Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's a Go!

Today I finished up a sample of what I was hoping to do for Jen Rubino and her organization, Cards for Hospitalized Kids. Once again, I apologize for not being able to link you up, but I urge you to check out CFHK and read Jen's story. Such an inspiring young woman!

Anyway, Jen loved my idea of cards with a little pocket holding a finger puppet. I call them Thumb Buddies, and the inside of the card is going to say, Thumb Buddy loves you! (What can I say, I am a sucker for puns). I've got a bunch of card bases ready, and my thumb is still green and blue from making thumbprints for the front of the cards. Sewing the little puppets will take a bit longer, but it's fun to do so it's all good. I don't know if you can see in the photo, but first I stitch a spiral on the front of the puppet, then add the features and sew the puppet together. I will share more photos when I am done with the project.

I got the idea from seeing a Father's Day card someone had posted on Instagram using thumbprint people, but on reflection I have a feeling the original idea started with the talented and delightful artist, Ed Emberley.

So that's what has me jazzed today. I hope all of you are doing something fun, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For My Girls

I forgot to post when I finished Hugs + Squoze, a cute pattern by Anna Hrachovec of Mochi Mochi Land. For some reason I had a tough time attaching the feet, so I left them off. I made this as a surprise for Meital, wanting to give her something to lift her spirits and encourage her before the last big push in this incredibly challenging academic year. I finished him (them?) last month, and she loves him (them). Sorry for the lousy photo.

Even though Liat got to keep the first (pale blue) teddy bear I sewed, when she saw the gray cat shown in my last post, she asked for a cat to keep her teddy, now named Imp, company. How could I refuse? This fella is quite a bit larger than the gray cat, in fact similar in size to the teddy bear, again just created out of my imagination. He will be waiting to surprise her when she comes home from college for the weekend on Thursday.

I have started working on my idea for finger puppets to go with greeting cards for hospitalized kids. I want to create a sample of both the puppet and the card with the pocket, to show the folks at Cards for Hospitalized Kids and get their okay before I proceed on a "mass" production scale.

Meanwhile, if you live in a state that is not on my list in the column on the right, and have a favorite local charity/community service organization that would accept handmade donations, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fun with Felt

Another fantastic website I discovered recently is Hopeful Threads. Kristy is a wonderful person, working to bring toys to kids in foster care. The colorful creatures are based on a free pattern on a site called 5 Orange Potatoes. After cutting out the basic shape based on the pattern, I made up the features. I made up the design for the cat, including the features. Everything was sewn and embroidered by hand. They were a lot of fun to make, and didn't really take that long to put together, even though it was all handwork. Certainly a lot faster than knitting a toy that size! These went in the mail to Kristy today.

I am finding that sewing is easier for me in this hot weather than knitting. But I am also working on a pair of socks for Meital. Larger projects are in hibernation, though one may come with me when I go to California later this summer.

I am on the hunt for organizations in states I haven't donated to yet, but in the meantime I am putting together another batch of cards for Cards for Hospitalized Kids. I am toying with the idea of including a finger puppet in each card. We'll see if it will work!

Back on Track

After far too long I am finally resuming my 50 states project! I've had to ditch the map, unfortunately, but my progress will be marked in the list on the right. As you know, I have gotten into sewing lately, and have started sewing toys to donate. I still have a lot of improving to do, but even the wonky toys are pretty cute and huggable, so I am going to keep practicing. These two toys were sewn on the machine (except for the embroidery on the faces and the small appliqued pieces). Both patterns are free from Shiny Happy World and come with excellent instructions. I am (surprise, surprise) using up fabric that has been in my stash for over a decade. Notice a trend withh me and my crafting? I have got to use up all the things I am hoarding! Eveything that is available these days is so much cuter....

These toys are going to Dona Reynolds of Sewing Miles of Smiles. Dona makes and donates hundreds of toys, pillows, and more every year to a hospital near her, as well as to a few other places that provide services to children who are ill or in need. She is a wonderful, upbeat and creative woman, and I feel very lucky to have found her.

Inspired by Dona, I added a pocket to the back of the teddy (called Warren the Charity Bear, by the way) and tucked in a little finger puppet that I hand sewed from felt. I'm also using up random embroidery floss left over from kits purchased over the years, doing the hand sewing on these felt toys. I will have more to show you in my next post. I am learning so much from reading Dona's blog, and from Wendi Gratz's Shiny Happy World website, and am getting tons of ideas and inspiration for future donations. Fun times!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Never Say Never

I have pretty vivid memories of learning to sew in my seventh grade Homemaking class. I made a maxi skirt (yes, it was the 70s) that actually fit and was pretty and fun to wear. But I never really enjoyed sewing very much. My older sister took to it like a duck to water, though, and over the years has made many gorgeous dresses and other things for herself and her daughters. One summer, my sister, a friend and I all decided to make quilts. I chose a design with all straight lines and rectangles, the others chose more complex designs. We all did a pretty good job! Mine was a gift for friends who were getting married, and my sister kept and used hers a lot. Not sure what our friend did, we lost touch with her not long after that.

But I digress! Of course over the years I have made the odd costume, slip cover for pillows and so on. I even bought a sewing machine when Meital was a baby (still have it, almost 17 years later). And of course I also built up a fabric fact I still have fabric that I bought over 30 years ago! But it wasn't until I found a blog called Cozy Things (sorry, I still don't know how to make links in this Blogger app) that my interest in sewing was reawakened. She makes all kinds of things, including lots of quilts. And she takes a very relaxed, let's try this and see how it goes, and if it's not perfect no big deal kind of approach. Just the kind of attitude I didn't have, and that lack was preventing me from enjoying sewing. In fact, I pretty much hated it for a while there.

