Friday, December 2, 2011

TGIF,FO's & etc...

It's been a busy time already and I have a bunch of FO's to show for it. 013
Bubba Goober & Patio Possum  (aka Paddy O'Possum) - finished and sent on a trip of a lifetime to England, where they are currently rumored to be wreaking havoc in the recipients home. Bad goober! Behave now!

Next we have an addition to my Beer Can Couture line that I am very excited about...
Some of you may recall that my family just can't get enough beer can couture so I present my PBR tiaras. These 3 tiaras were custom made for my friends across the pond, who enjoy wearing a tiara from time to time so they accompanied Bubba G & Patio to England. Good times & CHEERS, y'all!! Don't forget to wear your crowns responsibly.

I also finished my Huggable Penguin, which was from a CAL hosted by my pal Stitchy McFloss.

She's going to make a nice gift for the local mammography department, I think.

Regarding the next FO, what can I say? I ADORE Anna Hrachovec's designs!! This one is from her Mochimochi Snowmen which I used as an inspiration for my felted ones. Upon receiving the pattern,I excitedly knitted one of the snowmen in about an hour. It turned out so cute that I decided to make 3 for an ornament swap that is going on today. Since I only had a couple of days to complete the snowmen, I decided to felt them using the same embroidery guidelines. I just love them. But I also love the knit version, which is how the designer intended for them to look. I plan to knit  & felt a bunch more of these guys in the very near future.
 MochiMochiland Snowmen Trio
MochiMochiland Snowmen 018

I told you I have a lot of FO's....
This scarf took a couple of hours and my daughter LOVES it! At this rate I could make her one in several color schemes...but I won't so as not to over do it.

I also have an FO that I can't show. It's for Valentine's day.

Here on the gulf coast, we LOVE parades and will queue one up at a moments notice for just about ANY occasion. And where there's a parade there will be throws; lots & lots of throws because no parade is complete without the perfunctory Mardi Gras beads, Moon pies & what-nots.

Well tonight is the annual Christmas parade in our town and I usually have the pleasure of driving one of the floats.  Tonight being no exception. My daughter usually deigns to ride shotgun and we end up laughing a lot and really feeling the spirit of the season, while chucking toys, beads & sweets to children along the parade route. Really GOOD times!!

Here we have the calm before the storm, haha...

TGIF y'all!! Don't forget to play today and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An FO you can sink your teeth into....

I have an FO to show you but it's not made of yarn. This is a favorite recipe of mine called Sausage Pinwheels and they are so easy and so fast and people love them. Here's what you do;
Shopping List:
1 roll of hot sausage, (we love Jimmy Dean brand, but ANY brand will do)
2 small packages of Bisquick (or make up a large batch of biscuits per box directions on the large box of Biquick OR make them from scratch if you are so inclined - we like the cheesy garlic Bisquick but these are just as good with plain biscuit mix)
Waxed paper

Mix up the Bisquick per package directions. In this instance, you merely add the specified amount of water as Bisquick is an all inclusive baking mix. Do not mix it too much as the dough will become tough. Biscuit dough is always lumpy looking so don't worry.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured waxed paper. Roll the dough out thinly into a rectangular shape, (about 1/4" thick), as if you were making a rectangular pizza.

Open tube of sausage and spread it out thinly all over the freshly rolled out dough. I find it easy to take  large pinches of the sausage, flatten it in my hand and then apply it to the rolled out dough. Keep piecing the flattened sausage until dough is covered or until you run out of sausage.

So now you basically have dough rolled out thinly with an equally thin layer of sausage on top, (like jelly on a peanut butter sandwich). Beginning at one of the short ends, (remember this is a rectangle), carefully begin rolling the dough/sausage jellyroll fashion.

Once it is all rolled up, pinch the ends to close and begin rolling the concoction to the desire diameter, (remember how you made snakes from Play-doh? How they grew smaller in diameter and longer in length?  Same difference).

Wrap the finished roll in waxed paper and store in the fridge for several hours, (this will make them cut prettier). OR you can go ahead and cut them and bake them right away. Just be sure to re-shape them a bit so they look round and pretty. Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself, using a sharp knife slice the roll into 1/2" slices and place on un-greased cookie sheet. It's OK for them to touch as they aren't going to rise much.

