I’ve been a bit busy!

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

Cross Stitching

My mother-in-law just had a birthday! And I was so thrilled to be able to stitch this piece quickly, get it fully finished and mailed to her in time! This is one of several lovely design collaborations by chalk artist and all-around fabulous stitcher and decorator, Priscilla Blain, and one of my favorite designers, Cathy Habermann of Hands On Design. I’m not a super fan of country decor, but I do love a Mason jar here and there. And these Chalk Full designs by the two women are perfection in my eyes.

Behold, Chalk Full Harvest!

Photo of a finished cross stitch piece

I am so happy with how this turned out. I stitched mine on 14 count black Aida fabric with the called for “fancy floss” by Classic Colorworks and Gentle Art threads. I was concerned I didn’t have the right fabric to embellish the piece but I kept searching in my fairly small fabric stash and found this kind of batik-with-dots-style fabric I once purchased to make myself a night shirt. Well thank God that didn’t work out! (I am not a seamstress, after all). I simply cut strips of fabric 2 1/4″, attached them to become a longer strip, folded in half the long way and pressed. Then I used a good old needle and thread to make a large basting stitch along the unfinished edge and pulled gently to ruffle the fabric. Next, I glued it along the back of the finished stitching, which was wrapped and glued onto a piece of mat board.

Next, I crocheted a little sunflower and then added darker brown accents to the center of it with DMC floss and French knots. I cut some burlap, as well as a few ribbon pieces to make a bow. The bow and the stitching have magnets glued to the back so they can be easily removed from the metal cookbook stand, which I purchased at Hobby Lobby last year. This way, when I stitch more Chalk Full designs, I can put magnets on the back and my mother-in-law can simply swap out the designs as she sees fit.

Trash to Treasure

Pinterest, you sultry gal, I got sucked in again (happens daily) and this time, instead of a new idea popping up on my feed, I was browsing thru pins I already added to my Garden and Yard Board and found this: Giant Garden Alliums! I don’t remember when I added the pin that led to this delightful website, but it didn’t matter. The way my brain works is this: I looked at the photo of the crafted allium, I clicked to get to the instructions, I saw that a softball was needed, then my brain went: there’s a softball rolling around on the garage floor. Someone drew all over it with Sharpie. Your boys don’t play ball. GO GO GO!

So I went to my local hardware store, masked and hungry for supplies, and purchased nails, a 3 foot long threaded steel rod, and spray paint. And I made this!

Collage photo of the process of making a giant garden allium and a finished one

And it’s super cute but one isn’t enough. So I put out a call for more used softballs on Nextdoor and was able to get 11 more. Yay!! I also returned to the hardware store for more nails, rods and spray paint.

Quilts

Next up, something old. Not as old as me, but still. I don’t always finish projects right away. I may have mentioned this before. This first little gem is probably one of my very first attempts at piecing a patchwork quilt. I began this process when my first son was an infant. That was 20 years ago. Twenty.

I didn’t do a great job piecing and matching up all the angles, but it’s not terrible either. I was brand new at all these triangle pieces. Truth be told, I will always be brand new at it. I love the way they look but don’t really enjoy the process so much. Then at some point, I made it into a quilt sandwich and let it sit. I haven’t decided yet how to quilt it, but I did notice that I started hand-quilting it, which I don’t really remember…

Collage photo of a baby-sized calico quilt I began making twenty years ago

This is sized for a baby. I must have been thinking it would be for MY baby, who was just a wee little babe back then. Now he’s twenty! I love the variety of calico fabrics in this quilt, and maybe I will continue hand-quilting it at night while watching something good on TV.

The next UFO/PhD (unfinished object/project half done) is a larger, more modern string quilt! I made this when we lived in Illinois, so that means between 2009-2018, or something like that. String quilts are fun to me. You just grab some fabrics you like and piece a bunch of strips, or “strings” together, and then there are literally endless ways to incorporate blocks into a quilt. Again, get lost on Pinterest when you search for string quilts. I wish I could remember where I got the idea and/or inspiration for this one. It’s really fun, and it is a quilt sandwich now, meaning quilt top + batting + backing material. I dragged it out last month and then last week, I cleared off the ping pong table and set up my machine, thinking I was just going to quilt lines in one direction, maybe about 3/4″ apart. Well guess what. I haven’t quilted something this large before and thus I had a very difficult time managing that much fabric, even just to sew relatively straight lines! I did maybe 5 or 6 lines, then looked at my work and it was crap. It was not going to work out. So I painstakingly used my seam ripper and picked out all those stitches. Then I began again. And that’s where I left off. At the beginning.

Photo of a string quilt I am in the process of finishing
Collage photo of the string quilt and what went wrong as well as what might work.

I guess stay tuned??

Cards

Lastly, I want to share with you some cards I made. I was in need of some birthday cards for some dear loved ones and since I have a ready supply of basically everything paper craft-related, I consulted Pinterest for some ideas. (Do you detect a pattern?) Here are the cards I made most recently.

Collage photo of handmade cards I made.

I like the simplicity of these cards. This is a great way to use different papers from the same collection, as well as mixing and matching to see what works. In some cases, I distressed the edges of the papers with an antique brown ink designed for such a purpose. I love to add tiny flowers or buttons as embellishments. You can see also that I added some hemp string as embellishments. This does make the card bulky in the envelope. I may need to get some thinner material next time. I used rubber stamps to add the words.

Oh one more thing

I ordered a custom paint-by-number kit of my younger cat, Dewey. It took a really long time to arrive but it did! And I unrolled it, gasped, had a bit of buyer’s remorse, then sucked it up and began painting. I cannot let this take twenty years. I work on it a little bit each day.

Photo of a paint-by-number in progress of my cat Dewey.

That detail! The kit of course came with tiny pots of all the colors I will need, which amount to shades of grey, brown, beige. I maybe should have thought more about which photo to submit to the company. In the photo this kit is based on, Dewey is in front of my stone fireplace. Hmmm….

