The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.

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With Thanksgiving

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving if you are in the U.S.  After my whiney, pitiful last post, I’m happy to report that mine was very nice. Stress, exhaustion and the impending cross country move of my son was not a good combination. I would like to say that would be my last pitiful post but I still have Christmas to get through so no promises.


I did get to spend about a week and a half with the “boy” and his girlfriend came for a visit and had Thanksgiving with us. My daughter and son-in-law made it as well. It had been since May that I had seen them in person. Arden and I got in a 4.5 mile hike together along with my grandpup, Rainey. We had a houseful of people and 5 dogs so there were no dull moments. Top all that off with our well pump dying and life gets really interesting. Two and a half days without running water! Why do things like that always happen when we have people in??

Slowly, ever so slowly things are wrapping up with my SIL’s estate. Every week we think we are done at her house, but then something else needs to be done, looked for or moved. We have an impending deadline so hopefully this Satuday will be the last big day over there. Lots of furniture moving to be done as we get the last of the major items out. We are VERY tired of moving furniture! 

Somehow in all of this (I still have a job that requires my attention too) Miss L and I are making Christmas gifts, the Christmas tree is up, I am cleaning out our storage unit of unneeded furniture and the people and animals still get fed. Poor D. hasn’t had a day off in literally months. Even on his days off from his job he is moving furniture, working on the barn, processing deer meat for a few friends and working on the Honey Do list.  When he decides he can squeeze in a few hours of hunting I figure that’s as close as he is going to get to some R&R for another month. We will all be very happy to see 2017 go bye bye!


I wish I could tell you about all sorts of cool, creative things I am doing but I don’t have much. I finished my second pair of knitted socks and plan to start a sweater next and I got in a drawing though it’s not finished yet. There are big plans in the works and hopefully I can share at least one of those next week if all goes well.  Right now the biggest thing I want to accomplish is getting my house clean and catching up on the laundry that piled up during our dry spell! 

My apologies for the same drawing twice. I can’t get it to delete!


Have a great week and be grateful for clean, running water. 

Another rabbit hole

Hi Everyone,

I’m squeezing this in just before my self imposed deadline is up. I try to get my posts done before Saturday. It’s 9:17 pm on Friday night and everyone has gone to bed except me.

So I’m feeling pretty good about this week. I finished and delivered my commissioned piece. You will have to wait until after Christmas to see it though. I had a pretty good work week including meeting a tight deadline. The laundry is caught up. The house is in pretty good shape. I have had enough down time to keep me sane. Yep, best week in a LONG time. 

I am planning a series of drawings and paintings and other stuff now that the commission is done. I’m just in the gathering stage right now so nothing to show yet.

Along with my sock knitting I decided to take on another project for my evening lazy hour or two when I can get it. I found a pile of partially pieced quilt sections that we think were started by D’s grandmother and want to see if I can put them together. There were two parts that were almost sewn together so I started by finishing them. Oh please don’t judge. I have never hand pieced before and they have not been ironed yet.


Then I tried to figure out what the block design was. I looked at pattern blocks on Pinterest  until my eyes bled and could not figure it out! So I turned to Facebook. You know there is a group for EVERYTHING on Facebook so I found a quilting group that has about 52 THOUSAND members. Seriously! Surely they would know what it was. I gave them the same photo as here and in just about 2 minutes a lady told me it is a star pattern and how to put it together. From there I did some star pattern research and it looks to be a Tribute Star pattern.

Yes, I have a habit of falling into rabbit holes on a fairly regular basis. But look at all the cool, weird stuff I chase down. 

Don’t look for the finished product to show up any time soon. I am hand piecing these babies (I can’t keep my sewing machine out all the time and will be too tired to sew if I have to drag it out every night) and there are 37 sections which will eventually make 9.5 Tribute Stars. I’m assuming the half is in case of disaster or I’m missing a half, but I can sort of visualize 3 rows of 3 stars to eventually make a quilt. Do NOT hold your breath waiting to see these. It’s gonna take awhile.

