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!)

My Crafty Resolutions

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It is hard to believe another year has come and gone. I will admit that 2010 was a very hard year due to a family tragedy in July that has continued to affect our family, and probably will for some time. But I am determined to make 2011 a much better year. So, I decided to make a list of resolutions I want to keep this year, all with the aim of improving me or my family. I won’t list them all here since this is a craft blog and most are not craft related. However, I will mention that I do have one major crafty goal. I thought I would write more about it here.

The main goal for this year is to just craft more. I know that crafting is a wonderful stress reliever for me. It acts as an antidepressant. I love getting lost in a craft project and spending time doing the very thing I love the most. So, in order to make this year the best one yet, I know that crafting is going to be a very important component for me.

But within that goal, I have some smaller goals. Some of them I have touched on in years’ passed, and I want to either repeat them or actually do them!

My first mini-goal is to work from my stash as much as possible. With the economy, two growing kids and a growing grocery budget, I need my crafting budget to shrink if I want to make it a priority. While I know at times I will require the purchasing of some materials, I am hoping to use my stash whenever possible. I have tons of roving to spin, lots of yarn to knit with, and plenty of material for sewing. I also have a big pack of card stock suitable for paper cutting should I wish to do more of that. I do have several gift cards that I received for Christmas, so I plan to hold on to those when the stash is lacking something I need. Coupled with coupons and wise spending, I am sure I can make them go far!

Second is to try to continue to challenge myself. I need to stay challenged, at least a bit, in order to stay interested. New techniques, new crafts and new ideas will keep me challenged. I am sure there will be times when I will want to fall back on an old stand-by and that is OK, but challenging and pushing myself is one of the surest ways to find satisfaction in my crafting.

Third is branching out in my crafting. My first love is knitting with sewing a close second. I could easily spend all of my crafting time doing either of these things. But keeping things mixed up a bit is another key to beating crafting boredom. I want to keep improving my spinning. I would like to do some more needle felting. And I am just beginning to learn the art of paper cutting. Plus I have clay to play with, too! Gotta keep it interesting! Plus, my wrists and arms will thank me if I don’t spend all of my time knitting or sewing.

Fourth, I want to craft more for me. I have sock yarn, a new sock knitting book and new sock knitting needles and I need socks! I need more in the drawer! So I need to spend more time working on things I need and want. I have beautiful handspun that I need to become more creative with and create something for myself. I have some gorgeous fabric I want to use to make myself something. I can always create for others, but creating for me is something I do very little of.

Fifth, have fun! I don’t want to spend any of my crafting time doing something I don’t enjoy. I want to have fun creating!

And finally, blog more! I need to get better at blogging. It will prompt me to keep creating and documenting what I am doing. I don’t know if I will ever blog more than once or twice a week at most, but even once a week will make me feel more accomplished. Even if I write them all in one or two days and schedule them, having a blog post weekly will make me feel better.

So, there you have it! My main goal and my mini-goals! For some reason, I think this is one resolution I don’t think I will have much trouble keeping!

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!

Adventures In Paper Cutting

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As I mentioned in my last post, we have a very small house. Our dining room is actually the front half of our living room, divided only by the couch. We really only have one actual wall in the dining room (there is a little partial wall, too, and cabinet on the other main wall) and it was bare. I hated looking at it. So, something needed to be done. I thought about framing pictures of the kids for the wall, but then started seeing some fabulous silhouettes and was inspired!

As our house is decorated in “fall” colors, I decided not to do the traditional black silhouettes. Instead, I chose a chocolate brown. I purchased a few sheets of thick scrapbooking paper and a coordinating stripe. Then, I stood my children against a closet door and took numerous pictures of them. I figured out which I liked best, printed them in black and white, used a pencil to outline the actual part of the photo I wanted to use and used that as my pattern for cutting.

I taped the printed picture to the scrapbooking paper to hold it steady. I used an Exacto knife on my cutting mat and slowly and carefully trimmed around each of the pictures. When I was done, I used photo mounting tape to attach the silhouettes to the backing that had been cut to fit my chosen frame. I then decided to cut mats from another sheet of the brown paper. This was actually the biggest challenge for me and I had to do it twice to get it right! Then I got it mounted and had my husband hang them. I LOVE them!

