Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Value of Organized Mess

It's ironic I know that while I've been trying to de-clutter parts of my house (and yes, I know I've created apparent clutter in other spots), I've been reading The Perfect Mess, by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman. Subtitle: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, how crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place.

Just finished the book, and I don't believe they would have disapproved of the work I've been doing. Probably won't disapprove next week of my pulling everything out of my studio and only putting those items back in that I believe I will use.

The book admits that there are dangers of too much clutter or mess in the our lives; when we lose important items because of disorder it's a problem. They argue, however, that some messiness, some randomness, some "clutter" tends to make people more creative, businesses more adaptable, and life easier to live.

I think that's what I'm aiming for. I don't want to exist in a sterile environment (anyone's whose seen my bathroom on a normal day could attest to the fact that I don't). I just want some of the horizontal surfaces in my house to remain visible, without various random items being placed on them. Items that should be temporary and moved within 12 hours. Items that when left longer become invisible and stay for month.

I have a pile of these items on the kitchen counter. They will be dealt with today.

So I enjoyed the book and recommend it to others. The authors ridicule the "professional organizer's society" fiercely, which I love. They talk about the happy accidents that have made great things possible. And how adding a random item into brainstorming or websearches for example can yield unusual but successful results. But just as I was thinking that all this organizing was being done to keep me from being distracted by clutter from my creative purposes, the authors write about things that were invented by accident and end that sections with this:

Clearly our minds are prepared to do some of their best work when they're diverted, one way or another, from what we intend to focus them on. Think about that - but only for a minute. pg. 250.
Now this either validates my argument that I solve my problems best when I'm doing something else (thus diverted). I'm OK with that. OR they are suggesting that I "build in" some diversion in my organization. Hmm...

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The slightly sinister amongst us are celebrating. Nearly 2 weeks ahead of it's official publication date, Amazon is shipping it's first copies of AntiCraft (the book)! The creation of Zabet Stewart and Renee Rigdon, this book is an extension of the twisted creativity always found at The AntiCraft website. I first introduced you to these women last year just as they were soliciting works for this 160 page crafty work.

If you know a knitter, crocheter, sewer or beader with slightly dark and twisted sense of humor add this book to your gift list! What do we know about the book already? Sadly there are not many details yet about the projects; checking through the archives of their quarterly zine hints at the quality, humor and style that will be found. I'm certain I'll find some pirate-y gear, spiders, and skulls. I'm certain there will be great humor. But specifics aren't abundant.

We have some hints:

Andi shares a photo of one of the beaded pieces she had accepted for the book. We must wait for the second piece

Alice from futuregirl.com shares the three projects she has in the book:

First there was The Three Owls. Originally designed in a sweeter way, they took on a more gothic appearance simply by changing the coloring

Second came The Bad Eggs! Such a wonderfully perverse take on Easter eggs!!
I thought subversive Easter eggs (traditionally-colored eggs with non-traditional imagery) would be hilarious, and I got my chance to make some when they were accepted for the Anticraft book. Look at that squirting arterial blood! I can't tell you how much I love that decapitated bunny. It warms my heart. I couldn't be happier about how it turned out.

Third is a crocheted bag with a variety of embellishment options. While I like the "I (skull) Trouble" bag.. the apocathary bag is really speaking to me...

Other projects mentioned in the book a duct-tape corset that I just may have to make before year's Renaissance Faire season 'cause nothing says 16th century Grand Dame like having my torso bound in plumber's tape!

BLESS the gals that are the Anti-Craft, though! Some of the greatness written for the book just couldn't fit! They are not lost to us though. Contained at the website are The Lost Pages:

Bones by Marie Gross. Skull-and-Crossbones socks to knit.

Zabet's charming Chainmail Story.

