Last year I made boo-boo ice packs for my kids. This is an old photo of Worth using his. They are just little 7-inch square pillowcases made out of flannel. When one of my kids needs first aid for some physical pain they believe they have suffered, supplying then with an ice pack stops the crying. I put some ice cubes in a quart-size zipper-lock bag then slip the baggie inside the pillowcase. When the pack has worked its magic I dump out the ice and dry out the zipper lock bag over my knife rack so I can reuse it next time. Worth’s pack is made out of monkey fabric and Dorothy’s is made from Hello Kitty, thus we call the packs “boo-boo monkey” and “boo-boo kitty.” They work miracles. Whether or not they are medically indicated is not really the point.
For Mother’s Day this year my family bought me a starter embroidery machine. I’m still playing with it and learning to use it right now. It’s an inexpensive and simple setup as far as embroidery machines go, but I think I will really enjoy it. One of my first projects to try out the new machine was to make a boo-boo ice pack for a little friend of ours. I got the caterpillar embroidery file free from Brother’s website. My kids, of course, call this project the “boo-boo caterpillar.” I don’t always think embroidered kids’ things are cute, partly because they are often done in a style I don’t care for, and also because personalizing something really cuts down on its ability to be reused, but I have no qualms about turning a 7-inch square of flannel into something that will be destined to serve an important purpose for only one small little person. If Kenny gets as many ice-worthy injuries as my kids (or at least believes he does), he will wear this little item out.
And I made more new pillows, again. I feel like I blog about pillows a lot! But I love to change out the slips on my sofa pillows seasonally. I’d made these green and white ikat slips last spring, but added the smaller ones this year. We just replaced our sofa (don’t laugh, I know it looks very similar to the old one, but I loved the old one and it was getting holes all over it!) and I thought with this new configuration we’d need more throw pillows to really get comfy. I love these fluffy, soft down pillow forms from fabric.com. They aren’t the firm, perky kind you’d buy to always look perfect–they are squishy and soft and wonderful for molding just the right way when you’re reading on the sofa. Now that I’ve added the new ones I get to indulge in a whole year’s worth of new pillow-slip-making to keep them covered and seasonal! This is the fabric on the green pillows, and this is what’s on the new ones.
I’ve been neglecting to post about some camera bags I’ve made recently because I wanted more pics, but I don’t have any so here goes anyway. I made the camera bag in the picture for my mom, and I made another with a pretty chevron print for my sister-in-law. Both are basic fabric bags made from sturdy home decorator fabric, but lined with a soft pad on the bottom and then snaked inside with a long strip of padded fabric to move around and adjust to perfectly cushion the camera and accessories. I was initially hesitant to construct a camera bag because of the necessity of good padding, but I think the long cushy strip works pretty well. For my sister-in-law’s bag I used a purse pattern from a book; for this one I cut side panels the size of standard copy paper, snipped and sewed triangular slits in the corners to give it some shape, then attached them with a long side panel strip of fabric 6 inches wide. For the top sewed a zipper to two strips, then cut the zipper panel to be six inches wide as well. The boxy shape seems particularly handy for accessing the contents. Mom wanted a neutral fabric that wouldn’t shame my father when it was his turn to carry it around, so I chose the map print appropriate to all their retirement travels.
Three gifts projects today. This was a purse for my niece’s sixth birthday last week. I was inspired by a project I saw on Ravelry. I crocheted circles from this book of crochet motifs, then added eyes, a beak, and some edging that resembles ears, and made a little strap. The birthday girl seemed to like it.
These are the same basic booties I often use as a baby gift, from this free pattern online. These are for a gender-unknown baby, so I made them out of a natural-toned washable wool and tied them with brown suede lace. My recent improvement on this baby gift is that I bought a package of cupcake boxes and am now tucking a small handmade card and the booties (stuffed with tissue paper to fill them out) down into the box, which comes together to make a very cute little gift. These got mailed so I especially liked the way the box made a tidy little parcel that I could mail without squishing the booties.
