Novelty Fall Display

 

What did I ever do with those woodland animal pillows?

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I created a fall display in little corner of my bedroom. During this present fall season, I haven’t been able to decorate the living and dining room with fall decor. I haven’t been able to complete a lot of fall crafts. Those who know me well know how much I love fall. I just didn’t have the energy and time this year. It bummed me out a bit.

So, I gathered the handmade items I had around my house along with a few pieces of fall decor to make a display. The display features my handmade throw pillows, Funko Pop vinyl figures from the hit television shows Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. I also featured a Halloween  table runner I quilted from last year that covered the table.

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I went ahead and added a few more items to make it even more festive. I hope you enjoy my fall display. I know I certainly enjoyed making it.

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-Stephanie

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Happy Pink Woodlands Baby Quilt

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What I love doing is in my free time is making baby quilts with adorable fabric. As a beginner, it’s fun and rewarding. It’s a great opportunity to practice piecing fabric, utilizing my walking foot, and binding the finished quilt.

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I was determined to finish. I had a few mistakes here and there, but I wasn’t going to allow it to discourage me. It’s always about the journey for me. Each project you learn and your grow. Problem solving becomes the exciting part of the project.  With each finished project, I feel that I’m getting closer to starting my own baby line.
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Starting my own baby quilt business  is a goal of mine. Quality work is also a goal, I want  to reach. I will continue to explore this idea. Maybe someday, I’ll get so great at making baby quilts that I will write a book. For now, I just want to keep learning and growing through my craft. There’s no rush. I’ll know when I’m ready to move forward.
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-Stephanie

So Long, Summer

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During the month of September, I remember accomplishing a small amount of sewing. I understand that I had a lot going on, but what was stopping me from committing time to the hobbies that I enjoyed. Various sewing projects are incomplete, and my home life is becoming very disorganized.
Fear could be one of the reasons why I wasn’t accomplishing much sewing. I also work a full-time job, and there are times I have work after work. My bedroom and handbags are becoming dumping grounds for all my problems.
So for October, I told myself that I would dedicate time to cleaning up my sewing area which is located in my bedroom. I know that I would feel much better if I would simply clean up and start completing projects again. I simply can’t concentrate or get any sewing complete when my home life is so disorganized. My walls are so dull an uninspired. What will I do? I did what any crazy person. I started crafting. I searched around for fabrics that reminded me of fall. I took my best shot at 12 am in the morning. (Yes, I get a lot of sewing done with my family is asleep.)
In my messy room, I made an attempt to complete a quilt block from the book, The Splendid Sampler by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. I have a desire to gain new skills through my messy phase. This block that I chose to complete from the book  is called Sweet Candy by Kris Thurgood.
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As a beginner I probably should stay away from directional fabric until I get better with my piecing skills.  I have more blocks I’ve been working on. I hope to share my blocks on the blog soon. I also hope to come up with a strategy to organize my sewing area. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,
Stephanie

Stitching a Colorful Life

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Fearless is going after what you want in life even though you might fall short at times. As a budding maker, I’ve experienced a lot of failures through projects. Sometimes, I didn’t have the best material or I didn’t follow the instructions carefully. However, my goal is to live a colorful and creative life. Living creatively means brushing off fear.

Have you ever woke up one morning and asked yourself “why am I not going after the things that matter to me in life.” Why am I not following my dreams? It doesn’t have to be anything as challenging as finding a new career or traveling across the globe.  It could be cooking out of your dream kitchen, building a new wardrobe, and hosting a fabulous dinner party. Maybe you always wanted to be more social or meet new friends. There are these quiet dreams inside of us that we wish we could explore, but life’s lows can get in the way.

I looked at myself one day, and I was tired of the boring clothes I was wearing to work. I would go to the same tops that were easy to pull over while I dragged myself to work each day. I sure you can relate. You stop putting effort into your day. You quit making lunch. The small wins don’t mean anything. You stop participating in activities that make you feel good about yourself. Eventually, you find yourself stuck in a rut with several developed bad habits.

Dragging to work with the same clothes on each day was irritating me. I found it a challenge to stay motivated. I told myself that I would work on taking care of my appearance. I wanted a creative life, so why not style myself in my own unique way.  I love being creative with my hands. So, learning how to crochet seemed like the perfect creative opportunity to help me work on my appearance. I didn’t necessarily wanted to go out and purchase a finished product, but I wanted to create more looks out of styles I envisioned.

