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.


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!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Hello Pumpkin Dip! Where Have You Been All My Life??

So, I realize that I am probably, if Pinterest is any indication, just about the last person on earth to discover the joy that is cookie dip, but I'm going to go ahead and just be ok with that.  Better late than never and all that jazz.

I needed to bring some sort of treat to a meeting last night and for some reason was completely fixated on cookies and dip.  Now, in retrospect, cookie dip is kind of like chip dip in the manner that you can't just stop with one.  Which is all good except you don't necessarily want to be eating cookies with wild abandon like you would say a potato or taco chip. It gets a bit filling (and just a teensy bit fattening) after a while.  I would highly suggest maybe serving not only cookies, but perhaps apple slices for dipping as well for those who don't want to have to put their regular clothes away in favour of sweat pants for the rest of the holiday season.

Further more, I would just like to state for the record, right here and right now, that I have been a life long fan of all things pumpkin. Loaf, cake, muffins, cookies, pie, roasted, stuffed, cooked and pureed by the spoonful - it really doesn't matter.  I wholeheartedly love the stuff.   I just feel I need people to know I'm not just hopping on the Pumpkin Spice bandwagon because it's the in thing to do.

But, before I get totally off track lets get back to cookie dip (mental note to self:  remember healthy options here... it could be fruit dip too. Really. It could.).  This is so easy and quick to make, which possibly makes it a very dangerous recipe to have in your possession depending on your love of pumpkin and the level of your snacking will power.  You decide for yourself.

Without further ado I'd like to present Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip and Gingersnap Cookies:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

1/2 of 250g pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp of nutmeg 

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and garnish if desired with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.  Serve with cookies or fruit. 


2 cups flour
1 TBSP ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup sugar, reserved for later
1 tsp cinnamon, reserved for later

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Sift together flour, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, set aside.  In a separate large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except reserved sugar and cinnamon) and cream together until smooth.  Slowly mix sifted flour mixture into the large bowl, mix well using your hands if necessary until completely combined.  In a small bowl combine reserved sugar and cinnamon and then shape dough into 1" balls.  Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar then bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.  Note: cookies will still be quite soft when being removed from the pan, but harden up nicely as they cool. Store in an airtight container.  


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bring it On Old Man Winter - Mama Has a New Sweater!

I just realized it's been almost two months since I last posted here.  How time flies!  I thought I'd sit down and write a bit of an update while I drink my gingerbread latte! (Mmmm! So tasty! I just found my old recipe for it this morning!)

We've spent the fall battling one illness after another (the joys of having a child in kindergarten bringing home all sorts of germs to us!) and once I had a bit of energy return I plunged headlong into the super secret / can't tell you about it kind of holiday crafting.

But in amongst all that I did finish a new cardigan for myself that I've finally just got buttons on earlier this past week.  I did wear it for several weeks buttonless because I couldn't find the buttons I wanted out here and had to wait until I could make a trip to Fabricland in the city.  I didn't want to miss out any wearing time of this cozy cardi for the minor sake of the fact I had no way of doing it up!

I signed on to test Hay Cove for designer Laura Aylor.  It was a fantastic pattern from her new Northward Collection - knit top down with set in sleeves with worsted weight yarn it's fast on the needles too!  I learned a few new tricks with this pattern.  Laura has a really great way of doing the sleeve caps.  I think her own variation of Barbara Walker's simultaneous set in sleeves has beat out my previous favourite method of sleeve caps that I'd been learning to perfect on my last few cardi's from Andi Satterlund.  I found, for myself anyways, who always struggles to make my picked up stitches look neat and tidy, that Laura's method eliminated that problem and makes a really smooth sleeve cap.  I highly recommend trying out her patterns that utilize the method.
Working on the new to me sleeve cap technique
I also learned a new method for buttonholes that I'm really liking.  It makes tight, stable buttonholes, which is something else I often find a problem - especially on a garment that requires very little to none or negative ease.  I think I will make these buttonholes my go to in the future.  They were so simple too!

For my version of Hay Cove I decided to use just two colours of Canadian made Briggs and Little Regal yarn that has been hanging out in my stash for quite a few years.  B&L gets a bad rap sometimes due to it's rustic nature - but as long as you don't mind pulling out bits of grass and hay (some balls I think I may find the actual sheep grazing  in there too they're so full of veggie matter) it's a great yarn for warmth and durability, and it softens up a lot with a good bath. Plus as a bonus it's not going to break the bank - you really can't beat the price of about $6.00 Cdn for a 272 yard skein.  The yarn I used had been gifted to me so even more of a bargain, but I used only five skeins in total for my size! Not too many yarns out there that allow you to knit an adult sized cardigan for around $30!

