Monday, February 23, 2015

Knitting All the Wool

Apparently when I'm cold I want to knit all the wool and all the things.

In the past I've tried to be pretty good about not having a whole lot of different projects on the needles, because I tend to get stuck in a rut of not knowing which to work on and subsequently nothing gets finished as I spin my wheels in indecision.

Yet, the mercury dropped again (It's been up and down like a yo-yo this winter!), I felt cold and suddenly found myself, over the last few weeks, with a sweater, a pair of socks, a shawl and a pair of fingerless gloves on the needles all at once.  How on earth did that happen??? I also signed up for a sock swap in my "Octo-mamas" group on Ravelry, so need to get another pair of socks on the needles pronto.  YIKES!

After a moment of panic and aforementioned indecision I worked out a system.  The sweater - Laura Aylor's the beach in winter - is for a knit along, but the finish date isn't until March 20th, so I've got lots of time for that.  It has become my weekend knitting.  I work on it from Friday evening to Sunday evening, then I stash it away again until the following weekend.  I'm almost finished the body of it, so I'm on track.  I think...
Trying to decide how much longer to knit before
I start the short rows for the curved bottom...
The rest becomes my weekday evening knitting.  I had put the socks aside for a while because they are destined as a gift - not needed until Christmas.  Sssshhhhhhh.  Don't tell!  They're colour work and they're a gorgeous pattern.  It's going to be hard not to spill the beans early on these ones!  I've finished one sock and am three quarters of the way through the second one.  (And feeling a little smug to be ahead of my gift knitting schedule!)

Once I put the socks aside, I worked on the shawl, Laura Aylor's Sunstruck,  pretty much exclusively until it was done except the border.  I'm procrastinating on that now though because the thought of picking up all those border stitches fills me with more than a bit of dread.  But I love the shawl, so I really need to be brave and attack those picked up stitches once and for all but oh how those 375 stitches for the top border are daunting!! (I'm actually wrapped up in my shawl right now - no border, ends haven't been woven in, but it's big and squishy and cozy and I was chilly after being outside with the dog)

Cozy, cozy wool!
The fingerless gloves were a quick interlude to the other projects.  What a fun pattern.  Treads is a great pattern, that I modified very slightly to eliminate the tipless fingers - I wanted just ordinary fingerless gloves so cast off immediately after the last lateral braid instead of continuing on.  I felt the linen ridge stitch and lateral braid stitches really made the pattern more masculine which is what I was after for this pair of  charcoal grey "Manly Mitts".

Manly mitts.  See how well they go with the tools? ;)
I should actually focus on the gift socks so I can get started on the sock swap socks! I need those 2.5mm needles freed up in order to cast on.  So I guess what I know my focus will be this week!!!

I'm going to ignore the fact that there is also a 3/4 done linen Plum Blossom Tee that is sitting languishing in my closet.  But to be fair,  when the temperatures are in the -30C something with the windchill it's awfully hard to motivate oneself to knit something linen and summery.  It's all about wool.  Warm, cozy wool!!!

I think I'm going to go put on a sweater right now, though, and head down to the sewing room in the basement.  I'm putting the finishing touches on a skirt for G right now.  I hope you'll drop by again in a few days when  I'll be reviewing the wildly "Pinterest popular" Jade skirt from Lisa of Paprika patterns.  If you hurry, and stop by her site, both Jade and her immensely popular Jasper sweater (if you've been on Pinterest any time in the last year you've definitely seen this sweater and probably pinned it and now the pattern is available) are both on sale, 15% off, until February 24th! Go now, you don't want to miss out and I'll see you back here in a couple of days!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quilting, My Crafty Nemesis

I want to be a quilter.  An honest to goodness real quilter. The reality though is that when I try quilting, in the end somehow, it makes me feel a bit like a little kid playing pretend.

I can sew (obviously) and supposedly I can measure and cut things, but somehow when I put it all together it never works out quite right.  There's always something just a little bit off kilter about the finished product.

I have made a few quilts over the last few years.  The first was for Little Man.  I was bound and determined that he was going to have a quilt and actually, that one turned out pretty well.  There's a few glitches here and there, but really not too bad all things considered.


Then I made a quilt for Baby Boy.  That one also wasn't too bad.  Except it ended up teeny tiny.  Sadly it barely got used because it was so small.  Plus I messed up the binding on it, didn't notice until after the fact and have never had the heart to unpick it all and fix it.


