Embroidery: Latest Projects

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This was my to-be embroidered stack a few days ago. Thankfully I’ve finished most of the hoops in this stack and I’m back to working on my original 2 projects before everything sort of exploded.

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I’m not doing much in the way of custom orders this year – at least not yet. But one of my first requests was to stitch up some handkerchiefs based off the song “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. I used some blank hankies from Sublime Stitching and the colorway was a request by the customer. I think they turned out pretty cute.

 

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I have had the pleasure of keeping some of my work in a local shop in town and honestly I’ve struggled over the years with what to put in there. Usually it ends up being an overflow of things I’ve tried to sell online that didn’t really go or just other random sorts of odds and ends. This year, my goal was to put some things in there that were more of a series. I thought about the hoops that have always done well and usually it has been those with a mix of simple embroidery and whimsical fabric. So I decided to go through my stash of favorite fabrics and make some hexagons of various sizes and go from there. I’m pleased with how they turned out. I think it’s a great mix of colors, styles, fabrics and price ranges. You can find these locally at The Village Tinker hopefully sometime in the next week or so.

 

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I’ve learned a lot lately about Adobe Illustrator and I’m in the process of redoing all of my patterns. It’s been a slow job, but I’ve really enjoyed finally learning (and succeeding) at something that really freaked me out for so long (i.e. – anything adobe) I’m currently restitching this pattern (along with a lovely pattern tester from Instagram) and I’m excited to re-release it in the coming weeks.

 

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I’m working on a larger stumpwork butterfly. I want this one to be three-dimensional so it will have a felted body – at least that is the plan. It’s been fun watching the wings take shape.

Learning: Letting Go

One of my biggest struggles when I scroll through Instagram are all the lovely photos of what appears to be student led/interest led learning. There are days that I struggle because I know this girl child of mine does not like school. It doesn’t matter where it happens, learning is just not her thing…unless she’s learning what she wants to learn. But still we press on and I try to motivate her by all sorts of different means. And I long for the time when I can see her delve into a subject and get excited about it.

But after finding a branch covered in bracket fungus yesterday, she has spent the morning with a microscope which then led to a nature walk to collect more lichens and fungus from the park. All of these things pushing aside our plan for the day, but bringing to real life all the things we’ve been reading in our science read aloud.

These are the days that I long for and yet when they come I’m so frustrated because my plan has been thwarted. But this is the beauty of it all and while I struggle I also learn to let go. But isn’t that life? We long for something and then when we get it we are frustrated because it disrupts our life.

I’m thankful for these slow days and slower seasons that are teaching me to set aside my plans and open up my heart and life to His.

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Goal Setting: Thoughts on 2017

If there is one goal that I have for 2017 – one little word even – it’s FOCUS. The hardest thing for me to do when I am at home working and homeschooling is staying focused on something…anything! I feel like I drifted through 2016 for lots of reasons. Some of them because I was just avoiding some things emotionally and others because I just had too many distractions.

I have a tendency to become too goal oriented and list makey and then get so overwhelmed by the lists that I just chuck it all. So this year in an effort to try and manage this I am setting goals monthly and ordering my days differently. Such as, I’m going to have laundry days. I know that Mondays Mal and I hate going anywhere and Wednesdays are my low energy days so these are the days we are most likely to be home all day. So those will be the days I get through the laundry piles and make bread etc. Fridays my husband gets off early so I want those to be my grocery store and general “getting out of the house alone” times. Alone being the key word here.

I want to create space in my mornings to write so I’m hoping to get to bed earlier and get up earlier so I have more time to do that. There are other things I’m processing through in order to reduce my distractions online in order to help me write more – but I’m still processing through those. I know that I want to post here more often and so I’m hoping to have at least one day a week where I devote to posting.

I’m still wrestling with my hopes and goals for Etsy and daisyeyes handmade this year. For the time being I’m working on updating all my pdf patterns and I am continuing to take a break from custom orders. If I had one major goal for daisyeyes this year it would be to start offering embroidery kits again and learning how to screen print. I’m crossing my fingers this one becomes a reality. I’d love to do a video component to my website – offering instruction for adults and kids, but I’m not sure how that might play out.

Garment sewing and working through the Wardrobe Architect project is another huge aspiration. I got the Colette Sewing Planner for Christmas so I’m working through that and I’m loving it.

Here’s my top 6 items I want to sew this winter:

 

I’ve got hopes for my kiddos to get them helping out more around the house and I’m hoping we can establish a little more rhythm to those things and just our family in general.  All of us thrive on routine and when the routine gets out of wack we all get out of wack so realizing that I’m hopeful we can remedy that a little bit.

