Craftsy drawing class

I picked up a Craftsy class, 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing by Patricia Watwood, and this is what I produced for lesson three, where she’s talking about composition lines, block in lines, and contour lines.

Craftsy drawing class, lesson 3.

Above is my drawing with just the block-in lines to show where the angles and edges are. Below is the finished drawing.

Craftsy drawing class, lesson 3.

I have another 7 lessons to go, I’m liking the format and this is one of my better drawings yet.

Doodle revolution

The second half of the Doodle Revolution book is about the Infodoodle, and it’s a lot more text-heavy. The Infodoodle sounds a lot like a sketchnote, it’s a tool for remembering and summarising a large amount of verbal or written information into an easy-to-recall image and text display.

This part of the book has infrequent exercises in, it’s about group Infodoodles. Since I don’t lead many meetings, there’s not too much here I’ll immediately use. I like the descriptions of ways you can use a doodle in meetings, and I’ll see if I can use them at work. We do have a lot of walls you can write on.

The next books in my drawing discovery are going to be Mike Rohdes The Sketchnote Handbook and Henning Nelms Thinking With a Pencil. I’m also going to try a few Zentangles, and design an alien.

Designing an alien

I’ve been drawing the same cartoon hedgehog since high school, it’s time there was a companion doodle. I’m calling this guy Boris, and he’s a work in progress.

Doodle!

I’m reading Sunni Brown’s book The Doodle Revolution, and this is from two of the exercises in chapter four:

Doodle game - Stickify and Face Matrix.

Sunni Brown has a six minute TED talk, Doodler’s Unite! that includes some of the material from the book. I’ve drawn cartoon animals on sunny landscapes since I was in high school (thanks to dull history lessons at Copleston High), and I love the idea of drawing, but my practice always falls short. Doodling has a much lower bar.

My plan is to finish this book and keep doodling. Pictures of my doodles will end up in a Flickr album, Drawing and Doodles. The next book about doodling I’ll work through is The Sketchnote Handbook.

2014 round up

My 2014 resolutions were:

  1. I will not stab anyone in 2014 (just one more year…)
  2. Get my second degree brown belt and make a run at 1st degree.
  3. Finish book #2 and write book #3 for NaNoWriMo

I have not stabbed anyone this year, fulfilling my annual resolution. Punching anyone at the karate studio doesn’t count because we use control and we spar a lot.

Got my 2nd degree brown belt in June with a new instructor, and I’m in reviews for my 1st degree brown belt. The belt test after that is 1st degree black belt, when I can officially call myself a Shodan.

I wrote book #3 of my multiverse four-part series of novels (there’s a part #0 prequel), and wrote the ending scenes. The back end of book #2 remains undone, but writing book #3 gave me an idea how to deal with the monster.

By year end, I will have gifted 18 knitted things. I have worked on 25 projects this year, and finished almost all of them (2 cardigans outstanding right now but one is almost there, a pair of socks in progress).

I was promoted to Director of Quality Advocacy at work, and I have business cards to prove it. I’m running a team of 20 bad-ass diabolically creative software tamperers. I taught a 2-day workshop class solo on Agile software QA, and did a solo Lunch and Learn on Object Oriented Programming basics. Both are scary things off my 2015 work goals list. There’s another Lunch and Learn planned for January 7th, probably more Agile QA classes too.

We went to the NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously for the first time, travelling to San Francisco in November.It was great to meet people in person we’ve only emailed, and see my writerly tribe on their annual celebration.

It’s been a pretty good year.

Project explosion

I have a rule that there’s no crafting output during November until I’ve made my 2000 words for the day on the current novel. Since my 10th NaNoWriMo win, I have done all this:

Crafting output since NaNoWriMo.

  • Knit 2 hats (a Windschief and a modified Dustland)
  • Started knitting a third hat of my own design in green merino/possum yarn.
  • Knit a modified Dungarees cowl.
  • Knit 3 can cozies after gifting my work cozy to a friend.
  • Started knitting a pair of purple socks with birthday yarn from Paul.
  • Mailed out all the Christmas presents that need mailing.

I’m worth more than that

I’ve been in software quality assurance since 2005, and working as a quality engineer for the last year, which is an unusual skill set. For my current position I need to be able to program at a decent level in C# and Java, know HTML, CSS, SQL, git for software versioning, JavaScript and browser dev tools for debugging, and a host of other skills. I get paid well for this and I’m good at what I do.

By contrast, I’ve been knitting for upwards of thirty years. I’m experienced in all yarn weights from bulky to laceweight, cabling and lace knitting are favourite techniques, and I have a specialisation in knitting socks that actually fit people. I can also spin yarn, giving me a greater understanding of my materials to the extent I can identify some breeds of sheep by the feel of their fibre alone (Jacob, Wensleydale, and Gotland in particular). I’ve travelled to gatherings of fiber enthusiasts both in state and as far away as Maryland, and I can identify the most likely yarn shop to have what I need in minutes. I produce upwards of twenty finished projects a year.

