Saturday, December 11, 2010

Green Crafting

Today, I finally felt like I started to get into the holiday spirit. Keith and I did a little Christmas shopping, and I got to do a little bit of Christmas crafting!

Last week, my mother sent me an email suggesting fabric gift bags for holiday gift wrapping, with the idea that reusable bags would cut down on the time we spend wrapping gifts. Earlier this week, I read on MegaCrafty about all the waste that is caused by holiday gift wrap. According to the EPA, between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans generate 25% more waste than normal. I read here that during this period, Americans buy 2.65 BILLION Christmas cards, and there is a 40% spike in the purchase of batteries. Most gift wrap, apparently, is not recyclable, so it all goes directly to the landfill.

So, I decided to take a tiny baby step towards reducing waste. (Side note: check out our baby tree! Our place is too small for a real one, but it doesn't quite feel like Christmas without one. For some reason, the cat LOVES this which I mean loves to eat it...which is odd because it's plastic!)

I looked at a tutorial here, but honestly, it was pretty easy to figure out. I had some holiday fabric left over from last year, and cut it to fit some gifts I have already bought. Then I made a few more for gifts I intend to purchase...or because I think it will be useful to just have some on hand. The most time consuming part was just cutting things properly, and that's probably just because I am completely incapable of cutting in a straight line. Each bag probably took 10-15 minutes to make.

So this year, after Christmas when holiday fabric goes on sale, I'm going to buy a bunch and make some more. They're just as pretty as paper gift wrap, and so much more practical!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Something I'd like to try...

Anybody ever seen these before?

Sailor's Valentines were originally made (or brought home) in the 1800s by sailors traveling long distances who wanted something beautiful to bring home for a loved one. Sailors would decorate octagonal boxes with local seashells, often including a sentimental message ("Forget-me-not" was understandably a popular theme). The island of Barbados, often a stopping point on long voyages, became a popular place to buy Sailor's Valentines for those who did not make their own.

The one in the picture above was made by my grandmother, with a sailing ship scrimshaw in the center.This one is my favorite. The center is a picture of my grandfather, which was actually printed in National Geographic magazine after he went on a sailing trip with them. The shells spell out "Love is Forever".

As a history teacher, I love when creativity and history intersect. I like knowing that I'm part of a continuum of people who make stuff - although my reasons for making things might be different, I like to think about why people made things and what significance the things they made held for them. I can only imagine what a cherished gift a valentine like this would have been, brought home by a loved one who had spent years away at sea. I think the history of these beautiful valentines is fascinating, and I definitely want to try and make one - perhaps as a valentine for my sweetie?

Has anyone out there ever made one before? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some other things I've been up to...

The odds and ends of my craftiness...

This sweater started out as a baby ended up almost big enough for me to wear. (Yet another lesson in the importance of knitting a gauge swatch...but since it wasn't intended for anyone in particular, I just left it). The yarn is nice and fluffy, though!

Some tiny socks for a friend having a baby!
And, to use up the last of that yarn, some tiny Christmas ornaments :)

I donated the sweater and ornaments, among other things, to my church's annual fair. It's the biggest fundraiser of the year for us, and I'm always amazed at the incredible stuff people make and donate!
I just love these little bags shaped like fruit!And personalized marshmallow roasters...Keith and I are in charge of the book room (I always take home boxes of them...which I mostly read and then give away or donate back the next year). Isn't he cute?
So many books...

The fair is, for me, the beginning of the holiday season, and one of my favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas. Anybody else out there in blogland have any fun, crafty pre-Christmas traditions?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Today, I want to share a little bit about my crafty roots!

This is my nana in her studio.
Since 1984, she has been making and selling Nantucket baskets, as well as offering classes through her home studio, known as Peg Hall Studios. The name of her studio comes from her mother-in-law, Margaret (Peg) Hall, an accomplished author and artist in her own right (I'll have to blog about her another time).

Nantucket lightship baskets originated in the 1860s, when "light ships" were commissioned to warn ships of the dangerous shoals off the southern coast of Nantucket. Life on a lightship was tedious, so the men on the ships took up basketmaking to relieve the boredom. The resulting baskets are strong and beautiful, and are now made in a wide variety of styles and colors, including purses, often known as "friendship" purses. Nantucket baskets last so long that they are often described by the rhyme:
"I was made on Nantucket, I'm strong and I'm stout, don't lose me or burn me and I'll never wear out!"

