How to make the most of National Self-Improvement Month


Hello, everyone! My name is Alex Hughes, and I sell my globally inspired prints and illustrations through my business, Wandering Paper Co. I went to college at TCU, where I majored in graphic design, and I now live in the DFW area with my husband Philip and our cat Athena. 

I don't know about you, but I'm so excited fall is here. The breeze is blowing, football season is upon us, and the infamous PSL is back. Yes, I know it’s still 90 degrees outside, but 90 is better than 100, and in Texas, we’ll take what we can get.

It's funny, every year when school starts I have the urge to take up a class or two myself. Maybe it’s the shiny new school supplies (it’s hard to say no to a new leather-bound notebook from Ox and Pine, or a witty to-do list from Kat French Design) or maybe it’s just the feeling of working toward a goal, but I miss the feeling of satisfaction that comes with learning something new. It’s fitting, then, that September is National Self-Improvement month. It's the perfect excuse to take a class, read a book or take on a new challenge. So I've put together a few ways to make the most of self-improvement month. Feel free to give them a try.

Start a Journal
I’m a recent fan of journaling after reading The Artist’s Way and doing the corresponding journal exercises. According to the Huffington Post, journaling can help boost self-confidence, create mindfulness, and even help you achieve your goals. For the full list of benefits, check out the full article on the benefits of keeping a journal. Plus, starting a journal is a great excuse to buy a cool new notebook. 

Ox & Pine premium leather notebook

Ox & Pine premium leather notebook

MadeByRori Dickens gratitude journal 

MadeByRori Dickens gratitude journal 

Visit a Museum
The Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Perot Museum are three of my favorites. The best part is, they are all within walking distance of each other. Take yourself on a museum date, then stop by the food trucks at Klyde Warren Park for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack. 

Take a Class
I love Oil & Cotton and the wide array of adult classes and workshops they offer. I’ve taken portrait watercolor and marble paper workshops there and loved both. They have lots of new offerings this fall, including felting, interior painting, photography, and intro ceramics. Check out their full fall lineup here.

Join a Gym
Yes, I know, everyone’s favorite subject. Luckily, there are tons of fun alternatives to a boring 30-minute treadmill jog. Go climbing at Summit Climbing Gym, try kickboxing at Title Boxing Club or join a recreational kickball league at Big D Sports. You may have so much fun you forget you're exercising.

De-Clutter and Decorate
Okay, maybe this is less ‘self-improvement’ and more ‘life-improvement,’ but de-cluttering always makes me happier and less stressed. First, choose a small area of the house, like a bathroom or a closet — somewhere that can be organized in one day. Next, take a page from Marie Kondo and keep only the things that spark joy. Once you have de-cluttered and organized, a new piece of art is a great way to give a space new life. I've always been a fan of these origami koalas from Tokodots, and I've had my eye on this hand-drawn map of White Rock Lake from Joy Street Maps for my living room.

In any case, once you have given away all the clutter, every time you pass that space you will feel lighter and more carefree.

Learn a Language
I love to learn new languages, which is why I’m a big fan of the app Duolingo. It's free, and the exercises are only 5 minutes long, so it’s easy to practice every day. Plus, you can find your friends and keep track of points. 

Take a Bath
You deserve a reward after all this self-improvement. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to stick with you new habit. Winding down with a bath, a book or a good movie is a great way to de-stress and get ready to tackle the day tomorrow. 

What are your plans for self-improvement month? Do you have any self-improvement tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Learn Arm Knitting with Woolly Element

We love Woolly Element. It's so cool to see Clare creating her extreme knitting pieces. We aren't ready for those giant needles just yet, but Clare was kind enough to share her pro tips for learning arm knitting. It's perfect for those of us who are new to knitting or just looking to try something different. Thank you, Clare! 

Learn A New Craft This Spring - Arm Knitting with Woolly Element, Inspired by Flax and Twine

At Woolly Element, we LOVE large scale knitting. But we also know that high quality, super chunky yarn and industrial sized needles come at high price points and may be hard to find.  Enter: arm knitting. With arm knitting, you can use a variety of yarn types, often layering up several strands at once to get that super bulky look. There is no need for needles - all you need is your arms and your yarn. Finally, arm knitting is perfect for first-timers and experienced knitters alike, and it is super FUN. So, what are we waiting for? Let's get started.

My arm knitting journey

I have the opportunity to travel A LOT and so I am always bringing along projects for the plane. When I traveled to Australia in 2017, I brought along a print out of arm knitting instructions from Anne Weil (Flax and Twine) and some yarn… and I learned how to arm knit on the plane. It took some trial and error (and it stirred a lot of interest from flight attendants and other passengers), but I got the hang of it, and by the end of my flight, I was well underway with my first arm knitting project.

Clare Kearney of Woolly Element arm knits a chunky scarf with Little Dandelion, K1S1 yarn, 100% merino wool, on a flight back to Dallas.

Clare Kearney of Woolly Element arm knits a chunky scarf with Little Dandelion, K1S1 yarn, 100% merino wool, on a flight back to Dallas.

