Handmade Christmas, part 1

Once again I tried as much as I could to make homemade gifts for my friends and family this year for Christmas. I don't know if it was that I was lazy, disorganized, busy or waited too long to start, but I was working on stuff up until the early hours of Christmas morning. Ugh! I really, really have to do better next year.

Anyway, I made a couple cool projects this year.

This was my absolute favorite — a Harry Potter made from felt, stuffing, yarn, and embroidery thread for my niece. He turned out so great! Now I totally want to make some more characters.



I had a little trouble getting him sewn together, especially his head. I made up my own pattern and didn't really think about how I was going to attach his head to his body — making the little scarf helped cover up his weird chin seam. And it made him look jaunty.

I also made some knitted dishcloths. I was so rushed with a few of them that I didn't even take photos. Whoops. Here's two that I finished early.


One of my friends has a little girl who often makes little things for me. I try to make her handmade gifts, but I was stumped this year. Inspiration finally struck though, and I ended up with this — a little quilt and pillows for her stuffed animals. The quilt was re-purposed from a quilt-as-you-go project I have been working on for a long time.

Here's the quilt modeled by one of my bears.


And the set with the pillows.



Look familiar?

I have no clue how many times I've posted about this quilt, but heaven knows I've been working on it FOREVER. Like so long that I'm on my third sewing machine since I started this. I started it with my first machine that died way too young, then had an interim machine that a friend gave me when my first one went kaput. Now I'm on Buster, who so far has proved to be a very trustworthy companion. Knock on wood.


Detail of quilting

One of the reasons as to why it is taking me so long to finish (other than my obsession with hand quilting all these multicolor circles of different sizes on it) is that the strips aren't sewn together all that great. The tension on my first machine was off and a lot of the strips aren't very secure. So much so that I've been having to go back and hand sew a few of the seams together better so the white stitches are no longer visible.

You can kinda see it in this photo:


Anyway, it's been labor intensive to say the least. But I love it so much. I can't wait until it's finished and on my bed.


Hello again

There are a few reasons why I don't blog regularly. One involves me being super unproductive, another is that I'm in a serious funk.

Luckily, neither of those is the case recently. :D I've just been busy. And happy. And productive. At least I am most of the time.

This week I finished one of the projects that has been hanging over my head like a cloud, the butterfly baby quilt.

I am so, so glad I kept at it though. All the time I put into it was worth it because it turned out SO good! I really hope my friend Kathy, who paid me to make it for her second daughter, is happy with it. It went in the mail earlier this week.





On to the next unfinished project!


I'm not a morning person

But every once in a while I'm glad to be up early for work.



Slow and steady

I've been trying to work on the butterfly quilt, but it has been slow going. I seem to stall out on parts of the process I don't want to do, like cutting strips and whatnot. I really need to get in gear. Really.

Here's a look at the fabrics I'm using for the blocks (which are actually all done, I've stalled on the cutting of the sashing strips.)


Want to know part of the reason why it's so hard for me to get much done? This seems to be a common occurrence around here.


Sigh. Maybe someday I'll get my act together.


I need the distraction ...

While watching and posting updates of the Purdue and Rice football game today. (It's been a tough game to watch so far.)

This is a custom baby quilt order for my friend, Kathy. It's for her second little girl, Kaitlyn. I made this quilt for her first daughter, Grace, last year.

Flower baby quilt

The current quilt will have a similar layout, but with butterflies instead of flowers. And with a different color scheme, this time using pink, green, white and brown. I've only got about 3.5 more blocks to finish the hand applique on, then can put them together to quilt. I hope it turns out cute!


Backblogged - Winners & Losers

Walmart. It's always an interesting trip. I found these in the women's section a couple weeks ago. Oh my.


Needless to say, I didn't find any cute clothes there to buy. The trip wasn't a total loss. I found this Peanuts flannel in the fabric section. So cute! I am thinking I will either make pillowcases or some pajama pants or shorts.


I also couldn't pass these up. Yum! I wish Target would stock them.


While at Walmart, I also stopped by the Fashion Bug next store since I had a $10 off anything coupon. I found a couple cute summer shirts on clearance and a pair of cropped jeans. This one is my favorite.



Finished (a few weeks ago)

I've really been working along on a variety of projects lately, but sadly neglecting my blog. Anyway, here's a look at the entire order of dishcloths I finished a couple weeks ago.




I really had fun making these and have since made two more. And (what is common behavior for me) bought enough cotton yarn for several more. I'm always like "WHEE! So fun! Must knit hundreds of dishcloths, so will buy enough yarn for all of them now!" Then a day later I get distracted by another craft project.