Robyn's DIY Niddy Noddy. What IS a Niddy Noddy? According to World Knit.com:
A niddy noddy is a simple
tool that is used to make a skein of your hand spun yarn straight off the
wheel. The yarn can then be washed, dyed and the twist set. Setting the twist
is very important if you want balanced, professional looking yarn. The unusual
name comes from the action of the skeiner. The faster you wind, the more the
skeiner develops a niddy noddy action! Niddy Noddies can be made of wood, PVC or even a coat hanger! A niddy noddy is basically a shaft with a crossbar at each end. One crossbar is rotated 90 degrees from the other
The Story of Duct Tape. They cut this from the book?

(crossposted at BlogHer.com)
I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Way too much fun! I found this site from Gabrielle.. who wisely chose to display one of her art pieces in a museum. Anyway, Dump'r lets you upload one of your digital photos, then apply one of their alterations to it. So a photo could be displayed/altered to:

a museum
a line sketch
an egg
a Rubki's cube,
other cool things.

If you give them permission, they will even access your Flickr account and post the image to your Facebook account! I took a photo from Flickr and turned it into the line drawing above. And, yes, it's on my Facebook Profile page.

It's nearing the end of a long holiday weekend. Why don't you go play?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays. Today I've written about The AntiCraft's new book being published.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Painted Shoes, Supplies
Today I will be carving out some creative time. I promise. I have a fun little project that I'm working on (yes, painting shoes tutorial based on the supplies above) and I will spend time today working on this. I will also take the dogs for a nice walk down to the local coffee shop; no driving if we can avoid it today!

I'm still organizing my laundry room. I'm to the point where I need to runthrough my dye chemicals and supplies and getting them in order. This will bring me to the point where I can easily get some creative work done again! (and I've got ideas! Do I have the supplies? I shall find out!))

In my spare time, I have a small Moleskine sketch book that needs one of my custom covers. Sounds like a full day to me!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catching Up with Craft Bloggers...

This past week end I caught up on all the wonderful things happening in the blogs. I'll admit that way too often a blog will take me to another blog or YouTube; one thing would lead to another and I'm lost for an hour or more. The next thing you know, the family is begging for supper or clean clothes and I'm wondering where My weekend went!

Before I hit you with the crafters, this video by Daft Hands is just mind boggling! And a total time sink! See? Too. Much. Time. On. YouTube.

Let's see...


Mad Croppers pointed us to a huge scandal: Cheating! As reported by Newsweek, one of the 2007 Hall of Fame recipients for Creating Keepsakes was caught cheating. Two women were replaced. The rest of the story reads like Mean Girls...

Scraps of Mind argues that Quick Pages mean pages can finally be done. She pointed to a YouTube video tutorial by Ro Paxman for using Quick Pages.


Ali Edwards's beautiful photos documented creating a button tree. Want directions to make your own? (sigh...) The designer, Tia Bennett, published them at Two Peas.


The start of Project Runway has brought a new Project Runway challenge from AmyB. There's still time to play!!

Beate Knappe shared her handmade cards for this holiday season. Makes me want to grab some fabric, embroidery threads, buttons and beads and make cards my own.

I just found Thread Banger on YouTube. This network is dedicated to people who make their own fashion. Every Friday the twosome uploads a new episode of Thread Heads! Their website includes a blog and forum. Killed at least an hour catching up with pair and will be visiting again regularly.

If you're a fast knitter, there is just enough time to whip up a Felted Thanksgiving Oven Mitt! Whitney and the Purl Bee provide the directions, you add feltable yarn (the Farmhouse Yarn used in the sample is fabulous!) and a little time.

Drew, The Crochet Dude, suggested we check out Vickie Howell's lates podcast. She scored an interview with SNL regular Will Forte, a knitter, talking about craft and "dudes", including Drew!

And finally.. because it's just fun to watch:

This YouTube video shows a knitting machine built entirely of LEGO's!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Exercise: The Mis-Translation

This is a really fun exercise if you give yourself permission to go there. We used poems written in the original Swedish by Tomas Transtromer (there should be an umlaut in over the "o" in his last name.. but...). Transtromer is one of Sweden's greatest poets, who writes (I've read) with interesting metaphors.

