Holy Crapoly!

June 7, 2012

This post is going to be about something crafty!  Hold on to your hats!  Long ago, when I first decided to blog, it was meant to be about my crafty endeavors but really it’s just become a bit of an online journal.  Not that you seem to mind, which I appreciate.  It seems so hard to get to the crafty stuff these days.  Such is life.  But it is with lots of excitement that I share a recent project I finished.

A little background.  We moved into a new house about 7 months ago and had the kitchen remodeled.  I have a dresser in the kitchen now that I use to store some china, table linens, etc.  It was naked on top.  I also keep the dog’s food and water bowls in the kitchen.  I was using a piece of cardboard as her “placemat.”  Yup, classy.

dog bowls, before

I decided to do a short of table runner/large placemat for the dresser, and a placemat for the dog’s bowls.  Jumping on the hexagon craze, I handstitched some hexagon flowers.  Mom helped me when she was here in March.  In April, I sewed them to a piece of linen.  In May, I finally got to the quilting and finishing.  I’m very happy with how it turned out.  I sort of outlined the pattern of the flowers and used three different colors of thread to give it sort of an ombre effect.

table runnertable runner

I quickly put together the placemats.  Nothing fancy.  A very simple and easy look which I was able to get done fast!  I made two so that I can wash one/have one.

dog bowls, after

I decided to use linen as my main fabric.  I am very interested to see how these wash up and wear over time.  I read a tip that linen is absorbant and good to use for kitchen type stuff.  I think I read a tip like that which gave me the idea, but I have no idea where I read it or if I dreamt it.  We shall see.  In the meantime, I’m very happy with how my projects turned out!

P.S.  The dog does not seem to notice the different between her cardboard placemat and her linen one.  Ungrateful mutt!

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Progress Made

November 9, 2011

I finally finished Julia’s quilt and shipped it off to her, along with a few gifts for her new daughter.  I’m happy with how the quilting turned out.  I was super torn with how to do the actual quilting, especially since I’ve only done a total of 4 quilts.  I knew I wanted to emphasize the diagonals in the middle section, and I thought outlining the large stars would look good.  At the last minute, I decided to do the small stars too.  They were actually easier than the big stars and went quickly.  I wasn’t able to get any good photographs that really show my work, but that’s okay.  I also did the binding, agonizing over the correct shade of red.  I sent my friend photos with 3 choices, but the lighting in the house is bad so the photos weren’t super accurate and she left it to my judgement. In the end, I think I went with the right shade of orangey-red.  Gracie misses this quilt.  She took every opportunity to curl up on it.

Julia's quiltGracie find a warm place to nap

Along with the quilt, I sent a little sweater dress I knit.  The pattern was super easy, although I made some modifications based on feedback from other Ravelry users.  (Here’s the ravelry info.)  I used some leftover Sundara yarn which is super soft.  The only downside is that it’s hand wash, but hopefully that isn’t a big deal.

sweater dress

I also sent a little elephant which I made from the book Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.  The elephant was relatively easy to make and I think it turned out well.  In fact, I made two of them.  One is for another friend who is having a baby in a few weeks.  I think the hardest part of the elephant was stuffing it.  I took my time doing it, and once it was done, it looked like I should have stuffed it some more.  My only complaint with the finished product is that they are hard to photograph.  It doesn’t help that in both cases, I was in a hurry too.

An elephant for ellieElephant for Baby Lee

The last thing I included in the box for Julia was a cotton hat.  A basic roll brimmed hat, but with nice soft Blue Sky Organic Cotton Yarn.

It’s a big relief to get those things out to Julia.  She received the box and was very happy with how her quilt turned out and she like the gifts.  Yay!  Now I can focus on packing which is good, because we are moving in about 10 days.  Ack!

