Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Creativity + Psychology

While playing around with designing a “Save the Date” card for my daughter, I came across some good reading on Creativity and Psychology.  [Sidetracked again!]   With the New Year and thoughts of re-focusing my energies, this information was incredibly interesting to me, and aligns with my current goals.

Over the past several months, I’ve been sort of experimenting with different ways to improve my overall body and mind health.  I’m investing an hour or so most days with group exercise at the YMCA, and I find it actually benefits my mind with both clarity and stress relief.  Any muscle gain or weight loss is really a side-benefit, but I feel better overall anyway.   One of the group exercise classes I go to regularly is PiYo, a combination of Pilates and Yoga.  I’m not a huge fan of Yoga by itself at the moment, but the concentration and balance elements of PiYo are the “mind” benefit for me.  Seeking more of the mind and stress-relief activities has led me to thinking about more creative outlets as well.  I love photography-and-tatting-and-sewing-and-reading-and-writing-and-doodling-and . . . you get the idea.  Sometimes I just don’t know what I want to do next. Which leads to thinking about the New Year and new focus.

I don’t make “resolutions” so to speak, and I’ve said this before, but I do like to re-think about my life and purpose.  I would say the New Year holiday is one of my favorites, and I really do see it as an opportunity for newness in all areas of my life.  This year, I want to continue to focus on healthy body-healthy mind. Which involves plenty of creativity, as well.

Did you know that some of the key elements of being creative include meditation or mindfulness? It makes perfect sense clearing one’s mind and letting your mind be open to whatever flows in would increase creativity.  Did you also know that exercise stimulates creativity as well?  I knew that exercise was good stress-relief, but I never associated it with stimulating creativity.  This makes me confident that I am on the right track in more ways than I realized. 

People who know me well know that I am a “routine” and “analytical” kind of person.  I’ve sort of always seen that as an UN-desirable quality at certain times, but on my sidetracked journey I learned that these are also qualities of creativity. [Think structure/self-discipline/focus.] Every routine is unique to the individual, but routines take unimportant decisions out of thoughts, leaving room for more important decisions.  Is this why I prefer to decide what I’m going to wear the night before? [I really just hate making that decision when I get up – I thought it was just morning laziness on my part.] It also makes sense that I do routine tasks the same way every time – I don’t have to really think about it once it becomes habit.  Did you also know that being left-brained or right-brained is really a MYTH?  Creative people are not right-brained, nor are logical thinkers left-brained.  Everyone has creative ability.  Scientists and their diagnoses are analytical yet creative, right?  Creativity takes some intelligence, but not genius.  In fact, think about Van Gogh and the gift of his ear.  There is a link between mental illness and creativity.  [Ha!  So that’s my story.]

And the brainstorming.  I’ve always been taught that brainstorming is the way to generate creative ideas.  It doesn’t work for me - I always just thought I was the exception.  But more recent studies show that brainstorming can be limiting. [Now, I’ve done plenty of reading on being an introvert so this definitely hits home for me.]  In a brainstorming meeting, extroverts assert the ideas and those who are less confident will agree - and be reluctant to share equally good ideas.  I know this is true, because my best ideas usually hit when I’m alone, or after more thinking time than allowed during quick outbursts of brainstorming.  I think of great things AFTER the meeting or AFTER something has been decided.  Creativity under pressure is not necessarily the best way to go.  It does take some time, and individual effort, or small group effort at the very least.

So, I’m back to placing some focus on the New Year, and how to continue with healthy body and mind activities.  Adult coloring and Zentangle art are added to my repertoire for mind relaxation and personal creativity.  I think I have the WHAT, but I still need to work on the HOW and the FOCUS parts of the goal-setting.

And, I should probably get back to designing that “Save the Date”. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IT has begun!

I can't believe we're 8 days into December already!  We have had above average temps and NO snow to speak of here in Minnesota.  A crazy, warm, wonderful fall and a very mild beginning to winter is making Christmas sneak up on me. (As good an excuse as any, no?)

I stitched Jon Yusoff's 'Minaret' snowflake to a star of that beautiful red wool I had, and then stitched the 2 stars together to make it stable enough to use as an ornament.  This was a first try at the blanket stitch, so that stitching isn't pretty!  I used invisible thread to stitch the snowflake to the wool - which was a feat in itself as well. Kind of a tangly mess, and I got it stitched down a bit crooked.  Oh well - it looks nice on the tree!  I decided I probably won't do a star shape again, but maybe a round ball ornament - it's difficult to center anything on a star, much less stitch around the edge nicely.  Plus, I think there's too much 'extra' fabric with the star shape - and that takes away from the tatted snowflake.  Why do I always experiment at the last minute?  Ha!

