Seems like there are a lot of people I know that are having babies right now. Just today I finished putting the binding on a third baby quilt; and I have one more to make. Also finished a knitted blanket and have made good headway on a second. Favorite part: choosing the fabrics. Love to come up with something personal for each family.
What a Week!
It is Spring Break, and that means less encumbered days (no Kindergarten duties) and more time to tend to the various creative undertakings I have on my plate. The week started delightfully with a Sunday afternoon class at Reno Bead Shop. I am not a serious jewelry maker (though I do love my fabric beads) but have been yearning to learn more about wire wrapping so I could do a wider range of embellishing. Five students of various skill levels (me being the least experienced) gathered round as the teacher had us snipping silver wire, choosing stones, and – in my case – looking around frantically for which tool to use. I was reminded once again of how critical a good teacher is to a student’s success. Easy sounding instructions: “Hold the three long strands of wire parallel to each other. Now, using one of the short wire pieces you have cut, wrap the wire around the strands held parallel being careful to not let the parallel wires overlap each other. On each rotation use your tools to squeeze the wire closely around the strands and then crimp it to make a square.” Huh?!? I was gripping those wires so tightly that my hands were shaking. And having the teacher say it was not about perfection did not help. I wasn’t aiming for perfection; just completion. But after a few false starts and some heartfelt encouragement and guidance from our instructor I did get the hang of it. (Another student next to me, and a seasoned jewelry maker, thought we were using wire that was too thick. Thinner would have been easier, but it kinks more. I will keep that advice under my hat for when I do this on my own.) By the time I was done I had a finished product that pleased me enough to put it on a chain and wear it out in public that very evening.
Being the first week of the month, it was also time for my Creative Connections group to meet. Our challenge for this session was about stretching. We were to make something we had never made before, or use a technique we had never tried before, or both. I had recently viewed a tutorial that showed a quilt-as-you-go lined bag made with a new product called In-R-Form. Since I had this inviting roll of 2-1/2″ strips at hand I decided I would make the bag. It sewed up very quickly. I like the way the In-R-Form keeps the bag stiff enough to stand up on its own. I can see this as a perfect knitting bag. The balls of yarn will roll happily around as I pull the strands into my project and they won’t jump out or get tangled,
This project was also a practice for the yoga bag I want to make. The one I am carrying now is an embarrassment. I can only get away with using it as yoga types are so nonjudgemental and understanding. But they may be wondering how I even keep all my stuff inside as it looks as if the bottom is ready to drop out. BTW: the Creative Connections group liked the information on the In-R-Form, which only one person had heard of. Nice to share something truly new, and it is payback for all of the wonderful ideas and insights I have gotten from other group members.
And I almost forgot; while sewing the handles of the bag I encountered a glitch with my new sewing machine. The bobbin thread was getting tangled and the automatic thread cutter was not working correctly. When it happened my heart sank. How could my new machine be giving me trouble? I was having flashbacks of a former machine that was a mechanical nightmare. I took a deep breath and walked away. When I was less put out I sat back down and did what could only be called the unthinkable: I got out my tools and dove into the workings of the machine to investigate. I didn’t have to look very long, fortunately, because I spied the problem (a small tangle of thread had gotten caught in the arm of the thread cutter). Now my heart wasn’t sinking but soaring. Love that feeling of having gone into the unknown and come out wiser than when I started; a real confidence builder. But…I don’t want to be doing any machine repair for a long time.
Our next month’s challenge for Creative Connections it to make something from the silk scraps we were “gifted” with at the last meeting. I contemplated and have decided that I will resurrect a couple of the felted bags I made during my Virginia purse binge and use the silk to make linings for them. I think it will be just what they need to get them to completion.
Speaking of challenges, I was surprised to get one I had asked for but really didn’t expect to get. (Be careful what you wish for???) The Modern Quilt Guild, of which I am a member, does an annual fabric challenge. If you are chosen you have to
- make something fantastic that is quilted.
- make something you have never made before.
- challenge yourself to learn something new.
- use only the line of fabrics that is given to you.
It sounds very similar to the Creative Connections challenge, but with multiple constraints. I have received my “inspiration” samples and been busy collecting ideas for what to make. One of the members of my knitting group turned me onto a great book that got the juices flowing. The author is an amazing quilter and does her piecing without a ruler. This is so unlike most “quilter thinking” that I think I just have to try it.
With all of that going on I have also had some time to make progress on other projects:
And finally, while shopping with a friend I saw a pillow that definitely needed to brought home and put on the kitchen banquette. Every time I see it I start to sing. When you read it you will understand:
A Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
Recently we were having breakfast at a favorite local eating spot (Great Full Gardens, in case anyone is interested) when I was delighted to receive this cup for my coffee. It felt like a wonderful start to the day and also planted a seed of an idea about what influences how we see things and consequently how we feel. The idea got fleshed out a few days later when I brought home a newly painted wine glass and had to give it a trial run:
Traditional thinking would say that the optimist sees the glass as half full and the pessimist sees the glass as half empty. Hmmmmmmm…..
If I was handed this drink in a bar I would see it as half full but would probably not be happy as I would want it to be fuller. Optimist? Pessimist? Realist? Party Girl?
Let’s look at another situation: Middle age. The glass of years tells me that being only half empty is a good thing.