I recently decided that I wanted to learn how to make baskets like my grandmother, and have been impressed by how detailed the work is and how strong the finished product is. I just finished my first basket! (Actually, I made one when I was a kid...I started it when I was 8, and finished when I was I don't really count that one :)

Here are some of my Nana's designs:

And here's the plug: Peg Hall Studios has joined the 21st century by setting up an Etsy shop! Please check it out here - Nantucket baskets make beautiful, timeless gifts for the holiday season!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Since lots of people I know are having babies this year, it's time to busy making presents!

These were easy to make, and all out of things I had in the house - a towel I no longer use, and some cute jungle fabric I picked up in the bargain bin at JoAnn's awhile back. Baby can never have too many burp cloths!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wedding gifts

The pictures aren't great, but these are the quilts I made for my parents and Keith's parents as a thank-you for helping plan our wedding.

I followed Obsessively Stitching's First Quilt Ever tutorial for both, and it made the whole process so clear! It's amazing what you can learn from the internet...

I also wanted to share some AMAZING wedding presents we received from Carole Ann of Connect the Dots Crafts...personalized aprons! Each one has an applique of our initials.

Rufio says, "Happy Halloween!"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some fun stuff...

Thanks to Maiden Jane for these awards!

I guess I'm supposed to share seven things about me. Hmmm...

1. I just got married!!! 10/10/10 :)
2. My hubby and I have a giant cat named the baron Rufio Houdini von Wolfenbach (the middle name comes from his amazing ability to escape...)
3. I got a slowcooker as a wedding gift and it is AMAZING.
4. I love crime tv shows - Law and Order, NCIS, Bones...
5. I teach high school. Kids are hilarious.
6. I love snow and can't WAIT for ski season.
7. I love a neat house, but hate to clean. This is a fundamental problem with my life.

I would like to pass this award along to the bloggers listed below. If you wish to participate, the rules are:

a) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
b) Share 7 things about yourself.
c) Pass the award along to 10 bloggers who you have discovered and who you think are fantastic.
d) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award

Connect the Dots Crafts
My Inner Old Lady
Obsessively Stitching
The Train to Crazy
Adventures in Dressmaking

Ok that's only eight but I'm picky :)

Clicky clicky!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some little things...

I like things that are small.
So it does not surprise me that I ended up making so many of these tiny wallets :)

I found the tutorial here at the Mad Quilter's blog...and made a whole bunch!

It was a great way to use up some cute scraps, and for the outside I used denim from some of my hubby's discarded jeans. He works outdoors and a lot of his pants get pretty messed up, but once he's deemed them too gross to keep wearing I try to save the bits that aren't worn through.

I haven't been knitting too much lately, but yesterday I was at the Christmas Tree Shops (love that place!) and they had this funny yarn on sale for cheap. I'm not sure you can tell in the picture, but it has a really interesting texture, so I picked one up and I'm knitting a little scarf. I had almost forgotten how relaxing it is...

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Back!

Back from my blogging hiatus with a new husband and a new name :)

It was, in all honesty, the most perfect day of my life. It was absolutely wonderful to be surrounded by all the people we love best and celebrate the beginning of our life together. And it's so funny to think that now, I am a Mrs! I keep giggling when the kids at school call me Mrs. P :)

Then, I was surprised when I got back by a lovely crafty wedding gift from Carol Ann at Connect the Dots Crafts! You can check it out here. Carol Ann even made herself an incredible dress to wear to the wedding! Check that out too.

I actually have been doing some crafting, too...I'll post soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A few little things...

Ever since coming across this tutorial I have wanted to make one of these adorable clutches! Well, I finally did it. I love the little whales - they came from my Grandma's stash. For some reason, the lining came out a little bit too big, so it bunches inside the bag. I want to try this one again and see if I can do a little better. Also, I learned how to shorten a zipper!

It is nearly impossible to take good pictures in my dark apartment!

This little sweater is for a friend of mine who just had a baby. Found the pattern here. This is my favorite kind of knitting - completely seamless, all you have to do is weave in the ends and you're done!

Quilt #3 is in the process of being quilted - the end is in sight!

