It Almost Killed Me!

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For the last few years, I have made an annual pilgrimage to a nearby fiber festival, A Wool Gathering. The first year was when I was pregnant with my son and my daughter was very young. It was HOT and being in the tents was miserable! The second year, my husband stayed with my daughter and I brought my sister along, along with my son, who was still a nursling and was easy enough to wear in a sling around the festival. The two years past, the kids have stayed with Grandma and it has been a great outing for my husband and I. We had planned to continue that tradition, but Mom had foot surgery 2 weeks ago and still has a pin sticking out of a toe. So, the babysitter was out. We almost skipped the festival altogether, but, at the last minute, I brought it up. I thought the kids would enjoy it and it was going to be a gorgeous fall day.

We decided to get going around lunch. We all piled in the van, buckled up and… nothing. The battery was dead! There was enough power to open the power door and for the warning chime to sound that I had the keys in the ignition while the door was open, but that was it. Thankfully I have a great husband who knows enough about vehicles that he could remove the old battery and install a new one without calling AAA. So, we removed the dead battery, stuck it in the trunk of the car and moved the kids boosters over and headed to the festival!

It was GORGEOUS! Young’s Jersey Dairy is huge, so even with the parking lots packed, you never felt overwhelmed by the crowd. And I was so excited to see that the festival has expanded! Now there were three huge tents, plus the outside vendors. We had talked about eating first, but the tram we caught in from the parking lot dropped us off at the doors of the festival.

We spent some time watching a sheep being sheared (Australian method – so funny to watch!) We checked out some sheep and had one stick his nose right up to the kids to be petted. The kids got to pet an angora bunny (if anyone is curious, angora bunnies produce angora, but angora goats produce mohair.) Then we wandered around the festival. I had my hands in many types of fibers, looking longingly at all of the beautiful hand-dyed roving and even the raw fleeces. My daughter and I fell in love with the cutest pink and brown HitchHiker spinning wheel (my husband marveled at it’s tiny size.) After wandering, we finally headed over to the kids’ area where my kids made their own jump rope with yarn and twine on a cool contraption that twisted 12 strands into one. And we topped it off with a yummy dinner at The Golden Jersey Inn. It is wonderful comfort food! Then we headed home, stopping to buy that new battery first.

Normally at this point in my blog post, I would showing pictures of all my treasures from the festival. So, here it is:

Yea. Nothing. I came home empty handed. And it nearly killed me!!! I usually use some money I get for my birthday in August to pay for my shopping trip. But we have a family vacation coming up early next year and I chose instead to put that money towards bills so we can actually afford that vacation. I promised to not buy anything today. And I kept to my word. But I didn’t like it ONE BIT!

The hardest part for me was that my daughter was going crazy of some of the yarn and a lot of the roving. I had pictures popping into my head of the yarn I would spin and the items I would knit for her. She was in love with the purples. I also loved the bright pink and green and the mixed bag of gold, green and orange. I love looking at colors like that and trying to imagine what it would look like spun up. But, this year, I will continue to just imagine!

I have vowed to come back next year (without the kids – they whined too much!) and finally get my hands on some of those great colors! And even though I didn’t bring home anything to show for our day except some jump ropes, I did bring home some inspiration. I hope to pull my wheel out, dust her off and do some spinning soon. I have tons of fiber from fiber festivals past, so I am certainly not short of materials. And maybe I can spend a few dollars and buy some dye in those great colors and dye some roving of my own. Maybe one of my next creations will be some handspun yarn. Only time will tell!

Holiday Crafting 2010

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This year I haven’t been crafting nearly as much as in past years. Between an arthritic wrist (and I am not even 40 yet!) and two kids demanding my attention, I haven’t had the time or energy to do much. But, as usual, I had to at least do a few things crafty for Christmas!

It has become a yearly tradition that I sew pajamas for the kids. This year they both needed new ones desperately! I asked them each what they wanted. My son wanted shorts and a shirt sleeve button up shirt. Yep, he was that specific! I was not planning to actually make the shirt. I was hoping to get by with appliqueing a picture to a matching T-shirt. But thankfully I found a patter and it went quickly. My daughter decided on a nightgown. She actually had the honor of picking out her own fabric and pattern with me this year. She chose a flannel backed satin. It wasn’t bad to work with, but it was EXPENSIVE! It would have cost significantly less to buy her a nightgown! But, she loves it, so I can’t complain too much! Here they are in their new jammies! (So sorry about the horrid pictures! They were getting ready for bed on Christmas night when I snapped the pics.)

Both kids also needed new scarves. I had knit one for my son some time back and it has been lost. My daughter had one her aunt made her, but the yarn used shed terribly! So, I purchased some fleece for both and made simple tubes of fleece, then cut fringe and tied them together. Quick and easy!

My daughter has been dying for a Snuggie since I got one for my husband last year. I found one pre-made (although it was a very cheap fleece) in a kids’ size for my son at Target. But they were out of the girly ones. So, I used the same fleece I used for her scarf and made her a blanket with sleeves. It is NICE! And I didn’t realize I made it quite so large, but I can almost wear it myself! She loves it and it will last her a long time.

I also had fun making some protective cases. My husband bought an iPad in September and has been carrying it around in an inter-office envelope. I made him a new case. I used the basic tutorial here, but used fusible fleece and made my top fabric longer (I used felt) and sewed down over the edge of the lining. I love the way it turned out!

Stitch Detail for the iPad Case

Lining fabric

My mom got a Kindle this year. She also needed a case for it. I used a tutorial from this site. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture! I hope to get one this weekend and will add it soon! Promise!

