Hobbies & Happiness, Uncharted

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I haven’t posted here in a while. I hate the fact that months go by between posts. Why? I’ve felt like there has not been anything worth sharing. Except I never wanted this blog to ever be only a place to brag and share the best of my work, rather, a place to chat and share how I fit my favorite arts into everyday life. The truth is, I haven’t been fitting those arts in my life the way I wanted. Between work and school, time is short, but more truthfully, my motivation ran out.

I didn’t want to knit or sew just anything—I wanted to create. To design, to express my own taste and exercise my skills and learn new things. While giving 100% at school (in a major that relies on design and creation) and 100% at work (the retail environment and all that implies) while struggling with constant pain and inflammation in my joints, I feel mentally and physically drained. My friendships suffer for lack of nurturing, my spiritual life slogs for lack of time to reflect. On my few days free of work or class all I want to do is stay home and sleep, and when I do, I wind up teary and bitter at nighttime because I wasted the day. Failing an assignment because I completely forgot about it, getting to work late in the morning because I overslept from closing the store the night before, and shaking loose change bottom of my purse to buy coffee the day before payday (only to come up 10 cents short) are enough to send me over the angry edge. Why do I feel like I do nothing but work of both school and job variety and still often fail at both? Why do I feel so unproductive when all I do is work?

That said, I feel like I’m overreacting a lot of the time. My overall grades ramain above 90% in every class, despite an occassional mis, with teachers who encourage and enable me to succeed (even when I waste huge amounts of expensive paper printing patterns that I didn’t size properly.) I have enough money to buy schoolbooks, art supplies, and a cute Modcloth winter coat. I work with kind, supportive people. Getting everything done on time requires huge amounts of planning, list making, and reminders, and if those are not in place, I feel my anxiety go through the roof.

I think a large amount of why I feel so down and overwhelmed is because my brain and my hands crave time to make things. Not objects to be judged or graded, but to be made for the sake of doing something on my own terms. I miss knitting so much because it allows me to be both productive and resting at the same time. Designing the projects, taking something from thought to reality is both fulfilling and nuturing for my mind. I’ve learned when time and energy are short, I need to step back and just make without the mental exercise of complex design. While I love cables, lace, and fair isle, their intricacies are not what I need right now. So I crocheted (a skill in which I’m not totally fluent) a chunky cement-colored blanket, almost completely while watching TV or movies (Person of Interest—watch it, please and thank you.) It’s not really pretty, but it’s warm and made me happy to work on in the past few months, just to have something to work on that doesn’t have to be perfect.

I recently began an infinity scarf with some Berroco Vintage that’s been sitting in my stash for 2 years…and I have almost no plan for the design. Sailing uncharted (knitting pun intended.) I know how big it will be, and that it’s going to have 2 x 2 ribbed boarders on the edges, but the main part hasn’t been planned. Simple knitting is what keeps us warm and cozy when it’s cold outside, and it’s what keeps me from quitting school and moving to Norway to study fair isle and cheese making sane right now.

What’s the point of all this? Not entirely sure because I’m pretty tired. But I’d say it’s to not let everything else get in the way of doing little things that brings you joy. The world won’t end if you take an hour to work on a project that has no deadline. That you should take up a hobby because work and school and outside responsibilities shouldn’t take total control of your life. That you might get more peace out of your day by baking a loaf of bread or knitting a mitten than reading comments about the Starbucks red cup non-existent debate (raise your hand if you got unfriended for saying this is the least offensive thing the company has ever done *raises hand*) At the very least, you’ve got homemade bread to eat while scrolling.

Retro Pincushion Tutorial

 

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Sometimes you just need a cute little project to revive your spirit after hours of soul-crushing prototyping on another project, one that seemed so innocent and simple at the

time. Anyways maybe that’s just me. This little boxy pincushion, made from scraps of quilting cotton, took me about 30 minutes to make, and makes me happy every time I see it next to the sewing machine. It’s retro-ey in both spirit and fabric (the floral is a 1930s reproduction feedsack print) and something you’ll actually use. Try it as a beginner sewing project– the corners and button offer just enough complexity, and the quick nature of the project means almost instant gratification. Little girls might find it the perfect size for a doll chair cushion or pillow.

I just managed to write over 100 words about a pincushion. I have no idea what that says about me as a person.

Materials

-Two 5″ by 5″ squares cotton fabric

-One 20″ by 2″ strip cotton fabric

-Thread to match

-Small amount polyester fiberfill

-2 buttons, any size really, though tiny ones may be more difficult to sew on

3/8″ seam allowance

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1. With one square right side up and the band upside down, line up top edges together and pin. Sew along the top edge, corner to corner.

2. To turn the corner, fold the fabric up against the edge you just sewed. Pin the top edges of the next side together. Sew carefully around the corner, trying not to stitch any folds.

