January 31, 2016

Sympathy Card

Hello again!

Today I'm sharing a very quick card I made for a friend who unfortunately lost her mum just before New Years.  I've not made a sympathy card previously and I wasn't sure what from my stash would be suitable, considering that most of my style and thus supplies are bright and cheerful and clearly that wasn't the appropriate tone for such an occasion.  Instead, I decided to just keep it simple and let my letter inside speak for itself.

The paper was recently given to me from a friend.  It's not card weight paper and not a colour or design I would have chosen myself but it was perfect for this project.  If you look very closely, you can see there is a very subtle mottled pink tone running through the blue, which helps to give it a hint of warmth, which I felt was important here.

I stamped the flowers using an Ali Edwards stamp set and set rhinestones in their centers.  The 'thinking of you' sentiment came from another stamp set of about 20 or so different cards sentiments.  I honestly didn't have anything else fitting for a sympathy card but I liked how this was not only accurate (I have been thinking of her and her family) but not directly sad.

Finally, I added the bird sticker, which is from a My Mind's Eye chalkboard sticker collection.  The space needed an embellishment there for balance, even though I wanted to keep the overall design simple, and I liked how it felt dove-like.  As a final touch, I popped the little pink heart into the sentiment, inked the edges in blue and called it done.

January 25, 2016

The Konmari Method - Sparking Joy

Hello and welcome back!

Before I start this post, I should probably preface it by explaining that I'm a pretty OCD person and I dislike clutter - it mentally irritates me, which is why I always have to tidy up my work desk at the end of the day's lessons before I can concentrate on planning for the next day.  So when I recently stumbled across Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Orangizing, I was immediately interested.

Ironically, I've always had a history of keeping things and having difficulty letting go of things, even as a child.  But as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at letting go.  In fact, I remember when I moved into my current flat and had barely any possessions (or furniture), it was a very freeing feeling.  And while I now have many possessions that I enjoy, I have felt a sad nostalgia for that time when I had much, much less.  I go through phases of decluttering - for several years now, I make a point of keeping my wardrobe in check by removing and donating the same number of clothing articles that I buy new (so if I buy 4 new tops, I donate 4 old pieces of clothes) and I usually have one or two annual clean-out binges, which always leave me feeling very therapeutic.  So needless to say, I was pretty hooked as soon as I saw the title and started checking out the reviews and comments.

I won't get too into the details because I really think that if this is something you want/need to explore yourself in your own life, you should definitely read the book yourself.  There are also a tonne of resources about the Konmari Method on YouTube, too.  But here is the nuts and bolts of the system:

1. Declutter quickly in a short time-frame.  Marie recommends anywhere between a week or month or if you have a full-time job, up to a 6-month period.  While six months may not feel like a short amount of time, compare it to the length of an average lifetime.  She rationalises that decluttering quickly will make an immediate and dramatic impact (which is true) and this will help to re-inforce your vision and pleasure at the change.

2. Declutter by category, not location.  One of the big differences with the Konmari Method is that you should declutter by type of object, not by room.  This immediately makes sense when you consider that often people keep the same types of objects in multiple rooms - think books, I have books in my living room, bedroom and kitchen.  It's better to just go through all the books in one fell swoop and be done with them, then move on to the next category of object.  She also has a list of the best order of categories to start with so that you start with the easier things to let go of and work up to the more sentimental items last.

3. Hold the object and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?"  And here is the heart of the Konmari Method - does it spark joy?  The difference here is that you're not focused on throwing out stuff that you don't like or haven't used in X-years.  It's a positive approach where you're focusing on which possessions give you joy, that you love and want to be surrounded by every day.  Marie says that it's important to hold the objects, because you will feel in your body/soul which ones make you happy (spark joy), because you will feel your heart lift.

Okay, so enough theory.  I had started reading the book a couple of weeks ago and eager to put it into action, I got started one weekend on the first category: clothing > tops.  Knowing I had one final box of old clothes up in the attic, I dragged that down and then went through the box and all of my closets and pulled out every top I own and set them out on the bed:

Before: 113 tops

Now, I'm not the type of person who owns a lot of clothes - really.  And yet this was pretty shocking; which is exactly why Marie says to gather up all of the same type of object before you start decluttering - so you can see just how much you have (which you don't really need).  Truer words were never written!

