Cowl Crazy

January 12, 2014

cowl-2cowl mountains 2

It’s been a challenging year.  I’d like to quote something I saw recently but I can’t remember who said it or where I saw it.  The essence is, “Some years pose questions and other years answer them”.  (If you posted this, please let me know so I can be correct!)  This has definitely been a year of questions.  Lots of them.  From the existential to the mundane, and everything in between.

cowl-bluecowl stash

I’ve been reading a book called The Parent App-Understanding Families in the Digital Age.  In addition to making very salient observations about class issues in the U.S., and how mobile and digital media use is potentially exacerbating the ever-widening gap, it also challenges the reader (i.e. me) to examine their own use.  I’m no longer parenting small children or adolescents, but I still appreciate the questions that are raised in this thoughtful and well researched book.

I mention it here because I’ve been wondering about blogging.  Is it worth the amount of time it takes?  (I’m particularly slow.)  Should I be focusing more on living what Melanie of Bag and a Beret once referred to as an analog life?  My recent passion (addiction?) for Instagram bears scrutiny as well.

cowl-pinkpink cowl

Should I be using blogging and the myriad forms of digital media to create a new income stream?  My inclination is to create, upcycled clothes among other things, then share the love and let the rest happen.  I have to say that I value friends and connections, and the joy inherent in sharing creativity more than anything.  Also, I have the luxury of a whole other career that also brings me enormous satisfaction as well.

burg skirt againcowl

Then I get tired of pondering these questions (and other even more important ones), instead deciding on what I’m going to have for dinner.  Ah, another “first world problem“.  I return to my original stance of do what you love, the money will follow, which also happens to be the title of a book.  A good book.

Floral denimcowl 3

So here I am, doing what I love, wearing clothes I’ve lovingly made, sharing with you.  Perhaps now that it’s 2014 I’ll have more answers to the questions I’ve been gnawing over.  Perhaps I’ll know where I’m heading, how to maximize my time here while I continue to support and nurture those I love.  Perhaps I’ll know when to listen and when to forge ahead on my own reconnaissance.  Perhaps I’ll be comfortable with another year of questions, and wait patiently for the answers.

Cowl magazine

At the very least, I can make more cowls.  I’ve created the basic pattern and the variations are limitless.

Have a good week.  XXOO

Details:  The denim jacket with lace sleeves was made from thrifted pieces. The last picture is from Altered Couture Magazine Nov/Dec/Jan 2013.  They featured my upcycled cashmere cowl, along with several other pieces.  The burgundy skirt was featured in the May/Jun/July 2013 issue, although on the model it was featured as a dress.


Who knew?  I love it because it affirms that there are always new ways to look at things.  2014, here I come.

(Don’t forget Visible Monday!!  See you there.)





31 Responses to Cowl Crazy

  1. Pam@over50feeling40 on January 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I also really like that quote…I find it to be very true as I age…some years do answer what happened the year before! Your cowls are very well done and creative…as you are, Jean. Blogging takes so much time…I always let people know that…we all have to weigh where it fits or doesn’t fit in our lives as they currently are. I do enjoy posts when you write them, and hope you continue to let us know what you are up to!!

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      I appreciate the fact that you were so supportive early on!! That’s one of the things that makes blogging so amazing i.e. the connections based on kindness and generosity. You are a stellar example. XXOO

  2. ariane on January 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Hi Jean!

    Ah! we all think about those things at some point – Blogging is it worth doing?, lots of efforts involved – I had major doubts a few times- But i keep doing it cause first i’m a bit of an exhibitionist and like to be the center of attention, hahaha! But you know what i made friends through blogging, i didn’t expect that at all!

    I’m with you when you say – Do what you love and the rest will follow, so very true –

    Love your creations, i wish, wish and wish i had your talent – I’m contemplating using my basic sewing machine one of those days!



    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Yes, pull it out and dust it off! If you have a zig-zag stitch you can work with knits, which I love. You have so much creativity, just bursting at the seams!! :-)

  3. Curtise on January 13, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Well, firstly – every piece featured here is gorgeous, your cowls are multiplying and each one is unique, as are all your upcycled gems.

    Ahh, questions, questions. Blogging can be time-consuming, I know, and whether it’s worth it is a conclusion we all come to for ourselves. Lots of bloggers I have been very fond of have decided to stop, and I miss them, but life takes other paths, new priorities emerge, I understand that. Bloggers who use their blogs as a platform for business, I am a little less comfortable with, but each to their own. The real joy for me has always been the relationships, sharing, and creativity, not the opportunities to monetise (as I believe the phrase goes…) But we all blog for different reasons, and as you ay, there is always more than one way to look at a situation. I have no doubt that if you wanted to pursue your upcycling as a career option (on top of your existing work, busy you!) that you would be successful, Jean. Being selected to feature in a magazine proves it! xxxxx

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      I love “your cowls are multiplying”. It conjures such images!! I know we all have the freedom to blog as we wish, thankfully!! I guess I was questioning what the ultimate tradeoff might be: digital vs analog, if you will. Also, being somewhat of a semi-perfectionist, it was bothering me that I couldn’t devote much brainpower to posting and responding. It felt extremely superficial and narcissistic. Oh well, love me as I am!!! Haha. I always appreciate your posts. Your voice comes through loud and clear, intelligent and unpretentious, and I enjoy my peek into your day. Someday we’ll definitely share a few stories and many laughs, face-to-face. Love you!!

