Saturday, November 30, 2019

I'm In A New Place...

I haven't been sewing much in the last couple of months.  Some of it's from a loss of desire and some of it's because my sewing in the past has been driven by need.  In my previous job I needed a constantly revolving wardrobe for the many facets of my job. It was a very corporate job with very specific needs.

In this job, those needs no longer apply.  If you've been following along for the last couple of years, you know I really struggled with what I wanted to wear. It's been a four year adventure and I've finally figured out what I like sewing and wearing.


I've sewn a comfortable wardrobe of shirts, cardigans, toppers worn with jeans in the fall/winter/early spring.  For late spring/summer/late summer I wear a wardrobe of dresses both short and maxi length.


When I wake up in the morning, I no longer ponder what to wear.  I no longer wish I had something that didn't exist in my closet. Yes, there are pieces I can add to give it more depth but I'm not discontent with my sewing or what's in my closet.

So this has brought a moment of hesitation, loss of direction and sewjo. My friend Gaylen asked me the other day if I didn't have a long period of time when I didn't sew.  I can honestly say that the longest period has been for a couple of months when I was getting divorced. But at that time I could barely get out of bed every day to do every day chores.  Everything took so much effort - going to work, getting my kids fed - that at the end of the day I had no more energy so I went back to bed. Sewing wasn't in my universe because it took everything I had just to survive. I know if you've experienced divorce you know what I mean.

The other time I stopped for a couple of weeks was when my Dad died.  The grief was like a curtain that shut out everything else...I could barely breathe for the hurt that enveloped me.  And the crazy thing is that it wasn't unexpected...but there is no accounting for the empty hole the loss of someone who loved you so much leaves.

Other than that, I've always sewn. It's who I am. When I move not only do I need a dishwasher and washer/dryer but I also have to have a designated space to sew.  If there's no area for that, I keep looking for the next space. I know other people have other priorities but not me. I fully intend to sew until I can no longer sit up straight at my sewing machine.

So the continued lack of desire to create has me befuddled.  At first, I used the time to catch up on movies and TV series I hadn't watched.  Then I started reading.  Because not only does it transport me to other places and shut out the craziness of the present political climate, it takes time. Time I'm no longer using to sew.

I think I would be completely despondent if I didn't still have ideas of things I want to make swirling in my head. But that burning desire to create, the thing that drove most of my sewing weekends, it's just not there. I miss THAT!

My normal triggers haven't inspired me. Usually a fabric purchase works, but I haven't wanted to add any to the plethora of fabric I currently own. Or a design idea stimulates me to want to create, usually burning so brightly that I can't do anything else until its made. Nothing this time. I mean I have ideas but nothing that makes me want to rush home and spend every waking minute in the sewing cave until it comes to be.

Now I'm not asking for suggestions on how to leave this place. I'm writing this to explain why there's no content here.  Why there will probably be only a little content going forward. I get some of my best "Questions of the Day" when I'm neck deep in sewing. One sewing journey usually leads to another.  A need usually leads to a purchase of sewing equipment. I no longer have needs...wants maybe but few needs.

So I'm figuring out where to go from here. How to either get back to where I was or find a new space to create. I believe this is my new and/or next sewing journey!

...as always more later!


45 comments:

  1. I came late to your blog, about a year ago when I took up sewing after an absence of 40 years - since I was a teenager. I went back to sewing as I just couldn't find clothes that I loved after putting on weight, and I had more time on my hands after semi retiring. I get so much inspiration and ideas from your old posts. IF you are able, I would love to see some posts on simple techniques that make a difference.

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    1. Jaaney - I've been writing about sewing on this blog for 13 years so I've probably covered every topic you're interested in. I would check the sidebar under the Blog Index - these two topics should help you, "New Sewists Questions" and "Sewing Techniques" these should cover beginner and more advanced techniques.

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  2. You’ll have to take up quilting ❤️

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    1. Well that ain't happening! *LOL* While I respect the artform, I just can't cut fabric into little squares and triangles and sew them back together into bigger squares!

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    2. My suggestion also. That’s how I started quilting-I had scraps of some really cute fabrics as I made my own scrub tops for my work as a pediatric RN. BUT even now after 30 years quilting I have “fallow” periods that I believe are hatching new ideas and energy!

