Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.

See you in the new year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Almost Christmas

This morning found me finishing two wool dolls for my nieces.  I've never made a doll before and the project was more fun than I expected.  Not too unlike mushrooms I guess.  I hope they like them.

This one has gathered the tiniest acorns you've ever seen.

I realized last night that I wouldn't likely finish the last project on my list in time so I headed to town for some last-minute shopping.  I'll tell you, stores at Christmas-time = ughhhhh.  (It's probably not very Christmas spirit-y to imagine myself crane-kicking people out of my way, is it?  Don't tell Santa.)

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday and then of course we have Christmas.  We'll be snuggled in celebrating and eating.  And eating.  Did I mention eating?  Cookies and a cake will be baked today.  The boys are on winter break so I'll have all 4 little ones to help me.  Always a good time.  (messy, but good)

Posting will be infrequent until after the new year so I'd like to take a moment to wish all of you a wonderful season and a new year filled with creativity and happiness. 

Thank you sincerely for stopping in and sharing your worlds with me.  I appreciate it so much.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Velvet and Lace - a Quick Dress Re-Fashion

I purchased this little blue velvet dress at a garage sale this summer for my daughter to wear for the holidays.  I pulled it out of the closet yesterday and it seemed a little, well, ho-hum so I decided to tweak it a little.  I pulled out that handy bag of lace trim I got at the antique store (I'm telling you, the best $10 I've spent) and my needle and thread and got to work.

I trimmed the long sleeves up and made them into slightly poofy cap sleeves and decided on one of the lace collars in my bag o' trims.  The collar was discolored around the neck area which I tried to remove but my usual tricks (vinegar, fels naptha, borax) failed so I decided to go with it and dunked the entire in the rest of the morning's coffee to dye it.  I sewed the collar on, leaving a space in the back to make it easier for her to put her head through.  I'll add a decorative button there to finish it off.

And here we go!  I think it looks much sweeter now, and it was so easy! 
(much easier than getting E to sit still for a photo)

Another holiday project checked off!  Yay!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jellies and Jams

Another of my holiday to-do's was to make a few different jellies and jams for gifts.  I was able to put a big check mark on that this week, making three different wine jellies and a sweet onion jam.  I may still sneak in a caramel apple jam I've been wanting to try, but this is a good start. 

The pink is a white zinfandel, the pale yellow is a Minnesota-made Columbine wine, and the gold with flecks of pepper is the sweet onion.  I also made a batch of a Minnesota-made red wine jelly.  I've made a lot of jelly, but all of these were firsts for me.  The wine jellies taste like a grown-up grape jelly and the onion is with its sweet and spicy vibe. 

They looked so lovely sitting on the table today that I got a little photo-happy.  And those sweet little covers?  My friend Sonia made those, aren't they wonderful?

As the sun went down, they were like a little stained glass window on my table.  So pretty.

This is the recipe I used for the wine jellies.   This is the recipe I used for the sweet onion jam.  Though this recipe calls for no-sugar pectin, I never have good luck with it.  I prefer regular pectin for my recipes.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite, unusual jam or jelly flavor you can share with me?   I'd love to try some new ones. 

Happy Monday, everyone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stockings Hung By The Chimney With Care

One of the projects I wanted to work on this year was a set of stockings for the family.  We've been using a hodge-podge of stockings that we've picked up over the years.  Yesterday I sat down with Maya's stocking instructions, some burlap sacks from the feed store, the bag of lace bits I found at the antique store, and some vintage buttons, and got to work.

Each family member designed their own, picking their lace and buttons. 

I was chuckling at R's choice of all military buttons with one "lady shoe" thrown in. 

S has great taste in buttons, the bear button is a collectible. 

A went with a butterfly theme, and E inherited my poinsettia brooch.

I had a few satin coat linings on hand from the coats I've deconstructed to make into felt, so I used those to line the stockings.  I don't machine-sew often and the satin was a bit fiddley for me, but all in all I think they turned out OK.

