Archive | August 2014

Crafting4Cause – Adding Meaning to Your Crafts

Crafting4Cause, what is it and what does it mean to you? How does it add meaning to your crafts?

Why we craft

As crafters, writers, photographers, etc, we perform our craft with something specific in mind.  It might be a completed work, or it might be the pleasure someone gets when they receive the gift we created with our own hands.  However, for most of us, we get pleasure from the creation and even more in seeing the work to completion. Other than giving the gift or selling the product, what else do we get from it?

Personally, I always feel a sense of satisfaction when I complete any project, regardless of the medium used.  I do a variety of crafts, so have many different mediums in my arsenal.  Many of you use only one or two.  Think about what you personally get from completing a project.  Now, add another element to it, and what do you think happens?


Crafting for a cause, is creating an item that benefits a specific cause.  It could be anything that is near and dear to your heart.  Me, personally, I have wanted to create quilts or jewelry to benefit thyroid, lung, liver and breast cancer.  However, since my quilting skills are not as good as I would like, I have not done that as of yet.  I also have close connections with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and now more recently the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation.  I am hoping in the near future to be able to create items that I can sell to send the proceeds to these wonderful organizations.

One of the largest Crafting4Cause items, that many of us are familiar with is the Pink Quilting project to benefit breast cancer awareness.  This quilting program has been done in so many states and the quilts are truly works of art. Remember, there is not one right way to create a quilt such as this.  However, there are some guides that might help you along your way, if you decide to participate.

For more information on this project, here is a book that discusses it and provides step by step patterns to create several items that can be indexused to donate to breast cancer support groups.

Remember that this is only one way to craft4cause.

Adding Meaning to your Crafts

How does this add meaning to your crafts? For me, it adds meaning because the finished product can either be given to someone who is dealing with this illness or being used to raise money for research and recognition. For me, the organizations I mentioned above hold personal meaning.  My son has a severe food allergy and also suffers from colitis.  Thus, both organizations could benefit from donations to help fund research and to spread awareness. The thyroid, lung, liver and breast cancer have all affected family members, which is why they are important to me and the crafts I might create definitely have the added meaning.

How can you create something that will benefit others and add more meaning for you?  I would love to hear from you as to what ideas you can come up with.


This entry was posted on August 29, 2014. 4 Comments

Crafting on the Go – Portable Crafting Projects

Questions to think about:

Are your crafts portable or stationary? Are you able to travel with your projects or do you need to stay in one place to work on them? My thoughts: I don’t know about you, but I am always on the go, between my activities and those of my children.  When I do most of of my crafting, even at home, I love having items that are easily portable, so that I don’t have to worry about losing my place.

In fact, this weekend is a perfect example. Nicole at NAMMy daughter has participated in the National American Miss pageant for the past 2 years.  This year, due to her school schedule, might be her last, so yesterday, on my birthday, we drove to New Jersey so she could compete again before starting college.  As there will be many hours with nothing to do over the next 2 days, I made sure to have plenty to keep me busy.

My Projects:

I was planning on starting a new project, which I have witten about here in my blog.  I was material for pillowgoing to start creating a pillow using the English Paper Piecing method of quilt creation.  However, due to time constraints, I was not able to have it ready to go.  The material has been purchased, washed and ironed and the templates have been purchased.  However, I was not able to cut the pieces required to begin the project.  This is on my list for the next couple of weeks, though, after getting my daughter off to college. I do however have 2 projects already in progress and one other to start that I brought with me.


Project 1


necklace in progressThis is a bead crochet necklace that I have started and need to complete.  I am hoping to have the crochet portion complete this weekend.  Items such as this travel well because once the beads are threaded, they fit into a pouch which is easily portable.  I can take it and sit in the hotel lobby and people watch, while working on it. Since I don’t have the findings with me, I won’t be able to fully complete it, I can finish the main part of it and add the toggle when I get back home.

