Monday, December 31, 2007

Uncle Tom: Getting Into the Crafty Holiday Spirit

My Uncle Tom was a true craft buff this holiday. Not only did he participate in our annual Christmas ornament crafting extravaganza this year (see photo below of my brother Adam, cousin Alex, cousin Mariah, mother-in-law Barbara and me painting wooden ornaments on Christmas day), he also brought his own craft (a wreath he decorated with little Christmas figures) to my parents' house. And yes, he is mocking my Craft Buff profile picture in the photo shown above! But really, with his skills and enthusiasm, don't you think Uncle Tom should start his own craft blog?

Oh, and one other thing: in the group photo above, my cousin Mariah is painting glitter on a gift she asked for (and received for) Christmas- pepper spray. As she was leaving the house that evening, my dad said to her, "Oh, Mariah, did you decorate that thing you're holding? Is it an ornament?" She very sweetly replied, "No, that's my pepper spray. I decorated it with glitter paint." My dad quickly backed away.

Happy Knitmas...

Every year my knitting group holds an annual get-together at knitter extraordinaire Stacey's house in Alden, NY. She decorates her old Victorian beautifully for Christmas, and it's the perfect place to have a glass of wine (or a peppermint martini) and hold a knitting-related gift swap. We do a "dirty Santa" exchange, where everyone draws a number and each person can choose between a gift that's already been opened by someone else or a fresh, unopened gift from under the tree. I was the happy recipient of a really cool yarn winder from Rhinebeck, and then the sad loser of that same product when someone else mercilessly swiped it from me. But it all turned out okay in the end, when I opened the lovely and useful book Super Stitches Knitting by Karen Hemingway.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holiday Posts, Delayed

The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of activity here, hence my long blogging silence. I have a backlog of photos and information to post, which I'll get to sometime today or tomorrow. For the moment, however, I'd like to share an awesomely cute photo of Isobel and Ophelia with one of the blankets I helped their mom Becky to create.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beaded Santa Earrings

A woman on my block makes these cute Santa earrings. I bought a pair ($15) for my mother-in-law, who is currently traveling from San Francisco to Buffalo and therefore will not, I hope, read my blog before Christmas! I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I wanted to feature these because they're just so darn cute.

My neighbor is thinking about getting a small business started and I'm eager to support her effort. If any of you are interested in purchasing a pair of earrings like these- a great gift for any Christmas lovers in your family- please contact me and I will arrange to have them shipped to you. It's a little late for this year, but you could always buy some and save them for next Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cuteness Overload

Meet Vonn James! My wonderful friend Andrea recently had a little baby boy. I blogged a while ago about the sweater and blanket I made to welcome little Vonn into the world. Here he is, modeling the goods. In the photo above he's wearing a yellow angora sweater. Below he's sleeping on the green fleece blanket I made, and in the final photo he's sporting a red and yellow angora hat (which he'll hopefully grow into further as the winter progresses!) and the yellow angora sweater. The final photo also features his Grandpa James, after whom Vonn James is named. FYI, Vonn means "bright" in German and knowing Andrea as I do, I'm sure he will be bright in all senses of the word.

Zippers Galore

Here's a little gift I made for yet another anonymous (because she hasn't received it yet) friend. It's a zipper coin pouch- made from 8 small zippers, which I purchased a while back at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, one of my favorite places in the world (this is probably another one, if I ever get there to visit). Talk about imagined treasure- EBDCR takes the cake.

But I digress... I intentionally stitched this with a bright yellow thread and wanted it to look handmade so I made the stitches big and visible. There's no official opening to this little bag- all eight of the zippers function. Cool, no?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Dogs

Today's craft adventures included making two jaunty little scarves for pooches I know. One was a gift for my adviser's dog, Toby, and the other for my dog-nephew and downstairs tenant, Ebenezer. These scarves were super quick to whip up- I just cut 2 big squares out of holiday fabric (snowmen on one side, stars on the other), cut a diagonal line to create 4 triangles, and then sewed 2 triangles together (snowmen and stars back-to-back). I cut in a buttonhole in order to slip one end of the scarf into the other to secure it and called it a day. Oh, and I also added a piece of elastic to the end of Toby's, in case it didn't fit him (it's hard to recall a dog's neck size from memory...) Both dogs looked super cute in their new accessories, but I've only got photos of Ebenezer (aka Eb, Eben, Beezer, Pretzel Man and/or Love Love, depending on who's talking to him!)


Every year we celebrate a Polish tradition on Christmas Eve, called Wigilia. For the last couple of years, I've hosted the Wigilia at our house. On Saturday I attended a cooking class at the Broadway Market that reviewed some of the traditional dishes prepared for the holiday. One tip I learned from the presenter is that tub butter can be softened, molded into decorative silicone baking containers such as the dinosaur ones pictured below, refrigerated to set, and then easily removed from the mold and used to decorate the holiday table. An easy way to get crafty with your butter at Wigilia or any other celebration!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Diane's Christmas Hat

My friend Diane and I often craft together. It helps that we live within a mile of each other in the 14213 (gotta show some neighborhood pride)... Today was a terribly snowy day and Di was brave enough to venture out of her house and over to mine for some impromptu holiday-present knitting. Her 4 wheel drive vehicle helped in that endeavor. Anyway, I'm featuring a hat that Di crocheted for her mom for Christmas. She's afraid that it looks more like a crown than a hat, but I think it's cute and I'm sure her mom will love it.

Also, see below for a little make-up bag I whipped up today as a holiday gift. Again, I can't say more without ruining the surprise... but I hope the intended recipient likes it.

Shh! It's a Surprise!

