Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Countdown to five

The birthday preparations for K's fifth are well underway, and since she is spending tonight and tomorrow night with her grandparents they can now take place out in the open, which is much nicer for D and me. I had a fabulous time making her a birthday bunting out of Amanda Soule's The Creative Family, and have started a birthday crown following instructions from that book as well. And last night D and I spent an hour (that's all!) making a glorious pink tutu after Design Mom's tutorial (I love how she helps her children create meaningful Christmas gifts for their siblings.) I think I'll save the pictures for the weekend so I can show them in use by Herself.

My mother-in-law was literally holding her belly as she roared with laughter at the sight of the sewing and crafting paraphernalia that has exploded in the dining room and expanded into the living room. She has this idea that it won't all fit into the front bedroom upstairs we are currently using as an office. Because of the slight possibility that that might be true, I am not including photographs of my current craft space either, lest I become a cyber-laughingstock as well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mishmash: On the Fritz Edition

All of our appliances seem to be going berserk at the same time -- the freezer is leaking water into the fridge, the washer isn't draining properly and the dryer doesn't seem to be getting the clothes as dry as they used to get -- and I'm not going to say anything at all about our plumbing issues. I suppose that, 8 years into our marriage, it's reasonable that something would stop working, but does everything need to go haywire at once? The fridge repairman is coming tomorrow, and at a minimum charge of $75.00 we will learn to live with the other inconveniences for a little while.

I had been going to say that I hadn't accomplished much creatively yesterday, but that's not entirely true. I simply did not have much success in my creative endeavors yesterday. The chocolate-chip cookies came out well, but the felted-recycled-wool-sweater-hat was a complete bomb -- three times. First I failed to follow the directions properly and cut the thing out wrong, then I used the wrong color thread, and then the brim wouldn't set and the whole shebang looked more like an inverted sweater-bucket on my head than actual headgear.

Besides that, I made a version of the hooded towel/blanket using a linen/rayon blend in place of the usual terry cloth (the pattern in the book calls for 100% linen, which I've had trouble finding) and was very disappointed when the results were neither warm nor absorbent nor cuddly. The big Jo-Ann Fabrics in Mount Laurel has finally started carrying toweling in colors other than pink and blue, so I may experiment with that next -- if I ever use up the terry cloth I have on hand.

In other news, D and I went to Ikea and bought a bright red computer desk and chair and a floor mat that will work in the front hall and closet. I love red! Among D's most important specifications were that he have storage space to stack three plastic shoe boxes and that he be able to close the closet with the desk inside. I'm ok with anything that requires him to be minimalist with his belongings -- the less stuff, the less mess. I'm concerned about why he felt so strongly about being able to close the door, though. What's he planning to keep in there, and is it going to breed?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My apprentice

Yesterday was my Big Big Clean Out the Sewing Room Day so that I could clear out my craft closet so that we can get on with the process of turning the office upstairs into my craft studio. Unlike most "clean-out" operations of mine, this one did not include getting rid of a lot of junk -- I had done that last summer -- so mostly this was just putting away loose items and repackaging piles that had outgrown their containers. I did, however, decide that I was never going to make a quilt or anything else from lightweight plaid flannel scraps, so I gave a hefty stack of those to K.
This turned out to have delightful ramifications for both of us. For me, most immediately, it gave me over an hour of peace and quiet so I could finish organizing. For her, it gave her something Just Like Mom Does that she could do All By Herself and make satisfying, genuinely usable finished products. She set to work with safety scissors and abandon.

She invented aprons, bibs, dresses, blankets and a cape. Oh -- once she invented the cape it was all over with the "sewing" and she wanted to play Fabric Superhero. D was willing to oblige and took on the persona of a Fabric WonderTwin: "Form of ... CORDUROY!!!"

