Get the book on Amazon: Time to Make: Throw Yourself at Your Creative Life. Don't Wait.
Geh-hed. Watch it.
Here's your chance: make a rug out of scraps. SEW MAMA SEW is hosting my 13-minute video tutorial: by the end you and I will be closer and you will also be able to make a rug: 2 for 2, people.
I think I've landed on the term "DIY Publishing" to describe what I did with Time to Make .
I used Amazon's Createspace, a fairly seamless print-on-demand service. I'm not crazy about calling it "self-publishing"--this has images of some guy paying gobs of cash to sneak his book out onto the market. It's just him and some Sneaky, Expensive, Non-Actual Publisher.
That's not how this project went for me. I talked about it on my blog, figured out ways to pay extremely talented people little stacks of cash combined with handmade offerings, and (believe me) there was a publisher: it was me and a host of helpers: a posse of Wienerdog Tricks blog readers who piped in after reading early early drafts; a really, really good editor (the best I've had since the Big 3 hit grad school together reading each other's work in Hudson's booths); a committed blog designer-turned-font-specialist; and a cover designer who basically let me into her house to sit next to her a bunch of times until we were both able to squeeze what was in my head out of her fingers, and a couple of loving, a couple of dear friends who sat up with me through the whole project (and di things like make me eggs on vacation so I could finish the final layout edits).
I wasn't alone. This wasn't a Ging-only sort of a deal.
And it's funny to think that the primary reason I didn't want to sit nicely and wait for a Big Guy Publisher to give me a Yes to publishing (I mean, in addition to the fact that I was writing about just going for it and not waiting around for anybody to tell you that you can)--was that I just didn't want to wait that long.
And then this project took a year and a half.
But man did I learn a lot...
1. I now know that I love to collaborate. I'm not so hot at contracting work out (like in the "I will deftly explain my wants and needs and you, Kind Professional, and you will carry them out for me in a sufficient manner" sort of way). I'm really good at [getting people to expand their willingness to be] sitting down and working shoulder-to-shoulder until the thing is done.
2. I now appreciate what publishers do (which I would like to say out loud right here is scads more than I'd imagined.) Apparently, they're the people who make the 3 gazillion tiny decisions that need to be made when you publish a book. Thanks, Them, for all those other books they made.
3. I learned that I can do a lot more than I thought I could: longest written piece I've ever even aimed for much less somehowpulledoff; newly-found very basic knowledge of inDesign; increased capacity for explaining the doodles that live in my own head; sort of increased patience sort of.
4. I learned that every time I thought I knew what was coming next, I was wrong.
And now, because of DIY Publishing, I also own a copy of my own book with a random 27-page spread of somebody else's Dragon Fiction. And this, people, is absolutely priceless to me.
Because I just wrote a book about how the things you make may or may not always turn out the way you thought they would, and how this is okay, and how it's sort of scary and tempting to never make something because of this possibility. But how you should do it anyway.
And then some really nice person at the quality control line in South Carolina took a tiny little smoke break for a second and this one copy snuck through to me--like a gift from the Wonkaphobia Gods.
Thank you, WG's. I mean it. This could have landed in anyone's hands, but you guys sent it to me.
You rock. I'll keep it forever.
BPF's (my dear, dear bloggish people friends),
I wrote a book for you. And your friends. And all of the people you and I know who we wish were letting themselves spend lots of time making things.
If you've been reading here, you know I've been working on it for about a year and a half. And so here it is, friends. Please do go get it. It absolutely emerged out of five years worth of blog posts--writing to you all about all the goofy stuff I was making and the bigger and bigger thoughts that were flooding my head about how important it all is.
Sure, it's great to make handmade stuff. Absolutely fantastically great. I'd rather have my house full of stuff I've made than anything else. It makes me downright giddy sometimes when I look at the polyester-covered pillows on my sofa. (No lie.)
But it's also great for my insides--the best way to live I've stumbled upon yet: the hunting for supplies, risking a new idea, scribbling in tiny books about strange pillbox-shaped bags and stripey quilts. Then diving in and building something.
And the beauty of this last five years is that you, my wdt reader, have been listening, nodding, commenting, listening to me talk about it all.
You're really nice.
I do hope you'll grab a copy. Read it. Hand it off to a good friend.
And when you do, tell them it was written by a blogger who wrote it for you.
This likely is the t-shirt I should have been handing out last Saturday. It’s surely the one I should have been wearing. (Also: I kept yelling "Crochet Needles Don't Bite!" which is weird, but also a t-shirt I need to print.)
I transported a weird sort of outdoor living room to the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo and hauled out a huge vintage cooler of thrifted sheets and a big bucket of thrifted t-shirts and then proceeded to crochet, cut, rip and talk for about four hours.
It was super fun.
The best part for me was talking to the people who already knew the funny knot-making skill of crochet: there was a lot of “Hey—I never thought of doing THAT!” And then a lot of nodding on their part.
The most hilarious part was trying to teach people to crochet, which as it turns out, while I signed up to show people how to crochet, I’m not actually so good at (a hilarious thing I didn't know about myself! ha!), so it was a lot of “watch” from me and a lot of staring and “oooohhhhhhhh” from them.
My big gift of the day was meeting a super cool nine year old (Hi Lola!) who showed me that I could be doing all these rugs WITHOUT A NEEDLE. She finger knits and as we sat and worked by trial and error together, it was clear to me that I may now become a FINGER CROCHETER.
Meeting her and learning that was worth all the sweaty lifting it took to pull the whole thing off. (Which, btw, I wouldn't have done at all and would have been doing some weird demonstration out of the back of my car if it weren't for the awesome girlio cadets I met from the Grizzly Youth Academy! Hi Tippit! They were my other favorite meets of the day. So willing to work hard. They made me want to be a teacher again.)
