The Mysterious Halloween Town!

mysterioushalloweentown3

mysterioushalloweentowncolors

mysterioushalloweentown2

themysterioushalloween4

thefrostedpumpkinstitcheryhalloween

It’s Mysterious Halloween Town Club Time!

Thank you all so much for saying YAY to more sneak peeks! Today I thought I’d share with you just a tiny bit of my Mysterious Halloween Town!

If you maybe don’t know me or have never visited my blog, you may not know about my obsession with Halloween. I *love* it. I start decorating in August around my birthday. I’ve made 5? 6? Halloween quilts, ignoring the fact that it’s too hot here for quilts in October. I got married on October 30th. I think it’s pretty much the best holiday. Also: candy.

Last year we launched a super pretty and super special pattern, Halloween Spooky Sampler! Ashleigh & I were very nervous, it was our first time designing a pattern that used both hand dyed floss and hand dyed fabric. Plus it had that big lace-y border! But it turned out you guys REALLY liked it, it’s one of our best selling patterns. I’m glad you like Halloween as much as we do! Seriously.

We listened to your feedback, we always do! You wanted more time before the holiday to work on your project and you wanted colors with more variegation.

While Ashleigh & I can’t control each individual skein of floss (remember- they are hand dyed, making each skein unique which is super cool!), we did pick colors that are very, very, variegated. And we decided to start the club in June with four monthly installments released around two weeks after Once Upon a Time so if you want to make both projects, it’s totally achievable! It also gives everyone over a month to source supplies, including our international friends! The timing is also so if you are like us and want to work on your project leading up to Halloween, the last PDF goes out in mid-September! We also decided instead of sending monthly emails that occasionally get caught in spam, we now provide a direct link for you to access your pattern each month in the introductory PDF. I *wish* we could work out something like ravelry’s pattern delivery system for the future but we are trying this for this pattern and we’ll see how it goes!

The colors are *super* unique in this pattern and we wanted to make that clear from the very beginning. Bubblegum pink! Lavender! Moldy and acid-y greens! Lots of black! It’s a very bold palette of colors and super fun to stitch with. We are also using two brands of hand dyed embroidery floss, both Weeks Dye Works and The Gentle Art. If hand dyed floss isn’t your thing, the pattern does include the DMC/COSMO conversions but keep in mind that your project won’t look the same as the sample! The fabric we picked is a new Picture This Plus color called Wren! We are using it in the Crystal Cashel base which means it has opalescent thread woven in it. Opalescent = Sparkles!!! It’s a very pretty warm gray that white looks really neat against.

Sooooo what will you be stitching? Oh just the cutest Halloween Town EVER! It’s 11.4 inches long and 5.2 inches tall, so a long landscape! It has two buildings including…a BAKERY. And it has some trick or treaters- including Frankenstein that I’m sharing a photo of! See how neat that floss looks? His hair is Carriage Black and it looks so cool! The little owl was my favorite part to work on, he’s stitched in Bubblegum & Lavender Potpourri, it was kind of tricky to take a photo of but one of his ears has two very dark purple stitches that I *love*. It has a few little Quaker elements, a lot of Kawaii elements and basically…it’s adorable!

And I’m still stitching my personal project! I’ll try and sneak in more photos but I don’t want to spoil it too much for anyone, I know a lot of you like the mystery and guard it fiercely!

In addition to stitching, I’m also in the process of re-reading The Mortal Instruments series because City of Heavenly Fire comes out later this month! eep! eep! I’m both excited and nervous to read it but I’m sure I’ll share those thoughts with you later on!

I hope you liked these peeks of Mysterious Halloween Town Club and have a good Friday!

PS: It’s 90 degrees out and all I can think about while stitching a Halloween pattern is having a hot chai latte! lol!

Once Upon a Time Sampler: May

onceuponatimesampler

onceuponatimesamplermay

onceuponatimeaprilblock

mysterious

How is it already May? My brain is still stuck in February and I have no idea why!

I realized earlier last week that I didn’t blog about April’s Once Upon a Time block! I’m not sure why, I love those bears so much!

