Category Archives: gifts

A hat and an ice pack

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aqua-hat aqua-hat-back

This is a hat I made for my daughter’s friend. I didn’t use a pattern just did a ribbed band, three rows of purl, a knit band, three more rows of purl, and then every-row decreases for the crown. I used Red Heart Boutique Treasure yarn and was unimpressed with that. Really I knew better than to buy yarn from a big-box craft store, but the color was pretty and I was weak. I gave the hat a nice soak in Eucalan before I gifted it, so I hope that took care of the itchiness. It did look cute on the recipient.2015-12-22 16.07.33

This was another gift I gave recently. We use 7 inch square flannel baggies (really kind of like tiny pillow cases) to make ice packs when my children get hurt. We slip a plastic baggie of ice into the flannel bag and hold it over the injury, and it miraculously heals 90% of real and imaginary boo-boos. I’ve made these as gifts before, and gave this one to my cousin for Christmas. I’m pretty sure it’s not fun to open a boo-boo ice pack as a gift, but hopefully it comes in handy in their home as it does in ours. Because boo-boos are going to happen anyway, right? And it’s nice to have a low-budget, no-chemical miracle cure that won’t hurt and might genuinely help too!

Freezer paper stencils and knitted mitts

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mom-mitts

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.

lila-shirt

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.

Cloth napkins

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napkins2I 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! 
reindeer

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.

Mother’s Day gifts and goodbye to the Yellowstone

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I’m going to start this post with a confession: I sold my Yellowstone. I’m still having some mixed feelings about it, but I think it was the right decision. It needed maintenance that I wasn’t giving it, and it seemed we never had time to use it. It was sitting there in my driveway making me feel guilty, so one morning I decided to “declutter” it. It was gone within twenty-four hours to new owners who are going to be a better match for it. They have big, exciting plans for it involving plumbing and roofing solutions that were beyond me. I may take a little break and then decide I’m ready for the Scotty Serro I’ve been hankering after ever since I sold the red Fleetwing, but in the meantime I turned the spot in my driveway that used to be trailer parking into an outdoor seating area. It’s already gotten more use in a week than we’d spent in the trailer in the last year, so it was probably the right thing to do. I think.

sachetMeanwhile indoors, I made lavender sachets for my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother for Mother’s Day. I printed the kids’ photos onto printable fabric, then made little cotton bags to hold bulk dried lavender I bought online.

sachetsEach grandmother got a full set of all three kids to freshen their drawers.

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We made cards to round out the gift, using the kids’ thumbprints to put petals on the flowers. How did people get Mother’s Day ideas before Pinterest?

Christmas goodies

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mittens

It’s looking like full-time crafty Christmas around here! Baby Daphne has started removing tags from gifts and either eating the tags or sticking them to the hardwood floor. Not helpful. Let’s just hope that if any of the gifts end up with the wrong recipients, they aren’t awkward and can be easily switched back! For example, anyone over two would surely be disappointed to receive these tiny mittens I knitted.snowflakes

My kids made snowflake ornaments out of craft sticks to give as teacher/leader/coach gifts. Using glitter with children is something I try to avoid on principle, but it went pretty well and I self-medicated with cookies after it was over.
soapThis is the annual batch of homemade unscented soap for my brother, and another scented batch I made for myself and to share. I used cold process recipes from the book The Everything Soapmaking Book. I like to try different recipes every year, which is really completely useless unless I make a batch for myself because I’m sure my brother has no notion or opinion about the benefits of tropical oils versus olive oil, lard, or soybean shortening, though I think he appreciates the soap. This year’s batch is a blend of four different oils with some castor oil stirred in at the end for extra moisture, and mostly lavender scent in mine. Now it is curing in the basement playroom and makes the whole space smell nice!

 

My kids’ recent projects

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cape

Dorothy sews a lot these days. And by a lot, I mean I sometimes wish I’d never taught her and had not ceded a part of our family room and my fabric storage area to her needs. (Honesty!) But in the bigger picture, I’m very glad she enjoys it, is creative with it, and can envision and execute a project in ways that will serve her even better than the basics of hemming and button sewing. She likes to get ideas from two books I got her, Sewing School and Sewing School 2, both of which I heartily recommend. The instructions and patterns in the book are clear enough that she can trace, cut out, and follow them without my help. My favorites among her projects, however, are the ones she dreams up on her own. Like a cape for her baby sister!

snowmanOr an Olaf (snowman) costume for her brother. Seeing this project spread out on her sewing table before she put the carrot nose on DID give me pause, but then I recalled that she was sewing costumes for a theatrical production of the movie Frozen she, her brother, and their cousins had in the works. She’s very results-oriented in that she prefers to complete a project in one sitting than to bother with niceties of hemming or facings, but who can blame her?

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Both big kids recently rediscovered the swirl-and-spin art kit. I loved seeing the line of brightly-colored squares waiting to dry, so I…

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made them into a poster using Publisher and had it printed at Costco. We gave copies to both the grandfathers for Father’s Day and they were big hits.

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I never got a great picture of the printed posters, but you can see it on the mantle behind my father-in-law in this snapshot. Both grandfathers were told the prints were for the garage (how much wall space does one have to spare, anyway?) but both chose to frame and hang them inside, making my little artists beam with pride.