And it all happened likely more than a month ago now, but I'm just sitting down to tell you--pushed through time, I think, by the invisible desire to have something to show you.
So many projects and still lately no pictures: stacks of rugs for friends; a funny pieced-together curtain made of old sheets for the boys' room (stripes!); quilt mending; the destruction and still-in-it reconstruction of the frankensteined chenille duvet cover--now in its third life, well fourth if you count the one it had before it came to me; a sleeping bag and pillow for pumpkinhead's doll, and a tent (cardboard construction: a new medium); a garden that's staying alive so far; oh! And recovered cushions for a free-standing porch swing I pilfered off the free section of craigslist (ask me later why I had to recover the cushions) but I did and they're the BEST now and I used an old coffee bag my friend Luke gave me and some cheetah print sheets and the old interior covers from my couch pillows and some tan denim scraps. Heavenliness.
And as soon as I really do pull off the CROCHET NEEDLES* DON'T BITE t-shirt, I will be sure to take pics. For real. Because: really I'm not wearing it already as I sit here typing to you?
*And yes, the fact that this is what I yelled is even more hilarious because I think now that I type that, I'm realizing that they're actually called HOOKS not needles, which means that everybody who actually knew a lick about crochet walked by and was like "Whaaaaaattttt?" Haaaaaaaaaaaa. Lol, Ging.
Let's get practical, practical
I wanna get practi-caaaaallll
Let's get into practical
Let me hear your boring fix, your boring fix
Let me hear your boring fix
Let's get prag-ma-tic, prag-ma-tic
I wanna get prag-ma-tiiiiiiiic, let's get into pragmatic
Let me hear your boring fix, your boring fix
Let me hear you boring fix
Still, though, maybe if HER kids were constantly leaving mildew-atracting heaps of shower towels all over HER house, she would have been humming a different tune.
I'll try to focus on the facts:
Wet towels. check.
Re-made towel rack using drawer pulls instead of hooks so that the towels don't stay on. check.
Children with the capacity of a bridge troll to care about previously mentioned mold-ish towels. check.
Insert need for towel drying solution here: __________.
Back to the salt mines. Keep your chins up out there, people. xo.
I didn't want you to wonder about me.
I didn't want you to think that I'd fallen in a hole somewhere with nothing but a box of crackers and a crochet hook and that I was happy but that somebody else was taking care of my kids and you were missing me and I never reached out to tell you I was okay and that I now live in a hole full of rugs crocheted out of old sheets and that also I'm very tired of crackers and I don't have the first idea what anybody else is making. My plan, of course, is to make so many rugs that I will be able to climb myself out of the hole on top of the rugs. Don't ask me why I couldn't just stack the sheets. It's physics, you all. And just so that you'll know that it's me writing and that nobody hacked into my blog and started typing, I'll share this, followed by a confession that will make you nod--both because you might have the same confession to make and also because it will make you know that it' s me writing.
It's this: Sometimes I make mistakes.
This one had to do with a doll and a washing machine.
May all your mistakes be temporary. May none of them include your daughter's favorite doll. May none of them send you searching for twine. May none of them be irreversible. May none of them include the moment where your daughter finds the decapitated doll on the stairs and asks what happens and then requires you to explain. May none of them send you on a google search for "reattaching displaced doll head." May none of them include throwing said doll away.
Actually, the part about the rugs and the hole was true. I think I'm about 14 rugs away from reaching the top.
"May All My Afterthoughts Be Lovely"
This Broken Asterisk quilt is another bold step into the uncomplicated. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to build something with vintage sheets. My friends Deb and Emily have both been big Sheet Inspirers to me over these last few years.
I found the pillowcase that was to be the heart of it all some time ago. My friend Krystina said she loves that old turq color that pops up here and there, so I went looking and found just the funky old thing. I set it next to a big stack of other vintage sheets, and it just didn't want to be mixed with anything. It wanted to stand out on its own.
Turns out it wanted to be a piece of punctuation: an asterisk.
The asterisk is the word flag for afterthought.**
The asterisk is the little tool you use when you have more to say, but you want a little pause before the main thing and the next that comes after. You'd like your reader to go hunt a little for it, to work up a sort of appetite for the more that you have to offer.
And I think afterthoughts are always interesting. There's what I wish I would have said, and also what I wish i wouldn't have. Or the tone I wish i'd struck. Or the wisdom that seems obvious and clarifying roughly 36 hours after the moment I needed it.
May All My Afterthoughts Be Lovely. It's the wish of this quilt, the thing the quilt would say to a star if it could go looking.
And I know I'm mixing the thought of the asterisk being broken with the thought of great hope. But this is, after all, the way the world arrives to me often: as a mixture of great hope and brokenness. I know my afterthoughts will likely not be all lovely (um: have you met me)--but I can still wish for it.
I spent a few minutes having this Mental Interview*--which is something you really ought to try. You can't imagine the sorts of things that people you've never met are dying to ask you.
Barbara Bush: Ginger, I'm a quilter too, though it's not widely known. I appreciate what you're doing here with historic fabrics.
Me: Oh, Mrs. Former First Lady, thank you. I tend to refer to them as "old sheets," but I like the way you describe what I've got my hands on here.
Barbara Bush: I notice that you've used the applique [said in actual french accent]. It is a precise sort of method that takes a steady hand and an enviable attention to detail. Have you worked in this way before? And, as a follow-up question, Do you cruel?
Me: Actually, MFFL, I have never appliqued snot before. Oh. Sorry. I mean I've never tried applque [said like it's menu item at a burger joint] before. I just sort of started cutting up scraps and then I noticed they wanted to turn into an asterisk and then I sort of wildly zig zagged them to death and then also I hand-sewed back down the parts that flipped up in the wash.
Barbara Bush: I am enamored by the way that you can make the exquisite seem so pedestrian.
