Bittersweet Changes for Yellow Spool

Bittersweet Changes for Yellow Spool

In 2013 I made my first world map quilt.  In fact, it was my first quilt.  Ever.  And it was just for my own personal use.  I didn’t make it with any intentions to monetize from it.  But it started to get quite a bit of attention, and I started to receive requests for commissioned world quilts.  Maybe there was something there?  So I opened up my little quilt shop.  And for the next couple of years I hustled at my sewing machine to bring world quilts to your homes.  I loved quilting.  I loved my design.  What I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of dread when I sat at my sewing machine.  Sewing had always been my escape from the world – my happy place.  But suddenly I was making the same quilt, over and over and over again.  I lost my love of it all, and I couldn’t seem to be motivated.  I stopped blogging, stopped ‘gramming, and, quite honestly, stopped making.  In that time I experienced an exhausting pregnancy and allowed myself a leisurely maternity leave.  But when it came down to it, I couldn’t bring myself to get back to work.  So I made a rug, instead.  And it was that rug that woke me.  For the first time in a long time, I remembered the joy of making.  I never lost my love of it, afterall.  I was just approaching it all wrong.  I was no longer doing it for myself, I was doing it for everyone else.  And where’s the fun in that?

So what does all of this mean for Yellow Spool?

It means I will no longer be keeping my shop stocked with quilted product.  While there might be an occasional item listed here or there, I will, for the most part, stop selling my handmade items.  I didn’t come to this decision lightly, but there is a lightness to it now that the decision is made.

It means that later this week I will be holding one final sale at lower prices than ever.  In an effort to clear out my limited stock, I will be offering everything at an insane discount, just in time for the holidays.  Newsletter subscribers will get a full 24 HOURS of early access to the sale, plus an exclusive discount code.  If you aren’t already signed up for the newsletter, do that now.

It means that the World Map Quilt pattern that I have been promising is finally making it’s debut. The fact that I am no longer making my own world product has made it easier for me to justify selling the pattern (for personal use only).

It means that I will be focusing my efforts on ecourses and patterns. Did you know that my bachelor’s degree is in FCS Education? I have a passion for teaching, and I am excited to start utilizing my education further.

I’m still here, working harder than ever.  And I am thrilled with this new direction that Yellow Spool is moving in.

Creative Solutions

Creative Solutions | Becoming Intentional Series

Recently, I found myself walking out of a mom + pop rug gallery with this amazing pillow cover.  It was an impulse buy, which is something that is fundamentally not “intentional”.  I try to avoid impulse purchases, but the owners of this rug store were so helpful in offering me information about our oriental rug, and this was, quite literally, the least I could do to help support their business.  Creative Solutions | Becoming Intentional Series

When I got home I folded the pillow cover up next to my sewing machine, awaiting the day when I find the time to make a pillow insert sized just right for this large cover.  But the fact of the matter was, I didn’t want to wait to enjoy my new pillow.  And I really didn’t want to purchase the materials to make it. And, when a person is motivated enough, they tend to find solutions.Creative Solutions | Becoming Intentional Series

See, we have these two spare pillows stored under our bed for when we have guests stay the night.  The pillows are old and shapeless, so we offer our nicer pillows to our guests, and Rauland and I use these during their stay with us.  They’ve seen better days.  But it is the very lifelessness of these particular pillows that makes them so easy to stuff together into my new decorative pillow cover.Creative Solutions | Becoming Intentional Series

Honestly, at first, I thought this solution was a long shot.  But you never know until you try.  As it turns out, they fit perfectly, and it’s impressively comfortable.  Not only did this idea save me from a purchase + project, but best of all, it provided a sneaky storage space for those seldom-used pillows. Beautiful and practical.  The best of both worlds.Creative Solutions | Becoming Intentional Series

I don’t tell you this under the assumption that you, too, will find a large pillow cover, and that you, too, happen to have old pillows laying around waiting to be put to use.  I know that that’s far-reaching.  I tell you this to emphasize that part of living intentionally is finding the right solutions for your particular living space.  Before you purchase anything, try to think about what you already have that can work for your needs.

Trust me, it is incredibly satisfying.

Rope Basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial | Yellow Spool

For the last seven years, our family has hopped around twelve times.  Twelve.  We were moving every six months or so, and when your life is that transitional, you don’t exactly let yourself root in anywhere and make meaningful connections with people.  I was getting by on friendly smiles and small talk, essentially, for years.  That is, until this last move,  This time, we knew we’d be staying put for two years.  For the first time since college, I allowed myself to get to know people – to be vulnerable.  I invested myself into new relationships, and let me tell you, it’s been good for the soul.  It has felt real.  Raw, even.

One of these new, deep-rooted friendships had been on my mind a lot.  She was going through some difficult circumstances, and even amongst her own pressures, she was making time for me, and for my children.  She’s a good egg, this one.

