Mar 27, 2011

Craft or Bust weekly: keep on keeping on (& decluttering to free creative energy)

The word count rises apace! Well, okay: not quite apace, but it does rise, anyway. ;) 658 words written this week. So far the word count is going up an average of 160 123* words a session — and I've been thinking more and more frequently of writing in between the necessary "oops, gotta absolutely do this to meet my CoB goal" sessions, which pretty much follows the pattern of last year's Craft or Bust project. The more weeks I met my easy minimum, the more I felt capable of exceeding the minimum; and then I did exceed it regularly and by far. Cross fingers that it works that way this year, too — though I'm not even going to whisper in the back of my mind the words "finished" and "novel" consecutively right now, lest I break the fragile confidence that's trying to build. ;)

Anyway, since I've been thinking more about writing, I've also been thinking about why, if I'm thinking about it, I'm not doing it. And the answer came easily this time: I have unfinished business. I'm like a ghost who can't move on, who stays hanging about places where I should have been done long ago.

Believe me, I can put up with some amount of loose ends, for quite some time — but the thickness of loose ends cluttering up my brain is hugely greater than the amount of loose ends floating around my yarn stash. (Har har.) I've been collecting loose ends longer than yarn, after all. I have a staggering amount of loose-endage; no shock that it makes it hard to move, much less move on. But the way through, I know now, is slowly and step by step, like through quicksand.

So I'm stepping and stepping and stepping.

What about you? Taken any steps toward your creative goals lately? :D Please do share — having company on my slow journey makes it seem less lame. ;)

*Average word count increase revised to include the first week I wrote for CoB 2011 ... which I totally forgot to include because it was on a different project than I'm currently writing on. Doh.

(This post is part of Craft or Bust, a weekly creative endurance challenge with a sense of compassion and fun. Check the Craft or Bust tab at the top of the blog, or read more about it here.)

Mar 22, 2011

Free knitting pattern: Heel Flap Scarf

I've been working on it since November, but it's finally out — my Heel Flap Scarf pattern! Woohoo! It's freeeeee, and it's a nice quick knit that you can make using pretty much any yarn, to make any size scarf you like. Just watch out: it curls, so you'll probably want to choose a protein fiber yarn that will let you block out some of the curly curling. ;)

Heel Flap Scarf

Check out the pattern page on Ravelry, or go right ahead and download the pattern by clicking here.

I'd love to hear what you think of the design and the pattern, and of course if you knit it I'd love to see pictures, so come back and share! :D

Mar 20, 2011

Craft or Bust weekly: the importance of stories

Today is World Storytelling Day. Since my Craft or Bust goal this year is about writing stories, you might have guessed storytelling is important to me.

When I was younger, I saw the stories in everything. Not only imagined stories based on "What if?" but also true stories that started with "I know why." Everything has a story — has multiple stories; every moment is part of a story.

Some people told me that to think this way is a sign that I couldn't distinguish between reality and fiction; I knew they were wrong, and that telling and listening to stories sharpened my ability to see both truth and fiction for what they are — including truths that people don't want to see and fictions that people believe are true.

But then I lost the thread of my own story because I started listening to the stories other people imagined for me. Little by little I forgot that a story doesn't have to make sense to anyone to be true; and I forgot that a story that convinces everyone is not necessarily a good story, especially for the characters. I forgot that stories speak most to those who need them most — that the goal is not to make sure all people understand, but to allow the right people to understand.

I am now, little by little, reawakening to my own story. This is part of why my goal for CoB this year is to write: I need back my ability to see stories, to feel them, to craft them — and to live my own story truthfully and centeredly and consciously.

It isn't easy to relearn something forgotten when one has also forgotten oneself. At least, it's not easy for me. Progress is still slow ... but progress is progress. And I wrote 482 words today. Still not above the "wimpy" threshold, but more than last week. So yes: it's still progress.

Oh, and happy equinox, too, whether yours is vernal or autumnal. I'd love to hear your stories, true or false, new or old, good or bad — so leave me a comment if you have something to say. :D

(This post is part of Craft or Bust, a weekly creative endurance challenge with a sense of compassion and fun. For more info, check the Craft or Bust tab at the top of the blog, or go here and do a little light reading.)

Mar 14, 2011

On creativity as an anti-negative force; and just a little bit (of tawashi)

In an example of using craft as therapy, lately I've been using quick, instant gratification projects like emotional salve. Things have been stressful for the past few days (or more, depending on where you want to count from) — in a Murphy's Law, "Why am I even bothering?" sort of way.

I found myself in the contradictory position of wanting to craft to counteract the destructive powers of all the negative feelings flying around here, but knowing that if I work on anything complex, or anything that requires a fair amount of thinking or paying attention, I'm likely to create more mess — more destruction.

So rather than jump into anything and mess it up, I sat for a while and thought about why I was thinking of crafting to counteract the crappiness. And it occurred to me that while I think of (fruitless) negativity as destructive, crafting is creative — not just in the sense of "imaginative," but in the literal sense: It focuses on creating something rather than destroying something (even if technically some "destruction" is kind of necessary for creation ;)).