  4. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style on January 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I love this about you – your transparency and authenticity. You’ll come to good decisions, I am sure – and most of what we choose can be un-done as well, so there’s no pressure. As always, you look radiant and gorgeous. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday! xox

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Ahh, I like this!! Most of what we choose can be undone!! Especially in this arena. Thank you for your words of wisdom, and thank you for Visible Monday. I’m a grateful participant. XXOO

  5. The Style Crone on January 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

    A timely post, as I have similar questions regarding my use of digital media and how I spend my time. However, the connections that I’ve enjoyed for years keep me coming back for more. As you so eloquently write, I have more questions than answers.

    Most importantly, I’m crazy for your cowls! You wear them with elegance, and I’m happy that you’ve decided to continue to create these beauties through 2014. Love the limitless layering!!!

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      If there’s one connection that would persuade me that blogging is worth it, it would be the one with you. Because of Ari, and then you, I was inspired at a very critical time. Thank you so much for your courage, intelligence, humour, and STYLE!!! Love you. XXOO

  6. Glenda @ So What to Twenty on January 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    What a wonderful post in reading and seeing your creations. 2013 was definitely a year of questions. I felt I spent the entire year saying, “Why?” I too often wonder about the time and energy I put toward blogging. My passion has always been with styling. I wonder each day where this will lead.
    Have a wonderful week Jean!

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      I can’t wait to see where you head with all of this!! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, here and on IG. When we head to the west coast for a show, I’ll be sure to let you know. XXOO

  7. Anne-Marie Bruun on January 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Dear Jean I have made the same considerations. It takes time to blog. But I enjoy your blog and am delighted with it.

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      I still can’t believe sometimes that I have friends all over the world! Denmark…to me it seems like a dream. Yet I can say hello, enjoy your lovely posts, and feel your warmth from here. I am delighted with your blog too!!!!

  8. Veshoevius on January 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Jean I think you could do really well tying up a business with your blog – you could sell your creations or even become an online tutor by video showing people how to upcycle. With your experience as a voice actor I bet you would come across really well in videos. Maybe if you are finding the process of blogging slow there might be a course local to you that you could do to walk you through the process of using social media more efficiently. Or maybe time with a patient young relative with the necessary skills?
    Anyway I also share your concerns – I also question the time I spend blogging and online on other things – my vice is Pinterest. You can’t spend a lot of time online without your analog life suffering and my analog life is important to me! But hey, if you end up making a good business and living out of blogging then why not spend the time to build up something you might really love doing.

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Excellent suggestions! You hit the nail on the head. I hear you and will definitely keep this in mind as I think about “the questions”! I have purposely avoided Pinterest and Facebook because I know I’ll fall even deeper into the morass. Thank you so much for your thoughts. You must’ve been one of the smart kids in school. :-)

  9. Rose on January 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Well, Jean, I could have written that post myself. And seeing as we share the same birthday, maybe there is something in that astrology stuff after all. I never would have guessed it could be this spot on! The only thing with me, I absolutely CANNOT wear a cowl. We just do not hit it off. I need my neck lovingly embraced by a turtleneck.

    Who knows what will be ahead for us in 2014? I could use a better year than last, although it wasn’t all that bad. It just wasn’t anything to write home about, so to speak.

    Much love from England, from your twin,
    Rose from

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Rose!! I’m so happy to hear from you! I’m not surprised we are living in a parallel universe. :-) However, I can’t wear turtlenecks. I like them on other people, they’re just a disaster on me.

      Wishing you much happiness in 2014, and I hope you get the answers you’re looking for too. XXOO

  10. pao on January 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I’m so impressed with all your Altered Couture articles. You didn’t even let us know about each one (did you??) I did get the winter magazine and it was so cool. Of course, yours was the best! Yeah, blogging takes time. But I do what I want, when I want and don’t sweat the rest. I take blogging breaks from sewing and sewing breaks from blogging. ha! It’s had so many unexpected benefits that I would sorely miss if I stopped completely. I’d miss you and your cool stylin’ just terribly if you disappeared.

