Tag Archive: creativity

Open Studio – The First for My Little Pottery Studio

Photo by Richard BoucherPhoto by Richard Boucher This past weekend, I joined with many other potters throughout the USA and world for National Clay Week. I had heard about this event which is in its second year on a podcast I listen to called Tale…

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Sunflower Platter – From Inspiration to Finished Platter

First off – I hope I get to meet some of you at the Open Studio here at our farm this weekend. Hours are 11 to 4 on Saturday and Sunday. I will be demonstrating throwing on my wheel and share how I decorate my pottery with glazes. I am participating wi…

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Student Tiles + What I am Making + Open Studio This Weekend

The second Creative Retreat of 2017 here at Leyden Glen Farm featured a day of tile painting. After the students left, the tiles were bisque fired. Then I painted on a gloss glaze and fired them again. Here are all the tiles the students painted. …

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A Creative Week – Trying Something New – National Clay Week

I’ve had a busy creative week since my students left on Sunday. I’ve been decorating the pottery with underglazes that I have been making this summer in my little pottery studio. It’s been busy and productive and I am loving it. My head is spinning wit…

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Creative Knitting Retreat 2017 Wrap Up

What a great weekend we had here at the farm for my last Creative Retreat of 2017. I hosted 8 enthusiastic and fun knitters for two days of color, knitting, embroidery, and afghan making. I could tell as they were walking in the door that it was going …

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Fabulous Creative Retreat Part 2 – Ceramic Tile Painting

This year for my Creative Retreats I decided to change things up a bit and introduce some new types of art to the mix. I am lucky to have several students that have come back again and again to our farm. This does pose a problem in that I need to devel…

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Fabulous Creative Retreat – Part One

This past weekend six brave souls arrived at the farm bright and early Saturday morning. The subject of the day was Fabric Printing in the morning. The concept for the afternoon was to embellish the printed fabric with Crewel Embroidery. I taught this …

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Push your Needlepoint

Today we’ll finish up talking about balance and exciting needlepoint by looking at a piece I’m finishing up and talking about it. The design is from Two Sisters Needlepoint and has three small Lily-style shifts. I loved it immediately because it puts those iconic shifts in a clever small package. My philosophy for stitching canvases […]

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Fabric Printing + Lampshade Creative Retreat Wrap-Up

I have finally recovered from my big week last week and weekend. Between the cleaning of the house and studio, the New England Weaver’s Seminar tour here at the farmhouse on Thursday (I didn’t realize I had chairs for 22 people) and the Creative Retrea…

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I Just Want to Make….

I was in the bowels of our ancient farmhouse today trying to sort out a bit of a water crisis with my terrific plumber over text message. I came upstairs to find these beautiful flowers on the kitchen island. Don’t know what they are or who brought them but I will enjoy them. 

Over a decade ago now, a young friend of ours named Jen came to visit. She was just getting out of college after studying merchandising. She was finding it hard to find a job and I was telling her about the career I had and giving her ideas for job hunting. I asked Jen what it was that she really wanted to do with her life. She looked at me and thought for a moment. Her response was

“I just want to make the world a beautiful place.”

When The Farmer came home from baling hay, I told him about Jen’s visit. She was the daughter of good friends of ours and he had known Jen since she was an infant. I told him what she said her career goal was and we both talked about how sweet the idea was. 

Ever since that conversation with Jen, I have thought about her comment. How do you make the world a beautiful place? And what is a beautiful place? What is beautiful for me may not be beautiful for you. Do you create beauty with things that you buy and decorate with? Do you create beauty with good deeds? Do you create beauty by working for world peace? Do you create beauty by planting seeds to grow into beautiful blue lupines like in the children’s book Miss Rumphius? Do you plant a beautiful garden to feed your neighbors? Do you create beauty by teaching people new things? Do you create beauty by seeing the beautiful in every little thing? Do you create beauty by sharing ideas and turning someone on to a new craft or technique that may change the course of their life? 

When Jen first spoke those words to me, I thought about how they could be mis-construed – to be thought of as superficial. I can remember my mom talking about beauty only being skin-deep. We were to know that it was what was inside the person which was the most important – not what is on the outside. That physical beauty was not important and should not be thought of as the end all of end all. 

