stay calm and get your craft on

18 12 2010

I saw that phrase (title) while cruising on etsy a month ago – printed on a bag or t-shirt at The Bold Banana‘s shop. Instant addition to my Fave list, and perhaps an acquisition for later this spring. I love the phrase because it’s so true: keep calm, focus on the creative process, and the happiness generated thereby will smooth the way back to a place where I can deal with whatever the life-problem is. Crafting (and any creative endeavor) is like that, for me – restorative, reinvigorating, saving.

So here’s what’s been saving me this week:

bell ornaments

Creating simple ornaments like these, for Bebe’s little tree, since ours are packed up & far away at home.

felt tree - shadows felt tree - greens

Making more little trees – this time in gradients of purple and green, inspired by these ones that I saw last December and LOVED but didn’t have time/energy to make myself. So I bookmarked them and have been waiting all year for December to roll around again. Yay! Hers are still much prettier, which I’m sure is mostly due to my limited abilities with geometry/spatial conceptualization. Again, the nicely pointed tree tips escape me. Le sigh… Next year, maybe I’ll complete the color set. But for now, these are so fun and I love ’em.

embroidered star ornaments

Embroidering little star ornaments, inspired by the sewn ones (by Flossy’s Fancy) that I saw at tiny happy.

snow star

Valarie’s awesome Snow Star tutorial to make this really big and very pretty paper sculpture.

And of course, working on other super-secret gifts that cannot be revealed until after the holidays.

My coffee cup is empty, so that’s all for now: we’re off and running for the day. And I hope if you need it, that you have something or someone who saves & restores you. Hope you have a marvelous weekend, wherever you are in the world.


holiday craft round-up

4 01 2010

Silly me, last week I forgot that for both Christmas & New Years we had 4-day weekends this year. And holidays are more for family than anything else, so the computer was mostly off (except when checking news & football scores). In order to get on with current events, here’s a quick summary of the rest of the handmade holiday projects.

holiday knitting: hats

The Tam for C, because every librarian should have a beret-style hat. And she looks gorgeous in this color.

lace tam

Craft: knitting
Pattern: Lace Tam by Susan Rainey (free pattern)
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino (Celeste)
For more details, see Ravelry.

This next – and very structural hat – looks really cool on the head and kind of like a funny beehive off the head. It reminded me of another C, so I cast on and really enjoyed it.  The reinforced headband technique (k 1″, p 1 rnd, k 1″, fold at purl and knit edge together, continue on) made a nicely secure base with a clean bottom edge. I’ll probably adapt this to other hats in the future. It’s a little slouchy, which you can’t tell in this picture since it wasn’t quite done yet (the 2nd skein disappeared somewhere in the holiday craft piles or maybe into one of Bebe’s treasure holes).

wurm wip 2

Craft: knitting
Pattern: wurm by katushika (free pattern)
Yarn: Katia Austral (2)
For more details, see Ravelry.

holiday sewing: misc

There was holiday sewing a-plenty. For the machine sewing bits, I had to squeeze very carefully between the prickly tree and my sewing desk. So there wasn’t as much machine sewing as I had originally planned. Hand-sewing was very soothing for late nights, when everyone else was asleep and all was quiet. Cup of tea, anyone?

A reversible needlekeeper for Ca. Many years ago, she gave me an embroidered handkerchief (still have it and love it) and thereby inspired me to learn more about embroidery.

sewing bee

And in true form with my best girls, part of their belated holiday gifts. Here’s a close-up of some really tiny knitting.

knitting softie

There were a few more knitting projects that had to be substituted with another gift due to (a) time (b) skill (grr… lace weight yarn…) (a) time (c) mysterious disappearances of particular skeins and again (b) skill (slooowwww…..knnnitttinnng).

It was a good year, and I found so much inspiration from the online community of crafters. Already making notes for next year’s handmade holidays.

snow + apple

30 12 2009

There is still life going on after the holidays, although we will continue with the holiday crafting reports tomorrow. I just wanted to share a few recent details.

Like these reversible needle keepers:

needlekeeper - winesap detail needlekeeper - golden delicious detail

I love this one, with the apple applique, for its lovely orchard colors, so like the apples we harvested this fall. Sweet for someone who loves apples, or maybe a teacher’s gift.

Waaay back in October, I started cutting the wool felt for lots of needle keepers (aka needle cases, needle books, etc). Now I have finally begun sewing applique pieces together and doing the embroidery. I love them to pieces.

Especially this one with all of the snowflakes and “ice crystal” beads:

needlekeeper - snowflake detail needlekeeper - snow detail

These are the needle keepers that I worked on yesterday, I’ll share more designs as they are finished. I want to make sure a bunch are ready for when my Etsy shop opens in January.

Getting ready for Etsy has been an interesting experience – in addition to the fun crafting & marketing research, I’ve also had to register as a business in my state, set up an account to deal with sales, and postpone a store launch until 2010 so that we didn’t have to deal with any additional tax implications this year.

But it’s all good: I love Etsy. A pretty print of “Be Kind, Be Gentle, Be Safe” arrived over the weekend from the sweet Etsy shop belonging to Heather of Beauty That Moves. Her description of the why and child-raising utility of the phrase were the most persuasive part of the purchase: a thoughtful slant on behavior guidance for wee ones. It’s hanging  on the wall above my sewing table for now, but it will be framed and moved to Bebe-height.

After a very chilly visit to the playground yesterday, I decided that gloves or mittens are needed for all. The mysterious tides of retail have already removed such things from the stores, so I have to make them (oh, twist my rubber arm). Mr. Perches received a very nice pair of fingerless gloves for his birthday, so he’s fine. For Bebe, I am still looking for a pattern so please let me know if you have any recommendations!

