Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sick of This Cold...

Title references both the weather (51 yesterday....34 today) and the viral version in my head. While I think a walk would benefit the head cold...the outside cold prevents me from doing so. (not so much ME, but the 4 year old I'd have to bundle beyond mobility...)

So here I sit, stuffy and coughing. Waiting for this thing to run its course. Since I'm not getting much accomplished today - though I did cut out some felt for ornaments - I thought I'd post a few pictures of the latest works:

Hand spun from the previous post.

MMMMmmmmmmmerino. How I love thee.

And new bags..."Kelsey"



And now, back to an action packed afternoon of cutting felt shapes on the couch with an enormous glass of water and 100 kleenex.

Don't forget, giveaway entries until Sunday, I'll draw a winner bright'n'early Monday morning!

Ok, ok...mid-morning. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

What? You mean you're NOT mindreaders?

Well, dear friends....I was just re-reading my previous blog posts, and just felt that SOMETHING was missing. That certain something, that extra touch, of the blog give-away drawing!!! DUH Sarah!

So, for all of my non-clairvoyant readers....Sunday, November 23rd. Midnite Illinois time. (and if you sneak a comment in at 1:00am, I won't tell.)

Just thought that bit of information MIGHT be relevant. ;)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why it takes me an hour to make one card...

Alternate title: Crafter OCD
I'm in lockdown mode, trying to get things made for a craftshow I'm doing on the 23rd. I haven't done a craft show in almost two years and I'm in a slight panic. The whole "how much do I need to bring?"
"what if its too much?"
"what if its not enough?"
and of course "what if I don't sell one stinking thing..."
I'll be glad for the 24th to come. ...hopefully with a few dollars in my pocket. We'll see.

So my goal is to make an item or two each day avoid the ever famous 'up till 2am trying to crank out anything and everything'. Its not good. Its not fun. There's not enough coffee the next morning to compensate.

So, this morning I sat down to make a card. Over an hour later (shut up...I know) this is what I have:

Ok, NOW....the issue of the yellow flower. Do I need it? Should I leave it off? Or should I put it here?

or here....

or maybe here....

what about here....

or....leave it the heck alone, set it in the done pile, and call it a day. For the record, I will be mulling this over while I'm at work tonite. It will bother me until I come to a decision. (and for the heck of it, tell me if you have a preference, because at this point, I've looked at it too long and can't 'see' it anymore, thus why I'm setting it aside for now)
In more constructive efforts, we have:

Another card (not thrilled with it either...too much white on the front...not sure what to do about that)

Quilt top, while not my style, I am awfully darn happy with how it turned out. It measures about 30"x40" to quilt the darn thing.

This one is still drying, so I haven't done a WPI count or official yardage, but its around 190 I'm guessing after its bath. The colors are SOOO pretty if I do say so myself (and nicer IRL of course) Its 100% merino, which pretty much makes me want to eat it for lunch.

Still a WIP -
Eddie's fingerless gloves/foldover mittens. Yeah, not for the craft show. But of utmost importance since its been a tad chilly in the mornings when he's doing his papers. I think he'd rather not wait until the end of november for these suckers.

And my latest 'only a crafter would understand' project:

A hundred and fifty-some yards of laceweight shetland wool. There are 3 more balls to be skeined/washed/dried, so I'm thinking I'll have about 600ish yards of this when I'm done.
Oh, where'd it come from? Here...

For those of you who aren't following....I bought the vest for $2 at the salvation army, cut the top off above the armpits (as I was taking it apart I realized the armholes are cut and sewn, which makes the top useless for unraveling, but still good for felting) and unravelled the bottom half.
Why do that? Well...because I wanted to? I wish I had a more logical answer than that, but that's all I've got. What can I say? :)

Andd Zach's 'new' rainboots. Which he loves. And wears constantly. Works for me.

(the fabric beside him is paired up for new cosmetic bags...I'm almost positive anyway)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Has anyone seen October?

I swear I'd just set it down here on my desk, went into the other room, and now its gone.

So in the spirit of NoBloPoMo (national blog posting month) I'm trying to post twice a week all November. I know, its supposed to be EVERY day of November, but I was already out of the game when I thought of it on Sunday and realized it was already the 2nd. oops.

