Friday, December 30, 2011

handmade gifts 2011: mouse house for Asher

(Late Note: This is now available as a PDF pattern in my shops: Etsy (emailed within 24 hours) and Craftsy (instant download))

A curiously small little mouse in a tin house for a wee boy I know. I hope he likes tiny things like I do. Actually, it was kind of hard to send little mousy away. We miss you, Alton.

Alton is corduroy and felt with an embroidery floss tail, and his house has a wool felt mattress and blankie, and a cotton ticking pillow.

The girls went crazy over him, and I happen to have two more Altoids tins, so they will be getting a little surprise for Valentines Day. I'm thinking white mice with pink ears. By the by, have you ever visited the Altoids Hall of Curiosities? It's...quirky.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

handmade gifts 2011: operation incognito for Gage

(Late Note: This is now available as an instantly downloadable PDF pattern in both my shops: Etsy and Craftsy.

When we were in London we saw a kit with a bunch of crazy mustaches for kids and I thought it would be fun to make my own version for a cool boy I know. Some are felt, some are faux fur (thanks, Chris!) and all have elastic string to hold them on. They are in a hand lettered portable drawstring bag so he can always have them on hand in case he needs to Go On The Sly.

"And so another case is solved, Sherlock."  
"Exactly, my dear Watson."

 "Arr, that's a grand new ship you be havin', Bluebeard." 
"Aye, me hearty, it do be that."

 "I say, Inspector Smallbottom. Do you detect a the car?" 
"It must be the rubbish lorry we overtook a moment ago, sir."

Monday, December 26, 2011

handmade gifts 2011: flower crown for Audrey

As sported by my two stunt models on a rainy, gloomy day. I've seen some really, really beautiful felt flower crowns around the web (like here and esssspecially here), so I've been itching to try my hand at one. I didn't get it exactly right. The red flower is a bit too large, but I didn't realize this until after I started looking at the photos. I had flower blindness. Too many late nights. Robyn, maybe you could take some judicious trims here and there. But. Overall, I love the colors and variety and I hope a certain purple-loving wood fairy will enjoy it.

There're about a million online felt flower tutorials at your fingertips if you would like to try something like this. I started with the red flower that is actually from an excellent paper flower tutorial over at A Little Hut. I stiffened the felt with Stiffen Quick. I also used this one for the large purple flower, and then just messed around with what tools I had on hand for the other flower shapes, creating cones with poms in the middle and rosettes like these. It's really fun to see what kinds of shapes you can come up with. Wool felt is pretty versatile. I love it so.

The base of the crown is two layers of purple grosgrain ribbon that I used to sandwich the smaller maroon grosgrain ties on either end. I attached the flowers and leaves to the ribbon first with fabric glue, then hand stitched them to reinforce.

I hope you all had as wonderful a Christmas as we did. It was lovely. This year we were at home, so that's always magical when you don't have to travel and you can sit around your very own sparkly tree on your very own comfy couch and watch your sleepy-eyed kids have a ball. Since it fell on a Sunday this year, we let the girls see what Santa brought when they woke up. (Santa Claus brings one gift for each and it is not wrapped and ready to play with under the tree.) The rest waited until after worship, when we had a tasty brunch and took our time opening each other's gifts and just enjoying being together. Sigh. It's always such a letdown when it's over.

Friday, December 23, 2011

merry, merry to you! and I made stockings I like.

My new (literally, I just finished them a few minutes ago) handmade stockings. Yay! These from last year will be retiring quietly to a thrift store somewhere.

The new ones are in wool felt with (of course) leaves and sequined berries. I like a little sparkle at Christmas. I couldn't decide on which color scheme I liked better, so I did two of each. I can't help wishing I'd done each in different color, but hoo boy would that have been busy looking. Maybe not in a bad way though? Hm.

They were pretty easy to put together. I sketched it out and made one several weeks ago then made three more last night and this morning. I was actually mentally writing the pattern as I went, so I will release a PDF version of this next year for the shop.

