Monday, October 27, 2014

R2D2 inspired Halloween costume

This year, we're going for a bit of a themed holiday. All the verbal kids chose to be a character from Star Wars (the original, good versions i.e. A New Hope etc.) and the not-quite-coherent-verbal kid got wrangled into it without much fuss.

The Wookie will be going as R2D2, primarily because the make-shift Chewbacca costume no longer fits and will be converted into an Ewok costume for Little Man. These darn kids keep growing like weeds, it's a cliche but it's cliche for a reason.

We already had white leggings and a white shirt (and cardigan if today's weather is any indication of Friday's) so we needed to jazz it up just a bit. I had some leftover blue yarn from the Captain America hat and got to work on a cute little flared skirt with a scalloped edge.

The crowning glory, though, is the headband. I tied in the gray, the blue, the "eye," the red laser, all characteristic of what I can only presume is the world's favorite whistling droid.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall...the time when everything bursts with its last beauty

" if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale"  -- Lauren De Stefano 

Crisp blue sky, red and yellow leaves crunching under foot, sweater weather threatening to turn to coat weather before you blink: Fall is certainly upon us. I don't have a finished project to show this week. These little hands have been busy making Halloween costumes and working on a few blanket projects hopefully to be completed before winter finally rears its head.

I've been waking up in the dark most mornings and the sun sets before the kiddos are in bed so our after dinner walks have become more of a pre-dinner event. I'm taking advantage of the season by making as much pumpkin bread and apple crisp my family can stomach. So far they're not complaining.  As the first holiday of the season, Halloween starts the frenzy that becomes my cooking habits. It all starts with the pumpkin and soups and slowly wends its way through Turkey, stuffing, green been casserole, ending with lamb roast and mince pies. I love this time of year, but it feels more overwhelming this year, like I'm cramming as much as possible into as little time manageable. I'll blame the early darkness and the pregnancy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stars blanket

This blanket! Oh, this blanket gave me so much trouble, but I do love it despite harboring varying degrees of ill-will towards the process of making it.

One of my favorite songs (almost of all time) is "Stars" from the musical Les Miserables, especially the verses: "Stars / In your multitude / Scarce to be counted / Filling the darkness / With order and light/ You are the sentinels / Silent and sure/ Keeping watch in the night / You know your place in the sky / You hold your course and your aim / And each in your seasons returns and returns / And is always the same." I find it so reassuring. Stars are constant, sailors used them to navigate, that's how reliable they are. (This blog seems to be a whole slew of metaphors that I like rose, toast, stars: check.)

When I saw this fabric at Jones and Vandermeer, I felt compelled to have some to make a blanket. I ended up purchasing a meter (about a yard) thinking that I would create a whole-cloth quilt requiring zero cutting (because you can't just cut into Liberty fabric).

I bought a yard of minky for the backing in light gray and added a layer of batting to fill it up a bit. The Liberty is so very light and airy it needed a bit of weight.  

Being very much aware of how much I love this fabric based on my love for the song I was very cautious and spent a lot of time looking at the fabric with no desire to really get started. Perhaps the apprehension is what led to all the trouble. I began by pinning all the layers together in a quilt sandwich. Nerves, I'll blame the nerves, led to piecing the sandwich together wrong, a feature that wasn't noticed until all the layers had been sewn together. Out came the seam ripper! Ripping on Liberty is gutting. Absolutely heart-wrenching. I almost quit right then and there and put away my sewing machine for good. But it wasn't the machine's fault:

And the whole process began again. A task that I had imagined taking only a few hours ended up taking most of the day, but I did finish and do love how it turned out and think that it pays homage to my love of "Stars" very well.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baby boy ripple blanket

What glorious Fall weather we've been having. The leaves are turning, the light is deepening and even though I was up before the sun this morning the glowing rise above the mountains was a beautiful thing to behold and made the early start (almost) worth it.

Things are happening in our house, crafty things, business-y things, big things, little things, not the least of which, I'm growing a human, which is both exhilarating and exhausting. Of course, when I think baby, I immediately think blanket. Once we found out that Baby #4 was Boy #2 I set right to work on making one of my most favorite blankets: the ripple.

If you're interested, Lucy from Attic 24 has an amazing tutorial on how to work this fantastic pattern. I can hardly add to what she has already said so I'll just show off what I've done.

The rhythm in creating this blanket is so soothing: four dc here, two decease there, four dc here, two increase there. I loved every stitch, even after getting distracted (toddlers will do that), miss-counting and having to unravel a row. It's fairly quick work too because it's so rhythmic.

Originally, I set out using only the blues, but found that I wanted a bit more diversity and incorporated the beige and brown. I also have fairly strong opinions about borders and "finishing" a blanket (a quirk I find amusing because I certainly don't feel that way when quilting, as the square wee wander blanket is evidence) and wanted to make sure that I included a nice border. For this, only the blues were used.

I love how it turned out and cannot wait to snuggle up with our new little guy come Winter.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rocket man space quilt

Otherwise known as the easiest quilt ever.

After finishing the two quilts for the girls, I felt it only necessary to make a quilt for Little Man. I wanted something that wasn't too technically challenging after reeling a bit from matching up squares for Nins' quilt, so I took the easiest route I could find. I took half a yard of each fabric (5 in total) and cut them into strips. I wanted to showcase the fun comic looking fabric and the astronomical map so they were four inches in width while the others were cut at two inches

Did a bit of "fancy" quilting and stitched a quarter inch between the fabric (instead of in the ditch as I had with the other two) creating just a bit of texture.