Place in preheated 350 degree oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes. The number of pinwheels this recipe makes will vary depending upon how small you reduce the diameter by rolling. The particular batch pictured made 1 large cookie sheet full, which was fine for the small group I was feeding.
This would have been so much less wordy had I taken pictures throughout the entire process. Sorry.

But it's easy and almost foolproof. I promise. You can make the rolls in advance and store them in the freezer until ready to use. Or give the uncut/uncooked rolls as gifts. That's how I was first introduced to this recipe. It is now a covered dish or holiday breakfast staple in my house.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A grand conglomeration of mediums...

gnome home 1Like so many crafters I sometimes flit from project to project or craft to craft, to suit my mood or needs. If you fit into this crafting type category then the Gnome Home pattern by Katie Startzman is for you.

I've said it before.... this pattern is awesome and then some. It is a multi-media crafters dream as it incorporates knitting & felting & embroidery & the use of a wire armature & doll making and so on.

The pattern is well written with so many wonderful photos that both instruct and inspire. gnome home aerial view In addition, I found that this pattern really got my mind cranking with so many ideas for furniture and curtains & needle felted mushrooms, etc. and it was all I could do to NOT add these embellishments and extra touches as I made this for a crafty 12 year old girl, who will probably enjoy doing her own embellishments. So in addition to the house and two fairies I am sending the young lady a kit that I made up that includes felt scraps,chenille wires, silk flower parts, wooden beads, glue and so on, so she can finish what I started.

Equally adorable and awesome is the Wee Folks book by Salley Mavor. That is where the pattern for the fairy dolls came from. Just looking at this book transports me to an enchanted little world. I just love it so much.

The projects in the book are also well written, photographed & diagrammed so that even children and beginning crafters can successfully make the projects.

gnome home 4 Both patterns compliment each other beautifully, as if they were designed by the same author.

Now that the project is fnished and almost ready to mail I can't help thinking that I am going to have to start another one of these just for the sheer joy of it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another ADORABLE book by Stacey Trock...

She's done it again! This time the book is all about softies & stuffed critters and boy are they CUTE!! Looks like a good book to get for gifts for the crocheter's on your list. Or if you are so inclined, order the book for yourself and make gifts from it. I'm ordering mine today!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A fine collaboration...

OK, a long while ago I referred to a collaborative design project that my son & I worked on when he was a young grade-school aged child, (back in the late 80's). I was going to show a photo of the project but never did. Then yesterday I was talking about the importance of letting children help with the design process, when appropriate.
The backstory is that I was sewing some Easter bunnies. My son wanted one but with his own spin on it. I give you the pirate bunny. I know, it's been done to death lately, what with the huge popularity of pirates these days. I guess my son was ahead of his time. At any rate, he told me to add the peg leg, skull tattoo, make his face look mean and to give him "pirate-looking clothing". OK, my spin was to use the brightly colored 80's fabric scraps that I had on hand back then.
pirate bunny sitting

pirate bunny back

pirate bunny front

pirate bunny closeup

Regardless of the aesthetics of the outcome we had fun and that's what it's all about! Don't forget to play today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dolls with heart and the importance of letting go when children say "let me do it"...

It's always fun to see other folks "take" on my designs. Such was the case with an email that I got from Ginger. It seems that she has set out to make 3 Maggie Bean dolls for 3 very deserving young girls who have gone through very sad circumstances. 

In the process of making the dolls, her own child, who is pre-school aged decided that he wanted one of the dolls, so a fourth one is now in the works. In planning the doll for her child, Ginger allowed him to dictate how his doll would look in terms of types of eyes, (in this case googly eyes) & other customizations. Which brings to  mind my own children and how they used to co-design my puppets & dolls with me.

Having worked with children and young teens in the mental health field for about 18 years, I can not stress enough how imortant it is to a child's creative development to let them help. Yes, I wanted my puppets & dolls to be the way I wanted them to look, as oftentimes I was making them to sell. I didn't always practice what my college education, motherhood & growing up in a creative household taught me. Still, when time & materials allowed I tried to include my children when they expressed an interest.