And the last piece for this post was made for my father-in-law and his wife. His wife is Chinese and they spend several months each year visiting China. They have only been married a few years now and I wanted to do something special for them. I recently had fun with paper cutting and decided to be ambitious. So, I found a pattern for a paper cut with the character for double happiness – a traditional symbol for married couples to hang in their homes. I cut it out of red scrapbook paper and mounted it on black. Sorry about the terrible picture. It took me until the last moment to finish and frame it and I snapped the pictures quickly, so they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Hopefully you can see some of the details. This was all cut using a craft knife.

Double Happiness Paper Cut

At least there were some handmade gifts under the tree! I don’t think Christmas would be the same without them!

(By the way, sorry for the picture quality. Central Ohio isn’t exactly know for it’s sun light this time of year, especially this year! All of these pictures were taken with less than ideal lighting, most on my iPhone. I do need to work on my photography skills!)

Variations On A Theme

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Sometimes, when I find a fabric, I fall in love. And I want to use it – a lot! Recently, I fell in love with a collection of fabrics. I have had such fun creating with a collection of coordinating fabrics in colors and patterns I love!

I visited Amish country on Labor Day with my mom and sister. I knew there was a nice fabric shop there, so I made sure we went in. With some help from my mom and sister, I was able to find a collection of fat quarters (each about 18″ x 22″ – also defined as a quarter of a yard of fabric if a yard is rolled out and cut into four equal sections) in coordinating prints from Moda Fabrics. The collection is called “Saltbox Harvest” from Deb Strain.

saltbox

First up, I needed a camera case. My poor camera was usually thrown in my purse with no protection. The lens was fine, but everything else was dusty and getting scratched. I felt bad, especially since I LOVE my little point and shoot and it wasn’t exactly cheap! I had found a tutorial on Crafster.com to make a simple camera case and decided to follow it – sort of.  I simply made a long rectangle of fabric that would wrap all the way around the camera, including a flap, then seam it on both sides. I cut another rectangle of the lining fabric, sewed it up, then sewed them together. I included a ribbon closer (I could have done velcro, but liked the button) and sewed a button hole so the wrist strap of the camera could come through. It worked great! I used one of the fabrics from a set of fat quarters I had purchased and lined it with a coordinating piece of flannel for a bit more padding. Here it is!

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The closed case. (Sorry for the shadow!)

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Opened, with the camera in it.

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Without the camera so you can see the buttonhole.

I love how this turned out and it is nice and lightweight, so it doesn’t cause my purse to feel super bulky! If I make another, the only thing I would do differently is to round the corners of the flap a bit.

Next up was my iPhone case. I had an iPod Touch for a long time, until it met with an untimely accident in a glass of water. So, last week, we decided to upgrade to iPhones. I wanted a case for it, especially for rides in my purse. I looked at lots of cases online, trying to find just what I wanted. I finally saw the iPhone Carry Case from Heartofmary. She offers an eBook with directions to make the case. It is simple and easy to follow and I love the result! I love that I can clip this to my belt loop or my purse or use a lanyard to wear it around my neck and it also includes a pocket to hold your ear buds or any cords you may want to carry with you. It is also not very bulky, even though it is lined with fusible fleece. I even have a protective plastic outer case for my iPhone that snaps onto it and it still fits inside. And, I love the fabric!

006 With my iPhone peeking out (this was before I put the case on.)

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The pocket on the back.

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The inside of the case.

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The case with the iPhone inside, fastened up.

Now, honestly, each of these cases took minimal scraps of fabric to make. And this was not why I really bought this fabric! But I will save the real reason I bought the fabric for another post! Stay tuned!!!

Why I Could Use A New Serger!

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Sew! Mama! Sew! is running a contest on their blog to win a new serger. I thought I would enter, so here is my entry!

When my daughter was small, I started using cloth diapers. I loved all of the cute diapers out there, but couldn’t afford the prices charged by the WAHMs (work at home moms.) Since I had dabbled in sewing a bit, I decided to try making them myself. Each diaper was cut, sewn, then turned and top-stitched. I dreamed of a day when I could own a serger to make it so much faster and easier.

A year or so later, my dad gifted me with some money. I immediately jumped on eBay and found a used serger, bought it and waited for it to be shipped. Now, this was not a new serger by any means. I think it may have been originally purchased in the 80’s. I was so excited to finally receive it! I opened the box and was assaulted by an overwhelming scent of the most horrible potpourri I have ever smelled! My husband has issues with smells, so before I could set the serger up in the sewing room/office, I had to let it sit outside  to air out!

Once I was finally able to stand the smell, I lifted the serger out and noticed the piece on the back that holds the thread was broken. I am sure it happened in shipping, so I didn’t complain. Besides, I hardly paid anything for it so I couldn’t complain!

I set the serger up, managed to figure out how to thread it (there was no instruction manual) and started sewing. It worked! But the thread holder kept falling over on me as I sewed, which was inconvenient to say the least. I immediately put it to use, sewing diapers for my daughter – and then for my son when he came along. My serger saw some good days, but those days were frustrating. I can’t figure out how to go from 4 threads to three, I don’t have any other feet for the serger and it has proven hard to find parts that fit since it is no longer made. The serger used to be white or off white, but it was a lovely yellow when I got it. And the sewing room/office still has a slight potpourri odor about it thanks to the presence of my old White serger.

Both kids have potty trained and diapers have been retired. And unfortunately, because of the quality and the issues with running a serger without a manual and with a thread rack that keeps falling over, the serger has been retired, too. All of my seams fray and things that could use an overlock stitch are instead turned and top-stitched. I dream of the day I can have a serger that works, has a manual and parts to compliment it, and doesn’t smell up the office!  Maybe one day!

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!!

Just a quick note

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In my last post, there was a link at the end of the post that was “possibly related”. I have NOTHING to do with that link! I have no idea why that link was deemed “possibly related”, so please, ignore it! Thanks!

Very cool sheepy video!

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