So I was starting to get inspired to make a quilt and thinking about it quite seriously, when I discovered Shiny Happy World. Wow. Wendi makes hands down the best, clearest instruction videos, not to mention her website features tons of fun designs for quilts, toys (yay toys!), embroidery and more. Above is my first take on her free Warren the Charity Bear pattern (I lengthened his arms, too much as it turns out. But I will get better as I make more). She designs her patterns to be easy enough for kids to make, which is perfect for me. Thanks to Wendi, I was also inspired to teach Meital to sew (as much as my rudimentary skills will allow). Meital really enjoyed her first lesson and we are hoping to do some sewing together this weekend. Liat claimed this blue bear, but I have plans to make more and donate them. I have fallen behind on my community service crafting and need to get busy!

This needle cushion is another of Wendi's brilliant ideas and is also a free pattern. Most of the needles shown above were stuck in the middle of my traditional pincushion. This slim needle cushion has an old credit card on the bottom, so needles can't get lost inside (unless they go in sideways, I suppose...). 

And here is the quilt top I just finished! Again I went with simple straight lines, but I have picked up so many cool tips and tricks this time around. This is all fabric I've had for years, some of which I purchased with the idea of making a quilt but never did. Now I need to find something for the backing and make the binding strip. I haven't been able to find a shop here that sells quilt batting, so I am going to use a summer-weight blanket we've had for maybe 18 years and which is getting a tiny bit frayed around the edges. Yay for reusing and saving money!

I also just finished a cover for an accent pillow, though I think I made need to take it in a bit, it seems a little bit too big for the pillow. And I just started working on a table runner. To my amazement, I am having a great time sewing!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Birth of a Rainbow

I decided to make a really big, rainbow colored blanket, and I didn't want to spend an outrageous amount of money, so I ordered a bunch of Red Heart With Love yarn. When I first started knitting long ago, I bought Red Heart yarn at a store called Freeway Variety. They had everything in that store, from school supplies to yarn to paperback books to garden and pet supplies. What a treasure trove for a kid! But I had never tried this new (to me) With Love line, so I decided to give it a try.

I was very happy with this yarn throughout the process of making the blanket (haven't washed it yet but I'll bet it will hold up like a champ). Since my family still mocks my lovely autumn colored granny square blanket, I made this blanket with a more solid square. That, plus the sheer size this thing worked out to be, makes for one very heavy blanket!

I made 35 squares total, five each in seven different color arrangements.

It got a little tedious at the end, and I was very glad to finally finish the squares. I added a round of single crochet in black to each square, then sewed them together.

I added a deep border, and the finished blanket is about 4' x 6', more than ample for a snooze on the couch. I have some ideas for the next few blankets I will crochet (sooo much fast than knitting!) but they will wait until summer is waning.

Lots of Cards

Unfortunately, not long ago I had cause to make some sympathy cards (I forgot to take a photo of the other one). If I remember correctly, I sponged Distress Inks on the paper, them sprayed a stamp with water and stamped onto the panels. I forgot to clean off the green ink before stamping on the blue panel, but I liked the way it turned out. Flower image by Posh Impressions, sentiment by Hero Arts.

Continuing the trend, I forget for whom I made this card. I definitely need to blog stuff right after I make it! The sentiment is from a clear Fiskars set, all other stamps are by Posh Impressions.

Here I decided to play a bit with watercolors. I wrote out the word love using a stencil and a pencil (ha!) then painted around it. I decided to go over the pencil marks with a pen instead of erasing the pencil marks, and added the word you using CTMH alphabet stamps. I sent this to my dad.

Here is the same tulip stamp as above. I colored the stamp using markers, then gave it a light misting with water and stamped it onto heavy drawing paper. The swirl stamp is CTMH. My mom got this card.

More watercolor fun... I made the background by rubbing Distress Inks pads onto an acrylic box frame (which I use for stamping, not for photos) and spritzing it with water. I then laid a piece of that heavy drawing paper (seems more like light watercolor paper to me) and smooshed it around to soak up the wet ink. I love the effects I get with this tchnique. The woman is painted using Distress Inks too. She and the sentiment are by Art Impressions. I actually inked up each question separately and used a stamp positioner to get them where I wanted them. The original stamp has the questions in two longish lines. On the insid of the card is the rest of the sentiment: "yes, and you?" This was for my sister.

I used the same watercolor background technique here, but once the paper was dry, I ran it through my Cuttlebug with a swirly embossing folder. I really love this look! The scenic stamp is by Joan Wear, the starfish is Posh Impressions. I covered the starfish with a thick layer of Glossy Accents and popped it up with foam tape. This became a birthday card for a friend who is originally from the Boston area (I figured he might like the lighthouse). 


Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do! This is a pinwheel baby blanket knit in a cotton blend. Little Sloane was born a couple of months ago, so I am way behind. The pattern is easy but becomes tedious the longer each round becomes (you start knitting in the middle and increase stitches every other round). Copious notes are on my Ravelry page.

It has been my policy for many years now to also make a gift for any older siblings when new babies come along. Sloane's sister got this little bunny, also knit in cotton blends. Again, there are plenty of notes on my project page on Ravelry.

These are the cards I made to go with the gifts. The mother and baby stamp is by Stamp Oasis, the bunny is Close to My Heart. I rather doubt either stamp is still availble.