Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

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The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

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Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

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Spring Cleaning: handmade storage solutions

Spring Cleaning is awesome! It feels so good to remove clutter and bring joy back into the home. This year as we clean, we are also working on updating items to reflect the way we feel. If you have read Love the Home your in that I wrote a few months ago, then you will understand what I mean.

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For us, that means creating a home that is full of both functional and beautiful items. And also, to showcase our own talents and skills-not what is readily available at thousands of stores across America.

Today was the day to get rid of the plastic toy containers, that no matter how hard I have tried to make them work over the past couple of years, they just don’t. The things that are organized into them look great for about 5 minutes.. The shelf that used to hold them took up wall space we didn’t have, leaving rooms to feel cramped, and they just don’t bring joy.

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So as I cleaned them out and sorted the items, I decided that I should just sew up a bunch of bags to hold and hide the stuff. In the past I attempted the method of toy storage by purchasing zipper garment bags. These work great, except they can’t hang and they don’t bring me joy when I see them.

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I keep seeing all of the great things out there on Pinterest, and that is where I went again today to visualize what would work for me.

This was my criteria:

  • Fast and Easy to sew
  • To use what is on hand (dual purpose: spring clean the sewing supplies by using it up!)
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to store
  • Attractive to the eye

After taking inventory of supplies and searching tutorials, I whipped up 3 bags in about 2 1/2 hours (including interruptions from kids).

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They aren’t perfect. I didn’t take time to iron, or even make sure each piece of fabric was cut perfectly straight. But they look great, were fast and easy,  I didn’t have to make a trip to the store to complete them and most importantly they are functional! Also, I made sure to double stitch every seam so that they will hold up to the abuse they are sure to get.
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I want to make a few more, so the next article in this series will have a tutorial for you!

For now, here are some of the places I visited and found inspiration:

Toy Sack with tabs

Hanging toy storage

Lego sack

Hanging laundry bag

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

An Art That Stops Time.

There are some arts that have continued on throughout the centuries. The tools and the techniques have adapted to incorporate modern technology and materials, but the process, ingenuity, imagination, and quality have remained the same.

There are not many items today that haven’t been machine made and computer programed. Even the art that adorns our homes has likely been mass produced and bares no uniqueness.

In the 17th century Louis XIV set up a special place for the art of tapestry weaving to be preserved and the education of this inspiring talent to be continued. Today in Paris, this institute still exists in the same place, and is know as the Gobelins Manufactory.

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In the video that will be shared below, these words struck deeply. How often can we say that we take the “time to do things with humanity and soul”?

As you watch the processes that it takes to create a woven tapestry, you will be amazed that this still happens. Great care is taken to the designing of the art, hand dyeing yarn, storing the weft, setting up the warp, and in the weaving process. A single tapestry takes many years to be completed. The weaver is involved in every aspect of the making of a tapestry, and when finished, it is a celebrated work of art.

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The talent that the weaving artist has is amazing. Not only to be able to complete the work and processes required, but in being able to interpret the drawing into a woven work of art.

Take the time to watch this video and witness the crafting of the ancient art of tapestry making and the skill of the artists.

 

Be a Butterfly

Heidi

A Re-fashion for Spring

All winter long I had on my yarn-crafting list to make myself a new wool hat. At one point, hoping to encourage myself in that endeavor, I even threw out all of my old acyrlic hats. Even my most favorite that often got compliments.

Most of the kids got a wool hat, and my husband a month ago was awarded his that was made from Handspun pygora/alpaca yarn that I processed and spun myself. (I will have to snap a picture when he is home)

Alas, spring has arrived and I never did make one for myself. With just a slight detour to my original ambitions, I picked up a crochet hook and whipped out this cute spring hat just in time for my birthday:

What’s even more exciting is that I made it with yarn that I reclaimed from a thifted cotton sweater! It is actually two different yarns, one purple and one blue, and I re-spun them  with my spinning wheel and then plied them together. This created a really unique colored yarn. It is marled, yet from a distance the finished fabric appears to be a solid color.

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The blue reclaimed yarn in this project is the same that was used in the needlepoint lace project and the edging on the crochet towel. The difference being, that the yarn for the needlepoint project and towel edging, was from the short pieces and this worsted re-spun cotton was made from the long continuous lengths from the body of these sweaters.

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The accent yarn for this hat is reclaimed sari silk that I bought from Darn Good Yarn. It made a great piece of fabric for stabilizing the brim of this hat. It was not a part of the original pattern, but it was too floppy to hold the shape I desired, so I duplicated the brim section of the pattern and then sewed it to the underside. The reclaimed silk yarn really jazzed up this newsboy styled cap!