BUT...we're aiming to get back on track! I miss my blog. And all the people that go with it.

First up - THE GIVEAWAY! Uh...I'm extending that ;) If you posted on the last post, you're still entered :) There are 2 'prizes'. They may or may not contain bits of fabric, yarn, buttons, paper items, and any other trinkets I feel so inclined to throw in. Heck at this point they may very well be stuffed with leftover halloween candy!! (We limit the boy to one piece a day....we do not hold ourselves to that same standard. You'll see me at the gym much more frequently the next few weeks...that's all I have to say)

You know the drill, enter in the comments section, be sure I have a way to get a hold of you. Wrangle one of your friends to leave a comment and you'll get entered twice.

And now a few quick things we overlooked at our last meeting:

Hat Attack II -

For you non-knitting nerds who have things like "a social life" (pshh! whatever..) Hat Attack is a kill or be killed, last man standing, death match....with yarn. Ok so that was anti-climactic. At any rate, the idea is the pattern is released, and you have to knit and send off a hat to your 'target' before you get a finished hat in the mail. Once you get a finished hat, you're dead. Warm and cozy, perhaps, but dead none-the-less. The idea being to knit like you've had 3 pots of coffee, and send off finished hats in rapid succession to beat out the other players.

Well....I hated the pattern. And to no fault of the pattern writer, she did great. Its just not my kind of pattern. So while I knit at a good pace, I wasn't at any risk of a speed related injury. And I was thrilled to be killed with an AMAZING hat. Its plenty big enough (I'm a bit obsessive about hats that actually function as hats, not cute little tams that sit atop your skull.) its in the perfect colors (gray and white) AND...its knit from hand spun yarn, ...from her own sheep.

Folks, we have a winner! I. love. it. Could not be more thrilled! (Ignore the fact that I don't look 'thrilled' so much as 'washed out and exhausted' ....I was trying to do this first thing after I woke up before Zach got up. I know, not my best look.)

I admit, I was a little nervous as to what I'd get back, but decided the fun was worth the possibility of an ugly, small hat. There was a suggested yarn, which a few days into the game, was getting less than rave reviews, and I wasn't looking forward to getting a raspberry and citron hat... I may have even danced a little when I opened the envelope. Maybe.

Now the delightful part....I can't find the card she sent with the hat that lists her website. ...but I will!! And I'll post it here. I have a feeling a certain 4 year old made off with it to put in his Lightning McQueen wallet....

But its awesome, I love it, and its already been worn a few times.

Oh, and just for kicks, here's part of the hat I sent on:

I did get farther than that, but not by much.

And another 'better late than never' - my "new" (coughcoughbackinaugustcoughcough) pendant from homestudio
Eddie got it for me for my birthday. ...sort of. I gave him a list of about 10, he picked one, and then in classic Sarah style, I decided I liked a different one BETTER and changed the order. heh. I was pretty bummed, they used to have a great buy 2/get 1 free, buy 4/get 2, that we missed by about 2 days. BUT...I still love my pendant.

I tried to get a picture of me wearing it -


well, sort of...

when all else fails, put it on the floor and snap a picture!

And in other news, its supposed to be SEVENTY-FOUR today. (yes, Illinois, November, after we've already had a frost, and snow flurries...) so I'm getting ready to WALK up to my polling place and get my vote on. ...I'm also taking a 4 year old with me....let's hope this goes quickly!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

100 ways to say you care...

or...hey, I've done this blogging thing 100 times now. No. NOW. As in this very post. Can you feel the excitement?? ...ok, maybe that's just the second cup of coffee going down too fast.

Alright ladies and gents, its 8:40am in the grand ole land of Lincoln. I've got a 4 year old's birthday party at 4:00, 2 toilets to clean, 2 cakes to frost (don't ask, I'll explain below), 2 beds to make, and 2 people to get cleaned up and make presentable. (Eddie's on his own.) Plus all that last minute cleaning you do when people are coming over, that in the end is never noticed. I spent 15 minutes on Thursday scrubbing the textured areas of the fridge & dishwasher?

Because that desperately needed to be done? I guess. But hey, its done and it looks good. No one will notice but me, but man am I impressed!