Just needing buttons and blocking!
I'm really happy with how my sweater turned out.  The fit is great, it blocked to perfection for me (which almost NEVER happens for me! LOL!).  I've been living in it since the weather got cold.

You'll have to excuse the somewhat less that fabulous picture (and my "hat hair") - I got Baby Boy to take a photo on my phone for me when we came in from shovelling the walkways the other morning.

Cozy, warm and perfect for a Canadian winter!
So that's what I've been up to in the last two months!  Now my coffee has grown cold, the boys are itching to do a festive craft and I have to go see what I can take out of the freezer for supper tonight so I'd better dash!  

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cakes, Cookies and A Crown, Oh My!

Our Baby Boy just turned four yesterday! Four. I can't even believe it, really.  How is it that time has gone into some freakish warp speed without my realizing it?

I recall at one time when I was much (much!) younger, and the older kids were all much (much!) younger, I was in a donut shop trying to wrangle all three of them - about aged 1, 3 and 5 as they all went separate directions simultaneously.  A little old lady stopped me and told me to enjoy it.  To know that this time would pass so quickly and they'd be grown up in a flash.  At the time, I remember thinking, "Lady, I sure hope you're right!" As it turns out, I've spent the subsequent 19 or so years wishing growing up took just a touch slower to happen, because that little old lady? She really did know what she was talking about.  Because I'm not sure how baby boy is already four.  I'm even more baffled by the fact that my baby N, that was my baby for 15 whole years before Little Man came into our life, just turned 20 - don't worry, although he didn't get cakes, cookies or a crown, mama made sure he had a birthday treat too by way of pumpkin spice cupcakes that I actually remembered to make and give to him this year unlike last year when they got made and I totally forgot to give them to him so I ate them instead.

Anyways, I digress. Birthday craftiness was, of course, undertaken for the fourth birthday celebrations. Most of it this time was in the kitchen instead of the sewing room. Baby Boy, finally, at the eleventh hour returned to the "theme" he'd chosen ages ago after having gone through about a million other themes in between.  He wanted an Angry Bird cake for his birthday.  Not just any Angry Bird either.  It had to be the "Pink Girl Angry Bird".  I breathed a huge sigh of relief and considered myself getting off easy peasy with that one! Such a simple request.

I have a fantastic 12" cake pan I bought for baking our wedding cake layers, so it really was no fuss, no muss. Well, so long as you don't count the fact that between making too small of a batch for my pan, likely leaving out one of the leavening ingredients and Baby Boy opening the oven so that the already flat cake fell further to almost pancake height requiring me to bake a second batch of cake, it was no fuss, no muss.  I used the recipe for Buttermilk Chocolate Cake from Lorelie's Wedding Cakes For You  site again.  It's such a great recipe! (when you actually follow the recipe, make enough and keep the blooming oven door shut while its baking that is) Any suggestions what to do with the pancake cake that's currently sitting in my freezer? It still tastes delicious.  Maybe petit fours?

So. New cake baked, I was all set to decorate it.  I had leftover buttercream from the wedding cake that (BF)G's niece had brought back after decorating it, that I had popped into the freezer, waste not want not and all that, that turned out to be the exact amount I needed to make the "Pink Girl Angry Bird".  (BF)G, who is often my creative consultant on these sorts of matters, had the idea to use a fortune cookie for the beak, and I decided the gigantic marshmallows I'd bought for the weenie/marshmallow roast party would make awesome (and easy) eyes for our little lady bird. I did cut the marshmallows in half though, because holy smokes! Those suckers are  HUGE!

For party favours I got a notion in my head to make cookies after seeing Angry Bird Cookies on the Sweet Sugar Belle website.  Now, I should mention I'm clearly bat s--t crazy because I've never once decorated cookies with anything more than buttercream. My usual standard of decorating is, well, to be honest, none. Or maybe coloured sugar sprinkles if I'm feeling fancy.  But I did get a bit of the decorating bug last Christmas when the boys and I did some fancier cookies for the holidays. However, I've never even seen Royal Icing, let alone made it, and I do not own a kitchen aid, which every website I looked at told me to use, so it was a bit dicey going. (As in I had no hot clue what I was doing), but I'm am SUPER DUPER proud of my cookies and how they turned out. I am also now obsessed with fancy cookies and have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about what kinds of cookies I could decorate. But that, dear readers, is a story for another day.  Back to the birthday party craftiness.  I did have some moments of anguish and panic trying to get the consistency just so, and a few minor heart palpitations when the first one I started with I managed to break an ear off within the first 30 seconds, but then I took a step back, a dose of reality and realized I needed to calm down. It's a cookie after all.  Just a cookie.

