Friday, August 29, 2008

Quilt-a-long: Week 9

Week 9: Tan/Gold. This block got tricky because I wanted to keep the nap all going in the same direction. I think it turned out pretty well. This is made from a cotton Ghanaian fabric from my dear friend. She purchased it for me on her travels a couple years ago. I only have about a yard of this precious fabric left (it gets doled out to little projects, like this and this, all the time) and I want to save it for something special.

The cloth is Adinkra cloth which is a hand printed fabric. The origin of Adinkra cloth is traced to the Ashanti people of Ghana. Initially the cloths were made for royalty to be worn at religious ceremonies. Adinkra cloth is decorated with traditional symbols that covey the thoughts and feelings of the person wearing them - however, I can't seem to find a key for what this particular symbol stands for. Any ideas? It looks like a sun rising to my eyes.

Also, as requested, here is a photo of all the blocks together so far. The last three will be doubles of red, yellow and green. Maybe this can help all of you help me in choosing thread? Also, for you quilters out there, what is your preferred batting? Cotton? poly-blend? I am so new to all of this I don't even know where to start...

I did have an epiphany for the backing fabric - re-use cloth from the quilt that is being replaced. This very pink, very retro, fabric used to cover an entire quilt at the cabin, but got a big rip down the middle(see how faded it is too?). I think that with some creative cutting and re-sewing it will become a suitable backing for this quilt. The pink, blue, white, black and retro match well-enough and it is only fitting for this fabric to return to the cabin, whence it came.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Helena awaits

Remember helena from Alison Green Will? Well, instead of writing at my favorite coffee shop/yarn store, as I should have been, I purchased this incredible blue yarn to knit one up for Madeline's 1st birthday. I've got about a month - I think I can do it. I hope this blue will set off her red hair, and really let her eyes shine. I purchased three skeins of Cascade 220, but only think I'll need two - hence the one unwound skein in the bag.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sock progress

Good progress on sock number one. I love the way this yarn is knitting up too - lovely loft and texture. I can't wait to get these on my feet on the first cool morning of fall.

As you can see, the pattern is pretty cool too. It is actually an entire booklet dedicated to the Iowa Cruise Sock by Cottage Creations. While there is a part of me that is slightly annoyed at the length of the pattern (and all the stories) - the part of me that is a busy mom of three kiddos and a student/writer - I love that it makes me sit down and really focus on the pattern. I have to take time with it, whether I have it or not. I wind up relishing the stories and folklore, and find myself breathing more evenly when I go to pick up the needles again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New bonnet (but baby doesn't want it).

Sometimes in life we try, and try, and try again. But, try as I might my child won't sit for a picture in her new bonnet. And she sure won't pose like the calm, beautiful child in LMKG, blogged here. Regardless, the bonnet turned out beautifully. My only pattern notes are that next time I will be mindful to decrease a few stitches by k2tog (evenly spaced) along the bottom hem line. I think would give the bonnet some more shaping and would help keep in on her head a bit better. The bonnet is a bit big for new now and will likely have to wait for the spring to be worn , but those additional 'darts' would still be helpful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tame those needles!

So my knitting needle storage is a bit out of whack. And with all my recent sewing progress, I thought, when not endeavor on making my own storage cases for the needles. Sure would beat the clear plactic curtain pouches I've repurposed. See?

I am thinking of two different storage cases (one for straights and one for circulars) + a case for travel and/or WIP's. That means three cases total folks.

My inspriation and idea for the circular storage case is from Offhand Designs. However, I am going to make it simple, and only a storage case for circular needles and not all the other accessories. I am thinking that clear CD sleeves would be perfect for this?
My inspriation for my straights and dpn's is from the colored pencil rolls I made awhile back, originally blogged about here.

Lastly, my accessory/travel case ideas come from The Organized Knitter.

Here's my progress. This is my first attempt at designing something(s) so here goes nothing! It's also a good thing that I started with the straights case as I realized that I own 10 size 6 dpn's. Anyone up for a trade?

I made the exterior with some gift fabric from mom, a yard of Valori Wells home dec fabric in aqua. The 'learn to knit' ribbon was something that I picked up years ago at Avalanche Looms while vacationing with my parents. The interior fabric is from the vintage sheet stash. The orange pocket lining is left over fabric from a cooperative baby quilt that was made for this little guy, and the batting is again a left over flannel receiving blanket from the stack in the twins' closet. The pictures here seem to be a bit off with the colors - it is a bright piece, but the colors all work really well together. The seem a bit off in these photos, or maybe it is just the drab background that it making it all look strange.

