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Archive for the ‘Creative Pursuits’ Category

Sometimes when your life changes in drastic ways, you make deals with yourself. “I’ll get such-and-such accomplished as soon as he gets his sh*t together;” the problem being, of course, that first he’s never going to get his sh*t together, and second, you have no control over when that might happen anyway.

My basement studio is one of those perennial deals I make with myself– I’ll start using it to make art when [fill in the blank]. The latest is “when my husband moves his massive amounts of stored music and filing cabinets out of the basement.”

I’m taking a few days off– to write (hello! here I am again!), to draw, to fulfill a promise to myself to be an artist if only for a few days. But like preparing for any vacation, you have to do the work first– the packing and the cleaning and the calendar clearing. I want to do some drawing with pastel, which meant that I had to find the pastels.

While I’ve kept my studio space reasonably free of the inevitable detritus that accumulates in an unused space, entropy sets in and things pile up. Since the pastels were not in the accessible place that I first looked for them– an easily reached drawer– I had to start excavating.

I’m good at cleaning– I don’t have emotional attachments to things as a rule (there are exceptions: don’t get between me and something that belonged to my mother) so it’s easy for me to throw things away. The general rule of throwing stuff away is that if you don’t know you have it, you don’t need it.

Except the stuff you do need. Someone listening to me clean would have been hearing “lookitthat!”, “oh this thing!”, “Oh, man, so glad I didn’t buy a new one of these!”, “I wondered where that was” and “Oh I LOVE this!” (respectively a photo of me with my gradeschool best friend, taken about 15 years ago when she looked me up; a blue pashmina that I’d completely forgotten I had; a clamp-on pencil sharpener; a piece of art I traded with the artist maybe 20 years or more ago; and a wonderful portrait I drew of my daughter when she was about six.)

I also found the pastels.

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I started thinking about Halloween cards earlier this month, then a little tug in my memory somewhere made me think that I had already made them.

Off I went up the stairs in search (gotta do it while I am thinking about it or that thought is gone lately!)Oct 2013 2

Low and behold, there they were. Done! Good job Em!

After looking for a photo to use in the this post, I see that I made these cards back in February! I love it when I think ahead.

When I was making these cards, I remember running short on designer paper so I made up another version. Just added another layer of cardstock (black).Oct 2013 3

Here are some other Halloween cards that I have made:

You can also see some other holiday cards that I have been working on.

Will you be making some card this holiday season?

Sincerely, Emily

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I am knitting again for the Special Olympics Scarf Project. Here is a link to the information for Texas. Towards the bottom of this post I have listed a link to Colouring with Yarn. They have complied a great list of the participating states and the details. One thing that I will add -  if your state is not participating, you can still knit/crochet/loom scarves – just send them to another state!!!001

I am trying to challenge myself with some new patterns, but still keep it brainless. I am currently working on an eyelet pattern  (scarf #3), that is not so brainless. I really have to pay attention. I have typed out the pattern large enough so I can read it from a distance and I use a piece of masking tape placed under the row that I am currently working on. That helps.

my method of keeping track of where I am - a piece of masking tape.

my method of keeping track of where I am – a piece of masking tape.

Are there any knitters out there? Row 3 in the pattern above ended in “k2tog, yo, k2top yo” ….  I would still consider myself a beginner, but ending a row in a “yo” just doesn’t make sense to me, so I reversed the order to read “yo, 2ktog, yo, 2ktog.”  Is that a misprint, or can you really end a row with a “yo” (yarn over)?

I have also come up with a way to keep the scarf out of the way as it gets longer. Boy, does that help a lot! There is enough cat hair on this scarf the way it is, I certainly don’t need to add more by letting it drag on the floor. How do you keep your scarf (or large project) out of the way as you knit?

How do you keep your project out of the way?

How do you keep your project out of the way?

With the Special Olympics Scarf Project you can knit, crochet or loom your scarves… what ever works for you. I can really crank out a crocheted scarf, but then my right hand is done in for several weeks… so I do the knitting. I have noticed with knitting this year, I am now feeling it in my hands also…. just can’t win. So I do a little at a time instead of an hour – that helps.

Here are some of the specifics for the scarves. Dimensions are:

  • 54-60 inches long
  • 6 to 7 inches wide
  • Pack scarves individually in zip-bags for mailing
  • The notes to the athletes are great, so by all means include those, we just ask you please not attach them to the scarves themselves.

