In Celebration

Yes, I’m celebrating.

I’m celebrating one successful night (working on my second) of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge session last night. Have to say after looking at some of the other entries, I’m a bit—OK, a lot—intimidated, but I’m going to soldier on anyway. Sure, some people can sew four outfits for their kids in one hour, some of us take an hour to thread our needles. We all start somewhere. I have one new pair of little pants, and three more planned. Also a few embellished shirts that will all coordinate for four pairs of PJs. Pictures coming later.

I’m also celebrating my friend Cosy’s news! Not only has she released pattern, Orsolya, but she now has her own studio back in Pittsburgh where you can go to knit, spin, or buy some of her hand-dyed or hand-spun yarn, or look at smaples from some of her fabulous patterns including a few from her book. Yay Cosy!! I only wish I could be back in the ‘bugh to help you celebrate all your hard work!

You might remember Orsolya as that fabulous little test knit I whipped up super quick this summer. Well, I banged out two more right after I finished the first. This one was knit up with Autumn House Farm Shantung Silk and some Silky Merino from Malabrigo. I’ve been waiting to use that Autumn House Farm yarn for such a long time… I think there was no better way to show it off than this pattern.

Front View O3

Front View Detail

Hemline Detail

Looking Up

Back View

Oroslya and Puppers

Neckline Details

And here’s the other, made with some of Cosy’s hand-dyed yarn and just a touch of Cascade 220.

Oroslya the Second Back View

Orsolya and Drawing

Drawing on the Side

Close Up and Side View

Look at the Eyelets

Neckline Love

Cute Hemline Eyelets

Back Neckline

Heaven is a worsted knit for kids… it goes super super fast, and boy those kids make it look pretty adorable. I’m so thankful they all still like wearing things I make.

And man… this was the shortest photo session ever, and I actually got a few I could use. So I pushed my luck, and tired to get a shot of both together. Fun times.

Wham

Bam

THANK YOU MAAM

Yoikes

Not Meant To Be

This is the closest I got.

Eating a Sponge

What? You don’t let your kid suck on a sponge to get her to stand still enough to model a dress that you knit ever-so-lovingly for her? Well! You’re missing out!

 

OK, time for me to get back to sewing… or maybe I’ll just go to bed and count the extra hour I put in last night as credit for today.

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Remember this particular sewing disaster in the not-so-distant past? Well, I’m trying to move beyond it.  So, here goes… I’m going to join the blogging mini-revolution and hop on Elsie Marley’s Kids Clothes Week Challenge wagon. And I’ve invited one more lovely blogging lady to join in on the fun. Alex of the newly redesigned and uberly fabulous North Story blog has agreed to come along for the seven day sew-for-one-hour-a-day challenge. She’s as scared as I am (her sewing machine is still in the box) so we should have a great week of at least one or two disastrous, err, I mean entertaining stories. Alex, no backing out now… I’ve publicly called you out, so you hafta do it! Anyone else want to come along for the ride?

All you need to do is click on the above link and leave a comment on Elsie’s post saying you’re in (although, really, if you don’t want to do that, no one’s going to knock you) and commit to sewing for one hour per day. One hour per day. I can do that! You know why I know that I can do that? Because I know it only take 30 seconds to sew a seam with too tight a gauge that will need at least one hour to remove all the stitches. You wanna know how I know that? Because I finally finished a pair of pants for one of the young-ins. Looky here ::

Holy Pants Batman

Pants! I made PANTS! Pants that fit!! I can’t believe I did it!! And it only took me a week… seven days of sewing for at least one hour a day. At least. Turns out the sewing is the least difficult and the least time-consuming part of sewing. It takes a while to read or draft a pattern, pick the fabric, wash it, iron it, then do crazy things like draw on it with a marker, stick pins in it, and cut it. Also, it could take longer to cut it than you originally thought because you cut four of the same pattern side, hypothetically of course, instead of two each of the two sides (front and back, in case you were wondering). And then after all the correct pieces were cut, you might sew the first seam together and realize that you should really try to align the pattern, which causes you to cut yet another pair of front and backs, after one hour of trying to align and pin the pattern as precisely as possible. Also, once it’s cut and sewn, you might realize you sewed the wrong pieces together, take an hour to remove all the stitches, and sew the exact same incorrect seam again. I could go on, well, if I remembered how many steps I completely botched, but really, you get the picture. So here’s another ::

The Back of the PANTS

And another ::

Another Back of the PANTS

I made pants!! And they’re even lined!

