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!

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

 

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.

To subscribe by email click the button on the side bar.

To stay connected via Facebook go here and like the page.

Where Tradition and Modern Meet

As we are learning and preserving traditional skills and arts we can utilize modern tools and resources. Every resource we collect to create our projects need not be brand new and we certainly don’t have to first own fiber animals in order to spin yarn, or be able to spin yarn in order to knit with it. Whatever resource you have to gather your supplies will benefit you. The important thing to establish is the ability to create from whatever life hands you.

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In fact, the skill of creating something new from something “old” is an art in of itself. Some of the products our family have loved most has been made without a pattern and without spending any extra money or time at the store. The above photo was taken to show off the skirt that I made for my daughter a couple of years ago. It was made from a pair of already hand-me-down jeans and fabric I had on hand. The ruffle was a long skinny piece of fabric that had been cut several years before for a quilt that never got made. Same goes for the tied belt. She wore this skirt until just last year when the ruffle was up to her knees and the fabric on the backside became too thin. It was her favorite skirt for almost 2 years! We did create some more that were similar for her and the other girls, but this one remained the favorite while it lasted.

Using what we have on hand allows us to tap into our full creative potential without any outside influence. When you have to shop for supplies, often you are also taking in other’s ideas on how to use those supplies. And then, our imagination center is numbed, making it so that we no longer see what we can create-but what others have.

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These fabric dolls were made by my oldest daughter. I may be biased but I think they are adorable! The flower pattern one was made from a torn toddler shirt and the polk-dot patterned doll was made from some worn pajama pants. She didn’t use a pattern or search Pinterest. The idea just “popped” into her head and she cut them out and sewed them up. They were also hand-sewn because she prefers that to using the machine. I learn so much about creativity and imagination just by watching my children.

Sometimes, or rather I should say most of the time it is my children that encourage me to utilize my imagination center. Such as when they wear out all the knees on otherwise sound pants before out growing them…and they want the patches to be “pretty”…

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Let me just say that the patches were indeed “pretty”…but yikes-they were a challenge! Trying to get those tiny legs around my sewing machine arm to get them fastened on was a struggle. This was over two years ago and it still stresses me out thinking about it. I would rather buy a new pair of pants, but when you have seven children-you do what-you-gotta-do. Despite the challenge, it was a satisfying project and they lasted the growth of the child.

Another time that one of my children inspired me to get creative was when she was sad because she didn’t have as many stuffed animals as the others. So this adorable Zebra was born to cheer up her heart:

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He was made from some old baseball pattern toddler pajamas. I still keep my eye out for these types of pajamas at the thrift stores…I would love to make some more zebras!

Recycling, up cycling, repurposing–it’s all over the web in blogs, on Youtube and on Pinterest. While I am trying to encourage your individual creativity, sometimes it is necessary to be inspired by others. If you don’t know where to start, do a search. I am sure there is something out there that will point you in the right direction. Just don’t be afraid to branch out on your own, go beyond popularity, color outside of the lines….develop your creative talent that has been instilled in us all by our Creator. It may not be in the fiber arts, it may be cooking, woodworking, blacksmithing, mechanics, robotics, writing, drawing, painting, paper, basket weaving, or pottery…an endless amount of skill-sets are available. What ever desires God has given you, seek to cultivate and master them with the resources available to you.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S.

My new adventure in repurposing is recycling yarn from thrifted sweaters. Hopefully soon I will be able to share my own creative ideas from this practice. If it peaks your interest, here is a good video about how to unravel a sweater and what kinds work best:

 

Intro to Natural Fibers

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The word “natural” constitutes existing without man. It was and is provided to us through this great planet Earth or the creatures that walk upon it.

We have rightfully invented and manipulated other materials and all has its purpose either as a learning tool or a useful product. However, should we replace all that is natural?

Natural Fibers let our skin breathe. Our skin is the largest organ on or in our body. We should take care to put the best quality of fibers next to our skin. Many natural fibers also have anti-bacterial properties that benefit and protect our bodies.

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There are lots of sustainable resources for natural fibers. Several species of sheep give us wool. The most common being Merino because it is the softest against our skin.

