Sunday, December 11, 2011

Creating for Christmas

So as much as I love giving handmade gifts, this year it has been really hard to find the time to make them! You get 1 guess as to why...

I have been making a few things, though. Remember my last post? Small projects are getting me through. I have crocheted some wrist warmers (SO quick and easy) and I have nearly finished a scarf. I'd post pics, but they're for (yet to be given) gifts. I made the gift for my secret santa at school (so neat - I'll post that after Friday when it is delivered). I have also sewn some lanyards (you know, those long necklaces to hang your name badge or keys on) at the request of some teachers at school. I made myself one and several people asked about them, so yay for (easy) commissions!

I have several quilting projects that I'd like to do/finish for myself (like my excellent t-shirt quilt) and for others (babies who are nearly a year old, slacker Aunt Nancy). I am hoping to get some time in on my few days off at home over Christmas break.

I may need to finish my quilt first, though, as the fireplace in the basement we watch TV and where I sew has decided it doesn't want to work. Its no fun to sew in the cold, I'll tell you what.

No new Ruffin pictures this time. He and I are both stuffy-headed snotty-faces right now. At least we're getting it out of the way before Christmas, right? :P Instead, how about a few more from the amazing photo session by Brittany at Inspired Life. They are from from the end of October, but still adorable! I'll put up some current ones soon!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bloggy vaca??

Hi, everyone (if anyone is still out there!!). So I took a little unannounced bloggy vacation. Wow so many things have happened to me since, when was my last post? July? That seems like three years ago. I took an awesome class this summer (I took the first level last summer and this was even better!!). My sweet little Ruffin had his first birthday and is a walking pro (wow!!).

Yes, that is my child and not a GQ model. Amazing photography by Brittany at Inspired Life.

I started a new school year which is going well. I haven't had much time to make many things, which is so frustrating!! I do really small projects so I can have at least a small feeling of accomplishment. I took an awesome t-shirt quilting class with Michie over at Asheville Cotton, but I haven't finished the quilt yet (but I will!!). I am helping out with a crochet club at one of my schools once a week which is really fun. It is hard to teach 4th and 5th graders how to crochet! I have even more respect for my Grannie teaching me now!! :)

The biggest change in my life over the last five months, however, is something that I am having a hard time typing right now. My mother passed away unexpectedly over Labor Day weekend. I don't know when I will be able to really talk about it here, or if I will. I know that I won't ever be able to fill that space in my life where she is supposed to be. My friends and family have been an amazing support system, as have you, my bloggy friends. I may not have posted many comments lately, but trust me, you have helped. I have been trying to continue my life as best I can, which is all any of us can do.

I hope to be back on bloggy track soon since I need to make some things for Christmas. I think we will not have as much handmade this year, just to be real, but I will do what I can!!

Thanks for hanging in there!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crochet yay!

I have been working the last few days on some crocheting. I knew that I missed it, but I didn't realize I missed it this much! Sewing is really fun and usually much faster than crochet (to finish a similarly sized project) but I love the construction of crochet. I can change the shape of my creation with every stitch - its thrilling!

Oh man, I just totally geeked out. Those of you reading this will understand, though. :)

I especially love creating my own projects from scratch (sewing and crochet), but given my limited crafting time, it has been faster for me to use patterns lately. In the last few years of my crochet life, I have come to love patten diagrams. They make so much more sense to me than the written pattern directions. I can read a written pattern, but I have to really think about it and picture it in my head. With the diagram, I look at the picture and I automatically know what to do. If you are a crocheter and haven't tried using a diagram, you should! A good place to start would be to pick up and issue of "Crochet, Today!" They have started putting a diagram for every pattern as well as an explaination of how to read the diagrams in the back of each issue. *side note: I am a subscriber, but you'll see that this is obviously not a compensated endorsement. I'll be honest, not all the patterns are winners (in fact, some of them are downright hideous), but they do come up with some cute ones too, and it would be an inexpensive way to try out reading a pattern diagram and if you don't dig it, you still have the written directions.

I have been working on a couple of cute hats for some friends who have baby girls on the way and some amis for another gift (so I can't show you those yet). I need to find some real baby models for the hats because I have tried two different versions using different hook sizes and it still seems big (and mushroom-y). This is odd because my tension usually runs tighter than the pattern calls for. I tried the first hat on Ruffin, but he's older than the baby I'm making it for (since she hasn't been born yet, haha) so it was hard to tell on him. That, and he hates wearing hats, so he pulled it off immediately. :) I'm a little dissapointed because it looks so cute on the little girl in the pattern picture! Maybe I have Ruffin has a stuffed animal that I can try it on...

More to come on this...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

"To market, to market to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity jig."

