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visitin': knit 1

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, Knit 1 Chicago, yarns

"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together."

-- William Shakespeare

The other day I stopped by Knit 1, a gorgeous gem of a yarn store here in Chicago.  The store is stylish with a beautifully edited selection of yarns.  I especially appreciate their large stash of Habu yarns.  Yum!

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, Knit 1 Chicago, habu yarns

Visiting the shop felt like a reunion.  I first met Lynn Coe, the owner of Knit 1, when she was a customer of my old yarn store, the Weaving Workshop.  We hadn't seen each other in ages.  Corinne Niessner, another former customer, is also working at Knit 1. She is the author of Doggie Knits: Sweaters & Accessories for Your Best Friend and the owner of Lucky Penny Hand Made, which features gorgeous sweaters for your four-legged buddy as well as stylish knit accessories.  I love her sock monkey needle wraps! (Mental note - purchase one the next time you go visitin' at Knit 1.)  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, Knit 1 Chicago, yarns, dog sweaters

Folks sometimes ask if I miss owning a store.   My answer is always the same, I miss the customers. There is a unique bond that develops between the customer and yarn store owner.  Much has been made of these friendships in recent novels such as The Friday Night Knitting Club.  Knitting is an activity that honors family, such as the making of booties for a friend's firstborn or the knitting of an afghan for an aging parent. It's a DIY gesture to creating something unique in a time of Gap and Walmart.  

Knit 1 has a large table in the center of the shop that is perfect for gathering.  When I was there,  two customers were working on projects, receiving expert advice from Corinne, while also chatting and getting to know each other.  As time passed, more customers stopped by to pick up some needles or just say hi on their way home.  The atmosphere is comfy like a pair of custom knit socks.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, Knit 1 Chicago, yarns, lace pullover

I love this lacy pullover.  Perfect with a tank top over jeans or a full A-line skirt.  Do I have enough time to make myself one by summer's end?  Hmmmmm.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, Knit 1 Chicago, yarns, gloves, knitting

And I ADORE these sideways knit gloves.  Oooooh, yes!  I need to make a pair of them for the fall.

Knit 1 is located at 3823 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL  60613.  Their phone number is (773) 244-1646.

people who inspire me: crafty chica

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Kathy Cano-Murillo,  Crafty Chica
"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake." -- Henry David Thoreau

Peace, love and glitter!  These are words to live by.  Kathy Cano-Murillo, aka Crafty Chica, is a dynamo of creativity.  She crafts, makes art, writes, in short she lives life at full tilt.  I've taken a couple of her workshops and always appreciate her open spirit.  She's also an amazing businesswoman.  

To survive as an artist, whether sculptor, poet, dancer or actor, you have to treat your creative practice as a business.    This doesn't mean narrowing your options or selling your soul to "the man," in fact it means the opposite.  It means opening yourself up to a wider range of possibilities.  Kathy has taken her creativity in multiple directions.  She writes her own blog, guest blogs for others,  has published several craft books and one novel.  She makes her art for sale online and in galleries.  She does project design work for a range of craft companies and gives demos at the craft trade shows.  She even has her own line of Crafty Chica products.  For her, running a business is in itself a creative act.

Is it any wonder I admire someone who has such positive mojo?!  While this economy continues to bite the big one, artists have the choice of letting it get them down and give into the negativity or to open up and explore.  For years I've earned my keep as a teaching artist, but programs have been cut and universities are struggling to retain students as the cost of tuition rises.   While I still teach, it's no longer my primary source of income.  Rather than complain about the state of affairs, I'm embracing change.

Last winter I launched my career as a project designer.  I'm fully aware that there are naysayers in the art world who think craft is a dirty word.  One colleague actually asked, "Aren't you concerned that designing craft products will damage your art career?"  Oh, boo!  I'm having fun and it sure beats waiting tables.  Conversely, there are crafters who think the art world is affected and snobbish. Really people, is this line of thinking necessary?!

As Kathy wrote in her March 4, 2011 post on how to get lucky:

Infuse your daily life with light and upbeat things. It doesn't mean changing who you are or becoming a Perky Pollyanna, but if nothing is happening the way you are running things now, this is a way to shake up your world in a good way.

A glitter infused concrete floor in one's studio wouldn't hurt either.  Check out her full DIY instructions to create your own.

Crafty Chica, Glitter Floor

habitual growth - a mixed media, collaborative installation

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Habitual Growth by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit and Katie Schofield

"Individually, we are one drop.  Together, we are an ocean."  -- Ryunosuke Satoro

Habitual Growth by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit and Katie Schofield, is a a beautiful and seamless collaborative installation.  It was impossible to differentiate the mark of one maker's hand from the other.  More impressive was the how the installation took on nuance of such varied settings.

 Was I on the ocean floor?

©2011 Lindsay B. Obermeyer, Habitual Growth by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootseit and Katie Schofield

In the forest?


Or taking a stroll through a meadow?

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Habitual Growth by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit and Katie Schofield

Think fungi, coral, bark.  As they write in their statement, "[The] work revolves around the process of creation in which ritualistic motions are repeated, producing an accumulation of simple forms. As the daily act of making becomes habit, the forms grow and intertwine. The different textures and materials are juxtaposed to create an imagined habitat of symbiotic relationships. Natural and industrial elements interact - eating, regurgitating, sheltering, mimicking, covering, and encrusting one another."

Habitual Growth is on exhibit at Fill in the Blank Gallery until August 20th. 