*side note: if you haven't yet purchased your own set of microfiber cleaning cloths, minimize this window and go grab a pack. Its cool, I'll wait. They're awesome, I cleaned my house with one Thursday. Use 'em dry for dusting, use it DAMP for glass/sinks/stove/everything else that can't run away.

So before I start the flurry of neurotic cleaning and errand running, let's do a quick catch up on the blog, shall we? There's a lot to pack in to #100.

First, part of my absence has been due to opening a new esty shop:

I've been wanting to 're-vamp' my store and my...efforts, in a sense. I finally got some new inspiration for new things, ideas for new 'old' things, and a new shop name! Helena & Sophia are both family names (my great-grandmothers? i think...) I heard them on our trip out East, and they stuck with me until I decided they were the new shop name.

The newest addition to the shop are cosmetic bags and flannel wipers. With more to come in the next couple of weeks! I've already got 2 custom orders in the works, with pictures to follow soon.

Also, way back when I was 25, Marianna tagged me for a brillante award:

Sorry Marianna! I didn't mean to take so long to get to this, but THANK YOU! Part of the delay is picking my 7 to tag. But here goes!

Crazy Mom Quilts - that she does! She's got some great tutorials for your Christmas gift giving, as well as some awesome quilts, so grab a pile of fabric and get going!

Its a Colourful World - Sandy's blog. For one, her cards are amazing. More importantly, she's a major part of They send blank greeting cards to soldiers overseas (because, to the best of my knowledge, there is no hallmark store in Iraq...) as well as letters and cards to the soldiers themselves. If you'd like to donate cards, mail to a soldier, or sponsor a shipment, you can find all the information in that link. And check out Sandy's blog for ideas.

Crafty Daisies - lots and lots and lots of great ideas. As an added bonus, they're doing a 'book club' where a group reviews a crafting book, each choosing a different project out of said book. So you get the opinions of a group, and see the finished projects, which I always enjoy because sometimes people go in a direction I wouldn't have thought of on my own.

Sweet Jessie - Because of her I've got a date with a few blank tshirts later this week. A project I've been putting off for over a year for fear I'll ruin it. We'll see.

Feeling Stitchy - I just spend way too much time browsing. Great time sucker, but well worth it.

Primrose Design - Once you spend an afternoon at feeling stitchy, and decide you're going to make something *now* ...pull this one up. She's got a great set of 'stitch school' posts that go over a myriad of stitches with great instructions and pictures. Way better than those black and white diagrams that do nothing but confuse you.

This Vintage Chica - I just love her blog, and I can't quite articulate why. Its a mix of everything, and it all just seems very natural.

So...what else? Oh RIGHT. The blog give-away. (you knew it was coming...)

Here's the tricky camera batteries are dead. (yes, batteries, plural. I let two batteries totally drain. Yes, the idea of having TWO is so you always have a charged reserve, I'm aware.) So you'll have to take my word on this. ;) There will be a drawing for TWO winners. Why two? Because its my blog and I said so. ...I really have no reason, just decided on two.

Leave a comment here. Making sure of course that you leave me SOME sort of contact info. I can't send imaginary packages to imaginary people :) I'll draw names on Sunday, October 26th.

So what's the prize? ...I'm not tellin! I will be posting some photographic hints in the coming days though, so stay tuned!

Oh, and the two cakes? Because at 8:30 last night, as I was mixing cake batter, and went to reach for my 9x13 pans - planning to make two cakes, a half sheet when paired together....I was suddenly aware of the fact that my husband - the ever generous soul - has given away all of my 9x13 pans. ah. right. forgot. (ya know, friend has a baby, you send over a lasagna....only when I do it, I send it in foil. They don't have to do dishes and we don't have to track pyrex?) Bless his soul, he loaned them out. ...a long time ago.

But...I do have ONE left. The same one that was soaking a batch of roving to be dyed for an order. huh. So I made them both in 8" round pans, and now I have two double layer cakes to frost. The best part? I work in a bakery. With cake. That I could have just brought home and been done with it. ...lesson learned.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Voila! A Cosmetic Bag

You know the feeling you get when you finish a project you've been lusting after for a long time and it actually came out the way you envisioned? How instead of swearing and lighting a pile of fabric and notions on fire, you actually want to jump up and down and show your 4 year old?
...he was the only other one home at the time...

