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Sewing, not knitting

So far my weekend has been made up mostly of sewing masks. I have a friend who teaches kindergarten and she asked me if I’d trying making masks with a clear window. Since my family has plenty of masks right now, and I like making them, I thought it could be a fun challenge.

img_8511Twenty-two masks later, my friend is happy, and my back is not. I really need to find a better set-up for my sewing machine. As it is now, I’m not sitting straight on but at an angle, and clearly that is not a good thing for long sewing sessions. So now the rest of my Sunday can be knitting time, because I have a good excuse to sit on the couch with a heating pad and a dog or two. Or maybe outside. That’s good too.

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Happy Sunday. Hope you have a peaceful day too!

A new craft!

When I was about 12, my mom thought I needed to learn to sew. With her help, I made a pair of white cotton shorts. They fit fine, but I didn’t love the process and didn’t sew anything else after that. For the next 20 years or so, the only sewing I did was sewing on buttons. Even when the girl wanted to learn to sew, and got a machine and all the tools, I was happy to sit back and let her learn from her aunt and grandmas.

But then I started crocheting and knitting, and I made some bags that needed liners. The knitting SIL, an accomplished sewist herself, walked me through the basics and I used the girl’s sewing machine to make a couple of simple linings, which I then hand-stitched into the bags. Then I got tired of that, and a few months ago, got rid of my fabric scraps because I didn’t have the inclination to sew more.

Oh, but then the evil pandemic began. First I knitted masks and hand-stitched linings in them, but that was a long process. I saw the simple pleated masks and figured I could manage those. It took me a while to remember how to use the machine, but I made a few with fabric ties. Then I made a few with elastic from hair ties. It was fast, and kind of fun. I ordered brightly-colored cotton and made a few more with elastic. But I hadn’t realized how much fabric two yards was, and I wondered what else I could make with all this fabric.

I remembered the little knot bag that Sarah Jane gave me a few months ago — it seemed pretty simple. She sent me the link for the pattern on Etsy, which is awesome and has three sizes. Since Sarah Jane made me a small one, I decided I’d try the medium size. A few hours later, I had a new bag, and it’s even reversible!

This is a perfect pattern for beginners, nice and simple, and I can’t wait to make another one. I might make another small one before I tackle the large size, which also has a pocket. And pretty soon I might need to start getting some fabric, because I only have three solids and I’m gonna need more than that!

A New Craft

Last week my work team went on a team-building outing. We do one maybe once a quarter, where we have lunch and then do an activity together. The first time we played pickleball, which was super fun, but this time we were more crafty and less sporty. (I may have played a part in that, since I was in charge of planning!) After lunch, we spent the afternoon at a studio called Paint, Glaze and Fire. It has all the pottery pieces you can paint yourself, but it also has glass mosaic supplies, and that’s what I thought was cool.

Nine of us descended on this place, where we took over the back of the room and commandeered all the bottles of glass pieces. We may not have been working together, since we each had our own project, but there was a lot of interaction and conversation, and it was nice to spend time with the group in a non-work context. Anyway, I knew I wanted to do something knitting-themed, and this is what I came up with:

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Then I had to take all that glass off my square so I could start gluing it all down! It was a pretty tedious process, daunting for a perfectionist, and some of the pieces were tiny and hard to work with, but after a couple of hours, I had an almost-completed project.

I say almost because it still needs the firing process, so it’ll be a couple of weeks before I see the final result. But I can’t wait to hang it up in my craft room…and go make some more glass mosaics!

Santa Claus is coming to town!

There’s not much exciting knitting going on in my house right now, sadly. I have now made 7 of those little treasure pouches and am done with them. I mean, I don’t need any more, but I’m also tired of them. Needing a break from them, the other day I decided to make the knit Santa gift card holder from Petals to PicotIMG_0231So cute, right?? I love it. I made two for my own gifts and another for a friend, and they’re another project that works up super quickly. I didn’t have any furry white yarn for the top, or gold crochet thread for a belt buckle, but I think it’s okay without them. Though next year I’m totally going to be prepared to make them as written!

