Creating Routines: Handcrafts

Crafting my Life Creating RoutinesBefore I decided to close Crafting my Life, I was running a monthly series on the site that was all about creating positive routines. I was enjoying it quite a lot, so I decided to move it over here and re-jig it a little. Each month I’m setting one goal towards creating a more purpose-filled life. If you’d like to join in and take some steps to create better rhythms and routines in your own life, I’d love to hear how you’re doing it.

Last Month’s Recap

In March, I committed to taking time every day to list five things I love about my husband. And, I’m sad to say, I didn’t even come close to doing it every day. Between a trip to Disneyland and my own forgetfulness, I hit more like 12 days out of the 31 days in March. Even so, I feel that I noticed a difference. I’m keeping the spreadsheet, and when I’m feeling annoyed at my husband or just kind of down in the dumps I open it up, add five things, and start to feel better. So, I could be more disciplined, but on the whole it had the desired effect.

creating new routines handcrafts sewing

Creating a Routine for April

For April, I want to get back in touch with my crafty side. I put together a baby blanket for my new nephew last month, which I enjoyed immensely. It reminded me how much I like sewing. There’s something very satisfying, and even empowering, about creating something useful with your own two hands. Also, I find that when I’m watching TV I like to have something to do with my hands, and since I don’t have any knitting projects on the go, I often play iPhone games instead. (Bejeweled, anyone?) The result is way too much electronic stimulation. Plus, I often miss key points in the show since I’m distracted. I’d like to stop that, so this month I’m setting two goals:

  1. Start a new knitting project, and work on it while I’m watching TV. I’m thinking maybe a simple shawl. If you have any pattern suggestions, I’m all ears.
  2. Sew myself a new tunic. I already have the pattern (Amy Butler’s Anna Tunic) and the fabric (Valori Wells’ Mamma Birds – Gypsy), so I just need to make the time. I’m thinking playing fewer video games would be a good place to start.

Start With Small Changes

One thing I’ve learned on my journey towards a more purpose-driven life is that change happens best in small, bite-sized pieces. That’s why I’m once again choosing smaller projects. The knitting has no time frame, and the sewing project should take me a few hours, at most, if things go well. I invite you to take on some small changes as well. What could you do to improve your daily rhythm or overall mood? And, what’s holding you back from doing it? Create a new routine, and leave a comment so that we can cheer each other on!

I Make Stuff

When I’m feeling out of sorts, and as if nothing is working out in my life, one of the best things that I can do is create. Writing is a fabulous outlet for me, creatively, but when push comes to shove, there’s nothing like making something. By which I mean, crafting something tangible that you can hold in your own own two hands. Because when you do hold this thing that you made in your own two hands, you will have absolute confirmation that you are a productive human being.

You have produced something. Therefore, you are productive. Who could argue with that?

I am a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, when it comes to creating. I just kind of go for it and hope for the best. My projects reflect that approach. If I get too bogged down by making everything perfect, then crafting will just be one more thing that isn’t going right in my life. I don’t need that. So I just wing it, and give myself the freedom to play. Sometimes I end up ripping out a lot of seams and swearing, but everything has a way of working out most of the time.

I have been feeling rather lackluster. When I’m so busy that I can’t think straight, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing much. I mean, I know I’m doing a lot, but I’m not always sure I can see why. Because in spite of my best efforts, there’s always so much more to do. And so, this post is my way of reminding myself that I have, in fact, accomplished something lately. Here are the knitting and sewing projects that I’ve finished so far in 2011:

Hat for my nephewI knit myself a hat

A hat for my nephew, and a hat for myself

Jacob rocking his new toqueHannah models her new skirt

A hat for Jacob, and a skirt for Hannah

Hannah in the new sweater I knit herI knit myself a sweater

A sweater for Hannah, and a sweater for myself

I made an apron for my momHannah models her Nan's apron

An apron for my mom

Hannah's homemade re-usable bag, side AHannah's homemade re-usable bag, side B

Both sides of Hannah’s homemade re-usable bag

What about you? What do you do when you need to feel that you’ve accomplished something? And what kind of projects are tickling your fancy right now? I’d love to hear!

Another Year of Knitting

In 2008 I didn’t get much knitting done. Over the course of 12 months I finished only eight projects. And so, when 2009 dawned, I was committed to doing better. I decided that this would be my craftiest year ever, and that I would renew my commitment to all things yarny.

2009 has now come and gone, and I decided to tally up the year’s knitting. And in the process, I discovered that I tied 2008’s completed project count exactly. Eight projects finished. Not exactly what I was hoping for. But they’re pretty all the same, right?

So now I’m pretty sure that my knitting goal for 2010 will be 6 projects. Aiming low might just be the way to go here, what do you think?