The other day, we were talking about what makes people tick at dinner. We were talking about each of us and what was important to us in our individual lives – in fact it could be thought of as what we find beautiful. As I watch Julia grow into a young woman, I wonder what her path will be. Where will she find her inner passion and what she will find “beautiful”. For her Dad, his idea of beauty is the natural world, his remarkable sheep, their life cycle and how we are feeding our community, and the love of the world and landscape around us that he farms and looks after everyday. 

I’ve been thinking about what my “beauty” is. When am I the most fulfilled and happy? As I have been throwing pots the last couple weeks, I think about this as the wheel spins round and round, as I pull the clay up and form it into a cylinder, as I stretch the clay into a handle and attach it to the vessel. I think my definition of beauty is when I am deep into a project and have lost myself in it. When I am thinking about what I am making, planning on what it will look like, and then working it out. The thing could be a pot, a garden, a book, a painting, an embroidery, or a good meal. Often when the “thing” is done, the magic subsides and goes away. I still like the thing and find it pretty or useful but the real beauty for me is in the act of creation – the spark of my imagination and mind of what the thing will look like and then the intimate creation. I find it truly amazing that I can dream something up in my head and then make it happen with my hands. It doesn’t always come out the way I originally thought it up and that is the fun of it – to see where I am led by the materials and the process. 

I’ve been teaching classes here at our farm since 2009. Every year, I think about not doing them. Mostly I think about that because I don’t want to go through the agony of cleaning my house.  A couple years ago, I tried to let that go – the cleaning thing. It’s hard because I always think of my mom cleaning before her mom came to visit – stressing out that everything has to be just right. I realized that the women that come here to learn from me really could care less if there is some dust and clutter. They aren’t here to inspect my housekeeping skills (thank goodness). They are here to be inspired and to take away a little of the magic and beauty that I have made here at our farmhouse.  

So those are my thoughts for today. If you are wondering what happened to our friend Jen, she found a good job in merchandising with Anthropologie and she literally did make the world a more physically beautiful place. And now she has a couple beautiful kids too. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on beauty. Leave them in the comments. 

Here are some beautiful links for you to peruse today — at least I find them beautiful.

•My friend Lisa is teaching at The Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton Maine this summer. Check out the classes here. Lots of beauty to make. 

• Good article on Barbara Cooney, the author of Miss R here.

• I’m still crazy over Josef Frank‘s textiles. I just found a page I tore from Arts and Antiques over twenty years ago – that must have been where I discovered him before the www. Good article from NYT here

p.s. There are still a few spots left in the July 15/16 Fabric Printing + Lampshade Painting Class. You can come for one or two days. Would love to see some of you here at the farm. Two days $360. One day $199. More info here

Here are the lampshades that the students painted last year.

Here is a photo of some of the lampshades I have made. 

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Printed Linen + Crewel Embroidery Project

This summer I am teaching 3 different weekend Creative Retreats here at our farm. You can read about the retreats here. This year I have made the option of coming for only one day – not two days – as an experiment. I already have several people signed …

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Orna’s Way to Play with Color

Many of us tend to feel uptight about color. We want formulas, rules, and guidelines so that we pick the “right” color. Orna’s recent post takes colors from the piece pictured above and plays with them to get some very creative results. It’s inspiring and a great springboard for your own color experiments. Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2017Original content […]

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Ideas to Customize your Stitching

Although written for cross stitchers, this post by Nicholas Pell has lots of fantastic ideas to customize your needlepoint. Some, like adding a quote give you an easy way to make a painted canvas individual. Any easy change for most canvases is the addition of a border. Others, such as isolating a motif, might work […]

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Upcoming Creative Retreats at Leyden Glen Farm with Kristin Nicholas

Last week, I announced my 2017 Creative Retreats to my newsletter readers.  It wasn’t the most opportune time to do it – 6:30 p.m. the day before the Easter holiday began but it is what I could do. This year I hemmed and hawed about classes to run…

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Life + New Pots + Vanessa Bell Exhibit + Book

March and the beginning of April have been very difficult weatherwise for the sheep and the humans. We seem to be over it hopefully — yesterday it was 80 degrees. Farm chores continue everyday. The lambs are growing and soon the grass will be too. The…

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Thought Process + Some Links

I have been typing away all week on the keyboard of my computer working on the re-writes for my editor. It is a slog. Many years ago, I read a quote from Patricia Wells, one of my fave cookbook authors. She said something about you have to just sit the…

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Back At It + Some Links

Welcome back! Happy 2017 everyone! I want to thank everyone who comes to this little space of mine on the WWW for all your encouragement and support over the years. I’ve been writing this blog since March of 2006. I can’t believe I have kept it up for so long. Some of you have been here since the beginning which is quite incredible to think about. Things have come and gone on the web but I can’t say this blog has changed too much. That might be bad for some but for me “I’m okay with that.” So many people who were blogging many years ago have given it up. I understand that because it takes a lot of time but for me, I’m still interested in doing it and keeping a conversation going. Thank you all for popping in and reading and commenting. 

