post office suppressed many of these newsletters, but Sanger kept writing them. She also prepared a pamphlet called Family Limitation, which provided information on various contraceptive methods. It was actually her goal to provoke a legal challenge to the Comstock Act. She did it, in 1914, Sanger was indicted for distributing information on contraception – which was considered “obscene literature”. Rather than stand trial, she fled the country.

Eventually, she returned to the US and opened the first family planning clinic on October 16, 1916. Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, distributed contraception, medical care, and information to the women of the Brooklyn neighborhood in which it was located. A little more than a week after the clinic opened, Sanger and Byrne were arrested. The ultimate result of this court case was a ruling allowing doctors to prescribe contraception.

I know there is controversy surrounding some of Sanger’s work. Most serious is her connection with eugenics. She felt the need to limit births by those least able to afford many children and that human traits could be improved by limiting the number of children born to those considered unfit. [I do want to point out that she was flat out against the eugenics programs forwarded by the Nazi regime which simply killed the “defective” children.]  While it is important to acknowledge this controversy, I hesitate to let it overshadow the immense good Sanger did during her life.

When I thought I was pregnant with my son, Planned Parenthood was available with a low cost test so that I could be sure. The counselor came into the room with the results and was so relieved that I was happy to be pregnant – she cried. It’s my hope that every child be as wanted and loved as my children are. Margaret Sanger helped to make that possible for many, many women and we should all be grateful for that.

Squam Retreat

It’s not a typo. Squam Lake is an actual place in New Hampshire where, I’m told, magical things happen. Rockeywold-Deephaven Camps are the location of the Squam Art Retreats every year. I am lucky enough to be going to the Fall 2016 retreat. I heard about Squam several years ago and have wanted to go ever since. This year, I pulled the trigger and said, “Now.”

Why? I spend a lot of time on the road over the course of the year. Much of that travel is for my day job or for cjkoho – which means I’m working. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling for work. I meet interesting people and get to see some pretty cool places. The problem is, there’s no down time. Hello! Introvert here! I need some space to recharge and relax and I can’t really do that at a show or a conference.

Squam promotes creativity
as a way of life.

amyg_squam
The dock in the morning, Squam Lake

Who doesn’t want that? I have a lot of leeway in expressing my creativity through my yarns and fiber. However, I like to flirt with alternate expressions. Every now and again, I get an urge to try something completely new and totally outside my wheelhouse (ask me about drawing, belly dancing, and acting).

Also, I’ve been to New Hampshire and I love it. Mountains, trees, sunrises, morning yoga sessions – what’s not to love? I believe there’s still room in the Fall retreat. Go take a look at the classes being offered and see if there’s something you’ve wanted to try.

One more thing – there’s an Art Fair on Saturday night. Since I’m driving, I’ll be bringing my wares and setting up a small booth. (My logo is already up on the site as a vendor!!) If you’re in New Hampshire on September 17, stop by and say hello. You will see me in my natural habitat, but so very relaxed after spending several days with my muse.

Trota of Salerno, 12th century

trotula2Trota (Trotula) is seated on the second Wing of The Dinner Party. this wing covers the beginnings of Christianity to the Reformation.

Here’s the thing, with everyone from long ago, it’s impossible to know if they were “real” people or not. Chicago invited Trotula to her Dinner Party because she was critical in caring for women in 12th century Italy and beyond. She had been erased from from the canon of medicine around the late 18th century. Scholars, like Monica Green, now believe that the woman’s name was Trota and she did exist and was not only influential in the matter of women’s health, but was a prodigious writer on the topics of obstetrics and gynecology.

Trotula actually refers to three texts dedicated to women’s medicine. These are entitled Conditions of Women, Treatments for Women, and Women’s Cosmetics. Topics covered include menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth, essentially, anything that pertained solely to women’s health or beauty. These works were chock full of herbal medications and homeopathic ways of treating common diseases. {If you had an epidural during childbirth, thank Trota – she was the first to advocate the use of opiates during labor.} These works have been used since the 12th century to understand the woman patient.

