December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas...Nearly There!!

Aine's Angel
Sounds like a lot of America is under a blanket of white. I am hoping my brother, who has to work in Portland till 5pm today (bah humbug boss!) can get to Bend tonight on the bus that runs between them. I'd hate both my brother and my folks to have Christmas on their own.

Ill fated Coffee Press Cozies
My last few gifts are finished, though the coffee press cozies I made for my friend here in Ballina, while looking very cute, do not fit!! In the picture here the xtra large sized cozy only barely fits on the standard size press...and I forgot to make a little notch for the spout, so I tucked it under it and folded the bottom up, eek! I took measurements for her two coffee presses and made the cozies to fit perfectly. Of course I forgot to take in the measurements of the thickness of the battings I used and they fell short by about an inch and a half...so I am giving them to her with some big safety pins till I can take them back and pretty them up with an extra fabric sleeve and velcro to bridge the gap after Christmas. I used up the very last of my insulbrite making them so will have to replenish my stock on my next trip done. Got 6 potholders and 2 cozies with a yard, not bad!

Cushion Covers for MIL
I made lots of red things for Christmas this year, per request of recipients! Dave's mom requested some cushion covers this year, and she is an appreciative recipient of my handmade attempts, so I made these for her with pleasure. They look great on my red sofas with my thrifted Christmas quilt. A few years ago, after Christmas, my dad and I went to a Bend thrift shop that let us take any Christmas items we could stuff in a big brown paper sack for $5. I scored the quilt, a cute mug, some ornaments, some lit christmas villages for mom, and a ton of unused Christmas cards that I am still using!! Gotta love being able to get things at great prices while feeling like you are helping environment by recycling unwanted goods, and helping a charity by buying them. Only wish the charity shops were so numerous and huge here!!

Of course while I was pulling out batting scraps to use on the back of my cushion covers which I free motion quilted for a bit of thickness and texture, my girls had to get in on the action. If they are in the house, even if daddy is with them, I have given up on alone time...I just get on with what I need to do and let them hang out with me. I used to always want time alone at weekends to get stuff done, and to have a little mommy recharging time...I recharge while they are at school now (don't clean during my alone time, just visit, craft or run errands sans kids, cleaning is done in afternoons with kids helping and Aine is actually a great helper, Aisling, not quite there yet, lol!). Here are the designer and model of the newest fashions: batting dresses!! T
The Designer and Her Model Aisling and Her Batting Fashions!

I finished the kitties for the girls, no secrets for their handmade gifts this year. Aine wanted to paint the face of her kitty, and how could I resist? It was very hard to restrain myself from trying to make her do the perfect placements for eyes and whiskers. I did Aislings (on the right) for her, but Aine's has more character and she will be proud she did the face herself.
Girls Kitties

Our Christmas tradition is to bake cookies on Christmas Eve, so we are going to be starting that soon. We do sugar cookies, chocolate chips (have to have these for my Irish family or not allowed in door for Christmas!), pecan tassies and will try homemade marshmallows this year. Daddy will be doing his annual tiramisu tonight, yummmm! Might add some pics later, but the day hasn't started yet!!

Added later:
Here is our cooking so far today. Homemade marshmallows are YUMMMMMMMMMMMM. The pecan tarts turned out well too! On to the chocolate chips and sugar cookies.
Star Marshmallows and Pecan Tassies Leftover bits from star marshmallows...mmmmmm

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! See next week with some resolution thoughts and maybe a project or two??

December 19, 2008

Getting Lots Done!!

So much so that I am actually posting a new entry in less than a week!!!

I managed to get a treeful of birdie ornaments done in time to give to the ladies at our last patchwork group before the Christmas break. I like the way they turned out and kept a few for my own tree.
A Flock of Birdie Ornaments

I also had a knitathon last night, got on a roll till 2am finishing up bath scrubbies as teacher gifts... Tried to go all Martha Stewart on the presentation... I liked em! I gave the teachers some soap I got in Oregon this summer as well...hope they like them!
My fancy packaging for teacher gifts
Aisling's main teacher gift Knitted Scrubbies for teachers

I also finished 3 little elves I got as a kit when I visited Sweden 2 years ago. It is nice to clear out some of my boxes and get the few kits I have had for a while made and being used!! I think they are cute, might keep them and the soft trees out after Christmas, lol!!
Nisse/elves

Big excitement for me this week was receiving my angel from Kris in the Netherlands. Barbara hosted an angel doll swap and look what landed on my doorstep: this gorgeous angel with its windmill trim and wooden shoes. Not only that she spoiled me with chocolate, tea, some yummy fabrics , and a nice needle case with quilting needles.
Amazing Angel Swap goodies

And before I go....don't tell Cathi, but here is what "Dave" got her at the local lady who sells fabric (it is a pretty decent quilt shop for running out of her garage, despite crazy prices!!) How amazing he picked out just exactly the right poison green and cheddar orange civil war repros for her and all the little goodies she wanted to try that could fit in a stocking!! He also got her a new filofax there, she is forever trying to get herself organized!
Shhhhh! My stocking stuffers "Dave" got me!

December 15, 2008

A winner...and a loser...

Without further ado, the random number generator picked the number 11 which means Tracey has won the lovely sewing caddy kit!! Hope you enjoy it!! I'll get your address and try to send it out early this week.

