Randomly in November

  1. I saw the sign-ups for the Bee Hive Swap in time this year, and got in!  :::happy dance:::  So excited!
  2. My own swap group that I’m running liked it so much that a bunch want to do it again next year!  So, busy with setting that up at the moment.
  3. Yeah, two year-long swaps…talk to me at the end of next year.  🙂
  4. I wrote up an exhaustive inventory of the many works-in-progress taking up space in my craft room, and then hammered out a plan to plough through almost all of them in the next year.
  5. The first WIP that will reach completion as a result of my awesome new plan is probably a pair of socks that I started back in Australia.

    20151112_191542_medium2

  6. A newly-finished pair of socks right now is kind of perfect, given that the snow has started.  I was actually thinking the socks would be a Christmas present for someone dear to me, but my feet are freakin’ freezing, so I’m going to keep them.  Mwa ha ha.
  7. The second WIP that will probably get finished is a baby boy quilt I started almost eight years ago.

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    The kid in this photo is Penguin, who is now nine years old.  She’s drinking from the mug I received after giving birth to Junebug, who is now seven-and-a-half years old…

  8. It’s funny how you can start a project with so much excitement, but with each passing year of not completing said project how much that excitement turns into resentment and shame.  So much so that I definitely don’t want to keep the quilt when I’m done, but fear the repercussions of giving a new life an item infused with so many negative feelings from myself.  The act of giving wipes off all the bad juju, right?  Right?

  9. I’ve also fleshed out a “Baby Gift Flowchart” to help me decide what to make for tiny humans on my radar.  In this age of social media, I find that I’m inundated with the awareness of many a pregnancy, and the baby-lovin’ crafter part of me really wants to make something for every one of them.  However, given the physical limitations of time, I can’t.  So I came up with a way to shrink the pool a bit and ease my conscience.  A line had to be drawn somewhere, or I’d never be done with making baby gifts.

    Baby Gift Flowchart

  10. I’m currently aware of nine pregnancies, and of three women trying to get pregnant.  That’s twelve impending births in the next year.  My flowchart narrows the gifts down to five recipients, which is still a lot, but gives me back a bunch of time.  I am raising four children of my own…
  11. My son broke the teeth off of the zipper of his winter parka the first day he wore it.  Of course.  Even better, he broke off enough teeth that the actual zipper pull fell off, too.  So, instead of working on WIPs, my time is needed to repair a zipper in a parka.
  12. Once again, making plans is a dumb idea.
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Snowflake Trapunto Pillow

Forget Me Not Rollie PollieIf you’ve been following me on Instagram (@thatcraftycara), you saw my announcement a few weeks ago that I was asked to be a “Fabric Ambassador” for Calico Cat Fabrics.  My first “assignment” arrived a few days after the announcement:  a rollie pollie of the “Forget Me Not” fabric collection by Sue Daley and made by Penny Rose fabrics.

My knee jerk idea for the fabric was to add a little red and go the patriotic route, but I knew I couldn’t get something made up fast enough for the approaching Fourth of July weekend, so I didn’t want to spend my time making something that would then sit in a box for a year.

So I sat that little roll of fabric on my cutting table and we had a showdown.

The fabric won.

Exasperated, I went to bed.

But the next morning…ah, dear readers, the power of the early morning walk.  I had too many ideas, and I eventually had an epiphany regarding how to deal with these cuts of fabric that will be making their way to me:  Forget that it’s an assignment and act like it’s a gift.  THEN make something that I’d want to make, rather than what I thought others wanted me to make.  I mean, I was selected for the role based upon the things I was making for my own amusement, so it’d probably work out well to keep up with how I was already doing things, right?

I asked myself what I would make if no one was ever going to see that roll of fabric ever again, and a vision flashed through my mind.  The blues of the fabric collection made for a good snow-themed project.  Never mind that it was June, the fabric wanted to be used for wintertime purposes.  So I listened to the fabric, paired it with a fat quarter of white-on-white snowflake print, found a quilt block with a large chunk of negative space in its center (“Star and Chains” from The Quilter’s Cache), and plunged forward.

Close-up of That Crafty Cara's Snowflake Trapunto Pillow

I’d seen mentions of “trapunto” quilting, or “stuffed quilting,” in random corners of the blogosphere, and I’d always thought it was pretty, and I thought the technique would make for some extra prettiness on this particular project.  It wasn’t hard at all, and I’m totally planning on using this technique to beef up some of my future quilting projects!