Me: Thank you?
* This particular Mental Interview is one of a series of three Pretend Barbara Interviews. The first here. The third in my upcoming book Go Make Something Anyway.***
**This writer, by the way, is the master of the asterisk. She uses it in a way that is so real and spot-on that now no one else will ever be able to without referring back to her. I report that here with a mixture of awe and annoyance. Hers is the only blog I read, so it's more the first than the second.
*** Yes--there's an actual title to the actual book. Big thanks to Krystina for her hard work on the layout of the text and the sweaty font-searching so that it will look just like it should. xo This quilt is part of the generous part-barter deal that she swung for me to do the work. And it makes me like both the quilt and the work she did even more.
* It's striking me that when I make it quilt, it starts to tell me a story. And then as I'm making it, I build another story in the making. Quilt Log is for those stories.
You know I've been working on this quilt for ages--Quilt Redemption, I've been calling it. It's not been a complicated project, really. But it's taken me a real chunk of time to pull it off and declare it finished.
First I thought I'd make it a repair mission. The original quilt top (my great grandmother's) was dotted with little holes--like a band of mice had lunch with it once or twice. And I started my work tackling those holes.
One little orange polyester square was like a sweet post-it from my Granny. It was snuck in. My favorite color. My favorite fabric. Orange with a little white fleck, and so I used a few cotton scraps in orange and white to repair the many small holes that dotted it. I handstitched them in all in place, and they ultimately became little orange stars on the otherwise blue and gray and red and green feel of the top.
But I stalled out. Somehow the busyness of the pattern made me want to take breaks. And while the intricacy of the little squares was an impressive thing she pulled off, it sort of gave me hives. Like I needed to go out for air.
Mostly, I just couldn't finish it. It sat and waited for me for quite a while. I let it give me some space. Tried a handful of times to go back in and stay at my original repair vision, but there was no talking my feet into it.
And because I firmly believe that stuck projects always tell the truth, I finally stopped and paid attention.
It struck me that unless I came up with a bigger vision, I'd likely never complete anything with it. And really I ddin't need to come up with a thing--the quilt told me straight out what it wanted to do.
And once I saw what it needed for me to hang out with it, it was sort of a cinchy project. It had been the small vision that was holding me up.
I cut it into strips, scrambled the pattern and put some white between it so that I could see those squares--they were so lost crammed in that original pattern all together.
It was just then a matter of sewing lots and lots of straight lines and letting myself make the back as simply as I wanted to.
I'm interested in the way that the thought "but that's not a complicated enough idea" enters my head and crosses its arms at me sometimes. I'll feel a stiffness of spirit as I work, and there it will be, standing just close enough for me to wonder what's nearby and I'll hear that little voice, "that's not all that complicated--what you're doing."
It takes a little mental work to send that crabby thought away and let myself walk toward a vision that lets the project be what it wants to be, even if that vision doesn't wow.
Seriously, you all, I was completely stuck. I've shared here that I'm working on a bigger writing project than I have before--a book about making things . . . and about how everybody says they don't have time to make things . . . and how the reasons they give aren't the reasons they think they are.
So far: I've tackled . . .
"I Don't Have Time"; "I'm Too Tired"; "I'm Not That Talented"; "I've Got Too Many Unfinished Projects"; "I Can't Make Any $ At It"; "I Don't Have Room"; "I Feel Guilty"; and "It's Just Too Hard"
(If you've got one not listed there--DO tell me.)
So I've been working all year on this project. Writing like crazy. And about a month ago I came to a complete standstill on the project. Like a dead stop. If it were a house, there were no doors. And I couldn't find my footing to free climb and drop down through the chimney.
And then . . . drumroll: I found SCRIVENER.
Good gravy it was like Christmas for me. The thing is so helpful for long projects that most of what I've been thinking since I started using it is that I'M SUPER SAD I DIDN'T FIND IT 15 YEARS AGO.
The thing lets me see the project in layers, and for my weird mind, that's just what I needed. So I'm back at it--some of you have been kind enough to read early drafts. And I'm crazy grateful for that. The projects really grown since those drafts left here, and I'm hoping to have it wrapped up in the early Spring.
In the meantime, go get Scrivener for yourself if you're working on a long writing project for any reason. Oh--and also go get Scapple which is a super fun brainstormy software that's like two hands under a stuck food for a boost up.
High Five to the ScrivenerScapple Guy!
Let me begin by saying that these new laundry tags have not made me a better person.
I know you expected this to happen to me. We're all shocked.
Here's what they did, though: they have made me happier when I walk into a garage brimming with stinky socks. And this is worth something, right? And while we're on the topic, let me share that if I could capture the natural scent of my laundry-room-in-the-garage right now and sell it, then that would mean there was a market for a HOME COLOGNE called something like...
NIGHT OF HORROR
SOUR SWEAT BALLS
HOLY MISUSED AXE SPRAY, BATMAN
I'm just saying that if the right market conditions open up, I'm ready.
So capturing a skoshe of happiness in the Room of All That Is Foul is actually quite something.
And we all know that the fact that these basket tags are made with old sheets scraps of polyester puts my soul at ease. Also positive.
I began this journey into Improved Laundry Life with wind of a system that one friend uses: a basket for everyone--one person's dirty clothes in their own basket; dirty clothes washed; washed clothes dried; dried clothes back in the basket. (And in my case: basket dumped directly into jr. high boy drawer.)
I found myself, however, standing in the middle of my garage surrounded by aforementioned scents, concentrating so hard to sort by person that I almost bled through my armpits. Also I was getting mad at people for putting dish towels in with little girl shirts. This seemed like an unnecessary side effect of a new laundry system--increased aggitation.
So I gave that part up. I'm pretty much doing my old laundry system, which isn't really a system as much as a frantic holding back of a constantly threatening tide (think Luke and Leah in the garbage compactor with the walls moving in).