Christmas In July

July 14, 2011

About the only thing able to hold my attention these days is le Tour de France and needlepoint.  I went through my pile of canvases and was inspired by some of the projects in my queue.  I was also a bit overwhelmed.  I dug through my electronic files and found a spreadsheet where I listed all the canvases and projects I owned.  Yet another scary number.  Over a hundred in both needlepoint and cross stitch.  If I finished 10 projects a year, it would take me over 10 years to stitch what I have.  Crap!  And I’m not sure there was ever a year I finished 10 projects.  Double crap!  I did pull out a few projects, seven, that I bought that I’m no longer interested in and I am going to try and find a place to donate them.  I’m going to have to go through the pile again with a more critical eye.  The good news is that I rediscovered some awesome projects that I can’t wait to get to.

Right now, I’m focusing on some little projects.  I have two medium sized projects in progress that aren’t interesting me at the moment.  I pulled out a couple of Christmas ornaments to start instead.  In fact, I finished three ornaments in a week!  I can only show you two because one is a gift.

mitten ornament

A mitten…

reindeer ornament

A reindeer…  I really enjoyed stitching up this guy.  I started with red part of the ornament, and used some Vineyard Silk thread from my stash.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with that fiber.  It is so much more enjoyable to stitch with a high quality material.  It lays so nicely, the colors are vivid…  I used alpaca to make my reindeer a little nubby and he turned out well.

Before the ornaments, I worked on two Halloween projects.

spooky house needlepoint

A spooky window…

boo! needlepoint

A cute ghost…

All these projects are with the finisher and I can’t wait to get them back!

I’ve now picked up a very special needlepoint project.  More on that later.

How I Did On My February Goals

February 28, 2011

It was a short month, but I think I did pretty well on my goals.

1. Finish Amyâ??s Quilt.   Done and mailed.  Yippee!!!

2. Sew Momâ??s Bag and mail out her goodies.  The Fabric is already cut, just waiting to be put together. Finished, now I have to pack up the box.

birdie sling for mom

3.  Get to halfway point on Basketweave afghan.  Yup, pulled that bad boy out.

4.  Create something.  I did a floral applique.  I was inspired by a pillow I saw in House Beautiful that was done in brown.  I’ve never done anything like it, so it qualifies as a creation in my world.

my "creation"

I should have used stabilizer to avoid the major puckering that I’ve got, but I’m hoping if I iron the crap out of it and make a snug fitting case that it won’t look too bad.  I’ll have to finish this tomorrow.

5.  Lose 5 pounds. Still struggling with this one.  I’m down about two pounds which is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

6.  Finish â??75 andâ??76 photo album.  Done!  This was a beast.  The project started because the albums my mom did a very long time ago were starting to fall apart.

the reason for my photo album project

I bought pages where I could slide in the photos, added some color and redid the comments.  It was more time consuming than you would think but I think it looks good.  I only have three or four more to do.

photo album page


7.  Read 3 books. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear, and Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery by Julie Campbell.

8.  Read my book and edit the first 3 chapters.  Didn’t get to this one, but I did spell check it and print out a copy of my story.  That’s progress.

9.  Finish my Valentineâ??s socks.  Perhaps I am not meant to be a sock knitter.  They take me for. ev. er.

10.  Finish Billington Bag.  ”Ding dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”  That’s how I feel about this bag.  It was such an ordeal for me.  I think it turned out ok, but more than anything I’m just happy I don’t have to work on it anymore.  The pattern was good, it just didn’t agree with me.  Took a long time to knit, worried I overfelted but ended up looking ok once it was dry and then the lining and feet just gave me fits.

billington bag, finished

inside the billington bag

I finished 7 out of 10 which isn’t too bad.  Especially when you think about the other things I did during the month.  I worked on a new shawl which is about 70% complete, and I made a pillow out of my sashiko embroidery.  And, I made myself a necklace and my aunt a pair of earrings.  The earrings were requested a gajillion years ago (last May) but now they are done.

That’s a pretty productive month.

Now to mull over March goals.

