Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Sudoku Puzzles

Quite a few years ago I started creating many sudoku puzzles for my daughters and the Montessori school they attended. Since then they have been downloaded numerous times and shared via Pinterest countless times. I had gotten a request the other day for a basic Level 3 puzzle. I whipped one up really quick, sent it off via email, and decided I should share it here as well. This is an easy Level 3, but I have also a harder version (naming it Level 4). It's the same answer key, I just took more pieces off.You can download the Level 3 and 4 answer key here.

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When I am creating a new puzzle, I don't use a sudoku book and follow one of their puzzles, I make my own. I love the challenge and occasionally have to have one of my daughters check my work to make sure I am not missing something. After a while, my eyes stop seeing the color and shapes, so I may miss a mistake here or there. Eventually, I get it and it works, which is always a relief.

While creating these new levels, I decided to challenge you. Can you put your own sudoku puzzle together? Begin by placing all of one shape in random boxes, still following the rules of - each shape can only appear in the column, row and box group once. Then repeat the same process with all of the other shapes. As you get to the last two shapes, you may find it more difficult to keep the rules, so you will have to start strategically placing the shapes where you need to, and moving others around. It is a challenging game to play, but can be more challenging to create your own puzzle. Give it a try.
For Level 1 Sudoku, choose 4 shapes and use 4 of each shape. For Level 2 sudoku, choose 6 shapes, and use 6 of each shape. For Level 3 sudoku, use all 9 shapes and all 9 of each shape. The shapes can be enlarged a bit for the first and second levels if needed, and the boards and pieces can be laminated and reused numerous times. If you are homeschooling or teaching at a school, you can also create some answer keys of your own, take some pieces off and photocopy partial puzzles as a class project.

If you are new to my blog, here are some quick links so you can find my other puzzles: Sudoku Levels 1 and 2, Valentine Sudoku (Levels 1 and 2), and my Halloween Sudoku (Levels 1-3). I'm sure there will be more to come.

If you'd like to share some pics, you can do so on my facebook page, as well as tag me @kidgiddy (and hashtag #kidgiddysudoku) on instagram. Please do not copy these game boards, or puzzles pieces for your own blog or monetary use. These are not created for mass production, and are for home, personal, or classroom use.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Back in August I received an email from Mollie Johanson over at Wild Olive about this Around the World blog hop she wanted to start. It was a no pressure thing but sounded fun so I agreed to do it - when I got home from my vacation. When I returned though, deadlines overwhelmed me and I put it on the back burner more than once.

Towards the end of August, maybe even at the beginning of September, Amy Friend from During Quiet Time emailed me about it and wanted to tag me. I agreed to do it (once again), but a couple of days later my life changed course for the week and my last living grandparent, my Granny, passed away. I completely forgot about it for two more weeks as I went through boxes of tissues. (This is my Grandpop and Granny, and these were some fabrics I remember Granny using for her purses, along with her craft fair tags many many years ago)

I'm still overwhelmed with loss and deadlines - but sometimes it just feels good to get things done that have been on the list the longest. So here goes:

What am I working on?
Kid Giddy wise - I can't really share all the details. Isn't that how it goes in this industry? Everything is a huge secret and when we can finally talk about it - we are already onto the next secret and to us it's old news, but the rest of the world hasn't heard a lick of it and we have to still pump out the excitement. I can say, that I am working on a blog post for a fabric company and catching up on my Etsy thumb cover orders (to help kids stop thumbsucking). The other major thing involves a contract - so that's the one thing I can't share any info on yet.

On a more personal note - I'm finishing up my very first embroidery project, which is one of Heather Bailey's embroidery birds. I'm not sure what I will do with it yet - but I work on it while waiting for my kids and while watching TV. I should probably also finish my cross stitch Woodland Sampler from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - since that was last years new skill/personal project.

I'm also debating the fabrics for another dress I want to make based on this dress - since it's an all time favorite and fits like a glove. It also goes well with my boots - so I need more of them.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I started creating patterns because I found many pattern company patterns to be so technical and frustrating. I also had ideas and wanted to get them out of my head. I'm not sure how they differ - that's something someone else has to answer. I sew what I need, what I feel and love, and just go with it. When it works I squeal with happiness and look forward to seeing the reactions from my girls and my husband.