Well, time to get back to work. Those softballs aren’t going to get filled with nails themselves! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you are all safe and well. — Jenny

UFOs and PhDs (Unfinished Objects and Projects Half Done)

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

I was talking with some online knitting/crochet friends via Hangouts the other day and we were talking about quilts. We somehow got on the subject of string quilts and I mentioned that I was saving all my fabric scraps from making face masks and will eventually incorporate them into a quilt project of some sort. This of course led me back to Pinterest, my favorite site, to look at all the beautiful string quilt projects out there.

This happened before, and that perusing became quite productive, as I did actually make a string quilt top, which is still in my storage room in a container. Hmmm…that’s not where I intended for it to land, and how many years ago was this?? So I got to thinking about all the neat projects I have started–and not finished. And I decided it’s time to finish up, or give it up, if I’m not feeling it.

I started with a basket I keep right at my feet in my craft room. It contained two table runner projects, one pieced and quilted with some homespun fabrics, one put together with just three fabrics, and quilted in a basic diamond design, a pair of knitted socks in need of repair, and a small punch needle of a fish that needed its final finishing.

The first of these I tackled were the homespun quilt, which was either going to be a table runner or a wall hanging. It was literally so long ago that I cannot possibly remember! I was inspired by a quilt book called Fast, Fun & Fabulous Quilts published by Rodale Press. The quilt was called Stars and Scraps Forever by Judith Hughes Marte.

Collage photo showing details of the "before" version of the homespun quilt and progress photos of the new binding.

I was in a hurry apparently, when I attempted to bind this quilt I made, because I believe I used prepackaged red bias binding and either didn’t take the time to learn how to properly attach quilt binding, or I just didn’t care. (Sometimes I get in that mode of not caring too much–I almost always regret it.)

So I had to remove the terrible red binding, then I found some black fabric in my stash, but it didn’t feel like 100% cotton, more like a stiff cotton blend. I made single fold binding and attached it like a pro, thanks to this wonderful YouTube video by Fons & Porter. Then came time to sit and hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Since it’s not a large piece, it didn’t really take too long. I did have some difficulty with pulling my thread through the new binding fabric, so I conditioned my thread with Thread Heaven. It’s a great product to have around.

And here is the finished quilt!

Photo of finished homespun star quilt

Next, I had to repair my hand knitted socks. These socks, called Tuscany, are by designer and sock earth angel Melissa Morgan-Oakes, who is a best selling author. I purchased her book Toe Up Two At a Time Socks after borrowing a copy from my library and realizing I needed it in my own personal library for ever. I have made a few pair from this wonderful, fully instructional book. I highly recommend this book if you wish to knit socks two at a time, with all the information you need for sizing, fiber choice, etc. There are several wonderful sock patterns in just one book. (I do not receive any commission whatsoever for providing links.) All I had to do was better reinforce the toe. I don’t know what yarn this was but I wasn’t thrilled with it. The stitch pattern does look really nice, but I felt that the yarn might not hold up to my needs around heels and toes. Now that I can wear them instead of staring at them in disrepair, we shall see how they hold up!

Photo of hand knit socks, pattern called Tuscany
This is a collage of three photos of me wearing the hand knit Tuscany socks.

Next I wanted to “final finish” my little punch needle of a fish. I probably started this project about 3 or 4 years ago, then finished the punching while living here in Minnesota. Then I didn’t fully finish the project, but rather stuck it in that basket under my desk. This little design came from a pack of 9 iron-on transfer designs in American Folk Art style by DMC. I had completed one other one from this collection and framed it in a shadow box for a dear friend. So I found a little $3 frame months ago that I thought would be a good piece for displaying finished needlework of some sort. I unwrapped it, but soon realized it was not going to work, as my punch needle piece is really a rectangle, while the frame is definitely square. I tried to make it work, with ribbon, etc, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I proceeded to attach the punch needle work to a small piece of sticky board, and silly me, when I went to reposition the work on the sticky board, some threads stuck to the sticky board and came right out of the work! Arggh!! A short string of profanity followed. Then I had to dig out the Russian punch needle, the hoop and embroidery floss and fix what had come out. Luckily this great little design is very forgiving in that there are so many lovely blues and greens and even tans and grays in the water portion that you don’t need to be precise with color placement. I had it fixed in no time, then instead of repeating my mistake again, I went to the window to help me line up the needlework on the sticky board, and then simply folded the extra monks cloth fabric to the back, added a few magnets and boom–I now have a fishy magnet.

Collage of four photos of the fish punch needle
Photo of the finished fishy punch needle magnet

Lastly, I had another table runner project to finish. Again, I cannot remember when I made this, but it never had a binding, so I did purchase the green fabric before the quarantine and lock down went into effect, so I simply made single fold binding out of 2 1/4″ strips of the fabric. I did not cut bias binding, but rather, cut on the grain, because I knew I would not have any curvy parts to bind. Again, I used the Fons & Porter video mentioned above to attach the binding with such a great finish. It’s a bit fiddly to finish it off but it works like a charm.

Collage of photos of my quilted table runner project getting a nice binding.

I realize my green thread doesn’t match well but you don’t even see it! I love the wonder clips by Clover for holding the binding in place just a few inches away from my hand sewing. I also use the clips when I’m sewing face masks with fabric ties. They are great! I can highly recommend.

I just have to show off this funny photo of the finished piece in my living room with our youngest cat, Dewey, hanging out on his banana. 😉

Photo of the finished diamond quilted table runner with my cat Dewey in the background.

Thanks for stopping by! I feel pretty good about getting these projects completed. Now I will have to dig out the larger quilt projects I have in my storage area that need finishing and decide how to proceed. I hope you have a wonderful day! — Jenny

New Adventures in Minnesota!

