Keep It Simple

How to Keep Your Interest Without Becoming Overwhelmed

I love the excitement of finding some thing new that I want to try or read or watch or… Well, you get the idea. 🙂

The problem is, life has a way of interrupting the excitement and sometimes I lose track of that Wonderful Whatever to the point where I forget what made me excited about it in the first place.

I love history, films, music, TV, books, and loads of other things.

My crafting is pretty simple – I’ve been known to put a project down for years (really) only to pick it up and finally finish it. That is one reason my crafting has to be simple. Complicated projects could be sidelined for so long as to be unfinishable.

I love to crochet, but I do it so infrequently I have to relearn every single time. Really.

I’m also the person who jumps in a few yards ahead of where I probably should start.

I started my first quilting projects not by sewing simple squares together, but sewing hand cut half hexagons and triangles.

I dare add that my foray into sewing was a (thankfully) brief project for Home Economics class in High School that didn’t exactly work out. <cough>

Back to the quilting, while jumping into the middle, if not the deep end, of the pool might not be the best idea ever, I did learn a lot. And I gained quite a few tools. And fabric.

My card making is, deliberately, not high end. I have loads of paper, tools, embellishments, etc., and I enjoy the process, but I am still learning.

I love to cook and bake, but as I’m only feeding me, my major creativity tends to be … tampered a bit. I like being able to wear a smaller size than I used to. 🙂

What I love about watching DIY and How To videos is not just the fascination with the various projects but the rekindling of excitement for a process.

If you are hesitant about starting a new project, or if yourself stuck might I suggest a thought?

Start small.

You may want to dive in and create the most amazing 15 layer wedding cake that you can see in your imagination, but if you have little to no actual baking experience…maybe that might be a project best done in future.

I find scratch baking easy and enjoyable, but that’s me. I also know my limitations. While 15 layers could be a showstopper, I might actually start out with 2 just to see how the recipe works and if I need to do a bit of tweaking.

Those triangles and half hexagons I mentioned will soon be re-cut into new, smaller, shapes that I can use for other blocks in other projects.

Odd note about one of those fabric lines; by the time I finished cutting all those half hexagons I was mortally sick of the fabric. Sad, but true. When I pulled it out of the drawer recently, however, I found I loved it once again. The colors are beautiful, the patterns lovely and I was excited to think about how I would use it.

These days I’m less inclined (let alone interested) in making a full sized quilt and more interested in table runners, mug rugs and the like.

If you need to regain your excitement for anything, start slow, revisit what caught your attention and take smaller steps. Build on what you learn so when you face those 15 layers of cake with buttercream frosting it won’t be such a huge undertaking.

Life really is more about the journey rather than the destination. Take the time to enjoy the trip.

Quilter’s Corner

Reigniting The Flame

I enjoy quilting, I really do. There is something satisfying about putting pieces together to make beautiful blocks to make beautiful quilts. I just don’t enjoy cutting fabric. Which is why I own an Accuquilt Go!. 🙂

I have been a Novice Quilter for years. Like many of the things I like to do, I don’t do them often enough to move beyond “novice”. Like most of them; fabric painting and I have had a life long love affair and even when I’ve been away from it for long periods (aka: Years) I’m beyond ‘novice’.

I’ve been away from the quilting table for a while now. Recently, however, I found myself mesmerized by Stuart Hillard on YouTube. I first found him when he was working with Accuquilt and Create and Craft in the U.K. His easy and interesting tutorials on a variety of machines and blocks were, well, comfortable.

I’m no beginner when it comes to using the machine and the dies, but the ability to sit through a refresher course gave me a touch of inspiration and – dare I say it? – inclination to pull out some fabric and dive in.

Even without the machine and the dies, watching the Missouri Star Quilt Company videos each week provides a lot of inspiration and not a few “Ah Ha!” moments. Miss Jenny always has something interesting to share!

The Midnight Quilt Show posts on YouTube as well as Bluprint. I try not to miss an episode, even if I’m not inclined toward the pattern. I always learn something new. I like how she shows how to do quilting on a home sewing machine.

While I’m thinking of it, Donna Jordan from Jordan Fabrics has become a Must See when I come across one of their YouTube videos. Donna always has interesting ideas, great patterns and some seriously luscious fabrics. 🙂

Much to Miss Bella’s consternation, I just reorganized part of the library/craft room so I have access to my fabric stash. She now has to determine how to get back onto her spot. Me? I now have access to loads of fabrics to play with.

