Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 30

This beanie was meant to be adult-sized, but it turned out to be Lauren-sized. I immediately started knitting another one, intending to extend the stocking stitch by 3 or 4 inches before the decreasing starts, but looking at the photo now, I don't really care for the shape of the hat. So I think I'll abandon this pattern and return to one I used with success before Christmas.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

December 29

More stitched and embellished cards. Have I mentioned how much I love my new machine?

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28

More scarves, and matching cards. A cool way to use up the little scraps of fabric leftover from a project (the cards, that is.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27

The last present I unwrapped on Christmas morning was a letter from Josh. Along with his expressions of love and gratitude and other things too lovely for me to repeat here, he ended with a poem that sent me off to look under the soap in the bathroom.

There, I found another clue leading me outside under the tree in the front yard ... where I found another note telling me to look in the trunk of my car. There, I found a new sewing machine!!!!!!!!

We had such a frugal Christmas, because of Josh and I both losing our jobs earlier in the year. But he got a surprise bonus last week, and allocated all of it for a new machine for me. He made it clear that he had no idea what model I'd really like, so if the one in the box wasn't totally to my liking, we could exchange it. Which today I did.

I am now the very excited owner of a Brother Innovis NX-450, my first ever electronic sewing machine. It totally rocks!

I immediately whipped up a silk scarf (something my old machine would not have coped with). Goofy Josh decided to model it for me. He wished he had a pipe (and maybe a beret) as a prop but had to make do with spectacles.

Lauren did a slightly less comic modelling job, showing off the complementary brooch. I can't wait to sew some more!! I am so lucky!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26

The light was perfect at the beach today.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

December 25

Here's Josh and I in our festive headdresses. We had 15 here for lunch, and we repeated last year's "cracker" icebreaker before the meal. I made my own Christmas Crackers which each contained a sheet of tissue paper plus various other bits and bobs with which each person had to fashion a party hat. You can see more of the crazy results here.

It was a really lovely day, despite a few hiccups like the washing machine breaking, and the power going out for more than an hour in the middle of cooking the Big Meal. But my handy husband hooked up the generator to the stove and I kept right on roasting (and later, he ordered a $20 part to fix the washer). For me, it was what Christmas Day is meant to be. Lots of cooperation, love, laughter, good food, friends, family, phone calls with those absent, and general warm fuzzies. Loverly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December 15

I am back in cyberworld after more than a week without internet. Wow, it was tough! I did manage to get some stuff done, including studying for my finals, planning the Christmas menus, making more gifts, and wrapping 23 loaves of banana bread.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

December 6

Last week Ian asked me to make him a hackysack. He and his friends are right into the 'sport' these days; they call themselves the Sack Tappers (you can be sure they get a lot of teenage male humour out of THAT.) I was delighted to oblige -- how often does a teenage boy actually request a hand crafted item? I took it very slowly because my finger still hasn't fully healed and crochet puts a lot of pressure on that particular spot. But tonight I tossed him the finished ball; he immediately put it into action and declared it to be great.

I used the only cotton I had (working from two balls to try to thicken it up -- recognize it, sister?) but it was still too thin. Next one should be thicker cotton, and a darker color. But all in all, we're both pretty happy with it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

December 4

Lola came over for some art play tonight. We had such a good time. It's been way too long since I played with glue and crayons.

Monday, December 03, 2007

December 3

Got the Christmas card designed (and 10 printed before I ran out of the right paper) today. I feel like a bit of a slacker for creating a strictly-graphic card with no hand work this year, but I'm forgiving myself, because my Christmas list is still really long. Despite having been making gifts all year, I still have to:
~ Print, enscript, and address 50+ cards
~ Make a tree (we're not buying one, and I have an idea, and a bunch of branches ...)
~ Make 14 more gifts for Josh's colleagues, plus a half dozen for Lauren's teachers and special people
~ Knit a beanie, decorate a couple of boxes, make a stupid sock creature, a doorstop and a bag for my Aus contingent (these need to be mailed, oh, next week at the latest)
~ Plan (um ....) design and make gifts for Josh, Lauren, Ian and half a dozen girlfriends here
~ Make pyjamas for us all (Christmas Eve tradition)
~ Plan 4-6 days of meals for when family is visiting; cook ahead whatever I can.

Oh yeah, and study for final exams, and earn some money. While, of course, caring for a house and family. Yeah.

Christmas cards with no handwork are fine by me.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Christmas Boutique

Last week I launched my 2007 Christmas Boutique, a virtual "store" where my family members (all 19 of them) could select their own Christmas gifts from the goods I had been making all year. As I said in my email to them all, "There's nothing worse for a handcrafter than to give a gift that the recipient doesn't want or like. It's bad enough to do that with a bought gift, but even worse, in my opinion, to spend hours making something that is a 'miss' rather than a 'hit'. It's embarrassing for everyone."

