Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Travel Journaling: 101

When I used to make a sell travel journals at craft shows, people would always tell me how they never know what to write in a journal. I'd often hear that they sit down at the end of the day to write and fall asleep. Not at all surprising! If it feels like homework, it's not going to be enjoyable.

Travel journaling is never going to be successful if you're treating it like an assignment that you need to complete each day. Rather than thinking of your journal as a record of your itinerary, think of it as a series of snapshots of your trip. Print out your itinerary and tuck that into the journal to remember that you went here on Tuesday and there on Friday. Use the pages of your journal to write about what you're feeling about the trip, what senses are being awakened, and what ideas you're having in this brand place new.

If you save your journalling for the end of the day, you'll never remember all the small details. Instead have your journal on hand and write snippets throughout the day, little snapshots of what you're thinking and feeling. You can always go back and expand on some of those thoughts and experiences later when you have more time, but writing them down will press pause on that moment in time.

For those of you scared of the white page or not sure where to start, here are 5 of my favorite travel journal prompts to get the wheels turning.

Start each day with the same oberservation.
I love this exercise as a way of getting into the journalling mindset each day. Note the view out your window, or from your breakfast table. What's different? What's the same? What details shift a little each day?

What do you smell? 
Sit in one place and smell your surroundings. Look around you, can you figure out where that smell is coming from? Is it different from anything you smell at home, the same? What memory does this smell conjure for you?

What do you hear? 
Close your eyes and just listen. Where are those sounds coming from? How would you describe them? Are people talking? Listen for a snippet of conversation, and if you don't speak their language try to imagine what they're talking about by intonation and gestures. Are any of these sounds familiar to you?

Note the environment around you. 
Is it cold, warm, humid, dry? Write down the time of day and weather. What is it about the physical environment at this moment that sets the season? How do you feel physically right now? Comfortable?

What boring details about ordinary life are different? 
Go to a supermarket, pharmacy or post office and note how it's different from at home. What items are sold differently than they are at home? How do the prices compare? How is this experience different from home, and how is it surprisingly the same?  Travel isn't always just about taking in the sites, it's also about seeing how other people live in a different country.

Sometimes all it takes in something quick to get you started, and words and sketches will start flowing. Like anything, it takes a while to get into a new habit. If you're not a daily journal keeper in your day to day life, pick up a little notebook and start writing before you leave home. Added bonus: you'll be looking at your regular routine and environment with new and fresh eyes.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Weaving Kind March Challenge

Back in February, I came across The Weaving Kind on Instagram, and it fast become one of my favorite accounts. Weaving isn't a portable activity for me. My loom is a huge piece of furniture, and it's something I do alone. While I do love the time alone, I often miss the energy of a room full of weavers like those I learned to weave in back in college. In a way, finding this online community of weavers has helped me feel connected to other weavers, in their studios around the world.

Photo by Andy Riley

While I used to run a handmade business, I've changed gears in recent years and am trying to remember what it was like to just make stuff. Make art just for the sake of it, without a price point or end use in mind. Last year I completed an online course, The Weaving Workshop, which was so liberating and I was excited to push myself again with a weaving challenge that The Weaving Kind hosts each month.

Photo by Andy Riley

I laughed when the theme for March was revealed: Function. Here I was trying to get away from function, and it became my design challenge. I went with it. Truth is, I love that weaving in functional. I love that weavers across time and the globe didn't simply make a piece of cloth to serve its function, but also to be beautiful while doing it. I love that what we wear or use in our daily chores can involve thoughtfully made, beautiful items.

For the challenge, I decided to focus on making something for my home and settled on dish towels. Not decorative ones that would never get used (we actually don't have any in that category!) but towels that will stand up to regular use, and that can be washed over and over.

I pulled a cone of cotton from my shelf and decided to focus on a honeycomb structure. A classic structure for towels, they add bulk and absorbancy. I added plain weave selvedges to help keep the shape and have clean edges that would function well in a kitchen. For one design I mixed in some contrasting cotton for effect, but for another I used the same yarn as the warp in the weft. I forgot how nice it is to let a structure speak for itself without adding any other elements. Honeycomb looks so different off the loom, it was so fun to wash it and see how it changed.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017, we made it.

After a long hiatus, it seems there's a lot going on, and I'm suddenly feeling inspired to share. To take the pressure off of blogging, I've become totally comfortable in saying this is my occasional place to share. I'm releasing myself of the (self-imposed) pressure of either blogging full throttle or not at all. I'm giving in to the sporadic and allowing myself to post whenever I feel the urge.

Truth be told, sometimes I just want to make stuff or go places and I don't want to also stage nice photo shoots and come up with ways to talk or write about it. Do I really need to document my every project or fun thing? No, I don't, and if I'm the only one reading my very sporadic posts, I'm totally cool with that.

Still, I do feel compelled to share a few things since my last post was May of 2016.

First, David and I got married last summer! We'd been together 10 years, and on our 10 year anniversary we eloped on the top of a rooftop in downtown Providence. It was amazing, and perfect. I got a lot of questions about eloping, which inspired Eloping: FAQ, a post I did over on the Lady Project blog. Are you thinking about eloping? I love chatting about it! (Photo by Brittanny Taylor.) 

Second, 2016, damn, what a bruiser. Prince, George Michael.....the election. Ugh. I know we're all still living the results of that particular nightmare, but hopefully with a renewed sense of activism. We can change the course of this, the midterms aren't that far away.

Lastly, 2017 kicked off with a trip to Spain and I've been doing a lot of weaving. Two things I'm feeling inspired to blog about, so stay tuned for more pieces about the country I keep falling more in love with, and the weaving that is helping to ground me and keep me sane in this bizarre moment in history.