And if you need a good kick in the pants reminder that doing anything takes effort and hard work – this is a great read.

This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)

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Reading: My 2017 Book List

I’ve never been one to make a formal book list. I have my lists of “want to reads” in Goodreads and on Amazon, but I’ve never decided ahead of time what I hope to read. One major goal I have for this coming new year is to work on my own learning and personal advancement with goals. I feel like I just keep moving from one thing to the next and never really working ahead. I miss the years of college so much because everything was already laid out for you. I think this is why sometimes I miss working out in the actual workplace versus at home and for myself. I spend so much time planning the reading and learning for my daughter that I felt it was high time I started doing the same for myself. I’m also hoping to be better at writing reviews of what I’ve read too.

2017 Master Book List


FICTION

Most of these came from the podcast What Should I Read Next which is a total blast to listen to and honestly has become my go-to when it comes to finding good books.

The Nightengale by K. Hannah
The Kitchen House by K. Grissom
The Mill on the Floss by G. Eliot
One in a Million Boy by M. Wood
Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by P. Patrick
Atonement by I. McEwan
The Optimist’s Daughter by E. Welty
Olive Kitteridge by E. Strout
Breathing Lessons by A. Tyler
Shiloh by H. Sorensen
The Little White Horse by E. Goudge
Emma by J. Austen**


NON FICTION

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by KA Brower
The Seamstress by ST Bernstein
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by S. Johnson
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Zaleski


PERSONAL GROWTH

The Fringe Hours by
On the Shoulders of Hobbits
The Year of Yes by S. Rhimes
Upstream by M. Oliver
Present Over Perfect by S. Niequist
You Learn by Living by E. Roosevelt
Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Disctraction by A. Jacobs
Wired to Create by
Curated Closet by
Everybody Writes by
The Core by L. Bortins
On Being a Writer by A. Kroeker


SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Humble Roots by H. Anderson
Love Walked Among Us by P. Miller
Love Henry, Letters on the Spiritual Life by H. Nouwen
Walking on Water by M. L’Engle
Good and Angry by D. Powlison
Finding God in the Ruins by M. Bays
A Grief Observed by CS Lewis
Prone to Wander by B. Duguild
Echose of Eden by J. Barrs


**already started

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Year in Review 2016

2016 was a year. I can’t say it was the worst year, which many people are saying about 2016. But I can say that it was a continuation of some of the hardness that 2015 had brought into my life. In many ways 2016 seemed like a gap year for me – an in between time where I really sort of woke up and started processing some stuff. It’s been a year where I have really had to step back and look at each decision and choice I make and figure out how it impacts me and our family, instead of just jumping ahead. It was a year where I did step back on my shop and really curbed my spending when it came to product development. There were (and are) so many things I would love to do, but for us financially right now I’ve realized I can’t step out and continue to do that.

It was a year that did see me finally stepping out to try and follow the dream of opening a store front. For years I had talked about opening a sewing shop and this spring I actually moved forward on that. I had prayed all along that God would very obviously open and close doors and I knew that no matter what happened I just had to see it through. I met with a small business advisor and met with bankers and in the end realized that I had followed that dream as far as I could take it. For the first time setting that dream aside was easy because I had followed it as far as I could take it. It was clearly a closed door and months later I’m so thankful. I learned so much in the process about business, about where I want to go creatively and how our life really works.

It was the first holiday season where I honestly wasn’t slammed and I did that on purpose. I stopped taking custom embroidery orders really early on and even though I did participate in a holiday market, it was the most relaxing holiday market prep I’ve ever done. I made stuff that I loved to make and it made such a huge difference.

I started a few projects this year that I’m really hoping to jump on right away after the holidays. First up I want to get back to my stumpwork projects. I miss this creative stitching so much and I’ve got so many ideas and ways I want to continue with my bugs and bugs in jars series. I also want to finally go forward with designing a pattern that comes with video links. I’m hoping to get going on this early in 2017 with my flower garden hoop I stitched back in the Fall. If there’s any goal I have for my shop in 2017, it’s to offer more embroidery patterns, more how-tos that go along with those patterns and oh how I would love to learn how to screen print so that I can print my own patterns and finally start offering kits again.

I am not sure where I’m heading with custom embroidery in 2017. For now, all of it will be on hold until I really get a clear picture of where I want to go. That includes shoes. I’ve often wondered how much longer the shoe thing can keep going. It seemed so much like a trend and we all know how trends go. I kind of want to go out on a high note and stop on my own terms. I’m also not sure where I’m going with teaching sewing either. Both of these things have played such a huge role in my life for the past few years and it’s weird to say I’m going to stop doing them. But there’s a part of me that thinks that for now, those chapters might be closed for a while so that I can focus on some other things.

