#craftygoals: January 2022

Hello, and a happy new year to you! A new year also means a new month, and that means new crafty goals, which are:

  1. Birthday Gift No. 1 (Because February is the start of Birthday Season here in Brooketopia…)⁠ And this isn’t a birthday “gift” per se, because I’ve already technically given it as a birthday gift to Em for a previous birthday, but it wasn’t totally finished then…and it’s still not finished now. There’s something about your kid turning eighteen and leaving for college in the next year that gets you wanting to clear out any languishing gifts that you were totally supposed to have finished up by now.
  2. Birthday Gift No. 2⁠: A legit new gift for Rachel. I think she’s going to be very pleased with it and I cannot wait to work on it! I won’t be able to show you anything about it until she opens it on her birthday because she’s an active fan of mine on Instagram and checks all my feeds. (Ha ha, Rachel! No sneak peeks here!)
  3. Finish the Mini Charm Chiffon quilt⁠ (I only completed the top for the reveal; it still needs quilting and binding.)
  4. Start the Far Far Away quilt (I am SO EXCITED for this!)⁠
  5. Sew up Blocks 1-4 for the Brick House Scrap quilt⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #1)
  6. Clementine Quilt Month 3 blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #2)
  7. Berry blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #3)
  8. Iron & trim HST leaders & enders⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #4)

December’s #craftygoals: I only got one of the five December crafty goals completed, due to that stupid, stupid bout of illness I had for most of the month, and seeing how my December crafty projects were all tied to Christmassy things, they’re not being carried over into January. They’ll go into hibernation until I either need them for birthday gifts or want to give another go at making them into Christmas gifts. But still, at the end of the day, having only completed the Patchwork Forest quilt is still way better than not completing anything at all, obviously! Goals are awesome.

What goals are you setting for January? Anyone have any neat resolutions for 2022? Whatever they may be, I wish you the best of luck with them!

Why, Hello, Week of Christmas

Good morning, lovelies! How was your week last week? I’m so glad I took a little break from the online world, it was definitely needed to get things somewhat put back together ’round these parts.

Is it me or does it seem like the blogging community is waking up a bit these days? It seems like no one has blogged in years, and suddenly there’s all of these “coming out of hibernation” posts popping up and oh my goodness, it makes me so happy! My heart loves blogging, first and foremost. Instagram is great and all, but reading through people’s thoughts and decision processes, accompanied by good photography…that is my jam. Give me thought-out content that’s worth my time, not some silly little reel stitched together in fifteen seconds.

My crafty thoughts for this week:

  • I’m really hoping to get the Patchwork Forest quilt done.
  • I don’t think Sew Many Stars will get finished this year, and that’s OK.
  • The “Fair Isle” knitting project won’t get even get started this year.
  • “Stripes” and “Pattern I Don’t Like” are more than halfway done each; I think I can only finish one before Christmas, and I’m paralyzed regarding which one to pick.
  • I am going to bake some Christmas cookies this year, darn it. I had a day set aside last week, but the Universe really conspired against it happening, and by the time I could finally embark upon said baking, I was way too tired to even start. I do have a whole day set aside this week to bake with the kids, though…fingers crossed!
  • I had THE BEST IDEA while I was laying around in my sick bed this month, and I’m excited to share it with you later this week!

I hope you have a fantastic week, friends. Opt for the more restful options and just enjoy this season without taking on the things that stress you out. You’re amazing and strong, and I hope you find some beautiful crafty time to fill your soul.

#craftygoals: December 2021

A new month means some new goals!

I’m hoping to finish the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt, the Christmas Sew Many Stars quilt, and three secret knitting projects this month, which I will lovingly refer to as “Secret Knitting No. 2: Stripes,” “Secret Knitting No. 3: The Pattern I Don’t Like,” and “Secret Knitting No. 4: Fair Isle.” I probably can’t even show you the yarn for Nos. 2 and 3 because the intended recipients would probably figure them out, but I think I can get away with showing you mystery shots of No. 4 once I get going on it.

November’s #craftygoals were a success! I finished the Fresh Cut Pines quilt for Nathaniel’s bed, finished the Yuletide Botanica orange peel quilt for Emms’ bed (but haven’t done the photo shoot yet, so no finished pictures just yet), and finished up Secret Knitting No. 1: “Rainbow Ombre”.

