Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Crafting Heritage

When I was very small, my dad did a lot of woodworking. He had a small shop behind our house that was filled with all kinds of metal contraptions that I was not allowed to touch. Woodworking is not exactly a kid-friendly hobby, but I got some pretty nice presents out of it. For Christmas one year, my dad made my older sister and I our own stools. He eventually made one for baby sister too, but she wasn't born at the time, so the first two match.

When we were little, we would often have to flip them over to see which was which. We sat on them as we read picture books and used them to pile up stuff so we could reach things in high places we weren't supposed to. It's a marker of my childhood, and a reminder that I come from a creative family. My dad does amazing things with wood; my mom makes paper art and can draw beautiful portraits (and let's not forget, she taught me how to sew); both of my grandmothers are artists--one in paint, and the other in porcelain.

I see things like this stool and I am reminded of my "making" lineage. It makes me proud to be a part of such a crafty family and to keep the tradition going! 

As of today, I have officially signed up to participate in my first juried craft show. I am submitting the application (early, you guys) and will hopefully be showing up in early May to try my hand at the craft show circuit. I'm happy to have the support of my family in this endeavor and I'm so looking forward to putting everything together!

I have been making teacup pincushions with lonely teacups I've been finding in goodwill/savers places--repurposing those little cups that are missing their sets (their families, so to speak!) As I was walking through Walmart the other day, I couldn't help but stop at these little fruit bowls. Am I addicted? I am seeing pincushions in everything!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finally Tova

I made a muslin for a tova top sometime last year, then I clapped my hands together, announced that it was done and got distracted by a million other projects. I think I finally finished the muslin towards the beginning of August, and fellow teachers and students, you all know what the beginning of August is like...

Then I tried to make a tova dress out of flannel but I cut everything too big thinking I was going to do the whole french seam finishing. Then I forgot about the french seam thing and I effectively spent 3 plus hours making myself a floral circus tent to wear. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with that.

THEN I legitimately made an all green flannel dress from the tova pattern and actually wore it to school one day! But I had a scarf really wound around me so that no one could see the total wonkiness of the collar. I still haven't fixed that... It's not a difficult fix but it requires picking some stuff out and who is ever a fan of that?

So if at first you don't succeed, learn from your mistakes, find a prettier fabric, and start over. I have finally succeeded. Remember that lumberjack looking fabric I bought with my dinosaur knit (which I'm too scared to cut into and ruin)? Allow me to introduce the lumberjack tova:

 Complete with hipster glasses, this flannel-y knit is an ironic shout out to the 90s...


... and since I made it myself, displays my utter disgust with consumerism!

You too, can be political and alienate old people with a lumberjack tova!

My outfit really should be complete with some of those lace-up combat boots, but alas, my shoes are pretty bland. Lumberjack casual, I like to call this. I've also got a knit dress in the works of an interesting pea green color and thought that I had constructed most of it yesterday until I put it on and was mildly uncomfortable with the elastic band. Mildly uncomfortable, in teaching terms, means you are going to be fidgeting with that weird part of the outfit all day or simply bearing it and trying not to let students notice when you are up at the board doing your teacher thing.

All teacher clothes should feel like the softest pajamas, while still looking super professional. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my goal in life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

More Pincushions

There are pincushions in my etsy shop again! Check them out! 

I hope you are all getting a great start to your weekend! I am incredibly excited to show off some of the clothing items that I've been working on lately... if you haven't checked out the "Stretch Yourself" series by Miranda and Miriam, you totally should! I've learned so much about knits and different projects. 

Mostly I think I've just learned how little I know! It's always encouraging to me to think that there is always more to glean from the wonderful world of sewing and apparel construction. In the few hours I get to poke around in my craft room, I am having an absolute blast.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Class : The J-Term Experiment

I taught my first sewing class. It was two weeks long (hence lack of blog times) and it was crazy and lots of fun. 9 girls, four machines, a giant cutting mat, and never, never, never enough pins.

Girls made several projects after understanding basic sewing skills. We started with the twenty minute tote from the purl bee, did a simple zipper pouch (they were makeup bags... then we just kept calling them pencil pouches), and the felt flower pillow, also from the purl bee.

I chose to cut out the faces of all the girls since this is the internet, after all, and I wouldn't want you anywhere you and your parents didn't agree to be!
They did such a fantastic job! In the last week, we started on elastic waist skirts. Three girls actually finished theirs--we would have had more but we lost a work day to a surprise snow!

It was very strange at the beginning to verbalize skills that were largely self-taught for the past four years or so. I had never had to say these things out loud--to tell someone how to thread a needle and how to do a simple running stitch--but I think it went really well.

Of course, two weeks was definitely not enough. There was so much more to teach them! So much more to do! I'm incredibly happy to have the opportunity to teach it at all. My employing high school does a two week period in January where students have the opportunity to travel, intern, and take classes that they normally wouldn't have access to. Teachers get to choose from their extracurricular passions to propose a class. One of my good friends taught a class on wilderness survival, one did rock climbing, another taught on forensic science and had real detectives come and speak to their class, others taught about watching films critically. It is a really unique and wonderful time for teachers and students.

I got warm fuzzies watching students being so active and moving around, creating things and asking questions. They were working with their hands, manipulating fabric, walked around the fabric stores touching every bolt as they investigated their options. I was so incredibly proud of how encouraging they were with each other! Anytime someone sewed anything they freaked out. "Oh my gosh! That is AMAZING! You are SEWING!!"