That’s all from The House of Weird this week. Go make something! 

A patchwork of things

Hi Everyone!

I hope all is well in your world.  We have a little touch of Fall in the air today but are in great need of rain as you can tell by this photo of my car.  We live on a dirt road. Washing my poor car will not help right now.  dirty car

It has been another non-stop week and my brain is tired, but I will try to share what I can.

I finally finished my dress last week.  Pictures will come later, but the pattern is called the Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts and I absolutely loved how it turned out.  If I had realized how simple the pattern was I would have finished it during one of my insomnia nights. There will be more made. Next one will be in a plaid flannel I think for winter.

Knitting has been my sanity saver the past few months since I do not have the time or space to drag out my paints.  Here is my next luscious skein of yarn for my next pair of socks.  yarnThis hand dyed yarn is from On The Round in Maine.

Next week should be slower and I plan to possibly finish my daughter’s logo for her blog, Body By Nutrition, then start on a drawing commission.

In the never-ending process of cleaning out three, sometimes four, generations of stuff from my husband’s family I have discovered what talented ladies his Mother and Grandmother were.  Both were excellent seamstresses who made most of their own clothes as well as their family’s.

I think there is a future post on all those unfinished projects we crafty/artsy folk have laying around and tucked into corners of closets.  Here are a couple that I found.  I think the finished star was made by D’s Grandmother and the partially pieced one made by his Mother.  I found the lovely old needle case in with some of these.  It contains all sizes of needles including old, tiny beading needles.  patchwork

Hopefully in the not so far future, I can finish the quilt squares.  There are not enough for a quilt (unless I unearth some more), but probably some pillow tops for the family.

In other news, those of you who know Miss L. will notice her sporting new glasses soon.  She had mentioned she lost some glasses this past winter.  I don’t know what made me schedule her an eye appointment before other doctor appointments that she needs since she never complained about headaches or difficulty seeing, but I did.  Boy, am I glad.  She has 20/300 vision!  The doctor made her pinky swear that she will wear her glasses all the time in an attempt to correct her vision at least to a better point than where she is.  Seems there is a limited age range where this particular problem can be corrected and she is right at that limit.  So if you see her without them on…remind her! Those pinky swears are serious stuff!

I gotta go get some more work done.  I have no affiliate advertising on this blog.  Any businesses mentioned here I share in case you want to check them out.

Have an awesome week!  I will be MIA next week.  We are escaping for some much needed R&R to a secret location.  All I can tell you is that there is an ocean nearby. YEAH!

 

Photos by Christel Huttar

Clearing out and passing along

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 holds some big changes for me, I am ramping up the never ending clearing out and downsizing that is now in its fourth year.  Who knew this would take so very, very long.

This week I unearthed several half finished knitting and crochet projects along with a pile of yarn and a box full of fabric that has lived with me too long.  What the heck to do with all of it? Most of the projects were started originally to use up all the yarn.  Where the heck did all that yarn come from anyway?  I swear there are inanimate objects that reproduce in my house!

knitting

I have three small blankets very close to being done.  I have piles of bits and pieces of random yarn and the fabric is home décor fabric not suitable for clothing or quilts.  After doing some thinking and research I believe I have a plan. My plan is to finish everything and donate them where they can truly be of some use.  If any of you have similar stashes taking up valuable real estate, I am sharing the links below.

As long as I can remember I have hated wasting anything.  I’m not sure if it was how I was raised or just something I was born with, but along with serving me well during tough times it has also driven me nuts. I am not a hoarder.  If anything, my inclination is toward minimalism, but I will hang on to things I don’t need until I can find a useful end to it. I cannot bring myself to throw something away just because I don’t need it or can’t use it anymore.  Goodwill knows me by name.  It is a rare month that I don’t make a drop off of things I have cleaned out.

