Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Another Totebag

It's funny how I have certain feelings towards the things I make depending on who they're being made for. This little totebag is for a girlfriend of Davey's who will be turning 5 next week. She's cute, nicely dressed, and addresses me in the most respectful of ways (in a sing-songy voice), "Hi Mrs. ______." She's also tough as nails. This little girl has, on occasion, been known to kick my son in the shins and yell, "you are not my friend." That hurts my feelings, I think, more than it hurts his. The whole time I was making this totebag, I was muttering under my breath...I wonder if she knows she doesn't really deserve this? I should just buy her a tote bag at Target. So why DID I make this for her? The truth is (aside from needing an excuse to make cute girly things)......her mom is my friend.

I could go on and on about the parenting thing. I've seen so many parents that just let their kids get away with murder, but I have confidence that this girl will turn out well because she has a mom who gets in her face when she does hurtful things, explains why it is hurtful, and makes her apologize. For that reason, I know that she will learn the difference between right and wrong and will learn to develop thoughtfulness and a caring attitude that will get her far in life. I know she's not there yet (and sometimes, frankly, neither am I). Sometimes, we just need someone who sees us honestly as we are, who nurtures the goodness that is already there, and who helps us to become the people that we were meant to be. This little girl has that. Would that we all.....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Crayon Rolls and Tissue Pouches

Thanks for all your positive comments on the gift tags. It was fun hearing from new people too! And of course, it made me feel good that anyone would actually want something I made. Heh heh. They should be going out in today's mail. I'm also working on a drawing of a spool so that I can offer up "handmade by ____" gift tags soon for people who aren't into knitting. Stay tuned! :)

I worked on a variation of a crayon roll last weekend. I first spotted these on Colorfool and Happythings. We have some little friends with birthdays coming up, so I thought I'd churn some of these out. Mine are made to hold Crayola Twistables. Of course, my favorite one is the girly one made with patched-together fabric and the big zig zags.

Another quickie project to share--more tissue holders. I'm using up the linen and flower fabric that I used for my sock yarn pouch.
One more thing--if I knew you better, I might post a belly picture that Dave took of me this morning. Oh my word! Can I just say, this baby is all elbows and knees. I've never seen so many angles sticking out from my belly before. Davey was the kicker, Keith used to rub around, and this guy sticks his elbow out and leaves it there, so I have a 90 degree angle that protrudes about 3 inches. And, yes, it hurts! What's the name of that little alien that lives in that guy's belly? I can't remember the title of the movie, either. Refresh my memory.
edited to add: Of course my hubby remembers that weird belly guy---it's Kuatro from Total Recall. Remember him?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Gift Tags

I finished my tags for the gift tag swap, organized by Dacia Ray. This is my second swap after the blockswap, and I fear I am a little bit addicted to swaps now. These are how mine turned out. I had lots of fun antiqueing the tags.

After making those, I decided that I should make some customized tags for myself. I've knit some scarves, hats, and other little items to give as gifts. There are a couple times where, silly me, I didn't bother to write down anywhere that the item was knit by hand. For all they knew, I bought the item at Walmart and cut the tags off. So anyway, I played around in Photoshop and drew a little yarn ball (do you know how hard it is to draw yarn??? try it), and here's what I came up with. Fun, fun!

Now, why should I keep all the fun to myself? I'd love to make some more of these. Want some? The first 3 people to comment that they do will get a set of five personalized "handknit by (your name goes here)" gift tags. And if you've never commented before, don't let that stop you! I love meeting new bloggers. (p.s. If no one wants any, I will feel like a total reject!)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Orchids in the Garden

Dave's been playing around with the macro feature of our new camera. He took a bunch of pictures in the garden and showed me these:

He made me guess to see if I could figure out what they are. And, no, they're not orchids! They're just plain old garden plants. Go ahead. Take a guess. Then scroll down for the answers.
The top one is sage and the bottom one is rosemary!

Hope you take a moment to enjoy God's creation on this beautiful Sunday!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What am I doing?

