Monday, March 28, 2011

The beginning of Hope Filled Mondays

Mondays get a bad rap. The weekend is over, back to work, back to school. As if Monday is an ending to something, when actually Mondays are a beginning. The beginning of the week, sort of a fresh sheet of paper with which to begin writing this week of your life.

I like beginnings - full of hope and promise and excitement. So I'm beginning something new on the beginning of the week, on my fresh sheet.

Hope Filled Mondays! I plan to post each Monday with something that gives me hope. I chose the title Hope Filled because it says how I strive to live my life and how I want this blog to evolve.

I think it's appropriate to begin with a definition of hope, from "The American Heritage Dictionary" published by Houghton Mifflin. I love this dictionary, which seems to weigh 10 pounds, because it gives the fullest definitions and includes famous persons and lots of pictures. I also love the speckled pages.

Anyway, the definition:

Hope is both a verb and a noun and interestingly most of the definitions refer to expectation and/or confidence in the outcome. "To wish for something with expectation of fulfillment." "To look forward to with confidence or expectation."

This is how I feel about hope. Confident and Expectant. Hope is a prayer. Hope is an asking for something and expecting the answer to be yes.

So today is the beginning of our Hope Filled Mondays and I encourage myself and you to look forward with confidence and expectation. Also, take a good look around and see the fulfillment of yesterday's hopes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Make a Pearl

The most extraordinary thing about the oyster is this... Irritations get into the shell and when he cannot get rid of them he uses the irritations to do the loveliest thing an oyster ever has the chance to do. If there are irritations in our lives today there is only one prescription: make a pearl. And it takes faith and love to do it. -- Harry Emerson Fosdick

I'm on my soapbox for the next few minutes...

I've been a little aggravated off and on with the media coverage of celebrities acting a fool. First of all, let me say that I think the amount of attention paid to celebrities is ridiculous. Based on the amount of magazines, television shows, and other media coverage one might think I'm in the minority, but I don't think so. Second, let me say that I'm very well aware that not every celebrity acts a fool.

Actors, musicians, artists all contribute to the world - no argument from me. I like movies; I love music; there are TV shows that I never miss; I've been to my share of basketball, baseball, soccer, football and hockey games. I just don't believe that because someone can 'slam dunk' or once sang a song that meant something to me that they are some type of guru or should be adored. I don't think the ability to act makes you an authority on the clothing I should buy or the thoughts I should think or the food I should eat or the charities I should support. I also don't believe that the mere accomplishment of being famous should excuse or forgive behavior.

But, deeper than my aggravation with the relentless media coverage of celebrities is the sadness I feel over the fact that we are paying for their tantrums, crime sprees and lunatic behavior. By watching their shows, seeing their movies, attending their games or concerts, we are paying them.

And my goodness what they are being paid! I realize that 'celebrity' is big business and that their wages in turn pay for all the others who create/keep the 'celebrity' going, but the fact is that the exorbitant salaries paid contribute to such an expensive final product that attending is becoming cost prohibitive.

It makes me sad and just a little crazy that ticket prices have reached a place where people can no longer afford to go to movie theaters, sporting events, live theater, and/or concerts. It makes me sadder and crazier when I think about the quality of entertainment, the behavior, the drugs, the influence on our young people. Aack!

I think it might be time for a shift in our perspective, fellow consumers. What if we sent a message to the entertainment world that we want better from them? What if we had the power to influence not only the ticket prices, but what kinds of entertainment we are getting?

Well my friends we do have that power. We do and we've had it all along. It's in our wallets and our decisions about how we spend our hard earned dollars. It's supply and demand :)

By being selective about what we buy we can send a very strong message. By refusing to buy the expensive, often negative 'supply' they are currently offering, we will change demand and therefore they must change supply. We can say "No Thank You!" to the tantrums. "No Thank You!" to the scary destructive behavior. "No Thank You!" to the lackluster or half hearted quality.

And so, rather than be aggravated, sad or crazy, I will be making a pearl and following my spirit. Join me won't you?

off my soapbox now-thanks for listening.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Project #22 Purse Accessories

Yes, I've gone a little crazy. But, these accessories are so quick and simple to create that it's crazy not to ;)

Tissue cover: I used the hem of the shirt sleeve to create the 'ribbon' accent.

Eyeglass case: This is the shirt sleeve, minus the hem.

Checkbook cover: I used a small piece left from the sleeve, which happened to be on the bias to make the ribbon accent.

I am seriously amazed at how much I've created from less than half a shirt. I still have the entire back of the shirt, part of the right front and one sleeve. Shoot, I can probably make a new shirt from all of that!

If you want to make purse accessories, you can search the web for tutorials or you can just jump in with both feet. These don't require a lot of material, so if you goof, try again. I love fooling around with these kinds of projects. Useful, simple, fun.

We are enjoying our fourth day of sunshine. In a row. This is something to celebrate after the intense winter. May you also be experiencing something to celebrate!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project #21 Shirt Purse

Okay, before you say anything... I love this purse. I realize that a shirt purse is not everyone's cup of tea, but using the details from the clothing makes the purse interesting. Plus, it's quirky in a way that appeals to my sense of humor.

The other day my favorite hubby was cleaning out the closet of items not worn and this terrific shirt made it into the pile. He started to explain to me why he wasn't keeping it, but I said "No worries, I'll use it in my studio." The minute he said it was to go, I saw a purse! I have always loved red, white and blue and something about this shirt just screamed purse.