Monday, August 30, 2010


This weekend, my wonderful friend Debbie hosted a bridal shower for me. I couldn't think of a good enough way to thank her, so I decided to make her a thank-you gift!
I followed this tutorial.
And here's the back, with a little help from my dear husband-to-be (I really like the stripe):

My dear friend Carole Ann of Connect the Dots Crafts came to celebrate with me and she made me a beautiful clutch for my wedding day! It is absolutely wonderful and even more special because she made it herself! You can see lovely pictures here. I was inspired to make this quilt by seeing the one she made a few months back!
I am feeling a little overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the kindness people are showing as my wedding approaches. Just a little over a month left! I will have two more finished quilts to show off soon.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More blog silence...because I am, sadly, very far away from my
sewing machine AND my knitting needles, and instead devoting my time to study. Lame. However, in about a month I will graduate (hooray!), go back home, and quickly (hopefully) finish the three WIPs I left behind...three quilts for some very special people who are helping me plan my wedding. The first one I have already sh0wn pictures of, and that one actually traveled with me to Vermont...I am slowly but surely hand-finishing the binding in my off moments, which are sadly few and far between.

However, I now know an awful lot about deixis, especially in Chinese. I'm still not sure precisely how that will help me do my job better, but knowing is half the battle, right?

I decided to take a study break and revisit my crafty goals for this year.
T-shirt quilt: done! yay! Want to make another one for my dear husband-to-be, who owns more tshirts than anyone I have ever known.

Fusing plastic bags. I did do a brief experiment with this, but had trouble finding the right iron heat to make it really work. I could only succeed in very small pieces...I will have to ask my friend Carole Ann, who I know has had some success with this. On a side note, I really want to make one of those gathered clutches she has on her blog...

A new hat for the boy...definitely a necessity. Any good suggestions for hat patterns? Maybe this one...or this one...or pretty much anything listed here.

T-shirt tote bag: again, tried this, but had a hard time with sewing the tshirt material. Grandma suggested I needed a different kind of needle, but by then I was already distracted by something else...

Sigh...back to learning about speech act theory...

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have been following along one of the BEST TUTORIALS EVER at Obsessively Stitching:
I suppose that, technically, this is not my first quilt ever, but the t-shirt quilt is so unique that this is a whole different type of project. This tutorial (really, set of tutorials) is amazing! The whole process is laid out step by step, from what fabrics to buy straight through finishing it off...any questions you might have had about making a quilt, answered. I have the top almost finished. I'm so glad there are people out there in the world so willing to share their talents! Many thanks to Care!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This is so satisfying!Since it is so nice and springy outside, and my condo has almost no natural light...I decided to venture outside to take a few pictures of my work. I love the finished effect! I was partway through this project and trying to figure out how to do this on my own, when I saw this post from Maiden Jane and decided, like my boss always says, there's no use reinventing the I bought a wonderful pattern from her and learned from her experience! I'm really glad I did, because her way was SOOOOOO much simpler than what I had been planning on doing. I won't give away her secrets, but it was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

And the final result? I have comfortably napped under it several times already, and found it to be very satisfying. Is it perfect? No. But it's mine :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A (failed?) experiment

My trip to China went amazingly well. The kids were well-behaved, the tour guides were knowledgeable - altogether, I loved the tour, the company, and the experience.

On the crafting front, I've been making good progress on my quilt. The top is almost done!

I love the effect - it's like my life story in a quilt! Of course, cutting up all those t-shirts left me with lots of scraps, so I tried to come up with some ways to use them, including these coasters below.
Last week, I saw this tutorial at an amazing blog called Adventures in Dressmaking. The tutorial explains how to turn a man's shirt into a skirt. The attempt was not flawless - I didn't make the waistband wide enough, so there wasn't enough space to fold it all the way over, so you can see the unfinished edges on the inside. I also attached the waistband backwards, so I had to do a quick switch with the button and buttonhole to make it work.

Despite it's flaws, I think it's really cute, and I would love to wear it - but, sadly, it's WAAAY to small for me to every dream of wearing :( Next time I'll have to get a much larger shirt to start with!!! At least now that I've done it once, hopefully I'll be able to attempt it again and get a wearable result. Not sure what I'll do with this one!