Monday, October 26, 2020

A threadbare baby blanket and it's third repair

 Thankful for my making history that I keep here.  I was able to go back and find the last time I repaired this blanket for now six year old Layla.  You can read the history here.

The blanket was made with a bulky cotton yarn whose name I don't remember and was made from the pattern Baby Chalice blanket.  One of my favorite to make.

Daughter Lucia reached out in October letting me know that once again the fibers were at risk of totally disintegrating and what might I be able to do.  I posted on facebook and called out for advice from all my lovely knitting friends.  Whatever solution there would be would need to be quick as Layla loves sleeping with her blanket and misses her night time routine without it.

As it was UPS became a big delay, arriving 5 days after being mailed, so time was of the essence.

I had one skein of yarn and I thought I might make some crocheted medallions to attach to the surface. I was able to make twelve but in the end I didn't love it as a solution.  I did stitch one down to a corner and left it because it shows the original yarn and I decided it was a nice bit of history.

I carefully cutaway the frayed stitches which left a lot of white space between the lace but also revealed the underlying shape of the lace as it had been knit. (the previous repair entailed stitching the lace down to a white flannel backing)

Then I used a zig zag stitch to outline the edges and hopefully keep them from unraveling further.

I was inspired by the Japanese style of repairing broken pottery.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. 

I decided then to fill in the white spaces 'cracks' with love of all the people in her life.

I had a tula pink variegated thread and after adding all the names in pink I surrounded them with variegated hearts.

Today, three days after it arrived I packed it up in a priority mailbox and sent if off.  I hope she loves it!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The making continues.....

 I am so grateful that being a maker is at my core.  I'm not sure what I would be doing during this time of staying home if I weren't able to create.

I had a couple of months where I got myself a tad overwhelmed with the frantic beginnings and learning curves, but I've settled in and am happily working my way through projects.

When I left you I had just finished ranunculus....almost.  But it turns out I didn't really like the twisted knit ribbing and I thought the entire sweater was too long.  So I ripped it back with an after thought lifeline, threw in some decreases and did an cord Bind-Off.  While I was at it I decided there must be a better way to join the two ends of an icord when working in the round and there is!  I used these directions.

Then I turned my attention to fabric project bags.  The dog print was a request from one of my daughters for a pouch to hold her drawing pencils.  I bought this fabric on an early March outing to Roxannes in Carpenteria.  Friends Carole of  Creative Castle and Heather Kingsley Heath who was teaching at the time accompanied me.  Little did I know what a last outing it would be!  I was glad to use the fabric.

It turns out I like working with beautiful fabrics and small projects.  So I gathered up a collection of fabrics for my other daughters birthday request.  Two of the bags were from a tutorial by the Missouri quilt company on installing a zipper with zipper tabs.  They are beautiful and while the inside is lined they do have interior raw edges. Next time I'll learn to do the lining so that seams don't show, but I love the fabrics together.  The clamshell and small tote bag are patterns by Sew Sweetness.

This is called Kismet and it challenged me quite a bit but I perservered and I'm happy with it.  I'd like to make more of these for sure!  The pattern comes with three sizes of round and thee of the rectangle.  This is the smallest size at about 6 inches across.  You can buy just the pdf tutorial or you can purchase a video to go along with it.  In the end I purchased both since I"m new to bag making I wanted to see it done.

We went off for a short travel break in the airstream and this is my favorite airstream position and pastime.  This is Breathe and Hope by Casapinka with a yarn kit from Four Purls with Emily's yarn.

My airstream knitting time was well spent and I can now add Breathe and Hope to my finished shawls.  I'm wearing it over a Cumulus sweater in Malabrigio English  Rose held with a Lang Mohair.  It's one of my favorite sweaters to wear.  

And now a bit of beading.  This is Solaris by my good friend Miriam Shimon (who by the way is launching her new website store soon, stay tuned.)  Miriam has never met a crystal or pearl she didn't know how to bezel and these tiny navettes are nestled together to make a beautiful pendant.  I'll show you next time!

I'm busy getting ready to teach six classes for the virtual Beaders Dream retreat.   Virtual classes is a  whole new learning curve and I'm busy getting some video prepared so I can demo the fiddly bits close up and personal.   Two long weekends in October and then some time, I've been 'off' since I came home from Tucson in February, the last time I taught.  But I did build 90  Amarissa kits and step up my zoom game with a microphone, lights, and a document camera. So plenty of learning to keep me busy.

