Friday, February 27, 2009

Realigning my creative space...

My oldest took this picture of our Bleeding Heart, in April 2008. It gives me hope. Spring is coming.

I live in an old house that was built around the turn of the previous century. It's had its share of add ons and remodels, leaving it quirky.

My creative space is one of those parts of the house that's been remodeled by every owner. It's been a porch, a bedroom and a den (all before our time). When we moved here my husband said it was for me and I thought "Who am I to argue?". So, I have a small quirky space that until recently has been called 'the Craft Room'. But, I've decided to rename it my studio, for a lot of reasons, but partly because it makes me smile when I say it :-).

I make a lot of gifts, especially at Christmas and the studio was looking a little ragged. So this morning I decided to treat myself, and everyone else who looks in, to a tidy up. Or what I dubbed 'realigning my creative space', which is more accurate and more inspiring. Now it looks like a studio... organized and creative.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whim to Woo Hoo! aka Blue Bag of Happiness

Last night I decided on a whim to make a bag to carry stuff back and forth to work. I've begun working at home one day a week and there always seems to be something to transport.

So, I went into my 'studio', which is what I'm now calling my 'craft room' cause it sounds glamorous ;-)

In November '08 I became the proud owner of a new deluxe embroidery sewing machine. For the previous 12 years, I'd been using a very, very, basic machine that could no longer maintain a tension, or feed consistently. So, much researching and dreaming later, I purchased a new machine. And it does just about everything, except make dinner. I can't tell you how it's changed my creative life. Every day is an adventure in just what it can do. Tools are critical to results.

Okay, back to last night. Want a bag. I went into my studio, sat in the sewing chair, spun around to look at the fabric choices. Let me just say, this is my favorite way to sew. No plan, no pattern, no deadline, just free thinking. So after considering all the choices, I decide on the robin's egg blue twill -bright, happy, durable, washable. Now a lining... lo and behold, hiding in the scraps, left over from a niece's dress, 4 years ago, is the same color plisse with white flowers. It looks like spring and I could seriously use some spring. I even found a new pack of 'D' rings tucked in a drawer. Kismet!

I used white thread, for the white flowers on the lining and because I liked the contrast and thought it would show off the decorative stitches, but the wale of this twill is so big that the thread gets a little lost. It's subtle, rather than striking, but I like it. I put a pocket on the lining, from leftover scraps of the plisse, boxed the bottom, and made long handles to easily fit over my winter coat. Best of all, I was able to try new things, like the decorative stitching on the handles. My old machine did not have the power to stitch through four layers of heavy twill. Because I didn't have a real plan, nor a pattern, I just let it flow. It was totally fun and I'm pretty happy with the results. Okay, really happy.

In about an hour, I went from whim to woo hoo!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ripple Bliss

I am an avid fan of the Lion Brand Yarn website. Of course, I love the yarn, too. The best part of the website is all the extras. So many fun creative patterns, ideas, and tips. Just before illness struck, I discovered the ripple pattern dishtowel. Inspired!

What can I say... I love the ripple. Love, love, love. Enough to work on one when I felt pretty low down, and then another cause I liked the first one so much.

In my time I've made dozens, perhaps even hundreds of dish and wash cloths, but I never thought about making a towel. It's pretty, absorbent, and as it's 100% cotton it dries in a snap.

Yep, I'm a woman of simple pleasures (which I'm totally okay with), but look at it! Ripple Bliss.

Good! Good! Good!

I feel good today. It's the first time in many days I've been able to say that. I'm recovering from bronchitis. This morning, when I woke, my husband commented that I was smiling and to my surprise I was. I woke up smiling. How often does that happen? For me, a serious non-morning type, not very. After days of feeling blech, I awoke feeling pretty darn good.

Philosphers say you cannot know joy with knowing sorrow. Perhaps you cannot know good, without knowing blech... however, I'd like to try.

All I do know, right this minute, is I feel good. I hope the same for you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Much to be grateful for...

This morning, I awoke to a tender gift from my sweet husband. A bouquet and home made heart shaped cake. So much love in the hand lettered "Be Mine".

Heartfelt words from my oldest who is away this Valentine's Day.

And sweet hand made cards from my youngest, secreted down when no one was looking.

I am ever grateful to love and be loved.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love's all you really need...

I like Valentine's Day. I like to make a fuss for my family with something special for dinner and turning the dining room into a heart-fest. Hearts hanging from the ceiling, heart confetti sprinkled on the silver tablecloth, iced tea and milk served in champagne glasses.

