Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections and Predictions

At the beginning of 2011, I skipped the resolutions and just went with a few sewing goals:

2. Return to my quilting roots.
3. Closures.

So, how'd I do??? Pretty darn well on two out of three...and so-so on the third.

I definitely returned to my quilting roots, churning out numerous doll quilts, part of a quilt for Belle's bed (yep - still unfinished and still not in a big bed...Mama is TOTALLY ok with that!), most of a Christmas quilt, and a few crib size quilts pieced and waiting for quilting. CHECK!

Closures - got it! I LOVE zippers! And while they aren't nearly as much fun, buttons are cool too.

Hoarding - Well...I did raid my stash on numerous occasions. And that would result in a decreased quantity of stashed fabric...IF I didn't keep stashing. Oh well!

Now, while you sympathize with that poor pitiful creature with the ear infection down there, I'm throwing in my two-cents on the Sew Mama Sew end of year reflections and predictions questionnaire.

Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?

A return to hand-stitching, novelty kid prints that aren't so childish, and a vintage feel to quilts, apparel etc.

What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?

I fell in love with pre-cuts. I know these aren't anything new or earth shattering, I just haven't really used them all that much before. I think I always felt a little limited by the I would want more of the really fantastic fabrics that I discovered in that little bundle of mystery. But this year, I began to appreciate having a piece of every fabric in a collection...even if just a tiny slice. I began to love the complete-ness of the concept.

Are there any trends you are over and done with?

Gray! Ok - not gray in and of itself...because what would I wear everyday if I didn't start with a base of gray??? I mean, gray as THE neutral for quilting. It's almost like you aren't cool if your quilt uses white, or (GASP) ivory! It's just been way overplayed in the last two years. Which is sad for me because I simply love it.

What do you predict for the 2012 sewing industry?

Orange. And a focus on really small scale prints. And a surge of bloggers using video tutorials to teach sewing classes to the masses. But also, a pull back from the blog world. As our sewing has seemed to head back to earlier traditions, I'm thinking that we may begin to distance ourselves from our technology a bit too. Not completely, but, as Belle says, "just a smidge."

And what to expect from me in 2012?

NOTHING! That way I can't disappoint right??? Actually, I have two sewing goals for 2012...NO MORE FABRIC! and let's finish some of this mess up already:) So hopefully, you'll be seeing some projects revisited and some massive quantities of fabric being used! And one small caveat - If I must purchase fabric to complete a previously abandoned project then that will be acceptable...but only if it be deemed absolutely necessary:)

Enough of my rambling already...go ring in the New Year with someone you love!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random Little Piece of Warmth

Lest my knitting friends think I've given up the yarn completely...I wanted to share one of the yummy little knitting projects that I've been working on sporadically.

One day a few weeks ago, I realized that my knitting projects basket was overflowing onto the table and floor around it. And, yes, my knitting habits are highly similar to my sewing habits...lots of fun new ideas, very little completion of actual projects.

So, I decided to try to finish up some WIP that were near to completion. This super yummy cowl fit that bill perfectly. I started it on a road trip, but once home again, returned to other projects and left this poor thing abandoned with only a few rows remaining to finish it.

The thing about blogging about knitting...a computer screen really does not do a plush yarn justice. There is no way you can tell how soft and delicious this is. Which is very sad for you all...unless you happen to live nearby and want to pet my neck at the playground one day:)

The yarn is Sugarbunny from Knitpicks. I used Hawk and Platinum and knit with two strands at a time to produce the tweedy effect. There's no pattern for this...just a big circle of knitted stitches. Plain and simple. I left one twist in the loop of stitches for an infinity style wrap. And you can easily twist this thing around your neck three times. It's soft. It's warm. It's gray. Is there a better combination?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookies for Santa and Holiday Wishes for You

We've wrapped and hung and baked and sung. The tree sparkles, the presents shimmer, and the cookies smell delightful. And now we wait...for Christmas, for Santa, and for the birth of our Lord.

