March 31st, 2009 - A Great Thank You

My friends little guy turned two on Sunday, which I can hardly believe. It seems like just the other day that T and I were walking their dogs while they were at the hospital. As his Auntie Dani I love to make him presents. Last year was some felt food, Christmas was a superhero cape, and this year was something to encourage his own creativity.

First though there was a little card.

He had the requisite amount of interest in that. He is only two after all.

But then the good stuff.

A crayon roll made using this tutorial (basically) with little hands in mind. The big car button and the hair elastic tie hopefully make it easier for his little hands to maneuver.

Once opened, there are giant triangular crayons, which are supposed to be encourage toddlers to hold them correctly.

I got a fabulous thank you email from my friend:

"The memory card was full so what you don’t see right after he unrolled it was him colouring on the box they came in and pretty much anything else he could find (he really likes the shape of the crayons)! He likes having everything in its place, so he would take one crayon out, colour with it for a bit, then put it back and pick a new colour. He loves it!! And it makes them so easy to carry around if we go for a visit. He’s very lucky to have such a crafty aunt!"

Could you ask for a better thank you as a crafter? I am so glad that it will get lots of use.

I can't wait to see them in a few weeks when I travel home for a visit. It has been much too long, and time passes so quickly. Happy birthday A! (Thanks J for the pictures. How cute is that bed head?)

Thanks also to everyone for the comments on my quilt layout. I have made some adjustments based on your suggestions and it is more pleasing to the eye now. I just need to buy the background white fabric now and I am off to the races.


March 26th, 2009 - Opinions Needed

This morning I cut out all of the coloured pieces for a new quilt I am starting (the Color Wheel Quilt from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts). I have laid them all out to make sure that I like the order, and I thought I would see what you think.

So, what do you think? Any fabrics that are in the wrong order? Any that should be taken out? Do you like the direction the quilt is turned? Honesty now is appreciated before it is sewn together.


March 25th, 2009 - New Cards

It's been a busy couple of months on the card front so I thought I would do a little gallery display of what I have been working on.

Grandma R.'s birthday card

Janice's birthday card

Nephew Z's birthday card

Mom's birthday card

Thinking of you card for Jackie's parents

J. C.'s baby card outside

J. C.'s baby card inside

I have made a couple of observations for myself about my cards:

  1. I need to work on my light box skills (especially making sure that the cards appear square in the picture. I think using the macro setting is skewing things)
  2. I need to branch out into more shapes in my cards (like I did in the last one).
  3. I need more supplies, particularly paper - the supplies are getting very low and I would like to get some more printed papers
  4. I need to organize my card supplies badly.

This last point is part of the larger scale issue I am having in my head regarding my studio. I am starting to do the design for the room so once I have walls down there I can work towards making it look and feel how I want it to. I am a pretty good organizer as a rule, but for some reason my studio is giving me pains. I think it is because I have dabbled in a lot of different crafts, so I have small amounts of supplies for many different things (jack of all trades master of none?)

I have been searching around the internets for ideas and thoughts on how to organize this space. If anyone has any favourite ideas, sites, photos, books etc, let me know!


March 20th, 2009 - Minor Site Update

Well, it should be a minor site update from your end - it shouldn't look a whole lot different than it did a couple of days ago. But I have spent many many hours working to make it a more user friendly site in the background both for me and for you.

When I started this blog I barely knew what HTML code was, and as a result of that and wanting to have as much control over the appearance and content of the site as possible, it was shaky at best. As I have been working with the blog for nearly 5 years now, I have learned many things. Up until a couple of days ago each page in my site was coded individually, and even worse it was using tables.

I have now taught myself, learned through google-fu and the help of a few people (Thanks J for lending me your husband for answers to stupid questions!) I now have a site based on a template and a CSS stylesheet.

For those of you with more site knowledge then me (which is probably most of you and most grade 5 students) this probably doesn't seem like a big leap. But for me it is, and it now means that EVERY page on this site should look exactly the same. And even better is that if I want to make changes to the site appearance in the future, all I need to do it change the template or the stylesheet. Also, the site should load faster for you now after you visit it for the first time (I hope).

I have also added links at the bottom of each of the post pages to allow moving to newer or older posts easier (Thank you Jenn for the suggestion). I hope that helps you navigate around a little better.

So, now that it is updated, I need more suggestions. What do you think of the site? Is it missing anything? Are there things it doesn't need? Can you find anything I have missed? Anything acting wonky in your browser? Be brutal folks, I can take it. And even more than that, I can easily fix it now. Yeah me!


March 13th, 2009 - Box Bag

For a while I have been meaning to make a box bag to carry my knitting notions around in. I have been using a pencil case that was given to me, but the zipper has never worked right in it. So I used the leftover fabric from my Birdie Sling and came up with this:

Cute eh? It was a quick project that I loosely used this tutorial for. I changed the dimensions of the bag, added some interfacing, and I also added little pull tabs at the ends to make it easier to open and close.

