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Quilting to Heal…

I will not go into a lot of detail because the incident that I am about to describe is very graphic.  However, I do feel that the most general parts of it & the things that I learned are important to share…

On a beautiful autumn day, I saw one of the most horrible things a person can see.  I lived close to a major college campus & had gone to Church that morning.  I wanted to go to a park & take pictures of the waterfalls that afternoon.  The sun was shining, the sky was the most beautiful blue you can imagine, & the fall glory was blazing.  It was Homecoming weekend on campus; so everyone at the college had partied HARD the entire weekend & the town was pretty ghostlike on a Sunday afternoon- just quite as a mouse.

GPS told me to go one direction, but I knew where it was directing me & decided to get on the highway up by the stadium instead because I hadn’t taken that route in awhile.  I passed the stadium, the hospital, & one of the underpasses for an intersecting highway.  My dog, M, was buckled into the seat next to me & was happily watching the scenery go by.  Seconds later my life changed.

A car blew past me in the lane I had just moved out of.  I watched the horrible crash that followed & was the first one on the scene to call 911.  I think God led me there that day because I used to work across the street & I knew the area well.  I was able to give clear & concise instructions to the first responders & they arrived quickly.

I got some minor injuries at the scene, but what I saw & went through with the person who had crashed hurt a lot more.  I went home & went into shock.  I took a week off work & talked & talked & talked trying to get what I had seen out of my head.  What ended up helping was repetitive tasks that did not require a lot of thinking but kept me busy like doing the dishes, going for a walk, & cutting out fabric yo-yos.  I tried a number of things- like working on a painting.  I just couldn’t.  It required me to think & I didn’t have the brain energy to decide which color to put where.  But I could trace & cut circles all day long & that became my life-line.

DIFFERENT WAYS ART/QUILTING CAN HEAL

I thought that was interesting.  Art can be healing in so many different ways.  When I’m stressed from everyday life, getting lost in a project & making decisions about it is a welcome escape.  Matching colors, choosing fabrics, creating a design- it usually rejuvenates me.  But after taking a mental shock like that, I needed something more basic, more rhythmic, like just cutting out yo-yos.

That seems to be the case with other major stressors- like moving or when my schedule is too over-packed for far, far too long.  In situations like that, I get so exhausted for so long, that I feel like I’ve lost brain energy & I need to do something, but I also need to not think & out come the scissors & yo-yo templates!  So- I’ve realized that I need different types of art & craft for different times in my life & that I need to listen to my mind’s rhythms as well as my body’s.

GO WITH THE FLOW…YOUR BRAIN KNOWS WHAT IT NEEDS!

It’s important to make time for the things that give you sanity.  It’s also important to recognize when something works for you & when it doesn’t.  I’ve talked to other people that have been through trauma & encouraged them to have more than one person that they depend on when they’re having really hard days & I have to say, the same applies to your creative life.  You can’t always depend on just one thing to meet all of your stress release or creative needs.

I think a lot of people beat themselves up for this- the tendency to hop around from one project to the next.  Best case scenario, we make fun of ourselves.   Don’t believe me?  Google: “T-shirts dedicated to Quilting UFO’s (Unfinished Fabric Objects)” or go to a quilt show…  You’ll see!

THE “TIME OUT” BIN

But— what if we actually need to do all of that hopping around?  What if you’re just following what your body/mind is telling you that it needs at the time?  On days when you need to block out the world, getting lost in designing a quilt or working on a complicated design will probably be a dream.  Other times, you’ll sit down & try & try & try.  You’ll rip out more than you sew & your poor project will go into the “Time Out Bin” because you just end up mad at it.  Poor quilt!  It’s not it’s fault.  On nights when you can’t focus or concentrate on a complicated project, you probably need something that’s rhythmic- like embroidery work, hand quilting, sewing a bunch of mindless seams, etc.  That’s not a bad thing…so give yourself a break!  I made myself finish ALL of my UFO’s once & I’ve never been more depressed & uninspired in my life.  It completely stunted my creative growth.

