Sunday, December 26, 2010

Zippy Wallet

The other day a dear friend on Facebook reminded me of this wonderful project from a great  tutorial.  Called the Zippy Wallet, 'Noodlehead' has created the classic little thing that actually has a chance of being made AND of being useful.

I implied to my friend that I would make her one so I got out the scraps from making the Girls' harnesses and this is what I came up with:

I don't think this little gem is going to my friend as it is just the right size to hold essential items like a little cash, a credit card and a driver's licence.  Also, this plays into my undeclared resolution to stop lugging a big purse everywhere I go and return to using my Car-go carrier for the just-in-case items I lug around on a daily basis.

Besides which, I don't think she would like one made out of scraps so I will dig out some virgin fabric for her.  Right?

I hope your Christmas was a good one.  Mine turned out a little differently than I thought it would because the smoked turkey from Sweet Sadie's that I had ordered got sold to someone else!!!  Paul and I ended up doing doing a Jewish Christmas with Chinese takeout food and movie watching.  After all, the day is not about killing  yourself over the stove but about enjoying family.

Alex and the Girls were very happy that Paul was home!

Gifts Part 1

If you need some inspiration on gifts for those you missed this holiday season watch this video clip by Ben Stein for CBS Sunday Morning.  I am humbled by its simple message even with the trashy ad you need to 'enjoy' first.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creativity Challenge

Last year about this time the Seams Possible ASG neighborhood group issued a challenge for each of its members to create something using their birth month as the inspiration.

I am a June baby so my inspiration was to use roses, pearls and the month itself as my inspiration.

The project was not due until this past November and, I must admit, I waited until almost the last minute to produce something.

It turns out that I had signed up for a landscape quilt class at the quilt festival and I convinced myself that I could turn it into something to meet the challenge.

This is what I produced:

Does it look like June to you?

Here's the back story.

In my family we moved lock, stock and barrel out to the beach on the May long weekend and stayed until Canadian Thanksgiving in October.

Our place was up on Georgian Bay where frosty mornings in June are not unusual.  Heck, I was even born on one!

View Larger Map

Although we acted like it was summer, summer really didn't happen July.

We put the sailboat on the beach, unpacked the sand chairs and generally convinced ourselves it was summer.

But it wasn't summer thus my picture of a lovely day at the beach with a raging hail storm reminding us that Mother Nature has a sense of humor.

I haven't figured out what to do with this creation but it does make me smile.

Construction notes:
  • The background was fused to some Peltex which was also fused to some plain cotton.
  • The details were fiddly cut from some conversational prints representing Nantucket, glued down with a glue stick and the edges free motion stutched down with invisble thread.
  • The rain was primarily free motion quilted with black metallic thread.
  • The grass was some free motion work with greenish thread.
  • The hail stones are little pearls I sewed on to the surface.
  • The black stuff is Misty Fuse...not as effective as I thought it would be as representing a gloomy day but close.

The countdown to Christmas was fully in evidence today when I ran out to pick up a couple of things.  There were lines at all the check out counters except for Petsmart (no idea why as the store was packed) and there was a general air of desperation on many faces. 

My favorite incident was when I stopped for lunch and there was a table full of elementary school kids with one one lone male adult.  It appears that several mothers decided to do some shopping and this lone Dad was tasked with keeping the kids busy of a couple of hours at a local restaurant.

That guy gets my vote as parent of the year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


One of the things I really enjoy about this season are the ASG neighborhood groups holiday celebrations.

The food is always amazing on both sides of the equation... some is sublimely delicious while some is inedible...or at least for me.

I seem to split my contributions three ways... a quick pick from the supermarket, something from Sweet Sadies or something I actually make from scratch.  This year the quick pick was salad, Sweet Sadies contributed Cajun Rice or potato salad and I made batches of fudge...yum!

Besides the food there are gift exchanges or swaps.

One group decided on an unusual gift swap this year.  Each of us had to made a tote bag from our stash.  The gift was to be wrapped in a brown paper bag.  I made a gray/gold/pink tote lined in grey silky stuff with a zippered pocket inserted into the facing.  No picture but it was pretty basic if a little on the small side.

A dear friend chose it and I hope she gets a lot of use out of it.

I, on the other hand, picked a bag that included a huge tote made from upholstery scraps.  

Pretty neat, isn't it?

There are a couple of large pockets on the inside and it could carry a whole queen size quilt if needed.  Look closely at that flower embellishment...that button is fabulous!

