The imperfect socks

crochet socksSo my biggest gift making challenge this Christmas was a pair of crochet socks. When I first got the idea to try my hand at sock making back in September, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Of course, one thing scheduled after another, and all of a sudden it was mid-December and the balls of sock yarn sat untouched. I still thought I would be fine, I mean how hard can socks be, really?

Well, now I know. They are tricky. Not impossible, but definitely tricky. Part of the problem was the pattern I was using. The book simply didn’t explain the process well enough for me to visualize what the heck I was supposed to do. I spent a great deal of time staring at the crochet instructions, reading the words, and having no clue what to do. I like the designs in the book, but I finally had to search online among crochet blogs to get some clearer instructions on the technique. Having figured it out now, I think the next pair might be less brain-stumping. However, this first pair of socks are quaintly imperfect. I’m eager to have some spare hours to give another pair a try. Goodness knows I could use a warm pair of colourful socks to see me through the rest of this Alberta winter.

Adventures in scarflette-land

red scarfletteAfter a brief break from scarflette-making during Christmas (during which I was absorbed in other crafting), I dove back into it. I’ve actually had some custom requests lately from friends and family, which is very exciting! Thanks to everyone for your continued support!

You may remember that a couple months ago I ordered a whole bunch of new yarns from my mother-in-law. I sadly neglected to share the excitement with you when the big box arrived. In fact, it came the same weekend as the Market Collective sale, so it was quite a busy time. It took so much personal restraint to keep from diving into the yarn while I tried to focus on Christmas gift making. As soon as that was all done with, I eagerly grabbed skeins of new wool and started crocheting. It has been pure pleasure working with these delicious yarns, especially the MeriTwist hand painted merino wool by Punta Yarns. The colours are just so rich and lovely! A few of the completed ones are listed in my shop, one is traveling on its way to its new owner, and another is waiting for confirmation about its new home. Glad I have ten skeins of each colour!

A time for daydreams

Sewing roomAfter a nice long break from work over the Christmas holidays, I am back at the office today. It was a great time off. Just the right mix of getting things done and being a bit lazy. I spent mornings immersed in tasks for my crafty business, the occasional afternoon nap with the cat and much cleaning and organizing of the sewing room. Hubby was super diligent in getting a few items done around the house that had been hanging over us (a shelf needed to be cut, stained & hung, the punching bag needed to be set-up, and smoke alarms needed to be installed). All in all, it was a satisfying break.

I spent my last day of vacation sitting quietly with the cat in the sewing room daydreaming, envisioning, and putting down on paper my business goals. I have been using a number of books to guide me in this process:

That “Becoming a Resonant Leader” was actually a book that I used during a career development course at work and the exercises in it have come in handy so much as I try to develop a clear picture of what I want for my craft business. It is part of the whole philosophy that you are much more likely to succeed if you actually write it all down. Having a bunch of great ideas, goals, and measures of success in your head is one thing. Recording that all somewhere is another. I need to write out an official business plan and work on financial projections, but it seemed best to start with a “vision” first. Then I can begin to hammer out how I will get there.

Sewing roomBack in the fall when I first started thinking more concretely about a craft business, I figured I should have a business plan and all the details figured out before I started selling. This perspective changed, though, as I realized that I just needed to take the leap. I’m not going to entirely skip over the planning, but it is something that I can do now, while my Etsy shop is open and I continue to make items. There is a strong desire to keep moving forward. The learning curve is steep, but exciting! I’m seriously no good with crunching numbers, either, so the thought of doing financial projects is a bit nauseating. This is where help from hubby will come in handy. That was part of the “envisioning” too, determining my greatest strengths and weaknesses and areas I might need to get help with.

I guess, sometimes, I get overwhelmed trying to come up with a plan. It’s easy to feel defeated even before you begin, like there’s no use, you’re so far behind already. The past several months, though, I’ve felt less and less like that. It’s a bit like having a heavy fog finally clear away. The fog has been replaced with excitement, resilience, and even ambition. Now I’m feeling less lost and much more directed than I have in quite some time.

