Lessons from 31 Days of #DrawingAugust

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There’s been plenty of knitting going around here. I finished a sweater, put a few feet on a scarf, and worked on a few designs. While it feels great to have made progress and crossed a few things off my knitting list, August’s main project was #DrawingAugust. #DrawingAugust is pretty simple - draw every day and show your work. Thanks to the previous habit-building 212 days of #yearofmaking, drawing everyday was pretty easy. When I missed a day, I caught up on the next day which means I have 31 drawings tucked away in my sketch book. 

The hard part of this challenge wasn’t the drawing. It was showing my work. There were a few sketches that I was really proud of, and I couldn’t wait to post them to Instagram. But there were also a few that I would have rather hidden away. I’m a firm believer that once something goes online, it’s always online. The possibility that someone’s first impression of my work might not be the “perfect” one I want is rattling. Even though I’ve posted the less than perfect sketches this month, it didn’t get any easier. Here’s the thing though: I’d didn’t start #DrawingAugust with the intention of creating perfection. There’s no way I could have finished 31 sketches or even started the first if I had. #DrawingAugust was about the process, about learning, and about doing the work. I wasn’t chasing perfection; I was just trying to get better at drawing. 

31 days later I’m happy to say that my drawing skills did improve. I’m certainly more confident with a pen. I’ve also gotten past the idea that all of my sketches had to 100% accurate. That rule had been floating around in my head for years, and it wasn’t until I let it go that I realized how much it held me back. I knew I couldn’t accurately reproduce an object so there was no reason to try. Beginner or not, the idea that you have to chase perfection and achieve it every day can be the biggest stumbling block. You have to give yourself permission to fail so that you can keep trying day after day. 

Also, 20 - 30 minutes every day adds up. The bulk of my sketches took about 20 minutes from start to finish. Some might have only taken 5 and some might have take 45, but 20 minutes was the norm. 20 minutes a day might not seem like much, but that’s over 10 hours of work spread across the month. It’s time well spent.  

Now that it’s September, I’m moving on to a different daily project, but I’m not packing away the sketchbook. I was getting bored doing straight line drawing so I’m going to experiment and try different techniques and styles. Maybe I’ll have a full sketchbook by the end of the year.

223 Days of #YearOfMaking

Read more: Lessons from 50 Days of #YearOfMaking

Way back on January 1st when I started #yearofmaking, my goals were simple. I wanted to make something every day, learn new things, and improve my skills. To keep myself accountable, I’d post a photo of the day’s work to Instagram. Day 223 looks a lot different than Day 1. 

Over the past 7+ months, I’ve spun yarn, knit a lot, cooked many dinners, taken photos, written thousands of words, made videos, baked cakes, and doodled. I have photos and logs tracking everything I’ve made. Seeing those chains grow has helped me keep going. Sure, there are days that I didn’t make anything, but those days are rare. 

Making something every day is now a habit and I get a little fidgety if I haven’t done something by the end of the day. That’s not to say that I’m finishing something everyday. There’s no way I could keep up the pace if a project had to be complete by the time I went to bed. If I only knit 2 rows on sock, it counts. Building the habit of making is what was important. 

I’ve gotten a lot of good from #yearofmaking but it was starting to feeling like I was just going through the motions in June and July. Then Tour de Fleece happened. To get ready I set goals and picked a skill to focus on. After 3 dedicated weeks of spinning, my forward draft and handspun were much improved. I was even able to check “make sock yarn” off my spinning bucket list! Seeing that improvement put the excitement back into daily making. 

When Tour de Fleece ended, I went looking for something else to focus on. When I read about #DrawingAugust I knew I’d found my next goal. I’m now drawing every day and keeping the sketches simple so I can finish them in 15 - 30 minutes. Some drawings I’m really proud of and others I’m embarrassed to show, but they all go up. It’ll be nice to see how I’ve improved at the end of the month. Plus, this project has also been a good kick in the butt to finally watch all those online classes I’ve bought and never gotten around to watching. 