Backstory: I've been wanting a new 'cosmetic bag' for a while. I've had my current one for probably 5 years and never did like it. While we were on vacation, I looked. Found some I liked, but weren't quite right. Looked once we got home. ...found cheap vinyl ugly ones. Not exactly what I had in mind. Even looked online. Found some REALLY cute ones on etsy. Almost bought. Still not quite right though. (what can I say, my mind's eye is 1. stubborn and 2. picky. Once its there, I can't change it)

I wanted BIG, and box shaped, and colorful and quirky without being obnoxious. So....out of half irritation I typed "cosmetic bag tutorial" into Google. (and this is why I love Google) I found these tutorials: crafster tutorial (this one also links to a more rounded shape bag if that's more to your liking) and three bears tutorial (which is the name of her blog, it is not - in fact - a tutorial for making three bears. fear not.)

I used the second one. The first is next on my list, but....ok the second one looked easier. =P

So now let's walk through the process together before you start your own! I won't get super technical here since you can just refer to the link. Plus....its not that tricky. :) I only made a few small mods - the size of my fabric, used a lining and interfacing, and made tabs on either side of the zipper.

And before we go on, I should point out that I'm a sloppy sewer and this was thrown together as a 'practice' bag. Sewing is not my strength, and I'm envious of those who have pristine corners and tidy edges and everything intersects just so. If you're accustomed to such results, you may want to take a few deep breaths before continuing on to the picture portion of our post. Thank you.

I cut my fabrics to 8"x7" (red outer fabric, medium weight interfacing, blue lining) I also took a scrap of the blue and cut it to 2" wide, fold it in half lengthwise - right sides together - sew a seam, turn it right side out, press it flat, cut in half, and then fold each piece in half to make a tab. I'll show you where that goes in later.

Now for you inexperienced sewers, this is your machine's zipper foot. Now, just to make you all feel better, let's just assume you've never sewed in a zipper before, and had read about said zipper foot...but had no earthly clue what one looked like. You find this crazy contraption in that little bag of odds and ends that came with your machine 5 years ago that you've never used. You could very well use Google to figure out that this is your zipper foot. ...If you needed to. I sure didn't! *hem*

So now you've found your zipper foot, and even got the dang thing on the machine (It kind of goes on off to the side....for you newbies who spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out why the blasted thing wouldn't go on) Now time to sew the zipper to your fabric. Sandwich your fabrics, (all right sides facing out) and position your zipper and your outer fabric right sides to each other. Sew along the top edge, as close to the zipper as you can (this is easier to explain with the picture of this step that I didn't take...)

Open it up, press it flat and it should look like this... (red outer fabric, zipper, my pant leg)

Ok, now basically do the same again. Make your sandwich, right side of outer fabric facing your zipper. Kinda like...this:

That doesn't help? How bout this one:

See how those top edges line up? Sew those suckers together.

At this point you MAY have to stop to replace your needle. I won't...explain why. Just...if it looks like this...go ahead and change it. It will make the rest of the project much easier.

Ok, once that's done, sew that seam and open and press it flat. Now you have a zipper smack dab in the middle of your fabrics. Great, now what?

Glad you asked! Fold that sucker right sides together again, doing your best to make sure the bottom edges line up. I'm not saying they WILL...but...give it a shot. Now sew a seam there. And if you're like me, your fabrics don't totally measure up (because you didn't cut them 100% accurately in the first place, you lazy slob.) So...for good measure you MAY want to sew that second seam a bit higher up because you noticed not all the blue got caught in the first one.

Ok great! Now...take your bottom seam, and your top/zipper and line them up over each other. Smash it all down flat. ...You could use your iron if you so wish. This is where those tabs will come in. (this is where I had to stop for 5 minutes and figure out how they'd go in. I sometimes get tripped up by common sense...)

You'll want to put them in so the folded edge is inside and the raw edges are poking out. Make sure they're centered, and then sew that open edge shut. If you're paranoid (like me) go back and forth over the zipper and extra time or two. Repeat for the other side.