The Pants Are LINED

So here’s a few things I’m realizing about this challenge ::
• One hour a day can equal less than one seam
• It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve cut all the threads everywhere, when you go to take photos, you’ll find a few more
• Sewing takes very little time; the prep is where the money’s at
• Little kids love it when you make them things. They’ll even wear it multiple times before it gets to the wash by grabbing it out of the dirty laundry basket
• All that stuff you do wrong, all the time you spend looking at fabric, turning the iron off and on, heck looking for the iron, that all counts toward your one hour per day
• Sewing is much more forgiving that knitting; it take less time to notice and correct your mistake, even if you’re a complete and total noob and have no idea what you’re doing
• Sewing is way easier than baking
• Putting the box out in the sunlight and staring at it for 59 minutes counts! (Hi Alex!)
• It doesn’t matter if you have man-thumbs… no one will see it when they’re looking at your fabulous pants

So… or should it be… Sew… Why don’t you join in on the fun? I mean, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?

Oh, I should also note that I made these pants from this tutorial on the lovely Made by Dana. You’ll notice the fabric is exactly the same. It wasn’t intentional, but those pants must’ve made quite an impression, because one year after looking up that tutorial, that’s the fabric I came home with. Whaddaya gonna do? Give the lady her props, of course! She’s fab, I love her style, and I’m going with the adage imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Pants. Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Fun time. LET’S DO THIS!

Worth Waiting For

Home Cured Apricot Lox

Last week all six of us came down with a virus which kept our 5 year old out of his first two days of school and our 7 year old home early on a Friday. I know, I know… the number of viruses that run through our home is not really news worthy. I’ve gotta tell you, I’m sick of being sick. I need our immune systems to step up a bit. I’ve got stuff to do… you know, like write a few blog posts. My mom gets antsy if I don’t get a few posts up a week.

Last week my husband brought home a gorgeous side of king salmon. And even though I felt like death warmed over, I dragged myself downstairs to trim it up, remove the pin bones, and set it in a apricot, fennel, Pernod cure. This weekend we absolutely devoured it. De-VOURED. We couldn’t stop eating it.

The recipe isn’t mine, it’s from Sondra Bernstein’s book The Girl and The Fig, which incidentally, was one of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma. It’s pretty simple. Take some dried apricots, soak them in Pernod, grind them in the food processor with a few fennel fronds, add salt, sugar, and pink peppercorns, smother the filet with the paste, cover it in a clean tea towel or cheesecloth, put it under weight in the fridge and let it alone for a few days.

I have a few things to show you, so it should be a “post-ful.” Hopefully, Mom, it will be  worth the wait.

A Snapshot Gallery

A few command strips, an extra handful of wedding favor placeholder picture frames, a whole slew of snapshots not being utilized, and an idea…

Materials

This post was a long time in coming. Firstly, what I thought would take me two hours, took nearly three days to complete (give or take a day); secondly, there was the great computer disaster of 2012 which led to; thirdly, the great hardware/software update of 2012 and all the fallout thereof. I won’t mention the gastrointestinal virus that gripped our house for a week…

Preparation

Between a few cups of coffee (and a few old hard drives), and the daily wrangling of children,  I sat down at my desk to get this project of mine off the back burner and on the completed pile. I needed something scratched off that ever-growing to do list.

Piles

This project was a continuation and expansion of the original project back at the rental home. I spray painted a few frames that I picked up at Michael’s and ordered online from a wedding favor shop. The photos, which are some of my favorite snapshots “earmarked” on my computer but otherwise unused, were printed in black and white this time and trimmed with my trusty old rotary cutter. Although I have to admit that the trusty old rotary cutter is showing its age, so the better description might be “mostly reliable, sees things a bit more blurry now, old rotary cutter.” I do believe it’s time for a new blade.

Organizing

Back in the day, I spent time as a tour guide for my university as I worked my way through my undergrad career. On the days where we weren’t giving tours, you could find us in the back offices filing paperwork, running errands, preparing mailings, and if you were lucky—though I was in the minority in this thought—stuffing envelopes. It was one of my favorite tasks. It required very little thought or effort beyond the initial set-up, but the beauty was in the rhythm once you began. There was little need for creativity, merely an adjustment here or there to the procedure. It was soothing.

Tape

Preparing those frames, well, I enjoyed that repetition, the flow from one procedure to the next, for the short time it lasted. It’s not something I’d like to do for hours on end, day after day, but every now and then there is something to be said for taking a moment to appreciate how laying out tape in a certain manner can economize movement…

Placement

…or how you’ve managed to line up the old photos without much notice…

Rainbow

…or how the colors you’ve chosen have arranged themselves quite nicely into a surprising little spectrum.

Chalk Lines

Setting up the grid took a few different attempts. The cardboard template didn’t work as well this time as it had for the original wall. The string was a disaster. But the sidewalk chalk worked pretty much perfectly.

Sticking

Once I drew those lines with my trusty old level (the level is also showing its age, but has remained beyond reproach in its primary duties!), placing the frames was a cinch.

