Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knitting: Christmas Sweaters for the Girls

I knew I would run out of time if I tried knitting sweaters for both Audrey and Scarlett this Christmas. Not to mention my original idea of a gorgeous Debbie Bliss coat knit on size 5 needles. I should have started that in June! I wanted to use some skirts we received as a gift a couple years ago (one for Audrey and and a couple for her cousins, including older cousin Grace, which now fit Audrey and Scarlett!). There are darling dark red with brown polka dots and tulle underslips from Gap Kids. I wanted to do brown sweaters and use this great plaid ribbon I found in brown, dark red and off white.

So I found this quick and easy (that's my speed!) cardigan pattern from one of my favorite sources, LionBrand, and cranked out a sweater for Audrey on size 13 needles! Thank you very much! This pattern actually calls for knitting two worsted weight yarns together.

For Scarlett, I pulled out a sweater I had knit for Audrey her first Christmas. This cute green asymetrical cardigan. Looks great with the skirt.

I found the blouses at Janie and Jack during last year's sale. They are beautiful with silk collars
and embroidery.

I love Audrey's boots with this ensemble. All in all the outfits turned out great, and not too fussy, which is more fun for the girls, without a crazy amount of effort.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Knitting: The First Sweater

I dressed Scarlett today in the first sweater I ever knitted (completely--I'm not counting the one I started in highschool and never finished). I made this little pink cardigan for Audrey using a pattern my mother had been using to make baby gifts (she made so many cute ones for her friends grandbabies!). I love the seed stitch. A pretty ambitious stitch actually for one's first sweater. It's so nice to have a second little girl to wear it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gifts: Kitchen Tools for my Girlfriends

One of my favorite Christmas events is a lunch with my girlfriends to celebrate two of their birthdays (on the same day in December) and exchange small Christmas gifts. It's always fun to try and come up with something high on style but low on budget. Lately I have been leaning toward the utilitarian.
A couple years ago I gave Method handsoap dispensers in a great bright green color tied with red ribbon. Last year it was a Crate&Barrel white with snowflake diecut napkin holder with red napkins. This year it's more Crate&Barrel: Red silicone and stainless steel spatula and snowflake diecut pancake turner wrapped in an IKEA dishtowel. I was happy to find this snowflake ribbon at Target to match.

I feel like Santa with my bag full of gifts! And how great is this vinyl Santa bag! Got it at the grocery store and I love it. Not only do I have Christmas gifts and birthday gifts but a baby gift too. Very fun.

Craft: Personalized Stationery Gifts

My good friend, and daughters' nanny, Sue, shared this cute idea for a personalized gift. These cards, made by ..., come with white inserts. I picked the papers for the covers at my local scrapbooking store and punched out the initials there too.

Making handmade gifts is one of my favorite parts of Christmas so I couldn't let this one go by without doing something. I am going to give them to my sisters and use them for teachers' gifts too. Plus I made some for myself.

(So funny! I was just thinking, "what's wrong with that picture?" I pasted on the "j" backwards! Ooops!)

Sewing: Camo Splat Mat for a Boy

I don't know what it is, but I've always loved camouflage, even had a camo bathing suit when I was in jr. high and I still think it's great.

I found this great oilcloth at Denver Fabrics and thought it would be great for a baby boy--splat mat, bib, bag, wipe holder, etc. A good friend of mine, Jenni, just had a baby boy so I thought: splat mat!

I took some red seam binding and used it to finish the edges. I love the look! I've used oversized rick rack on oil cloth for tablecloths and I may prefer this, and it's all the better for a boy. Plus I love the red and blue contrast.

More seam binding for the "bow."

Hope they get good use out of it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Card 2009

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted for our Christmas card this year, which is typically a problem. Whenever I have something in mind it seems I can't find it.

I hunted through all the options I could think of for cards you can customize with photos, letterpress cards, all sorts of things but couldn't find it. So many of the photo cards are looking the same to me. I wanted a three-panel with an vintage, not country, but classic look. I wanted a color palette to complement our family photos (rare, and fun, as it turned out, for us to have family photos--thanks to Jennifer Fauset) so I was thinking cream, brown, dark red, maybe some green.

