About ghrn

Wife, stepmom, corporate grunt, quilter, liberal, dork

In love and in 2018!

Hello – New year!  I love new years.  I love how bare the house looks after taking down Christmas decorations.  I love new lists, new goals, big plans, optimism.  A new year is a fresh sheet of paper.

For better or worse, I fill my pieces of paper with the same doodles every time.  I am many things – many awesome things – but I still struggle to value, protect, and better my health.  This year, this notebook, this page is not different.

I still am me in that I want to do everything.  Dance, run, speak a new language, make new friends, give art tours, draw, sew, paint, weave, garden.

That is, I want to do everything until it comes time to actually do things.  And here is the reality – all I really want to do is sew.  After work, family, friend commitments are met, I just want to sew.  I have successfully sewn a lot this year already.  A LOT.  I have not exercised once.  Not once.

So the trick this year will be to let myself sew as much as I want to – set as many stitchy goals as I possibly can.  But first, exercise.  It is necessary for my resilience and health.  So other than exercise goals, I am not going to push myself to do anything else.  One distraction from exercise.  One distraction from sewing.

But… man, the sewing be good…  some of my recent endeavors…

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This is a pattern from Purl Soho.  I bought a whole kit, but ended up not liking the color or fabric, so went with a more French color palette.  I love this more than words and really did improve my stitches working on this.  I am not a fan of the circle at the top with all of the fly stitches.  I am going to pull that out and put the word ADORE in the circle.  This is going to be a bed parasite (pillow) in our bedroom, so taking the license to get a little romantic-y with it.  Did I mention I love this?

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Speaking of romantic, I made little felt hearts for this Valentine’s Day tree.  Again, Purl Soho pattern.  I cut them out on my Cricut Maker and whipped them together.  They join some mini flowers and glitter hearts I picked up at Joann.  The goal is to have this tree decorated year round as a festive little thing.

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Did I mention I LOVE my Cricut Maker??  More on that in a later post.

I am trying to make peace with using regular felt.  I have used wool felt for so many projects, that it is hard to not use it.  But unless making a gift for a child, I think polyester felt is so fine.  It is pennies on the dollar.  So it is just fine.  Really.

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This baby quilt was the first draft of this quilt for a bestest friend’s baby.  It was in a magazine and I feel in love with it.  But it ended up not being up to snuff.  I set it aside waiting just for the binding to be done.  Last weekend I finished it and it is going into my donate to Project Linus pile.  I hope to do 24 Project Linus quilts this year.  #morethanicanchew

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Oh, embroidery!   I don’t know why it took me so long to get into embroidery.  I am so in love with it.  Can’t think about much else.  I have so many projects I want to complete.  I started this one and am so addicted.  The pattern is from the Tula Pink book.  Love love love.

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Look at that brick stitch!!  So in LOVE!!

So, I love stuff.  And I am going to exercise.  Happy 2018!

 

 

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Sublimating negative emotions

IMG_4276.JPGI have been working on several embroidery projects.  And am falling in love.  Every night I get closer to completing a project, feeling the power of transferring my (at times overwhelming) fear and anxiety in to tiny stitches.

There is some science behind the thought of crafting as a way of working shit out. (link)  I am a true believer.

Today was a pretty bad day.  I came home and hugged my husband, cried a little, did some TaiChi (wonderfully lame thing I have started to do), and embroidered a lot.  I finished the giant peach zinnia and made leaves.  So fulfilling and definitely therapeutic.

As I stitch, I imagine the finished product and how much joy it will give me or the recipient.  And progress reliably comes.  Stitches in, worry out.

 

All about that embroidery

Hello, void.  I hope you are well.  I am ok.  Not making the best choices always.  But never giving up.

A few weeks ago I was at my parents’ for dinner and my mom showed me this cool embroidery project in a quilting magazine.  You melt crayons on fabric and then backstitch around the image.  I loved it because it was a lot of color and only the backstitch is required.  I created this little hummingbird.IMG_4074

I loved the end product – and so made some little cutie pie images using this technique to be included in a quilt for my favorite 1-year old.