I also had a desire to get back into learning how to crochet. The crochet patterns attracted me. However, the last time I tried to attempt to crochet was  during the summer of 2016. My skills were very rusty. Honestly, I wasn’t very great at crochet.  But, I decided to give it another shot. I took the yarn that was going to waste  in my craft box, and I started practicing single crochet stitches. I would crochet for a while and then I would simply rip the stitches out.

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I wasn’t focusing on failing, but learning and relaxing my mind. I did my best to count my stitches as I carried on. I ripped out the stitches again and started thinking about developing a small project. I had my heart set on a colorful scarf. With a lot of help from YouTube tutorials, I learned how to add a ball of yarn to a crochet project, weave ends, and single crochet the seams of both ends of the project making an infinity scarf.

I know some will find my idea shallow, but for me I felt as if I was taking back a small piece of my life. I wasn’t simply dragging through the day. I was making myself happy. I wanted to live a more colorful life, and instead of dreaming about it, I started thinking of ways I could achieve it.

After completing my first crochet project, I decided that I would continue on with new projects. I want to take simple steps each week to live a more colorful life. I waste enough time just dragging through the day, complaining about work, or wishing I was in in someone else’s shoes. You only get one life.

Do you have a desire to thrive? Tired of being in a rut? Where do you start?

Baby Quilt in Progress

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I wish I had all the time in the world to create, but at the moment my nerves have been bothering me in regards to my latest baby quilt. Honestly, I really enjoy making baby quilts and blankets. I feel like it’s one of the most useful things I’ve ever sewed so far. I feel like outside of work I get to enter this whimsical world of joy. I get to be at place that reminds of happiness.

However, the state of  bliss ends when I make mistakes. Sewing can be frustrating, but making mistakes is part of learning. You can’t get around it. You will ruin fabric. It’s just part of the process. There are days you will sew and then there are days when you will spend time ripping seams. Binding gives me the most trouble lately. Sometimes, I wish I had a quilting instructor to walk with me through the process of binding a quilt. I find the process nerve wracking because getting accurate mitered corners has been a challenge for me. At this time, I’ve been reviewing different techniques on binding a quilt through Craftsy and YouTube. I keep telling myself that I’m going to get through it. I’m going to somehow find the time and the energy to finish my “back to school” inspired quilt. The not “finishing part” of the project is giving me anxiety.

When I first started the “back to school” quilt, it was almost a project that ended up in the trash pile of projects that just didn’t work out. I chose a free quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, called the Jelly Roll Jam Quilt. I would eventually learned that there are a lot of things to consider before diving right into a quilt pattern.

Last year,  I purchased two jelly roll sets. A jelly roll is a named of a specific pre-cut coined by Moda Fabrics. Its a large roll of strips measuring 2.5″ x 42.” For Moda Fabrics, a jelly roll contains 40 strips of fabric from a particular fabric line. Keep in mind that the not all jelly rolls are created equally. The term can change depending on what fabric company. For instance, Riley Blake Designs refers to their rolled strips of fabric as “rolie polies.” Not all jelly rolls contain 40 strips of fabric. You have to pay attention to the amount of fabric strips you need while doing your fabric shopping.

Precut fabric reminds me of sweet candy actually, and I wanted to look for ideas on how to use them. I thought a free quilt pattern would be an opportunity to start using my fabric stash. One of the cute precuts I had on hand was from a fabric line called Tree Party by Kelly Panacci for Riley Blake Designs. It’s a super cute fabric line, that reminds me of having fun in the fall. The woodland animals appear so bright and cheery on the fabric.  You can’t help, but get happy while sewing.

 

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After diving into the project, I realized that I didn’t have enough strips on hand. I was hesitant to cut into the yardage of fabric I purchased from the same fabric line. I found another set of fabric strips that were in my stash that seemed to complement my project. The fabric strips were from the fabric line Crayola by Riley Blake Designs as well. Somehow, I was able to piece the strips together for the pattern. However, I ran into more problems. I accidently measured and cut incorrectly at least twice ruining some of my fabric pieces forcing me to improvise and alter the pattern.