Until next time, take care of yourself and each other.  I love you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Ranuncululs is Done

 Well let's see, a few weeks back I made my list , let's see how I'm faring,  I don't consult the list daily or even weekly, I just carry on with the projects that were documented there.  It's really nice to revisit it and see that I am getting things done.  I've also embarked on making some healthy living changes but that's for another time.  I don't want to exit the other side of the pandemic and have regrets based on coping behaviors.  I just have to explore new coping mechanisms and I am.

So onto what's done. I finished my Bead museum tile which I wrote about here.  I finished a bead project for a deadline, I finished 3 more colorways of Amarissa for the Beaders Dream retreat which will now be virtual, I started my beaded object from the beaded object class with Heidi Kumlli, I finished two pair of shrink plastic earrings that I gifted, I made about 12 masks for friends and family, and I finished Ranunculus.

Ranunculus Midori Hirose in Kestrel


Mark's vest 'His Vest' from Churchmouse in Malabrigo

Amarissa in three colorways for Beaders Dream Retreat

Masks for Tracy

Gypsy jacket from Tina Givens in light weight linen

Breathe and Hope for by Casapinka in Emma's yarn from Four Purls

I have to get going on some birthday socks, I'm doing 'Dreaming of Paris' by Joji Locatelli  and finish up Mark's vest for his September birthday.  I've cast on Breathe and Hope which wasn't on the list and started a  Tina Givens Gypsy coat which was sort of on the list.

My compass rose, dodecahdron and Tula pink sunrise quilt are all languishing.  But all in all when I look what I have accompmlished it's a lot.  Making is keeping me mostly sane although there are days the worry of our future weighs heavily.  One of my children is a hair stylist in Califonia where they have been re-shut down for the last four weeks with no date for re-opening.  

I'm also preparing myself to teach a retreat via zoom.  I'm glad to have the skills I need to participate but I was so looking forward to the energy that happens when we all get to be together, not this year.

I put in a full morning of work on my bead business readying myself for the virtual retreat and now I shall spend a little time sewing.  What are you up to?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Grateful for the support of my community

 Of all the making things I do, one became a career for me.  Starting when I left my corporate career I became a full time traveling bead teacher.  It was a good life.  I supported myself well, traveled and met many many people.  

I also became part of a community.  A community of other traveling bead teachers. It's not your normal job, there are a LOT of things that go into making it successful enough to make one's living.

It starts with being proficient in beadweaving, requires a solid design sensibility and moves onto to all the things it takes to bring your design into a teachable state.  There's illustration, photography, sourcing supplies, kitting efficiently, the sometimes dreaded marketing, making travel arrangements, creating contracts and then there is the teaching itself.

Many aspects of this require technology so we need to constantly be flexing that technology part of the brain.  The one that didn't require technology in the past was the arriving at an event and teaching in the classroom.

Covid has thrown a curve ball, elminating our ability to gather together, yet a beaders life goes on.  Quickly, very quickly teaches and students adapted to an online class platform called zoom.

Which was great, but then I'm retired, well except for 2 to 3 engagements per year, those I wanted to do in person to see my colleagues and people who have attended classes many who I have spent a lot of time with over the years.  I wasn't anxious to take on the technology required to join the bead zoom classroom.

 But Covid had other plans, the Beaders Dream Retreat I was looking forward to, out of necessity has become a virtual retreat.  This is great news really because it will open the classes up to more people which is a good thing,

So here is where my smart, kind, generous bead community has come together to share their knowledge, hold one another up, encourage one another, answer questions, offer to be available to practice, suggest the best technologies and best practices for this new way of being in a classroom.

I truly could not be more proud or more grateful for the friendships and support of this community.  It makes me teary eyed to be part of this group of men and women who of course need to focus on their own success but are willing in every way to make sure we are succesful as a whole.

So to my friends in this community, I thank you so much for your guidance, for leading the way and for helping me play catch up. I love you all!

Amarissa is my very bohemian pendant I will be teaching at this retreat.  It's small in stature, but it is incredibly wearable and suits a wide array of tastes.  I wear mine with my heavily embroidered Johnny Was clothing and I love it! I always say a nice long dangly pendant makes me tall and thin, at least in my mind.

If you are interested in hearing more about this retreat hosted by Beki Haley, have a look at the Beaders Dream Retreat website and stay tuned for details.  

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fondling yarn

 So we've been through the whole planning cycle of in progress projects, the rule making, the studio re-arrangement and then.....then I fell in love and it was not to be helped.  I was helpless, truly.  My friend Diane Ciolek posted a photo of her Breathe and Hope shawl from Casapinka and there was no resisting, I was head over heels.

Today the yarn arrived from Four Purls.  Emmas yarn and it is soft and squishy and the color is brilliant. It's a merino silk blend and I can't wait to cast on.   