3. Repeat on the next 2 sides. Be sure to leave the one vertical corner with the binding edges open.

4. Pin the second square to the top binding edge and sew, carefully easing around corners.

5. Repeat on the other 3 sides.

6. Turn the whole thing inside-out through corner opening.

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7 & 8. Stuff cushion with polyester fiberfill. Use the eraser end of a pencil to get it in the corners (the gap is rather small.) Stuff firmly as you can.

9. Use a hand sewing needle and thread to stitch up the corner gap. Turn raw edges inside and use mattress stitch for the cleanest finish.

10, 11. Use a ruler to find the center of both the top and bottom of the pincushion; draw a dot with a pencil or fabric pen. Place one button on the bottom and one on the top; sew through both together. Tie thread firmly around both buttons to draw cushion in.Continue to sew on buttons together, pulling tightly through each round (the buttons equalize each other’s pressure and allow for a nice snug center.) Tie off and clip thread.

12. The finished cushion!

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“Bigger on the Inside” Zip Pouch Tutorial

DSCN2790So maybe the title isn’t perfectly accurate and I pushed it a little to get a Doctor Who reference. This tote is the same dimensions on the inside as the outside. Sue me. BUT it there is something about this tote that separates it from the last zip pouch tutorial I posted that could be argued as making it “bigger on the inside.” DSCN2787 The little pulley tab on the side allows the bag to open to 100% capacity. Most zippers lose space where the pull stops, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you try to fit an essential in but it just barely won’t fit. The squared off corners allow the bag to sit up, sealing the deal to make this the most useful little project. A gift for my Whovian cousin’s 16th birthday, I filled it with EOS products, nail polish, St. Ives scrub, Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Spray, and other little goodies just in case you’re looking for gift ideas. The fabric I found at JoAnn’s, a single bolt I grabbed like a greedy kid in a candy store. If you can’t find any in your local store, Spoonflower.com boasts a huge selection of nerdy prints (including BBC Sherlock, which I lust over until the day I can afford $17 per yard for basic cotton print.) The polka dot lining lends a girly touch. If you really wanted to be an overachiever, a reversible zipper would make the bag totally reversible and maximize your print fabric enjoyment. This bag is really just like my Simple Zip Pouch, with a few variations, mostly being the zipper tab and the squared-off base. It’s a little bigger, at 10″ by 11″, better for storing more stuff. I should have used a shorter zipper (the overhang is only supposed to be about 1″.) Just in case you were wondering, Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor. Materials -2 rectangles outer fabric, 11″ by 10″ -2 rectangles lining fabric, 11″ by 10″ -1 12″ zipper step1drwhozip 1. Lay 1 outer fabric face up on the table (note: if it’s a directional print like mine, make sure the print is oriented in the right direction before sewing.) Lay zipper face down on top of it, aligning top edges. Lay 1 lining fabric face down on top of the outer/zipper pile, aligning top edge, and stitch, but for the last 1″ or so, push the zipper out of the way so you’re only sewing on fabric. 2. fold fabric over and use iron to press. Note how the zipper is unattached to the last 1″ of fabric, but the fabrics are sewed to each other. 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 on other side of zipper. 4. Unzip zipper halfway. Fold lining half together and outer halves together as shown with zipper in the middle. 5. Push zipper tail inside the outer layer and pin to hold it out of the way. The goal is to not sew on the zipper at all on one side of the bag. 6. Sew all the way around the bag, leaving a 3″ gap in the middle bottom of the lining. Press seams open as best you can; it will make the next step much easier. step2drwho 7. Take one corner of outer fabric layer. Pull the sides apart and form a triangle, side seam and bottom seam aligned on top of each other. Lay it flat on the table. Use a ruler and fabric pencil to mark off 3.5″ across corner. 8. Sew straight along the drawn line. 9. Use fabric scissors and trim off corner, leaving about 3/8″ for seam allowance. 10. Repeat process on other outer corner and on both lining corners. Press corner seams open as best you can so they will stack neatly when bag is done. 11. Turn bag inside-out through lining gap. 12. Use hand stitches to close gap in lining. step3drwhotabPull Tab 1. Cut a 2″ by 3″ rectangle of fabric. Have fun centering the print (I wanted to ensure the “Police Box” part was right on top.) 2. Fold tab in 1/2″ on each long side and use hot iron to press in place. Turn each end on short side under 1/2″ and press. 3. Fold entire piece in half, wrong sides together, and press. 4. Place folded tab onto the zipper end that’s hanging off the bag (opposite the pulley), sandwiching the zipper end in between the fold. Sew all the way around. DSCN2781 Optional steps: photograph in front of chalkboard 2 minutes before class starts. Make sure nail polish is chipped before photographing hands-on steps. Apologize to your readers for posting 2 zip pouch tutorials in a row. Even though you’re not sorry because it’s so dang cute.    

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