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and I cannot be bothered to get up and measure the painting πŸ˜†) It was a little fiddly to enlarge the image on my outdated desktop printer/scanner.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. πŸ˜€ 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

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. πŸ˜‰

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

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 FarmsΒ 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, Β I have been very busy making things because that is what I do. I love to make things, as I may have mentioned before. πŸ˜‰ 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.Β 

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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)

Back to blogging

How many of us have started a blog, maintained a blog, and then stopped blogging for some reason?

I would venture a guess of quite a few. There are many, many reasons why it doesn’t work out. The biggest reason I have found is time.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Jenny, and I make stuff, and not just microwaved breaded chicken and gin and tonics… No, I make things. I knit, crochet, paint, craft in general. It’s something I’ve always done since I was small and now, well into my forties, I find I must still make stuff. Sure, I’ve stopped making dollhouse dishes out of backyard clay, but I have the same thought process.

And regarding time, when you make something and want to share the process with whomever will listen, it takes time to snap all those pics and get them assembled with actual words into a meaningful and hopefully helpful blog post. And I’m not all that great at the snapping photos part.

I don’t work in a beautiful dedicated “studio.” I sometimes hang out in my unfinished basement, competing with two boys who love to drag out all the tools and then not know what to do with them. Sometimes I hang out on the sofa, competing with the cat, who thinks she has the supreme right of being on my lap at all times. Sometimes, I knit or crochet in the car while my husband drives. It’s never uncommon for me to have three or four projects going at once.

Now, to explain the title of this particular blog post, “Back to blogging,” it means that I once had a blog, and I had like three readers. My best friend, and my mother- and father-in-law. The in-laws think I’m funny. Or crazy. My last blog lacked direction, however, and because of other things going on in my life, I didn’t stick with the blog and I regret that, even though I had three readers. Three dedicated readers…

See, now that my boys are older (17 and 12) and require less of my hands-on parenting (they totally microwave their own breaded chicken), I have more time on my hands than I know what to do with. My house isn’t super-tidy. There are walls that need painting, and closets that need purging, but I need more than all that. I haven’t had a job outside of being a mom for 18 years. That is a very weird statement for me. I enjoyed working and worked right up until my first son was born. But becoming a mother changed me, and I found I couldn’t go back to work. More on that in another post, perhaps.

So this new blog is dedicated to all the stuff I make. Sometimes it’s a knit sweater, sometimes a crocheted Amigurumi thing, sometimes a cardboard creation. And sometimes it may be food. I forgot to mention that I really like food.

So, if you stumble upon this blog, and you like to make stuff too, have a look around and leave a comment. Or if you don’t like to make stuff and you are really, really bored, have a look around anyway! I am also happy to help others with their crafting dilemmas. I have been on call for a certain relative who shall remain nameless for help with all things knitting…and I LOVE IT. Cheers!

 

Jenny