But some rules are not to be broken so I will only be fondling this until Ranunculus is off the needles.  Which is motivation right?  I have two sleeves to do and to day in the same mail was the 16 inch size 9 circular needle I needed for the sleeves, so there you go, no excuses, I will be knitting sleeves like a mad woman.  Plus which I really really like the way this Ranunculus is turning out.  I'm getting better at sweater sizing and this one fits me better than my first one.  

I stil have Mark's vest which is 2/3 done, but that can play side by side with this shawl because I just cannot wait to see the colors show up in those stripes, swoon,

Then my friend Heather had to tempt me with another pretty sweater....Tenga by Kaitlin Hunter and I have yarn for a Calyx as well so who knows whawt  will be next. Tenga is bottom up with a bit of lace at the hem and Calyx is top down with a lace panel down the front and then across the shoulder and down the sleeve.  I am really enaomared with sweater knitting at the moment!

But I do still bead and this sweet pendant got it's marketing trial today.  We actually went out for lunch, bayside in San Diego, beautiful breeze, distantly spaced tables, excellent food.  The Fish Market San Diego.  The hostess fell in love with my pendant and lost her train of thought, so I think that is success.  It is called Amarissa and this is my favorite color way, well except for the gray and aqua one, that might be my favorite and the silver one is pretty too.  

Here is Amarissa with a Light Turquoise frost rivoli on grey.  This pendant plays really nicely with all of my Johnny Was clothing.

So excuse me while I go fondle some yarn!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Creating a new space

I woke up on Tuesday deciding that I needed to change up my studio, as in seriously change up.  It's been a bead studio for a long time and the bulk of storage is still devoted to beads, but now there is sewing and shrink plastic and the need for computing and printing remains, and I have a new silhouette for cutting that needed a better home.

Plus which my large center table had become a catch all for everything and the visual clutter was unsettling.

The two main areas, computing and sewing I totally flipped.  The sewing corner was dark which is not as much of an issue for computing.  It was also up against a corner which made me feel a bit claustrophobic, and the need for the ironing board made it tight quarters.

I've had this particular desk for at least 15 years.  A long since discontinued IKEA desk that has served me very well.  In it's new role as the computing desk those drawers hold paper and labels and mailing supplies.  It's also super deep so it feels really spacious when working on it.

Here is the new sewing station.   The grey cabinet to the right and underneath holds sewing notions and patterns.  The rectangular ironing board is directecly behind my sewing chair so it's easy to get too. I ordered some Tula pink fabric to cover it and make it a colorful element in the room.  I also moved the large cutting mat to that end of the table.I took the remaining leaf out of the table.  When I held classes here the space was important but I don't see the need for that anymore.  I also removed excess chairs leaving only one at the table and one for each of the work stations, computing and sewing.

Those are masks waiting to be cut, one project at a time on the table.  The space is so inviting now and ready to be used.  I realize old habits are hard to break and sometimes a creative storm takes over and creates a creative mess.  For now though I'd like to try working this way.The tall cabinet is for books and the long cabinets hold mostly beads, with one cabinet now dedicated to shrink plastic supplies. The set of wooden drawers holds prisma pencils and alcohol ink pens for drawing on shrink plastic.   The stack of fabric folders holds the sheets of shrink plastic and various embellishment possibilities.  I used to want to keep the counter tops clutter free but I think now it is better to stage in progress projects here and then remove the one to be worked on to the table.  Now here is the key....when it's done being worked on put it back!  

There is a half wall with posts between what is essentially two rooms. You can see this best behind the desk with computer.  On the other end I hung ikea shades to give more of a separation.  I use a nail on the post to hang some of my favorite makes.  Having a little inspiration out is always nice.
I feel completely re-energized in this new space, ready to work on one project at a time!  Today will be finishing up masks for a friend.  I may cut out a muslin for a dress I want to make or I may decide it's a day for knitting.  I'll let that decision unfold.

I am beyond grateful to have this perfect space for all my making supplies.  When we looked at this house, this space was a complete mess.  Mark recognized that to convince me about this house that promising to do this room first would be wise and that is exactly what we did.  It's evolved over the years but it's a great space.  Someday we'll want to move but I really can't quite imagine my makers life without this beautiful room.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Over committing my time

I have figured out part of my issue  with too many makes and it's that I totally underestimate the time!  

Let's just start with an example.   We're having some work done in the house today so we'll move into the airstream.  Work starts around 9:30, ends maybe at 4:00 or 5:00 and I also need to do a grocery errand.

So what did I bring to the airstream.

