Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blankets for Haiti

I have been watching for crafting opportunities for Haiti relief, and Project Linus has come through, coordinating an effort to collect 10,000 blankets to send to Haitian children.

You can help. Details:
  • Blankets can be of any size
  • Blankets may be knitted or crocheted, quilts, or fleece
  • Donation deadline is Feb. 20. (In practical terms, this means they must get to the Project Linus drop-off point by Feb. 20. If you want to drop them off with me -- and I'd be delighted to deliver them for you -- they'd probably better get here by Feb. 19th.)
My additional thoughts about the blankets are that:
  • They ought to be made of washable materials
  • When deciding on a size for your blanket, consider that it will be going to a child. This doesn't mean it has to be a tiny baby blanket, but a full-size quilt could be overwhelming (not to mention difficult to carry around.)
  • I know they need to be made in a hurry, but if you can add a little personal touch -- some embroidery, an applique, a crocheted flower or a ribbon -- something small but special, that would make the blanket feel more like a gift to the recipient than a charity offering.
I will post links to relevant web sites as they become available -- right now I am working from a sign I saw in a shop window and a brief conversation with the shop's owner. In the meantime, I hope you will consider taking on this project in whatever way seems appealing to you. If you need ideas, inspiration or materials, please contact me -- I can try to provide all three! If you think you can't make a handmade blanket but you want to try, I can show you how to do it in an hour.

Now, if you will excuse me, I've got knitting to do!

On my needles -- ribbing edition

I've been knitting a lot lately, but not finishing much, so there hasn't been much to blog about. I thought I would finish a pair of mittens for D, but ran out of yarn (such giant hands!) and had to regroup because I didn't want to schlep out to Woolbearers just then. I had some Cascade Eco Alpaca sitting around being melty-soft, and though it is definitely not sock yarn I started a pair anyway. They'll be comfy to wear around the house or with Birkenstocks, and I promise not to be fussy if they droop a little. I'm knitting them in 3 x 1 ribbing all the way down to try to compensate a bit for the lack of springiness in the alpaca.

Then yesterday I made the trip to Mount Holly to pick up the mitten yarn and also the wool for my father-in-law's new sweater (some really nice Plymouth Merino Worsted Superwash), and spent the rest of the day winding one hank into a ball and trying to make a gauge swatch. I'm really frustrated with how slowly the winding went and how slowly and painstakingly I knit. I know that the knitting will come with time and practice, but the winding! Oh, how I wish I had a swift! My current dream is to make one like this, using tinkertoys of all things! If I can buy some used (the new ones cost practically as much as a swift does) I will do it, I will!

As you can see, I'm having serious storage issues with my knitting needle collection (there's that mitten again.) This is what happened when I went to find my size 7 circs to make the gauge swatch. Clearly something needs to be done. Probably I need to purge the needles I know I'm not ever going to use (like the bendy rubbery ones that came in the big thrift-store lots I've purchased to get the nice big wooden ones), make some sort of caddy for the straights, and maybe come up with some sort of binder/folder system for the circulars. How do you store your knitting needles?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Living Room

Since the cold weather came we've been spending less and less time in the "TV Room," where it's freezing, and more and more time in the Living Room, where it's toasty warm. We read, play, knit, draw, talk, giggle, and fiddle around on our laptops here. The guinea pigs live next door in the dining room (don't ask me to explain how that happened) and we chat with them in their cage, and sometimes set up their play pen in here and let them run around and munch on veggies while we fend off the cats. A lot of living gets done here. And I wanted to mark that, somehow.

Enter Amanda Soule's Handmade Home. Her One-Word Banner project fit the bill just right, I think. The letters are cotton fabric scraps appliqued onto felted wool rectangles, and they're just sewn at intervals onto a length of bias tape. (Ah, the magic of bias tape. Why is there never a sale on bias tape?) As usual, I love that they're red.

While I was working on appliqueing the letters and nearly finished, K walked into the studio; she saw l, y, and a heart. She asked what word I was making, and I asked if she could guess. "Something with love?" she ventured. Yes! Yes! Something with love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guinea Pig Crafting

Have I introduced you to the two newest members of our family? Meet Chancellor and Gordon, two Peruvian guinea pigs with a lot of hair and a lot of style!

Despite what the above photo would have you believe, they spend their days on a bed of fleece -- it wicks moisture right through to an absorbent layer beneath, which heretofore has been a towel, but as of today they sleep and play on a mama-made Guinea Pig Mattress. Cuddly fleece on top, absorbent diaper soaker fabric inside and waterproof barrier on the bottom. Nothing but the best for my boys!

I had seen instructions for making this sort of thing in other places online, but none of them seemed to fit my style -- either too much sewing was involved or the directions were too complicated or something -- so I set out to make a fleece mattress that was simpler in design and even simpler to construct. The result pleased me so much that I made another one and wrote a tutorial for it, and here it is for you to use:

Guinea Pig Fleece Mattress Tutorial (PDF)

I invite you to try it out, let me know what worked and what didn't work and what needs improvement, what changes you made and how your piggies liked it. I hope you're as happy with your results as I was with mine!