Step By Step

The trick is to sandwich the command strips (the strips that look like velcro work best here) together first, then apply to the backside of the frame before pushing it up against the wall. Repositioning is as easy as “releasing” the frame from the velcro, switching out pictures or frame, then sandwiching a new strip to the older one still attached to the wall, before pushing the frame back against the sticky side of the new strip.

All Hung Up

It took three days (or so)…

Angle

but it turned out pretty well I think…

Angle Deet

…and it’s a nice way of using up those shots you’re collecting and love but are unsure of using.

More Needed

Of course, I’m pretty positive I’ll be expanding it again soon as there is a whole lot of open wall left.

So much for scratching something off my list.

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Home Stories A 2 Z, Mighty Crafty

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A Lovely Little Knit

Orsolya Debut

A few weeks ago, I cast on a test knit for my talented friend, Cosy, for her latest design, Orsolya.

Orsolya Front Pose

To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.

Orsolya Back View

Not only did I finish this with lightening speed (after all, it’s knit with worsted weight)…

Front Detail With Cheeks

…I’ve already cast on for a second which is half way done, and I have a third going on directly after I’m done binding off. I’ve had some yarn sitting in the stash for at least five years waiting for the perfect project and this is it!

Orsolya Shoulder Detail

This dress is such a fabulous little knit; I can not begin to tell you how sweet it is.

Orsolya Top Down

The bit of eyelet trim, the teeny pockets…

Orsolya Eyelet and Pocket Left

The top down construction with no seaming.

Orsolya When Seated

It’s a great length for toddling around, although I believe Cosy also includes a shorter tunic length if you’d rather that.

Orsolya Eyelet and Pocket Right

For this knit I worked up the 18m size using some Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora, which sadly has been discontinued. It blocked out with an ever-so-slight halo (love!), and the stitches “fulled out” a bit, causing my gauge to go a little wide. That’s OK, she’ll get plenty of use out of this. This year as a dress… next year as a top.

Orsolya In Action

Oh I can’t wait for Cosy to get this one published for you to try out! Make sure to check out her Ravelry shop or her book for a bunch of her other designs.

Rise and Spray and Shine

Unless you’ve been under an internet crafting rock (or experiencing a month like we’ve had… erHEM… then again, these projects have been around for a year or so…), you have probably seen tutorial or two about painting your old shoes. Tutprials such as this one (using nail polish) or this one (with craft paint) or this one (with just straight up spray paint) to give your old shoes a new life outside the depths of your closets.

Enter my loafers, a sunny and warm spring day, and a few too many cans of spray paint.

Preparing Your Shoes for Spray

I’ve had these shoes for… hmm… well, for a long while. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, they have seen better days, and because the last light of day they have seen was the inside of the bag heading to Goodwill, I figured I had nothing to lose even if the paint didn’t take. So I taped them up, shook up a can of paint laying around from another project, and haaaaaaaad at it. No I didn’t do anything special like clean them, or scuff them, stuff them, or even dust them off. I wasn’t convinced it was going to work. Plus, I really wanted yellow shoes, so if the spray painting didn’t work, I wouldn’t have wasted a trip to the hardware store to buy yet another can of paint. If it did, I’d do a better job the second time around.

Shoes All Sprayed

Well, it worked. I had purple shoes. But I didn’t wear them so much. Never did get out of the house to find the perfect shade of yellow.

So I decided, on a whim, to use up the last of the Silver Run n’ Buff, a metallic wax finish, from yet another project for the dining room. I put a little dab on a soft rag, rubbed it in, and buffed it out. Yes, the name of the product also doubles as the instructions, clever you for noticing!

Shoes All Shined

Another Angle of the Shiny Shoes

More Shiny Shoes

Now I have shiny metallic purple shoes that I wear. All. The. Time.

Not so bad for a project that cost absolutely nothing.

Necessity and Invention

Medicine Bottle

These past three weeks have been ever so slightly overwhelming. End of the year school events, parties, science fairs, sick kids, sick mama, doctor and hospital visits, very sick beloved family pet…  it is easy to make excuses as to why blogging hasn’t occurred, but the truth of the matter is that we have been in survival mode for a bit longer than I could have anticipated.

But still crafting has happened. It happens sometimes without much thought because there is a confluence of need and materials and an ever-brief idea. There is that great saying about necessity being the mother of invention. I love it. It’s true.

Chalkboard Label

One of our littles has come down with a virus and a nasty fever that has required us to piggyback ibuprofen and acetaminophin. Between myself (also sick, of course), my husband, and our sitter, keeping track of the timing of dosages has become a problem. It doesn’t help that one is administered every six hours, the other every four. So I grabbed some chalk and a repositionable chalkboard label (Martha Stewart’s Avery line found at Staples),  slapped the label on the bottle, and there we have it. A bit of craftiness that helps simplify our lives, fulfills a need, keeps our family safe, and didn’t require any clean-up. For those keeping score that’s a win-win-win-win-win scenario.