Scarves can be made in any pattern and can be knitted, loomed or crocheted.
Please wash the scarf before sending it, especially if you smoke or have pets.

Click on the link to Colouring with Yard below for a list of the participating states.  some other states that are participating. If you do not see your state, pick another state, go pick up some yarn and start knitting. You can knit for any state that you want, as long as you are using the colored yarn for that state.

Colouring with Yarn has a great post showing the details for:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Here are a few posts about the past scarves that I sent:

Do you knit (or crochet) for a cause? Tell us about it. Share links in your comment.

Sincerely, Emily

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Last fall when my niece was visiting us, we spent some time making cards (and doing many other things too.) At the end of our visit there was a lot of paper scraps and supplies spread all over my work table upstairs. My niece picked up a few smaller pieces of paper and asked about making some little cards with the left over scraps. What a great idea!

The tiny Valentine cards I sent to my two nieces were born from that idea. Using up the left over scraps.

paper scraps

I never throw my scraps away. They tend to come in handy at some point in my card making, and here I was digging through the plain paper scraps and designer paper scraps to make tiny cards. Now they have come in handy again.

For these tiny cards I used a heart-shaped punch and simply punches out the heart shape from the designer paper. I chose papers I thought each niece would like and tailored it to them with the colors. They can use these cards anytime of year to write a little note to a friend and it will be something special. YOu can even punch a hole and add a ribbon to turn it into a gift tag. The next time I do this I will cut the cards to size and punch out the design and also add a stamped element and let them each assemble their own like I did for my niece in this post.

Tiny Cards

Whether you use scraps of designer paper, old maps, scraps of fabric or even cards that you have received in the mail, this is one way to create another neat little card. A perfect way to reuse and recycle. I know I will be making more of these and including them in different gifts that I send to them.

Do you save scraps of paper or fabric with the hopes to use it later? Do you ever get around to using it?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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Bells

Bells 1The year we stopped decorating at Christmas I pulled several small bells out of the ornament boxes.

I hung them on my office door, and on our outside doors. Whenever someone goes through these doors, the bells gently chime. It always puts a smile on my face.

Turns out, it’s feng shui. In particular, a bell on your main door, tied with a red ribbon, brings money luck into your house.  The noise of bells can also help control bad chi energy, especially when you choose the materials carefully– metal or ceramic, crystal or wood. While feng shui states that you should hang bells on only the main door, I like having the small chime ring whenever I enter or leave the house, by any door.

Bells 2

Bells 3

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The past two weeks have kept me more busy than normal. Volunteering, working on things for a banquet, a party here, meetings, etc., all mixed in with doctors appointments. I was really ready for these past weeks to be over.

A few nights ago was one of the parties and a group of us have been working for several months to get the decorations finished. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.

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Bringing a group together and working to come up with ideas that we all can agree with and be happy with can be a challenge. We really wanted to keep the decorations simple, but make a statement with an old-fashioned Christmas theme in mind. From a center piece on each table that was a simple as a stack of wrapped presents, to foot after foot of red and green paper chains. From a small handmade box with a treat for each person to other die-cut things on each table, I think we were successful.

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The banquet went very well, and we had a lot of very nice complements on the decorations. That put a smile on my face.

Have you come up with some simple and creative ways to decorate for a large party or banquet? 

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Are you inspired by all the great handmade gifts our writers have been making? We like to cook things for the ones we love as well! Here’s some handmade recipes for holiday giving!

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Of course, sweets are the mainstay of homemade holidays, but this year I decided to go savory. Every year I grow tomatillos, make pints and pints of salsa verde, and then it sits on the shelf because no one eats it. Naturally, this year I decided I’ll make it in half-pint sizes, and then use it for gifts. I made 20 half-pints. When I went to check for this photo, I was down to 11; I think my husband has been eating it because of the nice small sizes. I used Rick Bayless’ wonderful recipe, and grew everything myself except the limes. By the way, this stuff is great on pizza!Salsa

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Well, Xan has me drooling over her salsa verde.