I interspersed these with some pieced blocks and made a color explosion of a quilt.  I really didn’t have a cohesive color plan with this quilt – focusing more on the fun i-spy blocks.  The result reminds me of my childhood.  Kids’ stuff was brightly colored – there was no curation – just SPLASH!

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This quilt was a lot of sewing.  I thought this would cure the embroidery bug.

It didn’t.

I found namaste embroidery on the Instragrams and watched her little videos over and over and over again.  And then I watched her longer videos and made her free beginner project.

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Just too adorable, right?  And so so so much easier than I thought it would be.  And so much faster than making a quilt.  This took me about 2 swoon blocks worth of time.  🙂

And then I bought all of the patterns and all of the embroidery thread and delighted in what a cheap hobby this is, especially compared to quilting.  This was the second thing I made, also a pattern by namaste embroidery.

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And now I have two other projects underway.  This darling little succulent and floral pattern.

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And this sweet little christmas pattern.  Based on another namaste embroidery pattern, with some additions by me.  These pine branches/leaves are beyond fun to make.

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I did a lot of patchwork/quilting over the long weekend.  Not abandoning that anytime soon.  But embroidery is the bomb.  I won’t be able to get back to it for a couple days.  Let’s hope I can keep by shit together until then.

Touchstones

IMG_4031Today was hard.  I felt easily bruised, easily offended.  One of those days where being a grown up and choosing not to take my toys and go home was hard.  I have a pit of anxiety that I can’t quite place.  And I am oh so hungry.

I have learned in my baby-steps meditation practice to expand the feeling around anxiety.  Don’t dig in, but notice it generally, as if from across the room.  I am trying to do that with my anxiety and my hunger.  Notice, but don’t fall in.

I am working on having touchstones – everyday activities that can ground me.  Tonight I exercised, sewed, and now am blogging.  I think those transform my evenings from eating or thinking about eating to something else.  I don’t feel exhausted and ashamed right now.

I made this block during my hour of sewing today.  A fairly wonky thistle.  I made every mistake – put the green strips wrong side up, sewed the leaves upside down and then backwards.  When I got everything facing the right direction with the right side of the fabric, I called it.  A little bit wonky, but done.  There is a metaphor there that I can’t find right now.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Mocktails and inventory

IMG_4029There was this brief moment when I was perfectly together.  At least that was my memory.  At the time I am sure I felt like I had many things to improve.  But I was healthy (thinner) and had almost no debt.  I remember wearing a crisp white shirt and fixing seltzer water with lots of ice and citrus in a faux vintage antique glass from Martha Stewart’s line from K-Mart.  (Yes, this was a looooong time ago.)  I remember driving to meet a friend and sliding that glass into the cupholder of my Oldsmobile Alero and feeling very… something.  Chic?  Probably not – it was a glass from K-Mart in an Oldsmobile.  But maybe it was chic – or together – something that eludes me now.

The cultural start of fall was accompanied by cooler weather today.  Not freezing cold to kill dead the mosquitos that I HATE.  But that is too much to ask of September.  But a fall chill-ish in the air.  Fall always makes me feel relieved.  And it always makes me want to be more “together”.  I will be chopping off my hair soon and pretending I like to and am able to cook.

I have a closet to clean out and a ton of work and e-mails to get through – plenty of stuff I could tackle to be more “together”.  But tonight I made a mocktail and went through my scary sewing works-in-progress stack.  I have 28 projects that have been started but not completed.  28.  28!  TWENTY EIGHT!!!  Definitely not chic.  Martha Stewart would demand her fake vintage glass back.

So, like any reasonable twenty-first century girl, I made a spreadsheet.  I identified 17 projects that I can reasonably finish this year – one a week.  My criteria was ridiculously old (a baby quilt top I finished three years ago) or ridiculously close to being finished (a wall hanging that has one more side of binding to sew on) or both (my Advent calendar that I have only three more ornaments to make!)

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This is the nice neat stack of quilting work I will get done this year.

