Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Don't you hate it when you compose a really nice post and then blogger eats it? That happened to me last night, after I wrote about how grateful I was for my first swap. However, today I have something even more important to be grateful for: my Vietnam adoption agency got licensed. WOO-HOO! We've been waiting three months for this and now it's official. We are adopting from Vietnam and our paperwork was sent off to the Vietnamese embassy today. We're still probably about six months away from bringing home Samuel, but we're officially in line now. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my depression and who have been praying for us. Now, back to the swap...
What I wrote last night was that now I understand why all you bloggers get so excited about swaps and gush over the gifts you receive. I had been avoiding joining any because it seemed like another thing to add to my to-do list. But then Rebecca at Thrifty Goodness organized a craft supplies swap, and I decided this would be a good way to share my stash with someone who might appreciate it. I got paired with Lucy of Sweet Repeats. You can read about all the stuff I sent her here.
When I received my package from Lucy on Monday, I realized I have a lot to learn about swaps. Not only did she beautifully wrap and arrange all the stuff, but I was pampered from the first moment I opened the box with the smell of yummy potpourri she included. She also wrote a really nice personal note.
Lucy was so incredibly generous, I was really moved to tears. She not only included all kinds of stuff from her stash but went out and bought me new stuff, including this book that I have been trying to buy on half.com for a month! You must be psychic, Lucy! (I am also coveting Erika Knight's other book for babies, for anyone who needs ideas for Christmas gifts for me.)
She really tailored my gifts to me, including papercraft stuff because I'm just getting into that and the book and yarn to knit for a little one. I was so touched that a stranger (well, we're not strangers anymore!) would do this for me. I guess I'm really starting to get the generosity and caring that exists on this craft blog community.
Then, as if that weren't enough, I got a package later in the afternoon from Rebecca, who sent me two very cool vintage knitting books, a thrifted dish towel (in the background) and some knit scrapbooking decorations. Thank you so much, Rebecca.
For the record, here's all the stuff from Lucy:
- Simple Knits for Little Cherubs book. My favorite!
- Two skeins yellow Bernat cotton yarn. Very soft.
- Three pair knitting needles (including some sizes I didn't have)
- Five pieces pink and floral fabric
- Cute welcome sign
- Embroidery thread
- Vintage seam binding and wooden buttons
- Roll of pink ribbon
- Wooden Santa ready for painting
- Wool roving (I've always wanted to try felting with that)
- Creative cards
- Laura Ashley gift tags, stickers and other ephemera for scrapbooking
- Yummy smelling Fresh Scents stuff
- Recipe for Pumpkin Bread with Coconut Pudding (I love pumpkin. Doesn't that sound good?)
So today I am grateful for so many things. Our long-awaited good news, to be sure, but also for all the people, here and in blogland, who have been cheering for me during this hard time. And to Lucy and Rebecca for their generosity and for introducing me to the beautiful practice of swapping. Don't be surprised if I sign up for the Vintage Christmas Swap...
Sunday, October 29, 2006
One of the projects on my to-do list this weekend was to repot out houseplants. Some jade plants had gotten too big for the study, so I transferred them to larger pots and moved them to the top of the armoire in the living room (since they don't have to be watered very often, they can be up high). I transfered the plant from the top of the armoire to one of the light green pots for the study/nursery and planted the flower from my cousin's daughter Katie's party into the other. Meanwhile, my neighbor was outside pruning back our dead summer flowers, so I helped her with that. She has the real green thumb. Finally, my big herb pot, which unfortunately froze a few weeks ago before I brought it inside, was divided into three smaller pots to see if they'd make it through winter on the windowsill (see above: oregano, chives and sage. Alas, all my basil froze.)
That led to this craft project. After cleaning all the crap out of the windowsill, I realized it would be nice to set these pots on place mat or something. When nothing I owned fit, I decided to make my own. This fabric is left over from the valence in the study (which will hopefully soon be changed to something more nursery-like). I love the fall colors, which match our kitchen/living room, and the leaf pattern. Fall is my favorite season and the above scripture quote has always inspired me. (We had it at our wedding, in fact.)
