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.

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Love the Home you Live in

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Welcome in this month of love, charity, hearts, roses, glitter glue, and a few less days to get through.

Do you love your home? It may not be the castle you dreamt up when you were still missing your two front teeth, but have you taken matter into your own hands and created a space that gives you comfort and warm fuzzy feelings inside?

The only perfection happening in our home, is that it is perfectly lived in. So the best way for me to create an atmosphere that stays in harmony with my toothless-age dreams, is to make certain that what surrounds us is both useful, and makes us happy.

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I find this statement to be filled with truth. The things in our homes that don’t belong there are a “burden”, and this burden is added to :“whoever has to care for them”-that would be me, who either cares for or directs the care of the things in our home.

To make our home be in accord with the spirit of cheerfulness, it takes removing of those “superfluous articles” and replacing them with useful beautiful things.

We learn by further reading in this section of the Handbook of Domestic Science (see graphic above for full reference) that we should observe:

…those times in the world’s history when it was consciously sought to make the common things of life beautiful; when the potter, the carver, the metal worker, the weaver, the embroiderer were all artists in their way.

Interesting that May Haggenbotham should mention “the weaver”. I just so happen to be dabbling in the art of weaving-no realm in the fiber arts shall escape me! harharharhar…..

The most recent ornament I created for our home just so happens to be this cozy rug:

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It was made on a very simple loom called a “peg loom”, that we built here at home. A mix of cotton print and denim scrap fabric make up the weft. As an experiment I used some jute string for the warp. It turned out pretty good, and my husband is happy to have something warm for his feet to land on in the early morning and for his knees to have a soft place for prayer at night on his side of the bed.

What will you make to show that your home is cherished? Do you need to fill a box with “burdens” and haul it off to  your local donation center?  I find it easiest to have a box or bag handy every time I clean a room: immediate removal = instant bliss.

Love the Home you Live in. Make it full of glitter and love like your toothless-age dream castle!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

p.s. If the rug weaving and peg loom prick your curiosity, I strongly suggest that you follow this site by email. There will be more to come on those topics in the near future with a fabulous tutorial….and you will want that post to arrive in your inbox so it won’t be missed! Alternatively you can also follow us on FB or Twitter (@knittyheidi) to get all article updates as soon as they publish.

You might also like to read “5 little habits” and “Defining Domestic Science”

little things are sometimes Big.

 

Yesterday I did a small thing-and then realized it was a big thing—

I cleaned the laundry room.

It was in such a state that one could not get in the door let alone to the washer and dryer. This is a bad scenario when you have to do 15o loads of laundry a day-I might be exaggerating just a little, but the concept remains the same. Who wants to go into a room that you can’t see the floor of? My 3 year old son told me he heard a monster in the bathroom sink-it could easily have traveled the water pipes and be lurking in the laundry room. The last thing I need is to encounter a sink-monster when trying to find a clean shirt after being peed on. I am very happy today that the laundry room is clean and can be used in a productive manner again-whithout fear of a sink-monster attack.

This has been the theme of my thoughts of late. We are surrounded by little things that have big impact. Even Jesus taught of small things that have large importance. From the creation of the earth beginning with the basics of things such as light, water and planting the seeds. Then of course when we think “seed” our mind goes  to the parable of the mustard seed that teaches us of faith. We can see a pattern in all of the examples in the Bible that illustrate to us that it is important to have a special reverence towards the seemingly insignificant. 

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The list of things I can make that are small yet largely important in my life is so endless that I can not pick what deserves to be in this article the most. So I will just stick with the most recent discovery of a clean laundry room and leave you to ponder the little big things in your own life.

I will however, bring this topic around a corner and point it towards these little lost skills I am being directed to learn and teach. It has started with knitting, but it doesn’t end there, and each skill is as important as the other.

This description, given in “Our Vanishing Landscape” by Eric Sloane,  makes a great illustration that can be used as a comparison to those things that have been forgotten or un-taught, in that, they can be learned again and the generations after us can indeed benefit.