Instead of being separate projects, Tour de Fleece and #DrawingAugust brought intention back to #yearofmaking for me. At first, just making something every day was enough because I was building the habit. Once that intention was “complete”, I was still making things but I wasn’t learning or improving my skills. I needed a new intention to keep going or I was going to find reasons about why playing video games was a perfect use of all my free time. This month, improving my drawing is my motivation. These smaller goals are what’s going to keep me making to the end of the year.  

Lessons From 50 Days Of #YearOfMaking

During the last few months of 2014, I started hearing about #yearofmaking from Kim Werker. As I become familiar with the one rule behind the project - just make something everyday - I started seriously considering taking on the 365 day project. The only thing holding me back was my previous attempts at a daily projects. I’ve tried daily drawing and photography projects that topped out at 31 days but rarely kept up. 

So, why commit to 365 days of making then? Besides from reading about Kim Werker’s creative adventures, I also read about Crystal Moody’s. Her blog, documenting her daily attempts at drawing and making art, was the only one that I went back through the archives and read from the first post. Over 2014, I saw her art steadily improve and her thoughts about making art mature. I wanted to gain similar improvements for myself. I also just wanted to make stuff since I spent way too much of 2014 distracted by video games and stuff on the internet. I needed to knit, to spin, to draw, to make, and to learn again. 

On January 1st, 2015 the only rules I set for myself were to make something every day and post of a photo of to Instagram to keep myself accountable. I could make anything I wanted. On Day 1, I blocked a shawl. Day 4 saw me stacking cairns at a park in Arizona. Over the past 50 days I’ve knit socks, added inches to a cabled scarf, started doodling again, made lots of tasty food, practiced photography, and spun yarn. I haven’t missed a day so far, not even while I was sick, and it’s been an amazing part of my year.

Besides from making stuff, I also wanted to learn new things. So, what have I learned?

  • Making stuff is awesome and I rather like it. Simple? Yes, but I forgot during the funk that was 2014.

  • Accountability is key. If I wasn’t tracking my progress with Instagram and my Bullet Journal, I’m sure I would have slacked off and skipped a day here and there. Since I’m creating that record and making it public, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to be making which has been liberating instead of stifling. I’m not waiting for inspiration to find me, I’m going looking for it.

  • Variety is the spice of life. Looking through my photos, there are long streaks where I just knit on a pair of socks for a week at a time before getting bored. I don’t feel tied to any one project or craft. When I was bored of the socks, I switched over to spinning and got some lovely alpaca handspun when I finished. A few days ago, I felt like pulling out my sketchbook and doodling so that exactly what I did. Not tying myself to a specific craft is why I’m going to be able to make something 365+ days in a row. 

  • Keep learning. Once finished, that new pair of striped hand knit socks is going to be great. I’m also rather fond of the meditative process involved in knitting ribbing for that long but I’m not learning anything new. After the sock knitting excitement wore off, it felt like I was just calling it in. Tired? Don’t want to do anything? Knit on the sock, post a photo, done. Sometimes you need that but it gets boring day after day. Push yourself to try a new technique or a new skill. Doesn’t matter if that day’s making isn’t perfect. You still tried, made, and learned something new. 

  • Making is more than you do with your hands. Most of what I see when I search for the #yearofmaking and #yearofcreativehabits tags are physical items. There’s painting, knitting, soap making, scrapbooking, dinner, crochet, pottery, and the list goes on. What I don’t see are word counts for essays & stories, photography practice, or other less physical things. Are those things lacking because they’re harder to photograph? Is it because there’s a different group of people doing them? Is there a hashtag I haven’t heard about? I don’t know. What I do know is that making is an intention and a thought process. While the end result is different, whether I’m spinning alpaca or fiddling with the ISO and aperture on my camera, the creative drive is the same.