I've got my decorating done at work - just thought I'd share where I spend my days.  Now to get the decorating done at home.  And some baking.  And some lefse-making.  And get the cards mailed.  And did I mention my daughter and fiancé are closing on their first home this Friday?  We'll squeeze helping with that in, too.  I don't know if I can handle much more ;) Ha!  So exciting to see things falling into place for my kiddos.

Enjoy the season!  Enjoy your families and friends, and sing loudly.  I'm gonna!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Snowflakes and Wool #2

I lost this darned post!  I think I started it on my iPad, and finished it on my laptop.  I didn't save it on the iPad, and when I went back POOF.  Just the photos remained.  I have a love/hate relationship with technology sometimes.  We'll see, now I'll probably end up with two posts.

In summary - this snowflake is from somewhere on the Internet - I'd love to give credit if anyone knows where I got this?

This is my first attempt at Frivole's Snowdrop.  This is a GREAT pattern, but my tatting is needing some better concentration to avoid small mistakes.  

So much for keeping this one for Christmas - gifted already to a retiring coworker with a large Christmas tree.  I think of her when I see or make ornaments, so it was fitting! 

And I can't duplicate the story of this coat :(  BUT, this beautiful red wool liner was given to me to use the wool.  I took it apart and washed it to felt the wool.

I made this bag (surprised?) I followed the pattern, but found that he straps are too long for my taste.  The loop button closure is a bit too thick, so I'm not sure if it will be good to use, or fumbly. I saved the tag from the coat and put it in the pocket to add some decoration. A great bag for someone I think, I just don't need another.  SO, I offered it back to my aunt, who gave me the wool.

As it turns out, the bag will go back to my aunts friend - the woman who gave up the wool in the first place.  I can't wait to hear how she likes it.  It was her mother's coat!

And now, I have more beautiful red wool to use somehow.  The color just screams Christmas!

P.S.  And how weird is it that comments from the lost post remained?  It's not even Monday.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Inevitable Snowflakes

Fall has definitely arrived in Minnesota!  We had a beautiful September, and are experiencing chilly temps in October, but with scattered warm, sunny days.  I really love fall - sweatshirts and jeans, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and the smell of bonfires in the evenings. And abundant sunshine with beautiful leaf color means you-know-what.  Yep.  Winter is coming.  Snowflakes ARE inevitable.

In January, I had expressed my desire to get ahead this year, and make some snowflakes to put in Christmas cards.  I always wait until it's too late to get any made, so I thought I'd try to do two a month all year, and that would give me plenty.  In September, I had exactly two done.  Ha ha! Time to get moving on the goal of 24.  

So, my latest tatting is all snowflakes.  I now have 5.  Pathetic in count, but beautiful anyway!

All 5 are from Jon Yusoff's book Tatted Snowflakes.  I plan to continue with snowflakes from various other sources as well - there are many beautiful patterns, so I don't see the need to do the same one twice.  Yet ;)

I also FINALLY have a couple of wedding photos to share!  I don't believe any of the photos show the sash or even the dress in its entire beauty, but I'll share a few photos just because. I can't believe the big day was already two months ago!

And on this beautiful fall day, my other daughter and her fiance are having engagement photos taken. Their wedding is just one year away!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Little Motifs and a Messy Cave

My cave has been one busy room today!  (It also looks like a tornado hit it - ha!)

I needed to get some tatting time in, so I dug through my thread to find some to match my new bag.

Wait. I had to finish the bag first.

Yesterday, I decided to make another of a bag I really like for carting around many different items.  It is divided into 3 sections, so it's great for work, my camera stuff, or various projects.  I decided to make one to match one of the dorset bags I made with the same fabric. (Fancy, no?)  

This is the "X" bag:

It actually holds a lot more than it looks like it would.  Maybe that's why I like it?

Then I needed to cover up my horrible sewing on the little tab closure. So, I thought a little tatted motif would be better than a large button.  I found a couple of matching threads, and quickly realized that size 20 was too large - so did it again in size 80. (This rifling through the thread contributed to the tornadic look of my cave. Who puts bins back until thoroughly satisfied?)  

The New Tatting book by Tomoko Morimoto has many great motifs to choose from - this is the Square Flower Motif.  It's still a little big, but it will be fine when I get it tacked down.   I'm still deciding if maybe a burgundy motif would be better before I do any final tacking.  More rifling ahead, I'm afraid.

