Friday, November 26, 2010

Tree hugging

I've been inside way too much lately. This cast on my foot that makes walking a slow hobble has kept me from doing one of the things I love best. This morning, greeted as I was by another glorious SoCal winter day, I knew I had to get up into the mountains, and under a tree.
IMG_0989So I headed up along a quiet winding road into the Angeles National Forest, where I found my tree. My cares slipped from my mind as I let the cool crisp air fill my lungs, and listened to the wind toss the upper branches of the oak. The leaf litter crackled gently. There were no cars on the nearby road. My frown relaxed, my shoulders dropped. Peace returned. Ah, the rejuvenating powers of quiet time under a big old tree.

It was just what I needed. Dare I say, it's what we all need every now and then.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gifts for foodies

Gifts for foodies
Gifts for foodies

Ready to mail!

Gift pile
The overseas gifts are wrapped, boxed, and ready to mail. Except for writing out all those customs declarations. Ack, I hate that part.

Stitched and stamped gift tags I wanted a simple color scheme, and scored a big roll of white paper for free. It helps to have friends with web printing presses :-) Red ribbon and stitched and stamped tags were all that was needed to complete the Christmas look. I have several miles of paper left over, so I think I'll be using it for years to come. While I prefer to wrap in re-usable cloth, this year I really didn't want to spend any money on the wrapping, not even for thrift store sheets. So when the free paper came my way, I went with it. It was headed for the recycle bin; this way it just got used before recycling :-)

Snakes and Ladders One last photo of the Snakes and Ladders game/quilt. After playing with it, I realized I had the orientation wrong. To make the direction of play obvious, I embroidered "go" and "whoa" in the start and finish squares (click to enlarge), and added felt triangles at the end of rows. They really help when you go up a ladder or down a snake, to figure out which way to continue playing. Now it's all boxed up and ready for a long journey.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thrift score

I went to Goodwill to pick up medium and extra small long sleeved tshirts to use as patterns for Billy Cardis for my girls. As usual, I browsed the table- and bed-linen section, where I found this treasure.

A large, handmade, hand-embroidered linen tablecloth, with eight matching napkins, for $7.99. The tablecloth is in great condition, with only one tiny hole and one very small wax stain. It's supple and soft, and I can't decide whether to use it as a tablecloth, or repurpose it for something wonderful. Little girls' dresses, perhaps?

Hand-embroidered linen tablecloth and napkins
Whatever I do with it, I want to honour the work and love someone put into these pieces. Their simple loveliness is making me smile.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

More sewing for meeeeeee

Susie topI am not sure if I like the way this top makes me look enORMously busted, but it sure is comfy! It's the Susie top from Ottobre Woman, Autumn/Winter 5/2010. Continuing my love affair with knits over here, I have a couple more top patterns lined up to go. But oh, I wish I had more options for prints in cotton or bamboo or wool jersey (I don't want to go the 100% polyester route). The little bit of leopard skin on the trim of this one was quite a fashion risk for me. I'm not at all into animal prints. But I've got to tell you, I haven't found many options out there, and far far fewer that I actually like. Can anyone point me to a source for printed knits?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I happened to find myself downtown last week, not far from the fabric district, so of course I had to pop in and visit Michael Levine and Carmel. Dana over at Made wrote about Carmel Fabrics just the other day, and got me jonesing for some linen. This shop is one of the little hole-in-the-wall places, where all the bolts are standing on their ends, and there is no cutting table. I announced I wanted to buy some linen (they only sell linen and silk) and this nice older man said, 'Very good price for you!"
"$7 a yard?" I asked.
He looked worried. "For you, $7.50. This good stuff, it's $12.99 a yard."
"My friend Dana says you sell it to her for $7 a yard."
He sighed. "OK, for you, $7 a yard."
So at that price, I had to buy 6 yards, right?

