100 days of ornaments – Part 2

I’ve done a few different “challenges” in the past year or so. First there was the 30×30 nature challenge in May 2014. Then there was a 6 week fitness challenge from the Cornerstone Studio in January. Last month there was the May_Be2015 creativity challenge, plus SaluteTheSun21. And now the 100 needle felted ornaments (explained in an earlier post).

I like the accountability factor, the prompts and the routine in challenges.

The 30×30 nature challenge got me consciously outdoors. We live in an extremely walkable neighbourhood. I hang my laundry on the line once summer hits. We have been hiking with our homeschool group for years. Once the weather gets nice our group heads to the beach on a regular basis. So I am already outdoors quite a bit. But during that challenge I became more aware of my surroundings and started having a bit of morning quiet time on the deck. It was a nice addition to my day and I enjoyed listening to the birds and watching the trees fill out. I also moved my work and the boys’ out to the deck when it was feasible. We started eating 3 meals a day  on our deck when the weather was nice and the wasps didn’t chase us back inside. Several of these things stayed until the weather cooled down, and now that spring is back we are starting those things again.

The 6 week fitness challenge got me out to different fitness and dance classes 6 days a week for 6 weeks, and I ended up liking it so much that I became a member at the studio. I am there 5 days a week and am still very much enjoying it.

The May_Be2015 creative challenge got me drawing (I now carry my sketchbook and pencil wherever I go) and writing in cursive (something I hadn’t done properly in decades) regularly. It made me think about different forms, ideas, printed photographs, and my creative habits/routine (or lack thereof), among other things.

SaluteTheSun21 got me out to watch the sun rise. Now whenever I’m awake at 5:15am either due to insomnia or because I mean to, I head down to the beach and watch the sun rise. It is an absolutely fantastic way to start the day. A beautiful promise that every day is a totally different and fresh start. My friend who started the challenge decided on day 22 that she did not want to stop, so she is down at her beach each morning for the dawn of every new day.  I’ve seen a lot of sunsets over the years but I’ve got to tell you that the sunrise is a different thing altogether. You should try it sometime. Even if you have to wait until fall when the time of day is a little more reasonable.

The common thread? I start these challenges on a whim, and later find that there are lasting benefits and changes with each one.

The wool ball series of ornaments started late last year. I was working away making snowmen when I just got tired of it. I was eyeballing this ball (the snowman’s body) and I thought, “What could I make with a wool ball?” Then I proceeded to make a few things (mostly animals) for my next holiday show and my Etsy shop. I ended up madly needle felting ornaments during shows and in the evenings as well. I was playing catch-up so I stuck to the first few animals that I had created: frog, elephant, cardinal, narwhal, robin, penguin, owl, and panda.

This year I have started early and have time to explore. Because of this 100 day commitment, my sketchbook is filled with ideas – I need content!

About a month ago I was listening to a podcast where the interviewer asked what  were the interviewee’s “golden hours” – when a you work the best, you are at your most attentive, and most focussed. I’m not sure if everyone knows their golden hours, but I have known for a long time that I am best in the morning. First thing. It also happens to be a time of day when no one else is up, so it’s a perfect time to get a few things done undisturbed.

IMG_7618I hadn’t been using that time productively. But as of 12 days ago, I do. This challenge has forced me into a routine that really works for me. No email, no social media, just my notebook sketches, wool, and tools, until the job is done. And the job is always a fun challenge. With my sketchbook, I have a visual list of creative possibilities from which to choose every day.

Now I’ve decided that I’ll try to make 2 of whatever it is I’ve decided to make that day (if I have the time before the family is up) instead of 1, to see how closely I can match the first as well as build up some stock.

So the 100 ornaments challenge, by day 10, had changed my routine, just like the other challenges. But it did a few other things as well.

I now look forward to getting out of bed, since I have a creative project to get to.

I’m keeping on top of creation of the wool balls that are the core of each ornament (a 2 step process that needs lead time: the balls are roughly needle felted, then wet felted and need a couple of days to dry) since I don’t want to run out.

I’ve had several people tell me that they look forward to seeing what I’ve created each day, which is such a kick.

After 10 days I did a roundup and asked people on social media what they would add and people did not disappoint (see below). So I have what the marketing folks like to call “engagement.”

I think, with my existing sketches (6 pages worth), the suggestions, and a few of the old favourites (snowmen and Santas), I probably have enough to fill my 100 days.

Added June 15:

What I forgot to mention above is that because I am making something different, and because I am making every single day, I am improving and likely getting more efficient as well. Another added bonus to the challenge!

Feel free to follow along on instagram, facebook, or twitter.

100 days of ornaments

You know that #May_Be2015 creative challenge that my friend Rozanne had me guest post for? Well, she’s at it again. But this time Rozanne and our mutual friend Brooke are doing a writing challenge: #100Scribbles (100 days of scribbles – free writing). They really enjoyed the daily creative prompt (as did I, although I didn’t partake in every one) and wanted to keep up the momentum, but to concentrate on writing. (By the way, check out the #May_Be2015 Instagram feed – it’s filled up nicely!)