Today we're going to measure the former craft closet and spend some time at Ikea looking at possibilities for a cart/desk/table that D could use for his desktop computer, so we can move his home base out of the office. It's happening. It's really happening!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Getting organized

First of all: the handmade gifts were universally admired. Two reactions that thrilled me most: From my Father-in-Law -- "I'm just overwhelmed." (He got the Buchanan plaid blanket.) From my Sister-in-Law, about the gifts in general: "I think your crafts get better every year." *grins from ear to ear*

Now, on to the next thing: Putting away the leftovers and the projects that just didn't get done this year. Prioritizing. I'm thinking of creating a "project notebook" that would be half Idea Book, half Record Book with notes and pictures of the things I've somehow managed to create in all this chaos.

About the chaos: It's got to go. I'm going to spend some time in the next few days clearing out my "craft closet" so we can move D's new computer into it -- I guess we'll measure and go to Ikea to find an appropriate-sized desk or other piece of furniture to hold the thing. Once we get him settled in there, I can start moving things out of the office upstairs so I can measure and plan how I'd like to move things in when the time comes to set up my new sewing room, which I think is rapidly turning into a crafting studio.

Yesterday I went to the Jo Ann Fabrics up in Mount Holly that's closing next month and bought, for cheap, some fleece for a blanket, some linen to try as an alternative to the terry in the towel/blankets, some duck cloth to use in possibly making picnic blankets, some monk cloth to try making woven afghans (I also bought a book on that for half price), and a mountain of rick rack just to have on hand in case I ever feel like embellishing anything. It was loads of fun. I'll miss those folks when the store closes and they have to move on -- I hope I'll see them at the Mount Laurel store, but I know it won't be the same.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A blessed Christmas

Infant holy, infant lowly,
For his bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging Angels singing,
Nowells ringing, Tidings bringing
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new;
Saw the glory, heard the story,
Tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing, greet the morrow,
Chist the Babe was born for you!

Tr. Edith M. Reed -- Polish Carol

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wrapping it up

Tonight I'm working on my last present, the second of a pair of simple scarves for my mother in her favorite colors. I think she'll like them. I spent the early evening wrapping gifts for K, and was pleased with the work I had done. I think she'll like her gifts, too.

For my dad, I ended up making an entirely new blanket in a festive and velvety red plaid flannel, which D liked enough to want to keep for himself! I told him I'd make us one after the holidays.

This morning I bought a book on home decor and some heavy-duty ticking-striped fabric on heavy-duty clearance sale. I'm looking forward to trying something fresh and new with my new-found free time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent 4

Tonight we had a tree-trimming party with the in-laws and the out-laws. D's two sisters and brother-in-law were able to be here along with his parents and my mother and grandmother, so it was a full house. K was completely beside herself with excitement and has gone off the deep end; she's upstairs crying it off right now. We read the Advent 4 collect and sang the blessing as usual, but had pizza again instead of soup, and I think that not having a homemade meal really takes away from the prayerful feeling of the Advent dinners. I will try harder next year to be on the ball with the meal preparations.

Below are some gingerbread people K made this morning with the help of my parents. I think they're pretty awesome!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chocolate and vanilla

D was not exactly impressed by my choice of wool suiting for the chocolate-and-vanilla blanket pictured above. He wasn't disparaging, but the word "unusual" was tossed around. I, however, remain convinced that it was the perfect selection for the type of warm, lightweight cover I was going for. My only regret is that, being such a rich, dark color, it does pick up cat hair a little too easily.

Now I need to decide which blanket to give to my dad for Christmas. Today's is classier looking and the longer length will be more comfortable for him when he takes his many, many naps on the sofa, but because it's wool my mom won't be able to just toss it in the wash. Yesterday's is classic rather than classy, and is wonderful in ways I described in my last post, but the size is wrong and the colors won't go with the room it's intended for. Well, I have a few days to think it over. In the mean time, maybe I'll have a chance to try them both out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blankets in cotton and wool

Here is the blanket I made yesterday -- it's a deliciously soft plaid cotton flannel, the perfect size and weight for snuggling under on my favorite chair or in the back seat of the car. I found the material for it at the wonderful J&O Fabrics in Pennsauken, NJ. Along with it I bought 2 1/2 yards each of a sage green and a chocolate brown wool suiting, from which I plan to make twin-bed-sized blankets which, if they turn out well, will actually be used decoratively on sofas.