Once I realized that, it seemed kind of stupidly obvious, that of course people naturally turn to crafting — or to any creative pursuit — when suffering from an overabundance of negative feelings. Duhhh. ;)

So anyway, my solution to being stuck in a universe governed by Murphy's Law was these little crocheted tawashi — basically, dish scrubbies:

Tawashi: round 1

The back:
Tawashi: round 1

And one that reminds me of a sea urchin:
Sea-urchin-esque tawashi

They're made with old acrylic yarn that refuses to leave my stash because even though I hate knitting with acrylic, there's some sentimental value attached to this yarn — it was pretty much the first yarn I bought (yes, I fell prey to the bizarrely common idea that the best thing to start beginners with is potentially squeaky, unforgiving acrylic yarn) and I have it in a wide array of colors that I really still love. That is, it's refused to leave the stash until now. Now I can expand my crochet skills and make a bunch of scrubby things!

Of course, I'm a bit iffy about the idea of scrubbing dishes I'm going to eat off of with probably non-food-safe plastic (and I don't particularly want to put more synthetic chemicals into the water supply). Then I started wondering: What the crap is the green side of a standard scrub sponge made of, anyway? Are my acrylic scrubbies better or worse than the mysterious green scrubby side of the sponge?

Ultimately I'd like to make scrubbies out of yarn that's both scrub-friendly (i.e., not overly smooth) and natural — hemp and nettle come to mind. And then I'll be left with this darn acrylic yarn again, waiting for some other non-frustration-inducing application.

Anyway, at the very least, my little acrylic tawashi helped me fight the destructive negativity monster. And hey, that's pretty good for cheap acrylic yarn from 10+ years ago.

Mar 13, 2011

Craft or Bust weekly: doing a little bit more (and: who won the giveaway)

First off, a little announcement: If you entered the giveaway for a mini shawl pin and a hand-sewn pouch, the winner is ... Silvina Leonnetti! ;D Woohoo! Congrats to her!

Now, on to Craft or Bust. ;D

This week I wrote 320 words of fiction — that's 31 more words than last week, and on a novel project I haven't touched since last year, since before the Debacle (though I didn't realize it had been that long until I looked at my writing log for that project). Last week's writing was also on a random writing prompt, not on an in-progress piece of long-form fiction.

So even though it's still a small number of words written, I did a little more this week than I did last week, and on something a little more personally important. I'd say that's an improvement that counts — more signs of good progress, no matter how small.

Did you make progress on your creative goals this week, even just a tiny bit? Did you work more or less this week on your crafty goals, and how are you feeling about them? I want to hear about how you're doing, so leave me a comment if you feel like sharing. :D

(This post is part of Craft or Bust, a weekly creative endurance challenge with a sense of compassion and fun. Find more info on the Craft or Bust tab at the top of the blog, or just click here.)

Mar 8, 2011

Crocheted flower, Blings, and a pair of mystery scissors

Still scratching the crochet bug's bite here. I made a double-layer crocheted flower the other day — my first ever! ;D (Instructions from The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches.)

Crocheted flower :D

And I've started a Lily Go Tulip Doily that should be done fairly soon. The crochet hooks and yarn are getting rapidly smaller and smaller around here. Guess I just had to take years off crocheting and work on knitting to be able to understand crochet — ha. ;)

Also still working verrrrry slowwwwwly on the Bling socks.

Bling socks, still in progress

And while organizing sewing supplies the other day, I came across this pair of scissors, inherited along with a bunch of other sewing supplies from the first mate's grandmother:

Mystery scissors

Anyone know what they're for? They look awfully familiar, but I don't seem to remember ever owning a pair of scissors like this before now, so I'm not precisely sure what to do with them. They do look like they were designed for something pretty specific. ;)

Mar 6, 2011

Craft or Bust weekly: taking small steps

289 words. That's what I managed to write today — but it counts. It counts toward my Craft or Bust 2011 goal of writing a piece of fiction every week.

That sounds to me like a wimpy amount compared to how I used to be — but as I said last year with my "wimpy" sounding goal of crafting just one time every week, it's a vast improvement on nothing, which is what I've been doing for a while. So it's a step in the right direction, and that's all I ask of myself, because right now, treating myself with compassion and understanding works better than treating myself like a mean old boss. All I ask of me right now is a step, and then another, and then another — one step every week, and more than that if I feel like it. Which I very likely will once I get my balance again. :D

So what about you? Did you take any steps this week toward a goal you've been putting off? Did you do anything that was hard for you? Did you work on any crafty goals that gave you a sense of accomplishment?

Tell me about what you did this week that nurtures your creativity, and let's celebrate little steps together. ;D

(If you didn't know already, Craft or Bust is a weekly creative endurance challenge with a sense of compassion and fun. Find more info on the Craft or Bust tab at the top of the blog, or just click here for this year's relaunch post.)

