Beating the Blahs

Over the past 15 years of owning this shop, I’ve had several ladies visit during the summer months looking for something to inspire them. Why? Because they have what we’ve come to recognize as the Summertime Creativity Blahs (SCBs for short). Now you might be thinking that that’s kind of an odd malady to have in the summertime when there’s so much to do and so much daylight in which to do it. However, it’s a true enough ailment caused by, in my opinion, the lack of a need for curling up under a cozy quilt, unless you’ve set your AC thermostat to zero. Pair that with the (laughable) idea that the gift giving season is still quite a ways off in the future, or so we kid ourselves into believing. As a result, the ailing creative mind cannot find anything they really want to do. Worse yet, if they do find a somewhat tempting project, finding the motivation to do it is just as difficult if not nigh impossible.

“Is there a cure!?” I hear you asking. I think there is. Yes, there just may be a glimmer of hope in the event that you too find yourself affected by the SCBs. It’s a great solution because it won’t cost you a penny (at least not up front and maybe not at all depending on your stash), and you don’t even have to leave your house in order to partake of this treatment which should thereby put an end to your ailing creative spirit.

I’m sure I’ve realized the advantage of this cure in the past, but, memory being what it is, I’d forgotten all its beneficial aspects. I rediscovered it while trying, somewhat in vain I’m afraid, to organize and clean up a room that we’ve decided to turn into our upstairs den since our downstairs den is still full of fabric. To do this task I had to move a LOT of quilting books as well as a few cross-stitch books and even several books on heirloom sewing. Yes, I love it all!

Once upon a time long, long ago, I’d started making a list of the books which I’ve kept on hand, usually with the initial idea of using one of these books to start a BOM or some such monthly offering. More often then not though I’d set the book aside when the next interesting book came along and start the dreaming process all over again. I hate to admit it, but I tend to do more creating via day dreaming than through actual stitching. Because of that flaw in my character, I have accumulated a ton of books, yes, I mean that literally, over the course of my creative life, most of which preceded the shop.

While going through the books that have been stacked hither and yon in that aforementioned room, I started not only noting the titles, authors, copyright date, etc. but also the projects that were contained within. My original intent was to weed out the books that only had one or two projects/ideas that I thought I’d ever actually execute and rid myself of them. Needless to say, the only books that were weeded out were duplicate ones that I’d brought upstairs with me from the shop a second time because I’d forgotten there was already one up there in a stack. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many duplicates as there needed to be in order for me to trim down the number of books on hand upstairs. Going through the ones downstairs will have to wait for another century.

It didn’t take long for this method to work its magic. By looking through the books to determine their “keeper” status I ended up wanting to do almost everything I looked at. I can only chalk that desire up to a couple of reasons. One, it’s been quite a while since I’ve done any serious sewing/creating, and two, because of my eclectic taste I’m attracted to a wide variety of projects. I’d have to get up before the crack of dawn, start working on a project and not stop until midnight, if then, in order to complete even a fraction of the projects and ideas for projects that I’ve collected with intentions of making. Surely I’m not the only person out there with this affliction, a hope that I’m sure all the book companies and pattern makers are banking on. Oh, yes…patterns… There were a lot of those upstairs as well and I even went through quite a few of those while sorting out and cataloging my books. No, there’ll never be enough hours in the day or enough days in one life to accomplish what my foolish mind tells me I can accomplish. As usual, my intentions are much greater than my accomplishments.

After looking through a multitude of books, I was pumped to get going on projects. I was squirming in my seat! I had to force myself to finish adding the books in front of me to those already in the list. I wanted to run downstairs and start pulling out bits and pieces of fabric right then and there. Then I reminded myself that I already have at least three projects going in various states of progress. The actual number in progress is much larger of course, but those three are the only ones whose location I’m sure of at the moment. So, my common sense told me that I should focus on those projects first. But there’s something about starting something fresh and new that’s always more intriguing and invigorating than finishing something started long ago (and I won’t even mention how long ago on a couple of those three projects lest you think I’m a real dud).

The moral of this story is this. If you find yourself sparkless where creating goes, grab yourself a stack of books or patterns that you have on hand, make yourself a nice cup of tea, or coffee if you prefer, prop your feet up and start looking through said inspirational triggers. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying, “I like that a lot, but I think I’d do this to it instead.” Or, “I think I’d rather do it in these fabrics instead of those.” Or my personal bent is to say, “I think I’ll make that in a smaller size.” Before long you’ll have half a dozen, or more, new projects on your to-do list. Mag-BHG Christmas Qlts n More 2018 Flags Personally, I don’t make a list, but I do flag projects that catch my eye with colored sticky flags. I buy these at Dollar Tree, 500 flags for $1, in eight different colours. The flags tell me that a particular book or magazine (something else I have too many of) has something inside that I’m interested in doing. When I see those flags sticking out the side of a book or magazine, they also remind me that I need to get on the stick if I’m going to make even the slightest ripple in this sea of creativity with which we are so generously surrounded.