I ordered sock yarn. Am I out of my mind? I have no clue how to knit socks, and when I got this in the mail I was totally intimidated by how thin this stuff is. I don't think I've used knitting needles smaller than a size 5, and this calls for #1-3. Aaaaaaaagh! There are plenty of sock knitters out there in blogland, but I don't know a soul in real life who has ever knit socks. So, in honor of my knitting friend's birthday, I bought her some sock yarn too so I can drag her into this crazy endeavor with me. Will she use it? I don't know. But at least I can say I tried.

And, because I'm all about packaging, I made a little linen pouch to put it in. It's like a little lined pillowcase with a ribbon around it. The little applique looks like it's too high, and it is when you tie it with the ribbon, but I was thinking that if she wanted she could fill it up with buckwheat, sew the ends together and make a little buckwheat pillow out of it. Wouldn't that be cute?

I checked out a book from the library, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch (thanks for the recommendation, Heather!). I hope that provides me with the info I need to get started. I guess I won't know for sure until I get going. PLEASE feel free to share any recommendations for easy sock patterns out there...I need all the help I can get.

Amy Butler meets Denyse Schmidt

For awhile now I've really admired all those Japanese craft book inspired bags. I decided to use a pattern that I've had for awhile--the Amy ButlerInTown bag. I've heard people mention that when they make this bag following the instructions, it really could use a little more support/interfacing, so I decided this would be a good candidate. This was made from some new fabric from Belinda. This is what I came up with.

I'm in love. I decided to do the Denyse Schmidt zig-zaggy quilting thing. This was so fun--a great break from all the quilting I've been working on.

In other news, I've got about 4 weeks before this babe gets here, and am starting to feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. I haven't even pulled out the baby clothes yet. I'm thinking I need to do that soon so I can wash it all, but I can't even keep up with daily laundry, how am I supposed to do even more? Argh! Other things to do: clean the minivan, paint Keith's new dresser--the boys are in the process of moving into the same bedroom, straighten out the pantry, clean up all the craft stuff that has taken over my bedroom and dining room (and I don't want to do that until I get all the crafting done that needs to get done--I have 2 more quilts to finish and few little projects...). So, all that and the general feeling of dragging my fat bod around, it's a little daunting. I know, I know, I should relax. But my in-laws are coming to help with the boys when I'm recovering from c-section (for which I am soooo grateful). I can't exactly have cereal boxes falling on them when they open the pantry, right? I don't want to give them the idea that we live in squalor, which we do, but let's just keep that between you and me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sara's Quilt

This is a quilt for my dear friend Sara who is due with her 3rd baby girl 2 weeks after me. She's the first friend I made when we moved out here to Bellevue. Her hubby and mine worked together on the same team and they decided that if I was lonely here in this new town that I might make us move back to Michigan. Maybe I would have, who knows? So they set us up on a playdate. Back then Davey had just turned one, and her oldest was 3, and her 2nd was a mere 6 weeks old. I barely even saw her because she was under a blanket and slept in her car seat the entire time. Anyway, we got along great, and we've been getting together steadily ever since. I love that my boys, in the absence of sisters, are growing up to be close to her girls and will learn how to deal with estrogen.


Back: And because I was a little overzealous and had an extra log cabin square left, I decided to go ahead and make a cushion.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quilting Tidbits

Trust me when I say I'm not a quilting expert by any means. In fact, my first quilt was such a miserable experience for me, it's amazing I kept at it. It was made up of 2 fabrics--a blue floral print and a white floral print. I cut them into 10" x 10" squares and placed them in a checkerboard pattern. Easy enough, right? But here's why it was so miserable. First, I cut all the squares with SCISSORS!!!! Hello? It would have been so much easier with the right tools (rotary cutter, straight edge ruler and self-healing mat). Then I was up to my eyeballs pinning everything and trying to get it all the seams lined up. ARGH. I hate pins. And I was such a newbie to my sewing machine, I didn't know that you should always "fetch" the bobbin thread with the upper thread before sewing. Duh. It's laughable now. I hated that machine and I still have bad feelings about that quilt whenever I see it.