Then there was my Summer Mommies Friendship Quilt.  OK.  That one I love.  It's on our bed year round.  But don't look closely.  Oh boy!  Some of those pinwheels just refused to line up and the actual quilting is a bit crazy too.  I don't see those mistakes too much though, because mostly I'm just darn proud of finishing a queen sized quilt and one that I figured everything out for by myself and didn't use someone else's directions for.


Of course there was G's Memories of Paris Quilt too.  Not too bad - but again with the wonky squares.  What happens between the measuring, cutting and sewing???  I'll never know!


Rag quilts are good.  I've made two of those! One for Baby Boy and one for a gift for one of (BF)G's co-workers.  I don't think it's possible to have anything go wrong with a rag quilt.  They are truly the easiest quilt ever. I've even got a tutorial on how to make a rag quilt it's that easy!  (It's almost cheating they're so simple!)



Anyways.  I'm rambling here.  All this is in light of my latest sewing project.  A simple little mug rug.  I decided that since I often make them for gifts, but have never made one for myself it was high time I rectify that.  So I started searching for a design I liked.  There's about a million and one snowman mug rugs that I'm dying to make, but I didn't want to really do a seasonal one right now.  I wanted something more... quilty. Is that even a word?  Likely not.  I digress though.

So I perused quilting sites.  I perused Craftsy.  I perused Pinterest.  And finally I found one I thought I liked, and followed a link, that led me to another link that led me finally to The Happy Zombie site, which I promptly lost a few hours of my life to - it's a great site!  The Happy Zombie had a tutorial for a "Magic Hourglass".  I was smitten.  I'd found the mug rug for me.  And it looks so magically simple to do.  I followed her instructions to a tee.  I measured everything so carefully so each one would be identical.  I carefully pressed with steam as I was advised.  I even used pins. I NEVER use pins.  And yet? Wonky. Three out of four are not lining up. One is way off in left field not even pretending that it can behave and line up with the others.  What on earth happened?  Where did I go wrong?



Oh well.  I'm just going to cover up the big spot that went awry with a cookie or a doughnut or something and put my mug over top one of the others and pretend it's a perfect little quilt block mug rug.

I refuse to be beaten by this whole quilting thing and will conquer it someday.   In the meantime, I'll be eating snacks, drinking tea and dreaming of making one of those quilts like I see all over the blogosphere where all the blocks behave properly and all the points meet where they're supposed to.

Do you have a crafty nemesis that you refuse to let get the best of you?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Just For Me Challenge

I've raved about Scientific Seamstress/Sis Boom patterns here on the blog before.  I absolutely love using them because they are just so darn perfect.  The PDF patterns are some of the easiest on the market, allowing you to print out exactly what you want and to quickly put together once they are printed, the garments are flattering, have a huge range of size options, excellent instructions and they fit so, so much better than any of the BIG FOUR pattern companies patterns ever do.  Carla Hegeman Crim does a great job creating her patterns.  These are patterns for real bodies of all shapes and sizes. If you want to venture into sewing for yourself or are tired of having to do a billion alterations to commercial patterns just so they might fit you, give these a try.  I guarantee you won't regret it, they are well worth it!  To see some of my previous versions check out herehere, and here!

When Jeanine announced on the blog that the Scientific Seamstress Lap Group on Facebook would be hosting a "Just For Me" sewing challenge during January I was really excited! Pretty much the only stipulation of the challenge was that whatever you decided to make it had to include at least one Scientific Seamstress/Sis Boom pattern. I decided that not only would I take the challenge but that I would add an extra dimension to it.  I was determined not to buy anything in order to do it - I do love myself some thriftiness! So using only things in my stash and using only patterns that I had already in my collection I set to work.

Week one was "Chic And Casual".  I decided to keep it fairly simple for myself and just make a top that I could easily pair with jeans and a cardi.  I have been coveting the Tortola tank since it was first released last summer as part of a bundle.  I didn't purchase the bundle so had to wait for the individual release and by that time was swamped with other projects so it sat untouched on the computer for a few months.  I finally printed it off during week one of the challenge, grabbed a piece of knit fabric out of my bin that I'd bought for $5.00 out of the clearance section earlier in the fall and sewed it up.  I'm pretty happy with it, although think I should have gone down a size and shortened the length just a touch.  But it's comfy and definitely wearable - I've worn it a lot in the weeks since making it!  I've paired it here with my Marion Cardi that I knit in the fall KAL in Andi Satterlund's Untangling Knots Ravelry group.