I failed at the pattern, but I didn’t want the fabric to go to waste. I did the best I could to work on piecing what I had together to create a quilt top. In my mind, I knew that I had made various mistakes throughout the project. It’s hard not to feel disappointed, but I had to keep going. I know that if I plan on working on patterns in the future then I must work strategically. It would start with making sure I have correct amount of material on hand. I will be writing a future blog post on steps to take while working from a sewing or quilt pattern.

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Despite my mistakes and failures, when I showcased my quilt top no one really noticed or cared about my errors, but me. I actually received a few questions about making baby quilts and blankets. I’m not an expert. I make sure I tell people that directly. In the future, I could become an expert and a designer at making baby quilts. What’s stopping me from working hard and gaining new skills?

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My advice for newbie quilters and sewist is to keep going. I’ll admit that there will be projects that turn into disasters, and you might not ever want to return to them again. Maybe I’m a hoarder of some type, but I no longer just through away fabric from my failures. That fabric can be saved to do all sorts of patchwork. I say move beyond your failures, search for new ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Quilting for Tough Times

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One of my blog posts from the beginning discouraged sewing while in a bad mood. Honestly, I still don’t like the idea of  sewing for loves ones when I’m sick or angry. I make too many mistakes when I’m not my best self. Overall, it’s just not a great sewing experience. However, if it is a personal quilting project it should be based on your needs. Working with you hands can be therapeutic for many. I’ve discovered that doing a little bit of patchwork with quilting throughout the month helps me get through periods of loneliness, tough times, and moments when I need to be strong.

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When I commit to working on personal projects, I do a lot of praying and reflecting on life. I enjoy spending time just working with my hands. I also get lost in my thoughts. Once my rotary skills improved, I enjoyed cutting fabric squares to piece together a small quilt top. Achieving accurate seams is the most challenging for me. However, the journey is always important to me.  The whole process of working on a quilt, gives me the energy to keep fighting.

Life has taught me that I’m responsible for loving myself as well as creating my own happiness.  I know that it is recommended to reach out to people when you are experiencing tough times, but for me I just ended up confused. My advice would be to find a support group or talk to a professional. Talk to supportive friends and family. Spend time enjoying their presence, but be very careful about sharing information about your personal problems with people who aren’t from your core group. You will find that you are looking for answers that people can’t give you. Not everyone has your best interest.

I remember when I was dealing with depression. It was hard keeping up, and it appeared that my professional life was stagnant.  I made the mistake of sharing my problems with someone. I found out that the person was  using my problems against me. I felt like at some point this person was trying to talk me into feeling bad about myself even more. The person would often talk about how depressed I looked and mentioned bits and pieces about how things weren’t going well for me. It was troubling. The person wasn’t encouraging me. It was at the point that I realized that I needed change.  It was time to move on, and find a new life.

There are times that you need periods alone where you can work through problems yourself. Over the summer, I prayed a lot, and I knew I was tired of feeling like I was in the dumps.  I decided that I wanted to get better at quilting.  Each week, I was at my house, learning how to prepare a quilt top. The more it came together, the better I started to feel about myself. I don’t really know how to describe it, but when you make something on your own, it’s like an empowering feeling. I felt useful again.  I was learning new skills, and the great thing about it was that I wasn’t depending on anyone else to validate me.

 

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One of my most recent quilts features a lot of cats. I’ll admit that I’m a cat lady with no cats.  I wanted to make a personal project. It’s not perfect, but it reminded me that I have what it takes to finish a quilt. I hang it over my headboard. What’s different about this quilt, is that it was the first time I attempted to bind a quilt. Binding the quilt was hard, and I made a lot of mistakes. I was able to get over my fear of binding, and I have a lot of motivation to do better next time.

 

The most meaningful part of the quilting process was that it taught me how to start creating my own life again. I was learning how to express myself. I found it hard to get negative being surrounded by so much color all the time.  I say to myself sometimes “when life gives you lemons, make a quilt.” I don’t think the saying is original at all, but I tell myself those very words when I’m stressed.  I will always have problems, but at least I’m not sitting around dwelling on them.