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The Emotions Of Finishing A Project

February 12, 2011

Finishing a project always brings out so many emotions.  Usually it is happiness and pride (is pride an emotion?).  Sometimes it’s plain old relief.  And then there can disappointment and frustration.  Every project is a roller coaster of emotions, I think. Even the little projects.  The intensity of emotions is directly related to the purpose of the project.  Knitting a hat isn’t quite the emotional experience that is knitting a vest for my mom for Christmas.  Sewing a pouch isn’t the same as making a quilt for a friend’s daughter.  And maybe the more you do something, the less of a journey it becomes.  The first time I flew home to Chicago from college brought out more emotions than any other trip.

I finished Amy’s quilt yesterday and wrapped it up to mail today. I originally started this project in June and it took me until yesterday to finish.  First emotion:  embarrassment.

pile o squares

I knew it would take me awhile because it was the first “real” quilt project I had done in a long time.  I warmed up with a lap-sized zig zag quilt and then jumped straight into a twin size bed project.  The pattern was easier and yet it wasn’t.  The pattern was also an original idea though you can find a similar one in the book The Practical Guide to Patchwork (Snapshots).

I got frustrated in August because my corners weren’t lining up and it wasn’t turning out as nicely (ie perfectly) as I had hoped. Second emotion:  frustration.


I thought about working on the quilt all through the fall and then I got caught up in other things, but started thinking about it a lot in December.  Finally, in January I pulled it out again.  I think about 1/8th of it was put together and it was seeming too wide to me.  I measured it, compared it to another quilt and decided I didn’t need two columns and I cut them off.  Just took the scissors and got rid of them.  I added on a few more rows and a couple of days later, started wondering about how wide the quilt really needed to be.  I re-did research on quilt sizes and realized that indeed, I needed those two columns.  Third emotion:  intense frustration at own stupidity and rashness.

quilt in progress

I fixed my “mistake” and in doing so, I realized that I had done a horrible job of planning.  I had no idea how many squares of each print I had, how often I was using them, if I had enough…  I got organized.  I created this crazy spreadsheet where I named each print, figured out how many I had already used, how many I had, how many total squares I needed, then how many more of each fabric I needed and then I was a little more systematic when I laid it out.  Probably a bit of overkill, but the project started humming along after that.  I’d lay out three or four rows at a time, take a picture (because once I started sewing I’d get confused) and then add it to the body of the quilt.  It took me about a five days to get the quilt top done.  I already had a plan for the quilt back and that was an evening and morning’s worth of work.  Then I made my sandwich which went a lot more quickly than I expected.  Except that once I had the quilt back taped to the floor I realized that my batting was in a closet that was inaccessible because all the furniture in the room was pushed up against the door.  Brilliant!  I managed to get it out, which entailed quite a bit of swearing. That roadblock notwithstanding, the sandwiching went well and then it was on to the quilting.


I wish that I could undo the early passes I made on the quilt. About a quarter of the way through the first round of quilting, I started to get the hang of it.  Fourth emotion:  joy!

The quilting took me two days.  That went a lot faster than I anticipated.  I did a relatively simple lattice design.  Interesting without being too difficult or too busy.  Next up was the binding which also went well.  I machine sewed it on, and then finished it by hand.  I thought it would take me a week to do the binding, but that took less than two days.  The next day I made a simple quilt label and sewed it on and she was done.  But she wasn’t feeling exactly done to me.

quilt backing

quilt front


She needed a pillow.  An embroidered pillow.  I went to bed making up the design in my head, and in two days, the pillow was done.  Then the project felt complete.  Fifth emotion: contentment.


I’m always super critical of myself and my work.  Could my corners have lined up better?  Yes.  Could I have quilted straighter lines?  Yes.  Will anyone notice the imperfections? Only experienced quilters and me.  Could this project have been made with more love?  No.  I am truly proud of this project.  It is one of the nicest things I have made.  It has been a roller coaster of a journey, but I learned so much through my many, many mistakes.  And in the end, when I looked at it, I don’t think I could have done a better job.

P.S.  I used 5 – 6 squares of 44 different prints.  Finished size is approximate 68 x 100 inches.

