Tag Archive | Sew Resourceful

My gratitude for SIRCH

I just finished doing a presentation for SIRCH Community Services this morning. DOES IT EVER FEEL GOOD to be on the other side!!! The side where I can give back for what they have given us!

For those who aren’t familiar with what SIRCH does, they are a community organization based out of Haliburton, Ontario. They have various programs such as hospice, Community Kitchen, School’s Cool, parenting assistance programs and so much more. They are also a springboard for some services to help out members of the community. They helped launch the Dental Outreach Program, a service for low income families who need emergency dental procedures. They were also the ones who put Sew Resourceful together, the program that helped propel me onto the path I have ALWAYS wanted to be on!

From the day I say how generous people were that Christmastime my son and I had to spend in a shelter, I decided right then and there that I want to be in a position to give back. I’m here now!

I just wanted to share some parts of the speech I gave this morning. Once again, I welled up and barely got through it. I’ve told my story a million times now and it still chokes me up every time. But it’s no longer from the pain we endured. It’s from taking a step back and looking at how far we have come! Three and a half years ago we were in a shelter. We had no place to go. I had no idea how I was going to support us. All I knew was that being in a shelter was far better than where we were.

Since then I have secured a home for us. I got connected with SIRCH and some other services to give me the resources to rebuild our lives. I lived out a life-long dream by going back to school and taking a fibre arts program. I graduated 2 weeks ago 🙂 I am now building a home-based business, doing what I love AND being there for my son. It’s picking up momentum and there are times that I actually feel unprepared for where it’s going! This is SO exciting!

And SIRCH has played a MAJOR part in how we’ve got to where we are. I think my speech will tell the story…

I am a volunteer and client of SIRCH.
I am a survivor.

Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am empowered.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am the voice of many.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am a resourceful mother.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am confident my son will have a happy, healthy future.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am a positive role model.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am now an entrepreneur.
Because of SIRCH Community Services, I am a graduate of Fleming College.

My son and I are one of MANY people whose lives SIRCH has touched. If you would like to know about them, please click here.

One more thing… This is just a small glimpse of what we’ve been through. I ask one thing… Please don’t see us as victims. I held that view for a short period of time and it got me nowhere. When you hold that view, you get sucked into a very negative vortex that is just so hard to get out of. If you look at what you’ve overcome, that is so empowering and it just fires you up to shoot big! Xox

Angels Among Us – How Volunteers Change Lives

While I do my best to keep this blog about my school experiences and the work I’ve been doing, sometimes I do fall off track. This is one of those times, but with VERY good reason.

I was asked to speak at the Volunteer Luncheon for SIRCH Community Services. That organization has done SOOOO MUCH for my son and I. I didn’t think twice when I was asked. I may not be able to give back monetarily or have time to volunteer right now, but I can share my success story and the HUGE role SIRCH and the volunteers have played to get me here. I have decided to post my speech so that the world can see what the volunteers in particular have helped make happen. It would also be wonderful for more people to know about what SIRCH does and how they help. So here’s what I said, from the heart:

It is such a great honour to be here today. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story about how you, the volunteers, and SIRCH have given my son and I more than you will ever know. First of all, I want thank each and every one of you for what you do. Do you really have any idea how many lives you have touched? I would give each of you a big hug if I could.

There are some people out there that would rather not share their story. I am open about my story for many reasons. One is that perhaps there is somebody out there that is in a similar situation. When you’re in the situation, you don’t realize that there is anything wrong. Perhaps hearing what I’ve endured and seeing the outcome will help them realize that there is help out there if they want to get out. An equally important reason, why I am here today, is not only to thank you, but also to let you know that you ARE making a difference. We need more people in the world like you. You’re not giving us handouts. You are giving hand-ups. Rebuilding your life is not an easy thing to do. But when you have organizations with amazing volunteers such as SIRCH has by your side, it sure does alleviate much of the stress.

I have been fortunate to have been touched by three programs that SIRCH offers.

