Christmas Is Coming!

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OK, I love Christmas! No, I LOOOOOVE Christmas! This is my favorite time of year, hands down. I love the cold weather, the lights, the decorations, the music, the gift buying and giving (although I don’t like wrapping!), the crafting, the baking and cooking, the times with family and friends, and the whole meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate. So, I usually start early in the year thinking of new things for my house or for gifts. I already showed some needle felted snowmen I made. And I have more!

In August (on my birthday!), Knitpicks had a big warehouse sale. I am lucky enough to life 30 minutes away, so I dropped the kids off with my Dad and Stepmom (who live 3 minutes away!) and headed over for the craziness. I actually went for the yarn, but ended up enjoying it more for the fabric (from their sister site, Connecting Threads.) While I was standing in the long line to pay, I happened to see a fabric kit that caught my eye. It was in Christmas colors and, although I couldn’t see what it was, there was a pattern included. I grabbed it and was THRILLED! It was my favorite find of the whole trip! I can’t tell you how much I paid because you paid for fabric and yarn by the pound, but I am sure it was ridiculously little for the actual kit. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

I finally got a chance to do some crafting recently – and found the inspiration! The kit I bought was a wall hanging. It included everything except the thread and the batting, so it was easy to do. I appliques on the lettering and the rest was pretty straight quilting stuff. I even hand-sewed the binding on, which I have discovered it one of my all time favorite things! And this is the little gem I ended up with:

I LOVE IT! I love snowmen and snow anyway. The letters and snowflakes are all hand sewn, as is the snowman’s face. It took me just a few days with an hour or two a day to get it all finished. Can’t wait to decorate for Christmas now!

Oh, and because I had lots of scraps left over, and I didn’t want them to go to waste, I made a cute little scrappy wreath. It was super simple and easy. I had it done in about an hour. I got the idea from here for the wreath, but used some wire I already had since we don’t keep metal hangers on hand. I ended up using a double circle of wire so I could get it extra fluffy with scraps. This is what I ended up with:

I’ll add some red ribbon to hang it from the wall. It is really lightweight, but so cute! It is going to be perfect for the season! Super simple! And it was a bit cathartic, too! Instead of cutting all of the strips, I just cut small notches in the fabric and ripped it the rest of the way. Very easy to do, but that ripping of fabric sure felt good! LOL!

By the way, if you haven’t discovered it yet, I highly recommend you check out Pinterest. I am so addicted! It is an amazing site and more and more people are signing up every day. I love it because I can find a recipe or a craft or anything else I am interested in, pin it to my board and no longer will I have to sort through my bookmarks to find something I once saw online. Now, I have pictures and categories. And you can make friends, follow other boards, pin and like other things people post, and lots more. I love to use it to keep track of everything I want to do and wish I could do. You can find me here. And if you sign up, feel free to follow my boards or leave me a note on my blog or on Pinterest to say hello! Hope to see you pinning soon!

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Sew-er Guilt?

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I once talked about “sweater guilt” on the blog – the guilt I feel when I buy or receive a manufactured sweater instead of knitting one for myself, especially if I really love the new sweater! Well, I have now been struck by sew-er guilt!

I have made a few of my kids’ Halloween costumes over the years. My daughter’s second Halloween costume was handmade – the cutest cowgirl costume ever! It was made from a flannel cow print remnant and an old black pleather coat I owned. I took two years off (I was VERY pregnant the next year, then had a year old baby the next) and then I decided I wanted to sew costumes for them as much as possible. For my daughter’s first year of school (preschool) she wanted to be a Care Bear. So, I created a Care Bear costume, complete with a fat white belly with a belly badge and even a tuft of hair on the top of her head! My son was (and is still!) a huge dog fan and wanted to be a puppy, so he was a white puppy with floppy ears, a long tail and brown spots. Next came my daughter’s new-found fascination of all things Princess! With her dark hair, she would have been a great Belle, but instead wanted Snow White – which worked for me! (And if you click the link to check out the Snow White costume, you will see the puppy dog costume on my son. Yep, he insisted on wearing it two years in a row!)