This month is Jack and the Beanstalk! The cow just about kills me. I’m so glad Ashleigh designed the little bird- we are currently experiencing an epic spring migration and every free moment I have I’ve been out bird watching. I’ve been able to add 4 new birds to my life list. High 5!

It should come as NO surprise that we are launching a Halloween Club tomorrow. I’ve been working on it for the past few weeks and here is something I’m currently struggling with and maybe you can share with me your thoughts!

When we started TFPS, we just built super cute simple little charts and had computer generated covers. Now either Ashleigh or I stitch a version, plus two other ladies stitch for us as well. I *want* to share more photos of my personal projects but I’m afraid it’s confusing to you guys! I’m afraid when you see my WIP, it might make you think that the pattern isn’t finished or fully designed yet.

Last year when I was stitching Woodland Sampler along with you guys, a few people asked if we were just designing each month as we went which is/was definitely NOT the case. Since our business has grown, we have so many small elements that have to be completely spot on before we even release the pattern! For example: thread quantity! For huge projects like Once Upon a Time, that pattern had to be completely stitched before we told shops like The Cottage Needle & The Workroom which colors and quantities of floss to order. Which means, even though in my photos you see blank spaces, that chart is completely done and has already been stitched up twice!

I definitely want to share more photos with you guys because I *love* WIP photos. I love taking them and I love watching someones project grow each time they post. But I don’t want to be redundant and explain “Yes, this pattern is finished. This is my own personal project” in every single blog post because I’m afraid the handful of regular readers will think “Amanda! We already know this!”

For the past month or so I’ve been working on my Mysterious Halloween Town Club and I’ve been wanting to share lots of photos with you but it’s tricky deciding how much to post, when to post it, etc! I’m the *worst* at marketing and definitely need a class on it! I don’t want my blog to become a giant ad but at the same time…GUYS IT’S A FREAKING HALLOWEEN CLUB AND I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU A HUNDRED MILLION PHOTOS.

So what do you guys think? Photos of cross stitch WIPs, are you into them?! Does it confuse you or does it make sense that I’m sharing my own projects?!

Making Project Life Work For Me

projectlife5

projectlife4

projectlife3

projectlife2

projectlife1

I got caught up on Project Life this past weekend and finished my pages yesterday. Woo!

If you aren’t familiar with Project Life, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what works for me:

  • Printing my photos at home! I used this video tutorial to learn how to print two photos onto one page. I have this little printer and I *love* it.
  • Studio Calico Project Life Kit. This is the big one for me. If I spend money on a subscription, I have to use it. If it arrives in the mail, I’m SUPER excited to get home and use it. Each month is different so my book doesn’t look like all one theme which I really like. It’s also gotten me to try to use the filler cards more- they are just cute! And I like the journal cards, it’s hard for me to not use a million photos. Photos are awesome but if I just did them…it would be way smarter to just have an album printed at the end of the year! This way I can add more “real life” stuff to my book with out relying on photos to tell a story.
  • Smaller size. I use a Snap! Binder I bought in December at Michael’s on mega clearance. Sadly they don’t have any left and mine is now full! I’m debating buying a different binder type for May but I want it small. 12×12 is super overwhelming!
  • Printing photos every other day (because I use one sheet of photo paper for two photos). I tried once a week, once per month and once every two weeks. Every other day works for me, especially now that I’m using more journal/filler cards. I can share my thoughts super fast. I have a phone timer set on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to remind me. Once a month was SUPER tedious for me, I couldn’t remember half of what I’d done or the dates. Which brings me too…
  • I don’t date my cards. I have a first of the month card and an end of the month re-cap card. The re-cap card I talk about stuff that happened, books I read, food I loved. The first of the month card I usually write things I want to try or events happening. I don’t date my cards because sometimes there just isn’t ANYTHING to share or maybe one day was so neat that I have 4 photos.
  • If I’m not sure what to add somewhere or I’ve tucked away a movie stub somewhere special (aka now I can’t find it) I’ll add a little sticky note with what is supposed to go there.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Using a core kit. I bought the 5th and Frolic (I think that’s what it’s called?!) kit from Michaels. I used a 50% off + 10% off total purchase coupon in December which was awesome but by mid February, I was sick of using the same papers over.and over. And I was barely into the project! That was when I was *super* glad I joined Studio Calico, it freshened things up and made it less cookie cutter-y! Also, the S.C. paper is much better quality and more sturdy.
  • The Becky Higgin’s corner rounder. It hates the photo printer paper and kept chomping my paper. Super sad because part of my album has rounded corners, part doesn’t.

