Birth of a Book: Meet Damian Alexander

May 27

Last semester I had the pleasure of working with Damian Alexander in my Freelancer class. Damian, who recently graduated, is a talented illustrator, and a skilled writer. Among Damian’s many projects, he has written a children’s book (that’s just right for adults, too) with an important message. I asked him to talk about it a little: 

DAWhen I look at kids I almost instantly see myself. I see who I was and how I felt and what I thought about when I was that age. I see myself and my cousins and my friends and every kid I knew growing up in every kid I see. Over time I’ve developed this thing in the back of my head where I want to protect every one. Especially the ones who I know are going to have a rougher time with the life they’ve been given. Seeing as I can’t physically put them all into a bubble of safety, I started writing about them.

In my soon-to-be-published picture book I Want a Kid and I Don’t Care I focused on children looking to be adopted. The idea was sparked when I came across a wallin a furniture store with photos of kids looking for families. I found out that it primarily consisted of “harder to place” kids. On hearing that I instantly got sad and wished I could adopt them all, but I can’t do that at this time in my life. So I wrote a book. Through the lighthearted rhyme and colorful illustrations I wielded a story about unconditional love. Throughout its pages the book reiterates the idea that differences don’t matter, whether the child you have looks different from you or has a disability or is transgender or wants to do ballet when all you know is soccer. It just doesn’t matter.

All that does matter is love.

Over a year ago I dug through my illustrations and found just one of a little girl in acrylic paint on paper. I had found the style for my book. For the following year I worked on painting the illustrations and revising the story several times. Until finally I had it finished, printed and in my hands.

Now I need your help to make it a reality. Getting one copy printed is simple but getting funds for multiple printings and distribution takes a bit of help. I recently launched a Kickstarter where you can pledge and help support this project while getting a copy of the book or some art in the process.

Additionally for every book distributed through the Kickstarter, I will donate $2 to the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Association, which inspired the project. They’re an organization focused on placing all types children with the perfect family; they’re also open to single parent households and LGBTQ couples.

I hope you’ll consider supporting Damian’s book, at any level you can. If you’re interested in reading more about him, check out his interview on Alaina Marie’s Keys and read his blog

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Mid-May Friday Faves

May 22

impavid

I’ve gathered some links for lovely things to read, to make, to buy.

  • I’m taking a class to learn Uncial calligraphy, and this week my postcard project (if you haven’t signed up for one, there’s still room!) has focused on practicing it by writing an interesting word on a watercolor background. Want to read a few interesting words? Check out this site!
  • Speaking of postcards, Gale’s Nash Island postcards are back in stock! I include one when I send a package to a fiber-loving friend, but mainly I gaze at them (especially those two lambs in front of the barn!) and am transported for a few minutes to a happy, peaceful place.
  • My former student Damian is a talented illustrator and writer and a beautiful human. He’s written a book called I Want a Kid and I Don’t Care. Take a look at his Kickstarter video. The book is done; Damian is raising funds for the costs associated with publishing. If you know someone with foster or adopted kids or someone who is thinking of fostering or adopting kids, this makes a sweet gift. I’ll be posting more about Damian soon!
  • It’s time for Through the Loops MKAL shawl! Kirsten’s patterns are so clear and always elegant. Did you see her recommended yarn? Another fave:
  • Dragonfly Fiber Pixie. I wound my two skeins last weekend, and it is so hard to wait until June 1 to cast on! Oh, what colors did I pick? Wine Country and Sixteen Candles (Molly Ringwald 4-evah, yo).
  • Want more pretty yarn and shawl combos? Check out the Sundara Petals Collection. Kirsten and my new chum Thea both have patterns in the collection. And: cashmere!
  • Last week I put out feelers on social media to see if there is interest in another friendship bracelet swap for grown ups. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in playing summer camp again this year! In the meantime, you can grab a sweet deal on a set of Et Voila Design’s version of friendship bracelets here! The April special is continuing for some extra time, just for you!
  • One of the things I love about summer break is that the teacher gets to be a student. I took Cal’s Pattern Drafting class in NYC at the beginning of the month (it’s also available on Creativebug). If you have a chance to take any class with her, do eet! She is a patient, wonderful teacher. I’m eager to be her student again!

Your turn: leave a link to a fave of your own!

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Ethical Elegance: Birkenstocks

May 07

Seriously. Even five years ago, I would not have considered bringing Birkenstocks into my closet. You might think it was the NY Times approval that changed my mind, but, no. Last summer before I left for my trip to Scotland and France, I considered the Gizeh as my research showed me they were favored by the ever-elegant French women. As a Birkvirgin, though, I didn’t want to order online birkwithout knowing more about the fit. So the Gizeh crush subsided as shopping-related crushes often do.

Until I drew up my packing list for a visit to Wilmington, NC in April.