This is therapeutic crafting for me, working with beautifully colored, wonderfully textured, natural fibers; making products that are both utilitarian and lovely; working slowly and carefully; taking time to think and to sleep. I'm glad to have the opportunity to do this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I cancelled two parties and called my mother in law to come over to make cookies with K this afternoon. I am totally worn out. From here on in I am doing only those projects that are meaningful to me, and I am taking time to rest when I need to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Buchanan Plaid

Last May on Burlington Day, I was walking through the quilt show with my family when I spied an unusual sight -- the orange-and-navy tartan that belongs to my father-in-law's family in some mysterious way only he can explain.

Now, the Buchanan plaid has grown on me over the 14 years I've known my husband, and I no longer find it repulsive. In fact, I think the blanket I made from the (wool and polyester blend?) fabric that I found there on Broad Street is downright handsome.

Granted, you can't see the awkward joining I did where the ends of the blanket binding meet. I'm still trying to think of a way to cover that up. But I took a practice-nap underneath it and it stood the test admirably. And it's a bona fide cat magnet to boot. I think my FIL will be pleased.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Overboard and more

I lost track of the number of morsbags I was making and it got out of hand. When I stopped to count yesterday, thinking I had done about 13, the tally came to a walloping 20! There is something to be said for producing in bulk, but there is a time to cease and desist.

The annual "mix" CD is called "Lullaby" this year and needs no explanation. I put it together in honor of the many little ones born to friends and family recently and am looking forward to sending it out. Unfortunately, production has come to a halt as my DVD drive is mysteriously stuck shut and my techie-guy is sound asleep and is likely to stay that way for several hours.

The unadorned cookie tins I ordered arrived yesterday and it turns out they are not cookie tins at all. I totally underestimated the size and wound up with small round canisters that will hold about the same volume as a box of animal crackers. I'm looking around on the web for ideas as to what K and I might fill them with after we decorate them -- spiced nuts, perhaps? I have a nice recipe for cream cheese mints, but they're not the sort of thing one puts in tins. Hard candy would work, but I don't know how to make that. I suppose I could buy some, but that sort of defeats the purpose of giving homemade.

Tins or no tins, it's time to get to work on cookies. Three kinds: Chocolate chip, because my dad specifically requested them; Gingerbread men, because K is dying to make them; and sugar cookie cutouts, because it isn't Christmas without them. Technically we should start on these today.

Also in the must-get-done category: make Josh's hooded towel/blanket; bind David's blanket; finish all of the journals; wrap and mail the presents that need to go out TODAY!!!; and whatever else I've forgotten. Where are the elves when I need them?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent 3

We had our dinner for 3rd Advent last night, which was in many ways lovely and in one way disappointing. The disappointing thing was that I simply ran out of time and energy and gave up on trying to cook a fancy dinner for D's birthday celebration. We got take-out pizza instead, which saved everybody a lot of hassle and some shouting and general unhappiness. Plus we got to eat Villa Rosa, which everyone enjoys, so that was all right.

We lit our three candles and sang our blessing. After dinner my in-laws lit 33 candles on the birthday cake that K and her grandma had baked the night before -- I keep wondering when they're going to stop insisting on this particular tradition -- and sang to D and watched him fail to blow them all out. Hearty jeers ensued. We all enjoyed cake and ice cream and then the in-laws went home and K went to bed and D and I watched an episode from the Scrubs DVD I'd given him as a birthday present.

