Friday, December 28, 2007

Little Felt Things

Just after Thanksgiving I found myself in a pinch. In October I had signed up to be part of a stocking swap. EASY, I thought Christmas is forever away and I am a pretty good knitter. I had the wool, a pattern, and suddenly I am three days from the mailing deadline, and no stocking, not one stitch. As a matter of fact, I never even wrapped the wool into balls. But tucked away in my sewing cabinet drawer was a felt stocking kit that had been waiting patiently for me...for three YEARS! I bought the kit, with good intentions, and once again ran out of time, and courage. I had never stitched with felt or done beading or blanket stitch.

After just a couple of hours of stitching I keep wondering what all the fuss was about, this kit went together so quickly and easily. I am rather embarrassed to say that I lacked the courage to try something new. Since completing the one for the swap, I have made two others. One I sent to my mother for Christmas and the other I am tucking away for a gift for next Christmas for a dear friend.

With all the felt, beads and embroidery floss out on the table, I wanted to see if I could find a way to make a needle book for a swap that I have to send out next week. Thanks to Joann's Fabrics I have moved on with the seasons and have been thinking about hearts. The children and I were at Joann's a week before Christmas and they already had a Valentine's section set up. I guess we really aren't that far away from February 14th, but geez can't we wait until after Christmas is over to be rushed into the next holiday! I found a heart shape just the right size for a needle book and I came up with this crazy quilt felt needle book. I just hope my partner on the other side of the Atlantic likes it.

The top heart flips up and there is a piece of cream felt tacked down at the corners with embroidery floss. If the felt gets worn out from to much use, the cream piece can easily be replaced.
My needles are forever finding their way onto the floor. Just this morning Piglet brought me a needle that she found on her bedroom floor. It baffles me how it ended up there. I never sew in Piglet's room. I'm not sure I could find anywhere to sit, not with all her dolls and doll cloths stretched from one side of the room to the other. I am a maker of needle books, yet I don't use one. As soon as I can buy some time, I think I will make one for me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A bit of knitting

Knitting is something I learned to do in my early twenties. I walked into a yarn shop one day, bought a book, a pair of size 8 knitting needles and three skeins of sky blue worsted wool. I remember picking a cabled scarf to knit as my first project. It took me about three days to finish. I have knit many mittens, socks and sweaters over the years, but I have never knitted another scarf. I don't know what happened to that scarf, as we have moved many times. I imagine that it is wrapped around the neck of someone keeping them warm.

It wasn't long before I discovered Shetland weight wool and Fair Isle knitting. I knit this sweater when I lived in California for a short time. Believe it or not, there were times that it was chilly enough for a wool sweater, especially when we went to the beach for a walk in December.

This is a fair isle sweater I knit when we moved to Colorado. Before we had children, we spent our weekends hiking and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. I always had my knitting with me. Somewhere I have a picture of me on a 12,000 foot mountain with my wool attached to my backpack and a sock that I am knitting in my hands. There was one hike that started on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. A park ranger saw me knitting and asked how I could hike and knit at the same time. I told her that by the time we returned from our hike I would have a finished sock. I knew she didn't believe me, but it takes about twelve miles of hiking for me to finish one sock. She was there when I finished the hike and the sock. She said she had seen a lot of things while being a ranger, but never a knitting hiker.

One of my favorite gifts to give new babies is this little wool baby sweater. The pattern can easily be completed in a day or two of "serious" knitting. I first found the pattern in a book by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It was later published in an issue of Vogue Knitting. I miss not having a baby in the house to snuggle with in these little woolly sweaters. Knit in blues or greens this is an adorable sweater on boys, as well as girls.

When I need to stay really warm these are the wool socks that I reach for. I have a second pair started in blue and cream, but had stopped knitting them when I couldn't find the book. I had given the book up for lost with the first sock only partially finished. I had even thought about ripping the knitting out and using the wool for mittens. I just couldn't unravel all of that colored knitting. Thank goodness I didn't, because just this week as I was doing some holiday cleaning I found the book mixed in with my quilting books. Oh, JOY! now I can finish them!
This is the knitting I work on when I am on the phone with my mother. I can't stand not keeping my hands busy, so I always have a washcloth on the needles. My sister told me that she cleans her bathrooms when people call. I'm afraid that someone would hear the toilet flush! Knitting can be done without anyone knowing! This is the only time I knit with cotton. We no longer use paper towels in the house now that I have a drawer full of these to knitted washcloths to grab from. They certainly brighten up the chore of washing dishes or cleaning off dirty hands and faces.

I no longer think of knitting as one of my crafts. It's a bit more like baking, cleaning, or gardening. It gets done when needed. I have 4 small hands that need mittened each winter. My goal is to have 2 pairs for both children. One pair to play in and one pair to hang to dry. Usually Piglet can wear Pooh's' mittens from the year before, as long as they haven't gone missing. Each year I knit the mittens in only two colors. Last year it was read and cream. This year it is light and dark grey. I have used the same pattern for a couple of years now. All I have to do is add more rows of stripes as the children's hands have grown longer. I have two pairs to finish yet this year. Luckily we have only had one real snowfall. I don't like finishing the thumbs. Knitting with such few stitches can be difficult, especially when I keep the stripes going on the thumbs. There is nothing like wool mittens and the toasty hands that come out of them when the children come in after playing in the snow.

