Goals Accomplished

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.

Merry Christmas!

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.

Inspiration, Memories, Holiday Joy

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.

Another Video

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.

Thankful for Memories

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.

Emotional Detox from Creative Thinking

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.

Vintage Sewing: Festive Placemats

This week I travel down memory lane and reflect back on how much I have learned since making my first holiday placemats.

My sewing and quilting skills have certainly improved, although my hands won’t hold quite as tiny of needles as they did a quarter of a century ago.

Life has taught me many lessons during these 25 years. There was a time when I thought I would lose my ability to hand quilt. Perseverance, medical advancement, and a better understanding of how vital balance-in-life is to one’s health have all played a role in my continued ability to use a quilting needle.

Quilting delightful and useful items for my family fills me with joy. I learned the skills of a quilter before I could afford the gadgets and gizmos of the modern quilter. Even after accumulating stacks of rulers, and cutting mats of various sizes, I still occasionally like to return to the simplicity of the old ways of piecing a block.

It is with simplicity and the budget-minded quilter that I have put together some basic blocks. I have also included instructions to turn the basic block used in my placemats into a rectangular placemat for those who wish for that shape.

I hope you enjoy my latest video and project. If you do, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel so that you won’t miss a single one.

Getting Organized

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.

Happy Crafting

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Saith Me… Make Tomorrow Better

Regardless of if the event is positive or negative, rather than longing for the past, we should strive to make tomorrow better.

Make Tomorrow Better

 

Saith Me… Holiday Cookies

I really must learn more self-discipline when making cookies. There is only so much butter/shortening and sugar a person can eat at one time. Four different flavors of cookies; beaters and spatulas need children and hubbies to lick clean.

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

A Peaceful Thanksgiving Day

Embracing something new this year for Thanksgiving. Guilt free, stress free time with my husband.

When we were first married, the holidays were very stressful. Then the kids came and matters became much worse. Fibromyalgia undermined the holidays, especially Thanksgiving in those years when the kids were small and we did not know what caused my intense bouts of pain and fatigue. We did, however, know that participating in a game of holiday grandparent tug-of-war made me ill.

Eventually, the holidays became a time where my small family chose to stay home. Our door was always open, to family and friends alike. I would bake and cook and fill the table until it groaned. A few times friends joined us at that table, but most often it was just our small family of four.

After a very tough year of loss and a year when diagnosis finally explained my ill health, I asked my son to take over the Thanksgiving preparations. He was still a youth of twelve but he loved the challenge. From then on, Thanksgiving was his day.

Thanksgiving in my youth was all about the extended family and the food. Thanksgiving as a young wife and young mother was stressful. I tried my hardest counter the negativity of extended family contention. I learned that in a big family, the craziness is just part of the holiday tradition, but in a very small family, the craziness is unhealthy.

Year by year all our family shrank in size as age and illness took their toll. But with loss came the realization that the contention was gone as well.

We knew it would be awhile before our family would grow again. Knowing that the future would bring new members to our family caused us to ponder how to make the holidays different for the next generation.

These last few years found us carving out blissful memories as we carved the turkey. The holiday season became one of giving, of seeking others for whom we could share our bounty. Our table groaned less under the weight of food, but rather, gifts of food found their way to other tables.

Each holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, my children would focus on the gifts they could share with others outside our home. My son embraced the task of giving bread and jelly. My daughter crafted gifts of yarn and fabric. Baking and needlework filled our time and filled our hearts as our simple gifts brought smiles to others. The holidays were still stressful and fatigue was still a problem for me, but now the stress revolved around helping my children learn the value of giving thanks by giving of themselves.

My kids are not in the position to come home this year. They are both embracing their chosen paths, and I am immensely grateful for the maturity in which they traverse this stage of life. I am also grateful that during the years of teaching them to give of themselves, I have learned to share them with others.

As I reflect on the holidays of the past, I embrace the notion that for a time, maybe just a short time, my husband and I can enjoy Thanksgiving Day as a couple, not so young, but without any guilt or pressure. What to some might seem sad, the two of us alone on Thanksgiving Day, is the very thing for which I am most grateful this year.

I am filled with joy knowing that this year the gift I have given to others is my children and that my children can enjoy this time unfettered by guilt, sorrow, jealousy, and contention, at least not from me.

I am also filled with peace on this Thanksgiving Day; a peace emanating from the presence of good company, a bountiful pantry, and love.

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.