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Don’t you deserve a gift most of all?  Join us in the beautiful North East Kingdom of Vermont at The Highland Lodge in March 2011.  Put this experience on the top of YOUR gift list.  See you in Vermont!


Details and Registration at  Or contact The Lodge at 802.533.2647;


The above is a quote from Bob Dylan that I am re-quoting from my Art Prof Bob Ecker.  It is Dylan’s answer to the question of how he saw himself and what he was doing (the actual question was something like “Are you a poet?”).   Bob Ecker, my Drawing and Painting Prof concludes that moving and faking is at the core of making and understanding art, if not art itself.  I’m doing a little more of both these days.

MotherWarriorGoddess MutliMedia Technique Study 1 (c)Tara Jon Manning

MotherWarriorGoddess MutliMedia Technique Study 1 (c) 2010 Tara Jon Manning

I’ve been back in the (painting) studio.  It’s actually all one studio, but to me it’s different depending on which table I am sitting at (design/yarn, drawing, computer, painting).  Here is a recent technical study.  Moving – looking past the faking while faking all the while.  Thanks so much, Bob, both of you.

I Took The Handmade Pledge!“>
Buy Handmade! Make Handmade!

This holiday season, I am trying going to make things from what’s on hand – not buying anything new.  This is a bit more interesting (read “challenging”) than I anticipated.  I have SO much raw material on hand – yet still find myself thinking – “well this would be so much easier with some blanket binding – if I stopped by the fabric store – NO – make binding from fabrics at home.”

At first it was about perfection, then about laziness, now it’s about the fact that it tonight is the start of Chanukah, and Solstice/Childrens’ Day is next Monday, and Christmas is in two weeks.  Then comes my wedding anniversary, and then new years’ – all perfectly acceptable gifting occasions (did you read that second to last one, Bill) .

There’s very caffeinated knitting, mad felting and speedy handsewing going on here in Boulder.  (Note: speedy handsewing means drawing a lot of blood – one drop at time.)

Things are still secret, but I will reveal pix soon.  They’re awesome.  And, I am upcycling, recycling, making from raw, baking, and who knows, if we get down to the wire, giving stuff I love away to someone who is drawn to it.

Interestingly, my little MAKE IT journey did start many weeks ago, like late October – but handwork is slow.  Sometimes, as I’m sucking the blood from my thumb after the most recent jab of the needle, I wonder if the giftee is going to like it, if they will even care that I went through the conscious effort NOT to contribute anything except some biodegradable scraps to the ecosystem.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter – just as with any manufactured gift one would purchase to give.  Most of my peeps “get” that I make stuff, and genuinely appreciate the handwork quality.  People who may not know me as well ask where I bought it – a compliment.  In the end, I am walking the walk and having pretty good time – except for the needle pricks.  And, every one of the above mentioned occasions – and then some (next comes Groundhogs, Valentines,  and bunches of other “days”)  that make for great gift giving if everything isn’t done “on time.”

If you aren’t able to sit and draw blood, or have run out of time with your own holiday handwork, or don’t do handwork but think it’s really awesome – PLEASE make or support handmade in your gifting plans. A quick websearch or visit to (if you don’t know what is, make sure you have a chunk of time to browse – just sayin’) – that’s all you need to do.  Or, go to a funky little gallery or handmade boutique near you and see what sorts of neato little things you find.

Support your local artists (even when that means YOU), your local businesses, and handcrafters – not just because one of a kind and creative expression are WONDERFUL – but because you can do your little “Copenhagen” bit by reducing the waste stream, shopping local, helping out an artists, and reducing the amount of “stuff”, er, raw materials in your stash.

PLEASE if you have suggestions for the most awesome places on the web to buy handmade or find quick project ideas, leave a comment! And everyone, visit  You can take the pledge, and read more about this wonderful network.

Off to draw more blood, sweat, but no tears.  Joy of the season to all – Tara


Red Vines Jacket in OWool Bulky

Click to Find This Project on Ravelry

Here’s one of my newest (really new) creations – the Red Vines Kids’ Jacket in Organic Merino O-Wool Bulky.  Featured in the Winter 2010 issue of Living Crafts, it is sized a roomy 6/8 yrs.  Extremely versatile, an extra skein can make it into – well – something bigger!

When I first got a hold of a sample of this yarn from the Vermont Organic Fiber Company I instantly fell in love.  It was squishy and soft and I couldn’t stop fondling it. It begged for big, lush and puffy cables. While I was swatching, I started playing around with simple yet interesting cable patterns.  The yarn kind of took over – and I gladly surrendered control.  The panels started growing organically (all puns intended) into the cables and they gently moved their way up the fabric.  I wasn’t going to argue.

Once the idea and swatch metamorphosized into a pattern, the knitting was just as enjoyable .  Knitting at a steady, but not manic pace, I finished it up in two weeks.  The shaping is so simple and the end result cozy warm.  The kid is pretty adorable too, no?  That’s Zane, who takes it for granted that his mom is going to make him put on a sweater or something and take his picture in the back yard.

Here’s a “behind the scenes” shot – me styling a five year old the best one can:

That pretty much means saying, “stop rolling around on the grass, please look over here” and trying to pull the leaves and grass off the sweater before the next shot.  But Zane is an old pro.  Here’s a shot of a project from my book, “The Gift Knitter” from the early days of his career:


He might be about 10 months old here, and mere seconds after this shot, he fell off the chair and face planted into the dirt.  It’s a tough life being cute.  This is the vintage inspired “Matinee Set” – leggings, socks, jacket and patchwork blanket – worked up here in Brown Sheep Bulky Machine Wash.  I guess we’ll all just have to stay tuned to see how Zane’s modeling career continues.

Meantime – Winter 2010 Living Crafts is on its way to subscribers now and in stores soon.  If your LYS or fav craft shop doesn’t have it, ask about it.  It’s a wonderful mag full of all kinds of handwork and family friendly projects.  Enjoy, and if you are on Rav, please post pix of finished projects, I just love to see.


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