A smaller accomplishment than I'd envisioned, but frankly, people: I'll take it.
I will now go eat carbs and journal all day.
Guy. You know when you really want to write a letter to some relative you miss and you think of it every four days for nine months--and then the longer you think of it, the longer the letter needs to be?
Yeah, well welcome to the post that feels like it needs to be 89 pages long. Fear not. It won't be.
I swear I didn't get kidnapped. Or (worse) stop sewing.
I would like to take this opportunity to submit an open letter to the person who named those weeks during the months of June/July/August "Summer Vacation.":
Dear Person Who Named Those Weeks During The Months of June/July/August 'Summer Vacation,"
You're a lying sack.
It's like I get hit on the head with a rock mid-september ever year that I can't remember that summer is actually NOT A VACATION. Oof. I worked so hard that I've got all new pit-stains on all my best t-shirts from my summer NotAVacation.
But I did manage to do this stuff:
I turned all our sadly-clad beds into Duvet Heavens. A couple of chenille frankensteins for Baby Pumpkinhead and for Us.
(Sorry I couldn't get more shots of this--it was naptime in Pumpkinhead's Doll School, so I had to get out of there before I woke somebody up...)
Also I re-covered my couch and chair since I talked to you last.
Also I've incorporated a Whole New Laundry System into my life (in hopes of being happier, more rested, more fulfilled, easier on my feet, less frustrated and the holder of a prettier garage--all goals that I'm sure this will accomplish...)
Everybody gets their own basket dirty-->washed-->dried-->folded (or not)-->dumped back into the drawer. I couldn't swing it without tags that involved polyester. I know: you don't blame me. But apparently I'm just messing with you because there are no current photos of said polyester tags. #apparentlyyouhavetobegme
Also: I can't believe I just told you about my new laundry system. I may have just become the most boring person I know. Excellent.
So that's my update, Interweb Friends. KIT. LYLAS. Write Back. --ginger.
It's about time. I'm sure you agree. About her nakedness--not that inevitable eviction of the short, brunette dolls that had been inhabiting the dollhouse before she returned from our camping trip with her new vintage sheet wardrobe and an apparently quite entitled attitude about her place in the house.
It was raining so hard in Utah, and there we were in our tent trailer (testing out its weather-worthiness in thunder and lightning and hail)--and it was either read a picture book version of Wizard of Oz again or do the envitable: make Barbie some clothes.
She came on the trip naked. She has been known to just roll that way. So we decided that because we had three vintage sheets that I'd picked up at the Bishop Salvation Army for about 2 bucks each, and I always travel with needle and thread, we were able to make her a full blown trousseau.
It was the right thing to do.
She even got a sleeping bag. And a pillow.
And some other accessories--um, hats and an apron, actually (to go with her shoes).
Seemed smart. You know.
And since there was plenty left of the sheets, I also recovered the fronts of my trailer cushions. They were a dreamy gold pattern that functionally disintegrated in the monthly use of our trailer since we landed it in december--so it was time for new faces.
And it's nice now, too, because they match Barbie's wardrobe, so we won't have any unseemly photo shoots with indelicate, clashing backgrounds. A plus.
And the bit about the neighbors, well it was awkward.
I'm a huge fan of television for children. In my world, they can just never get enough. When they say, "Mom, can we have some screen time?" My soul just shouts YES, DEAR! WHY--YES! OF COURSE! WOULDN'T THAT BE LOVELY?! YES YOU MAY.
My Man Spouse, however, doesn't feel this way. He has taken parenting classes that informed him that no child needs more than one hour of television a week (okay--he took those classes with me, but I didn't listen to those parts).
So last week when he said, "Let's go back to no screen during the school week," I said: SCuse me, what? Then he proceeded to tell me the completely reasonable, responsible, loving reasons for wanting to limit their after-school tv time while he was at work.
So I agreed to this for a day.
And here's what happened:
17 Minutes into the aforementioned time period, ManBoy #11 said, "Momimbored" to which I said, "I'msorryyou'renotallowedtosaythat. Youcanaskforhelp. Butyoucan'tsayyou'rebored."
Him: "Okay, I need help thinking of something to do."
Me: "Well, you could . . ."
Him: "Wait--can I nail wood?"
When I came into the garage after his 34th request to come and look (I know: really someone let me be a mother?), it was the frame of a soccer goal, almost finished. He just needed help holding it in place so he could screw it together. And finding more wood. And also help using his father's 3700 pound drill.
When ManBoy #12 1/2 returned with a friend, they wanted to make the net.
Me: "How about this?"
And so they set at making a net out of old t-shirt yarn.
They didn't have a pattern or any instructions. They didn't even google anything. They just started making it and then kept at it until it turned out to be a soccer goal (which they have loved because the stretchy t-shirt yarn flings the ball back really fast at you when you kick it in there. Score.)
I swear, kids are so smart.
I totally want to make a TV show about how smart they are.
I've been chewing on the inside of my cheek about this tension for a few months now, maybe longer. See, when I stepped into my own making life about 5 years ago, it was at the edge of a scrap bin at my favorite thrift store. It was a dirty wood bin of cast off napkins, as I remember.( I made this kind of stuff with it.)
And once I made that first out-of-about-to-be-trash fabric, I decided to stick with that plan: I would only sew with "rescued fabric": no retail fabric for me.
I knew from other creative tacklings that setting a limit can be terrificly helpful for getting rolling--plus I was dead broke and fabric stores stressed me out. These all seemed like a solid cocktail of reasons for saying no to retail fabric.
And I love making that way. Totally love it.
But five years into this process, I'm realizing that it's not about where I get my fabric. It's not about how much I pay for it. It's not even really about staying out of a store.
