Monday, November 29, 2010

Monogrammed handkerchiefs

It’s Christmas time, it’s Christmas time! I love Christmas time, and I love to make handmade gifts for people. You all can keep your Black Friday doorbuster deals, I would much rather sit here beside the fire with my needle and thread.

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This post comes to you from Santa’s workshop, where I am busy every day making things I can’t really show you yet.

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I don’t think my uncle is reading this, though, so here are the monogrammed handkerchiefs he is getting for Christmas. I am an old-fashioned girl, and I love it when a man has a clean, well-pressed handkerchief in his pocket, useful for all manner of things.

These were fairly easy to make—I bought the handkerchiefs at a department store where I enjoyed a brief interlude of imagining a time when there was a men’s handkerchief department in Macy’s, along with a clerk who specialized in men’s handkerchiefs, and a women’s glove department, and so on. I am so glad you can still buy a package of men’s handkerchiefs, and I only wish that you could still also buy those pre-printed pillowcases with the crochet-able edges in that soft, soft cotton muslin that they don’t even make anymore, no matter how much money you’re willing to spend. Sigh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret quilt gift for the cowboy

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This quilt is a gift for someone who I’m pretty sure isn’t reading this blog, so I feel safe in showing you.

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This someone might like to spend his Sundays on the couch watching football, and might like to have a warm and cozy quilt to snuggle under, while eating microwave popcorn and a hot dog. No, probably he’ll be eating a big steak.

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This someone lives where the pines grow taller than the buildings, and where the snow sifts down early into the valley, and where the mountains are purple and you can see where they got that thing about their majesty. He needs a quilt.

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I cut 6 1/2” squares in mostly gold, brown, and red, and machine pieced and quilted it—on yet another sewing machine. Oh, my poor Bernina. Owning a machine like that is like having a sports car—nobody will know how to work on it, the parts have to come from Switzerland, and it will always be in the shop.

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(The binding hadn’t been sewn yet in this photo, but the sun came out and I had to take advantage of the light.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kitchen towels

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We’re tearing up the kitchen right now. Or, maybe I should say my husband is tearing up the kitchen, because he’s doing all the work and I’m just buying curtain fabric and picking out paint. Yesterday, in fact, I bought curtain fabric three different times! In one day! I can’t stop changing my mind!

I am contributing to the project, in my own way. I’m embroidering dishtowels.

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I don’t know how to use a power nailer, so this is how I’m helping. These are Alicia’s free downloadable Pleasant Kitchen dishtowel patterns. You can get them here. Did I mention they’re FREE? Alicia is awesome.

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She has one for every day of the week, but since I only had three towels, I only did the weekend days. That’s when I’ll be home to enjoy them anyway!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Embroidered napkins

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I found a set of six plain white linen napkins in a thrift store, and after a long hot soak in Oxiclean and a trip through the wash, they were sparkling and ready for some stitches. Goodness, I can’t even tell you how much I love thrifting. Everything you see in all these pictures is secondhand, including the cat. Tablecloth, dishes, silverware, floss, hoop, needle, table.

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The design is Pattern 952 from Laura Wheeler Designs, which I found at NeedleCrafter. I used 2 strands DMC embroidery floss throughout.

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Each napkin has four motifs, one in each corner. I do go overboard like that.

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I think I must have the wrongest wrong kind of washable transfer marker, because I have the worst time trying to get the design from the paper to the fabric. I have tried all kinds of methods, and every one of them is lacking in some fundamental way—they drag the fabric, or the lines don’t show up well enough for my aging eyes. I don’t have much luck with carbon transfer paper, either. But never mind, bring on the stitching!

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I do love embroidery. I have little holes in my fingertips, and I am happy. Now I want to polish up all the silver and serve a fancy tea. Darjeeling? Oh, yes, please. Scone? Don’t mind if I do…

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dot-painted dishes

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Recently, I discovered Martha Stewart’s A to Z Crafts Encyclopedia, which is absolutely chock-full of fantastic ideas, one of which is this project.

