Friday, April 30, 2010

Think Like a Tree

Think Like a Tree
by Karen I. Shragg

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to hear you own leaves rustling

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jane Bean of Sharing Simple Crafting Ideas

I'd like to introduce you to my friend and fellow-blogger and shopkeeper, Jane Bean. She makes and blogs from Milton Keynes, Bucks, United Kingdom. The cute baby mobile/happy face photo is from her blog "Sharing Simple Crafting Ideas...Great Results!" She talks about the New Term in her workshop where women join together to sew, make, and have fun together. It sounds like my kind of place!

She also blogs under the name of SmallBeans, and that's where I found her tree sculpture photo. I Love It!

I also know Jane because she has a great shop! You can find her wonderful items here. I especially like her Patch Heart Brooch!
I think that getting to know folks from around the world is one of the very best reasons that I participate in blogging and my Internet shop. How else would I be getting to know another gal in a far away place who seems to have similar passions as me? I'm not the only one who sees the simple beauty of this, right?!
Here's to you Jane! I hope that you, all the ladies who join in on your New Term in England, and all your creative friends realize that what you do and how you Make is "No Small Beans" -- it is in fact, Super Wonderful!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Free Trees!

I am super excited by an opportunity I found today while researching for my new website! More on that new website later :) I found the Arbor Day Foundation website and really want to spread the word about this wonderful non-profit organization.

I found these folks and their site at

It is chock-full of information about how important trees are to the health of the planet and all of her inhabitants. When you become a member, the cost is $15 for a 1-year term, and you will be sent 10 free trees to plant in your area. Now I'm sure these trees are small, but they are trees, and as I am so very fond of trees, I want everyone I know to learn about this!

After you become a member of Arbor Day Foundation, you can also receive continuing education through their many expert newsletters and programs. And if you want a simple yet meaningful gift for someone, how about having trees planted in their honor in a National Forest? I did this a few years ago for my mom. She loves trees, too, so a few hundred were planted in a National Forest to celebrate her day! I think it is lovely and I hope you will enjoy checking into this.

Here's wishing you a gentle nap in the soft green grass under a shady tree!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Embroidery Stitches and Women Friends

I don't know about you, but I am dependent on my women friends. I did not always feel this way. I used to be a lone-wolf kind of gal. But now I see the beauty of being nourished by several groups of dear friends.
First, I have my knitting friends at Knit Knack in Arvada, Colorado. This charming knit shop has a large dining room table in their front window, and every Thursday about 10 of us ladies gather there to talk, laugh, support one another, and, oh, we also knit!
I also enjoy four groups of ladies who meet once a month to quilt, craft, network, or learn in one of my classrooms. These groups were sometimes friends before they entered my classroom for the first time, but mostly, they became friends while learning a new sewing skill. I'm very pleased that they have included me in this journey.
One of my most dynamic monthly groups involves ladies who LOVE to learn embroidery stitches...some of them are resurrecting stitches that their grandmothers taught them back in the day; others are catching the wave of this "new trend" in decorating clothes, pillows, and such. For them, embroidery is a new passion, and they sometimes behave like I invented it. My ego is blushing. Should I tell them the truth?
A new group of women who surround me are professional peers. These are my mentors, my advisors, my heroes. I ask them to publish my writing, feature me in their magazine, or evaluate my photo library. How wonderful is it that these women respond and share like this? I have never met some of these gals, yet we are crafting rich and mutually beneficial relationships.
I also have individual women friends who I know, without a doubt, that if I picked up the phone and asked, they'd be at my doorstep pronto. I think I will take some time today to count my blessings. This reflection on friendship is a sweet reminder that although I consider myself to be a determined person, I am strong because of the constant support and friendship of my tribe.

I send my love out to women everywhere who today will reach out to a friend and let her know she is not alone...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lover's Tree

I remember Tommy only vaguely now...42 years ago my mind was crisp. On that day, when I carved a "T" and a "G" into that old maple tree, I believed it was the right thing to do. It felt so right! I felt such an amazing rush from declaring my first love. Unfortunately, as my father explained it, my love had forever damaged that lovely tree. And when it was discovered that I'd taken the paring knife from my mom's kitchen to make this poetic statement of undying love, I had a new sense of right vs wrong. I got to think about it, and little else, for the next two weeks of being grounded.