Yesterday I finished a lingering present. That means I lied the other day, when I said I’d finished all my must-knit projects. This teddy bear had been knit for a couple of months, and I was just waiting for the motivation to give him some kind of clothing or accessories. I think the gift card sock inspired me to make a Santa bear.IMG_3395 IMG_3396The hat and scarf really took him from boring bear to snazzy Santa! The scarf is just a 5-stitch stockinette strip. The hat I improvised. I started at the top with nine stitches and increased every other row until it seemed big enough, then I knit around until it was tall enough. Add 4 purl rows of white and cast off and boom, you have a hat. Bear was knit from the Simple Medium Size Bear, which is in the book The Best Dressed Knitted Bear by Emma King. I used one skein of KnitPicks Brava Bulky in Sienna. That hat and scarf were also done in Brava Bulky.

Today the kids have a snow day. We have maybe two inches right now with the promise of another inch or so. The puppy, who is now 11 months old, is in love with the snow and was gallivanting around in it early this morning. I’ll have to try to get some photos of him. Maybe I can even get the boy to play with him. And later we’ll be having hot cocoa and playing some games, and I’m sure I’ll have my yarn handy too. Hope you’re all warm and cozy today too!

When I grow up, I want to be…

I’m so jealous of my husband. Alex actually knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He’s worked for a local software company for over 15 years, but in his heart, he wants to focus on his woodworking and build custom furniture. He’s thinking ahead, trying to plan it out so that it will actually be feasible in the future. But me? It depends on the day, and to be honest, I don’t know what my future will hold, or even what I want it to hold.

I quit my full-time job about two years ago to be a stay-at-home mom. I’d been in retail management for six years and I was beyond burnt out. Add in some family crises, and the job became even less important. We revised our budget, cut back a lot of expenses, and let loose of a lot of stress. It was wonderful–it’s been wonderful–in so many ways. I am beyond grateful that my husband has been willing to let me take this time to focus on family. I’m grateful that my kids have accepted the sacrifices I ask them to make so we can live within our means.

For the first few months, I worked on a book. I’d started a memoir about my retail adventures while I was still working, and I was inspired to finish it while the memories were still fresh. Once (I thought) it was done, my time opened up in front of me. Most people would see it as a huge blessing, and part of me did. But part of me saw it as huge pressure too. Alex and I had talked about my writing, and how this was the best opportunity for me to focus on it. And it was. It is. So why didn’t I revise my book, edit and polish it, and start querying agents?

Fear. Plain and simple.

Rejection is part of writing, every writer knows that. I try to brace myself for it, but it always knocks me down a little. And at that time, I think I knew I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to push through that process.

Now it’s two years later, and I’ve worked on the book a lot more. I’m venturing into the world of writers and agents in social media, and maybe it’s time to take that leap. I could finish this book, maybe find an agent and get it published, or self-publish. I’ve been writing for years, so maybe I could pull out the two completed manuscripts I’ve got in my closet and see if they’re worth revising. I could be a writer when I grow up.

But. Wait. In those two years, I’ve also started doing some freelance proofreading, and I love it. I was a copy editor in both high school and college, and English has always been my strong suit. I read widely and voraciously, and correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation is second nature to me. I love taking another writer’s work and polishing it so it shines. I’ve worked on four books so far and would love to do more. There are a lot of freelance websites out there, and if I put forth the effort to bid on jobs, I could probably make a bit of money from it. And when the kids are a bit older and I don’t need to be home so much, I could find a permanent proofreading position.

Hold on, though. I have a passion for yarn, for crochet and knitting. I have visions of a sunny, friendly yarn store where I could spend my days helping people with their own crafting. Alex and I have talked about a joint venture, a storefront where we have both yarn and furniture displayed for sale. We even have a potential name and we’ve scouted out buildings that would work well.

Picture an end table with a lacy runner decorating it, or a coffee table holding bowls of yarn and vases of handmade wood knitting needles. Picture a mannequin wearing a scarf decorated with a wood scarf pin. It’s a relaxing vision, a happy vision. It would allow Alex and I to spend time together, sharing our love for making beautiful pieces. It would keep me from having to answer to a boss, like I would with a “real” job. The kids could work there too, after school and summers. Maybe the dog would be mellow enough to come to work with me sometimes.

I think of doing this and smile. It would be a hard choice, though, with unreliable income, less time off, not much freedom to be spontaneous. I’d have to learn how to run a business, which isn’t why I would do it. I’d do it to be with yarn and other yarn-lovers, to create a space that’s lacking in my neighborhood.

So what do I do? How do I decide what to focus on? I know I can have all these things in my life to some extent, but I feel like I’m supposed to have a goal. What should I be working toward? How do I figure out which one is my true passion?