Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby Sweater II

I chose to knit this lovely little sweater for my nephew this Christmas. I blogged about a version of it before. I love the pattern; it's so simple. You pick up and knit the sleeves and collar, so there is no sewing together of the pieces. I think I was really drawn to the color changing technique in this pattern. It includes several more knit rows than usual, and that is always a plus in my book. (I am way faster at knitting than I am at purling.)

I you are interested in knitting this yourself, it's a pattern from f. pea and you can find it on her blog. And the best part is, I could use all sorts of remnants from the knitting basket to create a complete sweater for the little man. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poncho Twins

I had this crazy notion this year that I would knit about a hundred Christmas gifts. Ok, really, I thought I'd knit about sixteen (seriously, you don't have to remind me of how crazy this is). But when you get started in October, this is a little much, even if it does feel like you have plenty of time -- especially when you are still knitting projects for Etsy orders.

Nevertheless, I did manage to get about six gifts knit (and an amazing 3 more Etsy items) in that time frame, one of them being this huge and lovely poncho for my adorable sister. I had this inkling that she needed one after a weekend at the lake this fall when she was loath to return mine. She wore it practically the whole weekend - she may have even slept in it, I'm not sure.

So I asked (very stealthily -- like saying, if I did knit you a poncho....) what colors she might like, and then went to work. I love it almost as much as I love mine! And if I haven't said so before, I'll say right now that I LOVE Cascade 220 merino. There is nothing as wonderful for the price. Nothing. And of course, I love having what feels like tons of left over wool from this project. I've already churned out a really great basic scarf with some of it.

If you need the pattern for this fabulous (and insanely easy) poncho, you can find it in Odd Ball Knitting (which I happened to pick up at Half Price Books). It's the I-80 poncho. It calls for a lot of yarn, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat! I also think it'd be really cool with a bunch of different textrued yarns, but that would involve a LOT of swatch knitting which I am sure I would never do.

So there you are, two poncho girls in the new-fallen snow. We had a very merry Christmas, indeed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sew Cute Rocket

Since we are safely out of the gifting portion of the holiday season (at least in my family) I'll show you a couple of fun things a whipped up for Christmas this year. The first will be this little stuffed rocket that just happened into my studio. Along with a fabric order I placed this fall from Etsy, I received a fat quarter of this rocket ship fabric. (One of the things I love about Etsy is that sellers will often send little extras with your purchase!) I wasn't sure at first what I would do with it, but I knew that whatever became of it, it would go to my nephew Matthew who is ga-ga over any and all things space related.

Never having put a "stuffie" together before, I was seriously winging it. But I loved the end result. It was very close to the vision I originally had. And now I know a few things about making a 3-D object from fabric that I didn't know before! I would seriously appreciate any tips you have about stuffing the wings of something like this. The polyfil did not want to stay down in the points. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with this cute little rocket, for a cute little rocket man.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Christmas Song to Love

I love Sarah Groves. She is absolutely honest about her faith and her feelings. I can so relate. She has a Christmas Album out with a fabulous song: Toy Packaging. If you haven't heard it, you really must. The song should play automatically when you read this but, just in case, you can download it from the link below. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's Snowing

I awoke to snow dusting the ground this morning. It's so beautiful and peaceful. There is talk that we could (and I DO have my fingers crossed) get up to an inch today. I love the snow. And so do the neighbor kids. By this afternoon it'll be filled with bootprints from the boys in the neighborhood having a good romp thought our yard (which is just as heart-melting as seeing the snow fall); but right now it's smooth and spotless, quiet and still. Just what I need at this frantic time of year. And maybe, just maybe, we'll even be lucky enough to have snow on Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Tradition

This year we skipped the usual tradition of making gingerbread houses over Thanksgiving weekend. Mostly because I just forgot all about it. And perhaps it was for the best this year, as the kit I bought was a set of 5 miniature houses. (I can't stress this enough - to give you some perspective, the angel on the left there is about 7 inches tall.) When we opened them up a week or so later, we were confused. It seemed like we didn't have all the pieces. We did. Some of them were just the width of my finger. Yeah.

Now that all is said and done, they really are cute. But I had no idea how difficult they would be to assemble. Small does not equal easy. Nevertheless, here they are perched on our mantle. I've decided I really like them (but not enough to do it again next year).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby Wrap

I recently purchased (ok, I suppose it was this summer) a knitting book that has some really adorable projects in it -- and bonus! they are quick. One More Skein, by Leigh Radford

is just the place I happened to find this sweet little wrap I knit up for one of my sweet nieces. Here you can see the photo from the book:

How could you not want to knit that up immediately??? It's so easy and carefree and no other baby is going to have one! So I did. And here's the finished product before it was shipped out to that sweet little girl:

I used a Cascade Superwash in a pink/yellow colorway so it could be thrown in the wash as needed. I just hate to send anything to a baby that can't be cleaned easily. And I must admit, I love the cabled edge. I'd never done that before. I just might have to work that into a new scarf.