Thanks, Donna!

The other type of gifting that goes on is the gift exchange.

In this one each person either chooses a gift from the pile or steals a gift from someone else.  I put together a pile of wool roving, felted coasters, a felted sweater with a lot of texture and a homemade sachet of moth repellent.  It ended up in the hands of a woman who does a lot work with wool and wool felt so I hope she can use everything.

I scored big time.  I was the eighteenth person to draw out of 19(I think) and by then most of the big loot was frozen... like the pile of red silk bits and beads...oh, how covetted that package!  The only thing that I saw that I was interested in was a book from the Kyoto Costume Institute called Fashion.. A History from the 18th to the 20th century.  It is 735 pages packed with all sorts of information about fashion.  There are several editions available and this is the one I received:

I have already spent many hours reading the easily digestible essays and the little bits of explanation for particular items of clothing.  Two of the things I have learned is that stomachers really have nothing to do with stomachs and that corsets have always been, and will continue to be, instruments of torture.  Can you imagine yourself stuffed into a corset that had 182 whale bones as its support?

Today was my last holiday related get together for this season when I made a brief appearance at a friend's open house.  Someone brought some cakey lemon balls that were infused with a lemon liquer.  I love citrus flavored food but these were way over the top.  I must try to make some of these for myself so I can indulge without worrying about getting pulled over for driving while drunk.  ;-)

Time for me to start getting back to normal eating and gathering some things for Paul.  We will be eating a Sweet Sadie's turkey for Christmas Day and I am so looking forward to that as they do a mean turkey.  Maybe I can persuade him to make some of his fabulous scalloped potatoes?

Hint, Hint :-)    

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mardi Gras Socks

In my on-going effort to conquer the 'wrap and turn heel' of many knitted socks constructed from the toe up, I attempted another pair after the lacy pair from a couple of weeks ago.

I still don't think I can make a perfect 'wrap and turn' heel but I do like these colorful socks!

I am calling them my Mardi Gras socks just because of the colors not that I will be visiting Mardi Gras anywhere in this lifetime.

I hope you are not too frentic with last minute shopping and that you take some time to enjoy the season...singing out loud with all the carols even if you can't carry a tune in bucket (like me!),  wasting electricity on silly outdoor light displays and having a good cry over some of the sappy Christmas movies that are all over the television these days.

I know I will!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Feeling Broke

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was feeling broke this Christmas.

Well, I still feel broke but my my big idea ran into a little problem.

The little felted wallets from a couple of days ago did not stretch as far as I thought they would.

After giving out a bunch to the Knitting Club kids and holding back some for some friends I realized that I would have nothing left for the Workshop Houston kids.

I had been told that nothing was necessarybut I still felt I needed to give them a little something.

My new big idea started here:

and ended here:

Essentially I took a bit of canvas, covered it in arcylic craft paint, fused some random flower and bird fabric cut-outs to it, added some prepared angelina fibers, covered everything with some glittery polyester organza, randomly free motioned a bunch of metallic thread swirls all over, added some batiked fabric as a backing (only on half of them because I forgot to do this step on half of them), used the serger to cut everything out and finish off the edges.  To finish it off I used a leather punch to drill a hole into each for a hanging ribbon.


Waiting for the paint to dry was the longest step while cutting out the fabric shapes was the most tedious.  All in all it took about an hour of real work to put together about 25 ornaments/bookmarks.

When I went to the holiday party this afternoon, my hands really began to hurt, so I left them on the drinks table for people to pick and choose their favorites. I have no idea if they even liked them or if they ended up all on one pesron's tree or bookshelf becuase the pain meds are just now beginning to kick in.

Love them or hate them I am done with creating things for this holiday...

Maybe not ...

I have this quilt just begging to be quilted and to go to a new home...


I wonder if I can get it done in time?

With enough pain meds anything is possible :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wish Lists

There are a couple of groups that I work with who are looking for items I KNOW we have in our stashes of stuff.

You know, the stuff we bought with great expectations or those big green garbage bags that have been given to us when someone is downsizing their household.

