Crafty Goals 2014

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stash Busting

I have been trying to chip away at some of my crafting stash.  Being a sewer, crocheter, crafter, etc, etc., I have quite a bit of stash in all departments.  My yarn stash has grown by leaps and bounds this past year -  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not - and I figured I should tame the beast perhaps a little.  Really I only felt I had to use some of it up when I had to hide two  recent yarn purchases in the laundry room!
My Grammie used to make those crochet topped kitchen towels we all find so handy, and when she passed away my Mum gave me the towels they found in her stash.  The towels were taking up space in my yarn cupboard, so I figured by completing those I would make extra room.  After a few quick Google searches I found a pattern I could use and completed all the towels.


Also taking up space were five balls of really soft yarn I bought for a dollar each at my local yarn store.  When I saw Jill's granny stripe cowl I was sure this was the perfect pattern to make up a scarf with the yarn.  After I stitched a few rows I realized it didn't work with the yarn I had, so I ripped it out and made a simple scarf with alternating rows of double and single crochet.  This actually worked out perfectly and I used almost every bit of each colour.


My felted sweater stash has grown as well; in most part due to my volunteer hours at a local charity clothing shop.  I found an interesting pattern on Pinterest to make some slippers from felted wool with leather bottoms.  I thought these may be a little quicker to make up (not to mention longer lasting) than crocheted slippers.


Admittedly these aren't the most beautiful slippers in the world, but boy are they warm.  I used two layers of felted wool plus a layer of suede for the foot bed, and my favourite felted sweater for the top and back.  The hardest part was making the pattern, but once you have that done you are good to go for many pairs.  I wish I had made the pattern out of strong tissue paper like the author suggested:  I would have been able to fit the pattern around my foot and seen then that my top and back pieces were too large. At that point I could have adjusted the pattern before cutting the pieces out.  I will still be able to take these ones apart to re-adjust; and re-cut my pattern pieces so they fit better.  It was a nice project to complete in an evening.


The website with the tutorial is here.

This next project wasn't so much of a stash buster as the amount of fabric used was pretty small.  However it was great in that I had absolutely everything required to make it and I was able to complete it in an afternoon and evening of blissful making.


The pattern is from the February issue of Bustle and Sew magazine.  When Helen showed her preview of this month's magazine I knew I had to make this one.  I even cleaned the house a day earlier so I could enjoy this issue the day it came out!    I did change the pattern just a bit:  I changed the container into a little jug as opposed to the mug in the original pattern.  I also had no wool felt, and I didn't like the look of the acrylic, so I covered the felt piece with a piece of fabric.  It made it more difficult to do the free motion embroidery, but in the end I am happy with how it turned out.
We got about two inches of snow yesterday as I stitched this, so it will be a long time before I see any real snowdrops!
Tomorrow is the last day of January - oh happy day!  I am finally in the mood to do some Valentine crafting.
Thanks for visiting!
Jenn

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Days

It's still cold here.  I am itching to paint my kitchen, but with the temperature seemingly at a permanent double digit below zero that isn't going to happen any time soon.  I have a lot of restless energy:  I want to DO stuff, but I don't know what. I start a craft, then I want to start another one.  I look in design catalogues and want to get rid of everything I have and start over. Yesterday I moved a bunch of things around in the living room and then moved it all back at the end of the day.  It wasn't a total waste of time though:  I did get the curtains hemmed that have been puddling on the floor for a year and a half.
I went through my 'Pretty' cupboard:  this is the one I keep all my flowery, china, vintage things in.  Well, what I can fit anyway.


I took everything out and cleaned the shelves, then put half of it back.  It was getting so crowded in there and slightly precarious to try and remove anything.  Today I'm packing up the rest and it can go into a holding zone in the basement.  Maybe in a few months I will switch the dishes around, or if I find I don't miss what I packed up they can be re-homed.
 
I like how it looks now; much easier to see everything:


Can you see that cute little face up at the top?  I just love her and the little chicken at her feet.  I got her at the church bazaar for 50 cents.  Look at her little red shoes!