Stephanie

 

 

 

I wasn’t always a maker

I haven’t always been a maker, but I always had the desire to create things. I would see people making cakes, dresses, and accessories, but it was someone else’s life. No matter how many blogs or magazines I clipped through, it still wasn’t my life. What was stopping me? Why did I have such a negative outlook on life?

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When we are young, we often receive a lot of negative messages from life.  We become sensitive to what we hear. I was constantly reminded that I was bad at math, awkward, and possessed very little mechanical skills. At the time, I didn’t know what it really meant to have mechanical skills, but I took that to meant that I wasn’t efficient at working with my hands. But, the problem was that people didn’t explain to me that it was a set of skills you have to acquire overtime. When I didn’t quite understand new concepts I was called stupid or slow.  People just moved me out of the way. I was use to people moving me out of the way instead of giving me the chance to solve problems. It made me very anxious. Why was everyone expecting me to learn everything so fast?

 

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I was also told that I lacked hand-eye coordination. It made me laugh at times. I remember when  my mom enrolled me in ballet and tap dance classes. I believe she was trying to motivate me, but  it only made me feel isolated.  It took me a lot longer to get things, and eventually, the instructor told my mom that I had to drop down to a lower level class. It was like that with a lot of things. I was always trying to catch up.

My mom might have been proud of me. However, when you leave home, life has a way of humbling you.  I struggled with everything including  athletics, math, cooking, driving, dancing, dating, and meeting people. Some of my family members grew weary and they didn’t know if I could handle things on my own. It got to the point where they wanted my younger sister to look after me. I would grow angry at times. I was four years older than my sister. Why did I need her to look after me?

I don’t know how it all started, but I was struggling in life. I would stay up all night trying to figure out how I was going to make it. I know that in  high school, I received the help that I needed academically. I learned how to study, and I was able to graduate. But, in other areas I was following behind my peers. It took me longer, but I eventually, I went on to finish college.

However, I continued to hear things while I worked in my field. It was mostly about how anxious and too overly sensitive I was for the job. I struggled in my professional life. I can’t say it was one job, but it was a combination of feeling inadequate  and going home feeling down about my shortcomings. At the end of my twenties, I decided that I wanted more out of life. I was tired of working the way others wanted me to work. I was tired of living by someone else’s rules and standards.

(I didn’t quit my day job, but I did start looking for the  opportunity to give myself a part-time job.)

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I’m not sure what happened or what triggered it exactly, but I started doing research on hair bow making in October 2016. I didn’t have any kids of my own, but I just kept watching videos on people giving tips on how to make hair bows, and  I was fascinated. As I was watching, I kept hearing the word “sew.” I knew that I wanted to learn how to make hair bows, but I also wondered if I could learn how to sew. I thought I was going crazy. I was fearful because I’ve never really taken the time to actually make something. How would I learn how to sew? How could a buy a sewing machine?  What am I doing? I was very nervous, but at the same time I wanted my very own sewing machine. I kept wondering how I was going to make it happen and then I did. After reading various blogs, I decided to purchase my first sewing machine from Amazon. It was a Janome 2212. I also started going shopping two or three times a week, buying supplies and getting started on my new journey.

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The first few weeks were challenging. Unlike anything else I ever did, I didn’t care. That’s when I knew that I found my passion. I was struggling, but I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to learn. I suddenly didn’t care about what people thought. I had ideas, and I wanted to pursue them.

Today, I feel motivated. I still struggle with bouts of depression, but I feel like I have a blessing that will keep me going. It was something about buying my first machine and turning material into an object that gave me the confidence to keep going. Can you believe that today I actually own two sewing machines, and I’ve also been teaching myself to knit? I never thought I would be someone who sewed or knit after work. I’m blessed. I thank God everyday for not allowing me to give up on myself when I really wanted to.

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I apologize that my blog is too personal, but I had to share this part of my personal life with you all because I want people to know that there is hope. You don’t have to come from a perfect life or have this perfect background to pursue your goals in life. You are capable of  success. and anything you put your mind to today.

 

5 lessons I learned after making my first baby quilt

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When I sew, I think a lot about family. It wasn’t hard for me to get started making baby quilts during the winter of 2017.  It was how I passed the time.  I remember feeling frustrated with life, and  I wasn’t getting anywhere fast, so one of the things I turned to was quilting for babies. It was one of the things that quieted my spirit. I did a lot of research on potential projects. I didn’t have a particular pattern, but I did sign up for Learn to Quilt: Charming Baby Quilt with Amy Gibson through Craftsy. Through that one particular class, I received a lot of helpful information to complete two baby quilts. Because of that process I learned 5 valuable  lessons that stay with me now as a beginning quilter.

