Tuesday, January 22, 2013

For the Birds

If you've read my other post-christmas posts, you know that I love to make handmade toys for my children. This season my son really likes Angry Birds. Are there any young boys that don't? Even before I had my tablet he would ask for shirts and toys at the store that had Angry Birds on them. So, I figured I would at least buy him a stuffed Angry Bird but I really wanted to crochet something. But what? I had lots of red yarn. THATS IT! How many opportunities do you think I'll have where the one thing he likes most is in the shape of a ball and really simple to make. I've seen crocheted superhero dolls but I'm not sure I'm at that levle yet. Of course I won't know till I try but christmas is all about spending time together. So I really wanted to keep things simple this year. I don't have a pattern for you 'cause I just make it as I go but if you have ever crocheted a hat and you like to experiment ( you don't mind undoing and redoing your work) I bet you could figure out the ball. It's a matter of adding and the subtracting stitches evenly. When the ball was almost done with an opening at one end, I lined it with red fabric (no stitching required) and filled it with poly-fill. I crocheted the ball, the brow and the top and tail feathers and stitched the peices to the ball with yarn. I also stuffed the top feathers. Then I hot-glued googly eyes and felt cut outs for the features ( soft felt for the belly and firm felt for the beak). Hot-glue drys hard, so you don't want to use very much. Only out line the felt on the belly. I also had to gently pinch the edges as I glued since it is a flat peice going on to a round object. Simple characters like this are so fun to make because it's always suprising how recognizable it is.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jacksonville Celebrates the Arts, again!

We're happy to announce that we will once again be participating in Jacksonville Celebrates the Arts. We had a good time last year and this time our lovely new sister-in-law will be joining us. I'm told she makes beautiful jewelry though I haven't had the joy of seeing it yet. So it will be a treat for me as well. We'll be featuring some new items this year so come on down to the Museum in Jacksonville, Oregon on labor day weekend. We will be there on Friday and Saturday. If you can't make it we'll clue you in on all the fun you missed after the event.

Umm, is anyone still there?

How long has it been? I just wanted to invite you all to check out my new post on my other blog Gettin' my stitch on. Featuring this little lovely.

 The dress

not the child,

though she's awfully cute as well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Christmas 2011

It's now pear blossom season in southern Oregon. The weather is warming up and the trees are blooming. So naturally I'm writing about Christmas. I know I'm late in following up on My Handmade Christmas but it's still worth sharing. All in all it was successful. I didn't do everything that I planned to do and I did a lot that I hadn't thought of at all. As I planned, I made the blue plaid bear and the road sign scarf. The scarf was easy once I asked my grandmother for help. The bear was not so easy. I'm still working on my skills with following a pattern. I cut a lot of corners and didn't really read much of it at all. But it came out cute. Not very durable, but cute.
I also made an in-door play fort. It's a big piece of heavy fabric to throw over the table for the kids to crawl under. You may have seen one before. They're pretty popular among sewing moms these days. I made my own pattern for this one. Well, actually I just rolled out the fabric and started cutting. I didn't even hem the sides. I probably will some day but it wasn't a requirement to do to have it done by Christmas. They love it., and I love to here my kids actually laughing and playing together.

 I crocheted my son some really cool fingerless mittens and some pink ones for my niece. It was just a strait cylinder. I skipped a few stitches for the thumb hole and stitched around it a few times. I'd like to put the pattern up for sale on my etsy shop soon so look out for that if you are interested. I actually made my nieces too small the first time so I think I’ll give the little ones to my baby girl this year.

One of my favorite things to do was to paint two adorable( if I do say so myself) little wooden train ornaments with the kids names painted on the bottom. I bought the trains at Michael's craft store and I used regular acrylic craft paint. I coated them with some Mod Podge to make them glossy. The kids each got to hang there own train on the tree though they often took them off again to play with. It was precious.
  Now, my kids were not the only ones treated with homemade goodness. I made some delightfully festive gift baskets for family and friends. If you follow this blog you may know about the spiced plum preserves and the strawberry syrup I canned last year. Well. As was planed, I gave them all away with many other sweet expressions of my Christmas cheer. We had chocolate dipped spoons (for hot coco) rolled in crushed red and green M&M's and pretzel rods wrapped with a string of caramel and chocolate dipped (also with M&M's). There were various flavored chocolates made simply by melting down chocolate chips, adding flavors like raspberry extract and pouring it into candy molds.
 The banana bread was extra moist and flavorful with extra bananas and tied with a piece of Christmas ribbon. The caramel apples were a challenge. I melted the caramel in one of those little warmers that sometimes come with a crock pot. So rather than dipping the apples, I spooned the caramel onto them. Next, I striped them with chocolate. I just filled a zip-up sandwich bag with chocolate chips and melted them under hot water, cut a small piece off the corner and squeezed it out. The oranges are pierced with whole cloves. This was both decorative and added festive spice to the oranges. I delivered the goodies in red and green baskets wrapped in red plastic all from the dollar store. It was a sweet and wholesome Christmas season. I hope to have many more just like it and I hope that I have inspired you to create and to share your Christmas love with charity and gifts from your heart.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


