Category Archives: Musings

WELCOME 2016!

I wish 2016 welcome and hope everyone will have great experiences in the new year! This is the time of year when I reflect more than usual over priorities, hopes and dreams, concrete projects and life in general.

Nina With Freckles - New Year 2016 2016-01-03

All I can say about 2015 in retrospect is that I’m rather relieved we’re done with it. In several ways it was a challenging time, some core areas of my life were (and still are for that matter) stuck in a sense, leaving me feeling like I have no say in the important matters.

That isn’t true, of course, and we have more power than we at times care to admit over our lives, both in regards to who we invite to share our daily lives and where our feet take us. I can’t but bring up the paradox of us having a choice in most things, but those choices always coming with their own consequences.

A lot of the time, our perceived life experience also depends on the perspective that we choose to view it in, and I have so many things to be grateful for. What I’m exhausted from and unbelievably tired of, however, is being unemployed. I desperately want to control daily life in regards to my academic progress yet I can’t. Someone else has decided that research will be down-prioritised and that’s that. What I’m saying is, as an example, I had planned to buy more of the white background fabric for my Tokyo Subway Map Quilt, but when time came to place an order, something actually important came up, and so I had to postpone it. To the outside it might have looked like craptastically bad planning, but life happened, and I also had to eat and pay my bills. You know? Like I said, I’m grateful for many a thing in my life, but money isn’t too silly an invention.

Since funding for scientific research is down in the basement, I’m taking actions to do other things. Currently I have no announcements in that department, but you could wish me luck, as I could use good wishes in the next six months or so. Turning a chapter, or rather a Significant Page in the yearly calendar, has meant that I’ve also been thinking about leisure and business. In the leisure area, I’m naturally including most of my quilting projects, and while participating in swaps and hosting quilt-alongs is great fun, this year I need to do more for me, invest time and energy in cranking out my first patterns, cutting out unnecessary challenges, unnecessary blogging, and more.

By unnecessary blogging I mean that I want to implement the plan I’ve mentioned last year. Which brings me on to my chosen word for 2016. I’ve had a word a couple of years now, but this is the first time I want to share it in public. This year it is ‘focus’, which includes elements of earlier years, but in a sense crystallises what is the most important aspect to keep in mind right now. Focus includes clarity, discipline, following through, and more.

Yesterday I read Christa Quilts’s blog post on being a quilter who blogs, not the other way round, and I was nodding in agreement. To me it means to define the core, then add only the bare minimum of other elements to create a warm atmosphere in one’s online corner. The challenge for me will be to find an acceptable balance between keeping things that I’ve learned to myself, and sharing them with you. I have discovered I love teaching, when I can forget about being self-conscious, but that means there’s less time for sewing, about which I’m no happy camper at all – because love teaching…

The amusing part about it is that I’m a beginner still, but on the other hand I become a micro-scale expert each time I’m tackling a new tiny bit of the quiltoverse, and that’s the stuff I want to share. And oh how I love all those weird small nuggets of information, too, which can actually make it or break it, quite literally in the case of incorrect thread weight to mention one example.

To me, focus also means a clear approach to health and leisure, the two elements that I think make up ‘personal balance’. Speaking of balance, I don’t agree with the concept of ‘work/life balance’ at all, because work is part of life, and in many cases it implies that one dislikes one’s work, and only lives life outside of all the hours spent at work. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I know that all of us can’t love with pure passion what we do for a living every single day, but still, create ‘balance in life’ and include all elements in that expression should be realistic. No?

Another funny thing is ‘in real life’ as opposed to ‘online.’ Do you feel like your online existence isn’t real, isn’t a part of your daily life, isn’t as valuable? I think it’s nonsense, as I care a great deal about how I interact with people (and feel actual shame when I perceive that I’ve let others down) and also about my contributions to the community. Writing “I want to do more for me” made me feel like I should explain that it isn’t only sewing for me, but adding things to the community that I think someone else might enjoy, too, and that is how funny it is yet how deep it goes.

So yeah, focus it is. I have already started (once again… *grins* not throwing in the towel, though; never!) up-prioritising my health, including sleeping well (enough and regularly), increasing exercise outdoors, yoga in the mornings at home, meditation in the evenings before going to bed, drinking enough water (I tend to forget about it when it is cool or cold outside), and checking what and how much I eat. All these efforts increase and decrease during the course of a year, a bit like a sinus curve, but the desire is there to keep improving, or remain in balance. If nothing else, then my stress-related migraine should be less likely to show it’s abominable head.