Since I'm obsessed with the amount of time it takes me to tat something, I discovered this little bugger takes me 40 minutes to make.  No wonder it's hard for me to work on a large project.  I have a hard time sitting still that long! The button would have been faster - but I like the tatted accent.  This does explain why I turn to sewing in between tatting projects, though.  I feel like I really accomplish something for the hours I spend in my cave :)

Now I have a complete set.  I really do love this fabric ;)

And, a few folks have asked about some wedding photos!  We are ANXIOUSLY awaiting the professional photos to see some great shots of that beautiful day.  Unfortunately, all we have are a few phone pictures that don't show off the dress and sash, but I'll share a couple of the beautiful bride!  The straps made from mom's wedding dress show the best on this one:

And someone grabbed this shot from their seat:

Makes me tear up just reliving the moment.  There WILL be more photos.  Eventually.  You can be sure I will be sharing!

P.S.  Did I mention we will have another wedding in October 2016?  My other daughter!  It's such an exciting time for our family right now!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Finally - Vacation!

I'm finally enjoying some much needed vacation time to work on those "someday" projects.  While everyone else is getting ready to get back to school or get kids off to college, I'm enjoying some  post-wedding free time to do whatever I want :) I'm excited to have some time to hide out in my 'cave'!

It's very hot and humid in Minnesota this Labor Day weekend, so I am choosing to stay indoors where it's cool and sew.  My new tatting print fabric was calling me to do SOMETHING with it, so I made a few Dorset Bags. Cuz I need 4 of them, ha!  Gifts maybe?

This pattern makes my favorite tatting bag because of the two outside pockets - so handy for needle cases, extra thread and scissors.  

I'm thinking I can make some table toppers with this fabric as well, and add a tatted edge.  Maybe a new larger carry-all bag?  I also have some dish towels to make and another quilt to bind - not to mention enough fabric to work on another quilt (or ten).  What to do?!

I should prepare for Christmas.  I'm always too late to make much, but maybe I could change that?  In any case, here's to a productive week of Bluebird time!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two of My Favorite Hobbies

... are sewing and tatting.  And even though I have an important wedding to attend in TWO days, my brain is planning some sewing. Tatting bags? Or maybe a crazy quilt!  Whatever I end up making, I just had to share a picture of today's delivery that arrived amid my beautification appointments :)

After we gushed with adoration over her tatting bag, one of our Twin Cities Tatters found out where the fabric came from and shared the info.  Awesome fabric.  I can't wait to make something with both.  (Or at least decide what to make, ha!)

Thanks Marlene ;) I needed another project!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Love and Love!

He loved the quilt.

We had ice cream from Dairy Queen to celebrate the Big 3-0 birthday yesterday.  The birthday boy is thrilled to have his own quilt - and not to have to use the pink one or the zebra print one that my daughter so kindly shares.  Ha!  And for his birthday, he ... yep ... went fishing.

We girls also loved the bachelorette party for the girl in love :) Saturday, the bride-to-be and her wonderful friends gathered for one last hoo-rah before the wedding.  We painted and drank wine while chatting for about 3 hours.  I definitely do not know how to paint.  Especially not clouds.  It's harder than it seems like it should be!  I think I was following directions (to a fault) rather than thinking about the picture I was creating.

My cousin joined us for the day - she IS an artist.  Her clouds are perfect.

On with the last couple of weeks before the big day!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

More with Sulky Blendables

I've squeaked out another tatted cross with the Sulky Blendables.  

Mary Konior's Large Cross is one of my favorite crosses, but it truly is 'large'.  I've tatted it in the past with size 20 thread and it ends up as big as a page in a book!  (Ok, my book does suggest size 40 thread, but I have such an abundance of beautiful colors in size 20). The sulky thread is the perfect size, and as I've said before, it would compare to size 40.  Maybe I should start using the recommended thread sizes?  

In any case, a beautiful pattern is even more wonderful with the right thread!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Secret Project - Done!

Remember the Secret Quilt from my post back here? I just finished sewing the binding on it. Yay! The birthday is exactly one month from today, so I am so pleased and relieved to not have to rush in between wedding preparations.  I love it when plans come to fruition without setbacks!

Can you see the quilting?  Fish jumping.

Here's a better look ...

