Textiles Make A Home

There is one singular item that transforms a hard square house into a soft, safe, and cozy home. No matter your decorating style, there are textiles to compliment and enhance that style.

Choosing Home Textiles

We have all wandered the isles of home decor and big box stores taking in the sights and smells of the season. Rows and rows of pillows, blankets, afghans (knit or crochet blanket), tea towels, curtains – window and shower, bedding, table linens, rugs, and the list goes on. And this is just the textiles; we are not going to talk about the rest of the home decor available. I have done my fair share of shopping at these places so this is not meant to impune these businesses. I just want to plant seeds for you to consider as you make choices about the items you bring into your home.

There is no doubt that the items available in the big stores are mass manufactured in countries that may or may not be ethical in their choice of materials, dyes, or how their employees are treated. While a sweeping generalization cannot be made on this subject, textile manufacturers around the world have historically been some of the worst polluters in the world. Fast fashion and fast, cheap home decor are contributing factors and I believe it is time to rethink the fabrics and items we surround ourselves with inside our homes.

There are so many things to consider when purchasing textiles for your home. How will you use it? How is it cared for? What is made of and where was it made? How much does it cost and will it have a long life span to make it worth the price? Each one of us must set our own priorities and make the purchases that fit our home, values, and budget.

Slow Home Fashion

The slow fashion movement has caused many to reconsider their clothing purchases. For many this has led them to sew their own clothes. There has been a huge renaissance in making clothes at home. Sewing for your home decor is a wonderful way to not only personalize your home but to also have total control over the products you and your family live with everyday.

Not crafty? Don’t have a desire to do any of the above, but you want to live in this kind of home environment? No worries, there are so many people out there doing amazing work. Do these items cost more? Initially, yes. But if you teach yourself to not buy into trends, but make investments in items that will bring you years of pleasure, then you too can curate a home that is beautiful as well as good for the environment, helps a small business, and is uniquely and completely you.

A Woolen Home

Part of my movement to a more selective and holistic home is by making and up-cycling as much as possible. Surprisingly wool is a fiber that is a wonderful and healthy choice for many home items, even some items that you wouldn’t expect. Having spent much of the past fifteen years in the yarn business, I am totally and passionately in love with wool. It is a fiber that is misunderstood but incredibly valuable. I will devote entire posts to in the future.

I had dreams of creating a business that sells handmade wool items for the home. There would be functional as well as decorative items. I adore Christmas decorating and love making unique and fanciful items for this season. After much planning I learned that I don’t like making multiples of anything and the process of selling just leaves me cold. Instead I have decided to be a champion of wool and all handmade items and the people who make them.

I believe there is room for wool in every room in the house. Come back or visit my Instagram account (@mycontinuousthread) to learn more about home textiles and get inspired to use wool in your home.

Until next week…Blessings to all

~Sheryl

A Very Good Week

I came outside later than usual today. It seems that every day of the week, or at least Monday through Friday, a different neighbor is having their yard mowed first thing in the morning. I am sure it has always been this way, but now that it is disturbing my peaceful backyard time. I am annoyed. We are coming to the end of the growing season, so maybe this will change. One can only hope.

Friday Reflections

Each Friday I am going to examine my week and see how I did in my effort to build the life I want rather than just living in reaction to what comes to me. On the whole, I think I did well. I took more steps forward and can call this one a win.

There were frightening events that happened to people I care about as well as family members. In my fear and dread I turned to God and allowed Him to do His work. I was available but knew this was not my battle to fight. It is a helpless feeling to know a grandchild is suffering and in danger. It is not my job to rescue, though that is my initial impulse. It is my job to cover her in prayer and let God and her parents do the work.

I took proactive steps in the planning of my kitchen remodel as well as purchasing a few plants that will, if I keep them alive, end up in one corner of my garden or in pots on my patio.

I Knit

I took time to knit.

Katie’s Kep – A Fair Isle style hat.

I’ve always been fascinated with stranded color knitting. Living where I do there are few times when such a garment is wearable. I decided that the experience is worth it even if it only gets worn once a year. This is the annual hat design for Shetland Wool Week, a celebration of all things wool in the Shetland Islands. My Scottish heritage and my love for the television show Shetland, determined that I give it a go. This is the perfect knit for my ADD type personality. Every row is different and the color changes are charted. Slowly, row by row the design emerges. I lost the blue ball of yarn I intended for one of the patterns. After days of looking for it I decided to just use what I had on hand and make the best of it. This green, brown, white and gold hat will be my ‘sunshine through the trees’ hat.