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When I have a lot of time to sew, I often choke.  This weekend I had two glorious days all to myself to sew.  And I. wasted. time.  But yesterday I hunkered down and finished this quilt commemorating our vacations to Colorado.  It was well-liked on Instagram.  I am not sure.  It is overly cheerful – but it will make a happy car/travel quilt.  I need to iron and send off to the quilter and that will be one of 17 done.

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Also, germaine to nothing except my squirrel-like focus for sewing projects.  Here are some cute little baby bibs I made for the cutest boy.  I got a snap setter in order to finish these off.  Is there anything better than a snap setter?  Probably not.  Except of course of the memory of Martha Stewart’s line for K-Mart.

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Ok, well now all I really want to do is make baby bibs.  Sigh.

Things fall apart

IMG_3997Today is hard.  Not six weeks ago I felt I had the world on a string.  Was I too smug?  Was I too sure?  Had I bought into quick fixes and tricks?  Probably and always.

I am sinking.  Away from myself, my family, my goals.  But work is good.  🙂  No, really it is.  The blessing or my work has always been that there is enough and it is mostly challenging and interesting.  I can escape from fear and anxiety and make a corner within a corner of my world good.

But work always has to end.  I have to close the laptop and go home and face myself.  My health.  My choices.

The only way through is through.  When I am not doing well at work, I know the answer is to stop, evaluate, and work harder.  I am not doing well at life.  And I have never known how to fix it.  What does it mean to stop and evaluate?  What does it mean to work harder?  I don’t know.  I don’t know what is wheat and what is chaff.  Do I clean out a closet?  Go to the gym?  Have the tough conversations? Create an awesome meal plan?  I have no idea – they don’t seem like they would help.  So now I am doing this – asking the universe for help.  I am lost.  I am scared.  I know gazing at my navel is not the answer – but what is the answer?

So, here’s my plan.  Shut down my computer – quit hiding from life.  Go home.  Clean off a shelf, clean up my studio, create something, make a meal plan, workout, lay out my clothes for the week.  Or maybe I will just stay here and work.  I don’t know.

I wish I wrote songs

I wanted to be a writer, that’s all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it’s all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity.” – Richard Brown in The Hours based on the book by Michael Cunningham (clip here)

I have a healthy self esteem.  Maybe too healthy.  I know I don’t appreciate my healthy self esteem enough.  Basically, it it requires me to use my brain, I can figure it out.  I am not a genius and there are lots of things that would require me to work very hard – advanced mathematics, learning to read a foreign language, most physics.  I would have to work harder and take longer than most, but I could figure it out with enough time and effort.  I can do anything that requires patience and study.  As I walk this life, I realize not everybody feels that way.  That lots of people have been told terrible stories about themselves that means they doubt their ability to learn and achieve.

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I am kind.  I am smart.  I am tenacious.  I am generous.  I am lucky. I am creative.

I think I would trade all of that for the ability to write a good song.  Like everybody, music saved my life.  Mirroring my angst, my joy, my hope.  Ani Difranco, Jeff Tweedy, Cake.  A good song makes me feel the flutter of that thing that might be my soul.  I feel my chest tighten and something pushing on my head from the inside – a stress that I can never describe or understand this feeling.  The pain and joy of connection.  The pain and joy of recognition.  The god in your song sees the god in me.

I have been listening obsessively to Sun Kil Moon’s album Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood.  I have read pieces of articles that say he is rude and a sexist – I look away – that may be true but nothing is allowed in to ruin the peace and inspiration and exultation I get from listening to his music.  His ability to mix his earnest deadpan with music and insight and..«

 

I wish I could write songs.  I can’t find the words.  I can’t share the feeling.

I can’t prove my point through exposition, so if you get a chance, listen to the music…  my two favorites…

Bergen to Trondheim

God Bless Ohio

There is healing in writing poems
There is healing in psychotherapy
There is healing in taking walks along the beach
But never underestimate the healing of music, baby

Some songs are funny and some are sad
Some are short, some are long
There is nothing as healing and powerful
As the power of song

As the power of song
As the power of song
As the power of song
As the power of song