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A New Summer Shirt

July 1, 2009

This is the first garment I’ve made in a long time. It’s a summer blouse pattern from Simplicity. This is my second time making the shirt and as a result, I made some adjustments to the pattern. The changes included making the sleeves less full and only gathering the front and back of the neckline; the original pattern called for gathering the whole neckline. The last think I changed is how the neckline was done; I really couldn’t understand the instructions and I had my own way of doing it. The fabric I used is *perfect* for this pattern – it’s from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern line. It’s a subtle light pink on beige pattern so hard to see it in the photo (click for a larger view). I can usually find something I would do better, but I’m pretty darn pleased with the final result.

I’m diligently working on my circular shawl, except when it’s too hot to have a pile of silk and wool on my lap. It was 97 this weekend so I did pull out my sock for a bit. I felt like knitting but I couldn’t tolerate the shawl. Now that it’s cooled off, I’m focused on the shawl. I only have 5 repeats of the cable edge left and then I can bind off. I’m hoping to have it done in the next couple of days. Yay! This will be my first project where size matters so I’m really hoping I did the math and have my gauge right. I cannot tell you how bummed I will be if this doesn’t fit right.

I hope everyone has fun plans for the 4th!! Can you believe it’s July already???

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A Christmas Gift for Gran

January 8, 2009

Yay! Another Christmas FO!

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with what to get some people for the holidays. And “those” people are people who are looking to reduce the amount of their “stuff” instead of adding to it. It’s not really an age thing either, because right now Bill and I are looking to lighten out load and we’re 50 years younger than Bill’s grandmother. Since I do know that Gran has spent the last two years (off and on) going through closets and getting rid of things, I classified her as one of “those” people. And I don’t mean for you to think that I’m being negative about “those” people because I’m all for simplying (see new year’s resolution #1).

On my last visit with Gran, we had been talking about cute yet moderately priced grocery tote bags. I had an idea to make one of out burlap but never got around to it. So for Christmas, I was inspired to put my idea into action for Gran’s Christmas gift. My mom recently told me how to do French seams, and I used the French seams on the grocery tote so that I wouldn’t have any raw edges, and I figured it would give the bag extra reinforcement. For the edging on the top, I made my own bias tape, and used that same bias tape for the handles which are one piece going around and under the bag, again for reinforcement. The bottom is where things got tricky. I couldn’t figure out how to do the french seams on the bottom, and I was really short on time so I didn’t have the luxury of being able to really play with it, leave it, mull it over, take out what I did before, etc. So for the bottom, I used some of my left over bias tape to cover those two raw seams. Even as I think about it now, I still can’t figure it out; definitely something that will require “play” time. My other design decision was to do short handles. My giant tote has long handles which I could use to put the bag over my shoulder, but I never really do that, and I haven’t really seen other shoppers do that. So I went with short handles.

The fabric, which you can’t tell unless you see a detailed view, is pink and red strawberries! I love it! Strawberries for a grocery tote; cute right? The bag itself is made out of burlap which I figured would be strong. The only downside about the burlap is that it sheds. I am wondering if it will stop shedding. It would be really nice if it did. Really nice.

If you’re curious about the dimensions, so am I. At one point I did write it down and have a sketch. No idea where that is. I was in a hurry to get the gift wrapped and while I stopped for pictures, I did not stop for final measurements. But it is a generous size, probably about 13 inches tall and 4 inches wide?

All in all I am about 90% pleased. As I told Gran, normally I would have made a prototype and kept that one and then would have made a second that would have been the gift and corrected all the mistakes of the prototype. But I was really really under a time crunch and so Gran got the prototype. I will also say that I am pleased with how it turned out even though I would change some things, and that if I had been even the tinest bit unhappy with it, she would have gotten an IOU.

Now to make one for myself.

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Everyone’s A Winner and Christmas FO 1

December 17, 2008

Is anyone else freakin’ out that Christmas is 8 days away??? So many gifts to finish and pack up and get in their merry way.