I Stitched

Mindful stitching with coffee.

I worked a little everyday on my mindful stitching. Repetition yields peaceful consistency. I am not enjoying working on this muslin. My next piece will be linen…preferably hand dyed.

Hand dyed thread.

I received three spools of hand dyed thread for embroidery. They came from a lovely young woman (@gatherwhatspills) I follow on Instagram. She also has an Etsy shop and I couldn’t resist these beautiful little spools of thread. I am saving scraps, and hunting for just the right inspiration to use them. It will be special no matter what the project.

That was my week. There was more, I cooked some delicious meals, I planned for my kitchen remodel, and I slept…really, really slept. My body and spirit were exhausted. All in all, it was a very good week.

I pray that each of your days moves you just a little closer to living the life of your dreams. Until Monday…

~Sheryl

The Fragility of Routine

I have a new routine. I don’t generally “do” routines as I rarely do the same thing the same way two days in a row. At least that is always what I thought. Then my brother said, “I bet you do and just don’t realize it.” Yeah, I think he is right.

I do wake up and drink coffee. Every. Single. Day. And now I have a routine of how I fix my refillable coffee pods each morning. I then take my morning coffee and checked Instagram, emails and text messages, which led to Pinterest, more Instagram, and maybe a game or two and then catch up on television. I am embarrassed to say that this routine ate up hours of my life.

My new routine is much like what I wrote about in Suburban Sunrise. Coffee with God, nature and no electronics. Sometimes I bring my Kindle out to read with my second cup of coffee. Now that the weather is delightfully autumnal, I will be spending much more time outside. Maybe even upping my vitamin D levels a bit in the process.

Routine Interrupted Then Found Again

I tell you all that to say that the reason I didn’t blog yesterday was because my routine got interrupted. Prior to this delightful weather, we had a day of overcast, wind and light rain. All that warm humidity bumping into cooler temperatures will do that. It was Monday and the man who mows our yard was due and I failed to get money to pay him which necessitated a third trip to the grocery store in three days. He comes early so I had to get started even earlier. Thus, no routine. Once home from the store I got busy doing other stuff and there went the day. It disturbs me how little it takes to throw me off kilter. Kind of like a top spinning round and round, the slightest nudge and it goes all wonky until it finally falls over. And that was my Monday.

Today my routine was intact. A brisk, breezy 54 degrees outside, I donned my flannel jammy bottoms, t-shirt, sweatshirt, and thick socks to sit outside. I love it. My blood is still summer thin and I’m not going to lie. I was shivering. Not teeth chattering, but just a little shiver. I contemplated more clothes, a hat or a blanket, but decided to guts it up and have “wild coffee” in my backyard. And wild it was.

While I was looking down I heard a tree branch moving wildly and thought a squirrel had jumped from it to the roof of my neighbor’s house. I didn’t see anything on the roof, but out of the corner of my eye I caught movement higher up in the tree. Sitting very still I watched that spot until I realized there was a huge red shouldered hawk up there. I got up and got my binoculars to get a better view. After several tries I aimed the binoculars just right and there he was, pecking, pulling and devouring whatever it was he just caught. By the looks of what was falling to the ground, it was a small bird. Fascinated, I watched him eat. Take a bite. Look around. Repeat. When my dogs inside the house began to bark at who know what, he hunkered down as much as possible before repeating the eat, look, eat cycle. I was mesmerized. When he was finished he spent a great deal of time rubbing the sides of his face on the tree limb, removing any residue and cleaning himself before moving on. Skillfully he jumped from one branch to the next, where he would have an open path out of the tree. After a moment of surveying the area he flew off.

Moral of The Story

There are several things that come to mind that can be learned from the past two days. First, if my routine gets blown out of the water, don’t despair. Pick up wherever I am and keep going. So, it didn’t happen in exactly the way I like it to. Three o’clock in the afternoon is a bit early to go back to bed in order to begin again. So, I had time with God later in the day, skipped the blogging and cooked an amazing meal. Oh, and I cleaned out my closet and added to my donation pile. Still a highly successful day. I learning to roll with the flow and still be productive.