MyTula pink sunrise quilt paper piecing. 
    one center panel to stitch 
    fabric to be cut for next medallion

    I've gotten to the mindless round and round of the body, 9 more inches until the ribbing

Urth sock
    I've turned the heel, picked up and decreased the gusset so now it's all foot until I get to the                             toe, 3 1/2 more inches.

Beaded Pendant Amarissa
    Third color way close to complete - then all three colorways need  beaded ropes.....

Well at least I won't be bored!  But truly that is too many things in too short a time.  Likely that knitting will wait it's turn until this evening.  Although I love to knit in the airstream so I may knit a few rounds.....

Now that I have a vision for my beaded object class I've been busy  acquiring some of the things I need to make it happen.  I am becoming an expert at one-click or in the case of Apple Pay the two click! I have a couple of more things to source and then I can begin the prep work.  First though I need to watch the provided videos as they have a lot of good information.  That should get some time this week. Perhaps I should get a notebook and sketch some ideas.  Not my usual approach but in this case it may be appropriate.

I'm also mask making which is something I really like.  It's small and satisfying.  Mark often joins me sewing masks on the featherweight while I use the Juki.  It's kind of endearing.  Little ones seem to like having matching masks to their parents so I've accommodated that request this week and will make a couple of more matching sets for a friend and granddaughter this week.  I'm not sure why mask making is soothing.  I guess because it's somethign I can do to help and the fabrics are so nice to work with and it's something we do together and it's something I do for my friends and family.

Yesterdays makes with some Tula Pink and some Kaffe Fasset.  I love the bold florals of the Kaffe fabric.  the pale pink with the little birds is for the youngest mask wearer per request. It's called Pinkerville Cotton Candy Fairy Dust!  Is that a grand name or what? Oh and the plain black in the back, that is for the man of the family, no bold florals for him.

Here is some more Kaffe for the next round of mask making this week.

It is funny that I worry about time when in reality I have nothing but time at the moment, not a real deadline or outing in sight!

Friday, July 31, 2020


I've heard of gratitude journals of course and have participated in online gratitude challenges but I'm not sure that in my past busy life I really ever internalized the importance.

This week has been a mix of emotions and I think to some degree the putting to pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard to write about them brings them more into focus.  My overwhelmed ness (spell check suggested the separate 'ness' so I'm going with it) was as real as my feelings about accomplishment.  Two very opposite ends of the spectrum.

In the middle was my figuring out why I was so stuck in one particular project I've undertaken.  I've got several sets of friends that I chat with during the course of the week and today while chatting I had the opportunity to explore what might be at the  root of the impass.  The insights shared were very helpful and I was able to view the project in a new light.  I have renewed energy for it and will be spending time exploring how to proceed.  What was missing was an idea that grabbed me with excitement.  So thank you dear friend, for providing that.

Which brings me back to gratitude.  I am so incredibly grateful for the friends who are walking this journey alongside one another.  Who can provide a bright spot of enlightement when you think  there isn't one.   I am grateful for the friends who feel vulnerable enough to share their struggles and are open to hearing whatever wisdom I might have to offer them.  I think when it's a two way street then trust becomes a permanent bond and love grows.

Which brings me to my Bead Museum tile.  On their website the museum of beadwork describes the beaded square project. 

As part of our core mission the Museum of Beadwork explores ways in which beads build relationships, and bond us together. To this end the Museum of Beadwork is mounting a new community project which grows out of a desire to commune on a joint project while safely sheltering; marking this very particular time we are going through together, apart. The end result, which will be exhibited at the Museum of Beadwork, will be a bead based ‘quilt’ visualizing the individual and communal experience of this distinct moment in history. 

Several of my  friends who I talk with on a regular basis during this time gave me words.  Given the core mission stated by the museum, these particular woman are all connected to me through beads.  I captured each of their words on Shrinket petals and decorated each one.  I surrounded them with a band of gold and added my 'LOVE' letters below. The words are Trust, Kindred Spirit, Similitude, Friendship, Love,  Tenacity, Embraced and Peace.

I wish for each of you to have something that you can be grateful for.  It's not an easy time for sure but for me the remembering to be grateful has been huge.  

I'm off to bead!  A third colorway for Amarissa, a cubic right angle weave tassel pendant. 

 It has a Bohemian feel because apparently starting with the Bohemian Collection three years ago and my love of all things Johnny Was I am not yet out of my Bohemian period!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A brand new baby day

This Melanie song  has always been a favorite

We were meant to see the beginning of the day
I believe it was planned to lift us this way
Take you an apple and take you a song
Watch a baby day be born

I've always been a morning girl as far back as I can remember.  I suppose I had a few teenage years of 'sleeping in' until 9:00 or so, but my preferred hour is 5:00 a.m.  Mark being his own creature of habit gets out of bed these days at 7:00 and I've taken to mostly joining him, but my very favorite thing to do is get up with the sun.

