Thursday, February 13, 2014

Falling in to place

Dontcha just love it when things work out perfectly, with little or no effort involved?

That happened last week.  JoAnn's was having a large yarn sale and I needed a bit more of a particular yarn to finish a sweater.  While I was placing the order, I stumbled upon a yarn I've never heard of or viewed in person.  It's the magical blend of cotton/acrylic which I love for sweaters, and it's tiny - perfect for delicate stitches.

When the box arrived (ON my birthday even!) the green that looked grayish and iffy on my monitor is the perfect shade of limey awesomeness in real life.

Cotton-ish by Bernat, if you're curious.

It just so happens that I when I visited my Mom in Kansas three years ago, we stopped into her local Goodwill for a treasure hunt.  I sure found treasure that day.  These:

Vintage buttons in 1970's avocado...the exact shade of green as the yarn.
What are the odds?

And then, just a week ago this lovely vintage-inspired cardigan pattern was published by designer Vicky Chan:
Not my picture - this is Vicky Chan's work.The pattern above is about $6 bucks and it's called Irene.
Downloadable from

Yarn + Buttons + Vintage-y Pattern = Adorable Cardigan for Spring!  Can't wait to get started on it.

In other news, my son turns 9 soon.  I made him a minion, because I can.  He's a big fan.

Meet Dave.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fabric and Wood Letters

As promised, here's the step-by-step for embellishing wooden letters.

Materials List

  • Precut wood letters (Michaels or other craft stores)
  • Fabric scraps
  • Wonder Under double-sided fusible web
  • Iron
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pencil

These letters are about 5" x 3", but any size will work.

Flip the letter backward and put it on the paper side of the Wonder Under.

Trace around the letter and cut roughly around the edge.

Fuse the sticky side of the Wonder Under to the wrong side of your fabric.

Carefully cut it out.

Make sure there are no goofs and the fabric letter is exactly the size as the wooden one.

Peel the paper backing off the fabric letter.

Put the fabric letter on the wooden letter, lining up edges.
Fuse the two together.

Ta-Daa!  I used sticky tack to hang them, but they would also be adorable sitting on a shelf.

Ok lady, get it together.

Ah, January.

The month when new resolutions shape the way we organize our lives for the year ahead, only to admit defeat by February first and pull the covers over our head and scream make it stop!

This year I lowered the bar.  The only "resolution" I made was to stop buying Diet Pepsi.  Not for any health reasons or gibberish like that (although that stuff certainly can't qualify as health food) but because I'm just so dang cheap.  Soda is going for $4 a 12-pack!   Plus a new Aldi grocery store opened near me and they don't even sell Diet Pepsi, so at least it can't leap into my cart when my back is turned like the chocolates do. Oh those sneaky chocolates.

I also decided to organize a bit because the crafting area was getting completely out of control.  It's been a week-long process, but I've cleaned out all the cupboards and drawers.  The yarn side of things is looking good.  All the evil wool yarns (which I bought before I realized that wool and I are never going to be BFF's, ever) is ready to donate to Goodwill. The lovely bamboos are living together in one cozy space, and the acrylic and cotton blends are happily co-habitating on the lower shelves.

Brace yourselves.  I had no idea there were so many fabric remnants stuffed into this until I dumped them all out for sorting.

Many of these are tiny little scraps not suitable for much of anything, so with the help of my dear son (he's my little Iron Worker, pressing each piece perfectly) I'm trimming each scrap into as many 2" wide strips as possible.  For now, they're all going in a bin.  Eventually I'll put these together into a scrappy quilt-as-you-go project.  Never tried the technique, but it looks intriguing!

Uhhh...I might need a bigger bucket.

So with the cleaned up space, it was time to add some embellishments.  Michaels has many styles of wooden letters.  Six fabric scraps + wooden letters = Easy.  I'll do a separate blog post with a tutorial for how to make these. 

Happy new (organized) year everyone!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mock me no more!

Several months ago I discovered the wonderful, long-striping colors of Boutique Unforgettable yarn.  I bought six skeins; three in brights and three in muted shades.  The brights were loads of fun to play with. Remember this?  And this?

Yeah, well that shawl tried so hard to be loved.   I wore it precisely twice, and both times I felt like some weird middle-aged woman who got lost in the fashion sense of yore.  I see shawls everywhere in magazines and websites and they are often displayed beautifully on the 20-ish model.  The shawls looks young and trendy. Alas, somewhere things take a seriously wrong turn once draped over my shoulders.