I followed a great tutorial from Wild Olive that showed how to bind using a running stitch (also if you get a chance to look around, her site is absolutely fabulous and full of super projects. I'm currently in her 50 States Stitching Club, which I'll be sharing more about later).

As for the backing, I used (can you guess?) a sheet that we had on hand, am I predictable or what? This quilt was so easy to put together and took me less than a week from start to finish. I might just get the hang of this sewing thing after all (but I won't be turning in my hooks any time soon).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Roll Tide slouchy beanie

College football season is upon us. In actuality, it's been upon us for several months now, but I've been in denial. Last weekend marked a major blow to my family's college football fandom and not one but two of the teams we cheer for fell out of the running for the playoffs. In all sincerity, I couldn't care less. But I live in a house where people do care, so I feign interest. And in feigning interest, I decided to create a college football inspired hat.

Minor disclaimer: We live about as far from Alabama as one could get, but we have a relative who is currently attending that university and so it has become a team that we follow and Miss Nins has taken this fandom to new levels (for someone in our location).

Since Nins' head continues to grow, physically not figuratively, she needed a new hat for this fall. In her requests, she mentioned wanting an Alabama themed cap, so I went with the least flamboyant theme I could think of, though I do love the elephant ears others have created.

The black and white is representative of the hounds-tooth made famous by legendary coach Bear Bryant and the red rose for UA's crimson tide (which if you ask me is an awful name for a football team).

The band consists of rows of single stitches in the back loop only (I chained 11 and single stitched 10 until I got to the circumference of her head then did two more for good measure). The hounds-tooth look is created by alternating rows of black and white puff stitches (I did 17 rows, 8 in white and 9 in black to create the top).  I used the seam up technique to create the slouchy effect (search youtube for some great tutorials). The rose was made using double crochets only, so that it was a bit looser than other roses I have made, but I liked the size so I rolled with the tide.

I made the beanie a bit big so hopefully this slouchy hat will last us for several football seasons to come. Though there is an added bonus: if the losing streak continues, no one need know that this hat was Alabama themed as it looks nice without the knowledge of the fandom.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hobbes crochet doll

A lot of my creations tend to revolve around the things that my family likes (naturally). I made the Firefly hat because we like Firefly. I made a Captain America hat because we like Avengers. So it's fitting that I would create a doll fashioned after one our all time favorite stuffed animals: Hobbes.

We read Calvin and Hobbes most days - my kids love it, my husband loves it, and I love it. When Wookie was a newborn and up a million times in the night, Husband would get up with me and read from one of our various C & H collections.

I believe we have amassed the entire works of Bill Watterson. We love and respect Mr. Watterson for the characters that he has drawn and the joy that they bring. He values privacy and avidly hates merchandising so I was (am) hesitant to showcase our own Hobbes in this space. However, I have absolutely no intention of selling a pattern or the final product (not that my kids would ever let me).

We love our Hobbes and the wisdom he daily imparts. Thank you Mr. Watterson!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wee Wander quilts

I first heard about the Wee Wander Collection by Sarah Jane Studios way back in Spring and was immediately smitten. The horse fabrics were enough to convince me that I needed to get my hands on some for one little horse lover currently residing in my house. In addition, the bright colors and other playful characters (there are fireflies and teeny footprints for goodness sake) made the purchase obviously necessary. 

I searched locally and came up with naught. I searched the internet and couldn't quite find what I was looking for, until I stumbled upon an Etsy vendor who was selling all 21 prints in a fat quarter bundle: perfect. I got both sets of the collection: Twilight and Sunrise. I love how these two seemingly different (at least to me) colors blend so well together.

Initially, I was hesitant to cut into the fabric. It looked so perfect just as it was and I was afraid I would somehow ruin it.  But I knew that I couldn't justify purchasing the fabric without actually doing something to it so I began the process of finding out what type of quilt I wanted to make.

My sewing machine and I are still getting to know each other and I am very much a beginner when it comes to machine sewing so I wanted to do something that wasn't too technical. I settled on a subway tile inspired design making the rectangles 7 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches.  This size was long enough and wide enough to avoid fussy cutting but still keep the integrity of the larger prints (and without chopping off too many animal heads).

One of the highlights for my little Wookie (the intended recipient) is that one of the animals featured is a little bunny that bears a striking resemblance to her Cuniculus (rabbit in Latin, Husband's a Classicist, what can I say? and yes, she almost pronounces it correctly).

Once cut into tiles, I organized the rows in a sort of ombre inspired fashion starting with the darker blues and turquoises fading into the white and back out with the oranges and pinks. For the backing I used a white sheet that we had on hand and made the binding from some of the leftover scraps.

I had quite a bit of leftover "scraps" and figured I had enough to possibly make another (smaller) blanket for Nins. When gathered together most of the scraps were about 4 inch squares so I cut them all to the same size and started chain-piecing. I chose to use a no-binding method for this quilt, partly because I didn't have enough fabric and partly for trying something new. For the backing, I used (yet) another sheet.

I love how both these blankets turned out and am excited to use my sewing machine for more quilty projects in the future.