Rozanne put the call out there for people to join, but I thought that my attention needed to get back to my work. So I have tweaked the challenge to be: 100 days of needle felted ornaments. I lack a productive routine, and I need one if I am to get things created for fall (and to list on Etsy and my web shop) and not be in pain with repetitive strain injury, so what better way to get into a routine, but to commit to one for 100 days? So first thing in the morning, it’s up and needle felting! (I am actually going to be making other things as well, but the ornaments are fun and

If you have a favourite animal (or other) that you think might work for my Wool Ball ornaments series, please comment. If you’d like to follow along, check out my Instagram feed, or the hashtag #100NFOrnaments.

I love that I’m not the only one who has taken the 100 days theme and run with it. One friend is doing 100 days of wild edibles and another is doing 100 things that make her day!


Guest post for mayBE 2015

My friend Rozanne Lopez has a blog <rozannelopez.com> and this month she is hosting a creative challenge (if you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll have seen some of these) called mayBE 2015. She asked if I could do a guest post, which is up today! I wanted to re-blog it here, but for some reason I can’t, so I’m posting it below. To find out what MayBE is, check out her blog post. For this post on Rozanne’s blog: mayBE 2015: seven. and here are all the mayBE 2015 posts on the blog. One more thing, take a look at the growing Instagram feed with #may_be2015 hashtag, and think about joining us!

Today I have a guest post from my good friend Lynn who is also a local artisan. After knowing Lynn for a number of years now, I have watched her make and create.  Actually, whenever I am with her, she is always making or thinking about her newest project. She makes handmade wool products and you can see more of her wares on her shop, Lynn’s Lids


A techie before becoming a full-time homeschooling mom, I spent my 20s and most of my 30s not involved in creative endeavours (other than programming, which is creative, but not B2B programming). Then I picked up knitting in late 2008 and after making a few scarves for my family, I decided I would try a felted hat for myself. I figured if I could keep myself in hats, I’d save a bunch of money.

Friends started asking for hats, and slowly Lynn’s Lids was born. I also got into needle felting, which I love to teach. Now I create with wool wherever I go and have recently started carrying a sketchbook with me for inspired moments.

I create when I have a few moments to spare; I need to (orders!); an idea comes to me; I just need something to keep my hands busy; or when I need to get out of a bad/sad mood. (See below – it worked!)

My life is mostly centred around my home and family. We eat food prepared from scratch, so there is creativity in the kitchen. This year I have taken my eldest to a local cafe and gallery with our sketchbooks in hand to try to emulate or be inspired by the artist of the month whose work covers the walls while we enjoy a treat together.

Here we are at a the local café, my eldest with his sketchbook and me working on a bespoke jellyfish toque. I love custom orders. It is so much fun working with other people’s ideas and passions and illustrating them (on a hat, iPad sleeve, or tea/coffee cozy).

When I am in a creatively stuck, I hit the books in the library, I hit the gallery cafés with my son, I hit the internet, I meditate, I do zentangles, I get out to the woods or the beach, I ask friends and family for ideas or about their passions, I take my camera and go for a walk, I search out galleries or films and just try to soak it all in. Sometimes I just pick up a personal knitting project and forget about it. Let someone else lead for a bit. The emotions associated with being in a creative rut? I suppose ennui and perhaps frustration. However all is forgotten once the creative juices get flowing again.

These came from being bored of making the same 2 ornaments. I took a ball and thought, “What could I make from a ball?” As it turns out, you can make a lot of different things with a wool ball.

View this post on Instagram

Playing with #wool balls today. #needlefelt #handmade

A post shared by Lynn W (@lynnslids) on

When I was a child I went to a day camp where we could choose our activities. I remember really enjoying the magic of the darkroom and the pottery wheel. I still enjoy photography and a couple of years ago my brother gave me back my first little pottery wheel project. That warped little bowl is where I keep my wristwatch at night.

My creative process for designing new patterns actually involves a lot of math and some guesswork. Failures are a part of the process, but I feel good about the fact that my failures can usually be used in some other capacity (my first attempt at a cadet cap was trimmed down to be our tea cosy for several years, pillbox hat attempts that were too small have become bowls, etc). It’s nice to see less failed attempts as time goes on and the guesswork is brought to a minimum by experience. I think creating a new pattern from something I’ve seen or been inspired by is totally thrilling. From my imagination to my fingers.

Stegasaurus hat in action!

Don’t be hindered by… well, anything. Creativity is beyond constraints. Dream it, feel it, try it.

I love zentangle. In fact I wish I’d known about it when I was going through cancer treatment as it has gotten me through a few tense moments. One of those brought this beautiful piece about. Three families had just gone through some struggles with our kids and we just needed to get past it and enjoy our evening. So I pulled out a piece of paper, a fineliner, and a green marker and started one section of the zentangle and passed it onto the adult next to me and just said, “Fill a section with a pattern.” He did, and passed it on until we adults had filled it. We all felt better.

Zentangle as a movement takes itself very seriously and there are rules and such, but really, here’s what you should do:

Take a small piece of note paper and divide it into a few sections by letting your pen roam and loop here and there over the paper. Then start to fill each section with a different repetitive pattern. That’s it. Try it!

Learn more about what zentangle is and see a bunch of examples on Instagram, flickr, or Pinterest.