So- if quilting is your job, you probably need to find a way to stay on task & get projects done, but if it’s your hobby (as it is for almost everyone), give yourself a break & work on what you need to work on in order to be happy & find your daily sanity.  Remember that what you need from your art life is going to change from time to time.  It can be different types of quilting- or completely different art forms like quilting and knitting.  Sometimes you might even need to throw in a different activity- like mixing your quilting time with swimming (for neck pain relief)!  😉  Find what works for you & don’t beat yourself up about it.

Happy Creative Journey!

 

 

 

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Applied Art™

THE NEW ART OF LABOR & TRADE:

Today we think of art as something that will go into a museum or decorate a space. However, art was once a trade. Michelangelo was part of a sculpting guild & apprenticed under a master in the same way that masons pass on their knowledge of building & stone work to upcoming generations- both in ancient times and today. Artisans who formed these guilds & did the work of both building & beautifying their communities were ​highly revered specialists ​who performed extremely important work.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS:

Today, when we think of an artist, the word “starving” is usually the first to come to mind. We do not value art or an arts education as we once did, much less folk art like quilting. Fine art is separated from craft & trade, devaluing folk art, craft & trade further.  All are pushed to the sidelines of “core curriculum.” This is evidenced by the budget cuts to arts & trades education categories. They do not get the same funding that scientific programs garner because we do not see their application in society as readily. In our current culture, you’ll never hear a teacher say,​ “If you don’t learn how to draw or take things apart & make something new out of them, you won’t have a good future.” ​They say, “If you don’t study for this test & keep your grades up, you won’t get into college & you’ll struggle for the rest of your life.” ​We need a wholesale change in our education system to include applied arts that balances the heavy usage of technology with the practical everyday folk art, trade & skills of our ancestors.

APPLIED ARTS™:

Applied Art™ can influence not only its own field of craftsmen/women & fine artists, but can also enhance other subjects as well.

SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION:

Art, Trade & Craftsmanship is scientific exploration. In order to learn how to draw, you first have to discover what the different materials do. Why does this pencil draw darker lines than another? Which one is harder to erase? Why? How do you draw with something other than lines? (Shading creates contour & depth- the perception of a 3D image.) In order to learn how to quilt, you have to know which fabrics with stretch & in what ways, how one color & pattern choice will affect another in the overall design of the quilt, the numerous ways that the fabrics can be joined together & the pros & cons of each method, etc.  A good artist knows how to expertly manipulate the materials he/she is using. Practice in these fields lends itself easily to manufacturing. How does this material work? How far can I bend or manipulate it? What can I combine it with to create something that will solve a problem? How can I look at raw materials & imagine different uses for them? (Creativity & imagination!)

Close-up of Yosaic™ Quilting

PROBLEM SOLVING:

Art is also problem solving. When you have an idea of what you want to create, you both mentally & physically take it apart. You look at all of its components & figure out how they compare to one another. Nothing comes out perfectly the first time you draw it on a page, play it on an instrument, or weld it into place. An artist/craftsman/woman is continually looking for what part of their project is “different” from what they want. These pieces aren’t matching up the way they’re supposed to.  One piece is longer than another.  There’s puckering of the fabric where the thread bunched up.  This fabric gets eaten easily by the sewing machine.  Why?  And how do I fix it?

As you move through the project you make changes until it becomes what you want. This is a constant problem-solving process from start to finish & produces patience, persistence, critical thinking & creativity.

A LANGUAGE:

Art is a way to learn other things. Indeed, it is often referred to as a language. We study language by itself, but we also use language to study other subjects. One pursuit does not detract from the other. In like manner, applied art™ which includes both art, craft & trade applications could be brought into the regular classroom & used to explore other subjects. It would be ideal for each school to have one or more arts & trades counselors who could work with the regular classroom teachers to create projects that allow the students to use creative reasoning & include hands-on experiences as they explore all of the other subjects. Indeed, Applied Art™ could be the solution to the Skills Gap.

APPLIED ART™ IN HISTORY:

There is historical precedent that tells us that this type of approach would not only bridge the skills gap but enhance “core” curriculum. During WWI there was a movement to ​“Knit Your Bit” for the soldiers. Not only women, but men left behind & children were called on to knit socks, scarves, hats & mittens for the soldiers. It was a patriotic duty that compelled some to knit in church & eventually in school. An amazing thing happened. Teachers everywhere noted ​betterbehavior in class AND improved testing. Today we know that the patterning & mathematical elements of this craft are highly important in a number of fields. As a result of this understanding, Waldorf Schools worldwide teach both knitting & crochet to improve reading, writing & mathematical scores beginning as early as kindergarten. The only question that remains is, ​“Why hasn’t the world followed?”