The first one is the CAPC program. Every Wednesday I would take my little man to the community center here in town. Since he doesn’t have any siblings, this was a great opportunity for him to play with other children in a safe, well-supervised environment. The other mom’s and myself would then go downstairs to listen to various guest speakers. We covered things like cooking and meal planning on a budget, wills, parenting issues, health and so much more. Once a month we got to go to Lily Ann to pick up some clothes for either our kids or ourselves. That really did help a lot. The other thing that REALLY helped was the milk supplement. As you know, milk is ridiculously expensive in our community. There was one point where I was only getting $400/month after my rent was paid. My Child Tax Benefit was suspended for 10 months due to my son’s father falsely claiming him on his income tax. That $400 that we did have had to cover diapers, food, clothing, gas and anything else that came up. Spending at least $7 per week on milk would have really set us back.

The other thing about the CAPC program is that it gave us mom’s a break. It was also a safe place where we could vent our frustrations while knowing that our children wouldn’t see it and that they were taken care of. There was always somebody there to listen. They would let you talk things out and come up with different suggestions and resources. This was key for me because I was dealing with my abuser on a regular basis, having to hand my baby over to him, the injustice in the family court system, money issues, housing issues… There was A LOT. There were times where I would barely get through the door before I crumbled. One day I asked “Why is it that I always seem to be crying when I get here?” The response that was given to me was “Because you know your little man is taken care of here, you’re in a safe place and you know that you can release here.” It’s true. Aside from the things previously mentioned, the release was something that I really needed to do. I’m so grateful that I had a place to do it.

Another lifesaver for us was the Community Kitchen. Not only did it help keep the food costs down, but it was really nice to not have to worry about cooking a meal every once in a while. The food was nutritious and it was very delicious as well. This program is very important to so many people in the county.

Last, but not least is Sew Resourceful. I apologize if I well up here. You see, it’s not every day that you enroll in a program that ends up leading you to a long-time dream coming true. Three years ago next Monday was when I had just had enough. I grabbed my 9 month old son, a few belongings and we fled that horrible situation. Three years ago next Monday, we were sitting in a shelter. I didn’t know where we were going to live. How I was going to get food and clothing for my son and myself. How I was going to support us. The only hope that I had at that point was the little bundle staring up at me with my eyes. We ended up coming back home to Minden. That’s when I got involved with the CAPC program.

One November day in 2009, I received a phone call from the CAPC co-ordinator at the time. She was really excited to tell me about this new program called Sew Resourceful. She asked me if I would be interested in learning some sewing skills and sewing out of my home to make some extra money. She already knew the answer to this since I was constantly knitting or crocheting something at CAPC. She gave me Darby Bayly’s phone number, the woman who was going to be teaching the program. The program was going to be held at Fleming here in town. Darby explained to me that we would be making environmental bags and toys out of upcycled materials. She said that she was hoping that it would evolve into a cottage industry someday. She was barely through her description when I said “Sign me up! Sign me up!”

Before I get too off track because this program REALLY changed our lives, I want to talk about what we did there. We learned basic sewing skills, how to follow patterns, putting in zippers, buttons, machine troubleshooting and so much more. If we wanted to know more, all we had to do was ask. Darby and then Laura the following year were more than willing to help us out. We learned life skills such as how to present ourselves when dealing with the public, problem solving and troubleshooting, business skills, public speaking, how to write artist statements, how to set up booths at shows. There was a lot! We had a lot of pleasant learning experiences and an unpleasant one or two, as with anything in life. It was actually good that an unpleasant one came up while we were under SR’s umbrella though because we learned how to tactfully and professionally deal with such situations that are inevitable when dealing with customers. Aside from all of this, there was a beautiful sisterhood that formed amongst some of us. We were there for each other and still are in spite of the fact that I can no longer attend.

So now I will get back to why Sew Resourceful impacted my life the way it did. I clicked with Darby immediately. The things she showed us were amazing. That just lit a spark within me that evolved into a fire. Through conversation I came to find out that Darby had taken the Fibre Arts program at Fleming. She told me how wonderful it was and how it changed her life. She then suggested that I may want to look into it because I seemed to have that fire. The funny thing was that I had taken an aptitude test when I was 15 that suggested that very direction! I had sold some knitted sweaters, baby outfits and blankets when I was younger. And I loved it! Could I do this as a career? Nah, now isn’t the right time. I had too much going on like having to meet my son’s father for his access visits. That was stopping me from getting a job. Of course it would stop me from going back to school.

