Second Monday in January

Good morning, lovelies! Hopefully the new year is still treating you well and you’re making progress on the things that matter most to your heart. This week I’ll be (hopefully) finishing the Cat Lady quilt. The quilting is finished, and it’s trimmed; I just need to get going on the binding and label. I’m thinking I’m going to use the loads of C+S Bluebird scraps I have on-hand from when Denise made a dress for Em out of that fabric, which means I’ll be doing a scrappy binding construction because the scraps are very weird shapes–there’s very little yardage that will work for WOF cutting. BUT…it’s C+S fabric, and I have loads of it that I’ve been trying to sew through for years, so this will make a significant dent.

I had hoped to finish the Cat Lady quilt last week, but geez, what a week! Washington got a lot of snow and ice and rain and it just threw everything off kilter all week long. My kids had a two-hour late start for school four days out of five, the roads were flooding over…you don’t realize how stressed you’re feeling about stuff until you get past it and realize that you’ve been holding your shoulders up to your ears for days. And now we have to deal with rescheduling all the stuff that got cancelled, and adding it on top of all the regularly-scheduled stuff…I just wish that people would let things go when they get cancelled? Like, it’s too bad it didn’t happen, but let’s try again next year, rather than trying to fit it into the next couple of weeks that are already booked? Please? But alas…that’s a rare outcome.

Once the Cat Lady quilt is complete, I’m hoping to start work on Rachel’s birthday gift, and I can’t show you anything about it or she’ll figure out what it is. Which also means I have to clean it up everyday and not leave it lying around on the cutting table or the ironing board. Let’s see if I can actually remember to do that everyday…who else thinks that I’ll forget and Rachel will know what her gift is before it’s even finished? It also just occurred to me that I can’t work on this over the weekend days because she’s somewhat of a constant fixture in my craft room on the days that she’s home. So I guess it will take twice as long to stitch this up because I really will only have two days a week that I can work on this. Awesome.

I’m still working on the Nereid Fingerless Mitts for my bestie, and hopefully will have good news to report on them soon. This “tell people you were making them a gift if you didn’t finish it before Christmas” idea has been the perfect motivation to keep me working on those gifts. It might add extra incentive to get things done before Christmas in future years, too: I’m going to lose that special moment of surprise if it’s not done before Christmas because I’ll have to announce it on the blog. I don’t like doing that. But I do like finishing stuff, and so here we are.

Scrappy Thursday this week is for working on the Clementine Quilt. I don’t know if anyone remembers that I was one of the quilters in the original Clementine Quilters group, but I had to quit because we were moving. I hated quitting, but it was definitely the right call at the time because here we are, four years later, and it’s only now that I have the feasible time to work on it again. Fat Quarter Shop supplied me with the fabric to make the quilt, and I don’t feel right accepting fabric from people and then not using it, so it’s been on my mind ever since that I definitely need to get this completed so I can fulfill the obligation that I signed up for originally.

Update on Marshmallow: He’s doing better than he was. It looked like his hind legs were permanently paralyzed for many days, but in the last three or so days he’s started using them again, somewhat regularly. We changed up his meds the day before that development, so it looks like we’ve hit on a combo that works well for him. Pretty sure he’s gone blind though–he seems to only be responding to sounds, and he runs face first into things a lot. He got pushed down the stairs by Charlotte the other day because he walked near her, which is not a thing he used to do because she’ll bat any cat in the face that gets that close to her. (She’s such a GRUMP.) I feel like I need to set something up that will keep her away from him while I’m gone from the house because I’m afraid I’m going to come home to a murder scene or the like. Sigh.

So yeah, bad weather and geriatric cats…last week was intense. Hopefully things are a lot calmer this week!

Progress: Nereid Fingerless Gloves

In my last post I pondered the idea of publicly sharing any handmade Christmas gifts that weren’t done yet, in a last-ditch effort to follow through on their completion because publicly talking about said unfinished gifts will keep them at the forefront of my crafty brain. And then…ugh, I made a really, really silly mistake on these mitts and every fiber in my being wants to throw them atop the hibernation pile and ignore them for another year, and NO THAT WILL NOT BE HAPPENING.

So here we are: I was hoping to finish up a pair of fingerless gloves for my bestie for Christmas this year, but I got sick for most of December and didn’t make the deadline and darn it, these are getting finished NOW. There will be weekly progress posts on these things until they are done because I started making them in August of 2012, people! It’s been almost TEN YEARS! They are beautiful and they deserve to be out in the world making my friend happy.

