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Creativity, Inspiration, Writing

100 Women Whom I Admire

In celebration of International Women’s Day I wrote a list.  I thought that I’d write a few names, but then it became longer…and longer.

Here is a list of 100 living women that I admire, both professionally and artistically.

This list is not exhaustive. I could easily write down 500 more names. I already have half of next year’s list swimming in my head. If you are reading this list, and you think that you should be on it, yes – you probably should be. Feel free to add your name and links in the comments below.

These are women who I think that everyone should know about. Some of them I know personally, some of them I do not. The only common thread here is that they are all inspire me. They inspire me to do more, be more, care more, and think more.

100 Women for International Women’s Day

  1. Mushroom suit inventor Jae Rhim Lee delivered my favourite TED talk of all time.
  2. Artist and rabble rouser Judy Chicago has been pulling women’s stories from history and has been resisting and persisting longer than most of us
  3. Photo journalist Christine Germano
  4. Surface designer Vikki Wiercinski of Mezzaluna Studio
  5.  Designer, artist, and Olympic metal designer Corrine Hunt
  6. Journalist, author and podcaster Sarah Vowell
  7. Artist Camille Engman
  8. Thought leader and civic designer Dana Chisholm
  9. Typographer, lettering artist and amazing personal project maker Jessica Hische
  10. MOMA Senior Design Curator, design salon host, writer and speaker Paola Antonelli
  11. Queen of Shitty Robots Simone Giertz whose humour smartly shows us that anyone can experiment with robotics
  12. Yoko Ono (enough said)
  13. Designer, typographer, and valentine-maker Marian Bantjes
  14. Design leader, educator, record keeper, Outlet owner and illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt.
  15. I want to read everything by writer Rebecca Solnit.
  16. Designer, editor and writer Jessica Helfand
  17. My frequent artistic collaborator, educator and poet Laura Farina
  18. Buffy Sainte-Marie, a legend
  19. Shelia Sampath, the founder of The Public Design Studio, a design studio devoted to social justice and change
  20. Designer, publisher and brand-change advocate Anne Miltenburg
  21. Book publicist, writer and fatshion icon Cynara Geissler
  22. Writer, director and filmmaker Mina Shum
  23. Musician Cyndi Lauper 
  24. Podcaster, educator, brand designer and writer Debbie Millman
  25. Textile artist and educator Katherine Soucie
  26. Colette Patterns founder Sarai Mitnick who used her user experience background to start a sewing pattern company
  27. Artist and illustrator Molly Crabapple
  28. Lizzy Karp, event producer, host, speaker
  29. Design critic, writer, and educator Alice Tremlow
  30. Filmmaker, director, photographer and curator Faythe Lavine 
  31. Design writer and critic Anne Quito
  32. The Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw
  33. Choreographer Vanessa Goodman 
  34. Artist and community space maker Candy Chang
  35. Artist and community activist Andrea Creamer
  36. Author, technical editor, designer, photographer Mandy Moore (who I co-authored Yarn Bombing with)
  37. Musician PJ Harvey
  38. Comic artist and creativity coach Jessica Abel
  39. Good witch Anne Banner, owner of Salmagundi West
  40. Namita Gupta Wiggers, co-founder of the Critical Craft Forum
  41. Project H design educator and advocator, bringing design to rural areas Emily Pilloton
  42. Freelance arts and culture writer Nathalie Atkinson
  43. Antoinette Carroll, Designer and owner of Creative Reaction Lab, a design firm focused on creating equity-focused community design.
  44. Writer Joan Didion (I recommend watch the new documentary on her life, The Centre Will Not Hold)
  45. Printmaker and educator Jen Hewitt
  46. TV writer and poet Jennica Harper
  47. Illustrator and artist Lisa Congdon (if you are not reading her blog, you should be!)
  48. Healer, photographer and writer Susannah Conway
  49. Writer Claire Vey Watkins
  50. Rock star Kim Gordon
  51. Artist, cartoonist, cabaret performer and musician Dame Darcy
  52. Cyclist, bicycle advocate and publisher Elly Blue
  53. Product designer Diane Espiritu
  54. Ceramist Maggie Boyd
  55. Writer and tarot artist Michelle Tea
  56. Bust Magazine Publisher, author and knitter Debbie Stoller
  57. Force of nature Tavi Gevinson
  58. Storytelling quilt artist Marion Coleman
  59. Journalist and writer Jackie Wong
  60. Illustrator and surface designer Erin Gibbs
  61. Artist Geninne
  62. Paper artist and community art advocate Rachel Ashe
  63. Writer and design educator Erin Ashenhurst
  64. Textile artist Sonja Philip who started her sewing journey with 100 acts of making
  65. Craftivist and author Betsy Greer
  66. Adult camp counsellor, maker, writer and editor Kim Werker
  67. Novelist, cook and blogger Felicia Sullivan
  68. Writer Roxane Gay
  69. Printmaker and surface designer Lotta Jansdotter
  70. Entrepreneur and writer Rena Tom
  71. Cookbook author, science writer, and funny woman Emily Wight
  72. Punk rocker and painter Jean Smith (of Mecca Normal)
  73. Making advocate, Vancouver Mini Maker Faire founder, and designer Emily Smith
  74. Blogger and product designer Joy Cho
  75. Embroidery artist and author Jenny Hart
  76. Artist Aram Han Sifuentes, creator of many things including the Protest Banner Lending Library
  77. Sarah Clugage, founder of Dilettante Army
  78. Publisher of Design Sponge and author Grace Bonney
  79. Actor Sandra Oh, the coolest girl in school
  80. Jen Simmons, design advocate, and front-end coder – expert in CSS grid
  81. Writer and critic Alissa Walker, who writes about walking in LA
  82. Comic artist and writer Lynda Barry 
  83. Business owners, entrepreneurs, web designers, early feminist bloggers Emira Meares and Lauren Bacon
  84. Writer, podcaster and writing cheerleader Rachael Herron
  85. Writer Miriam Toews
  86. Designer and gardener Gayla Trail
  87. Poet and writer Susan Musgrave
  88. Designer Kelli Anderson
  89. Illustrator Jill Bliss
  90. Musician Kathleen Hanna
  91. Chef, nutritionist and blogger Sarah Britton of My New Roots
  92. Comic artist and modern truth teller Mari Andrew
  93. Michelle Obama (obviously.)
  94. Comic artist and memoirist Ayun Halliday 
  95. Tattoo artist Sweet Sue Tattoo Sue Jeiven
  96. TV writing mastermind Shonda Rhimes
  97. Journalist and speaker Samaah Jaffer
  98. Designer Betsy Johnson
  99. Comedian Ali Wong
  100. Apple designer Susan Kare