After: 61 tops

Well, it took a fair amount of time but I held every single top and asked myself, "Do you spark joy?" and I whittled it down to 61 tops.  I know the photos don't seem as dramatic as they should but there are in fact fewer piles there and they are much shorter than in the original photo.  And most importantly, I'm happy with those that are remaining; I'm pleased with the idea of wearing these tops.

Folded the Konmari Way

Then I got started on folding and re-organising my closets.  If you're familiar with any Shinto teachings, you may have already heard that you're not suppose to stack items into piles because it crushes the souls of the items on the bottom so it wasn't surprising to me that Marie also recommends a folding and sorting approach without the use of piles.  It also makes sense if you're using drawers, because then you can see all the articles and not just those on the top and you're more likely to use all pieces equally.  Plus, doesn't it look tidy?!  My heart sings with joy!

My hanging closet is nearly bare.  I could have easily hung up my fine-weight summer tops in there (as Marie recommends doing) but for the moment I'd rather have them in my seasonal storage box until I get the rest sorted.  Now I can't wait to move on to the bottoms!

January 22, 2016

Colouring My Year

Hello, hello!

You don't have to look too far or long to know that adult colouring books are all the rage these days.  They've even popped up on the market here in Sweden - I bought one for a crafty friend of mine for her birthday last month.  Then Christmas rolled around and Santa had left me a very special fabric-wrapped present under the tree...

Tula Pink Colouring Book & Fabrics

Yup, not just beautiful Tula Pink fabrics but a Tula Pink colouring book (who knew?)  Boxing Day I broke into this super fun book with my fresh box of Crayola pencil crayons.  Fuzzy new PJs, blanket and colouring book - now that's what I call a relaxing Boxing Day.

Mandala Flower

But that wasn't all.  A pretty awesome Colour Your Year calendar was also under the tree; and what better motivation to keep up with some creative colouring than a monthly panel to work on throughout the year?  I've already gotten started on January's koi pond.

January: Koi Pond

Colouring Lovelies

I've been puttering away on it this week and lily pad leaves have grown in number, lily flowers are nearly done and another koi (plus bits and bobs) have also been added.  I'm still trying to decide on colours for the circular elements around the koi and the foam bits.

I'm thinking that once the year is over, I'd like to use the finished 12x12 coloured pages as backgrounds for scrapbooking pages; perhaps for a monthly overview layout.

And just in case you wanted a closer look at those gorgeous Tule Pink fabrics again, here's a bit closer shot:

Tula Pink Love

So what about you; have you tried adult colouring yet?

January 20, 2016

Start the Year Inspired Sale!

Good morning, everyone!

Just a super quick post today to let fellow teachers know that my TpT Store is joining in the huge site-wide sale today and tomorrow (Jan. 20 & 21).  This is a great opportunity if you're looking for handy IB resources, vocabulary/word wall cards, ORT comprehension sheets, maths inquiry-based worksheets, etc.  Everything has been marked down by 20% so go check it out!


Happy downloading!

January 19, 2016

A New Love

OMG, I think I've found a new fabric love...

Have you heard of Cloud 9 Fabrics?  Until recently, I hadn't.  Then I visited a new-to-me quilt shop in Canada while on holiday and absolutely fell in love with a series of fabrics called Wildwood.  Naturally they came home with me.  (BTW, the grey fabric below is from the House & Garden collection, not Wildwood, but still Cloud9 Fabrics.)

Cloud9 Fabrics

I mean, come on - turquoise, navy, grey and a funky coral in cute designs and modern/retro vibe?  I was sold in an instant.  As an added bonus, the fabrics are also 100% organic, which can't be a bad thing.

Need more convincing?  Check out their other cute collections on the Cloud9 Fabrics website.

I think I need to ask my local quilt shop to start carrying these fabrics.  Just do me one favour...don't tell Moda...

January 15, 2016

Giraffe & Moon Baby Quilt

Hello, hello!

