February Craft Goal Success (Mostly)


I promised to report in about my February Creative Crafting Goals after the month was over.  I talked a little bit about progress in last week’s post, but this will be the full report with photos.

Project #1: Be the Light Cross Stitch

I’d started this project in January, so finishing it was my first goal for February.  I think it turned out pretty awesome all told, and looks great on my wall.

Cross stitch of a jar of fireflies with the words Be the light incorporated in the design.

Project #2: Teal Jeans to Teal Pencil Skirt

This pair of jeans originally belonged to my mother.  When she lost weight, they no longer fit, so she let me have them to do what I would.  I had to take them in at the waist in the conversion process, so there was enough material to make them into a pencil skirt.  I did this largely with basting and trial and error.

Let’s highlight the error:

They turned out pretty good when I got them completely done.  There’s a slit in the back up to the knee so that I can walk in them without being super constricted.  Part of the conversion plan was to preserve the decorative bits on the side seam at the bottom.  I may still do some additional work to add similar embellishments along the hem all the way around or maybe just around the edges of the back slit.  But these are now in wearable condition, so I’m calling them done.

Project #3: Light Blue Jeans to Light Blue & White Skirt

After the experience with the first pair of jeans my mother gave me (this pair was the same brand and size as the teal ones in project #2), I decided to do my more usual conversion style, which is a wider, more flowing skirt, with triangle inlays in the front and back.  I’ve made three or five versions of this adaptation before, so I knew what I needed to make it work beautifully.  So I started by taking out the inner leg seam so I’d have as much material to work with as possible, and then I did the pleats at the back to make the waist fit properly.  This let me bring in the waist while retaining all the belt loops and the original waistband with side elastic.  This worked out better than the darts I did in the other pair.

I decided white would be a good color for the triangular panels, so I ordered some white denim to use for this, as well as enough extra for another project as some point since it was fortuitously at a decent sale price when I ordered.  I think the panels and pleats method turned out much better in the back than the pencil skirt design, and I’m definitely going to be adding some embellishments to this one, but again, since it’s wearable as is, I’m counting the project as complete for the purposes of my February goals.

Project #4: New Dress Shirt

This is a pattern I picked up a while back when there was a really good sale on patterns (I think they were $1 each) but I hadn’t gotten around to making yet.  It’s Butterick B6563 if anyone’s interested.  The goal for this one was to at least make some substantial progress, not necessarily to finish it completely.  Step one was copying the pattern from the flimsy pattern paper onto muslin to make a mockup.  This fabric doesn’t have much stretch, so I could make something that was nicely fitted as my base, and then I could make it with both normal non-stretch fabrics or with slightly stretchy ones.

It took the better part of a Saturday to copy the pattern over and cut it all out because I had to take fairly frequent breaks.  I have the front and back shirt pieces, both collar options, and all three sleeve options.  That should let me test out each sleeve option to make sure the arm holes are right so I have the basic pattern pieces in muslin and the fitting adjustments figured out before I start working with the actual fabrics I want to use.

This process reminded me that cutting out patterns is one of the worst things I can do to my lower back though (hence the frequent breaks).  The best place I have for laying out, transferring, and cutting is my bed.  It’s on risers, so it’s closer to a standard dresser height than a standard desk height, but it’s still not ideal.  I’ve researched cutting tables and while they are expensive, it’s definitely something I want to figure out how to save up for.

Final Thoughts

So that was my February of sewing and needle craft projects.  Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself.  I followed through with my plan and got some substantial progress on things without breaking my streak of writing every day.  I may not have gotten as far on the new dress shirt as I’d wanted, but that’s okay.  I knew that a fourth project was probably ambitious when I set out my goals for the month.  And not getting much further on that one was as much about self-care as it was about sewing.  When I do something to aggravate my back, I need to be extra careful with it for a few days and not do anything else to make it worse.  It took a lot of years of physical therapy and following doctor’s orders to get myself back to a baseline that didn’t involve daily pain, and I don’t want to undo that work.  I love my hobbies, but it’s important to make sure that they don’t detract from my overall wellness, as that defeats the purpose most of the time.

