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Granny Squares, Decisions, and Vows

May 28, 2010

This week, I decided to close my shop, and then decided that I couldn’t live with that decision. So, the shop is not closing. I will, however, cease to take custom orders.

Why? Though there are a few smallish fabric stores locally, none of these are equipped to supply the many, varied requests I received. The nearest fabric mecca is Spokane, which is about an hour away from town. I spent, at the minimum, about 10 hours driving last week, and this does not count the drive to Seattle with my daughter. Yipes! My family subsisted on pizza. My current novel sat untouched. Meanwhile, I was buzzing around like a giddy, happy little bee because I love tasks and activity…until Monday afternoon, when I realized that there wasn’t a crumb of food in the house, and that I hadn’t played with my kids for a week. And, oh boy. When a writer doesn’t write, look out!

So much for balance, right?

So, Monday, I cried and decided that I had to close the store – I just couldn’t see around it. I started crocheting granny squares like a madwoman, though, because I have this freakish condition where I’m unable to be idle. Tuesday: I felt good about the decision. I played games with my youngest daughter. I was utterly relaxed when i went up to the high school to teach (I’ve been teaching an independent study class for a senior up there – she’s designing her graduation dress, and is almost done!). I wrote and wrote and wrote. I cleaned the house…

By the end of the day, life was caught up, and…quite dull. But I spent time with my kids, weeded the raised garden beds, and I wrote, so that counted for something. I felt sadness whenever a design idea popped into my head, but I tried to squash the sadness with activity. More grannies! Color! Happy music!

Wednesday, I was very vocal about closing stuff down. It sounded a little TOO vocal to me, but I couldn’t deny that my kids were more important than the business, right? I said that so, so many times…

Thursday, I was grumpy. Sad. Irritable. I reasoned that I was just grieving. I wrote, cleaned, and watched Korean Dramas, because that’s what I do when I’m stressed out.

This morning, I woke up and said this whole quitting the store thing is silly. It makes more sense to just quit the custom stuff and see how that goes! I HAVE to write. Now, I know that I must design as well. My friends seemed to know it better than I did (you smarty pants people, you!). Yay for life lessons!

So, there we are. I’m back to that modern struggle to balance life. If you happen to see me online between 8 am and 12 pm, tell me to get back to writing. If you see me online between 1 and 4, tell me to go back to the studio. Honestly, if I’m taking a break, I should dress up dollies and play dominoes with my girls, eh? I think so.

How the heck do y’all balance everything?

Gardens and Attempts to Relax

May 23, 2010

I really try to take one day off a week. Because life is unpredictable, this day is never the same from week to week. This week: it’s today.

I totally stink at taking days off! So far, I have folded the laundry, weeded the winter garden bed, and sewed up something new for the shop. Just sitting here, I feel twitchy and nervous and slightly suspicious that I might be breaking some unwritten law because I’m sitting on my back pockets.

This year, I got the winter garden planted in time! I’m so excited to have turnips, radish, bok choi, and spinach some a couple weeks from now. Just as planned, I will literally be harvesting (some of) these crops as I plant the summer seeds. I feel like I’m finally in rhythm with the Eastern Washington landscape. I need to find some good local sources for the plants I buy half-begun – tomatoes, peppers, etc. The growing season isn’t quite long enough to start these plants from seed, and I routinely kill my indoor starts. Did so again this year.

But I did find time to have some fun with my baby. Lizzie and I set up a little photo shoot to take pictures of this little red dog. Isn’t he a cutie? My great-grandmother made literally hundreds of these guys when she was alive. Dogs and giraffes. I want my husband to build a little shelf in my studio where they can live. This particular guy is Lizzie’s. Today, his name is Fritz. Who knows what his name will be tomorrow… Lizzie and I will have many, similar photo shoots in the future. I thought it’d be hilarious for the girls to make scrapbooks for their “babies.”