If you were to turn it right side out, this is what it would look like. You don't need to...unless you want to check your outer seams again to make sure all layers got caught. I did, mine were fine. *phew*

Inside out again....Pinch your corners, pin them, draw a line, and sew. (the more you cut off, the taller your bag will be, the less you cut off, the more 'boxy' it will be. I cut off about an inch and a half.)

All stitched up...

Now cut 'em off! ...Just pretend that raw edge is the telltale 'V' pattern left from pinking shears. I know I should have them, but I don't. I always think "I should pick up a pair" then I stand in front of them at the store, staring at the price and thinking "I should go into the pinking shear business" Its not that they're OUTRAGEOUS. But I have a limited craft budget. (because of stupid things like groceries, and car insurance...pfft.) So when it comes to pinking shears, or more fabric...well, you can guess where my loyalty lies.

So anyway, corners be gone!

Then just trim any extra zipper ends, loose threads, and the like. Now turn that puppy right side out and admire your handiwork!

About this time you'll realize that you forgot to go back and topstitch along the zipper edges. You should technically do that after attaching both sides, and before sewing the bottom seam shut. ...for the record. But you're lazy and don't care that much. You'll keep a mental note for next time though.

You just made your new cosmetic bag, neato huh?

For the record, the measurements above give you a bag that's about 4"wide, 5" long and 2 1/2" tall.

Now, you may be slightly disappointed as you want a bag about twice that size. But you're so smitten with your new creation that you don't much CARE. (I knew rough dimensions going into it, I'll have to tinker with making the larger one)

Because even for its lack of girth, you can fit all of this into it:

And that suits you just fine. (and now you all know my dirty secret. I buy generic makeup from Walgreens....ok its not much of a dirty secret, but its all I've got.)

And there ya go! Pack it full and enjoy it each morning! And if you really do want to make one, ignore my insane directions and go for the clear instructions in that link ;)

There is a way to do this where the lining is sewn separately, then turned in, hiding all the raw seams. But this was practice, and I just wanted to get it done and get an idea of the results, so I didn't worry about it. I would like to make one larger, and I may use that technique.

This was really easy, I bet it took hour? If that, and that included walking back to double check the steps, and tinkering with tabs...and bent needles. You could easily whip up a few in an afternoon out of leftover scraps or a few fat quarters. I think they'd make great gifts - filled with bath goodies, candies, or lotions. For toting matchbox cars or polly pocket/barbie odds and ends. So go ahead and make 10 of them. And then send me a link when you do!


Our trip...was fantastic.

Mind you, the reason for it is not what I would have chosen.... And it did rain darn near the entire trip. But we had the BEST time.

Our travel went about as well as we could have hoped for. We did have one quicker than expected layover in Chicago on the way out. We had *planned* to get to the gate, grab a quick lunch and breathe before our next flight.


By the time we got off the first flight, across the entire stinkin' airport, and to our gate, they were already pre-boarding. So we did a quick tag team bathroom break while the other stood in line, grabbed some sugar (coke for me, skittles for the boy) and got right back on another plane.

Our only other glitch was we'd PROMISED Zach a hot dog on the ferry boat ride. (Martha's Vineyard is an island, and so you have to take a 45 minute ferry boat to get there) All afternoon "If you're really good, we'll get you your own hot dog on the ferry boat" And good he was!

We got on the boat, and headed off in search of the food counter. Finding none. Ok, wait....its not THAT long since I've been out, I KNOW they serve food on the ferry. Know this. Positive. And you can't exactly get lost on a boat, so after a couple trips up one set of stairs and down another, I realized something was up. And after checking with one of the steamship authority workers, who confirmed that there were only vending machines on that vessel....I realized we were on the freight ferry. Ah.

The good news is we were on a ferry, as our main concern was missing the last boat of the evening. The bad news, we were not on either of the regular boats, that serve worn out, hungry little boys who've had nothing but orange juice, half an egg, skittles, and a quaker granola bar ALL. DAY. (read: sugar.)

The good news was that same steamship authority worker was kind enough to snag a few individual boxes of cereal for Zach to choose from. Frosted mini wheats were much more appetizing than vending machine fare. In spite of that, the poor boy was in tears 10 minutes later. Frosted mini wheats only go so far when you've been promised a hot dog all day, and you've been traveling for 10 hours, and the boats horn scared the daylights out of you, and you're plain wiped out and excited to get to Nana's already!

