Sunday, December 7, 2008

Away too Long

If the Thanksgiving holiday slowed down my crafting momentum, a three-year-old with a stomach virus stopped it in its tracks. Add in an under-the-weather six-year-old and a nine-year-old with music theory exams and her first piano concert, a toddler who walks everywhere and eats anything and a 13-year-old with a busier social calendar than my own, and you can probably guess how much *I* got done this week.

The gifts are still in progress . . . aprons cut out and ready to sew, a PSP cozy "on the hook," but I decided just today to switch gears just a little bit. I learned last week that my dear friend Karen is battling cancer. We've been friends since college (and I won't tell you how many years ago that's been!) and, while another friend and I are planning a trip back East for a mini-reunion with Karen this spring, I wanted to do something right away to lend my love and support. So, I set Christmas aside for a day or two and went to work on the first in a series of chemo caps. The one I'm working on now, I think of as the "anarchemo" cap . . . a crocheted cap emblazoned with the "anarchy" symbol (and inspired by the Anarchy Irony pattern in "The Happy Hooker"). It's black and will sport a hot pink symbol and trim. If Karen likes it, and I really hope she will, I plan to give her a hat subscription . . . one a month (some knitted and some crocheted) until the hair grows back in. I have other ideas, too, including a "chemohawk" cap with a fringe running down the middle. Anarchemo should be ready tomorrow (maybe tonight, if I really get rolling) and will "ship out" on Tuesday.

It's always nice to be able to use your crafting "powers" for good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't you hate it when . . .

I hate it when this happens. I bought some beautiful sequined moleskin fabric to make my oldest daughter a skirt for her piano recital. Found a great pattern/tutorial online to make it. Spent half the day putting it together, only to have it turn out . . . well . . . not so well. I now realize the fabric was a little heavy for the type of pattern I selected, but am just about out of time (and really out of energy) to cut the unsuccessful skirt down for repurposing. So, it was off to Target this evening, where, for just under $15, I found a stretchy velvet skirt that looks absolutely adorable on her. With the matching "dressy" T-shirt, she will be the belle of the recital. Do I wish she was going in something beautifully handmade by me? Well, sure. But she's ended up with a great outfit, my mental health is intact and I have several yards of sequined moleskin waiting to be made into something else beautiful. Not the day's work I had hoped for, but not at bad day, nonetheless. Now, on to the rest of that gift list . . . 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Back from Break

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving at the in-laws'. I thought ahead and brought knitting to do, and managed to avoid eating *too* much by keeping my hands busy. The resulting hat, begun on the drive up and finished just as we got back, turned out great. It's a Christmas tree hat, topped with a glow-in-the-dark yarn pompon "star." And, as my two youngest girls have been fighting over it ever since, it looks like I will be knitting at least one more.

I haven't made as much progress on the "Thrifty 50" challenge as I had hoped, but I have been making progress nonetheless. Let's see. The completed gift tally so far is:

  • 8 microwaveable hot packs (2 have already been gifted as birthday presents)
  • 2 nightgowns
  • 2 doll nightgowns
  • 1 pair PJ pants with matching doll pants (the PJ pants are already in use, with the doll pants coming for Christmas)

In process:

  • 2 Reversible Crayon Aprons for the little sisters
  • 1 Reversible Crayon Apron (craft version) for big sis

All three have been cut out and are awaiting sewing time tomorrow.

Still TBC:

  • felted PSP cozy for big brother
  • angel costumes for the little sisters
  • at least 4 more hot packs . . . they make great last-minute and spur-of-the-moment gifts.
  • a pair of fingerless gloves for oldest daughter's piano teacher (time permitting)
  • a skirt for oldest daughter's piano recital (not a gift, but still needs to be done)
  • knitted bowling set for the little girls (a big maybe at this point, but I do already have yarn and supplies)
  • as many doll clothes as time will permit me to finish. I have been saving leftover fabric from the girls' clothes for months and will do my best to use up as much as I can.
  • something for the baby. Ideas, anyone?
There's certainly more that I might be forgetting, but I think that's the bulk of it. It's bound to be a busy, but exciting month!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Progress, at Last