Yippee!

A Gameplan for Pretty Much Everything

It = Holiday meals, decorations, presents, whatever.

This is the time of year when people tend to start getting a bit crazy trying to either keep up with [fill in the blank] or satisfy other people’s expectations.

Sound familiar?

All this year, the recurring theme I’ve heard is “You Do You”. And, do you know what? I think there is something to be celebrated for that.

You Do You means you choose what you want to do, see, wear, make, etc. If you choose to follow family traditions, great. However, if you want to strike out on your own and try new things, why not? There is nothing wrong with expanding the envelope, shall we say? There is also nothing wrong with adding new things into old traditions. How do you think those traditions became traditions in the first place?

So, as you start thinking about your holiday preparations, if you come across a thought that starts with something like “I wish we could…” stop and think about why it can, or can’t, be done.

You might find out that some people feel a bit left out because one side (or group) has “always” done the whatever.

You might find that by sharing or letting someone else do it, you have more time to enjoy the process or the holiday or the whatever.

You Do You can carry over into non holiday things, too. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to try and make yourself happy. Learn a few things, try new things, do (or don’t) new things. Get rid of old ideas that no longer work. Sort of like cleaning out your mental closet. The goal is to create a life that is enjoyable and comfortable.

Stopping to Inhale Some New Stuff

Or, I’m really enjoying my online classes and tutorials. 🙂

I admit it; I’m a DIY junkie.

I love to learn new things – even if I doubt I will ever use that knowledge. I’ve seen most, if not all, of the 40 odd seasons of This Old House, after all. Along the way I learned a lot, gained an appreciation for the folks who do that work for a living, applauded a lot of home owners who weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves.

The interesting thing about watching DIY shows is it begins the process of recharging creative batteries. It really doesn’t matter what the task is, either.

I’ve watched bakers make the most amazing breads and teach the methods in such a way even I can do it. I’ve seen quilters use tools and fabrics in ways that inspire me to give it a try. I’ve learned more about things I already knew and gained insight into things that confused me.

I was recently introduced to a Canadian DIY home decorator by Hermione Chantal, who lives in England. Both ladies have taught me a lot, given me things to consider and broadened my interest in the topic.

That they also manage to share some insight into living in their particular parts of the world is added bonus. 🙂

I’m off to delve back into my shows. In the meantime, why not browse around YouTube or Bluprint and see what you can find that whets your appetite?

Learning For the Joy Of It

I’ve been a long time fan of DIY shows. I started out watching PBS on Saturdays when the lineup included sewing, quilting, woodwork, and cooking – not to mention gardening. 🙂

I’ve had the pleasure of many, many different teachers who provided individual perspectives and skill sets that made me understand a concept or learn a process in ways that I might not have managed otherwise.

To this day I credit Nathalie DuPree with showing me how to use a food processor. I figured if she could make pie crust and biscuits in it, so could I.

Last week I told you about my adventures with Bluprint. Well, I’m happy to say they are continuing. I’ve enjoyed classes on candy making, bread making, quilting and a host of others – and I did it on my schedule.

I also enjoy my favorites on YouTube. We are entering Soup Season, so I’ve seen loads of ideas on some wonderful, tasty options. I can add my bread making skills to a pot of home made soup for a wonderful, hearty meal.

I’d like to encourage you to find a few minutes that you can spend relaxing and absorbing ideas, skills, thoughts that you can use in your life. It doesn’t have to be the same ones I do.

Creativity takes many roads and is different for every person. What you do to recharge your batteries after a long day’s work is as unique as you are. I know folks who prefer to pick up a book rather than a crochet hook – and that’s fine, too. The important thing is to feed that part of you that often gets neglected or put off until “later”.

Far too often “later” is an elusive idea that never actually comes. It resides just beyond the reach of our fingertips. Please don’t let that be your reality.

I’m Having So Much Fun!

I love to find great places where I can sit back and watch things and learn. You could say I have spent a lot of time watching PBS how to shows. 🙂

I was a Craftsy viewer before people really knew what it was all about. And then things got Better. Craftsy and Bluprint became Bluprint and the amount and variety of things to explore exploded.