So that was the end of party craftiness in the kitchen - although remind me to tell you about the weenie roast some day. We had bannock wrapped wieners cooked over an open fire.  You should try it.  It has the potential to be a fall time cookout winner!

I did, of course, make the now traditional birthday day crown.  (You can see Baby Boy's previous ones here, here and here.)  Sticking with the Angry Bird theme,  I had a lot of fun doing this and was really happy with how it turned out.  I think Baby Boy was happy too!

Then I was back in the kitchen again yesterday to make a mini version of the Angry Bird cake for Baby Boy's actual birthday.  This time he requested a "Blue Bird - not a light blue one. A darker blue one. But not too dark." (He's not particular at all that one. Nope. Not him... rolls eyes)

So, that's it.  I'm a bit caked and butter creamed and royal icing-ed out for now.  I think I'll give the icing sugar and chocolate a rest at least for a few days...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New Cardigan

There's a chill in the air these days, despite some crazy warm weather we had last week (crazy as in +30 C!!), it has felt like fall for a while now here on the prairies.  What's a girl to do when the weather turns cool? Why knit herself a new cardigan of course!!

I decided to knit Andi Satterlund's Marion.  I've had the pattern in my library since last fall when I won it in her KAL for  her Hetty cardigan, so when she announced in late in the summer that she would be hosting a KAL for Marion, I immediately jumped on board.  Not only would it be a great KAL, I could also "double dip" and use Marion for the Summer Sweater KAL with Very Shannon.

I've knit quite a few of Andi's patterns now. My first was my Miette that I knit last summer, then of course Hetty, then I knit Salt for a Christmas gift, then this spring I knit Myrna as part of the Outfit Along and now Marion.

I really enjoy Andi's patterns.  They are well written and easy to follow.  Each of cardigans that I've made, except for Miette, utilize short row shaping for the top down sleeve caps, which I really, really like.  You knit the upper back, then pick up the shoulder stitches and knit each of the fronts then join them together to finish off the body. Then the sleeve cap stitches are picked up and knit back and forth using short rows until the shaping is finished and then it's straight on down in the round from there.  I can't even describe how much I like knitting sleeves this way. If all sleeves could be done like this, I'd be a happy lady.  It really makes them feel like they fly off the needles.  I even got brave with this one, and once I had the first sleeve cap done I put in on hold and did the second sleeve cap, then put both on my circular and did them two at a time! Talk about speedy sleeves.

Now that I've got a great new cardi, I think I'm going to have to make some fall dresses and skirts to go with it.  I've got a Miette Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons a waistband facing and hem away from being finished and I think that will be a definite to pair well with my Marion, but I'll have to peruse my patterns and see what else I have in my stash too.

But first things first.  I need to finish a test knit I'm working on, then finish up my birthday swap gift for my Ravelry group so it can be popped in the mail to my little swap partner by Friday at the latest, Baby Boy's birthday party is this weekend, then I really do need to get a start on my Christmas crafting.  Phew! I'm going to be busy in the next little while I think!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Blog Hop!

I've been asked by Anna of Charmed Liebling to participate in my first ever blog hop.  (I feel like such a "grown up" blogger now!)  You'll recognize Anna's name from many previous posts of mine. Anna designs amazing bags and I've been lucky enough to test several of them for her (you can check out my test versions of the Rose Petal, Liebling's , All Day Out , Working Girl LaptopRhine Valley and Pink Peony) I love Anna's bags and her patterns are fantastic, I really urge you to check them out for yourself!

For this blog hop participants are asked to answer four questions :

1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
3) Why do I write/create what I do?
4) How does my writing/creative process work?

After I've finished my post, I'll be passing the baton onto the lovely Amy of Quixotic Pixels, who I "met" during our Outfit Along KAL on Ravelry this summer and Coo of Betty Stitchup (who I also met during the Outfit Along)

So! Without further ado here we go! A glimpse into the crafty and creative life of this prairie girl…

What am I working on?

I often have a few things on the go at any given time. Whether it be sewing or knitting there's always a project waiting in the wings.  Right now those projects are:

Swim Diapers in Progress
Some swim diapers - I started sewing diapers for Baby Boy when we switched him over from disposable to cloth around eighteen months. I went crazy making them. Its always good to have a large supply of diapers for a little one and I really enjoyed sewing them! Then he potty trained just after he turned two, so I switched to coming up with workable, reliable, reusable pull ups for a bit, but then he didn't need those any more so my diaper sewing days were over. Or so I thought. Then, earlier this year, I was asked if I could create some swim diapers for older children that have special needs. I'm happily back to sewing diapers, and although not quite the same as the ones I used to make Baby Boy, I really enjoy the process. Plus the PUL fabrics available on the market are just so much fun!