These are Granddad’s new mittens.
Modeled here by Granddad himself. I knitted (knooked) these using this vintage pattern that I used once before on mittens for Dorothy, out of this tweed yarn from Knitpicks. This is the same Granddad who last appeared here as one of my camper elves last spring. He totally deserved mittens, and much more too, but he got mittens. He likes them and looks forward to warm fingers.
We did some early Christmas unwrapping today, allowing the kids to paw through the little items that were from their parents, as opposed to the more mysterious gifts that will come from St. Nick tomorrow. I made the kids these canvas art smocks/aprons to wear during their own crafty pursuits. Dorothy had a tiny little painting smock when she was a toddler but it long ago lost its straps and fell by the wayside. My method of keeping the kids clean during art projects has been to send them upstairs to change into old t-shirts when I think about it, but that’s rather inconvenient when one has been hit by inspiration. These sturdy canvas smocks should allow them to act on their inspirations without the burden of climbing two flights of stairs and locating an acceptable shirt. I used fabric paint and freezer paper stencils to paint their initials onto each apron.
Of course unwrapping the smocks caused inspiration to hit immediately, so we had to pull out paints and brushes and canvas boards to try them out.
I made these “favorite newspaper” cufflinks for Rob. He likes novelty cufflinks to lighten up his stuffy lawyer garb and we’ve had fun in the past gluing Legos and bottle caps onto cufflink hardware. This year I used a 1-inch round craft punch and epoxy dots to make cufflinks from his own used newspapers. I punched clear plastic (like from the packaging of new toys) for the backing.
And this is a brand new batch of cold-process (lye) soap. I make unscented “man” soap for my brother whenever he starts to run low. He likes a soap without weird chemicals or fragrances and I like the opportunity to make something handmade for a brother who doesn’t need much. This soap will come out of my extremely expensive and fancy (ha!) dishpan mold later today and I’ll cut it into slabs before I give it to him tomorrow. It will still need to cure for 4-6 weeks, but if I give it to him straight from the mold then he will be able to cut it into just the right size bars himself.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged. I’m sort of getting out of the habit of remembering to photograph projects when I finish them. I don’t think I’m ready to quit this blog thing yet because I enjoy keeping this little record for myself, but I do need to put a note or something on my crafty table so I don’t completely get out of the habit. In any case, here’s a little bit of what”s been going on at my house this past month. Dorothy and I made hair bows. I made a few for her (including this one I glued to a headband) and she made some for her cousins. We used a Bowdabra, which is simple and gives good results. It makes puffy bows–not the tidy little twisted kind you can make with templates.
I’ve used the season as an excuse to try a bunch of gluten-free cookie recipes I’d been wondering about. I’m not gluten-free but my mother is, so I’ve been enjoying experimenting with gluten-free baking on her behalf. These sugar cookies were from Carol Fenster’s 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes and they were terrific. I don’t think anyone would have noticed they were gluten-free if I hadn’t said something. I rolled them out between sheets of plastic wrap as suggested, but I found the dough just as easy to work with as regular cookie dough.
These gluten-free jam cookies were from The Wheat-Free Cook by Jacqueline Mallorca. I don’t care for this book overall as well as the one above, but these cookies were tasty. They were really great just-baked and were nice but crumbly once they had been sandwiched with the jam. The drawback to them came the next day, when they’d apparently soaked up all the moisture from the jam and almost fell apart when I touched them, so they really want to be eaten only on the day they are made. Still, they are tasty and light with a nice flavor and don’t scream “gluten free alternative!” when you taste them.
I finished knitting (knooking) myself this sweater a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the freakishly warm weather has prevented me from wearing it much. I ran into the difficulty once again of trying to get a decent photo of a project made for myself but this one will have to do. I’d like to show the neckline, which I particularly like, but I didn’t think to take off my scarf for the photo when I came in today from shopping. I used this Oatmeal Pullover pattern and the Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn the pattern suggests, but in the color Eggplant. I like the sweater and it didn’t take that long to knook since the yarn is so chunky, but if this warm-weather trend continues I may never get to wear it since it is such a bulky, warm garment. I made the pattern in size medium, but since the knitter controls the length and the sleeve length I think I could have gone down a size and cut down on some of the bulk.
