A Walk Every Day

I’m in the midst of a few months of restricted activity due to some medical shenanigans, and my first question I asked after my doctor told me I need to avoid cardio exercise and lifting more than a grocery bag was, “Can I go for walks? Like, for an hour? Or more?”

Thankfully, his answer was yes. I can walk for as long as I’d like.

Since I got into the habit of running this fall, training for a 5k, one of the things I knew might happen but still delighted me when it did was that I’d come to rely on my runs for my mental health. That hour spent purely in pursuit of a made-up goal became an unexpected highlight of my day. Three or four times a week, I got up and out, and it made everything better. My mind felt clearer, my body felt stronger.

Being forced to take it easy is frustrating and disappointing, especially because I was this close to being ready for the 5k.

But at least I can take long walks. And so I have been, every day.

I walk by myself, but I see these walks as being as important to my general life as artist Austin Kleon describes the walks he takes with his family every morning. (I also can’t make it to Creative Mornings – the talks happen too early to accommodate dropping my kid off at school.)

Not only will my body heal while I stroll around the woods and my neighbourhood, my mind will stay healthy, too.

DIY Halloween-Stamp Treat Bags – With Free Template!

Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

Just in time for Halloween (or, you know, any kind of occasion that calls for some spooky fun), here's a super simple stamp project.

I carved some ghastly stamps and used them on small paper bags I'll fill with treats for my kid's friends for Halloween, but you could just as easily use them on cards, banners, posters, or any other kind of decoration.

Get the free halloween stamp template!

Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

What You Need


Here's everything you need to make Halloween treat bags (obviously, sub out the bags for an appropriate printing surface if you're making cards or banners instead!)

Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

Tips

  • Make sure you stamp the area of the bag that will be visible once the bag is full and the top is folded over.
  • Keep in mind that the folds and seams of the bag will affect how the stamp applies the ink. Embrace the tiny imperfections!
  • Not all light-coloured inks will show up well on dark paper – be sure to read ink labels carefully, and experiment.
  • These stamps are cute on their own, if I do say so myself, but I love them even more when I use them as a starting point. In the photo at the top of the post, you can see how much more awesome the bags look with a little bit of gel pen and marker thrown into the mix.
Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

Get the free halloween stamp template!

Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp
Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp
Stamp Camp Halloween Bonus
Hand-Stamped Halloween Treat Bags – Free Template in the free trial for Stamp Camp, https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

What I’m Making: Veronika Cardigan

Work in progress: Veronika Cardigan – http://kimwerker.com/blog

At Knit City a couple of weeks ago, I tried on the Veronika Cardigan and immediately fell in love. I’m not usually keen to knit garments, but I was powerless against this one.

I knew I had enough yarn of one kind or another at home to make it, so I bought the pattern and dug out my Rubbermaid. In it, I found this gorgeous navy yarn I bought a million years ago – maybe at my very first Rhinebeck?

It was intended to become a sweater for my husband, but I didn’t buy enough yardage and the yarn has been sitting in this bin for over a decade. To be honest, as the yarn is unlabeled it’s entirely possible I don’t have enough to make this sweater, either. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

The yarn is perfect for Veronika. The stitches are flying off my needles, and this project has been my constant companion, in addition to my kid, as the Yankees have progressed in post-season baseball.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/veronika-cardigan

What I’m Making: A Kid’s Pillow from Old Pajamas

Upcycled pillow out of outgrown pajamas. So fun! – http://kimwerker.com/blog

My kid had a big growth spurt this past summer, and by the end of it, most of his pajama pants fit him more like capris. (Or, as we like to call capris in our family: shpants.)

As we went through his outgrown pajamas and made a pile to donate, he grabbed one pair of pants and announced he loved them so much he didn’t want to give them away – he wanted to make a pillow out of them.

(At some point when he was a toddler, we made a pillow out of a shirt. I don’t remember the project, and I don’t think we even have it anymore, but it’s stuck in his head that we make pillows out of old clothes we love, and I love this idea so, so much.) (Also, I have a growing pile of his old clothes I want to make a quilt out of someday.)

So here’s what we did:

First, Cut Off a Leg

Since these pants were made from a stretchy knit fabric, I held them taught while my son wielded my fabric scissors. We cut the leg off as near to the crotch of the pants as possible, to make for the longest/biggest pillow. We also cut the elastic off the cuff, at the ankle.

(I took this photo later on in the process [scroll down for notes on adding an appliqué], but below you can see one of the cut-up ends of the pant leg.)

How to make a pillow from old pajama pants – http://kimwerker.com/blog

Next, Sew Up One End

We could have simply sewed the ankle end shut, but it was way more fun for the kid to decide on a design for felt scales to sew in there, too. So he took a sharpie to some felt, then he got frustrated trying to cut felt with safety scissors and my fabric scissors were too big for him to use for detail cutting. So I cut out the design.