Well, if you have any of the following items, I have a good home for them:

Knitting supplies:
  • yarn - all kinds but most especially simple worsted weight varieties
  • needles - all sizes but most especially looking for really, really large ones like 35s
  • crochet hooks - all sizes but smaller is better for fixing dropped stitches
  • scissors - blunt nosed or in a sheath
  • stitch counters
  • stitch markers
  • measuring tapes
  • simple patterns for smaller projects
  • yarn needles - metal or plastic
Sewing supplies:
  • sewing machine needles - 90/14 seems to work best but all sizes are needed
  • serger thread - all colors and types
  • fabric - one yard cuts or larger of clothing type fabrics like denim, gabardines etc.
  • hand sewing needles
  • all types of fasteners - velcro, buttons, zippers, snaps, draw strings etc.
  • interfacing - fusibles light to mid-weight
  • pattern books/catalogs
  • unused patterns for garments like skirts, pants, tops,jackets, home dec... SIMPLE
  • lining - light weight in one yard cuts or larger
  • rotary cutting supplies
  • sewing related magazines and books
  • pattern making paper
  • pillow forms
All of these will be put to good use with the thanks of many middle school students.

Let me know here or by email at anjoae at msn dot com if you can help us out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feeling Broke at Christmas....

...I am not really broke but this year I'm trying to be a little more frugal than in prior years. 

After all, I have to invest in a new laptop ....the screen on this one keeps falling off and, despite my best efforts, there is a bug in my system that will not let me load any security updates...or I could quit my internet playing cold turkey. NOT! 

And before you ask... yes, I can access the internet on my iPod and on my phone but teeny tiny screens and keyboards are not condusive to semi-regular blog updates.

Back to business.

So I am feeling broke this year but I have several obligations that I feel I need to fill.

First the knitting club kids should get something.  If them, then so should the sewing kids.  If them then a couple of dear friends who keep me from slitting my wrists.  And last but by no means least there are a couple of folk out there who will give me something and I must reciprocate because they are just such good people.

Where am I going with this?

Well, note the first layer of the list above... the knitting club kids.  I really want to give them something for being such good sports the last few months.  The last time I did this I made them knitting bags and gave them needles, scissors, needles and stitch markers.

Since they already have bags (courtesy of an unknowing quilt guild member) I needed to come up with something else AND not spend money.

It turns out that I have a bunch of old woolen sweaters that I will never wear again, if I ever wore them in the past.

Taking a cue from someone who makes great felted accessories I came up with twenty of these little gems:

The process couldn't have been easier:
  1. run old, wool sweaters through one hot wash cycle.
  2. lay them on a fat surface and let them may take a day of two.
  3. cut up the sweaters discarding the cuffs, waist bands, button plackets and anything else that is not a nice flat piece of felted wool.
  4. cut up the flat peieces into rectangles like 5" by 15" or whatever size will work with your felted wool.
  5. roughly fold the rectangles into envelopes with about one quarter of the length as the flap and the rest as the body of the envelope.
  6. cut a slit in the flap as a button hole.
  7. sew up the sides of the body of the envelope on the machine or by hand.
  8. run through another hot wash and also through the dryer to felt your wool even more to hide the stitching and to generally beef up your fabric.
  9. sew a button on the body of the envelope to match the button hole.
  10. steam press to get any kinks out that may developed in the wool.
  11. enjoy your creativity!
These can be used to hold other gifts like journals, candy and gift certificates or can be used to store credit cards, sewing supplies, knitting supplies, make-up, love letters and other assorted paraphenalia that gathers in our brief cases and purses.

That's my christmas gift making for this year.  I think I will give each of the kids one with some seasonal candy in them while the adults may just have to make do with a new little pockets for their own stuff.

If you are stuck on a gift with a little handmade flair try these out. 

BONUS:  I got to use some up some of my stash of old sweaters and some buttons that were looking for a good home. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...

...not really but my four legged buddies are not happy with this chilly weather. 

Even with their coats on they are very reluctant to do their business outside.  I've noticed an increase in 'accidents' around the house and it is getting old fast when I have to get down on my knobby knees to clean up after them.

Right now, though, all is right with the world as I just cleared out the Thanksgiving decorations from Sweet Sadie's to install the Christmas ones which means a BBQ flavored quilt is now available for their sleeping comfort.

Yes, there really are three dogs under this quilt.


that's Alex wondering if it would be worth his while to get out from under the quilt to see what I am doing with the camera.

I don't have the heart to switch this smelly quilt with a freesh one just to get the smelly one into the washing machne.  I think it can wait a day ot two .  After all, its not smelly to me and I could use some down time from their 'loving' antics.

I hope your first night of Hanukah has gone well and that the run-up to the big day..Chistmas, that is...has not worn you out already.

I have a few projects that need to be completed within the next 24 hours for a couple of functions I will be attending so I better get back to the grindstone/sewing machine!