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Christmas Quilts & More

One of my favorite types of magazines is those which focus on Christmas. While I love magazines, I love, love, love Christmas themed magazines especially. If I had the money, and the space, I’d buy every one to be found on the bookstore shelves. That’s how much I love Christmas themed magazines. Unfortunately, I have neither the money nor the space, not to mention the time, for such a large variety of magazines that focus on one holiday. So, I pick and choose very carefully those magazines that come into my home starting around November but staying forever…and I do mean forever. I have Christmas magazines that are more than 10 years old that I still pull out for inspiration or just to get me in the mood for Christmas. These magazines cover the gamut from decorating, party planning, new recipes to try, and crafting of one sort or another. The latter being the ones that I actually get around to using for their intended purpose – more or less. I’m still better at looking at the photos and dreaming about duplicating the projects than I am at the execution process.Mag-BHG-Christmas Qlts n More 2018

The other day I received a copy of Christmas Quilts & More in the mail. This is a special interest publication from Better Homes & Gardens. I knew immediately from the cover that I was going to enjoy looking through this magazine, and I’m here to tell you that I was in no way disappointed by its content.

On the cover it states that there are “25 holiday projects, quilts, décor, and gift ideas.” I’ve gotten into the habit of using colorful sticky flags, that I buy from Dollar Tree, to mark the projects or ideas I find particularly interesting. That way, when I pick up the magazine later, I know which pages to look at and am able to save a bit of time, although not much as I get sidetracked and start looking at everything else in the magazine yet again. Yes, you could say when it comes to time management, I’m hopeless. I enjoy myself to be sure, but I’m hopeless in making the most of the minutes allotted to me each day. I’d like to say I’ll get better at it, but I know myself well enough not to lie about this particular kink in my personality.

Mag-BHG Christmas Qlts n More 2018 FlagsAnyhow, of the 25 offerings in this publication I have 15 of them flagged. When I went back and counted the number of flags sticking out the side of the magazine it made me wonder which projects I hadn’t flagged, and why. So, I went back through the issue again. Of the projects I didn’t mark one was a wreath, which I don’t need at the moment as I have a beautiful one that I purchased several years ago. One was for a tree skirt which I don’t need because I purchased one on sale last year at TJMaxx. Then there was a stocking which I don’t need, but after looking again I decided that the holly leaves and berries would work well on another project, like a hot pad or mug rug. There were four quilt projects that I didn’t mark, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t decide to make them later on. Since my count didn’t add up to 25 I went back a third time to figure out where I’d missed the other three projects. I can only conclude that those three are the evergreen sprays that are shown between sections. These should be easy enough to execute without instructions and would look wonderful on or beside exterior doors or windows to add a bit of festive cheer whether they were hanging inside or outside your home. The one using sewing notions would be perfect to hang on your sewing room door.

I do realize that this publication is a compilation of past projects that have been featured in BH&G publications. That means you may already have the instructions elsewhere, but it’s nice to have so many projects, and a fairly nice mix at that, all corralled in one convenient place. If only time could be so easily recycled I might have enough of it to actually be able to get one or two of the projects I marked completed.

While looking through the issue the third time, I had a thought which is actually one that I’ve thought about before but just never allowed to get past the thinking stage. That thought was this. Instead of just wishing my creative time away only to get to the end of the year with nothing significant to show for the days that have flown past, why not get my act together and force myself to make at least one project, probably a small one, each month that could be used as a gift for Christmas or as an addition to my current decorating items. I know I’d have to make a date with myself in order to do that. I also know that I’d have to work on it the same time each day/week/month in order to remember to do so. Otherwise, time just gets past me, and I find the month to be over before I’ve even realized it began. So, I think that’s going to be my approach to getting past the I-wish-I-hadda stage in order to finally have something to point to at the end of next year, Good Lord willing, and say, “Wow! I did all of that this year?! Who’d of thought it…” It might not be a quilting or sewing project either. Creativity and working with ones’ hands is always a good thing to do regardless of the medium. Now all I have to do is figure out where to store the items I make so that I can find them when the time comes to give or to use them next year. Another kink in my personality to be overcome I’m afraid, but that’s a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say I tend to give gifts all year long as I run across them when moving a bag to find something else that’s lost. My kids know I mean well and still seem to love me anyhow. For that I am grateful.