It's enough to make a girl want a baby of her own :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just Sew You Know...

I have been doing all sorts of knitting and sewing for the holidays, but they are gifts, gifts, gifts! And as much as I want to show them off to you now, it would spoil the surprise for the majority of my blog-reading-public (as I believe strongly that most of you are dear friends and family members).

So let it be said that much merriment and knitting and sewing and crafting are being done here in the last few days leading up to Christmas. Be warned -- it will be a blog blizzard once we reach the 26th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Must Be Living Under A Knitting Rock

I have a passion for knitting socks. They are so quick and I still find it amazing to turn the heel -- every time. But for the love of knitting I had no idea that self patterning yarn could do this:

I've knit socks that have a color-changing yarn with random coloring and a fun kaleidoscope feeling to them. And I love that too. But this, this is amazing stuff! Who knew? Well, probably everyone else out there who's ever knit up a pair of socks.

I am definitely adding this to the arsenal for knits that impress. I mean, how easy is that? Between this yarn and cabling I'm going to impress the hell out of people without any effort at all! Just don't tell them it was so easy, ok? And if you already know the secret, and I happen to gift you with something cabled, or made from self-patterning yarn, just play along. It'll make me feel better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I LOVE this hat!

I've wanted to knit one of these ear-flap hats for a while now, and I finally got my chance this month. I had a request from a client for her daughter's Christmas present. Pink was a must and when I found this fantastically soft and warm acrylic yarn, I was smitten.l

And I have to admit, I am SO happy with how this turned out. Isn't it adorable?? I will most definitely be making more of these (for me and for the etsy shop!) as the winter progresses. I've realized that my house is a bit like the cobbler's shop (whose children had no shoes). We have very few hand-knits around here for the boy or the rest of the family. I'll be remedying that right after the season of frenzied-gift-knitting has subsided.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NPRs Christmas Gift

I just reloaded my Christmas play list into my iPod. First, you have to know that I don't live and die with music. That's my husband, my friends Amy and Elaine and several other very talented people I know. But I do love Christmas music. I am sentimental by nature and the very thought of Christmas music lightens my heart (but NOT before Thanksgiving Day -- I'm very strict about that).

As I was with my father, on a trip home from getting some emergency tree-trimming items (namely wine and new tree lights - in that order) my favorite Christmas story popped up on the iPod. It brought us both to tears. It just isn't Christmas until I've heard it. It's John Henry Faulk's Christmas Story. I call it the Striped-y Candy Story, for reasons understood once you listen. If you've never heard it, you simply must. You can find it on NPR's website, right here. It's the perfect start to my Christmas season. It sums up what it used to be like for my family and why I love the Christmas season so much.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Advent Calendar Tutorial

Yesterday I posted about the advent calendar I put together for our family.

Here's how I did it:
  1. I measured the Ghiradelli square to see what size my pocket would need to be, and added enough allowance for seams (about an extra 1/4 inch all around). I cut out a template for cutting out the squares.
  2. I then measured the spacing I would need between, under and above each pocket (essentially I eyeballed it, but it was about 1/2" between & 1" under each pocket) and determined the dimensions of the background. To that I added an extra inch on each side, top and bottom. (I cut out two of these pieces so that the front and back looked polished.)
  3. I found a dowel rod in the studio and looped a piece of fabric around it to determine how much height I would need to make the pocket for the dowel rod. Again, I added an inch to that for seam allowance.
  4. I cut out all the pieces and sewed the front piece and back piece to the rod-pocket piece only.
  5. I also pressed the seam allowances in on all the pockets and sewed a finishing seam on the top edge of each pocket.
  6. I then printed out numbers at 212 pt on cardstock to use as a template for the pocket numbers; I then traced these and cut them out of fabric scraps. I used iron-on tape to adhere them to the pocket fronts.
  7. I pressed the bottom hem on the calendar front and back pieces so I was certain of the "top and bottom margins" of the front piece.
  8. Once all the pockets were prepared, I pinned them on the front piece, making sure all the spaces were even and remembering to take into account the side seam allowances of the front piece.
  9. I sewed around the sides and bottoms of all the pockets.
  10. Then, I turned everything so that the wrong sides were facing and sewed up the sides of the calendar, stopping just before the rod pocket piece.
  11. Turning everything right sides out, I folded in the sides of the rod pocket to match the side seams, and hemmed the bottom to tidy it up.
  12. Now it's time to slip in the rod and tie a ribbon to it so it can be hung up, filled, and enjoyed!
Fabric Notes:

The solid red pockets are made from an old T-shirt. I used the bottom hem of the t-shirt as the top edge of the pockets -- on less edge to finish!
Green pockets are Hobby Lobby's Brother and Sister brand quilting cotton.
Red Gingham was a remnant I purchased -- also quilting cotton.
Numbers are all made from felt, the t-shirt mentioned above, or scraps from the back piece of the calendar.
Special thanks to Crafty Kathleen over at Etsy for the birdy fabric I used as the front of the calendar. It's to die for!
Back piece of calendar was another fabric remnant in red ticking.

Monday, December 07, 2009

New Advent Calendar

It all started with a Ghiradelli square. Well, if you really want to know the truth, it all started because I seem to have misplaced a very large wooden box, with little doors that opened to reveal the surprise for each day, that used to be our advent calendar. How that happened I can't begin to imagine, I mean, it's really big. We've used it in the past and I am sure it's around here somewhere, but despite an all-out-call-in-the-bloodhounds search, I can't find it.

And of course, I prepared and purchased all the items I'd need for the other calendar before I went looking to be sure we actually had it. Of course I did. And, of course, we were already 5 days into the advent season without the calendar because we are just that sort of family. One little boy was about to be very disappointed.

But have no fear -- mama is here! I quickly gathered my scraps of fabric (and the Ghiradelli squares for moral support -- I mean to measure the pockets needed) and went to work. And this:

is what resulted.

I have to say I am pleased as punch about this little beauty. Being the overachiever that I am, I knew I could have whipped up something simpler, but I would have to look at it all month and know that it isn't at all what I really wanted. So I spent the day working on something a little more substantial, and I am SOOO glad I did!

I'll have the tutorial up tomorrow if you want to put one of these bad boys together yourself. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Scrapbook Layout #989

Just taking a little time to get some scrapping done . . . if you built it, they will come.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Auntie Amy and Her Neverending Projects

I'll just go ahead and admit it: I LOVE being auntie Amy. My sister's girls are my first foray into the world of girls and I have to say, I was way more hooked than I ever thought I'd be. I mean, I prayed for a boy -- and god knows I needed one. But my nieces have a sway over me which I never would have dreamed. So when they come to visit, it is inevitable that we will be engulfed in a project within the first day or two of their arrival. And as they get older, the projects become more elaborate.

This Thanksgiving, my darling girls asked me if they could sew. I was delighted and readily agreed when they asked if they could make their own stuffed animals. They drew their own patterns and cut out all the pieces from the various remnants of fabric hanging around my studio. (A perfect use for them, I might add.) After using the sewing machine (under the hawkish eye of their auntie) and learning the whip stitch, they produced the cutest little stuffies to ever come out of this studio.

I can only imagine what fabulous projects will be created this Christmas. They rock.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Little Disappointing

We saw The Men Who Stare At Goats over the weekend. I have to say I was really looking forward to it. And it just didn't work. It was like watching a sitcom -- you've already seen all the good lines in the previews, and yet, you are hoping that isn't the case and you watch anyway. Except this time, even the lines from the previews were funnier in the previews than in the movie. Too bad. The premiss was so promising. . . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

French By Heart

I finished reading a charming book last night, French By Heart, written by Rebecca S. Ramsey. I have to confess, right off the top, anything with French, Paris or Musée in the title is a shoe in for my stack of books on the nightstand. But truly, I'm so happy to have read this book. It may be the only way my dream of living in France will actually come to fruition.

Ramsey is a southern woman who arrives in a small neighborhood in France and is the only American the neighborhood has ever seen. She shares some of her best and worst moments while in France, raising a family of 3 children while her husbands spends much of his time working (and traveling) for Michlin. It's delightful to follow her through the ups and downs of life as an expat.

I think my favorite part of the entire book is her neighbor, Madame Mallet. I swear, if my grandmother were a french woman, this would be her! Despite the cultural gap -- the woman is a handful.

If you are a francophile or just love the idea of living abroad, I think you'd enjoy this little romp through southern France.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Finally Happening

I'm a sucker for the holidays. All of them. I love family and I love tradition and when the two collide, I just can't help myself. I get gushy. And it's finally starting to feel like the holidays around here. Family has started to arrive, lights are going up around the neighborhood, projects are getting finished, meals are being planned, photos are being taken, and the best smells are starting to fill the house.

