Thursday, December 20, 2007

pregnancy: a great time for craft projects!

I made some do-it-yourself maternity pants! I had a two pair of "fat" khakis pre-pregnancy. They were roomy, baggy, and comfy. They now fit well (my heiny is growing faster than my belly!), but are too tight in the waist. But this craftster tutorial saved the day! Why not just buy maternity pants? Oh, I will. But the crafty side of me had to try this. The advantage that these have over my "real" maternity pants that I currently own is that they were already hemmed to a good length for my not-so-tall self. I haven't had a chance to have my maternity pants hemmed and I look a bit goofy with big cuffs on the legs. In time, in time.

Ok, enough. Time for pictures.

With the belly up (belly fabric is recycled out of an old t-shirt)...

and scrunched down (how I currently prefer to wear them)...

And yes, I'm already huge. And this is just the beginning. In case you've lost count, I'm 11 weeks pregnant as of yesterday. We'll just chalk the overgrowth up to having twins! :D

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Come get your craft on!

so said the invitation I was handed at church a few weeks a go for a craft party thrown my friend Morgan and her twin sisiter Casey. Who could refuse such a darling invitation as this?

I almost pooped out and stayed home (tired mommy!), but I'm so glad I went. All of my favorite people were there, including (but not limited to) Cynthia, Karen, the other Erin, Kelly, Iris, K-Lo, Christina, and Morgan. We has such fun being girls--chatting and crafting. Here are some pictures of last night's finished objects...

magnets, already on my fridge!

and a "W" block, for my last name, of course! It's my favorite! I haven't decided on its final resting place in my house, so I'm sure I'll carry it around from shelf to shelf today trying different locations out.

Thanks for the good time, Morgan!

Monday, October 01, 2007

fleece soaker!

I'm so proud! This came out better than I had even hoped...

Pull-on soakers with yoga-style waist bands (usually sewn from wool interlock fabric) are very popular among cloth diapering mamas right now. I found a pattern to make such items, and gave it a try using the last bit of a yard of Malden Mills lightweight windpro fleece that I bought a year or so ago. Windpro is the sort of fleece that outdoor stores' fleece jackets and vests are made from. It's highly water resistant, but is easy to care for (wash and dry) unlike wool. I "borrowed" someone else's idea of an hourglass shaped double layer in the wet zone, and I think I'll be very pleased with the performance of this little soaker!

now to find some good quality wool interlock fabric! nah--I'll wait for summmer...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

knitting, and babylegs, and prefolds! oh, my!

Look! I've found a little more time for some crafting! Woo hoo! Here are the recent projects...

First, an update on the knitting...

I have finished swatches in garter, stockinette, 2x2 ribbing, and seed stitch. I feel fairly comfortable with the knit and purl stitches, and am excited to move onto a "real" project.

I am hopeful that I will find my perfect first project in the book Mason Dixon Knitting, which I have heard wonderful things about, and am now next in line at the library to read. Scroll through some of the pictures that people have posted of their projects from the book on Amazon. Inspiring and simple-looking ideas abound!

Second, I have been making some faux-Babylegs. What are Babylegs, you ask? Basically, they are baby leg warmers. No, they aren't necessary, and yes, some may find them strange, but I think they're cute. They are especially popular in cloth diapering and babywearing circles for some (almost) practical reasons. For the cloth diaperers, you can keep those legs warm on a chilly fall morning without covering up the cute diaper with actual pants. Yes, that will be my ghetto baby in a diaper, t-shirt, and babylegs this fall. Around the house only, I promise. Babywearers like them to cover the gap made when you put a baby wearing pants in a sling and the pants ride up and expose the lower leg and ankles to the cold. How necessary will this be in Houston? Not very. But hey--I can surely come up with more reasons why these are a necessary accessory for the modern baby.

The "real" ones are sold for $12 and up in baby boutiques and on-line baby stores, but you can make them in 10 minutes for the cost of a pair of knee-high socks. Here's the tutorial I've been using, and a picture of the pairs I have made this week is below.

