I made and hung brazen, bold and beautiful family room curtains about five years ago. You can see them in this photo from 2011. They were from Robert Allen’s Kiki Pinata fabric and they set the stage for my family room, which was bold and cozy at the same time. Here are some other pictures of the room as it was, in an old post. I loved it, but I was getting tired of it. For one thing, it’s just a really bold fabric, and one nice thing about homemade curtains is that it’s okay to change them in five years if you’re a little tired of the print. For another, I thought I would like the coziness that the bright yet dark colors would bring to the room, but instead it was starting to feel too dark. In the winters it gets dark so early; lighting a fire at 3:30 and settling into our family room was so great, but sometimes by 9:00 I just wanted a break. So this summer I gave my family room a lightening-up. I’m not posting pictures of the whole room yet because the final touch is going to be a makeover of our fireplace and that requires my brother’s DIY skills instead of mine, but here’s what I’ve got so far, before he comes and finishes the job for me. I made a sign for our homeschool, complete with our new logo (read more here). I designed the sign on the computer and had it printed on canvas.
Then I picked out new, white things for my mantle. I spray-painted branches for a tall vase, then crocheted and stiffened medallions out of cotton thread to make colorful ornaments. Instead of making new curtains, I ended up buying some ready-made ones that were such a good deal they were cheaper than sewing new ones myself. The white lets in so much light, and really brightens up this room.
My sewing area got a little lift too, with new dust covers for my machines and some new white storage containers for supplies.
Of course Belle was not left out; her new bed fits the new scheme!
And new coasters from the dog bed scraps!
And I have been using a cart next to our sofa to coral some of the school things we need close at hand. I made it a tablecloth to keep it from getting beat up (it was my Grandma’s) while tying in all the green stuff I’ve added to the room. I’ve also painted some furniture and I’m gathering up the courage (and funds!) to buy a rug, but I’ll save all that for the post after the fireplace is done. I’m really enjoying the room’s new vibe. It’s still cozy and lively, but now the daylight seems to go much farther in here.
I hope my sister-in-law doesn’t mind her gift sharing a post with a dog collar! Both of today’s items go around necks that are dear to me. Giggle. This is a crocheted necklace I made as a birthday gift. I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originated on Craftsy. I used Gloss lace-weight yarn from Knitpicks because I already had some, then put it on a black metal chain. I felt like it needed to hold its shape so I soaked it in some Stiffy (why oh why is it called that?) that was a little watered down, and now it’s just right. It holds its shape without looking…stiff. Now that I’ve made this and given it away, I sort of feel like making another one for myself. I could just make sure not to wear it where Molly is, right?
I got some new embroidery software for my birthday. My embroidery machine is a simple, inexpensive model (the Brother PE 500), but it does basically all I think I’d want in an embroidery machine. I’ve considered upgrading to a bigger or more complicated model, but I like things that are simple and straightfoward, and I really appreciate owning things I can afford to replace if a rowdy child “accidentally” knocks it across the room. One thing I wished my machine had was more fonts, and the ability to lay out more than one line of text at a time. So for my birthday I got this Letter It! software. It’s great, and it makes me feel like I can now get even more out of my little machine. It works basically like a word processing program. It comes with a nice variety of fonts, and you can purchase and import more if you want. Then you lay out your text just the way you want it to look on your final product–with multiple lines, mixed fonts, and distortions like curves if you wish–and then just save it as a file that you send over to your machine. I tried it out on this collar for my dog Belle. I liked being able to line up her name and my phone number just the way I wanted it, and she likes not having a dangling metal tag.
I went on a hat-making binge at some point after the holidays. It felt good to complete small projects, and to keep my fingers busy near the fire or in other warm and snug places. Most of them did not make my blog. I rounded up a few this morning, and had some other snaps on my phone of others that have since gone to new homes. Several of these hats are from the book Lace One-Skein Wonders, which I really love. I think it may be my favorite of the One-Skein series. I’m not sure more of the patterns aren’t up on Ravelry, though it’s still a newish book, having been published in 2013. This hat is based on the Lacy Liberty Wool Hat from that book. I modified it to use bulky-weight yarn, because that’s the yarn I had that I wanted to use. This hat is for a friend.
Sorry about the bad phone pictures again! This was the same Lacy Liberty Wool Hat, this time in a gray bulky yarn. I liked it so much in the green and it worked up so quick I decided to do it again. I modeled this one, but gave it to a another friend. Isn’t the pattern pretty? I think it’s such a nice lace pattern for a hat, and I actually really like it in the bulky.