When Sew Resourceful started back up in the fall of 2010, Laura Trach was our instructor. I found out that she had taken the Fibre Arts program too. And it changed her life. Hmmm… Interesting. On a field trip to the gallery in Minden I was speaking to one of the staff there. Through conversation I found out that she had taken the Fibre Arts program at Fleming. And it changed her life… Okay! Message received!

In February of this year, I said to heck with it all. To heck with the fact that I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. To heck with having to have to put my life on hold because I had to cater to my abuser who didn’t want to get a job or move forward with his own life. To heck with it all! It will all work out. I’m applying! If it wasn’t for attending SR and meeting these people that had taken Fibre Arts, I highly doubt I would have ever applied.

I got my acceptance on my son’s third birthday. I will be going back to class after I finish speaking to you. I asked my instructor, Kim McBrien, who was one of our guest speakers at SR, if it was okay if I missed class this afternoon to be here. She said that it was important that I attend.

From time to time, I like to sit down and reflect about how I got to where I am and who has helped me along the way. All I did was pick up the phone in January of 2009 to inquire about a program designed to help moms. All I wanted was to give my little man the best start to life that I possibly could. And look what happened from making that one phone call! I love remembering who has helped me get to where I am. Now I can match some faces with such loving gestures!

You may not often get to see or meet the people you are helping. Or see just how many lives you have touched. How many lives you have changed. How many lives you have saved. How many dreams you have helped launch and have come true. Well, I am one of those people. My son is another one. If it wasn’t for volunteers like you, I wouldn’t be living out my dream right now, setting a great example for my son or learning things to pass on to him that I never even imagined possible. You have given my son and I a great gift, one of the greatest, most meaningful gifts we will ever get. The gift of time and love. We can’t thank you enough.

I would like all of you to do me a favour if you could. Someday when I get my work out and about in the county and you see it in a store, in a gallery or even online, I would really appreciate it if you could smile and take a second or two to think to yourself “I played a role in this piece being here. If it wasn’t for me giving my time and resources, I wouldn’t be looking at this piece of work right now.” It’s true. I am where I am because of a selfless action from each and every one of you. With everything I do, I remember how I got there and who helped me. I will always remember what you have done for my son and me.

Thank you.

The really beautiful part about this… I did get quite a few hugs. And I have more coming!

Next Wednesday, December 14 at 9:30 am, I will be joining Nancy Brownsberger (who hides her wings really well!) from SIRCH on Canoe FM out of Haliburton. Tune in if you can… You can listen live from their website 🙂

Cuz I “felt” like it!

I just had to add a couple new categories to my blog 😀

So it all started last Thursday. Darby Bayly was teaching our class that day at Sew Resourceful. (On a side note… That woman has inspired me, taught me and encouraged me so much! She was the one who lit the match that got me fired up to investigate the Fibre Arts course in the first place!!) She taught us how to felt and do patchwork. I learned the patchwork piece during the pilot, but it was wonderful to have a refresher.

I KNEW that I would enjoy felting. I had no idea what the process was until about a month ago at Fleming’s open house. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to know more. I held back though because I knew it would be revealed to me when the time was right. And apparently that was Thursday 🙂

I’ve had felting on the brain ever since. I had a book cover envisioned and it just wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I went to Haliburton to get some supplies. That wasn’t enough.

Today I decided I wanted to try my hand at dyeing. So I sent Normy out to get some Koolaid (I played the Mother’s Day “card” hehehe). Now I’m just waiting for the damn stuff to dry. OMG, hurry up!!!!

I did two book covers. I have another one that I’m going to start tonight. I will be a responsible girl and get back on the knitting track tomorrow. I figured that if I got the covers started, I could just pick up where I left off when I’m ready.

I can’t quite figure out what the appeal is. I think it’s like popping bubble wrap, only productive.