What I want to try in the future:

  • Adding text over photos in photoshop!
  • Making more layers of stuff on my cards. Right now they are pretty simple, sometimes I add a sticker, sequins or washi but I want to add more cute layers.
  • Make one page one photo!
  • More paper ephemera. Add more receipts, little tokens from events, etc.

Who’s projects I admire & finding inspiring:

In reality my Project Life kind of looks like a 14 year old with a brand new glue stick made it, I think I’m ok with that. I practically use up every little sequin or sparkle that comes in each monthly kit. My layouts aren’t fancy, they are fast and get the point across. I’d *love* to have a book like the ladies I linked too but…they are legit scrapbookers! I’m not so much or even remotely at that skill level! YET!!! BUT I am glad that I’ve kept up to date and my book is totally me. I like that I took so many photos when I was working on Follow Your Arrow because it documented the whole thing! I like printing silly things like cat memes. I like printing book covers and including them. I like jotting down daily thoughts- even though my penmanship is awful. I realllllly like knowing that at the end of the year I will have documented all of 2014!

How about you? Are you doing Project Life this year? How’s it going?

Let’s get cozy.

tublarity1

tublarity

shawlpartybetter

multnomahcurve

gnomeacres

savoryfingering

youngliving

First off, thank you for all your kind words and emails on my previous post. It was amazing how many friends reached out and said “YES. The joy of creating isn’t there anymore” or  ”Let’s all share MORE little things”. I have a few more thoughts to share on this subject but I’ll save them for another day k?

Second off, can I just share with you guys some stuff that is inspiring me lately?

Tubularity! Whyyyyy is Martina Behm so dang CUTE? This is such a neat little pattern, it’s something I can see myself wearing a ton. Also: I’m drowning in sock scraps. A quick dive into my scrap tub revealed these leftovers that I thought looked neat together. I probably will need to buy yarn or break into other full skeins today which I’m a-ok with! I’m not 100% sure I’m doing the increases correctly (she has a video but mine aren’t looking *exactly* like she shows them) but I like knitting it. I’m looking forward to moving from yarn blob to yarn blob. That’s a technical term k?

Ashburn! This is my summer knitting goal. I bought four skeins of Candy Skein Savory Fingering in Honey, Oyster, Grape Fizz & Plum. I got to meet Tami at Stitches West and she is just awesome! I can’t decide which combo of colors I’ll use but I’m excited to wear it next fall. This is one I’m really looking forward to just enjoying the process and relaxing with. I think it’s going to feel similar to Multnomah, that is my current shawl that I keep it in my purse.

Bertie Bott’s Yarn! Um WHAT! I was digging through my yarn bin and came across this cutie that Chop bought me…in 2012. WHY HAS IT NOT BECOME SOCKS YET?! Both pairs of socks on my needles right now at two at a time, which is totally fine but I want to have a single sock to keep in my purse. This is so sparkly. And Harry Potter themed. And a present from my favorite dude.

Reading. Reading. Reading. No seriously. I can’t stop. This is my Goodreads in case you are also into reading. Which I hope you are.

The reading frenzy started when I discovered BookRiot. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to look at book related blogs/websites but I fell down the rabbit hole and I AM SO INTO IT. Then I learned tumblr has a ton of YA book fandom. Now I’m using tumblr again and loooooving it.

My main reading goal this year was 75 books. But I wanted them to be REALLY GOOD reads. None of this “self published 100 pages stuff”. Don’t get me wrong, there are some super talented self published authors but I feel like the majority I read last summer/fall just weren’t for me.

Here are five of my favorite books so far- also, I’m the worst at explaining why I like books so just pretend this is super eloquent k?

