Friday, May 30, 2014

The Great Summer To-Do List, Vol. 3!

I started this blog two summers ago with the admission that I am a compulsive list-maker... it helps reduce stress, keeps me on track, and helps me feel productive. I've enjoyed keeping track of my crafting adventures with the blog, and the list format always makes sure I'm staying on target, so for the THIRD year in a row, I have made a to-do list for the summer. Here's all the ways I'm going to enjoy my teacher time off:

1. Read Books
I decided to go a little easier on myself this year... two books are fiction from my standard list of three (trying, as always, not to be too ambitious with my non-school reading). One is non-fiction but I've been on a non-fiction kick right now so it's probably the one I'll start with. The World is Flat is actually a book I picked up at a library basement sale for 50 cents. I have no idea what's contained within, but I definitely judged it by its cover. Looks interesting--I'll let you know.


I love Neil Gaiman and started following him on twitter just as he was promoting this most recent work. I snagged the Audiobook so I've got the wonderful advantage of not only hearing the book while I'm crafting (double duty!) but it's read by the author himself! 

I was wary of J.K. Rowling writing anything non-magical... angry about it even. Two work friends have read the book and said it was really good, and since they're pretty reliable readers, I thought I'd give it a shot. They told me the ending was a "surprising inevitability." Hmmmm....

2. Be Active
I almost changed this section to "sewing projects" but I will be a little more active than just that this summer. I've got two Grainline patterns I've been working on and I hope to produce some wearable clothes from them soon! My first Archer was a little intimidating--and I got my sizing wrong and now I'm pregnant so... I'll figure that out I guess. So the skill level says intermediate, and if I can pull this off, I think I'm there. I've been thinking my sewing skills have been improving well enough to consider myself at this level, but there's no graduation cap and gown or piece of paper I can hold that says "great you're intermediate." 

Grainline Studio | Archer Button Up | 31004
There's a couple things here that I've never done before. Sleeve plackets, a real collar, and buttons. So many buttons.

If you haven't visited GrainlinegoGo now. This blog/lady/pattern store is one of the biggest reasons I got into garment sewing and she's the best. The end.
The Maritime shorts are my newest purchase. I'm sure I can figure out how to make these maternity by fiddling with the band... that's what pinterest is for.

Mr. Kopf bought me a bike! Actually we both bought bikes to kick off the summer. We have some wonderful bike trails in our city and a growing bike community--the Kopfs are excited to join! 

See how pretty it is? Just picture it with a couple baskets on the back... trips to the farmers' market just got even healthier!

3. Follow Tradition

Pick bluberries, visit family, and try some new pinterest recipes. Maybe a lunch with a work friend here or there, when we're both not on vacation. And of course, it's wedding season, so for me it's also maternity dress shopping season. I'm looking forward to seeing how this summer turns out!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Anniversaries and Announcements

We're coming up on a year in this house and it has me doing a lot of reflecting on what kind of homemaker I've proved myself to be, and what kind I want to become. I haven't completed a lot of craft projects since our big move. I can look back through the blog and realize that I was much more productive in my apartments that I have been in my home, despite the awesome/ginormous sewing room and a pretty open schedule. The house itself has been its own project and I've been happy to dive into it--and there have been other things in the background that have swallowed my attention pretty completely.

Last night I sat down at my sewing machine and realized we had been separated for far too long. I've made bits of things here and there, and even completed a top or two since The Long Hiatus (or maybe it's The Long Winter... that sounds more epic, doesn't it?) but I never sat down without a certain sense of pressure. There were grades I could be working on, lesson plans to perfect, extra reading I could review before the lesson, or some other conflict that sucked away at my mental powers. It was hardly relaxing--it was an item to cross off a list, or a desperate escape from the rest of the world, and then not a real one. 

Photo: All done with school and officially in summer! If you need me, I'll be sewing.