This winter I haven’t had a depression like I did last year, but it sure has been gloomy. Only in the past few days have we seen any sort of snow (yay! and it’s getting much, much colder, too!), and when there is nothing white on the ground at night, we have to create an impression of being awake and feeling energetic in other ways, such as what I mentioned in the above paragraph. Even though we don’t go to sleep at 15.15 in the afternoon, that is when the day ends around this time of year, the sun goes down and the night begins after fewer than six hours of daylight. Oftentimes the sky remains grey, but I’m a bit nuts in that I love this place for all that it is, and don’t feel like moving from here either, at least for now. Solstice was a great day as well, and even though daylight increases by only a minute a day still, I feel like we are going in the right direction again :)

Apart from ‘focus’, in 2016 I wish to recall “Done is better than perfect”, “Show, don’t tell”, and my own quote “Perfectionists exist, perfection doesn’t.” I have a new Moleskine on its way to me as we speak, so stay tuned for the latest twist and turns in the saga of the Bullet Journal tweaked to fit GTD! I might have a goodie in store for you, too, as a thank you for sticking with me through my silent times last year :*

REVAMPING AND STUFF

Yesterday I mentioned having been ill for a while, but another reason for a rather quiet blog is that I’m working on revamping the whole thing. I have my own domain already and want to move the whole shebang to self-hosting. There’s quite a bit to learn, however, and also I want to be sure I commit financially to the most optimal solutions.

So for instance my monthly projects turned quarterly projects, which I intended to post on 1 October, didn’t happen after all. In fact, I’m rethinking what I’m doing here in the first place, and am aiming to streamline categories, the visual aspects, you name it.

Also, my patterns are being worked on and there is a line of them waiting to be written, then published for sale. This last part is making me rather nervous, but on the other hand I’ve wanted to waltz firmly and regularly out of my comfort zone on this blog since the beginning. Being brave takes active efforts over and over, and what I have in my head and in my vector drawing app shows me that perhaps someone might actually want to pay a bit for a pattern of mine, so I just have to take a leap of faith and do my best.

Something as simple as a label causes me to shift a tad uncomfortably, and by that I’m of course talking about “designer.” Yikes, I have no problem these days saying that I design quilt patterns, but it’s a whole different story to call myself a pattern designer. See the difference?

For the longest of time I struggled with the label runner, because I had this idea that only very fit people were runners, which turned out to be a bunch of nonsense, as all it takes to be a runner is to move in running rather than walking. You know, that definition where not both feet are on the ground simultaneously? The way we all ran around when being kids still? Yes, that one.

Stepping into the identity of a pattern designer will take longer, I suspect, because I have no formal training, although I do my best to take an academic approach to learning more. Currently I’m enrolled in a graphic design course for beginners, it’s fun and turns out typography and I are a love affair that will never end.

If you glance back at the post title, see how I’ve written it in all caps for the first time? That’s part of the revamping project :) It’s slow, since I’m not outsourcing much to anyone else, but I’ll get there and I most certainly hope you’ll like the result. Since progress is of turtle speed, I don’t want to make any public announcements about deadlines, though, because we don’t know what we don’t know, right? And what we don’t know may take a lot longer than expected.

I also have a few sewing projects to wrap up before that, including the much overdue Simplicity quilt-along, so behind the seams (haha, pun intended) there’s quite a bit going on right now.

Are you an active blogger? Or an inactive one wanting to become more active, with more clarity and purpose? At the end of all this, I’ll share a little secret that I’m working on an e-book of sorts to help others in my situation find their way through moving from a free blog platform to self-hosting.