Of course it's summer which in San Diego means marine layer, so it's not exactly a sunrise.  But there is a peacefulness to the new day that I adore.  I make a cup of coffee and settle into my favorite chair and pick up some knitting.  Knitting is the best activity for this time of day.  It's more meditative then my other endeavors, it's more portable and it has less of the creative anxiety that's been plaguing me.

My Ranunculus is growing and I'm beginning to love fabric the linen is creating.  I'm always a little disappointed at my stitch eveness at first and then I get into a rhythm and as the work grows I see the beauty in it more.  Linen is like that, it gets better in time.  I think at first it rebels at being twisted into stitches and then it relaxes into it's new shape and becomes beautiful.  While I still wish I had considered white for this sweater I am enjoying the oceany blue that I chose.

So what else will this baby day hold?  I pretty much frittered yesterday away, but sometimes you just need a good day of frittering, right?  I don't have a plan for today, do you?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Owning it

I just took a scroll through my facebook posts for the last 4 months looking for a particular post (the search engine didn't turn up what I was looking for and neither did my scroll....sigh).

What it did turn up was a LOT of photos of things I've made, some in the last four months and some just memories I shared.   As it turns out I made a lot of beautiful things.  Many for beautiful people in my life.

I've made masks for family, a skirt and a sweater for a grand daughter, two shrink pendants for dear friends, a beautiful jacket in a watercolor print, a love note sweater for me, 2 pairs of socks, a couple of dozen pair or worded earrings, a linen pair of pants and top from a Tina Givens pattern, 3 or 4 project bags to contain projects,  and a new peace sign!  

That's a lot right?  

Here I've been lamenting my imperfectness, worrying about anxiety (is that redundant?) feeling less than, stressed and a tad overwhelmed about the 'in process' projects.  It seems it is a lesson I need to learn over and over.  Sometimes it just pays to look behind you at what's been accomplished and not in front of you at the 'list'.

When I was actively in my bead career and writing books, I hung bulletin boards and as projects were done they were hung up so that I could visually see the progress.  Not sure exactly how that would work with my current makes, but listing them here sure helped.  

So I am going to own, I am accomplished, I am vital, I am productive, I am creative, I am a maker and just because I'm in the throes of it, I am technically capable!

Not every day will I remember that, but it helps to acknowledge it here.  I don't love every single thing, but really that would be crazy.  If you make every day there are going to be things that you love less than others.  In general this is a body of work that I am proud of.  For the moment I seem to be in a tad bit of a slump and I've decided I'm not going to try to figure it out.  I'm just going to be kind to myself and appreciate the gift of making that I've been given.


Own your greatness!  Look for your proud accomplishments and acknowledge them.  I have so many talented friends and I suspect we all suffer at one time or another from feeling 'not good enough'  That's my suspicion but at least for today 'I am good enough', and I wish that feeling for your as well.  If you're my facebook friend or instagram friend (beadknitsew) then shout it out!  I want to celebrate your greatness.

Here's my striped socks are adorable, my double craw unit has sublime colors, my kindness and gratitude earrings have whimsical drawings, my painted lady cabachon is very artistically finished. What are you proud of? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Letting go of perfection out of necessity

For some reason everything I touch in a creative sense is going less well than I would like. It seems my mind is just not totally in the game.

Well except for the ice cream, that came out exceptionally well!

But the Urth in process sock has an extra decrease row because I trusted my memory and thought I should end up with 18 stitches as the end of the decrease row instead of 20.  I've already picked up the gusset so I decided against ripping it back. Mind you this is about my tenth sock in this pattern and I also could have looked it up, I just didn't.

Then I knit the lace portion of the ranunculus a ridiculous amount of times because I kept making mistakes.  If the pattern called for pick up a loop, k3  I did just that the majority of the times, but I'd lose track and  occassionally pick up a loop and K2.  This of course makes the count and the whole pattern off. The last pattern repeat of picking up the loop is off, but the stitch count is right, I decided to live with it.

When I first worked with the shrink plastic I just sat down and colored and was happy with the results.  Now for some reason I am totally intimidated and nothing is quite as I would like it.  This one got a divot when I was shrinking it.  Also the left charm is heavy meaning that pendant won't center balance when I  use a chain or ribbon to suspend it.  How did I not see that coming?  The coloration is also not my best work.  I didn't like the initial result so I just kept adding color.