(This beginning was written pre-pandemic, and I must say, it’s a bit ominous!)

I have been extremely ambitious in my crafting, and not too monogamous, which can cause some issues. I can’t even recall everything that I’ve made in the past year or year and a half! It’s been a lot, and there’s more to do. It may sound morbid, but sometimes I get anxious thinking about how much more I want to knit, crochet or stitch before I die!

Collage of photos of our new life in Minnesota

Okay, so here’s another beginning. I am not sick with coronavirus, and if I die tomorrow from some thing, I think I will have knit, crocheted and stitched about enough stuff. But there’s no reason to stop now. 😉

So yeah, we moved to Minnesota from Illinois in August 2018. We knew we would be moving for an entire year prior to physically moving, and we chose to do it this way so our oldest son could finish high school in Illinois. Then we had our last summer in IL, moved our son into college in another state, then moved here. Pretty seamless actually, but then it wasn’t. I won’t get into all that here because it’s still a bit painful. Maybe I’ll get into it some other post.

Anyway, I really want to get back to blogging about things I make. Currently, right now, today, I am fulfilling a commitment for 50 masks to be distributed to health care workers. I have until tomorrow to get them finished. I have already made about 100 masks, for family, friends, and the Alzheimer’s/Dementia care organization I used to volunteer at. So I have the process down, and this is a link to the wonderful YouTube video I found that taught me how. I purposely searched for a how-to for a mask that does not involve elastic, because as strange as it is, elastic is hard to come by right now, since so many folks are using it for masks. I am very accustomed to making the masks with fabric ties, so that’s the way I’ll keep making them.

Photo of masks I've sewn with fabric ties

I started up by using fabric I had in my stash, which is 90% quilting cottons, which is perfect. I did end up purchasing more fabric by shopping online and also physically going to Joann Fabrics with my mask on and practicing social distancing. I also have a lovely long-time great friend who happens to be a wonderful designer of things including quilting cottons, and she was kind enough to send me 3 full bolts of fabric. I won’t run out for a while now.

I have also made some felt flower bouquets for the nursing home, my elderly aunt, and a friend recovering from a hip fracture and subsequent surgery. I had some felt in my stash but not quite enough so I ordered some from Amazon, as well as green straws for the stems. Here are some pics. If you’re interested in learning how to make felt flowers, there are plenty of resources on Pinterest. Here is a link to my Crafts board if you want to see some good ones.

Felt Flower Bouquet

I have also knit and crochet so many things, and completed some cross stitch and needlework as well. I came across new YouTube channels to inspire me like Priscilla and Chelsea, the Real Housewives of Cross Stitch, Grocery Girls Knit, and The Crochet Circle Podcast. There are even more, which I will list at the end of this post.

One of my biggest problems is that I have too many hobbies. I do love to knit. And I love to crochet. And I really enjoy cross stitch and needlework. I just love all the textile things, and since I’m fortunate enough to not have to work outside the home, I don’t need to focus all my time and energy on one particular craft. I am so very lucky, this I know.

Eventually, I would love to own a camper, and I mean it will have to look vintage, if not be vintage. I know that I don’t have the knowledge, skill nor strength to refurbish a vintage camper (like a 60’s Shasta, for example) and some manufacturers are producing modern travel trailers with a vintage look and feel. I actually used to work in the manufactured housing/recreational vehicle industry and I know that many interiors from the 80’s on up are not my style, at all.

So, when I make certain things like blankets, or I’m spending hours on Pinterest, I am often looking at things from the standpoint of, will this look nice in my future camper? The blankets I’m working on as of late are potential candidates. Behold, the matelassé style crocheted blanket. Patterns are by the talented Priscilla Hewitt, and you can peruse and purchase there. I purchased the collection of matelassé crocheted blankets and throws from her after purchasing a design for a baby blanket I made for a friend. I loved the way it turned out. It’s one color, but full of beautiful texture that is undeniably gorgeous.

Crocheted baby blanket

Ok this is enough for now. Here are some photo montages of things I’ve made. I hope you are all doing well, and thanks for stopping by!

Photo collage of a baby sweater, hat and booties I knit
Photo collage of socks I've knit or crocheted

Here are some additional YouTube channels I love to watch! Enjoy!!

Arne & Carlos
Brenda and the Serial Starter
Cathy Haberman
Farm Girl
Teresa Kogut’s Creative Whims
VeryPink Knits

When I’m not feeding the rabbits….

I was doing a little gardening today, and I took a bag of baby carrots outside with me to munch on, along with my iced tea. And I thought, “Gee, there’s a rabbit over there! I wonder what it will do if I toss it a carrot?”

But I need not toss any carrots to the rabbits that hang out in my yard, because the rabbits spend all their time eating everything in my yard. Grass — okay, I have plenty, go for it,. But my hostas! My lilies! They devoured all my black eyed Susans two years ago. Oh, and I nearly forgot — all the coreopsis.  I told myself, no more perennials. It’s way too expensive and I am not so ambitious to fence off all the numerous plants. I have tried the sprays and other remedies to repel the rabbits but these pests are hardy and they give no sh!ts.

So since we have put our home up for sale so we can move to Minnesota, I knew I wanted to spruce up the garden area around the patio, but I don’t want to spend any more big bucks on plants. Besides, the last perennials I put in this particular problem space (it’s a problem for other reasons besides rabbits) did not make it and thank God I had the receipt because they were new Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea plants and they were pricey.

I have planted annuals in this space instead, and let me just say, even though they cost less, it’s still like setting money on fire when the rabbits keep eating them. The first time I planted some annuals in that space, I went to Walmart and picked up some very low-priced but good condition plants, like petunias, dusty miller, alyssum, snap dragons and coleus. I also found three red ranunculus plants that were relatively inexpensive. I put them in the ground and stood, admiring my work. Sure they were puny (except for the ranunculus), but they would grow and fill in and look oh, so lovely alongside the patio. Potential buyers of my home would see this outdoor space as I do — a nice backyard getaway with pretty things to look at.