Tonight, I send to you my warmest wishes for a very happy Christmas! I hope you find yourself surrounded by loved ones, filled with the spirit, and blessed by the Savior. And an abundance of cookies never hurt anyone:)

And in case you need a last minute gift, these little cookies are sure to delight a child in your life. My present to you...a quick almost-tutorial. Directions only, but pretty simple to follow. And you have just enough time to whip up two or three as you sit by the fire and enjoy the glow of you tree (and the cleanliness of your family room - cuz that won't last long tomorrow!).

You will need:

some felt scraps (red, white, green, brown, tan, cream, yellow, etc.)

a tiny bit of stuffing

embroidery thread

cookie cutters

1. Select a cookie cutter for the outline of your cookie.

2. Trace the cookie cutter onto the felt color of your choice TWO times for each cookie. Example - to make 1 chocolate chip cookie you would trace two circles onto tan felt. Cut out your cookies.

3. Draw and cut out embellishments for the top of your cookie. Example - to make one chocolate chip cookie cut out approximately 9 small circles of dark brown felt.

4. Use embroidery thread to stitch decorations to the top of your cookie. You can also embroider details like sprinkles at this time too.

5. Place the two pieces of your cookie right sides together and sew using 1/4" seam allowance. I did this on my sewing machine for speed and durability, but you could do this by hand if you would like. Leave a 1.5" opening for turning and stuffing.

6. Clip any corners and curves, then turn right side out.

7. Add a small amount of stuffing...don't overstuff these or they cease to look like a cookie and become more of a hockey puck.

8. Fold open edges in and whipstitch the opening closed using matching thread.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Set that Will Likely Never Be...

Did you create a holiday sewing list? I'm wondering if your vision for all the things you were going to make for the loved ones in your life was as unattainable as mine. I seriously overestimated how much I could accomplish! And even more than that, each day seemed to trigger a new idea for something else that would make someone in my life (mostly my girls) smile.

Meet Gingerbread Baby.

Are you familiar with Jan Brett's books? Each and every one is truly amazing! And many of them make a nice addition to your holiday/winter reading rotation. The Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends are two of our favorites! With gorgeous illustrations and a slightly new take on this classic story, they are highly engaging. [Insert former literacy teacher's comments on repetitive text, the value of following characters from one book to the next etc.]

And so, our Gingerbread Baby was born. After reading the books at bedtime one night, I thought to myself, "You know, Belle would really love to have a Gingerbread Baby to carry around. I think I'll make her one tonight." Was this a project on my previously established holiday sewing list? No, but it's just one quick little doll. And she'll really love it...

A few hours and a small stack of wool felt later, I snuck into Belle's room and tucked Gingie into her clothes for the next day. A fun little surprise!

If only the insanity had stopped there...

Because at this point, I realized that we were headed to the Nutcracker in a few days. And, the gingerbread cookies just happen to be one of my favorite parts. And this little gal really did look just like the costumes in the ballet. And Belle would really fall in love with ALL the characters. And, of course, I should just make her an entire Nutcracker play set...right???

Can you see how I get myself in trouble around here???

I sat for a few hours and sketched patterns for Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King. Then I meticuously traced each of those patterns (why didn't I pull out the scanner here?), so that I could have a copy of each to save. Then I cut each tiny piece. And well, you can see where this is headed.

At this point, Gingerbread Baby remains a loner, though the skirt part of Clara's nightdress is finished. Of course, once we actually saw the ballet, Belle's favorite was the Sugar Plum Fairy and I haven't even cut those pieces out yet.

So, as the title suggests, this set will never be complete. Especially not before Christmas. But maybe over time I'll finish it up for next year. But then, who am I kidding? I will have thought of a million and one other projects to do between now and then.