Anyway, so I stitched this up, using the thrifted wool blanket as a backing. Just turned under the edges and hemmed, then decided to "machine quilt" along the lines in the pattern. It only took a half hour and will protect that sill under the plants. It feels good to have all our living things ready for the upcoming winter.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I've decided to start my posts with a spiritual/inspirational quote (an idea I borrowed from Juju Loves Polka Dots, who goes more for funny and quirky quotes). Since today I'm posting my Girlfriend Scarf, I thought I'd share a quote on women friends. Sue Monk Kidd is better known as the author of The Secret Life of Bees, but before she was a bestselling fiction novelist, she wrote some great feminine spirituality nonfiction. I also love When the Heart Waits.
Back to knitting: This is called a "Girlfriend Scarf," because you're supposed to get together with all your knitting girlfriends and share your leftover yarn, then knit a scarf lengthwise using a variety of different yarns. While I was going through my yarn stash to prepare for my Craft Supplies Swap, I realized that I had a lot of cool yarns in turquoise and purple (above). So I knit this scarf (below) sort of as a stash-buster.
I guess that's not much of a Girlfriend Scarf, if it was all my own yarn. I have a lot of wonderful girlfriends; unfortunately none of them knits. But this scarf also could be somewhat symbolic of the self-imposed isolation I've been having a bit lately. Usually when something goes wrong, I run to my friends for help. With our adoption problems, I have had a really hard time reaching out, except to one or two people. But even though I'm not talking to them every day, a group of my women friends are praying for me everyday (at noon). So in some ways, even though the yarn is all mine, I feel like they're there in the stitches somehow.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Why am I so drawn to things shaped like fruits and veggies? I don't know, but I am. It's funny how you learn what you like. After going to the Sandwich antiques fair with my friend Karen a few times, she noticed I loved furniture with little drawers. Well these little jelly holders (I think that's what they are) were so cute and I got them for $1. The strawberry has some chips in the paint, but the grape is perfect. Can you imagine then on a brunch buffet filled with jam? The crocheted potholders were in perfect condition and $2 for two.
These painted Easter eggs weren't the only clue the family was Slovak (some are wooden, two are blown eggs). There also was some traditional Slovak costumes, some books, and some photos of the gentleman in some Slovak organizations. This tea towel was hand stitched. The eggs were $1, so was the towel.
Finally, there was a bag of sewing stuff, although a lot of it was thread (on wooden spools though). There were a few buttons, three metal thimbles, some needle cards and this adorable cherry applique. Then there was this wooden thing. It's about 6-8 inches high. Does anyone have a clue what it is? I also got two pair of earrings ($1 each) and another pair of pinking shears (Henckles, in a box, $2).
A very successful estate sale, I would say. And would you believe I got this all home on my bike?
Monday, October 23, 2006
Then I did the lining for my purple purse that I knit and felted last year. I found this satin pajama for $1 at the Louisville Goodwill that matched perfectly. Once again, I used the pocket from the nightshirt for my pocket in my purse. This turned out nice and is nice and silky inside!
I sent off my first-ever swap package today, for a craft supplies swap organized by Rebecca at Thrifty Goodness. I put together a nice collection of stuff for Lucy at Sweet Repeats. It was good to empty some of my stash. Hopefully she will enjoy the loot.
There was a beautiful post on Yarnstorm about winding yarn by hand here. I love how she collects artwork on knitting and her comments are always illuminating. Speaking of knitting art, check out this great vintage knitting photo on Woof Nanny's blog.
We're still waiting for good news on our adoption from our agency waiting to get its license. It's been a long road just to get to Step 1, and today is one of those days I feel like giving up. Hopefully the good news will come soon...
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Then a yard or two of an Asian red and black silk print and several yards of red moire taffeta (p9olyster), perfect for Christmas crafts. Then I got a bunch of decorator samples, about one foot square in a bunch of cute kiddie prints, hopefully for appliqueing on clothes or something. Love those little froggies.
Of course, when I went to work on felt purses the next day, none of these matched for lining the ones I was working on! That's the problem with buying fabric without a specific purpose in mind: You have to have quite a collection to have a good selection for what you need. That is why I swore I would stop buying craft supplies unless I had a specific purpose in mind. Of course, that means usually paying full price and lots of runs to Joann's and Michael's. I like thrifting for fabric and supplies, but with so little storage room, I hope I can find room to keep all these cool fabrics that I don't have any idea what I'm going to use them for. How I envy all of your with your studios and craft rooms!
