Christmas Work Has Begun

After promising myself I would get started in July, I’ll have to settle for starting in October.

The first gift gives me practice at switching colors while knitting, which will be good preparation for another scarf of many colors and great length.Β  πŸ™‚Β  Other gifts this season will include pottery, quilts, sewing and baking as we continue in developing our tradition of handmade gifts and quality time together.Β  I hope for you much the same in the upcoming season.

IMG_1808_1For this project, though, I give thanks for Charmed Knits.Β  So far, though I’ve been working on it openly, none of the kids know for whom the scarf is being made.Β  (They have figured out it is a scarf.)

I highly recommend the double-layer scarf done on the circular needles.Β  There’s something highly comforting about knitting every row; it’s downright meditative.

If I don’t think it will give the gifts away, I’ll share photos of other gifts as they’re in progress.

Enjoy!

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For the Expressive Soul

In the women’s spirituality group I help facilitate, we’re doing what I guess you could call a series on spiritual tools for the journey.  These are a few things that, along the way, I have found to be beneficial to me for hearing the inner longings of my soul.

  • Journaling  Of course, I am a writer by nature, so this one comes easily to me.  But I don’t take this journaling gig lightly.  I have a dream journal, which is written in first before those slippery
    dreams from the subconscious slip away again.  I always date the dreams
    and try to mark when it’s a full moon (because the dreams are usually
    particularly vivid and significant then for me).  After documenting the dreams, I pull out the Gratitude Journal (idea from Sarah ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance).  I list at least five things for which I’m grateful, and these range from people to things to ideas to states of being.  Lastly, there’s the “morning pages” (term coined by Julia Cameron in her Artist’s Way books) where I vent/muse/list/write for a while.  The goal is three pages, but sometimes three short paragraphs is all I have time for.  Some days the whole process takes about 15 minutes.  I’ve been known to take two hours.
  • Collage  This is another process inspired by Cameron’s Artist’s Way.  My partner in spiritual direction and I use this tool frequently to either find where we are in the present stage in our lives or to help visualize what it is we want or need.  Collages can be done given a prompt, given a time frame or given nothing but freedom of expression.  Most recently, I collaged a manila folder, and it will store items in it particular to this phase of my life.
  • Movement  When our mind and spirit are expressed through the movement of our body, when the energy is released, I anticipate great things happening.  This is an area that I hope to explore more in the future.  I hope to learn t’ai chi.  I have another woman leading this session this week, and I can’t wait to see what we do, how it feels.  Honoring my body, caring for it well, is something I have to work on, but if our body is not well, we are not available to others, let alone to ourselves.  Maintaining a balance and allowing the energy to flow freely improves our overall well-being.
  • Meditation  I was first introduced to sitting meditation (zazen) through a Buddhism class in college.  For this, I am ever grateful.  I went back many times to the Monday night “Journey into Silence.”  I met wonderful people there, though the truth is we didn’t talk all that much.  25 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes walking, 15 minutes of sitting was the schedule, if I recall correctly.  Truly, there are many forms of meditation, and I won’t list technique here.  The point is silence.  Prayerful listening.  Stillness.  Quiet mind.  As busy people, sometimes we don’t have hours to sit in prayer to receive guidance, to experience the presence of God, but we can bring a mindfulness into our present task.  We can do things with a full-bodied awareness that embodies stillness and with prayerful listening be able to hear the still, small voice of Spirit or to experience the joy and gladness of doing the right thing at the right time.

These are just a few of the tools that I use, some more regularly than others, of course.  I encourage you to find what you use to express yourself creatively, what helps you hear the inner voice, what helps guide and assure you in your journey, and make it a regular practice.  You are only too busy if it is not a priority.

If finding what you are supposed to be doing is a priority to you or if you want clarity on anything, you have to be still and honest with yourself long enough to glimpse the truth of the matter.  This isn’t easy, but the rewards are great. 

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Indoor Amusement

With the ice growing thick outside, the kids have been confined to the house.  With my energy being sparse, fortunately the young ones are getting creative when left to their own devices.

Delving into the recycling bin and craft cabinets, the kids decided to make robot masks and costumes.  After their construction, we had a living room parade and contest.

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Naturally, they each won an award for their creativity, concept and effort.

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Felt Booties, Part Two

The booties are quick and easy to knit, to be sure.  Even though I knit the second pair to test my technique, I still couldn’t decide when to stop on the right side.  Fortunately, when felted, they did pretty much look the same.  πŸ™‚

Delightfully for me, and thankfully for my dry, sensitive hands, my washer does work for felting.  Though it is a front-loader, it will pause and allow me to open the door.  Additionally, the heavy cotton cycle is perfect timing for felting . . . at least for this project!

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I prefer the bulky yarn for these booties, but the lighter-weight yarn makes for a nice, lighter, more flexible bootie.  Both have an almost elvish quality to them.

There’s one more installment on the booties, because even though they are felted and dry, they’re still neither finished nor fit to be worn by little tootsies.

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Felt Booties, Part One

knit_slippers.jpgThis is my first felting experiment.  Truth be told, it is also the first time I’m actually knitting from a pattern.  It has been a good experience thus far.

The funny thing is, I still don’t know what I’m doing!  I hope that the felting will disguise the fact that one slipper has a “wrong side” out.  It was the first one I did.  I don’t recall doing the second one any different, but isn’t that the way with crafts?  Sometimes they take on a life of their own.

These purple gems will go to our youngest as a Christmas gift, the first to be checked off the ever growing list!
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If you’re interested in where I got the pattern from, the book is called Knit It! Felt It!, published by House of White Birches (which invokes a lovely image, I must say).  It’s the Child’s Footies pattern on p.64.