The rabbits, though, had other plans. This area is now known as the Best Neighborhood Salad Bar for the little creeps. It didn’t take long, despite my trying to spray the deer and rabbit repellent all the time. The petunias went first, then the snapdragons. I was really surprised they ate the dusty miller, because I was under the impression that rabbits don’t like leaves with the little “hairs” on them. They do. They really, really do. All I had left were tiny stubs of plants. The alyssum went untouched.

For the second planting of the Salad Bar, I went to Lowe’s and Googled rabbit-resistant annuals. I already knew marigolds would be a good choice. I used to live around Amish country in northern Indiana, and the Amish gardens were surrounded by a few rows of bright orange and yellow marigolds. Smart! Those rabbits should not venture in to get the cabbage and carrots and such.

So at Lowe’s, I purchased marigolds, albeit small ones (trying not to spend a lot!) and small vinca. My good friend said the rabbits shouldn’t bother the vinca.

Again with the spray. Spray, spray, spray. I have a 2 or 3 gallon container of this stuff.

And what do you think happened next?

If you guessed the rabbits dined well, you would be correct. Ding ding ding! Turns out, rabbits in suburbia like marigolds. They like them so much, they eat them to the ground. And in some cases, they pulled the little root ball right out of the ground. As I sit here writing this post, I am aware that my blood pressure is rising up a little as I recall finding what was left of planting number 2, I have the most annoyed look on my face, and I want a cocktail. But it’s 1:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, so I will stick with iced tea. I should mention, the vinca have been relatively unscathed. I noticed a few bites from some of the leaves, but for the most part, the rabbits leave them alone.

So guess what I did.

I went back to Lowe’s and got vinca. I also wanted white geraniums to go along with, but they didn’t have what I was looking for. They had 12 packs of vinca on sale and I purchased two. I decided this is it. I am not planting anymore plants for these little beasts to devour. THIS IS IT YOU GUYS.

These particular vinca are larger than the last ones, so hopefully it will fill in the area nicely.

Unfortunately, I did not save photos on my phone of the first two plantings. But here is what I accomplished today. 

These vinca are kind of droopy in this pic, but an hour later, they have really perked up after a little water and some time to adjust. The smaller vinca in the darker pink were from the second planting.

I also did a neat little project today because I had a ceramic planter with a dead outdoor bonsai plant and figured a little fairy garden would be cute and I can take it with me to MN. I simply bought a little $10 kit with miniature things from the store, and one little fake succulent plant. I figured I might have some tiny plants leftover from the First Planting of the Salad Bar, and I could pop those in there. I also had some bonsai materials from Eastern Leaf, like gravel, that I used.

Pretty cute, huh? I love the tiny little mushroom picks. So as you can see, I have two live plants in there, and one fake succulent. My friend also gave me some leftover wheatgrass seeds from her daughters’ fairy gardens. I planted some in there and I hope they come up! I kind of want to make a miniature lawn mower to trim the wheatgrass. OR, I could set the container in the yard and let the rabbits trim it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Back to it!

How does the time fly by so fast and I haven’t written a blog post? I guess it doesn’t matter because here I am now, attempting to write a post!

Spring has finally arrived in the midwest after a few stray snowfalls that sent most everyone into a depressive rant. Back in February, my husband and I took a work trip (HIS work) to Newport Beach, California. It was so nice to get away but because we have no family here in Illinois, and no family members from Michigan could come to stay with our boys, it was a bit worrisome for me to leave them with friends and neighbors. While my older son was fast approaching 18 years old, he can’t seem to get up on his own for school, so there was no way I could leave him in charge of himself and his 12 year old brother.

It all worked out though, and husband and I had a really awesome time in California even though it was a little bit chilly. It was sunny and seeing palm trees and green grass instead of the brownish-gray frozen midwest was quite nice. Plus, the resort we stayed at (Pelican Hill) was amazingly beautiful.

While we were there, we went kayaking, we went on an Art Walk in beautiful Laguna Beach, we did a super fun cooking class at Manassero Farms in Irvine, and we dined with colleagues at lovely restaurants as well as danced and had a great time at the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana.

In terms of MAKING STUFF,  I have been very busy making things because that is what I do. I love to make things, as I may have mentioned before. 😉 I also attended Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago for the first time and took a class on Japanese Knitted Fingerless Mitts.Collage 1

So as you can see from these collages, there are a lot of things that have been crafted since my last (so long ago) blog post. 

Then my younger son gave me absolutely NO time to come up with a costume and items for him for Patriot’s Day at school. I crafted him a tricorn hat thanks to a wonderful template and instructions I found at Pizza By The Slice!

The muskets were made with thick foam core board that I layered and glued three thick and then cut out with a reciprocating saw. Then my son and I did some carving and sanding and painting and adding paper bits as well as some hardware to get them looking realistic. It was a ton of work but they “sold” fast in the colonial market. Too bad he didn’t think to keep one! Oh well.

These photos aren’t everything but I would say they represent the majority of what I’ve been up to. More to come!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

It’s been TOO long!!

Oh, blog, I’m so sorry I had to neglect you for a while. I did think about you quite a bit, though. But now I’m back, and I have a few fun things to show!

