Monday, August 22, 2011
MEET MELBA, A Crochet/Knitting explorer
Hi all. I like to refer to myself as a color junkie and consider myself a Work In Progress - WIP. Let me tell you how that came about.
I learned to crochet at my mother’s knee when I was 8 years old and have stuck with it on and off throughout my life. I’m technically a self taught continental knitter, which was a natural progression from my crochet. I fell in love with free-forming after taking a class in 2005 from Margaret Hubert. After I retired from the workforce in 2006, I spent a lot more time at my needle-crafting, particularly building my knitting skills.
During this process I decided that like my projects, I’m a Work In Progress' or a WIP. I recently read that anybody can grow older verses growing up. Growing older doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. When I worked for health clubs and eventually taught aerobic fitness and health through our local adult school, I had to constantly change my music, steps and knowledge to keep up the ever changing industry, so I learned that not to embrace change meant the loss of students and a boring class. So, I find myself applying this to my needle-crafting, particularly in my free-form and free-range activities. I believe that it’s best to have no regrets for the things we tried and it just didn’t work, but rather for the things we didn’t do that might have been successful. Jane referred to this as risk taking. I call it a work in progress.
Being a WIP, I’m constantly seeking new techniques and stitches to use in my freeform/range projects. In Feb of 2008, I did an entire Stitches West weekend, an intensely 4 day event of classes, fashion shows, and of course the market. It was this event where I learned about Ravelry. I joined in March of that year, but didn’t find Jane until May of 2009, which I think is when my knitting adventures really took off. Working on what I call Jane projects has helped me develop my sense of color and to take risk that I wouldn’t have before. I’ve become a color junkie, thanks to Jane. I love muted colors, jewel tones, and vivid colors equally well. I particularly like to work with odd combos that most people shy away from, putting different variegated yarns together to get different affects. I can also thank her for my taste in using diva yarns and the growth of my stash. My husband’s pocket-book hates her for it.
Many of my hair brained ideas hit me in the middle of the night, like for the hood on my Woven Woods Vest or the heart on the back of my Surprise Me Color Vest or my bi-stitchual hooded tapestry scarf called Swirly or my waterfall for the river project, which by the way has to be worn upside down. Who knows what my fertile brain will come up for my Color’s of Monet, but you can bet that I will embrace it and go with the flow. Thanks to Jane, I’m now comfortable knitting that creative flow when it hits me and have no regrets for not giving it a try. There’s always ripit ripit if I don’t like it which I once feared, but don’t any longer.
Melba's travel Fantasy Vest
JANE: MELBA, you're one of those amazing souls who can work in two languages, knitting and crochet. Does each appeal to you differently or do you definately favor one over the other?
MELBA: I’ve been told by friends that they are envious of my ease of moving between knitting and crochet, speaking these languages equally well. I think I’m probably still more comfortable with a hook, simply because I learned it 1st. Each genre does appeal to me differently, depending on what I’m working on and how much texture I want within the project. If I’m looking for heavily texture, then I tend to favor crochet. For that smoother or a more subtle look, then I tend to favor knitting. But most of the time, I prefer to intermingle the two to get different affects, often knitting with a hook for small areas, when I’m too lazy to pick up some DPNs or needles.
JANE: You've created some really interesting and innovative pieces. Were you always so brave?
MELBA: Thanks Jane. That’s quite a compliment coming from you. No, I don’t think I was brave when I first started free-forming or doing free-range knitting. I think this question fits within my thinking of myself as a WIP, as I’m always finding new colors to blend and new techniques to learn. I had a lot of bottle-up creativity just waiting to be sit free. I’m much more adventuresome now, allowing myself to make some mistakes and am comfortable with having to frog them. Some of these mistakes, become design elements that I somehow manage to make work, like creating an upside down Breeze. A lot of this bravery I can contribute directly to you. Through reading your articles and doing some of your designs, I’ve learned to let go and go with the flow. I’ve learned to let my yarn talk to me. My sense of color has developed with a freedom I’ve never felt before and I’m really enjoying the fruits of it. I find myself really paying attention to natures colorful abundance and locking it into my mind’s eye for use in a future project.
JANE: Do you have a major influence in your creative life who has inspired you to take risks?
MELBA: Besides you, I’d have to say that Ravelry has had the biggest influence. There’s too many to list. But just to name a few, I have to think my mom for getting me started. Then I learned free-form from Margaret Hubert and have been a follower of several Australians, Prudence Mapstone, Jenny Dowde, and Renate Kirkpatrick. Then there is Myra Wood and other modern day free-formers, and recently a lot of those marvelous Russian needle crafters. Some fabulous work coming from them. Without all the work that all the above and you have produced, I’d probably still be stuck in boring land. As I go through new phases of knitting and crochet, I find through Ravelry new artists to admire and emulate and learn from.
JANE: Okay, Melba, do you wear your pieces (you know I ask everyone)?
MELBA: I do a lot of gifting of my creations, but the ones I do keep, I wear whenever I have an opportunity, mostly in the fall and winter seasons. My husband and I are pretty much home bodies, and don’t do a lot of entertaining. But if we have a wine club event to attend, then I try and wear something.
From several different family and friends, I’ve been ask why I don’t sit up an Etsy account, and sell some of my creations, or join a local Arts association and display them as wearable art. The answer to that is simply that I’m not prolific enough and don’t know how to place a value on the them. There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into them. How do you put a price on your creativity and sleepless nights when a project just wouldn’t let you rest. Or, maybe I’m just not ready to take that final risk yet, and think of my creations being judged. Most of the time that judgment is positive, but it’s a step I’m still struggling with. It was really hard for me to place my little pocket tote patterns in Ravelry, as I have a tendency to undersell my abilities. Also, it’s hard for me to make something that isn’t practical and ready to be used by me or the family member I’m gifting it too. That thinking is probably a product of my upbringing, but I don’t find myself changing it any time soon. So I’ll continue being a WIP and a color junkie and not worry about whether or not to take these risks. Thanks Jane for the opportunity to share myself with your readers, and for all the work you put into your web site and the Ravelry groups. I so hope to meet you in person some day and get to know you up close and personal.