Homemade Holiday Show and Tell

Back in November I shared my grand plans for a handmade Christmas. Sadly, for quite some time I remained in the planning stage, not doing much more than telling myself how fabulous it would all be and believing that I had plenty of time left. Finally, a week before Christmas I could no longer deny the advancing date, and I got to crafting. The verdict? In spite of my late start, I still accomplished a fair bit.

4-year-old Hannah and I worked together to make some embroidered pillows.

Hannah's Christmas heart

Handsewn cushion with my 4-year-old's embroidery

A special pillow for Nan

I sewed some aprons for the ladies, too.

Modeling the aprons I made them

Gretchen's new apron

And I did a little bit of knitting (I confess, this is the one thing I started well enough in advance, I just don’t knit that quickly).

Mittens for Jacob

My mom's Christmas socks

But the piece that I am most proud of, and the thing that I was up late finishing on Christmas Eve, is the puppet theatre that I made for the children. I got the pattern from Amy Karol‘s Bend the Rules Sewing, and I love it. It hangs in the doorway on a tension rod, and then packs up in a pouch for easy storage. It’s really, really fabulous, and thankfully my kids love it just as much as I do.

Puppet theatre, closedCase to store the puppet theatre

Hannah performs

Once I threw in some jam and jelly that I made in the summer, I was pretty happy with how my crafting turned out. Although starting earlier just might have worked to my advantage. I don’t know for sure, but I have my suspicions.

How about you? How did your holiday crafting go? Do share!

My New Sweater

I made a resolution that I was going to do more crafting this year than last year. I had very good intentions. I started out strong, with a hat and a scarf. Things were going well. I chose a sweater – ‘Amused’ from the 2008 Winter Knitty – and splurged on some beautiful yarn. And then…not much happened.

Oh, I did some knitting. Now and then. Occasionally I even tried to squeeze a row in while my baby was awake. You can guess how well that turned out. It was very slow-going, in spite of the rather bulky yarn. When I started I planned to finish within 6-8 weeks. It took more like four months. I guess this is just life with two small kids, one of whom is a crawling daredevil.

So now I find myself, on the cusp of summer, with a lovely sweater. A lovely, very warm, very cozy sweater. I suppose the good news is that sweaters keep. Winter will come again whether I want it to or not, and now I will have a sweater to wear.

My big fuzzy knitted sweater
My vanity requires me to state that big sweaters are not at all slimming

I am now drunk with the giddiness that can only come from completing an interminable project. I am casting on for some baby knitting. Because babies are small, I feel certain I can finish in a reasonable time frame. Or very nearly certain. Hope springs eternal and all that jazz, and I have grand designs again. I am convinced I can overcome the malaise and the children and turn myself into an amazing knitting machine.

So if any of you think you might give birth in a year or so you can expect me to gift you a hand-knitted item I’ve just completed.

How about you? Do you have projects that in spite of your best efforts, just never get finished? Or do you have any motivational tips? Please share in the comments!

January Knitting

You have likely completely forgotten this, but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get crafty. Last year I managed to complete 8 knitting projects. I was determined to do better this year.

So far things are going well. In the month of January I completed two projects. The Fern Glade hat, which I knit using some leftover Green Mountain Spinnery cotton comfort yarn. I enjoyed it, and I’m happy with the finished project, although I am forced to admit that given the size of my head I should have gone with the large.

Fern glade beret

I also used some very old yarn, made of recycled sari silk, to make a simple garter stitch scarf. I think it’s gorgeous, and so does Hannah. Even the cat loves it, she’s curled up on it sleeping right now.

Hannah models the silk scarf

My next project is the Amused sweater, and I’ve splurged on some rather lovely angora / merino blend to knit it in. So far I’m enjoying the project just because of the gorgeous yarn. I just went and checked, and it’s Aslan Trends Guanaco, in “Blue Jeans”.

You can keep up with all of my latest craft projects on flickr.

A Year of Knitting

2007 was a very crafty sort of a year for me. I learned to knit. I did a lot of sewing. I took lots of photos of my finished projects.

2008 was not so crafty for a variety of reasons. There was a brief period when I suddenly felt the need to Produce (late pregnancy hormones at play), but otherwise I more or less dragged my heels. In the past month or so, with Jacob’s acquisition of a more predictable bedtime, I’ve picked up my needles again. Right now I’m knitting the fern glade hat using some leftover yarn that I had in my stash. I won’t finish that in the next day, though, so I will save any photos for next year.

Without further ado, here are the few projects I have managed to finish in 2008. Click on the photos for the full-sized version.

Hannah's flower girl sweater

Flower girl sweater

Ambrosia Socks

Ambrosia Socks

Itty-bitty baby sweater

Itty-bitty baby sweater

Hooded baby bathrobe

Hooded baby bathrobe

Baby hat

Baby hat

Knit from hand-dyed yarn

Knit from hand-dyed yarn

Socks in 'Amber'

Socks in 'Amber'

'Unoriginal Hat'

'Unoriginal Hat'

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