REFERENCES:

No Idle Hands : The Social History of American Knitting
TEACHING KIDS TO CROCHET AND KNIT: WHY WALDORF SCHOOLS INCORPORATE CRAFTING INTO THEIR CURRICULUM

©Christy Grace Collins, 2018.  All Rights Reserved.

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Planning Your Quilt…

It has been said that the hardest thing about painting is getting started.

“It is so fine & yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”  

Paul Cezzanne

Quilters face no less of a challenge.  Painters have a couple dozen colors to choose from; quilters have hundreds of bolts, patterns, techniques & variations to throw into their decision making process!  (I say this being both a quilter & a painter & knowing the challenges of both.)

So, here’s the deal; the design process is MESSY- and that’s okay!  First you become a hoarder- then you flip to minimalism!  What do I mean by that?  Well, when I’m designing a quilt, an event, my website or anything else, I start by gathering up everything (+ some!) that I could possibly want to include in the project & then I start organizing what I have & eliminating bit by bit until I get down to the simplest form of the design that I can create & have a concrete direction to go in.

EXAMPLES

It works with shopping.  You throw everything you want into your cart & head for the dressing room.  Trying things on will eliminate a huge portion of the pile.  Then you sort out what’s left by what you can afford in the order of what you love the most, right?

It works with drawing.  You start out with the general shape & keep erasing, redrawing & making small changes until the picture becomes what you want.  You change, first this line, and then that one.  Sometimes a line even becomes a smudge or a smudge becomes the ghost of a shadow.  You might even change the composition at some point or decide to draw something different entirely.

It works with writing.  Remember elementary school when they told you to write a rough draft & then edit & re-edit?  That’s the process we’re working with here.

When you’re trying to figure out where to start- you start with the most general idea & the most details/quilting materials you can gather up!  And then you work backwards eliminating bits & pieces until you have a simple & clear plan/project!

STASHING/ PATTERN CHOICES

So with quilting- you start with the hobby of STASHING.  Yes- it has been decided- building your stash IS a separate hobby from actually using it!  When I’m designing a project, sometimes I shop my stash & sometimes I hit the local store; usually I end up doing a little of both…  Either way, I start out gathering up ideas & that means first sorting patterns or pattern ideas & then sorting stash fabrics & hitting up the local store.  But let’s look at pattern decisions first.

When I’ve sorted through my top patterns or ideas, I can consider:

  • Is there a time line/ Is it a gift with a deadline?
  • What’s my budget?
  • What’s my goal?  (Do I want to master a new technique, play with a favorite color palette or fabric, or run with a new design or pattern?)

It’s smart to consider that if my budget is small or my timeline is tight, choosing a big project (while unfortunately tempting & likely to occur!) is not necessarily smart.

  • Do I have fabric in my stash that I can use or do I need to buy more?
  • If I use fabric in my stash, make a mistake & need more- can I obtain it or will I have to change or scrap the project?
  • Do I know all of the techniques in the pattern I want to make or do I need to take a class or look up a tutorial?
  • If I make an unfixable mistake, is that going to affect my timeline- particularly if it’s a gift- & do I have a backup plan?

The biggest part of planning a project- & getting past the stupor of a blank canvas- of not knowing where to start- is asking yourself the right questions.

By: Christy Grace Collins
My Yo-Yo Stash! (Yes, I have a fabric stash and bins & bins of yo-yos that I have pre-made for whenever the mood strikes. Hence, I also have a Yo-Yo Stash!)

This works with picking out the fabric, too.  Your eye will naturally go to patterns & colors that you like, but do they always go together the way that you want them to?  That’s probably the biggest frustration for inexperienced quilters.  Many companies have picked up on these insecurities & put together both patterns & colors into fabric families that work well together.  The matching is done for you as long you stay within the product line, which usually includes pattern books as well.  That’s a good place to start, but it’s not a good place to stay.