A quickie giveaway: Win a mini shawl pin + Eleven Hills hand-sewn pouch!

It's time for another giveaway! Woohoo! ;D

This one's a quick one, compared to my usual: The deadline is Sunday, March 13 at 5 p.m. Eastern time — or rather, that's when we'll be doing the drawing for the winner, so get your entries in before then.

I'm happy to announce this is my first joint giveaway, with the lovely Agnes of Eleven Hills! Yayyy! One winner will receive a lovely hand-sewn sun, moon and stars pouch from Eleven Hills, and one star-shaped handmade copper miniature shawl pin from Star & Crossbones. Here they are, in all their celestial goodness:

Joint giveaway photos

A close-up of the star charm pin (a.k.a. the miniature shawl pin):

Joint giveaway photos

And the front and back of the pouch:

Joint giveaway photos

Joint giveaway photos

How to enter the giveaway:

  • Visit both the Star and Crossbones Etsy shop and the Eleven Hills Etsy shop and pick a favorite item from each shop — then post your picks in the comments on this blog post for one entry!
  • You can also enter by posting your picks as a comment on the giveaway announcement here on the Eleven Hills Facebook page.
  • And you get extra entries for posting about the giveaway on Facebook or on Twitter. Just post a comment on this blog post saying you tweeted or posted on Facebook. :)
  • Don't forget to leave contact information with each entry so we know how to reach you if you win. :D

Remember, the drawing for the winner will happen at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, March 13!

And feel free to share this with your friends ... Maybe you can split the winnings if one of you wins! ;)

Mar 5, 2011

Craft or Bust Redux: Now in even less formal flavor

Craft or Bust 2011: BUST!

Until now. Rarrrr! I re-declare Craft or Bust season open. (I was waiting to get used to the Year of the Metal Rabbit, or until spring sprang, or something. Yeah. Sure. That's it. ;))

Anyway, here's the deal: Rather than be a slacker any longer — because that is Against the spirit of Craft or Bust! — I hereby declare that CoB check-ins from here on out are open to anyone who wants to check in. No sign-ups necessary (but if you want to sign up, you can do it on this post, how about that?). And I hereby declare that my personal 2011 CoB goal is to write a piece of fiction every week.

If you're new to the Craft or Bust thing, here are the official rules from last year, and I will excerpt the most relevant part:

The Craft or Bust Project is a weekly creative endurance challenge. The rules are simple:

1. Join whenever.
2. Stay as long as you like.
3. Create, check in, be inspired, show off your craftigoodness, feel good.

Any art or craft (with one exception) counts: knitting, sewing, wire wrap jewelry, mail art, writing ... Heck, if there are creative bakers, gardeners, or sky-writers out there who want to play along, join up! If you have something creative you'd like to do every week, I'd be happy to have you. :D

You can work on any art/craft projects you want. You can work on a different one each week, or the same one the entire way. The heart of this challenge is to learn to craft regularly; finishing stuff is icing on the cake (and a fairly likely side effect even without trying too hard, I think).

The exception to "any craft counts" is blogging, by itself. While blogging can be a creative act, my intent is not to turn the weekly update into a list of who posted what to their blogs. ;)

You can find more info on CoB 2010 on the relevant tab at the top of the blog, if you so desire. ;D

Starting this coming Sunday (March 6) I will be checking in once a week with my own progress. If you want to play, come and tell me about your progress on my check-in post. The next Sunday, I'll mention you in my weekly post.

If you want to be kinda formal about it and sign up somewhere, you can do it using this form. (You may be able to avoid checking anything at all for the "What kind of stuff do you want to hear about?" question, though I haven't tried it.)

Other than that, if you want to play, please please please do join the Flickr pool and add photos (I am Seriously Not Amused by having to stare at my own crap there all the time ;)), and you can leave your name, a relevant Web link, and your CoB 2011 goals in the comments on this post, if you want.

Sound good? :D

Mar 2, 2011

New shawl pins in the shop!

Did you see? I finally listed some new shawl pins in the Etsy shop! Yayyyyy!

Spiral shawl pin in copper

I really wanted to share pics with you guys earlier — not so much because of the pins themselves, but because the new camera takes photos that are So. Much. Better. than the ones I have of all my previous shawl pins. OMGcameralove. I mean, look:

Flower shawl pin in copper

Star shawl pin in copper

Anyway, go check the new shawl pins out, if you like, and let me know what you think. The new designs are refinements of past one-of-a-kind designs, so they may look familiar ... but what's neat about these is they're part of a permanent line of shawl pins that will stay in the shop and be made fresh with every order. Do you like? ;D I know I like.

There are more shawl pin ideas bubbling in my brain, too — and a new shawl-pin-related giveaway is coming up Very Soon, hint hint. Keep watching, 'cause it's going to happen in the next couple of weeks, and it'll be a quicker one than my normal month-long giveaways, with extra goodies, too!
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