Who inspires you? As an act of radical self-care, I recommend writing your own list and sharing it with the women you know.


Books, Creativity, Inspiration

Jealousy, Curation, and Fear

Tonight I had the pleasure of going to see a talk by Danielle Krysa, aka the Jealous Curator, who has recently published a book for blocked creatives, aptly titled The Creative Block.

I’ve never met Danielle, but I’ve enjoyed her blog throughout the years. I even included it as a recommended creative resource in my last book Hoopla, unaware that we were living in the same city. Through her website The Jealous Curator, Danielle sifts through the murky content of the internet, and her blog displays a wealth of art and design discoveries. I’ve often been jealous of the jealous curator – why didn’t I find that amazing thing first?

One of the highlights of Danielle’s talk was that she finds great reward in using the internet to provide others with opportunity. A simple mention of a work from the Jealous Curator can result in a significant career boost for the artist – connecting them with galleries, curators, and licensing opportunities. This is an enviable position to be in as a curator of visual culture, and one that I would imagine holds great responsibility.

Creative Block cover - Jealous Curator

Danielle was inspired to write her book on creative blocks when she discovered that artists of all levels of experience suffer from having ‘internal critics’, those internal voices that discourage one from expressing oneself fully. And, despite her status as an online curator who is venturing into book writing and gallery curation, she spoke candidly about fear and the worry about being perceived as an imposter. She encouraged the audience to think of these anxieties can become more than something that holds us back, but rather, universal merit badges; badges that make us all belong to a larger club of people who may ‘feel all the feels’ of anxiety and being stuck, but choose to go ahead and make their work anyways.

I think it’s a nice sentiment – and one that I’ll try to remember the next time I encounter a creative slump.


Growing Flax in Urban Spaces

Photo caption: Bwmaddog21 via Flickr Creative Commons

Last week I had a speaking engagement at a meeting of the Greater Vancouver Weavers and Spinners Guild in Jericho. During the course of the evening, one of the members mentioned that the Urban Weaver’s Studio would be planting flax seeds in a vacant tennis court nearby and other empty lots in Vancouver, thanks to a grant from the city of Vancouver.