Finally, this is what my kids made their instructors/nursery care providers/extracurricular teachers as holiday gifts this year. Last year we did jars of homemade granola and I was going to do that again, but when my kids got snotty and sick it felt like homemade gifts from my kitchen stirred by their germy little hands might not be the most appropriate displays of our affection. Instead I cut strips of cardstock and cut the recipients’ names out with paper punches, then let the kids paint their own designs on the strips. Each kid needed to make about five. After they were dry we wrote the children’s names on the back and laminated them to make sturdy personalized bookmarks.
Hope you have a very merry, crafty Christmas!
Well, the red camper is gone. It rolled on off behind a young couple who is going to take it to Bonnaroo. I think they’ll all have a great time. It did feel a little strange to see my favorite project headed away from me, but I’m very excited about finding the right next camper for my family. Selling it felt a a tad sudden, but on our last camping trip the sleeping arrangements just felt too crowded. I’d always pictured the kids tent camping next to us as they got too big to share our red camper, but I don’t think I realized how much time would pass between outgrowing our sleeping capacity and the threshold for being able to sleep alone in a tent. Since our last trip I’ve found myself strangely drawn to the Craig’s List classifieds, and it seemed like a smart idea to go ahead and list mine so I could actually move on the right thing for us when I found it. I truly didn’t think I’d sell it so fast–right before we have camping reservations with friends this weekend! We decided to go on and tent camp and have a nice laugh over my haste, but this morning found Dorothy with a stomach bug so we’re staying home anyway. I do have a day trip planned to look at a potential camper one day this coming week so wish me luck! The lady who sold me my Fleetwing told me it would be my “starter camper” and I didn’t believe her. I guess the joke was on me! Maybe vintage trailers are like potato chips…
We gave the gift of spring t-shirts to our mothers for Mother’s Day a couple weeks ago. Dorothy drew and colored a charming flower, I scanned it and used Photoshop to remove the background, then I uploaded the image to Cafe Press and ordered the shirts. It would have been so much faster and cheaper to use printer transfer paper, but the shirts from Cafe Press make much nicer gifts. Unlike the transfer paper shirts they have no special washing instructions, they hold up over time very well, and you never accidentally sandwich pet hair between the shirt and the transfer when you’re ironing it on (past experience speaks). Both grandmothers have been wearing their shirts proudly.
I’ve also been at my sewing machine a lot lately. I’ve made three more versions of my favorite skirt pattern, including the one pictured. Dorothy loved the print of this skirt so much that I let her talk me into making a matching one for her. I didn’t use a pattern for hers but I wish I’d kept a paper version of what I cut out for it because it turned out so well. We’ve enjoyed running around town together being matchy. I know her enthusiasm for this won’t last forever, so I really do savor the strangers’ smiles and her enjoyment of our matching outfits.
Now that my book-binding supplies are dusted off maybe I’ll use them more. I made this little book for an old friend who was recently married. It served as a sign-in book at the reception. I covered davey board with pretty paper from a local art supply store in the colors of the wedding.
I printed a cover page with their event information and lined inside pages on my home printer, which could be set to print oddly-sized pages. I purchased acid-free sketch paper for the inside pages and then cut them to the size I wanted before I printed on them. I sewed the sheets together with linen thread before gluing them in the cover. It felt nice to supply something small and handmade for the wedding that the couple could use as a keepsake. I was amused when my daughter and nieces all took the guestbook very seriously at the reception and each signed her name individually.
