Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perfectionism and My First Quilt

:refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

We have battles, perfectionism and I. It nearly got me two weeks ago in quilting class when my blocks weren't lining up just so. I nearly threw the thing across the room. Then someone handed me a piece of chocolate and instead of ripping everything out, I just kept going.

I don't know where my uncompromising standard for visual acuity came from, but I know its debilitating nature. I am not perfect and most of my creative endeavors will not have perfect results. Accepting this fact is something I have struggled with and will likely continue to encounter for the rest of my life.

Several things help me back into the realm of normality. Chocolate, perspective, and friends. Chocolate just makes everything better. It helps to squelch the tidal wave of feeling that begins in my intestines and swells through me when something is not precisely where it should be. Perspective is the death of perfection. This one block off by 1/8" is unimportant. No one but myself will notice. I am not making this to be judged. It is my first time quilting. Finally, friends help enormously. Most of my friends are not perfectionists. They happily continue on about their craft without caring about whatever mistakes they may contain.

Because this is, after all, my first quilt, my progress isn't perfect. It is, however, gorgeous. I am in love with it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thank You Cards! - DIY Tutorial

These "Thank You" cards are easy to make and add that personal touch to expressing gratitude. I just finished my student teaching and made these cards to thank my professors, supervisors, and mentor teachers for their guidance along the credential journey.

They look great and are very easy!

  • Cardstock, scrapbooking, or construction paper scraps
  • Scrap paper for template
  • Glue Stick
  • Paper trimmer or a ruler and scissors
  • Edging scissors and regular scissors
  • Corner punch (optional)

1. On a piece of good quality plain white computer paper write "Thank You!" in the top left corner. Practice first until you find a lettering you like. (Or, you can print "Thank You!" using your favorite font.) Leave 1/2"-1" space around the lettering for trimming. Using the paper trimmer, cut underneath the lettering across the paper. You should now have a strip of paper about 1 1/2" tall x 8 1/2" wide. Make as many of these as you plan on making cards.

2. Using the edging scissors, cut the bottom and tops of the thank you strips. 

3. Make a template. I wanted my cards to fit into a 6 1/2" x 3 5/8" envelope. I folded a piece of scrap paper and cut it until it fit neatly into the envelope.

4. Using your template, find a piece of scrap paper big enough for the main part of the card. I cut cardstock so that I would have some cards that opened up and some cards that were flat. I often used scrap pieces that ended up a bit smaller than my template. Or, you can use a new sheet of cardstock, trace, and cut.

5. Choose a piece of contrasting scrap cardstock that is wider than your thank you strip and narrower than your card. Trim it to size, place it, and glue. You can place it in the middle for a symmetrical look or lower down for an asymmetrical look.

6. Place a thank you strip on top and trim to fit. This allows you to choose where the edges will lie. Glue in place.

7. The Insides! Cut a piece of good quality plain white computer paper using the card as a template or use white cardstock. Then, trim 1/8"-1/4" from the top and one side. This will make the paper slightly smaller than the card. Write your message, fold in half if necessary, and glue in place. I often mess up writing messages and this method allows you to redo the inside before you glue it down!

Let me know if you make any of these! I'd love to see them. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sea Arrows Scarf

When I knit a scarf it has to be for someone who deserves it. I don’t enjoy making scarves. The monotony of the long rectangle is not something I anticipate with pleasure. Once I am done knitting a scarf I inevitably try it on to find I’m only halfway there.

Despite this justifiable disapprobation for knitting scarves, I still have people I love in my life with cold necks. When I need to knit a scarf, I search around for stitch patterns that will be interesting enough for me to knit, will not take forever, won’t curl, and will look at least decent on the reverse.

When planning a scarf, I peruse my stitch dictionaries first. I have a Japanese one called Knitting Patterns Book 300 (ISBN 978-4-529-04172-0) and despite really liking many of the stitches I had never actually used one of them, until the Sea Arrows Scarf. 

Many things drew me to pattern #158 that I chose. The yarn over stitches gradually get farther from their corresponding decreases, which means the pattern gently curves the fabric. There are purl and knit stitches inherently in the pattern, something that guards against curling. There is one knit stitch that travels on the foreground of the fabric and never disappears. I can trace my finger along this stitch all the way through the scarf and I just think that’s nifty.

Knit in the decadent Prism Symphony yarn in the mottled Deep Sea colorway, the pattern looks like arrowheads on the sea floor seen through ocean water at dusk. And I didn't pull my hair out from boredom knitting it. Everybody wins.