The purpose of planting flax seeds is twofold. While the flax will look beautiful when it comes into a bloom and fills up a vacant space with beautiful blue flowers, but flax can be harvested and turned into cloth – which is what the organizers of the Urban Cloth Project intend to do with it. Their website explains that growing flax used to be a common activity in British Columbia:

If you see a plot of lovely blue flowers at McLean Park or Aberthau – it’s a future linen shirt in bloom. We also have several people growing flax either at home or in their community garden plot, using this blog to tell them what to do and when to plant….Flax was once grown all over BC, as far north as Bella Coola – we have the ideal climate for it. Families planted a small plot of it every few years to provide the material to make garments, bed sheets etc.

In addition to growing flax, which can only be harvested every five years, these lots will also become home to plants that can be used for dyeing cloth. I’m very interested in seeing how this project develops. In the past few years, Vancouver has made space for quite a few community gardens and urban farms to grow food, but this is the first that I’ve heard of urban planting for textiles. Given that our rainforest climate tends to lend itself well to flax, I imagine that urban gardens that produce  hemp fibre for paper and cloth won’t be that far behind.





Inspiration, Publishing, Yarn Bombing

Out with the Old, In with the New

I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions that have to do with fitness or travel. While I enjoy the idea of a new year being a transition or a time of change, I tend to spend less time thinking of what I want to CHANGE, and more of what I simply want to DO. In 2012 I spent a lot of time focused on teaching workshops and public speaking engagements. In 2013, I want to write more. I want to write articles, another book, and many more blog posts. I intend to continue to blog about design and craft and community DIY – including knit graffiti but not only about knit graffiti.  For this reason, I’ve decided to retire, my blog of four and a half years.

For the past five years, has been a big part of my life. Maintaining a blog on the subject has been an incredible experience. I’ve received emails daily from knitters from all over the world. I’ve been included in documentaries and in magazines and newspapers. I was quoted in the New York Times. I’ve been invited to participate in conferences, and I’ve had the opportunity to drop into a little community that I’ve created all hours of the day. I’ve found it inspiring, fun, but often, overwhelming. I have received a lot of emails and comments through the site that I simply haven’t been able to respond to. When I wrote my second book Hoopla and tried to give it as second home on the web just for subversive embroidery, it was too much to maintain content on two subjects in two places. This coming year, in order to keep my blogging life fun and active, I’ve decided to streamline my place on the web to this site I still want to write about yarn bombing and knitting and community installation, but I no longer feel the need to keep a record dedicated exclusively to doing so as there are so many websites, Pinterest boards, and tumblr feeds now dedicated to the subject.

It is my intention to leave up so that the archives are accessible. I’ll still post about yarn bombing opportunities here and on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. If you have something to share with me, you can always email via the Contact page on this site. I’m continuing to do workshops and public talks on yarn bombing too – but my focus will be here on this eponymous site.

As for 2013, I’m looking to develop to have loads of craft and design content, some web freebies, updates on my new book projects (including submission calls), exciting DIY projects, and some better photographs (I’m taking some photography lessons and I will try to not rely only on my iphone for pictures). I hope you will come back and join me here from time to time.

What do you want to do with your time in 2013?



Close up of Tenugui Towels
Inspiration, Textiles

Tenugui Towels at Nikkei Place

A few weekends ago, I traveled with some friends to Nikkei Place in Burnaby to see their exhibit of tenugui towels. I’ve seen cheap tenugui in Japanese dollar stores here but it had never occurred to me they were more than mass-produced tea towels. This exhibit was eye-opening.

Tenugui means ‘a hand-wiping cloth’. Since the 17th century, these hand printed cotton cloths have been used widely in Japan. Not only used for cleaning and wiping, tenugui are used for wrapping items, as garments, and as ceremonial cloths.

Tenugui Towels

I was amazed by the vibrancy of the dye saturation on the towels in the exhibit.

Tengui printing process

The exhibit also demonstrated the tools used to print the towels by a technique called ‘chusen’. With chusen, dye is poured on the fabric to settle and the design is created by a cut paper that resists the dye. Not only does this technique result in deeply saturated pattern, but it creates a print that is reversible – the pattern is the same on both sides of the fabric.

The most pleasant surprise of the exhibit was how charming and quirky some of the the designs could be, such as these ramen and udon noodle prints, lobsters, and quirky-looking fish:

Lobster tenugui towelIf you live in the Lower Mainland, you can still catch the tengui towels exhibit at Nekkei Place. The exhibit is on until March 24, 2012.