Around the corner at Michael Levine, I picked up some sweater knits for $5 a yard, and today I whipped up this:
Billy cardie
I used Katy's tutorial for her Billy cardi, cutting up an old tshirt to make the pattern. I am in love with knits! So easy, so forgiving! And I'm in love with the Billy cardi. I want one in every colour! This could well be my new winter uniform.

Engagement broochThe brooch was given to me by Josh in lieu of an engagement ring. I absolutely love it, but rarely wear it, because I just don't have much it goes with. But now? I think it's going to get quite a bit of air this winter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More gifties

Felt FruitI was tempted to make felt cupcakes and donuts for a certain littlie, but thought some healthy options might be better received by the mama. The banana is fun! The peel can be completely removed. I just made up the pattern; it took a little trial and error, but not too much.

Mooshy Belly Bunny
Mooshy Belly Bunny
For the Mooshy Belly Bunny, I followed this tutorial. Don't believe her when she says it only takes an hour. I think the pompom tail might have taken that long by itself! (Is there a quick way to make a pompom?) I recycled a favourite tshirt (seen on me here); it felt good to give it new life.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

November 7

Snakes and LaddersI've been wanting to make this project since, oh, 1994, when it appeared in Vol 10, No 6 of Handmade Magazine. I loved that magazine! I have many issues from the 90s, and refer to them often for gift ideas. It's still published, but it's a very different beast now. Around 1999 something happened; there was a redesign and the caliber of the projects changed dramatically. Did it stop being published by The Australian Women's Weekly, perhaps? I no longer found it inspirational, so let my subscription lapse.

Anyway, this Snakes* & Ladders quilt/game was designed by Maria Ragan, who had lots of bold, colourful projects in those early issues. Whatever happened to Maria Ragan? She was such a talented designer. Is she still out there? Any Aussie internet peeps heard of her?

This project was a LOT of work. Like, 20 hours worth. More than I usually invest in a gift, that's for sure. But I really, really like it, and am very happy that I spent the weekend making it. Added bonus: it was made entirely from my stash! Size is approx 60" x 45" (150cm x 112cm).

*Apparently American kids don't play Snakes & Ladders. They play Chutes & Ladders. Less scary, I suppose.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mistake Reports

My new favourite web site.

November 4

Teatowel and potholdersI really like making teatowels from thrifted cotton shirts, well-loved and washed to soft absorbency. Here's another, though there have been more, sadly un-photographed. Add a couple of matching potholders, and there's a gift to go.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

November 3

Lavender-stuffed trivet
I wanted to make a lavender-filled trivet, for a little aromatherapy while the tea draws. I couldn't find a local source for dried lavender flowers, so bought a pound of them online. A pound of lavender is ... rather a lot. So I see many more aromatherapy trivets in my future. And in yours, if you're on my gift list.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November 2

Crocheted bead braceletI like making jewelry, but my eyesight just isn't up to it. Maybe I need to get one of those big magnifying glasses you hang around your neck, like Mum used to use for tapestry. Then I can apply crimps and such with less flailing about. And maybe take less than two hours to make a simple bracelet.

Monday, November 01, 2010

November 1

Mexican Potato Omelet What's not to love about potatoes, eggs and cheese? Add a touch of fresh tomato salsa, and it's all good. Martha's done it again. You'll find the recipe here.

I am pleased to report that I can still sew with my leg in a cast. A little lead-footedly, I admit. Same with driving: I don't quite have the finesse I used to, but I can still do the deed. I spent the whole weekend a-makin' stuff, but have nothing to show (you) for it. Maybe tomorrow morning, before work, there'll be enough light to shoot a few of the Christmas goodies I've made. Those that will end up under the trees of folks who don't read this blog, anyway.

Despite having all the prezzies planned, and more than half of them made, I'm still very excited about Sew Mama Sew's fourth annual Handmade Holidays series, which started today. I'll be stalking them daily for inspiration for future gifts. Yay for November!