I find that I want to strike a balance somwhere between letting go of perfectionism and working at getting my head a little more in the game.  I'm not entirely sure what that looks like but I'm thinking a morning yoga practice might bring some focus.  At 67 I've never done  yoga (well except for a brief stint in my 30's) so I will start with a gentle yoga for beginners.

What about you?  Are you struggling more with getting it right?  Do you have techniques you're using to keep life in balance?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Focus on Food

I have my beads, fabric and fiber to keep me occupied while staying almost exclusively at home for four months.  I've completed quite a few projcts and have quite a few planned.  I've read a bit, watched netflix series, walked almost daily and have taken the occassional nap.

One other thing has come to the forefront quite a bit and that is food.  I've never considered myself a cook and a meal I can put on the table in under a half hour has always been my preferred style.  This of course was interspersed with dining at friends or dining out or dining while traveling.  All of which broke up the monotony of having to sort out what to eat for dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY.  In talking with friends I find this is not unique to me, many of us are struggling with what to make day in and day out.  Combine that with some limited supplies and certainly limited outings to replenish supplies and it is indeed challenging.

So yesterday I decided I wanted something fancy, like I would get if I were going out.  I remember  in my many trips to Seattle I would try to fit in a trip to Molly Moon's ice cream.  They always had the most sublime flavors.   

I happened to have an old Better Homes and Garden magazine summer issue, whose front cover was filled with scoops of ice cream in a myriad of flavors.  Yesterday I chose a Thyme and honey one and set out to make it.  I love thyme which I think would be a requirement for this particular ice cream.  I also have a Kitchen Aid ice cream maker that is used to churn the ice cream.

Likely any vanilla ice cream base recipe would work.  The key was to infuse the cream with thyme by simmering with ten thyme sprigs, removing the sprigs and then refrigerating for two hours.  You then used this as the cream in the recipe and in my case I added milk, cornstarch, powdered milk and sugar.  This was refrigerated until chilled for four hours or overnight.

Then a half cup of honey was whisked into the mix and poured into the ice cream machine to be churned.  I cheated on the chilling time so my result was slightly soupy, but still delicious.  Chilling overnight became the perfect consistency.  I feel so gourmet.  I may need to carry on and create some of the other flavors like strawberry shortcake or coffee and donuts (you put a whole cake donut in the mix!)

I can report that the Honey Thyme was amazing.  Sadly Mark does not like ice cream (I know that's crazy right?) so I'll need to work through this quart myself before I can try a second flavor.

Tonight we'll have home made pizza with some left over basil and mozzarella from last nights Caprese salad.  I try to make sure I can use up every bit of food, morphing one set of ingredients into a second or third meal.  The mushrooms from last nights steak will be combined with spinach and I'll make a quiche.  The nice thing about quiche is it can provide breakfast and/or lunch for three or so meals freeing me up from having to cook at least a little.  I'm also grateful that Mark is a very good sous chef and will eat anything I prepare without complaint.

Are you enjoying meal planning and cooking or has it become a chore?  I think shaking up your repetoire a little bit with something like a gourmet ice cream helps keep things interesting.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Finding peace in knitting

Well after all my categorizations, and criteria, what I am finding today is I need to do something really calming.  So I will be sitting in the family room with my Ranunculus and quietly knitting.  I think I may look for some music but I don't think I'll be turning the tv on.  

There is just too much stimulation and what I need is peace and quiet.  

I think this color is really soothing and if I knit with intention I hope I will not repeat the mistake that required the after thought life line and the ripping of 8 rows.  Once I get past this bit the rest goes really fast.  It would be nice to have a new piece of clothing.  

My other projects are all coming along a little bit at a time.  I started the compass rose on Wednesday with Franklin.  I'm working really had to get good tension as that has eluded me in past structural pieces.  It's a bit hard on my hands though, so I'm pacing myself.  

I also worked on the bead museum tile yesterday and that is also coming along in a direction I'm happy with.  Not too much more until I can call that one done.

I have a couple of masks to make for someone who requested them.  I actually find mask making very satisfying.  It's a small project with pretty fabric and easy stitching.

When I began blogging at the beginning of this month, I talked about how much I miss travel and that remains so very true.  If I had to describe two things at the very core of my being, it would be making and traveling, and making while traveling is even better.  I have many shawls that were done on planes and trains in foreign lands.  I have many fibers and beads acquired in those travels and I have a treasure trove of inspiration photos from those places. 

A train to Venice, 2003 

We're hoping we'll do this again one day.  I absolutely adore train travel!  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Distratction and Procrastination

My engineer husband in listening to my 'focus and finish' dilemma came up with the two opposite words....Distraction and Procrastination.  