(we'll leave out the part where the 5 minute trip to Nana's took me 45 minutes because I drove us up island before calling my dad - who was still in California - for directions. In my defense, there was a miscommunication in directions.)

The end result, we got to Nana's! (with turkey sandwiches waiting, which were much appreciated by all 3 of us)

Thursday was collecting Papou and Yaya from the boat, and welcoming the rest of the family members coming in town - some of which I haven't seen since I was....10 or 12? Friday was the service, and it was wonderful. Quite a few people spoke and shared stories, his granddaughter sang...and oh my word...she sang beautifully. That night we had dinner at my cousin's house (her home is beautiful. I finally figured out what struck me most about it, was that it was only built a few years ago, but it doesn't scream "new construction". Its placement on the lot, the colors and flow, all seem so natural that it feels like a house that's been there for 80 years)

Zach got to play with my cousins boys - who are 10 and 12 and could have easily decided they were too cool to hang around with a 4 year old - and they were so great with him. He had a blast and I was so impressed with how obliging they were with him.

Saturday we spent most of the day in Oak Bluffs. It was Tivoli Day (unbeknownst to us) and so we walked the streets where all the vendors had set up shop, did some shopping, ate lunch down by the boats, and Zach and Eddie stopped for ice cream.

Saturday night we went to my aunt & uncle's for dinner. My dad's cousins made a spaghetti dinner you'd have to see to appreciate. The best part was they made my Uncle Theo's sauce. Uncle Theo was really my dad's uncle, and he passed away a few years ago. The last time I had Uncle Theo's sauce, Uncle Theo was the one who made it. It was probably....10 years ago. But it was in the same house, and I can still remember him sitting at the counter with a bowl of little chili peppers (he made a regular sauce, and a SPICY sauce). It was just kind of neat to have his kids making 'his' sauce years later, in the same house I last had it.

Sunday...we had leftover spaghetti :)

I also made a stop at Island Alpaca. Its just down the street from where were stayed, so I pretty much stalked the place until I finally got a chance to stop. Its a really neat place. You park your car, and then walk past the pasture to the barn/store. As you go there are signs with information along the way. Then through the barn, and into the store. The store is really amazing because its not just yarn for sale. (Mind you, there IS yarn for sale!!) But there are also hand knits using the alpaca yarn (knit by locals), wraps, socks, the SOFTEST "stuffed animals", throws, goes on.

I picked up a pound of the most amazing roving. Its a beautiful silver-gray, with some darker variations in it. I can't wait until its all spun. (which...shouldn't be long. this stuff is so amazing I think I'd rather spin than sleep.)

I also got a couple handkerchiefs, and a neat vintage camera, and my new favorite refrigerator magnet. Plus, the obligatory "Martha's vineyard" sweatshirt and coffee cup. (I'm a sucker for both, what can I say)

Best of all, we got to spend an amazing time with family. (with the food being a close second...holy cow was it good) It was great to get back and see everyone, and catch up, and just spend time. I love it there, and I'd move in a heartbeat if I could. Don't get me wrong, I love it here too. But the ocean, and the landscape, and the pine trees, and the COLORS. Being there makes me feel like I could sit on the ground and be content to never get up. One of my biggest regrets is I didn't get more pictures.

I also missed going to the Kara Taylor Gallery, which I'm kicking myself over. It was one of the first things I wanted to do, and it got lost in the shuffle the first couple days and then didn't work out. I love what she does and wanted to see the newer stuff. time.

At any rate, it was a great trip, we were sad to leave - its not every day Papou & Yaya are across the hall when you get up.

But, we made it back home safely. ...minus one debit card. Eddie left his in Fairhaven, MA. This was not 3 hours after he 'lost' his wallet (in the car) So Monday was not the day to leave Eddie in charge of things like boarding passes. ;) Luckily, we had mine, and they expired this month anyway, our new ones came in the mail while we were gone.

So....back to laundry, and work, and driving along The Big Muddy Mississippi instead of The Atlantic. C'est la vie. :)