Thursday, July 27, 2006

Craft a Project Keeper

By Christina VanGinkel

If you have been a crafter for a number of years, whether sticking to one basic hobby or dipping your fingers into this, that, and whatever happens to strike your fancy, there are probably those days when you just do not have any clue as to what to work on. I have such varied interests when it comes to my crafting hobbies, delving into various paper and fiber crafts, amongst many other genres, that at one point in time, I found it hard to believe some days, that I just did not know what to work on. Say I had an hour of free time. Instead of taking that hour and spending it productively, or even leisurely, pursuing some interest, I would instead while it away wondering what project to spend my time on.

Let me make a quick disclaimer here first though, that I am a firm believer in spending time doing nothing, nada, just kicking back and relaxing. I am not talking about those hours, but the hours after those, when your hands actually itch to get at one project or another!

Hmm, maybe scrapbook for a while, or I could crochet, though I really should spend some time on those stamped note cards I promised my sister. Then again, I picked up all of the materials I needed to begin the cross stitched poem I want to make my daughter for Christmas, and not to forget the dream catcher a friend of a friend asked me to make for her daughter's bedroom. Just thinking about this short list of projects is enough to while away the hour that would be wasted without having spent any of the hour actually accomplishing anything.

It is not that I had to work, or should I say, play, every day, but it seems like some days, when I really felt the need to distress, impatient to get my hands on a project of one kind or another, that I just could not narrow it down to any one thing. In the end, I often wound up wasting a lot of time. Part of the issue was that deep down I liked to be organized. With this in mind, I decided that by reason of need, I would work on one particular project until it was finished, and once that was accomplished, it would, I hoped, help me better plot what project should win those slips of time I had to give. That project was 'My Project Keeper'.

Not only has it helped me decide what to work on when I have some free time, it has also helped me to know whether I have the time to commit to one more project, big or small, before I take yet another on. It has also helped to keep track of things like craft related websites that I find of interest, and my newest addition to it, an ever growing and constantly changing shopping list and inventory of craft supplies that I have on hand. Anyone that has purchased yet another skein of this, roll of that, or pack of embellishments what have you, only to get home from the store to realize that you already have the same item, possibly already in multiples, will soon realize just how handy such a list could be.

My Project Keeper was crafted from a three-inch deep binder. I decorated the outside of it simply because I thought it would be nice to do so, but this is not necessary, especially if you are already short on time. I chose this size, as it seemed large enough to accommodate numerous pages, each one representing a craft project, with spare space for extras such as the inventory list I have since added since the Project Keeper's inception. Whenever I begin a project, I assign a plastic sleeve that is stored in the binder to it. In the sleeve goes a sheet with the details of the project at hand. What it is, who it is for, if it is a gift, when it needs to be completed. I might also list supplies I have, and supplies I need. I also make note of how long I think the project will take to complete, and then what I consider one of the most important parts of the Project Keeper overall, I keep a log of just how much time I actually do put in. This has helped me immensely when it comes to delegating my time.

I also use a three-hole punch to alter a Ziploc style bag and insert this next to the sleeve. It might store anything from scraps to empty paper sleeves from DMC thread so I know at a glance what I need to replace. I also used my three-hole punch to alter several sheets of medium weight cardstock, which I added to the back of the binder. I run each through my printer first, adding lines that are similar to those found on traditional writing paper. These are used for my shopping list, and other notes I decide to make. I am appreciating my Project Keeper so much, that as I finish a project, I snap a picture of it completed, and add it to a secondary file, which I just started. I also transfer over any notes that I feel might help me in the future if I choose to make a something similar, along with my log of the time it took. If organization is something your crafting time is lacking, create your own Project Keeper today!

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