Get me here: I really like where I get my fabric. I really like paying handfuls of change and tiny stacks of single bills for it. And I really, really love staying out of a store.
It's actually about figuring out a way to keep me Making. I love thrift stores. I'm cheap. I don't like flourescent lighting and nearby store workers asking to help me when I'm up to my elbows in fabric and scheming to turn it all into something nifty and useful.
If I have to Make using expensive fabric that I have to find in a retail store, then I'll likely stop doing it.
And I really, really don't want to stop doing it.
A pal of mine recently read "Rescued Fabric and Working From a Thrifted Stash" (Which was originally entitled "Why I Don't (And Won't) Shop At a Fabric Store" #turnsoutiamjudgingyou) and said,
Her: Um. I feel judged.
Me: Ummmmmmm. Sorry?
Me: I didn't mean it.
The thing is, the way I do it's not the point.
I know lots of people doing truly beautiful things blending vintage and retail fabrics (Hello: Emily @ BlueCorduroy). I know people doing really smart things staying out of retail stores and macgyvering their way on the cheap (Hello to my old friend Deb @ WorksinProgress and my newly-discovered friend Jen @ MyMakeDoandMendYear) #ihavefriendsi'venevermetinperson. And I know really lovely people selling retail fabric (Hello to that really nice lady who just bought TheCottonBall from my friend Rob and who told me about wool batting which I never knew about.)
Finding a way to keep doing it is.
So I really mean it: Sorry.
The thing is, if we spin our wheels trying to decide where the best spot is to pile up the stuff we make with, we might use up minutes we could have used cutting up fabric and putting it back together.
And we really need those minutes badly. I swear that they're the minutes that keep my head attached to the rest of me.
And you can bet I'm going to say here: find your way. Go find your way. You gotta find your way.
Man, I finally said it: "Only Ask a Question If You Want to Hear the Answer."
It's Tip #2 for writing a better blog--posted today over at my new Write a Better Blog column at Lollipops. (This was Tip #1 if you're dying of curiosity and you missed it and you won't be able to sleep tonight wondering what Tip #1 is since now you know what Tip #2 is.)
I can say this because I've been looking for an attractive shower curtain--nay, a Non-Ugly one--for some time now. Years, actually.
Seems like yesterday that my little sister and I were standing in front of the U-shaped shower curtain display at a nearby store whose initials are all the same letter and shaking our heads at the vast array of u-g-l-y options.
I know I sound snotty. Please don't hate me.
I'm annoyed because a non-ugly shower curtain (NUSC) seems like something that ought to be widely available, doesn't it? I mean, there are NU tablecloths for sale in the world, NU napkins, NU bath mats, NU toaster covers (oh: wait).
So I took matters into my own polyester-filled hands and made one.
I did this both because I need a shower curtain and refused to spend 39 bucks on something super ugly. And also because I'm really wanting to get into the Sewing Book of World Records under the category entitled, "Most Made Things With Abandoned Fortrel."
And the upside of using this fortrelesque polyester is that it is not only dirt cheap and comes in all sorts of relaly pleasing textures, it also DOESN'T RAVEL, so I didn't even have to bust out the button hole foot on my machine. I just snipped little holes for the shower curtain hanger things.
And now when I take a shower I nod my head a lot. Because I'm right: it's just the thing: fetching, even..
I didn't invite her, ya'll.
There I was: after having cleaned my house like the Queen of Somewhere was visiting, I was shooting pics. (We're renting our house out on an occasional weekend to vacation renters these days, so I was taking pics to show all the potential visitors how Truly Clean & Lovely our house has become #fiinally #ittookstrangerscoming #airbnb #betterlinensthanweuse).
And I was clicking away at the kitchen, when she appeared. . .
She galloped up, begging to be included in the shots.
And I was all, "Um, Barbie. #1 you're Doll Naked, which is not acceptable on a vacation rental website and #2 you know you'll come with us when we go, so including you would be False Advertising.
She was all, "Whateve. Just shoot me."
So I did.
Who dares me to include this photo in my rental listing?
I'm on a whole new plane of Meta Living.
Today's Post is Toaster Smudge: Say A Small Thing.
I still haven't touched my Quilt Redemption project.
It's not because I'm Busy (I mean, I am, but I never buy that busyness keeps us from making).
I got it all set up, put it in a little bag to take with me everywhere, and it's just sort of sitting there. It doesn't want to come with me. I don't want it to come with me.
We're not really mad at each other, we're just not that in to each other.
I'm going to see if this relational stand off continues. I might give us another chance. I don't know yet.
I had another of my Granny's hand-stitched quilt tops come my way--and I'm going to set about reclaiming it.
It needs some work. . .
I've stared at this one for a bit. Honestly, I've wondered if my own Granny pulled it off. This level of steady patterning doesn't really show up in most of her other quilts. But these hand stitches--in whatever color thread she had around . . .
. . . and the itty bitty seam allowances (she was a fan of the Barely 1/4" seam allowance...looks like 1/8 in spots) make it clearly hers.
P.S. Thanks for all your great responses of interest in my current writing project. I'm typing my fingers off over here--will share more as it comes to life. :)
Is there a Doctor in the house? A Rug Doctor?
I can't stop making rugs, Everybody. I feel like I already mentioned this. But seriously, don't pull back the covers on your bed or anything when I'm around right now because I will whip the sheet off your bed, slash it into torn strips and convert it into a tiny rug before you can say Hey--That's My Sheet, Dude.
One for Baby Pumpkinhead. Colors: pink. Materials: All kinda stuff--sheets, old polyester, cotton scraps. This was the rug I experimented with mixing fabrics. Take Away: the scrap crochet rug is an unbelievably agreeable creature. It doesn't care what you mix together to make it. It just keeps turning into a rug no matter what.