003 I mounted them facing each other.

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My daughter.

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My son.

I have since contemplated finding a side view of Santa and Mrs. Claus and making silhouettes of them as Christmas decorations! I was thinking green for the silhouettes and a pattern Christmas paper underneath? I just don’t know if my husband would go for that, though! 🙂

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!

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!!!

Fiber Festival Fun!

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About 4 years ago, my husband and I visited our first fiber festival. I was hooked! I have been to several, but have a favorite – A Wool Gathering. A Wool Gathering is held in September at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH (about half an hour from Dayton or an hour from Columbus.)

For those unfamiliar with fiber festivals, I will try to explain A Wool Gathering. This year, there were three huge tents set up. Each tent was lined with vendors – some are yarn shops, some are dyers, some spinners, some selling yarn, some selling felting materials, some with fleece, and any other vendor associated with spinning, dying, knitting and crocheting. They even sell buttons, beads, stuffed animals and already made goods. There is also a row of vendors outside the tents with much of the same. Down the middle of the tents are often filled with spinning and weaving demos, along with spinning wheels you can try out or purchase. And, occasionally, there are animals! There were bunnies and alpaca inside the tents this year. There is another tent outside filled with different breeds of sheep and half of it is used to give sheeping shearing demos. And finally, in a fenced area, they have a gentleman that brings his dogs and ducks and the dogs do demonstrations by herding the ducks into a baby pool.

I could probably spend most of a day at the fiber festival! But, thanks to warm temperatures which are all the warmer inside the tents and a husband who isn’t very interested in fiber festivals, I can usually limit my time to about 2 hours. And we won’t even mention the financial aspect! But, I save up my money each year to go, so I am prepared!

So, what did I bring home? Lots of stuff to spin! While I love yarn, it can be difficult for me to figure out what kind of project I might use it for, leaving me with too little yarn when I get home to make it worth the price. So, I stick with roving. This year I bought several fabulous blends!

These two are from Valhalla Acres. The red/orange blend also has some blue and yellow mixed. I can’t wait to see what this one will look like once spun! This is 4 ozs of 100% wool from a Blue Faced Leicester/Border Leicester cross. The grey/white is 4 ozs of a super soft blend of 40% alpaca, 40% wool and 20% angora. They had some of this spun up in the booth and it is mostly dark with some white showing through, which is what I had hoped.

This lovely stuff is a lovely, soft white alpaca roving from Tryphon Farm Alpacas. I bought 4 ounces. It is SO SOFT! I have some alpaca, but I have not been altogether successful with spinning it because it is not in roving form. I am hoping to spin this up, then move to the other fiber once I get the feel for alpaca.

These three balls of fluff are each an ounce of beautiful BFL/angora blend – a 70/40 blend, I believe. Unfortunately, I was not given any identifying information as to the seller, so I can give them credit where it is due! I love petting this stuff, as do my kids!

This fiber is from one of my favorite booths at the festival. Bullen’s Wullens has some of the best fibers out there! The colors are gorgeous and the fibers spin almost effortlessly. I have purchased from them for the last three years now and always search them out. I didn’t get to see Pat, the owner, this weekend, but have met her in the past and she is wonderful! In fact, last year, she even gave me a spindle made of a CD to learn spindle spinning on and showed me how to do it! Both are 4 ozs. The blue is a 70/30 blend of BFL and Tussah silk (talk about YUMMY!!!) and the red is a 50/25/25 blend of Merino wool, tussah silk and bamboo. Their fibers are always a huge joy to spin up!

And finally, although I tend to prefer spinning fiber, I had to get some sock yarn! This is a gorgeous hand dyed fingering weight yarn in oranges, browns, reds, black and green sprinkled over the base color. This is 510 yds of superwash merino yarn (plenty for a pair of socks!) in Benin colorway. I think I purchased some spinning fiber from this same seller last year. Creatively Dyed Yarns is the name and all of her hand dyed yarns and fibers are gorgeous! I had a very hard time choosing just one!

The weather was gorgeous, I had my husband along to hold my bags and to chat with and the fiber was abundant! It was great day at the fiber festival! I highly recommend, if you are interested in the fiber arts at all (spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, crochet, etc.) that you try to visit a local fiber festival!

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