Monday, January 29, 2024

Another Gratitude Journal

I put the finishing touches on this gratitude journal and got it into the hands of a friend last week so now I can share it with you. I'd shown you here how I backed the gift wrap for the pockets and covers by using Cling Wrap between the gift wrap and rice paper backing and a hot iron. The Cling Wrap melts a bit to stick the two layers together, but when I trimmed up a smaller piece where cling wrap and rice paper extended past the gift wrap, I discovered that the Cling wrap peels right off the paper. Sooo, not a permanent solution at all, but I think it will hold well enough in this application. If I back gift wrap again, I'll do so with something more permanent like fusible web, provided it doesn't cause any wrinkling.

I'd pulled this beautiful gift wrap from National Wildlife Federation along with the William Morris gift wrap, not sure which I would use on the first gratitude journal. William Morris won out and I couldn't part with the finished book. That's ok because I felt this NWF paper more suited to my friend. When looking for ribbon for the closure of my book, I found this yellow ribbon as well, which I decided was perfect for this second book. But my choice of waxed linen thread on hand was pretty dull next to this paper so I found this yellow orange online. It could have been a brighter yellow but I didn't see anything better anywhere I looked.

I made this reading through directions I'd printed out, only referencing the videos a few times. Got a little cocky when I sewed the back cover on when, in my haste, I kept reading "link stitch" as "kettle stitch" for some reason, probably because the kettle stitch was the stitch before. So I'm short a "chain" on that last row of stitches but otherwise, the cover is attached well.

Didn't really have gift paper for the end papers (didn't want to use more of the cover paper) and in scrounging around my small stash of papers, I came across this paste paper I received from Sylvia Weir after I'd commented on her blog post showing her experiments with making it. It sort of looks like wavy water which I decided fit with the pocket gift wrap.

I chose some scenes from old calendars for the signature wraps. Not intended but I realized they could be seen representing the 4 seasons so I arranged the signatures in order of spring to winter. This one would be summer. An inspirational quote printed on presentation paper is slipped into the pocket.

I glued this message on the title page so she would have no doubt what this book was for.

I painted borders on some of the pages like I did in my own journal. It's such a nice touch, especially when coordinated with a magazine page inserted between signature pages.

I also used washi tape again to create borders. The tape is so old it doesn't want to peel off the roll without tearing. But I remembered a trick to help remove masking tape without affecting the surface it is being pulled away from: warm it with a heat tool or hair dryer. It did the trick.

Some of the things I tried attaching didn't stick particularly well around the edges so I bordered them with washi tape to hold them in place.

I was doing my best to cover the back side of those calendar pictures - more washi tape holding a card in place and some stickers.

One last washi tape-bordered card. The book was very well received which I was sure it would be. But you never know, so I was more than pleased at my friend's response. She said what I included in the book was indeed inspirational and she was immediately planning what would go inside. So while she starts on her gratitude journal, I continue to add things to my own. So much to be grateful for, so many little things worth preserving in it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Studio Organizing Kick Start

I did get the latest gratitude journal sewn together last week but got delayed in adding finishing touches because I had this coupon from my landlord for a free rug cleaning and it was due to expire by the end of the month. I'd opted not to use it in December (who wants the uproar of a rug cleaning during the holidays, except I understand many companies are swamped with requests as people ready for company and parties - not me), then our weather took that deep dive temperature wise this month, and I knew the cleaners would have to leave the front door partially open while they worked. So last week we finally started rising above zero and I figured I'd better call and get my rug cleaning scheduled. Honestly, I thought they might not have an opening before my coupon expired. Instead, they could come the next day (NO!) or the following day (Okay!) and the rush was on to get things up off the floor and a few pieces of furniture moved throughout the house. Finishing the gratitude journal would have to wait.

I nearly opted for them not to clean in my studio; it doesn't get the same amount of foot traffic as the rest of the house and as I've mentioned before, so many things end up piled on the floor for various reasons. My worktable was already covered, so where was I going to put all those things that needed picking up? I started by clearing things from the door back to where I have small tables for printer and laptop. Here's how it looked after removing bags and boxes from either side of this space.

Thank goodness this room has the adjoining bathroom where these things could be moved to, along with chairs and the laptop table.

Then there was the small stack of fat quarter handdyes and Stonehedge fabric I didn't want to fold so laid on the floor between worktable and storage cabinets along the outer wall. Also another stack of projects I'd laid out in the space behind where I sit at my main sewing machine with the idea that they would be handy to work on - I remember my logic in a past organizing scheme, but they just sat and started getting covered up by things from my bookmaking projects and other small bins I'd worked from and not returned to their place in the closet. Honestly, as I started picking through them, some seemed like ancient history and maybe not applicable anymore, plus I also found more hand-dyed fat quarters with no idea why they had ended up on the bottom of this stack. Where to quickly put all this to clear that space seen above for cleaning?

