A Triangle Quilt

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

Yesterday night, I pulled my last few border stitches tight, tied it off, cleaned up loose threads, and finished a beautiful quilt. It is, hands-down, no question, my favourite thing I’ve ever made.

I think “make a quilt” has been on my bucket list since I first saw this post – holy moly, I just checked the date on it – in 2012. Back then, I had a sewing machine and I was in a real DIY phase, but I was also in school, and didn’t want to spend lots of money on quilting tools and fabric (well I did want to, but I felt that I shouldn’t..). Fast forward to a couple months ago, when I came home for the summer. I’m staying at my Dad’s house, and lo and behold, my stepmom has boxes and boxes of fabric pieces she’s not using and every quilting tool a person could dream of.

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

I set out on my quilting journey with very little guidance and a one-step-at-a-time attitude. Those steps added up to something, and I could always see my progress right there in front of me. I always focused on getting to the next little step without worrying about the steps after that (things I had no idea – yet – how to do). I could take each one as it came, and cross bridges when I came to them. Making a quilt might seem hard, but cutting fabric isn’t hard. Sewing together two pieces isn’t hard. None of the steps on their own is really that hard.

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

Along the way I realized something: it had been a long time since I’d worked with my hands to make something real, tactile, and non-virtual. When did I stop making stuff?? Why did I stop making stuff?

It’s crazy how much joy I got from even just looking at my quilt at each stage of its development. And I was amazed at how much mindfulness, peace and flow I got from an activity that took up my attention and focus for minutes or hours at a time, like this process did for me.

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

Not only that, but I’m very proud of myself. I’m excited to give this as a precious gift. I’m so, so happy that I created something special with my own two hands. There is literally no downside to this equation! It’s just something that brings me Good Vibes Only.

Don’t listen to the many people who will tell you quilting is impossible and that it takes years. Those things are true for some (beautiful, hand-sewn, impossibly stunning!!) quilts, but not for a quilt like this one. My workmanship is probably laughable to more serious and more talented quilters, but I’m just proud that I made something warm and cozy and lovable, and that I didn’t even need a quilting foot for the sewing machine. It’s more than doable, and it only took me about a month.

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

I used this tutorial loosely – I changed the size of my quilt, but followed all the other steps. My finished quilt measures 28 by 33 inches, which is small for a crib-size quilt, but it’s perfect for a baby.

Triangle Quilt >> Life In Limbo

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I have already started cutting fabric for the next quilt.

The Holiday Jar

Holiday Jar >> Life In Limbo

I love the idea of advent calendars as a way to celebrate each day of December, but I don’t like the waxy chocolate that comes in them or all the waste they create. I was so thrilled to see this version of a simple, clutter-free advent calendar and got to work on mine the very next day.

We’re on day 7 of December and thanks to this jar we’ve already made a special effort to make mulled apple cider, sit by the fire, dance around to Christmas music, take a yoga class together, and sing and play Christmas songs on the guitar. I’m always amazed at how just a little bit of intention can make such a big difference in my happiness. Even though the weather here is (blessedly) far from seasonal or Christmassy and I’m far from home, having these lovely little activities slotted into our days makes everything feel more festive. And even though it’s December 7th, it’s not too late to make your own! The process couldn’t be simpler.

Holiday Jar >> Life In Limbo

Find a big jar, some paper, a few pens and maybe some washi tape.

I cut my paper all into the same size rectangles by hand – I traced them all to be (about) the same shape and then cut them out while listening to music.

Holiday Jar >> Life In Limbo

Then I brainstormed a list of 31 fun things to do over the holidays. This was really the hardest part! There are some nice ideas in this post if you need some inspiration. I wrote one on each slip of paper. I separated the papers into things we can only do in Canada (ie. ice skating) and things we can do in either place and marked the two piles with different-coloured stars (silver and gold).

Holiday Jar >> Life In LimboI sealed them all with washi tape and stuck them in a jar. Every day, we’ve been drawing out a card, taping it to the wall, and making sure we do the activity at some point during the day. It takes some work sometimes, but breaking out of our routines and adding in some Christmas cheer is so worth it. In fact, we might start making a jar for every month, not just December!

Holiday Jar >> Life In Limbo

I hope your December is merry and bright.

Washi Tape Frames and My Favourite Quotes

WashiIf you saw my post about my apartment here in Korea, I’m sure you noticed that like all apartments, it didn’t come decorated, and that there were blank walls as far as the eye could see. If you didn’t notice, it’s clearly a testament to my highly creative camera angles (ha) because trust me, they were there.

DSC_1998Slowly but surely, I’ve been trying to decorate as best as I can. This is a one-year living situation (that I am 2 months into already – how did that happen again!?) and I can’t paint the walls, so I’ve had to get a bit creative. Challenge accepted!

DSC_1995I was inspired by this washi tape frames project I saw on Pinterest, originally from Design Sponge. I was also inspired by Recite This, a website that takes any quote or phrase and transforms it into a beautiful poster with a design of your choice. So I pulled together a little gallery wall with some of my favourite sentiments, most of them taken from my Pinterest board full of quotes I find inspiring.

DSC_2019This project really doesn’t require a tutorial. All it takes is a little inspiration, a bunch of washi tape, and dash of creativity. I bought my washi tape at Daiso stores in Korea and Japan (the Japanese stuff was much stickier and better for this kind of project!), but you can find coloured and patterned tape at any craft store.

