Badges, baby!

This may explain more of my psychology than I should share, but I love badges. Love them! I’m a total sucker for badge programs, which explains why I joined Mary Jane’s Farm girl Sisterhood and her plethora of badges for the things I already do. And the Fitbit badges telling me I’ve walked the length of Japan–those make me happy too.

Of course, my friends think I’m a dork, but I must not be as ridiculous as they think because Moda came out with fabulous merit badges equivalent to the size of Boy Scout merit badges, and I pretty much have to stop myself from buying all of them and slapping them on every coat or bag I own.

My favorite, though, are the Urban Threads badges because I can sew them myself, change the sizes, and are a little edgier than either MJ Farm girl or Moda. Here’s one I’m making for an Instagram friend who organized a year-long swap.

When my oldest daughter was between 10-13 years old, she used to make amazing little improv badges, and I sewed a few on my bags!

Lastly, I’ll end by saying badges are a tiny reason why I love Boy Scouts for my son. The program is excellent for building skills and character.  Albeit, some of their badges I’d never want…Wilderness Survival, no thank you. The truth is that at 14 he’s kind of over Scouts, but he’s too close to the end, and he only needs four more merit badges before that segment is done. And he just joined a new troop with more boys with similar interests, so fingers crossed that we’ll get him through. 

Have a great day, a go earn, buy, or make yourself a merit badge!

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Mindfully Back at It

IMG_5978I know, I know.  It’s been nine months…am I a serious blogger?  Probably not, but I’ve spent a good portion of the past months really thinking about mindfulness.

When I started this blog, it was a way for me to stay accountable to myself.  To say, “I finished this, so I can post it on the blog.”  And this was high motivation for me.  Big time.  Because at the time, my UFOs were getting a bit out of hand.  So I went through a major making period, challenging my personal time tables, and getting things DONE!  Boom!

And I loved it.  Or at least I thought I loved it.  I loved part of it.  I loved the projects that I loved, but there were a lot of projects that I finished just to finish.  I had lost my passion for some of those projects, but still slogged through them, grumbling and wondering what I was going to do with them.

Sometime in that process, I came to some realizations about craft and my time.  I read Marie Kondo’s book about tidying up, and she’s all about keeping only the things that “spark joy.”  And I had an “a ha!” moment.

I went through my fabric and donated boxes of it to charity.  I went through old projects, and sent them on their way too.

Now I try to practice mindful crafts.  Crafts I want to do because I’m passionate about them.  (Not because I feel obligated to use up supplies or make something).

And that’s where this blog is at the moment…swimming in the waters of crafty mindfulness trying to figure out which direction to go.  I think for now I’m going to buck all the “rules” of successful blogs that say you must have a theme, a cohesive set of imagery, and a curated collection of photos and writing.

I’m just going to share what I’m passionate about.  Today particularly I’ve got knitting on my mind, but I see painting coming in the near future.  Will you have patience with me?  Will you share what you’re passionate or mindful about??

IMG_6042

A winter finish – Fair Isle Poncho (and the desolate garden in the background. We spent the ENTIRE month of May getting that thing in order. Huge undertaking!).

 

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In Praise of Cheap Yarn

lionsdaughter

I’m a yarn snob.  I admit it.  I will gladly pay more for natural fibers.  I love wool, angora, alpaca, mohair, and cashmere.  LOVE them and they way they feel in my hand as they slide from needle to needle.

My snobbery comes mostly from a time factor.  If I’m going to invest in the time to make a sweater, for example, I don’t want scratchy yarn or yarn that will pill (even though I know natural fibers will pill too).

My sister sent me a pin of a chunky knit afghan with a simple note: “Wouldn’t this be cool.”  My sister hardly ever asks me to make her anything, partly because she’s not 100% on board with the “Maker Movement” and partially because she’s a confessed material girl coming out of a childhood in the 70’s where hand-made meant homey, or worse, homely.  Thus, she doesn’t really make anything except really good food.

So, I took the hint and offered to make her the afghan, knowing that it was essentially merino wood roving that the picture showed.  I was kind of excited to try it, but then she burst my bubble.  No natural fibers – nothing she’d have to take to drycleaners.  What!!!

She has dogs – dogs she regards as her children, one of whom is as elderly as they come.  This afghan needed to be thrown into the washer machine when needed.

lionsdaughter

On a lark I bought some chunky Hometown USA yarn from Wal-mart because I wanted to see how it would knit up and how it would wash.  The test fabric washed well and was silk-like to knit.  And, ta-da! It happened.  I love this yarn for afghans!  Love. Love. Love.

She chose beige because she’s more tuned into browns and natural colors than I am, but my gauge was really off and I frogged the beige project because it was enormous.  When I showed her the proto-type of beige, she had decided in the meantime that she wanted a pop of color, and thus Hawaiian Pink was chosen (which was way more fun to knit than boring beige!).

