Tag Archives: creativity

New beginnings – sort of

A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore.  It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward.   Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years.    Wow!

What happened to change things?  I had a couple of lightbulb moments.    I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home.   Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments.  After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room.  Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful.   The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.

Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting.   I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.

That was the first light bulb moment!   I found myself wanting to create!   I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to.   Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme.  Tea!   From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags.   I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm.  Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down.  I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic!  While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.

 

After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer.   Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them.  Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.

This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again.   It felt good!     I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze.   This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can.  I am a bit proud of these first listings though!  Check out my tea cosy collection!

Yes that is eggs and bacon

And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!

I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.

And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.

So there you have it.  My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes!    There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.

 

School holidays

The heat here is, as predicted, just that.  Heat.  Baking down, blowing in the window like a furnace.  I got in the car to go the shop for milk tonight and the temperature gauge read 50 C (122F).  Hot.  Luckily it fell rapidly to 39C on the drive!

With the heat tempers are fraying, voices are snappy, and little things become difficult.  Oh wait – that might just be me!  Anyway – when I found myself with a house full of children yesterday (my three plus three more) and the temperatures were soaring, it was time to pull out some activities to keep them all engaged inside where it was cool.  Luckily a friend had put me onto the fact that the Sharpie pen range includes “Stained” – a series of fabric pens.  I found a pack of brightly coloured ones (orange, purple, green, blue, red, black, yellow and pink) before Christmas (for about $16 at Big W for those in Australia) and had tucked them away thinking they might work as a present for one of the chicks.  I also had a pile of blank t-shirts from my experiment with appliqueing shirts for the shop.  And voila!  We had a craft ready to go. (And by way of review of the pens – they worked well, lasted to do the 6 designs with more ink in them, had good clear colours and a brush tip which allowed for different finishes.  I will be recommending them!)

I made them all stick a piece of cardboard inside the shirts, and sat them down in pairs to design their own shirts.  The two older girls (the eldest chick and her friend) were the first.  Somehow they decided that “I rock – deal with it” was the statement of the day, and proceeded to decorate their shirts with that, plus a few extra swirls and squiggles.  I told them that there were no mistakes when you are a designer, so anything they made was going to be great! The friend also added pieces of fabric that I then appliqued on for her.

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Then the boy and his friend went to work on theirs.  Strangely enough (or not) they also felt the need to announce to the world that they ‘rock’.  The boy’s friend did an amazing job of drawing, writing and colouring in (and I regret not capturing it in a photo).  The boy, on the other hand, made a mistake and would not accept any guidance to see that it wasn’t a mistake, it could be salvaged, etc.  Much yelling and crying later he tackled a new shirt and did a great job.

That left the middle chick and her friend.  By this stage I was out of pale shirts (and patience to be honest) and down to pinks and purples.  They decided to draw on white cotton that I will then applique onto their shirts (must do that – mental note).  Neither of them felt the need to announce that they rock in any way – what a relief!

 

 

 

So this is the middle chick’s offering.  She started with the idea of drawing bamboo…..

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With children running here, there and everywhere, and the heat (did I mention that already?) I haven’t made it into the sewing room other than to hunt for various things that have been required.  I have, however, been busy in other aspects of this little business.

The first edition of my monthly newsletter was sent out last night, and, in addition to a free tutorial, links to free printables, and various other bits and pieces, it held a bit of news.  I have been accepted as a stall holder for the next Canberra Handmade Market, on the weekend of 8 and 9 March, which is a prestigious market, and has been part of my aim for the last 12 months.  I am very excited!

I was also contacted by two different organisations yesterday and asked to be a contributor of patterns, tutorials and tips.  One is a craft magazine published here in Australia, and the other is an international website used by many crafters.  In terms of things coming in threes, that was a pretty big three for this little bird!

I have also taken my first step to add another dimension to my shop, and have started to list bag making components for sale in addition to finished bags and accessories.  I have started with adjustable strap slides.  I have had no success finding these in the local stores (and I live in a fairly well resourced city) and ended up buying in bulk.  So I have decided to make these bits and pieces available more easily to those of you who might like to turn your hand at trying a pattern but are put off by not being able to find the right ‘notions’ in your local shops.

My intention is to follow this up with other bag hardware and some interfacing.  There are other steps that will follow this, but these are the first little ones before I start running!

I am itching to get into the sewing room and finish some bags, complete my not-so-secret project of making some baby items on commission and generally disappear into a cloud of creativity.  But reality is that it is hot.  Oh – and it is school holidays.  Once the children are back at their father’s house on the next ‘rotation’ I will be complaining of the quiet and having too much time on my hands.  (Or not!)

Either way, I hope that you are surviving the week wherever you are, and that you are able to enjoy some creativity of your own kind.