My parents used to say that when I was small and we were approaching our house in the car. I just got back home from spending a week with them and I still hear it when I'm coming up the driveway. I had so much fun, but not as much as Ruffin and Grandpop! I love watching them play together. Ruffin also loved the garden and its fruits:

My new favorite face:

Its even funnier accompanied by the silly sound he makes with it (don't worry the bottle was empty). Now back to the quilt! I can't wait to start the quilting this week (I hope). I also started a crochet project - finally, I know!! I am SO excited about it. I have so many friends who I need to make gifts for (before their babies get here!) so we'll see what gets done. How is your summer going?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Oh yes. The quilt sandwich is done. I'm getting so close! I really like how this quilt is turning out and it was so easy! I can't wait to show you the finished product. Sorry about the poor photos of late... Some day I'll take a class. Right now I feel luck to get the pictures at all. Partly because...

Sweet Ruffin has learned a new skill. He is so ready and so proud of himself! :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sewing Inheritance and Quilt Action

*Advance apology for an image-heavy post :)

Wow! Three blog posts in two weeks, which means I'm actually getting things done! Summer is AWESOME! I have three things to report on today:

First of all, some of you may remember my post last fall of some memories of my Grannie, who passed away. Well, she did teach me to crochet, but she was also an excellent seamstress. She worked in a sewing factory for nearly 30 years, so you know when she came home and sewed even more, she wasn't doing it for fun, but for practicality - pretty much all clothes for her children. By the time I came along, she was retired, but she was still sewing, more for fun, but still mostly clothes for us. Well, when my dad and sister were going through her things this winter, they packed me a bag of some of her sewing stuff (my sister got some too). Here is my sewing inheritance:

Check out the crazy tiny spools of thread!! Does thread have a shelf-life? I would guess the polyester is okay to use, but what about cotton blends? Either way the old wooden spools are really awesome! I also got some clothing patterns. The green shorts pattern is dated 1972. The cute girls red & gray dresses in the center of the last picture are dated 1959. I will have to look for dates on the other ones. Many of them have my dad and his siblings' names written on them - how cool!

Second report: The stacked coin quilt top for cousin Jack is done! Now I have to sandwich, quilt and bind! Yay! I showed it to my husband and asked him what he thought and he said "Its funky." Judging from my facial expression (I assume) he quickly added, "I mean, but not in a bad way. It's, you know, colorful and has lots of different patterns." Oh. So you mean, it looks like a quilt? This is why I don't usually bother to ask him... Sheesh. Here is the finished and pressed top!

Last order of business: Ruffin love, of course! We recently got a set of those puzzle-piece foam mats to create a play area for him in our basement where I sew and my husband plays video games works on his computer. He loves it. Here is the mat: (before anyone complains, we have already covered up the cords behind him...)

Here is how much he loves it! :)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yay for summer sewing!

Even though we have a teacher workday tomorrow, this weekend has felt like summer vacation already! I got all my normal weekly cleaning done yesterday so today I GOT TO SEW!!! I think most of you who read my blog know how good that felt! I am working on a quilt for cousin Jack and it is going to be great! I am using the stacked coin tutorial from the Moda Bake Shop - yum. I cut my own coins, however, rather than use a charm pack. Even though I didn't have the easy "chop the coins in half" step, this quilt is a breeze and I love the way it looks! I bought this fabric (Shade Garden by Michelle Engel Bencsko in the blue colorway) for a quilt for Ruffin last summer, but that never materialized (big surprise). So when I found out that Jack was having a "seaside" theme for his nursery, I knew that this fabric would be great. I remembered that there was another rose colorway that would make a perfect beach mix! I think the blues and greens are ocean-like, the yellows are the sand and the pinks are reminiscent of seashells (Carmen, I totally just typed "seaschell" haha). All of that beach aura without pictures of the beach - I like it! What do you think?

Coin strips sewn and pressed!
I hate all the pressing, but I love, love the way it looks when its done!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh my.

So I skipped April AND May. Yikes. In my defense, those are really busy months at school. Also, Ruffin is 9 months old now (What??!! I know!!!) and has 6 teeth, has started eating and is crawling all over the house, which is much more involved than nursing and lying there looking cute. I have managed to make more recorder bags for my students (they still love them) and some more of those cute boxy pouches (special order from my sister-in-law). I have even cut out most of the pieces for a quilt for Ruffin's cousin (who was born in January - oops) and its going to be even cuter than I thought! I am hoping this summer will be a crafty-productive one. Only 5 more days of school. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I would really like to make some pants for Ruffin. I got some super cute fabric for it. Anyone know a super-easy pants pattern?

I figured you don't really care about more recorder bags or boxy pouches, so here is some Ruffin love and cousin Jack's barely-started quilt! I will try not to be gone so long next time. Thanks for hanging in there!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

...In which I talk of many things.