This was another gift hat from the same book. It’s the Tredegar Hat. It’s blocked over a plate, so it has kind of a tam shape with a flat part on top. I made it out of a yummy alpaca in a pretty green with copper and dark red accents. It’s for a beautiful young lady with long, curly reddish hair who is going away to college somewhere cold. This hat looks like it was just made for her–because it was.
This is the Etta Hat from the same book. It’s for me, though it is being modeled here by a rather unwilling five-year-old boy. (Good sport, he did it anyway.) I lost this hat a few months ago and it never turned up. I loved the yarn so much, but only had a small amount left. I decided to use it as contrast for this hat. I liked the shape of this pattern, though I don’t really love the contrasting lace. The yarn was so pretty–it really wanted to be a hat all its own. Sigh… I may do this pattern again some time in a solid color.
And finally, this is a Sarah Zimmerman hat I crocheted for Daphne for a Valentine’s Day gift. I realized on February 13 that I had picked up small little things to surprise my older loves, but had nothing for my toddler. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to crochet a hat in bulky yarn! I made this in a size up because Daphne has kind of a big head, and I wanted her to be able to use it next year. It was a little too big, so I tacked up the brim with some basting stitches I can remove later. Daphne growls when she puts it on, which is the best part.
Earrings designed and strung for a friend (actually these were a holiday-season birthday gift).
A crocheted hat for a small friend.
And simple but sweet homemade tags. I don’t do anything fancy with my gift wrapping, but if I can stick a handmade tag on it then somehow the gift feels more lovingly packaged. This year I used scrapbook paper and craft punches.
Excitement is running high at my house! I’m baking goodies every day and I have almost all the wrapping done. I’m loving the age my kids are this year, and that as they get older the holidays seem to be both more relaxed and more exciting at the same time. We’ve got a routine to fall into and an expected schedule of when we’ll see our extended families, and without having to fret over the big picture events we can concentrate on the fun stuff–and just sitting back and letting it all happen. I don’t know if I’ll check in next week or not; merry Christmas to you and yours!
I hope my mother doesn’t mind appearing in this blog post! I didn’t actually intend to inflict a posed photo on her, but happened to catch her trying on her new set in this bottom photo and thought it was nice, so I’m including it unless she asks me to take it down. I was going to knit my mother some fingerless mitts for her birthday, but she didn’t know it and bought herself a pair on Etsy. Apparently all instances of me knitting or intending to knit fingerless mitts are just destined to somehow go wrong. Anyway, I crocheted a hat and scarf for her instead. I’d bought the nice hand-dyed wool at a fiber festival a few years ago and never found quite the right project for it, but the colors look great with my mom’s green coat and greener eyes. She’s the best, and she deserves a lot more than a hat. There are very few other single factors in a woman’s life that can make as much of an impact to her quality of life–at basically any age–as having a great mom. If my girls think half as highly of me some day I’ll be lucky.
On a lighter note, we’re having one of those Christmas years where the tree needs to be up on a table where small toddling monsters can’t pull it down. Worth and Dorothy don’t remember having small trees before; they only remember being able to chose large trees the last two years. I’d like to say they were concerned about the safety of their baby sister and understood the charm of the small tree year, but in reality Rob finally offered them $2 each if they’d just shut up and act happy about getting a little tree. That worked. Merry Christmas indeed!
You know the meme circulating on Facebook with the picture of how your fall display looks in your head, versus the one you actually manage to execute? (Hopefully this link works if you haven’t seen it.) Well, this project is kind of like that. Somehow we never manage to get our pumpkins carved until the last minute, so it’s just our big ol’ pumpkins sitting there on the steps until right before Halloween, at which point they both promptly rot and look out of season. This year I got the idea I’d crochet up some quick pumpkin cozys to slip over them to decorate them until they are carved. Charming idea, right? Like little jack-o-lantern sweaters. Maybe I’d make one with chevrons and it would look so very a la mode. Well, it’s ok to laugh. It totally didn’t turn out right! I sketched out a little face on graph paper and estimated the size I needed, using bulky yarn and a big hook to go fast, and this pumpkin cozy looks stupid. 🙂 The face is askew and the whole thing is too big. So it’s tricks instead of treats for me this year! And you know what? I kind of like it anyway. Happy Halloween!