Saturday, December 29, 2007

In the Pink

Here's a peek at the handmade birthday gifts I gave to a lovely young woman and sweet friend that will soon be on her way home to Australia. Lots of pink. Love it. All made with love for K.

The felted clogs are actually more brightly coloured than the photos show. The uppers are a variegation of pink, tan and chocolate brown. The upper edge is in the matching shade of solid pink with the inner soles in tan and the outer soles knit in chocolate brown. It was probably crazy to knit her the felted clogs when she's heading home to summer and certainly the Aussie winters are nowhere as cold as the winters here. I guess they'll just be a reminder of the cold she experienced in Canada. ;o)
The next pink gift was a pair of amethyst pendant earrings I made. Quite simple in fact to make. I chose amethyst gemstones as they mean sincerity, which K exudes in spades.
Then to round things out, I had to sew something to give her! The simple backpack styled tote seemed the perfect way to package my gifts and a wonderful way to share some Amy Butler fabric with K. Here's to you, K!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lap Quilt for Lily

With inspiration from Amy's book...

I pulled out the girly flannel fabrics I've been collecting to come up with a simple lap quilt for a birthday gift for Lily, a soon to be two- year old.
I tried my hand at some freehand machine quilted flowers...
and also tackled machine stitching the binding from start to finish.
I'm happy with the quilting, not so happy with machine stitching the binding. As Amy warned in her book, the results of machine stitching the binding are not what I'd hoped for. I ended up with the quilt edge going all wavy. I decided to leave it as it is, mainly because as the quilt is for a two-year old, I'm sure it will receive lots of washing and I think the machine stitching will better stand all the washing. I guess that's how it goes with trying something new. Irregardless of what you expect for results, you always end up learning something. I think I'll carry on with my usual combination of machine and hand stitching the binding - unless someone can tell me how to machine bind a quilt without it resulting in wavy edges?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hello! Happy Holidays!

My apologies for my abrupt departure from blogging. I've been wrapped up in enjoying time with my family and the days have been passing far too quickly.
I did manage to get this project further along to share with you. I have a feeling that I may keep adding to it as time goes on. As my boys say, "You can never overdecorate a gingerbread house!"Apparently you can never eat too much gingerbread, either. Above you see that I made a batch of chocolate gingerbread men, which was a new recipe to me. The official taste testers let me know that they really preferred the original gingerbread recipe. Funny thing is, the chocolate gingerbread disappeared quickly. The sacrifices they make around here. ;o) Added to all the indoor enjoyments of the season is this view from my kitchen window. Such beauty always puts a smile on my face. A winter wonderland.

Hoping each of you is enjoying a joyous holiday season with your loved ones and I'm wishing each of you bliss now and throughout the upcoming year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blocks 5 & 6 in Quilt Along

Here's the first 6 blocks shown together. I mentioned in an earlier post that as each week's block is given by Amandajean, I then proceed to look through my odds'n ends of fabrics to make the block. That way, not only is the block a surprise but so is the fabric I end up choosing! Sounds crazy, but it seems to working out so far, I think. Let's hope I can keep it up for the next 6 blocks so that the resulting quilt top won't be a scary, ugly, mismatched disaster ;o)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Busy Hands - Family Day in the Kitchen

This is one set of hands that was busy fashioning decorations for our non-edible gingerbread house.
Here's a sample of the Sculpey "candy buttons and canes" that will soon be adorning our fabric gingerbread house.
While those hands did that, my hands were busy baking this...
and this...
as well as some homemade buckwheat flour pizza dough which became four large veggie pizzas.
I do seem to struggle with getting food shots that show everything in an appetizing way and also before my hungry teenagers devour everything. Which leaves you with the above food photos.

I had to snap a shot of the loaf of bread I baked (baking bread is the norm around here and the boys find something rather strange in me wanting to photograph it at all). I grew up baking bread and have baked countless batches of bread through the years, every now and then I discover a new way to challenge myself. This time I somehow forgot (?) to add the yeast to the ingredients when making up the dough (can I blame this oversight on my trying to do too many things in the kitchen at the same time? My oldest son says its because I'm getting old and losing my memory. haha... I said he could forget about having gingerbread and pizza. That changed his comments about my age.). I made the dough, shaped it, placed it in a loaf pan to rise and to my surprise 30minutes later it looked exactly the way it had when I placed it in the pan. Hmmmm. It occurred to me that I couldn't remember adding any yeast. Rather than toss the dough or worse yet, bake the thing as it was (with all the grains etc. in it the poor thing would've been a great doorstop), I decided to attempt adding in the yeast. Okay, I'll be honest. This was not the easiest thing to do. It was messy. Very messy. But I was determined to rework the dough with the missing ingredient now included. Anyways, the photo shows that despite my mistake and struggle, the dough actually rose beautifully and the bread is delicious.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blue Jag

Wondering what I've been doing this week? I've been learning a new-to-me piecing technique the last couple of days and here are the results: (please excuse the pins and clips on the binding - I have some hand stitching ahead of me tonight to finish this...)