So, when we started to approach Halloween this year, I started asking the kids what they wanted to be. My daughter wanted to be a witch – but a pretty witch, not a scary witch. She started perusing the costume catalogs, looking for the perfect costume. I figured I would sew it for her after we settled on a look. My son wanted to a fireman. That was easy enough. He received a fireman playset for Christmas, which included the helmet and jacket – although the jacket was HUGE on him! I even found him some fireman boots at Once Upon A Child to make the costume complete.

And then, I realized that, try as I might, I couldn’t produce the kind of costume my daughter wanted for as cheap as I could buy the costume. She wanted foofy skirt, ribbons and tulle. I just kept thinking of all the material I would have to buy! So, I gave in. I went to the store with her and we picked out her witch costume. I didn’t craft ANY of it. She is cute in it, though!

So, I resigned myself to the fact that my kids wouldn’t be sporting anything homemade this year. And oh, the guilt! I looked at those costumes and cringed. I even tried to convince my son to let me make him a new fireman coat that fit, but he wasn’t having anything to do with that!

I couldn’t believe how strong the guilt was! And I have noticed it at other times, too. I bought my daughter a fleece coat and wondered why I didn’t just make her one. Of course, the fact that she needed it ASAP was why, but still, I had guilt. I have looked at PJs for the kids and wondered why I am not just making them. And PJ pants for me, too. I know I just need to cut myself some slack. I have a ton going on. My wrists are not great lately and I need to take it easy on them when it comes to the wrist-stressing stuff  – including cutting with scissors and hand stitching. And really, if it is faster and easier and cheaper to buy something that isn’t going to be a keep sake, I need to just realize I need to give in and just buy the item.

Oh, and my son’s costume? Today, the day we planned to take them to our annual Halloween festival in our town, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to be A PUPPY! Of course! But the costume he wore the last two years just wasn’t going to fit this year. So, at the last minute, we were running to the store for a costume. And the puppy costume we found was ugly! Even he looked at it and scrunched up his nose, then suggested we go to another store! But, I seized the opportunity! I ran to the boys clothing department, found a brown fleece hoody and matching pants, ran to JoAnn’s for some brown fleece, and headed home to pull out the scissors and sewing machine! And, when all was said and done, I sewed at least part of his costume! It may only have been the tail and ears and they may only be held on by safety pin (so the outfit can be worn without ears and tail!) but it works! He wore it tonight and actually got a few compliments on it. Isn’t it cute???

He mentioned being a dinosaur next year. I know he will change his mind – possibly many times! – between now and then, but I admit to already daydreaming about how to turn my little monster into a dinosaur!

Fall Is Here!

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Fall is finally here! I LOVE fall! I love the colors, the scents, the cool, crisp air. All of it is so comforting and cozy for me. Although we had a run of near 90 degree temps leading up to fall, the weather finally seems to have changed, it has cooled off, windows can now be opened and leaves are starting to turn. And, when fall starts to make an appearance, I also get the urge to start crafting! I have already shown you some of the sewing I did earlier. But, as I mentioned in that post, the fabric I used was actually just scrap fabric from another project!

I am in a book club with some awesome women! And I finally got to host! Eek! My first thought – what do I need to make or do to make my house feel cozier? Knowing that I had about a month really got me moving. Our house actually works well with fall colors. We have lots of oranges, teals, reds, and browns already, so adding some fall colors with fabrics would not only help transition us to fall, but would actually work well all year long. I had to decide just where to focus my crafting on, though. And the dining room table, where we will gather for our book club, was my first focus.

I knew I needed something on my table. I thought about just getting a vase of fall flowers for the center, but that wasn’t quite enough. I thought about a table cloth, but those are more of a pain for me than they are worth it. Then I decided on a table runner. But I didn’t a long table runner. I wanted something more for the center of the table. I looked on websites, but couldn’t really find what I wanted. So, why not do what I do best? Sew one!

Once I found the right fabric, it came together quickly and easily. I decided to quilt one. Now, I am not a quilter. I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to quilting. I searched for a pattern online for a table runner, but just couldn’t find what I wanted. So, I made it up! I found the description for a disappearing nine-patch and used that. I added the white border (it actually has a pattern to it, but it is hard to see) to get it to the size I wanted. Each of the three blocks are different, but all use the same fabrics. I quilted it on my machine (although I am not very good at that part yet. But I have wrist issues, so I don’t know if I could really manage to do hand quilting) and even made my own binding! Here it is!