Well this post is looong overdue.  To be honest, it's sat in my drafts box for so long that I actually forgot that it existed.  So I think it's time to release it unto the world.

Now, the reason as to why I've waited so long to share this post is because I've been waiting on some photos of the completed project.  However, any one of you out there who has had a baby under the age of a year will know that taking photos of a baby quilt and sending them to your friend is likely to be as far down on your priority list as this blog post ultimately became, and I really can't blame the parents (my friends) for that.  So, despite my hope of showing off this little quilt with its infant owner, I have some non-baby-featuring photos to share instead.

I keep thinking of this quilt as the cow that jumped over the moon but strangely, these are giraffes, not cows.  I'm willing to argue that it could still pass with the nursery rhyme title, though.

Giraffes & Moon Baby Quilt

Giraffes & Moon Baby Quilt

This adorable quilt was bought as a kit in the States and given to friends (as a kit) for their baby shower, with the promise that it would magically turn into a quilt by the time the baby was born.  It features soft cottons, flannels and super cosy chenille fabrics, although I discovered just how frustrating chenille can be to quilt on, as it has a tendency to snap the quilting thread.  The Heat n'Bond piecing for the characters helped everything come together quickly and easily, with just a wee bit of block piecing afterwards.

Moon & Meander Quilting

Giraffe & Hand Blanket Stitching

The blanket stitching is done by hand and the rest of the sewing and quilting were done by machine.  A combination of traditional straight and free motion meander quilting were used with a variegated blue cotton quilt thread.

The project came together very quickly with two people working on it together.  Needless to say, the parents were thrilled and baby Max loves his quilt.

January 12, 2016

Quilt Your Stash 2016 - Week One

Hello, hello!

Last week I was flipping through my Instagram when a post by Sherri at A Quilting Life caught my eye: Quilt Your Stash 2016.  Well, hello there, I thought.

Like every other crafter out there, I have a stash and I'm sure like many crafters, using it is a bit of a love/hate scenario - I know I should but often it can be so hard to cut into that beautiful, pristine fabric. However, I've been taking baby steps trying to organise my fabric so that I get better at using it up, especially the leftovers from completed projects.  One of the things that particularly caught my eye about Sherri's post was not just the idea of using pretty fabrics already on hand but the organisational aspect (I've already ear marked the book she recommended, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organzng by Marie Kondo - I blame the OCD in me but whatever).

Anyway, let's cut to the chase.  Earlier this week Sherri posted Week One of her new series.  There were three tasks to complete:

1. Clean off all sewing/quilting surfaces - Done!  Sewing table tidied up and I even put away the box full of scrapbooking supplies that was occupying my sewing machine chair.  Double score!

2. Make a list of works in progress - Done!  I currently have four WIPs and decided to use the form recommended by Sherri from AllPeopleQuilt to record my 2016 quilting plans.

3. Make a list of projects to start this year - Done!  It wasn't easy choosing new projects for the year - so much to choose from, but I'm hoping that I've chosen a fun mix of projects I've been wanting to work on, both big and small.  Ultimately, my goal is to surpass my 2015 list of 6 completed projects.

Here's my 2016 project plan list:

The UFO Challenge has already drawn January's project to complete number - 2.  Looks like I'll be getting starting on my pixelated heart wallhanging and with any luck, I'll get it down both before Valentine's Day and in time for next month's guild show and tell.

January 09, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

For the first time ever, I feel I was productive enough with my sewing last year that I can justify writing an annual 'completed projects' post - yeah!  It's all thanks to my new-to-me sewing machine, my Janome 6600P.  So without further ado, here is a run down of last year's finished projects.

Dinosaur Baby Shower Gifts

Six Pocket Tote Bag

Baby Quilt - Group Sew

Tula Pink Handbag

Harmonic Convergence Wallhanging

Diamond Jubilee Jelly Roll Race Quilt

That Cat Wallhanging

So six completed solo projects, one completed group project, plus another three quilts/wallhangings very close to completion - that's a pretty tidy sum for a year by my record.  Stay tuned for a peak of what I hope to have in store for 2016, coming soon.