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  3. I stopped sewing for 20 years when a job consumed my every waking hour - and afforded me the privilege to travel the world. Retirement, move to a new community, and a request to sew on Boy Scout patches grew into what is a part-time job. When I wasn't sewing I was collecting sewing-related items in my travels so when I am in my sewing area (in the basement) I can look at the various trinkets and think of the trips and why I didn't sew. I too was going to suggest that you focus on techniques as I haven't read all of your posts. I think I discovered you when you wrote about your navy gingham shirt. Perhaps a couple of posts on what inspires you to combine fabrics in a TNT pattern. I now have two sizes of gingham but have to find the time to make a similar blouse. Do you want to sew for me?!?! Even if you don't post about your sewing, I hope you will continue to post about what you are doing as that will inspire many of your readers. Mary Jackson

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  4. I've been slowing down on sewing too, and for similar reasons. I'm retired, and I just don't need all the clothes. It's embarrassing, especially since I've become sort of obsessed with making outerwear. How many coats and jackets does one woman need?

    But recently I read a tweet that reignited my interest. Someone suggested throwing an extra coat or jacket in the car to give to someone you see who looks cold. Now I can realize those coat and jacket concepts that torment me until I see them to fruition, and know they will (hopefully) make someone else warm. First, of course, I'm going to have to make someone look at how I used invisible zippers closing the inseam pockets, and how there are hidden zippered pockets between the facing and the lining, and, and, and... :D

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  5. Did you ever redo your sewing cave or even just straighten things up? Sometimes I find things I forgot I had which triggers off some inspiration, and at the very least leaves me with a cleaner area. And sometimes you just need a mental break. Tell us what you're watching and reading, as those are interests many of us share. And whatever happens, enjoy your holidays.

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    1. fiberfemme - my sewing room redo has turned into a major overhaul! I'm taking the time to think about and plan it all out. I was originally changing a few things around and now I'm totally redoing it so that will show up here after the Christmas holiday. I AM excited about that!

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    2. This is great news, Carolyn. I can't wait to see your new/improved sewing area. Karen

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    3. I think that the process of fondling your fabrics as you move things around might spark some new inspiration. Also, the cleaning and organizing process is so therapeutic.

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  6. I, like you, have always sewn. It was my creative outlet. For many years all I sewed was garments but then when I had young children and money was tight, I didn't sew for myself. Nice fabric is expensive and clothes can be bought so much cheaper. I didn't need expensive clothes. So I learned a new skill set, quilting. It had never interested me though until one day I went to an art show and they have fiber arts with modern quilts. I was captivated and thought I could do that too. It has been almost 8 years now and haven't sewn a garment but I finish a quilt about every other month. Try it. You might like it too. I wish you the best. I love your blog and you.

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  7. I stopped sewing when I retired from work as I no longer needed wool skirts and silk blouses.
    Then after several years of retirement I discovered knit fabrics and Jalie patterns. Now I enjoy making casual clothes that I wear everyday. Clothes that actually fit me, hurrah. If they don’t I donate them and I still had the pleasure of sewing.
    Good luck to you. Sewing is such a wonderful thing to do!

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  8. I have been studying for 10 months this year. Then i got huge withdrawal symptoms from no sewing and i started up again in a frenzy of creativity and a need for many items. Buying some expensive bras that are not very comfortable has given me a new project idea to make my own wirefree ones. I sometimes think what will my dressmaking look in retirement. I plan on being a well dressed lady in comfy clothes with a bit of style. I am not stopping my creativity just because I don't work. Anyway, it's all part of being creative. It can't be turned on and off like a switch. It has its own ebbs and flows, so just see what happens.

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  9. There's nothing wrong with taking a break, especially if the sew-jo has up and gone. I've experienced too especially if I have been involved in other ventures that took up my time. I just want to thank you for giving us a bit of a explanation and that you are ok!

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  10. It could be that you feel you don't need anymore clothes right now. If we are avid sewists, we can get to the point where we think "why am I making myself more clothes? I have so much!" At this point, if you are interested in getting your sewjo back, I would look into sewing for charity. An internet search will turn up several opportunities to put your sewing skills and inspiration to work to benefit others through a non-profit charities. In the past, I've made dresses for girls in other parts of the world, pillow cases and blankets for sick children, and items to sell for various holiday charity art and craft fairs. Maybe you could look into doing that?

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  11. I hear you...I'm there also. No burning desire to see. Dont know why.