  • These Broken Stars. I’ve never read anything space related before and I reallllly liked this. Only the first bit takes place in space and I liked the world building. I hope the rest of the series involves space ships because they just seem really neat.
  • Cress. Oh oh oh. This is the online fandom I stalk the most. It’s just such a unique series and it’s beautifully written.
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters. This is my second favorite online fandom. Taylor very boldly inserts new characters and details into this book- the last in the series. Full confession- I rarely read the last book in a series. Especially if it’s one I love. I’m always too afraid the author is going to kill it for me. I was satisfied with this ending. I’m looking forward to re-reading the entire series again from start to finish.
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. This one surprised me. The writing is just DREAMY. Poetic. Haunting. Strange. I liked it because it was just really unique.
  • Half Bad. I read one person say that this book could have been the childhood story of Snape. I’m not sure about that but it is also a really unique read. White Witches vs. Black Witches and White Witches…aren’t the greatest. It’s a dark story, I think it would be a good October read.

I’m currently reading The Name of the Wind, good friends suggested it and I’m looking forward to a long meat-y read. Speaking of meat-y reads- I decided that this summer my goal is to finish Game of Thrones. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m 59% through this book and just ARGH about it. I read it and I keep waiting and waiting and waiting for SOMETHING GIANT to happen but it’s a about a MILLION little stressful events CONSTANTLY happening! I’d find myself reading until 1 or 2 am just waiting for it (I don’t even know what it is!) to happen. It’s just super suspenseful but also not at the same time. Does that even make sense? Probably not. But I follow a few fandom blogs on tumblr about the books and it’s just a fascinating culture to me that I’m genuinely mad at myself for not just reading it! Also: 59%! That’s a ton. But now I can’t decide if I should start again or pick up from where I left off or WHAT!

Also, I’m currently cross stitching a new club pattern. And it’s awesome. It’s so kawaii and based on my favorite holiday EVER and I can’t wait to start sharing photos with you. We have everything ready to go and I don’t want to make any bold claims but this just might be the best thing Ashleigh has ever designed for me. Yes, for me. Because IT’S MY FAVORITE FLIPPING HOLIDAY IN MY FAVORITE COLORS. Granted, it’s her favorite holiday and favorite colors too but…I request CAKE and there is CAKE. I said OWLS and received OWLS. I said PUMPKINS WITH ONE TOOTH and…yup. It’s going to be good.

I’ll be back hopefully soon to share my million photos of Once Upon a Time Sampler & Tea Time.

One last thing, Tracey suggested I try Young Living Deep Relief roll on essential oil blend. I’m pretty excited to give it a try.

<3

 

Quietly Creating & Missing Pickle Chips

shawlbagfull

romimysteryshawl2

romimysteryshawl1

romimysteryshawl

shawlbag2

shawlbag1

tinybirds

Hi!

Happy Sunday!

What are you up too?

Yesterday Chop & I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel! We very much loved it. As always, it was like an amazing visual feast.  I’m always such a sucker for his palettes and details.

I’ve been slowly but surely working on my Romi Hill Mystery Shawl.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “purposeful” & “quiet” creating. The kind of projects where you focus a lot on the process and not so much on the end result. I’ve also been thinking about seasonal flavors of potato chips.

2014 is turning out to be my year of purposeful creating. Everything I’ve done so far has been a slow journey.

Part of this is because my hand gets cranky if I knit or stitch for long increments of time. Part of this is because I literally don’t have the energy to do a million things. And part of it is because I work full time on Pumpkin stuff- my personal crafting time is limited, therefore I want to make it count and be special.