Whew! Christmas season is always a whirlwind of projects, and I’m thankful for the focus they’re giving me this year while things still feel a little unsettled. It’s good to have projects and it’s good to have goals. I hope you have great success with your goals this month!

Finished: Fresh Cut Pines Quilt

You guys, I finished a thing! Like, completely finished it all on my own! I made a plan to finish a thing and it WORKED. No crazy injury to derail the plans, no pie-in-the-sky wishful scheduling that was impossible to maintain…just realistic, practical planning and showing up to do the work and it made me actually finish a thing. That is a big freakin’ deal to me because finishing things has not been something I’ve excelled at for the past year.

And it’s a Christmas quilt! For my kid! And he loves it! And it’s for Christmas! I love Christmas quilts! I finished a Christmas thing!

The details:
Pattern: “Fresh Cut Pines” from the book, Winter Wonderland, by Sherri Falls of This and That Patterns.
Fabric Collection: “December Magic,” by Emma Leach for Blank Quilting (from my brand ambassador days), paired with some random greens from my stash.
Background Fabric: “Fog” Bella Solids by Moda
Backing Fabric: A fantastic one-inch red buffalo plaid 108″ wide backing made by Windham Fabrics, Style #51462
Quilting: Aurifil 40 wt in Natural White in the needle, and Aurifil 40 wt Red in the bobbin. I quilted straight vertical lines, 2.5″ apart. I now wish I’d done a little more, but I was nervous about quilting my first twin-size quilt and wanted to keep it super simple.
Dates: I pieced this during May & June of 2020 and quilted it this November.

I’ve mentioned before that it is my dream to someday have a Christmas quilt on every bed in my house during the holiday season, and this is the first such quilt towards making that dream a reality. I am extremely, extremely pleased with its completion!

Crafty Goals: November 2021

I’m resurrecting the idea of monthly crafty goals because ever since I stopped making them, my crafting performance has plummeted. Let’s hope this little bit of effort gets me back on track. (Although, to be fair, the last couple of years have been kind of crazy and full of obstacles that massively hampered consistent ANYTHING.)

Alright friends, it’s November, and the Christmas bug is biting hard. For years I’ve outlawed Christmas sewing this late in the year because of how stressful it can be, but I’m throwing that out the window this year because…I’m a grown woman and I can do what I want.

With all the slowdowns in shipping happening, I made the decision to not wait for Black Friday sales to order my kids’ gifts, which meant I needed to access my gift list that I update throughout the year. Whenever a gift idea pops into my head, I just jot it down in my little gift app, and come holiday gifting season I have a ton of ideas. And, shocker, there’s a lot of handmade gift ideas on that list. Many of those handmade gifts are already in-progress but living in some “time-out” pile in a shadowy corner of the craft room.

Well…the more I read through my gift lists, the more I liked the idea of checking some of those projects off, which has stoked the fires of Mt. Mojo and has me pretty excited to start working on them again.

November’s list is big, but most of these things are almost done, so I’m hoping they’ll go quickly?

Fresh Cut Pines quilt: One of my Blank Quilting projects from last year, it just needs to be quilted and bound. I keep hoping that I can send out my quilts to be long-arm quilted, but they’ve now been sitting for over a year. That means it’s time to just suck it up and quilt them myself, even if it’s just straight line or serpentine quilting. Done is better than perfect. This is Nathaniel’s Christmas quilt for his bed, and I still haven’t made him a regular day-to-day quilt, so his Christmas quilt is the first on the list so that he can have some sort of quilt to his name!

Yuletide Botanica Orange Peel quilt: Another Blank Quilting project, needs borders, quilting and binding. This is Emms’ Christmas quilt, and seeing how the kid is a senior in high school, it’d be nice for them to have their Christmas quilt done before they graduate.

Some secret Christmas knitting: A little gift for a special someone, and that’s all I can tell you at the moment.

If I’m going to limit myself to “practical goals,” I think I can feasibly get those three done this month. However, we all know I like to plan big, so there is hope that I’ll…somehow…magically…also be able to finish:

Patchwork Forest quilt: aka The “Hipster Christmas Tree Quilt.” I can’t believe I made this two years ago. Remember life before COVID-19? Those were the days. Anyway, I was going to hand quilt this one, but I really disliked the process and ripped out the hand quilting. It’s got a beautifully thick Mammoth flannel backing that makes it an incredibly heavy quilt that I cannot wait to snuggle under…the quilting is going to have to be extremely simple on this one because it’s a beefy blanket! I think I added borders to it to make it twin-sized, but none of my kids has claimed it for their own. It might live on Renaissance’s or Rachel’s bed until I finish up their requested Christmas quilts. And if not, it will make an excellent living room quilt.

