Friday, December 31, 2010

His and his Man Cowls

For Mr. Wonderful and Wild Thing, I knit these Man Cowls from This Boy Knits blog.  I used a Cascade 220 Superwash Quattro yarn - just over 1 skein for the Man Cowl and then another half or more for the Man-child Cowl.  If I were to do it again, I'd cast on 10 fewer stitches for the grown up version - otherwise these turned out great.  For the boy version, I cast on 65 stitches and did the repeats in sets of 8 stitches rather than 10 so that the spiral would be more to scale.

They've both been wearing these everyday since Christmas! Makes my heart all warm and mushy...

yes - my son also wears the sweater I knit for him!! yay!
(This photo does not do Mr. Wonderful justice at all - or the Man Cowl for that matter...)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Finn Hat - not really a tutorial...

So, I mentioned in my last post that Wild Thing wanted a Finn Hat for Christmas. Okay - seems like something that should be reasonably easy to achieve, although risky since I'm a novice and don't know what I'm doing.  First thing any novice does? I checked the internet for an existing tutorial of course!

There is actually an officially sanctioned Finn Hat tutorial out there, and it looks pretty nifty too. But 1) I couldn't get the .pdf pattern to print out on my printer to scale for some reason and 2) we were looking for the more square version of Finn's hat that goes to his shoulders like a bag over his head with ears sort of. So... I measured Wild Thing's head in all directions and sketched out the look:

Then I drafted a pattern (took several attempts...)

cut the pattern out...and cut 2 pieces from basic white polar fleece...

Marked the face cutout on the front piece and cut out

At this point I forgot to take photos - I stitched front and back together right sides facing, clipped corners of the ears and turned.  At this point I hadn't decided whether to line the hat yet. I guess I was hoping I could get away with just one layer and raw edges of the fleece.  But the face opening was too big and the hat seemed floppy even on my adult sized head. So, I decided to make a lining.  

For this I made another hat just like the first to be the outside and used this first one for the lining.  I cut a smaller face opening for this new outer layer, so that I could turn and stitch the edge to the lining to finish the edges and hopefully make the opening a little smaller.  So below you can see my new opening markings inside the cutout for the front of the hat.

After stitching the second (outer) hat, I put the inner hat inside the outer hat with right sides together and stitched the bottom closed - just like you would do with a lined tote bag or zipper pouch. The face holes provide the opening for turning the whole thing right side out. One nice aside - I didn't need to put any stuffing in the ears with the extra lining ears tucked inside the outer ears.  Once it was all turned and tucked, I finger-pressed and top-stitched the bottom for a more finished look. 

The trickiest part of this project was the face opening for which the front edge had to be turned over the raw edges and stitched in place to the back (hence the smaller opening in the front). 

I used a lot of pins.  

A narrow zigzag stitch seems to work best at a very slow speed.  It also works better if you turn it inside out and stitch from the back, otherwise it is tricky to cover the raw edges consistently.  I know all of this especially because I made a second hat yesterday with a smaller overall face opening since Wild Thing was asking if I could make the opening smaller (not complaining though, just asking). Teen Wonder wanted a Finn Hat too, so she got to have the first draft with the bigger face hole. 

Here is the FO on the table (first try)

And here is how difficult it is to get a Wild Thing to model a Finn Hat!

Overall, a pretty successful project judging by the reaction of the recipient.  I think there are still some dimensional issues that need to be addressed if this were to be a real "tutorial" or pattern - the ears are a little to tall on this version, and a little too square on my second try.  Also it bulges out just below the ears instead of lying nice and flat...though no one else seems to notice besides me.  So I won't personally be making any more Finn hats in the foreseeable future.  If perchance someone out there is interested in the dimensions on my pattern, just leave me a comment and I'll jot them down for you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho! - why having a crafty stash is so important...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just a quick post to illustrate why stashing is such a life-saver during the holiday last minute, I can't stand the idea of going out shopping, wouldn't a project be fun times.