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  1. Whenever quilting for a family member or friend, go into the quilting project with a positive spirit. When I first started learning how to sew, I would sew when I was happy, sad, sick, tired, or angry. It didn’t matter. I thought of sewing as my therapy away from personal  problems. As I moved on to learn how to sew for others, I realize I didn’t want to carry any negative attitudes from problems that occurred throughout the day into a project that was personal. In my opinion it’s different if I’m making something for myself. At this time, I don’t have any children. While completing my baby quilts, I pretended that I was quilting for a child or that I was quilting for a new mom. I thought about how I wanted the child to feel loved. Quilting for others is very personal. I want the project to be successful, so I only think of good thoughts, prayers, and appreciation for the receiver.

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2. Choose Quality

When I first started learning how to quilt, I decided that I wanted to use high quality  tools to have better results. Stop being frustrated while sewing.  A quilt is gift and necessity. You want it to last for you and your love ones. I didn’t want to cut corners. I knew I wanted to grow as a quilter, so I started by  investing in a new sewing machine, a Janome 49360 Quilter’s Computerized Sewing Machine. I purchased it from the Home Shopping Network. It was one of the best decisions I could have made as a beginner. It has speed control, an automatic thread cutter, and a drop-in bobbin system.  The sewing machine came with many helpful tools including a walking foot and patchwork foot. I also started stocking up on quality thread including Aurifil 50 wt thread. I did my best to do research on rulers, rotary cutters,  needles, batting, irons, pins, and etc. It was very time consuming, but I had a much better experience. In the past, I struggled because I was trying to cut corners. I’ve come to the conclusion that quilting can be an expensive hobby, but this is my passion and I’m willing to invest in it so that I can become a professional.

3. Aspire for accuracy, but don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes

Accuracy is very important in quilting. In quilting, everything is pieced together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Having a patchwork foot can be very helpful. You also have to check to your seams to make sure that they are accurate. Squaring up fabric and cutting accurately is crucial to the success of the quilt. If you are uncertain about a piece, don’t bother using it. At the end you, will save yourself problems.

My first and second baby quilts were far from perfect. I didn’t give them away. However, I started the projects because I wanted to know if quilting was something possible for me. Could I do it? Could I make it happen?  I realized that I could. You can too. My advice is to always strive to match your seams while piecing and making quilting blocks, but don’t beat yourself up for not making the mark every time. It’s ok to rip out seams. It’s ok to go back and cut your squares again. It’s also ok to invest in pre-cuts if you don’t feel comfortable your first time cutting up yards of fabric into 5″ squares. My very first baby quilts were made with charm packs. A charm pack is a set 30-40  5″ squares that you can piece together to form a quilt. The possibilities are endless. I found them easy to use when I first started because my cutting skills weren’t great. It took a lot of practice and better quality rulers before I felt comfortable cutting my own fabric squares. Take your time, but don’t get upset with yourself if you can’t make the mark all the time. IMG_20170501_121453_100

4. Enjoy the process, and every mistake is a learning experience

In quilting you will make mistakes. When I first started, I use to beat myself up because I couldn’t match my seams. I wasn’t cutting my squares accurately because my measuring was off. All admit that I spent hours feeling bad about myself, but it was wasted energy. So,  I decided to invest in quality rulers that made cutting easier and accurate. I watched several tutorials on YouTube regarding squaring up my fabric.  I did my research and I gathered information on how to match up my points. Yes, it was hard but I was learning. If you don’t make mistakes, then you will not learn. Let each project be a learning opportunity.

5. Be Patient! All beautiful things take time and hard-work.

Sewing and quilting take time. You aren’t in a competition to finish first, so go at your own pace. It takes time to cut, piece, and press all those little parts that make up a quilt. When you are a beginner it can be frustrating, but don’t worry about how slow or fast you are going. The important part is that you are always learning. Keep going! Remember with each mistakes, you are learning for better success next time.