Here's where - on my ironing board. It already had things on it and I had no intention of folding it down. I decided they could work around it.

Well, kinda work around it. The cleaner immediately recognized that this room was a studio (his girlfriend makes upcycled art for sale) and said he'd be very careful going around all that was still under the worktable as well as this pile in front of the closet doors. I have two long skinny baskets of fat quarters that always sit there and I just piled the other bags and stacks on top of them. Turns out he decided to move the ironing board but did so without a thing out of place.

I have to say, all that lifting, pulling, shoving and bending over picking up things left me with sore arm muscles, stiff back of legs and a general achyness all over which took several days to recover from but to my surprise, absolutely no back pain! I guess I've arrived at a new level of post surgery healing and it is great to know. The rest of the house is put back in order, a few organizing things attended to along the way, but I'm not looking forward to figuring out how to organize the mess of my studio, although a few things have been sorted. After all, it got in this state due to my inability to make decisions and procrastination about putting things back where they belong. But I will have to if I plan on getting any work done in there. I did finish up the gratitude journal yesterday, but my next project may be a baby quilt, and you can see I can't work on that or "create any other pretty things" until real progress is made on this unexpected kick start to getting things organized. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Busy & Cold!

Hope the above does not offend anyone, but when I came across Dorothy Parker's short poem, I had to laugh. Oh yes, exactly how I feel as I find myself in denial, listening to talk of MLK day coming up and thinking, surely that isn't THIS Monday. But it is and we are at the mid-point of January already, leaving me wondering how did that happen. Well, keep on making organizational and project progress!

And I have, though I have no photos yet to prove it. I'm continuing work on another gratitude journal, this a belated Christmas present, and just like the one I made for myself, I am having great fun with it. And as I work and also move around my house, I am remembering a couple of key things about organizing. Most importantly, you don't have to do it all at once. Even dealing with a single item out of place RIGHT NOW rather than throwing it back on a pile for later is progress making me feel better. More and more is slowly being put right. And as I looked for magazine pages to use in the signatures, I got through two past issues of quilting magazines that I'd set on the end of the worktable until I felt I had time to go through them and pull any articles or pictures worth saving. Now there are two off my table and ready to go to the library where they have a magazine exchange section.

I'm still feeling pretty invigorated and diving into my studio with more energy and direction than I've felt for quite awhile. Could it be the ultra cold weather we've been experiencing? Like much of the country, we have been affected by that Arctic Blast. Thursday I hustled between snow squalls to pick up meds, groceries and a battery for the garage door opener and do a quick shovel of my short sidewalk to the front steps as that very day the temps were predicted to drop from high 20's towards single digits. And indeed, by Friday we were in the negatives, windchills leaving no doubt that my daily walks would be on hold. For two days we did not get above zero with our lowest low being around -18, but yesterday and today our high has been 8 degrees and the lows have been edging closer to zero. The forecast shows a steady rise in temperature the rest of the week but also a storm coming in tomorrow night or Wednesday that may dump up to a foot of snow on us. Well, it IS winter in the Pacific Northwest, and I have to admit, the super cold but sunny days have brought me a bit alive! And more snow? Just gives me more excuse to stay inside to work in the studio and knit in the evening.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

One and (Not) Done

I started last week with unusual vigor, and when I sat down to do my usual checks on the internet, I instead found myself pulling things out of the center cubby of my roll top desk. There are smaller cubbies on either side that are fine in terms of being organized, but this larger one is where I tend to toss papers I think I will want to reference soon or just don't know what to do with yet. It always gets totally out of hand and gets searched through throughout the year without ever really doing anything about the pile. Not this day. Out came everything, including 2 years' worth of Christmas cards (I always hold some back thinking I will answer them before the next Christmas rolls around but rarely do), a paper clipped group of recipes from magazines (I have no idea why I put them there), and various papers that could either be filed or tossed. In the process, the fountain pen I'd been looking for I think 2 years emerged; I must have tossed it up there with something too and it had rolled to the back and down near the bottom of the stack. I know I looked for it several times in that cubby, lifting up papers from the front but probably just burying it further. Anyway, excited to have it back. Then I attacked the corner of the writing area where I had let those insurance "explanation of benefits", prescription labels and paid medical statements pile up, waiting for me to match them up and file them. Well look at that - a clean desk and my first organizing of the year done.