The sweater had to be brought back home, finished, and then sent because I could not remember how to do the "fake grafting" described in Stitch 'N' Bitch. I mattress stitched the sides of the arms, but then in the armhole where I had to attach top-to-top instead of side-to-side, I couldn't remember how to do that nicely. And I couldn't find it anywhere on the internet! I'll put it here as a reminder for future: Starting on the right, you come up inside the "V" in the botton, then go down inside the V in the top, not pulling too tight. Repeat. So simple. Can't believe I forgot that. (I didn't love the yarn I used this for. It was something super soft, but too thin. Can't remember the name.)
I'm taking a break from baby stuff for awhile, even though I have two friends due in the next few months. I may just whip up hats for them (although they are both having boys, so maybe the bow hat won't work.) I worked on Sam's baby blanket while in Louisville, but I was itching to start a new project when I got home, so I cast on one of those "Girlfriend Scarves" where you use up your stash with different yarns. Will post pictures of it soon.
Friday, October 20, 2006
While in Lexington my understanding brother-in-law arranged for me to stop at the popular thrift shop near the college called "Jonk." It was really funky, lots of cool stuff, but marked up for non-thrifters. I think my guide is aprons: If they're a dollar or two, it's my kind of place. If they're $6-8, it's a fun place to browse but not buy. The aforementioned brother-in-law also stopped at a garage sale for me, where I bought three small pieces of non-vintage fabric for 50 cents. The blue gingham reminds me of my room when I was a girl.
The cool Japanese fabric is from a nice little bag brought as a gift from my globetrotting sister-in-law, who travels all over for work and sometimes for fun. She just got back from Japan, was in Greece last month and next month goes to New Zealand. I haven't caught the Japanese craft bug yet, but I did realy love this fabric. Thanks, Trish!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I had googled and found a list of thrift stores, then mapquested them and set out walking. There were several funky secondhand clothes shops (although several on my list had closed. Lesson: Call first.) I got two dresses on clearance at a hip shop called Cherry Bomb. Most of their stuff was over my price limit, but the flower power dress (below, left) and cute pink/green dress (below, center) were on clearance for $2 each. The left one is clearly labeled maternity but it doesn't look like it (this was back when women only gained 15-20 pounds!) so I may wear it. The second is too small, but I loved the fabric so will cut it up.
My most successful stop was actually my first, just a few blocks from my hotel, which I had spied en route to a happy hour the night before. Turned out to be one of the cleanest and most orderly St. Vincent de Paul stores I have ever seen, and I told the cashier that. She seemed very proud. I got the vintage pink floral sheet there ($2) and these amazing '60s curtains (below) also for $2. Is that print fun or what? They are trimed with brown ruffles. Those will have to go. Not sure what to use this for, but I liked it. Something kitchen-y, although it doesn't match my kitchen.
Another vintage find from St. Vinnie's is a set of six of these Christmas napkins (below). The print is so fun and I love that it combines red, green, and pink. Who would have thought those would work together. These were also $2.
I also found some nice baby clothes there: pair of baby Gap overalls ($1), a cute new-looking outfit with a barn on it ($2) and a funny cow book (75 cents). I'll post this stuff over on my adoption blog soon.
One of my other stops was a totally funky store whose style I loved, but whose prices I didn't. Clearly the owners and I would be competing for similar stuff at garage sales. But I can't see myself paying $8 for an apron, when I just got one for $1 last week at an estate sale--and it was nicer. Still, it was fun to browse. I was temped by some vintage fabric, but then I realized for three pieces, it would have been over $20 so I put it back.
On the way home I accidentally ran across a Goodwill, so I stopped and found two little boys' Nautica swimming trunks, each 50 cents. In the PJ bin, I found a satin nightshirt with the perfect colors to line my purple felted bag I knit last year.
My feet hurt at the end of the day, but how often so I have a whole afternoon to thrift at such a leisurely pace? It was a really nice gift to myself after two days of meetings. Tomorrow I'll share more of my loot from Lexington.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Here are the Butler siblings: (from left) Tom, Trish and my husband Edmund, pictured on the steps of a building at Transylvania University, where Tom's wife, Kremena teaches English (and is also almost eight months pregnant). She, by the way, is also a crafter, mostly applique and quilting. The last photo is of her with her quilting and me showing off a little white hat I just finished for their baby. It's from the book Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It's got a cute I-cord bow that's threaded through a row of eyelet. It's my new favorite baby hat.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
1. Find an old wool sweater. It works best if it's 100% wool, but some blends work if it's a high wool content. Look for cool stripes or colors.
