In an effort to help answer the question, “How do I begin?” or more specifically, “How do I begin quilting?”, I have embarked on a project of creating simple patchwork quilt projects.
I believe that pointing in the direction of a path, and providing a map, is often better than holding a person’s hand as they journey on the path.
It is with this philosophy that I have embarked on my current adventure to create simple patterns and accompanying videos. No fuss and nothing to sell, just tip-n-tricks, and a bit of pithy ponderings.
There are many wonderful tutorials on the internet and in libraries, both in book and video formats. These materials can help the quilter on their journey, and I highly recommend seeking them out. However when I am asked the basic question of how to get started, I often do not have a concise direction in which to point. So I have resurrected a project I began years ago, and I have tried to make it better fit into the modern world – a world where the video helps us learn when classrooms are often out of reach.
I have created a playlist on YouTube for ease in finding these specific projects. In this first project video, I demonstrate the basic construction of the classic Nine Patch block and the construction of a small quilt featuring this block. I have also created a PDF pattern for free download.
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.
The Autumn and Winter holiday seasons inspire me to be creative, and flood me with memories of times gone by. So many of my memories include the practice of creating something that can be given to or shared with others.
I awoke this morning from a troubled dream. It was nonsense, but the crazy chaotic scenes were all too familiar. It was a reflection of the many times I overdid my efforts to make the holidays special for others, and in the process, overwhelmed myself. The overwhelmed me is not a person I like to recollect.
With age and greater understanding of my limitations, wisdom has emerged. This year, a year of stressful uncertainties and worries, I have made a commitment to myself (and my family) to maintain balance – or at least try my best to do so.
I have focused my creativity on projects that not only bring me joy, but represent all the things I didn’t do because I was busy doing too much for those I love. I am still giving and sharing, but now I am focused on sharing inspiration and joy rather than physical things.
I have long lived by two adages. The first relates to eating an elephant one bite at a time, and the second that it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him one.
This year it my goal to share these truths rather than cookies, quilts, or hand-knitted hats. Hopefully by doing so, I can feel the joy of sharing, and not the chaos of overdoing.
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 rememberthe 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.
Each week presents new challenges, and with the challenges, new things to learn.
This week, after becoming fatigued during the many attempts to sound coherent on camera, I realized that the chair I purchased so that I could more comfortably work at my sewing-room worktable, would work really well at my quilt display wall. Sitting rather than standing reduced the fatigue and reduced my anxiety.
It is amazing how much more productive one can be when fatigue and anxiety are scaled back.
The second challenge I faced in getting this video posted was one of an emotional nature. I have become hyper-aware of how fatigue affects my speech and speech pattern. I sometimes struggle with words. Even when the thoughts are there, the words can remain just out of reach. This is one of the reasons I have always preferred writing over speaking – much easier to edit or to find the right word when there the pressure of an audience is absent.
When I went back to school back in 2012, I had to overcome a good deal of foggy brain. I was quite relieved to see that I could regain what I had worried might have been lost. I regained, and I improved my ability to communicate through writing. Now I am attempting to do something similar through the use of vlogging. Of course my confidence with writing was always greater than with speaking, so this challenge already causes a bit more anxiety for me.
Yet with this challenge there is even a greater reward than the degree I earned when I returned to the classroom. This challenge is helping me better accept the person I am – and that is something which has often proven to be an elusive prize.
Self-awareness is very good. Self-acceptance is even better.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as wrapping oneself up in a blanket, but most of us can’t drag a blanket around with us like Charlie Brown’s friend Linus does. However a big, squishy shawl is permissible in most situations.
A few years ago, I decided I needed one of these big, squishy shawls. I knew there were two simple types of triangular shawls that would work well for my needs, but I really wanted the top-down version as I suspected it would highlight my handspun yarn.
Basic knitting patterns are often the hardest to find since they are based on simple skills and calculations that many knitters can work out for themselves without the aid of a pattern. This meant my adventure in knitting a triangular shawl started with a bit of trial and error. Eventually I figured out a pattern that suited my needs. Then it was just a matter of spinning the yarn for the project.
The fiber I chose for the shawl was from a number of fleeces I had just purchased earlier that year. I was interested in seeing how each behaved when spun. The sheep were all of the same breed, and all from the same breeder, but that didn’t mean that they would all behave the same way. I began by choosing 3 ounces from each fleece, and then I started spinning. Once I began knitting, I simply knit until a skein ran out, and then I started knitting the next skein. In all, I used approximately 2 pounds of wool for this big, squishy shawl.
In the years since I finished that first shawl, I have made a couple more for my children. I wouldn’t say I am a slow knitter, but I am certainly a distracted one. With so many fiber and fabric items begging to be created, I often only knit on a shawl when I am in-between other projects. So a big, squishy shawl doesn’t really fit into a video blog format – at least not for me.
That is how the Triangular Shawl for Dolls idea came into being. The pattern for a big shawl and for a doll shawl is pretty much the same when it is this simple, triangular, top-down shawl. The only difference is the number of rows you knit.
I hope this video and this free pattern will inspire you to knit up a shawl for someone in your life. It truly is a hug in knitted form.
After spinning and vlogging every day for nearly a month, I was fairly worn out. However, I also felt mentally energized. It seems the daily challenge of getting at least one creative task in before slumber helped me combat the fatigue the state of world affairs seems to generate.
I have long known this to be a truth – creativity combats mental fatigue. Finding the way to fit creative pursuits in daily is not always an easy thing. Demands of life can disrupt even the fiercest determination. Setting a goal or focusing on a gift for someone else can help keep one on course. With this in mind, I have embarked on another creative challenge.
The Christmas Countdown Collection. It would be more aptly be called the Holiday or New Year’s Day Countdown Collection, but I liked all the Cs. To be completely honest here, I was only going to do a Christmas Countdown Collection but I had too much fun dyeing fiber. Yes, I admit, I just couldn’t stop until the rainbow was well covered.
So what is the Christmas Countdown Collection? Well it is nearly 10 pounds of dyed wool roving that I now must spin into nearly 40 skeins of yarn. Each skein will be divided into two sections. Each section will be wrapped in festive paper. Each package will be unwrapped one at a time beginning on Thanksgiving Eve and going through until New Year’s Day. Due to the need to send one set of squishy packages overseas, all of this must be done as quickly as possible. Yes, it occurs to me that I should have stuck to 25 braids of roving, but the joy of dyeing overcame rational thought.
As my daughter pointed out to me, if I spin one braid a day, and ply multiple skeins every few days, I should have plenty of time to finish this spinning challenge by the end of Tour de Fleece 2.0 (or in non-spinning terms – the end of September).
So let the challenge begin (okay, so it actually already began, but I am just now getting a video posted).
Oh, and for inquiring minds – the yarn is going to be used by my kiddos to crochet Granny Square afghans.