It is so easy to live inside and miss this amazing show. I grumble about the weather, but I think if I just find the right time of day to be outside, everyday has something beautiful to offer. The warm humid days will allow me to appreciate these cool breezy days all the more. And, without a doubt, my body, mind and soul will be happier for just having been a witness to the joy found in nature.

Fall = Comfort Food

So, I planned on talking about food today. In anticipation of the weather, I had some comfort foods on my menu. I will write about that tomorrow.

While the weather is so outstanding I am going to make a drive to my favorite nursery. Maybe even buy something for the front porch. The yard isn’t ready for plants yet, but I can still decorate the patio and porch with living beauty.

Enjoy the day,

Sheryl

Suburban Sunrise

There was a faint orange glow in the eastern sky when I rolled out of bed this morning. The dogs were awake and persistent. Grudgingly I let them have their way. As I stumbled to the bathroom thoughts of dread for another day rolled around in my sleepy brain. Lately I wake, not so much with a sense of dread but a sense of here I go again. Nothing to look forward to, it’s just another day. Sometimes, if I wake before the dogs and I’m feeling these feelings, I wonder, “Why don’t I wake up excited for a new day of possibilities?” “What is wrong with me?” I lay there in silence, thank God for giving me a new day yet the sense of here I go again doesn’t dissipate.

After their breakfast I let the dogs out and remembered that it is officially fall. It rarely feels like fall in September, but in the aftermath of a tropical storm, dry air moved south, bestowing southeast Texas with a delightful gift and who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? I made my coffee, found a folding camping chair, grabbed my iPad, phone and headed outside. Beggars can’t be choosers and if I wait until my backyard vision becomes a reality…well, I might never come out to watch the sunrise. What a shame that would be, as this has been a morning to savor.

During that first cup of coffee I relished in the navy blue colored sky slowly giving way to a clear, light blue. The orange fades and pure light takes its place. The sounds of the world waking up play like a symphony orchestra warming up before the evening’s performance. Birds squeak, squawk, sing and soar through the morning sky. Sometimes they fly alone, other times like a mad rush a small flock will rise up out of the horizon only to dip and dive into this yard or that. A female blue jay lands on my fence, looking at me quizzically then zooms down into the grass, picks up a long squirming something, snake or worm, then flies off. She lands on my neighbor’s roof long enough to reposition breakfast in her beak and off she went.

I found I became a little irritated with human interference in my serene nature-filled morning. A neighbor coughs. A car starts. People talking loudly wishing each other a good morning. And now yard crews mowing, edging and doing all the things we humans do to make our homes more attractive. I felt just a bit resentful that this time alone in my little world was gone. I have to share. I don’t want to, but I have no choice.

Maybe tomorrow when I wake before dawn I will now do so with anticipation. If I get up and come outside early enough I will have the birds and the trees, sky and squirrels to myself just a little longer. Now THAT is something to look forward to.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day 5

Modern life is complicated. We have too many options, too much information and still only twenty four hours in a day. Choices must be made; priorities set.

In my effort to simplify my life I have removed the extraneous, evaluated the remainder, and still find room for further paring down of clutter—physical and mental. I am choosing activities that require active participation rather than passive entertainment (I do still indulge in an hour of General Hospital everyday and will schedule in my favorite sitcoms once they return). But even with the passive entertainment I am being cautious with what I pour into my brain. Will this content inspire and enliven me or cause stress over things for which I have no control? This is just one of the questions I ask myself these days. Therefore, as the simplified version of my life moves forward the following items will play a prominent role in my daily life.

Books

I loved reading as a child and have only been a sporadic reader in adulthood. There is a discipline to reading. An investment of precious time where there is almost certainly a guarantee that in the end emotions and point of view will be altered. As much as I love movies, they do not do to me what a really good book does; my soul is not touched in the same way and the characters don’t live with me in quite the same way. For a while I rejected reading on a Kindle as I prefer old school books. I still prefer them; however, I have discovered that I can read and stay awake when I use the Kindle. Being awake certainly helps the process of finishing books.

As I moved my focus from passive screen time to reading (the Kindle screen doesn’t have the same affect as a phone or computer—different lights or something) I feel a part of me has come back to life. I have read two books in the past week. Parts one and two of the ‘Me Before You’ trilogy by British author Jojo Moyes. Prior to last week I had never heard of her and now I am anxiously waiting for book three to become available through the digital library system. I believe I know how the story ends, but it is the journey that is so fun. Isn’t this whole point of life? We all know where the story ends, but it is the story of our journey that defines the life we led.