2. Take sweater, put it in a pillowcase or lingerie bag (to protect your washer hose) and throw it in your washer. Run it through a cycle with hot water. If you have a top-loading washer, you can pull it out and check how it's doing.
3. For more delicate felting projects I don't put it through the spin cycle, which means I have to do this at the home of someone who has a top-loading washer. Mine is front loading so I just run it through the whole cycle, spin and all.
4. Repeat #2 if you can still see the knitted stitches. Most of the time I do two cycles.
5. Let dry. Ta-da! You have a felted sweater, ready to be cut up on and turned into anything you can imagine.
So, now that that's taken care of, I want to mention some cool things I've seen lately on others blogs: I really want to buy this crafster book. And I'd love to make this Banana pumpkin bread. I have a bunch of my grandfather's old ties (will show you an cool project I did with them later) but I also like this bag with ties. And since I love all things autum-related, someday I'm going to knit this Knit acorn. But I really love these Advent calendars and the Perpetual calendar with cookie sheet. How creative is that?
Tonight I just bought six of these fun Halloween things. Mom and Amy, don't click! I'm giving you one as a gift. Can you believe I just bought $45 worth of those?! I was thinking it was funny that I thrift $4 dresses, but then blow money on little gifts from Crate and Barrell. But I guess it's because I do thrift that I can afford to do this every once in awhile.
I'm off to Kentucky, first for a few days of fun in Lexington and then for a work conference in Louisville. I hope to do some knitting, thrifting and maybe even a post or two from there. If not, see you next week.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Ta-da! It's a purse!
I made this without a pattern. I cut the cardigan up then played with the pieces until I got this. The main section of the bag is made from the back, folded in half and trimmed to be angled on the sides. The pocket is a piece from the front, including part of the button placket, so the pocket can be closed with these two buttons. Clever, hey?
Here's the back: that's where the reindeer pattern shows. The handles were made from the ribbing all around the bottom, each end of which has a piece of red placket on it. I folded it in thirds lengthwise, stitched it up and then reinforced it with zig-zag stitch.
The rest of it I handstitched, including this lining, made from one of my husband's old shirts. I cut it so the pocket on the front of the shirt became the inside pocket in the lining. Perfect size for a cell phone! I added the magnetic clasps.
It's a little bulky in some areas, but all in all I'm pretty proud of it. The Nordic-y style is not really me, so I may gift it to someone this Christmas. Or maybe someday I'll open an esty shop and sell some of these. Right now it's hanging on my closet door handle, where I can stop and admire it several times a day. You know how it is when you are so excited to finish something?
Since the sweater only cost $1 or $2 and the clasps another $2, my materials costs is next to nothing. It took me several hours on Saturday, then another one on Sunday. Still, a nice little creation, if I do say so myself!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
So whenever I see the words "Estate Sale" in the Craig's list ad, I get excited. Sometimes they're not true estate sales, but on Saturday I went to one that was. It was in a small two-flat in the very Polish part of Chicago. Biking down Milwaukee Avenue, all the signs were in Polish and people walking by were not speaking English. There weren't a whole lot of people there, so I had lots of time to check out everything. Things were definitely priced to move. There was a gorgeous three-piece Art Deco bedroom set for $600 that I would plunked down money for if I had a bedroom that needed furniture. Gorgeous. And those metal drinking cups? I think they're collectible, which explains why a set of 8 were marked $40. But everything else was just a couple bucks at most.
Clearly this woman sewed and crocheted. I didn't find anything handmade linens, but I did score two plastic bins of her sewing stuff, with a bunch of needle cases, trim (red rick rack!), a Sucrets tin that had a tatting needle in it, a vintage loom in the box, and a tin with a half-completed project with a kind of embroidery I unfortunately don't know how to do. And the best part: a pair of pinking sheers, which I was planning to pay a pretty penny for new one of these days. Yea!
In the bedroom, I found this nifty apron made from the cutest apple and pear fabric. (Notice the model still has one pant leg rolled up from biking!) Cost: $1. Also notice I'm holding one of those pie crust untensils (what is that called?), with a red wooden handle. I could have used one of those when I was making apple crisp last week. Also $1.