First, Wild Thing wasn't wild about shopping for his grandparents since we usually make something for them every year. But we had only gotten through the teacher/caregiver set of gifts before my fateful trip. So we needed a plan B fast!  I have boxes of various crafty things - not only fabric, not only yarn, not only thread and interfacing and all that jazz...but also glues, paints, glitter, wire, foil of many colors, beads and beading supplies, ribbon, shiny bits of confetti like things - snowflakes, stars, pointsettas, etc.  Also I had on hand some clear glass ornaments. So... I set Wild Thing loose with empty glass ornaments and ribbons, beads, shiny confetti like things...and he quickly whipped out half a dozen beauties. There were only 2 left unwrapped before I thought to take a photo, but you get the idea:

Example #2: Quick patchwork scarf gift - I had leftover fleece from the Finn Hat project (more on that later), and happen to have a bunch of little pre-cut Moda prints in their "candy bar" size (2.5" x 5").  So I stitched 31 of these in Bliss prints together in a long strip, pressed the seams, and stitched it to the fleece, wrong sides together, leaving one short end open. Turn, press, and topstitch the opening closed and around the entire periphery and voila!  A sweet scarf!  The Bliss prints have a holiday sort of color combination, but aren't Christmas-y, so it's pretty versatile. I hope the recipient will like it!  This took me maybe an hour to put together, but only because I already had everything sitting right there on my cutting table and the machine all threaded with white thread and ready to go!

(modeled by Wild Thing - but he is not the recipient of this one!)
Stash on!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yikes! Blogs can suffer when life gets in the way...

I actually do have some crafty things to post about, but need to photo the couple of gifts I've managed to finish up in the past few weeks.  Since December started I've been crazy busy, not least with a serious bout of a stomach flu thing that started while I was overseas for a business trip. After a week in a Swiss hospital/clinic I had to be transported home via a private air ambulance service or I would probably still be stuck in Europe! It's a long story, but suffice to say I am on back home now and on the mend.  Sadly, along with other casualties of lost time (like Christmas shopping, cookie making, caroling with the kids, holiday parties...) has been my lofty plans for quilts and other handmade gifts this year. So I'll have another post or two to make when I finish some of the unfinished projects later.

As a side note: On the plus side, I'm about halfway back down to my WW Lifetime goal weight. I've been putting off actually losing any weight for a few years (and slowly gaining more each year) with the excuse of being too busy to diet. I like to eat too.  So, not eating much for a week and now eating only the same 5 foods until my tummy recovers sort of forced that issue. Not a recommended way to get back to goal weight. It's my own personal holiday weight-loss plan - don't try this at home!  Too bad a high percent is probably muscle mass too, but what would a New Year be without some good old-fashioned resolutions?

Preview list of FOs to post in next few days: Heather Hoodie Vest for Teen Wonder (knit), also knit - Man Cowl for Mr. Wonderful + Man-child version for Wild Thing (so match-y!), and for Wild Thing a Finn Hat. This last one is not really not an FO yet - taking a little longer since it's made up and I had to draft a pattern for it. There is actually a pattern and tutorial for a Finn Hat online.  You can even buy them on Etsy already made.  It's cute, but it's different from what I envisioned in my head so I'm trying my own version.  After the pattern drafting, my planned version is much simpler to whip-up - but of course I haven't seen the result yet so it could be a disaster first attempt only that I'll need to refine after Christmas. If successful, maybe I'll try a semi-tutorial...but let's see.

Since most of you probably don't know what the heck a "Finn Hat" is - Finn is a character in a hi-larious cartoon called Adventure Time (along with Jake the Dog) and he always wears this hat.

Well - in the event that I don't actually manage to post tomorrow I won't have time until after Christmas so happy happy holidays to you all (my five or so readers)! I hope you feel as blessed as I do!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

whipping up some handmade goodness!

In the corners of the days lately, I've been working on some crafty holiday here's a peek at the first "products" -

First, I'm so pleased with Wild Thing and this stenciled canvas bag project - I found it on the SewMamaSew! Handmade Holidays (my favorite tutorial roundup each year - check them out!). The tutorial is here if you'd like to give it a try! The idea was a bag for his teacher, who is putting in a lot of extra effort in taming Wild Thing in the classroom. We appreciate this so much because it's got to be tough handling 25 six-year olds anyway, without the rambunctious ones thrown in there to mix it up!  And one bag for his tireless day care provider who's been taking care of Wild Thing since he was very small. We love her so much.  Anyway, there's one more in a 3-pack of canvas bags from the craft store, so we have a total of 3 now. We'll need another project or two for grandparents and such, but this was a whole project off my list, done! (phew!)

This is a little crisper picture of just the bags - I think he did a great job!
 Then, we have the little zippered owl pouches (there are lots of free tutorials out there on how to make these, so take your pick!) I ordered an assortment of zippers from the best online zipper store - zipit - and she also had some pouch pre-cuts for these little owl fabrics. So cute! I forgot to take photos of the linings, time.