I finally finished the baby sweater I wrote about in this post. I am not in love with this project, but I bet I would be if I would have knit it with an appropriate cotton yarn. I ended up using acrylic. I am not sure what I will do with this sweater. It seems so weird to have one baby sweater for sale on my Etsy site. I keep thinking someone in my huge family should be having a baby soon…

baby sweater

baby sweater shoulder

I also got caught up in a Sue Pinner project because I let myself look at her blog and that was a mistake! 🙂

Sue Pinner is a wonderful designer in the UK who blogs about all her projects and provides patterns and step-by-step photos and instructions. And her work is always so amazing to me. I just happen to have a container full of colorful balls of yarn just begging to be incorporated into something colorful and amazing.

balls of yarn

The dilemma was that we were getting ready to go to Germany to see my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and I knew that all those hours on the airplane would have to be spent crocheting or knitting. I knew it would be a difficult project to manage in cramped quarters, but I started packing colorful balls of yarn in my carry-on, which happened to be a knitting bag, and I printed out Sue’s instructions, and packed my worthless little snippers for cutting yarn (toe nail clippers would’ve been more effective) and stuffed all this cargo I thought I would need on the plane, including my super ugly frog slippers. I had yarn balls, another crochet project in a gallon zipper lock bag, a book for book club, a Sudoku book, a neck pillow, and I honestly cannot remember what else. All I know is, I was very excited to continue working on this Sue Pinner design and nothing was going to stop me.

Except..

Look at the size of this plane! I was geeked beyond help when I saw this beauty up close at O’Hare International Airport the day of our flight. I mean, I knew we were flying across the pond on a 747, but to see it right there at the gate, I was giddy. (This particular photo was taken once we landed in Frankfurt.)

Boeing 747

It had always been my dream to fly on a jumbo and here I was, yarn bag in hand, ready to go and crochet at 38,000 feet!!!

Except…

We had seats in Economy Plus, and I don’t know if it was the age of the plane or what, but I was sitting next to my two sons (husband was across the aisle) and it was cramped! I tried working on my colorful project, and it was darn near impossible to juggle these yarn balls that were all swimming in the bottom of my overstuffed carry-on yarn bag, and then…THEN…

I somehow dropped and LOST my crochet hook before we even got over the Atlantic. I looked around, I felt around, I annoyed my boys making them lift up their feet and legs. No luck. It never turned up. A Lufthansa 747 was left with an aluminum crochet hook, and I bet someone found it straight away when that plane emptied out. But for the life of me, I could not locate it.

So I worked on the project in Germany at my in-laws’ house after buying a new crochet hook at a lovely yarn store (more on that below). Here is what I have so far:

cushion cover

At first, I entertained the idea of making several of these blocks and making a beautiful blanket. But for now, I am thinking square cushion cover, with just Granny crochet on the opposite side. This square is about 16″.

cushion cover 2

Another dangerous thing I was looking at online was a link from Sue Pinner’s blog to a UK yarn company that sells yarn packs with all the colors Sue uses. SO TEMPTING. I am still trying to talk myself out of this one.

Lastly, I want to show you what I purchased from two different yarn stores in Germany. There is a little store in the town where my in-laws live and also a larger store in the city where my brother-in-law works. Of course, I had to visit them both.

I bought this yarn, called Bobbel Cotton, at the smaller store, where the owner, Annette, speaks only Deutsch. My husband had actually visited her a day or two before I went, and he reported back that she does not speak English but they instead exchanged “violent hand gestures” and he thought they did okay communicating. This made me laugh, because even in English, I’m not sure what my husband and the owner of a yarn store would talk about, other than him complaining that his wife doesn’t need any more yarn…

But it turns out that I do need more yarn.

Here is the Bobbel Cotton. Annette gladly gave me several patterns I could make with this. Now I just have to decide which.

bobbel cotton

It is soft and this particular colorway has a glitter strand incorporated into it.

And I purchased this sock yarn to knit my sister-in-law some ankle socks.

yarns from Germany

And also shown in this photo are two baby yarns I purchased at the other store, where the woman there did speak a little English. I wish you could feel how incredibly soft the variegated baby yarn is.

I am currently working on a crocheted stole for a woman who will turn 90 years old soon! Isn’t that incredible? I am enjoying this project and it’s a great one for watching TV and crocheting, since I’ve memorized the pattern.

stole

So this is what I’ve been busy with lately! And the kids started school about a week after we returned from our trip and now life is happily busy and more regimented now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Clearance can be a beautiful thing

Often times I go to a craft store with something in mind I need to purchase. Need is a loosely defined term in my life. If I grab a shopping cart, it’s only because what I need to purchase is too big or heavy for me to carry. If I don’t use a shopping cart, I’m likely going to buy only what I came for, and maybe one more thing. I have shopped at Costco for two items and did not get a cart. People look at me funny. But if I get a cart there, I end up getting things we don’t really need and in most cases, I have no freezer space or pantry space for. Oh and the bill. It’s too much!! One can only fit so many dozen bags of snack items on top of one’s refrigerator. And let’s face it, I’m the only one who will eat the seed-filled, whole grain, gluten-free, non-GMO crackers in the 64 oz size. This is NEVER a good idea. Yet I’ve made the mistake more than once.

But what I really enjoy is checking out the clearance areas at my local JoAnn’s, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. I have even scored some low-priced clearance yarn at my Meijer grocery/everything store.

About 4 months ago, I was shopping at Hobby Lobby for yarn for the ABC Baby Blanket, and I came across these painted needlepoint canvases in a clearance section. I found three that I really liked. I figured I would work these needlepoints and have them framed or somehow finished for whatever house we end up getting when we move next year*. They’re very vibrant — different than what I usually go for.

three canvases

I decided to get DMC embroidery floss for one of the canvases on that same shopping trip, so I could get started someday. I could have purchased perle cotton or Paternayan Persian wool (if it’s still made??) but I knew that would cost more than I wanted to spend. Besides, the canvas had a little sticker on it with a guide for colors in DMC, and I didn’t know if I wanted to spend the extra time picking colors in another thread that were close.

That day, I left Hobby Lobby thinking that was the most expensive three skeins of yarn I ever bought! I DID get a few other items, too. You see, I had a shopping cart. I never needed it, I probably should not have gotten it….Oh well.