The diapers I'm working on now are for a little guy, who needs them as a requirement for the establishment he takes his swimming lessons at.  His mama wanted ones to last him from now until the requirement is lifted in a few years when he's a preschooler, so I set to work coming up with a "grow with me" design. They got put on hold for wedding dress sewing and wedding prep, but I'm going to finish them up this week and send them on their way! (Good thing his mama is a good and understanding friend of mine that wasn't in a rush! Normally I have diapers sewn and out for delivery within a couple of days of getting an order.)

I've also got a quilt on the go that started out as a baby quilt when I first found out I was expecting Baby Boy, only to be put on hold when I found out he was going to be Baby Boy and most definitely not a girl. I'm going to increase the size a smidge more, then quilt and bind it and call it a picnic quilt. It uses the old, now hard to find, Oh Cherry Oh line of fabric from Moda and so I've renamed it the "Memories of the Okanagan" quilt. When I use it for picnics down the road I shall fondly recall sunny days sitting on the magical, picturesque lawn at my dear Aunt Flora's Okanagan lake front property as she imparted her wisdom on the intricacies of cherries - the picking, the eating and the wearing as earrings - you know… pick two with the stems attached at the top and dangle them over your ears feeling quite glamorous for a bit before you eat them? Everyone does that, right? Perhaps I shall even sip a cream soda (something she always made sure to have on hand as she knew it was my favourite) while I think of those long past summer visits.

I've got the batting - I snagged some at the beginning of July when the fabric store was having a ridiculously good sale and don't laugh. I'm going to back it with the left over lining fabric from my wedding dress. Before you start thinking I've gone off my rocker and are picturing me using some slippery, hideous, 100% polyester lining to back my quilt I'll let you in on a little secret.  I used cotton sheeting to line my dress. I loathe dress lining with a fiery passion. There was no way I was going to spend a day sweating to death in that stuff.

And of course there's something on the needles too. There's always something on the needles! My favourite project right now is my latest pair of Rose Hiver socks, Fireweeds.  I had started these last spring, then other projects took over, but now that the weather has cooled and some mornings are downright frigid in the house I've started having the urge to knit socks again. I also have a sweater that I've just bought wool for, so that's going to be my next focus along with some exciting Christmas projects I have up my sleeve!
Cold weather? Bring it on.
Just don't bring it on too soon please!!
Wait a few months yet!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I'm not really sure mine differs much from anyone else who blogs about their crafty ventures, so as such this is, obviously, going to be a much shorter answer than the previous one. I suppose I could claim it to be different in the fact that instead of focusing solely on one area of my creative life I tend to share about what ever creative process I'm currently working on. Whether it be designing and sewing swim diapers, reviewing a fantastic pattern I've found or making something tasty in my kitchen I like to include it here.

Why do I write/create what I do?

The answer to this may be even shorter, then the last. I simply love to make things. End of story. I write about the things I make because I like to share my projects with others, hopefully giving inspiration or ideas to help my readers want to create things for themselves as well.

How does my writing/creative process work?

Hmmm. This is a hard question to answer. I'm not entirely sure that there's any sort of of rhyme or reason to my creative process. It may in fact, upon reflection, simply be madcap, disorganized and fly by the seat of my pants!

For knitting and sewing I almost always buy fabric and yarn once I have a specific pattern in mind. I rarely buy to just have something in my stash. Although there are two flaws with this plan. The first being I often wish, like other bloggers, I could just go to my fabric stash on a whim and pull out a dress worth of fabric or a sweater's worth of yarn. The second being often times I order fabric online. I  will get swept up with an obsession about a particular pattern and order the fabric almost right away. However, by the time it arrives and I get the time to actually buckle down and make the item I've already been swept away with a new obsession.

So there you go. A wee peek into the inner workings of my creative brain. Once again I'd like to thank Anna of Charmed Liebling for asking me to participate in the blog hop. Please head on over to Amy's Quixotic Pixels to read about her creative process! I think you'll enjoy her blog. She does beautiful sewing and knitting! She sews jeans for goodness sakes! That alone pretty much makes her a sewing goddess in my books!!!!

Next take a jump over to Australia with the very talented Coo of Betty Stitchup! You have to see her outfits! She uses amazing fabrics and creates fantastic clothes with a vintage vibe. I got lost in looking at her "My Stitchups" page for quite some time the other day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Luckiest

Last Saturday was a magnificent day for our family. (BF)G and I finally got married!!!! Words really cannot do justice to how I felt about the day. It was all about love, family and happiness.