Okay first things first, I know you've been dying to hear the latest on my little man (haha). Ruffin is doing awesome! He's 6 months old now and rolling over and sitting up and he's got two teeth peeking! He's so close to crawling and he wants to stand up soooooo badly! He's eating rice cereal (which he loves) and he's tried banana and carrots (which he's not sure about yet). He is SO. MUCH. FUN!!!

Disclaimer to all my soon-to-be mommy friends! Please don't let this next paragraph discourage you! It's a bit of a vent. Being a mommy is the 100% absolute best thing ever.

So here's what I've been doing... a whole lot of "working mom." I feel like a whiner, but it has been a real challenge going back to work and being a mommy. Don't get me wrong, Ruffin is THE. BEST. thing EVER. I wouldn't trade being his mommy for anything in the whole world. Before he came I knew that this would be a huge adjustment, but it has still been difficult to deal with. I have been struggling to find time for myself - for crafting, blogging (I totally skipped February), family, friends, reading, showering, eating... Moving into a new house didn't give me any extra time either (not that I'm complaining, I love the house. I am, however, still too embarassed to show you pictures of it yet. I'll get it all clean someday). I struggle to balance how much time I spend on school stuff (I pump during my meager planning time, not to mention I am a perfectionist-over-achiever) and how much time I want to spend with my little man (all the time!). And I keep adding things to my plate. Why? I guess I like punishing myself...? Luckily, I love my job and we have the best-best-best baby sitter ev-ar. If either of those things weren't true, I don't think I would've been able to go back to work! I hope I can learn to say no to people and just let things go. I hope I learn it soon.

Here is what I mean: If you didn't know already, I teach elementary school music. Everyone is hurting with the economy, schools especially. I feel lucky to still have a job, really. So obviously, we are not getting much (or any) funding for supplies/instruments. My 4th and 5th grade students are helping me do a fundraiser so that we can buy a set of african drums for our school. We are selling pin-back buttons on Friday mornings at school. We have big ones and small ones and the students looooooooove them! I've been making buttons since I was a child - my mom used to make them for the kids in my class when we went on field trips or had parties. I've made buttons for fundraisers as a high school band student, a middle school band teacher, and now as an elementary school teacher. I have a button machine (from Dr. Don's - don't bother with any other brand, this one is absolutely the best) and I print out the designs from Illustrator (I use royalty-free clip art and cute free dingbat fonts) and the students make the buttons after school. Really. 9 and 10 year old kids can use this machine - its that easy! And it makes perfect buttons every time. I spent years using a different hand-press system, and when it finally broke I'm so glad I found this one! (This is not a paid advertisement, I just REALLY love my button machine.) The fundraiser is going really well, but its been taking a lot (A LOT) of my time. At least its a fun-d raiser... haha.

But I actually made something this week! It felt SO. GOOD. Even if it was for school. I teach the 4th grade students the recorder. They get so super stoked on the recorder that it actually makes me laugh sometimes. I love it! Most students purchase a recorder through school, but I had so many students this year that already had a recorder but didn't have a bag/case for it that I decided to make some (I know, I know, glutton for punishment). I will sell them for $2 and put the money toward the drum fundraiser. I used fabric from my scraps and I modeled the bag after the one that comes with the recorders I buy for the students:

I was trying to make it as easy for me as possible, so I made a few prototypes to try to avoid the drawstring, but velcro and snaps turned out to not to work very well. The drawstring just closed easier and ended up looking better. For the sake of time and effort, I forced myself just to pink the raw edges on the inside instead of finishing them with a zig-zag stitch. I think they turned out really well and the students are chomping at the bit for them. The only problem is that my scrap bag doesn't really have much in the way of 9-year old boy. I think I may hit up the remnants this weekend and see if I can find something.

Next up are some (lots) of baby presents! I have sooooo many pregnant friends - yay! I've been working with some minky (aka cuddle bubble) and its pretty infuriating. Which is why its all balled up right now. :(

So slippery and stretchy. Any tips from bloggie land? I'll let you know how it goes. And I'll try not to take another two-month hiatus... We'll see what Ruffin has to say about it! :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Still here...

Hey, blogosphere, I'm still here! Things that have happened:

1. snow
2. snow
3. bought a house
4. snow
5. moved to new house
6. pretty sure its supposed to snow tomorrow...

Yay! We bought our first house! I love it so much and I will post pictures once it is no longer a piggy, piggy mess from moving. It does mean, however, that I haven't done any crafting since Christmas, which makes me sad. The craft area (its gonna be sweeeeet...) is next on the unpack list. I wanted to do it first, but I got overruled by a husband and son who wanted somewhere to sleep. Boys have no sense of priority.

Here is some Ruffin love to tide you over until I get to take house pictures. I have some cool pictures from our handmade Christmas to share as well once I sort through them...