Monday, January 31, 2011

Tossing Clutter and Seeing Shadows

Color sorted & accessible!
The first part of last week was icy cold and snowy. The weekend was beautiful, with bright blue skies and high temperatures nearly sixty. Tomorrow will bring rain and cold again. That's winter in Tennessee, all right, you just never know what to expect.

One of the dreary cold days, I tackled a task I've been putting off: sorting through my closets. I have many, many clothes.  Now that I'm retired, my wardrobe needs are significantly different. My style is much more casual and relaxed. I still love clothes and like to look nice every day, so I'm not lounging around in sloppy old sweats. But professional suits aren't something I'll wear very often, so out they went. 

I was ruthless. Sort of. OK, you know I couldn't get completely rid of ALL these beautiful, colorful items. You'll find some of them in bins on my closet shelves, ready to repurpose for later projects. I think my favorite old tweed skirt will make a really cute purse. 

Have you ever noticed what happens when you start organizing or cleaning in one spot? Is it just me, or do you begin to see much more that needs doing in every room? It's contagious. Now you can guess about the rest of my week...I just had to toss more clutter, dust mop floors, rearrange a shelf, move a lamp, catch up the ironing, file paperwork, and clean baseboards.

I was distracted from my indoor mission by warm weather and sunshine. As much as I love snow, I couldn't resist being outside with the sun on my face after such a long period of cold weather. I wanted to throw open the windows, but it was kind of chilly for that.

Because of all this cleaning and outdoor time, I didn't get any design, art or sewing done. And I just noticed that my craft room has become a bit cluttered. Wonder if the ground hog will see his shadow this week? I need to spend a few days in there organizing my supplies.


Useful Notion: When purging your closet, think about how you might repurpose an item before you toss it. If you love it, but it doesn't fit or has gone out of style, don't be afraid to cut it up or take it apart. The pieces could become something new and useful. If you're tired of it, send that one for donation. 

Remember that thrift stores are great sources for unique, crafty fabrics...look for long skirts and menswear. But don't take home more than you brought in!


“If you don't love it, use it, or wear it, it's clutter!” – Marla Cilley 

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Making A Piece Of String Into Something I Can Wear

Winter is pretty much the only time I am motivated to crochet.   It's nice to have my hands busy on a cozy project while I watch TV or listen to music.  However, I tend to buy yarn when I see it on clearance or at yard sales.  Beautiful colors and textures are always irresistible so I end up with several skeins of yarn, without a project in mind.  I might use the fibers to embellish pillows, journal covers, or clothing.  Occasionally I crochet scarves, vests, bags, or hats.

I really love creating something from my stash to use or wear.  Several weeks ago, I found a cute vest pattern and decided to start it right away.  Rummaging through my yarn bin, of course there wasn't enough of any one color to complete the project.  Mixing blue variegated cotton blend sock yarn plus natural cotton crochet thread created a unique look.

An added benefit of this project was relaxation.  I'm usually more intense about getting finished and on to the next idea.  I left this one in a basket next to my living room chair, and only picked it up a few nights a week.  Purposely taking my time was a genuine pleasure.  I found myself unwinding as the thread rhythmically flowed through my fingers.   Try it for yourself.  Slow down...enjoy the process of creating something beautiful.

Useful Notion: Free crochet and knitting patterns are available for download from most yarn manufacturers and craft/sewing websites.  The pattern for my vest is WR1782, from Red Heart (slightly modified).   For more ideas and inspiration, try these links:

Time spent sewing mends the soul. – Author Unknown

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Distracted by a Tangle of Thread

It started with beads bouncing off the floor, going everywhere.  You know the feeling, a necklace breaks and you hear beads sliding uncontrollably toward every corner and crevice they can find.  I scooped most of them up, then got the broom to gather the rest.   Or so I thought.

Later that day, working on clearing off my desk, I slid my chair across the floor – crunch.  So I got on my hands and knees to find the wayward culprit that had jammed the chair wheel.  Boy, was I surprised!  All five wheels were wound with colorful threads from many sewing projects.  You couldn't see it from above because of the covers over the rollers.   It's a wonder they functioned.  I'm not particularly messy...well maybe a little.  But I do sweep my space after sewing projects to get the scraps off the floor.  How often do we actually get down at eye level with the rollers of our chairs anyway?

So there was my distraction.  I had to get all the thread out of the rollers.  And it was tightly wrapped.   Armed with scissors and tweezers, I began to pick out the bits.   Yarn, thread, serger tails, tiny fragments of fabric from who knows how long ago.  My husband walked by and pulled the wheels off to make things easier.  We couldn't believe how much stuff was in there.  It took a while, but after cleaning and a squirt of WD40, we popped them back on and I was rolling freely again.

Useful Notion:  The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the attention...it might be a jammed wheel that distracts you from the task at hand.  Both distractions give you an opportunity.  Sometimes you should stay focused and attend to it later.  But other times it could be better to go with it, because you never know what you'll find if you look up, down, over or under instead of straight ahead. 

"Life is sometimes like tangled thread...either sort it out or make a nest" -- Katie Scarlett 
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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Joy of a Snow Day

I believe I'll always be a child at heart. For me, anticipation of a snow day brings excitement and a sense of freedom. It's bonus time at home with no responsibility other than feeding the dog. So many options...do I catch up the laundry or straighten the house? No! I'd rather go outside to play, bake, or read. I could rearrange my sewing room. I might rummage through my fabric stash and sew a quickie project, or embellish a purchased item with new buttons.

If you need a jump start to get your creative juices flowing, try these ideas:
  • Walk outside with a camera to snap interesting scenes or random objects.
  • See special in the ordinary – look around your house as if you were a guest.
  • Improvise: work with what you have available to make something right now.
  • Make a list of decorating or organizing ideas for your home.
  • Doodle. Write in a journal. Sketch out a design.
  • Turn on the radio and dance.
  • Browse online art or photos to spark inspiration.
If none of that works, take a nap. Absorb the quiet stillness of the snow and just be.

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The color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets


Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome To My Sewing Room

As a long-time sewing enthusiast, I tend to relate everyday thoughts and activities to sewing.  Watching a sunset gives me color palette ideas for a new project.  Listening to music can help me decide whether to organize my sewing room or just get to work on that half finished piece that I set aside last week.

My passion is creating useful items from rescued pieces of gently used clothing, vintage notions, and leftover bits of fabric, textiles, ribbon, buttons or lace.  I love to try new techniques in quilting, journals, clothing, and mixed media.  Follow along as I share sewing tips and inspiring quotes from life in the sewing room.

Useful Notion:  Look around for fabric scraps, frayed clothing, old linens and other unused material.  Toss them together in a bin or basket.  Consider how you might use them as you go, then peek into the bin when you need inspiration.  The bonus--you'll clean up your work area!
"Imagination is your best friend...let her out to play more often" -- Katie Scarlett
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