J received his marriage commissioner's license back in the spring so he officiated, which was incredibly special. G and N were our witnesses and the little boys even played a part in the ceremony by carrying our rings. I wouldn't have had it any other way!

It was a simple affair - a short ceremony on our back deck, then a BBQ supper, then some songs by my eldest brother and his former bandmate and good friend, who was, for years, like an extra big brother  to me, then a bonfire complete with fireworks to celebrate the day!

In keeping things simple and as a "theme" of sorts, we decided to try to do handmade/homemade as much as we possibly could for the wedding. From our invitations - that the little boys helped me glue to my bouquet which was thoughtfully made by some very dear Ravelry friends who sent me knit and crocheted flowers from across the continent.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding I made and froze eight dozen dinner rolls, cubed and froze meat for kabobs and subjected my family to more than one marinade recipe in my search for the perfect souvlaki and teriyaki. They were good sports about it although we may not want to look at a kabob again for a while.  The week before the wedding (BF)G's niece, along with G, myself and some of the little ones in the family got together for a baking day to make cookies for the wedding favours which she then decorated the day before the wedding, then I set to work searching out the perfect recipes for the cake I made. (It was shipped off to the city the day before the wedding wrapped and frozen, along with 12 cups of homemade buttercream and hand knit rosettes and leaves to G's niece to assemble and decorate). The day before my niece, R, came over and helped chop veggies and make signs so our guests wouldn't get lost on all the rural roads they had to travel. Then that night, (BF)G and I "kabob-ed" and marinaded 100 kabobs. Did I mention I don't want to look at a kabob for a long time?

I also made my dress. After stumbling across the Lorelei Dress* in the blogosphere back in June, I knew exactly what pattern I wanted to use for my dress.  I couldn't have been happier with the result. It turned out so well and was an absolute dream to sew. I could wear my dress any given day it felt so good. Seriously. I could live in it. Of course it would seem a bit overdressed to go grocery shopping or to the playground in a wedding dress… I'm totally going to have to make a less fancy version.

My kids (and my "extra" kids - the older three's boyfriend and girlfriends) and my niece R were AMAZING with all the help they gave us to make sure our wedding day was spectacular. They were all on a mission to keep "mom out of the kitchen" the day of and did splendid.

Thank you to our families for making our day so special and perfect. We are truly the luckiest.  I'll leave you with the lyrics to one of our absolute favourite songs, that really does sum things up perfectly. (You can find it on the About Time soundtrack if you want to actually give it a listen!)

The Luckiest - by Ben Folds

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns
The stumbles and falls brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

What if I'd been born fifty years before you
In a house on the street where you live?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

I love you more than I have
Ever found a way to say to you

Next door, there's an old man who lived to his 90's
And one day, passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong
That I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Outfit Along 2014

It was dicey for a bit, but I'm really excited to tell you I've finished my outfit! I actually finished! Whoooot!!!

This outfit presented more than it's fair share of challenges along the way. From major gauge issues on the cardi to major fit issues on the dress. I will admit to feeling defeated on more than one occasion. Things hit rock bottom the other night when I attached the bodice to the skirt and tried the dress on only to find that despite doing two muslins my fit was still off and my dress fit like a sack.  I was ready to throw in the towel on sewing forever! Luckily, I was talked down off my ledge and given some good advice. It gave me the "oomph" to get out my seam ripper and get to the bottom of my fit problems and correct them.

I'll give you a tip here, if you are sewing a fitted dress over a period of time in which your measurements may have changed, don't assume it's your skills or ability that is at fault! When one of the ladies over in the Scientific Seamstress Lab group on Facebook mentioned measurements the light bulb finally went off. I grabbed my tape measure and much to my surprise my measurements had changed significantly enough that the root of the problem was suddenly very clear, and it wasn't my ability to follow a pattern. I was sewing the wrong sized dress. Empowered by that knowledge I forged ahead and took in seams, shortened the bodice and reduced the width of the skirt fabric.

Finally success! An outfit that fits!!!

Unfortunately my cardi now has a bit more ease than anticipated as well. I guess I could go back to snacking with wild abandon and gain back those few pounds I've dropped because I'm definitely not at the point that I want to rip it out and begin again for a third time.  Although that might be a bad idea because then my cardi will fit, but my dress won't. Perhaps the better option is to just decide to be ok with the extra room after all.

I only did a couple of very simple modifications to the two patterns despite all my frogging back on Myrna and the fit issues with the Jenny Dress . For Myrna, I did only two sets of waistline decreases instead of five as called for. In retrospect I could've done three sets and still not had too much negative ease, but hindsight is 20/20.  For Jenny my only mods from the pattern were to cut a narrower skirt so as not to have quite so much volume at the waistline and I added pockets. I do love pockets!!! I used the pattern piece from the Washi Dress pattern instead of drafting my own.