My little girl had a birthday in October and I crocheted her a little stuffed cat. I always make up my own patterns though this little cat was inspired by something I saw at Joann’s fabrics. I can't remember the name, but if I find out I’ll let you know. This one took me a few weeks of working here and there on it. I started crocheting animals when I was expecting my first child. I made a little blue dog but it came out looking more like a pig. This one, the cat, looks more professional.

The dog/pig Is still one of my sons favorite toys though, and he will always know that I made it with love. You should never feel like you're not good enough to make things for your kids. That is how you learn, and they will want to create by your example. One thing I learned with this project is that you cannot substitute toy stuffing with regular pillow stuffing. I thought I was saving money but the toy just goes limp with pillow stuffing. They cost about the same anyway.
Each part is stuffed individually. I made the body the same way as the dog, adding and subtracting stitches to get the right shape. On the face I just stitched lines for eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth. For the ears I made little cone shapes and stitched them on flat. The arms and legs are strait cylinders. Long enough for the cat to cross them. The tail was not easy. I did a really thin cylinder(hard) and then I stitched sightly along one side of it all the way up to get it to curl and then I stuffed it.
 My daughter loves it. She holds it in her chubby little arms and rocks it like a baby. crocheted toys are great for children but it is time consuming. I personally would save it for very special gifts for my family. Happy crafting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Plum Crazy

My aunt Lori, the one who owns and runs the beautiful Stage Coach Farm, gave me a bunch of purple plums. So I thought, how could I make something for Christmas with this? Hmm… plums, plums. Sugar plums! So I look up a recipe for sugarplums and it turns out not only are they a candy that would go bad before Christmas. They are not even made with plums. Most recipes call for apricots or dates. So I made spiced plum preserves. I call it preserves because like the strawberry syrup I’m not sure what the consistency will be. That’s what happens when you experiment. Here are the ingredients.

30 plums or 5 cups peeled and chopped (Tip: cut them in half and scoop out the innards with a melon scoop)

3 cups sugar

4 TBSP corn starch

dash nutmeg

dash cloves

big dash cinnamon

little dash ground coriander seed

Mix the sugar and cornstarch and set aside. Boil the plums till it is all juicy. Add sugar mixture and stir occasionally. When it starts bubbling, stir constantly. You’ll want to keep the temp at like 6 or 7. Do this for like 5 minute. Have 3, one pint jars and lids ready and add the spices. Once it’s all goopy it’s done. I suppose if you want it thicker you could cook it for longer but I have never tried it. Now put it in your jars, wipe the edges and seal in boiling water for 30 minutes. For details on sealing, read my older post Looks Like Syrup.

Officially I call it Sugarplum Butter because it has the consistency of apple butter and oh my gosh it is so good. I think it goes best on biscuits. Try it for thanksgiving dinner. Your family will love it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Second Stitch to the Right and Straight on 'Till Morning

I have always loved Halloween. Even as an adult I hope for a party or an event to dress up at. As a mother of small children I like to find fun ways to dress up together. For my sons first two Halloweens we went as a big mouse (me) and a little lion (him). Last year my daughter was only a week old and my plan was to go as the princess and the pea. (I’ll let you figure out who was who). I made a little pea costume out of the same green fleece that I used for Christmas last year (as was mentioned in My Handmade Christmas) My son wanted to be a frog and that fit.
This year we all agreed we want to go trick-or-treating as Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Wendy. So, the first thing I did was go to goodwill and had a look around. I found a dark green ladies top with little brown beads on the collar, light green kids stretchy pants(meant for a girl I’m sure) and one big square satiny scarf with pink and green flowers. Now here’s how it all came together.
I cut out the back of the green Shirt between the back of the sleeves and sewed the ends together. With the spare fabric I sewed a little pointy hat and cut zig-zags around the ends with pinking shears. The kid pants flared out on the bottom so I sewed them tight against the leg. Add a braided belt, a little autumn leaf garland and a dollar store gold knife and I’ve got myself the cutest little Peter Pan this side of Neverland.
As for tinkerbell, I simply cut holes in the scarf for her head and arms, put a drawstring around the collar and added dollar store fairy wings. When I loop the elastic straps of the wings around her waist it holds the scarf together like a whimsical fairy dress. I may or may not fluff it up with some tulle. Either way it would be perfect for any fairy baby. Now I just need an adult size nightgown and we’re set. Then again, I might just skip that part.