Lastly, a favorite from Noodlehead's crafty blog tutorials, the gathered clutch. I've been wanting to try this one, and now have the zippers and the incentive.  They are not too hard at all and after the first one I cranked out the other two in an evening (I think - but my time is so fragmented that you can't hold me to it because it was 20 minutes here and there until they were finished!  (The clutches are also linked into the Handmade Holidays)

Again, I should have photographed the insides because there are nifty little card pockets and a divider. These are a great size for a grab and go evening or trip to the grocery store without taking your whole wallet (or in my case a giant mom-sized handbag!)  But I did take a photo of Frida from the backside of the first one I made - probably I will have to keep this clutch for myself.

We have craft explosions in the kitchen and more in the basement craft corner - I've been stitching some modern designs on linen to make pillow covers, and Wild Thing has been helping me laminate some special vintage paper dolls (scanned copies) onto magnet paper with the Xyron. These were drawn by my grandma who recently passed away. My auntie will get the originals, but I wanted to reproduce them for mom and my sister, and the magnetic backing gives you the fun option of sticking them on the fridge or wherever (yeah, since my fancy stainless fridge isn't magnetic!)  Teen Wonder has some drawings in the works for the Gocco, which I can hardly wait to snap and print with her. So, more to come...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks! (plus a few photos of the finished baby quilt...)

Today is a good day - I have so much to be thankful for in my life. Starting with my family, and our local community. I'm grateful for the gift of time, despite my frequent whining about there never being enough of it. I'm grateful for changing seasons and the surprises that always come with them, despite the fact that they shouldn't be surprises anymore - that's why I'm grateful for them!

I'm happy that I started this blog - I wish I had more time to devote to it, but given the state of my life, in all it's glorious over-booked chaos, that I have the chance to post once in awhile. Today, finally, I do have some photos of the baby coin quilt that I finished - I just got it washed and dried yesterday evening. This was my very first time free-motion quilting, and although I didn't get the tension correct, quite (there are a few places on the back where the front thread pulled through), you can't really tell after the crinkling of the wash. I really like how it turned out and it's a good thing we don't have a baby around here anymore or that this isn't a bit larger to make a lap quilt size, because then I'd be tempted to keep it!

The back is a Valori Wells flannel...very soft!
I had some help from a lovely woman at Quilt Fans (in Alameda) picking out this stripe for the binding - it pulled together the prints perfectly!

I hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving and that you have as many blessings to feel grateful for as I do!

(p.s. the tag at the top of this post is available as a free printable on this sweet blog...)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another great quilty holiday fundraiser - but you don't have to be a quilter to participate!!

This is a great fundraiser organized by Heather at alamode fabrics - {Modern} Relief - below is the explanation copied and pasted from her website (so go there because the links will not work with copy/past and I don't have the punchline linked, which is how you can buy some raffle tickets to win one of these quilts!)

There are several amazing modern quilt geniuses participating and the raffle ends December 1, I copied and pasted the quilts below (but again the links may not work from here) so get over there to enter your chance(s) to win!

{ Modern } Relief is a simple concept. We are Modern Quilters uniting through the holiday season by bringing the warmth of our quilts and the warmth of your hearts together for others in need. This season, 2010, we will be supporting World Vision. We hope YOU will join us in taking a stand against hunger by participating in our fundraising raffle. Please let me introduce to you World Vision.

World Vision is leading the effort to end hunger. 

In the next seven seconds, another hungry child will die.

World Vision is on the front lines of the fight against hunger.Today — and every day — we’ll distribute nearly 600 metric tons of emergency food aid, nourishing the hungry. We’ll give local farmers the seeds, tools, and training they need to grow their own food and feed their own communities. And we will plead the cause of the hungry in halls of power all over the world.

Please join us in creating a world without hunger — a world in which no child dies for want of nutritious food. This site offers in-depth information on hunger, its causes, and how it can be stopped. You can learn more about key hunger-related issues and share what you discover with friends and family. Use thislink to begin your journey.

Please meet the members of this season’s event and view their donations that they have generously provided to this fundraiser raffle.
Heather from { House } of A La Mode
Amy from Amy's Creative Side
Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson!
Nettie from a quilt is nice
Aneela from Comfortstitching
Brioni from Flossyblossy
John from Quilt Dad
Kate from One Flew Over
Ashley from Film in the Fridge
Katy from i'm a ginger monkey
Tacha from Hanies

Amanda from Sasikirana Handmade
Jennifer & Jessica from Twin Fibers
Nova from a cuppa and a catch up
Ryan from I'm Just A Guy Who Quilts

Julie from Jaybird QuiltsJacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studio
Alissa from Handmade by Alissa

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blankets for kiddos this Holiday season? I'll take that challenge!