A really fantastic group of girls and an amazing chance to craft for work. Now back to our regular routine of theology and philosophy. On to the Spring semester!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thoughts on Resolutions, or Cyclic Thinking

For the past four years, I've reached the same conclusion on December 31st, which has repeated itself every three months or so. The thought is the need for seasonal resolutions, not annual ones. I put good faith in this idea with my Great Summer To-Do List, and accomplished several things I had been planning for a while. Fall brings its own challenges, especially when teaching, and my Fall to-do lists are pretty generic: stay alive, teach school, love my students, make everything pumpkin (or apple). 

When I think about goal-setting, I have made a solid effort not to let it slip into the dark winter months, but to dwell on it year round. I am always trying to set goals for myself, big and small on a consistent basis: it is with this attitude, that I think my best progress and my "growing up" has happened.

Small goals are set with daily to-do lists--so often that at this point, if I don't make one by noon at least, I'm lost. I end up sitting on my couch at 8 in the evening thinking that my only accomplishment was that I made dinner. If this is the case, Mr. Kopf and I probably had chips for lunch. 

Here's a pretty big goal I am accomplishing this week and next: teaching a sewing class!

Technically it's called "Interior and Apparel Construction." I'm teaching 9 high school girls basic sewing skills. We're making tote bags, sewing zippers and pillows, and generally having a great time. Our first step was practicing some basic and decorative stitches. As one student stated, we were very "Amish."

We have now decided we need to find some Amish friends so we can sit around and stitch with them.

My giant cutting board is coming in handy!


You will never guess what I found (and bought) at Hancock Fabrics giant 1/2 off sale?

Yes. Dinosaur knit fabric.

My dinosaur tshirt dreams are all coming true. They're really going to come true.

I also bought this shirting fabric for a new tova top!

My handmade wardrobe isn't really consistent... Maybe I'm still trying to find my style. When does that show up? Is it your thirties? Or should I really latch onto one before I have some kids? 

A pretty obvious goal would be to finish that triangle quilt... and it's so close. It's been so close and I can't seem to finish it. I'm not a closer. I know this about myself. It's going to take some serious self discipline to not start on some new quilting project before I finish that old one.

So with that last statement in mind, I will introduce these new photos with: "whoops."

A minor goal for the later winter months is to destash and reassess the fabric and notions I have been hoarding. A major goal is to buy a house! I think that on the back of the major goal, the minor goals of decluttering and organizing will work--since I am highly motivated to not have to move as many useless things as we moved last time. It's not a vague, invisible deadline type of resolution: "this year, I swear I'll be the most organized person in the whole world forever". Well that's a beautiful sentiment, but it's also silly. Real goal setting, as I've learned, has to do with deadlines. As much as I hate them, I need them.

Good luck on your own resolutions! May all your wardrobe and sewing dreams come true in 2013.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Travels, Parts 2 and 3

Part 2: My Parents

I love that my parents always go all-out for Christmas: great food, great desserts, a comfortable home and great big laughs all around. We traditionally tell favorite Christmas memories, open gifts in a circle(always starting with the youngest member), and always finish up our celebrations remembering why we get all this wonderful time off: the birth of a very special babe. My dad, the patriarch, reads off the Christmas story as we sit around the tree, and each year I find my understanding and thoughts on that story change and mature as I grow. My mom makes sure everyone is cozy and well-fed. My sisters and I giggle and the men talk about electronics... I guess. 

 Baby sister distributed presents and almost took the role of "Santa" a little too literally. We told her to put up the pillow before she looked too weirdly lumpy.

 Then she made this face whenever she got anything she liked. It accompanied an "awwww" sound that communicated to all of us: "I feel validated that you guys all get me."

Here's the best parents a girl could ask for:

A present/victory fist pump caught in action.

That's my brother in law and sister opening my wrapping--brown packaging paper and Target fancy tape. It looked like ribbon, but without the hassle of ribbon! No pocket knives needed this holiday!

Mom got Condi's book, signed by Condi herself! American history teacher heaven.

I, too, had a moment of intense and unexpected joy.

Every year, there is some "joke" box--a box within a box, a box within ten boxes, a really odd shaped box, or those socks that are packaged really tiny and you have to soak them in hot water to make them grow. I got the joke box this year--this massive cutting board was cleverly wrapped in a Christmas tree box. For all of three seconds I was really worried my parents got me a Christmas tree. Hooray, a gift I can't use for a year... but it turns out I got something that I've been using quite a bit already... :)

My Nana has always wanted a "Yoda doll." This year, she finally got one! (And immediately held it like a baby.)

Pictured: American history teacher heaven (again!)

A great time with family, altered a bit by weird weather, but nothing too disastrous. There's always kind of a moment after Christmas when everyone gets really bummed out--it's over and we have to go home to reality. We offset that, however, by driving straight towards the snow to the great white north! To the in-laws!

Part 3: His Parents

We didn't have to drive through a lot of snow, but we did have to take a whole day to get up there! The trip was definitely worth it, and we had a great time having our third Christmas with the Kopfs.

Of course, living where we do, we lack real snow gear. Here is Mr. Kopf in a stylish dads-borrowed-shoes-sock-tucked-into-sweatpants look. I think it will be all the rage next fall, but remember: you saw it here first.

Winter walks in the snow were paired with stop sign target practice.

Oops! Mr. Kopf's mom nailed her own husband on the head. That'll teach you to stand a considerable distance behind stop signs!

Pictured: He's taken ladies. 

Mr. Kopf learned how to use the snow blower and was promptly put to work!

We did some antiquing, ate delicious food, discovered Red Robin, worked on a puzzle, and generally just hung out together for three days. (The puzzle took all three days, but we finally finished it!)

Our ride home had clear roads and beautiful trees:

Now that we have been home for some time, I am getting back into the swing of crafting and teaching, and I can't wait to update you on both!