After some time away… Or Where it all began

Nina With Freckles - Miranda Innes Traditional Quilts 2015-08-30

Hello everyone, I’m sorry about the blog gone quiet for a few weeks. Since the blog is celebrating being 4 years old today, the post is a bit longer than usual :)

First I’ll mention the reason for my silence, so I can move on to nicer topics thereafter. I’m currently unemployed, looking for a PhD position, and things became rather intense around the time of when I stopped posting. The situation is overwhelming due to the on-going recession here and I feel surprisingly emotional at times, seeing as sciences should be something fundamentally important to invest in out of humanity’s perspective viewed, yet there simply is no proper funding for projects. Instead, lots and lots of money is poured into silly consumerist things, whereas science and medicine is left without :(

In this interesting interview, Millie Dresselhaus, the Queen of Carbon (a nanomaterials pioneer), speaks warmly of science and research, and in theory I agree, but in practice not so much. In particular in Finland there are quite a few academics unemployed right now, and also it seems like people have been sort of overly educated, yet once they wish to earn a living, things aren’t as rosy anymore.

I don’t want to keep singing a sad song, but suffice to say, I have other roles, too, not just that of a crafter, and so I thought I should bring my readers up to speed regarding what’s been going on lately. I think what frustrates me the most is that I as a divorcée without kids have all the time in the world, but when I make phone calls about the PhD position, all I hear is “no money”, “no new projects”, “just last month another PhD project had to stop”, and so on.

Something as trivial as not having received my 100 Universal 80 Schmetz needles as soon as hoped for also derailed me for a while, but enough about that, because there’s a box with 95 needles next to my sewing machine now! (I gave five to mom, who said she’d need only one or two :) See, that’s how little I knew not too long ago about the tools I’m using so often. I had to force all five of them on her, haha.)

Progress has been made on my SewMyStashMiniQuiltSwap mini, although I’m fervently trying to use up a nasty 90 Universal needle in that case, with fresh, new Schmetz ones on their way as we speak. (I will never use other needles again, if I can help it.) Due to newbie mistakes, my pattern had to be corrected twice, and I’ve posted the first few photos on Instagram, since a check-in date,1 September, is fast approaching. I’m really excited about working on this project!

The remaining Simplicity blocks will be posted soon enough, and I apologise for the lack of communication as well as lack of publishing them when promised. Usually I take commitments like that very seriously, but the professional life turned a tad too challenging to handle for a while.

Since my Tokyo Subway Map QAL is starting tomorrow, I’ll grab the opportunity to share with old and new friends alike my story of how it all began.

The photo above is of the Swedish version of Miranda Innes’s Traditional Quilts From Around The World, and it was bought on a whim on sale. According to my book, it was printed in 1995, and I may have bought it at the end of the 90’s or early 2000’s.

Nevertheless, it just sat in my bookshelf until I got the idea to sign up for a beginner’s quilting class in autumn 2010. At that time, I recall having felt a bit isolated, and so I thought it’d be a good idea to meet new people whilst learning a new craft. I picked out a pattern for a baby quilt from my book, and find it very cute still:

Nina With Freckles - Miranda Innes Traditional Quilts - Pinwheel quilt 2015-08-30

Guess how much I had to shell out for the fabrics and a spool of thread, though? Close to 100€, which corresponds to over 110 USD today. That wasn’t even for full metres, but 50 cm cuts, a tad more than half a yard each, a total of 6 metres. The quilt shop closed not long after my one and only visit there.

Some weeks later I found another shop, but they were closing as well, and when I asked whether I could buy quarter yards (skinny quarters – forget about fat quarters…), they said no can do and told me to buy full metres. Right. Same price level as in the aforementioned shop. I think if a craft is as little spread as quilting is in Finland, as a shop owner, perhaps a slightly more accommodating, flexible style of customer service might do the trick? Bundles, fat quarters, skinny quarters, fat eighths even – ya know… :) As a beginner, I’d rather buy small cuts of many fabrics than large cuts of very few fabrics (the secret to my seemingly wide stash, yet its total yardage is quite small compared to many other stashes I’ve seen online), but that wasn’t possible.

Right now there isn’t a single, proper quilt shop with lovely fabrics of all newest collections and great customer service in the capital region; a sad state of affairs :) And so I shamelessly import for less money and more selection. Only earlier this week did I hear of a shop in Lahti, which is quite a drive away from Helsinki, but currently they don’t seem to have the new collections of the big designer names for offer, so internet shopping it still is for me. Supposedly the shop in question is expanding their quilting cottons section, but they have recently closed the webshop and from what I gather, there are no plans to keep it open in the future. Sad state of affairs :)

I would LOVE to be able to walk into a real quilt shop in Helsinki to actually see fabrics prior to buying them, though! Truth be told, if I had the finances right now, I’d simply open a shop somewhere in the capital region and create myself a job in the process.