Moving on…

I began working on one of the needlepoint canvases yesterday. Actually, I began by cutting floss and transferring the cut pieces onto these handy organizer cards.

organized floss

This took more than an hour, and I still haven’t cut and organized all the floss but I certainly have enough to get started. And in typical Jenny-fashion, I am usually chomping at the bit to get started.

So I began stitching, and followed the very simple illustrated guidelines of the cardboard header that was attached to the canvas (I had removed it and set it aside). I was not happy with how the stitches were looking and began to wonder if I was 1.) using the correct number of strands of floss, and 2.) if I was stitching the half cross stitch correctly.

the start

I had difficulty concentrating on this project because, well, I AM a mom, and my twelve-year-old son decided to hang out with friends, and they wanted to bike, so I had to have my seventeen-year-old son help me put the hefty bike rack in my trailer hitch before he was off and running with his friends. I took the boys where they needed to be and came back home.

Then, I had to go get them a couple hours later and I don’t even know what I did in between! I think it was laundry but it’s all a blur now.

When I went to pick them up, they were greater in number by one goldfish. I did not see that coming. We aren’t even keeping this fish as it’s for some other friend. I still don’t understand all the whys and wherefores but luckily I had a fish bowl and gravel in the basement so we could get the poor thing out of the plastic bag. Then this happened.

uh oh

This is super-cute, I know. But it was soon to be a real-life illustration of the circle of life if I didn’t get that fish out of my house. (As of this post, it’s been over 24 hours and I still have a goldfish, albeit in a cat-free zone)

I tried working on the needlepoint into the evening, but I was tired and cranky and wondering if we were keeping the fish because my son named him….so I went to bed.

Today, I got my coffee and started working on the project again, but I was still unsure of the stitches and coverage of the canvas so I decided to do some research. I learned that I was following the instructions of the card and making the half cross stitch which doesn’t provide good coverage of the canvas. That’s why I didn’t like it. I changed to the continental stitch which leaves long slanted threads on the back of the work and good coverage. I decided there was not a large enough difference to rip out what I already did. I also learned that I was using an embroidery needle that was just a tad too big. I went to Michael’s and found the size I needed. I was surprised at how much quicker I could stitch with a needle one size down. One last thing: I learned that I should separate the six plies of the embroidery floss and rejoin them together before stitching. This makes for better coverage, too. Yes, it does take a little longer to separate the plies but it’s worth it. I honestly don’t know if I can get three canvases completed in a year, because I know me. I have a short attention span when it comes to all the different things I can make!

Look, a cute quilt fabric!!

But in all seriousness, I want the piece to look nice, but I am not entering it into a needlepoint contest, so I can live with some imperfection.

collage pic

It’s coming along nicely but I have a secret project to work on and hopefully complete in time for a trip to Germany!! More on that in a future post.

stitches in hoop

close up

By the way, you should know I was checking out the clearance items at Michael’s when I went for the embroidery needles. I ended up with paint brushes, markers, a piece of wood, and somehow a hula hoop. I did not buy any yarn, but I did look.

Oh. And I didn’t have a cart. 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by! Next post I will show you how the little baby sweater turned out!

Jenny

*(Husband’s new role in his company is why we are moving, but we will still be in the Midwest)

Crafting vintage items

I just LOVE the look of vintage things. They remind me of a simpler time my parents and grandparents would talk about with longing in their eyes.

Okay, that sounds super sappy and instead of the Norman Rockwell painting it evokes, they really just started every sentence with, “In my day, we didn’t have no damn (fill in the blank) to worry about!” and they were clearly annoyed with whatever new piece of “technology” we so proudly held up in their faces.

Anyhow, I am lucky to be the owner of a few vintage craft items, like some very old crochet thread in original Coats & Clark’s boxes (although I cannot find them right now!), and the substantial pinking shears below. I wish I had the old sewing machine table my mom once used. It was the kind where you opened the wood lid, which was hinged at the side and up popped the bluish-green sewing machine! I used to drive my little Matchbox cars around it, before I developed my interest in crafting. This was an electric sewing machine, not the really old-fashioned treadle machine. That would be even more cool to have around.

pinking shears

As for the Coats & Clark’s threads, I used them to crochet this tiny little afghan and pillows for my dollhouse when I was young. I am even amazed today I was able to crochet so neatly when I was young, but my mom did sew all the motifs together to construct the afghan. It looked absolutely adorable and authentic in my dollhouse on a sweet miniature bed. These pieces must be about 35 to 40 years old (yikes!).

mini crocheted blanket and pillows

close up mini crocheted blanket and pillows

Every once in a while, I get the urge to make something that is vintage. There are plenty of patterns out there for vintage-looking knits, crocheted items, clothing to sew, and wood things to make and distress, but what I’m actually referring to is working from an old pattern, like from one of these vintage booklets.

vintage crochet booklets

These booklets are just a few examples of what were given to me by a friend who got them from her grandmother, I believe. I wasn’t sure if I would ever make anything from them, but so far, I have completed two crocheted doilies, and I am in the process of knitting a baby sweater from a 1986 magazine.

This particular doily was not difficult to crochet, but it did take some time, and I DID have to wear my cheater glasses. I love the way it turned out and it lives happily in my family room under a small lamp. Whenever I get the urge to make another one, I have about a hundred patterns to choose from!

doily close up

The current “vintage” item on my needles is this baby sweater. It’s only from 1986, so not terribly old.

sweater patt photo

It is being knit in acrylic baby yarn, instead of cotton as suggested, because like so many times, I want to knit something NOW and not WAIT UNTIL I HAVE THE RIGHT YARN. I was leafing through the magazine and saw this and wanted to start it right away!! It’s a curse.