For a little extra flare and accent I picked out some thrifted vintage buttons, and created a cute little flower.

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This was a fun project to make, and it was exciting to be able to use all recycled/reclaimed materials to create something new and unique. I can put on this hat and know that no one has the same one.

Recyling and reclaiming the material that is available to us is a great way to be wise stewards over those things. A disliked sweater doesn’t need to be trash, it can become beautiful yarn for a fun springtime hat, trim in a towel, lace edging on a pocket, the options are limitless.

Be a Butterfly

Heidi

Learning Hedebo: a heirloom lace-making technique

Today I felt my ancestors smile.

It has been established that my family tree was grafted from many places, so it is likely that there is someone Danish in my genealogical history. I am pretty certain I had a few ancestors looking over my shoulder today as I learned this heirloom needlework stitch. There was some sort of deep satisfaction that bloomed within my soul as I completed the first scallop row of the Hedebo lace edging on the pocket of my knit vest.

While we can’t all knit or sew our clothing ourselves, we can work on altering our clothing with the art of our own hands. It is satisfying to create something unique even from a mass produced garment. The point is to work with what you have.

This impromptu project today started with this book from the library and this recycled cotton yarn that came from a sweater:

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“Vanishing American Needle Arts” by Denise Longhurst

There is a treasure trove of heirloom needlework techniques in this book that I have been itching to try out since a brought it home a few weeks ago. And this book for sure is going to be in my “wishlist” on Amazon.

Today, I decided to open it up and give one of the stitches a try and then share it with you. At first I had no clue what I would stitch on. The thought that first came was to add a pretty border to a kitchen towel that my daughter had embroidered. But, with it being a first attempt, I was hesitant to try it, and then ruin her hard work with my messy beginner stitches. At some point, I looked down and put my hands in the pocket of my knit vest, and the light bulb went off. I have been wanting to add something to this plain garment for awhile. It is has been a favorite thing to throw on this winter over a long sleeve shirt when I just need to get rid of a bit of chill.

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My first idea was to make a Hedebo lace edging all the way around the bottom. And then reality once again entered my brain that for a first time project I should really choose something smaller. So, I decided just making a pretty trim edge along the pocket would be a better idea.

Interestingly, there is not a lot of information on the web about the Hedebo stitch. It popped up here and there in some articles, but there were no tutorials on Youtube at all. The author learned this stitch from her grandfather passing on their Danish traditions in lacemaking. She give a basic explanation of how it is created:

“Hedebo is Danish needle point lace that is worked right on the edge of the fabric it is being used to decorate much like a crocheted edging, but a darning needle is used in the construction. it is one of the sturdies of lace trims. “

Following the instructions and the diagrams in the book I started the set up row which included stitching from the left to the right with a button hole stitch. It is similar to a blanket stitch. Because I am working with a bulky knit garment I used a plastic darning needle, for other types of fabric a regular sharp point one would be needed.

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The needle goes in at the back and out the front.

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Keep a bit of a loop, don’t pull it tight.

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Slip the needle through the loop from back to front.

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After pulling tight it will create a little knot at the top.

The diagrams in this book in conjunction with the written instruction does a pretty good job at explaining how to complete each step of this heirloom stitch. I started to try and explain it all here, along with photos, but I think it will really be best explained with a video. After some more practice I will attempt to make one and share it.

Here are a few more photos of my handwork using the Hedebo stitch.

 

 

 

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You can see that my first scallop is a lot bigger than the others. Hopefully with practice I will improve at the sizing them.

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Working the second set of scallops and almost meeting the first on the second row.

There was a rhythm that my fingers picked up as I stitched and it became easier. It was hard to stop, but I knew if I didn’t this post would not get typed up. Keep a look out on my Facebook page for the finished photo and hopefully a future video tutorial.

The Hedebo lace stitch is something worth learning. How wonderful it is that our Danish ancestors kept their hands busy as they came to the Americas, and then continued to teach it to their posterity. I am excited to have an alternative method from crochet edging to dress up the edges of a project.

We make our hardworking ancestors smile in the heavens when we discover these heirloom arts and put to them to use in our modern environments. There is so much more worth and satisfaction in practicing an art like this than playing “Candy Crush” or taking silly quizzes on Facebook.

Make your ancestors smile.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

Sewing Tutorial: Pretty Little Denim Pouch

Denim is one of  my favorite fabrics to re-purpose with. It might be because we get a lot of holes in the knees of pants around here, and there is only so many times you can patch a hole. So, when the pants are beyond repair (or the mending basket is overflowing), they get tossed into the denim box to be utilized in another way.

It’s readily available, and comes in soft shades of blue-pretty much anything goes with denim. It looked great even using it for the peg-loom rug!

