the beacon, the compass, the driving force – my list

Are you a list maker? I work best and most happily when I am diligent about creating thoughtful, daily to do lists. I’m moving multiple, large-ish projects forward at the same time and I would be lost without my list. My list gets me to do things I don’t want to do, things I’m uncomfortable with or intimidated by. One of my current projects is putting together my first kit- paper flamingos. I love creating the instructions but there are tons of other details to work out, details I don’t love dealing with – wholesale suppliers, packaging, printing, assembling and distributing. It is on my list and I chip away at it every day.

flamingo kit work

The difference in what I accomplish and how much happier the work is when I take the time to carefully and thoughtfully make my list is so remarkable, such a dramatic shift, I’ve spent some time thinking about why. Why beyond the obvious benefits of being more organized, not forgetting things etc. I came up with some reasons and I saved the one I think is most important for last:

* I tailor my lists to my own personal brand of nuttiness – the anxiety and procrastination, indecision and overwhelm I’m so prone to. Tasks I REALLY don’t want to do get assigned small chunks of time – 15 minutes – 30 minutes etc. So much easier to start and to focus when an end is in sight. A surprising amount can be accomplished in 15 truly focused minutes. I use a timer for these sorts of tasks. I mix those short bursts with longer,  more open ended work. My day feels designed.

* Breaking things down into time chunks changes my relationship with time – I am conscious of, and accountable for my minutes – less time slips mysteriously away – I push harder and squeeze things in.

* It’s effective even when I screw up. If I’ve over-scheduled myself – it’s easy to see and fix going forward.

* I’m less anxious about what I’m not doing at any given moment – I know it’s planned for – has it’s own focused chunk of time instead of floating around in a vague and oppressive cloud of things that need to be done.

And the biggest benefit:

It can be hard to feel momentum and progress on large or longterm projects and goals. Checking things off on a list is undeniable evidence of progress and a chance to congratulate yourself a little and build momentum. I save my lists and when I’m feeling frustrated or stuck I can look back and see how far I’ve come.

Lists are a way of celebrating and recording little successes – and that is terribly important in accomplishing big things.

flamingos in love

P. S. If you would like an email notification when the flamingo kit is ready to go you can sign up here.

on January 5, 2016 18

my big creative year : youness

“No one is youer than you.” – Dr. Seuss

So lovely and simple and true. A perfect message for a child or grownup. And the idea that is at the heart of all that is creative.

I think the youness is worth exploring deeply and sharing as fully as possible. The world only has one chance at what’s in there – one chance at you. I think it’s worth time, energy, embarrassment, failure and disappointment to work your way through to the deepest, most truly creative work you can do – the youest – the work of your utterly unique, snowflake of an imagination.

My Big Creative Year  moved me closer to that work, closer to my youness. Some of the things that helped:

Showing up – whether I wanted to or not.

Failing and starting again, and again and again….

Intention – making experimenting a priority – making  room for it.

Learning more about how I work (one of the benefits of working) – following my energy.

Listening carefully for the magic – I do believe it is there- waiting to be noticed….  Listening is part of the work and that kind of listening takes practice and patience and the afore mentioned showing up.

I got more tuned in to recognizing where I stumble – I see more clearly what is in the way, what trips me – again and again – this continues to be my biggest sticking point.

paper mache ships

And what’s ahead for 2016:

Blog-wise nothing programmed – except the sketchbook – I need to freestyle for a while- post as the spirit moves me. And work-wise – I have a lot of ideas for the coming year – new patterns and for the first time kits! are on the horizon. Also, Some projects came to me at the end of 2015 that hit me right in my youness – work I’ve been enjoying immensely – I’ll share some of that soon.

And for you, for 2016, I hope you’ll continue to visit here – I am grateful that you do. I wish you a happy, healthy and creative year. I wish you a year of magnificent youness.

on December 31, 2015 13

houses for mouses

So many nice mice! Thanks so much to everybody who made mice from my pattern  and shared their photos – on instagram and Facebook etc. as well as emailing me – I can’t tell you how helpful it is and how much I enjoy it – a nice way to end the year.  I love seeing what you make.  Check out the fantastic mouses and houses!! by readers below – I love them – every little detail.   This multi level affair is by Maura for her son – I can’t stop looking at it.

mousehouse_maura

mouse house

mousehouse_maura_2

mouse house

mousehouse_maura_3

And A little house in a box by Mama with a Needle and Thread for her little girl – so freakin sweet. Good night little mouse!

mouse house

mama_baby_mouse

Susan added little wooden bases to her dinner place card mice – it’s such a happy crew.

place card mice

happy mice crew

They survived a perilous journey across the couch – stay in a group little mice, stay in a group!

perilous mouse journey

And finally from Larissa – mmmcrafts -  slippers, mittens and snowballs  - I love it.

larissa holland mice

on December 30, 2015 5

handmade christmas – 2015

ann wood christmas treeI had pretty much talked myself out of a Christmas Tree – one more thing to do- that sort of thing………  And then all of a sudden talked myself right back into it. I already had a tree so why not. Last year I got a living tree – a little Norfolk Pine – and it’s still here, a much more charlie brown sort of affair than it was when I got it last December but alive and pretty well. I’m so happy it survived – they often perish post Christmas and I’ve gotten very attached to it. I got it on a whim (down the street at a deli for 30 bucks) without knowing much about Norfolks; hot, dry, semi sunny New York apartments are not ideal environments for them. When it began to struggle last year I got a tip from a reader (thanks Sally!) to give it a cool shower once in a while and that did the trick. Decoration-wise I wanted to be gentle with it so I kept it simple – mostly things I made (pattern resources are listed at the bottom of the post) and a few heirloom treasures like my Mom’s pink glass beads.  It’s twinkly and festive and makes me happy.  I’m so glad I did it and I hope the tree doesn’t mind to much.

handmade  boat ornament
fancy bird ornament
shooting star ornament

ornament pattern resources:

on December 21, 2015 7

the honey rose

the honey rose

 The Honey Rose (all fabrics courtesy of lovely Sri Threads)

She’s made mostly from kimonos – whispers of fabric layered into something new. My stitches mixed with stitches from other hands and centuries. I’ve been thinking about making her since the big box of kimonos arrived unexpectedly…  There is always a point in building this sort of ship that I decide that I am never doing it again – they are insanely labor intensive – maybe the most irrational part of my irrational enterprise.  And then it’s done, floating and twirling and casting lovely shadows and I can’t wait to make another.
the honey rose

the honey rose

the honey rose

the honey rose

on December 17, 2015 6

sewing frenzy and letting go of outcome

sewing frenzy

This is what a sewing frenzy looks like.  I’ve been working on a large ship and I began with a very specific idea of what I wanted it to be.  The ship did not cooperate and taught me a lesson about letting go of outcome. Plans are great but sometimes things need to percolate and meander.  I un-did most of my work ( painful) and pulled out just about everything – kimonos, gowns, boro – tons of stuff – and camped out for hours experimenting.  A ship is emerging – not at all what I expected and I love it.  It’s a ship that wanted to be what it wanted to be – each  thought, each scrap, building on the next, layering into something new.

ship work

Hoping to finish tomorrow and have it in the shop this week.  I’m working on a couple owls as well  - a big guy and a little guy – both dastardly and  made from Edwardian bodices.

owl work

owl work

on December 13, 2015 6
Made Happy by Pictalo