per.ni.cious [adjective]: having a harmful effect, esp. in a gradual or subtle way.
There is a pernicious foe that threatens to allure me every holiday season. Sneaking around disguised as pretty advertisements promising me free merchandise and bonus deals is the dreaded “spaver.”
That’s right–I said “spaver.”
But it doesn’t. Oh no, it doesn’t.
Only $89! What–does money grow on trees these days? I have two words for you: Cover Girl.
Ahem…as an aside, notice how this promotion mentions gift-giving in parenthesis and tiny print while “SPOIL YOURSELF!” is in large, bold letters? THIS is why I end up spending more on myself than anyone else during the holiday season. But I digress…
Moving on, how about this familiar little trick? This time I only need to purchase a sweater at regular price and I can get the second one free! Nevermind that the regular priced sweater I’m paying full price for is probably over $100! And naturally I don’t get the free shipping unless I spend $125.
Are you catching a trend here?Notice how much I’ve already spent so far on these “savings?” (hint: it’s already over $200 and that doesn’t even include J.Crew and Pottery Barn!)
And even the coupon codes, like the one above, say “SAVE NOW,” but you have to spend $75 to get the savings. $75 at Walgreens? What are they selling over there these days, I wonder? Cashmere? Diamonds? Rolex watches?
Pernicious, I tell you. Pernicious.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do…==> read more Thought.Full Christmas posts
I realize that upon first impressions of this site during the holiday season, new readers (you, perhaps?) might think that this is a site about crafts and design. And while certainly I LOVE crafts and design, there is a Bigger Picture behind my focus on handmade this season.
Every Christmas Season I like to think about handmaking gifts, partly because I’m crafty but also because I want to support mindfulness and resourcefulness during the season, and to invest in an alternative to the big-is-always-better modern economy.
It is a well known fact that I have a fondness for thrift stores. What makes other people feel overwhelmed and itchy (aka racks and piles of mismatched used items haphazardly thrown about) makes me feel energized and inspired. I don’t even mind the occasional patron singing to themselves in a remote corner–it’s all part of the experience. So this past Saturday I decided to take advantage of one local thrift store’s 50% off sale (ARC, if you’re curious) and see if I could find any hidden gems.
About an hour later I walked out of the store with $20 worth of items: 6 garments to be exact, including the five shown above. I was thrilled with my finds. Over half of them are made with expensive fibers (like merino wool and silk) and all of them have tons of refashioning potential. I could barely keep under the speed limit as I drove home, anxious to get crafting immediately!
BUT then I passed our local Old Navy and I had a thought: what, I wondered, could I get for the equivalent amount ($20) at that store? So I pulled into the parking lot and ventured inside to find out.
It wasn’t difficult to find many things at the price point I was looking for. For example, as I walked in I noticed a deal on sequined tank tops: buy 2 for $20. Their V-neck cardigans in a rainbow of colors were also right around $20. I spotted some beaded and ruffled cardigans for just over $20. And also a lot of chunky knits on sale between $20 and $35.
In other words, there were definitely some bargains to be had. However, here are a few reasons why my shopping spree was more successful than a comparable one at Old Navy:
- I was able to purchase SIX items for the price of one or two.
- The quality of the items I purchased was much higher. How do I know this? Because I read the labels. As I mentioned, many of my thrift store finds were made of things like cashmere, merino and silk. The items from Old Navy, however, were most commonly blends of acrylic, rayon and cotton.
- My purchases from the thrift store supported a good cause (ARC’s charity) and promoted recycling. A purchase at Old Navy would have accomplished neither.
This is not to say, of course, that shopping at stores like Old Navy or Target (another of my favorites) is bad. I enjoy shopping at those stores as much as the next person. But as we head into the holiday season of buying and giving and entertaining and celebrating, I want my dollars to stretch farther and I want the quality of what I give and wear to be higher. And with a little creative touch, thrift store finds accomplish both!==> read more Thoughtful Christmas posts
My life is surrounded by inspiring images. I collect them like a spinster collects cats. For instance, right now my kitchen table is covered in magazine pages ripped from their glossy books. Each one includes a picture of something I am drawn to: a chunky cable knit, a fuzzy throw, a sequined handbag. I’ll file them away with all of the other images I’ve got stashed in piles and in notebooks around my house.