Finally, on Design Mom, she mentioned a resource for photoshop templates one can download, and I found that Legacy Digital Design also does custom designed cards, and reasonably! Hooray! I absolutely love the custom design process and Jill was great to work with. After explaining what I wanted she created this beautiful design to work perfectly with our photos. I am so happy! It was a Christmas present to myself. Next best thing to designing my own (maybe next year?). My sisters both ended up getting their Christmas Cards through Legacy too.

I really love Christmas cards with photos, especially family photos (more fun to see the whole family in my opinion), but I also like them to feel like Christmas. Hard to find designs these days that do both. I actually kind of miss the old boxed Christmas cards like my mother used to send out. She would hunt and hunt for the message that felt right to her. It was more about the greeting then, finding something to express your feelings about the holidays. I think we've lost a little something the way things have gone.

So anyway, our card this year, with greeting and photos--best of both worlds.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Painting: Phoenix Landscape with Resting Zoe

I was able to take the afternoon off work and go paint instead and I FINALLY finished this painting I started long ago. I have loved the idea of doing something like this for years now--I love this Carob tree in my in-laws back yard. Our sweet dog, Zoe, isn't doing so well lately and I love the mental image of her resting in the sun on the lawn under this tree. I thought it would make a nice little composition. However, I must resolve, again, to not paint such small canvases. I really don't like using such small brushes.

I used a glazing technique, both warm and cool, to finish this. Something I was able to do since it had sat around for so many months. I don't use glazes very often so it was fun to do. I realized I really needed to push the values much more than I had--darker upright tree, lighter landscape in back. I am much happier with it now.

Nothing like a Christmas deadline to force the time for painting. I decided to finish this and give it to my MIL. I hope she likes it. A bit risky to give a painting again this year. Hopefully they won't think, "are we going to get a painting every year?"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rooms: Christmas Decorating 2009

Seems it's usually mid-way through December before I get the house fully decorated, but not this year! I am happy to say the halls are already decked, starting with a wreath on the door. I Love these particular shades of green and red in the ribbons.

Also on the front porch is a very casual arrangement of giant pinecones, garland and "candles" (the battery powered candles are the best I think--especially these that flicker realistically).

The tree...

For years we have done a tree (always a live tree) with nothing but little white lights. So simple and beautiful, but also because the idea of coming up with, investing in, and sticking with a Christmas tree decoration concept was a bit overhwhelming. We have very different Christmas pedigrees. My husband's family tree was always decked with silver and gold balls--lots and nothing but them and the lights. My family's tree on the other hand was gingham ribbons, fake candied apples and lots of Steinbach wooden ornaments. We used real candles for years and then it was white lights. So I guess we had the white lights in common.

Finally, a few years ago we ventured out and I found this great laser cut felt treeskirt from Anthropologie and saw the felt snowflake ornaments in Domino (I so miss that mag!), which I ordered from a store in Canada.

After Audrey was born I bought the rhinestone picture frame ornaments from The Container Store and filled them with black and white family photos--portraits of Audrey, her parents, and the grandparents. So now it's simple, but a little more than white lights.

I was contemplating adding big jingle bells on red ribbon (a bit more red might be nice) but couldn't find the right ribbon and get the proportions of bell to ribbon quite right. Maybe next year.

I add the red velvet pillows to the couch during Christmas--usually it's just the white angora pillows.

This is our Advent Wreath. A tradition from my side of the family. Having spent my early childhood in Germany, there are more than a few German traditions. I love this one. We celebrate it like this: for the four Sundays preceding Christmas we gather as a family for Advent ("Advent Sunday"). The first Sunday we light one candle, the second two candles, the third three candles, and then on the Sunday before Christmas we light four candles. We sing religious carols, read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and eat Christmas cookies. Once back in the States we would often invite another family or two to celebrate Advent with us. Now my siblings and I gather our families for the four Sundays prior to Christmas.

I love this table runner with the wreath. Got it at the Crate and Barrel after-Christmas sale last season.