Sew Many Stars Christmas quilt: Remember how I designed a whole quilt along last year? Geez, I kept myself busy! (Probably too busy, though…hence the almost zero amount of quiltiness that happened this year…oi.) It needs quilting and binding, too.

So yeah, it’s a big list, and I’ve still got to be careful to not overdo stuff with my healing foot. I’ve got the Fresh Cut Pines quilt up on my quilt wall as I type, and I’m already lamenting the supremely simple quilting I’m going to have to do to get it done. BUT…I wanna use this quilt, and if I wait for perfect conditions to finally get it sent out, I’ll be waiting a long time. There will be time for better-looking quilting in the future, but there’s not a lot of years left with my kids being at home and it’s important to me for them to have Christmas quilts on their beds. I don’t know why, but it is. Straight-line quilting will accomplish that, and someday, when I have my own long-arm quilting machine, I’ll do fancier quilting and we’ll wax poetic about the early quilts and their simple quilting designs.

Onwards!

What are your crafty goals for November? Are you doing any holiday crafting, too? Let me know and we can cheer each other on!

The 12 Week Year: Figuring out your Life Vision

I read The 12 Week Year during lockdown this year, and my life has dramatically changed as a result. I’ve read handfuls of goal-setting and time-management books over the years, and found much to like about them, but I cannot shut up about The 12 Week Year. Anyone who I can get to listen to me will hear about this book because, finally, I now know what I want out of life and how to create a plan to get it.

I’ve seen this book around for a few years, but the title, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, led me to believe it was more of a business-y/efficiency/time management manual, and I’m a mother of four–I have figured out how to eke as much as I can out of my days already, thankyouverymuch. Pass.

But then I saw a random review of it online and the reviewer said it helped them define what they wanted out of life and helped them figure out a plan to actually work on the things that would get them there. And that “helped them define what they wanted out of life” line…I wanted that. So I borrowed it via e-loan from my library (because quarantine!) and…it just spoke to me, especially chapters 3 (The Emotional Connection) and 13 (Establish Your Vision).

I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, and I know about “beginning with the end in mind” and prioritizing the important tasks and mission statements. I’ve also read Getting Things Done and written down my random “5 Years from Now” and “Someday” goals/ideas.

But never had I ever sat down and brainstormed about what I want out of life or what a great life would look like for me. Which is such a simple exercise that I feel like an absolute moron for not ever making the connection to do it on my own. What would a great life look like to me? If I could have everything I was interested in, and everything went right and I did have it, what would that look like?

I had plenty of ideas of what other people had told me a great life entailed; some things I thought were good and some things I would never be interested in in a million years, but I didn’t know what my personal core-of-my-heart desires were, and if you don’t know what you actually want out of life, it’s pretty stinking hard to make a plan to live your best life…because you have no idea what that is.

I just lent my copy of The 12 Week Year to a friend, promising her that it will totally help her figure out her life vision. Only problem is, as I was reading through it while walking over to her house, I realized that the book doesn’t actually spell out the whole “figure out your life vision” exercise…and that maybe I had actually put a lot more effort into that part because I wanted to desperately figure it out for once and for all, so I figured I’d write a post to explain my process before my friends think I’m talking crazy about how this book is going to help you figure out your life direction and then not being to figure out how I came to that conclusion.

So, here it is, my Thanksgiving gift to you:

How To Figure Out What YOU Want Out of Life

Materials Needed:
*A ruled notebook
*A writing utensil
*~3 hours of uninterrupted time
*Optional: A copy of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (not really needed for this exercise, but it will be absolutely amazing in helping you start working on the things you figure out with this exercise)

1: Get comfy in a place where you won’t be interrupted. Open your notebook and write “ASPIRATIONAL VISION (Long-Term)” across the top of the first page. Below that, write “The Life You Deeply Desire”.

Now, write down the following seven categories, with a few blank lines in between them for listing ideas:

Spiritual
Spouse (or Relationship or whatever works for you)
Family
Community
Physical
Personal
Business

These are the seven areas of “life balance” listed in the book. (Depending on which version you’re reading, they may have different names. I noticed that they were a little different between my e-loan from the library vs. my purchased hard copy.)