This curated collection of inspiration is gathered, however, not for me to grow an ever-expanding list of things I want. Rather, I collect so that I can create. And going from consuming to creating has taken me some time. Let me explain:
Many of you are probably familiar with a post I wrote a few years ago about a certain faux leather bomber jacket that I just HAD to buy after I received an ad for it in the mail. You see, that used to be my pattern. I’d see something on television or in a store window or in a catalog and begin to plot when and how I could purchase it. I was, in a sense, an advertiser’s dream.
With a little introspection, I began to observe this pattern. And I came to the conclusion that maybe looking at catalogs and magazines wasn’t such a good idea for my pocketbook. I wasn’t, after all, handling the temptation of gorgeous images very well.
However, as I shared above, things have changed a bit since that faux leather bomber jacket. Most significantly, I started to create more. First it was just pillow covers, and then throws. After awhile I upgraded to fashion and accessories. And the more I created, the less tempted I was to consume. Soon I began to notice that as I walked through stores, my thoughts would linger on “how can I create that look myself?” instead of “when can I buy that?” The same is true for magazines and catalogs and beautifully curated blogs. Rather than tempt me to buy, they now fill me with the creative energy and ideas I need to keep creating new things–like many of the projects you see on this site.
From Consumer to Creator
So during a season of consumption, I’m taking a minute to reflect on how exciting and fun it is to create. And how, through the gradual passing of time, I’ve gone from being primarily a consumer to primarily a creator (or at least the balance is more half-and-half). Not that I don’t have a holiday list started! (my creativity hasn’t exactly dampened my skill at finding lovely things I’d like to have…) But it’s a list that includes a few things to help expand my ability to create (like some craft books and new yarn), and also some things I can’t create even if I tried (like a sharp kitchen knife or a Kindle).
And in the meantime, I’ll keep collecting inspiring images and rejoice that they tempt me to pull out my needle/thread/yarn/saw instead of my wallet.Read More Thoughtful Christmas posts
This is the best Christmas present ever. (Well, except for Jesus, but hey, you can’t beat Him!). We’re talking flat screen, LCD, 36-inch awesomeness. And it’s all wrapped up for Christmas. Here’s the kicker: we’ve already had it for a couple of years.
This is our normal television, the one that hangs on our living room wall, the one that my kids watch PBS and Netflix movies on throughout their day. The one that my husband and I usually snuggle up and watch a couple of episodes of LOST on, hoping to finish before the show is pulled from Hulu.
On December 1st, our family wrapped it up in Christmas paper as our “Christmas present to Jesus.” It will stay wrapped until December 26th, and be the final Christmas present we are allowed to open. (Along with this action, I am banning myself from Hulu and restricting my Facebook usage). Instead of watching television, our family is going to use this month to do all kinds of fun activities to spend time together. Today is Day 2, and so far it has worked magnificently. Last night we made a gingerbread house together (which is on display on the shelf above the TV) and tonight we decorated our Christmas tree. Tomorrow we plan on making cards for my children’s friends. Some families that do this make a “Christmas Calendar” to write different activities, one for each day. I haven’t been that ambitious yet, but we do have some plans such as ice skating and camping out in the living room among the decorations. Some service projects are also in store, such as visiting the elderly at a nursing home and wrapping presents for people at Centerra.
It took a little bit of convincing for my four year old, who is very sad that he can’t play Star Wars Legos until after Christmas. But, he has finally gotten used to the idea and has gotten really into the spirit of Christmas. Above all, we want to teach our children that the real reason for Christmas is Jesus, and we need to put Him first, then family, then other things. Now we are all very excited for Christmas, and when I need a little “media” fix I will simply turn on my Glee station on Pandora and rock out for a few minutes, then switch it back to Christmas.
This article was written by Emily from A Flutter of Butterflies.
One of my favorite sayings of late is actually an old adage. An adage that I hadn’t heard until recently, and now can’t get out of my head. It says:
A dollar saved is easier than a dollar earned.
So when I saw an Adorable cardigan in J.Crew’s fall collection (by the way, I think Everything in J.Crew’s fall collection is adorable. It’s probably a good thing we don’t have a store around here!), I wondered how I could get my hands on one while still abiding by the adage.
If you guessed that I started rummaging through my closet, you’d be right. It just so happens that I’ve been hanging onto this merino-blend bland beige sweater for years. And every season I wear it less and less.
If you could, you’d notice that it is conveniently the same hue as the J.Crew cardi.
Next I located my yarn/tapestry needle, which you can find at almost any craft store.
