I have a little confession to make. I love keeping an agenda. One is the fact that without one I’d be a complete wreck. The mom who doesn’t know what time to pick up her kids? That’s me. An agenda (a nice big one) gives me a place to write down appointments, but also household reminders (change sheets), meal plans, and things to do. Unfortunately, most journals fall into two categories: fun/useless/expensive or boring/useful/affordable. My solution was to buy a good useful journal and pretty it up, you can see my first agenda cover on my other blog. Over the years, my agenda needs have expanded, so now I’m making a desk size, and you can have one, too!
This little undertaking of mine is getting more and more serious by the week. In many ways it’s a dream come true to start a business by way of blog, product, brand, markets, and so on and so forth. It’s also a major change for our family. I’ve been a full-time mama for three and a half years, helping guide our little family through one new addition, three moves (two of them international), school, and all of the things in-between. It’s been intense. Now things are starting to settle. We aren’t planning to move for a good long time and are ready for life to get right boring!
The thing about inspiration is that you can’t go looking for it. Well, you can, but it usually finds you on its own. Last week was fall break in the Netherlands. We took some time to go to Weimar, Germany and visit old, good friends. On the way home, we stopped in Eisenach to visit Wartburg castle. The drive up to the castle from town was gorgeous. I’m always particularly taken by the contrast of the dark lines of the damp (it is northern Europe!) tree trunks against bright fall colors of leaves on the trees. Once we got to the top, the views were amazing in all directions.
Ever obedient, we followed our friends’ advice and bought tickets for the guided tour. My German is still pretty good for listening, so it went fine. It helped tremendously that the tour guide was a fabulous story teller. He had such style and enthusiasm, I think he could have turned a recipe for stew into a riveting tale! The first rooms we saw were not particularly exciting. They have been well restored, but most of the furniture and fixtures have long since disappeared, so that made it a bit harder to appreciate them. Our tour guide helped, though, causing more than one listener to gasp and then chuckle with wonder when he explained that medieval castle dwellers solved the problem of unruly storage in large boxes by (wait for it) turning boxes on their sides and inventing cupboards!
I’ll just give you a minute to gasp and chuckle. And yes, he was really that good.
I sew with a Janome 5024. It came into my life when Oma’s sewing machine broke five years ago and I think it’s just dandy. It’s a hard working machine. No computers, not a lot of fancy stitches, just a reliable mechanical sewing machine that can sew and sew and sew. Based a bit on need (sheets I want to darn) and a bit of blog inspiration (this post over at Badskirt that’s been brewing. Last week I bought three new presser feet, a darning foot, a stitch-in-the ditch foot, and a button sewing foot. There is a great sewing machine shop near my home and the owner walked me through choosing feet and how to use. I was a bit skeptical of how much I might use them and if it would be worth the investment. The darning foot is still in the package, but let me tell you about my first experiences with the other two.
In Dutch, it’s aardapel. In German, you can say erdapfel (although not many do or will). In French, it’s pomme de terre. Earth and apple. Earth embracing nature, connecting us through the soles of our feet to this big old spinning wonderland. Apple reaching for the skies, red, bright, promising, sometimes golden, symbolizing knowledge but also the fall, harvest, the crunch of leaves under your feet, the seductive combination of crunch, sweet, sour, and juicy on your tongue. Put them together and you get potato. It’s the common potato, under the earth, basic, elemental, often taken for granted but also irreplaceable.
Yesterday was another milestone “let’s get this show on the road” moment. My Versacraft stamp pad finally arrived. I chose Versacraft for stamping on fabric based on this review. It took me far too long to get myself organized about ordering that little stamp pad, but once I finally ordered from Noeks, it only took a day or two arrive and a few hours to put it to use! I’ve had a vision of this particular label for quite some time now. It’s been coming together slowly, but every step has been a bit dream-like. What a dramatic story for a label, right? I’ll share.
After all that fabric buying and inspiration, this week I finally got started on making. I’ve had a couple of ideas percolating for a while now. In the past, I’ve thought mainly in terms of individual pieces. Usually those pieces corresponded with my needs. As in – oh, I need a bag. Hey, why not design and make one?! Now, I’m trying to think in terms of a product line. That means, not just a single bag, but a series that works together. When the realization came to me it was scary. Now that I’ve started working, it’s fantastic. There’s no need to stop with one piece, I can just keep going on to the next one!
Something about sewing, knitting, crochet – or perhaps any craft anyone ever undertakes seriously – leaves me feeling like I am always a beginner. So often, the beautiful things I see made by other people leave me feeling like I lack skill or ability. But that’s not true at all. At least, so say my family and friends. Every once in a while, a strong little inner voice chimes in as well, but usually I’m left feeling like I’ll never learn. But it turns out that I’ve been learning for quite a while.
We’re back in Nijmegen now, but what an amazing trip home. It was our best in years. I particularly enjoyed having a project to work on besides clothing and entertaining the family. My thoughts constantly returned to getting this site and my little business started. As a result, it seemed like inspiration was everywhere. There were so many pretty things to see – there were bags to examine and fabrics to admire. There were colors to fall in love with and patterns in nature that I’d never noticed before. It was a treat and filled me up with things to think about for the coming weeks.
I’ve been buying fabric these past few days. Lots and lots of fabric. It is so much fun to have permission (at last?!) to walk into a really nice fabric shop and pick out a dozen or so bolts of fabric, take them to the cutting table, and ask for a quarter yard of each. It’s also pretty darn scary.