There also was all this old sheet music (some of it for the accordian. Yup we're in Polish town!). I think some of that is collectible, so I decided to try to buy some and resell them on ebay. We'll see how that goes. If it's not successful, it was only a $1 investment for all five of them, and I could use them for background paper for scrapbooking or something. I liked the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer one.
On the way home I stopped at a little rummage sale and saw this adorable fabric trim. Are those pleats to die for or what? The woman said it was for trimming your kitchen shelves, but I think I''ll use it in some girly-girl something. Don't know yet, but for 50 cents, I couldn't pass it up.
So another very successful shopping Saturday. I spent less than $20 and really felt like I got to know Mrs. Sokelski (something like that: I saw it written in one of her books). I hope she's in a better place and happy to see her sewing notions going to someone who will use them.
I'm coming down the home stretch with the baby sweater for my sister-in-law, who we will be visiting next weekend. I just have one sleeve left, which I'm sure I can finish tonight. Then I need to find some cute (but not too cute--that's not her style) buttons to finish it off. I didn't love this yarn. It was cheap, but at least very soft. And I'm sure their daughter will only wear it a few times before she grows out of it. She's due December 3. I'm trying to be OK with the fact that they're having the first grandchild on that side, even though we've been trying for two years. I'm not jealous, so much as sad. :(
Don't my flowers look great in the background? The windowboxes turned out well this year, even if I was late getting them in (because of our porch debacle.)
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Even though I write for a living and my stuff has been published all over for about 15 years, this was pretty exciting for me. I've never designed anything before and shared it with others. And I guess, deep down, there's a part of me that wonders, "Could I do this for a (part-time) living some day?" There's a dream. Being a managing editor isn't that creative these days, which if probably why I've started crafting like crazy again. I need to get my creativity out somehow.
There are some other great patterns in For the Love of Yarn, including a really funky purse decorated with knitted spirals, which I'd like to try. Someday I hope to be able to knit something as complicated as this peace jacket. I also was inspired by this article about freeform knitting (though I haven't done any of it yet.)
This online 'zine was created by Allison, whose blog happens to be the first knitting blog I ever read. Allison is expecting her first child, and all her loyal readers have been excitedly following all her new ventures. Thanks, Allison, for giving me the share this pattern with more than the dozen people who read my blog. (For the Love of Yarn has an email list of over 2,000.)
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
I find myself wondering how different prints will end up felting, so when I saw this 100% wool Christmas one, I thought it would be worth it just to throw it in the wash and see how the trees, the moon and other designs look felted. Who knows? It may be a mess, or it may inspire some creative Christmasy crafting. The sweater is lying on what I think is a wool blanket in a cool soft sage green color, which matches our future nursey. I've washed it once already and it didn't seem to felt much. I'll give it another round and see. It was pricey, at $3.50.
This tablecloth made the whole trip worthwhile. It's a super soft cotten, probably from years of washing. It had a few stains but they were lightened considerably with OxyClean. Isn't it cute? It's square so doesn't fit any table I have right now, and it needs a good ironing, but I really love it. Do you think it's vintage? I think so. Best part: It was 90 cents.
Finally, I picked up a few things for fabric. I don't sew much, so I don't know what I was thinking, but I may need to line all those felted purses I hope to make out of all those wool sweaters I keep buying. The blue polka dot is an Eddie Bauer valence in a light blue denim with embroidered polka dots. The Hawaiin print is a napkin, and the strawberries are some fabric. I think it was approximately $2 for all three of them.
OK, no more sweaters until I make something out of at least one of them I've already bought. Scouts honor.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Of course, today it was 80 degrees.
Tonight I will spend the evening "frogging" many rows (of 100-plus stitches) of the baby sweater for my sister-in-law. I was really cranking last night during "Desperate Housewives" and "Without a Trace." Then I discovered a dropped stitch. Despite being a perfectionist in other areas of life, I'm inclined to leave a boo-boo or two in my knitted items, although this was pretty glaring and it is a gift. So I'm slowly taking it out.
Btw, it took me forever to figure out why it's called "frogging"--because you rip it, rip it. Get it? My mom calls it "tinking"--knit spelled backward. Either way, it's not very productive, is it? Kind of like the whole adoption process: one step forward, two steps back.