I just keep forgetting to put these photos up. Last month we observed the same spring break as our local public schools. For families who send their kids offsite to school, spring break can be an opportunity for family fun and togetherness. As homeschoolers, I decided the kids and I could use the opportunity to take a break from each other! Each morning I packed them off to one or the other of their grandparents’ homes, where they ate too much dessert and took “field trips” as varied as Chuck-e-Cheese and a train history museum, then came back home at dinner time. While they were gone I spent five solid days painting at home. When I’d gone through the rooms after we moved in, removing wallpaper and adding color, I skipped some of the more time-consuming, lower-impact jobs. Over spring break I went back and did the more thankless jobs, finally finishing up the horrid living room ceiling (it actually looks halfway decent now–I’d photograph it but it just looks like, you know, a ceiling), and painting doors, trim, and window casings. This house already had light painted trim and I unified it by using glossy white on all of it. I know there are differing opinions on trim paint, but I love the look of crisp, white trim and doors. It’s so fresh and offsets the painted walls so well. Plus the glossy surface is easy to clean, which is important with kids and pets.
I had another lingering paint project outside. We’d painted the garage door and the light above it last year, but the decrepit white shutter on the side of the garage was still peeling. I painted it red too and it looks much better. We’ve still got a long way to go on improving the outside of this house (hello crumbling tile on the porch!), but every small project moves us in the right direction. I can see the garage from my family room with the Kiki Pinata curtains, so now the view outside kind of matches.
I knitted (knooked) a coffee cozy to keep in my purse so I don’t have to feel guilty when the baristas at my frequent coffee spot act like they aren’t really supposed to be giving out paper sleeves anymore. What’s up with that anyway? But now that I’ve got my sweet woolen one I’d never go back. The coffee heats up the wool and it feels so cozy and nice in my hands; it definitely enhances an afternoon coffee-on-the-run experience. I used this pattern and wool left over from my Bonita hat. I followed the pattern and had the correct gauge but I think I could have gotten away with skipping the last set of rows. I usually order smalls and this fits mediums or larges a bit better. This is one of those frivolous projects that you don’t really need but can really make you feel pampered when you use it. It would make a great gift for someone, especially paired with a special bag of coffee beans or a reusable mug. Every time I’ve pulled it out and slipped it over my coffee someone has smiled at it or told me how pretty it is. Why not have nice little things that elevate small moments in a typical day?
I don’t even know how many times I’ve made this pattern but I continue to love it. These booties are my go-to baby gift. I don’t usually photograph them but I felt like it had been a while since I’ve blogged about them. (They’ve probably appeared here a few times since Worth wore a pair home from the hospital–I’ve even made them bigger and felted them.) Sometimes I change the look of the booties a bit by crocheting in the backs of rows the pattern says to crochet into the front of, and sometimes I do the ankle bands differently. I think doing a nice high ankle with some ribbing helps them stay on. I usually embellish them with buttons or bows or something to make them unique. They really help little baby socks stay on. This pair is for a friend whose baby is due any day now. Homemade baby gifts are so nice for being able to take a little time to think about the new little person who will wear them. I hope the wee girl getting these little booties feels snug in her community of family and friends as well as her warm feet.
I can’t seem to get one great photo of this wolf hat so I’m trying to make up for it in quantity. Worth is so fond of the hat that for a couple days he even wore it at breakfast. (Aside: Every time I see Worth in this hat inside the house I have to think: “The night that Worth wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another…”) I got inspired by this hat in Crochet Today but decided I liked the shape of this knitted one a bit better. For some reason I was never able to just sit and work on this project for a long stretch so it seemed to take forever in starts and stops for me to actually finish it (and I knitted one row that should have been purled–don’t look too close). I went back to the original crocheted pattern to make the ears but then the hat looked so cute and Worth was already so fond of it that I just stopped. I can’t remember exactly which yarn I used but I think it was a bulky washable merino from Knitpicks. It’s very soft and warm and should fit him next year too–good, since winter seems to have exited early and I finished the hat rather late.