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Goats produce mohair (which is most often used in fabrics that cover furniture and is also commonly the choice for lovely doll hair.). Cashmere also comes from goats-who doesn’t love the feel a luxurious cashmere sweater?

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Alpaca, Llama, Angora Rabbit, Camel, Yak, the silk worm-the list goes on there are many breeds of animals that produce useful natural fibers for our use.

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Plants also give a variety of fiber that can be used in textiles. Cotton is by far the most known and popular. Linen, which comes from the flax plant is another popular light weight fabric. Hemp, Bamboo, and Nettle are other plant sources. These fibers are usually best used for lighter garments, whereas the wools tend to give warmth and water resistance.

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All of these natural resources produce wonderful varieties of fabrics for our use. I am a firm believer that when we make a point to use the creations that God put here for us in their appointed purposes-we give glory and thanks to Him. We also allow for those creatures and plants to fulfill the measure of their creation.

 

Just for fun:

Take a look at the clothing in your closet. Touch your clothing, as you do, create two piles: those that feel good when you touch them, and those that don’t appeal as much. Then take a look at the tags on those items. I am willing to say that you will probably find the things you liked the feel of most are made up of a natural fiber. You might even be surprised at what is not made of a natural fiber.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Our little farmstead grows natural fibers on goats! Learn about it here.

Now available: Natural Fibers 101 Workshop  email knittyheidi@gmail.com to learn more about these fibers, see and touch them in person and learn how they are processed.

 

Building a Life Journal (part 3)

Part 1 of this series had us take another look at the importance of words on a page and how our personal histories are import to record. Part 2 was a compilation of different ways to keep a journal, attesting to the fact that even if you don’t enjoy writing there are many ways to be inspired to keep a record of your life. It is okay to “Journal Your Way“.

 

The start of a new year is such an exciting time! Everyone is filled with new hopes, goals, and dreams for what will come. Starting a new journal is a great way to illustrate those aspirations on paper and to see that this year hasn’t been written yet. There are many blank pages waiting to be filled!

As promised, this article is to focus on the way that I have been keeping what I call a Life Journal. Life journaling is keeping a notebook that is essentially for everything that happens day to day. It isn’t just a diary that is kept on the nightstand. It is a book that is carried to the kitchen and to town. It is a place to record not only to-do lists, but thoughts and inspirations as they come. In my life journal, there are two main sections: “Daily Life” and “Scripture Study”. Each section has one page in the beginning dedicated as the index page. This is the best tool that I have ever added to my journaling!

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The dollar store is great place to find fun labels, sticky notes, and tabs to add in.

The “Daily Life” half of the notebook is designated to general list making, weekly plans, notes, quotes, and the like. It is really an “everything goes” section. As I have a need, the page is created and then I can give it some sort of title in order to list it in the index. For example: I am studying some books from the library about eating with the seasons. So on a page of notes for that, it is simply titled: “seasonal eating” and put down in the index. The next time I want to reference something I remembered writing down or I need to refresh my memory, I can look at my index to see what pages those notes are on. It is also likely that between the note pages on “seasonal eating” there will be a grocery list, a thought entry, or even a drawing from one of my kiddos.

Before using an index as a tool in journaling, I  might have saved several pages together to go back and take notes under the same topic-and then one of two things would happen: a) there would be lots of riveting information to record,and not enough pages reserved. Or b)  I was uninspired never again returning to those set aside pages resulting in wasted paper. The creation of an index page solves this problem. Try it!

Something worth expounding on is that I let my children draw in my journal. What a blessing this is! They are constantly  making me pictures that are hung on the refrigerator or walls and eventually trampled under foot finishing their journey in the trash. How nice it is to be able to preserve their innocence in a place like my journal. Because I always have it with me, it is the easiest thing to hand to a child who needs entertained. Here is a picture of a fun art game I did with one of them in church one day:

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I folded the page in half and drew half of the picture. Then instructed the child to complete my drawing. This is a favorite exercise they enjoy.

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Every once in awhile there is one of those special gift drawings that are not already in the journal. In this case, I might tape it in. Such as this paper Angel one daughter made for me at Christmas. It now has a home on the inside front cover of my notebook. Always reminding me that I am loved-both by seen and unseen Angels.