I felt confident going into the project with my previous experience with the pencil rolls. This next project, for the circular needles, is a different story. This one will take some time and planning. I do have more ribbon to use, and more of the aqua fabric - or there is another yard of the same print in brown I could pull from. Hmmm...decisions, decisions.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quilt-a-long: Week 8

Week 8: pink. Whew, we're making progress. Probably time to start thinking more seriously about a background and backing fabric plus batting and quilting thread colors. Any suggesstions? It could get tricky since I went all over the spectrum with the block colors.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Here's my first pair of mittens. I used a free pattern from Knit Simple, Easy Striped Mittens, that was mailed to me when I first subscribed. I pulled the green and gray yarn from the stash and went to town on these. They knit up pretty easily, though I had to do some reinforcements around the thumb. Since I can't remember the fiber of this yarn they will only be fall mittens - no snow for these ones lest they shrink right up :)

There is also a cardigan in the most recent issue that is calling my name...yikes, the list of projects is just growing and growing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sock yarn

While at the knitting store I spied a sample sock knit from Fortissima Socka Teddy. The sample was in purple, but then I spied these at the back of the shelf - color: mango! I couldn't pass it (them) up. I think I will turn to the old stand-by sock for these cozy fall must-haves, the Iowa Cruise Sock from Cottage Creations. I wish photos were the scratch-and-sniff (or feel) variety sometimes...if you could touch this yarn you'd be yearning for fall with me!

I picked up this pattern, along with the Wonderful Wallaby , at a knitting workshop (scroll down to New School Knitting) I attended in the fall of 2006 at the University of Wisconsin's School of Human Ecology. Elizabeth Zimmermann's daughter, Meg Swansen (of Schoolhouse Press), was the keynote speaker and the workshop was taught by Carol Anderson of Cottage Creations. I learned a lot in that afternoon - skills and tricks sure, but also the confidence to just keep knitting and learning.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby Bonnet

If I haven't mentioned it before, Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (Hoverson) is one great book. In fact, just about anyting coming out of The Purl Bee is fantastic.
One look at this bonnet and I knew Madeline had to have one. I am using the Rowan Kid Classic, but in slightly different colors than called for in the pattern. My local store didn't stock the exact colors and the other options on the shelf weren't speaking to me, so pink and brown it is. I can't wait for this to be complete and on her cute little head!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quilt-a-long: Week 7

Week 7: Black. I arrived at the end of the color spectrum without doing a tan or pink block! Yikes. I had better back-track. This block is also really busy with the pattern border and inside. Maybe I will try to tone it down for the next few.

p.s. I think there is something wrong with the camera too - every picture is coming out crooked. Bear with me for awhile.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New checkbook cover

From this:

To this:

What a great project and what a personal upgrade! It only took me an hour, start to finish, and was easily accomplished during a naptime. I used some Amy Butler home dec fabric for the exterior and interior, and some cotton cloth (a gift from a friend during her travels in Africa), that I believe is from Ghana, for the pockets. There is some topstiching (tan) on the interior pockets as well as the some zig zag (blue) for the top and bottom of the exterior.

I loosely followed the tutorial from Mudmuffins and Woogiemonsters, originally blogged about here. Since I am mostly an on-line accounting kinda gal I really only use my checkbook to hold my blank checks. I do all the other stuff with the computer so I didn't need to worry so much about a register pocket, elastic or the other straps. I also used fusible interfacing as that meant I didn't have to baste anything. Since I used a heavier home dec fabric this is working out fine, but if you go with a lighter cotton or other fabric I might suggesst sticking with the regular interfacing. I've had the fusible stuff wrinkle and bubble on me when folding lighter fabrics.

The only mess-up I had was that I originally planned to do some ribbon detail on the front cover. I sewed it on and really like the way it looked - it gave the piece some dimension. However, when I put the whole thing together I didn't think it through all the way and wound up placing the ribbons inside one of the interior pockets. Silly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New fabric (gift from mom)

I love these little gifts from my Mom. A yard of Amy Butler home dec fabric. I think she's expecting me to make another grocery bag with it. But, I have the perfect (little) project for this one first! Stay tuned. (It also looks pretty nice in our living room, so maybe a new throw pillow too?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The coolest hand-me-down, ever.