So, am I the only one whose brain works faster than her hands? Do you all struggle to control zillions of creative thoughts that just can't feasibly be brought to fruition? Or am I the only one who gets herself into these kinds of situations?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Very Special O-ccasion!

Once upon a time there was a very special little girl. And she loved to attend special "vacations." It only took about 300 attempts to teach her that they were special, "o-ccasions." And one day she will eventually leave out the exaggerated pause between the syllables when discussing these unique events. That will be a sad day for her Mommy!

This very special little girl had a fascination with all things girlie. Twirly dresses and ballerinas included. So, she was blessed with the opportunity to see the Nutcracker for the very first time...from the FRONT ROW!

And such a special "o-ccasion," called for a very special frock, indeed.

Red and white damask with touches of black corduroy. A fluffy black tulle tutu for volume and a party dress pattern. All the tiny details coming together for maximum twirlability and a very happy child.

Let's just say...She loved her dress. She loved the ballet. And we have watched many Sugar Plum Fairy performances since our very special o-ccasion. One holiday memory that we will never forget!

What holiday memories are you making this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What We've Been Up To...

So what have Belle, Bee and I been up to recently?

Well, we feasted with family. Our tummies have never been so full or so happy:)

But, we did save some room for dessert!

We've spread some sisterly love...and accidentally excluded all the pictures where the love wasn't so sweet!

Then we made some time to decorate this monstrous thing in our jammies. We even went back later and added a tree topper, but somehow it didn't make the "film."

We froze our cute little tushies off at the Raleigh Christmas parade on the ONE cold day we've had so far this fall. It has been seriously warm here and we are looking forward to a little chill tomorrow!

And even spotted our hometown hero along the route!

Can you guess who's driving these reindeer???

Someone knows who it is and she is being sure to show off her most winning (and innocent looking) smile.

But this one just doesn't seem to get, Bee, you're supposed to be GOOD!

We've read a lot of books and worn more than our share of costumes.

We even sported some rocking Daddy-made "crowns," at bath time.

This has to be the best picture I've ever taken...I just love it!

But, "Wait," you say. What's missing here? Oh, yes. The craftiness.

Well, lest you believe that all projects have come to an end, here's the list of WIP and completed fun stuff over the last few weeks: felt Christmas cookies, a pile of holiday bookmarks/ornaments/gift tags, a good portion of a rather large Christmas quilt pieced, a GORGEOUS dress for Belle to wear to the Nutcracker, a super-fab embellished stocking for a dear local client, mountains of glittered holiday play dough, a wool felt gingerbread baby, a partially completed Clara doll, and a partridge in a pear tree (ok - that was just to see if you were paying attention).

Now, why on Earth aren't there any pictures of those goodies. Well, you see, when one is so busy living life and crafting on the side, one somehow runs out of time to edit the 600+ photos clogging up the SD card, preventing you from photographing all the crafty goodness. UNTIL TONIGHT! All 9,000,000,000 pics have been edited, saved, and organized (and shared) and there is finally room on that card for some pics of the fun projects we've been working on.

Just wait until you see the present Belle is making for Bee for's pretty darn amazing and I'm not the least bit biased.

So, I hope you've been just as busy living life as we have. And I'll be back soon with some of the fun holiday sewing that we've been up to:)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are you hungry?

Looking for a holiday gift for little hands? This quick and easy tutorial that I found on One Inch World has Bee's stamp of approval.

I whipped up a batch of felt farfalle using just one sheet of cream colored felt during our drive to and from our fall family reunion. FIFTY-SIX little pastas later, we pulled into our driveway. When I poured the pile of butterflies into a wooden cooking pot, Bee was hooked. She played with these the entire evening.

Fill, pour, stir, spoon, and nibble (pretend nibbles, of course). While a bit tedious on the stitching end, it was well worth it to see how much pleasure it brought to my sweet Itty Bit. I'd highly recommend these for the toddlers and preschoolers on your holiday "shopping" list!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Head Start:)

I'm notorious for waiting until the last minute to make holiday outfits and gifts. Remember the fish outfit I whipped up for Bee the night before her birthday??? Crazy, I know!