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  12. Like you I’ve always sewn because I love fashion and it allowed to sew almost anything I want. Your reasons for loosing your sewing mojo is the same reason why I lost mine 4-years ago. Four years ago, the realization about my humongous fabrics collection, patterns and sewing paraphernalia I own overwhelm me; It made anxious and I became paralyze because it made it difficult for me to decide what I wanted to sew next.
    Also, my closet was bursting at the seams with sewn by me and ready to wear. I own a we.ll-rounded wardrobe; I can attend a formal, semi-formal, casual, professional, etc. So, I lost my desire to sew, my fabric purchase went from 100% to 1% and the same with buying patterns
    This year I sewed a few summer tops (did not post all of them), re-organize the sewing nook and evaluated my wardrobe. It is a functional wardrobe that needs updating. Starting in 2020 and for the next 3-years my plan is to start purging and updating my closet slowly. I am hopeful that this will my sewing mojo come back. I am hopeful that yours will be back.

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  13. I regained mojo after giving stuff away and reorganizing. I quilt as well as sew and when I gave away uninspiring tops to our local guild it was such a relief. Also, I've been letting go of clothing that was once amazing but isn't anymore. Then I beautified my sewing space. Now I want to be in there.

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  14. Hi Carolyn
    You have always inspired me and truly I learned a lot from u. This is my first time to write a comment here but today i felt it's important to do because i think I can give u some ideas😊 Well , I hope they helpπŸ™πŸΌ
    I kind of went through times like what u r going through and a bit of change helped me come back to sewing. Maybe you might want to start something different , like piecing fabric , leftovers from other projects. Later u can decide what u want to do with those pieces. That kind of helped me as it is a project that doesn't need too much planning . I do random piecing and there r lots of YouTube videos to inspire u out there . One other thing gave me back a bit of that sojji is buying a very old antique Singer treadle machine . It helped me fall in love with sewing again but in a different way πŸ’• After I also found a very very old singer handcrank that someone wanted to get rid of so I saved it😊I cleaned them both and fixed all their issues myself. There is a lot of info out there that helped me. Especially for Singers❤️ And now I'm piecing away lots of fabric and enjoying my new era do creativity 🌷I hope I was able to inspire u a little bit just as you always did for me through my sewing journey. Thank u for always being who u are πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

    Shahira

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  15. Hi Carolyn,
    Maybe you need to do some "slow" sewing for a while -- like embroidery on a garment top or some sort of embellishment. I love Natalie Chanin's work and her book Alabama Chanin is so inspiring. The process of sewing with a needle and thread is so calming so me. Hope to see you back soon.

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  16. Carolyn,
    I along with many others, have been in this space too.
    My advice given with concern and hopefully friendship, is too just let it be. After some truly physical, emotional and financial terrors, it returned to me. As I am sure it will in time to you. You are so very creative and talented that the mojo will be back. For instance, I started a group that sews small fidgity mats for persons with Alzheimers and can always find an hour or so to make one. It satisfies the need to sit at the machine while also filling a need out there in the world.
    Be still in your heart and do only what you feel like doing.
    With prayers and fondness for you, Peg

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  17. Hi Carolyn. I think I've read most, if not all your blogposts over the entire time you've been blogging about sewing, and enjoyed each and every one. Now, you find yourself at a crossroad. You've sewn not only what you need, but what you want for your wardrobe. I remember Ann Rowley (remember her?) having posted a similar sentiment years ago. If memory serves, she turned to quilting. I'm NOT suggesting you do that, as I feel the same as you. Much respect for my quilting sisters, but I have Absolutely NO interest in cutting up bits of fabrics and stitching them back together. Tedious. Time consuming. Boring. There, I said it. Boring, boring, boring. :-D

    Ok. So, Now what? Well, Ann Rowley also knitted. Her knitted items were works of art in themselves. You crochet, don't you? Have yarn stashed? Maybe getting into doing more crochet pieces might be a way to jumpstart your garment sewing? Or, just another outlet for your creativity.

    Another thought. How about teaching a class? You could start a beginner sewing class at your church for say younger children, and teens/adults. It would be a way to both keep your fingers in garment sewing and pass on your formidable sewing skills. Beginning with a simple skirt for the adults, and maybe say a pillow for the younger students would be a way to engage both audiences and encourage basic skills in sewing, with a manageable project.

    Or, how about learning a new skill in the fiber arts?

    Knitting? Weaving? Pattern drafting? Taking a class or two at FIT? Tailoring? There's lots of things that are still needle arts related that might be fun to get (re)acquainted with?

    Could you, perhaps write? Maybe doing articles for Threads, or beginning a podcast about garment sewing for the sewists of a certain age, size, etc. would be fun.