Merry Christmas!

The Work of Christmas When the song of the angel is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and the princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart. From "The Work of Christmas," by Howard Thurman. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! Christine

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nearly a GOOF up!

I have signed up for quite a few swaps in December and I am nearly finished with all of them. I was feeling pretty good when I stitched up this little felt needle book penguin. I was thinking I was quite the little crafter. Pushing my quilty envelope has been a great thing for me, but stressful for my wee family. Two days before the swapping mailing deadline, all those good feelings went out the window when I went to recheck my swap partner's likes and dislikes and realized that I have confused two of my partners. I was about to send a penguin to a swapper who likes ..."SQUIRRELS!"
Back to the drawing board and back with a squirrel. I used the same applique book for both animals. I used craft felt from Joann's and embroidery floss. Lots of blanket stitch later, he's done and his way to Florida. I hope she likes it. I can't wait to try some of the others. There is a very cute pink pig I would like to stitch for Piglet's sewing basket. No worries about her reading this and finding out, Dick and Jane is the only thing she can read. And Pooh, if you tell her, I am going to call Santa and tell him that your favorite color is pink!

So I get to keep the cute little penguin, or maybe I will use him for a different swap. I have started reading my other swap partner's profiles and now I take notes to avoid any more penguin goof ups. Except, I am making a gift for a swapper, who I sent a really crappy needle book to when I first started swapping. She sent a gift box of all things pigs and Tinkerbell to my daughter "just because!" I don't want to show much more, but this is what I have done so far. But if you "Lori" are reading this, is it sparrows or is it swallows....tell me I haven't "goofed" again. Because if it's swallows, then this little sparrow can keep a penguin company.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here

This is the doll quilt that I sent to the winner of the Fall Y'all Bloggy Giveaway.

This is the quilt that I made for a little boy whose mother didn't win the giveaway.

This is a little embroidery that I tried on the edge of a napkin to brush up my stitching skills before I swapped two embroidered pieces for a swap.

And is the needle book I sent to my partner in a Needle book Swap through Swap-Bot in November.

I still have two dishcloths, two clothespin dolls and two needle books that I am working on for my December swaps. I'll post pictures of these when I finish up with them.

In searching for information about a quilt I sent in for a contest I received news that the magazine may be interested in making a pattern out of it and using it in their magazine. If it makes the magazine I will show a picture of it here. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

If you are interested in personal swaps, email me. I enjoy embroidery, quilting, sewing and knitting.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The quil I received from the Doll Quilt Swap #2

This morning when Pooh woke up he found me surfing the flickr pictures of the Doll Quilt Swap. I had been watching for one quilt that someone was making in civil war fabrics, but then I noticed that someone else had already received it. My heart sank, but then I came across a quilter in Ireland who was working on a Dear Jane doll quilt for the swap. Hand pieced and hand quilted, and her first hand quilted finished piece at that. The first thing I said to Pooh is "IS SHE CRAZY" followed by "OOOHHH, I hope it's for ME!" I then went off to her blog. She is a quilting mom from Ireland. She has a Dear Jane in her quilt frame. I only dream about having a Dear Jane on the quilt frame. With dreams of a dear jane doll quilt in my head, we started on math and Latin lessons for the day. Our mail box is at the street at the end of a very long gravel drive way, so the only time a mail car comes down is when they have a package. When we saw the mail car come down our gravel drive way we both raced outside. I thought for sure I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the return mailing address. "IRELAND!" It's MINE! We ran back to the house and with hands shaking and my eyes welling up with tears I opened the package and there was not only a doll quilt but civil war fabrics as well. I can't imagine parting with such a sweet quilt. I can't say thank you enough to my swap partner. THANK YOU, CATHI!

Doll Quilt Swap - The one I get to keep!

One day last month while going through some of my favorite blog stops I came across the Doll Quilt Swap. Quilters could sign up to make a quilt no smaller than 13x13 and no larger than 24X24. Signs ups were just about over, but I added my name and color choices anyway. It would still be two weeks before I received the name and color preferences for the person I would be making a quilt for. With with the family away on a camping trip that weekend I started and was able to finish a doll quilt TOP. I had just taken a 19th century scrap bag quilt class with Jeana Kimball at the NQA Quilt show in Ohio and I wanted to practice using lots of different fabrics to achieve a scrappy aged look. I used a tea dyed muslin from Marcus brothers for the shoe fly blocks. Wanting the top to look aged I gave the pink fabric a soak in a tan RIT dye bath. I sorted through my fabrics and found almost 50 different browns. I used only 12 in this little quilt, but I have plans for a larger quilt for the other 38 browns. I love the way it turned out. As far as using it for the quilt swap, it was close to my partner's color choices, but I want her quilt to be in the colors she likes. So I will have to make another quilt. I hope she likes it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

This was the first doll quilt I made. It was hand pieced while I sat watching my son at hockey practice. I started it with very good intentions of giving it to my daughter for her birthday. After putting in all those hours of hand piecing and hand quilting along with the memories of the hockey practices and games that were sewn into the quilt, I knew I had to make a second quilt for Piglet. I would have taken a picture of that quilt as well, but I'm not quite sure where to start looking for hers. I know I saw a lot of her baby cloths and baby bottles outside under the swing set.