2019 Writing Year in Review


A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time. Continue reading

Camp NaNoWriMo: July 2019 Edition


July is a Camp NaNoWriMo month, so I went in with the goal of writing at least 30 minutes a day.  I rounded up a little for a goal of 1,000 minutes of work across 31 days, which averages out to about 33 minutes per day.

My final count was 1,050 minutes, which is also the target average of 33 minutes per day.

All of those minutes were spent on the third book in the Swords and Shields series.  I’m pretty happy with book two, but have one more round of beta readers looking at it before I start contemplating the copy editing and cover design phase.  Book three needs a lot more TLC and a lot of redrafting before it will get to that point, but I made a lot of progress this month.  I have a better idea of the overarching plot, what’s important, and what’s not. Continue reading

Swords and Shields Book 2: Take 3


So I’ve been working on the second book in the Swords and Shields series for a while now.  Most recently, I’m been doing a major rewrite (literally in most cases) of the entire book to tighten up the cast and plot.  I’m about two-thirds of the way through, and I’m much happier with the draft so far.  The last third is both the most exciting and the most work.  I’ve completely removed three characters from the book, and they played prominent roles in the last third, so I need to adjust a lot of scenes to work just as well, hopefully better, than the original versions. Continue reading

New Year, Same Goals


In January, there’s always a lot of talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  The perennial weight loss goal being one that gets a lot of play in commercials and the media.  I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions, and don’t think I’ve made more than one or two in the past thirty years.

At the beginning of the year, I focus more on what I’m going to continue doing.  What goal that I’m already working on, am I going to focus on this month?  And it’s much more of a monthly check in than it is a New Year’s habit. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Day Seventeen


It’s been a good week.  I crossed the 50k mark on November 13, which ties my record for fastest finish from 2012.  Though my record high word count was from 2010 and the site doesn’t have my graph, so I can’t be sure it’s a real record.  My jury duty got postponed and then canceled, so I didn’t lose valuable writing time to that.  And I’m staying at or above my goal of 3,766 words per day on average.

Stats so far:

Highest word count day was yesterday, November 16 with 7,538.

Average words per day is 3,889.

Total word count at the end of November 16 was 62,229.

And I’m looking forward to an amazing weekend full of writing.  We do a big all day writing event in my region on one of the middle Saturdays (usually the same weekend as the Night of Writing Dangerously HQ fundraising event).  It’s tomorrow this year and it’s going to be a blast.  We have write-ins planned all day, a spreadsheet to track competition over sprints and total word count, and great prizes for winners.  It’s going to be a long day full of fun, writing, and lots of great food.  I’ll be exhausted by the end, but it will have been totally worth it.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, how’s your project going?  Are you keeping up with par and/or your personal goals?

NaNoWriMo Day Ten


So we’re more than a week into this and I’m actually doing pretty well.  I haven’t quite been staying on track with my personal NaNoWriMo word count goal of 3,766 a day, but I always write more on weekends, so I expect to have caught up to that before the end of the day Sunday. I’ve been attending and hosting plenty of write-ins and my region’s on-line chat is almost always active, which is awesome.

In NaNoRDU, we have a tradition of posting tweets of the interesting things overheard at write-ins, either said by us or by random strangers.  I just wanted to share a couple fun ones we’ve had so far this year.  They can be pretty hilarious.

2017-11-10 NaNoRDU tweets

We get up to some fun shenanigans at write-ins, and I’ve been enjoying them so far this year.  Looking forward to tonight’s.

So here’s the rundown of my writing stats so far this year.

Most productive day was November 11 with 5,036 words.

Average words per day at the end of November 9 was 3,615.

Total words at end of day on November 9 was 32,543.

Looking good so far this year.

Keep those words coming, all your WriMos out there.