So, here I am once again trying to find a creative solution to my yarn/fabric problem. Since this seems to be an ongoing thing for me I have started a Pinterest board called “In need”.  If you want to follow it for ideas of where you can contribute search for “Christel Williams” or “In need” and you should be able to find the board.  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble or are not a Pinterest addict like myself, here are a few links.

The blankets are going to either Project Linus or one of the local hospitals/shelters/churches depending on the size and softness of the yarn.  The random bits of yarn are going to be made into scarves for the local homeless shelters and the fabric will be made into a sleeping bag(s) (see the Sleeping Bag Project below. I love it for its emphasis on recycling).

Knit for Kids

The Sleeping Bag Project

Project Linus

Care Wear

Snuggles Project (for our furry friends)

I have not donated to these organizations before, but am making the links available for you to check out.  There are ALWAYS shelters, churches, groups in your local area that are in need of items.  It does not take much work to find them and they are very appreciative.

Wishing you a generous, productive, healthy, safe, peaceful week!

Christel

Learning to ride and other failures

There are times when I think my life would make a good sitcom.  Have you noticed that what makes us watch TV sitcoms are the things that go wrong in spite of a character’s best attempt at something? Yeah, I have had a few of those moments recently.

If you read my “drilling down” post you know that I am trying to improve my skills in several areas.  So for an update and your amusement, here is how it is going.

Sewing: I thought I was on a roll and got cocky.  My recent attempt at making some stuffed monsters has met with some issues. Minky fabric is NOT my friend and the combination of knit fabric and fabric glue with a sewing machine will make you say bad words.  Check out these eyeballs.  Sad. Just sad.

Monster eyes 2

Painting: I’m not even going to show you my attempts at this yet.  There was a time (about 30 years ago to be exact) when I was fairly proficient with acrylic paint. Colors blended together effortlessly. Light landed where it was supposed to go. Currently I have two paintings that are about to be, to put it kindly, wiped off the face of the earth and recreated again.

Knitting: I’m halfway into ONE sock.  How am I ever going to work up to a sweater if it takes me a month to do half a sock?!

Horseback riding: The upside to the fact that DH never actually carries his phone is that there is no video of the following event.

Bob

We have had some beautiful Fall weather in my part of NC and I was itching to practice my horseback riding skills.  Our resident pasture ornaments include Christy (eldest, most experienced with all skill level riders and most ill natured), KC (former endurance competition horse, laid back personality), and Bob (the teenager, untrained, mischievous, escape artist).

Since Bob isn’t trained yet he was exempt from this excursion and continued to make the pasture look good with his pretty boy self.  DH decided that since KC was “bomb proof” from all his years as an endurance horse that I would be safest on him.  Christy has expressed some “attitude” at times so DH rode her.

The trip started out well enough.  Up the dirt road to the main road.  No one seemed to be having any problems with the cars going by.  Let me stop here and explain that the horses have not been ridden regularly for several years.  They were out of practice as much as I am. As we were cutting through the neighbor’s field I noticed that KC was more interested in eating than hauling my butt around.  It took some effort on my part to keep him moving.

As we continued on KC seemed to be remembering that he enjoyed getting out and picked up his step…to the point that it took some effort on my part to slow him down.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  I have only had the most rudimentary of riding lessons.  Rein right to go right, left to go left, back to stop. That’s it.  On average I ride once every ten years.  No one has ever explained leg pressure or body weight shifts have meaning to a horse. My horseback riding skill is STAYING ON THE HORSE. Period.

KC and DH competed for years in endurance races of 50 to 100 miles.  DH doesn’t even have to use reins for KC to know what he is supposed to do.  And then I come along.  As we rode through the field we passed a small pond surrounded by beautiful Fall color adorned trees and approached a small hill. DH stopped and explained that we were going to work on my riding skill a little by going up the hill and that KC would go uphill a LITTLE faster than a walk so be prepared.  Right. Got it.