Why do I write/create what I do?
I started blogging as a way to record my ideas and things for my girls. I stopped blogging so much when it started to feel like a competition. Trying to get my voice heard over everyone else's. I'm not like that - I just want to share the things I've learned and the talents God has given me. I don't want it to feel like a rat race. I don't want to feel bad about myself because I am comparing myself to others and their successes. So I scaled back. I also feel like I am suffering from sewist block. It's a horrible disease and I am hoping it goes away soon - it's been around all year. Until then, I'm sewing for fun. I forgot what that was like. It's a huge part of my process now. Sewing for fun in between the deadlines. Try it some time.

How does my writing/creative process work?
Up until last year - I just did what I always do - sew. That's it. Maybe crochet a little...but only in the colder months and not every year. Last year I decided to try something new. I started with Cross Stitching (you know - that woodland sampler that I haven't finished yet). Then this year I wanted to try Embroidery and making some of my own clothes, and some for my girls too. As any good art teacher will tell you (thanks mom), you have to constantly be trying new things. If you go to college for art and you want to major in photography, you won't only be taking photo classes. You still have to take drawing, painting, sculpture and all the others too. I'm trying to go back to my art college roots and explore other creative outlets for inspiration. Somehow they intertwine and I miss that exploring outlet so much. I had a dream last night that I had given someone a bird and a tote bag as a giveaway at some conference, was in a hotel and saw them both in the garbage with the card to the person. I was devastated. Lately I have felt in such a slump, that I'm not surprised I dreamed that my creations were in the garbage - happens easily when someone tears you apart for their own gain. It takes a toll on your psyche. I know they are not garbage, but like I said - it's been a hard year. So I guess I don't have a current writing/creative process so much right now as I used to. Things change and I'm riding the waves. Maybe I have simply forgotten that previous process, or how to trust it, in all the chaos of writing my book, doing such extensive home renovations, and being ripped apart by by a mean person?! Maybe my process will change. Either way I will keep going. That is what an artist does. And deep down, I'm still an the words of Carrie Bloomston - I'm just drawing with my thread and my fabric. This is why I call myself a sewist.

I have not previously asked anyone to tag, but if they are so willing and would like to do this, I am tagging Kristi from Schnitzel and Boo (who won my Sewing Tales for the Holiday contest), Angie from GnomeAngel (we just swapped some fun packages overseas...for the fun of it), and Maya Donenfeld from Maya*made (we haven't met yet in person, but met through IG...looking forward to that day - she's so sweet). NO pressure ladies - it's just for fun. Thanks Mollie and Amy for asking and tagging me. It's always good to contemplate why I am doing what I'm doing every once in a while.

Thanks for coming by and for reading all the way to the end of this rambling post. xo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Carrie Bloomston Art Techniques for Quilt Design DVD

Do you know Carrie Bloomston of Such Designs? I met her during this past quilt market in the Windham Fabrics booth and felt an instant connection. I have known of her work for some time now, but we had never met. I wasn't a stalker or anything - but we just started chatting and are now looking forward to swapping some mad karate-yoga-green juicing skills at next years market. She is the later two by the way, I'll only be sharing some self defense techniques. Should be fun, but until then - here is the real reason why I am talking about her.

After meeting at market, we continued to connect via Instagram. When her Art Techniques for Quilt Design DVD was coming out, and she was looking for a few folks to preview it, I raised my virtual hand. She didn't know this - but I went to the University of Hartford Art School. My husband and I actually met there. My mother is a retired Art Teacher, my Aunt is a current Art Teacher, and the list goes on. I was very curious to see what her DVD was all about. She didn't disappoint.

I was thrilled to watch it with my daughters and loved hearing my oldest saying things like "I have learned that in school mommy...I have drawn the Michelin Man style". Watching Carrie made me want to pull out the old college days newsprint sketch pads I have stashed under my daughters bed and get sketching (I only couldn't because they ended up having to go to bed). Hearing the ebony pencil scratch life into the paper brought me back to those days of sitting in large classrooms with splatters of paint on every wall and on the floor too and sketching figures for hours.

Don't get me wrong - this DVD is not just for former art students. She teaches you (the viewer) drawing, composition, and other "art school" basics and gives you the tools and the confidence to move forward on your own path of exploration. Somehow with all that info, she is still cheering you along the way, with comments like: "You are inherently good enough" and "Trust your knowing, trust your vision. Celebrate that". I love that. I love hearing an artist tell a beginner, intermediate or advanced creator, that they are good enough. To keep going. I needed to hear that again. We all do.