CHOOSING FABRICS

If you want to learn how to pick out the best colors & patterns for your quilts possible, you will want to ask yourself a few more questions

CONTRAST: Does your quilt pattern have any places where there are dark & light fabrics next to one another creating a contrast?  It should tell you that you need a certain amount of a darker fabric & another amount of the lighter one.

FABRIC PATTERN SIZE:  How large are the pattern pieces in comparison with the pattern on the fabric?  This is important. A large pattern on the fabric will be lost on small pattern pieces. This is why I always choose a very small or blended pattern for my yo-yos. Look closely at the yo-yos in the picture above- you will see very subtle patterns- not giant, bold ones.  When the fabric is gathered, any picture or large design is lost anyway, and it just looks like confetti if there are a bunch of color blocks in the fabric. So, for my Yosaic™ Quilting I steer clear of large patterned fabric.  However, larger patterns for something like a block or stripping are great.  They also work if you’re cutting the block out to specifically include the pattern on the fabric- such as a bird or scene.

TYPE OF FABRIC: Are you picking out the same types of fabric?  Flannel typically doesn’t go next to a batik in a quilt because they won’t iron the same, lay the same or sew the same.  With some things like crazy quilts, you can mix fabrics, but typically, if you’re making a batik quilt, you should be sticking with all of the batiks with the outside possibility of some cottons.  Your local quilt shop can help you to understand all the different types of fabric & which one is best for your pattern or project.

WARM & COOL COLORS: This deserves a post- or several posts(!) all by itself.  Warm colors vs. cool colors?  How do you even know if a color is warm or cool?  On one shopping trip, I was looking for brown fabric & my mom brought me a bolt that she thought would work.  I shook my head & told her that there was too much yellow in it.  She looked completely baffled & pointed out that it was a brown on brown print!  Where in the heck was I seeing yellow?  I explained that one of the dye colors in it was yellow & that it had a warm tone.  I was looking for a cooler toned brown- something that was more on the blue side.  It really threw her- & it’s probably throwing you right now, too.

Don’t worry!  You don’t have to know THAT much about warm & cool tones to learn how to see the difference between warm & cool fabrics & to know which to use in your project.

Color Wheel Choices-Warm Against Cool
Fall Wreath

Warm colors are the ones that you see in the fall & spring- particularly in the fall when the leaves are changing- think of warm sunshine, burnt orange, blood red, pumpkin, the hazy blues of the fall sky, the warm greens of the leaves before they change.  You can also think about it as any color that you would describe as warm- like the warm sands on the beach. Conversely, cool colors we typically describe using words that denote a feeling of coolness- refreshing turquoise ocean, icy blue winter sky, etc.  They’re also the colors that you typically see in winter & summer: winter white, grey skies, electric pink bathing suit, fuchsia flowers in the islands.

Now, here’s why that matters: a warm subject placed on a cool background creates a contrast that is as dramatic as light against dark!  It POPS!   There’s contrast that draws the eye & makes the subject more vivid.  So, if you want a comforting, homey effect with your quilt, you might want to go for all warm colors- that blend & flow into one another- like farmhouse creams, browns, & greens.  Use all cool colors if you want something that is as cool as the island breeze.  But, if you want your medallion to stand out in the center of the quilt or your appliqué in the block, use a contrast of either light against dark or warm against cool tones.

I will write more posts at a later date that go into more depth on these subjects & give more examples…but here are 2 for right now.  The butterfly below has those beautiful warm tones set against a summer blue sky.  The wreath above also has those same fall oranges, reds & browns.  Set against a grey wall, it pops!

To remember the difference, think about opposites: every other season we change from warm to cool colors.  Winter & summer are cool & spring & fall are warm.  With some practice, you will figure it out- & your quilts will thank you!

COLOR WHEEL

You can also print color wheels from dozens of places on the net & take those with you on your shopping trips.  Anything that is at an opposite point on the color wheel is going to compliment its counterpart.  For example- red is directly across from green; so red & green go together.  Find one color you like & look for what’s exactly opposite it.  That’s your best chance for a good matching contrast, although many other colors will work & your local quilt shop owners always have a good eye!