Every morning, as I'd ponder the offerings of my wardrobe, that shawl would call to me from the shelf.  "Why won't you wear me?  I'm beautiful with soft shades of plum and orchid!"  And I would pretend I couldn't hear it's cries because I'm not a shawl person.

Last week I'd had enough of its guilt-infused ways, so I ripped out all it's stitches and rolled it back into balls. Seven days later, this pullover was born.

It's perfect.

Because it's been so dang cold this month, my husband has started wearing scarves again.  He pulled out one I made eons ago when I was first learning to crochet and wore it to a meeting where apparently, it was coveted by others.  He asked me to make two more for gifts, pretty please and thank you.  While I'm at it, I figured the pattern was worth writing out and making available to others.  And so, I'm pleased to present my second "official" design, the Chill Chaser Scarf.   Someday maybe I'll type out all the unofficial designs and make a book or something.

Chill Chaser Scarf
Click the Chill Chaser Scarf over there in the right side panel to get the pdf pattern. ---------------->

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why doesn't she have a movie deal yet?

It snowed yesterday.

We had to make cookies because that's the thing to do while the beautiful snow is falling.

My daughter made her gingerbread man into Wonder Woman.  She's awesome like that.

She must have the special extra-long toes that some people have because she can carry her Magic Lasso with her foot.  Sadly, I can only pick up dropped pencils with my toes.  That must be why the Justice League recruiter still hasn't called.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Latte on a cold day.

The most comfortable sweater pattern I've ever made is by crochet guru Doris Chan.  The original is done in brown and cream and is aptly named Tall Latte and is found in her book Everyday Crochet (which anyone who A-crochets and B-makes sweaters should own).

Last month I embarked on an experiment in pattern modification using this one as a guide.  First I made the pattern mostly as written, but modified a few things to fit me better like lengthening the sleeves and body, and omitting the increases for the hips.

Then I wondered how it would look if I shrunk the whole thing down into a girls' size by using a really skinny yarn and a hook 3 sizes smaller than what the pattern called for.  That resulted in Small Latte, modeled on my daughter here.  It must be comfortable because she's worn it to school a half dozen times already, and we all know kids will not wear anything that itches or scratches or causes them to be ridiculed by their peers. Score one for mom.  She also requested added length, so this is quite a bit longer than my first version.

Lastly, I'm a huge fan of the sweater-dress-over-leggings trend because it looks pulled together yet feels like wearing ratty old sweatpants.  This experiment successfully resulted in Latte Grande, accomplished by adding extra hip increases at two points to make the skirt part.

All of these projects showcase my newfound love, slip stitch ribbing.   Finally I have found a ribbing that looks just as crisp as knitting, without actually touching a knitting needle!  

Slip Stitch Ribbing

After all this I'm going to relax into something simple, like a scarf or cowl.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween is all about pretending to be something you're not.

And my costume was cheap too.  The last two days I've been Ultimate Mom!  But now that the Halloween festivities are officially over, I can go back to feeding my kids pancakes and eggs for dinner and ignoring the dust bunnies that waft by as I crochet away in my happy bubble of bliss.  

Whenever we have pizza, the kids love taking the leftovers to school for lunch the next day. Since I don't have a trapezoidal tupperware suitable for pizza slices, I started doing foil-gami over the leftovers. Over the years we've had bulls, kites, hearts, kids faces, and lots of other things.  Pretty easy...all you need is some foil and a sharpie.    Last night it finally occurred to me that this is an idea worth sharing! Duh.

Horton the Elephant


My husband makes fabulous homemade pizza.  He combines interesting toppings and they're often quite gourmet and delicious.  Last night he dug through the fridge and ended up tossing this together:

Grape tomatoes, artichokes, BACON!, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozarella, and homemade basil pesto.  

The crazy city we live in does not do Trick or Treating on Oct 31.  They do it the night before and call it Beggar's Night.  I know, right.  Who makes up these crazy ideas?  Anyway, it ends up stretching out the event into a two-day fiasco, so on Beggar's Night we had this gourmet feast.  (I needed something quick because....CANDY TIME!)

Mummy Dogs, Dracula Hearts and Bats Brains.
Ok, so I wasn't really Ultimate Mom this week and I never will be.  But at least everyone showers daily. Just keep the bar low and it's all good.  

We did go to a Halloween Party a couple of weeks ago and the four of us had a theme going on.  You'll never figure it out.  ;-)

Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom
Some cheap t-shirts and 2-yards of yellow felt. This years' costumes cost about $12 total.  Perhaps instead of striving for Ultimate Mom, I should embrace what I truly am: The Frugal Fairy.

Besides, they LOVE having pancakes and eggs for dinner.