    Well, just suggestions. I've faced the same kind of dilemma, and what works for me now is to not fight it. Something that I need/want to sew always presents itself. Now, truthfully, I still need to fill lots of holes in my closet, so the impetus is there, but I don't worry too much if I don't get everything sewn up all at once. It's a journey, and I've resolved to relax and enjoy the scenery.

    Good luck. I know you'll figure it out in due time.

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  18. One other thing. I know you're extremely concerned about pattern companies being inclusive in their sizing. Now that you have the space to think about it, what would you want to see designed for plus sizes if it were up to you? Just one beginning piece, I mean, that a sewist could maybe build on? What would that be/look like? Pant? Skirt? Blouse? What new and modern styling would you want to see reflected in such an item?

    I know you don't much care for Connie Crawfords' offerings (and I get that, believe me) so, what would YOU want to see on pattern stores' shelves for plus size gals....of a certain age?

    Erica Bunker just debuted her first pattern, and I think she did a bang-up job of it!

    Might be something worth looking into.

    Again, just a suggestion.

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  19. Good morning, thank you for your beautiful post. I read all the great comments but one thing I realized no one said, just be where you are. Breathe. It's ok to take as much time as you need to recharge. Let your mind wander to where it wants to go.

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  20. Sewing is your creative center; I trust that you will find your inspiration again. When I broke my ankle I didn't get back to my sewing room for 3 months and then when I did I realized it was a mess from the project I had been working on before I broke my ankle. I had also, thinking I was going to get back to it much sooner than I ended up doing, bought fabric. My husband just put piles on my cutting table. Neatly, but still, a lot to do before I could sew. I spent a few weeks cleaning and rearranging my sewing room. Clean table tops really helped me, as well as making lists and sketching what I wanted to sew. Sometimes taking a step back is a good thing.

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  21. I sew understand! I too have been feeling uninspired, and unmotivated. I always have trouble with time changes....and I generally try to give in to my lack of sewjo and consider it a “fallow” time when my energy has moved inward. My blog has suffered from a steep decline too. I am fortunate that I have other interests to turn to and, for me at least, it a matter of letting go of my self imposed expectations and having faith that my sewjo will return, better than ever....which usually works.

    Just rest, read, watch what pleases you and enjoy a change of pace. The holidays are a really good time to do that with so much of a consumerism energy drain going on. As for content? You just did a great job of creating it with this post because we all feel this at one time or another! Be well...

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  22. I know--no matter how sick a loved one is, we are never ready to let them go. My consolation is that I know I will see them once again in the hereafter.

    Love how open and true your posts are, and how they cover almost every topic.

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  23. Hi, Carolyn. It's funny you posted this topic because I had been thinking about you in relationship to retirement. I was wondering how it will be for you when you retire and you no longer need to make clothes for work. Your clothing needs will change and probably shrink. So, maybe it's good you are dealing with this lack of sewing desire right now so you can figure out what will inspire you into the future when work clothes are no longer an issue. Maybe tackling a new technique could be a way of getting inspiration. I bet the desire will return in a new creative incarnation. Best wishes.

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  24. I can't sew until I need something, and I have been sewing long enough to have a wardrobe of me-made clothes and then some. I've found sewing pleasure in altering, and I know that's not your jam.

    The thing is: we would miss YOU, your voice, your thoughts. Can you at least think about just writing about sewing without sewing? You've done so much of that already, in fighting for size inclusive patterns, seeing POC in sewing, pattern fit challenges, style questions, stash management....you have a wealth of information and sewing intelligence. If you have the desire, we have the eyeballs.
    And if you don't, you've contributed 13 plus years of knowledge and support and truth. Do the thing that makes you happiest. You've certainly done so much for my sewing.
    Thank you, sewing friend.

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    1. Thanks SJ! I guess I've been so proliferate for so long that I'm having some challenges adjusting to this new season. Like I was trying to say in my post when I'm sewing I seem to have so many things to say about sewing, but when I'm not I don't have much to say or share...and lately even writing about politics is not worth the passive aggressive unfollowing or the negative comments.

      Thank you so much for the missing me comments! It does my heart good, sewing friend!

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  25. Hello. I guess I needed to see and read some of your articles. Thank you. I call myself a bag maker, but I really would like to sew clothes. It's been 8 months since I sew, but I woke up one day to sew Napkins for my sister and son. I hope I don't loose this page.

