Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year

It has been a lovely to have my sister with us for Christmas - and now 2008 seems to be rushing to a close - where did it go? I would like to claim that this has been the fastest (but a very happy) year of my life!

Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement during my crafting exploits in 2008 - I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Here is a little mosaic to reflect on what has been a busy and I hope a productive 12 months. And I am now looking forward to see what 2009 has in store for the bunnies in the Rachael Rabbit Workshop!

1. Custom Christmas Tree Skirt, 2. Nativity Felt Advent Calendar, 3. Patchwork Pumpkin Tutorial, 4. Princess and Castle Wall Hanging/Play Mat, 5. The Princess and the Pea Quilt, 6. Matthew Bunny, 7. Hand Knitted Cable Blanket, 8. Hand Printed Baby Onesie, 9. Princess Wall Hanging, 10. Simple Knitted Ball, 11. Duckie Knitted Baby Blanket, 12. Piggie Playmat & Wall Hanging, 13. Cupcake Apron, 14. Mrs. Dino Knitting, 15. Bunnies Dancing around the Maypole, 16. Cupcake Tutorial, 17. Tooth Fairy Pillowcase, 18. Mamma Rabbit Cooks a Cupcake, 19. A very fluffy lion finds courage, 20. Needle Felted Bunny, 21. 2 in1: Patchwork Play Mat & Wall Hanging, 22. Girls at the picnic, 23. Bunny Picnic, 24. Family Tree Quilt, 25. Baby Quilt from Denyse Schmidt Quilting Workshop, 26. Knitted Rabbit - Girl, 27. Knitted Rabbit - Girl, 28. Knitted Rabbit - Boy with Carrot, 29. Snuggly Socktopus, 30. Patchwork Baby Quilt, 31. Cable Knit Bag, 32. Patchwork Baby Quilt, 33. Knitted Rabbit - Boy, 34. Embroidered Bunny Tote - Scene Detail, 35. Whole Baby Carrots, 36. Green Bunny Bag

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stippling Success

Back in September I made two pledges - to improve my knitting skills and to conquer free motion quilting. Well say hello to some free motion quilting ... ... I don't know what came over me ... I sat down, took a deep breath and voila. Some successful stippling! Free motion quilting has totally alluded me since I got Bernie - in fact it sent waves of fear down my spine and while I know I have a long way to go before I perfect this technique ... hopefully I'm on the right track now.

If the idea of donning your darning foot, dropping your feed dogs and wiggling your fabric about to make pretty squiggles fills your tummy with dread - my two biggest tips would be
1) keep your speed down - I found a medium speed on my machine much easier to cope with and
2) what ever you do don't panic! (I think all that deep breathing I've been doing in prenatal yoga is beginning to have a positive affect me!

I had a pretty tough day yesterday (translate to: I was an inconsolable hormonal grump) but as it turned out - I just really needed a long nap. By evening I was frustrated at having had such an unproductive day so I decided to do something thoroughly untaxing - but useful - I organized my material scrap box. When we moved I tried to be sensible about what crafting supplies to bring into the city. In particular I wanted to try and use up those little fabric remnants we crafters all end up with. I organized the scraps into colors and textures ... and found that I had a delightful little pile of pretty silk scraps left over from a very special Christmas Tree Skirt I had conjured up last year.

So I am happy to report that today has been more productive. I sewed all the silk scraps together ... ... layered the scraps with some batting and cotton ... and proceeded to attack the layers with my new found stippling skills.I have had my beady bunnie eyes on just about every project in Sew Pretty Homestyle - but the project I have most wanted to make is the makeup case. I've never made a little pouch with a zip before - and I can think of hundreds of uses, gift ideas, occasions when knowing how to make something like this would be perfect. I'm about as scared of zips as I am of free motion quilting but I rose to the challenge (I think) using my new calm yoga affected persona (ha! as if!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Over 100,000 Knitted Stitches of Love

... 277 stitches per line ... 16 lines per cable pat ... 23 cable pats ...... 4,140 extra stitches for the bobbles ...... and it all adds up to ... 106,076 knitted stitches ...
... which just sounds like a really disappointing number. Why didn't it add up to over a million? As that is what the last few cable pats felt like!