The exercise is to read the words, then imagine you are translating word-for-word. Don't edit, don't complain about non-sequitors. Just see what happens.

I'll admit it. Some of the Swedish reminded me of my high school/college German classes, so I went there. I also went back and neatened the draft up a bit. I can tell you that translating a poem from an unknown language into a known language? Interesting:

The MisTranslation:

Along the main street stand a variety of very high doorways that mingle noise and light,
most of it echoed,

some of it lost by the entryways.
We have all things but peace.

Stranded at the intersection stand I with the bread for supper.
Day old in the blink of an eye.

A bus stops and I continue
Transported in an instant to that doorway call HOME.
It is so unlike anything I normally write, I can't tell what's good, bad or indifferent about it. But at least it's interesting! I haven't found any of his poems online untranslated or I'd share a couple with you to play with yourself.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Step One: Do Step Two: Own It Proudly

Yesterday I wrote about some of the negative messages I spend too much time listening to. I call them "my demons." They seem to believe that I like to hear them, or I believe them, or something. They're wrong.

Truth is, I am over them but they refuse to leave. I had gone years without a peep out of these demons; this year they won't do me the kindness of getting some psychic laryngitis. I'm threatening to grow beyond them, to disobey them, to dismiss them. They don't want to go without a fight.

When people stood between the demons and myself, I truly enjoyed them not rolling around my head. It was quiet in there; there was room to day dream a future and to enjoy the present. Those are two of the very best actions to stifle, subdue and eventually silence negative messages you don't need anymore. If I'm fully present in the moment, there's less space for them to be yammering in the background.

I'm (finally) learning how to deal with them when they're here. I thought action, any action, would work, but it won't. I can jump on a treadmill and walk 10 miles; I can walk the dogs until they're curling up under the shade of the nearest bush and begging for a rest. This is one instance where merely moving ain't cutting it.

I have to accomplish something. It barely matters what I accomplish (one weekend I shut them up by scrubbing the bath tub) as long as it's something. However, when it is working toward a goal of mine.. all the better.

It also helps if I acknowledge to myself that I accomplished something. Brag about it a little. Show a little pride to myself. I may have scrubbed the bath tub, but I did mighty fine job of it. Maybe the best job of scrubbing a bath tub that's ever been done. If I let myself think "I just scrubbed the bath tub."... the work would be naught. I diminish myself when I diminish my accomplishments. And, lo, the demons like that.

I'm going to set up an accomplishment list just for me.

At the moment there is a whiteboard in my work room with a list of things to do on it, catagorized by the part of my life: "home", "writing", "creative", etc. I've not changed the list in about 8 months, and I do not look at the board. It's probably one of the things keeping me from walking into my workroom. The unrecognized plans, the unaccomplishments, the energy leak, the path not taken.

I will take down that guilty white board and clean it clean until it shines in all it's shiny whiteness. Then I will grab a bunch of colored markers and start writing down my accomplishments. Uncatagorized. Messy. Proud. Maybe with crowns and stars and exclamation points.
Step one: Do.
Step two: Own It Proudly.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.
A Writing Exercise: Lists and Blending

Part One:

Quick, don't think just list the first five things that come to you in each list:


Now check one item from each list.

I ended up with: harmony, hummingbird, red oxide, the gentle rumble of my dog Katy's snoring.

Now combine these items into a paragraph:

There exists in time and nature strange co-minglings of accidental harmonies. Like the gentle rythmic rumble of my dog Katy's snore as she lay on the oxide-red clay tile, warmed by the sun mixed with the steady undercurrent of drip-drip-drip from the neighbors fountain. The entire calm is syncopated by the fah-loop TWEET of a hummingbird angry because it's feeder is empty.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Learning From An Expert

While working on an article about ETSY I wandered here and there on the website, eventually finding myself reading this wonderful article in the VenusZine on Crafting a Business by Jenny Hart.