I chose a simple snowflake shape for the trapunto portion of the pillow:

Trapunto quilting

Snowflake Trapunto Pillow featuring

Patchwork pillow featuring

This pillow used five of the fabric strips from the roll, leaving sixteen left over, so I have a second project in the works using up the other sixteen strips.  I thought I’d make a second pillow at first, but I’d used up most of the dark strips on this pillow alone, and I didn’t want a pillow with less contrast.  So, I’m dusting off a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a year and giving it a go with the leftovers.  Two projects from one little rollie pollie!

Thank you so much, Calico Cat Fabrics, for allowing me the opportunity to work with you and to stretch my creative muscles a bit.  I’m looking forward to our future projects together!

And, yes, I’m writing up a tutorial about trapunto quilting that I hope to share with you next week!  See you then!

Linking up with:
Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Because I "Have Time" Now for Mending

My school-aged kids attend school now, in case you missed the update.  That being said, I have a lot more time for things that I’ve been somewhat content to ignore for many years.

Case in point:  Mending.

Of course, the moment I spent a bucket of cash on school uniforms, all the girls started literally ripping through their other clothes.  I am determined to not buy clothes while we’re here in Australia, mostly because I’m trying to save money to buy massive amounts of winter clothing when we land back in the States in the middle of winter, and also because most of the clothes that are wearing out are old, and on their last recipient (Junebug).

However, I have a thing about throwing away fabric.  I can’t do it.  If we were home, I’d launch all these into the fabric stash pile, to be used in some fashion in a future sewing project.  But we’re not home, and I’m not going to transport ripped clothing halfway around the world, so I decided, since I “have time” now, to see if I could fix the offending articles.

Armed with a few Pinterest images, and some handy how-to from The Beating Hearth, I mended this pair of Junebug’s pants, backing the hole with her “favorite” fabric that I’m using in her Star Spangled Diamonds quilt.  I extended the darning out quite a bit, as the fabric of her pants is very thin throughout the entire lower leg.

Pleased with my progress, I tackled a pair of Bluebird’s pants, which still have to last through two more girls:

That one didn’t turn out as well; I should have cut away the loose threads.  Ah, well.  I’m amused by the “Utah-shaped” darning.

Inside shot:

I’m still learning, but I’ve managed to save two pairs of pants with my mediocre skill!  That’s a skill in which to invest!  I’m unsure about the weaving part when you’re done with the lines of stitching…it seems unnecessary.

Of course, mending takes time, which meant I wasn’t able to work on my other creative projects as much as usual, so progress on those was small this last week.  But I saved two pairs of pants, which is totally worth a little delay on extra-curriculars.  (At least, it’s worth it to me.)  Also, it’s surprisingly satisfying to mend clothing.  Maybe I’ll try to unearth some articles out of the stash pile when we return home?

Green & Pink Hexie Applique

The long sides of my little bag are pieced, and now I’m working on appliqueing the teeny hexie strips to their proper places.  I decided to go with the hopscotch print for the main fabric of the bag because I just love it so much, it should be the main fabric, right?  Let’s just hope my girls don’t think that the bright pink earmarks it as only appropriate for the under-thirty crowd.

I do my handwork while listening to my kids recite their various school facts, or else I go insane sitting and listening to the things I recited as a young school child.  (The brain can only take so much–when you start in on the third kid’s schooling, you’re just kind of done.)  BUT, during my second grader’s math lesson, these little hexagons came in handy:

It was a lesson on angles, and she’d forgotten how many angles a hexagon had.  Hee hee.  Crafty teacher mama for the win!

Linking up with the Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts, and Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.

Bluebird’s 9th Birthday: Baking Party!

It was during the week after Christmas–you know, when you’re fighting the urge to be sad that the big day is over, and you’re kind of euphoric with all the lofty New Year’s Resolutions to which you’re thinking about committing–that I found myself obsessed with the idea of throwing each of my kids their dream birthday parties in 2013.  We don’t do a lot of birthday partying in Brooketopia, mostly due to cost and logistics (newborn babies every two years will do that to you), but here we were going into a new year with no new babies…the idea sounded feasible.
 
Bluebird and I sat down to gorge ourselves do a little research on Pinterest birthday ideas, and we happened across a pin of a baking birthday party and she was awestruck.  Culinary celebration, commence!
 

First, we raided the fabric stash and picked out fabrics that somewhat coordinated with each other, and then I settled in for three weeks’ of sewing aprons for Bluebird and her guests:

Apron B from Little Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates
(Yes, you’ve seen this pattern on the blog before, both the child’s version AND the adult version–I’m totally in love with it.)

Then we hurried about with all the other preparations (amidst all the ear infection fun we were also dealing with at the time) and Bluebird bounced off the walls as she counted down the days until her party.

Finally, the Big Day of Baking Fun arrived…

…but first the girls had to stop and adore Baxter for a few minutes before I could entice them towards the birthday fun.  (After insisting they wash their hands after touching the dog.)