The big loser this week: me!! Last week I was measuring my second pink Marilinda sock against the length of the first one and noticed a major problem...I forgot to do ALL of the cable stitches that are part of the pattern and were done on  the first sock. Don't know how I skipped it completely...geesh... I will be ripping it back to the first pattern repeat... I think I am going to cry. I know it isn't really easy to see, but when you look for it, it is obvious and I really want to fix it before I give the socks to my friend. Some friends think I should buy more of the pink yarn, but that would take weeks to order from the States and I don't really want to do this pattern twice in a row in pink...so a frogging I will go!
December 2008

The other project I wanted to show is an amazingly easy method for using up scraps of fabric and batting to make a two sided quilt!! A lady in our Wednesday morning patchwork group showed me a vintage quilting book with the method in it, but I could make any sense of it!! She was working on it during our group and I saw how it was done and it is so simple, and what a cool way to use up my small wool batting pieces I can seem to throw away!

You basically start with any rectangular or square based block and build from the center. I decided I am doing a Civil War repro side and a neutral side on my quilt and will do scrappy wonky log cabin blocks. I started with a 2 1/2  inch square quilt sandwich, then added 1 1/2 inch strips (CW repros on its side right sides together, neutral scraps on its side right sides together and sewed down the right side of the center square (so that would be 4 fabrics and one batting scrap sewn on that seam)). I flipped the two 1 1/2 inch strips out so right sides showed and stuffed little strips of scrap batting in between the strips... I tacked down the right side of the new strips I added and then continued adding on log cabin strips in the same method. When I got to 8 1/2 inches I stopped and tacked down the edges of the block...I will use natural muslin sashing to sew blocks together eventually. This method lets you use up small strips and scraps and small batting scraps and pieces and quilts as you go...so cool...and a two sided quilt at the end too... I am thinking this will be a favorite method for using up scraps and general quilt making in the future, we shall see!!
December 2008 December 2008
December 2008

If that makes no sense but you are interested in the concept, let me know if you want me to do a tutorial on the method...it is probably out there somewhere already, but this is the first time I've come across it and wanted to share!!

Well...I have been under the weather for days now, and am started to feel a bit better, so wanted to catch up on the blog before I fell asleep again!! Next week I hope to get some little gifties done for teachers and friends, and maybe a block or two for my new quilt. I miss crafting when I am under the weather!

December 8, 2008

Traditions....and 200th Post Giveaway!

December 2008
Once again I let time fly by without posting. We had an impromptu Thanksgiving meal with roast chicken instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes and carrots and green beans, a bit of stuffing and American style biscuits (i.e. bread not cookies, lol!!) and of course some yummy desserts (pecan tassies from a recipe from Kristin, a bought apple tart, and some kid and mommy-made Thanksgiving day sugar cookies). The kids had school and I went to our knitting stitch and bitch Thursday meetup, but after school and in between Aine's Irish dancing class I whipped up dinner (mind you I put the chicken in without starting the oven and lost 45 minutes of roasting time pushing dinner back!!). The kids loved making the cookies while watching the earthcam coverage of the Macy Parade!! We watched lots of balloons go by, but I missed the NBC commentary, lol, from my childhood. I had planned on skipping Thanksgiving, as it is just a regular day here, but an Irish acquaintance who had lived in the States was doing a big meal for friends and family and I felt guilty for not doing it myself and skipping a tradition the girls really love.  We have celebrated it the Saturday after the last few years with other American friends, but they have since move back to the States, and I like the idea of a toned down but still  special meal on the day, with one set of friends over maybe... I would like to keep the celebration alive for the girls!!

I have been working on a bunch of little projects for Christmas since last I updated. I finally got the binding on the tree skirt I started years ago. I also did a table runner for Christmas...
December 2008
I am also starting a tradition of one handmade gift each year for the girls, I am making another Tilda pattern from one of my books, this kitty needs eyes and a dress and her sister is now done, but unphotographed... They are made from tea-dyed muslin.
December 2008
I also have made some soft trees from this pattern and made one into an ornament for my patchwork group exchange, complete with little lights for the tree. The rest will just go on shelves around the house for decoration.
December 2008
We've got our tree up this weekend and the tree skirt finally in place!! I am hoping to get more Christmas decorations...I have been pretty Spartan with my decorations in years past, but would love to add some garland around the house, more quilts...I have a Jim Shore Santa I love, just wish they were easier to find here!!
December 2008
I love this quilt I found last Christmas in Sisters Oregon in an antique shop, nice hand quilting and I love that it is hanging off an old wooden spoon, it isn't antique but it is sweet.
December 2008
Aisling is afraid of Santa, but managed to get Aine and the big guy...December 2008

Another tradition I want to follow is the 200th Post Giveaway!!! I finally, after 3 years, got to my 200th post...not a prolific poster as you know!! I want to give away this gorgeous kit I got at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK. December 2008
It has all the fabrics and goodies for making a Quilter's Friend, a lovely organizer for threads, needles, pins, and projects!! Just leave a comment and I will draw a name out on Sunday December 14th. I just don't know when I will ever put this on my list to make and would rather someone else enjoy it!!

I have more crafty news but I will save it for another post...a very cool new quilt I am working on, and a knitting disaster...more on that later!