Jenny is an Etsy seller and the genius behind Sublime Stitching. She has a nice blog and more at the website, so if you like embroidery, go check her out!

But even if embroidery isn't your thing, you should read her article. She honestly describes trying to a grow a DIY business in a way that both encourages me and still gives me that chill-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling:
It still is scary. But the scary part is different now. Attempts at making bigger strides, having more demand than resources to meet those demands, managing money wisely, and trying to find financial backing and business people in the industry who get the DIY movement (psst … they don’t) to possibly partner with. I’ve often felt very much like running a successful business is discovering the emperor has no clothes. Only, you’re king at your own company, which means you’re the one feeling naked.
About encouraging others to take a similar risk:
I find myself struggling to come up with some snappy reply that is encouraging and informative without saying "Go for it! Work really hard and it will be everything you dreamed!" Unfortunately, that’s just not the whole story. But I will say this: If you don't do it, you'll never know. And once you start, you'll see the next step and take it. Then it will become easier, then harder again, then easier, then doubly harder, and you'll find you're on your way. Where are you headed? Well ...

It won't look like what you expected.

It won't go the way you planned.

If you can be OK with that, do it.
There's more in this article, the first of 5 on Crafting A Business. Personally, I can't wait until December 5th for part two.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Growth Matters, Clearing the Path

After reading an older post from Christine Kane last September, I invited a small group of friends to join me in plugging some of our energy drains. Most of us are working hard at organizing and decluttering our lives. There are a few reasons why I shouldn't bother about this as much (aren't there better ways to spend my time?) but one BIG reason why I should.

Let me explain:

I'll be working on something, having serious creative thoughts, when I need to move through the house. Maybe a trip to let a dog out, to the bathroom, or to answer the phone (yes, I do sometime!). I spot something that stops my important thought:
  • that plant really needs watering,
  • there is dog fur everywhere,
  • I wonder if that misplaced thing is in that pile there,
  • that needs to be worked on...
You know, the distracting thought. The "leak". My attention is drawn away from the important creative stuff for just that second, and suddenly the whole flow is gone. Maybe I get sucked back into the left-brain side, I don't know. But I know that the leaks are stopping me from moving forward.

You'd think I'd be enthusiastically moving forward on this step, since I've actually noticed the negative effects on me. I've been reading back through my archives and I'm ALWAYS saying that I need to get organized.

Instead, I've been encountering some resistance. Like Mack Truck-sized resistance.

Today I realized why.

If I take away my excuses for not working, for not getting things done, what happens if I'm STILL not productive? I often get stuck in a place of fear: afraid to go off the beaten path, afraid to risk myself, afraid more to succeed than to fail.

If I clear the path, there will be nothing to stop me except myself.

Funny thing is, I've learned this year that moving and taking action are the rights steps for me to change. After years of (also) saying "I want to lose these 10 pounds ...20 pounds ...30 pounds, ...40 pounds... I want to get strong so I can end this constant back pain, constant neck pain, constant pain... " this year I've done it.

I've learned how to be successful.

For the first time in my life.

So I'm giving myself some goals, some permission and some time limits. It's November. I will work on clearing the path for the rest of this year; I will deal with disorder and learn some of the skills I want to learn (like actually learning PhotoShop!) Action statements both. I won't beat myself up if I've don't tackle everything all at once. I've got almost 2 months. Baby steps, grrll, baby steps.

Where my major goal this year was to lose... my goal next year will be to grow. Kinda scary.. but I know I'm up to the challenge.

Now anyone have thoughts/solutions for the fellow housemates that don't "jump on the bus" of a decluttered environment?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Bug-Of-The-Week

I think I've got the bug-of-the-week. It doesn't feel like a cold, which was confusing me into thinking it was just some simple food allergy. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not too uncomfortable for the moment, but I'll be good to myself and stay out of the gym until I feel 100%. Hmm... should I run into stores and spread the germy goodness, though? Or would that be mean just weeks before the holidays?