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To make the Pretty Little Denim Pouch, you will need:

  • any denim (preferably an old pair of jeans, any size will work)
  • a zipper that is roughly the size of the pouch you want to make
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (or super awesome hand-sewing skills-denim is tough!)

Some optional supplies:

  • scrap fabric
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • button or other notions

*Disclaimer: my sewing technique tends to be more towards the “just wing it” side than the “perfection is a must” side of things. My projects always tend to turn out best when I just allow for creativity. It just comes naturally.* (winky face)

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This is a pant leg to a small-humans pair of pants. I would guess about a 4T or 5T size.

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After cutting off the remnant of the knee hole at the top, it measured about 10 inches in length.

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The length is about 5 inches before cutting off the hemmed edge.

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I prefer to cut this off too, but you could potentially leave it on…your end seam would just have to be to the inside of this since it is too thick to sew through.

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After all of the trimming, it is now about 8 inches in length. I really like making pouches and bags from pant legs because you can utilize the existing side seams. Here is a full picture of what our pant leg looks like now:

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The next step is to decide on your zipper placement.

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The zipper I had to use was roughly 9 inches in length.

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The length ended up being just barely too short for the fabric. I thought it could possibly work, but it just wouldn’t grow…more on that later. (I warned you about my natural ability to “wing it”)

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Once, the zipper was in it’s happy place, the fabric needed to be cut to make a place to insert it. To do this, I just simply unzipped it and cut down the middle. After cutting, the pant leg now looks like this when opened up:

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If your pant leg or fabric was long enough to fit your zipper you can scroll down to where it says “Continue with Plan A“. Unless of course you decide you would like to have pretty fabric ends on your pouch, then just proceed as normal.

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This pretty piece of flannel was leftover from a blanket project long ago.

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The flannel was cut to the width of the soon-to-be pouch. Then it was cut in half:

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Next, I did a test layout to see how the measurements were. I never really decided how long to make the fabric accent on each end of the pouch since it only needed an extra inch or so, it wasn’t something I was concerned with. But if you lean more toward the “perfection is a must” style of sewing, you may prefer to decide this ahead of time. I found that mine were going to be too wide making the length of the finished pouch be longer than I wanted. So, I just folded one of the pieces in half and cut again:

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This gave me two pieces that would work much better. These ended up measuring around 9″ by 5″.

One more test to make sure the length is right for the zipper:

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Time to take it to the sewing machine.

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Putting right sides together, each accent end was sewn to the denim. There was not large seam allowance, I just ran it right along the foot.

(Continue with Plan A)

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Folding at the original pant leg seams, I arranged it and tested out the zipper placement one more time.

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Flipping the zipper directly over, lines it up for sewing the first side in place.

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My machine does have a zipper foot, but since this was just a quick little project I chose to not change it out. The zipper foot does allow for an easier made seam, so you may want to use it if you have one. Instead, I just put my needle in the far right position, with my fabric on the right side of the machine. If it were on the left, you would want the needle in the far left position.

Do the same thing to the other side:

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Line up the edges with right sides together, be sure to check your needle position before you begin sewing. Notice this time my fabric is on the left, so the needle is also positioned to the far left.

Turning it right side out, check to see if the zipper seams are secure.

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Once, it is sewn well the first time, sew each side again making it a double-stitched seam for durability. As mentioned above, my mending basket tends to be full, so fixing a zipper on this pouch would probably be low on the priority mending list. Making sure it won’t come apart from the pouch is important.

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Open the zipper and then turn the pouch inside out so that the end seams can now be sewn.

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I noted on mine that the “tails” of the zipper needed sewn before moving on the the end seams.

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Lining the edges up sew this edge closed. Be sure to check your needle position and other settings from sewing the zipper in. You may also need to change the foot if you had changed to use your zipper foot.

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After doing this, check the seams again. Mine had a hole.

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I ended up sewing the hole closed on sort of a diagonal.Because of the zipper the needle couldn’t reach to sew it shut doing a straight seam.

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It mostly fixed the issue. I could have messed with it some more but determined to fix it later with some hand sewing.

Ta Dah!

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Our Pretty Little Pouch is complete-minus embellishments.

Here is a photo of one without the accent fabric ends and with embellishment:

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It will work great for pencils or whatever pleases the user.

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I like them for holding crochet hooks, knitting needles, or other related tools. It would also  make a great cosmetic bag or for hair accessories.

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I love the embroidery and crochet button flower on this one. Decorate yours and share a photo!