Here is what I’m doing differently:

  • Love it or leave it! If the project I’m working on doesn’t give me 100% satisfaction- it’s a goner. I’ve always been pretty ok with this part, I’ve frogged countless knitting projects and taken apart many quilts but now I’m being more diligent than ever. See you later lame projects!
  • Use materials that bring you joy: Special yarn, special fabric, favorite sewing machine. Let’s use all the favorites! I’ve been debating destashing stuff I no longer love because it stresses me out to have a ton of things that I’m not using. I literally put 95% of my fabric stash into storage because I felt like a jerk.
  • Make the process count. My knitting time is limited (my left hand gets sore) so I make it special. Favorite music or an audiobook, cup of coffee, new project bag, cute stitch markers, etc. I’ll knit uninterrupted for an hour, rather than “knitting” for three hours but really I’m not knitting, I’m looking at  facebook or getting distracted by other stuff. This is the hardest one for me.
  • Figuring out which part of crafting brings you joy and focusing on it. I personally do not enjoy full sized quilt making. At all. I never have. We sleep under a down comforter, not a quilt for this exact reason. I enjoy it even less if I’m making the same block.over.and.over.and.over. But I *love* fabric and I love small patchwork, especially if it tells a story. So this year I’m taking traditional blocks and making a sampler. Just from scraps. When I have time. I don’t have a giant master plan, I have some loose ideas. That is how quilting brings me joy: handfuls of scraps, loose plan, favorite small blocks.
  • The WHY. I think the number one question I get when I’m stitching or knitting in public is why? Why craft? Why create? Can’t you buy socks at Target for like, a dollar?!  WHY DO YOU DO THIS?! Example: Why am I knitting a shawl? Because I absolutely love these two yarns. Because I want to support the designer. Because I wanted to support two indie yarn dyers. Because I like getting a little piece of the puzzle each week. Because I love taking photos of WIPs. Because my favorite feeling is watching something newly finished floating in bubbles of Soak Wash & anxiously tapping my fingers because I want to see how GIANT it gets. Because I absolutely want a navy & purple shawl to wear next fall. Because it’s cozy! Totally cozy!  Because I hate being cold! Each project I’m asking myself WHY. But this doesn’t mean “justify yourself”. That’s totally different and you should never have to justify your creations. Ever. Which brings me to the next part…
  • Enjoying the result. I have a confession to make. (I’m making my “serious Amanda face right now”) I don’t share many of my finished projects because it makes me uncomfortable when people ask me things like “do you sleep?!” “how do you knit so many socks, you must not have kids!” “do you even make quilts anymore or do you just knit”? or comments like “you are a machine”! It makes me feel almost ashamed about how much I do and don’t create. And then I feel like I have to justify how much I create, why I spend my time/money/etc creating and well…that sucks the joy right out of it! I recently talked about this with a few online friends. They shared similar stories about how they’ll finish a quilt, take DOZENS of photos but only share three because they are afraid of people commenting about the mistakes or asking why they chose certain fabrics instead of more “matching” prints. Or the fear of “overgramming” a project.  One knitting friend said for every finished sweater she shares, she’s actually knit two but she’s embarrassed  to share them all after someone added up the cost of her finished sweater collection! Who even does that?! RUDE! I *hate* feeling like social media makes me not want to celebrate my finishes. I *hate* that my friends don’t share 9 million photos of their finished quilts. I hate that I’ve only seen like, 5 of my friends finished sweaters when I now know she’s knit a dozen! I’m not sure if this sort of negativity happens offline, I only have three local friends and so far none of them have been like “AMANDA WHYYYYYY ARE YOU MAKING HALF A DOZEN PINK QUILTS!!!!!” (correct answer: Why WOULDN’T you?!) The things we create we SHOULD celebrate. We should be proud. Technically, in the age of $1 Target socks, we don’t HAVE to create. But we do. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I truly feel so inspired when I see someone do something like turn handspun yarn into a sweater. Or switch from aida to linen and *get* it. Or make a quilt and share their favorite block, even if it’s not perfectly pieced. There is something WAY more inspiring to me to watch a project grow and turn into something than see three photos of a finished quilt with the pattern name, fabrics used and that’s it. I guess I want to see more of why we create and more of us enjoying the things we make!

This year I’m probably going to create less. But I’m definitely going to try and enjoy every single second of it!

And I’m also going to throw a mega hissy fit if the Safeway in town doesn’t bring back pickle flavored Lays potato chips.

SO! to summarize!

More creating with less pressure, enjoying the process, sharing more, more favorite stuff being used and hopefully pickle flavored chips being consumed while doing all of these things.

<3