It’s an interesting pattern, in that you knit it from the bottom up, adding a row of blue every after 14 rows of white, but the vertical blue lines are added later, with chain stitch completed with a darning needle. To assist you in doing the chain stitches and getting their alignment perfect, you knit a pattern of purl stitches every row, every ten stitches, so when you do your chain stitching later, the blue yarn lays nice and flat and makes perfectly straight vertical lines. Very clever!

front and back

I have recently completed the front and back, shown above, and am knitting the sleeves, both at the same time.That is something I like to do whenever I can because you really do get two identical things. You just have to work from two separate balls of yarn.

stranded yarn

I thought it would be more efficient to carry the white strand as I knit the one blue row, instead of cutting and reattaching the yarn, but I wasn’t happy with that stranding on the wrong side of the work. I thought maybe little fingers would get caught in the stranding and really snag the sweater. So I cut the stranded white yarn in the middle of the body of the sweater, pulled it out of its blue stitches holding it in place, then wove the ends in. There is a fair amount of weaving in on this pattern, but I don’t mind it. I know some knitters really hate this part.

cutting the strand

all that weaving

One more note on vintage things…I have wanted for some time to have a vintage camper. The problem is, we aren’t campers. But I realize that many people have vintage campers they keep on their property and it becomes a wonderful little getaway in their back yard! That’s what I want, but I would also LOVE to go camping, too. My husband feels that camping for him, however, involves a Holiday Inn Express. It’s still a dream of mine, and I love looking at Pinterest at all the vintage campers and trailers out there. I like to imagine myself hanging out in a cozy camper with a cup of coffee and a vintage project on the needles…

Maybe some day….

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

 

I’ve got the BLUES!

old blue car

Blue is NOT my favorite color, but when it comes to a baby blanket, and the baby is going to be a boy, then I do like it quite a lot.

finished ABC blanket

My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy this September so I thought I would make them a blanket. Blankets are fairly easy, depending on the pattern, but they can also be boring to knit or crochet, depending on the pattern. When I have a larger thing to make, I have to try and find a balance between “not too terribly involved” and “not so boring I won’t work on it.”

I found what I was looking for on Knitpicks‘ website. But I didn’t start on their website. I started at my favorite yarny place: Ravelry. If you’re a knitter and/or crocheter, you might have a profile on Ravelry. I do, but I haven’t been very good about keeping it updated. With the start of this blog, I do hope I have an easier time keeping my Ravelry site up to date.

I searched for baby blankets on Ravelry and got about a bazillion results. Somehow, I sifted through all the stuff and came across this lovely pattern from Knitpicks. It’s called the ABC Baby Blanket by Jenny Williams and it’s simply knit and purl stitches. It is also a charted pattern. If you’re new to knitting or crochet, you may not know what a charted pattern is. For some people, it can seem confusing or overwhelming. I, myself, am a visual person, and I find I like knitted charts just fine. I am not very skilled on reading some crochet charts, however. Below, you will see a sample of a crochet chart and a knitting chart. Like a map, you need a “key” to understand what the symbols mean.

charts

This blanket kept my interest because in between 24 rows of plain old garter stitch, I had to read the charts so my blanket would have lovely graphical images of a duck, a star, a sailboat, etc. The garter stitch is what went between the nine graphical blocks. The images were knitted in reverse garter stitch on a field of stockinette stitch. If you would like to learn any of these stitches, click here to be redirected to the Knitpicks’ tutorials pages.

I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Medium Blue to complete my blanket. It’s a decent acrylic yarn to use. It’s soft and easy to work with. I have had babies, and I wouldn’t want to worry about a baby blanket knit in some expensive wool or cotton, and kitchen cotton is not my favorite thing to work with (plus it doesn’t feel very nice for a blanket.) I used almost three skeins of yarn.

As for needles, I used a size 7 circular needle, because you need a circ to get all those stitches of the blanket on. I started out with a circ I had in my “collection” but it wasn’t quite long enough, so I had to go shopping. Oh darn…

My good friend (who does not knit or crochet but is an artist) and I went to visit this very cool place in a nearby town called Fine Line Creative Arts Center. I had been there for the first time in May when I was helping to chaperone a large group of high school art students who were spending the day there doing all sorts of wonderfully creative things. I learned on that particular visit that this incredible place has a shop! And they have yarn, and other fibers for weaving and such. And they have needles! I bought these 40″ wooden needles and I absolutely LOVED knitting with them. And you can see in the photo they cost $9.50, which I felt was a fair price. They sure were comfortable to knit with.

Driftwood needles

I also tried something new in this Beginner level pattern. I tried to do a Russian join, which is a way to add a new skein of yarn when you run out of the current skein. I knew a little about this type of join, but didn’t know how to do it, so I consulted Youtube. Since I don’t remember the particular video I used, I cannot share that with you here, but I can share this link to Knitpicks where they have a nice non-video tutorial on the Russian join.

I thought I did an okay job with my first Russian join, but I was nervous about it coming unraveled, because the yarn is acrylic, and I figured a wool would perform better. But I did it, then I kept worrying about it. What if I didn’t do the join in a long enough piece of yarn? What if the blanket starts falling apart on its new owners? So I picked at it until it came undone, and let me tell you, it came undone awfully easily. Boo.

Here is what I had left when I picked it apart. Looking at this now, it’s clear I didn’t do the join long enough.

unraveled join

And here is what the blanket looked like when I wove in those ends with a yarn needle.

woven in ends

So, next time I do a Russian join, I’m going to do it better. I need to have confidence that the knitted piece will not come unraveled. Or else I won’t be able to sleep at night! And I love to sleep.

As I write this post, the blanket is nicely packaged in tissue paper secured with a pretty blue ribbon and in a box, en route to its new owners, my nephew and his wife. I do hope they love it, and I hope their new son will use it for a long time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Knitpicks, and I do not receive anything if someone clicks on the links to their site that I provided. I just shop on their site sometimes, and get free patterns and such.

Sock it to me

Have you ever decorated your laundry room?