You may notice some color groups. Target is selling knee socks in pairs right now, so the greens, blues, and brown/orange came together. Don't mind the solid olive green pair that looks like it got into a fight with the rotary cutter. It did. But we won't talk about that. Baby man is keeping all the solid pairs, the green striped pair, and *maybe* the brown argyle. See the burnt orange? Hook 'em! The blue argyle is on its way to cousin Lucy, since there is a color a little too kin to pink in there for baby man.

and for his adoring fans, the olive striped pair modeled...

and finally, this afternoon's project--trimming prefolds. I love the fancy diapers that make cloth diapering in 2007 so different that it was when my mom did it in the 1977. You can't really beat a pocket diaper or an all-in-one for convenience. But there's something about the old-fashioned prefold that speaks to me. Around the house, baby man wears prefolds and covers most of the time. I am finding, though, that prefold sizing does not match real-life baby sizing. He grows out of the width of the prefold long before he grows out of the length. A little research has told me that this is a common problem easily fixed by taking the next size up prefold for width, and trimming down the length for a custom fit. Baby man wears infant sized prefolds. The length is perfect on him. The width is getting snug. I have premium prefolds (the next size) in the waiting, so yesterday and today I took the rotary cutter and sewing machine to them. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, here is what I did...

On the bottom left, you can see an infant (yellow) and a premium prefold (pre-trimming). You can see that the premium is just about an inch wider (perfect!) but a LOT longer. Bottom right, you can see a trimmed premium. I cut them down to the length of the infants and used the overlocking foot on my sewing machine to finish the raw edge. Someday I *will* own a real serger! I kept the leftover prefold parts to use as doublers to add absorbency when laid down the middle of the diaper prior to folding (shown bottom right). Top left is the pile of doublers and top right is the pile of trimmed prefolds. They fit well, so I'm excited!

There is an on-line cloth diapering store that has wizened up and is having prefolds made for them in custom sizes that fit babies more practically. I think I'll do my prefold buying from there from now on to save myself the trouble of trimming.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

learning something new!

It was time. I can crochet and sew competently. I love yarn and fiber arts, so I tried spinning (a blast!) and it was time to bite the bullet and learn to knit. I have had some impromptu knitting lessons with my friend Cynthia, have watched my mother and sister-in-law, and have spent hours on (where I was told that any person of reasonable intelligence should be able to teach themselves to knit--ha!), but I needed a professional. So with my birthday money, I signed up for a two week class at my local yarn shop--Yarntopia. Why do yarn shops always have such stupid names? The first two hour session was today, during which we learned all about different yarn fibers (wool, cotton, acrylic, etc), gauge, how to read the band on a ball of yarn, etc (stuff I already knew from crochet), and then we learned to cast on and knit. Here's my swatch so far. (I think it's garter stitch?)

I'm to return next week with it twice as long as it is wide and we'll learn to bind off, fold it in half, sew up the sides, and fill it with lavendar to make a sachet. I thought that idea was brilliant. My teacher said that most beginning knitting classes make a scarf, but she thinks it's intimidating to make something that you or someone you love might want to wear--newbies are too concerned about their mistakes that way. So she likes sachets. They make for good practice, good smells, and can be buried in your lingerie drawer if they're ugly.

Next week we learn to purl so that we can make another sachet in stockinette stitch. I can hardly wait!

Friday, September 07, 2007

to my dissappointed blog readers...

Yes, I know it has been TWO MONTHS since I updated my blog. The reason is very simple--baby man is in the house. Just a few days after my last post, we got our first foster placement--a darling 3.5 week old baby boy. We love him to pieces and are thoroughly enjoying him, but he seriously limits my craft time. I have managed to do a few things anyway, which follow...

another pouch sling (baby inside!)

It's reversible--red on one side and the same black and white print that I used on Courtney's MT on the other. I have long-term plans to add a pocket to the red side in the black and white fabric. Wouldn't that be cute? Oh, and I also have long-term plans to give it to my friend Iris when God gives them a sweet baby. She tried it on with baby man when she came over last week and it fits her far better than it fits me.

and two baby sweaters...