Making

During the past three years I have wasted a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram, Pinterest and general web browsing. All of it, I told myself, was business research and development. I spent money on websites, URLs, products, and for what? Only to get disillusioned and quit. Along the way I finally determined that I love the excitement of business development but I detest the actual work of running an online business. All my creative energy went to the business ideas but not actually making things that give me pleasure.

Social Commentary

For fourteen years I was in the yarn business. I believed that everything I did must connect to yarn for me to be authentic. Being a yarn shop owner was what I did every day and that became my identity. If I’m not a part of that world anymore, who am I? So I held on, reinventing myself into yet one more version in the hopes that this one felt right. It didn’t.

That is over. I am letting myself try different things, am discovering a joy in hand stitching and dyeing small amounts of fabric then creating art that is beautiful to the eye and tells a story. If I want to explore other mediums, I free to do so because my identity is no longer connected to what I make. What I make is simply an outward reflection of where I am in that moment.

Music

I am one of those people for whom music is a soul moving experience. I seem to be using words like ‘soul moving’ a great deal today. I love most all kinds of music, but without a doubt my favorite is classical. I can close my eyes and get lost in the beauty, the movement, the imagery. I have felt this connection for as long as I remember; it is simply one of those things that got lost in the businessof life. I now make time and space for beautiful music in my day.

Art

I have become zealous about who I follow on Instagram. I am removing accounts that don’t inspire me. I am primarily following creative people whose hand work and life shown on the grid, brightens my day or inspires me to look at the world through new eyes. I am no longer following accounts that merely want to sell me something, preach politics, lecture me about anything, or with whom I just no longer resonate. If I have unfollowed anyone reading this, I am sorry. Nothing personal; I am just exercising some self care in what I ingest.

I follow many artists whose work I love, and whose creative practice teaches me a new way of working out my own art life. I have no formal art training and I am learning there is a process. My habit of expecting immediate perfection is completely incongruous with the artistic life. I am learning to play. To try. To step out of the safe and into the unknown. It is exhilarating.

I not only follow artists, I buy from them whenever possible. It is the one thing I can do that is mutually beneficial. I have limited funds. These are not big purchases. But they bring so much joy to my little world and I know that by buying from them more art will come. It is the happiest part of my world right now.

My most recent acquisition. “Moon River” by Elizabeth Bunsen

Simple Living

I don’t require much to be happy. I’ve always teased my husband that he won the lottery with such a low maintenance wife. But for those few things I do need, I need them daily. I have learned that my mental and physical health depend upon a steady diet of all the above things blended with a regular dose of family, friends, my dogs, good coffee, food and bourbon…and an occasional road trip to keep the juices flowing.

Next week I get back on track with posts about the things I am making as well as any house updates. It is my hope and prayer that something I have said this week moves you to examine the role of technology in your life and how even small changes can reap big rewards for you and those you love.

Have a great weekend and make some memories.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day Four

I woke up this morning to just over one hundred emails in my inboxes. This is only half the number I had been receiving. Unsubscribing from all those distribution lists is working. And it is freeing. I tend to avoid that which overwhelms me. Ironic since ignoring only escalates the problem leading to a greater sense of panic and lack of control. I don’t think about the changes I am making and wonder if I can keep this up long term; to do that adds to the “you never keep up with any kind of discipline.” Nonproductive self talk is so…nonproductive. Instead I just deal with one morning at a time and slowly move forward.

Extracting The Value

As I evaluated each company whose email I was considering stopping, I had to decide what value this company or site added to my life. The answer was none. In every single case, the answer was none. They are electronic junk mail. Not a single item made the quality of my life better, or enlightened me in some way.

The second step of this electronic simplification plan is to extract the value – even if it is mere entertainment – and discard the remainder. Since there was nothing of value in the email accounts I removed, I will now move to apps and the visual clutter of my phone.

I love puzzle games. I tell myself I am keeping my brain sharp by playing word games and putting together puzzles. I had a folder three pages long filled with games. Most bore me after a short period of time. I now have only two games, a Scrabble type game I play against anonymous people and a wooden block style puzzle. When I get bored I will delete one and find another. Gone are the days of filling mindless hours with buzzing and beeping games triggering a rush of pleasure hormones rewarding a spectacular move or a brilliant win.

