Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MmmCrafts Basics Felt/PDF Pattern Winners!

 MmmCrafts Basics image by Renae Bradley of Benzie Bazaar

Wow, thanks for playing everyone! Now y'all got excited about that Benzie Bazaar felt. I don't blame you, it's great felt to work with. Soft, substantial, with gorgeous colors. I love it! I'm making some needle books with it over the long turkey weekend.

So congratulations to the totallycompletelyrandom winners:
Louise and Lisa! You two, check your inbox for my email and get back to me.

Funniest comment goes to pinksuedeshoe:
"I am such a sucker for felt... in every color. I'm off to check out her shop right now! Also, since most giveaway comments are totally boring, I just want to let you know that I am making three pies plus stuffing and stuffed mushrooms for Thanksgiving and I can't wait to eat them. Especially the pies. :) "

MmmPie. Thanks for the laugh, Pink. Many thanks to Renae Bradley for the fantastic giveaway of the Mmmcrafts Basics felt collections! (sound of raucous applause)

I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful weekend full of thankfulness and family, whether you have the official holiday or not. I'll see you guys next week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MmmCrafts Basics felt collection! And a giveaway!

 photo by Renae Bradley, benziebazaar.etsy.com

(Thanks everyone! Comments are now closed!)

I was nicely invited by wool-blend felt purveyor, Renae Bradley, to curate a custom color selection for her etsy shop, Benzie Bazaar. I was very tempted to play and put together some pretty pretty colors just for the sake of color - which I love to do, people! However, it occurred to me that it would be much more practical to put together the ten felt colors I use the most in my patterns and projects. It's an array that would start anyone's felt stash off in the right direction. So here is my collection as photographed by Renae, MmmCrafts Basics, which can be found in the Guest Curator section of her shop.

image by Renae Bradley, benziebazaar.etsy.com

Benzie Bazaar offers 80 colors of beautiful wool-blend felts that are packaged with ever so much care. I know this for a fact because I've had some great experiences purchasing from her shop for my projects, and can say she is a swell person to boot! Not only that, she also offers international shipping, which is a lovely feature for all my readers outside the US who are having trouble finding a local source for wool felt.

As a nice holiday bonus, if you are one of the first nine to purchase the MmmCrafts Basics bundle from Renae, you'll also receive a coupon to my etsy shop for 10% off the price of any PDF pattern in my shop!

And did I mention the awesome giveaway? Two commenters will each win a combo prize pack:

The MmmCrafts Basics Color Collection
(ten 9x12 inch sheets of gorgeous wool-blend felt)
One PDF pattern of your choice from my shop

To enter the giveaway, leave one comment on this blog post, and I'll randomly choose the two winners next Tuesday! Whoo! Giveaways are fun.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kids' Crafternoon Giveaway Winners:

Yay! Now for the fun part.

Mary Beth and Chris, congratulations on winning one Kids' Crafternoon book a piece. I wish you lots of gluey, stringy, scissory, messy fun with your kids as we move into the holiday crafting season.

Mary Beth, please contact me with your information so I can get your book to you! Thanks for playing, everybody! If you'd like more chances to win free copies, be sure to check out the rest of the blog party:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kids' Crafternoon giveaway!

Comments are now closed! Thanks for participating!

I'm happy to be the third stop on the awesome Kids' Crafternoon blog tour to celebrate the two latest volumes released, Felting and Beading. You may have seen my post in July with an interview and a giveaway for the first two books in the series, Papercraft and Sewing.

The Kids' Crafternoon series is edited by DIY mom extraordinaire, Kathreen Ricketson, and published by Hardie Grant. They are written especially to school-age kids and contain a wide variety of crafts to appeal to any kid and any skill level. The projects were contributed by crafters all around the world, and I was so pleased to for my owl cards to be included in Papercraft.

Here are only some of our favorite projects from the latest two books:

 Bird of Paradise Earrings by Nicole Vaughan

 Woodland Beaded Cards by Sharon Baldwin

 Gamer Magnets by Lisa Tilse

 Lego Jewels by Nicole Vaughan

Dachshund Moneybox by Timothy Haugen

 Zakka Stash Box by Suzie Fry

 Designer Wallet by Claire Dollan

 Book Blanket by Christine Chitnis

I love the appealing large size and overall format of the books. They feature hand drawn diagrams, bright, colorful layouts and a wide spiral binding that allows the book to stay nicely flat while you are working from it. All patterns are included in the front of the books inside sturdy envelopes, and if you are like me, you'll be thrilled to know they are not printed on one ginormous sheet but are divided into quarter folded individual 12x18 inch sheets. Oh, yes. Thank you, Hardie Grant!

Speaking of Hardie Grant, they have generously provided a free copy of Felting and Beading for me to give away, one each to two lucky readers! All you need to do is leave one comment on this post and I'll randomly choose two winners on Friday. Be sure to follow the rest of the blog party for more chances to win and lots of project highlights.

The whole series of books are available for purchase at Booktopia.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We had to say goodbye to my lovely Aunt Violet this weekend. She passed away on November 3rd at the age of 87. She was my mom's much beloved big sister, but she took care of my mom more like a mother when she was young. I will always remember her vivacious personality and signature way of speaking. She had such an engaging voice and impeccable taste. She loved the color purple, abstract art and modern decor.