 

One of my greatest achievements this year was being published! I was super excited to have a project in the Sew it All magazine. It was crazy to see my stuff actually on the shelf in bookstores. Maybe one day I’ll have an actual book or something! I’ve got some new things coming my way in 2017 that I’m excited about and can’t wait to share as the details get more and more worked out.

 

Probably my biggest joy in 2017 has been being able to continue homeschooling. We ended our last week of school with a Christmas Poetry Teatime with friends and as I sat around the table and saw this amazing community of friends that God has gifted my daughter and myself with I am humbled. We’ve joined a community of like minded schoolers and I couldn’t be more overjoyed at how God is continuing to grow that. We’ve got plans for 2017 that I’m hoping come to fruition and every day I’m grateful that I’m able to stay home.

One of my biggest goals in 2017 is to start writing again. I’m processing through in my mind some ways to clear some of the clutter in my head so that I can start putting some words to paper (or type). I want to spend more time actually reading books and not just reading snippets and blog posts. And I want to finally move forward on this book I’ve got floating around in my head. I read an essay this week by CS Lewis about writing for children and it was the biggest encouragement to me. He said something along the lines that his stories always came from pictures in his head. He would see all these scenes and ideas all jumbled up in his head and that is where his stories came from. As he started writing he would just have to fill in the blanks in between the pictures. Now, I’m never going to be the next CS Lewis, but for someone who has had these pictures floating around her head so vividly for years it was the kick in the pants to finally start penning them down.

Sewing: A Star Wars Quilt

I’ve been working off and on this year with learning about piecing quilts. I’ve made a few mini quilts over this past year and I’ve started falling in love with it. Cutting out all the little bits and piecing them together is like making a puzzle with so many more returns than just a regular puzzle. I mean you can’t cuddle up with a cardboard puzzle!

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I had come across this Star Wars quilt a while back this year and honestly forgotten about it. When I was searching for a pattern one day, I saw that I had even downloaded the pattern and reason flew out the window and I printed it and decided that I was going to make this quilt for my daughter’s upcoming 10th birthday. Did I mention that I was only giving myself about three and a half weeks to get it done?

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I don’t know how I did it, but it got done and honestly I loved every minute of it. Now I see why quilters get a bad rap for being addicts to fabric and quilting. It’s totally addicting.

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I used all Kona Cotton Solids and ordered most of them from The Fabric Shoppe on etsy. Being able to just order all the little bits online and not have to stand at a cutting counter with stacks of bolts honestly made it somewhat more manageable. I used all the suggested colors in the pattern except for the light blue background. Her bedroom already has this turquoise and orange in it, so I decided I wanted to play off that instead of the light blue. Honestly, I love how it turned out.

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The pattern overall is awesome. I don’t have a lot of practice with quilt patterns, but as this one goes it’s ranks right up there as being very well written. As I’ve posted on instagram over the course of this project, I’ve had so many people bewildered with the idea of completing something like this – but it’s like cooking. If you have a well written recipe and you can follow directions you could totally do it!

BB8 was probably the trickiest of all the sections to complete. There were lots of tiny one inch squares and many of them you had to snowball (sew diagonally) and my matching is a little off. But once I saw it come to life I was just amazed and didn’t give a whip about them not matching up perfectly!

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I was probably most amazed at the whole thing once I got the quilt top done. Even I couldn’t believe I had done it. It has to be one of the most satisfactory things I’ve accomplished this year!

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Quilting it was another story. I was completely intimidated with how to quilt it. I did a little research online and one person had recommended a serpentine stitch. I thought maybe my machine did that and hurrah it did! I decided that I didn’t want them to be perfectly evenly spaced so I started out on a seam in the middle and just worked my way out both sides trying to sew down seam lines as much as I could. I used a bamboo batting that is super soft and found this perfect flannel at Joanns for the backing. I did end up having to cut down the sides just a little bit to get the 42 inches I needed to match up the backing. I really didn’t want to mess with piecing that back and really felt like since this was just a throw quilt it didn’t matter if I cut it down a little bit.

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Thank the Lord for wonder clips – the best invention ever. We sat and did a Netflix marathon of The Office a couple of nights ago and I was able to get the binding sewn down. Not my favorite part. Now I just need to give it a wash and hope it doesn’t fall apart!

The big birthday is tomorrow so we’ll see what she thinks!