Here's how it worked. I gave them a url to go to, where they could browse through the photos and leave comments under any that appealed to them. I encouraged them to select more than one, and to feel free to pick any that others had already selected. This was not a 'first come, first served' scenario. I reserved the right to make the final decision, and figured I could make whip up another one or two items if any were particularly popular.

My goal was to (a) give people something they really wanted (b) learn more about my loved ones' preferences; after all, it's been 10 years since I lived in Australia and spent any meaningful time with them; some of them weren't even born when I left.

Well, my family embraced the idea with enthusiasm (whew!), and promptly cast their votes. There were a few surprises.

Children and grownups alike clamoured for the locked boxes, so I'll be scouring the op shops over the next few days for more wooden boxes suitable for this purpose. I've started knitting another beanie (index finger stuck awkwardly up in the air) and I'll try to make another couple of stupid sock creatures.

Nobody was interested in the batik placemats, which is fine, because I love them.

All in all, I am really happy with the response, and hope that my idea has reduced a little Christmas angst. Other handcrafters out there might like to try it!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December 1

My new all time favourite dinner: Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza. I made it tonight and it was ohmygod delicious! If you're lucky, I'll make it again next time you come to dinner :-)

Crafting has been difficult in the past few days, with a finger bandaged up. But it's getting better quickly, so hopefully I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 27

I had a nasty accident while making these. The rotary cutter skipped up onto the ruler and sliced a big chunk off the side of my left index finger. Bled like a stuck pig, I did, but luckily not on the project. Anyway .... these coasters are 100% linen, embroidered on one side (no, I didn't do the embroidery myself, I bought a skirt at the thrift store that had six big flowers stitched along the bottom).

Josh says he needs twenty-seven gifts for his colleagues. More coasters. More banana bread. More coasters. More banana bread. Lucky I don't have anything else to do :-/

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November 25

I've been wanting to make some of these for the longest time, and at last today I did. I modified Cindy's Crayon Roll Tutorial to work for a set of 24 coloured pencils. Fat quarters are the perfect width :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 23

More coasters. Lauren and Josh are both standing in line to give these to the teachers/colleagues on their gift lists. So fast and easy to make, that I don't mind the orders. Fully customizable for the recipient's taste and preferred color scheme, too! What's not to love?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November 17

Wow, these coasters are so fast to sew up once the cutting's done. I found the instructions here. No hand sewing required! I'm going to make some more sets of these for teacher and hostess gifts. I love finding new ways to use my stash :-)

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 16

I didn't stop making stuff; this project just took more than a day to complete. I've been wanting to make an Advent calendar for years, and finally got my act together in November, instead of pining for one in December when it was already too late. I pretty much copied Jenny's idea here but instead of putting squares of chocolate in the felt envelopes (didn't seem a good idea, above the fireplace), I've written prompts on the back of the dangles, to get us into the holiday spirit. Ali Edwards posted a PDF of holiday prompts which I selected from, and added a few of my own, to suit our family and climate.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 12

I visited my preferred fabric source today: the dollar rack at my favourite thrift store, and came away with nine or ten garments of cotton, linen and wool. After washing them all, I realised that I held in my hands a rather nice pair of linen pants that fit me. They were a little too short, so I let down the hem and covered the resulting mark with some trim. Voila! A groovy pair of soft, wide-legged linen pants for a buck! Yay!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11

It was rainy and chilly so we lit a fire and had an indoors Sunday ... very nice! Lauren had a friend over, and they did some crafts and sewing, while I made a wallet based on this tutorial. If you want to try it yourself, be warned that the instructions do not make it crystal clear which way the snaps should go. I got it wrong and had to unpick it all and remove them (not so easy). Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the final result, and may even keep it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November 10

Lauren suggested I use the leftover bits of the green corduroy dress to make a bag. Hmmm.... not a bad idea!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

November 9

Baby blanket is done, and it's so soft and lovely!

Tessa, I strongly suggest you pick this gift from the Christmas Boutique.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 8

Baby blanket in the works. I found a long green dress of soft velvety corduroy at the thrift store to use as a backing. Yummy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

November 7

I made a simple wallet following this tutorial, but I'm not very happy with it. I need to tweak the design to be more useful to me. But as it is, it might be a nice way to give a gift card. It was fast to make, and uses only small scraps of fabric.

Lauren (aged 10) has fallen in love with the bag I made two days ago, and wants to use it for school. So I added a zippered pocket inside, and a button and loop closure. It's really too wide and open to be suitable for a school bag, in my opinion, but she was adamant .... we'll see how they both fare tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November 6

I went to the thrift store in the hopes of finding some chenille for this project (buying materials second hand doesn't count, right?) Sadly, there was no bedspread or robe waiting for me, though the dollar rack did have quite a few garments offering themselves up for the patchwork top of the impending baby blanket.

I was also delighted to find these two Crate and Barrel placemats ($1.50 for the pair) which, when combined with a previously thrifted silk runner…

…became this bag.

And, as a bonus, while scrabbling around in my button box, I found one of those snap bolt thingies I was mentioning in my last post, so I can make the little sack for yesterday's bag now.