It occurred to me yesterday, as I was about to throw out a bag of highly scented Earl Grey tea, that some little sachets for my cupboard might be nice.  (This tea has 'natural' flavour, which gives me a headache.)

I dug into my stash of vintage hankies: so many choices it was hard!



I picked three of the smallest with pretty edgings.  I put a couple of tablespoons of tea in the centre of each and tied them with organza ribbons.


Don't they look so pretty?


I am in love!  I will definitely make some more of these.

For my tea this morning I felt like making a little something extra.  I tried the Welsh Cakes from Jane Brocket's Vintage Cakes.  As I sorted my kitchen last week I found a ton of mixed peel:  who knows what I had planned to make with all that.  I used some of that instead of raisins for the Welsh Cakes.  I did quite like them:  I would say they are a cross between a North American pancake and a baking powder biscuit.  They don't take long to make at all which is nice.


The rest of my day will be more of the same as before:  a little sorting here, a little organizing there.  I have to say though that I am noticing the impact of all that purging I did last year.  No cupboard or closet has overwhelmed me so far, and it's quite nice to just dust and rearrange most of the contents.  I am finding a few things to pass along or throw away, but not heaps and heaps.  It's a nice feeling.

 Libby has January figured out:  she moves from one sunny spot to another sleep: wandering into the kitchen occasionally to see if there are any treats.  What a life!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Warm and Wooly

It has been unusually cold in our part of the country.  When I look at the big picture, I know we are probably in the top three of the warmest places in Canada, but it's still cold for us!  Beds have been piled high with all sorts of blankets, and Big Bertha has made an appearance.
Big Bertha is a very large crocheted bedspread I bought years ago at a church sale for $4. She is big and very heavy.


Since then she has made an appearance on the spare room bed a couple of times, but more so for decorative reasons.  I have threatened her multiple times that she will soon be back on the second hand train because she takes up valuable real estate.  Last year during the combination ice- storm/power outage/ furnace breakdown she was pressed into real action, and  we were grateful.  Likewise this past month we have been happy for the heavy and warm (and very pink) comfort of Big Bertha.  I think she can stay.

Since I try not to venture out too much, there is a goodly amount of time for tea drinking and crafty pursuits.  Most of my efforts have been in the wooly department:  again, something warm.
I finally amassed enough cashmere sweaters to make a blanket.  I don't have the budget to buy these lovely things new, but volunteering in a charity shop gives me the opportunity to pick up those unfortunate sweaters that have been put through the wash for a good price.


It was a bit of a nightmare to sew together, and I blame the extra stretchy cable knit sweaters.  At first I was disappointed in the lumps and bumps and the thin-ness of it:  it didn't look nice and I was pretty sure it wouldn't do to keep me warm at all.  However it is very warm, but not too warm like some wool blankets can be.  Because it isn't thick it doesn't take forever to move out of the way if I need to get up or move over to let the dog sit beside me.  Everyone loves it's softness, so it has been granted an arm rest to live on for the rest of the cold weather.

As much as I am loving the slow days of January, I know that February is coming, and with it Valentine's Day.  My rag wreath from a few years ago is looking a little limp, so I made a cheerful crocheted wreath like Lucy's from Attic 24. (January 12 post).


I used some lovely new cotton yarn    ( Louisa Harding) and a few others from my stash.  I sewed the buttons on with embroidery thread and glued everything to a coat hanger base.

I found some pretty crocheted anemones on Heather's blog and was absolutely smitten.  While I am in love with her pastel versions, I knew I wanted to make a bright version.  The first time I went to France I bought a little bouquet of anemones from the market, and had them displayed in a jar on the fireplace mantle.  These little flowers will always remind me of that, and it brought back such happy memories of France to stitch each one.  Thank-you, Heather, for such a good tutorial!


As always, thanks for visiting and stay warm!








Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014

It came in a flash and went out just as quickly: now we are on the eve of a new year and new stuff to do!  I really wanted to maximize what little spare time I felt I had in December to do seasonal things, and avoid feeling stressed at what should be a happy time of year.   I think I rather like posting at the end of the month because I get a better feeling of accomplishment.
I started the month with a finished family room!  This project had been in process for a while, and even longer in my head.  Now this is probably my favourite room in the house:




I have to confess I am not so great about sending Christmas cards.  I always want to make my own, yet can't seem to find the time to sit down and make them.  I keep hoping I will do it and then it becomes so late I either send out those ones from the Diabetes association to arrive after the holiday or none at all.  Guilt, guilt, guilt.  This year I was on top of the game:  home made cards for (almost) everybody and mailed before December 12!  My secret?  I made these cards last year, too late to send then, but just waiting for my messages this year.




My only gaffe was in not sending one to our friends in Australia; I miss the international mail deadline every year, so have decided to send one to them at another time of year.  That way I can write a nice long and newsy letter.  Promise!

Eighteen little snowmen were created; most of them as favours for a tea I had for the volunteers I work with:


 I got a fair bit of other crafting done as well, making it a very satisfying month:


An enjoyable little stitching project from a British craft magazine.

Hearts made from the left-overs of my thrifted sweater pillow:

A new bauble wreath to brighten the front door:  this time made with unbreakable baubles:


Two of eight clothes-pin snowflakes made on a craft morning with a neighbour.  I hung these in my front window and they looked really pretty from outside.  I may even keep them up for January.


The only cross stitch ornament I made this holiday:  gifted to friends who had visited Paris this summer. Stitched over one on 28 ct. fabric this nearly did my eyes in!


More pillows made from thrifted fabrics:  this time a navy cabled sweater and wool kilt.


In the lazy afterglow of the big day I have been making away as well.  My Favourite Girl convinced me this fabric would be perfect for my crafting space so I used it to re-cover my swivel chair.  She's a smart girl, that one!


 I made these chubby little bugs from a Tilda book borrowed from the library.  I think it's Tilda's Spring Ideas.  My Favourite Girl said they look like Teletubbies with wings and I think she's right:


And there you have it:  December.  Now the decorations are packed away; the cookies almost eaten; the tree will come down tomorrow ('cause we're a little superstitious in our family about that) and we can embrace a new year.

Wishing you a New Year filled with health, happiness, creativity and all things good!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hammers and Hooks

Lots going on here on the DIY front and adventures in yarn!  I mentioned last time my family room was getting a make-over; well I'm knee deep in it now and there is no turning back!
For a couple of years now I have wanted to add board and batten panelling to the bottom of the walls.  Of course it couldn't just involve putting it up: painting had to be done (a different colour on top and bottom); slats needed to be found and cut and primed and painted.  In hindsight I now know why I was so hesitant to start this snowball!  I have been cashing in credit card reward points for gift cards to the hardware store and making a bit of progress.  I'm not finished yet, but I do have one small wall all done:


The top of the wall has been repainted from a tan to a light aqua called "Calm Thoughts" (Beautitone paint).  I love the paint colour, but I loved the old one too.  I think the old one went better with the furniture, but the new one brightens up the room which is much needed.  The old colour wasn't dark by any means, but it really didn't reflect the light.  It can be so gloomy and dark here in the winter that any extra light we can get is very much desired.
This week I am hoping to get the rest of the battens cut for the other walls, and then I will happily put my saw away for the winter!
I knew that when I painted this room I would use the left over paint for the laundry room.  So, rather than wait for a more convenient time I spent my nights painting the laundry room walls.  And the ceiling, because it needed to be done and I didn't want to take the ladder out twice!  When there are not huge piles of washing I will take a picture of that room too.  The colour looks really pretty in there though.


After an intense week of home improvement you can imagine that I was itching to get something crafty done.  I pulled out my hooks and yarn and crocheted three projects!  I have some beautiful yarn sitting in my craft cupboard that I was hoarding for the perfect project (when I found it).  First up was to use some beautiful Noro yarn I bought last year in Victoria.  The colourway has pinks, greens and tan in it.  It has always reminded me of those late summer hydrangeas that change from white to pink to green.  I used the pattern for the Bellflower Infinity Scarf, which was really quick and easy to stitch.