Well, thanks to Becky over at Owly Baby, I'm getting a head start on Christmas!

Becky asked for volunteers to test a couple of her new patterns, and I jumped on board in a hurry! The City Jumper pattern is super cute and it was a great excuse to get started on holiday dresses for the girls. I'm not sure when it will be available to the public, but I'll try to keep you posted so you can snap it up:)

For my version, I started with a black and white palette. The little punch of red piping adds just the right amount of flare without the dress screaming CHRISTMAS! That way, hopefully, we will get a bit more wear out of it. I just can't stand to make (or buy) dresses that we wear one time!

With the piping, and the pockets, and the adorable red zipper on the back (that I, of course, forgot to take a pic of...) it is just the sweetest little dress. Don't you think Bee will be the cutest little bit around?

Now to decide on a pattern for Belle...anyone else looking for a dress pattern reviewer in the next couple of weeks??? Apparently, I need a little push:)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Warm and Snuggly Just In Time

It's a really good thing that I was in such a hurry to start knitting when my yummy alpaca arrived. The hubs and I had the chance to get away to Charlottesville for a long weekend. And with a winter storm warning and lows in the 30's my snuggly new cowl got a lot of use.

And as much as I detest having my picture taken, I did promise to share my finished product. So focus on the scarf, ok? I mean...not only is the yarn amazing, but those buttons! And the scenery isn't bad either:)

I, of course, don't have pics, but this cowl can be worn in several different ways. Buttoning just the top button, for example, turns it into a capelet. Leaving just the bottom button undone results in a cute little slit that looks great over the shoulder of a turtleneck. Or if it's 35 degrees outside, go ahead and button it all the way up and hunker down:)

Knitting Notes: In all honesty, I have no idea how many stitches, or rows, or what needles I used or anything like that (remember I reknit the thing 5 times!)...but here's the gist of it:) And I'll pretend that the "pattern" is intentionally vague so that you can apply it to any yarn you may choose to use!

After a lot of trial and error on the gauge, I settled on really large needles so the stitches were super loose. This seemed to show off the super-chunky yarn best. Then I cast on enough stitches so that the piece measured about 16 inches wide. From there I worked in garter stitch until it was long enough to wrap around my neck and overlap, as Belle says, "just a smidge" without having to be stretched. At that point I STRUGGLED with the buttonholes. I tried a few different methods and just couldn't seem to get the spacing right. I finally settled on a basic eyelet buttonhole and put in 4 buttonholes. To finish up I added another three rows of garter stitch plus the bind off to reinforce the buttonholes. Then I took the finished product to the local fabric shop to pick out buttons that would fit through the holes, but be pretty snug so they wouldn't slip out while I was wearing it. Ginorma-buttons fit the bill:)

Intentionally vague enough??? :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Purpose - Spreading Love

If you've visited my blog recently, you might recall that I have been searching for a higher purpose for my crafting/sewing/knitting/cooking/etc/etc/etc. Just a means of using the gifts I've been given to touch others. So, periodically you'll see some links, tutorials, challenges etc. that will hopefully inspire you to do the same.

And this one's a breeze!

I love to cook! Love it! And, no, that isn't sarcasm. I really and truly enjoy it...ok, maybe not with a needy two year old hanging on my leg and a VERY talkative four year old providing endless commentary, but anyway...

Cooking is one of my ways of spreading love. Whether just to my immediate little family of four, or to a neighbor in need. It's one of my favorites ways to give to others.

