Friday, December 28, 2012

Baby Booties

For Christmas my mom gave me some baby crochet books, including Little Crochet. When I saw this, I knew I had to try making the booties on the front. They're so cute!

My trusty assistant/foot warmer, Herbert, watched and hoped in vain I would drop a scrap of yarn for him.


I think they turned out well. I made the soles green to match the star. When I make them again, I think I'll start the side color one row earlier so it's better defined. Other than that, I love them :)


Herbs models them for me




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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pottery

I miss throwing pots; I should take it up again. Granted, this isn't one of my best bowls ever, but I love it.




I looked at the signature line and realized I made it 11 years ago! O.O




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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Delicata Squash: a score and a flop

A friend had given me two delicata squash, and I finally got around to using them last night. I had never tried them before.

One I served with dinner, and it was a hit (even if it was slightly burnt.) The other I roasted plain and blended to bake muffins. Those didn't turn out so well.

The Score - roasted squash

I found simple directions from Chez Pim to roast them with butter, brown sugar, and salt. While they were roasting I baked meatballs, and served spaghetti and meatballs with the squash as a side. I always consider it a small accomplishment to make an unplanned, successful dinner from ingredients already at the house- with leftovers or simply things I happen to have on hand.

The Flop - muffins

To be fair, I should have thought about this recipe and maybe just used it as a basic guideline. Because the idea was good, but the ratios seemed a little off. 3 cups of flour for that amount of spices and squash? They were very bland, to say the least. Next time I'll find a different recipe, or I would try to adjust this one a little bit. It made a dozen and a half muffins, which seemed like way too many for the 1/2 cup of squash.

Today they taste a little better, and the spices come through a bit stronger, but I'm still not calling it a success.

I have to say I do like these little squash so far, and I look forward to trying them again. They're a nice size when only cooking for two.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Baby Quilts

I've been enjoying making baby quilts lately. They're the perfect size for a fun project, and not too overwhelming if I keep the pattern simple. You'll recognize some of the fabric that I used on my quilt in the last post. I had taken the extra green and brown flannel squares and made the checkerboard design. I made this for a friend who had her baby earlier this month.
 

The colors show up a little better in this photo. Again with my rushing out the door to the baby shower and trying to get some quick decent photos =)
 

Lately I've been experimenting with minimalistic wrapping. Since the quilt backing practically makes it's own wrapper, I just put a little bow on it! Easy, fast, and less waste.
 

At the baby shower, my friends had this brilliant idea of letting guests pick out appliques for little onesies to give to the new mom. I brought my sewing machine and helped by sewing around the iron-on fabrics. There's a great little tutorial at Hello Bee if you want to know more about that.



Going even further back, here is a quilt I made for another friend earlier this fall. I took some of the leftover blues from the baby quilt I made for my nephew, and paired it with a dark denim.



Speaking of the quilt for my nephew, I finally finished it and gave it to the proud new parents. Since I hadn't bound it until after he was born, I was able to embroider his initials into the corner. I got to see him enjoying it at Thanksgiving, which was very nice :)

And lastly, since I've been sitting on these photos for so long, here is some more adorableness from one of our latest foster kittens, Tipsy. I'm happy to report that Tipsy and his sister Topsy are now in wonderful homes and no doubt thoroughly enjoying life.

We're taking a break from fostering kittens to make room for the new baby! I hope one day in the not-too-distant future we'll be able to start up again, as it has been a wonderful experience.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Late Night Kool-Aid Dying

I have some wool yarn that I've been wanting to dye, so I dug out my kool-aid collection this evening.


To help me decide what colors I wanted, I looked at this handy reference chart over at Knitty. This was a great refresher on dying as well.

First I wound the wool into loose hanks around two chair backs (the cats were very interested in this step,) and then I washed it.


I had split it up into two sections, and I think I have enough for two knit scarves. I decided on doing them each with two colors in a striped pattern.

Here's the first batch just after I put it in. You can see the color is still very light.


After they'd heated up, I transferred the first one to bowls, as I only have a couple small pots.

Now you can see the purple getting darker, and the orange is very intense. I was going for fiery, after all.


I'll have to wait until tomorrow for the results. Now that the heat's off, I can go to bed and let it chill overnight.

I also got some sewing done today. I've been working on a blanket for our little one. The center squares are flannel, and the green border and dark brown backing are cotton.


Herbert loves it when I do laundry. He thinks the fresh blankets are just for him :)



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Serger!

Last weekend I pulled out my serger for the first time. It's an older-model Elna, and though it hasn't been used in awhile, it works great. I've been excited about using it, but a little nervous to get it set up for the first time.

