Hey Friends! We are half way thought January 2021 (I know, it feels like another damn decade, but no, it is just that full of incident) and it is time to think about, and make your plans for, doing something daily in Feb 2021. I have posted these “rules” before, for Feb 2020, and Feb 2019. I’ve been recruiting friends for almost as long; from Clevermanka.net, and Jenny Crusie’s Argh people, as well as anyone else who is inspired by seeing it here or on Instagram.

Below are some images from #dailyFeb2018, #dailyFeb2019 and #dailyFeb2020:

February, as we all well know, is the longest month. The Romans did us a favor by chopping days off it until it felt as long as July, but since it has only 28 days this year, it is technically shorter by two or three days than any other month we have.

Since we are going to do something daily, picking Feb to start seems like a good plan. And yes, we are going for daily, which is why we have The Rules, outlined and explained below.

In order to keep from being overwhelmed, we have Rules, and the Rules are what we must have:

  1. we must have A Very Low Bar
  2. we must have Very Clear Boundaries and
  3. and we should aim for Quantity Not Quality

Let me explain.

A Very Low Bar: The purpose of an absurdly low bar is to invite anyone and everyone to step over it, to prove, in fact, that anyone and everyone can step over it. Having stepped over it gives you a little jolt of accomplishment, which is a good thing, and encourages you to do it again. We are after that tiny jolt of encouragement that comes from doing the thing. That will propel you to do it again, and again, and again, which is practice. So choose something you have tools for. Choose something that you can set up quickly and clean up easily (or set up in a corner somewhere that won’t be disturbed). Lower the threshold for doing the thing as much as you possibly can. To that end, it is perfectly legit to lay in a stock of things before Feb 1 – like pre-cut paper, sharpened pencils, the paints for this February’s palette, or all the ends of sock yarn you have on hand. Get a little excited about this process!

Very Clear Boundaries: This is a lesson from Twyla Tharpe’s book The Creative Habit , reinforced by personal experience, and even Orson Welles (“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” ) To this end, 1) you must put some lines around what you want to practice, and B) make that measurable. So choose a size, limit your palette, limit number of stitches you are knitting, limit yarn size, commit to buying nothing new, or using up all of a resource, do whatever you need to make the box you are creating around your project small enough to be a little constrictive, so that you can experiment with pushing at the edges without having to spend too much time finding the edges first.

Quantity Not Quality: To make that measurable, choose metrics you can see, and count, things that are strictly mathematical or true/false. Your metrics matter, a lot. “Make one nice picture” is useless because who says it is nice? “Use up all the paint I have” is a very good metric because you can tell when you’ve achieved it and also it is pushing you towards more using and making.

I will posting my work on my Instagram account, using the #dailyFeb2021 tag. Post your work too! Use the tag to boast about your own work, and see what other people are doing. Everyone’s friendly!

sugaring off

feb 19

Half the fun with stamps is combining them with other stamps to make patterns and repeats. Although I still have the story stamp I made with some friends. Each of us got an eraser, and using all six sides, we had to carve stamps to tell a four panel story. Mine had to do with lightning, and a forest fire, and rain putting it out. I remember Lynne's better though – a princess lost her cats. It was funny, and the faces were all characteristically hers.

I also managed to break four needles tonight, and finish a small piece:



 It will be 5×7" once it is cropped and the edges finished.


three days and a stamp pad

three days and an ink pad

I mentioned I made my own stamp pad (and spilled green ink all over). I wanted some new colors, so I made a purple and pink pad, and did not spill any ink. One of my Flickr contacts wanted to know what I used, so I show you the tiny adorable bottles of Tsukineko inks and blank stamp pads from Dharma Trading.

Over the weekend I took Alice and Red Kate, and we took my mother too and went to the Peabody Essex Museum. A friend had acquired timed tickets for us to hang out with about 40 tiny adorable zebra finches and their musical stylings on a half dozen electric guitars and basses. They looked like this – the picture is courtesy of PEM,  because my sketches of the birds were not successful. Zebra finch 6


February begins

feb 1 2012

February is Pink!

February is also making more use of the embellisher machine, also called a needle felting machine. A set of felting needles is powered by a (small cheap plastic) sewing machine with the bobbin case removed. The resulting fabric has a distinct texture and character. There are some people who can make lovely art with them, using wool roving and other fibers for color and texture. Several Flickr groups exist, including Made with the Embellisher Machine  - that gives you a feel for the kind of whispy, dreamy things you can do. 

Timna pointed out that while she uses a lot of pink, her quilts don't tend to read as PINK!!! because she combines it with other colors. In fact, this one of hers is a study of Pink&___ (fill in the blank). 