And my secret to easy, affordable, and delicious treats...BISQUICK! I've found several easy-peasy recipes using the baking mix in various creations. This yummy apple cake recipe takes very few ingredients, very little time, and no baking experience whatsoever. Go ahead, sniff the screen, you know you want to:)

Then, when you are finished drooling, click the link and go make one for someone you love...or better yet, make one WITH someone you love! Then let me know with whom you shared your apple cake...have a great week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Memories

Because Halloween 2011 is already just a memory. And I know that, in what seems like only moments, Halloween 2025 will be only a memory. We had a slew of 1-4 year olds running through our house this morning, and the squeals and giggles were priceless. Some of my favorite moments from this day and how I wish I could live it all over again...

And as a gift to my readers who also happen to feel that time is slipping through their hands faster than they really appreciate...I discovered an amazing new-to-me blog while browsing Pinterest (yes - I'm on there and one of these days I'll figure out how to do the whole Pinterest button on blog thing, but that will have to wait until another day). After reading several posts about photographing Halloween, I just knew that this was a must follow. So, if you're looking to preserve some of your memories, head over and visit Katie Evans Photography. And for your future photography tip needs, I've added a link to her blog on my sidebar.

She happens to be running a contest right now, and while my photography is amateur at best, it seems to be getting better every day, so I'll be sending my memories as should join in on the fun too! Directions for how to submit your entries can be found on the blog. And just a note - I've included the tips that inspired each shot just for your info:)

UPDATE: You can vote for my pics by liking them on Pinterest. They're the ones from (obviously:).

Entry 1: Moving beyond the traditional pose

Entry 2: Capturing the details

Entry 3: Getting behind them

Hold tight to those memories in whatever way you can! Happy Halloween:)

Trick or Treat

We'll be sporting brand new treat bags as we make our rounds this evening!

They were supposed to feature an applique monogram in the open space at the top. But, Belle can't seem to make up her mind which one she wants, so I figured this way we can trade as often as we need/want. Maybe next year I can add a pumpkin and a spider to jazz them up, but for now I quite like them as they are.

And have no sweet children will not have their long-term health sacrificed to the candy monsters! Oh no...the hubs and I will take care of eating most of that candy for them:) Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Little Something Cozy

A little birdie told me that it is supposed to be cold and rainy in the southeast this weekend. And that's music to my ears. There is nothing like a morning mist and nip in the air to get the blood flowing...and nothing like a warm sweater and a pair of comfy boots to warm the soul!

A while back I fell in love with this ball of alpaca from SpinUp Yarns. Ever since our visit to the Alpacas of Niagra farm last winter, I've had a bit of a soft spot for alpaca yarn. And gray is my go-to color in the colder months. I marked it as a favorite and proceeded to "visit" it every single day for weeks, sometimes several times a day. And finally, in a moment of weakness, I clicked, "Commit to Buy." And then the waiting began.

When the package finally arrived, I tore into and fell in love all over again. I cannot possibly describe how soft and squishy this hank of alpaca yumminess felt.

And since it was probably not acceptable to carry it around everywhere with me like a grown-up lovey, I began knitting immediately. I actually knit and reknit the same 20 or so rows 5 times, just so I could extend the experience a bit. The finished product is absolutely divine...truly! Maybe one of these days I can get someone to snap a pic while I'm snuggled in the cuddly depths of my new favorite accessory...

Because sometimes, you need a little something cozy to brighten your day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finding a Purpose... the last week I have run across the same theme, not once, not twice, but three times. It's kind of been one of those sledgehammer-meets-noggin moments in your life. And I'm pretty hard-headed, but after the third whack, I decided I needed to pay attention.

For the record, I am a Christian, and yes I am veering slightly off the crafty path here, but for my Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. friends, don't run away just yet. I'm pretty sure this message is non-denominational.

The question I've encountered THREE times this week is this:

What talents/skills has God (or insert your own belief system here) given to you? And what purpose do those skills/talents serve in the greater plan or for the greater good?

So I did what any crafter would do...I picked up my knitting needles and started to think. Or am I the only one who thinks better with busy hands?