One For My Friend Susan Who Graduated From Nursing School Like a Year Ago. Because nothing says "Congratulations" like a scrap crochet rug. Colors: blue and yellowy golds. Materials: just sheets. Take Away: I tried mixing lots of different shades of yellow. The blue sheet helped anchor the look of the thing so that it didn't look like a crocheted scrap heap.
One For My Friend Shelley Who Just Hosted Me At Her House. Shelley really likes going to Africa, so this one's special because it's bordered in hand-dyed fabric from Tanzania. Colors: the ones that were in the single flannel sheet I used--cream and green and dark red and some browny gold. Plus a bunch of good deep orange and brown and gold around the edges. Materials: one flannel sheet with pictures of people doing things in thes snow; strips of hand-dyed cotton from Africa. Take Away: One sheet yields a little foot rug. Also flannel makes a sturdy rug (soft but not mushy). And mixing fabric is sometimes downright meaningful. Colorado Snow Scene + Vibrant Africa Cotton = Two Things Shelley Loves and mixes up beautifully in her life.
One For My Living Room That Will Be Quite Large. Colors: dirty whites. Materials: Sheets so far. Take Away: As it turns out, mixing ugly colored sheets into a rug produces . . . wait for it . . . an ugly rug. I added sheets with colors I didn't like thinking that somehow the peaches and sage greens would disappear. This just in: they didn't. So I yanked them off this rug that will someday be ginormous and decided to wait for the right colored sheets. Additional Take Away: Craft Patience.
Start ripping and hooking, people. But I warned you--scrap crochet is totally Crafter's Crack.
Not this time, baby. [Update: Baby Fiona. Baby Fiona. That's why there's that f. F for Fiona, see?]
I had started making Unnecessarily Complex squares out of triangles that I had a hair-brained idea I was going to do some sort of chevron pattern with (click here for the quilt that my friend Emily made that was so stinking cute she made me want to make one).
Then I sort of found myself walking a wide circle around the pile where I'd left the weird stack of hand-sewn triangle-y squares. Like it smelled bad or had a virus I didn't want to catch or something. I did this for roughly 4 days. And it was getting down to the wire, People. I was going to meet my niece-lette Empty Handed if I didn't get the sewing hitch out of my sewing getalong and start Making.So I was upstairs staring at it like it was a dead animal that I was afraid might come back to life when all of sudden, I just picked up this other weird mod sheet that was lying nearby and started cutting wildly and I'd sewn an entirely new Top for the thing and deemed the complex triangles as Back Material.
So, this quilt took very little time to make, unless you count all the time when I was trying to get my head to figure it out and my head was refusing.Oh--and also if you don't count how I decided to HAND QUILT it like some weird Quilting Aunt Overachiever.
I finished the hand quilting (bloody thumbs and all, Everyone) and then I brought it home to finish. Because I needed to add this (I know: and she has a jungle room, Everybody. Come. On.)
I’m writing about it a lot right now in my free time.*
* I have free time because I’m not teaching anymore **
** I ‘m not teaching anymore because I got that bad kind of tired*** instead of the good kind of tired****
*** You know—the kind where your spleen wants to nap all of the time, even if you’re standing up and your child is saying something cute to you.
****You know—the kind where you sit down to Make something and you look at the clock 15 minutes later and it’s, well, 2 hours later. That kind of tired.
P.S.S. If you are interested in talking to me about the Big Writing Project***** I’m tackling right now, email me****** email@example.com *******:
*****It’s more than a blog post in length, more than a poem in length. That makes it a Big Writing Project.
******What should you email me? I’m thinking just like a question, like “Hey—what are you writing about? I want to talk to you about it because maybe I will have some ideas that will help you since it’s probably about Making and I’m totally interested in that topic. Also will you send me that picture of your Polyester Letters That Spell MAKE?”********
*******I mean it. I’d love to hear from you. And by asking you to email rather than comment, nobody will know if no one else actually responds to this offer and thereby my own Writerly Underwear will not be placed Gingerly on the outside of my Writerly Pants. And I will not be walking around on the interwebs looking like a Girl In Need of Friend To Tell Her How It Really Is.
********If you ask me this, I will email you back and answer your questions and the question about the picture and whether you can have a copy for your laptop screensaver will be YES.
* Don't worry: this is me, Ginger, of Wienerdog Tricks, that blog you read about making and sewing and all those other things she rants about ... my blog went to the mall and got a makeover. Hence its newly-achieved attractiveness. It is ready to go to the Blog Prom now.
While I've been hand-quilting (not a typo) a quilt for my new niece Fiona, I also had to get some sewing done. Sometimes when one project just won't finish, I start up another one.
I don't consider this Crafty ADD, I call it Valuing Project Completion: VPC.
My quick & dirty projects this last week included. . .
A carrying case for all my sewing weapons.
And, actually, it's my current Favorite Thing.
Also--this laptop case which I literally sewed in 15 minutes--and I know this because I was on the phone with my friend who was about to pick me up for a road trip, and she was all, "I'll pick you up in 15 minutes," and I hung up, took the stairs two at a time to get to my machine, and started hacking pices of polyester to make the cover.I realized I didn't care a bit if my (unravel-able, by the way) polyester seams were exposed on the inside of my laptop cover.
The only thing I did later was hand stitch up the spot where the inside fabric slipped when I sewed it up inside out. I deemed this a Purposed Color Corner, and now it looks all Avant Garde Polyester (which is maybe the first time anyone used that phrase to describe something made out of polyester.) And I also hand-stitched the velcro flap thing. I used most of my 15 minutes trying to hack a piece of velcro off an old laptop cover that I have recently fallen out of love with.
Also, I made these for my niece-lette: appliqued burp rags (which Baby Pumpkinhead--who is no longer a baby, by the way, Everyone--lovingly referred to as I was sewing them as "barf rags.") I bought some nice, hefty cloth diapers and then did some free-hand-cut and speed-appliqued little niceties on them.