And, one last shot (I'm not including the small additions in our family room, such as the Italian creche and the wooden Christmas soldiers...): My husband's great sense of humor and Christmas spirit--a santa hat on the bull painting in our entry way. The bull is life-sized and it really does appear that he's wearing a hat.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crochet: Felted Flowers for Thanksgiving

I was wondering what to wear for Thanksgiving when packing for our trip to Phoenix, it's not exactly "over the river and through the woods..." weather there and we always have Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio. So the traditional Fall wear won't really fly--no tweeds, bulky sweaters, fur trim, etc.. So I decided I wanted some color. I thought of the sweaters I recently purchased to embellish and packed the raspberry one along with my Cartwheel yarn for making felted flowers.

I wasn't sure I'd really find the time to crochet the flowers and sew them to the sweater but tonight after the girls went to bed I pulled it off! These flowers were faster to crochet than I remembered. The last time I did them I created a bunch of flower corsages for friends' December birthdays and some family Christmas gifts.

I used two skeins and made flowers in different sizes as I wasn't sure exactly what configuration I wanted on the sweater, and need some left over for a cardigan I am planning for Audrey.
As it turned out I went with one large, one medium and one small flower in a little cluster. I liked it! I think it works. I like having them attached to the sweater--less fuss. Makes me excited to try embellishing the others.
The pattern for the medium and small is here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sewing: Dalmatian Dog Applique and Girly Strip Skirt

My darling daughter is a dog. I mean she has been pretending to be a dog for the past year. She barks in response sometime ("arf" is "yes" and "rrruff" is "no"), she calls herself "Olive" (as in "Olive the Other Reindeer," she often holds her hands in paw position under her chin. She loves all things dog. We just gave in and bought her yet another stuffed animal at the toy store last weekend. We were supposed to be scouting for items to put on the wishlist for Santa but instead walked out with a stuffed Dalmatian puppy. Audrey has been fascinated with the Dalmatian variety of late. There has been some 101 Dalmatians and some firehouse Dalmatians and then finally when we went to the fabric store a couple weeks ago to pick strip skirt fabric, Audrey insisted on the Dalmatian spot print. I thought, "fine, perfect, if she'll wear it I'm happy." It might have not been my first pick but I love graphic black, white and red prints. In fact, that was my original concept for Audrey's nursery.

So this project started with a pretty pile of prints, mostly from R&R. but the pivotal Dalmatian print is #5756 from the Blank Quilting "Black and White and a Touch of Red" collection. My favorite is the floral--love it! I decided to use it for the drop waist and hem to get the most out of it.

This is the first time I've tried a t-shirt applique. I love all the Mini Boden appliqued t-shirts and have wanted to do some myself. I thought it would be cute to pair them with Pink Fig's Girly Strip Skirt (pattern #5) and imagined a few sets for Fall play clothes but time is running out. This may be it. Maybe I'll just do more ts because that is really pretty quick.

Again, I wouldn't have selected the 101-derived Dalmatian design for the shirt, but Audrey insisted and I am learning it's futile to spend the time on something that only one of us likes. So I went with it. It's pretty cute, but not exactly my favorite thing. Fun to use the Heat-N' Bond product for adhering the fabric. Haven't figured out a good satin stitch on my machine.

I think the skirt turned out darling, but it's not my favorite either.... Turns out it's not Audrey's favorite at all. I had to really beg and plead to get her into it and it was on the floor in a pile a couple minutes later. I took it to school today hoping to slip it on over her leggings but no going. Oh well. She's just not a skirt kind of gal. Thankfully it hasn't become an issue on Sundays when dress or skirt is a matter of fact. And most of the time it's pretty fun having a beautiful little girl who is more interested in dogs, dinosaurs and animals of all kinds.

Because I had quite a bit of fabric left over (why is that always the case?) I thought I'd try something for Scarlett. I just did a quick flower applique on a onesie and then imagined two layers of ruffles around the ankles of her leggings. Because it's a big chilly and the silhouette was a little much I layered the little shrug sweater I made for Audrey a couple years ago. Altogether it's pretty cute on her but I'm afriad the ruffles look a bit like donuts around the ankles! And this look really isn't my favorite. A bit to trendy for me. I much prefer big collars and simple, feminine lines but I was going for casual play clothes.
Well, good to know. Sometimes I have to explore a bit to realize why I stick with the same types of things.

