Sunday, November 29, 2009

Martha and Me's simple handmade gifts

I've been following a blog called "Martha and Me," a writer's paean to all things Martha Stewart. She's tried the techniques, she's tested the recipes, and she reports it all on her blog.

I like Martha Stewart well enough (although I'm SURE I was saying "it's a good thing" before she was, not to mention "yadda, yadda, yadda" before Seinfeld), but I find her stuff, well, INTIMIDATING to attempt. And I'm a crafter from way back when. That's why I love Martha and Me's post on simple handmade gift ideas a la Martha S that even, as writer Brette Sember says, "the most craft-impaired person can make."

Check it out at

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pushing Past Limiting Fears

I spent this weekend with my quilting friends in Vermont pushing back at "my gremlins," as master quilter Susan Damone Balch put it! As luck would have it, waiting in my in-box for posting on Craft to Heal was the wonderful essay below from fiber artist Brecia Kralovic-Logan. It seems that no matter what the creative endeavor, we all struggle with our fears, our limiting beliefs, our self-sabotaging thoughts.

Creative Knitting Pushing Past Limiting Fears
Nine knitters gathered at Anacapa Fine Yarns in Ventura to take my Creative Knitting workshop. As they introduced themselves they shared their excitement at being in a class that supported “out of the box” thinking. Some felt a little nervous, anticipating leaving their comfort zone, but hopeful that they too would be able to knit an original garment with the organic look of the sample that had enticed them.

The whole morning was spent doing exercises to explore their passions, to awaken their intuitive wisdom and to connect them with their natural authentic knowing. By lunch they were ready to think about knitting in a way that they had never done before.

Those knitters did in fact spend the rest of the day exploring and discovering ways to create original knits. But I’d like to tell you about another knitter, who did not take the workshop. She slowly slipped into the classroom at midday and shyly shared that she had absolutely fallen in love with the sweater that I had on display in the store as a sample for the class.

“I didn’t take the class because it seemed too scary,” she said. “I would like to know how to knit like that but I didn’t think I could do it.”

As she moved about the room, the class participants each assured her that she would be able to work in this new way. They shared their own fears with her and told her how liberated they felt by tapping into their inner creative spirit. They suggested that she come to the next workshop and as she left her body language seemed to convey that she had let go of her conviction that this was impossible. Hopefully, she realized that she was not alone in feeling afraid of stretching past her comfort zone.

Having the opportunity to share their thoughts with the visitor, the class seemed to exude new confidence. In their comments at the end of the day they shared that the class loosened them up, liberated them, gave them confidence, and expanded their horizons. Each one of them had taken a risk and entered into unknown territory. Although they already had the knitting skills they needed, feeling supported to work in a way that helped them to develop a creative frame of mind was a powerful experience.

Yes, being creative does involve risk. Taking a class to learn something new can be intimidating. However, pushing past the thoughts and beliefs that keep us in our comfort zone can be exhilarating. Taking the skills we have and using them in new ways is one way to express our unique individual spirit.
I just love this quote from Tom Robbins:

“Our individuality is all, all that we have. There are those who would barter
it for security, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures and rides it, in grace and love and wit.”

Brecia Kralovic-Logan is a fiber artist in Santa Barbara, CA where she teaches workshops, writes and offers Creativity Coaching. Visit her web site at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Troop Time

It’s early to be thinking about the holidays, but not if you want to send gifts to the troops. (I'm anti-war, but I’m not anti-troops. How can we not admire their courage and commitment?)

Given that many people have limited budgets this year and may not be able to send the usual toiletries, snacks and care packages, I found a group that is accepting crafty things: fabric pillows, neck coolers, knitted and crocheted hats. You can either donate the materials and they’ll have volunteers do the rest, or you can make the items yourself following the directions on their website.

I’m busy making 12” pillow casings from my fabric stash for soldiers to carry in their packs! It's just a little thing, but then again: it's the little things that often count for the most.

Here’s their contact information…

Address to send packages: US Troop Care Package, 4302 N. Swallow Street, Pasco, WA 99301
Address to send letters: US Troop Care Package, PO Box 3445, Pasco, WA 99302

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Power of Belonging

As we approach the holidays, we think about gathering together with our families. That’s not always a good thought—have you ever seen the movie “Home for the Holidays” with Holly Hunter? Her parents pick her up at the airport and they get stuck in traffic on the way home. Her mother is jabbering on in the front seat and her father is talking to himself, and she looks out to the next car over to where a grown man is sitting in the back seat listening to his parents do the same, and he all but mouths “Help me!” to her.

I think most of us can appreciate that.

But we also need to appreciate the power of belonging to a group, whether it’s a partnership, a family, a group of friends or an organization. The desire to belong isn’t just wishful thinking—it’s actually a fundamental human need that is as old as men and women themselves.

“In primitive times,” says Duke University's Mark R. Leary, PhD, who’s looked at the many psychological studies on this subject, “a single human being was unlikely to survive, while those who banded together thrived and even reproduced. Psychological studies indicate that the same need is present in modern times and drives much of human behavior and emotion.”

People who lack “belongingness” suffer higher levels of mental and physical illness than do those with strong social connections, says Dr. Leary. What’s more, feelings of loneliness and depression may actually be your brain’s way of telling you that you’re being deprived of social contact. These emotions should mobilize you to consider the types of connections you’re lacking—gabbing with one true friend perhaps, sharing stories and solutions with others, or even cuddling with a partner. Once you’ve homed in on your needs, you can strategically pursue situations that will put you in contact with other people who share your interests. That might mean joining a quilt guild, hanging out at the local bead shop and working on your latest project, joining a book club at the local library, meeting other dog lovers at the park, or posting a sign at the local tennis court looking for a partner. (The “” website has groups everywhere to do everything, so check it out.)

While some people may need to bond with only one other person to feel socially connected, others need more: A spouse, several close friends, and membership in a group. “Everyone is different,” says Dr. Leary, “but the key is to form at least one positive, on-going relationship.” Those are the kinds of bonds that keep you happy and healthy--not to mention sane over the holidays!