IMG_0090 Two of the three blocks.

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Showing the backing.

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A better view of the binding.

And, along with the table runner, I also made some quick and easy floral wire pumpkins. I used the tutorial from a guest blogger on Someday Crafts for the wire pumpkins. I bought rolls of brown floral wire at Michael’s and cut them into pieces, then followed the directions. I do wish I had more wire (I may get another roll or two – they were not every expensive) to fill them out even more. I made a total of three – two smaller ones for the table and a larger one for the entry. The two smaller look so nice on the table runner! And, with the addition of some flowers in fall colors, the table is perfect!

The finished table runner with accessories!

A close up of one of the smaller pumpkins.

The pumpkin in the entryway. (You can see how the rings sort of slant. I think that is because there aren’t enough rings.)

Our house is tiny and needs a lot of work done, but it amazes me how a few simple projects can make the house feel so much warmer and homier. Stay tuned for one more project I did for the dining room! It is one of my favorites!

A Visit From The Tooth Fairy!

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When you have a six year old in the house, you can expect some exciting milestones. Things like the move from kindergarten to first grade, learning to read and losing baby teeth are all such exciting steps towards being a big kid!

For the last 9 months or so, my daughter has agonized over the fact that her baby teeth didn’t seem to be budging. She constantly asked when she was going to lose a tooth. Her friends at school were starting to have wiggly teeth and even lose them. One of her favorite cartoons even dealt with loose teeth. I think she had lost all hope that she would ever shed those baby teeth.

And then, about a month ago, she said her tooth felt funny. I looked at it, thinking maybe she had some food stuck in it (it was right after breakfast) and that was when we made the great discovery – a wiggly tooth!!! Oh, she was overjoyed! And I, being a crafty person, decided that I had to make something for the occasion.

Now, we know that tooth may hang on for months, but I wanted to get started, just in case. I had seen numerous examples of tooth fairy pillows online. Some were simply small pillows with pockets, others were cute little fairies or even teeth, and some hung on the doorknobs, saving the Tooth Fairy the hassle of reaching under a sleeping child to collect a tooth and leave a treat. My favorite came from Mmmcrafts. I encourage you to click on the link and see the cuteness there! And, she offered a free pattern, too!

The actual pillow came together quickly. A bit of planning, a bit of cutting, some gluing and stitching and I had a cute pillow, perfect for my girl’s teeth! See, isn’t it sweet? (And it isn’t completely done yet – I need some thin pink ribbon for the shoes since she is a ballerina! I need to get to the craft store for those soon.)

This pillow is made mostly of craft felt. I used some stiff felt for the wings, then simply coated them with glitter glue, so they actually sparkle. I had a bit of lace I used for the skirt and some ribbon in my stash served as the door hanger. Thankfully, with my huge felt stash, I was able to craft this tooth fairy pillow for free! What a deal!

That tooth is still holding on. The adult tooth is starting to come through behind it, so I am guessing it’s days are numbered. My daughter has yet to see or even know about this pillow, as I plan to save it for the day she loses the tooth. And I am already planning on a boy version for my son, even though it may be another 2+ years until he loses his first tooth!

Oh, and one more thing. A few weeks ago, another blogger, Tiffany over at Simply Modern Mom, introduced me to a new website called Pinterest. She offered a few invitations to join and I got one. I LOVE it! It is a great way to organize all of your bookmarks in a visual way, and you can share those bookmarks with others, too. I have made good use of it, organizing my bookmarks for all of the great crafts I want to try, the tutorials I have seen and just great ideas I want to reference in the future. There is a button for your Bookmarks Toolbar to make it easy to add a “pin”, you can choose from any picture on the page to represent your pin, plus you can see other people’s pins, like them or even repin them to your pin board. It is a great sharing tool and so much fun to use! And so much better than searching your bookmarks for specific entries! It is still in beta testing, so you can either sign up for an account (no idea how long it will last) or you can be invited to join. I currently have 4 invitations, so if you are interested, please let me know! I would love to have more crafty minded friends using the site!