But back to my pinwheels baby quilt, where it all began… I enrolled in the quilting course for beginners, but – long story short – went only twice. Half-square triangles were a mess and explanations were a mess. I didn’t trust the teacher after she told me “to wing it, I’m sure it’ll turn out just fine” (Um, lady, have you seen the amount of HSTs and QSTs in that pattern???). The problem, of course, was the pattern itself by Miranda Innes, or rather the translation of it…

I simply didn’t get the mathematics to work for me, and detested the prospect of using fractions of centimetres, in particular since it soon was obvious to me that 0,8 cm and 0,9 cm were approximations, too. Never mind telling me the trick of adding the 1/8” when cutting, then trimming down to the correct size, corresponding to 7/8” of the squares – in centimetres of course. Have you ever seen a millimetre ruler? There are lots and lots of lines to keep track of, which is fine and dandy as long as your fabric is light. Mine, however, have black lines, which is disastrous on dark fabric. But then… :)

Nina With Freckles - Miranda Innes Traditional Quilts - Pinwheel quilt templates 2015-08-30

Then I had the heureka I had been waiting for, when scratching my head and deciding not to cut into 100€ worth of fabrics without knowing for certain I was doing things correctly – convert to inches. And angels began to sing, I’m telling you. They sang and it was glorious.

I had bought two metric quilting rulers and now use them only for their straight edge (mainly as extension ruler in combo with inch rulers), because in the second quilt shop I visited, which also closed its doors, I got a 15”x15” and a 6”x6” ruler, and things were blissful. Quilting in inches is something I can wrap my head around and it’s so easy. (Don’t make me think in yards or such in other contexts, though, because that’s positively dreadful! :D)

So what happened to the pinwheels baby quilt? It still sits in a pile of mostly uncut fabrics, waiting for the day I feel like drawing up the pattern from scratch, in inches. I’m fine with this, though, because it’s turned into some kind of milestone project for me, and for now it’s reached its first milestone only – the significant step that made me into a beginner quilter.

If something had shifted a bit in me after having flicked through the book by Miranda Innes, my mind was blown in a second milestone moment when deciding that the beginner’s course in quilting wasn’t for me after all, and that I’d look online instead. The first project I found was Elizabeth Hartman’s Tokyo Subway Map Quilt – and my mind simply exploded.

Quilting isn’t a thing here, and what I had seen were dark, slightly depressing things in earthy colours only, with the odd batik thrown in for good measure (sorry, no fan of those either). But the bright, cheerful, fresh fabrics in rainbow colours, grey, and black, all set against a crisp white background, with straight quilting in minimalist fashion, oh my, be still my racing heart. I have no words, but my reaction was incredibly emotional.

Looking back, now I realise that Elizabeth’s quilt-along was well on its way at the time of my finding her blog in between those two classes of the quilting course (because I googled due to sheer frustration with the teacher). Oh, Fransson! was not only the first quilting blog I found, but also the first for me to feature modern quilts. And the first modern quilt I ever beheld was Tokyo Subway Map Quilt. The quilt I’m hosting a quilt-along for starting tomorrow. I feel like a circle is about to close, but when I recall having been completely awestruck by the mere idea of cutting 1600 small squares back then, now I’m about to tackle the project with glee.

So, happy 4 years and here’s to another four years equally full of life! And please do join me tomorrow, it’s such a beautiful scrapbuster of a quilt!

Saturday evening ramblings

Hello everyone, I was supposed to post some helpful stuff about WordPress today. I will post it another time, but then I got this urge to write about foundation paper piecing (FPP), to which I have an introduction cooking. In fact, have had boiling for quite some time already.

There’s a pattern coming out, soon, and it will be free. I will walk you through a process that many seem to shy away from still. This may sound completely insane, coming from someone, who has actually only ever finished one FPP project, but I’m unusual in my learning process. First I like to learn the academic way about what it is that I’m trying to learn, and only then do I jump in, properly, in a glorious fashion.

So while I have only a bit of practical experience, I still know what I’m talking about. Because I also do my research. I have lost count of how many blog posts I’ve already skimmed through, written by others on the same subject, and then I haven’t even talked about a couple of great Craftsy classes yet.