A scrappy table runner for my antique buffet. The triangle pieces are actually called jags (as in jagged edge, I guess) and they're cut and sewn similar to joining bias together. You will notice that the angles on the jags vary throughout and this is intentional - those triangles are not supposed to be identical! It was a fun project to try as the only pre-cutting before assembly was simple strips and you cut the angles on the two fabrics you want to join ( in my table runner fabrics alternated between light and darker blue pieces across the desired width of my project) just before you stitch them together. Not exactly the fastest method for piecing but I like randomness of this look. The best part was the chance to gather all those thrifted fabrics and add in bits and pieces from other previous projects to make this scrappy look. Any of you that have been following my projects here and over at Four Friends and a Blog, will notice that lately I have gravitated towards scrappy fabric projects. Well, this project makes me very happy as it satisfies that creative leaning and I think I shall be trying this technique on some more projects in the near future.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Generous Giveaway

Lots of ooooooh's and aaaaaaah's in my house upon opening the huge box of goodness from Sonya's giveaway that I just received. As amazing as the photos on her blog showed her giveaway to be, I was still awestruck by the generous bounty she sent. Get this, I was only one of the THREE winners in her giveaway to receive a basket full of crafting goodness. Wow.
This is how everything looked before I dived into it.
Here's a shot of the fabrics and trims...
these lovely beads, buttons, flowers and floss...
and then there's the roving and yarn! There were other treats in that beautiful basket - left me stunned when I spread everything out to look at. Oh my. Thank you very much, Sonya for all of the wonderful crafty goodness you so generously gave.

Changing topics here for a moment, I thought I'd give a peek at the progress on my fabric gingerbread house.
The basics are finished, now it's time to decorate it up! I'm hoping to get my resident Sculpey expert to lend his nimble fingers to making pretty bits to attach to the house.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thrifting Treats...

I made a quick stop at a local thrift store to look for some crafting supplies for one of my works in progress (remember that fabric gingerbread house?). Besides finding exactly what I needed for that project, I found these treats...
Cottons to add to my scrappy stash of fabrics along with this cute Strawberry Shortcake printed flannel (destined to become a integral part of a child's quilt idea I have).
I always look thru the clothes for items to repurpose and lucked out by finding some wool sweaters to felt. Yay! Must admit I was also coveting the pretty metal buttons on the patterned sweater and the separating zipper with the fancy pull tab on the cardigan. I love bonuses like that!
Final happy find for me was this grab bag of sewing treats - some vintage ric rac, embroidered trim and ribbon in abundance!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Winter Evenings

Since winter arrived here, my evenings have been filled working on this needlepoint project, stitch by stitch...
While my husband has been reading aloud to us, page by page....
Yes, it would seem that we are all quite content with our winter evenings together.

Giveaway Link

Go check out the quilt patterns giveaway here at Thimble Blossoms. When you leave a comment, be sure to mention you found her through my blog, thanks! Good luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Block # 4

Here's my fourth block for the Quilt-Along. Each week I dip into my fabric stash to see what I can find to make the block - so not only are the blocks unplanned until Amandajean reveals them, but so are my fabrics! Not my usual method for quilting, but the mystery this time around is liberating and surprisingly fun.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sweet Weekend?

Some quality time in the kitchen this weekend resulted in these family favourites...
Some quality time with my sewing machine resulted in progress on this fabric gingerbread house...

Interspersed between these activities was time spent curled up with a good book and a mug of tea while my guys read, drew and built Lego creations. Ahhhh... reasons to love weekends.
Hope you all had a sweet weekend, too!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Signs of the Season

Today I packed up my autumn themed decorations and brought out my winter ones. I thought I'd share glimpses of my winter themed decor with you. First up are simple bits of patchwork and cross stitich sewn into little pillows to add some charm to a basket. A place of prominence in the display is given to the red velvet mini pillow I made specifically for a piece of tatting made by my great-grandmother. Not only are these pillows visually pleasing, but with a homemade spicy potpourri inserted inside one, it is also lending the aromatic pleasure of such spices as cinnamon.

