Is that John Travolta in Your Bed Room?

Watching to much HDTV and following about 100 upcycle boards on Pinterest has given me a passion for sorting through other people’s junk. You never know what you’ll find in someone else’s garage, and the hunt for something unique just thrills me. While I have dreams of someday discovering an unused collection of my favorite depression glass pattern or a stash of pyrex that looks just like my Nana’s, more often I gather up simple things that may inspire me to create something new.

At a local rummage sale last week I came across a basket of old knitting and needlework patterns that really intrigued me and bought a big stack of them for $1.00. I wasn’t disappointed when I found the March 1978 issue of “Family Circle” stuck in among the fisherman’s sweaters and McCall’s cross stitch books.

Among the typical women’s magazine articles  (“How to Lose Weight Without Really Trying,” “Are You Smarter Than Your Husband?” and “The Secret to Beautiful Skin”) were several craft tutorials and an abundance of decorating suggestions. I am inspired by the embroidery below. The thread was brushed after completion to make the color burst. I’d love to lean this technique to bring my own embroidery to life. I love how the technique allows the colors to felt and blend.

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1978 3D needlework- a unique way to enhance embroidery.

While the furniture in this room needs some updating, I actually love the geometric floor created from a hand cut stencil. It would be even better if limited to a smaller section of flooring to highlight the windows or seating area. And see the coffee table with the plant in it? A little weird, but it’s made from a chicken coop which automatically makes it ten times more fantastic, right? Upcycling was a thing before we even knew it was a thing.

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Still, let’s be honest. Some vintage trends should stay buried in the pages of “Family Circle” back issues.  I will continue to look to the back for ideas and inspiration while simultaneously cringing at the bedrooms of our pasts.

Just looking at this room makes me uneasy.

Just looking at this room makes me uneasy. All those patterns mixed together! Let’s leave this trend in the past.

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Should the pattern on your wallpaper ever match the pattern on your bed spread?

The (kinda) Big Reveal

I’ve been hard at work trying to get my craft room in order and it has been a huge DIY project in itself. I’m so excited to finally have a space of my own where I can be inspired, get some work done, and possibly even have a little quiet time. So far I’m finding that the layout works perfectly and it really functional.  My goal was to design a space with lots of room to work, storage for large and small supplies, and lots of personality. I also wanted to somehow break up the large finished area of our basement so I could retreat into my nook without feeling like I had to go on a massive cleaning and organization rampage before I started my work.

So far, it seems the space is going to work out perfectly. I love being secluded from the explosion of toys that takes over our house on a daily basis. And as much as I might like to be able to shut a door and block out all the noise that comes with those toys, it’s awfully convenient to be able to hear and see the kids as they play next to my work space.

I wish I was better at taking photos (another thing to learn!) but for now, this is what I have.

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The Kallax 4×4 shelving system works great as a room divider.

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My computer used to be in the kitchen. Now it’s hidden from view and little fingers.

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I chose the Tornlinden table top and Olov legs to create and elevated and comfortable work table that is large enough for two people.

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Lots of bars and jars for sorting and organizing buttons, beads, pins and other small items.

And immediately adjacent to my crafting space we have a lego building center- perfect for keeping the kiddos busy while I do my thing (unless we have a missing piece, of course, in which case I am forced to get involved in the building process).

 

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Overcoming Barriers

Like many people who are beginning any artistic journey I am struggling with three barriers. Time, Confidence and Space. I’ve decided to take an hour and tackle all three of these issues this morning.

Time        Don’t we all wish we had more of it? Every morning I wake hoping to set aside an hour or so to work on a project, but then life happens. Laundry, meals, errands, exercise, birthday parties, Candy Land and Legos. Boo boos, riding bikes, chatting with mom, going to the park and more laundry. All worthy and necessary tasks that must be completed to keep my family functioning and my sanity intact.  Today I am working on making my time expectations more realistic. Every day I will devote a minimum of 10 minutes to one of my projects. This may mean my cedar chest will sit unfinished in my garage for another month until I can set aside several hours, but at least I will add several rows of knitting to my afghan or a few stitches to my embroidery sampler (more on those projects later).