So, I've been looking at and thinking about that shirt for a few days... Pondering how to cut, what to keep, etc. I wanted the button placket for sure and I thought a pocket would be cool, but I didn't want both pockets. So yesterday I decided to cut... From just beside one pocket across the placket, including the pocket on the other side all the way to the sleeve, which was the most I could get from the front without using the other pocket. It looked cool, but it just wasn't quite enough.

So, this morning I thought "I'm adding some denim". I mean what goes better with a comfy shirt than an old pair of jeans? These were my oldest son's and were a 'carpenter' style. They have this long skinny pocket on the back and with a few modifications, it's perfect for my cell phone! I lined it with a scrap from the shirt and then tacked the corner down so the plaid shows through.

Once I added the denim to the shirt it was a perfect size. I boxed the corners and made tabs and handles from pieces of the shirt and jeans. The lining is a solid red and I used polyester felt between the layers to add body and softness. It's a shame the handles don't show more as they are fun. Denim on top, with shirt plaid on the inside.

This has been a great day and I have a fabulous new purse!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project #20 Cowboy Drawstring Bag

In the spirit of "Celebrate the Boy" which is a great idea from this blog, here is one of my favorite gift ideas for kids. A drawstring bag, or sack pack or gym sack. There are a myriad of names, but no matter what you call it, it's useful and fun. Everybody needs a place to keep their stuff! And if you can carry it and keep your hands free, even better!

I like to line these bags. They are sturdier and it gives the grommets four layers to grab onto. This one is lined with muslin and the applique star is made from a faux suede.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Project #19 Short Row Scarf

Isn't this a cool scarf? Also from my favorite source Lion Brand Yarn. It's called a Short Row Scarf and as I've never made anything with short rows, it was really quite fun for the first half of the scarf ;)

Joking! It is a long project, but worth it as it looks very elegant. I've included the LBY photo as it shows how the scarf looks on. Some reviewers on the LBY site complained about the 'holes' left when making the short rows, but I have to say I think it makes the scarf way more interesting! I used a super soft bright yellow and am quite pleased with the result.

I am also pleased to report that I've finally mastered figuring the gauge. I know, I know, it's not rocket science, but for whatever reason I've struggled with finding the gauge knitting. This scarf is made to the patterns specifications :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Project #18 Daisy Vest

Have you ever seen "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" with Doris Day and David Niven? Well it's a good one and when I saw this fleece in the remnant bin, I could hear the Amazing Ms. Day singing the title song.

The blue is very vivid and the gingham centers... well, I love it.

Today has been a really interesting day. Through my local public library I have access to online 'courses' that cover a wide range of topics, from learning basic computer skills to learning a new software program to taking placement tests or practicing for entrance testing. It's pretty incredible. In the comfort of my own home, I've spent the afternoon learning skills that will improve my life at work. It's a go at your own pace and you can pause or repeat the information as much as necessary. It's pretty amazing.

I believe that public libraries, public education, free radio, free television and now the Internet, which are all ways of freely disseminating information and knowledge, hugely contribute to to the very fact that it is possible for each of us to voice opinions in opposition of our neighbors, our employers, our government. Knowledge is power after all. When I see the tragic battle that other countries go through to be free, to be heard, to be valued... at the same time I am saying a prayer for them, I am saying one of gratitude for this perfectly imperfect country and my blessed life here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Project #17 More Scarves

Okay, I'm a little scarf happy. I'm really enjoying using all the crazy yarns I've collected.

These two scarves are knit every row with large needles, 15's I think. The reason is that the yarns are so busy that intricate patterns are lost and the yarn doesn't look as good. But these big knit stitches allow the yarn to shine. Plus, the knit fabric created is super drapable, soft and flowing.

I apoligize for the top picture. I tried everything I could think of to get this yarn to look as good in the picture as it does in real life. No luck. The yarn is Lazy Daisy, by Moda Dea, and I think it may be discontinued. It's possible to still find it around though. The yarn is fairly thin with big daisies every few inches. Using the large needles creates a very webby scarf that looks beautiful with my black wool coat. This is a wide long scarf, suitable for tossing over one shoulder with attitude :).

The other scarf is made from a yarn called Twister, by Patons. It's two different yarns, twisted together... get it? Twister - twisted. hee hee. Anyway, very interesting yarn, easy to use and the end result is very textural, soft and drapey. This scarf is wide but not as long so it will easily tuck into the neck of your coat.

Project #16 Eye Pillows

Eye pillows! In a previous post I described how to make these wonders and I highly recommend that you do. I've been giving these as gifts and they've been a big hit. So these three are to replenish my stash! I believe everyone can use a little pampering.

Those who wish to sing will always find a song. ~Swedish proverb

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Project #15 Wristlets

Yes, yes, yes. Another purse project. I love them. They are fun to make and can be as wild or as subtle as your mood strikes you.

This is my first foray into wristlets. I just started with some cotton thread and improvised until I felt they were finished. I made the pink one first, but in the end thought it looked pretty old lady-y (this is primarily due to the color combination I think). Despite the fact that my children think I'm an old lady, I do not want my wristlet to say as much.

Besides, I wanted to try slightly larger dimensions and I wanted more of the fabric to show above the crochet. So, out came the green thread and voila! I'm pretty happy with the finished project. I added the besds to one side so when I'm carrying it, the beads will show and a little bead dangle for the zipper pull.

One thing I do like about the pink is the spiderweb embroidery flowers. They really are very cool and I will be using them again on a future project.

I used the green one yesterday while running errands. Very nice. I left my bigger purse containing all the things I think I might need, but actually only use a few times a year, in the car. I slipped on my green beauty and off I went. It's very convenient... when you need two hands, it politely swings around your wrist and it's perfect to hold my ID/card carrying thingy, some cash and my lip stuff. I believe I might be easily addicted.