Anyhoo, I ended up knitting the beige again with better gauge and kept it for myself – somewhat grudgingly since I’m not really a beige person, but you know what?  I love it in my bedroom, which is a work in progress, by the way (I just contacted an artisan about making a barn wood headboard).

lionsdaughter

And it’s crazy cozy!  For naps or for cold night when I want an extra layer.  LOVE.  I’ll say it again, LOVE this yarn!

Here’s the pattern that I made up but is probably on Ravelry for free.

Size 17 circulars – 32 inches

Cast on 88.

Knit 5 rows.

**Knit the first four stiches, * purl 8, knit 8 (repeat from *), until 4 stitches are left. Knit.

Continue in the pattern for 12 rows.

Knit the first 4 stitches, *knit 8, purl 8 (repeat from *), knit the last four stitches.

Continue in the pattern for 12 rows and then repeat from **.

Make the afghan as long as you want it.  After the last sequence of 12 rows, knit 5 rows and bind off loosely.

I ‘m not sure how many skeins this took, but I’d venture about 10-12, which at $2.69 makes for a fairly inexpensive afghan!

lionsdaughter

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Hello (again)

lionsdaughter

I have some excellent excuses:

+ We bought a house…like the “we’re going to stay here for 20 years” kind of house, so….

+ I’ve been painting nearly every room in the house.  Some 15 gallons of paint I purchased this summer.  The good news is that I’m almost done painting.  The bad news is that I’m not all that impressed with the brand of paint I chose.

+ I’ve been sorting, organizing, and giving away loads of stuff.  The hidden blessing in moving is that you’re kind of forced to go through stuff and give it away.  I’ve been pretty vigilant about following this rule: “if it’s not beautiful or functional, it’s gone.”  And it’s interesting how what worked in the last house doesn’t work in the new house…I’ve also made a little pact with myself to take stuff to the thrift store EVERY month so that I’m always processing what needs to be in my house.

+ I’ve been taking two online classes for a job I really hope to get.  Neither class is all that hard, but both simply take time that would normally be using to create. I just dropped off my resume and cover letter for the job, so here’s hoping.

All right, there are other excuses too, like planning a Sweet 16 birthday party for my oldest, which was a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, I bought some new yarn at a lovely, upscale yarn store in Madison, Wisconsin: The Knitting Tree.  Cashmere. And Silk.  It just happened; my impulsivity has significantly waned in the past few years, but what can I say–it still happens.

cashmere at lionsdaughter

I’ve got the tiniest bit of buyer’s remorse only because I have lots of yarn around here that I could be using, but I’m loving knitting with it, so my hands are happy.  The pattern is Dutch Cowl.

The silk, however, was a wee mistake.  I thought it was standard Noro wool, but it’s Silk Garden.  No worries, though.  It’s also lovely to work with.  I’m making a couple standard hats to sell in a local store.

Silk Garden - Lionsdaughter

I’ve made a little commitment to myself to blog once a week for a year, so you’ll be seeing me more often around here.

Have a Happy Monday!!

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Time to start getting caught up

Ava-Slalom

So, this has been taking up lots of my time in the past six weeks.  I am lucky to live in an area where downhill skiing is reasonably priced.  My daughter joined the local team and has been having a grand time learning, skiing, and hanging out with new friends.  For parents, it’s a bit of a time commitment and a driving commitment as there’s not a team bus.  On the upside, this sport is really interesting to watch up close, and I’ve been known to plunk down in the snow on the side of a race and pull out my knitting.

Anyway, this picture has nothing to do with craftiness or finishing anything, except that I’m impressed at how far she’s progressed.  Eventually she’ll get better and thwack that blue pole gate with her body.

Gypsy Pinwheel

On a crafty front, I finished a quilt.  It’s my version of the popular Gypsy Wife Quilt I’ve been seeing online.  I’m calling mine Gypsy Pinwheels.  Here’s how this quilt happened:

March 2014 – I’ve never made pinwheels, so I gave it a try.  I pulled out purple from my stash and made a bunch hoping it would be an all-pinwheel quilt.

Gypsy Pinwheels

April 2014 – Nope.  Not even close.  So, I dug through the stash looking for fabrics that coordinated the purple pinwheels and came up with the bold floral that I can’t remember the name of.  By this time, the Gypsy Wife Quilt had caught my eye, and I liked the apparent randomness of it.

Gypsy Pinwheel

Summer 2014 – I struggled a little to bring new blocks to that diagonal purple line.  I worked across starting from the top and made my way down until the bottom line was flush with the pinwheels.  Because it end up just being a big square, I decided to add several more inches to function as a bed quilt.   I made bigger triangles, but didn’t pinwheel them.  I was hoping for more of an ombre look, but I also didn’t want to buy any more fabric, so I made it work.  I let my daughter (the one in the skiing photo) arrange the design.