Project 2

This second project is a scarf that I started ages ago, but just have never taken the scarf in progresstime to finish.  I was actually working on it last night before bed, and found it very relaxing.  After a few rows, I was able to turn off the light and go right to sleep.  Love how soothing the repetitive motion of straight crochet can be. This scarf is also extremely portable, since it fits into a small bag.  If I can finish it, I can post both of these projects on my Etsy store for sale!


New Project


black beadsNow this third project is not in progress yet, but has begun.  I have purchased the necessary beads and thread for it, and if I finish the other two, I will be starting it here.  I did bring the beads, thread and a travel bead board with me to start threading them.  This is a necklace that has been commissioned.  This will not be started until the others are done, as I really do need to stop having so many works in progress.



Concluding thoughts

To me having portable projects makes it so much easier to be creative.  I am not restricted by my space, but have the ability to work at will.  Yes, I do have some projects that require more stationary locations, but i also have those that are truly portable, especially after they have been started. What about you? Are your crafts portable or stationary? Are you able to just pick up and go, or are you required to be in one place for most of the time with them? Does it matter to you or are you more comfortable being more stationary? Please feel free to weigh in on this topic.  Looking forward to hearing your ideas.

This entry was posted on August 24, 2014. 4 Comments

Crafting Your Ideal Life Pt 1 – How Your Passions Can Help Guide You

Ok, so you have used the previous questions and started thinking about your passions.  You have a handle on what they are, and realize that you might need to make some important changes in your life in order to truly live your ideal life.  But………how do you actually do that?

What is an ideal life?new life button

To each person, their ideal life is totally different.  You might be living it now, or you might realize that you need to make some changes.  In order to identify what your ideal life is or would be, here are some questions you need to ask yourself before you move forward.  Yes, I know, I am having you think more than you have in years, but there is a good reason.  And here it is: The only way to make the necessary changes is to truly know what needs changing! Just jumping in and making changes will not amount to anything if you are changing the wrong things!


1. What is going right in your life right now?

2. What would you like to change about your life?

3. Of the things you want to change, what specific changes would make your life better?

4. If you could live your ideal (dream) life, what would it look like?

5. Where do you envision yourself in 2 years, 5 years and 10 years?

6. What role in your envisioned life do your passions play? Are they the main focus, a continued hobby, or your financial lifeline?

7. What are the negatives in your life right now that you would live more securely if they were no longer part of your day to day life?

8. Once you have identified the negatives, are you willing to do what it takes to remove them from your life?

The continuing journey…….

With this set of questions, we are taking the second step to identifying and crafting your ideal life.  Remember that Rome was not built in a day and that your ideal life artist painting old photodoes not need to be a dream, but can be a reality.  However, it does take time.  Really think about your answers to these questions.  Just like with the questions about your passions, make sure to write down your answers so you can review them at a later time.

Again, there are no right or wrong answers, only the best ones for you!  No one is grading you on how you answer.  However, your life will start changing for the better once you make the decision to shift your focus from the life you are currently living to the one you truly desire to live.

As always, please comment below.  I love hearing how my questions are helping you to identify your passions and how you can make your life better with them.  And stay tuned!! Much more to come, including an entire program in identifying, and using your passions to craft your ideal life!


This entry was posted on August 22, 2014. 3 Comments

Finding your passion – your first step to crafting your ideal life

What is passion and how do you find it?  Once you have found it, how can you use it to live your best life?  These are some questions that have been asked for years.  Everyone has different goals, dreams and passions.  No two people are the same and you should not gauge your life based on someone else.  You need to live your own life.

What is passion?

First, here is a dictionary definition of the word, from

1.  any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
2. strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
3. strong sexual desire; lust.
4. an instance or experience of strong love or sexual desire.
5. a person toward whom one feels strong love or sexual desire.
6. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything:a passion for music.
7. the object of such a fondness or desire:  Accuracy became a passion with him.

 From this you can see that passion is just a burning desire for something.  How you do find your passion or burning desire?  Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be providing information on how you can determine what your passion is, can be with regard to utilizing materials for a craft, discovering something new about yourself, coming to terms with what you are truly looking for out of your life, and then figuring out how to incorporate your passions into the life you are living so you can live your perfect life.