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Book cover in process 1

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Book cover in process 2

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My first attempt at dyeing

Time Flies

I guess it hasn’t been as long as I thought between posts. I had run up my data plan on my phone pretty good last month, so updating kinda took a back seat. I’m at Mom’s now, so I MAY be “borrowing” her wireless connection. On that note, I gotta say damn you you stupid, cheap big corporation Canadian ISP’s. Putting a cap on our net service? That is so wrong… I’m gonna go to my happy place now…

I just have one sleeve left on the tractor sweater! I’m on fire. Considering how much I’ve had going on in the last couple of wks, I’m rather impressed. I think it’s a combination between the bamboo needles which makes me more aerodynamic and built for speed and the part where I got faster. I think it’s funny that my hands are flying faster than my brain is prepared for! Hehehe

I picked up some more fabric today for my niece’s John Deere quilt. I’m really excited about working on it! I’m hoping to have it done for her birthday. I’ll be able to have the top done at least. I know she’s going to love it 🙂

I got some pretty funky yarn today. It’s almost like a chenille. It’s going to knit up quickly. I’m making a baby blanket out of it. I think I’m going to take a break from the sweater and work on that tonight. I have to cast on stitches for the sleeve, so the blanket will require less brain power. After the week I’ve had, the less thinking I have to do tonight, the better.

I did two table runner prototypes for SR’s table at Minden’s Festival of Trees in November last week. I will be working on another one this week. I have to get it right before the end of the month. I just hope “some” ppl get their act together to work with the rest of the team (right Bea?! Hehehe) I’m just going to keep the faith.

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How It All Began (and where it’s possibly going)

I just joined a Facebook group called BiStitual (the name just cracks me up!) One of the things that came up was how and when we started knitting and crocheting. I think this is a very good place to start my blog. I’m going to include sewing too. That’s why I chose Keep Me in Stitches. It doesn’t limit me to just one medium. I also hope that it conveys that I have a good sense of humour too 😀

My Mom taught me how to crochet when I was 9. I’m not too sure what brought it on. It could have been that I saw her crocheting and I wanted to be just like her. I remember going to White Rose in Unionville and her buying me 4 balls of lavender yarn and 2 balls of white. She also bought me a hook and a book with the stitches. I don’t think we had a project in mind. I think she got it expecting me to just toss it aside as any normal child would do once they grew wary of it. I remember her teaching me in the front porch of her bulk food store. She had me make a swatch with all of the stitches. She showed me the “correct” way of holding the yarn. I got bored of this and wanted to move on to bigger and better things. I found a granny square afghan in the book and wanted to make that. I think I surprised Mom with my determination! I ended up running out of yarn. I wanted to get some more, but she tried to explain to me about dye lots and colour numbers. There was a chance that we may not be able to get the same yarn again. Not too long after I ran out of yarn, we just so happened to be to Unionville again. We went into the very same White Rose. We found the yarn in a clearance bin! I entered my first afghan in the county fair when I was 10 and everyone accused me of cheating and having Mom make it for me!

My Granny Girl taught me how to knit, but just the basics. She didn’t venture too far from socks and mittens. The rest I taught myself. I was a figure skater when I was a kid. I wanted one of those fair isle sweaters in the worst way. Mom couldn’t really afford it at the time, so I set my mind to make my own. She was reluctant to buy my the $15 kit, but she finally caved on my 14th birthday. I dove right into it. I found it difficult, so I did take a break. After a few months, I picked it up again. When I got to the yoke, I found that one sleeve and the back was knit very tightly. I ripped it out and did it again. I had it finished for the next skating season. Along with another one!

The first time I ever sewed was at Granny Girl’s house. She didn’t let me sew very much because she had a treadle machine and she was worried about me getting hurt. She did let me use her pinking shears to cut fabric (after she passed, I got those pinking shears). My first real taste of sewing was in my clothing class in high school. I LOVED that class! I made a sweatshirt that I still have and wear to this day just for the fun of it. I made my prom dress for my project. I still have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to it!

I am currently taking a course once a week called Sew Resourceful. I sew in my ‘Kycave’. It’s not very big, but it’s my very own space. Whatever mood I’m in is what you’ll find me stitching. I knit and crochet when my little guy is up and playing. I can watch him and still be productive.

The next step? I am on my way (hopefully!) to the Fiber Arts program at Fleming College this coming fall. What am I planning on doing after I graduate? Truthfully, I have no clue! That’s the point of taking this course. I am going in with an open mind. For all I know, I could be starting a career involving something I’ve never even heard of. I am so excited!

No matter what direction I take, there is going to be some sort of stitching involved 😉