Late to the “red truck” party

Last year around the end of November, when I normally get my Christmas decorating done, I pulled out this seasonal dish towel and thought it would be a great thing to paint on one of the square canvases I had in my closet. So I photocopied the towel and then set it aside and did nothing that year. Then this year, I was cleaning up my desk and found the copy and I thought “I should really paint this, it’s cute!” And I’m only a zillion years late to the red truck party!

Have you noticed all the holiday things with red trucks? Once you start looking, it seems that they’re everywhere! Put “red truck” in the search field of Pinterest and wow. Just wow. I am a little surprised I didn’t see toilet tissue with red trucks, but I digress.

Photo collage of a seasonal dishtowel with a red truck design, and photocopies of the image used to enlarge it.

I had to enlarge the photocopy 300% to have it fit nicely on the square canvas, which was about 18″ square. (I’m sitting in my family room, writing this blog post, and I cannot be bothered to get up and measure the painting 😆) It was a little fiddly to enlarge the image on my outdated desktop printer/scanner. But I managed to get all of the image and then used my portable light table to line up the images and tape them together.

Photo collage of the image enlarged 300%

Next, I painted the blank canvas with some golden yellow chalk paint with a little brown acrylic paint mixed in. This would not be the actual background color. This was just an undercoat.

Photo collage showing the golden yellow color being painted on the canvas.

When that was all dry, I painting over the entire canvas with flat house paint I had in the basement. It is Antique White. When that top coat dried, I used some sandpaper to distress the white finish and have some of the golden yellow base coat show through.

Next, I used the “old school” transfer method I talked about in this blog post to transfer the image onto the newly painted canvas. This took some time. And during this process, it became evident that the image had become slightly distorted due to the enlarging process. I had to cut and re-tape some portions of the image to straighten them.

Photo collage showing how I transfer the design to the canvas.
In this photo collage, you can see how the white over the golden yellow turned out on the canvas.

At this point in the project, I got pretty geeked about this whole thing. I couldn’t wait to start painting.

Photo of pencil outlines of the design on the canvas.
I really wanted to get painting!
Photo showing the letter painting process on the canvas.
Instead of using a true black paint, I chose a craft paint color called Warm Black.
Photo of the red truck, all painted.
It’s all downhill from here! The truck got a little distorted in the enlarging process but I think I made it work ok.

At this point, I should tell you that I was using the black and white copy of the dishtowel to go by. I completely forgot to look at the actual dishtowel, which was in color, and could have helped me. I was looking at examples of red truck designs with these tree farm type phrases on them to get ideas for the colors for the lettering. I decided to go with this scheme shown in photo below, and then I made the colossal mistake of asking my family what they thought.

Photo of the finished canvas, but with some questionable color choice
I was pretty happy with it! For a while…

Two of the four members of my household chimed in with their opinions, which I supposed I did ask for in a round about way. In the end, I decided to tone things down a bit by changing the Farm Fresh phrase to the Warm Black color rather than the green. I’m glad I did.

Photo of the finished Farm Fresh Christmas tree sign.
Yay!

I’m really glad I did this project this year. I see things like this in the store and what keeps me from making the purchase is knowing I can make the thing myself, and usually without buying extra materials. I had the blank canvases from when I thought I was going to paint more. I always have some paint on hand. Most importantly, I usually have the time. And if I don’t have the time, I make it, simply by not cleaning my house or not doing laundry for a few days! It’s pretty straightforward. Listen family, do you want home decor or do you want clean underwear?

(Don’t answer that…)

Thanks so much for stopping by! We are getting closer to Christmas and I have been so busy with projects, but it really makes me happy. 😀 I hope you’re doing well and feeling happy, too.

Jenny

Paint-by-number purgatory

At the beginning of quarantine, I was scrolling thru Instagram and saw an ad for a paint-by-number thing where you upload a photo of your pet, and this company turns it into a project you’ll regret ever starting.

So I bought into it. And it took weeks and weeks for the kit to arrive. It took so long, that I figured it was a scam and I was out $46. (I know, right?!) After emailing the company, I learned that due to all the new shutdowns last Spring, they were behind on orders and if I could just be patient. I AM a very patient person, and also easily distracted, so I waited. And forgot about it.

Then the paint-by-number kit finally arrived, and I was immediately hit with one part excitement and one part horror. Why did I order this? Why did I choose that particular photo? To answer the first question, you only need to recall that everything in the world shut down, kids were no longer going to school, and I didn’t know how many more family games of table tennis I could endure. Also, I have a painting of our older cat, Princess, from a paint-and-drink-cocktails place that I completed several years ago. As for the second question, well, the photo I chose of Dewey, our young rescue kitty, was so darn cute and he looks so handsome, I had to choose it!