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are ready for whatever 2017 has to throw at all of us. We had a lovely time this holiday season – visiting family and friends, seeing some things in NYC and Boston and also doing a lot of nesting at home. The weather has been cold, then warm, now cold again. We’ve had snow many times. It’s winter in western Massachusetts.

Julia is back at school. The Farmer is getting the barn ready for lambs (February this year). I’m settling back into a routine. I must admit it took me a few days to get back into it this week. It always does. I hadn’t been in my studio in a couple weeks. When I got back into it a couple days ago, I realized how much I missed it. It’s my own special space (except when I share it with students) and I really just feel more creative there. It’s not that I don’t love the rest of our house – it’s just that that space is mine only and no matter how messy it is – it feels so welcoming to me.

Every year, I hear about people making “New Year Resolutions.” I remember trying to do that when I was a teenager – making a list of things that I certainly would never accomplish. As I have gotten older, I have realized that that practice doesn’t work for me one bit. So I don’t even attempt it. 

What I did do is write a list of some of the things I would like to accomplish this year. Besides finishing up my next book, I want to paint more. I would love to do a daily painting challenge (do you know Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s work?) but I know I don’t have the time for it right now. Book deadlines first. I will try to do some more quick paintings though. 

I also want to work more on surface pattern designing on my computer. I’ve never had much time to spend on it but I have the basics down. Last spring I took Jessica Swift’s Pattern Camp on-line class and it was helpful and a refresher for what I already knew. I just signed up to take a class on SkillShare called Watercolor for Surface Pattern Design. We’ll see how that goes. 

Other things I am hoping to continue doing are blogging, making pottery, making things to sell in my on-line shop and who knows what else. And I have to think about what kinds of classes I want to run here at the farm this year.

Do you have anything plans and dreams, hopes and desires for your upcoming year? 

Here are some interesting links I think you might like – it is a bit esoteric but so am I in my interests. 

•My Farmer has watched all the Lambing Live Shows from the BBC on YouTube. It is a great show and as we say – only the Brits would make such a show. He is sad that he is done with them but as he says “We’ll have our own Lambing Live soon.” I haven’t had a chance to watch them all but I have listened as I have been cooking and washing dishes. 

Jennifer Edwards – Knitter and Artist – is doing a new newsletter called An Artful Lifeline. I have signed up and look forward to what she has to say. 

Salley Mavor (of Wee Folk Studio) is adding a political slant to her work. I’m interested in where it will take her. She is a brave woman to put her political views out there – I think she will gain a lot of followers (and lose many too). Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the saying goes. Go Salley!

•Spoonflower has a new series on their blog called 12 Days of Design. It is good. Videos and brief instruction with links to help you learn.

Macy’s is closing 68 stores and laying off 10,000 people. (Sign of the times?)

Thanks so much for reading everyone. I wish you the best for 2017.

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Open House 2016 Photos – for those who couldn’t attend

We had a great weekend here at Leyden Glen Farm hosting our 2nd Holiday Open House. Saturday was a bit slow which was the complete opposite of last year. (And it made me very worried!) We had a great turn-out on Sunday – folks drove from far and w…

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Busy Bee – Things I Am Making

Thanks so much for all the comments about Thursday’s post. I hope I have opened up some more conversations within the world of hand knitting designers, yarn shops, yarn companies and the industry in general. Read the comments on the blog and on my FB p…

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Why I’m not Designing Knitwear Right Now by Kristin Nicholas

If you are a knitter and follow my blog because you knit, you have probably noticed that I’m not publishing new knit projects right now. I’ve had people say things to me like – “You could be making a fortune designing knitting patterns now.” and “Knitt…

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Autumn Farmers Markets + Creative Things

Tuesdays I do the Northampton Farmers Market behind Thornes Marketplace. Commerce was incredibly slow in July and August but Tuesday it picked up a bit. I guess folks are back from vacation and getting back into the routine. Thank goodness because I fi…