I love this pattern! I've had it on my to-do list for a while now, but got around to it over Labor Day weekend when David was home to help with baby man. I did the 6 month size at first, hoping it would fit baby man when it got cooler outside, but it was too small. I don't know if my gauge was off or it the pattern runs small, but I had try again! I had some trouble with the 2nd one, as you can tell if you look at the pattern pictures closely, but I improvised, and am pleased nonetheless. Oh, and the 12 month size is perfect for baby man (who is nearly 3 months old--ha!) to wear this winter.

first try...

made from some self-striping yarn I bought at my local yarn shop last winter with a hat in mind (that never got done). I did do buttons for this one in the same purple as the trim, but I took the pictures first.

second try...

worked in Paton's Shetland Chunky Tweeds, which is a mostly acrylic with a little bit of wool blend, with brown acrylic trim.

and from here on, be warned that my craft posts may be few and far between. Or I might decide to broaden the purpose of my blog and just share more about life in general.

We'll see...

Friday, July 06, 2007


The final touch in the foster babies' room...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What can you make with $3 worth of fabric?

a water-worthy mei tai! I bought 3 yards of 60" wide quick-dry athletic type fabric from Wal-Mart for $1 a yard, and am getting TWO water mei tais out of it! It's not UV protective like those cool solarwearve or solarveil MTs and slings, but hey--it'll do for $3. And the fabric was not difficult to work with like I thought it would be. It actually has inspired me to buy some solarweave to do a "real" one for next year!

Here's one of them (the other is cut, but not yet sewn)...

and if you promise not to make fun of me for trying on my slings/carriers with my doll, here's an "action" shot. tee hee! I finished it last as my husband was tapping his foot impatiently waiting to go to a cook-out at a friend's house for the 4th. So this pic was taken this morning, still in pjs, a ponytail, and glasses (hence the close cropping!)...

I'm keeping one, and giving the other to Katy, since she has a pool loving toddler and a new baby on the way.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

rainy day crochet

As many of you know, Houston is having a bit of rain these days. It's been nice to do some yarn work inside while it rains outside, though. I had so much fun yesterday making my very first baby booties! I googled for "crochet baby mary jane pattern worsted" and up popped this jewel of a pattern. I was so pleased.

I did not set out to make three pair of these beauties, but I ran into a little trouble. I whipped up the first two, and they didn't match! Arg. Then I made a third to match one of the first two--and got a third size. Double arg. After much close inspection, I figured out where I was going wrong and made a match for each of my three, resulting in three cutie patootie pairs of booties. I'm sending one pair to Katy for baby Sachi, along with her soaker, which is also finished but I'm not posting pictures of until she has it in hand. The other pairs will find homes eventually. I should send the teeeny-tiny pair to Erica Yee. She's probably the only human with feet small enough!

The other bit of yarn work I did during rainy days this week was this super girly soaker.

I made it with no particular purpose except that I wanted to practice my sizing a bit (I was frustrated that Sachi's soaker came out larger than I had planned and was determined to make a true "newborn" size). I also wanted to play a bit with ruffles. I think it came out cute! Now to find a sassy little girl to wear it...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

babies' room curtain is *finally* complete!

You may remember the crib skirt I did for the foster babies room. Today I finally got around to working on the matching curtain. I'm not sure if it looks like it did in my head (no pattern!) but I like it anyway. It's a stagecoach curtain with the top 2/3 brown, and the bottom 1/3 the same stripe as the crib skirt. I decided that stripe was too much to put in the entire window, so the brown is my attempt to tone it down. I may have gone overboard with that since you can't see the stripe much at all when it's tied up, but that will just have to do!

close up

And a room shot from the doorway, where you get to see my nifty Charlotte's Web art, as well. I sacrificed the dust jacket off of my large "read aloud" edition of Charlotte's Web (my all-time favorite children's book) and framed it. I also scanned and printed my three favorite illustrations, which are hanging in a collage frame above the changing table (not visible in this picture--sorry!).

It's all coming together! The only thing I still want to do in the babies' room is to get those fun letters that hang on the wall and spell out a word above the crib. I'm leaning toward "blessing" in chocolate brown letters, but that project will wait until I make up my mind! Word suggestions welcome...

dye results!