Imagine a farm abandoned….The summer after cultivation ceases, the plowed fields will have become overgrown with weeds. The next year you will find grass and berry seedlings that have blown in with autumn winds. At the end of five years the fields will be a complete tangle of briars with occasional clumps of birch and juniper from seeds brought in by bird droppings. In ten years these trees will be a head high above the briars and in their shade will be hundreds of tiny oak and maple seedlings. In forty years…..the fields will look like woodlands that had never seen a plow. Fire or insects and disease may decimate this second-growth forest, or winds may blow it down, but it will miraculously build itself back again….

This little thing of teaching how to use traditional skills for our benefit today-could be a big thing.

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It could mean that our children and grandchildren know how to survive.

Without (enter large chain store name here).

 
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A little skill now, could be life-altering later. 

 

Next Month…

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The topic will be “slow food”.  This differs from my original lesson plan for 2016. It was going to be the topic for November but yesterday I started a rescue mission for my sourdough start that has been neglected and so it is perfect timing. In the past, we have successfully made all the bread our family needs from scratch-with little effort. Bread isn’t all we will learn, so make sure to follow by email (click the button on the sidebar) so you can get next weeks articles! I will be sharing recipes too!

Thanks for learning with me about what we can do to give “New Life to Old Traditions” this past month!

Heidi

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You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

6 reasons to knit a dishcloth

 

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Almost a year ago we had a fire at our house. It’s been a rough road and the one thing that has kept me optimistic is that I finally get to remodel the kitchen!  We just barely started this work a few weeks ago and are just now beginning to fill back in the blank slate.

One of the things that I have really wanted to do is to bring the element of handmade to my kitchen space. Rugs, curtains, towels, potholders-all these things are in my project list. The first place I started…..knitting dishcloths!

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It also happens to be  where I start beginning knitters in my workshops. Here is why:

  1. simple patterns look beautiful
  2. it’s a small project that is actually useful
  3. if there are holes or misshapen, it will still wash the dishes
  4. cotton yarn is not stretchy, so beginners learn tension faster
  5. it is a great project to take on the go, it can be knit anywhere

 

#6- We shouldn’t neglect to make our kitchens pretty:

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Click here to find the beginners dishcloth pattern.

Click here to read about the fire (posted on my fiber farmstead site).

Click here to sign up for the DSW newsletter and special announcements.

Click here to learn more about the knitting workshops.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

 

Defining Domestic Science

I first came across this term as I was reading No Idle Hands by Anne MacDonald. It is an amazing book taking you through a sort of “behind the scenes” look at history and cataloging the important role that knitting played. This book is definitely in my Amazon wishlist.

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As I was pondering the goal of this site many names came to mind. Of course, a lot of the ones I first came up with were taken. But I picked the brains of my friends and family, and read through my journals. In my journal is where I found the note on Domestic Science. It had captivated me that what some might think to be mundane everyday tasks or requirements, is in fact an important subject of study. It is indeed, a science.

Until 1829 42% of schools offered plain needlework-by 1840 it had been reduced to two half days in primary school and one half day in “higher female schools”. ( Anne L. MacDonald, No Idle Hands, ch.3)

What we classify now as “household skills” is much different from what it used to be. When I was first married we ate boxed meals routinely and I cleaned messes when I noticed them. If we look back to our pioneer heritage, there was a method to keeping the home and providing for ones family. It was well thought out and planned in advance, not picked up on the way home from work.

Keeping a home really is an art and having the skills of cooking, sewing, or knitting are absolutely a necessity and while they can be enjoyable they have been disguised too long as a hobby. If your favorite grocery store and shopping mall were to close its doors today, how long would you be able to get by and keep your family comfortable?

The future of our country in these rapidly changing times awaits our mark of influence. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self)

Decide that this is important today.

Follow and share this blog. Help us to preserve these important traditional skills. Check back often to learn about the value of these lost arts, or get updates in your email by clicking the button on the side bar.

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Thanks for being a friend!
Heidi