This is pretty much how it went:

I studied the three different manuals that it came with, and then I dusted it off and learned how to properly oil it. It came to me threaded with three spools of white. No big deal, and it sewed correctly except for a minor tension adjustment. The stitch I wanted to use required 4 threads, and also black thread.

I thought for a short time about just fudging it with the threads already in it, and getting my project done... but no, I had to learn it sooner or later.

Now, I've used a serger before, but it was probably 15 years ago. It was my mom's and I only knew one basic stitch, but I could thread that thing, and could adjust the tension pretty effectively.

For anyone who hasn't used a serger before, it can be pretty intimidating. Mine has 5 possible thread slots, with varying threading positions and needle positions. I'll post pics later, but this weekend I was pretty intent on just getting to know it enough to do my project.

So anyway, there I am about an hour into it, scratching my head and trying to understand what goes where, and learning how to move the needles. The manual with the threading diagram I needed cross-referenced the other manual to show how to move the needles and how to thread the lower looping needles which are buried in the machine. I was wishing I hadn't waited until the end of the day to start into the serger, because I was getting pretty tired.

Then, finally, I was ready to sew.

It felt like the heavens parted and the angels sang. It worked! The stitch wasn't perfect, but it worked!

What's also exciting is that I was converting a pair of pants into maternity pants. That's right, we're expecting another member of the family. This time 2-legged instead of 4, and not (as) covered in fur.

I loosely followed this tutorial, except that I used stretchy fabric for the entire panel, instead of adding elastic. And I made it a little higher so it would smooth out better. I also used a cheap pair of pants, since I didn't want to ruin any of my nice ones. I found a $7 pair at Kmart, and it worked great! Once the serger was up and running, it only took me about 10 minutes to finish.

I look forward to more adventures sewing maternity clothes :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pumpkin Time

We're almost back to my favorite time of year; there's a slight crisp in the air (well, almost, if you use your imagination) and rain on its way (it sprinkled the other day.) Time for spiced cider and pumpkins!

Today at my weekly S&B I made another little pumpkin, even tinier than my original Tiny Pumpkin (the darker one.)



I'm looking forward to making many more of these!



Monday, August 27, 2012

Sewing Sunday

I had a fairly productive sewing day yesterday with my friend. Almost every weekend she brings her sewing machine over and we have a craft day together. I'm in the middle of several coffee cozies, and finished off a few of them.


Reds never photograph well in low light, so you'll just have to use your imagination there :) I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. The great thing about small projects is the feeling of accomplishment that comes sooner for those of us that are sometimes a little less patient :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Sewing Machine

I just finished topstitching my very first project on the new sewing machine!

I'm in love :)



My old Bernina has so far been a trusty machine, but I've had the motor re-built twice now, and I finally came the the conclusion that it's just not meant to be my main machine. I had been thinking about selling it, but other than being somewhat valuable, (in working condition, that is) it also has sentimental value- I made my wedding dress on it, as well as two others. So I packed it away for the time being, and started researching new machines.

I made a list of priorities, and decided I wanted a heavy duty, reliable machine. I nearly bought a straight-stitch-only Babylock, when I came across this one. It's also considered a semi-industrial machine, but has many decorative stitches as well.

Here's my sewing table all cleaned up and ready for it!

It's an Elna Quilter's Dream 7200 Pro, and it has an extended table which I've already put to use on the baby quilt for my little nephew. 

My favorite features so far, in no particular order:

  • A button that tells the needle to stop either up or down. Very useful.
  • A button that cuts the thread at the fabric. AMAZING! I absolutely LOVE this one.
  • One button bobbin winding.
  • Knee-lift for the presser foot. This wasn't included in the machine, but the shop is looking for one, or I'll buy one later. Looking forward to using it.


All of those things will be extremely helpful and help streamline my work. There are a few things I still need to get used to:
  • Digital screen - I know, I feel old-fashioned by saying this. It will grow on me :)
  • An electric button for reverse. I'm just SO used to a lever, and it feels more natural...
  • It goes very fast, which I like, but sounds like a machine gun :) I'll be looking for a better table, possibly the built-in one for this machine (or the Janome which I've heard also fits)

I'm off to sew some more, but I'll leave you with a bit of cuteness. This is our foster kitten Tipsy, who has a neurological condition that affects his mobility. But what he lacks in brainpower he more than makes up for in kitty love. He was acting playful as I was taping down the quilt, but when I picked him up he only wanted to cuddle. See his paws making air biscuits?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Grocery Bags

Wow! It's been a month since I've posted. What a slacker!