I'm so excited Christmas is almost here. I have some food to make for this Eve, and yes, some gifts to make. Small ones. Ha. But see you back here shortly after Christmas day. I have a few posts already lined up to go to show what I've been making in secret these last few weeks. Fun fun fun.

I wish each and every one of you a lovely, lovely, bright and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

and one more needle book

{Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.}

This one is not for sale. It's a gift. But not a Christmas gift, oh, no. It's a much sadder kind of gift. A How-Could-You-Go-Off-And-Leave-This-Hemisphere gift. A What-About-My-Needs gift. A But-I-Will-Miss-You-Too-Much gift. An OK-I-Will-Be-Big-About-This gift. Otherwise known as a going away gift.

I may have mentioned my bosom friend Robyn here once or twice. (violent cough that sounds like 'stalker') You guys know how much I love her. Well, she and Rich and their three adorable kidlets are moving to Rio de Janeiro. Yes.


Seriously Robyn. Pretty drastic way to get rid of me.

I've been dealing with it so far by avoiding thinking about it, but it has come down to their last few weeks in the United States and so I've been kinda freaking out. Not that I have any right to be freaking out since she's the one who has to take care of about one million crucial details and decisions that must be seen to before they move. So the quick visit we had a few days ago was extra special because it was our last one for a while. I tried to soak up every minute and help her in whatever way I could for the move. Along with a big dose of girl chat time and yes, some farewell therapeutic crafting.

If you'd like, pop over and wish her bon voyage. I'm going to go have a good cry.

Friday, December 16, 2011

needle books are now in the shop

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

Just in case your needles need a really colorful new home, these six books are in the shop! Hand cut and embroidered appliques on the cover, ribbon spines and four pages for your needles.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

needle books going in the shop

Hello, just a heads up for those who have asked about needle books lately. I have six needle books that are going in the shop sometime on Friday, Dec 16.

Sorry I can't be specific on a time. I'm just going to git 'er done as soon as I can in case someone wants to chance getting one by Christmas. I'm not offering a guarantee, but seems like if you buy promptly and live in the mainland USA there would be enough time for the USPS to get it to you before next weekend? I'll mail them as quickly as I can. Anyway. I'll post again tomorrow when they go in the shop!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

hello, floor.

Nice to meet you, O Beautiful Not-Concrete-Or-Vinyl Floor. And hello to you swell people. I've been blogging less lately for a number of reasons:
  1.  Mostly everything I'm presently (ha ha) making can't be shared because it will spoil the surprise for the giftees. I am making some sharable things, but gifts take precedence.
  2. I've been having a bit of a row with my new Mac Mini (now fixed, thanks Schmoopie dear), but now my elderly G5 looks like it might be tanking before I have transferred everything over. I think it might be angry with me.
  3. I've been on a little trip. I went to visit my BFF in Mandeville. I crashed her lovely Christmas ornament craft party and hung out with her. And I forgot to take pictures. So you'll have to use your imagination to see her beautiful home and Christmas decor. Make it really stunning, with handmade tree skirt and lovely woodland ornaments.

Back to the new kitchen floor. Oh, how I love it. My ever handy husband and my wonderful brother-in-law (we owe you BIG, Robby) installed it while I was away. We still need to put down the quarter round and finish the edges near the carpets, but we are getting close. Then hopefully we can get the trim work done under our countertops and the big stuff will be done.

I just received my timely January issue of Living that focuses on kitchen redos. I have a Pinterest board for my kitchen decor ideas, if you are interested in that sort of thing. Part of my Pinterest board has actually come to life:

This picture is for you, Robyn. Thank you soooo much for Mr. Winky on the left there. This row of owls brings some color onto the countertops and just makes me so happy every time I go through the kitchen. My kids have pronounced them way cooler that the previous boring non-avian canisters. I have had to school them on the proper way to open the middle owl cookie jar (Use Both Hands. Do Not Bang The Lid On The Granite. If You Chip My Owl I Might Have To Sell You To A Workhouse.) That sort of thing. I'm sure you do the same for your kids.