I am so pleased with my fancy schmancy new prefolds! Here's how they came out...

in color piles:

My favorite feature is that the stitching on the t-shirts is not cotton so it didn't take the dye. I love the contrast white stitching on the colored shirts!

all laid out so you can see what all we've got here:

top row are infant prefolds, middle row are preemies, and tees (obviously!) at the bottom. I did two green t-shirts since so many of our little woolens would look good with green.

speaking of our little woolens...

oh, the possibilities for cuteness! Can you see 'em?

and the geek in me had to take this final picture:

It's a comparison of how the bleached Chinese prefolds and unbleached Indian prefolds took the dye. Bleached CPFs are the top row and unbleached IPFs are on the bottom. Overall, the unbleached have richer, darker colors (unsurprisingly), but they also seem to have fewer splotches. I think they actually took the dye more evenly. I like the "mottled" look of the bleached, too, but I found the comparison interesting. And those IPFs are soooo wrinkly! These prefolds are all the same size when stretched and measured, but the wrinkles crack me up!

Now, go dye something yourself, you hear?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I've been dyeing to do this!

couldn't resist the pun--sorry about that!

I'm dyeing some prefolds today! I'm so excited! I took some of my preemie and infant sized prefolds and some 0-3 month sized lap tees and am dyeing them fun colors!

I deviated from the directions on the packages of Dylon dye, so I'm very interested to see how these come out. Here's my process:

I placed two preemie prefolds, two infant prefolds, and one t-shirt in each of five gallon sized ziplock baggies. The package called for 4 tbsp of salt dissolved in enough water to cover the articles of clothing, but I didn't want to use that much water. I wanted my colors to be more concentrated if possible (I don't have any idea if this will help!). So I dissolved the 4 tbsp of salt in a cup of hot tap water by shaking it in a small Nalgene bottle. I added the salt water to the baggie.

Then I mixed the dye according to the package directions (dissolve in 4 cups of water) by shaking it in a large Nalgene. I moved the baggie to the sink to preserve my countertops and poured the dye in with the prefolds.

After squeezing the air out of the baggie and zipping it up, I just kneaded it until everything looked saturated. The amount of liquid was really quite perfect for the amount of fabric. That was totally luck!

The baggies are still sitting on my counter dyeing (inside casserole dishes in case one of them springs a leak--can you say paranoid?). I could go rinse them out, since the package said it only needed an hour, but I don't feel like it and think I'll wait until tomorrow to tackle that potentially messy project.

The colors I chose were sunflower (the yellow), poppy red, burnt orange (hook 'em!), lime green, and royal blue. I have no idea if the rinsed and washed product will be as vibrant as they now appear. My guess is not, but I'd love it if they were!

I'll update with finished pictures tomorrow!

one final trade...

I'm through with trades for a bit--too much to do with foster babies due any day now, but I had to show off this last one...

Again, I made a knitting needle roll for a 'pin friend who did some knitting in return for me. Lea was so kind and generous through all of our talks about what I was looking for. I wanted a green soaker, knit in a specific pattern that I had seen and loved (Little Turtle Knits Hybrid Rib). But that's not all. I was even pickier. I wanted kelly and lime greens--no teal. And I wanted a rolled cuff on the legs instead of the one the pattern calls for. Now, who in their right mind would agree to do that for me in exchange for a measly knitting needle roll? Sweet Lea. And get this--she hand-dyed the yarn. Now, she does this all the time and even has an Etsy store for her yarn, so it wasn't that unexpected of her to offer, but enormously generous all the same. And then she sent me a surprise 2nd soaker. Stinker. When I told her she shouldn't have sent me two, she replied, "Well, what else was I supposed to do with 2 oz of hand-spun wool?" That's right--she spun the yarn for the blue one herself. I'm in awe. They're both breathtaking. I absolutely love them.

And what did I do for her? Well, it was one of my favorite needle roll assignments yet. Lea sent me a picture of her knitting bag and asked that it match, or at least not clash. So, how'd I do?

and yes--I did an extra one, too! travel sized, for the knitting bag.

Thanks, Lea! It was fun!

will work for prefitteds!