This was meant to be a Christmas gift for my niece Maggie but, well, it wasn’t. Now I’m giving it to her as an early birthday gift instead because by mid-March it’s probably going to get too warm to wear it. I used the Easy No Sew Summer Baby Doll Sweater pattern which I’d also used this summer as a gift for a friend. This is a good pattern and it worked up nicely in this Swish Tonal yarn from Knitpicks. I hope the soon-to-be-3 Maggie likes it.
My other niece Lila turned five this past week. She’s about Dorothy’s size so after my recent success with Simplicity 5704 (see below) I decided to try it again. This time I used Michael Miller cowgirl prints, which were surprisingly soft and should make this a comfortable dress for Lila. She loves pretty ponies so I hope she loves this dress too. As I was stitching this dress together it occurred to me that while having my children and my nieces close in age is nice now, it might be kind of sad in a few years when all the kids in my family are too old for homemade pony dresses (or heart dresses, or whatever). It’s a privilege to be turning out these frilly little sewing projects; not everyone has a pretty little girl to sew or crochet for, and I’m blessed with three at once!
This project is not nearly as cute but it will probably be in use long after the pink sweater and pony dress are outgrown. I replaced the tattered and torn Target bag that held rags on the back of my guest room closet door with a sturdy and sensible rag bag sewn from old sheets. The opening, as shown, is on the front for easy access. I did not use a pattern for this but it is basically two rectangles sewn together, one cut in two then sewn back together with a finished slit in the middle, and then gussets added in all four corners. I’d picked up the sheet it’s made from at a thrift store and it actually looks pretty nice in the yellow, red and orange brightness of Aunt Stephanie’s room.
I’ve been wanting to try knooking something with a very thin yarn, like socks, but I don’t have a hook small enough. My kit came with a 3.5 mm hook but I’ve been finding that my gauge when knooking is consistently bigger than the knitting gauge you’d expect with the same size hook, so 3.5 just isn’t going to be small enough for a project such as socks. I read a terrific idea for making a sock knooking hook out of beading cord and a crochet hook, but I didn’t think that would work for me for a couple reasons. First, I tried something similar with cord before I bought the eBay hooks and I didn’t like the feel of the yarn on the cord or the way it kind of snagged getting on to the cord–working with a lifeline of ribbon works much better for me. Second, I wasn’t sure of my ability to file a point at the end of the hook. Something about two children, one puppy and tiny metal shards was just making me nervous. I thought if I had a regular yarn needle long enough to use comfortably maybe I could just bend the point into a hook. A little googling lead me to discover that tatting needles are just that–long needles with a hole in the end just the right size for a small cord or ribbon. I ordered a couple online. My idea started to fall apart when I confidently grabbed my needle-nosed pliers and realized that the needle was too rigid; it was going to snap before it bent. At this point my idea starts to be just as kid- and puppy-unfriendly as filing metal. I turned on my gas stove and heated the end of the needle until it was red and hot. (I held the needle with a silicone mitt!) This actually worked pretty well, but my first hook turned out oddly shaped and uncomfortable to use. I switched to using my jewelry pliers, which are small and strong, and they worked perfectly. I reheated several times while tweaking the shape of the hook, but I finally got it just right. I’m pleased with my tatting needle turned knooking hook and I think I’m now fully knooking-empowered, in any gauge. (Shew! I know you are as relieved as I am. Grin.)
This is not crafty, just cute. My sweet kiddos in a pumpkin patch yesterday. Worth wanted to take home every single pumpkin and Dorothy was primarily concerned with selecting a pumpkin for herself that was at least one obvious step up in size from her brother’s.This is a headband/earwarmer thing I knooked for a friend’s daughter. The little girl loves wearing headbands so I was thinking that headband-like winterwear might make her a nice birthday gift. I used some of my leftover Chroma yarn from my recent hat project and this pattern, which was quick and easy. I started it Saturday morning and gifted it Sunday afternoon! I didn’t have time to block it, but I’m hoping that on an active six-year-old no one will notice.