I began painting, and I made sure I did this at the dining room table where my two artistic boys could see and be inspired to help me finish it. Sneaky, right? (They don’t consider themselves artistic but they really are!)

Collage of two photos of a paint-by-number of my cat.

I worked and worked on this project in between other projects, like various knitting and crochet things, and eventually I got so close to finishing that I…..stopped working on it. It languished on the dining room table until I moved it to the floor of my craft room, where it languished further and completely lost its appeal.

But I finally picked it up one day a few weeks ago determined to finish it. But I knew it needed to be fixed because somewhere in the zereos and ones of software that converts photos into near-impossible paint-by-number kits, it determined that some shadowing in Dewey’s white fur should be mauve, and not just a sliver here and there, my cat looked like he was wearing a auto racing jump suit. It was bad. Everyone agreed. You can also feel free to agree by viewing this photo. He looked like the Trans Van of cats. (I thought these vehicles were super cool when I was a kid!)

Collage of images of a 1970's era Trans Van recreational vehicle and the paint-by-number of my cat with an unfortunate swath of mauve paint.

I changed out the mauve for a more reasonable shade of cat, and voila! Finished. I wrapped the canvas painting around a canvas on stretcher bars I had lying around and now I can look at it, admire it, and always be reminded that impulse purchases are usually not the best idea.

I hope you enjoyed this little story of impulse, regret and persistence. I can honestly say I never want to do another paint-by-number again. But maybe you’ll give it a try! Just be careful what photo you choose. The amount of detail in this painting just about did me in.

Have a wonderful day! –Jenny

“Wood” ya call me crazy?

I’m not sure how it is where you live, but where I live, in Minnesota, you almost cannot find a winter planter without birch logs in it. Birch trees are plentiful in Minnesota, and truth be told, I have always loved the look of a birch tree or birch bark anything. In fact, I still have a mug I bought probably 30 years ago at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. I used to drink my coffee out of it, but it isn’t the greatest drinking mug, as the lip of it isn’t quite right. It makes a great holder for my crochet hooks, though.

Anyhow, I have admired the winter planters from my neighbors’ front porches, to the local shops in my town. There’s something about the white logs against darker tones of greens, golds and reds. It’s so festive yet natural! But because I’m a bit of a cheapskate, I have refused to purchase birch logs for my own planters. You might even say I grew to hate the sight of them, because they are literally everywhere and I just couldn’t make the purchase. So I had an idea.

On the surface, my idea sounds kind of dumb, I admit it. But many times, I go with a dumb idea, and am surprised with either how good the idea was, or just how ridiculous! And I’m sure I looked, um, interesting as I dragged a huge fallen branch I found on the middle school field to my back yard where I hacked it up into manageable “planter” sized logs. I couldn’t tell you what type of tree it was, but it was not birch, maple or oak.

Photo of cut branches
Logs!

I knew I wanted to paint these logs and turn them into “birch”, but I didn’t have that amount of white craft paint, and I wasn’t ready to buy more, so I rummaged through the storage area of my basement where I knew many cans of house paint were left for us. I used interior latex flat paint in Antique White to put a nice base coat of white on the logs, then I used some craft paints in gold and brown and black to “birchify” them. I used Google to find images of birch logs as my guide, as I transformed these basic branches into something I can hopefully reuse for a few years.

Photo of branches painted white
Antique White latex paint
Photo of one branch painted to resemble a birch log
This log-painting adventure is quite therapeutic!
Photo of several branches painted to resemble birch logs
They might be a bit too gold here.
Another photo of logs painted to resemble birch logs
Yep, I need to tone down that gold color.

I found the best way to get the black marks was to use a piece of stiff cardboard and dip the edge in my black paint, then “imprint” the black onto the log, while turning the log so the straight cardboard could make a mark on a round surface. Then I found that tapping the cardboard on the log in areas gave me some dot-dash patterns that make the logs look realistic. I also found I went a little heavy on the gold and toned it down in some areas.

I ended up with six good logs, three for each planter on my front porch. I think they look nice! I’m happy with them, and I will store them in the garage or basement in the off-season and bring them out next year. Since I painted these “free” logs with supplies I had on hand, my investment was my time, and not my money. The birch logs sell for about $4.99 each. That would’ve been $30 for my two planters. Instead, I purchased these pre-bundled greenery packs at Home Depot for my planters. Last year, I literally went around my yard and trimmed pieces off some evergreens and also some arborvitae.