Ah, life is good. If only I could make a living doing this!

Monday, November 05, 2007

November 5

I made another grocery bag; this one's VERY roomy. The tutorial can be found here. I didn't make the little sack for it because I don't have one of those little bolt snap things (and I'm just using materials from my stash, remember?) Actually, I don't even know where to buy those thingies. Where DO you buy them?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

November 4

Wow, I have gotten so much done today. Amazing what I can achieve when the family's out and I don't do any housework. I finished transcribing and analysing the tape of my last ASL test, then I studied four chapters of Linguistics for an exam on Wednesday, and then I started sewing again.

Today's output (so far…): two tissue holders (these take five minutes each, including sewing on the buttons) and …
…a cloth shopping bag inspired by this tutorial. Mary Beth is using hers for a lunch bag, but I'm going to use mine for groceries. The thing I like about it is that it can roll up and sit snugly inside its own handle, like so:
I want something I can leave in the bottom of my handbag for those times when I'm standing at the checkout and realise that I left my totes the car. I'll test drive this baby, and if it works well, I'll make several more.

Later: it's past 10pm and I'm finally ready to stop. After dinner I made this bath mat …
… based on this tutorial. The guys were fairly unimpressed so this might go in the Christmas boutique if neither of them are begging to have it in their bathroom. I think it's adorable, myself.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

November 3

I forced myself to spend the morning and half the afternoon studying before commencing today's sewing project. Whew, it was tough to stay focused that long, when I kept walking past the sewing machine set up on the dining room table. When I finally closed up my books, I leapt upon this tutorial and made myself a great doorstop. One thing I'm really enjoying about these Sew Mama Sew projects is that I'm not buying any materials; it's all coming from my stash. Though this one used up every last dried bean in my pantry, so if I want to make (or eat!) more I'll have to go to the store.

Friday, November 02, 2007

November 2

Since quitting my job, I've been really good about keeping to a daily schedule of working to build my graphic design business. After dropping Lauren at school, I've done the housework then "clocked on" at 9 am to do Studio Flourish stuff. But today, er .... it's now 10 am and I have been sewing instead. I'll blame the ants in the Halloween candy (discovered at 7 am) for throwing me off my schedule. But really, it's Sew Mama Sew's fault.

Based on this tutorial, I whipped up a wrist pincushion from a scrap left over from making Lola's bag. Just what I needed to recover from the ant carnage. Now ... time to do some "real" work. But I think I'll wear this all day. It makes me smile :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November 1

Inspired by this tutorial, I sewed a reversible half-apron tonight out of some thrifted shirts. I'm in the market for an apron myself, but I want a full one. I am hoping that Evie is making me one for Christmas ;-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 28

I found this bit of twisted wire in the parking lot at college last week, and noticed how humanoid it looked. I tossed it into the disaster area of my art table and forgot about it. But today I actually found myself with no homework or housework NEEDING to be done, so I cleaned up my studio ... and before I knew it, I was turning this bit of wire into a wild-haired, big-hearted woman.

After seven solid weeks of hard work and stress weighing upon me every day, I am breathing again. I have no idea where the money is going to come from to feed and house the family, but I am trusting -- in my own wild-haired, big-hearted manner -- the universe to show me the way.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

October 20

I am SO glad to be back.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The L-word

I am feeling somewhat relieved by Penny's comment a few days ago. Heck, yeah, getting a degree is more important than daily blogging. Thank you, Penny. Not sure why I needed your validation, but it helped.

Here is tonight's drawing effort. Lauren has a current school project (due Tuesday) to produce a page (written and illustrated) on each of five L-animals and five L-plants. After quite a bit of angst over the assignment during the last two weeks, she came home from Mom's place this afternoon with all the writing done (no questions asked over who did the majority of the work).

She requested my assistance on the illustrations, so I had a crack at them, and she copied my scratches. Here is the result of our collaborative efforts.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It is raining, for the first time in 151 days. And not just a sprinkle, either. Rain. There's even been thunder, something we rarely get, and I really miss, here in Southern California. I should have been in bed hours ago, but I'm sitting up, enjoying the sound of the overflowing gutter.

Oh my, another flash and crack. Love it. Send 'er down, Hughie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19

Classroom doodles. My Women's Health class is aimed at teenage girls in the early stages of their sexual career. As I'm not one, I find it reeeeellly boring. But it's a requisite for my degree, so I sit through it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18

Since starting school a few weeks ago, every spare minute is spent, not sketching, but studying. Today in my lunch break I didn't saunter forth for sketchersize ... oh no. I sat in my car and read a research paper on the woeful quality of educational interpreters, madly highlighting as I went, so I can write a five page summary. I get home from work, cook dinner (studying while things steam and roast) then as soon as we've eaten I hit the books again. Thus my intermittent posting. I'm still drawing every day, but as you can see I'm not spending a great deal of time on it. If you want some really lovely art, go check out Julie's pictures. Then come back here next week. Gotta go.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007