Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finishing What Has Been Started

I have a dozen or so unfinished projects just sitting around my craft room and overflowing, occasionally, into the rest of the house. It always makes me feel guilty for starting something new, knowing that, lurking in some forgotten corner of a neglected shelf, there is a project. A project that was planned, obsessed over, worked on, and then...nothing. It sat. And sat, and sat. And, sitting there, it was forgotten, or at least it was pushed to the bottom of the priority list. (This often happens to me when some holiday or birthday comes around, just begging to be celebrated with hand-made gifts. My current projects, or projects, gets side-lined to make time for the new, shiny idea that I have latched onto. Have I mentioned that I like shiny things? No? I like shiny things.) And, now that project has lost it's luster. It's become difficult to pick up again. Maybe it was more challenging than I originally thought it would be, causing me frustration. Maybe I don't know what the next step should be, and it's something that requires more research. Whatever the reason, it's there collecting dust and guilt.

Time to get moving on it. This is one of my resolutions: If I need to craft/create, let it first be to finish one of the projects that is already started. I would, ideally, like to finish all of my UFOs (un-finished objects) before starting any new projects. Ideally.

So far this year, I have finished an amigurumi octopus that I started more than 2 years ago....

...A yurt, for my cat...

...A couple yarn bowls (one is in my son's play kitchen)...

...And, some painted leather flower hair clips...

The flowers were so much fun to make! I saw these on some awesome blog somewhere...oh, it is! Between the lines

They started like this, wet and twisted and stretched:

Then, I painted them...about three coats of 50/50 water and acrylic paint,  two to three coats of undiluted acrylic paint. (Paint the backs first. You don't want to mess up the front painting the back, like I did, but you want the back and the edges painted.)

After they were dry, I punched holes and stitched them up with waxed linen thread.

Happy crafting! And, to those of you who are also caught up in this arctic vortex or epic proportions, stay warm, my friends!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Minimalize All The Things

I have too much stuff. Way too much.

It has gotten to the point of it being the stuff or me. So, the stuff has got to go.

Just before New Year's Eve, while I was trying to recover from the holiday madness that descends upon me every November and doesn't abate until after I can take down the tree, I stumbled across something called 'minimalism.' Ready to dismiss it as some kooky idea dreamed up by hippies or socialists or religious mystics, but still intrigued, I read on. Whoa. Was I wrong.

Minimalism is the idea that our stuff shouldn't control us. Let me say that again. Our stuff shouldn't control us. We don't need to possess everything that we might ever need, ever. It's enough to have just what you need and what you love. I can get on board with that. After all, do I really need to keep that bag full of broken sunglasses just in case I may need a part someday to fix the $4 pair that I wear? Answer: No. No, I don't. If my pair of sunglasses gets broken, I can replace them for very little money. Guess what no longer needs to be cluttering up my hall closet?

The last 18 days have seen hundreds of items go out my doors. Hundreds. And I still have so far to go.

We're sort of plunged into the arctic vortex right now, otherwise I'd have gotten more stuff out of the house. I hate the cold! I'm planning to have a garage sale in the spring, and a lot of the stuff is going in that. Therefore, my barn is filling up as my house is emptied of useful (to someone else) things.

I can't say that there's much of a plan I'm following. If I notice or remember something that's a mess of epic proportions, it gets purged. The whole pile is evaluated...keep it and find a place for it...give it away...recycle it...sell it...trash it... Then, the appropriate action is taken. ASAP.

So far, we're talking about:

-curio cabinet
-kitchen utensil drawer
-video games
-sewing patterns
-bookbinding supplies/tools
-crafting books
-fiction books
-painting supplies
-felting and spinning supplies
-my closet
-old greeting cards
-half of my pantry

That's almost one area per day, on average. Not too bad for a woman with a toddler (and a husband...he helps, too).

I don't miss any of the stuff. Given, the good stuff is still in storage, but I've already said goodbye to it. I was surprised by just how many things reminded me of someone or something unpleasant...or a part of my life that I don't look back upon fondly. It was so easy to let go of those things and, to some degree, those negative thoughts, too.

Today, I purged the scraps of paper and bookbinding supplies I've been saving 'just in case' I ever decided to make something with them. I think I recycled more than I kept. Being a creative and crafty person, I think, makes it especially difficult to get rid of the things that could be repurposed.

Realistically though, I don't have enough time to do all of the things I'd like to. I've been following my whims, never really making progress on my dreams. Sure, it's fun to try all the cool stuff I see on and, but it's not necessary. I can just appreciate the project and move on. Time to find some focus.

The only real goals I'm setting myself are to keep on keepin' on and to always move forward (goin' straight will get you nowhere, according to Billie Joe). I want to keep removing the excess and unnecessary from my life. I want to finish what I start. I want to be healthy. I want to become more self-reliant. I want to bring joy to others. I want to share my gifts.