Why write yet another article then? Because nobody has explained it my way. I also love to write The Ultimate Whatever kind of posts, when I finally get around blogging about something. It should be worth my time as a learner and teacher, but certainly also worth yours for being a loyal reader in a place, the blogosphere, which people seem to be leaving en masse. (I don’t get it. Nothing can replace blogs.)

Lately I’ve also been thinking about my voice as a blogger. There’s a constant balance to keep between not sharing enough, and sharing too much. There’s a reputation to maintain and care about. There’s also the part where I have to decide whether to bring in humour or not. I can be extremely sarcastic if need be, but usually it isn’t bringing out the nice parts in me, and so I choose to ignore the urge that surfaces from time to time. My humour is slightly dorky, in the scientific/medical kind of way, which isn’t always well received, and so it may be easier not to unleash it at all. It is there, though :)

From my reader stats I can tell that I’m still a tiny fish in the pond, but numbers are constant unless they show sudden surges like on Monday/Tuesday after posting the newest block of the Simplicity sampler quilt. Maybe you are making it but choose not to share your progress? That’s totally fine. I’m posting the blocks for selfish reasons; to push myself, to learn new things about my craft and myself, to send good karma out into the world. Selfish, I told you.

I made my first video tutorial some days ago. It is a short video how to make one’s own natural cleaning solution to use in a spray bottle and I made it for my family only. Craftsy classes have made me see how joyous teaching a craft can be and my family members seem like the perfect lab rats to practice video tutorials on. I loved it! The only annoying part was where I had to hold the iPhone in one hand and focus on the verbal message whilst mixing things with the other hand.

Apart from some minor hickups, I truly enjoyed it and wasn’t nervous at all, despite getting a case of bad nerves when having to perform in public. There was no script either, but I winged it from start to finish, and after having listened to myself a few times, I think teaching “strangers” could be rather fun. In that sense, I’m a typical INFJ; talk endlessly about something meaningful, but go cold after a minute of forced chit chat. Can’t stand the latter, ugh. So maybe you’ll see me post a video here sometime, because to me it isn’t ever about boosting myself (apart from the occasional tiny ego trip of course, like everyone experiences), but I simply love sharing what I have learned.

Anyway, this is a completely pictureless post and, yeah, I like words, too. Speaking of words, reading, writing, being creative and so on, I warmly recommend Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit.” Have you read it yet? Now it’s nearly bedtime for me, but I wish you a lovely weekend wherever you are in the world!

New supplies, Enchanted April and a Whoa!

I can’t believe almost all of April is gone already (first Whoa!), and hopefully, the month has been treating you well. This means I also haven’t been very active here on the blog this month (second Whoa!), which is a bit sucky really since I enjoy babbling about various sorts of crafts-related thoughts. In fact, I reached 9 April when realising the monthly ALYOF registration had already closed, and all that was left to do was to shake my head at myself. Oh well :)

I do, however, have some news about supplies, which is nice. New-supplies news are always nice, right? In this case, I’m talking about a looong zipper for a zabuton, and a bag of pillow stuffing. The latter will be used in one – or a few… (there’s lots of it, third Whoa!) – pin cushion, which translates to my possibly finishing a project this month. Luckily, I’ve already decided to make more pin cushions, but there is a car pillow in my future as well.

Enchanted AprilAnd what about Enchanted April? Well, it is a film. A few years ago I decided to watch it in April, and ever since I’ve put the dvd on each April. The shocking thing this year is that it was fresh in my memory still, in sort of a visceral way, yet a year has passed. Life is strange. In 2014, I wrote about my ponderings on my other blog and you can read them in Swedish here. Actually, there is a second shocking thing to mention, and if you’re familiar with this film, you might be stirred as well. It was made in 1991, which I cannot wrap my head around, as my life seems to stand still each time the wisterias are in bloom at San Salvatore. Have you seen this film? Are you as enchanted with it as I am? If you have yet to watch it, please know that it is a most quiet yet oddly refreshing film without any sort of Hollywood, but heaps of Europe in it.

Secret project

NWF Rainbow project 2015-03-27

I know the definition of a secret project is to, um, keep it secret. But it doesn’t count if the evidence is the size of 300×300 pixels. Right?