Symptoms: below average body temp., sense of chills, runny nose, chest congestion and slight nausea (though that could be from the darn running nose). I've heard so many people complaining of this with much more dramatic symptoms that I'm willing to accept that this is a bug and try to cut it short.

Fortunately, I know I have a whole chicken in the freezer. I see chicken soup in a bowl in about 4 hours. In the meantime. Zicam save me!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Email and Wine Don't Mix

The Princess LazyBones
Katy Sleeping. About the only thing I should do after a glass of wine.

The other evening I made what could have been a major faux pas: I worked on several email projects after having a glass a wine. Hmm... drunk emailing! What an adventure.

I was writing notes to different groups of online friends. One small group was getting my rundown of Jen Lemon's post on BlogHer about online artist's galleries. These are just a couple folks that I figure won't just click through if I send the link and say THIS is something you want to check out and they don't regularly read the website. If you have any interest in places online to start your own art gallery, check her post. She recommends several interesting sites. the one that intrigues me the most is DripBook.

A second very small group was yammering about a potential weekend some-kind-of-camp. Kind of a crafty-vlogging pajama party. Since we're not talking local folk, this is mostly fantasy. But it was light-hearted fun.

I was keeping things straight (I think) when I received a notice that BlogHer had uploaded the first of four holiday food videos. Back in the end of September, I helped out on these shoots. I knew there were a couple people interested in just seeing these videos, so I opened another "conversation" in gmail and add these names (even though I'm not in them. They had to suffer hearing about the day. About that time, there were too many bouncing balls.

I was cutting and pasting notes from one place to another, checking online links and watching something on tv. (note to self: multi-tasking just means I'm doing several things poorly.) I wasn't paying close attention. I ended up sending folks more than I intended. So a person who I only intended to send the link to the video got the information on the online galleries; one of the fantasy-campers got the video link. A couple of the creative folk got some camp stuff, I think. It was a general unintended mash-up.

This is normally a big No-No. But something interesting happened: nobody complained about getting MORE than they expected. Nobody asked me why I thought they would care about subject x. In fact, I got a couple thank yous for sending information that was totally unexpected.

I want to hope that these folks were charmed that I thought more of them than the "in the box discussion" that we were having. Because the other explanation is that either they didn't read my email (oh, the vanity!) or they were totally intrigued by the thought of cooking a turkey upside.

Ya think??

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Inordinately Pleased.

Princess Parallel
Katy is also pleased with my weekend insight and demonstrates the appropriate level of enthusiasm!

Today I am inordinately pleased with myself.

For the last two or more years, I have been writing these occasional how-tos. (I'm working my way through my archives, listing them on my side bar.) While these are not very difficult to do, I often find myself having just done an important step when I realize I've forgotten to take a picture of the process. (sigh).

That leaves me the choice. Sometimes I can undo what I've just done, repeat it, and take the durned picture. Often it means I must either accept the missing photo space or start the process all over just to get that shot. The odds that I'll forget another important shot in that process, too? High! Very frustrating!

This past week I realized that life would be easier if I'd actually write down the steps involved in a task and plan for when to take a photograph.

Think about it. In an amazing blash of frilliance, I just invented:

#1. The Outline. and

#2. The Story Board.

Decades after they were adopted by the general working populace! Excuse me while I chortle with glee.

I am so giddily pleased with this idea that I've noted several things I'd like to demonstrate and started writing their plans! Outlines and Storyboards Be Me! I've discovered this means I can:
  • take time to search for the appropriate internet links;
  • expand ideas by offering different alternatives;
  • make sure I have thought through all the tricky steps.
Like I said: I'm inordinately pleased!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How to Turn Last Year's Old Navy Sweater Into This Winter's Felted Purse

(edited from a post at BlogHer)
Purse, done
Felted wool items are still HOT accessories this winter, and they are so much nicer to use when you've made them yourself. A visit to a local GoodWill when they were trying to reduce inventory, gave me a nice supply of wool Old Navy sweaters to felt. If you have a wool sweater that's not quite up to being worn this year, this project may be for you.