Actually, I haven't been working on too many different things right now, because I'm in the process of making a wedding dress for a friend. There will be plenty of pictures once it's done :)

But here's a project from the spring. I've been working on various grocery bag designs, and one of the things I try to do is to make the handles a different color from the bag, so they're easier to fill.


I made a set of 6 for my brother, and asked him to report back how they work and if he manages to break any of them. I needed a good product tester :) 


 On this set I tried something new. I took a one-inch strip of denim and fused it to the top before making the hem. This is one of the weakest parts of the bag - the joint between handle and the top edge - so I think strengthening it there will help. The rest of the bag is a medium weight twill, and the handles are cotton.


 Look at the nice french seams, too =)

Monday, May 7, 2012

More Corsetry

I have a friend getting married in a couple weeks, and a mutual friend wondered if I would make a corset for her bachelorette party. The theme was red and white polka dots.

It was SO much fun to make a surprise corset. We measured one of her ready-made corsets and I just dove in, no fittings at all. Kind of intimidating, but also very exciting.

She was thrilled with the final product, so I think it was a success.



On a completely different note, here's a project that I've been wanting to do for awhile. I took an Ikea picture frame and wanted to drape a mesh fabric over it for earrings. One of my crafty friends suggested cutting up an old pair of fishnets, and voila! I put red fabric behind the plastic. All that's left is to paint the frame, and I'll have a lovely earring rack.


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coffee Cozies and Baby Gifts

As usual, I've been busy. Here's a quick snapshot of some current projects.

Last weekend we had a volunteer appreciation party for those of us that foster and/or volunteer their time to find homes for kitties, and I made some coffee cozies as party favors. Our group's color is purple, so I lined each one with purple. It was lots of fun picking out the cat-themed fabric!


Speaking of cats, here's one of our current fosters, named Long-Stripe Todd. He's a cutie :)


Awhile back I'd made a baby blanket for a friend who had a little boy earlier this year. I used a cotton-acrylic blend, which works up nicely.


So recently I got to finish the OTHER part of the gift, a cream colored super-soft bamboo teddy bear, and a matching hat with bear ears.



By the way, my doll's nightgown was made by my mom. I believe I had a matching one once upon a time :)

And lastly, here's the current state of my front garden. I'm gradually clearing back the weeds at the end of the yard, and doing useful stuff with the dirt. So far I mostly have lavender... I love lavender! Plus it grows well here, and the deer don't eat it.


The futon planter box has a lemon balm in the middle, and a rosemary on the right. On the left is a newly replanted calla lilly bulb which I hadn't seen for awhile. Fingers crossed that it survives. The white planter has a lilac in it, and you can also see my newly planted orange and lemon trees! (Also Casper keeping watch over things)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coffee Cozy

This is my first attempt at a fabric cup cozy.


I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, and it's reversible!


I know I'll be making more of these, and still have a few tweaks to get them looking even better.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby Quilt

A friend of mine is having a baby girl in a couple of months, so I made her a little flannel quilt.


Picking out the fabrics was great fun, and the piecing went together fairly quick. Then I made little knots with some pink yarn. I thought this monkey fabric was just TOO adorable, even though it didn't fit with the front color scheme. So I used it as a border for the back.

I didn't get a great picture of the finished quilt, but here are all the blocks laid out and ready to be sewn. I had a great time making this quilt, and I'm sure I'll be making more of them in the future =)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lunch Totes

I finished the handles for my little sock yarn lunch tote!

Isn't it cute?


I was very happy with how it turned out, so I made another with cotton/acrylic worsted weight yarn leftover from a baby shower gift.

This is one of the first projects where I've mixed fabric and crochet, and definitely won't be the last. I have to do some fine tuning for the handles, but then I'm hoping to put these up in my craft booth. That's right! I'm getting ready to sell my things in a holiday craft fair. Check back in six months or so for an update on that =)

Halfway through sewing the fabric on the sock yarn tote, (the color is called "clover") my sewing machine started jamming. I had to disassemble the needle portion to get it moving again, but I'm afraid I didn't put it back together exactly how it's supposed to be. Good thing the Bernina just came back from having its motor rebuilt! Eventually I'll have two machines that work, at the same time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

I hope everyone had a lovely V-day yesterday, whether or not you celebrated or did anything special. I just had a lovely dinner with my husband, which was take-out Indian food from one of our favorite places.

I also made Oreos again as I did last year. I don't remember which recipe I used, but this year I chose a recipe by The Baker Chick.


I made a couple modifications, including coloring the frosting pink. They were so cute!


I also used cream cheese in the frosting instead of shortening. The filling turned out a little soft, and they have to stay in the refrigerator. Next time I might add more powdered sugar so they travel better.


I brought some of them into the office, and I would have taken a picture whole, but I forgot and started eating it =)