(For those of you who are not cavy-crazy, if you'd care to read the tutorial and offer constructive criticism, I'd be grateful for that, too.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Smocks and more

K has a birthday party to go to tomorrow. We needed a present and something special to wear, stat. I found the pattern for this "Swing Swing Smock" in Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing and modified it to fit my six-year-old. Thanks to Amy's zig-zag method of applying bias tape, it was a cinch to make -- took maybe an hour, tops. The fabric is Amy Butler from my stash, and I have a yard of that pocket material waiting to become a Lazy Days Skirt (by Oliver & S) -- but we needed something warm enough for K to wear now.

Out there on the Internet are tutorials galore, and I found one to make a child's skirt from an adult's sweater and another to make a child's leggings from the arms and shoulders left over from the adult's sweater made into the child's skirt. As it happened, I had a brown cashmere sweater that I didn't enjoy wearing very much, that was just the size, shape and softness to make into a skirt-and-leggings set for K.

She was delighted with her new outfit when she came home from school today and it was all I could do to get it off of her at bedtime! I'm just relieved that both pieces fit and were comfortable for her.

For her friend's birthday present we found fabric featuring the characters from Disney's The Princess and the Frog -- K reports that the child is Disney-princess crazy -- and I made another smock. I didn't have an appropriate sweater to make a skirt/legging set so I purchased a t-shirt and leggings at Target that I hope will fit her. I am less enthralled with this outfit than I am with the one for K, but if it suits her classmate's taste (which I hope it does), then I'm happy.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Goodies from the Guild House

After prayer quilting group today, I stayed in the vestry room to watch the cleaning-out of the wardrobe that was once used by the women who sewed vestments and linens and other items needed by the church, including a set of aging and obsolete confirmation veils that we pulled out and wondered what to do with (they went back in the closet.) I took quite a bundle of treasure home with me!

This thread-holder was made by the husband of one of the sewing-guild ladies, and I got to take it along with its collection of antique and modern spools of thread. I love that it's red!

As you will read in a post that is coming soon, I have recently discovered the magic and wonder of bias binding. Today I hit the jackpot with this box full of it! It's not all in perfect condition, but it will certainly do for doll clothes.

Is this green brocade magnificent? There's enough to make a good-sized pillow, front and back, or a pair of pillows if I use a different backing. What would you make with it?

I'm sure I will find something ornate to use that gorgeous gold, green and white trim on. And check out that white damask peeking out in the corner. That's about a yard of 45" material there, enough to make one pretty fancy christening set for someone's baby doll.

If all that weren't enough of a prize for going to work on quilts with the church ladies today, get this -- as we were wrapping up, one of the women came in bearing a quilt that looked astonishingly like the My House quilt on my bed -- I was astonished! After some inquries, I found out that someone had found some four-patch pieces in a bag that had been donated and liked the colors, so had sewn them together into a prayer quilt. Of course! My leftover patches! So someone else will have a My House quilt for comfort and healing. That just completely made my day. I could not be happier.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Oh, I love it!

I just had to pop in and point you to Amanda Soule's latest creation, a gorgeous fleece-backed flannel quilt, made simply of large blocks and tied at the corners, so cozy for her youngest child's new bed. I am entranced by the new collection of prints by Anna Maria Horner, so bright and pretty. If only I didn't have such a backlog of projects, I would certainly copy this one! Go take a look; it will make you smile.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back in the studio

I took a break over the holidays and mostly worked on knitting mittens -- finished a pair for myself and nearly finished a pair for D, which he may yet get by the time the cold weather is over. But I'm back in the studio with a new sewing machine and plenty of new projects in the works.

Before Christmas I went through my stash of thrifted sheets and readied them for projects galore... They're not just for pajama pants anymore!

I spent most of today working on a long-overdue birthday present for my nephew J, who turned The Big Oh-Three back in November. I had fun making his superhero cape, though by the time I was done it had me singing my high school's alma mater (Crimson and gold, triumphant evermore!) and wondering whether J might look more like Ronald McDonald than a powerful crime-fighter. I think he'll probably enjoy it just the same.

My notions bin has yet to recover from the ransacking it received when I was looking for just the right trim for an improvised doll's dress that K's hand-me-down baby could wear to show-and-tell last Friday. It was constructed and donned with haste and I have not seen it since, or I would show it to you here.

Here are the pre-washed fabrics for the preemie quilt I'm making as a sample for the craftivism group I'm trying to get together at my church. I've been wanting to work with 30's reproduction fabrics for a long time, and I had a good excuse to buy some last week at my quilt store's Fat Quarter Friday -- they will be perfect for a baby, and they mix seamlessly (no pun intended) with some vintage scraps I bought when we were antique-scrounging in Michigan last summer.

So my hands are full and busy, and I must say I am quite happy with the whole deal.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010


Happy birthday to my new six-year-old!

Here she is in her self-made birthday crown:

And here she is in her mama-made oilcloth apron:

 (Naturally, I have a matching one.  Painting party, anyone?)