Take a few minutes to think about what a great life would look like in each of these categories in ten, twenty, fifty years. What would you like to be able to say those areas included in your life? What would you like them to look like?

Write down those thoughts next to the category they apply to. Don’t limit yourself here, it’s just brainstorming your pie-in-the-sky happy thoughts. No one is ever going to see this, so be free with your dreams.

2: On the next page, write:
THREE YEAR VISION
A: What needs to happen in the next three years to move towards long-term vision?
B: What would a GREAT personal and professional life look like, three years from now?

Now you’ll write an “area of life balance” category (spiritual, spouse, family, community, physical, personal, or business) and then under that heading write “A:” and then list everything you can think of that needs to happen in the next three years to move towards the long-term vision you wrote down on the first page of your notebook for that category. (You’ll be flipping back to that page A LOT throughout this exercise!)

When you finish listing all those things, start a new line with “B:” and write down what a GREAT life in that particular category would look like, three years from now.

For example, on my first page/ASPIRATIONAL VISION, under the category of “Physical,” I wrote:
Physical: Healthy weight, would love to be able to run, as pain-free as possible, no meds.

A couple of pages later, for the Physical category, I wrote:
A: Lose weight, keep doing physical therapy, strengthen full-body, build up walking plan to running plan, control eating
B: Wake up and work out hard without fear of injury, can run. Move fluidly, no pain. Eat healthy diet–lean meats, lots of produce. Don’t crave junk. Food is healthy and good–don’t feel deprived. Kids are healthy. Ankles don’t swell and bones in feet don’t ache. Back doesn’t ache, and I can move easily.

A special note for the “personal” category: Because there were so many, unrelated topics in my aspirational vision for my personal life (read: hobbies and interests), I had to organize that section differently when I came to it. Let’s say you list, among other things, the three ideas of “can speak other languages,” “can play musical instruments,” and “travel.” I organized this category like this:

6. PERSONAL
A. What needs to happen in the next three years?

I. Choose & learn languages
a. Spanish
b. Mandarin (or Cantonese?)

II. Musical Instruments
a. Piano: Keep practicing & progressing
b. Bagpipes: Find a teacher, rent a set, start learning
c. Other instruments?

III. Travel
a. Brainstorm/Research
b. Save $$$
c. Learn appropriate languages
d. Photography equipment/skills

B. What would a great life look like in this category, three years from now?

I. Languages
a. Can hold basic conversations in Spanish and Mandarin(?)
b. Can read easy books in target languages

II. Music
a. Piano: Can sight-play hymns
b. Bagpipes: Be a member of a bagpipe group and perform with them
c. Other: Violin? Play prelude @ church

III. Travel
a. Know of places I want to see/excited about specific areas/attractions
b. Savings for trips building up/have an amount that gets automatically deposited
c. Progressing in languages
d. Offered opportunities to travel because I’m good at what I do at work
e. Have the photography equipment to take good pictures, and I’ve practiced enough to do a really great job at it

(No, I don’t actually want to learn to play the bagpipes; I just thought it’d be a great way to show how to brainstorm about something out of your comfort/knowledge zone.)

And…that’s it. When you’re done with this exercise, you’ll definitely be prepared to follow the rest of the 12 Week Year plan and start moving forward wisely towards goals that actually mean something to you. The book tells you how to set it all up and track it, so there’s no point to me reiterating it here.

Writing down and figuring out your life vision is the keystone of this goal-setting system. I remember when I was in the middle of my first 12 Week cycle, and in the depths of despair over my (seemingly) sluggish progress towards my goals, and wondering if I should just give up or if any of it even mattered, and I happened to read through whatever chapter said that part of my planning/strategic time each week should include re-reading my life vision and checking and seeing if I was still emotionally connected with it.

So I did. And I cried. Because, YES, I wanted to be able to say that my life consisted of those things! It gave me the psychological boost to keep showing up and performing the actions I knew I needed to do to move towards those goals. I was even able to condense my vision down into two sentences after that, and I repeat those two sentences to myself all the time because they make me excited to keep doing the hard work that will eventually get me to those goals.