One mitt is done, and the silly mistake was that I didn’t start the thumb increases during the third repeat on the second mitt, so I have to unpick half a repeat and do it all over again and I was so close to being done but now I’m not and it was a very low moment for me. BUT…public pressure to continue on and persevere…hopefully I can show you much progress next Wednesday!

And, then…there’s another project that didn’t get finished for Christmas, and I’ll tell you all about it when these gloves are done! The anticipation builds!

#craftygoals: January 2022

Hello, and a happy new year to you! A new year also means a new month, and that means new crafty goals, which are:

  1. Birthday Gift No. 1 (Because February is the start of Birthday Season here in Brooketopia…)⁠ And this isn’t a birthday “gift” per se, because I’ve already technically given it as a birthday gift to Em for a previous birthday, but it wasn’t totally finished then…and it’s still not finished now. There’s something about your kid turning eighteen and leaving for college in the next year that gets you wanting to clear out any languishing gifts that you were totally supposed to have finished up by now.
  2. Birthday Gift No. 2⁠: A legit new gift for Rachel. I think she’s going to be very pleased with it and I cannot wait to work on it! I won’t be able to show you anything about it until she opens it on her birthday because she’s an active fan of mine on Instagram and checks all my feeds. (Ha ha, Rachel! No sneak peeks here!)
  3. Finish the Mini Charm Chiffon quilt⁠ (I only completed the top for the reveal; it still needs quilting and binding.)
  4. Start the Far Far Away quilt (I am SO EXCITED for this!)⁠
  5. Sew up Blocks 1-4 for the Brick House Scrap quilt⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #1)
  6. Clementine Quilt Month 3 blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #2)
  7. Berry blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #3)
  8. Iron & trim HST leaders & enders⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #4)

December’s #craftygoals: I only got one of the five December crafty goals completed, due to that stupid, stupid bout of illness I had for most of the month, and seeing how my December crafty projects were all tied to Christmassy things, they’re not being carried over into January. They’ll go into hibernation until I either need them for birthday gifts or want to give another go at making them into Christmas gifts. But still, at the end of the day, having only completed the Patchwork Forest quilt is still way better than not completing anything at all, obviously! Goals are awesome.

What goals are you setting for January? Anyone have any neat resolutions for 2022? Whatever they may be, I wish you the best of luck with them!

Rainbow Ombre Heart Mitts

I made these for Rachel for Christmas. They were the first gift she opened on Christmas morning and she wore them immediately and left them on until she received a gift from Renaissance that had velcro on it, at which point she took off her new mitts so the velcro wouldn’t catch on the yarn. She was incredibly pleased with the mitts.

I bought the yarn for these almost three years ago at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. (Hmm, I’ll need to go look at scheduling time to go to it again this year–although it’s now operating under a different name: Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat.) Rachel and I went to the festival together and she was entranced by the smorgasbord of yarny goodness at the market, so of course, I had to buy some rainbow yarns that she fell in love with. One of the rainbow yarn purchases was this mini skein set from Canon Hand Dyes, and there’s enough leftover to one day make the matching hat.

Details:

Pattern: My Rainbow Heart, by Stephanie Lotven

Size: Medium

Yarn: Canon Hand Dyes Charles Merino Fingering, Bright Fierce Color (link only takes you to their mini skeins page)

Needles: US 1 & US 3 (2.25 mm & 3.25mm)

Modifications: None

Not gonna lie, kind of wished I’d kept these bad boys for myself. They’re such happy mitts!

Click here to see this project’s Ravelry page.

Finished: Peacock Feathers Stole

The first time I blogged about the Peacock Feathers Stole was September 9, 2009. Twelve years ago. That’s how long this project has been taking up real estate on my internal “works-in-progress” list. I’ve been carrying this project around in the back of mind for longer than my youngest child has been breathing oxygen in the real world. I kept restarting and abandoning it due to a million different reasons, and it was only after three failed attempts that this stole finally began to actually exist as an actual tangible creation, when I cast on for the fourth attempt in the summer of 2014. I finally finished it up over this past summer, and then, unbelievably, kept it a secret until giving it to my granny for Christmas this year. You guys, the maturity…apparently I have that now.

As much as I complain about how long this took me to make, it’s been great fun to go back and read through all the posts about this project throughout its creation because they took place at the most random times and managed to really capture some of the major milestones of my life in the past twelve years: Morning sickness while I was pregnant with Nathaniel, packing for Australia, being in Australia, back surgery, moving to Washington, stuck at home during the summer we thought the pandemic would be over…it hit a lot of the major notes.

And now it’s complete, blocked, and gifted. It sure feels good to check this one off the list.