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Knitting through pain

I’ve been knitting since June 2016. I discovered that I like working with my hands, but sewing wasn’t a hobby I could take along with me while away from home. I learned the the answer to my problem was knitting. Sewing is still dear to my heart, but there isn’t anything wrong with learning more than one craft.

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Knitting from a place of emotions

I started knitting coming from a place of emotions. I was having emotional problems, and I couldn’t necessarily escape them. I couldn’t allow myself to act on them either. It was so important at the time that I held everything together.  People were depending on me. I had to fight. Making things with my hands plays a big part in how I deal with life’s challenges. When I get busy making things, I’m more resistant to depression.

When you feel pain, you just want to numb what you are feeling inside. Physical pain is different. As annoying and terrible as physical pain can be, sometimes  it can be subsided with medication. However, I’m what some people may called “an overly sensitive person,” and I never handle it well. I’m a big baby, and I will complain until the end.

However, emotional pain is something that can linger on forever if you allow it to. It’s important to take the time to understand your emotions, but at the same time you don’t want to allow it to affect your life so much that you end up neglecting yourself. You also don’t want to take your negative emotions out on others.  Based on my personality, emotional pain is something that holds me captive. I do my best to try to not stay down very long.  However, your emotions and insecurities can trick you into believing that what you are feeling is necessary and that you must act on it. I had to learn how to put my emotions aside so that I could continue to grow stronger and take care of the matters at hand.

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So, I started knitting in between my breaks from sewing  because I wanted to let go of a lot of negative emotions. I knew that my feelings would eventually create problems, so I decided to resist falling into them. I started knitting my way through areas of life. I called it “knitting my way through life’s obstacles.” I pray to God a lot while I knit so it helps me stay positive. I get a lot of knitting down before work just to ease my mind and prepare my mind for the day.

 

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The Process: Knit 1 Purl 1

It took me about a week to get my hands together in order to learn how to knit. The idea was so foreign to me at the time. It was so challenging that all I could focus on at times was how I was going to make any stitches. Eventually two weeks later I was taking my yarn and needles with me to work.I started knitting in my car before work, during lunch, and breaks. I would sit in bed in knit while binge watching Netflix. I learned that I could accomplish making a scarf by learning how to create garter stitch. However,  I think all new knitters learn after a while that garter stitch can get boring.

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The Plan

I had a plan last summer. I received a Michael’s gift card for my birthday during the end of July. I bought 9 skeins of yarn. My goal was to make three scarves for the fall. I bought  6 skeins of yarn from  Loops and Thread.I also purchased  the last three skeins from Lion Brand’s Homespun yarn. I had three different colors that matched my wardrobe. I also did my research and purchased a specific needle size for all three projects.

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I needed to take a knitting classes, so I enrolled through an online class on Craftsy called The Knitting Lab with Stefanie Japel. The goal for the class was to create a lace scarf I believe. However, I wasn’t prepared to make a lace scarf at the time. I tried, but I wasn’t at the level. However, I did learn how to do garter stitch. I figured I would start off small and just knit in garter stitch for a while. I took my knitting projects with me. When I made mistakes, I had to rip it out or I had to live with them. The important thing for me was that I was learning.

Accomplishments

Learning new skills and creating my own scarves proved feasible. During the fall of 2016, I completed all three scarves. Although they aren’t perfect, my family and friends really liked them. I also discovered that the scarves I made felt a lot warmer than what I purchased from a big-box store near me. Garter stitch creates a warm feeling when knitted in bulky yarn. It felt good wearing my scarves to work in the cold weather. I eventually got bored with garter stitch toward the middle of November, so I decided to practicing the purl stitch. I started purling away until I stop twisting my stitches and learned how to move my yarn from front to back while knitting and purling in the same row.

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The more I learned, the more I realized knitting increased my self-esteem. There’s a community of knitters out there. I found myself being connected to people through my experience.  Each time, I learned a new skill, I felt better about myself. Yes, it was a struggle. I made a lot of mistakes.  However,  I felt more independent. I felt like I was making an effort to bring more joy and contentment into my life. I also thought about all the possibilities, I could bring into someone else’s life. Someday, I hope to learn to improve  my skills so that I can give knitted gifts to others. If you are a crafter, then you already know how much junk you can accumulate over the years.

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