Ever since the kitchen repaint I've had fabulous new curtains and seat cushions in on my long To Do list and I'm hoping that my recently ordered AMH LouLouThi fabric will be the ticket for the curtains. It hasn't arrived yet, so I'll keep you posted. Now to take my china and crystal off the top of the TV cabinet and put it back in the hutch. Yay!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kathreen's Celebration Action Pack

 images via

Kathreen Ricketson kindly gave me a link to a review copy of her latest 80-page Celebration Action Pack for kids. Which looks delightful. Unfortunately, my review copy was lost when my Mac Mini HD took a face plant two weeks ago. Sorry, Kathreen!

But! You can still check it out for yourselves right here, where there are plenty more tantalizing photos of projects your kids can entertain themselves (and you) with during their school break.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

and another leaf card, Now With Scallops!

Felt leaves machine stitched on paper. Made for November-born friend, Laura. Grabbed my scallop shears this time and gave it a whirl.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

what I'm up to.

Well, what I didn't do was shop on Thanksgiving weekend. Sorry, National Economy. I sat around and enjoyed the days by feeling thankful, eating large numbers of pecan bars (Thanks a lot, Leigh. No really. They are evil.), watching my family watch the Bama game and occasionally sending out a supportive Whoo! (I was at the kitchen table making an ornament), watching the 1st season of Gilmore Girls with my mom, and taking a very occasional walk.


I have to show you the wondrous Thanksgiving table my sister Leigh set for our family feast. Isn't it beautiful? (the off-topic birthday banner was for my nephew Michael). There was also a satellite kiddie table with equally fancy settings that is not in the picture. The main table is huge, but that is all an illusion. Underneath it is my Mama Graham's regular sized dining table. Over the top of that is a cleverly built ginormous round plywood tabletop that has additional support legs, which is brought up from the basement and assembled for special occasions like this. Leigh really should do a guest tutorial so you can make one too, huh?

We did something most agreeable this year after the Thanksgiving feast too: a Gently Used Jewelry And Makeup Swap amongst the older gals in the family. We all cleaned out our jewelry boxes and makeup/toiletry kits ahead of time and then drew numbers. Things got pretty heated. Almost violent. Lots of guilt trips. Some snide remarks. It was excellent! And I ended up with some cool new-to-me pieces (above, just some of my loot) and a new lipstick color. After we were done, my daughters got to choose some play jewelry from the leftovers, and then the rest was donated to a local thrift store.

The shopping apathy lasted through the weekend and somehow I let CyberMonday also slip by (I was busy watching Edward and Jacob worry over skeletal Bella) and now I'm kicking myself for missing out on the online deals on Calico Critters, which my daughters are pining hard for and which are priced like nuclear grade uranium. Sheesh.

What I'm doing on today, Dec 1st, is getting out all our Christmas decorations. I'm trying to ignore the fact that the contents of my china cabinet are all on top of the TV armoire and that I still have no floor in my kitchen. It's bare slab cement with construction paint lines, mystery stains and patches of old vinyl flooring in places. It's real festive. Being rectified soon. Crossing fingers.

I need to stuff the mirrored advent calendar before I take it downstairs. I dream each year of making tiny things to go in it, but of course at the last minute I bought some peppermint kisses, LPS teensies and some weird hairy animal pencil toppers who get an amazing hairdo if you spin your pencil. I also have tiny wooden ornaments for their (new!) small white Christmas tree. That will buy me some time and maybe I can put in something cool and handmade. I have ideas for tiny felt necklaces. And this will be our second year with the awesome Playmobil advent. The girls are excited to see that one again.

I've got a pile of needlebooks started and a few thousand felt ornaments I'd like to make, and some I've actually completed.

And. I kinda hate my handmade stockings. I'll be attempting those again.

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,

(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,

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.