Happy Mail Day

Orchard Lane by The Fiber Seed

Yarn and fiber lovers everywhere can identify with the this picture and the title of the post. Anytime we receive beautiful yarn in the mail it is a very good day. This particular yarn is hand dyed by a small company run by a husband and wife team. She is the artistic one and the face of the brand while he handles the business end of things. They worked yarn shows together back when we could do those things in person. Now they must rely on online and wholesale sales to support their family. I was the first store in Texas to carry their yarn; I love it and them to this day.

For the non-fiber folks out there let me explain what is so great about this kind of mail as the concept can be applied to many different hobbies or passionate pursuits. As a former yarn shop owner I helped many a person figure out what to make next. For, you see, the making is just part of the process. Making something – no matter the medium – is as much a heart process as a physical one. We aren’t laboriously working away so our families can have warm garments this winter. We are using our hands and minds to create something new, often for the sake of making something new. The satisfaction is in the making. This is why so many knitters and crocheters give their items away. We are creators.

Planning

A new project begins with planning. Sometimes know exactly what we want to make and other times there is just an itch to knit, crochet, weave, or whatever yarny pursuit is desired at the moment. In my case I have a December wedding to attend. The dress I have to wear has short sleeves and even in south Louisiana, a December evening can be cold. So rather than buy a new dress, I invested in this beautiful yarn made by someone I adore so that I can knit a wrap to wear. I knew the minute I saw this colorway that this is the yarn for me.

I had a pattern in mind, but now that the yarn is here I will look again to be sure the original idea is still what I want to make. This could involve hours of looking online at patterns and projects others have made with this or a similar yarn. My husband could not understand this kind of effort. Just get the yarn and make something was his advice until one day I turned the tables on him.

Wandering through the aisles of our local Academy Outdoors and More store, enduring his endless pondering over what kind of hunting items to purchase, I said, “Why don’t you just buy something and use it?” He looked at me, puzzled and was about to make a sarcastic retort when the lightbulb went off. Now he got it. The planning and shopping, thinking and dreaming are crucial to the creative process.

Anticipation

Once the yarn is ordered then I sit and wait…and wait…and wait some more. It only took about a week but it felt like forever. Anticipation is always the most exciting part of the process. It is the time when the imagination runs wild as I think about the colors, the feel and smell of the yarn, and the feeling of casting on, knitting, and seeing what I envisioned come to life. It is magical. It is addictive. And it is the addictive part that can get folks in trouble, but that is for another day.

Someone once told me that we all need something to look forward to. It is what gets us through the drudgery of everyday life. Even if life is great, looking forward to something allows the creative part of our brains to go on vacation. Twice a month I meet a friend for either breakfast or lunch. It gives me two guaranteed things to look forward to every month.

Delaying gratification and having things to look forward to are so very important. Try it. You won’t regret it.

Creating

The next step is the actual execution of the plan. Casting on (the act of putting the yarn onto the needles forming the stitches to knit) and then actually knitting the item. This part provides hours of restful pleasure. The act of actually doing that thing you’ve looked forward to for so long is incredibly rewarding.

Sometimes things don’t always work as envisioned, or the pattern is more challenging than anticipated. That is ok. There are things to learn and grow from there as well.

Lessons From Happy Mail Day

1. Plan then purchase something online and enjoy waiting…dream a little. Be like Ralph from A Christmas Story who waited for his decoder ring only to be disappointed in the end. Not everything we dream up or plan for works out, but there is pleasure in the waiting and dreaming.

2. Always have something to look forward to. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – in fact it is best if it doesn’t cost much – but it should be something that brings you joy and is just for you.

3. Create. We have been created to create. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, crafts person, it just means you use your mind and your hands to make something new. Plant a seed, cook a meal, rearrange the furniture, organize a closet, plan and execute a fishing or hunting trip, plan a picnic, take a drive just to see where the road leads. Life is a grand adventure…live it to the fullest!

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

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

Welcome September

I know I shouldn’t go through a season just living for the next. I’m sure there are daily nuances and events that I miss by pining away for Autumn, but at the moment I can’t think of anything significant. I savor fall, winter and most of spring. And, we’re back to summer. I have always lived in a part of the country where older folks like me escape the cold and come south for the winter. They are affectionately known as snow birds. Well, I want to be a sweat bird. I want to go some place where I don’t have to sweat all day every day for months on end.

I use the first day of September as an excuse to celebrate fall. It may still be hot, but I pull out the fall colors and decor. This morning as I was hunting for my little collection of crochet and knit pumpkins, I ran across this weaving, one of my very first attempts at weaving on a small loom.

I was mesmerized by the process and possibilities. I have remained so steadfastly entrenched in the knit and crochet world since then that I didn’t listen to my soul sing as I made a picture with yarn.

I keep most all my little pieces of weaving and crochet in plastic storage bins, the flat ones that slide under the bed. I want to be able to open the container and look through all the color and texture my hands have created. Sometimes a piece will spark and idea and it comes out of storage for the metamorphosis into something new. This is an important part of my creative process. All time spent making is time well spent. The end result need not be “useful” to have value. The value lies in the creating.

I think I will honor that early effort by properly mounting this so that I can hang it up in my studio. It deserves to be seen.

I pray you take time to celebrate the day and make a little something that makes you smile.

~Sheryl