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.

Rose quartz, a stone of the heart that represents the feminine energy of compassion and peace.  Jade beads, which are thought to bless whomever they touch and to also encourage creativity. And a single pearl, my birthstone.
Rose quartz, a stone of the heart that represents the feminine energy of compassion and peace. Jade beads, which are thought to bless whomever they touch and to also encourage creativity. And a single pearl, my birthstone.

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,

20150403_170848
The fabric has a tribal motif. I added pockets to the lining so I could bring along knitting accessories – tape measure, row counters, markers, etc.

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.

20150403_171355

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.

The inspiration pieces and the book I am using to guide me.  I like the color palette and am free to add more solids and patterns as long as they come from the same fabric line.
The inspiration pieces and the book I am using to advise my creative journey. I like the color palette and am free to add more solids and patterns as long as they come from the same fabric line.

With all of that going on I have also had some time to make progress on other projects:

Sleeve #1 of the cabled aran cardigan I wrote about in an earlier post.  This thing was started and "unknit" twice before I got a sleeve that looked like it was supposed to and was the correct size.
Sleeve #1 of the cabled aran cardigan I wrote about in an earlier post. This thing was started and “unknit” twice before I got a sleeve that looked like it was supposed to and was the correct size.
Top of a baby quilt all ready for batting and backing.
Top of a baby quilt all ready for batting and backing. Sorry about the unfocused photo.  The ones I take of the finished project will be better!
Going out of the box a bit for the thread choice on the baby quilt.  Was going to do gray as the stitches seem to disappear nicely, but then this spool of variegated thread spoke to me.
Going out of the box a bit for the thread choice on the baby quilt. Was going to do gray as the stitches seem to disappear nicely, but then this spool of variegated thread spoke to me.
Since we will soon be traveling I needed a "social knitting" project - one that does not require my complete attention.  The cabled aran sweater wouldn't do.  So I made a trip to our local yarn shop and brought home two sets of yarns for baby blankets. I know there will always be a sweet little one I can gift them to.
Since we will soon be traveling I needed an undemanding on-the-move project; one that does not require my complete attention and can be picked up and put down without having to reorient myself to an intricate pattern. The cabled aran sweater wouldn’t do. So I made a trip to our local yarn shop and brought home two sets of yarns for baby blankets. I know there will always be a sweet little one I can gift them to. The guy at the yarn shop kept trying to get me to use pastels – particularly yellow and green as the sex of the baby is not known  I patiently explained to him that sometimes it is nice to give a baby gift that can be used on into childhood.  He smiled and nodded, but I knew he wasn’t convinced.

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:

20150403_171736