I’m not sure I’ll have them felted by Thursday, but the good news is that the dishes are done so that the sink is available!

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A Boy and a Ship

Halloween ripens the imagination.  You can be whatever you want, and my boys in particular love being pirates.  An afternoon otherwise preoccupied presented a quick and easy transformation of a box and a mop so that I could actually work on other things while said pirate could search for treasure.

boxship.JPG.jpgSurely you have a box or two you’ve been saving.  We get enough Amazon shipments around here!  This box isn’t even all that big.  Truth be told, it was the boy’s idea.  I just wielded the scissors and helped him put “canons” on his ship (halved toilet paper rolls, slits cut on one side so it can flare out to be glued to the box).

boypirate.JPG.jpgWith the top and bottom opened on the box, the pirate can maneuver the ship easily.  A side of a paper bag makes for a nice textured map, painted with red directions, of course.  The colors were made from a scrap of black fabric, white acrylic paint and half of a Swiffer mop.  (The emptied Lego tub also makes a good ship, but it’s more difficult to maneuver without an older sibling and without getting in trouble for scratching the floor.

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“Look, Mom! I found land!”

I always knew my fabric containers were useful.  They’re out from under the bed so I can organize them, but, if they serve other purposes, it’s all the better.

Yes, that is a light saber turned sword.  I guess next time I’ll have to make him a halter. πŸ™‚

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My First Hat!

I’ve looked at a couple of hat patterns, and I already had some circular needles.  I just hadn’t used either!  I took the needles, some leftover and some new yarn and went to knittin’ while hubby drove to Austin for the Maker Faire.  (I will be oh-so-glad when I can knit without having to look at my hands!  Carsickness be damned!)  I just finished it recently, finally using an upholstery needle to tie off the top; my daughter’s plastic knitting/tapestry needle couldn’t be found.

I learned I still don’t really know what I’m doing when I’m knitting.  Some instruction and more reading would probably greatly increase my skill level.  For now, though, it’s a hat I would and do wear.

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The benefit of making your own wares is that you can say, “I meant to do that.” πŸ™‚  I don’t have to tell everyone where/how I “messed” up.  It’s a hat a mother can love.

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Crafty Family Outing

You’d be hard-pressed to find something more unique, creative and inspiring to take the family to.  It has engineering, robotics, sewing, silkscreen, ecology, electronics and everything else you never thought of rolled into one artsy-craftsy-geeky Maker Faire in Austin, Texas.
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Last year was our first year to go, and one of the highlights was the life-size Mousetrap (pictured here) that we’re excited to see will be there this year, too.  But that’s just one thing.  The fairgrounds are covered with amazing feats of creativity.

If you want to know more about what’s going to be there, visit the site above or search around on the Make and Craft blogs.  If you can’t make it this year, put it on your calendar for ’09!

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Craftiness and Creativity Abounds

Though my husband’s convinced that we don’t have enough time for our creativity, welotus close up.jpg manage to pull a few things off every now and then, and he still has enough hope to send me a few links now and again to keep the creativity well filled.  There’s a tutorial on making the pictured lotus pop-up card on Zakka Life — one of the new links and where the photo comes from.

The kiln is firing today, just finished actually, and we’ll see if anything blew up after all is cooled.  1800 degrees Farenheit is hot!

In my burst of organization, I’ve rearranged the former “school” room into even more of a “craft” room.  Some day maybe I’ll get up the nerve to call it a studio.  Who needs a dining room these days when nooks are more comfortable anyway?

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We still have way too many books.  My hope is to get my fabric out and onto the shelves so I can see what I’ve got.  The larger tub under the table is full of sewing projects, and the tub on the table is my daughter’s quilt fabric . . . just waiting to be made . . . for two years now.

And, yes, some film editing is going on on the Community Access Television’s MacBookPro.  Our own mac is now over five years old.  We’ll upgrade the family one of these days and use what’s available in the meantime .  Many thanks to my hubby for sacrificing his laptop to replace the one I was using.  We tried to recycle!

Whatever you’re working on, may the autumn sunshine keep you motivated and energized until it’s time to sit down and get to work indoors.  Our soul work is neverending.

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Native Crafts

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Tahlequah at the Cherokee National Holiday, and I’m so glad we went.  I thought I might post yesterday with some reflection, but there’s still processing going on in that department, so I’ll wait a bit longer.

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While there, we browsed through all the arts and crafts booths and art shows.  There’s lots of jewelry, but I get a feeling that basket weaving and pottery were main crafts.  Also, there were delightful gourd masks, beautiful wooden flutes, drums and dress.

The pottery has inspired me.  I’ll admit that watching the hand-building and seeing the works in the art shows convinced me not to give up on pottery altogether.  Maybe I just need to work off the wheel.  I also feel like we could try to pit fire some pieces (after first firing them in the kiln to give them a better chance of making it!).  Here is one example of Cherokee pottery, but most at the art shows were done in the blackware style, I guess.  (Both are examples from Joel Queen, who apparently is a prominent artist in this tradition.)

I’m hoping that all the jewelry inspired my daughter, who has lots of jewelry-making supplies.  Or maybe she’d like to try basket weaving.  The demonstrator said she used commercial dyes on commercial reeds, but on natural reeds, she used natural dyes just because that felt right and was in line with what she was taught.

I believe that creating is in all our heritages.  Beauty of creation itself is a gift and one we have the privilege of sort of re-enacting . . . on a very small scale.  Our real gift may just be the conscious appreciation of the act and the joy in sharing our divine inspiration with others.

(basket photo by cherokeebasketweaver from everystockphoto.com)

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