Amanda Blake Soule’s new book, Handmade Home, is chock-full of goodness. There are all sorts of projects that can be done with thrifted or repurposed materials, and are appropriate for crafty adults and children alike. Her outlook of encouraging creative play and expression in our everyday lives is truly inspiring. She engages in a way of life that I find very appealing and can only hope to draw from more and more.
Here’s a little taste for you, compiled from the book’s introduction:
Each day provides us with the opportunity to create something. Making things by hand is a way I share my love and a bit of myself with those dearest to me. Each time I make something for my home and my family, I feel a satisfaction unlike any other feeling. Through the act of making I find solace and peace in the small moments of my everyday life. When I am at work making things, I am fully present in the moment.
I found myself particularly taken with an item that I thought could be immediately useful to a couple of ladies I know who have or are expecting little ones. The Fringed Play Mat pattern is reminiscent of the ribbon blankets you may have seen at the stores. I had seen those and thought to myself “I could sew that!”; I was thrilled to see a simple pattern in the book for just how to do this.
Instead of making mine the 35-inch square size, I purchased fat quarters of quilting fabric. I used 2 quarters per blanket, along with some organic cotton batting and a variety of ribbons. Inexpensive, fun, and simple to make. I’m really starting to like this sewing business!
As with any hand-made project, there inevitably comes a moment where you want to toss the whole thing out the window for one reason or another. The first blanket I made went so smoothly that I probably got a little over-confident in my abilities.
The second blanket did not go as well at first. As soon as the sewing machine started acting up, refusing to perform a simple zig-zag stitch, I lost it. This could have been one of those pregnancy horemone-induced rages and/or breakdowns, but I quite literally tossed one of these blankets across the room before breaking down in tears. The thread on the underside was zigging perfectly, yet the thread on the top wasn’t getting stitched into the fabric at all. It was just getting pulled along in a straight line; this made ripping it out easier, but it was insanely frustrating. After a time-out, the machine and I came back together for a trouble-shooting session. I tried everything I knew how to do (which isn’t much) and eventually, inexplicably, it started working again.
Roll it up, wrap some ribbon around the whole thing, and you have a charming and presentable gift. I added the tag that I use for all of my knit gifts, made out of a manila tag I got at Staples and a stamp I got from Michael’s. I hand color them and write content and care instructions.
I hope the sweet babes who receive these blankies enjoy laying, drooling, playing, and napping with them! I certainly enjoyed the process of combining fabrics with ribbon, stitching them up, even ironing them. Sewing (even when it’s a little frustrating) brings me an entirely different sense of creativity and satisfaction than knitting. I can’t quite explain it yet, but there is a difference in process for me that I am finding invigorating. So while I continue to feel excited and inspired by my knitting, I am also adding this new playing with fabric thing to the mix. Between the two, the possibilities seem endless!