We have to have balance, ya'll. A little Complicated Work is nicely offset with some screaming fast projects. That's all I'm saying. No need to tell yourself you never finish anything: try thinking in terms of being really good at Starting.
It was given its former name during the moments when I considered hand quilting this almost-king-sized beast of a thing. I got ahead of myself. It happens. I could envision a huge game of tic tac toe with a winning line of O's shooting down diagonally.
But then I quilted one O sitting on the floor at my friend's house watching the super bowl. It took me the whole game practically. (Hand sewing seemed like the only legitimate response to Beyonce's Intensely Uncomfortable To Witness Air Humping.) And when I came home I decided that I wanted to use the quilt within the century, so I popped it under Lettie and started sewing straight lines wildly.'69 Apache.)
At the moment I had to figure out how to bind the thing, I had Not Enough of anything. So, I pulled off an old trick, and used a different scrap for each edge. And it makes the quilt even happier.
But the thing I liked best about USING this quilt was how BLASTED WARM it was. Wool batting, people. I had no idea it existed. Then I went into our sewing shop in town and met the new owner and had a Quilt Batting Conversation with her and she was all "have you ever tried wool batting?" and I was all, "no." and then I was all, "three yards, please." And then I camped with this quilt and the ManSpouse and I decided that it was easily the toastiest we have ever been in our trailer. Or in any of our tents before that.
Name: "Trailer Quilt" and also, "The Quilt Formerly Known As Tic Tac Toe In Church"
Pattern: None, except for a sort of cross pattern to the big, fat 9-squares.
Size: King-ish. Roughly 90" X 90"
Materials: thrifted sheets (four patterns), my great grandmother's vintage upholstery scraps, flannel given to me, a flannel sheet I once used as a painting drop cloth.
Batting: wool/cotton blend.
Stitching: top and back hand-pieced with Gutterson thread and a tiny needle because that's what I had. Machine-quilted with my 1929 Singer, Lettie.
The thing is I just don't know where we're going. I' feel like we've been through so much together. We talked Branson into wearing better clothes; we helped Mary be nice to Edith. And Cora, think of all we've done for her relationship with her mother-in-law. We've made a difference together, we really have.
And I've loved you, I mean it. When I think of the way that I waited for you to come, all those lovely meals, all the beds we've made and made and remade together.
But, honestly, J/DA, I just can't take the ups and downs anymore. All this emotional tumult has really got me asking some hard questions, Where will be in 10 years? How will I bear your intensity? Why can't Miss O'Brien just lighten up--shouldn't smoking help her more than it does?
But all of these ups and downs are just making me, well, anxious. I never know who you'll be when I see you next.
I'm sorry. I just can't take the pain anymore.
I'll miss you. I really will. I will miss all those forks and knives and spoons and glasses on the table, and our long walks stalking stag in the heather, the sight of Mr. Carson talking into the earpiece of the telephone. I'll miss all of it, I really will.
But it's over.
Goodbye. Think of me every time you are falsely imprisoned or meet someone who can't comb their own hair.
This Happened to Me. But You Weren't Here, So You Didn't Know Until Now.
I found Baby Pumpkinhead's monkey languishing on the sofa. Apparently he/she (not sure--haven't asked) was asking reflective questions like, "What will I do after college?" or possibly "Should I grow out my hair?"
That huge street-sized rug that I discovered yesterdady is 1) not the size of my street, and actually not even the size of my current rug and therefore, a little too tiny-ish and 2) includes an old sheet with flecks of green, which means that I will hate it when it's done. What can I say? I got excited and didn't pay attention to the fact that I don't really like the color green. So when I said to myself, "It will just like blend in," I was, in fact, lying to myself.
I'm going to do this to it.
True story. Also I handstitched the back for my trailer quilt last night. It's flannel.
Those sheets stripes are there because I didn't have enough flannel. Even after I used all the white flannel my friend gave me, even after I ripped up the white flannel sheet I used for a paint cloth and kept mostly only the pieces with no not very much paint on them.
Postal Regurgitation: Pep Talks.
No, I'm not going to barf mail. This is the part where I tell you to go read a post I wrote a long time ago because I think it will hELP you and because Tricia asked me to give more making pep talks, which I will, but also which I have done so BEAUTIFULLY in the past (*ahem* *serious nod*) that I want you to read every last word I've said on the matter of Making as the Meat of your life and not the Mashed Potatoes.
GO here for a Making Pep Talk: Time to Grow a Pair, Ladies (a classic from 2011).
We Just Don't Know Yet. But Maybe.
I might write a tutorial about how to make those bike warmers. But only if anybody else has a secret desire to have a bike as cute as mine. It's entirely possible that everyone is satisfied with having an ugly, un-adorned-by-polyester bike and is merely satisfied seeing my bike be better than theirs. Let me know if you wanna know how to do that.
*Dog Chats 1 - 36 were written only in my mind. Please don't try to search for them on the interweb because that might involve having my head www-ed and I feel sure it's a painful process even though other people have probably survived it.
This will be the title of my first e-book, I'm sure of it. Or maybe it will be How To Crochet a Rug As Big As Your Street. I'm frankly undecided.
I have decided that the tediousness of measuring every piece of fabric for a quilt makes me want to hurl or fall sleep (maybe at the same time). But I've also decided that the color baking of quilt making makes me weirdly happy.
I will need to embrace being a lifelong Mediocre Quilter.
I will not be able to embrace the perfect corner, the crisp edge, the quilt that folds up non-weirdly. I will never receive eye contact in a quilt shop from ladies whose color wheels are made of cardboard and whose coffee mugs have flying geese patterns embossed in mauve and slate blue tones. I will never be invited to explain to anyone how to decode a pattern or organize a Bee. I don't think the Quilting World would even likely trust my whipstitch. [mental note: look up what a "whipstitch" is on wikipedia later].