School’s Out!!

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Summer is in full swing here in the Momknitter household! Of course, it was a rough start. The last day of school for the eldest also coincided with an onset of strep for me! And then the antibiotics decided to mess with me, too! So, even with our 90 degree temperatures, I haven’t really enjoyed much of this summer until this week.

First, though, let’s back up a bit. I realize it has been a while since I posted. I haven’t been feeling particularly crafty lately, but when it came to the end of the school year, I knew I had to make something for the teacher! My daughter’s kindergarten teacher was a real angel. She was amazing and we had to let her know. My first thought was to sew her a tote bag. And then I thought we could personalize it somehow. And I decided to get my daughter involved since she likes drawing. So, I had her draw a picture of her teacher and then I transferred it over to fabric and embroidered it on, then sewed the patch into a tote bag. It ended up being a lot of fun and I think I want to do something similar later on, perhaps as gifts for the grandparents. We picked up a pack of fat quarters from JoAnn’s and I put together a patchwork strip with the picture in the front. This is the result (and remember, you can click on the pictures to make them larger!):

I love the fabric for the patchwork! There are fairies!!

A close-up of the picture! (Sorry it is so wrinkly – I really did iron it!)

Even with sewing the tote bag, my eye was drawn to other ideas all over the blogs I read and I found something else I wanted to do for the teacher. There is an awesome website called Wordle that allows you to make a list of words, pick a color scheme and it will arrange them for you in interesting ways. I made a list of all of the attributes I could think of for a kindergarten teacher, and especially my daughter’s teacher and put them in a list. I also added her name, the school, the class and the year. I picked the colors I wanted in the picture and played with it until I liked the layout. Then we printed it on cardstock. I assisted with a field trip for my daughter’s class a few days before end of the year and had the kids sign a mat to go around the picture. In hind-site,  I wish I had a silver pen, but the black worked OK on the dark blue mat. I framed it all and it was an easy gift that the teacher really loved.

If you decide to play with Wordle, I will offer a few tips. When you make your list, copy and paste it in another place, like a Word document. If you go leave your first creation, it will erase your list and you will have to start over. Also, the more you enter the words, the larger they will appear. I think I entered her name 4 times. The smallest words were entered once. I chose some to be larger than others. If you don’t like the initial layout, keep playing. Under the “Layout” tab, you can choose to re-layout with the current settings. This just reorganizes the words. You can also choose new colors and you aren’t limited to the options they provide.

The teacher loved her gifts and I am happy with the way they turned out. And I can’t believe my little girl will be in first grade in just a few months! And I don’t even want to discuss the fact that my son will be starting preschool!!

A BIG Project Finally Finished!!

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Back when I was planning for Christmas, I got it in my head that I would make each of my kids a quilt. Now, keep in mind, my previous foray into quilting was a small rag quilt and some patchwork baskets. I had read about quilting, but never had any lessons on how to do it. I had read about quilt patterns, picking fabrics and the “quilt sandwich”, but beyond that, I was on my own!

My daughter’s quilt actually came together quite easily at first. I had purchased a ton of flannel for her as a baby since I used it to make diapers. I had a lot leftover and I started gathering fabrics I thought would work well together. I played with the fabric until I finally decided to do a pinwheel type pattern. Now, for any quilters out there, I will warn you now that I didn’t use any particular pattern, so any resemblance to a “real” quilt pattern is completely incidental! I had to get a few more fabrics to finish the quilt, but I had a lot of fun picking those fabrics out! I was worried at first that the patterns would clash or look bad together, but, as I pieced and played, I realized that I really liked the way they turned out and I lost a lot of fear of patterns and picking fabrics! I did stick with flannel, since that is what I had started with. I am not sure it was the easiest way to go since it made sewing a bit more difficult with the extra weight, but the end result was wonderful!

The quilt top. Lots of pink and flowers!

After putting together the top, I went to the bottom. I had seen several quilts where the solid bottom was put together with a strip of fabric squares. I decided to do the same thing, especially since I needed just a bit more length. I love the way it looks!

