Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crafty musings

Oh holy goodness, it has been some time! A *cough* whole half of a year since my last post. My life has been, to say the least, eventful these days.

First, and most importantly, I joined an alternative certification program to become a French teacher in mid-July (after a broken foot, college graduation, some heartache, and lots of soul-searching), thinking that I would work on the program, while keeping my college job and maybe becoming employed next fall---imagine my flabergasted-ness when I became employed by a school district 9 days after receiving acceptance into the program.

My life was suddenly consumed by thoughts of changing the world one middle-schooler at a time and teaching them to be fluent in French by high school. (I swear I am a realist, but this is the teacher dream, so I day-dreamed during the remaining week of summer before actual reality charged into my life.)

Needless to say, my time has not been my own until maybe a week ago.

Side-note: during this fervent madness, I received an email about early-september from one
of the fabulous members of the MaryJanesFarm writing team, informing me that a poem I wrote in APRIL would be donning the cover of the Keeping in Touch section of the October/November 2012 issue! 

I promptly squealed in excitement and charged for my phone to inform my mama about the honor. It was much needed, considering I had been completely consumed in teacher-world trying to write lesson plans, decorate my room, start a French club, and manage 6 classes spanning three grade-levels at a last minute's notice. End side-note.

Anyway, my new career has definitely had its challenges and rewards, and just like any first-year I have followed the expectation/energy level chart to a T thus far. Super high expectations in August, begins to fall with overwhelmedness in September and hitting rock-bottom in mid-October. Two weekends ago, I was so depressed I had a hard time getting out of bed and I informed my husband that I "am not cut-out for teaching" and "I can't do this" and "I wasted four years of my life in college, because I have to find a new career."

A little dramatic, you think?

Then, on Monday I was good to go, and have been on a steady energy/happiness rise and leveling out, seeing the holidays grow ever closer and gaining good rapport with my kids.

All of that being said, the last two weekends I have been in a very crafty mood. I tend to feel better going back to work on Monday when I see a product I have produced over the weekend. Honestly, making things also helps me to not work on the weekends, which is a huge challenge, but I know I must resist the temptation or I will fall back into loathsome burn-out.

Last weekend, we had a severe cold-snap (for Texas that means it got below 50 degrees). My tea got cold and in my frustration I decided that it would be a good day to make a teapot cozy. I researched and gathered advice from serval sources, and knew that I just did NOT want to buy anything to make it.

I dug out some old material from mine and Hubby's wedding, an old sweater a friend was going to throw out, and some plain fabric from a project I'd done in my French business class last semester.

One problem was that I didn't have a pattern---so I made one---out of an underwear catalogue.

Some measuring was involved, but mostly guessing. Also, in the photo is my first attempt at a stocking pattern from this weekend. More on that later.

During this attempt at sewing, I was promptly reminded as to why I had not used my machine in so long. It kept snagging the thread and producing a loose bottom stitch. Frustrated, I almost gave up, but I have this perseverance problem-like stubbornness disease-that is also accompanied by competitiveness. I diligently turned to my good friend Google and inter-webbed my way to a problem and thus a solution.

Turns out that when a needle breaks on a sewing machine (the last needle to break on mine happened in 2008, I think) it creats a bur on the bobbin hook that holds the bobbin case and breaks the thread and produces a loose bottom stitch.

Okay, problem identified. Solution?

Interwebs prevail again!

I needed a metal file, some machine oil, and a brush. Off I went to the trusty fabric store, found the two latter things, but no file :(

The sales lady informed me that there was a hardware shop in the same parking lot, so I trecked over there only to discover that they had closed. Then, I saw it. A beauty supply store had its door propped open in the cool weather. I walked in and half-heartedly asked if they had metal nail files, expecting nothing---they had them!
Long story short, I repaired my own sewing machine and finished my project, which made me feel further gumption this weekend.

I proceeded to make a cute, little, lop-sided, up-cycled thing that keeps my tea warm in these wee winter months.
Now, you must understands that in true Farmgirl style, my husband and I have always had a "make-do" mentality---it's easy when you're poor. That being said, I try to make everything if I can. Everything.

Another thing about me, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the Christmas stocking. I have one at my mom's house that she made for me when she was pregnant. It's completely '90s-tastic with sequins and felt. Since I can remember, I've always looked forward to Christmas morning, not for the big presents, nor the stuff that has been wrapped and sitting under the tree for weeks, but the tiny treasures that reside in my stocking.

Usually a small array of my favorite candies, a pocket knife, a keychain, a piece of jewelry, a small doll, always tiny, always my favorite.

Last Christmas was mine and my Husband's first Christmas to be married and it was fantastic, aside from constant work and classes getting in the way. However, I missed the stockings. I hadn't wanted to buy them, it seemed too frivolous, and I had put off making them because I worked 50 hours in
retail the week of Christmas, so I just contented myself with stockings at home and decorating the best I could in our apartment.

This year will be different, I decided.

I free-handed a stocking on the underwear catalogue pages and it looked great. It was a little narrow at the top, so I decided to try it again. The second attempt resembled a mangled squirrel, so I stuck with the first one, citing beginner's luck.

Now for the material. When I go to the store---it's annoying, like I'm the person who spends two hours at the grocery store walking, pondering recipes, and enjoying the eclectic music only to realize the sun has gone down while I was deciding between kale and romaine.

It's worse at craft and antique stores. I also decided that I am going to hand-make my family's gifts this year, so that added a considerable amount of time as well.

Oh the fabric choices! I couldn't decide whether I wanted to match Hubby's to mine, or give our own flavors, or use the same color schemes or what. I then stumbled upon a fabulous barn-red fabric that actually looks like barn wood. (hubby's only request was that his be red.)

I then stumbled upon some cross between burlap and muslin unbleached, cotton material and the designs began to fall into place. After finding some sage lace and wooden buttons, it was off to find treasures for creating family gifts.
When I arrived home, I set straight to work, and only stopped to make dinner.
I ended up labeling the stockings with not our names, but our favorite nicknames, which turned out to be so personal, I just love them!

Tiny and 7-Pack are looking forward to family time and carols!