Let's turn these into cute felted purses you can happily use all winter!
OldNavy Stripe
I began with this striped sweater and two others. At home, I placed them in my washing machine, set the temperature to HOT and the length to fairly long. I want the heat to swell up these fibers and the agitation to knock the individual wool fibers together. This can also be done by hand in a sink. Use enough HOT water and dish detergent to let you work the pieces and massage the wool rigorously in it's bath. Rinse the items in cold water to encourage shrinking. Dry them in a hot dryer to pull the fibers together even more. I did this process two times to get nicely felted wool pieces. They were reduced in size by about 50%.

Then I cut the sleeves, hem and neck off this sweater. Following the existing seam lines, this was easy! I cut strips from one of the sleeves which will eventually become the straps for the purse. Having stripes running one direction and ribbing running the other insured regularly.

At this point I have a bunch of bits and pieces:
purse, pieces parts

I wanted to line this purse to give it a bit more body and make it easier to finish. So I laid the purse down over some plain white paper and traced just outside the edge of this purse. Here's where I prove that I am not a "great" sewer. I know that in this one-off instance, I can trace just outside the shape, use a 5/8" seam on the lining, fudge a bit in the next step and I'll end up with an adequate bag for me. If I were making several of these, or planning on selling these on Etsy? I'd draw my pattern first and cut both the lining and the felted wool material to the exact same sizes. I would insure a good fit. If you're making this as a present, take that extra step.
Purse,This be the Lining
Now I have to choose a lining fabric. I found four that were possibilities but finally decided upon the light print above with the grays and tans already in the sweater. A light lining gives me a chance to find things in the bottom of this bag, but a darker lining would hide any stains that might occur. The lining is cut from the quick-draw pattern piece and seamed together along the straight sides and the bottom. A good press, a gentle trimming of excess fabric from the corner and these two pieces are ready to join together.

Here's where it gets a little tricky. But just a little.

Take your sweater-bag right side facing out, and slip into the lining. Check that the right sides (lining and sweater) are facing each other. Line up the top and angled sides of the both. These should all be unfinished (unsewn) edges. Pin both pieces together at the side seams. Smooth and check your lining and bag to see that the edges match nicely. If they don't trim one piece or the other to match.

When you are happy with the way these two pieces fit, it's time to slide the straps in place. Take one of the two pieces cut from a sleeve (do make sure they are the same length... ) and place the edges along the top edge of the bag. Slide the strap down between the bag and lining making sure that it's not twisted. To make sure that the straps are caught in the seam, have the edges extend just a little beyond the edge of the bag and lining. Slip the lining back up in place and pin through all three pieces.
Purse, insert straps

Starting at a side seam, sew all around the top of the bag. Press these seams and trim them back to 1/4".

Did you notice that I haven't mentioned sewing up the bottom of your sweater yet? Here's why: Turn your purse right-side out through the bottom of the sweater bag. Push out all points and corners smoothing the edges between the sweater and lining as you go. I like to top-stitch the open part of the purse about 1/4" away from the seamline to give a nice finished edge and to strengthen this part of the bag. Then give the whole purse a final good press.

Did you notice that your straps came out perfect? Another option I've used is to completely finish the bag, then added purchsed straps from a big box craft/fabric store. I sewed these to the from the bag with an extra square of felted wool for support. This bag was made from a vest, so there was no option of using the sleeves as the straps.

Purse, alternate straps

Last, but not least, stitch the bottom of the sweater piece closed. I did this from the outside, making sure that I did not catch the lining in this seam. The felted material will roll itself into a tighter decorative edge as I use it.

Now throw your essentials in and head out to enjoy autumn goodness. If you choose to make this purse, please upload a photo and leave me a link in the comments. (or add the photo to my Flicker HandMade Bags group. I'm getting lonely there.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.