Photo of a Christmas planter with greenery, pine cones, red berries and my painted birch logs.
Ta-da!! One of my two finished planters.

Thanks for stopping by! I have another big project to write about so stay tuned! For now, I have to get to bed. I am making all my Christmas cards by hand this year, so I plan on getting an early start tomorrow.

Jenny

Some Christmas Crafting!

(I get no revenue from any products I mention. I simply mention products and stores to let you know where I got something and what it is.)

Hello again! This might be a record, me writing another post in less than three months from the last time…

So, I had this nice board laying around for literally 4 or 5 years. It was on clearance from some store, likely Joann’s or Michaels. It’s a nice piece of pine, super smooth, three feet by six inches. And for some reason, my younger son used it to write (in black marker) that “Targets were 3 shillings.” Confused yet?

It’s because back in Illinois in middle school, his grade had this Patriot’s Day or something where the kids had jobs back in colonial times, and they had to dress up and stuff. Jack dressed up in this outfit I transformed for him, and we made some fake foam core board rifles that were also for “sale” at his stall. All I remember from this exercise was I did most of the work, the fake rifles were cool as heck, and he came down with the stomach flu the next day. Ah, memories…

But I digress. I kept this board, and just the other day, I saw it in the storage area of my basement and decided it was the perfect size and dimension for some sort of sign for the space above my kitchen windows. I was going to have it say “Many have eaten here, few have died” but that seemed too wordy and a lot of work. See, I don’t have a Cricut machine or some other device to cut vinyl lettering. That would be neat, but I like to do things old school, cuz I’m old-fashioned or something.

So I started by laying on the floor of my craft room and sketching things out in pencil on the board. But then I started thinking about the edge instead and grabbed some supplies I already had to start laying out ideas for a fun border. I’m sure somewhere in the back of my brain I was thinking about what this sign would say. I thought I wanted something for the holidays.

Photo of wood and possible edging

I could picture in my head how cute this would look with lime green beads and the fuzzy pom-poms that have just a bit of sparkle to them. Next, I found an example of lettering that I had in mind and set out to sketch some letters on graph paper. Whenever I had a repeat letter, I used my light table to trace the one I already had for consistency.

Photo of wood with sketched out letters on paper
I really struggled with that “S”
Photo of my marker sketch of how I thought the final project should turn out
This is what I had in mind for the lettering and the edging.

Next, I painted the wood with two or three coats of red craft paint. While that was drying, I had two important jobs to do. One, I had to paint the beads. I had just the right amount of beads, too. I wanted to use things I already had instead of needing to purchase any supplies. The second job was to liberally apply pencil on the backs of each letter for the purpose of transferring the outline of each letter onto the board once the red paint was dry.

Photo collage of the process of painting wooden beads.
As you can see, I changed my mind about the lime green, and made a new green by mixing my lime craft paint with a more standard green.

When the red paint was thoroughly dry and I was happy with the coverage of the “18” that my son had drawn on (the other side says Targets 3 shillings and some scribbles…), it was time to transfer the lettering onto the red painted board, the old school way. I found I needed to press pretty hard to get the pencil markings to transfer onto red paint. It worked great!

Photo of transferring lettering onto red painted board
Old school method! Still works great.

Now it was time to paint the letters white. I used a tube of artists’ acrylic paint to get the maximum coverage. I didn’t have a fresh container of white craft paint and I worried I would run out. The acrylic paint was thick, but I soon got used to it and filled in the letters. The good thing about the lettering style I chose is that I knew a black paint pen was going to be used to outline all the letters, so my painting didn’t have to be spot-on perfect on the very edges of each letter.

Photo of sign with letters painting, showing one coat of paint vs two coats.
The “S” was slightly improved.

It took two coats, even though I could’ve gotten away with one. Next, it was time to use the black paint pen (Sharpie brand) and outline each letter as well as add the drop shadow. This part made me kind of nervous because paint pens generally have oil-based paint in them and I knew a boo-boo could cause a big problem for me.

Photo of me using a black paint pen to outline each painted letter.
Paint pens can sometimes malfunction and release a blob of paint. I was nervous but I just kept at it, and it did not happen…this time….
Starting to look like a Netflix sign, according to my older son! Also, can you see the slight sparkle of the white pom-poms? Fun, aren’t they?