And, even though I knew this about myself the minute that I began quilting, I still might need to write these sad realities down on a piece of paper and concoct an elaborate grief ceremony that would involve koolaid and sand and banners. And pie. And pictures of cherubs. And burnt sticks.
In the meantime, I will continue to produce mediocre quilts. I will continue to handstitch them on occasion (as I did with this one...while camping...while sitting at the beach...while talking to friends...while eating chips). I will rip quilt squares out of old sheets while sort of eyeballing them for same-ishness to each other.
And I will continue to use old fabric that other people thought should be sent off to the glue factory.
Also I will continue to purport that yellowy gold is the color of God when he's happy and content.
And also, even though I will not in the foreseeable future be invited to lecture on quilt making, I will continue to wag my lips here to you about it.
And that's just how it all is.
Oh--and this i's the quilt I'm making out of three old sheets and some scraps that I took apart from a quilt top of upholstery samples that my great grandmother handstitched together and that I will use inside my NewOld Trailer and that will likely be backed in flannel and edged with an orange and yellow sheet my friend just found for me at a thrift store.
I sort of can't stop making them. This is a re-up from last summer when I tried crocheting rugs (well, *ahem*, one rug) from t-shirt yarn for the first time. But this time I was all, hooowwww aabboouutttt BBBIIIGGEEERRRRR.
So I made this:
So it could do this:
Which was good. What did it take? This:
It will be the size of the mondo living room rug I bought in the outdoor department of Target which I love but whose edges CONTSTANTLY curl up in a way that make me, well, pissy. So I will conquer my living room world by crocheting the STOOTKA out of 30 gazillion old sheets. Just wait and see.
Always good to have a goal.
Just in case you want to do any of this: T-shirt yarn tutorial; Super helpful basic crochet video from some lady like me who just turned on her camera and started explaining; The basics of blocking--I did this minus the pins + 70 gajillion books. Also--I used old tshirts for the first one, but am using a strange combo of stuff for the pink one. And yes, there's polyester in it. Obviously.
Sometimes I dream Little. (For instance.)
Other times I dream Big. But only sometimes. I have a tendency to reach for things that I know I can touch and skip the psychic muscle ache of the other stuff completely.
TRANSITION TO MAIN IDEA THAT LINKS BRAS TO BIGGER THINGS (NOT BIGGER BRAS, BIGGER DREAMS)
So when we started talking a few years back about wanting a tent trailer for the family, I surprised myself. It's more than a fifty dollar item. It would take saving for. We'd have to want it for a while before we'd get it. The gymnasium called "Loud, Echoey Disappointment" yawned before me. I might have to bounce around in there quite a while before the thing manifested itself.
If it ever did.
And if it didn't, then I'd end up being one of those people who talk about "someday we're gonna . . ." and blah blah. And I just really, really have tried not to be one of those people.
CONNECTION TO CURRENT HOLIDAY SEASON AND ALSO TO BIG DREAMS
This year I declared it Christmas of the Unexpected at our house. Everybody in the family's got a day of the week (and some of us are paired up on those extra days)--and we're in charge of doing something unexpected for somebody else.
I have been thinking this season about the nativity story and the way that it is a story of unexpectedness if it's a story of anything. There are all those faithful people watching the skies for somebody to save them, and while they're squinting for a king or a bruiser of a ruler to overthrow the bad guys oppressing the daylights out of them, out of the clouds drops a baby.
And I have to say that if I had been a faithful jewish person at the time, I woulda been shaking my head and praying, "Really?"
But as I've been mulling and chewing my own head to shreds about the ways in which Christmas bugs me, it struck me that what we need--what I need, my family needs--is a refresher on what it means to be really surprised. On being ready for the Unexpected.
THE PART ABOUT WHAT REALLY BUGS ME ABOUT CHRISTMAS
It drives me batty that my primary concern at Christmas is how to materilize whatever my kids have said they want. It feels like Potential Disappointment Management rather than the giving of real joy. And I'd really like Christmas to be about real joy.
So I declared it the Christmas of the Unexpected as a means of our reaching toward practicing being surprised--and also as a means of practicing surprising other people. We delivered root beer floats to some friends and once I cleaned the house by myself so the rest of the fam could play instead of pitching in, and mostly the kids have said "For our unexpected tonight, let's watch a movie on a school night!" And mostly we've said, "Great idea!"
THE PART ABOUT THE TENT TRAILER BEING BETTER THAN THE BRA
And then when I wasn't looking, right smack in the center of Christmas of the Unexpected, this happened: after a year of searching more or less every day [oopss--accidental confession of weird personal hobby] for tent trailers and trying to talk myself into the idea that an early 90's pop up with a Dusty Mauve interior was something I would grow to love, this 1969 Apache Ramada Pop Up appeared. The fact that it was only 600 bucks meant we could pay cash. I sent Pete 120 bucks short and got a surprise check for 123 while he was on the road there (thankfully . . .since it was going to come out of the grocery envelope).
THE CLOSING WHERE A VISION OF YELLOWY GOLD TELLS THE STORY OF THE WAY IN WHICH THIS TRAILER IS BETTER THAN WHAT I'VE EVEN TRIED TO WISH FOR AND HOW IT'S A SIGN TO ME ABOUT HOW I RARELY DREAM BIG ENOUGH AND THAT I PROBABLY MISS THE BABIES DROPPING OUT OF THE SKY WITH ALL MY SURETY THAT WHAT I NEED IS A BRUISER OF A KING
And the reason I write all of this here--and not just a "Hey--looka whatwe got" is that everything about this falls under the category of the Unexpected.
There are the things I want, the Little dreams.
And then there are the things I rarely believe can come true.
And then . . .