Here is a picture of one of the two coordinating outfits (one yellow and one blue, same print) that Juniper, of Capers and Olives, made for my twins when they were younger. Maybe we should all encourage her to make a tutorial?

This is Madeline in one of the outfits at her sisters' birthday party. Isn't it wonderful? I count myself lucky to have such wonderful, loving and talented friends.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cupcake decorations

Here's a picture of the last birthday craft I did for the girls' party. In addition to the banner decoration I also made some decorations for the cupcakes. With it being summer and there being lots of kids I decided against candles and made these up instead. I think they turned out great. I can't say exactly where I got the inspiration from - I am sure from surfing around, but there wasn't anyplace that the idea came from directly.

The decorations are little felt circles free-cut with pinking shears, with smaller circles glued to the middle. Then I glued toothpicks to the back. What a great way to use up bits of my felt and add to the festive party atmosphere. I am sure I could have used a template and made them more round, but I think that the akward shapes added to the character.

I am thinking there are lots of things you could do with this decoration too: felt onesies for a baby shower, wedding dress for a bridal shower, numbers for birthdays, suns for a solstice party, ah, the list goes on...

The one thing I didn't get around to this year that I wanted to was to make the girls some felt crowns (ala SouleMama). I guess that is getting moved to the list for next year. Besides, they got so many Cinderella accessories and princess crowns from friends/relatives that they weren't missed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Flickr group

Here's the flickr group I set up for the tote/grocery bags that I have been making.

There are a few for me to use around town, one for a diaper bag and one for my personal shopping and errands. The vintage series + blue/purple floral and yellow floral bags represent our grocery bags (5 total) and a second blue/purple floral + pink floral and green floral are going to my Mom for the annual women's shopping weekend. There is one bag that got away without a picture - the one for my mother-in-law, utlizing a faux-French countryside print.

More about this shopping weekend: my Dad is the oldest of 11 kids and each October all the women from the family meet up in Schaumburg, IL for a weekend of fun and shopping. My Mom decided to make each of the women a shopping bag this year (there is usually a craft component to the weekend too...) so I offered to help her out and make a few. As a gift-in-return she's picked out some yards of (new) designer home dec fabric so that I can make few more for myself.

There are two more bags (still in pieces) in the sewing room for my brother-in-law and his partner. I hope to finish them up by the time they move into their first place together in mid-August.

Can you tell that I just love these re-usable grocery bags?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Birthday gifts

Here are some pictures of the colored pencil wraps I made for Abby and Olivia for their third birthday. The inspiration for the project came from Mr. Monkeysuit, but the (modified on accident) pattern is from Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts (Hoverson). I love, love, love this book and it is now on the list of books to purchase - along with Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac, but that's a different story for a different post.
The exterior is a white embroidered linen that I picked up from the remnant shelf at JoAnn's. The interior is sewn from a selection of the vintage fabrics and the ties are some basic ribbon from the stash. The interior batting is flannel; in this case an old receiving blanket from when the girls were itty-bitty babies. The only difference between the wraps is the color of the outside ribbon.

I say accidentally modified pattern because I intended the wraps to accommodate 12 pencils each, rather than the 24 called for in the pattern. However, when I was cutting the pieces it was quite late and I cut them exactly as the pattern stated. This meant they were two times too long for my project - or so I thought. So, I took my scissors and cut the length in half. Duh. I forgot to make room for the seam allowance on either side and thus have sliced the first and last pockets a bit. I also decided to machine stitch the top opening which resulted in an extra line of stitches along the top, but I don't think that matters much to the little ones. I really like these as a gift for kids, of all ages. There is enough left over fabric that I may do two more for my twin nieces that will turn 3 in October.

The last picture is of 10 bean bags I quickly sewed up for the birthday party we're planning. They will be the superstars in a bean bag toss game - reminiscent of the one on the old Bozo Show (boy, anybody else remember that show?) The vintage home dec fabrics came in handy here and make some pretty fresh looking bean bags. Now, it's up to the husband to mount some cans on a board and we should be ready to go.

The last craft that I did for the celebration are some cupcake decorations made out of felt that will be mounted on toothpicks. Pictures of those to come (once the cupcakes are made and frosted)!

Stop, stop, stop I said to myself I was surfing blogs and generating WAY more ideas for projects than two little hands (that are responsible for 8 more + a dissertation) can handle. I was taking a Saturday morning coffee break and came across this sweet sweater. Another perfect one for our little ones. It's just beautiful. The pattern is from Knitty and is an Alison Green Will design. I only wish that I could knit in extra hours to a day...