Moving right along

I've been steadily working on the order of 10 dishcloths I mentioned in my previous post. So far I've made five, and did each of them in a different design. I really hope the woman who is paying me for them doesn't mind them being different, since I think I would certainly go a bit nuts if I had to do them all alike. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

She asked for dishcloths that would go with a tan kitchen, and also said she likes orange and yellow. I've been working with those colors the best that I could, considering I haven't had much luck finding all cotton yarn that is actually tan. I did find one that was beige and darker beige (my personal color nightmare house-wise), so I hoped that was close enough.

Here they are in all their dishwash-y glory.

And I couldn't help but notice, but between these dishcloths and the socks I started recently:

and this fabric stack I bought this week at Michael's:

there seems to be a color scheme developing for the month of July.


Yet another new project

I seem to have gotten over that slump I was in a couple weeks ago when I didn't feel like working on anything. The bad part of this equation is that I keep wanting to work on new projects instead of something I've already started.

Work on the shawl has been going great, but it's a lot of the same thing. The same colors and stitches, and since it's gotten so big, it takes a long time to even finish a couple rows. So of course it only made sense to start another pair of socks.

I wanted to use one of my own hand-painted skeins, so I pulled out the three that I was most drawn to at the moment.

(The colors in the photo are kind of washed out - all of the yarns are more vibrant in person.) After pondering this decision for quite a while, I decided to go with the yellow, pink and orange one, since it seemed the most summery to me. And I've been wanting a pair of yellow socks.

I started working on this pattern called Waterfall Socks. It's a pretty pattern, but really simple. That was key for me - I didn't really want to start anything that would require much concentration.

I don't think I'll get much of these done in the near future though. I was working on them this week while in the waiting room of my doctor's office, and a woman came by and asked me about them. We talked for a few minutes and she told me she loves knitted dishcloths, but hasn't found any for sale recently. I offered to make her some and turns out she wants 10! I won't get paid a whole lot for them, but it will help me use up some of the cotton yarn I've been stashing and make a few bucks. Works for me! (Ask me if I feel the same way after I've knit those 10 dishcloths.)


Inspiration from weird places part 2

I've been trying to pay more attention to color schemes and design ideas more in my day-to-day life, because I think this helps me stay creative. I sometimes seem to get into slumps and look to other people and their work for inspiration, but I don't want to depend on that all the time.

Anyway, when I was doing laundry the other day, I noticed the colors and patterns of these items and really liked how they looked. Orange, green, turquoise, black and white wouldn't normally be a color combination I would use, but I love how it looks here. It would make a great quilt or colors for hand-dyed yarn.


WIP - Shawl update

I've been working pretty steadily on the knitted shawl I started about two weeks ago. I'm about done with the striped portion and will have to do the border next. I know I will have to block this, but I have no idea how big it will end up or if it will be a good size for me and my mammoth shoulders. I am not really liking the idea of figuring out how to make it larger, so I'll probably just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Having so many works in progress means I have found a good use for some of those box bags I made! They are a perfect size for this type of project. I keep thinking I will post some of these to sell on etsy, but haven't gotten around to it yet. (Story of my life. I love making stuff to sell, but hate writing the little descriptions for the items on etsy. Must. Get. Motivated.)


Lending a hand. Or a neck.

I finally finished my latest pair of hand-knit socks - seen here inside this bag and again here when I found them amongst my widely strewn craft projects. They turned out perfect and fit so well! I haven't yet taken a photo of the finished pair, but plan to soon.

Anyway, since I can't seem to go a couple days without starting something new, I am ready to tackle my first knitted shawl. I'm planning to do this one called Cladonia, designed by Kirsten Kapur. I think it is so, so beautiful, but not super dressy, which is perfect for me. I think the stripes make it a bit more casual, but with just enough lace to get your attention.

Before I can really begin though I have to wind my yarn hanks into center-pull balls so they are easier to use. I have a yarn winder, but no swift, so I have found a perfect stand-in.


She's the perfect size to hold a hank of yarn, keeping it tangle free while I wind it up. And she is super cuddly and cute as well.


A good match

During my last trip to quilt camp (in, uh, February), I finished this top after lots of indecisiveness about the layout. I tried a lot of different options and nothing seemed perfect. This was my favorite one, though.


It's made from a layer cake of Santorini by Lila Tueller. I don't usually have the nerve to mix so many large prints together, but I really like this line, especially the fabrics that look like stained glass. Anyway, because the prints were so large, I wanted to make sure to not cut the pieces too small, otherwise I would have lost a lot of the patterns.

Months and months ago I had sewn all the fabrics into half-square triangle blocks, but then it sat around my apartment for a while, because I was perplexed as to how I wanted to lay it out. Then at camp the indecisiveness continued. (For some reason, I agonize over decisions all.the.time. You would think it would be choices about my last quilt or last meal EVER, but no, it's usually not very important stuff.)

I am happy with how it looks, although it seems a bit unbalanced color-wise to me. I am hoping that after I quilt it that it blends together a bit better.