And the beauty of having written this all down in a notebook? You can use the remaining pages for figuring out what goals you’re going to work on in future 12 Week cycles, keep track of your tactics, and all that other good stuff. All my brainstormings, to-do-lists…in that one notebook. Easy peasy.

I hope this clears up any confusion anyone may have had about what I’ve been talking about!

(If there’s interest, I can also write a post about how I choose what my next goals are going to be, and how I plan my week so I can actually find time to work on my goals.)

At the End of Week #2 of COVID-19 School Closures

We are now 1/3 of the way through the initial school closures here in Washington State, and are now enjoying the escalated “Stay Home” measures that were announced this week by the governor, dictating that we not leave our houses unless there’s an essential need (groceries, medical, etc.).

The kids are doing really great with their online learning, and I actually learned that their school district is one of TWO that made the immediate jump to online learning for the school closures.  Cue the “I’m so glad we moved into this particular house” gratitude.  We get to walk down to the bus stop each morning to pick up the school lunch deliveries (practicing safe social distancing of course), and I get to have a quick chat with some of my neighborhood mom friends, so we don’t feel completely socially isolated.  It’s not that bad, actually.

Crafting-wise, I basically just sewed up medical masks this week.  Not exciting at all, and a little anger-inducing because all I can think about while I’m sewing these up is how frustrating it is that we don’t have enough medical supplies on-hand for something of this nature, despite the fact that scientists have been warning us for years that we were historically due for a pandemic of some sort.  And then my thoughts wander down more angry roads, and I just end up steaming mad about lots of things.  So…no, I don’t like making medical masks AT ALL.  BUT, I have friends who work in the medical field and one of them texted yesterday asking if I had made any because her hospital really needs some, so I drove the twenty I’d made over to her house and left them on her doorstep.  I guess I’ll need to make more, but I need a break before I go back to them.

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I’m going to use my “break from the masks” to attach the binding to my March Blank Quilting project, which just arrived back from the quilter this week; and I’m starting to work with the “Best Friends Farm” fabric that Jaftex/Henry Glass Fabrics sent me as a bonus for April; and I did my part to support a small business by buying up some yardage of an absolutely gorgeous floral print from Style Maker Fabrics that I’m hoping to turn into a dress by Easter.

 

So, because goals are my self-love love language, I’ll end this with a “Goals for the Next Week” list:

  • Finish the Florabelle Hexie Stripes quilt.  Photograph it and share it online.
  • Finish piecing the individual blocks for the Best Friends Farm quilt.
  • Finish the muslin for my Blue Floral Easter dress.
  • Photograph and share the dress I finished for Renaissance a couple of weeks ago.
  • Move forward in some meaningful way with my sewing pattern database/spreadsheet.  The plan, pre-COVID-19, was to have it completed by the end of the next week or so, but things got way too crazy to keep up with it, so it’s a minor project that’s limping along at the moment.  I’ll worry about it more once things calm down in the future.
The week after next is Spring Break, which means there will be no online learning and schoolwork to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, AND we’ll still be mandated to stay home, so…I guess I should come up with some ideas for that as well.  Any suggestions?

Sleighbell Sampler Quilt

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Four and a half years ago, I began working on it.  I was just getting started in quilt-making, and absolutely fell in love with both this quilt and Farm Girl Vintage, so I threw caution to the wind and decided to join both of their quilt alongs.  I did great on sewing up the blocks, but when it came time to put the sashing and borders on them, I FROZE.  It took me years to finally break through that block, but I eventually did it and now I get to bask in the delight of a freshly-completed Christmas quilt draped across my favorite couch.  I love this quilt so much.

Pattern: Sleighbell Sampler, by Sherri Falls, from her “Winter Wonderland” pattern book.

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Fabric: “Holly’s Tree Farm,” by Sweetwater, “Jingle,” by Kate Spain, and a few scraps from the stash. The backing is flannel from Bonnie & Camille’s “Vintage Holiday” collection, and I cannot remember exactly what collection the binding came from, but there’s plenty of bias candy cane-striped fabrics out there to choose from these days, so you’ll be ok to find some if you need some.
(Also, can we start a petition to #bringbackhollystreefarm in the future, please?  Love that collection.)

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Quilting: I tried out a new quilter this time ’round, Ashley of Hen House Quilting, because she’s more local than my usual go-to.  I’ll definitely be using her again; she’s really sweet and very professional, and I only have good things to say about the experience of working with her.  She helped me pick out a beautiful snowflake quilting pattern that just goes beautifully with the quilt, and I love it so much!  Thank you, Ashley!