The most I’ve ever done in a laundry room is to apply some cute old-fashioned laundry decals I found at the craft store. Really easy to do, and adds a homey touch to the room I spend way too much time in. But this was at my last house. I’ve lived in this current house for going on eight years, and I’ve just painted it for the first time. And it’s not very exciting as far as paint colors go, because we are moving in a year, and I need to keep things neutral (a.k.a. boring).

My current laundry room is on the second floor of my house, and out of the four houses I’ve lived in, only one had its laundry room on the main floor. It’s convenient to have it on the floor where most of the dirty clothes live.

Anyhow, today’s post is about a little sign I made for my laundry room that serves two purposes. First, it’s a little decor in an otherwise boring room. Second, my youngest son is the master of losing socks (somewhere in our house) and I constantly have a pile of single socks, and my ranting about this constant stream of single socks does nothing to change the situation. He is twelve years old, and he cannot wait to remove his socks once he removes his shoes. So I’m either ranting about the dirty socks left where ever he drops them, or ranting about the fact that somehow, only half the pair ends up in a laundry basket. Life’s deep mysteries, I tell you.

I purchased this basic wood and rope sign at my local Walmart, and I’m sorry I don’t remember what I paid for it, but I bet it was under $15 for sure. It was meant to hold photographs in the little clothespins. The wood was already distressed so that saved me a step. I had seen this saying “Clean, single and looking for a mate” on a sign that is meant to hold unpaired socks and like I always do, I said, “I can make that!”

I had also purchased the wood letters because I knew the only ones I had at home were “collegiate” style, and that wasn’t the look I was going for. In the photo, you can see where I already sketched out in pencil the lettering that I would paint by hand. If this is a scary idea to you, don’t worry: you can use more wood letters, or use rub-on letters from the scrapbooking department. If you use wood letters, you should find smaller ones than the ones you use to make CLEAN, SINGLE AND MATE.

Next, I decided on what colors to use for the sign. Since my laundry room is so plain Jane, I decided to use some colors that I saw on a paint store flyer. My colors are not exact matches, of course, but they were a good starting point.

I added white to my palette (former frozen food dish) just in case I need to adjust some colors. And as it turned out, the lime green color was way too bold and needed to be muted with the white. I know me, and it wasn’t in my best interest to match the colors I had found on the flier, but rather get close because while I liked those colors together, I knew I would like a near representation of them, too. Not everyone is adventurous enough to start mixing colors up, but the good news about a project like this is, you do not need a lot of paint. In fact, look at the palette pic above: that’s too much color for a few 1″ high wood letters.

Another quick note about these particular letters: they have what appears to be a light wood stain on the edges of the letters, leaving the fronts and backs unfinished and ready to accept whatever paint or stain you want to put on them. I used a basic small flat paint brush to paint my letters, and as seen in the above photo, I simply used a straight pin to hold the letter while I painted it. I am too impatient to paint half the letter, let it dry, then paint the other half. I don’t have all day! Also, I only painted the fronts. I did not touch the sides. It will never be seen or looked at that closely.

As for what letters should be painted what color, I didn’t think too hard about this. I just painted a few one color, painted a few another color…Just don’t paint the same color next to itself.

Laying the letters out in their proper order really helps you to determine what colors you want to paint what. Plus, you can always paint over a color with a different color once it dries. This is a very forgiving medium.

And here I am muting the electric lime green color with some white. The pale mossy green at the bottom center of the photo is right out of the bottle, and I wasn’t sure about it at this point. Just ignore that for now.

Now I have painted with the purple, the light blue, and the muted lime green.

Now, this paint color flier had this lovely peachy tone and I tried to make it by mixing some pink with muted lime green, and I got close, but not where I wanted it to be. So I took my bottle of horrendous Halloween orange and added a dab to the palette so I could add just a little to get the peachy tone I was looking for.

Your letters should dry fairly quickly, so long as you’re using acrylic craft paints, and thin coats of it, and it’s not too terribly humid where you are. When the letters are dry, it’s time to arrange them the way you want them on the board and decide if the way you plan on doing other lettering still works.

**A note about letter arrangement: When I first opened the letters from their packing, I realized I didn’t have enough room on the wood plank to spell out all the words with wood letters. I am totally unafraid to hand letter things, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. If you are thinking of doing a project like this, try to figure out in the store, before you buy, whether or not what you want on your wood plank will fit. If not, consider doing some words in the wood letters, and consider an alternative like a paint marker, or rub-on scrapbooking letters.**

Like I mentioned before, I decided right away to hand letter the rest of my words, and I had used a pencil to sketch them out. I just needed a smaller paint brush, and I decided to use black paint muted to a charcoal with a little bit of a light color already in my palette.

To the left is the small brush I used to do my lettering.

I painted on a very non-committal comma first.

And here is the rest. It’s not perfect, but I am happy with it. Now is the time to glue the painted letters on.

This is the glue I used to attach the wood letters to the plank. It only takes a little glue. You probably don’t want it squishing out from behind the letters and creating a glue blob here and there.

This is the method I used to glue the letters on. I arranged all the letters on the plank. Then I picked up any letter that wasn’t the first letter. In this case, “L.” I put glue on it, then replaced it on the plank. I then was able to glue the other letters in the word “CLEAN” without worrying about having the spacing right. The good news is, with glue like this, it doesn’t dry immediately where you can’t slightly slide the letter around a bit to get it exactly where you want it. Hot glue would make this more difficult.

At some point, I decided to try the mossy green color on a few letters, and I was really pleased with that result. I also muted the lime green even more. I was glad I did. So here is the finished piece. I’m really happy with it, and I’m also happy the small clothespins hold the socks! I was thinking I may have to swap them out with full size clothespins, but nope–they do the job. And I fully expect my son to end up with more than four orphaned socks at once. Because I know this kid, I may have to add some clothespins, and then some more rope….

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful day!