Eventually I came to the conclusion that I have primarily been using my skills to serve my own purposes. I make things because I like to. I sell things to have a little bit of extra money to buy materials so I can make more things. And I blog about what I make because I like to talk about the things I enjoy. Except that, recently, I haven't been enjoying least not very much or very often. It seems I really was lacking a purpose and it was leaving me with very little motivation.

I continued to knit...and I began to think of alternative purposes for my craftiness. Why did I receive this particular set of skills and what was I intended to do with them? I came up with a list of ways I could use my skills in service to really don't want me to list them here. Trust me, it's a long list.

But in the end, I came up with one realistic goal of how I could use my talents to have a more positive impact on the world, and it centers on this blog. Rather than merely showing off my latest creation, I could use this as a forum to share ways that crafting can serve others.

Not that I won't ever just post cute pics of my kids in clothes that I make...'cause I will. But, in general, you will begin to see a change in the content of the blog. Lots more opportunities for you to give back by crafting, tutorials on items that can be made in service to others, and links to great charitable organizations that need your help. Because, regardless of race, creed, color, of craft preference, we can all get behind the idea of helping others, right?

So let's start off with a knitting/crocheting challenge for all my yarn-craft friends out there...Special Olympics Scarves. A friend of mine shared this project with me and I committed to helping out. Each year, the various Special Olympics winter events give coordinating scarves to the athletes, coaches, and volunteers. The scarves are a symbol of unity, support, compassion, and empowerment for all who are involved. I'll be making at least one scarf to send to the NC Special Olympics and I challenge all of you to do the same. You can find specifications, yarn colors, and due dates for the various states by visiting the Special Olympics Scarves 2012 website. Willing to lend a hand??? Leave a comment and let me know that you'll be sending one or more scarves to the Special Olympics and we can cheer each other on!

Because our crafts can have a purpose that is larger than ourselves!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bee!

Affectionately known as "Itty Bit," our little Bee turned TWO on Saturday! She's still roughly the size of a 15 month old, talks like a 2 year old, and races through the house like a 6 year old:) She's bubbly but demanding, adventurous but knows her own limits, sassy but sweet as sugar...basically a walking contradiction. And she's the pepper to her sister's salt. They are nothing alike, but the best of friends!

Bee has a sense of style all her own. Her favorite ensemble is her "white" dress (Snow White, that is), her flowered rain boots, and a pair of binoculars around her neck. But don't you dare come near her in a mask...she is NOT a fan!

Did I mention that she's a bit on the animated side? The facial expressions and comedic timing on this thing are unbelieveable!

And like every diva, a wardrobe change mid-event is always necessary:) I'm not sure if you recognized the dress in the pics above, but it came from none other than the famous Katy at No Big Dill, who just happened to give birth to her first little boy on my little Bee's birthday! Congrats to Katy and the entire Dill family:)

But we couldn't eat Carolina blue (is there any other color???) cupcakes in that dress. I mean, I ordered it before Bee was even ONE!

So, to complement the party theme, I whipped up this little fishie outfit the morning of the party...yep, nothing like waiting till the last minute:)

I'd say the cupcakes were a big hit, but I think that's pretty obvious:)

A while back, I confessed that Belle had a birthday party that was completely store-bought (except the cupcakes that my hubby baked). I had a lot of guilt, but she had a blast. And I learned a pretty important lesson...sometimes it's better to be the parent enjoying your child instead of the parent making things for your child.

This time around, I aimed for the middle ground. Thanks to a very busy tax season, I've had quite a bit of time on my hands in the evenings, so I used my free time to practice a new knitting technique...magic loop. Not complicated at all, but something new to me. And if I was going to be practicing, I might as well make something for the Bee's birthday while I was learning a new skill. So the "Birthday Baby" was born.

