Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favorites From 2011

Over the beginning part of this year, I gradually realized that I had more time to make things. Bit by bit, my days and evenings were opening up, and I found myself with time to experiment with different ideas. Partly this is because my youngest was getting older, and partly, I think, it's because I'd made a commitment to get creative with my children on a regular basis, and the general air of creativity and experimentation was at least as good for me as it was for them. (This was one way I solved the problem of not having time to do my own stuff; I simply focused on art activities we could all do together instead.) At any rate, as I had more time to make things--things that didn't fit into my kids and art blog--I really wanted to talk about and share them, and I started this blog.

Of course, besides a way to share, a blog is a great way to document. I learned to embroider this year, and I sewed clothes for myself for the first time--just skirts, which are easy, but still! I got very crafty in little ways, and I challenged myself to write tutorials for several items. I wanted to pick out some of my favorite projects from 2011. First I thought I'd make a little photo collage, but the more I thought about it, the more I leaned towards Pinterest. I've been avoiding, thus far, pinning my own projects, because I don't want to come across as all hey! look at my blog! But for my own personal use, it's really great to have a board set up with pictures of my favorite creations from this year. (If you want to see all of them, the board is here. But don't feel obligated!)

So what makes something a favorite? I noticed the projects I tend to like best are often the ones that stretched me in some way, like this two-layer drawstring skirt. During the spring and early summer, I set out to sew several skirts for my daughter and myself. This was the last one I sewed, and the best--it felt sort of like a final exam (although I still have much to tackle with skirts--like zippers, for example). I had an idea of what I wanted and I set out to do it, without a pattern, and what I ended up with pretty much matched the picture I had in my head when I began. There is so much happiness in that for me!

What else makes something a favorite? Being so thrilled with the end result, like with this boy dolly (which, by the way, my daughter loves--she says he has a "beautiful smile"). I fiddled and finagled with enough here that it was interesting to make; I knit the overalls pretty much winging it; and the hair, the hair, the hair!! I love his overall personality. I also like making gifts, I like making things for my kids, and this was a gift for my daughter. Of course it's a favorite!

I can't post pictures of all my favorites here (which is another reason I decided upon just making myself a board), but one more--our wool felt Advent calendar, photographed in the proper season this time.

This is a favorite for so many reasons. I loved making it--hand sewing wool felt is really lovely, even though I did it in July. Working with materials that feel good in the hand leads to a really enjoyable experience. This is another project that I envisioned and set out to do. Each of those numbers was cut first from paper and then from felt, carefully, with precision, because I intended to make something that would last. All month, as I've seen it hanging across our window, it's made me happy. I am as pleased with the finished product as I was with the process, and my children love it, too. While I had no problem with temporary countdown calendars that lasted only that year, I am really happy to have "our" Advent calendar, that will come out every year from now on, as do the (handknit) stockings--a touch point for my children when they look back on their childhoods.

So, this is a sampling of my favorite things from 2011! Truly, I was all over the place with my efforts this year--stamp carving and bookbinding and sewing and embroidering and knitting and things I can't even categorize, like making crayons and candles. Sometimes I wonder if I'd be better off focusing--would I then really excel at that one thing? But I can't imagine doing that, not yet, anyway. I am having much more fun following my scattered interests and seeing what I decide to do next. (Quahog beeswax candles? I totally didn't see that one coming, to be honest!)

What about you? What did you create in 2011 that stands out for you?


Donna Lee said...

We have the advent Bear and not handknit but hand embroidered stockings. As my girls moved out, I gave them their stockings to take with them. I thought about making new ones for them but haven't made up my mind about it. I used small gift bags as temporary stockings this year. I wanted them to have their own stockings (yes, they ARE touchstones) but I miss them, too.
I sewed more last year and plan to sew some more this year. Rediscovering a skill is a good way to be creative.

Happy Creative New Year!

Bells said...

a pinterest board of your own items! What a great idea!

Your lovely skirt is really one of the stand outs of 2011. And all your embroidery. It was a delight watching you learn!