Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sewing: No Sew Fleece Blankets

How do you like the irony in that title?

I know these no-sew fleece blankets abound, but I've never made one. Maybe it's because I have a hard time spotting fleece I love. Or because the fleece blankets we own are used mostly for outdoor activities, such as picnics, so the logo'd variety we've picked up over the years work just fine. I just haven't wanted to go there.

But these tied blankets seemed the perfect thing for some last minute gifts for my grandparents (I have been so lucky to have my mother's parents still living) so about a week before Christmas I went fleece shopping and found two pairs of prints I actually enjoyed looking at: a bright floral with a pink polka dot and a denim blue batik or sun-print-looking design with a red polka dot. Cheery enough! I was looking for something bright to warm their laps. 

I'm sure you know the drill on these: I cut out 4 inch squares from all four corners and then cut 1.5 inch wide and 4 inch long strips. I did all the cutting with the two pieces of fleece stacked wrong sides together. Then I tied all the strips together with square knots.

As quick as these projects were, as it turned out, winter colds kept me from delivering these blankets until after Christmas. I wish it had been sooner. Not sure I'll be making these again anytime soon. Maybe when one of our girls decides to start playing an outdoor sport.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking: Muffaleta Sandwiches

Hungry? I know, I know. January is supposed to be the month we are all very disciplined, compensating for the indulgences over the holidays. I am with you! But, the Super Bowl is coming up, and sometimes in the winter it's nice to have something flavorful and hearty. So here's one if you are having a day like that: The Muffaleta Sandwich!

Have you ever had one? It's manly. The first time I encountered one was when an aunt of mine returned from a trip to New Orleans with a jar of muffaleta mix and made sandwiches for my parents. I had my own in New Orleans once, and a good friend of mine brought us a muffaleta loaf sandwich when I had my first baby. And, they are perfect for a picnic, which is why I served them for Scarlett's last birthday.

Want to make one? Click to read more.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Crochet: Skinny Scarf in Grey and Cream

Well, I'm still playing around with this scarf pattern. I'm playing with the gauge a bit. And wanted to try a two tone. I love these neutrals and can't help thinking about lots of fun colorful combinations: teal and orange, purple and chartreuse, mustard and red, bubblegum pink and fuchsia.

I don't think I'll have time to make them all!

This Skinny Scarf uses Lion Brand Wool Ease (Fisherman and Grey Heather). I like the texture and washability. Such a different texture than the red scarf. A little curly going on. Hmmm. 

I picked up some more yarn this afternoon to play some more.

And, speaking of "grey" I know "gray" is actually the correct spelling for this hue in the U.S. but I just have never liked it that way. It was unconscious for a long time and I have been corrected (proof readers or Microsoft) in the past. Now it seems both are acceptable. Funny how it seems to make a difference. Just one of those things...

And have you notice I seem to have developed tunnel vision? Need to finish this pattern so I can move on to the other things in my head. Including some more beautiful greys.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crochet: Skinny Scarf

I made some skinny shell scarves like this for my sisters and some girlfriends a few years ago and have been thinking about my own take on the pattern. This red scarf is take one. I crocheted it with Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe yarn in Lipstick. It's a great, cool red.

I love lightweight scarves like this for wearing all day long. Such an opportunity for a shot of color. And so many ways to wear it: looped around and knotted, tied in a bow (would you?), looped a lot, doubled and pulled through a single loop. I think someone could even wear it as a belt. Hair wrap? I'm not sure what I could pull off, but there are possibilities for this scarf.

This one is going to a friend of mine who has started wearing scarves after a recent surgery. I am going to keep playing with the pattern though. I need one or two too. I'm thinking about two-tone. And Audrey wants one in a shade of blue. What about you?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Printables: Vintage Book Birthday Suite Update

I loved planning and hosting Tess's first birthday party last summer, so it always makes me happy when someone wants to use the printables for a party of her own. I had a request for a version of the original with a bit more of the pink and aqua and I started thinking about all the other fun variations that were possible so I couldn't resist taking a run at it. It was so fun! I think I may like this updated suite of Vintage Book Birthday printables even more than the original.

In addition to all the original designs, I added options for the bookmarks, bookplates, place cards and labels with eyelet borders, a combination of solid and dashed stripes in aqua and pink, more scallops, and a printed paper that looks a bit like vintage wallpaper. 

There is a new version of the accordion fold invitation, as well as some simple folded invitations and a bunch of different thank you note cards.

The suite of Vintage Book Birthday printables is available in my Etsy shop as an editable PDF (there are form fields for customizing for a first or other birthday before printing). It's 30% off for January with the coupon code INTRO30 (there is a link for entering it during checkout). 

And, suite or no suite, you can download my favorite thank you notes free. I hope you like them. I think they are sweet.

Download the thank you note here (establishing an account or logging in with your Facebook account is required).  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FYI: Reflections and Predictions at Sew, Mama, Sew!