When all my beads were nice and green and had two coats of glossy Mod Podge on them, I knew I could start gluing them and the pom-poms to the edge of the board. I want to note here that I’m totally aware that these beads can easily pop off since hot glue isn’t as strong as maybe an E-6000 or superglue, but since the sign is for my house, and I know I have to carefully store it in the off-season, I was willing to take that risk. However, I laid my beads and pom-poms out a little differently and went too fast, gluing all the pom-poms on, when I realized I was short two beads. And I looked and had no more of that size. That’s when my air-dry clay came to the rescue!

My skin is so dry and gross.

I had most of the sign completed and just needed one night for the clay beads to dry. The next morning, I was able to match the green paint color, paint the beads and give them two coats of Mod Podge. I thought about coating the entire board in the Mod Podge, but decided against it. I like how the red and white is a matte finish, and the beads and black paint pen have a slight sheen.

All finished!!

I think the sign turned out super cute, and I have yet to install it above my kitchen window. I will do that right after Thanksgiving, when I get the rest of my Christmas decor up.

I also finished up a project I started last month, which is this puffy coffee filter wreath!

I found a few different tutorials online and only needed to glance at those to determine how I was going to make this. I purchased a foam wreath form, using a coupon from Joann’s, and I purchased 300 white coffee filters from the grocery store. I have a lot of glue sticks for my gun. I had this about half done last month and got bored (typical me) but today I decided it’s getting done! And it did. And I love it!! The neat thing about this wreath is that it can be used all year round. It’s easy to use a different hanging ribbon. Some people have dyed their coffee filters first, but I was in the mood for a stark wreath.

Much fluff

Well, thanks for hanging in there for my latest crafty adventure. I had a ton of fun doing these projects, and I hope it inspired you to get crafty! Who knows, you might have a blank board laying around and some good ideas rolling around your head!

Jenny

A plethora of things!

(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.)

Hello there! I hope you are all doing well. We are doing just fine here in my household. Life is certainly strange and precarious, isn’t it? For a homemaker like me, staying home all the time is not a big deal. I have been cooking a lot more for my family, and also crafting a whole bunch. I realize my situation is ideal for my family, but it’s not for so many millions of others. Hopefully we can all keep doing what we can as individuals to stop the spread of Covid so we can eventually get back to what we once knew as a state of normalcy!

In the past several months, I have been infected with a different sort of bug. It’s called the cross-stitching bug, and it works its way into your system and doesn’t let go! Before you know it, you are digging through long-forgotten supplies, purchasing instant downloadable patterns online, and attempting to coffee/tea dye fabric. It’s a doozy, I tell ya.

So yes, there’s a partially completed knit cardigan on needles, there are two partially crocheted blankets, and who knows what else! This type of ailment seems to get me every once in a while, and even though it causes more “mind clutter” and sometime more physical clutter, I just end up embracing it, and not beating myself up over it. Since my last post, when I showed off a cross stitch I made for my mother-in-law, I really didn’t think at that time that I’d be doing a lot of stitching projects. But I can tell you what happened. It’s called “Flosstube.”

Flosstube is the name given to YouTube videos that are about cross-stitching, or I suppose any type of stitching with floss or threads. You may know how YouTube works: you view a video about cross-stitching, it suggests a bunch more. And the people who make Flosstube videos always talk about fellow stitchers and their Flosstubes, so this is essentially the most fun rabbit hole I’ve come across this year! I now subscribe to many Flosstubers and there’s never a shortage of things to see, techniques to learn, and in general, time spent with genuine people, albeit through my computer monitor. It’s quite a community!

Clockwise from upper left: “Happy Halloween” by Silver Creek Samplers; “Mr. Green Jeans” by Teresa Kogut; “Three Witches” by Barbara Ana Designs; “It’s Halloween” by Foxwood Crossings

Above you will see the Halloween or fall themed projects I’ve either completed or am working on. I made my first dye attempt with the Monaco fabric in It’s Halloween. First, I dyed the fabric orange with Rit dye, set the color in the oven, then I coffee/tea dyed the fabric and set it in the oven again. I learned to do this wonderful thing from the Real Housewives of Cross Stitch, Priscilla and Chelsea! Here is a link to their video tutorial on dyeing fabric. It was easier than I thought it would be, and I love the results you get by scrunching up the fabric on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) and setting the color in the oven at 200 degrees.