Finding your passion

In order to find your passion, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.  Remember when doing this, be as honest as possible.  You might be surprised what you discover in this assignment.  Also, remember that there are no correct answers. Whatever you determine is right for you.


1. Am I completely happy with my life right now?

2. Is there anything I might want to change to make my life better?

3. What is right with my life? What do I not want to change?

4. Is there something I love to do, that I could do all day for free and still feel wonderful about it?

5. Does the craft I do provide me with a wonderful feeling?  Or is there something else new I would like to learn?

Again, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions.  This is just a starting point. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting more about how to create your ideal life through whatever craft you participate in, and how to determine which is best suited for you.  Stay tuned! Please comment below and let me know if this information is helpful to you!  I certainly hope it is. Also, if you are so inclined, I would love to hear about your results when going through this project.  You never know what you can learn about yourself with this process.

This entry was posted on August 15, 2014. 8 Comments

My English Paper Piecing Project

Earlier, I mentioned that I wanted to learn English Paper Piecing and that I would be using this blog as a way to assure that I don’t leave it as a work in progress.  Well, guess what?  I spent a lot of time yesterday in Joann’s Fabrics (a crafter’s toy store!) to purchase the necessary materials.


I was totally amazed at the number of supplies needed for a project such as this.  True not all are needed right away, but I wanted to get them all in advance.  What did I get?

Additional fabric – I had the basics, but needed some for lining, additional fabric for the piecing, the binding and back of the pillow

Pins – straight and curved safety pins (I never even knew these existed)

Basting spray – to prevent needing to baste the entire cover


Needles – a set of in betweens so I can determine which ones will work best for me

Button – needed to close the pillow once the form is in it

Pillow form

Still to purchase or create

I still need to get one additional item, which Joann’s didn’t carry: the templates to use. I can make my own, but since I am just learning, and am not totally comfortable cutting out 60 templates, I am going to purchase them.  Once I get them and use them for this project, I will do a review in the Products section!  I promise!

Next Steps


Sample travel sewing kit.

1. Order templates for hexagon shape I am using

2. Wash all fabric purchased

3. Cut out the squares and assure I have enough paper clips

4. Create my travel kit, since I will be taking this project on the road with me

Follow along

Please continue to follow along with me as I document each step of this process.  I will be taking pictures of my progress and hope to have this completed as quickly as possible.  I will have a lot of downtime in about 2 weeks as my daughter is competing in a pageant and there is a lot of time when I will have nothing else to do. Thus, I will be working on this pillow!  Keep an eye out for these pictures over the next several weeks!




This entry was posted on August 13, 2014. 2 Comments

Crafter, Craftsman or Artisan – How Visiting a Renaissance Fair Changed My Way of Thinking

Yesterday, I spent the day at the New York Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo, NY with my children.  One of the things I love most about going to an event like this, are all of the different shops and crafts exhibited.  This event got me thinking about how many skills are no longer around or are being phased out in our society looking for instant gratification.  It also got me thinking about the difference between the tags: Crafter, Craftsman and Artisan.

All of us who craft as a hobby consider ourselves crafters.  We may give our items out as gifts for those we love, sell to friends, family, local craft fairs and even possibly through online venues such as Etsy (which will be discussed at a later date).  However, are those who sell at larger venues and specialty fairs crafters, or are they craftsmen and artisans? While they might have started out as simple hobbyists, they have definitely grown into something larger.  Also, what about those who grow from simple craft fairs to selling in store?  How do they consider themselves?

I was curious as to dictionary definitions of Craftsman and Artisan.  Utilizing the app on my phone, here is what I came up with:

Craftsman: N. – a person who practices  or is highly skilled in a craft; artisann  -an artistartist painting old photo

Artisan: N. – a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson

   – a person or company that makes a high quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods

adj. – pertaining to an artisan or the product of an artisan

Most of the items sold at venues such as the Renaissance Fair, and other larger events, are created by highly skilled craftsmen.  This was brought home to me while watching one such person creating a leather book cover that would be bound into a journal.  His work was impressive, and you could see the detail in everything he did.  He was, of course, using tools that were used in the time frame, and you could see the love he had for what he was doing.