We'll be in a mad rush soon, but for now, I am enjoying the peacefulness of it all, and the joy of anticipation. I couldn't ask for more.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Damned United

I don't get out much. At least not in the let's-have-a-date-without-the-kids sort of way. Honestly, I'd rather rent a movie and sit on my own (very comfortable) sofa with my beloved husband and share a bottle of (good) wine.

But on occasion, I do manage to get out and see a flick. And it was a fluke that I saw this one at all. My girlfriends and I had intended to see The Men Who Stare At Goats. And I will see that one, eventually, because I have never laughed so hard at a trailer before - ever. But (as I am usually disorganized) we had the time wrong and the movie was already 15 minutes in by the time we arrived at the box office. We were heartily disappointed, but we elected to see The Damned United instead. It's not like we were going to waste an evening out. No siree. And you know, we were very pleasantly surprised.

I'm not a soccer fan. Not really. I couldn't even tell you what the positions are or the where they are supposed to play. But I do live with a football fan (the proper terminology in the rest of the world) and that experience alone was enough for me to grasp the hype played out in this movie. It was great. I actually started rooting for the arrogant son-of-a-bitch Brian Clough. Not in that Karate-Kid-stand-up-and-yell-at-the-end-of-the-movie way, but because he was the very picture of human nature. Perfectly played.

I would recommend seeing this one for sure. If for no other reason than to see Michael Sheen as a footballer. He is so versatile. I saw him as the Prime Minister in The Queen several years ago and loved him in that role as well. Start popping the popcorn.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Addition To The Etsy Shop: FLAIR!

Perhaps you are already familiar with the movie Office Space, in which Jennifer Aniston plays a working girl who must wear 15 pieces of flair at her waitressing job. If not, I highly recommend the movie for all sorts of reasons, but the flair scenes are particularly funny.

In honor of Office Space and because this collage artist just can't get enough -- I have started offering one-of-a-kind pieces of flair in my Etsy store. Keep in mind that each one is unique and when it's gone, it's gone. Personally, I think they would make the best stocking stuffers! Here is a taste of what you may find:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tears of joy

I'm will confess, I am woefully ignorant of much that is on YouTube. But when I saw this on another blogger's post I just adored it. It actually made me a bit weepy. Perhaps because it reminded me of a trip to the Lourvre my husband and I took (years ago), in which we just happened upon a modern dance troupe performing in the Rubens room. I wish this sort of thing would happen more often.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lovely Little Surprise

I may have mentioned before that although I consider myself a gardener, and love to put up food for the winter, I am not exactly a "neat" gardener. I rarely trim back the tomatoes or weed the beds after the plants are safely underway. I harvest when I can and try to keep it producing. I know, it's not like The Victory Garden in our backyard. Make no mistake, this is not an apology. It's simply the state of things. I'm quite happy with it.

So you can imagine my surprise, as I went to clean up some of the veggie beds (yes, I know it's mid November) and came across these lovely herbs, just plugging their way along through the autumn winds and rain.

And the timing is actually quite nice. I'm not in the thick of summer activities and canning tomatoes and freezing beans until my mind is numb. So I was able to take the time to dry some of this lovely oregano this afternoon.

And I fully intend to get to that sage and thyme and parsley too. Who knows, it might end up in one or two of our holiday baskets.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Little Me Time

Many of you know that my mom has just had her hip replaced. Things seem to be clicking along for her, but the back and forth to the hospital has been a wee bit tiring for me. (I didn't exactly have my hip replaced, but still, I'm a smidge tired.) Today I took a little time to just hang out with myself and my scrapbooking. It was lovely. And it was a lot of fun seeing the evidence of spring in the midst of fall turning to winter. A good reminder to just breathe deeply.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And Still I Rise

I've done it! After my debacle with the cable-knit sweater that never was, and my fears of getting them done, the gloves are finished!

Doing the left glove was not as bad as I first feared. I thought the reversing of all the fingers was going to do me in, but it wasn't too bad. Although, I did put sticky notes all over the pattern pages to remind myself of all the proper stitch placements, sizes, stitches, cast-ons, etc. Now to make a scarf and I'll be ready to send this project to it's happy owner!

Oh, and I used Caron Spa, Rose Bisque, which is a sport weight (#3) yarn, and #5 (american) needles, if anyone is curious. The pattern is basic, created from Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting Design.