Opening Screen

I have pared down the front screen of my phone to the absolute essentials. I made my lock screen and wallpaper a dandelion to remind me that I am in this world to sow seeds of love and kindness; I can’t do that if I am absorbed with this electronic device. From here I can easily listen to music, read a book, check the weather, messages, or possibly Instagram. The lack of clutter on this screen reduces my desire to pick up the phone and scroll to the second page to find something to ‘do.’

Here is where some editing has happened and will happen again. Most of the apps on this page are never used, so why? What is the purpose of having them available.

I call it the ‘what if factor.’ What if I need to check traffic, shop, or edit a photo? What are the chances of any of those things happening on a daily basis. Slim and none and Slim left town. Evaluating, extracting and eliminating apps on this screen is my assignment today. Tomorrow I will show you where I ended up.

Having gained some mastery over the electronics in my life I will have the time, mental clarity and energy for doing things in the real world. I want to be creative, laugh, go outside (waiting for fall weather!) and live untethered to a device that promises so much yet delivers relatively little quality to my life.

For each area of life that is simplified, there is suddenly room for new and wonderful experiences. I hope that if any of this is an issue for you I have inspired critical analysis and action.

Until tomorrow~

Sheryl

K.I.S.S. – Day One

I love reading about the latest lifestyle trends, taking the quizzes, looking at pictures, imagining living in any one of a number of homes found as I scroll Pinterest. I don’t necessarily put in the work to implement the changes necessary to have the life, but I sure do love reading how other people do it while wondering how they manage to live such (fill in the blank) lives, while mine remains relatively the same year in and year out.

Hygge and Minimalism are two of the most recent trends that I have thought I would like to adopt into my life. My husband and I both tend to hold on to sentimental belongings. I can get rid of things more easily than he, but still I find it hard. Minimalism is a very unachievable goal for me. But, I can simplify. I can and I must find a way to simplify my home so that I can enjoy what I have and feel the peace that comes from a well ordered environment.

It is the “do the same things expecting different results” syndrome. To have change, one must do things differently. What an astonishing revelation this is! With this in mind, and as I strive to make a life not merely react to what life gives me, I must start doing some things differently. But where to start?

Stop Thinking & Just Begin

It has taken me three weeks to get my dining room turned studio space in order. I have boxed yarn and spinning fiber. I have moved boxes from the house to the garage. I have cleaned out a closet so that I can put things away in an orderly fashion. Next will be clearing out the bedroom where the overflow ended up and moving what I can into the garage and the rest sorted by potential projects and stored so that I can remember what I have and the designated project I have in mind. I must admit I feel like I am beginning to get a hold on the process and a small sense of control is returning to my life.

I have a great deal of money invested in the yarn and fiber I own. I don’t want to just give it away and most every knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver I know has this same issue. The plan is to evaluate my stash every six months. Things that I have not touched, nor have a plan for, will be donated to a local Houston business that supports artists and teachers by selling donated items really inexpensively. Texas Art Assylum is a great place to go to buy all kinds of stuff for collage and other assemblage art. I feel good about my stuff going to a place that I know it will have a second life.

Maker In Action

When I first decided to focus this blog on making a life, I was really only thinking of the things I make. I make yarn. I make fabric with a crochet hook, knitting needles and looms. I make art that hangs on my walls. But I soon discovered that there is so much more to this making a life thing than the items that flow from my hands.

Making a life is making choices and accepting the consequences. For different results, different choices must be made. I have lived a reactionary life for so many years that I don’t know how to be proactive. It is much riskier. It is scary to step out and do rather than just accept what falls in our laps.

There are always others to consider. I am a wife, parent, grandparent, daughter. My choices affect a large number of people. I can’t just do what I want. Or can I? Can we? Dare we dream to make this part of our lives…the final season…a life that is created by us for us? We have ALWAYS lived for other people. Could this be our turn?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but what I do know is no matter what our future holds, I can begin making a life right here, right now. There is one thing for certain, if I continue living a reactionary life, absolutely nothing will change and I will still be looking longingly at other people’s life wondering why not me.

Baby steps. Just take one small, simple step forward and build on that every day. That is what I am going to do. Won’t you join me?

~Sheryl