Trota was not simply a physician, she was a professor of medicine (Salerno was a hotbed for the study of medicine). She wanted her students to observe their patients and do thorough examinations to prescribe the proper treatment. There were to ask questions and listen to the answers. She was also a great believer in cleanliness. These tenents of medical care are mostly taken for granted now – asking questions about your patients’ health is pretty much mandatory. Also, when was the last time your caregiver didn’t wash her hands three times when she was in the examining room with you?

I am a great believer of having women for caregivers. During labor with my second child, a resident wanted to “break my waters”. He told me, “It won’t hurt at all”. When I asked how he knew that as he’d never had his waters broken , he replied, “A heart surgeon doesn’t have to have open heart surgery to understand his patients.” I said, “No, but I bet it helps…” He didn’t come back into the room after that.

Newsletter Sign Up

I was at MidWest Craft Con last weekend. It was amazing and I

What a cool logo!
What a cool logo!

learned so very much that my head is spinning. There were several sessions regarding social media, and they ALL told me I needed a newsletter.

Well, I need people to have a newsletter…so here’s where you come in. I added a link over there on the left. You just need to leave me your email address, your name, and your birthday (month/day) and you’re in. (I want your birthday so I can send you a little giftie during your birthday month.)

I promise not to spam you. I’ll be starting on a quarterly basis. The most I’ll ever send out a newsletter is monthly, you can handle that right?

Aspasia, 470 – 400 BC

 

Aspasia-04
Aspasia

Aspasia is seated on Wing I of The Dinner Party. This is the wing for Pre-history to the Roman Empire.

She moved from Miletus to Athens where, some say, she was a brothel keeper. (As an aside here, why are all the powerful women painted with that brush? Houses of ill-repute would not exist if there weren’t men who wanted that service, right?)

Aspasia was well-educated for a woman at that time and was a prominent example of a “liberated” woman. She was a metic (non-Athenian) and therefore was free to move about and participate in city life. Married Athenian women kept to their homes and ventured out rarely.

She became the mistress of Pericles and eventually lived with him. There is some debate on whether they married or not, there were strict laws preventing Athenians from marrying metics. At the very least, they lived together as husband and wife until his death. They had a child (Pericles the Younger) who was unable to inherit anything as he was considered a metic as well.

Pericles was a politician of some standing and as his consort, Aspasia held symposia at their house which drew in the elite men of Athens (women were not permitted). It was unseemly that Pericles take counsel from a woman and their relationship was widely condemned. There were rumors that he loved her so much that he kissed her in the morning when he left house and then again in the evening when he returned – scandalous behavior! They were together until his death. This is all that is truly known about Aspasia. She was considered a “non-person” and other than her connection to Pericles, little else is established fact.

I believe she deserves a seat at this table due to her education and her ability to live openly and freely. Aspasia broke taboos and was widely ridiculed for it. To be her own woman in a time when women were supposed to be sequestered in their fathers’ homes until marriage and then their husbands’ homes until they died – Aspasia lived on her own terms.

The Dinner Party

I was in my first year of high school when Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party was first exhibited. I wanted to see it, but, being a teenager, couldn’t swing it. The piece has fascinated me ever since.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a huge, equilateral triangular table (48 feet/side) with 13 place settings on each of the three sides. The place settings were created for women of significance who were almost erased from history.

I want to re-interpret this work of art in fiber and yarn. My plan is to chose a woman from each leg of the table and create a colorway for her – based on her place setting and contribution. These colorways will be sold as a set with a solid gold colorway (representing the chalice and napkin embroidery at each place setting). I am also working with a local designer to create either a hat or cowl pattern for the kits.

I am incredibly excited about this project and can’t wait to share it with you. These will be available on a quarterly basis and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

The first three women I’ll work on are:

Wing 1 – From prehistory to the Roman Empire: Aspasia

Wing 2 – From the beginnings of Christianity to the Reformation: Tortula

Wing 3 – From the American to the Women’s Revolutions: Margaret Sanger

Stay tuned, I’ll talk a little about each woman and my process in coming up with her colorway. I’m looking forward to this journey.