By the way, if you aren't already familiar with the poem, And Still I Rise, you really should read it. It's one of the many, many reasons I fall head over heels for Maya Angelou.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Wallpaper

I get tired of looking at the same old thing all the time, so I decided to change up my desktop wallpaper (because I have tons of extra time on my hands!). I liked it so much I thought I'd share it with you. I only created the one size -- 1440 pixels x 900 pixels, but you can play around with it if you like. You can download it here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Christmas List

I just realized that it is 2 1/2 weeks till Thanksgiving, and that means 6 1/2 weeks till Christmas (!) and I have decided to knit about 100 items for Christmas gifts. [Ok, it's more like a dozen (unless you count items that come in pairs as individual items, but that might make me have a panic attack, so we'll call it a dozen), but it's starting to overwhelm me just a bit.] I have to stop saying yes to projects for other folks! (someone help me learn to say no.)

I spent the whole day yesterday working on a gift - it's a biggie. I think if I can mentally get over the hurdle of finishing that gift, the rest will seem more doable, more likely to get finished and wrapped and sent before Christmas. And I do have that gift larder that isn't nearly as full as I'd like, but still -- there are a few items in there too. Then again, I may have to reconsider and hit Etsy for some alternatives. One day a time.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Perfect Moment

Some days are perfect for a mug of tea. (Especially in a Mickey mug -- one of many in my collection.) Today is just one of those days. Despite my hectic schedule, I am taking a moment to enjoy a spot of tea. I hope you are able to steal a moment today too.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Oh My Gloves!

I know a young lady, who, when she was a tot, was heard to say Oh My God! Her mother let her know that "God" is a very special name and we don't want to just toss it around like it's any old name. (This precious conversation was going on in a big box store to which I seem addicted.) At that precise moment, mother and daughter were passing a large display of gloves. The young girl looked at the gloves, and then her mother, and querried, "Can I say Oh My Gloves!?"

I love that story (& that beautiful girl!) and to this day I use the phrase "Oh My Gloves" because it makes me smile every time. And more to the point, I am knitting a pretty fabulous pair of gloves right now. (And if I may, I have to say the bamboo/acrylic blend yarn from Caron is so beautiful once it's all knit up.)

I was certainly daunted by the prospect of knitting all those individual fingers, but at the same time fascinated by how they all come to be. After all, if I can turn the heel of a sock, surely I can make those fingers! And, I can . . . even if I do have to read the instructions aloud to myself. So far, so good, but in truth, I can't imagine doing this same thing for the left hand! Won't all the instructions be in reverse? It'll be interesting...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bonus Flannel

While at the fabric store gathering up all the supplies to create a ghostbuster, I strayed across this delightful flannel for only $2 a yard! Love those sale racks. Of course I had to pick some up just for me. And what do you think I made? PJs!

I love them! They are ultra soft and so comfy. After all, it's time to start wearing all those winter pjs. The temps have started to fall lately in these parts. I think I'm addicted. I still have the Xmas jams to finish too...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Note To Self

Dear Self,

You may think it's a good idea to sew while upset. May I remind you, that when you are angry, you stew, and your mind is everywhere but on your sewing. Furthermore, you want to make the machine go faster. The noise seems to beat in time with some primal anger rhythm inside you. While it is somewhat satisfying, this will result in many hours of seam-ripping. It is a bad idea. And may even enflame you further. Instead, may I suggest you go pour yourself a drink and try to relax. You will be happier in the end.

Yours very truly,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We did it! We got our ghostbuster together and out the door for tricks and treats last night! And it was certainly a family affair. Here's the final project:

I sewed this jumpsuit together using a Buttericks pattern intended for an animal costume. I used muslin and I like the way it turned out. It's thin, but for a costume for one night, it's perfect.

Daddy put the proton pack together. He found these awesome warning labels specific to the ghostbusters that we ran through the printer on sticker paper. We certainly "upcycled" a bunch of things with this part of the costume. It incorporates an old box we spray painted, a frisbee, an old vacuum hose, a marshmallow gun, and some random plastic pieces that were bound for the landfill. It was all attached to a backpack we velcroed into the box. Not the easiest contraption we've ever built, but a really great effect in the end.

And of course, Hayes insisted that we have the googles that Dan Aykroyd wore in the film. I converted a pair of party-favor sunglasses and some old spools into a semblance of the googles. It met the expectation and that's all I can ever hope for. Not too bad, eh?

And you can see the iron-on patch that we created, again, with the printer and iron-on paper. You can't see it here, but he also has a name patch like these guys. Without the patches, it just wouldn't have conveyed the same image.

Over all, it was a very successful halloween. Hoping yours was as fun as ours!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Etsy Newness

I've added some cuddles to the Etsy store. (and a new seasonal header too!) If you haven't been by in a while, we'd love to see you. You can check out these little beauties while you're there too.