The punch needle project is a wonderful design by Teresa Kogut, a lovely artist and designer who resides in Michigan (where I’m from!) I really enjoyed punching this design, and I used an Ultra Punch Needle. I find I punch very close, or tight, and I like the way it looks. It probably took longer than it should have, but I am happy with the results.

The little pillow design by Silver Creek Samplers was stitched on an Aida cloth called Fog I purchased at Fat Quarter Shop (online). I had some scraps of homespun fabrics from a thousand years ago that worked perfectly to finish this pillow.

And lastly there’s Three Witches by Barbara Ana Designs. I just love her designs and wonky alphabets. This project would be going better had I chose a better fabric. But it’s nearly done so I must go on!

I am also working on some random stitching projects, as seen in the next collage.

Clockwise from upper left: “A Night in India” by Clouds Factory; an unknown pattern found on Pinterest; “Deco Cornflowers” by The Steady Thread; “Feast of Friendship” by Blackbird Designs.

A lot of people are stitching Feast of Friendship. I actually purchased mine (before I even knew how popular it was) at my local needlework shop called Stitchville USA in Minnetonka, MN. I also purchased the floss for it. I learned that there’s more than just DMC floss for stitchers. There are many wonderful overdyed flosses out there, and they give such wonderful texture to the overall design. It’s very evident in Feast of Friendship.

The very graphic A Night in India is going to be a biscornu, which is a lovely decorative pincushion or little pillow in a geometric finish. I have the other side to finish stitching, then I can turn it into a biscornu.

The little winter scene with houses is just something I stumbled upon while looking at my Pinterest feed. The pattern seems to be from a German magazine. I was able to figure out what colors it called for, but in some instances, I chose my own colors. I am a sucker for winter scenes!! I love them so much. I finished it using a piece of sticky board and some batting, and stuck it in a little shadow box thing most likely from Target’s dollar spot, that said something, I cannot remember what! I had the tiny rustic snowshoes in a drawer with other random crafty things, and they turned out to be a perfect addition to the piece.

Lastly, the stark black and white stitching is called “Blackwork” and I love it so much. I found the design on Etsy and the shop owner has so many intricate designs to choose from. I am working on the border to the design, which is quite involved. So what you see in my photo is just a small portion of the entire design. If you click on the link in the caption, you’ll be directed to the Etsy shop where you will see so many great Blackwork embroidery designs. I can’t wait to finish it and get it framed. It’s gorgeous. I’m using one strand of black DMC floss.

And lastly, I’d like to discuss how I did not purchase any Halloween candy to pass out this year. I knew in my neighborhood, the kids were going to a few houses then congregating down the street in the cul-de-sac to visit for a bit. I decided not to pass out candy this year because we all had colds in my house, and I know if I had kids of trick-or-treating age, I wouldn’t want a sick neighbor handing out candy. I knew the neighbor kids would get plenty without me. Besides, I always buy candy that we like, and frankly, I don’t need to be eating all those Reese’s peanut butter cups, as much as I’d like to.

So to get myself in the Halloween mood, I ended up making some “haunted” Putz houses! I got my ideas from Lucy at Paper Glitter Glue. She is a very talented maker of Putz houses and other amazing crafts. I learned so much from her website, like how to push modeling paste through a stencil to get stone and brick textures. I also learned how to make the sweet twisted trees. My workspace was a total mess, as was my floor. But I ended up making three houses, although the first one was my attempt before consulting Lucy’s website for helpful tips and tutorials. I am so pleased with how these little miniatures turned out. A simple battery-operated tea light gives them the perfect aura of spookiness.

I did splurge and purchase a Sizzix machine to die cut rows of shingles for the roofs. This was a great idea, and not only did I end up with dies for shingles, I purchased some dies to make cards and such. I actually think it’s amazing that I have been crafting all my life, and I only just bought some type of die cutting machine in 2020. I have cut out a lot of little detailed things with an X-Acto knife, but I knew my right arm would never hold up to cutting out shingles from cardboard. For the windows, I used transparency film for inkjet printers but instead of printing on the film, I used black fine tipped art markers to draw images. This was so fun, and one of my favorite things about the finished houses. I also lined the inside of the houses with varying shades of torn yellow and orange paper that really make a bright glow when the tea light is on. I used air dry stone clay to make the little pumpkins, and I purchased some moss from the craft store for the shrubs.

I hope you saw something in this post to make you smile! I also wish you the very best in these trying times. I know I will miss seeing my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s just not possible and could be quite dangerous to expose older folks and people who are more vulnerable to illness. Please take care!

Jenny

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