Then I raided my yarn stash in search of a color for the stripes and came across this gray ball of scrap yarn that I’ve probably had for 7 years. It is too scratchy and…well…acrylic to make anything of substance with. But it’s perfect for embellishment!
Never one to trust my ability to eyeball a straight line (although believe me I’ve tried many times, always with disastrously crooked effects), I decided to measure and tape off a line for my first stripe.
And yes, I know they have all of these wonderful products like tailor’s chalk and washable fabric pens…but I have found that many, many solutions can be uncovered using masking tape.
I guess that kinda makes me like one of those guys who lauds the perfection of duct tape. Anyhoo…
It was time to start the striping. Normally when stitching onto a knitted fabric it is recommended that you use a v-shaped stitch to match the original weave.
But I’m a rebel, so I went for a straight stitch instead. Fashion purists be warned!
So far I’ve worked my way across the front of the sweater, and a portion of the back. And the whole time I was stitching while watching the new Office episode, my husband was watching me.
Finally he said “is it really worth it?”
To which I replied, “Why yes–it’s precisely $98.00 worth it.”
Truly a dollar saved is easier than one earned.
…wrapped any of my presents
…shipped any packages to relatives living far away
…finished making gifts for friends and family
…eaten enough holiday cookies
In other words, if there was a Holiday Procrastinators Anonymous, I would be the chairperson. Fortunately there are a few projects I have up my sleeve (get it…sleeve! ha ha, I’m so clever) that require little time and virtually no skill.
Like these adorable no-knit armwarmers. They were formerly sleeves on a sweater I don’t wear. With a few snips, and a quick stitch, they became my newest favorite thing to wear to ballet class.
And with tank tops.
And to recommend as a last-minute handmade gift for friends, sisters, and hipster moms.
Armwarmers are, indeed, popular this year, but you don’t need to trek to the store (or don a pair of knitting needles) to get, or give, the look. You just need an old sweater, and a pattern from my store.
As for the other shopping, wrapping, crafting, and cookie-eating…well, you’re on your own. I have enough to do.
I have a black turtleneck that I love to wear this time of year. It is soft and warm, and just a tiny bit sheer. I bought it to replace a different black turtleneck I’ve owned for several years. This second sweater was decidedly less flattering. It was too bulky. Too faded. And too boring.
But of course you all know me well enough by now to know that under-performing garments are my favorite New things to wear. Once they’ve been reVamped, of course.
Like several of my other outdated sweaters, I decided to cut this one in half down the front, too. Unlike my other sweaters, however, I wanted to try something new with an asymmetrical design, and I figured that a turtleneck was the perfect style for it.
Perhaps you can tell just by my description that this is one of the Easiest patterns I’ve made this season! Even a sewing novice could handstitch the ribbon trim in a few hours time. Or a more experienced sewer could make this lovely upgrade on a sewing machine in about 30 minutes.
Naturally my favorite part of this project–and the others I’ve made this holiday season–is that it makes good use of something I already own. It has been downright exciting for me to see my wardrobe expand while also rediscovering castaways I’d long since forgotten.
And it has given me great gift ideas for friends and family as well–not just for holidays, but also for birthdays, anniversaries, special events, and more!
This week for me will be all about crafting as I prepare for this weekend’s Art by Craft event in Denver. Mainly I’ll be burning and packaging CD’s, writing patterns, and making some display samples of my projects. But before jumping into all of that, I thought I would indulge in a little creative project just for me this weekend. A project that involved transforming one of my old hooded sweatshirts into a cozy wrap.
I’ve had this sweatshirt since high school, and actually think that it originally belonged to my father. In other words, it is probably a men’s size large at the smallest. Back then it was my go-to sweatshirt for curling up on the weekend with a good book or a movie. Baggy and oversized, it conveyed just the kind of casual tomboy look I was ardent about in my teens.
And it is exactly the kind of thing I DON’T wear anymore. Shapeless, bulky and boring, I’ve kept it stashed away in my closet for years, hanging on to it only for nostalgia since even my “casual, comfy” clothes are more tailored now (envision yoga pants instead of sweatpants…).
But, as I’m often preaching to all of you, sometimes little treasures can be found hiding in closets. With some scissors and thread, I managed to turn the hooded monstrosity into a more fitted style, and added some ties and color for both function and fun. It is the same old sweatshirt, only now I WILL wear it out on weekend errands and for cozy afternoons.
So, with new fashion in hand, I have to get back to crafting. Next on the list: sequined shoe bling. You’re intrigued, aren’t you?