Tommy is only a vague memory now, but I've memorialized that youthful time with this latest pillow. Needle felted by hand and cute as can be, it reminds me of Tommy...cute, loved, mostly a figment of my imagination. Those were the days!

Hope you are all reminiscing about your first love right about now! If so, my job is done...

Best wishes,


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wool Folk Art Amish Birds

I have been wanting to make this pillow for a while now. Amish colors of black with deep green, purple, red, and gold are my favorites, so this pillow design has been very enjoyable! I am sewing in my studio half-square triangles to create a patchwork pillow backing fabric. This is going to be one of those designs that will be pretty on both sides. The birds are larger than I usually make out of wool. Their wings kind of look like saddles to me! The overall impact is very graphic. I'd love to know what you think of it!

Thanks for stopping by to visit...I am going back to the studio to finish up this pillow...I am having a blast!
Best wishes,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Exercise as a Creative On-Button

Perhaps you can relate to this. I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer today (go me!) and had to have a note pad and pencil handy for writing down my wonderful ideas. I propose that exercise pushes some sort of creative "on button" in my mind.

I understand that exercise feeds oxygen to my brain, as well as other parts of me. That oxygen may be what is helping me think big thoughts. Maybe as I exercise, my increased circulation loosens up stuck energy, and that helps me open myself to inspiration? When I walk around my neighborhood for exercise, I daydream quite a bit; I can imagine for instance new circumstances for my life. And sometimes, and this is really great, I solve a long-standing problem by the time I've circled the lake! Like a bolt out of the blue, the simple solution presents itself to me and I have to laugh at myself---I should take more walks! Does this ever happen to you?

When I have a pillow in my studio that is very popular, I make it over and over again. Now don't get me wrong---I will never be a mass-producer of folk art. But there are some skills in my artists life that are certainly repetitive, like embroidery or stuffing pillows with kapok! What I am noticing is that the creative On-Button that I'm talking about can be pushed when I stop making art. Maybe that's what exercise does for me? It takes me out of my studio! I can think in fresh ways when I push this button. But exercise is repetitive, too. Maybe it is the fresh air? I really do need to have a pencil and paper to keep track of it all. My mom told me that I should walk around with a tape recorder and talk to myself as I walk. Maybe she doesn't know that I wear a big floppy hat, huge sunglasses, baggy shorts and orthopedic shoes when I take a 6 mile walk. All I need now it to be talking to myself all along the way. The neighbors will go back into their homes, shaking their heads, and tell themselves how sad it is that just last week they saw me at the library and I seemed to normal to them!!

I hope that within all the busyness of your day today, you had a chance to just stop, move your body around a bit, let your blood flow and your mind clear, and say yes to whatever comes to wishes from here.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Craft as Therapy

Have you ever used your love of handcrafts, art, painting, sewing, or knitting as a distraction from a life problem? Sometimes I think that craft keeps me sane. When I am nervous, sitting down to rhythmically knit a simple scarf ratchets down my blood pressure and uplifts my mood! When I am missing my kids, who have done exactly what they were supposed to do---grow up and fly the coop---I put my maternal energy into a large, complicated project like a huge patchwork quilt top. It gives me something fun to do and that is therapeutic.

As a teacher of art and craft, I often hear conversations floating around my studio that have nothing to do with the task at hand. It seems that when women gather to be creative, our hearts open up and we speak our truth. We bounce ideas off of one another. We vent a little confusion about how folks behave, or misbehave. Sometimes we cry because we trust that we will be comforted. If I think of therapy as talking to a caring person who helps me understand my concerns and devise new ways to seek happiness, then I would say that being involved in a craft community is absolutely therapeutic! It is also helpful to be creative and quietly alone, as it helps me to be present with my thoughts. Concentrating on the creation in my hands, in the present moment, the problems of the world disappear as I valiantly work to get my patchwork seams to match properly.

Do you find your creative life to be healing, hopeful, and a part of your coping skills? I would love to hear about it!