At about this time last year, I was looking to put this new skill to use. I was so excited to find Flax and Twine's adorable arm knit bunny and decided to make one for my niece for her 1st birthday (which happened to land on Easter!). Check out how adorable it is in this super short video: Giant Arm Knit Bunny

If you are at all interested in trying your hand at this, I highly encourage you give it a go. Here is the full pattern for this giant arm knit bunny, with step-by-step video instructions on how to arm knit (again, great for learners and beginners) and how to create and construct this lovable bunny for someone special this Spring.

The price point is $6, and Flax and Twine is offering a limited number of 20% off discounts -- just use the discount code: HOPPING

Through my own trial and error, here are some tips and tricks to help you make this beautiful bunny:

  • If you are a traditional knitter but new to arm knitting, note that you don't "flip" your work with arm knitting. Instead, you go back and forth, moving the stitches from your left arm to your right, and then from your right arm to your left. So even though you'll use all knit stitches, you'll actually create a stockinette stitch (flat on one side, bumpy on the other) instead of a garter stitch. This is all you need to learn and do to create this bunny. Note: if you do in fact want to make something in the garter stitch, you'll need to knit one row, then purl the next row, and repeat. This is what I did to make the scarf above. 
  • Who will be loving this bunny once you're done? If that "somebunny" is a young child, you'll want to consider certain modifications:
    • For the eyes - use a different color yarn (black, blue, brown, etc) instead of buttons.
    • For the ears - skip on the optional gauge wire. The floppy ears are super cute! 
    • Think ahead about the stuffing. You'll want to match the color of the filing to the color of your yarn. When I made my bunny, I had a polyester / fiberfill stuffing ready to use, but then I realized that it would likely fall out between the stitches. So I filled that stuffing in a burlap material and made a kind of handmade pillow, and then I filled the bunny with the stuffed pillow. However, I would recommend following Anne's recommendations here -- you can get a quilting batting as the filler or you can reuse an old blanket or comforter, if you have one available. 

As you start and progress on your first arm knit project, please reach out with any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at clare@woollyelement.com or on Instagram

Happy knitting and happy spring!

Learn to Craft Show Like a Pro with The Pig and the Peacock

Don’t miss our Craft Show Like a Pro workshop this Sunday. Etsy Dallas co-president’s Sabrina and Jenny of The Pig and the Peacock share their pro tips for craft show success from 1-3 p.m., April 9, at Dallas Makerspace. You can get your tickets here.

Attendees are encouraged to bring photos and examples of your booth setup for discussion and feedback. The workshop will cover topics including:

  • How to select the right show for you
  • Inventory needs
  • Booth layout and setup
  • Taking payments
  • Promotion
  • Do’s and Don’ts
  • Preparation timelines

These are just a few of the topics Jenny and Sabrina will cover. Craft shows are your chance to set up a mini pop-up show showcasing your work. It takes a lot of preparation and careful planning to put your best foot forward. We know you will have fun and learn a lot at this class. Hope to see you there!

Learning Opportunities from Etsy Dallas

We are delighted to continue to offer learning opportunities with the Etsy Dallas Team and Dallas Makerspace. Our first class of the year is Craft Show Like a Pro. If you are new to craft shows, need help with your booth and displays, or are just a little rusty this would be a great class to attend!

Class info
Date: April 2nd
Time: 12:00-2:30pm
Where: Dallas Makerspace, 1825 Monetary Lane #104 Carrollton TX 75006
Cost: $15
Ticket Info

In the class we will cover everything from how to prep inventory, booth designs, displays, what to bring and how to take payments. We will also have an open discussion/booth critique at the end.

Hope to see you there!

More Learning Opportunities with Etsy Dallas and Dallas Makerspace

We are delighted to offer more opportunities to come learn with the Etsy Dallas team at Dallas Makerspace. For the month of September, we are offering Getting Started on Etsy and Social Media Marketing for your Small Business.

The feedback on this beginner's workshop has been awesome! This is your chance to come learn from an experienced Etsy Dallas seller all the secrets to get that Etsy shop you have been dreaming of off to a successful start.
Getting Started on Etsy
Friday, September 18th
Dallas Makerspace
10:30 am-12:30pm

If you want to build brand awareness, create a buzz and increase your sales, this is the class for you! Social media is one of the best tools to use to help grow your business. 

Saturday, September 26th
Dallas Makerspace

New Workshops from Etsy Dallas and Dallas Makerspace

The Etsy Dallas team has had such a blast partnering with Dallas Makerspace to teach the key principles of operating a successful Etsy shop. We've had lots of good feedback on the classes so far and have been encouraged to keep the knowledge flowing. 

Next up, we have Photography that Sells. Come learn how to improve your photography for online sales. And then,  Craft Show Like a Pro to learn everything you need to know for craft show success.

Saturday, August 8th

Saturday, August 22nd

Tickets are required for each of these classes. Be sure to click on the links above to purchase yours.

More Learning Opportunities!

Etsy Dallas and Dallas Makerspace have teamed up to offer more learning opportunities for those that want to build a stellar Etsy shop. Our next workshops will cover everything from Etsy shop basics to product photography to advanced seller networking. 

Saturday, July 11th
Tickets Info

Saturday, July 18th
Ticket Info

Saturday, August 8th
Ticket Info

Tickets are required for each of these classes. Be sure to click on the links above to purchase yours.