The second week was "Date Night".  I didn't get that one done on time, unfortunately.  I had a slight mishap in the fact that my iron died and there is just no way to get a facing ironed sufficiently enough with a curling iron (Why yes, I tried. Of course I tried.  Desperate times call for desperate measures!).  It's all good though.  I finally bought a new iron this past weekend, and got it done this morning.  Another stash find - this one came from a Valentine swap a few years ago.  It's shimmery and has a texture to it, but it was pretty easy to work with, not too slippery like I feared it might be.  I'm not sure I actually like this top too much yet if I'm being brutally honest.  The fabric is a bit itchy on me and doesn't feel quite right, being a bit stiff in spots (I think it doesn't like being ironed at all).   I think my next venture into the Patricia will be in something gauzy or floaty.  Maybe a cotton voile.  I did shorten the pattern by quite a bit and completely eliminated the side vents at the bottom.  I wanted it to be more of a blouse than a tunic.  As I said, I'm not really sure how I feel about this one just yet. Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.  It's not the pattern's fault and I will revisit it again, and maybe this top will grow on me in the future.  So not all is lost.



The third week was "Cozy and Comfy" and I am all about comfy.  No doubt about it!  This time I pulled out the Tortola once again and a men's size 4xl tee that I bought on a clearance rack at Walmart last year for $3.00. I did the regular cutting line instead of a full bust option for my size and the 26" length instead of the 28" I did my first version. Instead of fussing with woven facings (mostly because I couldn't pull stash fabric out that I felt matched well enough) I used a light weight denim bias tape on the neckline and just serged and then hemmed the armholes.  For the bottoms I used Jocole's yoga pants pattern in the capris length and a .7 metre remnant of sweatshirt fleece I'd bought ages ago in a buy one get two free sale. I think  it worked out to being about $2.00 roughly? Maybe less.  Add a bit of elastic and some rib knit I've had kicking around leftover since I made Baby Boy a pair of pants when he was three and I was good to go! Yay! Comfy and cheap. Perfect for lounging around the house or maybe running on the treadmill in. (It's alright.  You can laugh.  We all know that it's likely not going to ever see a work out and more likely going to see a whole lot of the couch and my knitting needles...) Because I had no iron at the time that I did week three and I'd given up on the curling iron as a substitute, I just serged both the shirt and pant hems and called it a day.



Week Four was "Knock it Off" and my very, very favourite week of all.  It made me go beyond my comfort zone and try things out that I've not done in ages and have, quite honestly, lacked the confidence to even contemplate doing for a long time. To make my knock off I had to combine patterns and do some changes to them as well.  I modified the bodice from Simplicity #2180 and used the waistband and skirt from the Jamie Dress to make my knock off of Modcloth's I Love Your Dress.  I've been desperately wanting the Modcloth dress, but a) it's way too spendy for my budget especially with the Canadian dollar right now and factoring in shipping and b) they've been sold out of my size for weeks.  So Knock it Off week was perfect timing.  I had a 1.5 metre cut of knit from another of  Fabricland's buy one metre get two free sales and thought it would work well as well as fitting my "cheap" criteria - I got three metres for a whopping total of $10.00 that  particular day. Hello $5.00 dress! Whoot!!!!  It's a nice drapey knit, but not too flimsy that it would be see through or stretch from here to eternity.  No one wants to make a knee length dress only to find by the end of the day it's pretty much become a maxi dress. (I have had this happen.  It wasn't pretty.)

To make my dress, I rounded off the back neckline of the bodice, eliminating the v-shape, which allowed me to simply use the front yoke pattern piece as the back yoke pattern piece as well.  I added about three inches to the centre front of my bodice pattern for gathers and gently straightened the bottom edge since I was eliminating the darts. Oh and for some reason, and I do remember this too from a few years ago when I actually made the Simplicity pattern, I had to add 3/4" to the straps of the front bodice in order to have the yoke piece fit properly.