The gift-making continues and I have to keep reminding myself that I am making progress; sometimes I feel as though I am spinning my wheels, but I am ticking things off my list left and right and piling up some very nice gifts. Today I start wrapping, and tomorrow, mailing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Working hard

Not much to report today. I don't want to give too many details about what I'm working on in case someone I'm making for is actually reading this. Pictures and more after Christmas, I guess. I'm feeling driven to produce because of deadlines and high personal expectations, which is leading to more stressful feelings than I'd like. I really need to stop and smell the lavender.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Party time

I realized the other evening that I will be hosting four parties here in the next three weeks: D's birthday dinner this Sunday; Advent IV -- the tree-trimming event; Christmas Day; and K's birthday party (family only!) in early January. Ack! Time to get the creative juices flowing. There are decorations to put up, vegetarians and picky eaters to feed, cranky people and squirrely children to entertain, and messy piles of stuff (okay, mostly crafting supplies) to stash. I have done some tentative menu planning but very little else.

On top of this, we are preparing for a major move within the house: D will be taking over my craft closet in the front hall for his "office" space, and I will be taking over the front bedroom "office" upstairs for my crafting studio. We've made this decision based on the amount of time each of us spends in our allotted space doing our allotted tasks -- and the fact that we really miss having a dining room to eat and entertain in! So I must put some thought into how I want my studio space to look and function, or I will end up with the same old smudged flat white paint, stained beige carpet and poor general layout that exists in there now, which will only make my work more difficult -- and nobody wants to live with a cranky crafter -- so I'd better get cracking.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rainy days and Thursdays

Yesterday was stormy and cold, and I ended up rearranging my plans so that I could stay in all day and catch up on sleep -- I'm something of an insomniac -- and work on my various Christmas projects. The weather had me feeling a little blue, but getting some extra rest and relaxing with my crocheting and some old episodes of Mad About You on DVD boosted my mood by quite a bit.

I didn't complete anything yesterday, but I worked on: the wool/cotton scarf; some felted rocks; and a Moleskine patchwork journal. When K came home from school she was gung ho about helping me with the rocks, and even got started on making a felted bath scrubber from some wool roving and a bar of soap. I let her work on the felting until we were both sick of it.

It's been fun having K's help with so many of my projects lately. When I put all 3 of our names on the gifts this year, I'll really feel like the gifts are from all 3 of us: D pays for the supplies and pattern/idea books; I do the planning, purchasing, supervising and the majority of the work; and D and K assist me as necessary (and as possible.) It works out nicely for everyone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Art On The Go

I have to admit that we did not have a wonderful time this evening. There was shouting; feet were stamped. A basin of water was dumped down the heating vent in a certain someone's room, and there was subsequent precipitation in the dining room. I think that we are going stir crazy and just plain getting sick of one another. A frolic through the sprinkler would do us a world of good. They're predicting rain for tomorrow -- perhaps I will suck it up and get out the rain gear and take us puddle jumping.

I did have time to work on some genuinely fun projects today. First was the tote bag that I mentioned earlier. I had always wanted to make a bag before but had shied away from other patterns because they involved scary things like pockets and interfacing. This one has handles that are sewn down exactly as you see them and a lining that's just a bag-inside-the-bag. (My lining is a red-and-white polka dot, which looks adorable with the ladybug novelty print. I wish you could see it.)The bag is meant to be K's "Art-On-The-Go Bag," as described in Amanda Soule's book The Creative Family. To go with the bag, I ordered some Lyra colored pencils (but don't buy them here; go comparison shopping, which I did not and now I'm kicking myself) and made the felt pencil roll that Amanda describes in her book. I also made a matching patchwork Moleskine notebook for K to use as a sketchpad/journal. With these I plan to include a homemade coloring book and a pencil sharpener, and whatever else I can think of that might be inspiring. Ideas, anyone?

The pattern for the bag came from The Impatient Patchworker by Jayne Emerson.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chugging along

Continuing to produce at high volume, but with love. Finished all of the rice bags I am going to do, at least for now -- there are more than 20 small ones and a number of large ones, so I think I'm good to go. I saw some for sale at the fancy-crafts-store when K and I stopped after school yesterday, but I neglected to note the price, and I am curious. I may have to go back and check, and possibly pick up the child-sized broom with which K became enamored while we were browsing.