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Fabric Printing + Embroidery Class Wrap Up – Day Two

Day Two of the Fabric Printing + Embroidery Retreat was all about embroidery. On Day One, the students had designed their base cloth. They printed their motifs on 100% linen fabric using motifs they designed. We spent the morning learning embroide…

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Fabric Printing + Embroidery Creative Retreat WrapUp – Day One

The second Creative Retreat here at Leyden Glen Farm was this past weekend. I had a small group of 4 students but we all had a fantastic couple of days together. Although I prefer a larger group for my income stream I actually do enjoy the dynamics of …

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Colorful Creativity, The Farmer + Lucky Me

A few days ago I received a lovely email from a reader who discovered me through my latest book. Here’s what she said…..Hi Kristin – just to let you know you are inspiring me! a few years back we purchased a house to DIY on a lake up in northern…

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Easy Personalized Needlepoint

We all know that outlines can be the basis of easy personalized needlepoint. A great source of these is cookie cutters. But Jean Loffredo had another idea. She decided that she wanted to use her son’s hand for the outline. He came up with the flag idea. She put the field for the stars in […]

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You’re Going to Be Inspired

I just found this new video produced by the fine folks at Houzz. You’ve just got to watch it. This is the house of artists/sculpters/mosaic artists/painters Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran in Venice, California.You can learn more about the artists Cheri a…

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This Past Weekend’s Hugely Successful Open House at Leyden Glen Farm

Well, we made it through! We weren’t sure what to expect, or even if anyone would come to our first Open Farmhouse/Open Studio Event here on Glen Road in little old Leyden in western Massachusetts. Last week was a whirlwind of activity, decorating the …

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From Sketch to Canvas

It’s always an area of fascination to see how artists work. Facsimiles of the notebooks of famous artists and writers are still in print centuries after their deaths. We get excited when a DVD comes with “behind the scenes” footage. Why? I think it’s because in some sense the creative process seems like magic. If […]

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OPEN HOUSE – Celebrating Creativity + Farming + A Giveaway

This weekend is our First Ever Open House. The house is almost ready and we are awaiting the arrival of Deborah Garner and her textiles and jewelry. Across the street, Alicia is busy spiffing up her art studio and packaging all kinds of artwork. I…

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Yikes Stripes! My Readers and I Love Knitting Stripes

I’ve received a few emails from readers over the past few days. I thought it would be fun to share them with you all. 

Dear Kristin,

When I first leafed through my autographed copy of Crafting a Colorful Home, I knew that I needed to have your striped afghan in my home.  I had been collecting colors of your yarn for years (how did you create an exceptional brown?  I mean it’s just brown!) and I took the enormously generous gift card from my child and their partner to Webs.  I’ve worked on it off and on for many months, and earlier this week I finally finished miles of mattress stitch, and spread it out on my sofa.  

There hasn’t been a sunny day since I finished, but this pic gives you an idea.  Color, entertainment, beauty, I knit it myself, and as an added bonus, I’m going to be warm this winter.  Many thanks!


Here is the afghan that Anne has finished from my book Crafting A Colorful Home. Outstanding job Anne! It is an heirloom for sure. And from what I hear from Anne – her family is fighting for who gets to snuggle under it. 

Signed copies of my Crafting A Colorful Home book are available here. It will make a great Christmas gift for crafty friends. 

From Patty, a long-time reader and commenter, I got this note…..

Hi Kristin,
Years ago, I could not afford Classic Elite Tapestry. I would buy left overs that were on sale. Those left overs eventually became the attached sweater. Thanks for your inspiration. This sweater one keeps one of my most favorite co-workers warm.


I love the sweater Patty made. It looks like something that I could use everyday here in our chilly farmhouse. I love all the crazy colors mixed together! Thanks for sharing Patty. 

And lastly, this is what I have been knitting lately. It is a pair of Christmas Stockings for some little people. These stockings will hang together for many years. I wanted to design them so they looked good together and the kids would be able to know whose was whose. 

They aren’t done yet. Must be washed and then I will add some embroidered ornaments to the trees. 

The patterns I used are available on my website here and here.
Or on Ravelry here and here
I mixed the two patterns together. Lots of designing options and fun. 

Hope you all are staying calm and taking care to travel safely if you are visiting friends and family. 

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