I was so excited to see that option when I was choosing the stitch pattern for the quilting - a perfect finish.  The only thing left to make is the label for the back with the date and quilt info, along with the birthday message.  Just need to get the right permanent pen. There is a new Hobby Lobby that just opened nearby that needs some investigation anyway ;) 

Monday, June 15, 2015

More Wedding Stuff

I completed the sash, or belt if you will, for my daughter's wedding dress.  The alterations fitting is tomorrow evening, so I needed to have the straps and belt ready as planned.  Nothing like last minute completion!

The sash was an idea from the bridal shop that we used to incorporate more lace from Mom's wedding dress - just a little bit more.

I started out by making several organza fabric flowers testing out different ideas and sizes.

I ended up making a larger focal piece adding tulle and lace from Mom's dress, and then we thought a smaller flower or two would be good.

In the end, we agreed that just the focal piece was good without any additional flowers, as we were adding another lace sort of piece as well off to the side.  Less is more in this case - we don't want to take away from the beauty of the actual dress, either.

The bridal shop had originally suggested this beautiful Vera Wang sash . . .

So, crafting our own seemed fairly simple.  I ended up with the below, using a cut out piece of lace from mom's dress as a sort of appliqué.  It was flimsy, so I added some stiffening spray - that worked great.  We have decided it is even BETTER than Vera's!  Hopefully it will look as good when it's on the dress - we shall see.

Just call me Bluebird Wang.  Lol.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Date With My Daughter

Now that my girls are adults and living away from home, it's fun to have a little date now and then to do something special.  We see eachother a lot for coffee or shopping, but a concert or a play is a special chance to spend some relaxed time together.

Last night, my oldest daughter Emily and I went out to dinner at a little Thai restaurant (YUM!) before we went to see Lindsey Stirling at the beautiful University of Minnesota Northrop Auditorium.  (The link is to some of her videos.)  Lindsey Stirling is "The Dancing Violinist" - she was on America's Got Talent about 5 years ago, and has really gathered a following since.  She performs all kinds of electronic violin music - hip-hop, classical, rock, and has done lots of medleys (Disney, Phantom, LesMis, Star Wars) and some wonderful collaborations with various musicians.  Her performance is wonderful to watch - I can't imagine dancing and playing the violin at the same time. I played the violin for a few short years, and always regretted quitting. (I just wanted to play Charlie Daniels' Devil Went Down to Georgia!)

I enjoy all different kinds of music, but I have to be in the right mood for each genre.  For example, certain music makes me sing along - which isn't a good idea at work when you have a voice like mine.  [Unless it's Saturday and no one else is in the office!]   I love to sing, but unfortunately I'm not gifted in that department.  But, I have today OFF and I think I'm back to classic rock.  I need to sing!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Avoiding the Doily

Yes, I am avoiding work on the Spring Doily.  I have only the final round to go, but it's just like me to feel a 'need' to do something else.  Just like the birthday quilt that needs only the binding to finish, and the wedding dress straps that need a little top stitching. Ha!  

Mom gave me some handwork thread to try - Sulky Blendables.  It's actually more for embroidery and appliqué, but I know others have tried it for tatting too, and it comes in nice variegated colors.  I thought I should try it out, and have been thinking I need a stash of cross bookmarks anyway.  And Mom needs a few more bookmarks to have on hand too.  Perfect diversion from actually completing any of the larger projects in waiting . . .

First I tried this little cross - the Pearl Cross Bookmark by Dianna Stevens. It ended up a little smaller in size than I wanted, and I didn't plan ahead well and ended up with a too-short tail for my liking. Oops.  I guess it will still keep one's place in a book, though.  

The Blendables thread seems to compare to about size 40.  Much nicer size than the sewing thread I tried - my eyes were practically crossed trying that.  Honestly, I thought it would be quite a feat to tat with tiny thread.  Surely it must be an accomplishment to be proud of, right?  I don't think I like it enough to struggle with it again.  I am not sure why one would use such tiny thread, I can't see the beautiful stitches anyway!

Back to trying out more of the Blendables colors.  I love Jane's bookmark pattern, so I thought I'd try the cross variation by Grace Tan

I love the look of this cross, and it works into a very nice size bookmark with the Blendables.  I really didn't mind tatting with this thread as long as I didn't need to un-tat my stitches much.  I did some un-tatting that led to a break that led to some ranting.  But only once.  A good long rant that addressed many unrelated thoughts  :)

And, I started another book too.   There are just so many things I want to do, and not enough time to do them all.  And many times I find that completing a few smaller projects gives me the satisfaction of actually completing SOMETHING, and then it's easier to get back on track with the larger projects.  Weird? Nah. Just the way my crazy brain works I guess.  Besides, I can squeeze in some reading at lunchtime easier than I can accomplish much tatting.  Wouldn't want to waste any time, you know.