Next up, are two of my handmade fleece snowmen, which are a sure sign of winter (and some winters the only snowmen that last more than a day in our part of the world...) I'm quite happy with how these fellows turned out and this year they get to sit upon a recently thrifted runner that supports the snowflake theme ;o)
A close-up of the larger snowman to show you the sequins added to his vest and hat.
The smaller snowman sports a hat and scarf adorned with puff paint snowflakes. Both snowmen have carrot noses made from Sculpey, beads for their mouths and twig arms.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Autumn Appliqued Wallhanging Complete

Finally took these...

... and made this wallhanging.
I simply outline quilted around the leaves and the blocks they're appliqued on and then stipple quilted the border. The biggest delay in finishing this project was deciding on a backing fabric. You can see what I finally chose in the far right of the photo. Nice and bright with all those yummy fall colours.
Yep, I finished this just in time for it to be put away until next fall as it's now time to bring out the winter themed decorations. ;o) Sew it goes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Block 3 in Quilt a long

Here's my fabric choices for the third block in the 12 block series being led by the talented Amandajean at Crazy Mom Quilts. You can view the other participants blocks from links along the sidebar on Amandajean's site. C'mon, join in, if you haven't already! Making one block a week is manageable... and think of the end results... in a mere 12 weeks you will have all the blocks required to make your own quilt!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A "Piece-ful" Weekend

From the pieces I had leftover from making this quilt...

I made this little case...

... along with this drawstring tote...
...and then this zippered tote.
A fun use for all those little bits of fabric! More fun when you listen to a favourite audiobook while you sew, like I did (Pride & Prejudice this time around).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quilt - Along Blocks from Week 1 and Week 2

I joined the fun over at Crazy Mom Quilts and have finally stitched up the first two blocks in the 12 week Quilt - Along. Go see the sidebar on her blog to find links to all the participants in this quilting treat. It's fun to see the variations created on these blocks that comes from choosing different fabrics .

Exciting to guess what block we'll be sewing up next week and how beautiful our quilt tops will be at the end of the 12 weeks. Get some fabrics and join in!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Simple Fall Candles

Need a quick crafted project to add some seasonal splash for Thanksgiving? How about making these leaf decorated candles?

You will need some pressed leaves, a light coloured sheet of beeswax along with a light coloured pillar candle and finally, your hair dryer.
Measure the height and circumference of the candle. Cut the sheet of beeswax to the desired finished height and add 1/4" to the circumference measurement to give you overlap to secure the beeswax.
Lay the leaves (darker ones show through the best) face down onto the sheet of beeswax. Make sure you leave space clear along the length that forms the overlap.
Lay the candle at the edge of the sheet of beeswax, lining up the top and bottom of the candle with the cut edges. You may need to warm the beeswax up by using your hair dryer on the lowest heat setting, if your sheet of beeswax is cold, otherwise it will not be pliable enough to wrap around the candle and will only crack apart.
Once you have rolled the candle in the sheet of leaf covered beeswax you need to overlap the wax at the back to create a small seam. You will use your hand held hair dryer to heat the wax gently to create this seam, using your fingertips to press the layers together to secure them.

These are two of the several candles I've made using different candle sizes. On the shorter candle I actually cut a circle of beeswax (but didn't layer in any leaves) to cover the top of the candle and poked the wick up through the center. For the taller candle I only covered the sides of candle in beeswax.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome! Pay It Forward Exchange

Welcome ! I have been posting over at Four Friends and a Blog with three of my dear friends for nearly a year now, but recently decided to venture into blogging on my own as well. I look forward to sharing and hopefully inspiring you with my creative endeavours in this space. Please feel free to share your comments when you visit.

Now onto some news! I signed up over at Nadine's blog Friendship Threads to participate in a Pay It Forward Exchange. Here's the explanation and what I'll be doing as given by Nadine:

This is how it goes : it's the Pay It Forward exchange, based on the
concept of the movie "Pay It Forward", where acts of kindness are done without expecting anything in return, just passing it on, hoping that the recipients will do the same and pay it forward, like a never ending chain of kindness...
How to proceed ?
I will make and send a handmade gift for the first 3 friends who post a comment to this post, requesting to join this exchange, and promising to pay it forward to 3 other persons, etc....
I don't know what my 3 gifts will be, but I can promise I will send them within the next 6 months .
What YOU have to do in return then, is pay it forward by making the same announcement and promise on YOUR blog.

Sound like fun? I think so! I wonder who will I be sending handmade gifts to???
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