See that little orange ribbon? My family laughs at me for the little crafty odds and ends that I save. These were the ribbons on the ends of our thanksgiving crackers (those things you pull the ends of and they pop and then have a little hat and a prize inside? Know what I mean?) probably 5 years ago. I have all these little bobs in a box that I can pick through any time I need to. These just happened to be the perfect colour. Who's laughin' now??

The hook here gives you an idea of size. It is about 8 inches long, which is just the right size for all the strange things we knitters carry around.

The only thing I would change if I were to make this again is to use either more layers of interfacing or fusible fleece so that the fabric was more substantial. I am planning on making another box bag from another pattern for my travel stuff (shampoo, toothbrush etc) so I will keep that in mind. I could see how these little bags could be addictive - they are such a good use for little scraps.


March 11th, 2009 - Weird Looking Socks

My Mom's birthday is coming up in a few days and she has been not so subtly hinting that she would like a new pair of thrum mittens. My Mom is one of those people who is a joy to knit for, so ask and yee shall receive!

I was knitting these while I was at Great Yarns listening to Franklin speak. Of course since I was in NC at the time, not Ontario or somewhere with equally brutal winters, I got a lot of odd looks and a lot of questions. Actually, Franklin asked if I was knitting socks. Those would be some thick socks let me tell you. I thought he would know what they were since he is from Chicago - their winters are just as bad as Toronto.

These are much fluffier than the first pair that I made, mostly because I have access to a lot more roving now.

I don't think I could get tired of looking at the inside of these. Looks like some sort of demented clown head.

So Happy Early Birthday Mom! I hope there are not too many more days when you will need these.


March 9th, 2009 - A Sling and an Anniversary

Can you believe that today is one year since I moved to Roanoke? Seriously, I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. Thanks to everyone here and back home that has helped us during the transition.

Over the past few days I have been working on my Birdie Sling. The weather has been fantastic here (25C/83F yesterday, woot!) so I felt like I needed a new bag. That and the fabric has been taunting me from it's home hanging over the loom since I brought it home.

This is a very well written pattern, with a ton of details and instructions. In the past I have been apt to skip steps and not use the exact materials that sewing patterns call for. "Ah, I don't need to do that, it will be fine". And it usually is fine, just not exceptional or exactly what I was looking for (quelle surprise). This time I followed the instructions exactly and used the required materials properly.

This is no slouchy bag let me tell you. There are many many layers of fabric, fusible interfacing and fusible fleece. It made for sewing some of the seams in particular a little slow and a little challenging. The funny thing is I didn't break a needle until the very last stitch I put in the bag. I must remember to change that before my quilt class tomorrow.

The inside of the bag is very nice and square, and extremely cavernous. I have read reviews where people have complained that it was too big to be a purse - I really don't think that was the designers intention when she made this one. This is a carry all. I plan on using it for MDSW this year as it will definitely hold a lot. That being said, there are two pockets inside, one of which is divided in two, so it has lots of places to store small things like phones, wallets, etc.

I think my favourite part of this bag are the little details here and there. The pleats, the extra top stitching, the stitching in the ditch that make it lay just perfectly on your arm. That and the fabrics. Oh the fabrics.

I am sure that I am going to get a lot of use out of this bag, and I am really proud to have finished it well. Now, off to fill with goodies.


March 2nd, 2009 - Our First Snow

Well the south got it's first snow of the season last night - about 5 inches worth or so. I forgot how much I hate to shovel driveways. Oh well, it is supposed to be 19C here on Saturday. I've gone so soft.

A few weeks back I decided to warp my much underused loom and make a couple of projects. They all have the same warp fibres, but the weft fibre changes. The first thing was a scarf for missbedora's birthday.

I think it ended up being more of a table runner as it was a little too stiff, but I still liked it as a scarf.

Next was a table runner for myself

And finally some place mats for our kitchen

The warp fibres are mostly a mohair wool blend, and there are some wools, silks, boucles and other fun things thrown in occasionally. The weft for the scarf and the runner was 100% mohair, and for the place mats was an eyelash type yarn I had in the stash.

I learned with these projects that I am still beating the weft fibres in much too tightly. I need to loosen up. Jackie told me to think of the beater as a "placer" instead. My next project that is going to be the main thing that I concentrate on.

I also picked up a used Leclerc Dorothy table loom, the same model that I learned on in my class.

It's in fantastic shape and I am looking forward to warping up a scarf sometime soon. I wanted to get a smaller table loom so that I had something transportable, but also so that if I was making something with a pricier yarn, I don't have as much loom waste (the unusable part of the warp that is tied onto the apron rods front and back). Hopefully this will get me weaving more!


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