So this was a lessons learned project. It was really fun to make something Audrey was excited to wear (two days in a row actually--of course I'm just referring to the shirt!) but I hope I learn all my lessons soon. Here are some of the things I've learned or remembered the past year of sewing, knitting, crocheting craziness:

--Oh, right, corduroy has a nap (dang it!)
--Ditto for velvet
--My sewing maching does have a tension setting afterall; so helpful for gathering
--Absolutely, never, under no circumstances wrap/blot a sweater you are blocking in anything other than a white towel (I had fuschia stripes on a previously amazing tiny white baby sweater to prove this)

I am sure there are more but I can't remember them right now. One positive thing however is a new attitude towards tailoring and refashioning. Where I would have given up on a lot of clothes in the past I have put in darts, shortened hems, ripped off ruffled necks, and salvaged a few projects. Hooray!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sewing: Sweaters as a Starting Point

I picked up these gorgeously colored sweaters at Target this week and returned a couple, more expensive and not quite right sweaters I'd ordered online. I love the weight of these sweaters--almost like wearing a t-shirt but a bit more cozy. And I love the extra length of ribbing on the sleeves and long length in the body.

I thought I would embellish these to make them even more fun. I don't accessorize very well--rarely wear jewelry--so I like the idea of built in accessories. I plan to do pink-on-pink crochet, felted flowers for the raspberry colored sweater, similar green crochet flowers for the green one(looks like I'll have some great chartreuse colored yarn leftover from a current sweater project), I'm hoping to find aqua colored sheer fabric of some type to make ruffles on the sleeves of the blue, and I'm not sure what is the in store for the burnt orange sweater.

Great ideas, no? Let's hope I can get to it. Working on a chartreuse sweater for myself that is taking a while... Also have the Christmas outfits planned for the girls, which involve sweaters for each, and I have some sewing in the works. Hmmm. Buying a sweater is easier than embellishing... I am full of vision and never seem to find the adequate time to execute!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Room Design: A Little Fall Indoors

I never do a lot of seasonal decorating throughout the year--maybe change a centerpiece on the dining table or hang some different towels in the kitchen--I just haven't figured out exactly how I'd like to do something like Halloween (how to do something a bit contemporary and large enough to have impact in our very open floorplan) and it's only recently that we've had little people around to get excited about holiday decorations.

My favorite approach is to bring something in from the garden. We used to have large Laurel bushes by our front door, which I would occassionally trim and create big arrangements of the fresh greens to put on our dining table. The bushes are gone now so I have to find a good substitute this spring.

This Fall for the first time I noticed the tiny crabapples on our crabapple tree. My father had been advising me to top off the tree and encourage broader branching so in time for our family photos last week I topped it off and "replanted it" within the picture frame. Nice little trick I thought. I had an indoor arrangement in mind and this afternoon finally cut the branches and brought them in doors. I love this big wild looking arrangement. It's the perfect seasonal touch-- a little color, a little nature, and large enough to be noticed in my entry. I hope it lasts a few weeks.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sewing: Scarlett's Portrait Dress

We have rescheduled family photos a few times this year and they finally happened yesterday. Adding to the typical stress with this sort of thing was the fact that I was super busy this month with projects and a family vacation and lost my ramp for coming up with the girls' outfits. I wanted them to wear something classic looking and ideally handmade but I ended up having five days to pull it off. It didn't quite happen.

Audrey wore a crochet sweater I made this spring--certainly fits the objective--and I was able to pull off a new dress for Scarlett.

Scarlett had a melt down in the middle of the session, which was about how I felt too but I held it together a bit better.

This dress pattern is an old Florence Eismann for Simplicity #8933. I wanted something simple I could do in off white and brown to match the retro bonnet I planned to knit. I used a micro suede because it was the right color and has a nice hand--and seems less maintenance than velvet. I used a cotton velvet for the collar and added velvet piping on the sleeves. This pattern provides for a three inch hem, which makes the dress hang so nicely and provides growing room--I love it.

Turned out pretty well I think. I love the big collar. Here is my one-year-old Scarlett in her Fall baby portrait.

These beautiful photos are by Jennifer Fauset, a local, wonderful photographer we've used previously. I think she does such a nice job with children and families.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...