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As discussed in Part 2 of this series there is a multiple of ways to keep your journal and types of notebooks. The one I am liking best right now for my everyday Life Journal is a spiral notebook (made by Mead) found at my local grocery store. The spiral binding allows for me to fold it open which makes it easy to take notes during a study session. The front and back cover is made of a strong cardboard material that seems to hold up well with kitchen duty and being thrown in my purse. The other feature I like is that it is already divided in half. In the center of the notebook is a sturdy page with pockets on either side. This pocket is great for holding loose items I need to keep with me-such as a letter to mail or a check to cash.

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The second half of my life journal is reserved for my personal devotional studies. Where I reflect on scriptures and other inspirational resources. This has truly blessed my life the most. I have before kept a separate notebook devoted to religious studies, and it was wonderful as well, but putting it in a place that I almost always have with me has greatly increased the ability to listen to the council given in Jude chapter one verse twenty one:

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

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(By the way, the above verse did not just pop into my head. I wanted to reference a scripture or quote that described how I feel. So I opened up one of the journals I have stacked on the desk as I am typing this post, and on the front page of one of them this verse is written out. I don’t even remember writing it down or why I did-but it fit perfectly to what I needed today!)

With this notebook always within reach, it allows for constant referral to the things that God has inspired  me to write down and learn from. In this way I can be reminded of the most important goals in my life, be uplifted when feeling low, and also share inspiration with others at the ease of opening a journal. For me, this is the best reason of all to keep a notebook with you always. Such blessing come when you are prepared to record the messages that God has for you.

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(this quote is from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, you can read the article or listen to it here. Such inspiring words!)

Hopefully this series has renewed your goal to keep a journal, has refreshed your mind with the reasons behind it, and encouraged you that it doesn’t matter how you do it-just that you do.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

For more ideas and reasons to journal check out this article from Familysearch.org:

Define Your Dash: Start Writing Your Personal History with the #52Stories Project

To schedule a local Life Journaling Workshop send me an email: knittyheidi@gmail.com or FB message.

Set some goals to learn or progress a traditional skill this year! If you are a local, you can have one-on-one or group instruction from me in: knitting, crocheting, bread baking, journaling or even an intro into natural fibers! Send me a message (links above) and we will get your workshop on the calendar!

Don’t forget to also check in at the sister-site www.twistednplied.com where I keep the farmstead blog, and offer raw fibers, handspun yarn, and custom handmade items for your needs.

Christmas Traditions: Pajama Pants

A quick break from the Journal Series...to share how for the first time ever I have sewn our Christmas pjs myself.

There was a black Friday sale that I just could not resist at my local fabric store this year. Flannel was 70% off, so I decided to dive into a long time goal of someday sewing pajamas myself. If I remember correctly I actually saved $98 on this fabric! If not for the sale, I would have had thrift some flannel sheets in order to afford this grand project!

This tradition was brought into our family via my husband. For Christmas Eve his family always has opened one gift-that is always pajamas. We have kept this alive and our children love it!

Check out the results:

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Count them up- 9 pairs in total!

The pattern I used was so terrifically easy that it only took me about 3 days of afternoon sewing. You still have time to get some done for your family!

Check out this easy method at http://mycottoncreations.blogspot.com

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All of the girls got pretty little lace along the cuffs.

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The boys got a cargo pocket on one leg. Love this print!

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My 7 year old made chain drawstrings with cotton yarn with her fingers. She had a good time “helping” mom. Of course, she was not present when I was sewing up hers.

**The pattern called for using elastic in the waist band, but I prefer quick drawstrings. All I did was use my button hole setting on my machine to make two holes where the from of the waist band would be before it was hemmed closed.

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Some of the pants received a drawstring made with the same trim as on the cuffs.

This method was so simple and quick I plan on recycling some clothes into leggings for the girls…and perhaps some more p.j.’s in the future!

In case you missed it go to http://mycottoncreations.blogspot.com for this free easy pajama pant pattern! All you need is fabric, sewing machine, basic sewing supplies, and a pair of pants that fit the individual.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

p.s. The third part to the journaling series will come soon as promised! I am excited to share more plus share a new one I was inspired to make after my last article.