After that, it’s all a blur.  I remember shifting in the saddle at the bottom of the hill to brace myself and suddenly KC took off at a full gallop with me hanging on for dear life, screaming as we flew through high grass and trees and headed for the woods.  As we reached the top of the hill I was able to level out enough to pull back on the reins and scream a series of WHOA, WHOA WHOOOOOAAAA’s before we went into the woods and I got taken out by a tree branch (ask me how I know about that)! Finally he stopped.

Without going into all the remaining details I will tell you this much.  I rode Christy back and she tested me in oncoming traffic. Yes, cars, coming by at a high rate of speed.  KC maybe wasn’t trying to abuse me as much as he just hadn’t gotten to stretch his legs in a while and was enjoying some fun.  DH had to do some work to keep KC from letting loose with him, though by unknowingly shifting my weight and loosening the reins, I probably told KC to fly up that hill.

We all made it safely home and my one skill of STAYING ON THE HORSE is still intact! It has been decided that I will be in the riding ring on Christy learning the other skills of horseback riding until I am safe to leave the pasture.  I think there will be a riding helmet involved also, just in case my one current skill leaves me.

I hope my stories of utter failure help you along in any endeavor you may be attempting. Learning and improving is not for the faint of heart!

 

Drilling down…

I am running late this week.  The past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy.  The work load has picked up as it usually does in the Fall, we have been trying to finish several outside projects at the farm before the weather gets cold (and hunting season kicks into high gear) and we are having our second annual chicken stew on Saturday which takes some prep work as well.  So while I have a few minutes left…

The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.
The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.

I have decided that it is time I got serious about a few things.  If you have read any of this blog you should be getting the idea that I’m serious maybe 20% of the time.  It is not that I don’t take things seriously. I do. But something happens in my brain and often what went in seriously comes out with a warped and amused twist when it exits my brain and oozes down to my fingers or springs from my mouth. Serious stuff has happened over the years and that tends to make me selective about what really is serious.  Did that make ANY sense at all??

Back to where I was going with this.  I can do lots of things.  That is not tooting my own horn, it is just my reality.  I have had to learn how to do lots of things.  Artsy stuff you know about, but I can also do minor car repairs, use power tools and do some basic carpentry, grow my own food, run a business, raise kids safely to adulthood (any parent will tell you that is HUGE), and a ton of other things.  I bet you can as well.

The problem is that I am a jack-of-all-trades but the master of none. Most of what I know I had to learn quickly and “git ‘er done” on the fly.  Even the subjects I wanted to explore and learn more about I have not had time to.  Then there is that Creative Attention Deficit Disorder.  Surely I am not alone in this.  You are starting a new creative venture and loving it.  About half way in you are doing some research and come across some new cool thing and BAM, you drop the first or thirtieth project and dive into the new one. This is actually how studios and storage units are acquired.

So now that life no longer includes sitting beside a soccer field for days on end or attending numerous networking meetings per week, I THINK I have time to begin drilling down on some skill set improvement.  Number One – I need to do some concentrated drawing and painting again.  You use it or lose it.  Number Two – Improve my sewing.  Actually I have been doing pretty good on this one.  I have made myself several pieces of clothing lately.  I will do a post on those soon.  Number Three – I can’t just sit and watch TV or a movie. I have to do something. That something is usually knitting or crochet, but I have never challenged myself with much more than simple scarves, prayer shawls and the occasional fingerless gloves.  Now I want to tackle socks.  Why socks you ask?  Because I need them and because sock yarn comes in luscious colors so I will have a reason to buy it.  Number Four – I will soon become mama to three horses. I don’t know squat about horses.  Guess it is time to get some horse sense.

So those of you who patiently read this rambling of mine each week, please keep me accountable.  Heck, join me and let me know what you are working on and we can help each other.  I’m going to need help badly.  In the Spring I am getting married (yeah!) and that means ANOTHER move, plus we are remodeling his house extensively starting NOW (that should give me plenty of blog posts and new DIY skills).

Wishing you a wonderful week!