By Christy Grace Collins
Yosaic™ Butterfly Quilt

PRACTICE RUN:

Quilting can be a big investment & deliberating on which fabric to pick & whether or not it’s going to work can leave you in a stupor at your proverbial blank canvas.  So, if you’re not sure if what you’ve picked out is going to work, no problem!  Do a colored pencil version first.  Make a copy of your pattern.  Get colored pencils that match your fabric & do some coloring to check your color choices.  You can also cut out a tiny version of your pattern with the fabrics you’ve got to see if you like what you’ve got before you make that big commitment with the rotary cutter!

It’s not as intimidating if you break it down into questions to answer & individual steps to take.  You’ll be making amazing quilts in no time!

 

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The Secret to Complex Patterns

THE STORY:

I had so much fun recently at the restoration grand opening of a historic home in our town.  As any quilter will do, I walked around GETTING IDEAS!  Whooo-hooo!  They had lovingly restored complex quilt pattern-like wooden flooring made from a variety of woods (the darker ones created shadows in the designs!).  There were beautiful antiques all throughout the house true to the time period, gorgeous chandeliers, elegant fireplaces & the feeling of a very grand home.  My favorite feature was the wood work on the walls in the dining room.

That evening, as I was chatting with a gentleman who worked for the bank that had endowed the restoration, he remarked that the old world craftsmanship was just breathtaking & he didn’t know how they had done it.  I agreed with the breathtaking part, but was happy to show him how they had done it.  I moved over to the wall & showed him how the long sections of wood were 2×1 inch boards of hard wood- probably oak or maple- running lengthways with shorter sections intersecting to make the square shapes between them.  Within the intersections there were square pieces of board that must have been a 1/2 inch thick or so.  They had also used 1/4 inch round trim to make a beveled edge between the intersecting boards & the square centerpiece.  (So rotten of me but I just could not resist teaching.  Lol!)

This man’s jaw dropped open & asked how I knew all of that- just as another man eavesdropping from part-way across the room interjected, “What do you do for a living?”  The man who joined our conversation turned out to be the restoration architect who didn’t dispute a word of my description.

To answer both the first & second man’s questions, I explained that I was a QUILTER! & the design was quite simple to translate- minus the seam allowances!  (Lol.)  The architect nodded his head & we proceeded to have a great conversation.

WE STOP BEFORE WE START:

Complex projects- whether it’s woodworking or quilting- can be really intimidating.  I was trying to show the man that if you look at the individual pieces & how they go together it becomes a doable project.  This is the secret to progress in all labors of love.

I spent years wishing that I knew how to knit beautiful lace shawls, hats, scarves & sweaters.  I first started learning how to knit when I was 6.  I thought it was easy when I was just doing the knit stitch every row.  Then I learned how to crochet- & forgot how to knit…  (Slight detour!)  It took me more than 35 years to pick it up again & even then I was extremely intimidated by what I wanted to do because I just didn’t know how or where to start.  The patterns that I liked were long and complicated.  They contained stitches that I could’t even imagine.  The patterns changed every row.  “HOW do you even manage to enjoy something like that!?!”  I wondered.

And so, I let the intimidation of what I didn’t know how to do stop me from achieving what I wanted to do for a very long time.  Then I made one crucial change.  I decided that I would never knit the same pattern twice- that each time I started a new project I would look for a pattern that contained 1 new stitch or variation.  I decided that 1 new thing to absorb was doable.  And I was right!  It didn’t take as long as I thought before I knew what all of those crazy terms were, was enjoying those long patterns that changed on every row, & had made it to lace!

It was just a matter of learning 1 new step at a time.

So- you can walk into your favorite quilt store, look at medallion quilts, fussy cuts, or paper piecing & convince yourself that you’ll never be that good, or you can pick a project that gets you 1 step closer to the kind of projects that you want to be able to do.  It’s really that simple.

When you take enough of those steps, eventually you get to the point where you can even design because you’ve made so many mistakes & taken so many things apart in the process of putting something together that you understand how it all works- not just how to follow the pattern.  That’s why I was able to see how the woodwork on the wall & floor was put together.  It just takes time & practice to learn the properties of each material- how they can & can’t be put together- & then you can manipulate it any way you’d like.  You can design your own dreams!

The real question is- Are you willing to do the workone step at a time?

————————————————————————-

A few of my one steps…

Feather & Fan- one of my first lace projects!  While pattern oriented projects are not my strength, I have pushed myself to learn lace knitting & am quite proud of this pattern in particular. I think it is beautiful!