I always admired her clothes. I remember one time I happened to be staying at my mom's house at the same time as Violet. In the slumber party atmosphere that followed, we all agreed it was time to get our pajamas on. I threw on whatever mismatched t-shirt and sweats combo I had stuffed in my suitcase, but Violet emerged momentarily in flawlessly pressed and tailored menswear style pajamas with contrast piping.

Even though we've never lived in the same state and I didn't get to see her that often, she was always an inspiration to me of how to bless others through handcraft and sewing.

As a young teen she started sewing clothes for my infant mom, and she continued to do that until my mom was in her twenties. Even after Violet married and left home, she would buy fabric and make a pencil tracing of my mom's foot so she could buy her shoes and make her school clothes for the year.

She had a true servant's heart and was always sewing for others, and I will cherish the handmade pillow cases and blankets she gifted us with over the years. I was just looking at a baby blanket she made for us last night and thought it was machine quilted, but upon closer inspection I realized it was her hand stitching that was so small and regular.

When we gathered with the family for her funeral, I learned that she had been busy passing her love of sewing on to her grandchildren and also her great grandchildren, teaching them to sew stuffed bears for foster kids.

It's the kind of wonderful legacy I hope to leave behind myself. I'll miss you, Aunt Violet. I'll wear some purple today for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rapunzel hair recipe

Our witch and our Rapunzel had a lovely time. No handmade costumes this year, but some handmade hair. And the hair did get made on time, however, I recommend allowing more than an hour and a half to do it in. Which seems obvious, but I'm just addressing any fellow crazy procrastinators out there.

As I stood and contemplated the huge length of yarn on the floor, my daughter said maybe I should have just bought the pattern we saw at the store. I scoffed to myself. How hard can it be? Just a huge braid, right? Here's what I figured out:

Rapunzel hair recipe for kids:
Hugemongous one pound (16 oz) skein of yellow yarn
Two tall backed chairs, preferably heavy ones
Willing helpers (bribe with candy if necessary)
Spool of purple ribbon

Place the two chairs side by side but a few feet apart, the overall distance from the edge of one chair back to the other being the length of the hair you will need. Mine was about five feet. Enough to go from your Rapunzel's head to her feet, knowing that braiding will take up some length. You can always trim it if it is too long.

Roll several feet of yarn off and cut it free. You'll use this to make ties. Tape the end of the remaining skein of yarn to one of the chair backs and start winding the yarn around the backs of the chairs. Tight enough not to sag a lot, but not too tight or the chairs will begin to tip toward each other. Now keep doing this until your skein of yarn is empty. This will take some time. This is where your helpers come in. Give them the yarn, show them what to do, and check on them every once in a while.


Feed a yarn tie under and around all the strands on one end and draw it up tightly, knotting it.

Carefully use the scissors to cut completely through the other untied end of the loop. Then straighten it out on the floor so the tie is in the middle like this:

Now have one of your helpers sit on one half of the hair on the floor while you braid the other half. Divide the half you are working on into three equal bunches, and lay them out on the floor. Start crossing one bunch over at a time, and put it down, keeping the lengths of yarn separated. Pick up the next section, cross it over, put it down, and so on. Keep combing through the yarn with your fingers as you braid to keep it smooth. Tie the braid off tightly at the end with more yarn. Trim as needed.

Have your helper sit on the braided half while you braid the other side. Same process.

Now you have two long braids that are connected at a part in the middle. Put that center part on your Rapunzel's forehead, wrapping the braids snugly around her head and crossing them in the back. Tie it tightly together there with a length of yarn.

Now weave the purple ribbon in. Unroll the whole spool. Poke it under and through the center part on the forehead and pull it through until you have half of the ribbon on each side. Now choose one section of the braid on each side and weave the ribbon to follow along it all the way to the end.

Once you reach the end of each braid, tie the two braids together with the ribbon ends. Then you can do like me and use the rest of the purple ribbon to go back up and weave the two braids together. You could also make a pretty bow at the bottom with the ribbon and use invisible ties of yarn to attach the two braids together in a few places.

If I had had the time, I might have tried to fill the hole in the back of the head with some kind of yellow fabric, but time didn't allow. Ideally, you could just use a yellow knit hat under the braid to give the illusion that it is a full wig. I offered to add some felt flowers to decorate the braids, but my Rapunzel declined.

After the costume was on, I smoothed my daughter's real hair (which is ironically very long, but oh no, Mom, it is not blond) back into a bun and then anchored the Rapunzel hair around her forehead and underneath the bun with long bobby pins. And it stayed put during Trick or Treating, despite much excited running and swinging of the hair.

And that is how I did it.

I have to confess that there were a few tense moments after the hair was completed, when my daughter announced that she had decided not to wear the Rapunzel wig. That I had just made. With much effort. At her request.

And I'd like to be able to say that I reacted calmly with a discussion about being considerate of others and properly appreciative of what is done for you. I really would. That discussion did happen in a few minutes, but I think my first reaction was more something like "Oh, you will be wearing the hair, and you will get happy about that or you will be staying home to hand out candy with Daddy." Hey. I'm not perfect.

But, as you can see for yourself in the photos, she came around about the hair and was very happy to wear it after all. Thank goodness.