And I have to thank Sol of Lappesola for introducing me to this pattern from The Twist Collective (if you are into knitting check them out) ...
... is it not beautiful? I have purchased the pattern (and boy it looks complicated!!) It will make a perfect project to have on hand for when the bump has arrived and is asleep for 20 minutes here or there. They do sleep sometimes right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sometimes Friends Ask You to Make Silly Things!

I was asked to make this ...
... described to me as a 'Man Bib' ... which led to some giggles in the workshop and a husband who was reluctant to take part in the following advertising campaign.

Does your man like to chow chow mein for lunch?
Is his tie covered in Thai?
Tired of washing out those stains and sticky sloppy spatters?
Is his promotion getting a chill from that ugly spill?

Introducing the new
'Man Bib'

A bib for all formal occasions
Protects against embarrassing spills and dribbles
Looks just like a work shirt and tie
Padded for extra absorbency
100% cotton - machine washable
Easy on/off VELCRO® fastening
DISCLAIMER: Use of 'Man Bib' could result in sloppier eating habits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bunnies and Bears

The post arrived yesterday and it was quite the most exciting delivery I have had in a while.

My Christmas cards arrived from Catherine at Bumpkin Bears. Catherine's handmade bears are so gorgeous and perfect and I have totally fallen for all the beautiful drawings she is now sharing with us.
AND a huge parcel of trim (seriously there is so many lovely pieces - all as beautiful as the other ... ... although the pink bunny trim did catch my eye!) came from Anne at Bunny Hill Designs - as well as a lovely card congratulating me on the bump and a dear little bunny named Flora ...... who will be a perfect addition to that very meager bunny collection I have ;-)

The knitting goes on ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What is at the top of your tree?

I am feeling guilty about my blog. I worry I am lacking in crafting news these days as I am currently buried in my Hugs Kisses and Cables blanket - which will soon be finished - if I can just keep going. At times it feels a little bit like a knitting marathon ... only the serious athletes will survive! Here is a little sneaky peak at my progress.
I'm already pleased with this blanket as it is my very own pattern. I've actually written the pattern down - which I am trying to diligently check (and check again) for any mistakes. I also really love the yarn I am using - it is so soft, easy to work with and the hanks (478yds each!) are just enormous - so it goes a long long way.

With Thanksgiving behind us for another year - I can now fully concentrate on the glitter and excitement of Christmas ... and this Christmas is going to be extra special as my sister is coming to stay with us! (My lovely sister wins the prize for being the most excited about the impending bump!) And Christmas has really begun early for me as I won (yes I actually won something - woo hoo!) a beautiful package of trim from Anne at Bunny Hill Designs. Anne (a faithful bunny lover too) is a very lovely and very very talented lady - do not fail to check out her blog.

In the meantime - with my lack of crafting news - lets talk about decorating Christmas trees!! I faithfully put up our tree on December 1st ... (it is a fake tree - because in a small apartment - coping with constantly dropping needles and then the final fight to get the dead tree back out the door and down in the elevator without covering every inch of floor and stairs with needles ... well I just would prefer not be be cleaning up needles until spring arrives ... my husband would prefer the 'natural smell of pine' ... but he is not the one who cleans ... and it is a rather good fake tree ... Can I stop justifying the fake tree now?) ...

So as I began to say ... I faithfully put up our tree on December 1st and the poor thing looks a little bare in the decoration department - so I'm probably a bit too thrilled about being able to take my sister down to the Union Square Holiday Market (has to be done at night for the extra sparkle effect) ... and pick out some additional decorations. I might have to concentrate on more bunny decorations as we seem a bit short of those ...
... cute bunny, bucket and birdies ...
... slightly scary fir cone bunny (actually I think it might have been bred with a squirrel!) And what would you put on the top of the tree? An angel? A star? What about a beautiful Ballerina Bunny?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This year I would like to give thanks for ...
... a new little bunny will be joining the Rachael Rabbit workshop in March next year! ;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Hot Water Bottle Cover #1

Last year, towards the end of winter, my trusty hot water bottle gave in and developed something of a fatal leak. I'm rather partial to a nice hot water bottle - especially for thawing icy toes or to soothe that tummy ache that won't go away.

Imagine my horror when I tried to shop for a new hot water bottle in NY and was met with many confused looks. To begin with asking for 'a hot water bottle' in my quiet English accent only confirmed (apparently) that I speak a foreign language - once I had entered into a detailed description of what a hot water bottle was - the shop assistants just led me to those air activated heat patches!