Back to the worst (but most necessary) deadly time-sucker tomorrow.  The job.  Takes up a lot of time, but I gotta pay for all these hobbies somehow :)  I'll get back to finishing the Spring Doily. Soon. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Almost Done.

My weekend goal is pretty much accomplished - it's nice when things go according to plan, and I've actually given myself ample time.  I definitely like to be 'done' with things ahead of time, and not rushing at the last minute! Just a little top stitching left, but that will wait until the bride can try them out with the dress.  And give her final approval.  

Hopefully these straps will look and work the way we envisioned!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I don't think the organza base shows as much on top of skin as it does in the photo - we'll see.

Did I mention how slippery organza is to sew on?  Sheesh.  And did I mention how the lace on my mom's dress was tiered and sewn in a way that made it a little difficult to get good lengths of lace?  I hated to cut into it more, but I did have to.  A pile of scratchy tulle netting is left.  Still makes me feel a bit guilty.

This is actually a weight off my shoulders.  I knew it had to be done, but I knew DOING it would require a good stretch of uninterrupted time.  Thank heavens hubby is self-sufficient when I'm in my cave :) 

And Ruby doesn't care as long as she gets a little sun.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dragging My Feet ...

The Task: Make straps for daughter's wedding dress.

Out of lace.  

Lace from my mother's wedding dress. 


My daughter's wedding will be on my parents' anniversary, so the plan was to use mom's dress, but it didn't fit right to wear as is. Then we figured we could use the lace somehow, some way.  Grandma and granddaughter will share a wedding anniversary, so shared lace would be awesome.

Straps!  Not crazy about a strapless dress, but we could add straps!  The bridal shop charges a pretty penny to add straps.  The lace from mom's dress was originally white, but is discolored enough after all these years to match the ivory lace of the new dress.  Perfect.  We like to be sentimental, we do. 

How do I get myself into these things?  "Sure, I can do that - that's a great idea!" Boy, I have a big mouth sometimes.  

I have been the Queen of Procrastination on this task. But it's time to get it done, so it's my goal for this weekend. When it came down to it, I really had to force myself to cut into that lace. The lace on THAT dress. Mom is OK with it.  It's been sitting in a box for over 50 years.  But still. I CUT UP MY MOM'S WEDDING DRESS! 

A daunting task, but finally, the straps are in process.  The lace is so pretty, but the pattern is a bit too wide to use as we wanted.

Some modification to the original idea will be necessary.  I will be sewing it to some organza, so I have some figuring to do.  I think one edge will have to be straight to get it to the desired width. Dang it. 

To be continued ...

Friday, May 8, 2015


I'm still working on Round 11 of the WIOSNA 2015 Spring Doily, but I haven't been as dedicated as I'd hoped to be.  As if wedding shopping, quilt making, and attending a work conference for a few days wasn't enough, I dove into another book as well.  There just aren't enough hours in a day!

I've chosen to use more pink in this last round to pull out that small bit of earlier pink - I think it works nicely.  I see where I've missed joining a ring in between the florals though - on both sides!  Dang it.

I hate it when I do that!

I got another new shuttle from LaCossette yesterday - I couldn't resist.  These shuttles are so addicting - they are my absolute favorite to use.  

Besides, who could resist Roses & Chocolate?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ms. Sunshine

This is Ruby this morning.  Like every other weekend morning, she follows this spot of sun around the living room to bask in as much of it as she can.  These photos are from my iPad - the best ones are from my camera but I'm too lazy to upload them :)

She has done this since she was quite young, and I am always taking pictures of her when she does it.  It's fun to play with the shadows, and I've gotten some beautiful shots of her.  Unfortunately, photos are on not only on my camera, but my phone and my iPad too.  I've been thinking about creating a PowerPoint show of all the pictures I can find of her enjoying the sun - just haven't done it yet. Soon.

Ruby does get a little annoyed with me and my camera laying on the floor and snapping away. Sometimes she gives me a look that seems to say, "Really?  Must you? Right Now?"

Other times she just turns and looks the other way, bored with the whole session. 

It's a weekend ritual for me to try to get another 'perfect' shot of her as she follows that spot around.  I think I find it funny because she only gets a tiny little piece of the sunshine.  This is what it looks like from my spot on the couch:

And here's the little window that one, small spot of sunshine comes from:

Such goofs, aren't we?