In other news, the drawing class is mixed. The teacher knows whereof he speaks, but he tells long stories with no discernable moral. The teaching is what I'm there for. I'll show some drawings at some point. 

that was fun!

My friend Sarah Buttenweiser has the best ideas. This time her idea was a craft fair in her living room. Which, I might add, is a really lovely space, along with the dining room and the kitchen and the sunroom off it and the study at the end of the hall. The whole space was wall to wall creative people with amazingly beautiful things, and really charming people coming to look at those things.

 I was sharing the front room with Crispina ffrench and Caitlin Bosco, both working with recycled clothing in really different ways. Caitlin makes skirts from t-shirts that I yearned after (and I never wear skirts!) they were so humorous and so chic. Crispina makes astonishing sweaters out of other sweaters, as well as other things out of sweaters like, say, baby blankets. The description does not do the end result justice – these are works of art. Warm, soft works of art. I have a sweater of hers now, and she has one of my chickens – we are deligthed with ourselves. 

My new sweater is made of pieces of other cashmere sweaters: there is a center panel, and side panels, and a soft, mushroom brown hood, and two colors of sleeve. I'll try to get a reasonable picture of it soon. I love it. Alice loves it too: when I got home she hugged me and then started rubbing her face over me like a cat, humming about softness. 

distance, not speed

I have always joked that I'm built for comfort not speed. The bikes I ride, the boats I prefer, the horses I like best, all better over the long haul than the short sprint. Imagine my pleasure at discovering that I have precedent in the art world: this article by Malcolm Gladwell points out what I knew in a dim kind of fashion, but maybe hadn't quite been able to articulate.

To wit – Some start fast, some start slow. Lack of skill at the beginning does not preclude acquiring the skill through practice. It takes patience on the part of the practitioner, and a good deal more patience on the part of her supporters, and frequently a steady allowance or other form of patronage. I have to say I am delighted to read this. I always swore I wouldn't be the person who peaked in high school, and I was frankly aiming for improvement every year. This says I have a shot at that – it isn't posturing on my part.

Go, read. Be encouraged.

front of July TIF

Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

just a quick peek at the a piece of the front – a layer of painted white cotton jacuqard stitched to a plain white cotton twill.

I’ve been inspired by jude’s efforts to try this month all by hand. Go see her stuff now – it is always inspirational.

Aside from my fingers hurting (my thread is too fat) and my impatience showing, it has been educational. Plus it is rather more portable than previous efforts, making it possible to transport and work on in VT for my third and final week of assorted camps.

week 2 leaves tucked in

week 2 leaves tucked in
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I have  a lot of fabrics that have TIF Challenge colors all over them trying to get the colors etter, or seeing how hard and long to press, or just to see what the next one looks like. So I used some of these to make this weeks object. I realized I like it better in this orientation – I made it horizontally. I was thinking about this postcard from last year:

May 26
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

Alice finished a hat for a doll.

dolly hat

I made the doll before she was born, but couldn’t find hair I liked. Alice carried her around a lot when she was one and two years old, and has revisited her since. She persuaded me to put some tibetan lamb on her head for hair, and captured her back to her room. Later that week, Alice insisted on learning to sew doll clothes, so I set her up with some stretchy stuff and she made leggings/pants and shirts, stole some socks from another doll, and started on this hat last week.

Note the band of purling as decoration, the pointy top, the i-cord finish and tassel. oop – I have to take another picture to properly show off all the details.

What comes next

SharonB over at In a minute ago is taking Take a Stitch Tuesday on to the next thing. During 2007 she demonstrated a hand embroidery stitch each Tuesday, and people who were playing along took that stitch and made a small sampler or piece from it. While I don’t do much hand
embroidery, I really enjoyed seeing what others did while beating a
stitch to death each week.

For 2008, she’ll be organizing the Take it Further Challenge.  For Take it Further she is planning on issuing a challenge and a set of colors each month, and we can do with those what we will. Media and materials are up to the participants. I am guessing many people will be interested in some of the alternatives she mentions (paper, collage, quilting as well as hand and machine embroidery) or will incorporate several different things. Interim reports and final photos will be posted on Flickr and in our blogs. She will keep a list so you can see how (and what) others are doing with the challenge.

I am looking forward to working larger and for longer. The Journal pages this year felt really huge after postcards, but I am thinking of going (gasp) even bigger – possibly up to 12×18" or even 18×24" to give me enough room to explore these things. I have thoughts for several series that I might use as starting points for the challenges Sharon posts.