Sew, Mama, Sew! is running a great series on sewing reflections and predictions for 2012 and asked me to participate. You can read the interview here. It's difficult for me to put a stake in the ground when asked questions about "best," "favorite" and "least"--there are so many fabrics, and patterns, and projects, and sewists I love--but I gave it a shot! I picked my Chevron Chenille Blanket as my favorite project of 2011, but it was hardly by a landslide.

There are some amazing people offering unqiue perspectives on the questions. You can view the other interviews here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Party: Chevron-Dot Baby Shower (Printables)

I have always loved hosting get-togethers and parties, and always loved cards and invitations, but I realized that it just may be that designing the party "printables" is filling the PowerPoint void left when I retired from my marketing career to stay home with my girls. At work PowerPoint always inspired me to spend more time than necessary designing and nudging and playing with motifs in my presentations, and a party takes this to a new level! So fun! A bit obsessive, but fun.

My favorite party is always my most recent, but I have to insist that this baby shower had a lot to love. First, we were celebrating a baby boy! Such a different vibe for this house of girls. I loved playing with the traditional blue color palette and giving it a more modern spin to fit the mother-to-be's aesthetic. It all started with this invitation. I gave into the popular chevron pattern but combined it with a stitched polka dot and dashed typeface.

And then there was the chevron chenille blanket as baby gift. I really love combining fabric and paper elements and it was an extra, small thrill to pull the theme through the gifts I made, including a swaddling blanket with a stitched polka dot garland.  I bought a bunch of extra chevron fabric to use as tablecloths and likely future chenille blankets!

And, the baby shower was a great excuse to put together a themed dessert table. I was smiling while my husband's eyes were rolling and he wondered aloud who I thought would eat all the sweets! It was eye candy as much as anything--and it tasted good too. (Tutorial for the polka-dot garland here.)

(Click to read the details).

Friday, January 6, 2012

FYI: Time for Resolutions

I am not much of a New Year's Eve fan. I'm not sure why, maybe I should plan something sparkly for next year and see if it gets more exciting. But I am a big fan of the new year. A new day. A new undertaking. A new list of things to do. I love the idea (theoretical though it may be) of a fresh start! Such an opportunity to change and improve.

So, just like every other year, I've got a surge of energy for January and a bunch of lists in my head. I think it has to do with the feeling that we've all just cleared a huge deadline at Christmas and I usually haven't committed myself beyond that. It's easy to come up with a long list of creative things I'd like to find time for--prioritizing them is a different kind of challenge however. It's not as easy to pick a few more substantial resolutions on which to focus. Those that have to do with the way I parent and the kind of person I am: friend, sibling, wife neighbor.

It's funny because the creative list seems to be about "more" (sewing, pattern design, knit and crochet, birthday parties, etc.) but the more personal list has a lot of "less". How do I clear the way for what's really important, unclutter, lose distractions, reduce stress and friction? I need to develop an improved system for doing what counts every day and taking care of the mundane things too. Maybe part of it is embracing the mundane.

I had an epiphany of sorts a few weeks ago when I was feeling disappointed in myself for not creating more structured learning and loving time with my girlsI beyond the coop preschool and mommy-daughter classes we do. I realized that all of the small things really do add up--the meals prepared, the toys picked up, the driving to and fro, the hair combed. What counts is that I am their mother and am doing those things in love. I do genuinely appreciate that I'm able to be home with my girls full time and hope to pay more attention to the countless moments that are ours for laughing and smiling and loving and noticing the beauty in our everyday life. I suppose more will be required for this resolution too: patience.

Maybe that's it in a word for 2012. Patience. And one painting a month. no matter how small. I'm going to give it a try.

Happy new year!

P.S. Is "keeping a journal" one of your resolutions? Take a look at my post here on the subject.


My "FYI" posts share news or a perspective about something that's been on my mind. You can read them all here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crochet: Sedge Stitch Maxi Cowl (Pattern)

Happy new year! It's a great time for list-makers, like me. I've been out of town enjoying some time with my family and mentally working on my list. Some things "bloggy" but first a bunch of a things "mommy." Not too unusual I bet.

Before the list gets too long (perpetually of course) I am happy to be able to cross off one thing, and that is a Sedge Stitch Cowl in a maxi size. I loved the original one I created mid-December (have worn it more than once in fact) and have been wanting to try it in an even more cozy size.

This is it. It's hard to imagine tiring of this texture. Definitely cozy. Though not all that necessary lately as it turns out. What is with this crazy weather? Granted I'm a bit south of my usual clime right now, but still it's unseasonably warm. I guess we'll just enjoy it!

Heather grey is a color I pick over and over again for sweaters and I love it for this cowl. I used Lion Brand Wool Ease. Makes me think I need more in this color!

This Sedge Stitch Maxi Cowl is part of a pattern I am selling in my Etsy shop. The pattern includes the original Sedge Stitch Cowl too, but it will always be available here in blog tutorial form. In the pattern I threw in a few more extras those newer to crochet may appreciate, such as photos showing an easy way to seam and how to weave in the ends.

If you are interested in the pattern, I'm going to offer it at 30% off for the month of January. Just use the code INTRO30.

Now to the rest of the list. Hope yours is coming along nicely, or that you aren't at all worried about making one if that is more your speed!

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