The next yarn to use up was another Noro, this time in beautiful blues and purples.  I wanted a project that I would use, and that would use up all of the yarn.  Happily the Calm Cowl from Ravelry fit the bill perfectly.  This was so quick to work up and I think all the single crochet really enhances the colours in the yarn.  Best part is, I used up all but about eighteen inches!


My last project is actually for someone else.  I found some chunky, Red Heart Light and Lofty yarn at the thrift store this summer, and it happens it was just enough to make a cozy shawl.  I stitched this up over the weekend and now it just needs the ends darned in.  The colour is Cape Cod Multi and I used the pattern for the Arrow Lake Shawl from Lion Brand.


I love making this shawl and I loved watching the colours change as I stitched.  This one is a snuggler for sure!
All that hooking used up eleven skeins of yarn from my stash which is great.  Now I don't feel so guilty asking for more for Christmas:)

Who knows what inspiration will grip me this week:  housekeeping would be a good one; perhaps some make ahead meals?  Both of which have been sadly neglected while I arm myself with hammers, paintbrushes and crochet hooks...

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finishing Fest

I'm so happy to share this post today!  Be warned:  there are lots of pictures.

I only stitched one Halloween ornament for myself this year, and I didn't even finish the last stitch until November 1.  I was about to put it away with all of my other stitched, but not finished off, pieces when I realized just how many I had.  Since it was a cold and snowy day outside and I had nowhere to be, I couldn't think of anything better to do than to turn all my fall and Halloween pieces into smalls.  I had piles of ribbons and fabrics; buttons and stuffing everywhere!  After one long night and a few evenings I am proud to show you these:


Designs from Prairie Schooler and various issues of JCS Halloween. The purple witch hat on the 'Potions' ornament is just too sweet!




The square that says 'Fraidy Cat' is the back of the cat ornament in the previous photo.
You can tell how old some of these have been sitting around:  I stitched the costume bears for my kids when they were little beans and I was just starting out cross stitching.  Funny how aida fabric looks so rough to me now.


This was a freebie design from somewhere.  A thread company maybe?  Doesn't the fabric work perfectly with it?!


My French skeleton.  I hunted everywhere on the internet for this pattern!  You can find it here along with some other great stitchy stuff.


A Brittercup Kitty from a past JCS Halloween issue.  I wish I had stitched this over one, but that was before I ever did that. I was so happy I found the perfect spider button in my stash.  I also thought the 1930's reproduction print worked really well, even though it's not Halloween themed.


I used a lot of my own over-dyed threads on this one.  I tried a twisted trim for the first time using some garden twine.  I think I will definitely try that again.


Here I was getting dried up for new and novel finishing ideas, so I reverted back to the small pillow for the last two.  This is another design I wish I had stitched over one so it would have been smaller.
This one is a freebie from Plum Street Samplers.


And finally, the last one.  This year I was determined to stitch this after printing out the design several times.  I even got it all kitted up and was planning on stitching it over one with my own threads.  Well what did I find in last year's stitching?  This design; stitched with my own threads only over two!  Freebie by Nouveau Encore Designs.

I don't think I have to tell you what a feeling of accomplishment I have now that all this stitching is completely finished and ready to display.  It will be so great next year to pull these out and display them with all my other finished pieces.

Oh, but that's not all! 

 No siree!  In addition to stitching and stuffing and embellishing, I have been cutting and nailing and painting.
I have slowly been giving my family room a makeover, and last weekend brought a gust of energy to step up the process.  Over the summer I installed two Ikea bookcases, with plans to add trim to give them a built in look.

 Check!



Next was to remove the gross old trim from the window and add something a bit nicer.  I love how it makes the window look bigger too.




A proper window ledge!  My Favourite Boy said I could display things on there:  he knows what it's all about:)
(Lets just ignore that sloppy paint job:  the walls are getting re-painted soon so I wasn't too careful.)


Et voila!  Lots of good things finished off this week.  Let's hope the momentum continues a bit longer:  I have two gallons of paint waiting for me and some new power tools to try out:)

Thanks for visiting!

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