We were in the store to pick up some more wool roving, so we could felt some more rocks. What are felted rocks, you ask? They are rocks that have been covered with wool roving (that's the candy-floss fluffy stuff you see in the picture below) and agitated with soap solution ("felted") until they are literally covered in felt.
I found the idea for making them in my favorite sewing book and immediately had to try it -- they just looked like so much fun to hold and play with. And they're functional, too -- as both paperweights and pincushions. I'm not sure who I'll give them to, besides K (who thinks they're as cool as I do,) but they sure are fun to make.
K finished the first of her two picture frames, with a little support from Mama. I think it's awfully cute! I tried to get her to draw a holiday-themed picture to put inside, but she doesn't do art-on-demand so it'll have to be her school picture. We took this project from Christmas Crafting With Kids by Catherine Woram.
This morning I spent a delightfully short time making a truly adorable and amazingly simple and sturdy tote bag for K. More on this when I finish sewing in the lining.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Lots of work to do, starting new projects and continuing old ones:
  • Rice bags -- started making some in longer lengths, bought 30 lbs of rice and lots more dried lavender; these will be a "staple" gift this year.
  • Wool/cotton crocheted scarf
  • Painted picture frames with K to hold her school pictures for the grandparents
  • "Felted rocks" -- great fun. More on these later.
Gave a receiving blanket and matching hats to a friend who recently became a grandmother. I almost didn't, because they were not perfect, but she loved them and kept exclaiming on how soft and beautiful they were.

I think one of the benefits, to me, personally, of giving away what I make, is that it helps me to be less critical of my self and my abilities. People appreciate handmade and often don't see or even recognize the flaws that would keep me from giving the gifts in the first place.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent 2

What an excellent evening to celebrate the second Sunday of Advent! Freezing and blustery outside, with the scent of homemade chili in the crock pot greeting my guests as they hung up their coats. D and his father glued their heads together over a math problem, and K hauled my mother-in-law upstairs to do Grandma things while I put the finishing touches on supper. We kept it extremely simple again, reading the collect and singing the blessing at the Advent wreath and eating at tray tables in the living room, enjoying the candlelight and each other.

Yesterday's project was simple and fun. I sewed many, many small flannel sacks together, leaving a small opening through which D funneled a mixture of rice and dried lavender. After slip-stitching the holes shut, I now have many, many small soothing microwavable/freezable hot/cold packs.

I have been given these before and have purchased them at craft fairs and have always wanted to try making them, but before now have not had the sewing skills (the ability to sew a straight line with the sewing machine!) to make them. I am astonished at how easy and satisfying they were to make -- not to mention inexpensive. I think that I will make more in different sizes and that they will make fine gifts.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A visit from Saint Nick

K woke up on December 6th at what she would, in another age, have referred to as "the cracker dawn," to discover her hot-pink Crocs full of caramel creams and peppermints outside her bedroom door, oh joy! Underneath the shoes were a gaily wrapped matching game and a new book, oh joy, oh joy! We read the book, ate the candy and fiddled with the game and were done before 6:30, while Daddy snored on.

I thought a little bit about how ironic it was that St. Nicholas had never visited me as a child even one time on his special day, while D had encountered him every year as a young boy on this particular feast day. Then I popped in the Schoolhouse Rock video and kicked back with my crocheting.

When the show was over, K and I headed to the kitchen to use up the last of the forlorn bananas. She's really becoming quite proficient at the muffin recipe; I think that she will do fine with some simple Christmas cookies, so I will start to plan for that. Yesterday I let her fill the muffin cups with the quarter-cup measure, which I had not done before. She performed admirably and may hereafter do this job independently.

We took the muffins with some orange juice and woke D up with our "good morning" song and a big smile. He took it like a man. I was impressed.

Last evening with D's help I finished the second and third wool scarves and put on the fringe -- they're ready for gifting. Two down, a zillion more to go.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter woolen

There is something to be said for doing some work every day that does not involve picking up someone else's socks.