In a futile attempt to make Bee love her, I dressed her like Dora, but my goal with the doll is that it will grow with Bee. Right now she loves Dora, so a few basic accessories turn this simple doll into her much-loved friend. But with a quick clothing change she can be just about anything. I'm planning a Halloween dress next...maybe white with a ghost face on the front. Then a dress for a very special secret event coming up this winter...more on that later:)

Of course, even the totally yummy belly button couldn't make Bee interested in her doll. She quickly tossed it aside and moved on to much more exciting toys, but maybe one day she'll grow to love the doll. And if not...oh well. I learned a new technique and enjoyed the process.

So...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEE! I love you more than the moon and the stars and could not imagine our little family without your spunky sweetness!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Something old...

I picked up a pair of these vintage pillowcases at my local thrift store. I just loved the yellow print and the tatting on the edge was simply divine. As I was putting them away with the rest of my vintage stash (I keep the vintage fabrics, trims, etc. separate from the modern), I noticed the bag of hand-made doilies that my husband's grandmother had made over the years. We lost Grandma Ollie 10 years ago, but I know she is smiling down on Belle and is so proud of her sweet personality and sassy intelligence. So I didn't think she would mind if I put one of her doilies to use embellishing a skirt for little miss Belle.

Other than the fact that I had to repair a bit of the tatting, the skirt came together in literally 8 minutes. I chopped off the bottom of the pillowcase (where it opens) to the appropriate length for the skirt. A quick press of the elastic casing and two speedy seams and it was finished. Attaching the doilie, on the other hand, was a bit time consuming. My kids don't wear anything that I can't throw in the washing machine and dryer, so I wanted to make sure that the doilie would stand up to the abuse of a now FOUR YEAR OLD. So I stitched and stitched and stitched it to the front of the skirt.

Belle isn't old enough to understand the significance of this particular skirt, but she adores it. And it means a lot to the rest of us who do know the history of the doilie. And the super soft, light weight vintage fabric is perfect for the steamy NC springs/summers.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the art of balancing...

Just a quick note to explain my absence...

Blogging is actually rather time's happy time, but time none-the-less. And recently, I've been considering the fact that I may spend so much time making things FOR my kids that I'm not actually spending that much time WITH my kids. And all though they are certifiably rotten...I kinda like 'em.

So today, Belle celebrated her 4th birthday with her friends. And the only thing that was homemade for her party were the husband made them. Yep, that's right. Plastic goodie bags from the party store filled with books and magnifying lenses and colored pencils, a ruffly dress from good ole Tarjay, pizza from the local Little Caesar's, and not a decoration in sight. And you know what? I think she had a great day. And even better than that...I had a great day. And even better than that...we had a great week leading up to the shindig!

So instead of sewing like a maniac for the last week to get everything ready, I played Candyland....lots of Candyland. And I think I'm ok with that. And I'm pretty sure Belle is too.

Balancing all the various parts of your life is a challenge. It just is. So if I go missing for days on end, just know that I'm probably stuck in the Licorice Forest or maybe visiting Gramma Nut. And don't worry, I'm sure to turn up again soon:)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Teach Yourself to Knit in Just ONE Day - A Somewhat Tutorial for which I can claim NO credit

Once upon a time, I taught myself to knit. I HATED it and promptly vowed to never again pick up a pair of needles.

But, then I started to feel frustrated at the lack of options available to those of us who prefer to crochet. Those knitters got all the cool patterns, and I was a just a tiny bit jealous.

Go the pic to buy this super cool pattern! After a couple weeks of practice you'll be ready to try it:)

So, I decided to try again (mainly so I could use that pattern up there!).

And guess what...I LOVE it! I'm officially hooked and have been knitting up a storm. In the last few days I've completed two cowls and started a third. I've visited the craft store to pick up additional needles, and even scored a bundle of great yarn on $0.99 clearance (YAY!).