When I was in my various art classes, we had critique days. This was an opportunity to get and give feedback, from our teacher and our peers. It wasn't always at the end of a project, it was often in the middle, before we were done seeing our vision through to the end. People could give us positive criticism, or simply cheer us on. Carrie does this throughout the DVD. During the Blind Contour Drawings (where you are drawing without lifting your pencil, and not looking at the drawing itself), she says "be free, trust your intuition and your eyes to lead you to the details". Her hand drawing was not perfect - but it doesn't need to be. That is the whole point. My daughters loved watching her draw her hand blindly, and giggled, but they have done it too. Because it's fun, it's an adventure. Regarding composition she advises "don't micromanage it".

I loved watching Carrie in her Art Techniques for Quilt Design. I took a lot away from it and have so many designs I want to explore myself and then with my girls too. Should be loads of fun and giggles when that happens. Thanks Carrie for sharing your gifts - and for including me in your blog hop. I'm looking forward to our get together next year!

If you want a chance to win a copy of this DVD - visit Carrie's blog and leave a comment - the giveaway ends on October 7th so go quickly!

Disclosure: Interweave provided a copy of this video for me to review. Clearly the opinions are my own. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Kid Giddy Studio

I'm finally posting these Kid Giddy Studio pictures. They've been around on the internet already since March I think...but not here on my blog. I have recently had people ask about the cutting table I designed and had custom made, so I wanted to get that up here too (the plans - not just the pics). I was posting some pics of the process - and then never shared the finished product. If you want to see those pics, you can visit the first, second and third posts.

When you come through the doors of the studio, there is a closet on the right, and then this table. I haven't seen the top of my cutting table this clean, probably since I took these pictures. I guess that just means creativity rules the roost and nothing else gets done. My photo box is set up in the corner with lamps on each side. One of the things I love most about this space - is all the natural light.
The doors to the studio are mini french doors with a side panel (static third door) and a glass panel up above, so you can still see the amazing wood and metal ceiling over the entryway (and the cool pendant glass tube lights).
Here's another shot of the table and the front windows. The closet is in the corner, so there are actually two entries. The side next to the table has double doors so they could swing open and not hit the table. The other wall near the studio entry has a regular door.  
Until my husband picks a desk of his own, he has taken over my porter desk (which used to be my sewing desk). Although we have an entire book wall, we still have more books in the studio. As the guys were building it, they were curious to know if we in fact had enough books to fill the wall. The answer is definitely yes. My Grandma Pratt's chair off to the right is no longer up in the studio - visitors kept sitting on it and I was worried the springs would give out any day and they'd fall through. Someday we will get a cooler printer's on the list.
Across from his desk, is my desk and my fabric stash. I decided to keep my fabric in the cabinet to prevent it from sun damage. So you can't see it - but it's in there. I promise. I also had some in the bookcases that run along the front of my desks, but had to take those off the cardboard bolts recently, as the bolts were ruining the fabric as well.

What you can't see in all these pretty pics - is the mess I made moving everything around that wasn't quite put away yet. So - just to keep things real...this is the area around my sewing desk during the photoshoot.
About the table: I drew up the plans based on what I needed. The long sides have two small drawers on the ends, and a long wide open space in the center. The door pulls down, not out, so I can slide large cutting mats and rulers inside, to lay flat. The short ends look like they have 3 drawers, but only the center ones works. The two other panels are fakes. We searched a local store for drawer pulls and ended up picking out some local artisan river stone knobs so no two are alike. The space underneath the table top is open and filled (as you can see) with 20 bins of craft and sewing supplies. I was planning on using larger bins or prettier baskets, but sometimes my wants are no so practical. I had all the bins in my closet and found I was getting them out constantly so I switched things around.  To download a copy of my plans for your personal use only - you can get them by clicking the image below. I called a couple of kitchen cabinet showrooms and hunted for the best deal - but I'm sure you can call a contractor too and see if they have someone that can make it on staff, or make it yourself.
We still have much to do to "finish" the studio space, and I'm sure it will always be a work in progress. Even a year later, the only thing I have hanging on my wall, is the light bulb bunting I made for quilt market. We are still trying to determine the best use of the wall space, while keeping it aesthetically appealing. We may even have to move the desks around a bit, but the pain of that could be worth it in the end. Eventually we will also have a little sitting space for meditating on life and it's meaning...(that's code for taking a nap because I like naps, it makes me more creative).

I'd like to thank Barn Light Electric for working with us to put these awesome lights in our studio space and in the entryway. They are made in America, and that means so much to me. You can read more about the lights we chose on the Barn Light Electric blog.  

Disclosure: Barn Light Electric provided these lights at a discounted rate in exchange for pretty pics for their blog and mine, as well as social media mentions. We had already chosen the lights, but I contacted them prior to purchasing to see about saving some money. Isn't that sweet?! They are such awesome people, and they have awesome lights. Check them out.