There is something to be said for doing work often that results in a satisfying finished product, although this cannot necessarily be done every day.

There is something to be said for trying new kinds of work and experiencing new processes that can lead to new kinds of success.

I think what I would say is that I am enjoying making the time to do some of my own personal work every day, taking on new types of projects and being amazed and thrilled as I complete them, and giving myself permission to reflect and write about the thinking and feeling that happens around the work I do. It's not much, but it helps give my life a little more meaning and structure, and makes me feel better when I am picking up my ten millionth sock of the day.

Yesterday's project was a buttery-soft wool scarf with a melty alpaca fringe, which was truly a joy to create. I had no trouble working with the wool, and the yarn went through the gigantic tapestry needle with no trouble at all. I have enough leftovers to make two more of these scarves, and I had planned to give them as gifts, but I'm not certain I'll be able to part with them all!

Edit 12/8/08: I forgot to mention that the idea for this scarf was adapted from the book Last Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen and Karen Philippi.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Creative cataloging

Yesterday I volunteered at K's school, helping to enter new books into the brand-new library's database so they could go on the nearly-empty shelves for the children to check out. I was working with a bona fide, veteran children's librarian, henceforth known as CL, and I learned a number of reasons why I am not a children's librarian. It's taking a great deal of effort on my part not to rant about those things now; I did, in fact, rant about those things to my children's-librarian-mother-in-law last night; but she understood that I was just venting, and if I ranted again here I would just sound like a witch; so I will just mention the issue I had that relates to creativity:

Creative cataloging.

That is to say, choosing a cataloging record for the book you have in your hand based on what you'd like to have in your database, rather than choosing (or creating!) a record for the book you have in your hand based on the book you have in your hand.

Case in point:

Me: "There's no record for this book."

CL: "Oh, that's okay. There's one with a picture of the book."

Me: "But that's a different publisher, and the date's not the same."

CL: "Oh, that's okay. We decided it was more important that the kids see a picture of the book."

Okay. Who am I to argue? I haven't worked in a library for ten years. I don't even remember the Dewey Decimal System, which clearly renders me an idiot to CL. (Note to self: brush up on that.) If that's the way they want their catalog to be, I'll go along with it. They'll still be able to find the book by its barcode. Chances are the only one whose sensibilities will be offended is me. And the answer to that is obvious: go get a job in Technical Services, honey. You don't belong here.

On the bright side, I did get to create a couple of records from scratch -- for board books that no one else would have bothered to catalog because no one else would have bothered to circulate them, because no one in their right mind would have accepted them as gifts to their library, they were so atrocious. (And, just to rub salt in it, they were Tweety Bird books that I was told to place in the Disney genre, which don't even get me started on.)

In the end, though, I did enjoy working as a sort of "sub-librarian" and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Ten years is a long time to be out of it. I think, though, that I can work my way back and gain some credibility before too long, especially as neither CL nor the woman who is serving as the school librarian (and who is not, technically, a librarian) is particularly computer-savvy. Perhaps I can bring some skills to the mix that would be valuable and useful. I hope so.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nighttime yarns

K and I have a long-standing tradition of meeting in the middle of the night for songs and stories. I have no patience for singing or storytelling at bedtime; her bedtime is my bedtime too; I need to be sleeping then, my brain doesn't work at that time of the evening.

But tug at my sleeve at 3:30 am, and I'm good to go. Ever since she was an infant, and I sat with her in the rocker, gliding and singing endless hymns (they have so many verses, I thought eventually she'd fall asleep!) we've done this. Such was tonight.

Actually, tonight was a special treat. Tonight I pulled Prince, Princess and Duke out of my, um, ear. The royal ones are a trio of lion cubs I made up on an interminable vacation out West last year, when I wanted K to think of me as "Mama Lion" protecting her cub, rather than the adversarial witch I was becoming for demanding tolerable behavior and refusing to reward atomic meltdowns. The stories were as bland as I could make them -- her reading material of choice at the time was My Little Pony paperbacks -- and the Mama always either rescued her cubs from danger or welcomed them safely home. For good measure, I also made sure that Princess was the brave cub and that Prince and Duke were nervous and a little bit stupid. Perhaps that was unfair of me, but I was trying to fill a deficit, here.