First, they made cupcake liner flower pins to adorn their new aprons, then we gathered in the kitchen to make mini pizzas for lunch.

While waiting for the pizzas to bake, the girls made fruit kabobs which they then drizzled with milk and white chocolate:

 

I had hired two of the young women in our ward to help me out, and they cleaned up the lunch mess while the party girls watched Bluebird open her presents in the living room.  Then, while the party girls decorated cake boxes, my helpers finished tinting batches of frosting for the finale of the party:

Man, a gang of 8-9 year old girls can pick up the basics of cake decorating pretty quick!  Candies, marshmallows, sprinkles…we had it all and they had a blast creating their own dream cakes.

After decorating cakes, we sat down to enjoy Bluebird’s actual birthday cake, complete with raucous singing and laughing:

Hardly anyone wanted any cake after the candles were blown out because they had just spent the past three hours stuffing their faces with candy, pizza and frosting.  No biggie, just more left over for the other Brookelets when they returned home!

Nine years old.  Bluebird, you’ve been with us for almost a decade!  You bring me so much joy, and I’m happy to indulge your lofty ideas.  You are such a creative spirit and I look forward to fleshing out more of your big birthday plans in the future.

Family Handmade Christmas: How Our Family Did Christmas Presents This Year

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to make things.

However, this can make Christmas a little bit troublesome.  I want to craft a treasure for each person on my gift-giving list, but (in case you haven’t noticed) I’m terribly busy with growing and educating my family.  Crafting time is a bit hard to come by at times.  As a result, we haven’t sent out Christmas presents in years because I didn’t want to send handmade gifts to some people and generic store-bought gifts to others, just in case it caused hurt feelings.

That all changed this year.  I delegated the Christmas gift-giving list amongst members of our family and allowed everyone to partake in the joy and anticipation of giving to our extended family.  I think it was a smashing success and plan to continue with the practice for next year’s Christmas.

Unfortunately, this idea of delegation came to me in October, which didn’t allow for extravagant crafting, but it was fun nonetheless.  First, I wrote up the list of the people we I wanted to give gifts to and then we had a family meeting and everyone took turns choosing a name from the list and accepting responsibility for making their present.  I put a “handmade gift only” rule into effect because I was not about to open the gates of allowing a 7, 5 and 3 year old to run rampant through the mall, choosing any gifts they desired for their recipients.  I’m OK with spending a few dollars to purchase fabric and odds ‘n ends for projects; I am not OK with forking over $50 for some novelty monstrosity that my 3 year old thinks would make a good gift.

Our list of thirteen gift recipients was divided amongst five people, which meant the girls each made three gifts each and Michael and I were each responsible for only two.  A “Handmade Christmas” has an actual shot at success when you’re only responsible for making 2-3 gifts!

The girls LOVED making their gifts.  Bluebird put her newfound sewing skills to use and sewed up little lavender-stuffed heart sachets for two of her recipients, and I took her and Penguin to a ceramics studio to make a gift for one person on their lists.  Bluebird chose to paint a cappuccino mug with matching saucer for her Aunt Sandra and it turned out so incredibly cute that I would possibly have thought about keeping it for myself had Bluebird not painted a gigantic “S” on the saucer.

Penguin used her ceramic studio experience to paint a gift for…well, I can’t exactly say yet because I’m not sure if that particular family has received their box yet (I’m glaring at you, Canada Post, for this infraction).  We were at the ceramics studio for THREE hours as the two of them diligently tended to their projects.  I was so proud of their commitment to producing “good” presents.

Penguin also painted a picture for Granny and helped make a basketball-themed hair ribbon for her cousin Amber, who recently made it onto her high school’s JV basketball team as a freshman.

Junebug…knows what she wants to do and will allow nothing to distract her from accomplishing what she decides she is going to do.  She wanted to paint pictures for everyone on her list.  Period.  I tried to talk her into other ideas, but she was adamant–she would paint pictures for all three of her recipients.  So she did.  And I packaged them in gift bags with a big bag of Ghirardelli chocolates as a way to sweeten the deal.

Michael had big plans for his people, but a last minute business trip to Hawaii made it impossible for him to make his ideas tangible.  He ended up purchasing some thoughtful gifts for the people on his list.

I knitted for the people on my list.  (Shocking, I know.)  As luck would have it, I ended up with my mother and my father as my intended giftees and I made both of them hats.

