Sending out warm wishes and glad tidings.
Over the summer I began dyeing and spinning a collection of yarn. The intent was to have a ‘countdown to Christmas’ collection of squishy packages for my children. When I began the challenge, there was speculation that my daughter would be returning to her Peace Corps assignment before Christmas. I thought it would be wonderful for her and her brother to both have something they could do together as they counted down to Christmas.
About midway through this goal of mine, it became clear that my daughter would not be returning to the Peace Corps this year. My desire to get the fiber spun was even greater as it became clear 2020 was going to throw more hurdles into our lives.
As the deadline to get my son’s packages in the mail approached, I wondered at the sanity of dyeing so many different hanks of fiber. With only days to spare, I wrapped the little 50 gram yarn balls and enclosed them into the box that would take them across an ocean.
On Thanksgiving Day, the yarn was indeed in the same country as my son, but as with most things military, there was confusion. So the day after Thanksgiving my son retrieved the big box of mini packages and began the countdown with two squishy bundles to unwrap.
Each day (or every other day as schedules permit) my two kiddos unwrap and share photos with each other. They are counting down the days, not just to Christmas, but to the end of 2020.
I think many of us are counting down the days until 2020 ends and we can enter a new year with hope for less strife than 2020 has presented. For many, 2020 began with hopes, dreams, and goals that would be disrupted – even shattered. For many, as 2020 marched along the only goal was to see it come to an end.
For me, my goal for 2020 – for any year – is to find as much joy as I can, and to find ways to share that joy with others. Tears, disappointments, strife, and hardship may make me stressed and filled with sorrow, but despite the stress and sorrow, I still find joy. Long ago I learned that joy shines a light into even the darkest corners of our lives and minds. We must seek that joy, open our eyes to that light. At times this may be hard, sometimes very hard, but it is a goal for which the hard work is worth it.
The goal of finding joy in our lives each day is one worth accomplishing. It is one of the many goals I have accomplished this year, and one that I hope I can accomplish in the year to come.
For those who have been following my Christmas Countdown Collection journey, this week’s video shows some of the finished Granny Squares. I have also put together (with the help of my daughter) a pattern for download for any who wish to join the Granny fun.
Pattern to download.
Confessions of a Crafter
During the holiday season, my world seems to be inundated by inspiring social media posts and videos. So many wonderful new things to try, hidden among some crazy crafting fodder. I enjoy watching videos of projects coming to life, even ones that show crafts that I know I will never take on. Every so often though, I will decide to join the crazy train of a popular craft. Yet, I prefer when my new crafty undertakings are able to overlap with my current arsenal of creative techniques. Finding an overlap is not always easy. Clay work, for instance, is still rather a stand alone. Although, I have made my own polymer clay buttons, so there is some overlap with my sewing projects.
Good organization skills and proper storage techniques come in handy when there are multiple crafty people living under one roof. The joke about the entire house being called a craft room is not much of a joke when so many rooms hold craft supplies. With the constraints of limited space and a need to actually live in the house rather than just craft in the house, I am hesitant when I feel the urge to take on a new type of crafting endeavor. However in the days since I last contributed to this blog, I have finally succumbed to the ever popular world of blinging up a project with gems.
In the past, I have made embraced glass beads for my blinging needs. This was a frugal way to use materials I had on hand, as well as a permanent way to attach bling, but glass beads have their limits. Working with freestanding lace embroidery turned out to be one of the limits. I knew that hiding the attachment stitches on delicate lace ornaments would be difficult. So after many years of resisting the urge, I took the plunge and purchased a hot-fix gem tool and an assortment of gems. When the supplies arrived, down that rabbit hole I dove into a magical world of sparkling light. What was I thinking by resisting this craze for so long?
Fortunately over the years I have learned restraint. So I don’t think my home will be blinged up, nor will my husband worry that his clothing will start to twinkle in the sunlight, but the ornaments I make each year may very well sparkle when the lights of the Christmas tree are turned on.
After taking a couple weeks to rest/play/craft, I sat down and tried something new – a vlog rather than an inspirational mini tutorial. It was not my intent to ramble along for such an amount of time, but I now understand why my favorite knitting vloggers vlog for nearly an hour each episode. It was quite to my surprise that I realized how very long I had been rambling about inspiration, projects completed, memories, and lessons learned. I do not know how many people will ever watch the video in its entirety, but at the end of the day I am so very pleased that this vlog has been created. It is a glimpse into my world, my head, my life, and it has brought me joy. I hope that it will bring others joy too.
November heralds in the winter holiday season, and what can be the beginning of an emotionally stressful time of the year. With so many major holidays arriving back-to-back, the joy of the holiday season can often become overshadowed by obligation or loneliness. We can feel pressured or misunderstood. Sometimes, even as we are surrounded by family and friends, we can feel isolated and alone. With Covid-19 forcing many to change traditional plans, the emotional stress may be even harder to combat this year.
I suspect many people will feel conflicting emotions of guilt and relief as they find that extended family get-togethers are cancelled. Attempts to replicate them virtually may cause distress rather than solace, and may cause one to question if there really is a way to still have connectivity while social distancing.