So here's how I learned...please note that NONE of this is my own work! I'm by no means an expert after a grand total of 6 days of knitting. But, because the learning process is so fresh in my memory, I thought that you might benefit from seeing the process I followed. I hope the following links, posts, patterns, etc. are helpful. And if you have any questions, shoot 'em my way and I'll see if I can answer them, find an answer, or locate a video that will help.

So here goes...

You will need:

*a #9 circular needle that is 16"

*a stitch marker (if you want to save a couple of bucks, get a small rubber band or hair band...just something small and round that will fit over your knitting needle to mark your place)

*a skein of SOFT worsted weight yarn (at least 150 yards) - read the package info if you aren't sure if you have worsted weight, and yes, SOFT is important...your finished product will be cuddled up next to the soft skin of your don't want something scratchy

Here is a link to the pattern that we will be using to create a cowl (that's a short scarf that doesn't have ends). It's from Confetti Creative Knitting and can also be found on Ravelry. Some of the pattern directions will be summarized in this post, but you will need the actual pattern to be able to follow along. This is the very first pattern I attempted. I chose it because it uses only the two most basic knitting stitches, the knit and the purl. I also like the fact that by knitting in the round and using a stitch marker, you don't need to do much counting. Always a plus when I tend to knit while chatting with Belle or snuggling with Bee.

First you will need to cast on. This is how you get your first round of stitches onto your needles. There are a gazillion ways to cast on out there in the world. After auditioning MANY of them, I recommend the "gun" method. It was the easiest for me to figure out and actually remember for the second project. NOTE - Some patterns will specify a particular type of cast on, so as you move on to other patterns, make sure you check that. So, now go view this video and it will get you started.

Now because we are going to be knitting in the round, you will need to know how to join the ends. MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON'T ALLOW YOUR STRING OF STITCHES TO TWIST! Here is your video to show you how to join.

Now it's time to start stitching. Because I began as a crocheter (is that a word???), I really don't like the traditional method of knitting. It feels awkward and clumsy. So, I received a tip from a family friend (thanks, Mrs. Starr!), that I should try the "Continental" method. Well, folks...that's what did it for me! As soon as I began to use the continental method, I fell in love. It has the same easy rhythm as crocheting, but allows me to use those cool patterns that made me so jealous before. So, the videos in this quasi-tutorial will teach this method.

Be sure to use your stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round. You use it by simply slipping it over your right needle before the first stitch of each round.

The pattern calls for you to begin by purling 3 rounds. Here is a video to show you how to purl continental style.

Now you will need to knit 2 rounds. Here's your continental knit stitch video.

From here, you will be able to follow the pattern through the remaining rounds until the binding off. When you are ready to bind off, use this video to see how it is done. She isn't knitting in the round or using the continental style, but you should be able to see how the bind off works.


Disclaimer: This was most likely your FIRST attempt at knitting. If you crocheted in a previous life and have some idea of how to control the tension on the yarn, then you are likely at least somewhat pleased with your end result. BUT, if you've never stitched before, then the whole tension thing is tough, and your cowl may be a little wonky. First, it will still keep you warm in the snow. Second, each one you make will get a little better. My first attempt (even with years of crochet experience) resulted in such mismatched tensions from the top to the bottom that it actually looks like I added some extra purl rounds. But my second one only had one small section that was a little crazy. And my third is looking GREAT so far. So stick with it and keep does get easier and faster as you go.

Now...if you're in love, be sure to visit Elisa McLaughlin Designs on Etsy. Her projects are quick and so fashionable. And she has been incredibly helpful as I try to pick out patterns that are actually manageable for a newbie like me. That's her head wrap up go click on it, ok!

Monday, May 2, 2011

All Dressed Up...

I've been working on some accessories for the dolls, especially the boys. It just didn't seem fair that the girls got wear frilly little skirts, and even eye patches, and the boys were left without extras.

So now, a valiant, medieval knight can spend his days jousting with his friends.

And the resident super hero can save the day every now and then.

What do you think? Would your little boys appreciate the chance to accessorize??