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The first thing you need is a bunch of solid-color dishes, which is the easiest part of the whole thing. Just go down to the thrift store and get some, they’re everywhere. You also need a little fine-tipped squeeze bottle—I got mine at Hobby Lobby—and you need food-safe enamel white paint, or colored paint, if you’re working on white dishes.

I ran into a little bit of trouble, paint-wise. All my local crafts stores carry several choices of non-toxic enamel paint (meaning, the kind you paint on and then bake the piece in the oven.) The labels on all of them tell you not to use it on a surface that will come in contact with food. Well, Martha recommends a brand called Porcelaine, which I couldn’t find anywhere locally; you can order it from Dick Blick’s Art Supplies, except that the online listing there also suggests that while Porcelaine is “food safe”, you should not use it on surfaces coming in contact with food, either.

I finally decided to compromise, chose a brand that was non-toxic, did not carry the scary warning about its containing substances known to the State of California to cause birth defects or whatever, and then just took my chances. I used Folk Art Enamels in Wicker White, and I had to thin it a little with water so the dots would spread out, rather than just sitting there like pointy little dabs of frosting.

I assume the upshot of all the paint warnings is that while it is not actually poisonous, it isn’t food, either, and if you use it on a plate, it might chip off into your dinner.

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If you ever eat at my house, be warned: one of those little white flecks might find its way into your salad. But I don’t think it will kill you.

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It is probably best to use these plates for sandwiches or crackers, just to be on the safe side. No gooey lasagna, or anything that might need a knife.

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I swiped all the designs directly from Martha’s templates, and just freehanded them onto the dishes, though you could probably search high and low for some kind of transfer paper and enlarge the templates on a copier, blah blah blah. It all seemed like a lot of trouble to me. I just sat down and started painting, and when I made a mistake, it was easy to wipe off the goof and keep going. A couple times, I didn’t like it at all when I was done, so I just washed the dish and started over. Easy!

Thank goodness I had a lot of dishes. I got a little obsessed, and pretty much put a bunch of dots on everything in sight.

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Go ahead, see if you can help it! One word of advice: it might be wise to make sure the dishes you choose are oven safe. They bake at 350 for half an hour, and I don’t know what would happen if they weren’t oven safe—cracking? Explosions? The non-oven-safe dish squad coming to your door? Maybe some strange brown stains might emerge from one or two of your most favorite pieces, which you might then have to carefully scrub off, avoiding the paint at all costs, I don’t know, I’m just saying.

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Seriously, just look at those! Love, love, love.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sewing teeny beads on things

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I finished my Walk in the Woods ornaments. Aren’t they adorable? I love the little spots on the baby deer’s behind the best, I think. These were so much fun to make, and I can’t wait to hang them on my tree.

Goodness, it’s so gloomy here. I don’t know enough about photography yet to have any clue how to get a decent picture when there’s such a lack of natural light. I hope you’ll all muddle through with me as I figure it out.

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Maybe I should just work on light-colored projects until spring? Those show up better! This is the first of a set of napkins I’m stitching. They’ll probably be so pretty I won’t let anybody use them, but whatever.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Patchwork blanket, the beginning

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There’s really no substitute for the comfort of comfort knitting. This is plain old garter stitch, and when it gets long enough, I’ll bind it off and start another one immediately. As soon as there are five or six of them (or however many it looks like will be wide enough, I’ll whipstitch them together and it will be a blanket. I cast on 40, using US 7 needles.

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I’m just knitting with one color until the ball runs out or I feel like the patch is big enough, whichever comes first. This is almost all Berroco Vintage Wool, which is the perfect yarn for a blanket like this—soft, with a good amount of drape, and washable, and it comes in a nice array of lovely colors.

My crafty mind has been zipping all over the place this week. There’s so much to show you! Here’s a little peek:

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My Walk in the Woods ornament kit arrived in the mail on Saturday. I could not wait to get started, so I started. It seemed a little weird to be sewing beads and sequins onto Christmas ornaments when it was only Halloween, but not weird enough to stop me. Oh my goodness, I love them. When they’re all finished, I’ll show you.