Today we'll decorate our tree and make some cookies.  I still have a number of projects I want to complete on my list but I've vowed not to stress myself out if they don't get done.  What good is "time off" if you're all stressed out, right?  I hope you're all having a relaxing season too.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not Me

It would be fair to say that there is crayon, pencil, or marker on every wall of my home.  "Yes, my kids are free-thinkers who like to explore non-traditional media", I say to myself. (while my inner self laughs at me and my outer self cleans the walls and thinks about what color paint I'll use this time.)

When I find new drawings on the wall I always ask who did it.  "Not me!" comes the song from the artists.  That darn "not me" does a lot of naughty stuff around here. 

Noticing that my 5 year old has been leaving his mark on everything from his bedroom wall to the firewood, I tell him, "Spencer, you know, when you write your name on the wall, I know it's you who has been doodling."

I found this today.  I think he finally figured out how to really work the "not me" angle.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crafting For Ourselves

Wow.  Another week of amazing contributions to the Crafting For Ourselves group.  Another week in which you've managed to carve out a little time, important time, to make for yourselves,  your friends, your family.  You're an inspiration, you really are.

Want to play?  Come join us here.

I've been working on a few projects myself.  This one is for a dear friend who had given me the sweetest wool coat years ago that her boys had outgrown. 

Her two boys had worn it and then three of my children  wore it.  After 5 kids it showed some wear but I knew there was great felting potential here.  I put this well-loved little coat through the wash and made some fabulously thick felt with it.

It was the perfect felt for coasters so that is what it became, mitten-shaped coasters for both of us to remind us of our little ones that are no longer so little and to hold our coffee the next time we get to sit together.

What have you been working on lately?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Better Than Expected

Yesterday started out pretty rough.  You know those kind of days where it seems a real effort to be upright muchless upright and happy about it?  There were a fair number of petty annoyances (and some that weren't so petty), but despite the potential for doom and gloom, sunshine punctuated my day.

It came in virtual hug form and in email form.

and in impossible kindnesses from friends

and in mail treat form (a gift for me, from me)

and in the form of 2 children napping, allowing me to finish a gift for a friend.

Now tell me, how could I not have a good day when the universe clearly was trying to make it so? 

I hope your day turns out better than you expected too, even if it's pretty good to begin with.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Felt Poinsettia Brooch Tutorial

If you find this, or one of my other tutorials, helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution to help me keep wool in my basket and ideas flowing, I'd be so grateful.  By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can choose your own price for the tutorial.  It's completely optional, but oh so appreciated.


Feeling festive?  How about making a pretty poinsettia for your lapel?  
A blog reader asked for a tutorial for these and I thought maybe some others would enjoy making them too.  They're a really simple design that anyone can do so grab some felt and get a'making.

What you'll need:

felt - (I use felted coat and sweater material)
in a flower color and a leaf color

a pretty button

Using a simple flower template like the one above, cut out your three flower shapes and your leaf shape from your felt.  (you should be able to print the template above and adjust the size as needed if you don't feel comfortable drawing your own.  Print this in landscape orientation.)

Using the tip of your scissors, snip a small "x" in the center of the smallest flower piece.  Cut small circles in the center of the remaining two flower pieces.  You'll want to make the hole smaller than the size of the button you're using for the center.

Add some decorative stitching to the flower petals if you wish.  If you're making these with kids or just want a simple brooch, leave the stitching off and continue to the next step.

Sew a pinback to the back side of your leaf shape.  By sewing it slightly above center the brooch will hang nicely when on.

Turn the leaf rightside up and stack your flower shapes on top of it.  Alternate the position of the petals as you stack so they look nice and full.  Start by taking a stitch down through the center of the stack and through the leaf, and then back up through the stack before sewing your button on.  Sew the button on securely, catching the inside edges of the holes you cut in the flower shapes as you go.  This holds the piece securely together and the holes help the button sink into the flower center, giving it some shape.

Make a knot and tie off your thread, snip the tail and proudly wear your new brooch.

They'd make nice little gifts and you can make them as ornate or as simple as you'd like.  Change up the stitching, do different colors, make them your own through little touches that are uniquely "you".  By using felted garment wool and vintage or reclaimed buttons, you'll be making them more eco-friendly too.

If you make some, I'd love to hear how they turn out.  Drop me a note in the comments if you do.
Have fun!


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