So tonight I told a boring story in which the cubs got lost in the forest and Princess found the way home, after which Mama tucked the three safely into bed and sang them a lullaby, which I also sang to K, and I handed out some cuddles and kisses and turned the bathroom light back on, and I'm quite sure she was asleep before I hit the landing. It pays, sometimes, to be a lousy storyteller.

Yesterday I started and finished a project for K's Christmas which I was not at all sure I was going to be able to do. It was very similar to the receiving blanket project but involved terrycloth, which I've never sewn with. I did have to stop and re-pin one time, and re-adjust from a straight stitch to a zig-zag, but once I made those changes it was pretty much smooth sailing, as I'd chosen the appropriate needle at the outset for dealing with stretchy fabrics.

The finished project, as you can see Curious George enjoying, is a reversible hooded towel/flannel blanket, and I am very pleased with the results. It looks to be warm, absorbent, and oh-so-cuddly so I am going to make one for my nephew as well. I'm thinking that with the leftover terry and flannel I might be able to make matching baby washcloths/hand towels or something like that -- maybe a double thickness of terry bound with the flannel? I'll have to wait until I have some time to experiment.

This project was adapted from Last-Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen and Karen Philippi.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sick day

D stayed home today to take care of K while I slept off what I can only conclude was the tail-end of the flu. I'd been up all night coughing and doing other unpleasant things, and spent most of the day sleeping or staring into space.

I did manage to spend a few hours experimenting with doing some patchwork on the covers of some Moleskine cahier notebooks, ruining four of them and producing one "giftable" one, with another in the works. The idea for these came from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Anna Williams, which has been providing me with creative fodder for the last month or two. It's so satisfying to work with scrap fabric, both for it's "green" appeal and for the pleasure of rooting through the past and visiting old, beloved projects and the people I made them for.

In the middle of finishing up the first notebook, K came home from school and wanted something to do. Having had no responsibilities all day, I was feeling pretty benevolent, so I sat her down with a book of Christmas crafts and suggested she come up with some ideas.

"But I might need help!" she complained.

"But you might have some," I suggested.

She thought about this and started turning pages. She got pretty grandiose about it, and I had to gently redirect her to things we could reasonably do right now. We ended up making pomanders out of clementines and cloves -- which is exactly what I had intended for us to do when I handed her the book. She thoroughly enjoyed herself for about a quarter of a clementine, declaring that this could be our "Mom-and-kid" Christmas tradition. My heart swelled. Of course, about a minute later, she was done. I've saved out the materials so we can work on it again after school today though; I think as long as I'm sitting with her she'll enjoy fiddling with it for fifteen minutes or so.

Not bad for a so-called "day off."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Caps and Blankets

Today I'm getting ready to send out my contribution to the Caps to Cap-Haitian Project, whose intention is to send safe birthing kits to traditional birth attendants in poverty-stricken northern Haiti. Among other useful things, the kits will include newborn caps and receiving blankets made by "craftivists" such as those under MamatoMama, a new group organized by Amanda Soule of SouleMama, who writes:
As crafters, the reasons we create are many. Just one may be to spread a little bit of peace into the world, to make a small but meaningful difference in one person's life through a simple act of crafting with intention. Mama to Mama seeks to find ways to connect handcrafters with mothers, children and families in need of a little bit of handmade love.
I'm so excited about this project! I sewed hats and blankets for two weeks straight before we had to go away for Thanksgiving. I also talked to Fr. H. about starting a craftivism group at church, which would work on the MamatoMama projects and other projects that would be more relevant to our neighborhood, and he thought that would be a great idea -- he's going to talk to the people in charge of our outreach committee so I can get started.

All in all I made 71 hats and 21 blankies, which is to say that I went a little overboard. It is definitely time to move on to a new project!