A Needle Pulling Thread – Review

I think one of the best words in the English language, or in any language for that matter, is the word FREE. In the past, I have shared freebies on Friday that I’ve run across on the internet. As Gomer Pyle would say, “What a dumb thang. What a dumb thang to do.” Here I am trying to sell patterns, you can’t believe how many are here until you actually see for yourself, and I turn around and give you information on freebies. Then I wonder why patterns aren’t selling all that well. Duh…

It seems to be a problem for shops who are trying to sell patterns by great designers while having to compete with all the freebies that are out there online. While I totally understand the giving personality of crafty/creative people, those who consistently give away freebies aren’t doing themselves or their fellow creative person any favors.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion on a couple of occasions and all of her Quilt Academy events, of which I believe there were five. Loved those Quilt Academy events by the way. They were absolutely awesome!!! Talk about brain overload that very first event! The only person I knew about on the program was Nancy Zieman, and seeing her in person was the only reason I went. Had someone told me then that later on I would own a quilt shop and get to better know some of those big names in quilting that I met at the academies, I would have told them they needed to be committed because that was never going to happen. This is why I told my children when they were growing up to never say never. Yes, some things I have had to learn the hard way.

Anyhow, in one of Miss Martha’s talks on turning your hobby into a business she said something that has stuck with me. It went something like this, “If you don’t charge anything for what you’re giving folks, they won’t place any value on it. If it’s only $5, charge them so they will feel like they’ve gotten something worthwhile.” Over the years since I’ve had the shop I’ve determined that she was right. While we tend to like to get things for free, we don’t always value them as much as we do something that we’ve had to work for or save up in order to purchase. There’s a whole other sermon that could go along with this thought, but I won’t go there right now. That’s not the purpose of this writing.

Mag-Needle Plg Thread-Sprg 2016The purpose of this writing is to share with you something that was sent to me, quite unexpectedly, free of charge. Now, I give lots of “stuff” away at our camps, to guilds for their special events, and during special events that we hold throughout the year here in the shop. Although I greatly enjoy giving, I also like getting just as much as the next person, especially when what I’ve been given comes as a complete surprise. Such is the case with the most recent copy, Spring 2016, of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. It came one day in a brown envelope with the word SAMPLE on the outside. Surprise!

I have bought this magazine a few times, mainly the holiday issues, at Books-a-Million. The thing I enjoy most about this Canadian publication is that it’s chocked full of all kinds of creativity. Instead of being a one-sided publication, as are the quilting magazines that I tend to peruse, this publication has a little bit of everything, because after all, aren’t most of us who are creative multi-faceted and creative in more than just one arena? I know I am. Of course, there comes a point when we have to choose which creative areas we desire to excel in because there’s just not enough lifetime to do them all, much less do them all well.

So, what’s in this issue I have you wondering? It might be easier to tell you what’s not in this issue. For example, there’s no woodworking or macramé. But I was delighted to see that there are six quilting projects including a table runner, lap quilt, placemats, chair back covers, a bed scarf (we tend to call them bed runners), and a quilt made using denim. Can you say “recycle!”?

One project that really caught my attention and made me giddy was the pattern for making a teapot cozy. Those who know me well know I enjoy having and collecting tea things. Trust me; I have enough tea in the house to float a battle ship! But after all these years of enjoying tea on pretty much a daily basis, I have yet to buy, let alone make, a tea cozy. I’ve bought the patterns for making one but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll give the pattern in the magazine a whirl. If/when I do, you’ll be the first to know. The plus with the cozy pattern here is that the handle is not covered. I’ve learned that covering the handle of a good teapot is not a good idea. Not only does the tea stay hot when covered, but the handle gets hot as well. When I say hot, I mean really hot, as in too hot to handle. No pun intended. Since the pattern can be adjusted, I can make a cozy for my large teapot that holds several cups as well as my two-cup teapot that I won from teadog.com. I love that little teapot!

Ok…moving right along…Remember I mentioned how we creative types like to give to others? Well, there’s a pillowcase pattern in this issue that you could make and donate to Junior’s House. Just bring your finished pillowcase to the shop and I’ll pass it along to them. As always, if you have another charity in mind then go for it.

Not into quilting or sewing? How about knitting, cross-stitch, punchneedle, rug hooking, crochet, embroidery – either hand or machine, purse making, or beading? If you enjoy any of these needlearts then you need to give this magazine some serious consideration. Of course, there are more than just projects to do amidst the pages. There are book reviews for new books in each of these disciplines, an article on a great looking quilt shop in Oshawa, Ontario you can visit next time you’re in the area, and an informative article on the history of knitting tools in Canada.

I am so grateful to whoever it was that so kindly sent me this copy of A Needle Pulling Thread. It’s a great publication and one that I hope will continue enticing us with multiple needlearts to enjoy in each issue for many years to come.  Be sure to visit their website where they have photos of all the projects contained in this issue. You can also enjoy looking through a free issue there as well.  While I do not have copies of the magazine for sell at the shop, you can order online if you’re unable to visit or find a copy at your local Books-a-Million store.

Enjoy!

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