Trades are so fun! I made a knitting needle and crochet hook holder for Tammy of Tinkle Traps in exchange for her converting 6 of my premium prefolds into fitteds. She emailed today to say that they're finished, and I can't wait to get them! These will be serged in brown variegated thread with khaki colored velour doublers. Doesn't that sound dull and neutral like me? tee hee!

Tammy asked for her needle rolls to be coordinting, but not matching, in jewel tones, and not super girly. I hope these fit the bill!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

must. finish. before. vacation.

I had two baby gifts to deliver on vacation last week. I finished Courtney's mei tai the day before we left, and Jenny's longies and hat at the bed&breakfast about 15 minutes before we left to go to her house (cutting it close!).

Courtney's MT--she chose black and white, but I chose the exact fabric

a bonus pic of me and Courtney (we've been taking this same picture periodically for at least 15 years, and we're starting to look OLD!)

and the gender-neutral longies and (supposedly) matching hat for Jenny's little one due in October

and a bonus pic of me and Jenny

my summer wardrobe...

I'm totally into fun summer skirts this year. So much so, in fact, that I doubt I'll wear much other than skirts with tshirts and flip-flops all season. I've made two more since I last updated the ole' blog, and here they are...

browns and pinks, with an increasing about of pink in each layer

khaki linen with embroidered off-white polka-dots (you may need to click the pic to see the skirt well)

and as a bonus, you get to see the chalk wall in Charlottesville, VA, where we had dinner for our anniversary. I had written our wedding date on the wall, but I doubt you'll be able to see it amid the other scribbles up there.

when your airplane is diverted to San Antonio due to weather in Houston, you...

a. whine
b. try to nap, but can't get comfortable
c. crochet

Anyone? Well, the answer turns out to be all three, but I did finish up this soaker I had been experimenting with. This is a made-up-as-I-went-along soaker, with a fun twist. I decided to try to crochet two layers of wool through the wet-zone (um, crotch) for more waterproofness (is that a word?). I am so pleased with the way it came out. This yarn is super soft, and the choice of stitch that I used for the top 2/3 of the soaker is surprisingly stretchy for crochet, which has a reputation of not giving as much as knits do. I'm hoping Katy will like it and I'll get to do this pattern again for little Monwai in the coming weeks.

TWIN babies!

My sweet friend Kara from the Pecos House is the proud new mommy of twins! She and her husband Peter have a nearly three year old, and have been planning to add to their family a sibling pair through fostering-to-adopt. Imagine our joy and delight to hear that God had chosen to give their family a sweet sibling pair of newborn twins--a boy and a girl. The evening before I found out that Kara and Peter would be welcoming twins, I had begun work on this mei tai for no apparant reason. It's reversible--with a boy side and a girl side, and the fabrics were purchased WEEKS before these babies were even born. So let's just say that the reason I was making it became apparant pretty quickly!

boy side

girl side

and a toy sized mei tai for big sister to carry her baby dolls in, too

Miss T

Let me tell you about my fun 'pin friend Miss T. Not only is she the coolest gal on earth, she knits beautifully and is willing to work up fun trades with me! I made Tanya a knitting needle holder in exchange for an "umbilical cord" hat.

What did I receive in my mailbox? TWO hats, PLUS a lovely soaker!

She did spill the beans about going above and beyond our agreed trade, so I sneaked some stitch markers into her needle roll as a a surprise, too. Thanks, T! You're the best!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

been moving... which means slacking on my blog!

We closed on our new house 2.5 weeks ago, and boy have we been busy! Here are some craft projects from the last few weeks...

First, some painting in the house (I think it counts as crafty!)
dining room before:

dining room after (ditched the electric blue for a nice green and added a green stripe)

entry way before

entry way after (again, ditched the electric blue)

and just a fun shot of the whole living area in the new house

baby's room after painting it blue and the crib skirt I made (curtain in the same stripe to come...)

and my first ever garment--my "hippie skirt". I wear this thing several times a week, so I need to make a couple more! So easy and so comfy! Here's the should try!

In the next blog update look for Tanya's knitting needle roll, Courtney's mei tai carrier, and the babies' room curtain!