 

Giftables

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tara-bag1tara-bag2I’ve been into zippered pouches lately. It all started with the purchase of a colorful zipper assortment from an Amazon.com seller, and then kind of took off. I’ve made medium-sized bags for my mother and mother-in-law, cute little boyish belt packs for a couple of Worth’s friends, a beach coin purse for myself, and this little zippered purse for a friend’s one-year-old. Somehow I only managed to snap a photo of this one. It’s fully lined with the same fabrics as the exterior and should be just right for stashing all her toddler sundries. Babies love bags, and zippers too.

notebookI made another composition book cover like the ones I did as favors for Worth’s birthday party, this time covered in exterior decorator fabric and embellished with the recipient’s name. I like this as a gift idea because most anyone of any age could use a pretty composition book cover, whether they are headed to third grade or to a meeting.

gift-bagI also got a little crafty with the idea of reusable gift bags. I saw these hefty vinyl bags at the Dollar Tree. They are the size of small gift bags, but made out of the same stuff as the reusable shopping bags. I laminated a gift tag and tied it to the bag with ribbon, then wrote the appropriate names in dry-erase marker on the tag. I’m hoping it can be regifted many times.

paintingpotFor Mother’s Day we used this Pinterest idea and decorated pots for the grandmothers. The big kids painted the sky and clouds, then Daphne lent her wee little footprints as the butterfly wings. I thought these turned out to be quite charming gifts and I liked that they involved all three kids.

A new fall hat and a neckwarmer

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hat-frontAhh, a nice head-only photograph that shows my tired eyes but not my enormous belly…38 days to go. Will my patience and/or my poor hips hold out? At least I have a cute new hat! I bought this pretty yarn at a local yarn store on a whim last year and now I have no idea what it was. It’s a little self-striping, a little variegated, just pretty and soft and nice, with this perfect blend of fall colors.

hat-sideA side view. I got this pattern from a Leisure Arts knooking booklet, but it appears to be very close to this pattern on Ravelry.

hat-backAnd a view from the back. I’m so relieved to have an article of clothing (besides shoes) that will continue to fit me for the next 38 days and beyond. 🙂

neck-warmerWhen I was knitting this neckwarmer/cowl thingy for myself last winter I worked on it one afternoon sitting on my grandparents’ couch. My Mamaw loved the idea of a neckwarmer–an indoor/outdoor accessory that fits in with today’s scarf fashion trends and is warm and pretty and all that. I got the idea that day that I should make one for her in a silvery gray that would set off her light blue eyes and silvery hair. So I started this Honeycomb Neckwarmer from the book Crochet So Fine in Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend yarn in Gray Pearl. Then, before I could finish it, I was sitting next to my Mamaw somewhere else and she mentioned that she liked the idea of a neckwarmer so much that she immediately knitted herself one in a silvery gray. Ha! Great minds clearly think alike. Or apples don’t fall too far from trees, or something. So then I wasn’t in such a hurry to finish mine anymore, since the surprise of a second silvery gray neckwarmer just doesn’t seem as exciting as the surprise of a first.  But I’m sure mine looks different, and after all, it was such a good idea that she can probably handle having more than one, so here before chilly weather starts again I did manage to finish this one. It drew up a little and lost some stitch definition when I laundered it, but the yarn feels so soft I think it will be nice up against the skin.

Gardening at Night

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dress-frontI made this dress from the “Pretty as a Picture” pattern in Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings. I made the 6-9 month size. I used an old blue sheet to provide the fabric for the “picture” panel, then embroidered flowers and the REM song reference, because of course my baby will be such an REM fan, right?

dress-backThis is the dress from the back; I left the panel empty. I liked this pattern; it was simple to follow and the front panel idea is fun and holds lots of possibilities. I was thinking it would be a cute way to showcase older sibling art made for the baby, either scanned in and printed on printable fabric, or done in permanent marker on a light fabric. I didn’t do the French seams called for inside the skirt because I was serging the skirt seams anyway, but otherwise I followed the pattern faithfully. I’m not sure what season it will be when my little one wears this size, but I felt like this dress could be worn as a layer in chilly weather or on it’s own in spring or summer.

tote-bagThis project was the only one I managed to photograph of a whole stack of tote bags I made a couple months ago. I bought several yards of a lightweight canvas and used the dimensions of a purchased tote bag that was hanging around here to guide me. I made totes for all the employees who work for my husband at his law firm, embroidering the firm logo on one side (thank you to Hanni at the Sweet as Lemon and Honey shop on Etsy for making the embroidery file!) and the employee’s name on the other. Then I made a couple child birthday gifts, one of which is shown, by doing the same tote bag but adding a child-appropriate embroidery bit and the birthday girl’s name. These were such nice, quick thank-you and birthday gifts that I’m sure I’m going to be reusing this idea again. The totes go together quickly and are always useful, no matter the recipient’s age.

 

Boo-boo ice packs and some pillows

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ice-pack-in-actionLast 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.

ice-pack-frontFor 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.

new-pillowsAnd 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.