My son is a big guy. Born at 9 lbs 5 oz, he’s stayed at the top of the growth chart ever since. His pediatrician says he’ll be 6 feet 2 inches if he sticks to the curve he’s been on since birth; my husband says if that’s true we won’t be able to afford to feed him! One of the side-effects of his impressive growth is that he can’t wear anything I make him for more than a season. When I realized that none of his other hats came down to his ears I knitted (knooked) a wool hat and mittens for him to match his blue and orange jacket. I used basic Patons yarn. He was so excited when he found out that the item on my needles was for him that he pestered me like a fiend until I finished the hat (thankfully, only a day or two–these were quick projects and slow, cold days). When I started the mittens I hid them so he wouldn’t know to harass me, but sooner or later he noticed the telltale blue and orange. Thankfully those were quick knits too! He has endowed these mittens with magical properties and wears them around in the house all the time as part of some game his has invented, which is sweet but also a little annoying because then he can’t find them when he needs them. He also played a game with the hat that involved spinning it around and around on his hands like pizza dough and it is now so badly stretched out that it’s never going to fit properly again. But it only took a couple days, right?
Washed out photo courtesy of my husband, who wasn’t allowed to tough the dials on my camera and thus can’t really be blamed that I didn’t have it on the right settings! It’s hard to get photographs of projects that are worn by me!
If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I have been pinning crocheted jewelry like crazy. I love to pin it, but I’d only ever tried to make it once as a gift. In the after-Christmas lull I decided to finally try out a couple ideas for myself. I have a stash of Curio yarn from Knitpicks because buying whole spools of cotton crochet thread at a Knitpicks sale is cheaper than trying to buy enough tiny little wads of embroidery floss to keep my bracelet-happy nine-year-old in business. (Especially when she has a mother who raids her stash for her own projects!) I made two pieces of lace, then starched them lightly with some watered-down Stiffy (not the Stiffy again!). The gray one was very hard to block. I had trouble getting all the points even, and then maybe I didn’t stiffen it quite enough because it still got a little misshapen when I was wearing it. I tied the gray piece with a small silver ribbon. I wore this on New Year’s Eve and when I came down with it on my oldest daughter said, “what did you tie around your neck?” So there you go. But in all honesty, I kind of like it in spite of its problems. The red one blocked much better although I’m not sure the shape of it lends itself quite as much to being a necklace. I attached it to black metal chain with jump rings.
Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.
This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.
I made printed napkins this year as holiday hostess gifts and gifts for friends. I bought several dozen cloth napkins from an eBay seller because I could not have made such nice napkins so affordably myself. I carved several simple Christmas tree and star shapes out of carving rubber, used a brayer to apply fabric paint to the stamps, and then transferred the stamps to the napkins. Stamping the napkins took a little longer than I’d envisioned, in part because I had to find space all over my house for several dozen painted napkins to dry and in part because the paint was messy business and I frequently had to stop to wash the stamps and the brayer, but I was pleased with the results. They are uneven and blotchy and very homemade looking, but I kind of like that about them. I kept a set for myself too!
I also helped the kids make reindeer napkins for their grandparents. The reindeer face is made by the side of my son’s fist, the eyes are Dorothy’s fingerprints, and red nose is Daphne’s thumbprint. I carved the date and the antlers out of carving rubber. Actually, because I’m an idiot, I first carved the date exactly as I wanted it to appear on the napkin, which of course makes it appear backwards when printed. Oops! But the second time I got it right. These napkins were a big hit and I will enjoy using them at my in-laws’ home during Christmas celebrations of the future.
I try not to miss out on opportunities to dress my three kids alike while they are still willing. It does get a bit harder, though, as they get older and their ages more diverse. This year I chose red t-shirts for all three (Children’s Place offered free shipping on all orders for months last summer/fall. Wish they’d kept that up!) and created ornament shapes out of a gender-neutral striped print. I machine embroidered their names on the front and then attached the ornaments to the shirts with fusible web and zig-zagged around them with the sewing machine. I bought Daphne an adorable tutu made by an Etsy crafter, but sadly she refused to ever wear it again after the picture. So I guess I have a used Christmas tutu for sale! The shirts, at least, got worn many times over the holiday season by all three kids and I used these cute pictures for my holiday cards.
If I’m going to catch up on my projects, I’m going to have to go back to where I left off, before the holidays. So here we go! I shared previously about my project to lighten and brighten my family room. The centerpiece of this room refresh was a new fireplace surround built by my brother Cameron, of Howard Homescapes. I wanted to keep my limestone fireplace but I wanted it prettied up a bit, and for the mantle to be more than a simple slab stuck up on top. I started a Pinterest board to visualize what I wanted in a new mantle. My brother and I sat down and he did sketches of the new design.
He did the carpentry work over a few days and then I put on the paint. I’m so pleased with the result. The fireplace now looks like furniture that goes with the rest of our room, but I didn’t lose the traditional stone that came with the 1960ish addition on the back of my 1940 house.
Well, I think 3 months might be a new record for me away from this blog. Seems like my blog comes in “seasons” now, kind of like Downton Abbey. Then it’s just re-runs for a while. (This is a joke, just in case you think I have delusions of grandeur.) But I’ve been recording projects here for six years now, and in spite of this and other absences I haven’t actually stopped. In my time away the holidays happened, with their busy, crazy, happy rush and mess. My computer went all Blue Screen of Death and every second of my laptop time for weeks went to trying to get all that back in order. But mostly the daily chores of keeping three kids alive and reasonably educated has prevented me from taking the time to keep my little record of the other, more tangible, stuff I accomplish in the corner moments. Yet here I am again, rounding up some photos I’ve snapped here and there in the last weeks, writing down my projects notes so I can hold own to my own accomplishments and so my comments can join everyone else’s in the best thing that ever happened to the handicraft universe: the internet!
I’m going to reintroduce myself since I’ve been gone so long. This is my family on Christmas Eve. My babies are Daphne (2), Worth (5), Dorothy (9). We’re a homeschooling family in Louisville, Kentucky. I bought the elf hats at the Dollar Tree and put the kids’ names on them with my embroidery machine. They cheerfully wore the hats everywhere during the Christmas season, which is possibly the only thing they all did cheerfully and in tandem except open gifts. Daphne is at a “difficult” age, which means that she occasionally lays on the floor and screams for upwards of 45 minutes because her mean parents insist on things like Closing the Refrigerator. Worth, sandwiched between my two intense girls, has a sweet spirit and his generous smile and goofy sense of humor makes the time-consuming task of teaching kindergarten very worth it (pun sort of intended). Dorothy is my very tweeny tween. She loves dolls and likes boys (already?!), still plays with Calico Critters, wears ripped jeans on purpose, loves big earrings, but still wears her pioneer girl dress-up dress out in public. I’m Renata, keeper of this little online crafty scrapbook that reminds me I occasionally produce something besides dinner. Check back in here on upcoming Mondays and Thursdays, for at least the next few weeks!