I picked out fabrics for the back and binding last time when I went to Joann Fabrics. I am very satisfied with what I found, because sometimes I find it hard to match the color shades from one line of fabric (usually Moda lines) and the basic fabrics I buy elsewhere. (The green is for the back and the pink is for the binding.)

I'm really looking forward to finishing this!



I was thinking that the reason I haven't been quilting was because I've been so busy doing other crafty things and reading a lot.

Maybe not. I sat out in my living room for like an hour earlier trying to pick a project to work on and NOTHING appealed to me. At least not any projects that are in progress. Many of them are held up in one stage or another (mostly finished tops), and nothing is getting done.

I have SO many projects started that I feel guilty starting another. But when it comes down to starting something new or not quilting at all, I'm torn. I can't keep starting quilt tops and never actually layering and then quilting them. I think the main problem is that I don't have anywhere in my apartment where I can baste or pin quilts. That is a definite challenge. I think I may have to use the tables at work again soon so I can remedy my huge backlog of quilt tops.



It's been a blah sort of week. I haven't been feeling well, because out of the blue my left leg has been possessed and hurting like mad. I hate the amount of grumpiness that settles in when I'm in a bad pain phase, similar to the dark cloud that hovers over Eeyore. When I'm feeling like this, I tend to hide out and lay low. I am miserable and don't want to make anyone else miserable by being around me or hearing about how crabby and depressed I am.

It's so easy to see the world as bleak as hell when I am in pain. I know it will be better again soon, but when I'm right in the middle of it it becomes hard to acknowledge that. I just want the pain to stop. I've got quilting and knitting and crocheting and reading to do.


Sunday Stash

I am still in a holding pattern quilting-wise. I've been reading obsessively (the Hunger Games trilogy - OMG AMAZINGLY GOOD) and doing some more crocheting (I've well into my second forget-me-not, this time in black and white). I have, however, bought some fat quarters that I've been fabric-stalking for quite a while now.
My newest acquisition?

Castle Peeps. Love, love, love.

There were only a few etsy shops that had any of these left, but I was lucky to find one that had three fat quarter sets - one blue, one green and the other red/violet/orange. It was so tough to decide, so I just ordered them all.

It's not really even my colors, or patterns or anything, but I adore it so much. And I've seen so many amazing quilts made from this line that I just had to get some.

I was going to post photos of my favorite print, but I had trouble picking just one! I especially like the top castle print though.

No design has been picked yet, but I've got some ideas floating around in my head. I just need to get to work!


Mastering the zipper

I've always found the idea of putting in zippers daunting. I was worried about the idea of sewing over the teeth and wasn't really sure how the zipper foot was going to function. I didn't want to break my lovely machine!

After putting it off for so long, I finally bit the bullet and gave it a shot while I was at quilt camp. In January. (I put off writing this post about as long as I put off trying to sew something with a zipper!) Having a built-in group of other people learning how to do zippers and others already knowing how definitely helped me give it a go.

Anyway. At camp in January, there were quite a few projects with zippers, including some really cute box bags. I've seen some really cute ones online and have even seen knitters willing to trade really nice yarn for homemade project bags. And of course the idea of making a few bucks or trading for supplies always sounds like a good idea to me!

And you know what? It wasn't really that awful! I was really careful to read each step of the directions and not jump too far ahead. The biggest issue I had was trying to get my sewing machine to sew evenly over some of the really thick seams. I'm not really sure how to remedy that. I've tried sewing slower and faster and starting the seam right at the thick parts. I still had trouble though. For the next one I make, I may try my old workhorse of a machine, just to see if that does better.

Here's my first one. I love this fabric to death, but for projects like this, it's probably better to use a non-directional print.

(I probably should have taken the picture from the other side, where the letters are right side up. Whoops.)

And a look at the inside. It's fully lined with a pretty orange fabric. This size is great for smallish projects. It has plenty of room for this pair of socks I am working on. (It's even my own dye job!)

I want to make a ton of these. They are so handy and turned out super cute!


Caped crusader

Can you believe I already finished my forget-me-not cape? It took less than a week from start to finish, and that included learning how to crochet (at least some of the stitches) and having to rip out part of it to start over. I love the speed of crochet.

And here's the finished object:

I love it so, so, so much. Like I'm starting to plan outfits around it, rather than the other way around. Although I also do that some days with socks, too, so that's probably not that telling. :)

Here's a look at it on me, complete with a spotty bathroom mirror. I definitely need to unearth my Windex.

I'm already thinking of my next crochet project, but I seriously want to make another of these. I think one with a black foundation and then alternating black and white ruffles would be adorable. And one in my favorite color fuchsia would be pretty too. Or like a robin's egg/Tiffany blue.

Oh, and after my crying jag during Planet Earth, I had another crying episode last night. During TOY STORY 2. Good heavens, I sure hope it's hormones or something rather than me just becoming more and more sappy.