Sewing Out My Feelings

Pregnancy is flooding my body with hormones, stretching my concentration thin, and bringing pieces of my life into focus.  It also has a way of making me feel completely insane. I don't know which feelings and intuitions to trust and which ones are just a mirage of too much estrogen and not enough sleep.  The amount of time I've been spending at home is very likely contributing to my emotional confusion and, don't worry, I've been working to remedy that.  When I am stuck at home, however, I have a very special tool in my toolkit for dealing with anxiety and depression. It's called crafting.

It seems like a well known fact that crafting can save lives and I feel like I see something written about it every day.  I've just discovered the hashtag #craftastherapy and user @craftastherapy on Instagram and promptly discovered a whole swathe of crafters who also craft for their sanity.  Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence and author of Crochet Saved My Life is an activist for depression awareness and her blog constantly reminds me that when I'm feeling low, I just need to make something and the world might just feel a bit better. This week I've been taking that advice quite seriously.  I've added two new crochet and sew dresses to my stash for an upcoming craft show and completed an upcycled-dress-shirt version of Simplicity's 5333 for my daughter.  I'm gaining skill with my sewing machine, though I make many mistakes and the finished work has a bit of sloppiness to it.  Practice makes perfect and I am not afraid to practice.

Crafting is also one of the ways I bond with my daughter.  Struggling through pregnancy mood swings and adult pressures isn't something my toddler understands about my life.  Toddlers are the Center of the Universe, and rightfully so.  So when I'm feeling lousy and low on energy, we sometimes retreat to the craft room together to do a bit of sewing.  She plays with my ribbon collection, takes every ball of yarn out of the reachable bins, helps me organize bottle caps, and - perhaps sweetest of all - truly delights in handing me pins as I sew.  Her curiosity and focus inspire me, I just need to pause my whirling mind often enough to notice them.  Children are completely amazing, perfect, complex little beings if you can use the right eyes to see them.

So this is my life today. I hope you've enjoyed seeing my little creations even a fraction of how much I enjoyed making them.  Happy crafting and see you soon!

Sewing Love


I've been on a refashion roller coaster this week as I've been prepping our wardrobes for fall; Long sleeves, leggings, and chai lattes are coming, people! Something that makes me deeply happy is wearing partially or wholly homemade clothes. I feel like when I reuse or refashion pieces of old clothes I'm lowering my carbon footprint, diminishing my spending, and exercising my creative mind.  At the thrift store I collect clothes with designs, colors, and materials that appeal to me or are in fashion, then bring them home to cut up and re-purpose in a way that looks good and works for me.  I also have a strange addiction to collecting sewing notions like lace, ribbon, and buttons for fancying up old or cheap pieces in my wardrobe.  Matching the parts together and finding ways to reuse old materials is fascinating and such good fun.

This week I raided our giveaway pile of clothes looking for an old button up shirt which I turned into an adaptation of this Sweet Crochet and Sew Dress from the Purl Bee.  The yarn was remnants from a bonnet for my daughter and is a soft cotton.  Then I took some scissors to an old, stained, lace pajama dress and used the hem to lengthen a new sweatshirt/sweater so that it would cover my (growing) bump without being utterly scandalous.  I love how a bit of lace can make anything look a bit more fabulous, don't you?  After that it was onto one of my husband's old T-shirts.  I turned a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt into a dress for my little miss.  It fits her with room to grow and it gave me a wonderful, low-risk opportunity to practice sewing knits (tricky, tricky).  If you'd like to make one for a little person in your life, you can find the tutorial here on Instructables.  Really, who doesn't have an old t-shirt laying around that could use a new life?

Between all these lovely sewing projects, I had a few dates with my crochet hook and some Caron Simply Soft.  I can't tell you just yet what those flower squares will become, but I think they'll make something whimsical and lovely for fall. I always seem to need a few flowers in my life when the clouds come to stay and the cold creeps in each winter.

What are some of your favorite ways to refashion old clothes?  Do you cut up your old tshirts for household rags or weave them into rugs?  I'd love to hear your suggestions and stories so please drop me a line.  If you leave me a link to your own refashion blog post I'll certainly pop over and have a look!

Happy crafting.