The trouble with making lots of gifts at the holidays and having a blog that features my ongoing craft adventures is that I can't post about what I'm making without fear of being found out by my loved ones. So here is a little tidbit-- I can't reveal what I'm knitting, or for whom I'm knitting it, but viola! Something for someone. Let's just say that it involved lots and lots of yarn and size 19 needles, so the going was quick. I'll post the item in all its glory after December 26th.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Art Smock, Completed

I finished this little art smock for Bea yesterday. I love the fact that it's reversible. Although only blue and lavender side is stain-proof, the other side can be used while Bea is coloring or engaged in other less-messy crafty activities. I hope Bea and her mom Terra like the finished product as much as I do!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

El Dia de los Muertos Smock

It's such a busy time of year as a crafter, I almost don't know what to feature on this blog. I've got tons of projects underway at once! One of the cutest, however, is an art smock for my friend from middle schoolTerra's daughter, Bea. Terra requested that I make the smock out of some really fun and funky fabric. The blue and purple (el dia de los muertos) oilcloth is from Mexican Sugar Skull, and the cantina/music fabric is by Alexander Henry.

I am using an existing Montessori art smock (shown below) to create the pattern for this little garment. At Terra's request, rick rack is also featured prominently in the design. I'll post a photo when it's all completed, and perhaps also post a photo of adorable Bea (also shown below, in a photo featured on Terra's blog).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Pet Bed, Completed

This weekend I finished crocheting the holiday pet bed I'm donating to the SPCA. If my own cats' reaction is any indication, some little pup or kitten will really like it. Mochi and Meowzle have been sleeping on it all day.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Scoring at the Salvation Army

The other day I went to the Salvation Army with my sister. Since she recently purchased a home, Sarah is on the lookout for furniture treasures. Although we didn't find any gems of the furniture variety, I did find 4 really cool Christmas items. My favorite is the crocheted granny square Christmas stocking pictured above. This is a really simple project if you know how to make granny squares- it's just 16 granny squares sewn together. I actually found a tutorial for this online and am including it at the bottom of this post. Someone's hard work cost me a measly 49 cents.

I also found this flat Santa door decoration for a whopping 99 cents. I think this is probably from the 1960s- can anyone out there date it?

Yippee! I'm so excited- a Makit and Bakit ornament kit! This was originally $1.29 (the price tag is still visible) but I bought it for 49 cents. According to the package, this item was produced in 1978, which is approximately the last time I made a Makit and Bakit kit.

My new Santa holiday mail bag was also 49 cents. He seems to be from the same era as the Santa door decoration, and was made in Japan. He already has some holiday mail in his belly.


Granny Square Christmas Stocking

By Pat Smith ©2000


4 oz. each color red, white and green. (Will make several)

Crochet hook Size G

Yarn needle

Make 16 red, white and green granny squares.

Rnd 1) Starting with white ch 4 join with slip stitch to form ring. Ch 3, 2 dc in ring. *Ch3, 3 dc in ring.*

Repeat from *to* twice. Ch 3 and join with a slip stitch to beginning ch 3. Fasten off.

Rnd 2) Attach red in any corner ch 3 space. Ch 3, 2 dc in space, ch 3, 3 dc in space. Ch 1. *3 dc, ch 3,

3dc in next space, ch1.* Repeat from *to* twice. Slip stitch to beginning ch 3 and fasten off.

Rnd 3) Attach green in any corner ch 3 space. Ch 3, 2 dc in space, ch 3, 3 dc in space. Ch 1. *3 dc in next

ch 1 space, ch 1, 3 dc in next corner space, ch 3, 3 dc in same corner, ch 1.* Repeat from *to* twice. Slip

stitch in beginning ch 3 space and fasten off.

Rnd 4) Attach white in any corner ch 3 space. Ch 3, 2 dc in space, ch 3, 3 dc in space. Ch 1. *3 dc in next

ch 1 space, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch1 space, ch 1, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next corner space.* Repeat

from *to* twice. Attach with a slip stitch to beginning ch 3 and fasten off.

After you have all 16 squares made, you sew them together with white yarn. See diagram.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

When Cats Paint

The other day I decided to paint my kitchen. The new color is a bit loud- it's called "tart apple" and basically my kitchen now looks like I've smeared Granny Smith apples all over the walls. I'll post photos of the project when it's completed. Today's post, however, focuses on what happens when you have 2 curious Siamese cats who wish to help you paint.

Exhibit #1 (pictured above): Mochi decides that she likes the tart apple color enough to temporarily change the color of her back right paw.

Exhibit #2: Said paw, prior to a good scrubbing.

Exhibit #3 (look closely): Meowzle sports a new cat fashion trend- a green spotted forehead.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Poinsettia News

I'm getting into the holiday spirit these days. Here's my latest craft project. This poinsettia wreath is a Martha Stewart kit- I used my 40% off coupon, yippee! There were a few leftover crepe paper flowers when I finished. Not sure what I'll do with them, but I'm sure I'll find some use.

I bought this kit because I love poinsettias, but was under the somewhat mistaken impression that they're toxic to cats and I should not have them in my house. In reading online, I find contrary opinions on this topic (see here and here and here). I probably won't buy a real one, even if the evidence on their toxicity is contradictory, so I'm quite pleased with my wreath.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cuteness in a Mongolian Vest

Okay, it's sort of cheating to blog about this because I didn't make this adorable vest for adorable baby Isobel... but I did buy it from a crafty woman at the Ulaanbaatar black market, cart it back to the U.S. and ship it off to my friend Becky in Chicago, so I feel justified in sharing this super-cute photo. Note also that Isobel is sporting some toasty warm camel wool slippers from Mongolia. She's definitely all set for winter in the windy city.