But last night was the Eve of Summer--it was the day before my last day of work. I had already checked out of my classroom. All my books are boxed up, my final grades entered, my students graduated and in the midst of summer already. There was a finality to my work and even though there are still things that sit in the back of my mind and nag at me, and still things to escape from, I finally found comfort in a craft again. I quilted and found peace in the steadiness of my machine and in the perfection of the little stitches that sit in the ditch of my seams. My points aren't perfect, and it is just a potholder, but it's more than just the pride of the finished product. It's the peace that comes with the process.

Of course, I've been learning for quite some time that lasting peace, in truth, comes from Christ. This is going to be intentionally vague and that may bother you since I'm usually a pretty private person--maybe this is treating the blog too much like a diary, which I never wanted to do--but it's an idea that's been inescapable lately. Things are entirely out of my control, and I must make peace with the one who holds them. Maybe my relationship with my sewing machine is more about seeking to control something--even if it's just a little potholder--since I've had to learn to give so much of that up. 

If only I could unite all the relationships in my life as easily as I put two little scraps of fabric together... but I must leave that up to the master craftsman and ask him to patch up all the missing pieces. 

If you want to read a blog that does a much better job of describing God's goodness in times of uncertainty, you should check out the blog of my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) Brittany Hess. I only met her one time, but following her blog I feel like I know her heart incredibly well by now, and it's a good one.

While this seems like it's gotten pretty mopey, there's certainly a silver lining that carries Mr. Kopf and I from one winter to the next. In the Fall, we'll be expecting our first little Kopf drop and we couldn't be more excited! Here's our "first family photo" we posted on facebook to announce the news.

Photo: Our first family photo! Baby Kopf, coming this fall!

Gender announcement and baby clothes projects forthcoming, of course. And this weekend, we'll be celebrating five years of marriage. 

And two days after our anniversary, that little one in the middle will be getting married. My mom made those dresses by the way! Sewing was in my blood.

Photo: National sibling day... Easter 1995 with two of the greatest.

So with summer comes another round of to-dos, but the good kind. My big summer list will be the next item I prepare for the blog, and once Mr. Kopf and I return from the anniversary trip, the crafting will be in full swing. I hope you'll join me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Fall

Any teacher will tell you the fall semester holds the longest stretch of the school year. Kids get breaks but teachers end up doing professional development and from Labor Day to Thanksgiving Break we have no free time off. It's amazing how just coming close to a break can reinvigorate you. As we neared Thanksgiving break, I jumped back into crafternoons after school. It was a great time to de-stress and process the upcoming break.

So how about those big Fall plans? Well, here's how they worked out for me: 

Isn't she cute? I even gave her a little fox tail, complete with a button!

The original image on Pinterest didn't feature arms or legs, but what can I say? I got a little ambitious.
My fancy sweatshirt plans stalled when I couldn't find a pattern I wanted. I ended up using the hemlock tee pattern from Grainline studios. It's free and super simple. In fact, I made several other knit hemlocks. Again, Liberty fabric makes an appearance in the facing in the neck and on the sleeve cuffs. I thought it was a fun, feminine detail. I am still thinking about adding a hood, maybe lined in the same.

I'll post pictures of the finished product in a later post, since I technically made THREE hemlock tees recently...

I've had bad luck finding a good mustard fabric to make my pleated skirt. I am not going to spend too much time and money on a fabric I only kind of like. That's the point of making my own clothes in the first place! Getting exactly what I want, in the perfect fit. I did find a really beautiful plum fabric, so I used that instead. I used the perfect pleats tutorial from one little minute, and it turned out wonderfully! I had a little bit of Liberty of London fabric that I got for cheap since it was a misprint--fun pockets just for me.
Made some yummy, yummy soups, found some fancy boots for the season, and ate apples, even if I didn't pick them. But... I didn't make those homemade graham crackers... or bake as much as I thought I would. I did however cook my first Thanksgiving turkey ever, so I still spent a good amount of time in the kitchen. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner = instant respect for every woman that's ever done that ever. I also attended my first ever Black Friday sale. It was Joann's fabrics... and I was one of like ten people in there at six in the morning including employees. I didn't go anywhere else because, quite frankly, Black Friday scares me and there was no trampling danger at Joann's. 

I hope your Fall was fantastic and filled with lots of family fun!