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  26. ursula's comment brought up a sewing memory that might be interesting to you. i was invited to a double wedding and had no money for gifts. both sisters had registered, and in my stash i found fabric that matched the colors in their china patterns! i called their mom and inquired as to the shapes of their tables, and made a tablecloth and matching napkins for each couple. the point of this ramble is that you don't have to always sew garments. or anything at all.--anne

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  27. Good luck with the new journey! I agree that sewing room redo might work :)

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  28. Carolyn, I realized how Ive missed your blog when I finally saw this - it has been a while. Ive read you and your creativity for some time now and have come to understand you as a deep, thoughtful, kind and loving woman. Use those traits to bring your sewing back. Pick a simple jumper, easiest little sweat pants for kids and create. Make a stack and then donate. There's nothing like creating to give away. THere are so many local kids in need of fresh new jammies or play outfits. And your love in each seam may be the push you need to get started again. Love to you . ~ Ruth

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  29. Question to ask yourself: Is this really about sewing? Or is there something deeper going on? Are you sleeping well? Are you gaining or losing weight? Are you struggling to find energy? Do you also feel a pervasive sadness? I get that there is a wardrobe issue. But I'm hearing the whispering of "depression" here. Don't overlook that possibility.

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  30. One day I looked at my closet and realized that I finally have enough clothes! But I love to sew and have time now that I am retired, so I found a group that makes clothing for children in San Francisco. (https://saintanthonystitcher.wixsite.com/stitchers)
    Their directive is "sew whatever you think is fun, there is always a need." I do not need to be told to have fun more than once! We meet once a month for a show and tell and to meet the truck that picks up our creations. This has been great for me - you might want to look into doing something like that near where you live.

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  31. Take this time to invest in your mental health and spiritual wellbeing. Maybe even do a little traveling if your schedule permits. Your sewjo will return when its needed.

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  32. Carolyn, you have inspired me for a number of years, thank you! Yours is the one blog I return to consistently because of your self awareness and honesty. Your career change is also an excellent reminder that we can change all sorts of things and I love that you acknowledge it's taken time to adjust to it. My hope is that you find joy in your reading and reorganising sojourn and that it energises you. "Kia kaha" from a NZer in Scotland!

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  33. I read your posts yesterday and thought about it all night. In 2006 I retired at age 48, I went insane and bought 3 sewing machines - because I could and it was my retirement gift to me. Also joined my local sewing guild. The guild was very good at keeping me on track - one of the challenges was to complete 12 UFO's in 12 months and I did finish. Then decided to get into machine embroidery and it brought me into a world I never knew existed. It was stunning! I am anti-quilt, in that I don't see purpose to cut up a perfectly good piece of fabric and then sew it back together. I did join another embroidery challenge, but it took me two years, rather than one year (big learning curve in embroidery digitizing). So I go through 4 years, 2 years sewing and then 2 years embroidering. And don't touch the machines for 6 MONTHS! Then another year, then another year and then another year!! I think I have major sewing burn out. I am thinking of selling the machines... at least as a thought running around in my head. I am beginning to think that the challenges really did a number on my head.... or maybe that I needed that push to continued on. You had your business clothing to make and I had 12 different UFO's finished. It could be that we both need that kind of thing.

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  34. I'm so excited about your sewing room re-do!!! It's a fun and creative (in a different way) endeavor.

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  35. You may find that your inspiration may lie in something other then clothes. I have a job that doesn’t require much in the way of a wardrobe, so my sewing focus has shifted. At the moment I seem to be inspired by more heirloom projects that could be handed down (quilts) or gifted (wall art or bags), but also in household needs (curtains or table runners). I have also found inspiration in some of my own quilts gifted to me by a grandma but also in art shows where fabric is transformed into art (google Flora Zarate- she is amazing). You may also find inspiration by combining other art forms with your love of sewing and forging new techniques and art. It will eventually come, whatever it may be:)
    Good luck!
    Sarah

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  36. Hugs and prayers. Spend this time enjoying the season (ahem, the snow was overwhelming yesterday) and your beautiful family!
    Lorrie

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  37. Sewing room re-do! YAY!

    I find that I swap between creative endeavors. I always come back to sewing, but have gone off on knitting, quilting, spinning (fluff into yarn) and now weaving tangents. I think it is the learning that I like. But sewing is my comfort zone. I love my machine, and now love my serger. I really need to finish a knitting project for christmas, but MUST SEW NOW! Haven't HAD to for months, and all of a sudden. Wham. Must sew.

    Enjoy your time away, and we'll all be excited when you return. I love your blog and your thoughts. :)

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  38. Dear Carolyn..... your post resonates with me on all sorts of levels. :)

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