Modifications: None.

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Yay!  I have a goal of a Christmas quilt or blanket for every bed, couch, and armchair in our house, and this guy puts us at a total of five…only six more to go!  Ha ha.  (Hey, we all need goals to work towards, don’t be afraid of how big they are!)

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My “New & Improved” Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

Last year I came up with a plan that would allow me to work through more UFOs, whittle down the overflowing scrap baskets in my craft room, and allow me to work, guilt-free, on some new projects.  In the past, I always start the new year with grandiose plans to blast through all of my UFOs, and the white-knuckle willpower would only last about six weeks because the textile world is constantly releasing new fabric, yarn, and pattern collections.  So, I came up with this project rotation:

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The Original Project Schedule

And it worked really well for about six months until I discovered a glitch with my system–I never chose fabric from my stash when it came around to make a “new” project, choosing instead to use new fabric from a new collection that excited me.  The stash was starting to grow faster than normal, and I had this weird reluctance to cut into any of it because it was dear to me.  You don’t buy fabric or yarn with no plan unless you’re really in love, which makes it hard to use said fabric or yarn.  But, as a wise homeschooling parent told me about art lessons with my kids, “Art supplies is meant to be consumed, not conserved.”  The same is true of fabric and yarn.  USE THEM.

Plus, I’ve been noticing a lot of my contemporaries breaking into the pattern market, and they are killin’ it, which made me start wondering if perhaps I should start at least trying to write my own patterns for my use?  I know how patterns work by this point in my creative “career,” and the challenge involved excited me as well.

And then we did some charity blocks in quilt guild and it just made me feel good to make those.

So my project rotation schedule needed a few tweaks:

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And it’s been working WONDERFULLY.  I love the challenge of coming up with my own patterns, and I really love the idea of #everytenthproject being a service project–it’s like paying tithing on my creative abilities, for which I am so grateful to possess.

I kept a spreadsheet detailing my projects for last year, and it really helped me with my stash management and with branching out of my comfort zone:

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(It also alerted me to the fact that I tend to only knit with new yarn, which led to the decision to stop stashing yarn completely…because once it goes into the stash, chances are high that I’ll not be interested in using it EVER after that.  Interesting.)

It worked extremely well until I started sewing again for Fat Quarter Shop–by the very nature of those projects, they are always “new” fabric projects, which very quickly started eating up the next available “new” slots in my plan.  I’ll have to watch out for that this year, and possibly come up with a plan to accommodate those projects–the turnaround time on them is tight, so it’s not possible to actually have a “plan” to include those projects into my schedule.  I might leave them out of the “rotation” altogether, actually, and just enjoy the ride when I’m asked to ride along…because, duh.

Oh, another important note: Babies and weddings don’t have to follow the schedule because they are also impossible to plan around.  I just plug them into the spreadsheet where they belong and then work around them as necessary because I LOVE BABIES AND WEDDINGS.  I’m a gift-crafter at my core.

What I find, though, is that this schedule greatly reduces the chances of acquiring more UFOs.  I’m horrendously distracted by the new-and-shiny, but when I’d start thinking about cutting for or casting on a new project, I’d consult my spreadsheet and see if it could fit into the next category up for grabs.  If it didn’t, I’d tentatively schedule it; but more often than not, when I came up to its turn in the rotation, my excitement for the new pattern would have waned and I could move on to something that had been on my bucket list and would truly bring me pleasure.  I started 2017 with thirty-eight UFOs, finished (or donated or frogged) nine UFOs, and am taking in two new UFOs–that means I now have thirty-one UFOs, which is totally an improvement!  I have never ended a year with less UFOs than I had at the beginning of it.  Feels good.

And now it’s onwards to a productive 2018!  Happy New Year, and may you find a little time each day to move forward on your projects.

clementine-qal-e1504126058289And if you’re looking for an idea for a service project, maybe you want to consider joining Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Quilt Along?  I’ve committed to it, and it would be lots of fun to have some more friends quilting along, too!

You can find more information about the Quilt Along by clicking here to visit the Fat Quarter Shop Blog.  Proceeds from this quilt along will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

 

Best of 2016, and Planning for 2017

I love reading everyone’s “wrapping up the year” and “plans for the next year” posts so much!  The online creative community is so interesting in that a lot of us are pretty transparent about what we do, which I really appreciate because online creativity *can* become an overly-staged, whirlwind-finishing sort of thing very easily…but then there’s those souls who refuse to get caught up in it all and just stay real, and I love reading their blogs.