This is the first set of cables that I tried- yes- the first!  I am definitely crazy sometimes.  Took a little while to get the hang of it, but so proud of it!

I can no longer crochet- the motion is different from knitting & bothers me post-surgery, but I was really happy with this simple, but beautiful pattern that I did years ago!

As I stated above, I’m not great with patterns.  I prefer to create my own design; but I’ve pushed myself to learn arts like this so that I can expand what I can design.  Here’s some piecing work- my first 2 stars!

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Quilting & Canning…

Canning just goes with quilting- & it doesn’t get any funnier than this; so yes- you’re welcome in advance!  (Home production for home consumption if you need to make the connection.  😉

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links for products related to the post.  If you purchase any of these products via these links I may receive a small commission. *

CANNING SEASON!

Every summer & fall was canning season at my house.  We grew a large garden & got regular fruit deliveries from my grandparent’s orchard.  Spaghetti sauce & applesauce were big production events.

In case you’ve never attempted canning before, let me paint the picture for you.  Canning spaghetti sauce in the summer starts with rototilling the garden in the spring.   Then came rock picking.  No matter how many times we pulled rocks out of the garden, they seemed to reappear the next spring.  Had to be those darned garden fairies- or maybe garden trolls!  Grrr.

FOR PREPARING THE GARDEN SOIL:

Some things we planted from seeds & others, like tomatoes, we usually got or made starter plants for.  How do you make a starter plant?  My maternal grandmother was well known for this.  She saved seeds from each years harvest & in the early spring she started the seeds in small amounts of soil (usually in cups or egg cartons) in her window sills.  When they got 4 inches high or so they were transferred to the garden.  This allowed her to get the plants started while it was still too cold to plant outside- & I imagine gave her a longer harvesting season as well.  I think we usually bought starter plants at a local market.  Mom just didn’t have the time to do the starters herself.

Gardens need to be watered every day or so & ladybugs + other beetles need to be picked off the plants.  Some years we dusted the plants with lime (I think) to keep the insects off, other years we went over each plant meticulously & picked them off.  I remember being grossed out by this & my grandmother telling me not to make a big deal about it!

You have to pick the tomatoes & start your canning before they become too ripe.  If you leave them on the plant for too long they will drop off & begin to rot on the ground.  Typically when fruit hits the ground it becomes bruised & either has to have that part cut out or is more than likely no longer good for use.  So- that meant keeping a good eye on the garden & making sure that we got the fruit & veggies when they were ready.  You couldn’t wait until you felt like it or had a free day to work on it.  You had to get & can the fruits of your labors when the plant was ready to deliver them.  That sometimes meant hard work in the garden when I wanted to be watching a TV program or climbing a tree & I have to say that it was good for me.  Later in life such discipline meant good grades & success in a number of fields.

HARVEST TIME!

So- when you want to make spaghetti sauce, you pick the tomatoes, spend some time washing them off & we typically cut them into quarters after cutting out the spot where the stem connected to the vine.  (The vines will continue to produce after several pickings; so don’t break the vine off- just pick the tomatoes gently.). Then my mom boiled great vats of tomatoes with a little bit of water.  This softened the tomatoes & helped the skins to peal away easily.  (You can use soup pots for boiling the tomatoes or the Granite Ware canning pot that you’d use for water bath canning.)

THE EXPLODING PART…

Once the tomatoes had boiled for a little while, my mom poured the kettle of steamed tomatoes into the top of an hand-crank food strainer.  This is a device that clamps to your countertop.  It has a funnel on the top that the boiled tomatoes or apples go into & a crank that pushes the fruit through a screen separating the sauce from the skins.  Nobody minded picking, washing, quartering or boiling the tomatoes, but cranking the machine was alternatively boring/abhorred & fascinating.  I actually didn’t mind it at times…  Everybody had to take a turn though so that no one got too tired.

My dad really DID NOT LIKE this job & one day he decided that there had to be a faster way.  Apparently, he had disassembled & attached the motor of an electric screwdriver to my wind up swing when I was a baby &, while he wore out several drills keeping me swinging- the project did prove successful.  He decided that he’d do the same thing for the food strainer!