What am I going to learn in the next 50 days of #yearofmaking? No idea, but that’s what makes it exciting. 

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Travel “By The Silent Line”, an abandoned Paris rail line; by Pierre Folk

Not a tutorial but an excellent Steek 101 from Kate Davies

Time Spent Consuming vs. Creating

If I knew this cabin was waiting for me, I’d go skiing. 

A behind the scenes look at Kramer yarn mill.

Art On The Loose; London’s National Art Gallery hid 45 replicas of their most famous paintings around London. Wouldn’t it be fun to track them all down? 

I’ve been blogging for 8 years. Pretty great, especially the part about shouting into the void. (via Elise Blaha)

I’m a sucker for good sorbet. This recipe just happens to be from Alton Brown and involve watermelon.

Corrections; Hits close to home.

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

I’ve been sneaking in bits of spinning and knitting into my day to help keep my sane. The last few days have been the most I’ve spun since Tour de Fleece. It’s nice to see the bobbin slowly fill up and do something with my hands besides from clicking buttons.

How to turn a file folder into a book. Why have I not made this yet?

How hiring a handyman is like buying a crochet (or knitting) pattern.

And a little deeper, thoughts on (knitting) pattern pricing from Ysolda Teague

NASA developed origami style solar panels.

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

Nina Lindgren’s Sprawling Cardboard Cities

Wish I’d been able to read this article when I first unboxed my spinning wheel

On Comparison 

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

For all my writing friends. 

When street art and architecture work together

A summer camp for composing video game music? Awesome.

The craftsmanship on these embroidered animals is impeccable. Plus, they’re cute. 

A day in the life of Vanessa Knight of Able Ground

The Daily Routines of Famous Creatives

5 Secrets to Success

Tag-along with a robot to see the Tate Britain after dark. 

Found Lisa Congdon’s blog which is both vibrant and utterly exciting. Loved this peek into her sketchbooks and the Word for the Day.

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

A couple of days ago, I found a box sitting outside my steps. Inside were lots of Happy Birthday! goodies and a comfy pair of hand knit socks. I’ve wanted to knit Hermione’s Everyday Socks for years and Cece beat me to it. Thanks, Cece! They’re awesome socks.

A great primer on different wools and fibers aimed at spinning the perfect sock yarn. 

Make something small every day.

“Great people do things before they’re ready.”

Lucy Sparrow hand stitched 4,000 items -beer, magazines, candy bars, what have you - to stock a corner store.

DIY Natural Dyes Chart - focused on fabric but would probably work for yarn too

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Stumbled across the While She Naps blog and podcast this past week and I’m smitten. Looks like a great resource for blogging, business, and creativity. 

The Writer’s Retreat from Incidental Comics

The middle is what you should fear.

Exploring the world

Challenge!  

For today’s awesome science - a synthetic functioning leaf .

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Stumbled across Nimona this week and it’s now one of my favorite comics.

Flight of the origami birds

A visit to the Voss Folkemuseum

Check out this awesome library in Sweden

Hasty and passionate scrawlings

Creative Thinking hits close to home

I would love to walk this path through the treetops 

Enjoying listening to Sunny War

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

 Take a peak into a 1950’s sewing cabinet

How to wind yarn into a center pull ball; a handy trick when you don’t have a winder handy

Love this textured summer braid

The 3-Dimensional Weaving Machine

These stitched leaves by Hillary Fayle are amazing. 

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 Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Blueberry Molasses Muffins

Love these sketches done at the MTL Botanical Garden.

DIY Yarn Tapestry

I would wear this shirt all the time. 

A rare burst of wildflowers in the Badlands.

A sneak peak at the editing phase of a craft book.

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Finally finished plying my Spun Right Round  Olivia  singles. Looking forward to getting the yarn off the bobbin and into a bath. 

Finally finished plying my Spun Right Round Olivia singles. Looking forward to getting the yarn off the bobbin and into a bath. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain. 