One of the lessons 2020 should be teaching all of us is that when faced with a major roadblock, we are better off looking for a new road forward rather than simply trying to adapt our old traveling patterns to get us where we want to go.
Patching over a problem is never as effective as creating something new that eliminates the problem all-together. Certainly there is value in a patch or in making the old work for a new day, but when we have the opportunity to create something new, it is good for us to give it a try.
As we embark on creating new 2020-inspired activities, success will be more likely if we evaluate what made the old activities so important to us. By understanding what the old provided, we are better set to include key attributes into our new endeavors. Most importantly as we experiment with a new way of celebrating the holiday season, it is vital that we remember the old ways didn’t become successful traditions without growing pains.
Creative thinking and collaboration can lead us through this difficult time. The process, in itself, can be a celebrated moment in our life if we allow it to be. If we focus on what made us love the things of our past, and then seek to find ways to replicate that joy in our present circumstances, we may very well find that the 2020 Holiday Season is one of joy rather than toxicity. It just requires creative thinking and a willingness to embrace the future rather than simply long for the past.
Tips for Emotional Detoxification
- Go for a walk and get some fresh air. If you can’t get outside, watch YouTube videos of other going for nature hikes. It really can help.
- Color outside the lines – whether it is something new, or something you are already proficient at, try letting go of the constraints of perfection.
- Finger paint – allow yourself to make a mess. The greatest work of art is the laughter-filled journey and not the finished object.
- Share a video/audio message with a friend. A video or audio recording of a message is easily done with most cell phones. Rather than simply sending a text, emoji, or meme, try sending a short recording.
- Virtual Creative Play-dates – virtual creative play-dates, (not just for the kiddos) can be a fun way to socialize, work on projects, or simply try something new with companionship.
- Be kind to yourself – if circumstances prevent the above, you can still find a way to be kind to yourself. This should not be a last resort, but it is the foundation of all the above. Kindness to others must begins with kindness to ourself. If this is something you struggle with, then please seek assistance from a medical professional or a local or national hotline for mental/emotional health. You are worth it and are not alone.
I took my own advice – here is the video showing how I played with making natural dyes. There is also some footage of me getting some fresh air – it really can clear away life’s stresses, if even for just a moment or two.
Even with the crazy world causing life to seem like it is dragging by, I still find myself wondering where all the time has gone. October is now just days away and my crafting to-do list is characteristically not completed.
To-do lists, shopping lists, event lists (although I suspect most holiday events will be only online this year), and gift-giving lists – with so many lists, I needed a way to keep things organized and tidy. So this led me to making notebook covers. Now at least my various lists look pretty as they clutter up my workspace.
I have created a video highlighting the notebook covers I have made this week, and I am providing a template for one of them There are links and information in the description box of the video containing more information on the designs I used.
Now I am back to my list making and my crafting. Top of my list – get more organized with my video/tech/recording. Boy, oh boy, did I ever have tech issues this week.
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A blast of winter air blew in this week and ignited in me a strong desire to change the background music that plays constantly in my home so as to drown out the ceaseless wind found in Eastern Colorado. It is October, and although Christmas decorations nestle alongside the ornamentations of Halloween, it doesn’t feel right to begin playing Christmas music so soon. Truthfully, I must confess, in years past I have succumbed to the temptation of playing Christmas music once the first icy winds blow in from the north. Yet this year, I hesitated.
Colorado is known for its perpetual sunshine more than for a distinct changing of seasons. Only in the worst of weather patterns does the sun stay hidden for more than just a day, but unlike in more temperate areas, the earth does not stay green. Certainly there is a beauty in the changing Colorado seasons, of this there is no doubt. Yet, too often the lack of summer rain has turned the earth yellow and the beautiful colors of Autumn are found only in the distant mountains.
In Colorado, it is not uncommon for the first snow to arrive in October. In fact in October 1997 a snowstorm blanketed the Eastern Plains under two feet of snow. Most years, however, the icy north winds only bring threats of snow rather than the fluffy white flakes. Without the prospect of a blanket of snow, the cold, biting wind can overshadow nature’s beauty. When the cold descends, and the sky turns grey, but no snow is in sight, Christmas music can brighten one’s day.
When the kids were at still home rather than in places where Autumn is filled with glorious, rich hues, Christmas music was a magical way to lighten the mood which often arrived with the grey skies and biting winds. Now that the kids are gone and it is just three aging felines and me prowling the house during the daylight hours, the thought of Christmas carols seems a bit overwhelming. Yet, the longing for the simple, timeless melodies of winter music remains. Fortunately over the years I have acquired hours upon hours of holiday inspired instrumental music. No Frosty the Snowman or Jingle Bells, but rather traditional melodies that make one think of hardy souls on windswept plains in far off distant lands or in days gone by.
A morning spent changing the bed linens, adding wool to the cats’ beds, and making a new music playlist has been a morning well spent. The first signs of winter have arrived and I am now ready to embrace the change.
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