It did work.  For a moment or two, the sauce flew through the machine.  Without a lid on the top of the funnel however, it also blew the tomatoes ALL. OVER. THE. CEILING.  He was promptly banished from the kitchen- & never asked to help with THAT again.  Lol.  That may have been his design in the first place!  At any rate, we learned that some things just have to go at a slower pace & be enjoyed.

What’s there to enjoy about standing around hand-cranking dozens of jars of spaghetti sauce?  It’s a great backdrop for many a mother/daughter/grandmother talk.  There were stories to tell & memories to make.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You might ask the same thing about hand quilting, hand sewing or embroidery work.  We have machines that can do it faster today.  Why waste time doing that?  As women, I think we have a unique ability to enjoy the process of making something by making memories together.  We can fruits & veggies together, have sewing or quilting bees, get together for moving & packing parties & find all sorts of ways to go through something that could be time consuming and tedious and make it fun & memorable instead.  So go ahead & pick up something old fashioned.  It’s always a good time to make a memory!

CANNING SUPPLIES!

If you’re interested in canning- below are some recommended products & books to help you on your way.  I am an Amazon Affiliate; so if you purchase any of these products through my link I will get a small commission off the sale.

 

 

 

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Moving My Mojo

Life is more than a little bit crazy this summer.  At Church, I have been asked to work with the regional activities for our young women ages 12-18; so we’ve had a week long girls camp, we’ve got a weekend long youth conference (both boys & girls from about 1/3 of PA) coming up soon, & then we’re planning a young women’s retreat for back to school + all of the fun fall activities like square dances & speakers & I don’t even know what yet.  I love it.  I absolutely do.  I do events at work as well & I don’t mind juggling all sorts of different things, but this summer is really stretching me because- GASP– we bought a house (for the first time)!!!  So, that’s events for work, events for Church & a move.  I cannot even begin to say how much I am missing my sewing & knitting time right now, which, of course has been temporarily sacrificed to packing & moving…

MAKING THINGS MAKES LIFE:

Sewww- the more I miss it, the more I think about rhythms & routines & how making things makes life!  We are creatures of habit.  I learned that in my education classes in college.  If you want to have a happy baby, establish a routine & NEVER- I mean NEVER deviate from it!  The more we know what’s coming- regardless of whether we are 3 months or 39 years (Oops! Freudian slip!) the calmer we are.

When you think about it, holidays & traditions are routines.  You do the same thing every year because that’s what makes it feel like a holiday and you feel better if everything goes the way it’s supposed to, right?  Making your bed everyday can make your whole day feel good, too.  I think that’s why making things & especially making things together just feels good.  It has a rhythm & it becomes part of your routine.  I typically knit at night while we’re watching TV, I hand sew when my husband is driving, I machine sew when it’s football season (& I stand no chance whatsoever of controlling the remote), etc.  Picking up one of my projects every night lets me shift into neutral & de-stress!  I think we’re missing that/seeking that a lot in today’s society.

BACKYARD CHICKENS & BEEKEEPING:

I laughed so hard that I stopped breathing the other night when I heard someone on The Tonight Show say, “Backyard chickens are a gateway drug to beekeeping!”  Then I put it on my Facebook & it went wild with comments & interactions.  Sooooo true though!  They were talking about how many people worked incredibly stressful jobs & then go home & clean out backyard chicken coops for fun & give home grown eggs as gifts at parties, etc.  It has become this incredible phenomenon along with the whole “make it” movement.  Something inside our heads just knows that to balance out all of the tech & screen time & stress we need to get back to growing gardens, making things & interacting with animals.  It’s nature’s chill pill.  And, I believe it explains why, as we move further & further away from a society that makes things for a living, we have seen such a spike in mental health issues & stress related problems…

MOVING MY MOJO:

I looked at my husband the other night after panicking about something related to the move again & said, “I haven’t knitted enough; that’s my problem!” and I was right.  We have moved my mojo right along with the house & I’m not going to get it back until I unpack my sewing room & my knitting.

So- go ahead- make those jokes about “I knit/sew & nobody gets hurt.”  We all know- it really is true & it’s important.  We need to acknowledge that it’s an important tool in surviving modern life.  We might not need the things we make the way our ancestors did, but we need the process of making.