 

Here is another type of bag that I have made with a denim pant leg:

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The hem of the pant is the top of the bag and all I did was sew the other end shut. For decoration on the front I hand-stitched a thrifted doily. And on the back, machine sewed some belt loops from the pants to hold a strap:

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The strap is a belt-like accent piece that was around the wrist of a jacket. The other one was missing so this one was taken off for repurposing. This bag is a favorite for small knitting or crochet projects. It hangs really nicely on my wrist and I can work on my project while walking or standing in line.

Let me know how you liked this little tutorial and post a picture on the Facebook page if you try it out!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

The Treasure of Handmade

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also..” Matthew 6:21

Before I truly begin this posting I need to insert the link to this fabulous article written by Camille Curtis Anderson in a 1996 issue of a magazine that is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that I am a member of, called the Ensign. I cam across this article just now as I was researching some quotes and scripture to add words to my feelings on the topic I wanted to discuss today. This article said exactly what has been on my heart, I could literally post this link and be finished with writing for today. No doubt, I will be quoting Camille a few time throughout this posting.

The idea of this website is not just to share historical tidbits of days past, but also to teach how to implement them for ourselves in our modern society and truly  create a home that we love, and to treasure the work of our own hands. You can read the article by Camille here.

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Reading the other articles on this site you will notice that most of my learning has come from books. The internet adds to the variety and modernism of this knowledge, while the books tend to be more of historical content.

Some of the skills such as basic sewing, crochet, and even a bit of weaving were witnessed during my childhood while spending time with crafty grandmothers and aunts. My mother was also a very creative individual. She has always been very skilled at “making do”, and using the materials available to create the things needed. I know for certain that these women in my life played an important role in the development of my talents. It is clear in many of my projects how the talents of these women has influenced the way that I create.

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The above picture shows a hand/dish towel I made this past week. It has a bit of a story to it. The blue cotton yarn that makes up the edging came from a sweater I deconstructed (unraveled) to recycle yarn. It was my first fully successful frogged sweater! The body of the towel did not begin with the intent that it would be such. Actually, I had started it thinking that this weeks topic was going to be a tutorial on how to combine needle arts with sewing to make cute curtains. This cotton yarn did not balance well with the fabric I intended to use, so like-mother-like-daughter, I did  not let my efforts go to waste but transformed it into a useful item after all. Just this afternoon it was put to work sopping up spilled peach juice from my son’s lap.

In speaking about pioneer ancestors and the hard labors they endured, Camille wrote:

These domestic labors were their way of weaving discernible threads of accomplishment throughout the unrelenting elements of their world. The austere surroundings of many women moved them to create beauty with simple objects.

Creating “beauty with simple objects”, does provide a respite from the mundane. It was much more enjoyable to clean up a spill with a handmade towel. I was able to think “something I made is useful” instead of : ” <sigh> more laundry to do…”.

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My oldest daughter (15) is currently helping to bless our home with handmade items by embroidering flour sack towels. We made a goal, after our fire and the kitchen remodel, that our kitchen would be strongly influenced by the handmade arts. She has completed 3 of 13 by working on it a little here, a little there. They are beautiful and know we will treasure the completed set.

When women have something tangible to show for their labor, it reinforces feelings of worth. -Camille

I would argue that the same should be considered for men as well. All people feel accomplished when their labors count for something.

My husband helped me with this peg loom.

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I wrote about it a little last week and the rug that I made and then gave to him for his side of the bed. He is reminded daily of both of our efforts to create more and buy less. And I think it would be safe to assume that he “treasures” that rug.

This week I experimented again with the peg loom. The goal was to create something small and useful. Potholders have a high importance in the kitchen and I have wanted to begin replacing the store-bought ones we have with handmade. I remember using the little plastic looms and stretchy loops as a kid to weave potholders-in fact my girls now have one of those kits, it was time for me advance my potholder weaving skills.

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Honestly, my first attempt at a potholder was not as satisfactory as the rug. But as I set it up for photographs to share, I realized that satisfactory to my standards or not, it is still a useful tool in our kitchen.

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Just how the crocheted towel came to be and all of the other projects that have been completed to beautify our life:

There is joy that comes….to make one’s home shine. As my hands shape the environment of my family, I love even more that place in which I labor. -Camille

Creating a home we love to live in doesn’t have to be difficult. It is most often the simplest of items that tend to the feelings of satisfaction and happiness.

Add some handmade to your home. A little here, a little there. Made by you, someone you care about, a purchase from an artisan on Etsy or even a thrifted handmade item . It will make a difference in the atmosphere that influences your family daily, and make the day to day chores like dishes, cooking and laundry a little more enjoyable.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

p.s.

There are some free patterns on this site for knitted dishcloths. More patterns will be added so make sure to subscribe so the pattern announcements will make it to your inbox or Facebook feed.

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