For myself, I gave up on the sweet fern mitts and tucked them into knitting hibernation (problem is my skill, not the pattern). Instead, am working on the simpler Those Mitts pattern by Leslie Friend.

those mitts wip

DPN’s and I are still on very poor terms with each other, but at least this pattern is mostly endless rounds of knitting with a bit of ribbing at the top and bottom. I love the yarn, and they will exactly match my Aston Hat.

Ah, and now I hear my Bebe calling. “Mamaaa!” he says, “Mammma!” And other sleepy mutters that translate to, “I’m awake. Naptime is over. Playtime restarts now.” Love that.

after snow

21 12 2009

The weather is blue and crisp and so lovely today, perfect for a winter solstice.

So that this doesn’t get lost in all of the glorious pictures, I just want to say: Bebe is walking. Walking! And what do you do when your sweet baby takes his first wobbly, staggering, toothy-smiling steps? Jump up and down, clap your hands, shriek with glee, and enjoy the moment.

The weekend snowstorm caused us to miss a gingerbread house party and other holiday fun, but it also gifted us with lots of time together in the warm indoors and then exploring the snow. Here are a few things we did:


lap blanket for granny - wip


dried orange slices


cranberry garland


pixie skirt #1


pixie skirt twirl


20dec09 - the boys

20dec09 - playing


Swampfield Cowl

YAY-ing! (OK, so the last one isn’t a real word, but you get the idea. I mean, Bebe walking…)

And a note on the spiced hot chocolate recipe? I ran out of chocolate powder and tried using melted baker’s chocolate. It turned into this weird gelatinous goo that, while very tasty when eaten with a spoon, did not resemble a hot chocolate beverage. At all. Just so you know!

Wishing you much joy on this beautiful day.

domestic joy

29 10 2009

Some days are so brimful and busy that you blink and suddenly the sun has already vanished and fourteen hours are gone, poof, behind you. But we did get a few pictures. Lots of sewing, embroidery, and crafty goodness were squished into moments throughout the morning and midday.

october wip

I started a series of wool felt needle cases in the autumn theme.

autumn needle cases wip

Bebe refused to nap – several times. It starts quietly enough, with his music and blanket and curtains closed. With the rubbing of eyes and sweaty curls. But after ten minutes of quiet, someone inevitably begins talking quietly, then laughing to himself, before finally standing up and howling for mama to come and pick him up (he says, “Up! Mamaaaaa…UP! UP!!” ). If we don’t respond to that, he then starts gnawing on the crib railing like a manic chipmunk. Funny, but not good. And our nap times today invariably ended with this face.

no sleeping here

And how can anyone resist that kind of happiness? So we went to the playground and played there for almost an hour. Bebe explored the gravel (fine tuning that pincher grasp with his fingers) and the autumn leaves.

autumn leaves

We did a little climbing, standing, and supported walking.

standing at park bench

And a lot of swinging. We LOVE swinging.


There was a community bonfire this evening with candlelit pathways, chili dogs, cornbread muffins, a fortune teller, lots of whirling glowsticks, and children of all sizes in a variety of Halloween costumes. It was too dark for pictures, but my favorites were the 2-3 year olds dressed in fully body costumes as a dragon and a big fluffy dog. We kept it simple and just put a Viking hat on Bebe. The hat had been knitted for him by one of my bestest friends, who is having her wedding party this weekend.

Busy joy, exasperated joy, and very domestic joy all around today. Where did you find joy today?

awake / asleep

23 10 2009

Lots of embroidery around here lately. Yesterday a sweet package arrived for Bebe from friends in Arizona. They’d given us some gorgeous embroidered baby gifts, including a onesie that he has nearly outgrown. So just in time to continue with LSU football season, he’s gotten a new shirt with the same adorable Tiger cub as his onesie.


Since it’s a size 3T, it should fit him for several more weeks months seasons unless he keeps growing like a manic bean sprout. We’re playing Auburn tomorrow, woot!

2 tigers

I finished another piece of embroidery yesterday – this time a harvest moon

harvest moon

and sewed it together with the sunflower



to make an awake/asleep door hanger.

door candy - day

The idea came from another baby gift we’d received – a small door pillow in teal satin embroidered in bronze with “baby awake” and “baby asleep” on either side. We still use it on his door, but I can’t imagine him tolerating something that says “baby” on it when he gets a bit older and age-conscious so I thought about making something more symbolic. And voilá it is done.

So easy and fun, I may make a few more to sell. By early next week, I should have enough finished projects for a good startup inventory and will launch the shop. Keep an eye out for an Etsy update. Woot!

sweet day

20 10 2009

Bebe woke up sweet and chirpy (and EARLY) this morning and kept up cheerily all day – until about ten minutes ago when he finally passed out for the night. Long visit to the library, then the park,  and quick dash into the grocery store for some pine nuts so that we can make pesto tomorrow. Gah, our midday nap never quite settled so it was playplaychatterchatter all day. Except for about 40 minutes in the car just as we arrived home from the park. I was so thrilled he was able to rest (he desperately needed it – rubbing the eyes and hair gone all fuzzy) that we just stayed as we were – let the car stay parked, rolled down the windows to the lovely, lovely day, and propped open a book (Work Hard. Be Nice. a story of the founding of the KIPP charter schools).

And after dinner it was still so nice that we took our blanket outside and did some more playplaychatterchatter until sunset.


Bebe got to visit with lots of friendly dogs, all taking their people out for an evening romp. Mama got to work on some embroidery.

october embroidery

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