Other than just having fun with your child, you are validating your child's ideas as being worthy and good. In addition you are promoting creative expression, positive self esteem, and sometimes a little problem solving as well. And no, you don't have to turn your 3 year old loose with a glue gun or needle and thread. In fact PLEASE don't do that. Just allow the child to say that he wants "googly" eyes, maybe even 3 of them on his doll. Or that his bunny should have a pegleg & tattoo and should be a pirate, (more on that later).
As I climb off my soapbox and get back to Ginger and her dolls, I have to commend her for allowing her son to help and for knitting up 3 dolls for 3 little girls, in hopes of helping to bring them a little cheer and comfort. Ginger has promised to send me final photos of the dolls. Here's what she's done so far...
This 1st picture is her son's doll. He requested that it only have 1 arm. Why not?

Love the hairdo on this little doll!! I am looking forward to seeing Ginger's progress as she is working towards a Christmas deadline.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

She's done it again! Oh the cuteness of it all....

Y'all I just have to share this super adorable idea from the super adorable designer Stacey Trock!! She's taken her adorably cute amigurumi and  has created KITS! All you add is the hook and stuffing. Can it get any better than this?
Crochet KIT: amigurumi owl -yarn and eyes included-
photo copyright @ Stacey Trock

No more searching for those elusive post & washer eyes or purchasing giant skeins only to need a teeny tiny bit to complete a small amigurumi. I think these kits are brilliant and are a great value at $12 to $16 per kit. What a fun gift idea for friends who might want to try their hand at amigurumi or you can make up the cutie and give THAT as a gift, (or keep it for yourself). Either way I think this idea is cute & clever & brilliant! Way to go Stacey!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tote Tute....

Actually this is a tote HANDLE tute (tutorial). I have used this covered cord handle for several purses/totes such as this one and this one. This handle coupled with 4 crochet covered D-buckles is just the thing for use with chunky crocheted totes that will be carrying around bulky, chunky crochet & knitting supplies.
<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>
Here's what you need;
Yarn of choice, worsted weight
G hook (use smaller than recommended by yarn label to insure a tightly crocheted cover)
(4) D-buckles (circular buckles can also be used)
1 yard 1" (or thickness of choice), cotton piping cord, (found in upholstery or notions section of fabric stores)
Tapestry needle, scotch tape, sharp scissors
<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>
Cotton piping cord
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D buckle, (or you could also use a large jump ring like the ones used for keychains)

Preparing the Cording
Wrap cellophane tape around both ends of the cord, to keep it from fraying. <VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>


Rnd 1: Using small hook chain 6, (or enough to cover your cord without stretching too much as you want good coverage here. Don't worry, if it is a wee bit loose, which will actually make the crocheting easier to do), wrap this chain around cording & join with slip stitch.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in same chain and in ea around.
Following Rnds:  : Continue working in un-joined spiral until desired length is covered.
<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>
Finish off leaving a long tail for sewing.Set aside.

Covering the D Buckles
covering ring
  • Attach yarn to D buckle using a slip stitch.
  • Single crochet around the entire buckle. Push completed stitches together in order to make room for more stitches. You'll want lots of stitches so the metal will not show through. Single crochet  until you can no longer fit the stitches side by side and little or no metal can be seen.
  • push sts together
  • Finish off leaving yarn tail for sewing. Repeat steps for other 3 buckles.
  • 033

Attach buckles to tote by sewing along the top edge using the yarn tail, at evenly spaced intervals. Set aside.

  • Once the desired handle length is achieved, carefully cut the cord flush with the first row of stitches.
  • Likewise cut the cord at the end of the handle flush with the last row completed. Finish off leaving the yarn tail for sewing.
  • Thread the handle through the 4 buckles, match the two ends together, flush with one another. Using the yarn tail carefully sew the ends together using a whip stitch. Knot & trim excess.
  • sew the ends together
    <VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>
    Now my tote is ready to hold a BUNCH of treats!! Have a safe, fun Halloween y'all!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goober peas....

I love peanuts as evidenced by this and this and this.

Well my latest pattern is yet another homage to this worthy legume. It's called "Goober Toss" and it's FREE in my Ravelry pattern store. Make a bunch of these and let the games begin. I guarantee that you won't have any allergic reactions to these old goobers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

These FO's are finally coming out of the closet...

You know you've got them. You've tucked them away out of sight so you don't have to be shamefully reminded of their existence as you work on new & exciting projects, (some of which will be destined to become the NEW UFO's of shame and the cycle continues).
In my case, most of these forlorn unfinished and neglected projects are stashed in my reusable grocery bags. Oftentimes I find myself buying more reusable bags when I am at the grocery store so I will have some for, dare I say it, GROCERIES.Yea, right.