With the successful zucchini growing season this fall, I (Sincerely, Emily) knew exactly what some people were going to be getting this year for gifts! Zucchini Relish!  I started making this recipe back in the fall of 2009 with a few zucchini from my garden (before the nasty borer got to it!) and more from the farmers market. Now I am thrilled I can use all of my own, homegrown zucchini for the recipe. I have not harvested my horseradish yet, or I would have used that too!) I found the recipe over at Homesteading in Maine and I also have the zucchini relish recipe posted (with permission) over at my blog too.

Zucchini Relish 2We love this relish on sandwiches in place of mayo.

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A very common reaction I get when people first see my garden is, “wow, isn’t that an awful lot of work?” They say this partly in admiration, but there’s an undertone of criticism sometimes– yeah you’ve got a gorgeous garden, but look what you have to do to get it.

I’ve been trying to imagine someone with a hobby or a livelihood that isn’t “a lot of work.” Do you jog or work out? Sing in a choir? Tutor on the weekends?

Wow, isn’t that an awful lot of work?

First of all, if I didn’t do a lot of work, it wouldn’t look like it does. Secondly, I enjoy it, and sometimes I get paid for it. I don’t really think of it as “work.”  I think of it as something I need to do to get the result I want– a beautiful garden, personal satisfaction, admiration, food.

Having grown up on the Puritan east coast, I am more suspicious of someone who doesn’t have a hobby or beloved activity that isn’t a lot of work. Whether it’s cooking meals for your family, or the homeless, tutoring your kids or others’, jogging to stay thin or teaching yoga so others can do so, the “work” we do by our own choice and on our own time is not just physical labor or drudgery, even when it is. It’s what keeps our spirits healthy and the holy close.

Most of us spend hours and hours doing “work” that brings us only pay, and not fulfillment, or fun, or well-being.

I like to lie on the beach as much as the next guy.

Okay, no I don’t. But I like to read, and shop, and go hiking; have drinks with a friend or toss a ball to a dog, or just sit on the porch and admire a flower. But I also like to “work”–to sweat and labor for something wonderful.

So yes, it’s a lot of work. Join me sometime.

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I’m a brand new knitter. I love it. I love the stockinette stitch: it makes me giggle all over with happiness. I’m new to knitting, but i’m not new to crafting with yarn: i originally learned that ‘other’ yarn art: crochet. Some deem crochet low brow, kitchy, less advanced or somehow just not as refined as knitting. But you know what? Crochet is just as good as knitting, it’s just DIFFERENT (and usually way faster!)

Although i’ve been spending most of my time working on knitted hats, scarves and recently trying out lace (all with my handspun yarn) i took the time to write out a pattern of sorts to help folks reintroduce themselves to the functional art of crochet. Ever seen someone shopping at the farmer’s market carrying one of these sexy market bags? Want one for yourself? You could spend $25 on one of them and support an artisan, which is nice in its own way. OR you could learn how to make one yourself, and them make dozens of them in all sorts of sizes and colors for mere pocket change! Hold your onions in the kitchen, shop for tomatoes at the market, throw in some paperbacks for a day at the beach: the possibilities are endless! *Disclaimer: i am not a master crochet pattern writer, and i usually just ‘wing’ these bags. The pattern i wrote out is not the end and be all of the best way to make them, in fact – if i did it over i would have all the mesh holes be much smaller – so learn this pattern, then fiddle with it to suit your needs.

Visit my two part series (one, two) over at An Austin Homestead for the tutorial, and post photos of your crochet craft at my Flickr group. Just want the quick basics? Already know how to crochet? Make an easy crocheted market or produce bag by following these basic guidelines:

  1. Crochet a flat circle, first using single crochets, then doubles, then triples until you have a circle about 9-10 inches wide
  2. Build the height of the bag by alternating triple crochets with simple chain stitches, crocheting around the chain below, in between two crochet stitches to create a mesh
  3. Keep going until you get as tall as you like!
  4. Finish by alternating double crochet and chain 1 several times per mesh hole, then weaving a draw string through the top

Visit An Austin Homestead for the full shabang!

Do you crochet or knit? Do you ever ‘wing-it’ or are you a strict pattern follower?

*This market bag pattern, and all tutorials found on An Austin Homestead, or re-published at Not Dabbling in Normal are presented for your personal use only. Tutorials and/or objects made from my tutorials may not be sold commercially (that includes Etsy or Ravelry!). If you want to sell something based on one of my tutorials, please email me at gonudesoap at gmail dot com and we’ll try to work out a fair deal. Please play nicely!

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