Why buy when I can DIY…

Super excited that I finally got around to finishing this project.  It’s something that’s been on my to-do list ever since we brought Karla home back in July.  With the adoption, we received a free collar and leash from the spcaLA that worked fine, and most importantly, didn’t cost a cent!  I quickly grew tired of looking at it, though, as I felt it was drab and didn’t give her any pizazz.  Yes, I could save myself the trouble and just buy a new leash for cheap, but why not make it personal and one-of-a-kind?

Although it’s kind of a basic project, it was a great way of getting baimg_2219ck into crafting/sewing mode while not breaking the bank.  It requires just a few supplies, and if you wait for the right sales or coupons, it’ll hardly cost a thing.  Since it’s small and only requires a few steps, I was able to finish in a couple of hours while watching the Boo save Gotham in Arkham Knight.  I used this really cute paw print fabric, but a strip of ribbon would work and be even faster.  I figured out a few little tweaks I will try out when I make the next one.  I got all of the supplies from JoAnn, and I have some leftover fabric so I’m thinking of making a matching treat bag or new collar to match.

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I swore I’d NEVER be one of THOSE people that make a fuss about my furbaby’s accessories, and yet, here I am.  I’ve already made a trial beanie and sweater that just needs some tweaking to the patterns for a little better fit.  I was so busy during the holidays that I didn’t have time to take progress pictures or blog about it, but I did post it to Instagram.  I was pleasantly surprised when the JoAnn Fabric and Craft account asked to repost it on their page!  Someone even asked if there was a pattern!  It definitely gave me a little confidence boost.  I hate the color of the yarns, but I just used some scrap yarn I had on hand since it was just a sample to figure out a pattern.

Feels good to get some practice in, while also making things that are useful!

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Inspiration in an Unlikely Place…

After living in southern California my whole life, I’m a little embarrassed to admit there are so many places and attractions I have yet to explore – including my own city.  In fact, the list of places I have been is probably a billion times shorter.  Well, after 30 years, I FINALLY made it out to the OC Fair last weekend.  I know, I must be kidding right? Sadly, no.  My previous attempt to make it out years ago was a flop, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on all of the legit fair food plastered all over social media every summer. I mean, where else can you walk around munching on a giant turkey leg and stuffing your face with bacon covered everything?
To my surprise, there was an entire building dedicated to various arts and crafts!  I just love seeing what amazing things people create as well as being surrounded by others who share an appreciation for it.  I was so excited when I came across the area dedicated to hand knit and hand crocheted items.  There were all sorts of people sitting around trying out knitting and crocheting and it was like I had wandered into a some crafter’s paradise.  I rarely get a chance to work or be around others who love this kind of thing so I always get a joy seeing others like me.  It’s great to see kids enjoying themselves because it makes me feel reassured that these crafts aren’t dying out anytime soon.  It also proves it’s no longer just a “granny” hobby.

I was so excited to learn this group was more than just random.  It was a Knots of Love booth.  If you haven’t heard of them, they are a group dedicated to donating handmade hats and blankets to patients.  Please click the link above to visit their site to learn more as I am not a part of their organization.  This is something super important to me and have always wanted to do.  Not only would it give me an opportunity to have an outlet (after all, you can only make so much for yourself and your family), but also to spread a bit of love and happiness to let others know that they are cared about.  I never really researched specific groups to participate in, or how exactly to go about donating, etc.  On top of that, there was no way I ever had any free time to actually make the items to donate.  I’m so excited that I now have the time to actively pursue helping by donating my goods to such a great cause!  So, I grabbed one of their pamphlets and I’m ready to get working on some items (and hopefully post some of the progress along the way).  Stay tuned!

The Journey Begins…or continues…

For as long as I can remember, I have always had this undying love for making things.  As a kid, I was always the one staying inside coloring in her new coloring book while the other kids chased each other.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I spent my fair share of freeze tag, playing softball and such, but there was nothing so satisfying as quietly perfecting my shading and outlining techniques with a fresh box of Crayolas.

Obviously, just about any child loves drawing and coloring (which is evident from the one-of-a-kind masterpieces covering the walls around the house from my nieces), but for some, it becomes so much more.  I very soon realized how fascinating it is to see an image completely unfold right before your eyes.  To be able to create something from nothing…to create a tangible expression of the vision in your head is nothing short of exhilarating.  For me, drawing was only the beginning of the creative outlets I would adopt.  Although it still remains my most beloved hobby, I have long since put aside those childhood dreams of working as a Disney animation artist.  Sometimes, life pulls you in directions you never saw and pretty soon, you’re a full-time college student, working nearly full-time at a lousy pizza joint with no time for the things you once loved.  Unfortunately, all too often this is the reality for a lot of us.  It’s okay though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Every moment has led to wonderful memories and opportunities that have shaped who I am.  I digress.

My first true experience with the handmade world began fairly early.  I can remember watching my mom sit for hours surrounded by various colors of half-used yarn balls, and the clanking together of her aluminum crochet hooks.  I remember all of the dainty little doilies and reusable dishcloths throughout the years.  I’ll never forget how instantly I grew obsessed with practicing.  The repetitive action of stitching, unraveling, stitching, unraveling, there’s something almost therapeutic and meditative in the process.  Although this remained my mom’s preferred craft of choice, I craved to expand further.  I figured, if I can crochet, why can’t I knit?  I made a trip to the craft store and picked up my first set of knitting needles, 1 skein of cheap yarn, and a good ol’ copy of Knitting for Dummies.  Jokes aside, the Dummies series are a great start up tool for those unable to attend any formal lessons/classes.  I was also amazed at the incredible amount of online tutorials and guides that make learning a cinch!

The interest I would later develop for sewing sort of happened by accident.  It wasn’t until some time later (in my mid-20’s) that I realized how cool and how possible it could be to learn.  I think for most of us that aren’t raised learning a specific craft, or have no previous introduction, it appears much more intimidating than it actually is.  I remember having a pair of jeans that were, like most are for us 5’2″ ladies, too long.  Sure, I had previously attempted (successfully) to hem a pair by hand but I thought, “What if I had a machine, could I do it and nobody would tell the difference?” and “What else could I possibly make with it??”  Combine that crafty impulse with an amazing almost 50% off Amazon discount and I became the proud owner of a Brother computerized sewing machine.  Here I was, a brand new fancy-shmancy machine and no idea what I was doing.  Sewing for Dummies to the rescue!  After all, it worked for my knitting, right?  Countless YouTube videos, craft blogs, hours of reading various techniques, project after project and I still have so much more to learn!

It would be impossible to bring this post to a close without touching on my most recent endeavor: paper crafting.  I remember I had first been exposed to the awesomeness that is scrapbooking sometime around my freshman year in college.  I made a few basic attempts but believe me, NOTHING to rave about and certainly should not pop up in a portfolio.  Nevertheless, it sparked this feeling of joy and contentment and that’s when I knew I needed to continue to learn more.  I couldn’t believe the endless possibilities that existed and the variety of ways people could manipulate paper!

Perhaps as equally thrilling as seeing your creation come to life, is the sense that you’re creating something that is one-of-a-kind.  Even with some similarities, there will always be some subtle differences that make each item or piece unique.  That is the beauty of handmade.  It represents passion, sweat, love, drive, and a desire put one’s own individual twist into every project.  Each item carries a small piece of the crafter, a small story that is expressed in every color, every stitch, every aspect.