I’ve just spent some time getting a refresher course on using my food processor. Learned some new tips and tricks and – I have to admit it – I’m more inclined to pull it out and put it to work than ever before.

I’m also taking a class about thread and stitch options that I can use on my quilts. The teacher has some great ideas and materials and I’m curious enough to drag out the sewing machine and play a bit.

There is one episode of a sewing show I saw on YouTube (Blueprint has a channel there, too) that I actually got to see all of the season episodes on Bluprint and I Loved It. The show is He Sewed…She Sewed and while I’m not a sewer, per se, this was great. See the link below and check it out.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the opportunity to explore and try things without a huge commitment of time and money. And, let’s be honest, right now money is pretty tight. The things I’m learning will help me save money, be more productive and enrich my environment. And I can do all that for a nominal cost and on my own time.

Try Bluprint, stream 3,000+ hours of expert video tutorials, exclusive series & so much more.

Don’t forget – your first week is free. 🙂

Color Theory

Not Just For Quilters

Color is one of those things that scare folks out of their collective wits.

They may not admit to it, but most people are terrified to try something new because, well, because.

Color is a part of our lives. The clothes we wear. The way we decorate our homes. The color of the vehicle we drive. (Believe it or not, black, blue, red, silver and white are all colors…not exactly exciting colors, but still.)

If you are a crafter, color is an integral part of your projects. If you decorate your home, choosing the <cough> right colors can be a deal breaker.

It doesn’t have to be.

Karen Brown of Just Get It Done Quilts has a great collection of videos on YouTube that explain color theory. Her aim is to assist quilters, but I say, use what she teaches to help you choose colors in whatever application you choose. You can find her videos on YouTube by searching for Just Get It Done Quilts in the YouTube search box. On her page, you will find links to her Facebook, Instagram and website. Check them out!

By the way, she has some great free handouts for her color theory videos. She tells you where to find them in her videos.

Home Applications

If you are contemplating a home decor project, but don’t have a clue where to start, might I suggest finding an inspiration piece.

What’s that? An inspiration piece is something you might want to include in your decoration. It could be a knick knack, painting, pillow or piece of fabric.

The inspiration piece could be the starting point to finding the colors you will want to use in the room as well as setting the tone or type of decor. You can go Modern, Traditional, Art Deco, or expand into Cozy Cottage or something with more of a theme like, say, Bird Houses or Light Houses. You get the idea!

Matt Fox and Shari Hiller did an entire series on this a few years back, but you can find more on their website mattandshari.com. Shari did a great video explaining color theory and how you can use it to design a room. Well worth checking out!

It’s A Comfort Level Thing

Color doesn’t have to be intense, you choose the depth of the colors you want to work with.

Need something calming and quiet? Try pastels.

Looking for more energy in a room or on a project? The deeper, darker the tone could give you want to you are looking for.

Warm or Cool?

Warm colors have a red base while cool colors are blue based. This is good to know when you are considering intensity and energy in a room.

Color has an impact no matter what intensity you choose. I once worked in an office that had been painted in a lower mid level blue color. Pretty, but cold. Really. When the a/c was turned on we froze. The cool color on top of the cold air just made the rooms colder. Didn’t matter what the thermometer said, either.

Where to Start?

You have quite a few options:

  • Collect pictures from magazines of rooms you like.
  • Visit your local home center and collect paint samples – don’t forget the brochures with room samples, too.
  • Wallpaper samples provide not only color options, but design options. Same goes for – I kid you not – wrapping paper.
  • Fabric can give you some great ideas and when paired with wallpaper samples can be a great start to a beautiful room.
  • Head over to the scrapbook section of your local hobby shop to find some interesting, and colorful, papers.

Colors change every year. More precisely, “In Colors” change every year. As you collect your favorites, keep in mind that some of those favorites may not last very long. Others are classics. If you aren’t concerned about taking on a design that is not up to date, you can create some amazing rooms.

Don’t be surprised to find yourself combining colors that you didn’t think would go together. I’ve recently seen some combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of, but when put together worked beautifully.

Don’t forget, the designer who developed that favorite swatch you love, put together colors that work together. Saved you from that Edge-Of-Your-Seat panic. 🙂

Color theory can be the start of a grand adventure. Beautiful rooms, gorgeous quilts, amazing craft projects. Don’t be afraid to dip your toe.