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Aw shucks, Pao. No, I didn’t talk about all the pieces featured, although it was fun. I kind of liked my pieces a lot too, but that makes sense I suppose. I made what I like. Your fabric jewelry threw me into a tizzy!! Like, I have to try that NOW. Thank YOU for blogging!!

  11. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas on January 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I’m with Pao…you’re always my favourite in the Altered Couture magazines. Your cowl sweater shawls are the epitome of cozy chic. {and perfect for a little tear around in the Miata.}

    Okay, so you got inside my head and wrote my dialogue. Hmmm…definition of voice actor? You are good! :) But, seriously…I do ask these same questions and more. The time. The time! I do love your posts, and I appreciate that they take time to compose. I would love more answers than questions this year, and maybe we can get some group intention going on…

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Group intention…close your eyes and say OHM…there, I like that. Maybe as Type 1’s we pose more questions than we answer? BTW, you’re right about the cowl being perfect for a spin in the Miata.

  12. Olga on January 14, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Your creations are always so unique and beautiful, Jean! No wonder they were featured in the magazine. That is what you love and it shows in created pieces. I think one should blog as long as it brings fun and joy. If it becomes a kind of duty then what’s the point? I hope you will get your answers in 2014.

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you. You’re right about the fun part. I know I enjoy your amazing blog, especially when I learn more about indigenous and tribal clothing, now and in the past. I spend hours going from post to post.

      Have a wonderful and exciting 2014!!

  13. Louisa on January 14, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Hey hon’, you should only blog as often as you are moved to do so. But don’t stop altogether or I would miss your beautiful authentic self! Yes, blogging can be a time-suck but it’s also a great way to document things and share them with others who appreciate your efforts. It’s also helpful to air your musings and get thoughtful commentary and advice from your readers. It’s obviously working for me – I never was able to keep up a paper journal but will soon be counting 8 years on my blog!

    PS Congrats on more Altered Couture articles!

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Wow, 8 years. That’s impressive. I’ve never been able to keep a journal either, and writing the posts has proven to be a pleasurable exercise. Maybe that’s also why I was questioning it. I didn’t like posting carelessly or haphazardly. I agree it’s a great way to document things and I’m so happy to get feedback as well, including yours!!

      I hope life in your corner of the world is going well. Happy 2014.

  14. Jan Graham-McMillen on January 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Darling, it’s ALWAYS the questions that fascinate us! Wasn’t me, but I wish I’d thought the questioning years thought. Dan is the littlest bit of a Luddite, and he won’t pay for texting or participate in much social media at all. But he’s devoted to his Kindle reader and his Fire for his media choices! I’m not ready to go analog, but I do like to stay conscious about the ramifications of what modern media and technology I do use and consume.
    I’m still in awe of how far we’ve come since I was a kid. And try taking Dan’s streaming free internet radio stations away from him. He has hundreds of international jazz stations, every public radio station in the world at his fingertips. First World problems indeed. Arkansas is a third world country in the midst of the “first world”. I may need to pick up this title.

    And you look gorgeous as always. Im such a fan of yours!

    • Jean on January 14, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      It’s funny how some parts of technology and social media we can individually do without, and feel good about it. For me it’s Facebook, among other things. I didn’t want to learn about any of it; I was cool with my ’70’s-’80’s technology, but the advantages outweighed the irritations, ultimately. I will confess that I currently love the ease and immediacy of Instagram.

      Does Dan listen to the internet station The Jazz Groove? I’ve done promos for them, and as far as I know my voice should be on it, with station ID’s etc. Small world. :-) Thank you for your comment; I appreciate you so much.

  15. Rosalind on January 16, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    These questions are clearly in the air and floating through the blog-sphere. It seems to me as a reader of your blog that you put in the time and energy that you do into it because you are fizzing with ideas and creativity (not to mention, exuding style from each pore) and this is a platform for sharing it. The difficulty I find with the internet as a whole is finding a balance so I don’t find myself passively consuming and procrastinating rather than creating and interacting.
    LOVE your cowls (still thinking of them as ponch-owls!) Great Altered Couture features too.

    • Jean on January 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      Ahhh… “passively procrastinating rather than creating and interacting”. Exactly!! Therein lies the struggle. How much serves as inspiration, thus instigating more interaction, and how much is just a way of passing the time in a pleasant way. “Ponch-owls”! There you have creative interaction!!! I’ll try to hold this close to my heart as an example. XXOO

  16. Melanie on January 28, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Just got here, breathless, but so glad I got the benefit of this post, Jean. During my hurried inspiration walk and journalling I scribbled about this idea yet AGAIN. The great ping pong, digital, analog, digital, analog – and thanks for the mention. I’m glad you are cowling at the moon! Your voice makes it even sweeter. I love reading the comments that your posts inspire. Work has been keeping me tethered to the digital sphere lately but I shall soon join you with my scribblings on the moon too. Hugs.

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