Scobies, Sweaters, and Thread

I don't remember pregnancy being quite so exhausting the last time around.  I probably wasn't this exhausted last time, come to think of it.  When you've got a whole toddler-sized person to care for everything tends to get more complicated.  We've had more screen time in our lives over the last several weeks than I care to admit and exercise has been limited to very long walks as a family after supper.  My knees are sore from that time I went jogging three weeks ago and despite having purchased new running shoes I just can't seem to push myself out the door to use them.

Many evenings have been spent with my feet kicked up on the coffee table and a small project in hand.  Last week I made myself some fingerless gloves from an old cashmere sweater I thrifted years ago and found sitting at the bottom of one of my fabric bins during the spring clean.  I chopped off one of the sleeves, used a jersey bedsheet for lining, and hand embroidered them with a bouquet of dandelions and a few bumblebees seeking pollen. They'll surely keep my hands and wrists warm as we creep into autumn and hopefully will remind me of these hot summer days of buzzing bees and puffy dandelions.

I've also cast on for a new little sweater for my sweet little girl. We had a day or two of chilly days (Germany occasionally forgets that it's summer) and I went into full, knitterly panic!  Everyone needs fresh, new winter things, especially those of us who have outgrown all the winter things that were knit last winter.  Did I say I wasn't going to knit anything before my Nanook was finished? Hm, I don't remember that.  And a toddler sweater is really such a small thing, it doesn't really count as another WIP, right? The pattern is Swing Thing by Theresa Belville and it's free on Ravelry.

Besides the knitting, the sewing, and the toddler-rearing I've been watching the scobies in my kombucha proliferate. I now officially have more hibiscus tea scobies than I know what to do with. I bought a couple large glass jars of pickles and promptly ate most of them so that I could use those jars for kombucha experiments.  (Pregnancy loves pickles)  Right now I've got one batch of my hibiscus kombucha undergoing a second fermentation with a vanilla bean and another jar of hibiscus and green tea that's slowly growing a scoby.  It looks like I have a bit of an addiction. Now I just need to order myself a proper crock and get started on a batch of sauerkraut!

Happy crafting and take care.

Summer Cleaning and Crafts

The last several weeks have been an interesting balance of good and bad news for me.  If it's all right with you, I'd much rather focus on the good news in this space.  On that front, I passed my exam, received my certificate, and I'm now a Certified Lactation Counselor!  This is a goal I've been working towards for over a year now and I feel so proud and grateful to be able to provide a service to women in my community in this way, now with the certification and new knowledge to back it up.  For the first time since my graduation from college I feel a real sense of accomplishment and professional worth. It's nice.

Another good thing is that my husband and I have been working tirelessly at de-cluttering the house and so far we've accumulated 7 garbage sacks full of old clothes and items we no longer need! That's a huge amount of space in our home that is now clutter-free.  We plan to drive these up to the thrift shop next week (hopefully after I manage to add a few more bags!).  We've also acquired a bit of new-to-us vintage furniture for our parlor area and it's starting to look a bit less like a dorm room and more like an adult residence, albeit the residence of a family of nerds.

While the new fetus continues to gestate, we've been working on enjoying family quality time as well as some very important solitary quality time in an effort to bring balance and harmony to our lives.  With my solitary time I've tried to focus on reading  (Momma Zen is bringing me much needed peace) and making. While knitting is still causing me some nausea  and can only accomplish it in small intervals, sewing has started to occupy more of my time.  I organized three overflowing bins of fabric and turned them into three organized bins.  I tidied up my craft room enough that I actually enjoy going in there and sitting at my machine. My skills with the sewing machine are slowly improving and the things I'm making now look better and last longer than the things I've made in the past, so that's something to feel good about.  The travel art folder pictured above is for a friend's son and I'm hoping to make one for my daughter the next time life allows.

Today I worked on some slow stitching and embroidery while listening to the Woolful Podcast. Dandelions are some of my new favorite flowers after reading about their fascinating root systems in this month's issue of Taproot Magazine.  It really got me thinking about what weeds are and what they signify in our gardens.  If I didn't have a swarming, underground nest of yellow jackets wreaking havoc in my garden right now I would go out and see how many dandelions I could bring in for my crafting pleasure...but more about that next time.

Happy making!