Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Handmade and Current Works in Progress

I just wanted to talk a little about why I even bother to make handmade as much as possible.  Of course, the the most obvious is the personal satisfaction - the creative outlet - the joy.

But what I want to talk about today, is the fact that how we choose to spend every cent can be an act of resistance or an act towards changing our economic systems.   Who we support with our dollars means everything.  So many people think their actions will not matter - but that is crazy thinking.  If we all stopped buying at Amazon, then Jeff Bezos would stop being the richest person in  history, the CIA would stop paying him, he would cease to own the Washington Post, and he would stop buying out smaller companies.  One person should never have so much power.  Ultimately, though, the power is in our hands.  I know this hard but it is so possible.  I think our income may have us very close to the poverty line for a family our size - but we are hardly poor (to me poor means without hope).  It is truly a matter of priorities for most (not all - there are many that are not as healthy as we are, don't have any hope in their lives - for many cheap is truly the only option.   Please don't think I am judging. )

So, when I create from raw materials, I am supporting the maker of those raw materials and the business I purchased them from.  I definitely don't choose to buy those materials from Amazon (although I have, such as paper - and I am committed to not doing so again).    I sometimes buy my yarn from Knitpicks and although, I would much prefer to buy from local stores and small fiber farms, with the amount of knitting I choose to do, I could not afford to do so.  However, when possible, I do often buy yarn from my local yarn store in Belfast.  Her prices are not any higher than most online stores.  This way I support a shop on Main Street, I support an individual that is sharing her passion with others.  In addition, when I attend a fiber festival I enjoy supporting the local vendors depending on what my budget can afford, which is such a treat.   I am also challenging myself to use up textiles that I come across that would have otherwise been trashed, such as when our children out grow their jeans, recycled jars that can be made into holders, and bits of old clothes that can be used to make quilts.

The pictures above are my works in progress.  The first is my first handmade holiday gift.  It is a pair of socks for Mike.  Although he sees me knitting them now, he will for sure have forgotten about them by Christmas.  The pattern is free from Purl Soho and I am using some yarn I had purchased this past December.  My goal is to finish by February 15th or sooner.

The other is a gift for Emmy for Valentines Day.  She was looking over a Rite Aid flyer that came in our mailbox and saw stuffed animals holding candy boxes and thought that would be a wonderful Valentines Gift for herself.  I commented that it would be so much better to have a handmade little animal holding a small box of sweets.  So, a Valentines Day cat is in progress.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you are making.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Handmade Holiday 2018

So, has anyone started making lists and started in on their first handmade gift for 2018?  

I dedicated one of the three moleskin notebooks our oldest daughter, Abby, gave me for Christmas to make lists and keep track.  

I am going to be honest, here.  January, February, and March are very hard months for our family financially.  These are our businesses slow times.  I have been very negligent about saving money for the slow times.  This year I am committing myself to not spending anything for just this year unless absolutely necessary.  And, when business gets busy, to save money for these down times.  

So philosophically, of course, I believe wholeheartedly in handmade gifts.  I avoid big box as much as possible.  We enjoyed shopping in nearby downtown Belfast this past Christmas season and supporting local merchants.  But, ultimately as much handmade that can be made would be best as long as the recipient is going to appreciate it.    So back to being honest.  This past December, as our business was busy, I bought several gifts at Amazon - uggghhh!  Amazon is something I am committed to not using at all this year and instead, to plan ahead and support local small businesses or simply go without.

I also love making - that is another reason for a handmade Christmas.

Finally, I am challenging myself to use the materials and supplies I have on hand for making.  If I really dig and am creative, there should be few items I will need to buy.

And, I am going to share one of my harder goals for this coming year - to not buy any of the beautiful magazines - just for one year.  (I actually do like supporting those small businesses and the inspiration is wonderful.  This is going to be a very hard one for me!)   We need to get our finances in order and I know that I have a stack of back issues that have plenty of use still left in them.  Many projects and ideas I have yet to use.  I also have plenty of crafty books that I can find more than enough ideas.  Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the overwhelming amount of ideas on Instagram or Pinterest.  

I look forward to your sharing.  Let's use #handmadeholiday2018 if you like to share that way.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Handmade Christmas for 2018

So I got very few handmade gifts done this past Christmas and I am determined to do better this coming year.

The first step is for me to make a list of the people I want to make something for... and then write next to their names something that they could use or would like - that something, being something either Mike or myself could make.

The next step is to pick one person/project on the list and come up with a plan for that project.  For example, if it is a knitted item then I would need to search for a pattern and make a materials list, buy the materials if I don't already have them (although I would really love to use up my stash), and set myself a time frame to get that one project finished.  

Would you like to join me?  I am going to use one of the moleskin notebooks Abby gifted me for Christmas, and devote it to Christmas 2018 and start in on the first step.  I hope to begin on the first gift by this coming Monday.

Warm wishes,