My second quilt wasn't much better. It was a random nine patch made of 2.5" x 2.5" squares. This time I did have a rotary cutter. But get this, I actually cut the squares individually and once again pinned like a maniac. Luckily for me, it was about this time that a friend of mine took a quilting class and taught me a couple of her tricks. So , Capello, when I found out you were going to start on your first quilt, I thought I'd try to come up with some tips/shortcuts for you (and for any other quilting newbies who might be interested). May you be spared from the agony I experienced.

1. STA-FLO. This stuff is awesome. Just add a little bit to your spray bottle (1 part starch to 6 parts water) when you're ironing and it stiffens the fabric and makes it behave a little better when you're sewing. Besides that, the bottle looks so retro and cool in your laundry room. I think I got mine at Wal-Mart.

2. Take shortcuts whenever possible. Don't do what I did and cut out 2.5" x 2.5" tiny little squares. They will drive you batty. Instead, cut long strips that are 2.5" x however long your fabric is. Sew the long strips together and then cut them.

3. Iron like this: this might be hard to see, but the seams are both ironed closed and in one direction, to the right, in this case.

NOT like this:

If you iron your seams open, when it comes time to quilt you've got a weak spot where the batting might show or possibly even stick out.

4. When making a strip quilt, make sure to iron each row in alternate directions. If you iron every row facing the right, for example, your quilt top will start to bow in that direction and you won't be happy!

5. One last ironing tip--and this is the best thing I learned, because as I mentioned before , I HATE PINS!!!! This one will let you avoid the use of pins and speed everything up big time. When you're making a nine (or whatever number) patch, iron your adjacent rows in opposite directions so that when you put your right sides together, they will "nest." You'll be able to see and feel as you sew whether or not things are lining up. If they're not lining up, you can gently pull either the top piece or the bottom piece to make them line up.
So, as I was saying, I'm not a great quilter, and I actually feel a bit silly "imparting" any sort of quilting knowledge onto you. And I hope I'm not insulting anyone's intelligence. But, these are things I wish I'd known before I started, so I thought I'd pass them on. If you can think of any other quilting tips that I should have included, please leave them in the comments section.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

TuttiFruiti Goodies

Look at this package of goodies I got all the way from NSW, Australia. Belinda of TuttiFruiti was giving out freebie pincushions 2 weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to snag one. The back is just as pretty as the front, don't you think? I made pincushions for my friends at Christmas time, but gave them all away and haven't been very motivated to make one for myself, so this one is mine, all mine. And I will most certainly use it.

She was also kind enough to include some pretty fabric in the package. I'll have to think of something fun to make with that.

Thanks so much Belinda!!! I love it all :) Thanks for the instructions on how to make cables, too. Wish you lived closer so that I could look over your shoulder as you knit. I'm going to buy myself a cable needle so that I can try to figure it out. Hope my IQ is up to par :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Little Visitor

Davey and Keith have a little cousin visiting this weekend. He's four-week-old Samuel who made his first long road trip all the way from Portland this morning (3 hours). He's cute, snuggly and smells awesome. The boys (especially Davey) can't get enough of him. Davey always wants to hold him, and when he cries, they run over and sing him the ABC song. Davey keeps sticking his head in Samuel's bassinet and giggling every time Samuel makes a noise--grunting, hiccuping, you-name-it. I grew up not really knowing any of my cousins. I'm so glad these boys are going to grow up together. It's a good sign they like each other already.

This is the front and back of Samuel's baby quilt. It's a very basic log cabin, with different panels of Curious George in each center.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Jordan Quilt

An old high school friend, whom I've been out of contact with for about 5 years, sent out a mass email announcing the birth of his child last week--a daughter named Jordan. The excitement of a first baby was palpable: the beaming faces of the parents; dad's eyes full of pride; and the mom, oh my. She had just gone through a 26 hour labor and there she was looking dead tired, but exuding joy. Too precious. So I thought to myself, I've gotta make these people something. Good thing my quilting machine is set up. And though I didn't officially join the use what you have challenge, this would definitely have qualified.
Here's the front:

Here's the back: Here's a close-up:
Strip quilting. Gotta love it. This thing came together so quickly, even my husband was impressed.