I can definitely see where both words fit as opposites and I am clear that distraction is a big part of why I let myself plan 28 different projects before I woke up and put the brakes on.  I'm not sure where procrastination fits exactly.  Maybe starting a new project is a way of procrastinating from finishing a current one.  Maybe I was just looking for the magic one that would bring creative joy and make all this worry recede.

At any rate I've been thinking a lot about how to implement criteria for starting something new.  

GGMadeit wrote a blog post on  how one plans for their next make and it made me realize I am one for becoming totally enamored by the photo.  It might be the mood, the color, or the setting that makes me fall in love, but is less often the practicality.  I live in San Diego, I don't need a full length knitted wool coat!  ok, that was an extreme example, but you get the idea.  

Wearabilty should at least be one consideration when becoming enamored with the next project.  I have three really long rectangular shawls.  They don't actually wear that well.  One of them is a dk weight and so it can be doubled and worn as a scarf, but the other two are bulky and heavy and don't stay put.  They were fun to knit at the time, but had I thought it through there could have been better uses of my time.

I think color should be an other consideration.  For some inexplicable reason I don't have a nice neutral, wearable grey scarf.  A cozy neckwarmer type that takes the chill off a cool evening.  I also inexplicably do not have a nice white summer sweater which is always fresh and bright and welcome in a California summer.

So, new projects are going to go through some kind of thoughtful filter to see if they are a fit.  Unless of course I fall head over  heels in love, like with this sweater, Syrinx by Stephanie Earp

Given my starting something new rules I can't buy the pattern or source the yarn for this quite yet, there are other things that are in the queue, and I must finish Ranunculus and His vest first, but isn't it dreamy?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Zoom Classes

So zoom classes are a definite trend during the pandemic.  I have to say it's a positive.  Today I took a class with Franklin Martion for his compass rose.  I've been enamored with each of his star shapes since I did my first spinner.  I remember stopping for a visit at Creative Castle and Franklin was there.  He showed me  his spinner and I was totally enamored.  I'd not worked on any of the geometrics yet, but this inspired me! There may have been begging for a pattern involved.

The way it's taught there is a marble in the middle and the piece becomes a giant spinner, spun like a top.  Which is very very cool, but I wanted to wear mine, so I put some loops on the back of it and made it into a shawl pin.

There is a series of shapes and today's compass rose is in that series.  I am totally enamored with it.  Franklin is a great teacher with a very calm nature and a great way of explaining the details and adding untold tips to make you successful.  I have my issues with tension and he had lots of different ways of improving it so that perhaps I will end up with the correct form to make a self supporting, unstuffed version of the compass rose.  Mine will be gold spines with two colors of teal.  I can't wait to show a few weeks.  Thanks Franklin, today was brilliant.  Hosted by the lovely Carole Tripp from Creative Castle.  

Things I like about zoom classes - comfort of my own home, connecting with other beaders, the ability to see close up demos, the versatililty of offerings that I may not otherwise have been able to attend.  Have you done a zoom class yet?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Craft management strategy

Do I actually have one?  Well I did start with a spreadsheet of each project that is either in process or planned (meaning pattern and/or supplies have been bought)

I categorized them by craft bead/knit/sew and  then color coded for deadline projects, ongoing projects, in process projects, and planned projects.

There are 28!  

Then I worked on establishing some rules.  
  • 1/2 day must be spent on deadline projects.  
  • No new projects can have work started until a deadline project is complete.  
  • 1/2 day can be spent on an on -going project of my choice.   
  • You can see 4  on-going here but when I begin my beaded object class and then my compass rose class, there will be 6.  
  • 2 knitting, 1 sewing and 2 beading.  
  • Knitting will be reserved for early morning or evenings because they are comfort projects and also reasonably mindless.  Note the reasonably, we'll come back to that.
  • A planned project may be added but no supplies can be bought until 1 on-going project is complete.

It's beginning to sound like too many rules and in the end what it comes back to is focus and finish, so that's what I'll be working towards.  So maybe the bottom line, is work on these in order of need for 1/2 day and desire for 1/2 day and don't add anything new until the list is reduced.  

Of all the projects I've only put one on time out so I guess that means I have the desire to complete the rest.

Do I need to be more discerning in future project selection?  What should the criteria be?  Gift knitting (there's at least a little here) home decor?  I do want to have a more artistic home.  Learned skill?  I'm not sure I want to learn anything new right now.  I think I will contemplate that next time I think about adding something to this list.  