So when someone says "Can you knit that for me?" or worse, "can you knit two of those by Christmas," I want to reply like this:

Sure, I can knit that for you. My hourly rate is $60/hr and that’s a minimum of 40 hours work, so it’ll be $2,400 for the labour, plus materials cost, plus an annoyance tax for you thinking my time is worth pennies per hour. Since it’s your first time, I’ll discount that to a mere $4,000 instead of the regular $8,000.

I’ll expect that $6,400 before I get started, and I’ll bill you later for the materials. Cash only. Have a nice day.

As a software quality engineer, people value what I do and I get paid accordingly. As a knitter, people greatly value what I do yet assume my work is worth a pittance way below minimum wage for the hours I spent. This is not going to fly with me.

Looking for the Holy Grail of cardigans

Looking back through my past knitted projects, there’s a few things I need in a cardigan that are not easy to find in combination:

  • Knit in pieces, then seamed, for project portability
  • Set-in sleeves look better on me than raglan ones
  • Worsted weight
  • Can be knit in less than the amount of yarn I have available
  • Pockets a definite plus

I have four sweater lots of yarn, two Vermont Organic Fiber Company O-Wool Classic (light blue and a mid green), some turquoise Rowan Calmer, and some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in a plum jam colour. The last one is the only yarn I can easily get more of, the others are long discontinued.

The first one meeting all the criteria is Jackaroo, by Amy Herzog, which I’ll be starting this week. The others I’ve found are New Towne, Seamair, Grenadine, Golden Vintage, Larch, Basic Black, and Anne’s Cardigan.

Once I have this cardigan done, I want to do a sweater, either Afterlight or Custom Fit, both Amy Herzog designs.

Second Artist Date – Shapes

I created another set on Flickr for photos from my second Artist Date, this time I was looking for shapes. I found these during the Maplewood Sweet Tooth Tour, which was a self-guided tour of local shops all offering a sample of their wares. Husband and I spent a couple of hours wandering from shop to shop sampling the wares.

Found these in Roots, a small antique shop on Maplewood high street:

Glass globes

Metal stamp

Metal and wooden letter stamps

My Morning Pages have been left undone this last week as I’m attempting to let the tendonitis heal. Also have a 2nd degree brown belt test to prepare for, and I want to be fully functional so my instructor can see me at my best, and then demonstrate how far I have to go 🙂

(Started a Flickr Collection for my Artist Date photos, the first set was colour blocks.)

The Artist’s Way – first Artist Date

I joined a group on Facebook going through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron over the course of a year. The book is written as a 12 week course on creativity. Two of the practices introduced in the first chapter are the Artist Date, and Morning Pages. For my first Artist Date I went looking for blocks of colour and found these:

Sunrise and pylons

Lemon yellow

Mango green and red

Light through honey

Morning Pages is something I didn’t expect to like, three pages of handwritten text first thing in the morning, all output and no input. It was drilled into me at school that I have horrible handwriting and the morning pages are fast, trying to make the hand keep up with the mind. I started out as an ambidextrous child, and my primary school teacher decided I had to stop using my left hand. Didn’t get a choice in that one, I was maybe 5 years old. I think if I’d been allowed to use both hands, I would have favoured the left.

So far I have 54 pages of scrawl written in my green notebook and I’m not letting myself think about the quality of the handwriting. Morning Pages are a lot like Natalie Goldberg’s writing practice from Writing Down The Bones, keep your hand moving, don’t edit, don’t think. I’ve seen nuggets from stories go past in the morning pages, odd descriptions, some rants, lots of to-do lists, and what I can hear in the house first thing and see out of the window. I haven’t gone back to read any of what I’ve written yet, I’m thinking I may when I’ve filled the notebook, I have 190 pages to go and I should get there in 63 days on 23rd March. Plenty of time to find a second notebook to fill.

Back and forwards: 2014 resolutions.

I knit thirteen hats this year. Wasn’t intending to make 2013 the year of the hat, but when you have a small amount of yarn, a hat is a good project. One of the hats was made with my first 3-ply handspun yarn, a deep red Falklands wool. I finished twenty-seven knitted things, though of that, several were multiples I counted in batches (nine coffee sleeves, three can sleeves, and five small bags while I was designing my Apothecary’s Pocket pattern).

This time last year I was in reviews for my 3rd degree brown belt in Chinese Kenpo karate. Now I’m reviewing for my 2nd degree brown, finally past a calf injury and dealing with elbow pain probably caused by spinning yarn.

My 2013 resolutions were:

I will not stab anyone in 2013.

Achieved, though under some strong temptations at times.

I will get my 3rd degree brown belt in Chinese Kenpo karate.

Got this on 18th January 2013.

I will lose 10 pounds and keep it off.

Not achieved, but I’m in a clothes size I feel comfortable about, I’m fit, my endurance is good, my sparring skills have improved, and I’m still flexible.

I will knit primarily from stashed (already bought) yarn.

Fourteen of the things I knit this year were from stashed yarn, which is just over half. My overall stash still fits comfortably in the one box I have assigned for it.

I will finish book #2 and write book #3 of my trilogy.

Umm, no. I wrote book #0, and that showed me how to finish book #2, which is still not done.

So, for next year:

  1. I will not stab anyone in 2014 (just one more year…)
  2. Get my second degree brown belt and make a run at 1st degree.
  3. Finish book #2 and write book #3 for NaNoWriMo