Best of 2016

Trying to nail down my “best” projects of 2016 is really hard because almost every single one was a gift I made to be given away, and I don’t want anyone to think that I hated making the gift I gave them because it didn’t show up in this list…NO.  If I didn’t want to make a gift for you, I didn’t make you a gift, end of story.  I actually had four more gifts scheduled to make this year, but I quit one about 2/3 of the way through because I hated it so much, and with another one I just wasn’t feeling it, and will probably finish it up in 2017, and with the other two I just didn’t have time once all the crazy post-op stuff went down.

Oooh!  Categories!  Let’s see, five categories to round out the year:

Prettiest:  The baby quilt that my daughter and I made for her teacher who had a baby girl in May.  I loved working with Vintage Picnic, and the design of the quilt was just perfect.  For some weird reason, this quilt was blogged on our family blog, so if you want to see more pictures of it, you’ll have to head over there.

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Most Fun to Make:  The Dr. Seuss baby quilt.  It was a last-minute decision, so I picked a pattern that was on the wonky side and wouldn’t need perfect seams and the like, and I just had fun slapping it all together.  The fabrics were super fun and bright, and I really enjoyed the process of just making and not getting bogged down in the minutiae of perfection. I’ll have to remember to throw a wonky/improv project into the mix every now and then when I’m starting to feel a little stale.

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Biggest Skill Stretcher:  The Beehive Swarm swap blocks.  There was a lot of foundation paper piecing, which I tend to shy away from because I don’t like it, but there’s nothing like it for perfect piecing.  I still don’t like it, but I’m better at it now, and can grudgingly admit its superiority for certain qualities.  I also tackled curved seams for the first time with August’s block, and they are not as difficult as I psyched myself out to believe!

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Most Popular:  Within the walls of our home, it’s the Layers of Charm Flower Sugar Quilt.  It sits proudly on the back of a couch in our living room and it gets used pretty much every day.  The kids fight over it, and I’m always finding it snuck into one of their beds.

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Outside of our home, the Art Gallery Fabrics Blithe pillows have been the most popular, garnering 25% of the blog’s web traffic this year, and also being the only project about which I’ve received comments from my friends and neighbors when I’m out in the real world.  Pink and mint are hot, people.

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Project of the Year:  Not really a project, but 2016 was “The Year of All the Baby Quilts.”  There were a lot of baby quilts this year.  All good things, but man, I’m going to take a break for a while.  If you’re expecting, do not expect a quilt from me in 2017.  I’m just done for a little while.

Planning for 2017

First and foremost, my health.  If all I accomplish in 2017 is to raise my health to an enjoyable level, that will be enough for me.  It’s been three years of pain, almost two years since my back surgery, and I am simply to the point where nothing else really matters to me other than feeling good again.  Luckily, we found another source of some of the pain I was experiencing, hence the surgery in November, so I think I’ll be able to move along the path to better health a little easier, and hopefully a little faster.

When I woke up from my most recent surgery, I had no back pain, which we were hoping would be one of the side effects of that particular surgery.  Upon being cleared to do normal things again after six weeks of lying around with very little to no back pain, I ambled on down to the ol’ Craft Dungeon, and did a little sewing.  I felt some familiar discomfort in my back, decided that was enough sewing for the day, and stopped.  Unfortunately, the discomfort increased steadily throughout the evening until I was forced to give up, take some serious pain meds, and just go lay in bed.  I think using my sewing machine is needlessly adding to my back pain!  It’s happened a few more times, so I’m pretty sure I’m correct, which makes me incredibly hesitant to sew at all anymore.

It’s my hope that after a few months of consistent strength training (read: if I can manage not to injure myself for that long), that my back will be strong enough to handle sitting at the sewing machine.  Until then, I’m making a goal to just not worry about the crafty side of life, and to give it a go when I think I’ve gained some strength.  If I’m not strong enough at that point, then I’ll wait a few weeks and try again, rinse and repeat.

Of course, there are some projects that I would love to start, finish, adore…but I’m going to be patient, and when the time is right, I’ll resume my place in the Craft Dungeon.  A few months isn’t going to hurt anything.