For the waistband, since Jamie doesn't have a back waist band piece, I used the Simplicity pattern for width and the Jamie front waistband lining for height.  The skirt is cut much narrower than Jamie because of my fabric constraints and a minor prior cutting error (for some reason I initially thought I should completely line the bodice - thankfully I came to my senses before finishing the dress and eliminated the lining completely. Phew.  That was a narrow escape from TOO MUCH BULK - imagine that said in ominous radio announcer voice.)  I am happy with the width of it as it is. Too many gathers on my midsection isn't the most flattering look for me and I thought it would drape much nicer with less fabric rather than more.  The waistband is self-lined and the yoke is lined with a quilt cotton for stability.  I also used the same quilt cotton to make bias tape binding for the armholes.  I love, love, love matchy, matchy bias tape.  It makes me happy even if no one knows it's there but me.

I LOVE this dress!  I want one in every colour!!!!!  I'm wearing it here with my Hetty, which is another one of Andi Satterlund's amazing retro vibe cardi patterns!  If I were standing up straight, like a normal person instead of propping up the wall as I seem to be in the photo my dress would be hanging much better and it would look fairly close to the real Modcloth one in the collage. (Honest!)


It was definitely a great challenge.  So much fun and really motivational!  With the added bonus, of course, that I now have three new tops (at least two that are getting a tonne of wear already), a new pair of bottoms and a new dress added to my wardrobe all in a matter of four weeks.  Not bad all things considered!

How about you? Do you ever take part in sew along, knit alongs or challenges?                                                                  

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Stitching Away the Blues

So, it's been awhile!  What's new with you? I hope winter is treating you well.

Things have been busy here.  Lots of little stresses piling up, a few big ones too, plus never ending illness that has seemingly plagued our little household since early fall.  The latest round of ear infections and chest colds has left me feeling more than a bit drained.  But true to form, when the going gets tough, this girl drowns herself in her crafting to cope.  Each stitch off the needles, each seam sewn seems to ease the pressures of day to day life just a little - or at the very least gives me a focus beyond what's going on at the time.  I always say it's better than therapy or other vices one could venture into (although not necessarily cheaper as I'm sure my husband would attest too - I'm pretty sure he has heart palpitations every single time I say to him, "I need to stop by the yarn and/or fabric shop for a minute"...)

So I've got a few projects finished and a few projects (even a super secret Christmas one!!!) on the go since I last stopped by the blog.  You might remember how I knit the boys' teachers fingerless gloves for Christmas.  They were all super appreciative of them, but one in particular loved her pair so much she asked if I could knit a few more pairs so her friends could have fingerless gloves too.  I felt pretty honoured by that!  I'm always a bit nervous to take "orders" in like that because the minute I get the notion that I'm obligated to do something is the moment all enjoyment in it ceases to exist, but I'm happy to say I really enjoyed knitting these.  She told me to go ahead and pick whatever pattern, yarn and colours I liked so having that freedom really helped in keeping it fun and interesting!  Plus fingerless gloves are just always fun to knit.


Clockwise from top left : Magic Loop Mittens in Valley Yarns Colrain , Karin Wristwarmers in Sandnes Garn Alpakka/Ull, Give Em The Slip Mittens in Patons Decor and One Cable Mittens in Cascade 220

I hope she and her friends love them as much as I do! (I kind of want to keep them for myself...)

Another project I've been working on is Laura Aylor's Sunstruck for myself.  It's a squishy asymetrical garter stitch shawl.  You can choose anywhere from two to 13 colours for it and Laura, in her usual awesome pattern writing fashion makes everything so easy and clear to plan out.  I'm doing mine in just two colours - Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Maple (that J and M picked out for me as part of my Christmas gift!) and Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Fine in Pea Soup Mix.  I am absolutely loving how it's shaping up.  The pattern is quite addictive with it's short rows (Ha! Who would have thought I'd ever extol the virtues of anything containing short rows.  I used to be so scared of anything that so much as hinted at utilizing a short row.  Now I love them!)  I'm really looking forward to getting this one off the needles and onto my shoulders! This is an older photo - I'm actually half way done now, but this one shows the squishy loveliness of it so much better than the more recent photo I took so you'll just have to imagine the total of six alternating sections done!


I've also been doing some sewing this past month. But I think I'm going to save that for another day. I've so much I want to tell you about the sewing that it deserves it's very own post I think!