These heart coasters are the most recent addition to the table top. I found a potholder pattern on the net, but used thread instead of cotton yarn and voila... Coasters. They measure 5 1/2 by 4 1/2 (not counting the lashes of the eyelash yarn). The eyelash yarn is two strands held together and single crocheted around the outside.

Our kids are getting older and our Valentine traditions are changing. But, I'm still a sucker for hearts and for love and these coasters make me happy.

May your Valentine's Day be filled with whatever makes you happy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clips and children...

Okay, it's fair to say that I'm totally crazy about my kids. They are pretty amazing people, talented, kind, compassionate, smart, loving, clever, witty. You get the idea. I know I am totally biased. But, as they are very nearly perfect you can understand my bias ;-)

I discovered these clips last year, when I was looking for graduation themed stuff. They have since become one of my favorite bead findings. I don't really like traditional pins, but do like a little sparkle on a jacket or coat. I like movement and these clips facilitate that. The clip, while not particularly beautiful, easily and securely attaches to collars, purses, book bags, jeans pockets. It dangles and sparkles on whatever I clip it.

This clip is in honor of my youngest, who plays basketball. The white beads are actually alpha beads and spell my star's name. I included the school colors and some beads that reflect what an athlete brings to the game.

I'm in the process of creating a collection of these clips... Greens, blues, pinks, reds... Not to mention Christmas, Valentine's... At what point does a collection become an obsession? I'm on the lookout for music beads as my oldest is a musician and I definitely need a clip for that!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Book Cover!

Okay, it's fair to say I've recently been obsessed with this color combination. Black, white and lime green. But it's also fair to say, it's rockin'.

Today's foray into sewing happines is a book cover. Except for the high school book covers of paper bags, this is my first attempt. It's a good first try, but I think for the next one I make I may use a stretchy twill or other stretchy bottom weight fabric cause it's pretty snug and requires much figeting to get it on. But once it's on, it looks... nice!

The bookmark was a recommendation from another, and is sewn into the back flap. I added the bead dangle, cause I enjoy beading, and even a book cover will benefit from a little sparkle.

The only downside is that now I'm hooked. I need more covers to fit larger sizes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chicken on the roof

We have chickens, which we free range. One rooster, and three hens - all bantams. They are new, since summer 2008, and still a novelty. Chickens are pretty entertaining, believe it or not, so it's possible more chicken stories will follow.

Ours do not like snow covered ground. Driving rain, no problem. Frigid temps, okay. Gusting wind, totally fine. But snow covered grass, no way, no how, not happening! They've spent a lot of time inside in the past few weeks, but yesterday a small ring of grass encircled casa chicken and out they came.

The rooster and two of the girls are pretty tight, moving around together. The third hen is more independent, sometimes with the group, sometimes following her own song. Yesterday's song took her to the roof of the garage, where she spent several minutes in the sun and wind, moving up the roof, to get a better view I assume.

High, yes, especially for a bantam weight chicken, who cannot fly very long distances. Slick, yes, steep pitch, high gloss, metal roof. But, the sun was shining and the roof is black, so it must have been warm. After weeks of near zero temps. Not to mention, the view from way up there!

So, while the others were milling around, she had an adventure...

Follow your song!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tidy up and other creative pursuits...

Every once in a while, I'll hear a phrase or slang or catch word, that instantly becomes part of my everyday language. Sometimes it drifts away as quickly as it arrived and other times it sticks for good.

From a friend, with an Irish mother, comes the phrase 'having a tidy up'. I'm charmed by it. Much better than cleaning! Somehow funner.

So today, as the sun is shining and the icicles are melting away, we are having a tidy up. There is something about a tidy kitchen that makes my world just a little more right.

Surfing the net recently, I discovered a tutorial for making a change purse. I thoroughly enjoy reading and seeing how others create. Although I don't need a coin purse (thanks to my sister who gave me a totally perfect one), I was inspired to 'tidy up' other aspects of my purse.

The tissue holder is simple and eliminates the noisy rumpled plastic the tissues come in. I love a quick project! Nearly instant gratification. And it went so well, and looked so good (oooo, that doesn't sound very modest) inside my purse I decided to make a check book cover to match.

I am working on another organizer, to hold the myriad of small things that gather in my purse... chapstick, eye drops, lotion, sanitizer... It's still in the planning stages, though, so best left for another day.

I am feeling especially hopeful today. It has been a long cold winter and it's just February 1st. The warmth of the sun brings the promise of spring, which I will hold on to as winter will surely show itself again before the season ends.