Craftsy - Elizabeth Dackson - Start Foundation Paper PiecingFor the Craftsy class Start Foundation Paper Piecing with Elizabeth Dackson, I dug out my Caran D’Ache to plan out an improvised mini-quilt of sorts. I need a bag for my cutting mat for when I can’t keep it on the kitchen table, and since one should make sure to keep them as flat and/or straight as possible when not in use, a proper bag should do the trick. The blocks in this class are of different sizes and so I’ve shrunk three of them to fit the smallest one, which is an eight-inch square.

I will place them in a square grid on one side of the bag, with some sashing between blocks, but for the idea to work, colours have to be just right. And so the Caran D’Ache box from my childhood of pencils, a water-colour palette, and crayons came out. Can you guess which my favourite colour used to be when growing up? I think it still is, if I had to pick just one colour out of them all :)

NWF Caran D'Ache 2015-03-27

It’s blue, recently expanded to all the cool colours. I can’t figure out why I’ve used the black pencil so much, because while it is another favourite today, I really didn’t think much of it in my youth. The yellow was used to draw suns, I think. Why? No idea.

As for drawing, I “suck at it, question mark”, but the point of my little supersecret preparation drawing was to get an idea of whether the chosen colour scheme would work or not, rather than create the next Picasso. It has worked nicely in my bag project, but the scribbles are all over the place and I might edit that part out of the reading-the-blog experience when I post about its making.

It’s ridiculous really, but I got the vibe from all my art teachers until the last one during the last three years of school that I simply cannot draw. I imagine it’s a bit like when one hears that one cannot sing or produce other forms of music, both of which do come naturally to me, and still, at 30+, I feel extremely self-conscious about drawing. Sorry to say so, but at my age (insinuates that I have a whole bunch of life wisdom *snicker*) I feel a teacher has completely failed a student, if the latter thinks (s)he just can’t grasp a particular subject, but I sense a minor rant developing, so moving on to my art classes.

If my memory serves me still, I took two of them in upper-secondary school (sort of equivalent to the American high school), and in one of them we had to draw in black and white after some leaf or branch or such. It’s the first time I’ve nailed anything and I still recall the feedback, which left me glowing for days. I was told I could draw, how about that!

But then, things slipped back into She Who Cannot Draw, and here we are. I’m figuring I have to push myself with force out of my comfort zone on this one, hence the sneak peek above of a quick, untamed mockup. It’s interesting as I’m beginning to notice a pattern here (post archived in Musings category for this reason…), and it has to do with the sense of insecurity.

If I’m really insecure about something, it’s easier not to do anything at all to improve the situation. Because fear of failure, of course. Eyeroll. Whereas if I feel I have at least some kind of idea of what I’m doing, like most of my projects presented on this blog, the threshold to jump into something new is much smaller. Maybe 2015 is the year when that all-or-nothing attitude finally has to go? Have to ponder. Do you ponder such things, too?

Anyway, projects, including the March blocks for Scandibee Queen Bee Ruth, are cooking in the background currently, so will post something more before the month is over. Happy Friday!

Scandibee February blocks

NWF Scandibee February blocks 2015-03-24

The February blocks for Scandibee Queen Bee Lizzie were a tad more challenging to make, compared to the January blocks, but on the other hand I jumped with eagerness into my scrap basket.

Lizzie asked for two 12.5”x12.5” blocks with red fabrics in the background, made according to the Spiderweb block tutorial by Em of Sewing by Moonlight. Em has provided downloadable templates for both the four “kites” and the squaring up of the quarter blocks. While the latter worked well in theory, I probably had taped the two pieces together in a slightly wonky way, because the first block made was challenging in its final stages to say the least. I barely had anything to trim off, so I decided to send both blocks untrimmed to Lizzie – in particular since I still don’t have a 12.5”x12.5” ruler.

When making the second block, I trimmed each quarter block an eight of an inch larger than necessary. This made it much easier to attempt creating perfect points in all intersections and I achieved this goal fairly well. At least I wasn’t ashamed to send my contributions to the Queen Bee. Another tricky thing with my machine is the not-so-great backstitching that it does, which caused me to tie knots rather than backstitch.

Challenges aside, the Spiderweb blocks were fun to make, but I think I won’t make a whole quilt with this technique, not by myself at least. The process is fairly slow, when you strive for perfect pattern placements, and also want somewhat harmonious-looking blocks. And of course that’s how I roll, in both good and bad.