Ribbon Art

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, CHA, Ribbon King, Ribbon Cakes
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

  -- Mark Twain

Ribbon Ring's booth at CHA was a show stopper.  Their product is a small device to organize ribbon.  To draw attention to their booth and hence their product, they created a series of "cakes."   

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, CHA, Ribbon King, Ribbon Cake, ribbon

Ribbon, sequins, silk fabric, pipe cleaners - a range of materials were used to created desired textures and patterns.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, CHA, Ribbon King, Ribbon Cake, ribbon

Each confection was sweeter than the next. 

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer, CHA, Ribbon King, ribbon, candy

Their display reminded me of Candace Kling's work.  She wrote "The Artful Ribbon," a seminal text on the manipulation of ribbon.  She's created a number of her candy "samplers,"  but what I love are her installations, such as "Massacre at Bridalveil Falls."

Candace Kling, MassacreAtBridalveilFalls

Mom and I took a class with her 20 (!) years ago.  I continue to draw inspiration from the samples we made.

Mixed Media Dresses

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Shannon Bielke Crafty Couture
The finest clothing made is a person's skin, but, of course,society demands something more than this.  ~Mark Twain

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Shannon Bielke Crafty Couture

More inspiration from the CHA trade show.  The Crafty Couture collection shows off a mixed media approach to the simple dress form.  I love this romantic ball gown by Shannon Bielke inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream. Each flower is hand formed from paper with a liberal dash of glitter.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Marisa Pawelko Crafty Couture

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Marisa Pawelko Crafty Couture

Fellow Chicago area designer Marisa Pawelko has a wonderful sense of humor.  Check out the scissor holsters - a must for every sewgirl!  Her high voltage use of color and duct tape is a marked contrast to Cindi Bisson's formal prom dress.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Cindi Bisson Crafty Couture

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Cindi Bisson

The embellishment at the hem of Cindi's dress is a great way to update an old garment.  Her three dimensional flowers are fashioned from paper, but cut silk or felt would be an easy substitute.

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer took the art journal in a new direction.  Read her blog for more on the inspiration behind the dress, in particular the expressive process called Tangles.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Julie Fei-Fan Balzer Crafty Couture

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Crafty Couture Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

CHA Summer Trade Show, Designer Showcase

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer CHA Designer Showcase, Lindsay Obermeyer The Possible's slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.
~Emily Dickinson

The last few days have flown by in a craft-filled whirl.  Oodles of inspiration, fab new products, reconnection with friends, I had a great time!  

This is only my second participation in a Craft & Hobby Association trade show, and my first time participating in the Designer Showcase.  For me, the event was 100% amazing.  I met publishers, writers, and firmed up connections with several companies.  Folks always ask me if such events are worth it and I have to give this one my double thumbs up.  If anything, the professional development workshops make attending worthwhile.  I learned tips from a PBS producer and two tv craft hosts on how to present my work for consideration, let alone how to be natural in front of the camera.  No, I'm not going on tv anytime soon (well, maybe YouTube...), but I stored the knowledge for future use.  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer CHA Designer Showcase, Lindsay Obermeyer

For me half the fun is in the preparation.  I had a blast designing what I presented.  Over the course of the next few months I will be posting full project sheets so you can make them too if you wish.  So stay tuned for them!   (See I'm getting the hang of tv lingo....)

The other half of the fun was seeing what everyone else has been doing.  My background is in textiles, but I am seriously tempted by all the mixed media that's happening.  Check out the work of Shannon M. Bielke of Sha & Co, www.shaandco.net.  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Shannon M. Bielke at CHA Designer Showcase

I love her journals.  They were shaped like houses and unfolded like one would take a tour through a home.  Too amazing!

Here's Laura Foster Nicholson of LFN Textiles, www.lfntextiles.com, at her booth.  She designed every bit of paper, fabric and ribbon featured on the table.  She's even wearing a jacket she made from one of her fabrics!  One of these days I really need to try Spoonflower.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer CHA Designer Showcase Laura Foster Nicholson

Costuming, Ladies Ring Shout

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer threads
"You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart."  --  Author Unknown

It's been 17 years since I last worked on costumes for a theater or dance production.  I've never been the actual designer, just the maker.  This time I have the opportunity to be both.  I'm designing and making costumes for the amazing  Felicia Holman, Abra Johnson & Meida McNeal and their world premiere of Ladies Ring Shout, running August 4-6 at Defibrillator, 1136 N. Milwaukee in Chicago.

©2011 Ladies Ring Shout

Critics are raving about their recent performance of "A Suspect Politic," a sketch from Ladies Ring Shout at Collaboraction's Sketchbook XI Festival: Evolution.  Timeout and  the Chicago Tribune are just two of numerous local journals shining the light.

And of course, I'm freaking out.  I want these costumes to be perfect.  Their performance is so funny, poignant, and thought provoking that not one stitch may be allowed to detract.

My inspiration is the work of Natalie Chainin and her company Alabama Chainin.  I love her emphasis on the hand stitch and her early use of recycled t-shirts.  Though I'm machine stitching the seams, all embellishment is being done by hand.  Appliqué motifs are based on the textile traditions of the Kuba people, in particular the squares woven of raffia commonly known as Kuba cloth.  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Ladies Ring Shout t-shirt applique
With each costume taking approximate 16 hours to complete, I am grateful for the assistance of  Jeanne Medina, the production's co-set designer and one of my former students.  ***Hum "It's a Small World."***  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Jeanne working on Ladies Ring Shout

Our long Saturday work sessions have been a gratifying fringe benefit.   She's inspired me to reconsider options I had long ago considered impossible, once again proving that the teacher often learns more from the student than the student possibly learns from the teacher.