Through a discussion we had, I discovered that he is also a talented jewelry designer, and he showed me some of his work.  This gentleman informed me that several years ago, he used to make handmade glass beads.  Now anyone who has seen this done, knows how difficult and expensive it can be to produce.  He stopped making the beads when a number of shoppers at fairs told him they could get the same thing cheaper at Michaels.  Now, I have nothing against stores like Michaels, and I do shop there regularly, however, there is a huge difference between the mass produced glass beads  and the quality and detail in those that are hand made.

This is also a large difference between crafters and artisans.  Those who aspire for more, require a higher quality product to begin working with in the first place.  My conversation with him and other vendors opened my mind to creating an interview series with hobbyists, crafters, successful sellers, craftsmen and artisans to learn more about their area of expertise.  Those who work in areas that are no longer part of the norm, especially in areas that are moving towards extinction will be my central theme.  However, I will be interviewing creative people in a variety of industries and posting them here to show how the creative process begins, and how it grows.  Those who have successfully moved from simple crafting to successful businesses will show how it is possible to take a hobby to a life time of enjoyment.

Now the question to ask yourself is how do you consider yourself?  Are you specially trained or are you mainly self taught? How much training have you had in the area you work in?  Me, I am simply a crafter who strives for more.  I also know that I will probably never hit the level that the most skilled artisans are.  They are definitely high above most of us average people.  What about you?  Do you have any area that you are interesting in learning about, even if you never reach the level of an artisan?  I would love to hear from you.  Please comment below and I will try to locate someone with that skill set who would be willing to have me interview them about their craft.

Stay tuned for more!!



Works in Progress

Hi there!  This is Alison again.  I have been going through my projects and realized that over the past year or so, I have purchased a number of items for projects that I have either started or never started.  Some are mostly complete, but not yet finished, and some have not even been started.  Are you the same way?  Do you buy something saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to get started, but first let me do this.”?  I know I do.

How many works in progress do you tend to have at one time?  Are they all within the same area of crafting, or are they a variety?  Personally, I currently have a bead crochet necklace and a crochet scarf to complete. work in progress I also really want to learn English Paper Piecing, which if you don’t know, is a form of quilting that is easily done by hand.  The main reason I want to learn this is because unfortunately I lost my sewing machine in Superstorm Sandy, and due to currently living in a small one bedroom apartment, don’t really have the space to set one up.  So, my next big project is to teach myself to quilt using English Paper Piecing. I have a book with step by step instructions, and it seems very easy to understand.

Keep an eye here on the blog.  I am setting up a challenge for myself to assure I complete this project and will be blogging my way through it!  You will all be able to hold me accountable for starting and completing this work in progress and not letting it fall to the wayside, like so many other started works.

Can’t wait to get started and walk you all through my progress!

Please comment and let us all know about your works in progress, when they were started, and why you have not completed them yet.  I am sure there are a myriad of reasons, and there is nothing to be ashamed of!

What is a craft?

Depending on who you ask, you will get a variety of answers to the question.  However, for me, a craft is a creative outlet you do that provides enjoyment.  This can be just about anything.

There are crafters who work with fiber, such as yarn for knitting,  crocheting,  weaving, and those who work with beads, such as for making jewelry or mosaic pictures. Some work with fabric for quilting, sewing, and others who prefer taking photographs.  There is no “right” way to be a crafter.

Some people craft exclusively for the fun of it, while others make a living by selling their creations. Some have had extensive training in their art, while others are self taught. Is one better than another? Definitely not! It doesn’t matter how you learn, what matters is the enjoyment you get out of it.

What do you think? Are you specially trained or are you self taught with your craft? Which craft provides the most enjoyment for you?  And, if there were something new you would like to learn about, what would it be?