In the meantime, I hope everyone is healthy, happy and enjoying the little things in life!  I'll see you back here in the next couple days to talk about the Scientific Seamstress "Just For Me January" sewing challenge that I participated in!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Roasted Tofu

First off, let me say that I could never be a vegetarian.  I enjoy eating steak and bacon way too much for that.  However, there are a few recipes that I have made that are meatless that I really, really like.  The first is a black bean recipe I found a couple of years ago to serve to Mom and J's girlfriend, M when they come over for BBQs.  The other recipe is one I developed in a hurry on Christmas Day.  I had planned to make roasted tofu as the main dish for M, but when I looked up the recipe I had used in the past I realized that I had almost none of the ingredients save for the actual tofu.  Grocery shopping fail at it's finest.  Ooops!  So I decided to wing it and come up with something on my own.  The end result was quite tasty if I may say so myself - I even finished the left overs the next day for lunch - so I thought that I'd share the recipe with you! It's quick and easy and uses ingredients that you most likely have on hand in your fridge and pantry right now (except maybe the tofu - if you're like me and only buy it on special, people coming to visit kind of occasions).

Roasted Tofu

1 pkg of extra firm tofu, drained and sliced
3 TBSP orange juice
3 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP soya sauce
1 TBSP grainy dijon mustard (I used a honey dijon blend I had in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place the sliced tofu in a lightly greased casserole dish or other shallow baking pan and set aside.  Mix remaining ingredients until well combined and pour over the tofu in the dish.  Let marinade for at least a 1/2 hour. While tofu is marinading, preheat oven to 425F/205C.  Roast tofu for approximately 25 minutes (or until the tofu is golden brown in colour).  Enjoy!  Serves 2-4 people. Recipe can easily be doubled.






Tuesday, January 06, 2015

New Mittens and A Hat

Baby it's cold out there.  Seriously cold.  What the heck, mother nature?!?!  You confound us all with your weird (freakishly) warm weather for a few weeks, then suddenly you remember what a prairie winter is supposed to be like?  How about a happy medium because, really, a 30 degree shift in temp in a matter of days is a pretty big ol' shock to the system!

But.  That's ok.  I'm well prepared.  I laugh in the face of -40C.  Well ok, it's more like teeth chattering than laughter, but close enough.  At least I'm a little more prepared than I was.

I have new mittens and a new hat.  And they're thick, cozy worsted weight wool, so a heck of a lot warmer than the sport weight hat and mitts I had been using previously.  Don't get me wrong.  My colour work mitts are still one of my favourite things, but they just don't cut it in the cold. They were my first pair of adult sized colour work mittens (I'd done a baby pair when baby boy was tiny), so my gauge is pretty loose and the wind whistles through them on a cold, brisk day.

I really want to knit a pair of thrummed mittens, but didn't feel like taking the time to sit down and actually muddle through the thrum part, so chose to knit a pair of traditional Newfoundland Mittens instead.  These may look tricky to the non-knitter, but they are the fastest thing going.  I knit them two at a time (thereby avoiding any second mitt syndrome nonsense) and had them done in three short days.  They are pretty cozy.  A lot more so than the loosey goosey Lilac Mittens, but still not quite what I want.  I wore them to go tobogganing the other day and definitely could have used some sort of liner in them because my hands were pretty chilly.  (although I think my fingers would've fallen off from the cold in the other mitts, so it's at least a start in the right direction!).  I definitely think it's going to be time to tackle thrums soon though.  The Yarn Harlot has a pretty good post about it that I think I'll need to study a bit first.  In the meantime my Newfie Mitts will do.  They're pretty in Plum and Fundy Fog Briggs & Little Regal.




I have a purple hat that matches the colour of the mitts to a tee.  It's a hat I knit as a test knit last year, and it's alright, but it's sport weight and not terribly warm (plus it makes me look like I have a gigantic pumpkin head so not a terribly flattering look).  So I knit a new one.  This time in the same Plum Regal as my mittens and using Alicia Plummer's Snow Squall pattern. It's reversible, which is kind of neat, and cozy. Also being a bit looser means there's less chance of crazy hat hair, although I still think I look like I have a gigantic pumpkin head in it.  Which makes me wonder if it's the hats or if it's actually me… Yikes!  I am considering trying a different sort of style in the near future.  Maybe something along the lines of a brimmed hat.  There's a few I really like on Ravelry.  There's the Lucy Hat or the Magnolia Hat or maybe the Honeysuckle Hat.  Of course by the time I ever decide spring will be on it's way and I won't actually need a new hat...