The final assessment of the 2014 Outfit Along? Well worth the effort! I'm really happy how my outfit turned out and I really enjoyed the process despite all the frustrations and setbacks. I'd definitely sign up again if Andi and Lauren decide to host another one!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Little Super Hero

Last Saturday was a big day in our house!  Little Man turned FIVE!!!! (I also had a birthday, but that's not nearly as exciting).  We started the day out with the traditional birthday crown (you can see his previous ones here, here, here and here !) This year's seemed pretty plain to me, but Little Man's assessment was, "It's just what I hoped for! Green Lantern's symbol with a five on it!" He'd also mentioned he hoped there'd be a five "stitched in thread" on his crown this year so I embroidered a five on either side of his crown.

Instead of doing "loot bags" this year I decided it would be much more fun (for me anyways!) to make super hero masks for each of the little party guests. I had hoped to make an assortment for the adults too, but unfortunately ran short on time. I think the kids liked them and I did have fun making them.  Little Man picked out the selection and chose specifically for each child which they should receive then presented them with their mask as they arrived.  I used an online template for the basic shape then took off from there! We had (from top right :  Batgirl, Supergirl, Dazzler, Wonder Woman, Stargirl, Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America and Wolverine - Little Man and Baby Boy used their Green Lantern and Flash masks that I made them in May)

You have no idea how hard it is to get a bunch of excited kids - who are being eaten alive by mosquitoes - to sit and look at the camera for a photo. This is the best one I got!

Little Man has been thinking about his cake for months so I knew exactly what I needed to make.  Using my usual chocolate cake recipe I quickly realized I wasn't going to have quite enough cake batter to fill a 9x13" pan as well as a 9" round pan that I would need to create the Green Lantern symbol, so I decided to make my chocolate cake and then a white cake recipe that would yield a single layer, and then marble the two as I didn't really want scads of cake left over if I did a double recipe of chocolate. It turned out really well I thought. Icing it in weather that, with the humidex, was +37C with no air conditioning was, as always, interesting shall we say. It involved a lengthy process of freezer, quick crumb coat layer, back to the freezer, second layer, back to the freezer till cake time all in order to prevent the buttercream from melting and sliding right off the cake. I was happy and Little Man was happy!

As I mentioned it was also my birthday.  For months the boys have been looking at my Australian Women's Weekly Cake book planning exactly what they wanted to make for me, which I thought incredibly sweet of them.  I was treated to a "Fairytale Cake" mostly made by the boys and (BF)G - with a wee bit of assistance from me.

All in all a pretty good birthday I'd say!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A Pretty New Pattern!

I'm taking a bit of a break from my Outfit Along outfit today. We need a bit of separation. Even if for a few minutes or hours.  I've suddenly found myself battling with fit issues with the dress and now a bit of conundrum about the cardi has cropped up as there was a significant bit of gauge errata that popped up late last week for the pattern. I'm at a crossroads with only one sleeve left to go - rip out and start over again from the beginning for a more form fitting sleeve or go with the slightly baggie sleeve and call it a day because the rest of the cardi fits perfectly to my liking.

Gauge. You are my arch nemesis!

So instead I'm obsessing thinking and talking about something else right now instead.  I just bought a new pattern this week from E-Beth Designs that I'm super excited about! I've been seeing the Lorelei Women's Dress* popping up all over the blogosphere lately and I've been absolutely taken with it!

It's everything I love! A twirly skirt (with a tulle petticoat!!!), a fitted bodice and a pattern that will fit me without a whole slew of alterations! WHOOT!!!! It's got a nice retro vibe to it too that I've always really liked.

I can't wait to get sewing this dress. But first I have to find the perfect fabric. I've been scouring the net, and I've checked Fabricland in the city (although just briefly as the boys - including N who I dragged along with me were all getting a bit antsy from being in there beyond their time limit). I hope I find my fabric soon! Did I mention I can't wait to sew this dress?

I have a fancy dress in mind, which it is truly perfect for, but then I've come across several more casual knit versions in the last few days. AHHHHHH! Pretty dress + comfort = win/win for my summer wardrobe! There's a good chance you are going to be hearing a lot about this pattern from me over the coming weeks!

I'll have to let you know how the fabric search pans out. In the meantime, I'm going to go take a look at my new pattern and see if I can't get a jump on things by starting my muslin for it!

Ready to cut out and paste my printed out pattern pieces together
and then onto cutting out and sewing a muslin!