In the quilt-y bloglands there is this awesome project for the holidays - 100 Quilts for Christmas.  Although I have a list of projects to make gifts for friends and family, the reality is that my family all around is opting for less "stuff" and more charitable giving - and I love this!  So, in addition to the regular donations we make to honor people for the holidays, why not make a couple of blankets to donate?

The quilts and blankets don't have to be very elaborate - just bright and cheerful and snuggly! I'm planning to donate through the local Project Linus branch - the SF/East Bay Chapter who have a great list of recipients including shelters, hospitals, and individuals.

Ideally, I'd like to make one quilt (and practice more free motion quilting!), and probably something else simple like a fleece blanket (which seems like something you could do in an hour or less not counting shopping for fabric time).

Anyone want to join me?  You can easily find local organizations to donate to, and if you want you can post your pictures of projects on the 100 Quilts for Christmas link-ups to enter for fabric giveaways from sponsors!

Friday, November 19, 2010


I am such a list-y girl. to-do lists are my favorite - daily at work, weekly for home stuff, weekend to-dos seasonal to-dos, crafty projects, menu planning lists, party planning lists (for the rare time these days when we actually entertain!), packing lists, shopping lists...anyway, you get the idea.

Here is a real-life example in which names are changed. Most of it will be gibberish to anyone but me, but looking at my lists makes me laugh. I mean have you ever checked out Martha's to-do lists in Living? She does like one thing a day? No, I don't think so. (And yes, it is true that there were 3 different going away parties at work today. Yes, that is a little freaky and depressing - although 2 of them are people transferring to different jobs at other sites for our company in Europe so I guess it's not really good-bye but farewell?  But I only made it to one out of 3 anyway...)

To-Do Friday Nov. 19th
  • BB check email (work)
  • quick check email (home)
  • TC @8am re: compound XXX
  • deal with flagged emails
  • So-and-so's Research meeting@11am
  • going-away luncheon for Dr. X
  • workout (? not sure I'll be able to make small grp training, so come up with plan)
  • scan and send out copies of signed blah blah documents
  • review new blah blah presentation and send feedback to boss-man
  • finalize travel plan for Dec F2F
  • come up with 2010 hits and misses, plus some goals for 2011 and send to boss-man
  • going away party for Dr. C at 3:30pm
  • make appearance at company social - theme "Courage" (?WTF)
  • clean desk piles
  • going away dinner for Mr. BD - probably need to decline
  • pick up Wild Thing at 5:30 (he wants to do 6pm KF)
  • what's for dinner? (heh. pizza and a movie)
  • take photos of FO (rainy today - try weekend)
  • finish blog post from last night

Since the holidays are nearly upon us, I've got lists going for gifts, especially handmade ones. But the list I haven't thought about much is a wish-list for myself. Now I've got a new category of wish-list that is sort of like a to-do list - things I'd like to try in 2011. Sewing wise, I'd like to be brave enough to make some clothing. Basic skirts are not too scary, pajama pants are high on the list because I don't have to wear them in public, but I have knits on my mind (remember?) too. And voile for a shirt or dress - I've never sewn with this either, but there are some very pretty fabrics out there.

An on-line fabric shop I've recently purchased quilting fabric from, Above All Fabric, added a wish list feature to their site. The challenge was to build a list and blog about it to have a chance to win a gift certificate. This offer came out last weekend, but I really couldn't figure out what to put on a wish list from a fabric store without going crazy and putting a bazillion fabrics on there (and I don't have that kind of time!). Then I thought I should think about my vague plans for garment sewing and find maybe a couple of patterns and new (to me) fabrics like voile. The pattern that appealed to me most on their site is "Liverpool" by Amy Butler - a shirt/tunic/dress pattern that features bold prints - I figure using a vibrant busy fabric would help compensate for amateur sewing skills (but I could be making a terrible miscalculation!)

Some possible fabrics? There are these lovely voile prints from Anna Maria Horner -

I also have on this wishlist a scarf pattern booklet that I'd seen somewhere else on a blog that I remember looked promising...

Anyway, I'm still too bogged down in gift list-o-mania to spend too much time dreaming about new projects for 2011. BUT, that's what a list is good for too - keeping track of fun ideas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fall Craft - a little leafy wreath project

Last year I picked up a couple packages of faux oak leaves in the clearance bin somewhere. I stuck them in the "Halloween and Fall Decor" box and forgot about them. They are sort of a fabric/plastic hybrid stuff (made in China, so who knows), but they look quite nice and not plastic-y.  I have no idea what I had in mind when I bought them, so they were sitting around on the buffet in the dining room waiting for an idea.  I thought a wreath would be nice, but never made the trip to the craft store to buy a wreath to tack them onto. I figured I could pin them to a foam wreath, or hot glue to a grapevine wreath...I hadn't decided.