This weekend I made a decision to free some of these projects from their hidden shame. The first 2 projects I finished are both crocheted tote bags. I chose these because both of them lacked similar finishing; a sewn fabric lining. Since I needed to set up the machine why not tackle both of them.

Sewing used to be my crafty "drug" of choice but that was so long ago and I'm a bit rusty. Given that consideration , I chose the easier of the two bags to finish first. It is called "Winner's Circle Tote" on my Ravelry project page and was worked during the 2011 Iknitarod group. Knitters are always looking for fun KAL/CAL's, especially those with fun themes. This knit-along/crochet-along was in honor of the 2011 Iditarod in Alaska. We were given several challenges to choose from and I chose to design and finish a project. Obviously had I finished it I wouldn't be talking about it here. Shame, shame!

The Winner's Circle Tote is square so lining it was easy. First of all, I carefully measured the bag & cut the lining to size, allowing a 1/4 " seam allowance. Then I sewed and ironed the side & bottom seams.

Next I checked for fit inside the tote and marked how far I needed to turn down the raw edge at the top, folded the top edge down and ironed it with a hot steam iron.

Then I carefully pinned the lining to the top inside edge of the tote and put it aside to await hand sewing, which is a wonderful thing to do while watching TV.

Completed Winner's Circle Tote
<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

The 2nd tote was a little more difficult as it is a barrel shape and cutting the round bottom gusset was a wee bit tricky. I could have used the old pushpin, pencil & string method of drawing a perfect circle but I was too lazy to measure the diameter, hunt down the string & stuff and besides the bottom circle looked very close in size to one of my plates.Please note that this could have ended so badly and I had just enough fabric that I had purchased a couple of years ago. Talk about a gamble, but hey it's how I work.
barrel tote 9
The first thing was to measure the fabric for the sides of the lining, allowing for a proper seam allowance, (please refer to the disclaimer in this post before trying any of this). I measured this by simply laying the bag flat &placing the folded fabric on top of it, adding that seam allowance I mentioned. With right sides together, I sewed it up the side.
Steam the seams
Always press your seams as you go!

Iron hem down
Noting the appropriate height measurement for the project I turned down the upper edge twice to form a hem. Then I pressed the hem using a hot steam iron. Ironing kept the folds in place while the hem was machine stitched, no pinning required.

Barrel Tote bottom

With a plate as my templete, I carefully cut the circular bottom gusset out, adding a seam allowance merely be "eyeballing" it. Remember to read the disclaimer before attempting this.

Barrel tote gusset all cut out using plate for template


Placing right sides together, pin the gusset to the rest of the lining and carefully machine stitch.

Clip those seams!
Clip the seams around the circle.

sewing lining in
Inserted the seamed & pressed liner in the tote with wrong sides together. Pinned and hand sewed using my fasvorite stitch of choice, (I prefer using a blind stitch).

All done!
lining all done

barrel tote 3

Time for pool side cocktails...
barrel tote 2

Some of my Basic Sewing Tips:
Disclaimer:  Please note that I have ruined many wonderful pieces of fabric by trying to cut corners, knowing full well that I should be doing things by the book. Proceed with caution & take any of my time saving sewing advice at your own peril. I will be heartbroken if you ruin that beautiful, last piece of one-of-a-kind fabric.

Always, always iron your seams as you go, using a HOT steam iron. This keeps the work neat and helps cut down on pinning and I tend to be a fast or maybe lazy crafter and a nicely pressed seam will hold itself in place, especially if you are using a stiff fabric such as cotton or cotton blends.

Along the same vein, ALWAYS clip seams as needed, especially if the piece is curved as in the gusset of my barrel shaped tote & at sharp corners.

Get a magnetic pin holder. No more pins all over the floor but if they do fall off somehow, you can use the holder to pick them up again.

By all means, if you do mess up your sewing, don't get angry and lose your temper...this is a sure way to finish ruining a once wonderful piece of fabric. Believe me when I tell you that angry & seam rippers do not mix well. Walk away from it for a bit and knit something, it calms the nerves.

Happy sewing/knitting/crocheting & crafting y'all!