Sometimes there’s just no better way to express your gratitude for a person than to put pen to paper and tell them in a note.  And even then, sometimes words come up short.  When this happens, you make a simple basket to hold said note, as a gesture of thoughtfulness and hope that they understand what you’re trying to say.  

I recently shared with you how to make your own rope using fabric remnants, and today I will be showing you how to use that rope to make a basket (or a coaster/hot pad/rug, whatever).

1. Start by coiling the end of the rope until there is about a 2″ diameter, and pin through all the layers of the coil. Sew a large X across the coil, to hold it in place.  This will just make the beginning of the process a bit easier to sew in the next step.

rope basket tutorial

2. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch.  With the tail of your coil coming down from the right (pictured above) begin sewing the coil together. 

rope basket tutorial

If you are using handmade rope, it might have a bit of stretch to it.  In order to keep the basket flat, you will want to twist the rope tighter, if possible, as you sew.  This won’t be applicable with store-bought rope. 

rope basket tutorial

3. When the base of the basket is the size you’d like, tilt the entire base onto its side and continue sewing in the same way.  This will form a lip and begin the sides of the basket. 

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

4. When the basket is as tall as you’d like it, tuck the rope tail into the basket and sew back and forth over the end a few times.  Cut off the excess rope. 

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

Steps 1 & 2 can be used to make coasters, hot, pads, or even a rug.  If you run out of rope, you can always twist more onto the end as you go.

Who doesn’t love a great basket? And they make for lovely gift baskets, too!

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

Rope Making tutorial

rope making | yellow spool

It’s been much too long since I’ve added a tutorial to the Yellow Spool blog!  This is one that I’ve been meaning to share for a long time.  Rope making.  It’s such a useful skill to have, whether you want to make rope for a project, or you need to make rope in an emergency, this is the way to go! There’s no need to buy any materials, because it’s no-sew, and can be made with scrap fabric, or even your tattered old clothes!

rope making - step 1

Start by cutting your material into strips.  For this rope, I used 1″ strips, but you can make it smaller or larger.  Experiment!  Tie your first two fabric strips together to begin.

rope making - step 2rope making - step 3

In order to get the rope to stay twisted together, you need to twist each strip in one direction, and then twist them together in the opposite direction.  I like to twist my individual strips to the right, and then twist them together right-over-left.  You may find it more comfortable to twist in the opposite direction (twist strips left, twist together left-over-right).  Be sure to twist tightly, to make the rope as strong as possible!

rope making - step 4

When you near the end of one of your strips, you will need to join a new piece.  To do this, start by cutting a small vertical slit into the ends of each strip of fabric.  Pull the new strip (in this case, the orange), through the original strip (the mint color).

rope making - step 5

Then pull the other end of the new strip through itself, creating a loop.

rope making - step 6

Carefully pull from both ends of the joint, and you can continue to twist your rope as usual.

rope making - step 7rope making - color connection

See how clean and strong that “seam” is? All that’s left is to turn on Netflix, grab a snack, and keep twisting!

rope making | yellow spool

A Tiny Bit Becoming Intentional


It’s a common misconception that little people require big things in big quantities. The truth is, children don’t need very much at all to be happy.

Italian photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, traveled the globe photographing children with their most prized possessions for his project, Toy Stories. As far as I can tell, the photo series wasn’t intended to make any statements, but he did comment that, “the richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them… In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

I’m not suggesting we inflict a povertous lifestyle on our children, but is there something to the idea of encouraging our children to have less?

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I started a new job working as a nanny.  The family that I worked for had five lovely children, ages 1-8.  In their basement they had a playroom with three walls of floor-to-ceiling shelving, filled to the fullest with toys.  At first glace, it looked like a child’s dream.  Every toy imaginable.  But I quickly realized that that toy room was anything but fun for them.  It caused massive amounts of contention, as the kids still faught over one thing in a room full of options.  Cleaning up their toys was practically impossible.  Keeping up with the mess in that one room alone would have been a full time job, and because of the layout of the storage system and quantity of toys, it was unrealistic to expect the kids to clean up after themselves unassisted.

Sometimes with children (and adults), it can be overwhelming to have too many options.  This applies to a lot of areas of child-rearing, but I would like to focus in on toys for now.  Sure, when my kids go to someone’s home with more toys, they basically die of happiness.  But that is just a novelty.  Eventually, the toys become old news.  Why else would we constantly be buying more?

My strategy here is to keep a general stock of the staples for them.  Toys that encourage them to use their imagination.  Toys that are timeless and sturdy.

All three of my kids share a small room, so we’ve turned the coat closet under the stairs into a “clubhouse” for them, and it hosts all of their toys (with exception of a basket of stuffed animals that we keep in their bedroom).  As you can see in the photo above, it’s a pretty manageable collection of just their favorite things.

This is what works for us, but I’m curious: what works for you?  Do you have children?  What have you done to keep the stuff at bay?