Confidence        I feel a pit in my stomach every time I hit “Publish Post” on this blog. Sometimes it seems most of my brain cells went the way of sleeping in on Sunday mornings and draft beers with my husband on Friday nights. My writing is not what it used to be, and neither is my artistic intuition. Fear of saying something ridiculous or creating something that’s garbage prevents me from creating. What a ridiculous excuse. One way I plan to conquer this barrier is to laugh at my fear and to force myself to write or work when my brain is at its soggiest. What do I have to lose? I’ve already shown everyone my first knitting project, and I’m pretty sure even an poorly written blog post won’t top that project failure. In fact, I might even post a project failure every week just to relieve myself from that burden of embarrassment. After all- if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ll spend your whole life crying your eyes out!

Space        Although we moved almost a year ago, I still feel I haven’t finished unpacking. Despite an abundance of storage space, there is still clutter everywhere.  My knitting is in a storage bin in my son’s closet. My embroidery is shoved in a corner in the laundry room. Someone stole my colored pencils, I left the cap off my mod podge and I’m pretty sure I vacuumed up that 1/16th inch drill bit I haven’t seen in a week. In short, I need to get organized. It’s been my plan since we moved in to create a little crafting corner for myself in our basement. So despite the mess that has taken over the rest of the house, I went to Ikea earlier this week and purchased everything I’ll need to make a functional workspace. I have been super inspired by Angie’s craft room tours at The Country Chic Cottage. I am determined to create a space of my own! As part of that fear defiance thing I mentioned, I will shamelessly show you my “before” photo.

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Yep. Not very conducive to crafting. Or anything really. Who would want to jump on that stationary bike or relax with a book in this mess??

Check back this weekend and I will show you my progress. In the mean time, tell me what your workspace looks like. How do you gain time, confidence and space to create what you love?

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Here’s what happens when three little boys help you out with Ikea furniture. Instant fort!

 

Never Had One Lesson

Here’s a look back at my very first knitting project completed circa 2002. Did I choose a nice simple scarf? Of course not. I decided to make my boyfriend an afghan.

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Yes, it is a trapezoid. I was yarning over and had utterly no clue what was happening.

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Notice the holes, the confusion of right side and wrong side, and the loose ends I didn’t know how to weave in.

Is this what I have to look forward to as I take on new projects? Perhaps… But I have to admit, that blanket is seriously cozy. And my now husband still keeps it folded in the closet to bring out on “sick days.”

There is something about a handmade gift. No matter what the skill level of the giver.

One Of A Kind

I used to be creative.

No, really. I did!

You can ask my mom.

When I was younger I spent every moment I could painting, sculpting, cross stitching, beading, friendship bracelet making and potholder weaving. Then I discovered this other thing I loved called science, and art sort of went on the back burner. Fast forward through college, a short career as a wetland biologist, marriage, and three kids and that creative artist of my past has been all but buried. Since the birth of my twins in 2011 I’ve hardly even picked up a crayon except to color yet another spongebob portrait.

But a few months ago, I picked up my knitting needles and what they produced amazed me. A sock. A red, black, gray and pink striped sock that felt glorious on my feet. I rubbed them, stared at them and carried them around in my purse to show all my friends. “You’re all getting socks for Christmas,” I said.

Believe it or not, that sock made an impact. One friend said, “I’ve pinned at least 200 sock patterns. I’m going home and I’m going to make a sock!” And another, “I’ve always wanted to learn to knit. I’m going to JoAnn to buy some yarn right now.” We banded together. Formed a craft group. Banished our children to the playroom (except during the occasional snack/sleep/diaperchange/tantrum break) and began to create.

Over the course of a few months that intense desire to make stuff and to master skills slowly came back to me. So far, I’ve been a dabbler in many projects and have mastered exactly zero of the new skills I’ve tried.  But I am having So. Much. Fun. And I want to share my triumphs and embarrassments and maybe inspire a few others to pick up their needles and make a one of a kind sock. Or maybe even a pair. Image