This scarf is one gift that has already begun its journey. I knit up My So Called Scarf using Manos on size 10.5 needles. I have been wanting to knit up this scarf for some time and I finally got around to it. This beauty is going to someone in a cold climate so I think it is perfect. The scarf took me about 3 weeks (working sporadically). I had a little trouble getting used to the pattern, but once I did it went fast. I didn’t measure the scarf before I sent it out, but if it were for me, I would probably have started a third skein of yarn. I have a feeling the length is about 55 – 60 inches and it’s about 6 inches wide. I like my scarves long, but I have a thicker neck than most. I just love this pattern. Check out more pictures here and here.

On a separate note, thanks for those who participated in my giveaway! The good news is that everyone who left a comment is a winner! I will be in touch to let you know what your pouch options are and to get your snail mail addresses. Okay, I’m related to 3 of you so I don’t need your addresses, but you still do get to choose your design. I’m looking forward to trying Keri’s candy cane cookies. I was able to do some Christmas baking last week with my mother-in-law. It was very fun! I ate way too much dough, and I was on my “good” behavior. We made oatmeal scotchies which turned out well (we’ve had problems with these being too flat in the past), pressed cookies (I even got to work the press!!!), sugar cookies and snickerdoodles. All in about 4 hours. CJ helped, but her strength is in the clean-up. (Here she is again.) I have been enjoying cookies all week and surprisingly enough, there are still some left. The holiday season has been flying by and I haven’t had or been taking the time to enjoy it. I feel like I’m running from one deadline to another. But the baking really helped it feel like Christmas. Thanks, Jeanne!!!


September 15, 2008

So this mess became these little hats. I decided at the last minute (Wednesday) to knit baby hats for a baby shower I was attending on Saturday. Granted they are baby hats and knit up quickly, but I was creating my own design (simple though it may be) and that does add a little bit of time. Especially when you don’t like what you did and have to rip half of it out.

I have no concept of the size of a baby’s head. These look small to me. But I have no idea. They are about 13 inches around. Suffice it to say, I am very curious if they will fit. I did think that since they are twins, they might be on the smaller side but I don’t know. I did tell everyone that if they didn’t fit the babies they would look great on a stuffed animal or doll.

My favorite part of the hat is the top, with the little nubbin tied in a knot. They are simple hats, knit in the round in two colors. I used Blue Sky Organic cotton yarn which I love. It’s so soft and I am a big fan of the natural colors. I am happy with how the hats are the same yet still different.

What do you think?


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Always Look In Your Snack Bag

July 15, 2008

billsipodcaseIt was nice to have no real plans this weekend. I did have to clean up my craft room this weekend. It was a disaster. I wish I had taken a picture of it beforehand. In the course of cleaning up, I got inspired to work on a special project. Bill had a meeting Monday that he was making him a little nervous. I decided to whip up a new ipod case for him. He had picked out the fabric and I purchased it in New York. While he was downstairs, I started cutting fabric and sewing. Which of course meant that he found seventeen reasons to have to come upstairs and talk to me. I thought he had to know that something was up because each time he came upstairs, I met him at the door of my craft room and steered him toward our bedroom. How could he not know I was being sneaky? (‘Cuz he’s a sweetie) I did finish the project, wrapped it up, and hid it in a bag filled with snacks for his flights. Well, after six hours in an airport, three of them on an airplane, he never got wheels up. So at one point, I told him to look in his snack bag and he found his surprise. The work meeting has to get rescheduled and I don’t know what new little treat I can whip up for the next trip. (But Cheli will be available to help him pack.)

IMG_0638 IMG_0643 IMG_0647

I spent Sunday relaxing and organizing drawers (don’t be jealous), watching tv and working on some projects. It was a nice day. Then yesterday I wasn’t feeling 100% so I stayed home from work. I planted my butt on the couch and watched the Tour de France (very exciting mountain stage), Law & Order Criminal Intent and Mi-5 (awesome British spy show). I did some needlepoint and was able to finish my pear canvas (here’s the before picture). I am uber-happy with how it turned out.

I also got my ravelry invite yesterday and spent a little time playing around on the site. The timing is perfect because I’ve been inventorying my stash and planning out my projects. And is anyone else thinking about Christmas gifts yet or am I the only geek?

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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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