DSC_2013Print off some quotes or rip some beautiful photos out of magazines and you’re ready to go! I just put mine up in an arrangement I liked and tried my best to tape in straight lines. I failed, of course, (case in point: the above photo) but I’m still happy with the results.

washi collageHere’s my wall so far. On the left is a cute fabric flag with an ice cream cone on it I bought in Japan. The turquoise poster is just a flyer that I picked up from a stack of advertisements at the Tokyo Metropolitan building. I don’t know what either of them say, so if I have any readers that speak Japanese, please let me know! There’s also a funny little poster with the line “I’m very font of you because you’re just my type”, because I’m a nerd when it comes to typography.

Then I have a collection of some of the quotes that I love. These quotes are such great reminders of many of my favourite life philosophies and seeing them on my walls always gives me a mental nudge in the right direction.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle / This idea is always a solace to me when I’m getting frustrated about one particular photo, or blog post, or day of the week, or interaction with a loved one. To me, it means you have bad days but a good life. You may hate something that you create but begin to appreciate it from a distance or when you see how it works with other things you’ve made. If you make a mistake you can start over tomorrow. How you live 80% of the time matters more than the other 20%.

“I want to feel my life while I’m in it.” – Meryl Streep / I want to appreciate the special, magic, wonderful moments as they’re happening instead of after the fact, when I’m looking back. I want to be present and fully engaged for the good stuff (and for the bad stuff). I don’t want to feel like I missed the moment. These are the days!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt / Self-explanatory, but that doesn’t make it any easier to remember. I struggle with comparison every single day. This quote reminds me to get out of my own head and try my best to stop it already with the comparing game.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” – Neil Barringham / A similar sentiment is “Grow where you’re planted.” This one reminds me that life is what you make of it. With a few exceptions, moving to a new physical place isn’t going to solve all your problems – wherever you go, there you are. And even in the cases when a change of place was really necessary for your emotional wellbeing, it’s still up to you to make it your own.  To me it means: make the most of every situation and opportunity. Reach out, grow some roots, do your best. You don’t get another ride on this merry-go-round.

“No matter what the situation, we are very lucky.” – Julie Andrews / I only recently read this quote, but it struck a chord in me. To me, it just screams gratitude. Count your blessings. Appreciate all the good you have in your life. “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” Practicing gratitude instantly gives me a good dose of perspective in every situation.

“This is water.” – David Foster Wallace / I just printed this one off to add to my wall. It’s from a very wise and very wonderful commencement speech that I love very much. In a nutshell, it reminds me to give people the benefit of the doubt, to let go of the feelings that don’t serve me, and to try my best to be a conscious adult. You can watch an amazing version of the whole talk here.

You might notice that the washi tape is peeling on a couple of the posters. One of the kinds I bought wasn’t sticky enough for the texture of the wall, so at some point I’ll probably have to make new frames with the stickier tape or find another solution. For now, though, I love my little art installation – it keeps reminding me to live a better life.

These Two Hands.

DSC_0016These two hands have been making a lot of lovely things lately, and I wanted to share! I saw this Pin the other day, and thought it was wonderful. If you don’t want to click over, the text is “I need to make things with my hands every day”. I think it’s absolutely true for me. I’m not always making something beautiful – it could be as simple as writing a quote down in my journal or stirring brussels sprouts until they brown (I’m obsessed, sprouts + eggs is such a great meal!). But using my hands to create is wonderful, and I’m sure many of you would agree.

DSC_0031I read a great op-ed in the Globe and Mail when I was home over the break, about knitting! The piece quotes Chuck Palahniuk: “My working day involves jotting down ideas while doing a seemingly mindless physical task”, and the author of the article turns to knitting as her ‘mindless physical task’. While I had never thought of knitting that way, it made complete sense to me – it’s fairly mindless, and I get to use my hands to make something. Win-win. I’ve knitted a lot lately. It’s been fun. I’ve knitted so many things + subsequently given them away before I even had a chance to take a proper photo of them! But that’s okay. That’s the spirit, anyways.

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I made both my beautiful sisters striped cowls for Christmas. And I saw both of them wearing them at some point in the weeks after, so success! They ended up being slightly big, but plush and cozy nonetheless. If I make the pattern again, I’ll be casting on less stitches to start. The grey cowl I’m wearing in the above photo is one I totally improvised because I was desperate for something to wear around my neck 24/7, and wear it around my neck 24/7 I certainly have! It’s my favourite. It’s seed stitch (learn how to do it here) that I made on US #10 needles with not-quite-chunky-enough yarn, but I love it anyways. I went on a hat craze, so far I’ve made 3 – one for my mom, which is pink and white pinstripes, the solid band version for myself above, and a green and white pinstripe one that is currently making its way through the mail system to a good friend who lives far away! Surprise! The knitting bowl that my sister got me for Christmas has been life-changing, or at least knitting-life-changing. Yes, I have to re-wind all my skeins of yarn into balls but it is a small price to pay to have an easier time knitting! Also there is no longer lint and dust all over my yarn from dragging on the floor. Yay.

I’m currently tackling another hat for a friend of mine, then I want to make myself another cowl, and maybe learn how to make gloves! Luckily, since I’ve gotten some new needles, I can make projects properly, and that makes me very happy. I haven’t lost the spark yet, and I’m going to exploit it for another little while yet, until it runs out until the next cold season. For right now, I’m going to make cozy things for winter with my own two hands.