Check out this amazing hand bound books

Transarquitetônica 

Juana Molina’s Tiny Desk Concert

I really want to make these Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

Gregory Halili carves skulls into mother of pearl shells. 

Embrace Imperfection

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Spotted at the butterfly pavilion at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum

Spotted at the butterfly pavilion at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain. 

Wonderful Calligraphy Animals by Andrew Fox.

Make melon sorbet without an ice cream maker.

Enjoying a quick photo trip around Oslo.

Great explanation about color dominance in Fair Isle knitting.

A building for measuring borders.

Love the Gnome Team Selfie by Anna Hrachovec.

What a cool coffee house

These op-art rugs remind anyone else of illusion knitting? 

Go On An Adventure

View from the edge of The Getty Art Museum

View from the edge of The Getty Art Museum

This past weekend The Bearded One and I crossed two things off our LA Bucket List: The Getty Museum and The Griffith Observatory. At the museum we saw ancient manuscripts, Rococo furniture, Pollock’s Mural, Van Gogh’s Irises, and so much more that I can hardly remember it all. The few hours spent wandering the museum cultivated an appreciation for the Italian portrait painters Pontormo and Titian that I didn’t know existed before Sunday. What’s more, walking through the exhibits made me want to crack open my sketchbooks and get back to my long neglected sketching. At the Griffith Observatory, it was also inspiring to see the space exhibits and get a bird’s-eye view of LA while standing next to the old school telescopes. 

I enjoy being a homebody as much as the next person. Okay, probably a little more than the next person but there’s more to life than the confines of one’s own walls or the flickering glow of the screen. That’s why, every so often, you need to get out and go an adventure. Don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money. Just try something new or something that you’ve always wanted to do and jump start your brain. 

LA from the top of the Griffith Observatory

LA from the top of the Griffith Observatory

Griffith Park and LA 

Griffith Park and LA 

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain. 

I was on the hunt for a washcloth pattern that would look great in variegated yarn and decided to try something that’s been on my knitting bucket list for awhile, Entrelac. The Garterlac Dishcloth was a great and addicting introduction to the technique. Pretty sure that I’m going to be making a lot more of them. 

Sprawling Ink Cityscapes by Ben Sack

Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies might be on the menu this weekend. 

Romain Laurent’s Looping Portraits 

Learn about circuits and electronics with conductive play dough. The site includes “recipes” for the dough and tutorials for building circuits that would be great for kids of any age. Totally going to make a batch. Science is awesome and occasionally unexpected.

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The first single from April's Spun Right Round Fiber Club. 

The first single from April's Spun Right Round Fiber Club. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links because there’s more to the internet than knitting and spinning. 

I’ve always wondered how people wind such beautiful and orderly spindle cops

Check out this beautiful spiral staircase

What Really Happens When You Start Over

About DIY Projects

Love these Retro Tech Lego Kits, especially the old school computers.

A Puppeteer’s Advice from Jim Henson

Bradley Hart’s Bubble Wrap Paintings

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Will Rogers State Beach

Will Rogers State Beach

Fun and interesting links from the week.

Labyrinth Room Series by Matthew Borrett

The hand embroidery on this quilt label is wonderful.

The amazing Pinch Library and Community Center in Yunnan, China.

A brief tour of the Ístex Fiber Mill.

It’s so interesting to look into other people’s Bullet Journals.

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Looking along the beach towards Venice and Santa Monica.

Looking along the beach towards Venice and Santa Monica.

A collection of fun and interesting links from the week. 

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

The amazingly bright paper sculptures of Zim&Zou

Such an adorable baby sweater.

Mini Citrus Tarts; Might be the perfect use for all those meyer lemons in my fridge.

DIY: Twill Woven Stool; Thinking about doing this with yarn instead. Maybe even handspun.

Being a beginner is hard.

Pom-Pom Love: A tutorial

On Blogging