Monday, December 29, 2014

The 2014 Christmas Crafting Round Up

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  We had a fantastic Christmas.  All of the kids, plus their partners were able to join us Christmas morning.  Nothing is better than having everyone under one roof together!  We opened presents, then the little boys played with their new toys, the big kids played cards and I made brunch.  It was merry and festive.

Now that Christmas has come and gone once again and all of the crafts have been given and received, I can take a few minutes to show you what I've been up to over the last month and a half!

First up, along the left here are two of my new and very favourite holiday decor items!  At the beginning of December the little boys and I picked up some paints and blank canvasses at the Dollar Store.  I painted up their hands and they made their masterpieces together!  We've got new ones already planned for next year!  I know that years from now as they hang them on the wall I'll look back and think that I can't believe they were once so small!

Before I get to the more recent Christmas giving, it occurred to me that I never posted about the Christmas in July swap that I hosted over on Ravelry in the 2009 Summer Mother's group.  We had a huge sign up for participants, so I divided the names up into three groups, then each person was responsible for making an ornament for each member of their group so that each participant would end up with a collection of ornaments for their tree.  The group I was in was the largest with seven participants.   I want to share the collection of beautiful hand crafted ornaments that I received. I love that each one of them is so unique!  Betz White's Peace Dove is the ornament I chose to make for the swap.  It was a fun, but somewhat daunting undertaking as embroidery makes me feel somewhat less than competent having not really done much of it at all since I was about eight and Mom helped me make a sampler the year I got my sewing box and embroidery hoop for  Christmas.  I was really happy with how they turned out, but have yet to make one for myself.  Maybe now that all the hustle bustle has calmed down, I'll pull out the wool felt, the embroidery thread and set to work on one for us.



 Now that the house and the tree are covered, let's move on to the gifts that I made.  I started late this year so not everything I hoped to make actually got done and at the 11th hour (December 21st to be precise) I had to get a grip on reality (more of a choke hold, truth be told, than a grip) because it was way out there in left field.  Stringing me along like I had all the time in the world.  As soon as I realized I didn't, adjusted my list, swapped out this pattern for that etc. I felt a whole lot better and a whole lot less panicked.  I actually got back to enjoying making gifts instead of heading down that slippery slope of OBLIGATION.  Eeewwwww!  Nothing takes the fun out of crafting faster than a perceived sense of obligation.

Anyways - I was quite happy with my efforts in the end and the reactions to the gifts made every single minute spent doing them more than worth it!

Pajama Party

As per usual there were some pjs made for Christmas!  We'll start at the top and move left to right.  First up is our nephew, Ethan, modelling his brand new footie jammies that he specifically requested with "feet, a hood and pockets".  I was a little worried, come Christmas he'd be a bit disappointed to open pjs instead of a toy like the rest of the cousins were getting, but I needn't have worried.  He dropped everything to go put them on before he opened anything else.  His mom told me that they rate right up there in his favourite gifts, so I'm, of course, absolutely tickled!

Next we have Little Man and Baby Boy in their new Christmas Eve pjs!  Flannel and fleece kept them cozy in the truck on the way home from the city that night.  We always take pjs to change them into before heading home if it's going to be late and they certainly were surprised when I pulled Angry Bird pjs out of the extra clothes bag!  (BF)G was also pretty surprised when he went to get ready for bed later that night and couldn't find his pj pants he was sure he'd left on our bed (ha ha! I'm so sneaky - I'd hid them before we headed out for the evening) so reached into his dresser drawer to find a matching pair for himself too!

G had be moaning the last time that she was out that she needed new pjs because her's were all so old and tattered.  I knew as soon as I spied the glittery leopard print flannel at Fabricland that it was meant to be PJ pants and a sleep mask for her!


Holders and Such

I love making little wallets and holders for stocking stuffers and small gifts! They're fun, quick and I get to use awesome bits of fabric!  From top left to bottom again, we've got Superhero notebook holders for the little boys, who love to take notebooks everywhere they go!  A funny story about those - when I was buying the fabric the clerk cutting it asked me what I was planning to make, and I said that I would be making notebook holders for my four and five year old.  She looked at me rather oddly when she asked what kind of notebook and I told her just the cheap ones that come three to a pack for a dollar at Dollarama.  It took me a moment of confusion at her confusion to realize that in a sign of the times, she was picturing the computer type of notebook, not the old fashion use a pen or pencil with, stash in your pocket kind.  We had quite a chuckle over "how times have changed"!