No idea how this will work when we have multiple kids sick at the same time, but I’d rather not think about that right now. I’d like to go catch up on some sleep… no rest for the wicked, so I’m trying to be good.

A Sweater For Me

A few weeks ago, I finished a sweater for myself.

You would think, with as much knitting as goes down in these parts that I would have a closet full (or at least a shelf?) of knits just lying around waiting for their chance to see the sun. But the truth of the matter is that I haven’t knit anything for myself since the first awful sweater I made about ten years ago. Ten years, sigh, how is that possible?

My Heliotrope

The majority of what I knit are gifts for others. That hasn’t meant I didn’t start a few things for myself, but I would lose the pattern, or the yarn, or frog it just to use the yarn for something else. As a matter of fact this yarn was a cardigan gone wrong before I ripped it all out and started over. Now it’s a mama-made sweater for me.

Heliotrope Yoke

The yarn is fabulous. A lovely bland of silk and linen that I bought in New York at School Products Yarn recommended by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops. Yes, it’s a strange name for a yarn store, but the shop itself was nothing short of miraculous. The store itself is relatively stark, but the fiber blends? Oh! I didn’t even know some of the blends they had existed. I felt like I was touching silky strings from spun clouds.

The pattern is Heliotrope by Merceded Tarasovich-Clark and it was a gentle project that really didn’t take much attention, skill, or time to knit… well, shouldn’t unless you’re the mother of four. It took me longer than a year. To knit. The last. inch. Really.

The Back of My Heliotrope

I should note, there is a good reason to take photos right after you complete your project before you have a chance to snag it, or have babies pull on the little loops while she’s riding on your back. And don’t forget the drool and other various bodily fluids you’re likely to collect during a few minutes of wear.

So yeah, finish a project, take photos while the little ones are down. As quickly as possible. Words of wisdom from me to you.

Another Project :: Stage Two

Onto stage two!

Last year, with two of the kids and a cousin visiting from overseas, we took a trip to California. It was right before we closed on the house, and after more than two years of renting, I couldn’t wait to get into it and make it our own. And then I came across this paper. Seafoam green and fire engine red, the very colors I wanted in my dining room.

The paper has been patiently waiting for its debut while I tried to figure out what to do with it. Once I saw those chargers I knew exactly how they and my lovely patient paper were going to come together.

To get it all done, I first needed to adhere the paper to the platter after I got it all shiny and silvery gold. A thin layer of mod podge was how I rolled with this one.

Add Color

I dry brushed a bit of the silver wax and buffed it to take of the excess.

Then Silver

Just enough to make it, you know, shiny.

Silver Detail

Then I added a letter (with some instant gratification, I mean, hot glue)…

Gimme a D

and another…

D then an I

and two more, and then I hung them all up.DINE

Simple enough instruction right?

Dine Dine Dine

Now that we have a few readers in the house, I’m hoping they’ll use this as a gentle reminder of what we do in this room…

All Together Now

…and if what we do in this room is DINE hopefully it will lead to less toys left here and more kept in the playroom.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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:: Linking Up To ::
Funky Junk Interiors

Bye Bye Bunting

Someone, age five, is finally getting his bedroom fixed up just a bit.

Paper Airplanes

His sisters have had some nicely decorated rooms in previous homes, but this is his first nice big boy bedroom.

Flying Away

He’s quite fond of telling everyone the color of the paint on his walls (even if he’s only just met you three seconds ago) :: Dill Pickle. A pretty good name for a color.

Bunting In A Corner

Years ago, right after he was born, I found a set of nicely framed travel prints on sale that I tucked away until it would be time for his own bedroom. I dug them out of a box one month ago and finally got them up on his wall.

Travel Prints

When I was growing up my mom always had our rooms—OK the entire house—decorated so nicely, and I remember how much I liked to sit with her and pick out new curtains and bed spreads and other things.

Another Globe

I’m hoping to make some of those memories with my kids too.

Three Strands

I made the bunting out of paper airplanes I folded using scrapbook paper and old maps I bought in a batch on eBay.

Three Strands

It really didn’t take that long to fold, although I did get distracted by some writing I found on the vintage maps; I began to daydream about who the writer was and why they were traveling to Florida. In my head they looked achingly similar to my grandparents, who have been gone for a few years now. The maps had a slight musty smell which only added to the nostalgia my imaginings brought on.

Looking Up

They’re attached to the wall with picture hanging nails and some DMC thread. I stapled the base of the plane closed to keep it on the string.

It was a quick project, and someone was very excited about the new addition to his room. There were signs of happiness everywhere I looked, literally.

Signs of Happiness

And happiness, I’m happy to report, is something we always welcome around these parts.

 

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