*this post contains affiliate links - if you purchase from E-Beth Designs through the links in this post I do earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you

Friday, June 20, 2014


I could have alternatively name this post "Demonstrating the Importance of Gauge" because do I ever have a photo to show you!

I've been making some good headway on my Myrna Cardi for the 2014 Outfit Along. I've knit enough now that I'm beyond the point I discovered my gauge disaster and started over, which always makes me feel good. Once I hit the point that I'm no longer slogging to get back to where I was I feel somewhat energized by a project and my enthusiasm is restored. The getting back to that point really feels a little like torture if you ask me - it's kind of painful even though the effort is worth it in the end!

Anyways so I've been motoring along. I'm now at the point of starting the waist shaping! I didn't actually rip anything out before I started re-knitting. Instead just grabbed a new skein of yarn and worked until it ran out, which took me to half a row short of where I had stopped on the first attempt. Before ripping out I thought I'd take my new sweater off the needles and try it on for fit. I'll admit to a healthy dose of paranoia that it would be a disaster again, but my fears were unfounded. Things are looking MUCH better now! I was curious about the comparison of the two so I lay the new one atop the old one and OH. MY. WORD.

This, folks, is a perfect example of what can go wrong when gauge is not followed. Look at the size difference! The bottom cardi was knit on the 5mm needle size suggested in the pattern, that I somehow thought I had achieved gauge on - clearly I hadn't - and the top cardi is knit to specified gauge on just one needle size down at 4.5mm. Isn't it crazy what a difference it makes?

Evidence of the importance of gauge!

Now, I should say I've just slowly over the last few years come to understand how important gauge can be. I used to never bother with a swatch. I also used to knit a lot of strangely sized garments come to think of it... Go figure. But if this doesn't hammer it home for me, then obviously nothing would!

So things are progressing nicely with Myrna. Now! What about Jenny you ask. I'm happy to report that things are going well on that front too!

Jenny in progress!
Yesterday I took a bit of time to cut out my fabric and this morning, while the little guys were playing I took advantage of the peace and quiet and started sewing. I had the main part of the bodice done before the first squabble even broke out! I think the real Jenny has been easier to sew than the muslin Jenny was! It somehow just flows so much better when I'm not fussing around with the steps pretending I have a lining when I don't. (Now there is something I never would have imagined saying... The garment is easier to make with the lining. How's that for all kinds of crazy????)

I'm hoping to get some time to finish Jenny over the next few days! I have sew many things I want to make this summer!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

If At First You Don't Succeed...

So, I haven't had a whole lot of success on the Outfit Along front this week.  It's getting me a bit frustrated but I'm determined to keep going.

My first frustration was my muslin. Thank goodness I decided to make a muslin for my Jenny dress. Lessons learned and all that from my Rebecca Shift. Had I not done a muslin I would have ended up with a totally unwearable dress. Or unwearable for me anyways!  I ended up with the bodice/waist seam hitting about a an inch and a half  too high. Yikes!!!! I'll let your imaginations run wild with where that empire seam landed. Not good. Not good at all.

So not to be daunted I fixed my pattern, following the same width, but cutting two lines below to increase the front length. Of course when I started sewing my second muslin I completely forgot about my pattern adjustments and ended up with a very puzzling looking front of my bodice when I lined my notches up and stitched.

Something just doesn't look right here...
I was so perplexed I posted a photo on the Scientific Seamstress Lab Group's Facebook page begging for help.  I followed what they told me to do (line up the bottoms), yet was still confused as to what had happened until one member suggested I had sewed it the wrong way. I ran back down to the sewing room to check and the lightbulb finally went off. No, I hadn't sewn it upside down or backwards - although at the rate I'm going lately that wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibilities. It was indeed very much the correct way as I discovered when I unfolded my pattern as though I hadn't been "frankenpatterning" sizes. Ah ha! Of course things were looking weird and the notches no longer lined up. D'oh! All I need to do is round out the armhole curve that was left a bit wonky from the shift and it'll be good.

Muslin done, seams where they are supposed to be, fit good. Yay!!!!!!! I think, judging by my muslin, that I will choose to do the lower neckline instead of the higher one and I am debating using the wider option waistband.  But at least I'm a step closer to my dress being started!

My Myrna was coming along fabulously.  Or so I thought.  It is a quick knit and within a few days I was ready to start the waist shaping.  Except I had a little voice in the back of my head telling me that it was looking more than a little bit large for more than a few rounds.  Finally I decided to heed that nagging voice and put my Myrna on scrap yarn.  OH MY WORD!!!!!  It's huge. Close to a 49" circumference at the bust. And long. Way too long. The armholes are close to 12".