I hope my granny gets good use out of it. Sure, there’s not a lot of opportunity to wear special clothes out and about these days, but hopefully those kinds of days and events are right around the corner and she gets to strut her stuff soon.

The Details:
Pattern: Peacock Feathers Stole, by Dorothy Siemens, formerly of Fiddlesticks Knitting. It looks like she’s retired from knitting design, so the original website is gone and you have to purchase the pattern through Ravelry.

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, “Juniper” color, 2 cones

Needles: US 3 (3.25mm) 24-inch circulars. I want to say they’re Addi Lace Turbos. They’re gold-colored, and I’m assuming made from brass because they had that brassy “tang” of a smell to them whenever I’d start using them again after a hiatus. The sharper tips were very, very useful for all the stitch manipulation in this pattern.

Modifications: None.

Click here to view this project’s Ravelry page.

Free Gift: Sewing Room Cleaning Checklist

Hi friends! As a token of my appreciation for your camaraderie all these years, I decided to make my sewing room monthly cleaning checklist into a PDF that you can use in your own sewing rooms! I wish you a wonderful holiday season and hope that the new year coming will be filled with beautiful, creative moments!

Why, Hello, Week of Christmas

Good morning, lovelies! How was your week last week? I’m so glad I took a little break from the online world, it was definitely needed to get things somewhat put back together ’round these parts.

Is it me or does it seem like the blogging community is waking up a bit these days? It seems like no one has blogged in years, and suddenly there’s all of these “coming out of hibernation” posts popping up and oh my goodness, it makes me so happy! My heart loves blogging, first and foremost. Instagram is great and all, but reading through people’s thoughts and decision processes, accompanied by good photography…that is my jam. Give me thought-out content that’s worth my time, not some silly little reel stitched together in fifteen seconds.

My crafty thoughts for this week:

  • I’m really hoping to get the Patchwork Forest quilt done.
  • I don’t think Sew Many Stars will get finished this year, and that’s OK.
  • The “Fair Isle” knitting project won’t get even get started this year.
  • “Stripes” and “Pattern I Don’t Like” are more than halfway done each; I think I can only finish one before Christmas, and I’m paralyzed regarding which one to pick.
  • I am going to bake some Christmas cookies this year, darn it. I had a day set aside last week, but the Universe really conspired against it happening, and by the time I could finally embark upon said baking, I was way too tired to even start. I do have a whole day set aside this week to bake with the kids, though…fingers crossed!
  • I had THE BEST IDEA while I was laying around in my sick bed this month, and I’m excited to share it with you later this week!

I hope you have a fantastic week, friends. Opt for the more restful options and just enjoy this season without taking on the things that stress you out. You’re amazing and strong, and I hope you find some beautiful crafty time to fill your soul.

#craftygoals: December 2021

A new month means some new goals!

I’m hoping to finish the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt, the Christmas Sew Many Stars quilt, and three secret knitting projects this month, which I will lovingly refer to as “Secret Knitting No. 2: Stripes,” “Secret Knitting No. 3: The Pattern I Don’t Like,” and “Secret Knitting No. 4: Fair Isle.” I probably can’t even show you the yarn for Nos. 2 and 3 because the intended recipients would probably figure them out, but I think I can get away with showing you mystery shots of No. 4 once I get going on it.

November’s #craftygoals were a success! I finished the Fresh Cut Pines quilt for Nathaniel’s bed, finished the Yuletide Botanica orange peel quilt for Emms’ bed (but haven’t done the photo shoot yet, so no finished pictures just yet), and finished up Secret Knitting No. 1: “Rainbow Ombre”.

Whew! Christmas season is always a whirlwind of projects, and I’m thankful for the focus they’re giving me this year while things still feel a little unsettled. It’s good to have projects and it’s good to have goals. I hope you have great success with your goals this month!

Teacher Gifts 2021: Include a handwritten note

I’ve been helping out a lot in my kids’ schools since we stopped homeschooling forever ago, and I’ve seen the entire gamut of teacher personalities: From having their world revolve around their students to having a chip on their wizened shoulders about everything and only showing up to do the absolute minimum with a scowl on their face. I started substitute teaching last school year, and I’ve really seen what’s going on in my kids’ schools as a result, rather than just the professional face you get to see at conferences and school functions.

And oh my goodness, my kids’ teachers deserve some gifts this year. (They really deserved them last year, too; but I was in abject survival mode at that time and the thought didn’t even cross my mind. We’re all doing the best we can in the moment.)

