Monday, August 15, 2011
MEET MY KNIT ARTIST OF THE WEEK: MARDI RENN
Many of you will know Mardi, aka 'Puddleduck', as my right-hand knitter and fellow modereator in my Ravelry Group. Besides being helpful, supportive and immensely creative, she's also a healer. Almost everything she creates is infused with a deep, energetic understanding of the natural world. Read on to learn of Mardi in her own words:
I am what most people would call a “New Age thinker. “ Funny thing is this thinking has all been around since the beginning of time, and in spite of that fact, I feel we are all still at the tip of the iceberg. I discovered “energy” on Thanksgiving of 1989, when my eldest son broke his neck in a car accident while he was in the army, stationed in Germany. To make a rather long story short, I discovered that I had a talent for “hands-on-healing.” Suddenly, I found myself voraciously inquisitive about energy, and that became a love affair and career, that means so much more than I can ever begin to explain here. It became a spiritual pursuit, and led me to many adventures in good old “Berserk-ly” California, and even twice to China. With such a love of energy and its manifestations, I am fiercely drawn to the natural world.
Before consciously discovering energy, I worked for 14 years in the field of fashion as a dressmaker for a German pattern company. I worked on making up cutting edge designs with the very best fabrics that the world of home sewing could come up with. I developed a sense of fiber “snobbery” in my love of natural fibers and how they feel energetically as I work with them as well as how they feel on my body. I like my garments and accessories to feel good and comfortable on because I know that my energy is flowing freely. I love Jane’s attitude of “hold a piece up to your own body and think ‘what needs to happen next?’, because that is how I like to approach my knitted pieces also. Another artist’s trick is backing off from a piece to get the “big picture,” …seeing the pleasing and natural flow of colors and texture at a distance gives a better perspective.
Because I am the sort of person who teaches themselves how to do almost anything that they become intrigued with, I taught myself how to knit about 8 years ago. With a strong flare for style that is artistic and uniquely individual, yet struggling with basic stitches, I bungled through several pieces before finding Jane’s blog in one of my many Google image searches (a favorite pastime!). Finding that Jane has a great love of Nature drew me in right away, especially when combined with her let-it-flow, no rules approach to knitting.
Right away, I knew I had a mentor, and what a phenomenal mentor Jane has been. I began with her free-range scarves, and was instantly delighted with the results. I tried my best to imitate what she had created, learning all the while, exploring a love of the sensuality of color, texture and design, I continued in awe of “inspired” creating, whether it be knitting, jewelry making or other artistic pursuits.
Over time, my own sense of style has come through much more strongly, even to the point of designing a few patterns of my own. The first, The Peach Orchard Cardi-Wrap, was very involved. The most recent, the Cobweb has been a culmination of my love for the natural, and really letting the inspired energy flow. Many of Jane’s followers are finding how exhilarating this is with her most recent patterns, The Breeze in particular. Maybe it is just my own belief, but I think this is the best sort of knitting ever. Why? …Because I believe that truly satisfying spiritual Creation is best accomplished playfully, the way a child would approach it, and in Jane’s words: with “no rules yet to bind them.”
Mardi Wears her Culture Fusion
And here I interview Mardi at the Knitwork station (just joking):
JANE: Knitting to me is symbolic for the way in which we knitters make sense of the disparate aspects of our lives, our world. Do you see knitting as part of your healer's art, too?
MARDI: Absolutely. Many years ago, when “wearing one’s colors” was popular, I became very aware of the effect that color has on us. When I got into energy healing, color was part of my acupressure training, and for a few decades now I have incorporated it into sessions with clients. Those colors we crave, wear, bathe ourselves in definitely have either a positive or negative effect on us. When I find I am craving a color, I knit it! Also, I cannot say that I use knitting as a meditation, but it is such a great way to adjust my mood. When I am frazzled, I knit something monotonous and soothing. When I am feeling bored or low on the mood scale, I pick up something colorful, and dare myself to do something very different.
JANE: How do you think an adult, who perhaps has long believed that being grown up means being locked down, can break back through into the realm of creative knitting play?
MARDI: …Amused and laughing Jane! It requires courage. It is so difficult for us to do this. It reflects on cultural feelings of safety and security through peer group approval. Incremental changes are best. Feeling good about each shift is the reward for change and encourages more of it. We also have to learn how to create ourselves as works of art, becoming a bit selfish about that and very protective of growing that to fulfillment. Knitting is a personal thing, and it is a creative medium that allows a lot of play. As long as we are willing to take out stitches and start again, there is nothing to hold us back.
JANE: From your sewing background, you've learned how fabric works against the body. Has that helped you to break the rules and just play with drape and flow?
MARDI: I believe that everything I have ever done has made me who I am today. My work with fabrics and fit has given me more knowledge in this area. Pushing against fashion dictates is more of a concern for me personally. Growing up in a time of wearing hat and gloves to church, not wearing white before Easter, etc., has had more of an effect than clothing itself. Although daring in a fashion sense compared to most women, I still cringe at the thought of breaking some of the old, groundless rules.
JANE: I ask everybody this but do you wear your own creations and what would you say to those who feel that this kind of self-expressive knitwear brings too much attention?
MARDI: Susan Seddon-Boulet is very famous for her shamanistic paintings, in which she uses color and fantasy in incredible ways. Yet, I have never been as shocked as when I once met her at a book signing. Expecting a colorful gypsy woman, I discovered a woman of plain appearance wearing a plain gray suit, with simplicity resembling a nun’s. Although that was over 20 years ago, I am still dumbfounded thinking of this. I love wearing my own creations that express my inner spirit, and once had a friend tell me she could pick me out of a large crowd easily. Although I have turned a few heads, I have never felt like a center of attention, or clownish in any way. I believe that I have simply developed a strong sense of individual style that is well put together. Quite often, women shoppers will ask for my opinion with garments they are deliberating on, so I consider that they find my appearance admirable.
Question: How does one go about developing a sense of artistry and style for themselves?
Answer: Research, and trying it out! As a self-taught person, I recommend…
· Find what you like. See what really would makes you feel good.
o Look through fashion magazines, follow fashion forecast blogs, look at artistic magazines for color combinations you really love, and make a plan to build on your new style. Remember it is not a fashion fad; style lasts and is an investment in your appearance and how you feel each time you get dressed!
o Study some art principles! Look into color symbolism.
· Try it out. Look for inexpensive ways to play with a new look.
o Try on the kind of clothing you are drawn to, and be critical about how the fit and proportion look on you.
o Start in small increments with accessories.
o Make sure that what you are moving toward is compatible with your lifestyle.
o Create an entire outfit, not just one piece. It is so frustrating to have a great piece and nothing to wear it with.
Mardi began with scraves…