NWF One-hour basket 2015-03-23I see time and time again how I prefer quality over quantity, and it’s okay. Clearly, I still feel torn about not cranking out stuff in large volumes, but I think it’s also to do with the fact that quilts are large and sometimes daunting projects. This probably holds true in particular because I have two sampler quilts in the making, which means learning new techniques in each block. Yesterday’s quick 1-hour basket showed me that I should keep making smaller, much quicker projects next to the larger ones, to feel like I’m making constant progress, regardless of speed. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that in my professional life I only have huge projects going on at the moment, and if my leisure is characterised by equally slow progress, it’s easier to feel overwhelmed, disappointed in a sense, and slightly frustrated as well. Something worth chewing on for sure! How do you deal with this? Not think about it at all? I’m possibly over-analysing things here… Wouldn’t be the first time for it to happen :)

Lizzie updated her Instagram yesterday with a photo of my stuff for her, so now I can let out a sigh of relief that nothing got lost in transit. Check out the other Spiderweb blocks in the Scandibee Flickr pool if you like! They are gorgeous!

Taking things for granted

It’s been quite some time since my last post and these months have been challenging to say the least. I’m reminded once again not to take anything for granted, because when things are rolling on smoothly, it seems like something ordinary and slightly frustrating or annoying can claim ridiculously large proportions of one’s awareness. The feeling in such situations, however, is satisfaction with life on a general level, when we dig a bit deeper to wake ourselves up from a stressed-out fog of sorts.

In my case, I got some unfortunate news in early December, but already at that point, the darkness of winter was beginning to get to me badly, so combined with the news I received, I drifted into a mild depression. The weird thing in such a state of mind is that one can function fairly well, without being fully functional, if that makes any sense. I never had a major depression, so I can’t tell what one feels like then, but this mild version causes time to fly past your nose for days or weeks on end.

What woke me up on 31 January was looking at the calendar and realising I had yet to sew the blocks of that month for my Queen bee, Stina. I felt absolutely horrified whilst it sunk in how I had almost let someone down, without even noticing. Luckily, she was wonderfully understanding and so I managed to crank out her two blocks, before everything was “ruined”.

Personal balance and health-related things are close to my heart, which is why I’m turning my private life inside out on this blog. Depression is quite a controversial topic still, but I feel like there is no shame and so I should simply say it like it is. Maybe someone else will read and feel better today. Or if they suffer from it in the future, maybe they might seek help sooner if needed, because they know others have been, or are, in the same boat.

Now I hope I’ll ease back in a gentle way into regular blogging, without taking water over my head. Latest news from my craft room slash kitchen table is that the sewing machine is acting up very badly, but I keep crossing my fingers that she’ll get a grip and stop acting like a five-year old on a maxibag of candy. Stay tuned for more on that… (I’m pulling hairs at this point.)

Wish you a lovely Wednesday, and remember to go easy on yourself!

Around the World Blog Hop

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My bee buddy Swedish Scrapper asked me whether I’d like to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop and I said yes, because it sounds like fun! It’s taken some time to get this post up, first because of illness and then since I haven’t found anyone to pass the torch on to.

If you haven’t participated yet, but would like to, please let me know in the comments and I’ll edit this intro to include a link to your blog! In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to a friend of mine, Kristy’s blog where she posted her answers earlier this year. She writes her own lovely patterns and as a matter of fact is having a sale currently.

EDIT: New quilter found via Instragram. Meet ArtL8dY, who will participate in the blog hop with a post!

The questions are these:

  1. What are you currently working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others?
  3. Why do you write/create what you do?
  4. How does your creative process work?

Let’s begin!

What are you currently working on?

I write monthly project posts to keep them organised and as realistic as possible. I have a crazy amount of different stuff going on in all areas of life and when planning it is easy to view each part separately from the other ones, which can result in too optimistic ideas of one’s capabilities within a certain time frame.

Flickr foryoudesigns 640My December projects therefore got pared down a bit compared to the ones I hoped to either move forward or finish entirely in November. Currently I’m working on a mug rug for the Scandibee Christmas swap as well as gifts for the holidays. There are no photos to show yet :)

In the making there is also a project pdf for managing quilting bee contributions, which I intend to sell at an affordable price. I’m putting the last touch on it as we speak and it should be for sale later this week. I’m really excited about it because I don’t think there is anything similar out there currently.