Now for just a minute let's talk technical knitting talk.  Because I thought Ranunculus was mostly mindless.  There's a little bit of lace work in the  yoke and I've already made it once.  Who needs lifelines?  But it turns out I missed one little yarn over and then I proceeded to carry on with the next row and of course the entire row was off and I failed to see it.  I tinked one row back and picked up a yarn over and tried to convince myself it looked ok and carried on but then I was somehow 3 stitches short and so the next pattern row was off.  I decided to take it back 7 rows before the first mistake by using an after  thought lifeline.  I'm never any good at those, I can't seem to consistently pick up the stitches in the same row, but  it's done now, very fiddly at the end.  So that project is back in rotation ready to carry on.  I can't leave a mistake in a project or I find it very hard to go back to.  

This does bring up the consideration that my concentration is not what it used to be and I am more prone to making mistakes.  Another reason to work on my craft management strategy.

I'll let you know how it's going.    Right now I'm off to work on a couple of deadline projects while the day is young.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The opposite of focus and finish

Yes focus and finish is something that I have found useful to help me reset and reduce the franticness that comes with having a million works in progress. (that is a slight exaggeration, but not too much)

It seems however that I am unable to focus or finish well at the moment.  Last night I announced that I would not start anything new until I finished 4 of my current works in progress.

That lasted exactly 12 hours when I realized that my on-line beaded object class is now going to happen on Friday which left Wednesday open for Franklin's Compass Rose class which I am in love with!  I'll be taking it online with Creative Castle.  She has a full roster of zoom classes and it appears people are very much enjoying this approach to beading classes.

You can see why I was weak in the face of this becoming available to me.  Now to pick colors.

First though I think it's time for me to get real about what I have in progress and pick some things that can be finished, and put some sort of priority to them.  Perhaps make some notes about what it will take to finish and also what kind of time we're talking about, if there are any deadlines involved, and if any just need to be abandoned.  I'm not usually a to do list kind of gal on my personal time, but I'm finding that this tendency to just continually start something new is getting out of hand.

I'm also not usually a rules kind of gal, but I think a few may be in order, like no supplies beyond anything that is currently on the list.  Tomorrow I will share with you how long the list is.  

I'd like to see if cataloguing it is helpful and if it is in what ways.  This should be interesting.  I am not entirely sure if I've ever had this many works in progress before.  If I did they were work related as in beadwork for classes with maybe a side of a shawl.  Then two years ago I added the sewing of garments and then last year the sewing of bags and this year the sewing of quilts and then the medium of shrink plastic, all while upping the amount of sweaters/socks/vests in progress and planning for even more.  So I do think it's a time for a reckoning of how I spend my time.  I suspect I am filling time to run away from the stress of a pandemic and the unknown of the future.  But I want to be doing it wisely so that it serves me well and doesn't cause more stress than it relieves.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Teeny Tiny Stitches, my first EPP project

One of my ongoing makes is the Tula Pink sunrise quilt which is my first foray into English Paper Piecing or EPP.  The acccuracy required for machine piecing a quilt top escapes me.  Somehow I never seem to be able to get pieces cut and stitched well.  But in English Paper Piecing the process is done by hand and I have much more control.  It of course also takes much more time! 

In EPP  you cut your fabric to the correct shape adding 1/4 inch border and then you secure it around paper the same shape using either basting stitches or glue.  I've done both, my hexi pillow was basted but for this one with bigger shapes I am using the glue method.

I blogged in more detail about it here.

Today I just want to share with you my proud accomplishment.

Those teeny tiny little stitches, each one by hand, each medallion having 24 seams between triangles and one large seam for the center.  That is a lot of stitching and with each one I am improving my technique. I suppose it helps that needle and thread of some sort have been in my hands since I can remember. Sometimes it's knitting needles and yarn, or a crochet hook, or the twine of macrame plant holders in the 80's, but always I've used my hands bringing thread into a new form.

I'm just completing the 7th of 12 medallions, each one it's own little masterpiece.  I'm enjoying it and am trying hard not to suffer from the hurry up and finish that is my usual mantra.

I started this pre-pandemic (which is still something very weird to be saying in a sentence) but I suspect it will always have the connection to covid time.

We're back from our airstream outing.  It was a nice change of scenery, beautiful bay breezes, lot's of nice meals, long walks and lot's of time for stitching.  

I suspect going into next week I want to  'organize' my in process projects and pick at least a couple to focus and finish.  That goal was not helped by beginning a crocheted mandala today.  It's all Maggie's fault, she made me do it and now I have one more thing to focus and finish!

What are you working on?  Something short term or long term?  Multiple somethings? Something that excites you, challenges you, comforts you?  I think that may be a column of my 'project organization' spreadsheet.  It may help guide me on which one to turn to when I'm looking for the next thing to do.  The list is long......