Being busy

This has been a busy week, with the return to school and all the extra-curricular activies (although I did discover that the middle chick’s pottery class doesn’t start until next week when I rushed to drop her off on time on Thursday! For once I was too organised!)

The biggest event of the week was the eldest chick having a gastroscopy and biopsies under a general anaesthetic on Friday. She has had this procedure before, as part of the diagnosis for coeliac disease. Last time was in the public hospital under the only surgeon in town who performs this procedure on children. She had to fast overnight for a 6.30am admission, but did not go into theatre until 2.30pm so was quite distressed. She also didn’t recover well from the anaesthetic and was very ill for some hours afterwards. This time round we had the same surgeon but as he now takes private patients, we booked into the private hospital in order to have her seen this year. Once again she fasted for a lunchtime admission….. only to arrive at the hospital and be told by the nurses that they run a book on this surgeon because he always runs a minimum of 2 hours late in arriving for his surgical lists. So instead of going into theatre at 1pm as planned she went in at 4.30. Another long day for a hungry child. To keep busy I took my crocheted afghan to work on. The upside of the delay? Quite a few more rows on it! Having busy hands really helped to keep my mind busy. I understand why knitting and crochet are so often seen in waiting rooms!

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Luckily the procedure went well, the surgeon sees no signs of the condition that was being investigated, and she recovered really well from the anaesthetic with no vomiting and lots of icy poles, ice-cream and lemonade. Her mother did need to retire to the lounge with a glass or two of wine once all the chicks were in bed after such a long day! The afghan started with only the request of the middle chick to make a colourful wool blanket. I think, after 6 months of crochet at martial arts classes and in waiting rooms, that I might be ready to finish it now! Which is great as it is still freezing here, so the blanket should get lots of use on the couch keeping chicks warm for a few months!

It was good that I had those hours to crochet, as, apart from repairs to the school production costumes, little sewing happened this week! I did, however, have time to play with pictures and colours suggested by the middle chick (and originally drawn by her) which have resulted in the new banner for this page, and the facebook page and Etsy shop. I am thinking of using the little birds to make some fabric, so stand by for a splash of little bird colour in the near future!

The week of watching the boy on his new medication has been interesting. His teacher reports that she can see a difference in him at school. I have still seen no difference at home, including over the weekend when he has been as full of energy and life as usual. The up side of this is that all my fears about him losing his spirit on medication have proven to be baseless. He is still full of affection, energy, talk, and enthusiasm. He scored two tries in his Rugby game yesterday, and encouraged his team on to score quite a few more. So the world has not ended and he is behaving well at school.

This week holds the excitement of the school production at the big theatre. The eldest chick and I have purchase the required makeup (!!!) and the middle chick and I have our tickets to attend and watch. (The boy is having a ‘date’ with his favourite babysitter!) I also need to find my balance, or rhythm, again to get the crafting groove back on after all the disruption of the last few weeks. Some of the disruption is self inflicted, as I have (gulp) started dating over the last few weeks.  It feels so strange to say that at my age, with three children, some grey hairs, and a few decades under my belt,  but there you have it.  It is early days in a new relationship so anything could happen, but when there are children involved you have to confront a whole lot of issues much earlier in a relationship than would normally occur!  Taking that step out into the unknown is so much more daunting when there are three little lives connected to yours, so at the moment I am flying blind and just keeping my fingers crossed that I am doing the right thing as I take each new step.  Talk about new adventures in life!!  A new relationship also brings up issues from the past that I hadn’t realised were not neatly labelled, sorted, and packed away.  And reminders about not repeating previous mistakes.  Not getting so caught up in the excitement that important parts of life get lost, bits of self are neglected and pieces of passion are misdirected.    As a result one of the aims of this week is to spend some time on the business plan, and taking some important steps to put the plan into action.  Because when all is said and done, if I am not exercising my creative self, the rest of my self is so much lesser.

Right –  now that the pep talk has been delivered to my self it is time to start the prep for the week ahead, to consider some order in the household chaos, and to contemplate time for dreaming.   Have a great week, wherever you are, and enjoy your creative groove, however it plays out!

Creativity of different sorts

During the course of today, as I was sewing metre after metre of burgundy polycotton into costumes for the school theatrical production I was thinking about this blog entry and what to write.  I mulled over different thoughts that have drifted through my head in the last week but was feeling that I had no photos to share, and that this was going to start becoming the ‘photo-less boring blog’.  So I took some shots of the piles of burgundy polycotton and tried to think of ways to make them seem interesting.  And then I turned around and realised that what was happening in my house was far more interesting, both visually and creatively, so took some more photos and hey presto I know what I am going to share with you tonight!!  (Ooooh the suspense will kill you won’t it!)