Then Wild Thing pulled a coil of wire out of my wire and ribbon box in the craft corner while we were looking for a ribbon for a bell he found to tie into a necklace for him. At first I snapped at him a little for uncoiling it since I couldn't get it back in the box easily...but immediately I thought maybe it could be fashioned into a circle to make a wreath.  So I set out sticking the end through the leaves and experimenting with how to arrange them.

I tried to convince Wild Thing that this would be a fun craft to do with me, but he was not persuaded.
Then I tried to entice Teen Wonder, but I don't think she even took her earbud out long enough to hear a complete sentence. In her defense, she is writing a novel this month for NaNoWriMo. So okay. I was on my own...

Once they were all strung, I just wrapped the wire ends and fashioned a little loop to hang it with.  I had to fuss around with the shape of the wire and with the leaves to minimize the amount of wire showing. Then after I hung it on the door I had to do that again. A drop of glue here and there would probably minimize the shifting around of the leaves - we'll see after a day or two.

voila! A little Fall crafty for a Sunday afternoon.

In other news, I am overcoming my fear of free-motion quilting.  So far, not too bad though my stitches are all over the map in length. I'm sure I will get better and hopefully the recipients don't know much about quilting!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby, it's a coin quilt!

Time for another baby quilt!  Wild Thing has been sick this week and going to bed very early, so I had a couple of evenings with time to work on a project.  I've managed finally to give up a more complex plan for this quilt (more on that another time) and am using a very straightforward coin quilt design.  It's my first coin quilt, but I foresee more of these in my future.

I just sketched up the dimensions and used a Tweet Tweet by Keiki charm pack plus cream muslin. The back is a nice Valori Wells flannel. I'll show pictures of the final quilt once I figure out how I should quilt it and then put on a binding. I'm thinking something pink for the binding because 1) it's for a baby girl, and 2) the colors aren't too girly on purpose, but the flannel a green agapanthus print making it even less girly. Pink binding could draw out the pinks in the Tweet Tweet and contrast with the green. But I don't have anything suitable in my stash, so it's a little mission for the weekend (darn, I'll have to go to the quilt shop). This baby is coming within the next 2-4 weeks so there's no time to waste!

I used this tutorial from Quilt Taffy for a quilt as you go baby coin quilt with somewhat different dimensions. Overall I'm pretty happy with it so far - though I'm not sure my stacks are as straight as they could be.  I started out pinning like crazy (see below), but ended up with fewer and fewer each strip until I just just had a couple at the top and that was it. The tutorial advises more pins due to shifting of the layers.  I think this is probably true, but after the first 3 strips the layers were more stabilized.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

no time to blog really...but there are some great things happening out there!

I just found this particular holiday ezine chock full of projects for gifts and holiday decor!

And of course there is the annual Sew Mama Sew! Handmade Holidays for the month of November - I have been trolling these for, what?, 3 years now?  That would make sense, since it's the 4th Annual one...

Anyway, I hope to have some good crafty gift action to post in the next little while.  

In the meantime, if any of my few readers know about spray adhesive to baste quilts, let me know. I have a pattern that is a quilt as you go thing and it just says "spray adhesive" - but I'm sure it needs to at least be water soluble so it will wash out.  Same pattern uses glue sticks for raw edge appliques - but I'm pretty sure you can get the washable school type for that.  Do I need a special basting adhesive or can I use the craft repositionable stuff?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival entry - Angela's quilt

(see button to the side or the following link for info on the Bloggers Quilt Festival)

I'm entering a quilt into the Blogger's Quilt Festival that I made over a year ago. But I didn't blog yet, and it's a quilt that I still feel so happy about.  It was made for the daughter of some dear friends - the whole family was going through something of an ordeal, and especially focused on this beautiful baby girl Angela. So the whole time I was piecing and quilting and binding with handstitching to the back it was a meditation and a prayer for her. For the whole family.

I didn't use a pattern - it is just simple 4 patch blocks alternating with solid blocks. The Heather Ross prints are so happy, and I used my Janome embroidery function to try out a ring of hearts pattern on the solid blocks, and it all came out just as I had pictured in my head. I learned a lot about being more precise in my work, slowing down enough to really focus. As one of my first quilts, I was so pleased with how it came out!

The last blog post I made was about Megan's quilt,  also filled with happy Heather Ross prints and happy thoughts and prayer and tears... I really love the feeling that the final product carries in it with these "prayer quilts".