How does my work differ from others?

NWF Hand Embroidery - Sampler 2 Looped stitchesMany quilters are just that, quilters, but I like other crafts, too, such as general sewing, knitting, embroidery, and working with digital stuff. I would LOVE to learn how to sew my own clothes in a minimalistic style and you can look at my Project 333 board on Pinterest if you like. Regarding Pinterest, I try very hard to pin in a clear manner so that followers can decide which boards are of interest to them. Oh, and I’m Solsken Design on there, not Nina With Freckles, as I had to pick different social media for the two (can’t keep up with double of everything in all places).

I’m also working on building a small business out of this experience, which is something I have in common with even fewer people. My style is striving to become rather clean and minimalist; what I believe is the style Modern Quilt Guild is ultimately trying to push into the world. Focus will be on negative space and quite a lot of solid colours rather than patterned fabrics, but it’s still in the making only because the current fabric stash is mostly full of patterns.

In other words, I’m buzzing of ideas for quilt patterns to make and also there’s a bunch of ideas for embroidery patterns. Everything starts from breaking down stuff into manageable chunks, though, so it will take some time before you see it all come together here.

12 Days of Design SpoonchallengeSpoonflower is hosting a fabric-design challenge as we speak and I’m participating in it in an attempt to find out whether fabric design is for me or not. So far I’m having fun and there will be a post on my progress during days 3 and 4 later today.

Lastly, I think I differ quite a bit from many others in that I get overwhelmed from the mere thought of cranking out something crafty on a daily basis. In fact, I blogged about it not too long ago.

Why do you write/create what you do?

NWF Let's talk hexagons 2014-12-01I keep this blog not for myself only but for the enjoyment of others. By this I mean that I hope I create different sorts of original content that will inspire, teach, and provoke to new thoughts. I love doing research on various technical topics such as what sewing needle one should use in which context, how to wind the thread on a sewing machine the best way, and more. Recently I created a page with clickable pictures in a gallery for the purpose, since I think there’s no use if all information is accessible through tags and categories only; there’s too much to scroll through. In other words, “enjoyment of others”.

NWF Create your collage 2014-03-07Take a look at my other blog pages, too, some of which are under construction still and others, such as the fabric palette gallery, are completely up-to-date now. The idea is that if you can’t keep up with this place on a frequent basis, you’ll have easy access later on to what might interest you. My fabric palettes are an exception in that I usually only make them for myself and within rules that I set (unless I participate in a contest).

Through blogging I’ve made some good internet friends and Instagram has opened even more doors. It is a pleasure interacting with these people around the world and the most recent addition is Scandibee, which you can find on Flickr as well as Instagram under that hashtag. All ladies are in Europe and most are in Scandinavia. Quilting isn’t huge in Finland, so this international twist to my work is very welcome.

In short, I do this to grow and learn new things, including waltz outside of my comfort zone on a frequent basis. It’s not good to become too set in one’s ways, but the brain needs a decent airing out often.

How does your creative process work?

I’m not sure. I find inspiration in nature and in various man-made structures around me. Recently I saw a photo of a tattoo on a man’s back, which was made in minimalist Japanese style in black only and there certainly is a blackwork or other embroidery pattern in the making inspired by it. My collection of inspirational pictures is quite large at this point.

NinaWithFreckles - Hawthorn Threads palette 9Colour palettes are very important to me and while I’m learning still, I think my eye has already been trained quite a bit to see what stands out the wrong way and what works as a nice colour punch to put the dot on the i. I’m not satisfied with the concept of “it will do”, but will keep on tweaking until I’m pleased. And not even then will it always be “perfect”, but that’s when I have learned not to take out the seam ripper anymore.

As should be evident from the monthly project posts I mentioned earlier, I have lots of projects going on simultaneously. I tend to get bored easily and need something else to jump to then. For the longest of time I’ve thought of this tendency as not so great, but I’m trying to let go of ideals set by others as guidelines for their work. As long as the projects get done at some point, there is no problem, at least for me.

I could keep writing, because the questions are interesting, but instead I do as always, finish with a suggestion to comment and ask questions. I love questions and other forms of interactions here! Currently I have a backlog of other blogs to visit, but I follow them all on bloglovin’ and will get up-to-date before the year is over, so follow me there if you like. Thanks for reading and Happy Thursday to you!