More than one fresh start

Woman wearing orange scarfIt never ceases to amaze me how things seem to happen at just the right moment. Of course, in that moment, it is easy to feel like everything is wrong, it shouldn’t be happening, life isn’t fair, things would be so much better if… Looking back though, you have a bit clearer perspective and maybe you start to see how that moment was just the right moment. If it had happened any other way, things would be going so very differently, and it really might not be better.

Kinda abstract for a Saturday morning, I know. I’ve written a bit about this before, but it’s monumental enough to reflect on again, this year was the craziest roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on. The highs were super high, the lows were so low, they were sub-level. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Facing challenge after challenge made me realize at my inner most core simply, that I could. A year (or more) of life altering situations and experiences has truly given me a strength I didn’t know I had and a faith that I hope to keep burning inside me.

Sure, I didn’t come out the other side perfect. My heart has been hardened quite a bit. Resentments and anger are taking up some space in there. I really want to let those go. Some days it is easier than others and whatever 2011 brings, I know that I will still be facing some of the challenges that 2010 has left behind.

For all those perfectly timed moments this past year, I give thanks. Thanks because it has given me a list of fresh starts for this New Year:

  • new yarn and needle felting supplies to make into all sorts of lovelies
  • an AeroGarden for a third attempt at my herb garden
  • a heavy punching bag in the basement to work out some anger on
  • an online shop that is ready to open now open
  • a body that is healed and ready to see if there is children in our future
  • a new Bible to learn from
  • a layoff that will lead me to a new career

Happy New Year everyone! Greet this day as one of the many fresh starts to come!

Santa’s workshop revealed

Christmas StockingNow that the gift-opening flurry is mostly complete (we have a couple of stragglers still in Europe that have presents waiting their return), I can share some of the things that got made up this year. The most important of course, was that our kitty Chloe was graced with a Christmas stocking. It’s not like she’s a new addition to our family, but for some reason we generally overlook her at Christmas. My mom, never fails, gives Chloe a Christmas gift. We, on the other hand, are rarely in our own home Christmas morning and thus, don’t get to open gifts with Chloe too often. This year I was determined to include her. I cheated a bit by purchasing a plain ready-made stocking from the craft store because the first chance I had to work on it was on the 24th. Cutting it close, but it did get nicely decorated, if I do say so myself. Just a bit of felt, some buttons, and embroidery thread. Voila!

Sugar Skull Coin PurseI had a very special request for these coin purses from my sis-in-law. I made her a coin purse out of that sugar skull fabric a few years ago and she has loved it into the ground. So I was happy to make up a replacement one for her. There’s still a bunch of that fabric kicking around which I fully intend to make into a sassy apron one day… one day. My sis-in-law also recently discovered that her Canon Powershot S90 fits perfectly into my coin purses. So a second one was sewn up for use as a camera cozy. That’s the same camera that I use, by the way (for those curious what my blog photos are taken with).

Crochet ScarfThere were two crochet projects undertaken for Christmas gifts this year. One is still in progress. Yes, I realize that Christmas has passed, but like I said, there are a couple of folks in Europe who won’t be back until the New Year, so that’s a whole extra week of crafting. That project is still under wraps, but I can share the second crochet item with you. It was a scarf for my mom. The pattern is just something out of my head. Not too complicated. Some single crochet, some treble crochet, and some scalloped edging that I winged. It’s nice and long. I was worried that I had made it too long by the time I was finishing it up, but I was told by a couple people that a scarf can never be too long. Especially, here in Canada. Anyway, it should keep her nice and warm. It’s made out of some Lionbrand Homespun yarn.

Hand-dyed prayer flagsHand-dyed prayer flagThe last bit of Christmas gift making were sets of hand-dyed prayer flags. I spent one Saturday dying fabrics in the basement (just with that cold water dye stuff). I used various bits of fabric that I had stashed in the sewing room, including some cotton that I had previous rusted. Those pieces ended up being some of my favourite out of the whole project. I have a stack left over too, which I can either make into a strand for us to hang or I could sew up some coin purses.

I feel like there’s a lot to catch you all up on. Big boxes of new yarn, the death of my herb garden, and book reviews. Oh, and I celebrated the big 3-0 yesterday. Must do more blogging.

Hoping that you had a lovely Christmas and are recovering from the sugar-overload!