In good news I appear to be fully recovered from the virus that had me floored this time last week.  I had two good days in the office and am back to full strength, so that is a huge improvement!   And to top things off in the feeling better stakes, the sun came out today!  I think I have mentioned before that I am really not coping with winter this year and I think it is because of the fog, the rain and the long grey days.  However today was a delight – sun and clear skies all day.  The children and their friends played outside for the first time in a long time – and did some great experimenting with vinegar and bicarb soda – including using it to inflate balloons – that shot around very quickly when released!  So much fun, discovery and laughter (and I am kicking myself for not getting photos!)  I was desperate to get outside and do a number of jobs that have been put on the back burner while the weather has been so dismal – repacking the camper trailer, raking the leaves, trimming the roses – you know, all the exciting things.  But those piles of burgundy polycotton were calling my name……

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Do you think I have mentioned them enough?  I have made 15 tunics (and perfected my technique beautifully if I may say so!) and even managed to adjust a pattern to make it larger (including upsizing the sleeve!!!) but it just doesn’t feel as satisfying as my normal crafting.  I think I ‘might’ be a fabric snob.  I am too used to sewing with lovely cotton, and delightful designs, and the 16 or so metres of the (now) dreaded burgundy got a bit much!  I am not quite finished yet – I need to ‘bling’ up four of the tunics for a particular group of students, and make capes for each of the tunics.  (I can’t remember if I explained that these are tunics for Trojans and the story they are telling is the Trojan Horse.)  Before I can start on cape construction I need to see what the Greek tunics that other people are making will cover when they are worn over the Trojan tunics.  Details, details, details!  I will be quite happy when they are all finished and I can return to my usual programming!

The more important things I want to share with you tonight?  The creativity that is happening all around me, even when I am moaning about that particular coloured fabric.  First of all the great backyard experimenting in the sun, and then the eldest chick (who is only 10) announced that she would cook dinner.  And she did!  She experimented earlier in the week in making a Jamaican chicken dish, and as it turned out so well, she repeated it again.  It is delicious!  Each time she has cooked the chicken to perfection!  She served it with rice and vegetables and her brother and sister cleared their plates!

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Using the stool to reach the microwave!

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

(Imagine the dinner table discussion about what kind of jerks these chickens must have been!)

The bonus to her cooking was that I got to give my new workout program a go.  Now that I am healthy again, I finally made it to see my personal trainer for my first official session.  We agreed that I need a program I can do at home, that involves the kids, otherwise I will continue to not exercise.  So the middle chick ran the timer and she and the boy counted my ‘reps’ for each exercise.  The boy was hilarious and started yelling ‘encouragement’ in the style of a drill sergeant!  I say hilarious, but it could easily become dangerous!  I suspect my body will be complaining loudly tomorrow but for now I am feeling suitable virtuous.

The other creativity in my house was on public display at school on Thursday and Friday.  On Thursday the eldest chick had her annual piano recital.  Her teacher is delightful and ensures that all students, even the youngest and newest, get to play a piece that showcases their ability and makes them feel special.  This year the eldest chick emulated many senior students before her, and chose to play a piece from memory.  I was a little dubious about her decision, especially as her piano practise has dropped away recently.  However, she made me very proud with a lovely rendition of a classical piece called “Climbing”.

Late last week the middle chick and two of her friends auditioned to participate in the ‘performance assembly’ held at the end of each term.  On Friday students chosen from years 3 and 4 put on displays of martial arts, piano playing, drum playing (!!!), hip hop dancing, ballet, skipping, and singing.  The middle chick and her friends performed a piece that my chick had scripted, that was a news report, reporting on the state of their school.  It included lines such as ‘the level of cool in our school is 100%.  We are not too school for cool, or too cool for school.  We have nerds here too, but they are cool.”  They also went on to explain that the reason that their school is so great is due to the teachers and the principal.  Hmmmm….. a good way to score points in the good graces of said teachers and principal!  It was delightful, and they were all appropriately proud of themselves.

The added bonus of attending the assembly was that I was able to be there to see the boy presented with an award (that I didn’t have advance notice of).  He was so proud being up there on the stage and immediately presented me with his certificate (part of a peer growth program in the school called Making Jesus Real) before returning to sit with his class.  Much happiness all round.

Now that was worth waiting a few paragraphs for wasn’t it?  Far more interesting that the other topics I was considering (which may or may not have included mid-life crises, the gender issues in Australian politics, and/or internet dating.)  None of them in any way related to crafting!

On a final note I can report that it appears that my judgement as a parent, that I was beginning to question a couple of weeks ago, is still working.  (Phew!)  It doesn’t make our issues disappear, but it reassures me that I still have perspective on those issues.  I can also predict that there will be much of my own crafting to report soon, as the children are going to visit their grandparents for the holidays so I will have free time, and it is time to start making ‘stuff’ for the school fete craft stall.   Hmmmm……I can feel more lists coming on – some might even make it onto the blog.

May your week be delightfully creative in many different ways!