Next up for our university student/waitress G,  I found a great little tutorial online for an organizer wallet that I thought would be perfect for either when she's at work, or for throwing in her bag for going to classes.  I was really excited to find leopard print notebooks for her too!

On the bottom right we have a tea wallet for M, who is studying like a mad fiend working on her master's plus works approximately a million different jobs.  I don't know how that girl does it!  I went back to my very favourite pattern - I always think it's the perfect size to toss in a pocket or a purse when you're busy and on the go!

Last but not least is A's make up brush roll.  I thought it would be handy for when she travels or just throwing in her bag for freshening up after a long day in the classroom if she's got somewhere to go after work.  I used the same tutorial I've used in the past for it as well (which, like the organizer wallet, comes from {lbg studio})

Odds and Ends

Here we have a flax seed heat pad - I absolutely love mine and think everyone should own one.  This one was for M.  Then whenever G gets overly stressed out about school I tell her she should take a break and have tea and chocolate.  I decided a great gift for her would be a mug that I wrote out the recipe for chocolate mug cake on (I used Sharpie Oil Paint pens, then baked in the oven at 425F - start out with a cold oven and don't remove item until it is cold again!) along with the pre-mixed packages of the dry ingredients needed.  On the other side of the mug it says, "Need a Break? Have Some Cake!" and the handle says "Love Mom" I hope she enjoys it and it reduces her stress at least for a moment!

The next thing is a modified Working Girl Laptop bag.  I made this one quite some time ago, but have been holding onto it specially!  I paired it with some charcoal pencils and a sketch pad for Mom.  I envision her sitting at the park on a warm spring day sketching in the sunshine.  I hope that this bag will help her to just pick up and go when the whim hits her!

Last in the odds and ends is this year's ornament.  Every year since J was a newborn baby I have included a new Christmas ornament in the kids' stockings.  I used to buy a new one each year and tried to keep it a theme.  It was easy to do when there was only three kids, not quite as easy to do when there were five kids and last year when I had seven kids to get an ornament for I gave up looking in the store and decided to make them instead.  I was very glad to have made that decision given now there are eight "kids" needing ornaments! Because I'd left things a bit late in the game, I decided to do something fairly simple.  I thought these little trees from Life after Laundry were quite cute!  Although I didn't get them done quite in time for stockings - I hit the wall at 3:30am sewing the last two, so went to bed and then ended up sewing the strings on and gave them to them after brunch Christmas morning.

Keeping Cozy!

In this grouping I've put some of the "cozy" knitted gifts!  At the top is (BF)G's Fox Point hat that I finished within a half hour of him walking in the door for his Christmas holidays and G's slippers that she actually sent me a link to on Facebook as a hint.  The second row has two "Beer Mitts" (the black and grey one was actually (BF)G's birthday present on the 27th!) and a White Leaf cowl for A. And on the bottom a Sweet Memories cowl for Baby Boy's preschool teacher!

Teacher Gifts

This year I decided to once again let the boys pick out the patterns and yarns for their teacher's gifts.  All the teacher's received fingerless gloves except for the preschool teacher that received gloves last year from Little Man - so this year Baby Boy decided I could knit the cowl above to go with her gloves.  From top again we have Give em the Slip, Staghorn Mittens (a super fun, quick knit in bulky yarn!) and at the bottom, two pairs of Farm to Market designed by the very talented Aimee Alexander - one of my "Octo-mama" friends on Ravelry.

 Colourwork

Last but not least are three of my favourite projects for this holiday season!  I really do love everything about colourwork and it's so addictive making these projects really fun to do!!  First are J's War of the World inspired Robots vs. Downtown mittens, and beneath them are N's Zombie Mittens - I love that the palm and thumb have depict the bones - and to the side are M's Fireweeds! I've never met a Rose Hiver pattern that I didn't love!

So that's it! Phew! Are you still with me?  Give yourself a big ol' pat on the back if you've made it this far! Ha ha! It was a lot of work, but as I said, worth every minute of it given the appreciation.

For now I'm going to focus on doing a few things for myself and some other projects that I put on the back burner for the Christmas crafting marathon, but I already have some plans up my sleeve for next year and think I'll get a jump on them throughout the year rather than trying to do it all in the last month and a half before the holidays - because that kind of procrastination can drive a person a bit crazy if they're not careful! ;)

I hope that the coming new year finds everyone happy, healthy and enjoying life to the fullest!