I have no idea what happened. I did a gauge swatch. I swear I did. But in re-knitting a new gauge swatch there is no earthly way I got gauge on the first one using the 5mm needle I had been knitting with. Not a chance. So? What gives? Did I grab the wrong needle when I started actually knitting? Was I drunk when I measured my swatch (that seems a touch doubtful since I haven't had so much as a sip of wine since Christmas)? Did I forget how to look at a ruler?  Who knows! All I know is that I'm starting over from square one and hoping for the best.

So there you have it. Not much progress at all, but as they say, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Hopefully things go smoother from here on in! (please, please, please go better!!!!)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Outfit Along 2014

I've got a new project on the go now and it fits right in with my summer wardrobe building plans! A few weeks ago one of my favourite designers, Andi Satterlund, of Untangling Knots announced an "Outfit Along" for the months of June and July. I was quite excited and knew as soon as I read her announcement that I was definitely getting in on the fun. The best part about this "along" is that Andi and her co-host Lauren of Lladybird want us to have an outfit we love when we are done so participants aren't restricted to the chosen patterns, which are Andi's latest cardi, Myrna and Simplicity 1803.

I absolutely love Myrna, but Simplicity patterns and I rarely get along fit wise so I'll be sewing a different dress for myself. So here's my plan:

My cardigan will be Andi Satterlund's Myrna and my dress will be Sis Boom's Jenny Dress. Here's the rest of my plan:

I'll be knitting Myrna using Berocco Weekend colour way 5972 Marigold and sewing Sis Boom's Jenny Dress using Soaring Free in Clear from the Safari Moon Collection by Frances Newcombe for Art Gallery Fabrics (which of course I bought online from my fave shop, Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory - which, by the way, has a new home at!)

I hope you'll either join me in the Outfit Along and create your own new summer outfit or that'll you'll drop by to see my progress as I make mine!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Blue Birds of Happiness

Last summer when I was ordering fabric for my Jamie Dress, I found Jennifer Paganelli's West Indies collection and fell head over heels for Matilda in Cocoa. The birds were too pretty to pass up so I ordered 2 1/2 yds. I had no idea what I'd make with the large overall print. Initially I had thought perhaps another School House Tunic. Maybe a Torii Tunic? Or a skirt? I knew to really let the fabric shine I would require a pattern with simple, understated lines. Nothing fancy or finicky. I mulled over possibilities throughout the winter, unable to decide until suddenly, a few weeks ago, I remembered a pattern I had picked up on sale at some point last year. Sis Boom's Rebecca Shift. It fit the bill perfectly!

For a PDF pattern, you just can't beat the Sis Boom patterns.  I could go on and on about them. Seriously! First off I hate having to print off a gazillion pages only to find out that for my size half of them get cut away. The beauty with Sis Boom? You're given a table that tells you exactly what pages you need for your size. And with a pattern like Rebecca that you may want to "Frankenpattern" using different sizes she breaks down the pagination for each of the components. LOVE this feature!!!!!

And I may have grumbled, muttered, cursed on more than one occasion about my dislike of the pasting together and cutting of pattern pieces. But let me tell you, these are the stuff pattern putting together dreams are made of. It doesn't matter if preschoolers have "helped" by rearranging my pages from one end of the house to the other. I can easily tell which piece belongs where with the shaded sections that clearly not only tell me what they should be joined to but show exactly how much they should overlap each other. I can't even begin to describe how much quicker and easier this is than trying to match up tiny bulls eyes or little dots like some other PDFs utilize.  Anyways enough gushing about the pattern. I actually have gone on and on so it would seem.

So let's get down to the nitty gritty. It turns out I am sort of a weird combo of sizes. I should have "frankenpatterned" (she explains how), but I didn't. I should've made a muslin, but I didn't.  I should've, maybe once, in the sewing of the dress, glanced at the instructions and not gone off memory from when I had taken a brief look at them a few weeks ago, but I didn't.  What I did do was sew a perfectly lovely dress for someone definitely not my size or shape. Thank heavens it was on the too big side of not fitting instead of the too small.

So me and my trusty sidekick the seam ripper had an epic rendezvous. Princess seams taken in, armscye reduced, zipper removed, back seam taken in to the proper width (could've avoided that one if I'd bothered to read...), side seams of the skirt portion taken in, taken in again, - what the heck... where did the saddlebags come from??? - and taken in a final time. Done!

The dress is on the roomy side still, but it's a comfy roomy not a "who's dress did you borrow because it totally doesn't fit you" roomy. I can definitely live with it and it will be perfect for those hot humid days of summer when I just want something easy to pull on! Plus the blue birds? They just make me happy!