It’s been a while since I’ve shared a craft with you guys – probably because I started a bunch of things that are going to take me a while to finish! But, earlier this week I took a little time to make something small.
You know how the washer always eats a couple of socks and then spits them back out a few weeks later? (Maybe it doesn’t in your house, but in mine, we have a fully established sock monster living in the utility room!) Recently I was going through my clothes and sorting out things I was done with, and I realized that I hadn’t been using more than HALF my socks because I was in the habit of throwing singletons into the drawer, assuming I’d go through later and pair them up once the second one showed up (bad assumption.. I’m lazy!). So, for a while I tried leaving them out on my dressing table, but that just cluttered up an already cluttered space. Finally it hit me – I have all this yarn, and I know how to crochet bags now! DUH!
In this case, I used a fairly thin yarn with a G-hook. I made the pattern up as I went along, basing it loosely on a “farmer’s market bag” pattern from a book I got from the library. Then, instead of handles, I made a slot on one side (chain 8 and skip 8 stitches, then single over the chain on the way back) and a tab on the opposite side. I crocheted the other direction for the tab, to make it easier to put in a vertical buttonhole at the end. I sewed on a button I liked and voila! The perfect little bag to hang on the handle of my dresser and hold all those singleton socks (and to remind me to get them out every time I put away clean clothes!)
While I wouldn’t exactly call myself a photographer, one of my favorite things to do is take pictures of flowers. When my family and I were in Washington D.C. we went to two different greenhouses, and I took ten times as many photos there as I did anywhere else! Here are some of my favorites:
The easiest way to to learn a new crafting technique may be to find yourself a pattern, but once you’ve learned what you’re doing, it’s time to improvise! Sometimes the most creative things are found when you don’t quite have the right ingredients, yarn, or supplies.
For example: recently I wanted to practice fancy crocheting stitches and found a cute headband pattern in a book I’d gotten out of the library. I made it up, but I rarely wear headbands, so instead of finishing it as a headband…
I made it into a doll scarf! And poor dolly couldn’t have a scarf without a hat, right? I simply worked the exact same stitch in the round until it fit perfectly onto the doll’s head. So much more fun than making it exactly the way they said, right?
Want more creativity in your life? Try something new! It’s an easy way to build confidence in all your creative endeavors. The more times you try something new and unfamiliar, and figure it out eventually (even if you make a few mistakes along the way), the more you’ll be willing to take risks in the future. This confidence is important to cultivate – build up enough and you might be willing to strike out on your own, making your own patterns or recipes!
I’ve been cooking since I was 10, but I never really enjoyed it until I started getting new cookbooks out of the library and trying new recipes. A few of them flopped, but most were a great success! Now, having spent several years trying all sorts of different types of recipes, I’ve learned how to tweak them to my satisfaction – I know just how hot to make it (if the recipe calls for habanero or Jalapeno peppers, those are out, and red pepper flakes are only ever measured in “pinches” no matter how much is called for) or how much broth to add to soup (generally a cup or so less than the original recipe unless it’s actually called “stew”). I’ve even tried my hand at creating my own recipes based on some favorites – my most successful to date is tweaking a recipe for diet tuna casserole into a diet homestyle mac and cheese – the family liked the Mac and Cheese better than the original Tuna!
Another benefit is having more resources available to you. In most cases, the things we deem most “creative” are just inventive recombinations of things that have already been done. And the more different skills you have at your fingertips, the more “creative” you can be. So, for example, one of my recent knitting projects was to be a bag with a button closure. While I’m sure I could look up how to make a button hole, I decided I wanted to do a loop instead. Knitting a single row to make a loop? PAIN IN THE BUTT! Instead, having recently learned to crochet, I merely changed the kind of tool I was using and crocheted a simple chain stitch long enough for the loop. And voila! So much easier than knitting!
I find that my local library is a great resource for just about any hobby. So get out an exotic cookbook. Find a book on knitting, crocheting or sewing. You could probably even find one on yoga! Just get out there, and try something new this week!
My “new thing” for the week: Teaching myself to crochet (with a more complicated pattern than a simple block)
About a month or so ago, I finally put together another bookshelf for my room. It was desperately needed – I had piles of books all over the floor! AND, I made it big enough that even once I’d moved all my books, I still had room on each shelf for buying a few more – important, since I’m kind of OCD about keeping my books in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, that meant that I had a few shelves that looked like this:
Those poor books! Especially the paperbacks! They were getting terribly warped and it was making me sad! What I needed was some bookends, but I didn’t have any that would fit the space, much less match my room. So, I decided to make my own!
- Something heavy or the exact size of the space you’re trying to fill (I rooted through the wood scraps in the basement and came up with a few pieces this time, but I have also used bricks or regularly shaped rocks).
- Pretty paper (I chose to use scrapbooking paper, but wrapping paper works too – just be careful. Thinner paper rips easier).
- A pencil
- Lay the piece of wood on the back of the paper you’re using and trace where you’re going to cut.
- Cut the paper down to size.
- Wrap the piece of wood in the paper like you’re wrapping a gift. If you’re having trouble getting the paper to stay long enough to tape it down, run your fingernails along the two sides of each corner to sharpen the crease (Beware! Doing this means that crease is PERMANENT! Don’t do it until you’re absolutely certain you have the paper where you want it!)
If you have any extra when folding down the ends, crease it where it overlaps and then cut off the extra – extra bulk will just make it want to come apart faster.
All done! Repeat the steps until you have as many as you need. I did a full set of four:
Now all my books stand up nice and straight, PLUS I have pretty bookends that match the colors in my room. It’s a win-win!