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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Handmade with Love for Christmas

I love giving gifts. Especially making gifts and giving them. So I decided to handmake all of my gifts for Christmas. I started early and loved all of the knitting, sewing and crafting time I invested. Some were bi g, some were small but all were made with love. I also learned some new skills and techniques along the way.

To start with, I attached a zipper for the first time. I made a simple zippered bag for my boyfriend, a man case (lol) using some pretty cute mustache fabric I'd found at Joann's. Thanks for the awesome tutorial, Noodlehead! I made a few more bags for friends, but I can't show you the other print I used because I still haven't given the gift!

The matching burlap and linen stockings were pretty basic. I just love the look of burlap and lace!

 I found in my scrapbooking stash a darling ribbon with the words, "Together is a wonderful place to be." It worked for both the man-stocking and the knitting needle roll up that I made for my mom.

Kind of a play on words.

 The two complimentary patterns were both remnants I'd found, months apart, again at Joann's. I was thrilled when I realized that they matched (it's the little things in life that thrill me!).

I shrunk and lengthened the online patterns I used as inspirations to make crochet needle roll up for my sis. If you want to check out what I used, look here and here.

I challenged myself a bit and used a commercial pattern to make a sewing machine cover for her Singer.  Love that Heidi Grace set at Joann's!

 I'm having a bit a hard time now that Christmas is over, to stay focused and get projects done in a timely manner. Oh, the problems of a nerdy craft girl! I'll plow my way through the sewing machine apathy in due time. I've join a sew-a-long and a knit-a-long to keep myself motivated and am just enjoying picking and choosing from the couple of PHD items I'd started after Christmas.

Am I the only crafter out there finding it hard to stay motivated now that the deadline of Christmas is done?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Let Us Have No More Wine Until it is Time...It's Time!

I forgot to post these wine bottle toppers last month. :0( They can also serve as elf hat ornaments so I knitted up a bunch for my co-workers. I usually give them treats at the holidays. Yes, I am THAT co-worker. The pattern was SUPER duper easy. I got it free from Ravelry. I also knitted up a few dreidels for my Jewish friends, though I didn't get any pictures of them. That pattern came from Vogue though I added the I-cord at the end. My attempt to start with the I-cord, as per the pattern, resulted in a minor knitting disaster.

What quick knits do you create for Christmas?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fee Fie Faux Fum

I love the look of knitted cables. Remember my first project, the cup cozy? I'd been in the mood to tackle a cabled project this past fall but I had so many projects planned already for the holiday that I put the idea of a cabled scarf on hold. Then I saw a faux cabled hat pattern in my mom's copy of Knitting (Holiday 2012) and I had to give it a try!

My model is adorable, no? I used "It's Amazing" yarn in Vineyard. The technique itself was fairly easy. The hat was done in sets of six. Three knits, three purls. One out of four rows had a simple carry over. Slip three knit stitches from the left to the right needle, purlwise. Slip the stitch furthest to the right, to the left, over the second and third stitches. Slide the remaining two stitches back to the left needle. Knit one, YO, knit one, purl three. Then repeat all the way around. There was a special cast off pattern but you'll have to check the magazine (don't want to violate any copyright issues).

I actually made two, I liked the look so much. That one was for a gift. I also knitted a matching scarf, though I did not use the faux cable technique. I did a much simpler "Gathered Scarf" designed by Maryse Rouider that I found on Ravelry. It involved changing sizes of needles and switching between stockinette and garter stitches. I should have blocked it but the scarf was the last gift I finished before my family gathered for the holidays and I didn't think it would have enough time to dry. Hopefully it will keep my niece, E, warm during those cold mountain months, regardless!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hip to Be Square--New Year's Sew A-Long

I made A and G rag quits for Christmas and the fabulous aspect of rag quilts is that you don't really notice when your squares aren't perfectly lined up. The rag quilts turned out pretty cute, I will brag on myself here. I made A's based on what was her favorite color at the time I picked out the fabrics...last May! Ten year old's DO change their minds. Pink is still A favorite but not THE favorite. Oh well, I tried! And A is a sweetheart, I'm sure she loves her Gigi quilt, pink and all.