Also one and (not) done, the first sock of the pair from the grey wool. I actually knitted into the wee hours of New Year's Day to finish them, only to find the instructions for binding off merely saying to do it with a sewn bind off. A sewn bind off? What is that? While these directions did include illustrations of how to cast on and decrease/increase, it assumed I'd know how to do a sewn bind off. Luckily, when I first got interested in knitting socks, I invested in a book that absolutely has everything you need to know about knitting socks, all the different methods and stitches, and then patterns to try them out. I did a quick check and yes, it had instructions for a sewn bind off, but it was way to late for me to absorb the method. Another day, a study of the method, and I quickly finished off this first sock. It really is an easy and nifty bind off for the top of a ribbed sock. Speaking of ribs, I realize that the sock looks a little weird, but that's the 2 x 2 ribbing which stretches out when on the foot, keeping them snug all the way up past the ankle without being too tight. That bodes well for the knee high version which I just may try. It's a good fit though maybe a tad long heel to toe, but I think blocking will made it all better. I've started on sock two, having the same struggle with that different cast-on and the first few inches of increases. I may have done a better job than on the first sock which has a curious lump of knitting under the middle toes and a few holes I need to sew up. Anxious to get past the increases and on to the ribbing pattern.

Do you remember the Celtic Weave handmade book from August? I intended to add a few things to the pages before gifting it to my niece who has been researching her Irish heritage and making a few sojourns to Ireland. Plenty of time, I told myself as I set it aside to work on other things. And then not plenty of time as I realized it would be a Christmas gift and Christmas was almost here. So that week before Christmas, I got busy, cutting out the stained glass images of a Celtic design that repeatedly showed up in catalogs. I'd been tossing them in the bin of ephemera for art journaling/mixed media and now they had a home. The signature papers are off-white while the Celtic design had a white background, so I used an X-acto knife to cut away the white within the design. I've been wanting to try the Artist-tac adhesive that is especially made for open designs like lace or doilies; instead of a solid sheet of adhesive, it has dots of adhesive. Here's the video where I found out about this product and shows it in action as well as Art Graf's Double tack which I used to adhere a large print out instead of glue so there'd be no wrinkling. Both product worked great.

The book has 8 inner signatures and I had just enough of these Celtic designs to place one on the first page of each of those signatures.

I also wanted to add a couple of Irish Blessings and decided to invest in a wood stencil designed for drawing evenly spaced lines on a page. Oh, where have you been all my life? I found this one on Etsy and decided that even though a little more expensive than some of the plastic ones for sale, it would be worth it and I think I was right. Here I've drawn the lines in pencil and they were erased after I finished writing. The finished book is now in the hands of my niece and she is delighted with it. Call that a finish for 2023. On to 2024 projects whatever they may be!

Monday, January 01, 2024

Into A New Year

Time once again to reveal my resolution word for the new year. I often have ideas pop into my head in advance of the end of one year and beginning of the next, but this year I was drawing a blank, no inspiration hitting me. But at last I had a thought, and the thought became something I warmed to. And I decided, this is it: my resolution word for 2024 will be "ORGANIZE". I'm generally quite the organizer but I've fallen off the wagon for too long. One look in my studio will tell you how badly I need to get that space organized again, but it is not the only space in my house needing attention. Also, my computer, full of photos that need sorting and/or deleting, saves to read later, things to print out. I need to get back to making lists too, short term and long term things and projects to complete, and I know that will help me stay more organized. I think I have a big job ahead of me but I am very ready to have a less clutter space everywhere, with organizing keeping me on track. Because you know, I still have so much to finish and no end to new things I want to try.

Speaking of new things, I have a confession to make. I've definitely been bitten by the knitting bug again, and have been spending a lot of time poring over patterns I have and downloading new free patterns to print out. I'd gotten out my stash of yarns, thinking to match what I had to patterns at hand, so that once that pair of socks is done, I can dive into the next project and start using up yarn. As I went through the bags, I was reminded of the mill end wool yarns I used to get at a yarn shop in town and wondering if they still carried them now that the shop had changed hands. The owner must have ESP because shortly after that, she posted that they had just gotten in a new shipment and showed a picture of them hanging on the wall. It was too much for me to resist, although I kept telling myself I did NOT need more yarn. But yarn is like quilting fabric, and one buys it even if one doesn't need it, because it is beautiful, and in this case quite a deal - just $4.50 per 190 yd skein. Be still my heart, as I focused on a lavender one. Against my better judgement, I stopped by, and not only bought all of the lavender yarn, but also the beautiful blue yarn right next to it. So there is my big bag of yarn, with enough there for a couple of sweaters. I already have it paired with patterns and am way too excited about getting started on them.

So that's how I'm starting off 2024 - with high hopes to get organized and way too much yarn for evening knitting! How about you? Have you done any reflecting on how 2023 went for you? Any plans or resolutions for the new year? Calm has a Facebook page where they post meditative and well, calming things, and I thought this offering might be good to work through; maybe you will too. Let's have a great New Year!



For previous year's resolution words, see these posts:

2008 - Freedom
2009 - Calm
2010 - Focus
2011 - Refocus
2013 - Perseverance
2014 - Explore
2015 - Fearless
2016 - Light
2017 - Endure 
2018 - Refresh
2019 - Wing It!  
2020 - Go! 
2021 - Finish 
2022 - More 
2023 - Continue