What I am left with is a reminder that, as with most everything, it is not just how we see things but how we make judgements about things that really influences our outlook. So, in addition to being intentional, I guess I will be adding nonjudgmental to my list of 2015 goals.
People Before Projects
In keeping with my resolve of being intentional and thinking about what I undertake, I have had a few weeks of not getting much produced but have been very busy, none the less. There has been a spate of life events that have kept me away from my usual pursuits. It has been a time of connecting/reconnecting and, in some cases, reaching out to provide support and sustenance. I am thankful that I have the time and means to do this.
And, in the process, there have been some lovely moments. For example, the other morning while I was assisting in Kindergarten the class was working on developing the concept of animal classification. The teacher had spent some time talking with the students about the characteristic of mammals and birds and how to tell them apart when the following exchange occurred:
Teacher: Look at the picture I gave you and try to figure out if the animal is a mammal or a bird.
Chloe: (looking at picture of a raccoon) It’s mammal.
Teacher: How did you figure out it was a mammal?
Chloe: Because my mom and dad told me I’m a genius.
Hooray for Chloe’s parents! She had such confidence in herself you could tell she had really internalized their comment. It also reminded me of how powerful our conversations can be – especially with children.
So, even though the past weeks have been more about people than projects, I did manage a few bits of creative time in my studio. And, while it did sort of funny taking photos of photos, I offer a glimpse…
A while back I posted a picture of the yarn I had chosen for a new knit-along. It has been a bit slow for me. For some reason this is not a satisfying project. I think it is the repetition of pattern. Sure, there are cables, but they just seem to go endlessly on and on. I am determined to finish, but it may be good to put it aside a while. However, I am very happy with the lovely color of the yarn. The red is not too overwhelming and little slubs of purple give it a pleasant pop.
There was also a great sale at my favorite fabric store and since I had been contemplating a gift for my niece who is expecting her first baby this spring I went shopping. I especially like the cloud-patterned fleece I will use for the back. Sweet dreams!
Last post showed you the beginnings of the fabric beads I was working on. It was a fairly lengthy process in that you have to wait for each layer of ornamentation to dry before moving on. And, as many may know, I am not good at waiting as I like to keep moving along toward a finished project. In fact, I have totally ruined some things because I couldn’t wait for things to dry. (Add this to my list of lessons to work on this year…)
In this case, I was more patient; and it paid off. I especially liked doing the wire wraps. Not ready to tackle serious jewelry yet, but this was fun.
So from this happy success I moved on to working with my new fabric paints. I went to a dying session at the International Quilt Festival back in November and had been eager to give it a try. So, I ordered the materials they suggested and followed the directions given. Well – not so hot:
The keys have been in my stash for quite a while, and I still have intentions to use them. As for the fabric, the jury is NOT out – Yuck! I am putting this venture on hold for now. It needs more time to percolate in a corner of my brain until I see a clearer utilization for this technique.
But I do have some other things to share: The “social knitting” I was doing (a cowl for a friend) is complete. Love the color way. Oh – social knitting means I can do it while I am with people as it doesn’t demand my full attention. Some of my friends call this idiot knitting, but I avoid that type of phrasing. Brain engaged = not an idiot. Besides, with all of the knitting I do while we are in the car or while I am watching football, I would be considered a true moron!
Received the luscious yarn I ordered for the aran sweater. I see a stint of winding in my future.
Also have a knit-along in the works. It is a cabled scarf and will be great practice for when I actually take on the two sweaters I have been charting. The yarn I chose for the scarf is shown below. I think everyone needs a pair of red gloves and a red scarf (maybe even a hat) to wear in the winter. Brightens up those dreary days.
And finally, I found a great pattern for yoga eye masks. I have wanted one since we came back from Taos. Every yoga studio I went to there used them routinely. Not so much here in Reno, so I set about searching online. The lavender buds are ordered and the fabric has been selected. Buying flax seed today. Namaste!
2015: Dedicated to Intention and Practice
First of all, I apologize for being MIA during December. After our road trip there were many home front activities and responsibilities to attend to. Loved the preparation for having family here: baking, decorating, shopping. The blog got put on the back burner…but I am now ready to jump back in and reconnect.
Never one to make New Year’s resolutions (my tendency towards discipline and striving for consistency does not need another layer of guilt), I have been contemplating how I would like to creatively engage with a fresh calendar. I have been reflecting more and more on what “stuff” ends up on my plate and how it actually gets there. I have a small poster by my computer that says, “You must absolutely do what you love or you run the risk of doing nothing at all.” So true for me. How many times have I taken on projects that appealed on a superficial level and then got relegated to storage tubs while I occupied myself with anything else that helped me avoid the fact of their existence?
So, this year I am going to be more thoughtful and intentional about my choices. As of today, I am playing around with the fabric beads shown above and following knitting projects:
Another sign hanging not too far from where I am sitting right now says, “Being creative is not a hobby, it is a way of life.” I think the essence of this message says that creativity isn’t so much about ending up with a product as it is about the process. With that as inspiration, I am giving myself permission to be more experimental in my approach and to allowing for more adventures and excursions. I am thinking that means I will do more practicing than producing, and I like the feel of that. From photography to yoga and meditation; from fiber arts to choral group; it is exciting to NOT know what I might learn on the verge.