I was due for new sandals. And I wanted shoes that would last, that would look adorable with jeans or dresses, that would be comfortable, that were ethical.

I asked my style guru Heather which Birk to start with, and her answer: Mayari. I visited a local retailer and tried on a few sizes. I’m usually between a 7 and 8, depending on the manufacturer. I went with the 37 (in Uggs, for comparison, I wear 38) and the antique lace color. I couldn’t be more pleased. The foot bed is already conformed to my foot, making this shoe delightfully comfortable.

And here’s another thing. Birkenstock is a company that’s been around since the 18th century, and they’re still made in Germany.

Here’s another thing. While I have found it difficult to give up leather (I know, I know…I’m trying), the Birks I own are vegan. And that feels really ethical to me.

And suprisingly elegant.

What has surprised you as a piece you’ve grown to love in your wardrobe?

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Last Thursday

Apr 27

Last Thursday was the 451st anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birthday.

Last Thursday I saw my first violet in the yard.

Last Thursday my favorite beech tree in the woods dropped its old leaves.

Last Thursday it snowed in the middle of the day.

Last Thursday I lost one of my dearest friends.

B and T

After the joy of an extra two years with Tilly after her original cancer diagnosis, we faced the sad news that it had returned. We’d hoped for a few more weeks, just long enough for her to savor more warm days, just long enough for me to finish classes and spend entire days in the yard or on the porch with her.

Last Thursday when I returned home from work, it was clear that it was time to ease her out of this IMG_2335life. I held her while Neal rushed home, and together we stroked her and murmured our gratitude and love to her while we waited for our incredible vet to come to the house.

We’re sad, of course. Tilly lived here before I did. Her love brought me back from the saddest periods of my adult life. Her empathy and sweetness, her humor and grace, her joy and devotion created hundreds of sweet memories. Tilly is the dog who made me a dog person.

Last Thursday a tear ripped in our world. We’ll look for her button eyes gazing at us, for her to tuck her head on a heart, in a lap. We’ll miss her.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog in the world. They do. I know I did.

 

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Ethical Elegance: Stitching Together Passions

Apr 23

I’m thrilled to share this guest post from Chelsea Nelson. Chelsea has been my student in several writing classes, and let me tell you–this woman is a dynamo. She’s passionate and has an impressive work ethic. I hope you enjoy reading about her fundraising project…and that you’ll hop over to support her!

220Everyone has that one animal that changes their life when they are a kid. Mine is a dog named Jasmine. We adopted her when I was 10 years old and had her for 11 years until this past November when we had to put her down due to old age. She was more than a dog to me; she was my best friend and the reason I am so passionate for dogs today.

Sterling Shelter gave me my best friend 11 years ago, and I can never truly repay them for that, but what I can do is help them stay running and succeeding as a no-kill shelter.

I created a campaign called Scarves for Paws in which I sell handcrafted scarves for 10 dollars and give those proceeds to Sterling Shelter. As a no-kill shelter, they are always in need of volunteers, supplies, and money donations to stay open. Because they are located at least 45 minutes from my house, volunteering seems impossible, so instead I figured what better way to say thank you for giving me my best friend then to raise money for them.

Knitting has always been a hobby of mine. It relaxes me and calms me when I am stressed. Knitting scarves is my favorite thing to do. One day I was sitting in my room brainstorming for something I could do in my spare time that would benefit the animal shelter. I have had the name Scarves for Paws in my head for a while but bringing the idea to life was a whole other dream. With two weeks of organizing and encouragement from other people, I began to run the Scarves for Paws Campaign. This whole process has showed me that anything is possible no matter your interests and hobbies. I have a long way to go until I am completely satisfied with the campaign but am proud of my progress in the little time I have been up and running.

So far I have gone once to the shelter and was able to give them a box of newspapers and $230 in cash that will benefit all the animals in the shelter. After I dropped the money off, the owners gave me a hug and said they really appreciated my taking time to make the scarves and giving them the proceeds. It was really touching. I never imagined raising $230 just three months of sales. To reach more people, I opened an online store. Although at first the campaign was only a thought I had discussed with my roommate, I am proud to say that I have raised that much money.
I hope in the future I can raise a lot more money and bring it to the shelter to help them out.

By combining my two passions of knitting scarves and my love of dogs, I was able to do something more to benefit someone other than myself, and I am truly proud to say I helped sheltered animals get adopted and have a comfortable stay at Sterling Shelter.

008Chelsea Nelson is originally from Upton,  MA and is about to graduate from  Westfield State University, where she’s been studying English with a writing concentration.  She has had dogs her entire life, currently Kodiak, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever, and Bear, a 2-year-old chow lab mix. She has also worked at a kennel for four years and still works their on holidays and breaks from school. Read her dog blog,follow her on Twitter, and on Instagram.

 

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