Teachers are tired, man. Kids are stressed, depressed, they can’t stop looking at their phones for more than two freakin’ minutes, and can’t stop spewing their parents’ opinions about masks and vaccines if the shadow of an opportunity presents itself, which it often does because there’s still a lot of “Masks up, please!” reminders happening throughout the day. Parents are stressed and depressed, and super prone to flipping out and shifting the blame of their kids’ poor behavior choices onto the schools. It is absolutely insane right now.

To the teachers who are smiles and sunshine and there for the kids: I don’t know how you’re doing it, and THANK YOU SO MUCH because it has made a difference in my children’s lives to have your enthusiasm and optimism shining in their lives these past two years. I hope you’re finding healthy ways to cope with all this stress so you can keep up with the cheerfulness.

To the teachers who hate their lives right now: Wow, I totally get it. It is rough out there, and you are being asked to do a lot of hard things and it makes sense that it feels hard…because it is abso-freakin’-lutely HARD right now. I hope you’re able to find some way to release the stress and frustration that has been heaped upon you in recent years. I hope things start feeling better soon.

With all that in mind, I’ve got a hankering to spread a little cheer to the people who have been showing up for my kids via Zoom and from behind their masks after wiping down desks between classes, because I am so thankful that they’ve kept pushing through the difficulties of the situation and kept showing up, regardless of how they felt about it all. I do not take their presence in my kids’ lives for granted at all after these last two years.

So I’m trying to come up with an easy idea for teacher gifts this year because all my kids are now in high school and middle school, and 4 kids X 6 teachers = 24 teachers, which is a lot of teacher gifts, plus gifts for music lesson teachers, club teachers…it’s a very large list.

Whatever I come up with, I am going to insist that my kids each write a note to their teachers, personally thanking them. In all my subbing this past year, the one thing I’ve noticed that almost all the teachers have in common is that they keep those notes. They’re usually tacked up on a wall, but sometimes arranged on the inside of a cupboard door, or secretly taped to the inside of their desk drawer. One teacher had a well-thumbed stack of thank-you notes wrapped in a rubber band, with the note on top dated 2012. Quite a few teachers have printed off emails from students expressing gratitude. Those notes matter a lot to them.

And maybe I don’t get around to including a physical gift to go with the notes, because things are still a little crazy at the moment, but I can make sure my kids take a little time in the next few weeks to write a few sentences to their teachers.

And *I* can also write a handful of thank you notes to let these persevering souls know how especially thankful I’ve been for them these past two years. It’s been a long journey together and I haven’t expressed my gratitude nearly as much I should have.

Quilting the Fresh Cut Pines quilt

Alright, then, crafty friends, we’re at the end of the first week of reinstituting crafty goals and WOW did I get stuff done this week. All hail the power of setting goals!

I had to rip and re-sew on the top border of the Fresh Cut Pines quilt because I originally sewed it on upside down, and then it needed one more solid border all the way around. I basted the quilt sandwich on Tuesday, and would have started quilting it too, but the power went out at my kids’ school and I had to go pick them up and deal with the aftermath of all that.

So I started quilting it Thursday while my kids baked and giggled downstairs, and it was a great, warm and fuzzy kind of day. I’m shaking my head over how fast this quilting is going now that I finally just started doing it. You ever just psych yourself out about even starting a task? Quilting is one of those things for me. Sewing in sleeves is another. And then one day you just start doing the work and voila, you’re done in a fraction of the time that you thought it was going to take to do it all. Sigh. Oh, Anxiety, you relentless liar.

Nathaniel is really excited about his Christmas quilt! Despite telling him quite a few times that I’m making it for him, he keeps forgetting that it’s for him, so I’ve been able to witness him go through “initial” excitement over this quilt a number of times, which is very heartwarming. It’s going to look so great in his room during the Christmas season!

The secret knitting is coming along nicely as well. (I totally want to keep this project for myself.) I finished up the first half of the project and am starting work on the second half today. This project/gift should be done by the middle of next week, easy. Yay!

I’ve got more secret knitting to do after that, and I’m trying to decide if I use a stash yarn that…will suffice, or order new yarn that will elicit feelings of perfection. I’m leaning towards sufficing because I’m apparently super jazzed over finishing UFOs and using up stash right now, and it’s probably best to capitalize on that feeling. The new yarn I want to order will probably happen eventually anyway (like for next year’s version of this project), so it’s not like I’d miss out on that yarn in the long run. I’m strung out on the feeling of being responsible, y’all…it’s been a long time since I felt like I was on top of things and it’s nice to experience this again!

How are your holiday crafting goals coming along?