The strip on the bottom. You can also see my quilting job.

The hardest part was the quilting. I don’t have a free motion foot for my machine, yet I didn’t have the patience or the time to hand quilt (remember, I was hoping to have this done for Christmas!) I decided to just have fun and do some wavy lines. They don’t look fabulous or anything, but they work for a little girl’s quilt. Moving that quilt around as I sewed was not easy! And I was glad I wasn’t trying this in the middle of summer either!

After quilting it, I really got stuck. I put it down and started on a quilt for my son. I currently have the quilt “sandwich” made and it is waiting to be quilted. Obviously, these didn’t get done in time for Christmas! I suddenly had developed a mental block and it was all from one thing: the binding!  I was scared to death of the binding! I didn’t know what fabric to choose, I was scared of not cutting it straight and messing it all up, I had no idea how wide to make it. It was terrible! And then I ventured to JoAnn’s and found premade blanket binding! Yes, I know it may be considered cheating by some, but it helped me break through that blockade! It isn’t flannel, but it works well for the blanket. Once I bought it and sat down to sew it on, it went on fast! I sewed it on to the first side with the machine, then decided to hand sew, using a slip stitch, to sew it to the bottom. My mitered corners left a bit to be desired but I got at least one good one!

A mitered corner!!

I finally finished the quilt tonight! Thankfully, my daughter adores it. In fact, she, her daddy and her brother were all cuddled under it before bed while watching a DVD together! I can’t recall the exact dimensions, but it almost completely covers the top of our CA King bed. I wanted to make sure it was big enough for her to get use of it as she grew. I am proud of my first effort. I think I may invest in a free motion foot within the next year. And most of all, I am happy she likes it! She doesn’t care if the quilting sucks or if the miters are perfect!

The finished quilt!

Being enjoyed by its’ new owner (and her brother!)

Kid Room Redo

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In November, my baby boy turned 3. I knew that I had to accept the fact that, while he will always be MY baby, he was no longer A baby. Up to that point, he had a room I loved – it had a wild animals theme with soft yellow, sage green and tan and his walls were a gorgeous brownish-orange (a color called Copper Penny.) I simply adored the warmth and gentleness I felt in his room, even when it was scattered with toys and crowded with his train table, bookcase and toy box (all fairly recent additions.)

Starting a month or so before his birthday, I started to ask his opinion on what kind of room he wanted. He wavered for a while between Cars and Thomas the Train – either of which would have been fine with me. He finally settled on Cars. I started to go into planning mode. The first thing I knew had to change was the wall color. Since the color in there was already rather dark, I knew we would be OK painting the walls red. We chose the Disney paint from Behr called Code Red. Wow! His room is RED! (This picture was taken by my son one day while I was trying to keep him busy by letting him use my camera! The color is a bit more on the orange side, which you will see in other pictures.)

My husband made the toy box for him and I painted it dark blue and we used Cars stickers all over it to decorate it.  Unfortunately, I don’t currently have pictures of it.

For curtains, I made a trip to the fabric store and got black and white checks. I made a simple valance. I love the look it gave the window! I had fabric leftover, so I cut them into triangles, stenciled his name on in red fabric paint, then used a zigzag stitch to attach another triangle to the back. I used blanket binding I bought at JoAnn’s to connect them all and hung them on his wall with quilt tacks. The bunting was great since it took up quite a bit of room on one empty wall (I think it is nearly 3 yds in total length.)

The valance.

The bunting (well, part of it!)

I also added some pillow cases to the room. Now, these don’t fit the Cars theme, but they made my son so very happy. He LOVES dogs so we use a lot of puppy patterned flannel. I am currently making him a quilt with puppy patterned fabric, so I used scraps to make a cover for a small pillow and his body pillow. He is thrilled with the result and so am I!

His puppydog patchwork pillowcase.

The body pillow case, already in use by my guy!

While I don’t have pictures, we also accented his room with a Cars poster and two road signs I found at Hobby Lobby – a speed limit sign and a stop sign. I am also hoping to add a personalized street sign to the wall for his birthday.

While I miss his nursery terribly, this room fits my guy and his personality so darn well! He is so happy with it and so am I!

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