Cotton Velvet quilt back

Right around this time, I rediscovered a cotton velvet duvet I had made several years ago.  I cut it down and declared the velvet would be the back.  Oh, deliciousness.  LOVE it!

I’ve said it before: I’m quilting almost exclusively to use up fabric I’ve amassed over the years.  Because I don’t plan on quilting even a few years from now, I’ve never bought a quilting pattern.  I much more prefer an improv quality when I work.  Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating to stop purchasing patterns because I am highly impressed with the intricacy of many patterns and their makers – just not for my creative process.

In other news, I finally tracked down Theresa, the young girl for whom I made a quilt.  I posted about it here.  I called three different schools with no luck, then ran into an acquaintance who told me she had changed her last name and might be in a school nearby.  Finally, I had some solid info to go on.  I got a hold of the guidance counselor, a young helpful woman, and figured out when to drop it off.  I didn’t see Theresa the day I delivered it, but I am assured it the counselor gave it to her with good energy.  After all that though, I’m feeling like more needs to be done for these transient kids who move from district to district.  I don’t have any great ideas yet, but I’m going to give it a good think.  Feel free to share if you have any ideas.

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January in Progress

Oh January, where have you gone?

This is normally my month to get it together.  Kids are back in school, my husband’s job gets busy (so he’s home later), and I start hammering at the projects.

But so far, I’m just making little bits of progress here and there.  It’s an ailment I’ve had before: I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all the projects lingering.  I know I just need to get a few done before I start high-fiving my imaginary craft coach!

Here’s what’s happening:

Basketweave Blanket - Lionsdaughter

I’m making a blanket for my sister with super bulky yarn from (ahem!) Wal-mart.  I’ll be writing more about the yarn in an upcoming post, but I’ll give you a small hint that I’m loving this project.

Here’s an embroidery that I really wanted to make.  The colors are better in person.

She Believed

Lastly, I’ve got three hats on the verge of finished.  These are my movie theater hats – I make them when I go to the movies because it’s hard for me to just sit there.  So I knit round and round on a size 8 needle.  Easy Peasy.  And here’s an early hint that I might be putting hats on Etsy – hopefully sooner than later.

Signature Hats-Lionsdaughter

As I write this I’m watching The French Connection from 1971 and not entirely getting it, but I’m sort of intrigued by the differences in movie directing/production/acting.

And I’m listening to O, Pioneers by Willa Cather, and I like it!  I think it’s the homey pastoral vibe it’s giving of farm life even though some of the relationships presented are a little predictable and “normal” (why is that a bad thing?  It’s not, but it doesn’t always make for a fascinating story).

Reading/watching anything good????  Please share.

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Hello 2015

Hello Readers,

I read recently about the top ten most annoying things people do on their blogs, and one of them is to apologize after being absent.  And I want to apologize, I really do, but I also don’t want to be annoying.

Instead I’m going to share a couple things I learned in my absence and how it’s going to affect my blogging.

1.  Embrace my home.  I read The Nesting Place this fall and MyQuillyn Smith, the author, shared how she stopped fretting over everything looking perfect and started making all her homes cozy and homey – as in, not waiting for that elusive “perfect” home (because few really are).

How that’s going to affect the blog:  Photos of my spaces as they (mostly) are, like this photo of sewing by the woodstove:

lionsdaughter blog

Okay, I moved the paper bag of garbage nearby, and now there’s a small pot of bean soup heating up on top of the stove…so there’s my (mostly).

2.  Appreciate the process.  When I first started this blog, I foolishly thought I would be posting only FINISHED projects.  And it was tremendously motivating for me TO finish projects, but the finish isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be (I intend to write a post on that one of these days).  Don’t get me wrong, finishing things is satisfying.

Anyhoo, I’m going to be posting a lot more process photos and posts because that’s where nearly all my time is spent – in the process.  Like this:

Gypsy Pinwheets

3.  Be a creator.  I’m currently reading (well, listening to) The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, and he really hammers home the idea of being a creator – an artist – rather than a cog in the giant industrialist machine.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not anti-capitalism, but I’m loving what he is saying about how and when to create.  For example he reminded me that writers like Dickens and Thackary just wrote, and there wasn’t the intensity of the edit as we know it (according to Godin, the editing craze started in the 1950s).

Thus I’m not going to labor over the writing in this blog anymore: I’m going to give myself an opportunity to check it over twice before publishing (not the 10-15 times I normally do because of my fear that some not-so-nice-person will say something like “tsk – and she’s an English teacher”).

I’m also going to start sharing the books I’m reading and listening to because that is a crucial part of my creating process.  Oh, how I love audio books!!

Thanks for being patient with me.  Tell me what you’re reading.  Tell me what influenced you recently.

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