Fortunately, G still loves her quilt's colors, lol!

My first sewing "resolution" wasn't to quilt, as I mentioned in a previous blogpost , but I am excited to join a sewing community for this Sew A Long...the project is based on learning to make a herringbone block. We can make anything we want, the only requirement is to use at least one herringbone block in the project.

What is a herringbone block? Well, I had no clue, in all honesty! There is an example of one on the link above, but I also did a little Googling. Thanks to, I learned that it is:

                       "A pattern consisting of rows of short, slanted parallel lines with the direction of the slant alternating row by row and used in masonry, parquetry, embroidery, and weaving."

Herringbone is also a type of  twill fabric with distinctive V shaped pattern. In my Gioogle search, I'd also found another great tutorial that you should check out if your curiosity has been peaked.

I'd been wanting to make a memorial quilt or blanket in memory of my friend's daughter, Baby Z. Her second birthday would been last month. Yellow is the awareness color for the condition she had, Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Back when Joann's had an amazing Thanksgiving sale on some quilting fabrics, I picked up a number of yellow and gray prints, with the memorial project in mind. I have some ideas in mind for what I want to do but the "vision" is still rough...I'll keep you posted on the sew-a-long as we go. The first step is to cut the strips. That, I can do. From that point on though, I'll be in new sewing territory. Ready or not, I'm going to sew a QUILT!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

After the Ball Drops...

I inevitably pick the same resolution every year...wait for more classical literature. (Hah, I gotcha, didn't I? You thought I'd say "eat healthy/lose weight/exercise more" and indeed, I do usually make a health focused resolution, too.) I love to read and had excellent classes in literature back in high school, but in all honesty, over the years I've gotten a little lazy in my reading habits. Not that there is anything wrong with contemporary Christian fiction or YA fiction, of course...though admittedly, some of what I read is kind of...junky. (Have you ever used "junky" to describe reading material?!) I just find myself wanting to exercise that analytical part of my brain and remember how much I loved doing that with the books from AP English back in the day. (Okay, wayyyyy back in the day! The 20 year reunion is just around the corner!) I just never seem to motivate myself well enough once the year gets going. So this year, I'm going to give a little more weight and commitment to my literary resolution. I joined a Meetup group focused on reading classical literature (published before 1940)! They meet about twice a quarter in my part of San Diego (a huge plus). I can't say that I'm super excited about the first couple of book selections, just because they aren't books I'd ever put on my resolution list (The Jungle Books and Treasure Island) but it's a start. Obviously, if I really wanted to read the classic works on my own "to read" list, I'd have done it by now! ;0)  And, there's a community to inspire and encourage me. A win-win, I think.

Structure, goals, accountability...these same elements of making my literature resolution come to pass are the same guidelines I'm using to come up with my craft and blog resolutions. I really want to focus on learning more sewing techniques and refining the ones I've already learned. I also want to grow the blog's readership and make it something worth reading on a regular basis. I've signed up for some e-courses to increase both my blogging skills and my sewing abilities. I've joined two online sewing that will cover basic sewing techniques (to improve that which I already know) and a monthly sew-a-long whose first project uses herringbone quilted blocks. Quilting wasn't high on my list of "to learn" sewing skills but the community will make it more fun to learn something else on my own, I've decided.

Along with revamping the blog, I'll be re-doing my sewing area. I utilize my dining nook when I sew (and to store my machine and tools when I'm not sewing) and I realized after a while it was just easier to keep my ironing board out, next to my bookcase. I wanted to give it a fresh cover and in the process, decided to make the space truly a place where creativity  and beauty abound. I've already chosen the color palate and the fabrics, I can't wait to share them with you! (A sneak peek is below!)

I hope that 2013 is already treating you well! What are your resolutions???