Then I sandwiched the felt inside the ankle end of the pants leg, threaded some embroidery floss onto a sharp embroidery needle, and taught the kid how to sew a running stitch through the three layers of fabric.

You might think a running stitch – and not a terribly tightly sewn one – wouldn’t be appropriate for eventually keeping stuffing from coming out of the pillow, but (spoiler) it’s worked great.

Felt scales at the end of a pillow upcycled from pajama pants – http://kimwerker.com/blog

Maybe, If You Want, Make an Appliqué

The kid didn’t particularly want to make this pillow into a monster, but when I suggested he could cut out a shape of felt and decorate it however he wanted, he decided that would be a grand thing to do. He drew a big triangle, I helped him cut it out (mental note to get him scissors that are sharp enough for cutting felt or fabric), then he took a Sharpie to it.

At this point, he’d lost interest in the slow part of hand-sewing, and he expressed zero desire to sew the appliqué on. No big. I sewed it on, for I love the slow part of hand-sewing. While I did this, he went outside and tossed a baseball against a net.

Applique on upcycled pillow from outgrown pajama pants – http://kimwerker.com/blog

Now Stuff It

We used basic poly-fil as stuffing. You could, alternatively, use scrap fabric or yarn, or a mixture of scraps and poly-fil, for a more eco-friendly (though lumpier) stuffing. (I love eco-friendly lumpy stuffings, FWIW.)

Use as much or as little stuffing as you or your small friend wants.

Finally, Sew Up the Other End

We again cut out some felt humps to sew into the second and final seam at the crotch end of the pant leg.

Because of the stuffing, I used pins to keep things together, with the humps sandwiched between the halves of pant leg as for the ankle end.

The kid did the sewing after I got it started, and I held things together for him as he went, obviously removing pins as he progressed.

And there you have it: a pillow made out of old, outgrown pajama pants!

The kid’s slept with it in his bed every night since we made it.

What do you do with outgrown-but-beloved clothes?

PS You can see bits of a book in some of these photos. It’s a great book called Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make, by Andria Lisle and Amie Petronis Plumley. We didn’t follow instructions from the book to make the pillow, but even starting from a place of the kid flipping through and saying he didn’t like any of the projects for pillows was a great launching point for figuring out what he did want to make. And the book assured me running stitch was a totally age-appropriate skill to teach him. Also, I love this book because the projects are made by actual kids – there is zero room for comparing what you or your kid makes against any sort of “perfection”. It’s all gloriously age-appropriate. And therefore absolutely what it should be!

Make a DIY upcycled pillow out of old or outgrown pajamas. So fun! – http://kimwerker.com/blog

How to Get Better at Making Something

Carve a stamp that says it all: Ok! https://classes.kimwerker.com/courses/stamp-camp

I just saw this post: How To Get Better At One Thing In One Month: A formula that’s guaranteed to work.

And I was excited to see what it was all about.

This part at the beginning made me nod my head very hard: “Sometimes we focus so much on getting great at something that we miss the opportunity we have to get better.”

But then I kept reading, and I was like, hold up. This is just… overly complicated. There’s a way simpler “formula” for getting better at one thing in a month.

Here’s how it goes: Just do lots of that thing in a month.

That’s it, dude. All it takes to get better at something is to do it lots, and the way to get yourself to do it lots is to commit to doing it lots. Which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do, but it is simple.

Sure, you can spend some time figuring out how to define “better”. And sure, you can spend some time getting in touch with why you want to get better at it. But honestly? Enough thinking about it, and just start doing it. You can figure out the whys while you’re at it, or after you’ve done it.

There’s something stuck in your brain, something you desperately – maybe secretly – want to get better at. The only thing you need to do is just show up. Stop thinking about it so much you never do it.

Get ambitious and commit to doing or making that one thing every single day for a month. Or commit to doing or making it a few times a week for a month. Anything less than that isn’t really making a commitment to get better at it.

give yourself a gold star every time you show up – CLICK HERE TO GET MY FREE DAILY ART/CRAFT TRACKER!

I've spent years making something every single day, and in doing that I've gotten better at making lots of different kinds of things, and way better at trying new things. Hell, I've even gotten better at getting better at things.

This month, I'm training for a 5K. How I'm doing it? By making sure I show up for the workouts. I could wax on for ages about why I'm doing this at this particular time in my life, and why I've gotten further into the training than I have any of the other times I've tried, but really it comes down to not thinking about it. I don't need to justify myself, I don't need to justify my methods, I don't need to dig deep into what kept me from doing this all the other times I've tried. I just need to do it.

What's nagging at you that you want to get better at? Will you show up for it?