As of tonight, I have 10 gifts completed: nightgowns with matching dolly nightgowns for my two youngest daughters and eight hot packs for the children's teachers. I was ecstatic for about two minutes, until my oldest daughter thought of two more teachers who would also need a present. So, back to the stash tonight. Next stop (after the remaining hot packs): Reversible Crayon Aprons for the little girls. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Finally Underway

It took me a couple of days to get unstuck, but I am certainly rolling on the "Thrifty 50" challenge now. I think I mentioned before that I'm planning to make nightgowns for my two youngest girls, to be given Christmas Eve. Then, I had planned to make matching nightgowns for the new dolls they'll find under the tree Christmas morning. So, far, I have the girls' nightgowns sewn and will put the elastic in tonight. I'll have to find a sneaky way to hem them without tipping the girls off. The dolly nightgowns have been cut out, and are awaiting sewing tonight (I hope).

My cost for all of this so far? $1.29, the price of a new package of 1/4 inch elastic. I used fabric from my stash to make the gowns, plus the YCMT "Portrait Peasant" pattern I already own. Not bad for a gift that I am certain they will love.

Next up after the dresses is the Reversible Crayon Apron. I'm tentatively planning to mix stash and new fabrics for this one, as my collection of colorful calico has been depleted by my oldest daughter. I'm proud to say that she's learning to sew, too! 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Before, After and Before Again

I was planning to post before and after pics of my newly spiffed-up crafting corner. But I got as far as the spiffing up and started crafting right away. So, once again, the area is a "before," not an "after," albeit without the pacifiers, dolls and other assorted goodies the younger children left behind.

I had planned to start making teacher gifts using the You Can Make This freebie "Hanging Holiday Star" pattern. And I still will. As it turns out, embroidery is not as easy as it appears. Mine will need a little more work before becoming gift-worthy. Just in case my technique never does quite get up to snuff, I have been puttering with a no -embroidery adaptation of the pattern. 

As I puttered happily, however, I found my thoughts returning to the children and their gift wants and needs. So, I decided to start "where the heart is," with gifts for my two youngest girls. Here's what I see under the tree for them:
  • new nightgowns (to be gifted Christmas Eve) made from the YCMT "Portrait Peasant Tops and Dresses" pattern I already own. The pic above shows them in the dresses I already made from this pattern.
  • "faux" American Girl dolls with haircuts (our hairstylist already volunteered) and nightgowns to match theirs
  • more clothes for their dollies, time permitting (the Easy Fit Pants pattern I already have has some, and I hope to make a few "Twirls for Girls" skirts for both gifts and donations)
  • reversible crayon aprons (my "gift" YCMT pattern for participating in this contest)
  • angel costumes (my six-year-old's request), also from the "Portrait Peasant" pattern
  • chef hats to match the crayon aprons
  • interesting cooking gear (thrift store) and cake mixes, etc. (grocery store) to complete the "chef" theme
At this point, this is definitely a wish list. TIme and budget will help determine how many become reality. 

I made a good start this afternoon by cutting out a nightgown for my youngest daughter and her doll, using fabric from my stash and the pattern I already own. And it looks like I'll have plenty of flannel left for the second daughter/dolly duo. My husband has promised to take all five children to the aquarium tomorrow, so I should be able to get some serious sewing done then.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm one of the "Thrifty 50"!

I would have started blogging sooner if I could have thought of something to say. But now I do have something, and I am *very* excited about it. The "You Can Make This" Web site is sponsoring a contest to help and inspire those of us with long gift lists and low bank balances to make our own gifts. Fifty crafty folks were selected to participate, and I was among them. So cool! I can't wait to get started.

The first order of business, I've decided, is taming the black hole known as the craft area. It's in my bedroom, so the crafting stuff tends to get mixed in with the toys, clothes and other items that land there, too. More on this later . . . and maybe before and after pics, too.