(Photo credit: Alison Green Will)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Quilt-a-long: Week 6

Week6: Purple. Well, I've reached the half-way mark. Pretty exciting. I really like the pace that I am moving at - with school in session doing one square a week felt good and not too overwhelming. It provided me with just the right amount of distraction. A creative distraction from feminist theory that didn't make me feel too guilty for sewing rather than writing.

Also, here is a picture of the first six squares together, with the borders attached. I didn't have enough of the square fabric for the borders on the yellow and green ones, so I went to the vintage fabric basket for those. I am loving how this looks so far. I think the final background will be white and it will take some time to find just the right backing, but this will certainly be a great (cozy + bright) addition to our guest room or the cabin.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gratitude Wrap

Here are some pictures of my recently completed gratitude wrap - another free pattern from SouleMama. Yes, I am a big fan of hers and just received her book in the mail so I am totally into her projects and creative family 'framework' (as us academic types would call it).

Sometimes I find myself wondering how she does it - I mean gets her kids to all focus and stay put in one place for long enough to actually enjoy an activity. I have taken her advice to heart that if it (whatever it may be - cooking, clay, gardening) doesn't seem to be working to let it go and try again at another time. That has worked for us. It seems that Abby and Olivia need some initial exposure so they can ask questions, look and feel, then return to something more familiar like the swing set. Once they come back to the new activity in a day or two they seem much more interested in trying the project out.

I know that I digress from the whole gratitude wrap discussion, but maybe this is all connected. I am grateful for the girls that my babies are turning into and with the help of some friends and inspirational guides, like Amanda, maybe this journey doesn't need to be so difficult. If I really go after their interests and encourage them to explore, explore, explore them, maybe the other things (like putting pajamas on bodies instead of in the toilet) will come more easily.

***Project notes: I used contrasting vintage sheet fat quarters from the swap to make the outside and lining. The batting is a poly fiber and is probably too thick for the project. When I make another one I will use a low-loft cotton batting (Yippee. Another reason to get to the fabric store!) Then I used an old IKEA curtain remnant to make the binding. I enjoyed making the binding, but sewing it on - especially around the curved corners - was more of a challenge than I bargained for. I just kept sewing though and now look forward to finding a great address or note book to go in the first pocket. Next up are crayon/colored pencil rolls + journals for the girls' birthday celebration. I took the idea and inspiration for this project from Mr. Moneysuit - thanks!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I feel sort of funny typing the words "oil" and "cloth" together in the same sentence, and the same word. But consider me converted, I love this stuff! I purchased two yards of it the other week at the local fabric shop and have fell in love with it. I can't wait to sew up a little coin purse with it! But, first things first. I purchased it to make some mats for the newly recovered dining room chairs. But, that is as far as I have gotten. I am not sure exactly how to do this. I have cut out two pieces, slightly larger than your standard placemat, which cover the seat nicely, but they slide off the chairs all the time and don't really stay in place. So, here is where all of you come in - what can I do to make them stay on the chairs, but still let's them be removable (to take outside or put on the floor for crafts, etc.)? I haven't really cut into the fabric very much, so there is plenty of extra cloth to work with, but maybe it is just as simple as attaching an elastic band? Your thoughts?

Also, isn't that print just the coolest? I can't wait for the day when the girls realize there are skulls and skeletons riding bikes amongst the flowers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Hat

Here's the finished hat from Amanda's free pattern (blogged about here) over at SouleMama. What a lovely accessory! Now, if the weather would just take a nosedive I might be able to wear it. I am sure the neighbors thought we were crazy as Dan was taking pictures of me in the hat.

However, this fall/winter knitting has got me inspired and I am also working up a pair of cute striped kids mittens.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Quilt-a-long: Week 5

Week 5: Blue. This block turned out so-so. I am happy with the color scheme, but there were a lot of seams to line up and it got a little funny in the lower right corner. Ah, well. Once I have next week's block done I will put the first 6 together for a picture to see how things are coming along.

This past week also brought a bit of inspiration for the final phase of the quilt. Jacquie, from Tall Grass Praire Studio, (she's finishing up the star-quilt-along) placed a border around each square utilizing fabric from inside the square. This puts an answer to my question of, "how exactly am I going to put all of this together?" Unfortunately with class coming to an end next week I will be very hectic for the next ten days and don't know how far I will get on the borders if at all. Anyway, it is great to file this idea away for when I need it.