My mother’s hat was hard to give away.  The pictures turned out terrible because lavender purple does not look cute when photographed in a lime green-painted room.  The pattern is Leafy Rosette Beret, by Amy Jansen and I enjoyed knitting it very much.  I used Berrocco’s Ultra Alpaca yarn in colorway 6283 “Lavender Mix,” and I’ve already used up the leftovers in a project for myself.  It’s a gorgeous shade of lavender.
My father’s hat was super soft and warm.  I made him a Turn a Square (designed by Jared Flood) from some charcoal Ultra Alpaca (#6289) and the leftover forest green yarn from the scarf I made for his wife a few years ago.  I have only one picture of it, and it’s while it was on the needles.  In my haste to get the packages out on time, I neglected to take photos of just about everythingHopefully I can avoid this error next year; or, better yet, hopefully the recipients of each gift will email me a picture of them enjoying their gifts, which I can then add to this post.
With Junebug’s insistence on sending pictures to people on her list, I “stole” one of her recipients and made him a hat.  He’s 17 years old and I’m quite sure the cuteness of a 3 year old’s painting would have minimal effect upon him.  He received the first Turn a Square that I ever made.  I made it earlier in the year because I felt prompted to make one to have on hand “just in case” come Christmas-time.  Awesome.
And that was that.  🙂  The day after Christmas we “chose” our names for next year.  With the success of this year’s gifting, we decided to expand our list to twenty-something people and changed up the selection process a tiny bit:
  1. Everyone got to hand-select one name up front.  We all get “perfect ideas” for random people, so I wanted to allow everyone a chance at creating at least one of those “perfect” gifts.
  2. We then drew the rest of the names out of a bowl to assign the remaining names.
  3. Each person had the opportunity to “trade” one of the names they drew for a name on someone else’s list, if the “owner” of that name was willing to trade.
  4. You could not have a name that you had last year.  (And, in future years, this rule will extend to the last two or three years…I’d like to avoid monopolies.)
Now we each have 5-6 names we are each responsible for and an entire year to work on the gifts.  I’ve sectioned off the next year and set up deadlines for gift-making–if they want to take advantage of this idea, then all their gifts will be completed by the end of September, thus allowing them total freedom in Halloween costume design and any other last-minute gifts they may wish to make for members of our immediate family during November and December.
So watch out Family, we ALL have our eyes on you in this next year…

Creepy Little Gingerbread Man

We’re experiencing a bit of the Winter Doldrums around here.  In an attempt to buck the gloominess of one particularly gray day, I spent naptime sewing up a little stuffie friend for Junebug.

Pattern:  Gingerman, designed by Cathy Gaubert, found in Fa La La La Felt by Amanda Carestio

Materials:  Eco-Felt, Embroidery Floss

We didn’t get to do a lot of Christmas crafting around here this past holiday season, so I think we’re making up for it by crafting in January and February and making big plans for this next Christmas.

I originally started this project with the intent of it becoming a little decoration for our home, but Bluebird and Penguin both exclaimed that Junebug would love it, so I figured…”Hey, why not?”  (Her blog codename really should be “Gingerbread Girl,” as she loves anything with a gingerbread person on it.)

When she woke up from her nap I presented her with the doll and the two has been inseparable ever since.  Another crafting success.

WIP: Space Blankie

I just realized that I haven’t done much reporting on my various creative pursuits in a while. Truth be told, summer doesn’t find me doing much crafting simply because we’re just so busy with all the various outdoor activities that accompany good weather. Crafting hits its stride in the colder months.

However, when I do find a spare moment, I have been working on this little blanket for Monkeyboy. You may remember that I posted about getting the fabric for it months ago, but actual construction has been very slow. I’m actually taking great pains on this particular project and binding the raw edges instead of my usual sew-the-edges-and-turn-it-right-side-out approach. Binding raw edges requires a once-around with the sewing machine and then a once-around with good old-fashioned hand sewing. I just like how it looks, so I do it that way sometimes. I’ve been running a timer while working on it to see how long it takes to do it this way and I’m up to five hours so far. I think it will take another six hours of work to finish it. Good luck coming up with that anytime soon!

Lazy Day Hat

You know how you’ll sometimes wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I’m going to accomplish something today”? I awoke today in such a mood and now Rabbit has a hat to show for it.

Pattern: Make It Perfect’s “Lazy Day Hat
Fabric: I know it’s still available in stores, but my particular cuts of both do not have the fabric information printed on them. Sorry!

There is a mistake in the pattern at the end–turn fabric B RIGHT SIDE OUT in order to match it up with the brim when you’re making the huge hat sandwich.

A quick project that is reversible and downright cute! There are moments where you just have to trust the pattern and go with it…it’s gets a little “Wha…?” at times.

Bluebird now wants a hat made from the sock monkey fabric and some random American Flag print I’ve got in the stash. I told her she needs to wait until I make an apron and a shoulder bag for myself. It’s time to reward myself for all this sewing I’ve been doing for everyone in the past week.