Singing Sea Shanties in the Dark

May 12, 2010

It’s late at night, but I’m still awake and still spinning Sea Shanties, that peculiar type of folk music I need to listen to when the sun is out and the air is crisp. For those of you who might not know what a sea shanty is, I’ll point you to the greatest shanty singers ever, The Starboard List. My sunny, magical childhood had these salty-voiced men singing in the background. (Whup Jamboree is my current favorite.)

Why was I in the mood? I finished putting the snaps on this sweet little shirt today.

I am so in love with this little shirt (and the girl wearing it!). We tried something a little different with the pictures this time – set up our own little studio. I stacked our dining room chairs on top of our coffee table, and then draped the chairs with a white sheet. Voila! Next time, I’ll have to take pictures of what it “really” looked like – do you think I can photoshop out the couch piled with laundry?


I still have a long way to go with my photos, but they’re improving! I kinda like the wrinkled sheet thing, and Lizzie’s chipped nail-polish. But, these are the things I’m drawn to: the imperfections that make things fun. Like the salty voices of those sea dogs. They’ve got soul, and they’re full of fun. And, sheesh. Lizzie can’t keep nail polish pretty on her fingers! As it is, we covered a truly awful haircut (given by Miss Pickle Pie to her royal pickleness) with a red headband. I told her that Snow White wears a red headband. (She totally bought it!)

tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day. Hopefully, I can get out of the studio long enough to dead-head the spring bulbs and prep the summer vegetable bed. I’m ready for warm weather!

More Granny Squares

May 8, 2010

How do you stay sane while attempting to do new and scary things? This works for me:

These colors keep me going. What helps you carry on?

ETA: Also, a day spent with a good friend. Thanks, Andrea!

Pintucks, moon dots, and ric rack

May 8, 2010

This is the result of nearly a week spent fiddling with the pattern, sewing test muslins, and fiddling some more. I have one more little shift to make before I’ll call this “Done,” though this particular shirt is ready for Lizzie to wear. She wanted to wear it today, but 54 degrees is a little too chilly to wear sleeveless shirts while playing outside. I just called her inside after a glance through the window found Lizzie dancing on the lawn in flip-flops and a leotard.

I’m out of the green dot print, so it will still be another few days before I get this shirt up on my Etsy store. I love living in my small town, but living here means being almost an hour from Spokane and things like, say green moon dots and twin needles when you need them. On the other hand, I’m forced to plan my purchases, and thus make less trips to the store. The same goes for grocery shopping.

Anyhow, now that it’s done, I’m so absolutely in love with this design! The main body of the shirt is entirely one piece of material, which is why it took me a while to figure out. Why? Oh, heck, I don’t know why! I thought it would be fun to try, and it was fun for the first three or four drafts. 😉

Things I love about this shirt: the ric rack, pintucks, and polka dots. I especially like where these three things intersect. These three things are the reasons why I love to sew, and the reasons why I love to design. You can’t add a pintuck unless there’s room for it in the pattern.

This is the one area that I’m still working on. It looks lovely as it is, but only because I starched the hell out of it! It needs rick rack, or binding, or a patch cut into that shape. I’ll have to think on it a bit. Any thoughts?

I’ve got granny square fever

May 6, 2010

My owl is winking at you.

I’ve got granny square fever. It started with a garbage sack of squares given to me by a friend while we cleaned out her craft room. She had purchased the squares for $5 at a garage sale. I put these together a few weeks ago, while my husband drove the family to and from Seattle. The squares represent decades from ’60s to the present. Wool, chenille, and acrylic. It’s thick, heavy, and the warmest blanket in the house.

Balancing Life and Work. Also, Cake

May 3, 2010

I don’t like to eat cake, but I love looking at a beautifully decorated confection or two.

This was such a busy week! My daughter asked me, “Mommy, when are you going to be done working? You’re always working!” and I realized that it was time to take a break. We spent the day playing in Spokane with the post-race Bloomsday runners. One trip to PF Chang’s and Starbucks later, and we all felt a lot more relaxed. It’s amazing what Chinese food can do for the soul!

I was supposed to fold a dozen loads of laundry today. That can wait, right?

So, here’s to Sunday and restoring a little balance to my life!