So during my recent trip back home to the UK my mother was very kind and gave me her spare hot water bottle. It turns out I'm quite fussy about hot water bottles (sorry Mummy!) I only like the traditional rubber sort. On an afternoon wander we popped into Superdrug ... where I found some small (1L) rubber hot water bottles ... I couldn't resist and purchased three thinking about the perfect stocking stuffers I would now be able to create.

So here is my first tutorial/idea of how to make a simple hot water bottle cover from a old felted sweater. The following instructions will work for either a full sized (2L) or small sized (1L) hot water bottle.

Simple Hot Water Bottle Cover #1
You will need:
- hot water bottle
- paper for pattern & pen for scribbles
- old felted sweater
- contrasting yarn
- needle, ruler, scissors etc
- button for decoration

1) Make your pattern first. Draw a line around your hot water bottle ...
... then mark another line 3/8" outside the original line. This will be your cutting line.
Measure the hot water bottle shape from the base of the bottle to the bottom the bottle neck. Then mark a line 1/4 down the bottle shape (line A) and another line 3/8 down the bottle shape (line B).
There are 3 pieces to this pattern - your bottle shape (piece C), the top of the bottle shape (piece A) and the bottom of the bottle shape (piece B).2. Cut these three pattern pieces out of your old sweater. If your sweater is patterned - consider this when cutting - especially if you want the pattern to line up.
3) Sew across the bottom of piece A and the top of piece B using a contrasting yarn in blanket stitch.
4) Begin to pin your pieces together. First pin piece B to piece C.
Then pin piece A to piece C.
Piece A should overlap piece B a little and this overlap will make a pillow case opening for your hot water bottle.
5. Sew around the entire bottle shape with the contrasting yarn in blanket stitch. If your sweater is patterned you might want to check that the pattern lines up before you begin to sew.Weave in any loose yarn ends.
6. Embelish your hot water bottle cover. I attached a bright red button and a loop of braided yarn - but you could use ribbon, pom poms, perhaps even applique a design at step 3. The options are endless.

Finally you will need to find a willing participant to test out your new hot water bottle cover - luckily Big Bunny was looking a little chilly and seemed quite happy to be today's model.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Secret Lives of Snowmen

I'm not a big cartoon fan - but I am quite a fan of Calvin and Hobbes. Perhaps it is the fact that I can quite happily talk for endless hours to my beloved pet - so I am more than able to understand the close and secret bond between Calvin and his dear Hobbes. Although - in my humble opinion - the funniest Calvin and Hobbes cartoons are those of the snowmen that Calvin builds.

Snowmen are so fun. One year at primary school I remember clearly the overwhelming excitement when it actually snowed properly - each class went out onto the playing field were we all competed in a snowman building competition. It hardly ever snows properly in the UK - so this happened all of once! But I remember it quite clearly. Now living here in the US - every year my husband is still surprised at my endless delight when it snows.

My latest Christmas tree skirt has been dedicated to my dear snowmen friends. Giving us all a little insight into the lives of snowmen!!
Did you know that snowmen like to give each other presents?? ...
... that families of snowmen like to gather around and decorate Christmas trees?? ...
... that snowmen like to sneak the odd kiss under the mistletoe too?? ...
... but most of all Snowmen love to sing carols!!!
What carol do you think would be a snowman's favorite? 'See Amid the Winters Snow' or perhaps just 'Let it Snow'?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas is coming ...

Whether you want to admit it or not you can't ignore that Christmas is coming. The stores already have their Christmas decorations out - ready for you to browse and rummage through all the glitter and tinsel.

And here in our little work corner it is no different. Summer seems like an age away. Halloween was barely here (apart from the pumpkin tutorial) and there has been no sign of any Fall or Thanksgiving crafts. The bunnies and I have jumped straight into Santa's sack and I fear here we will stay until the end of the year.

We have been making reversible Christmas tree skirts ...... working on nativity advent calendars ...... (I love how the little pockets turned out for this calendar!)
And the bunnies ... without having a garden to play in have been getting into so much mischief. This little bunny is trying to pretend to be one of the Christmas tree decorations in a bid to become the the fairy on top of the tree this year.I tried to explain that although we are making Christmas crafts now - decorating the tree is a long way off. And this little bunny seems to have been tortured by the other one in what was described to me as the 'wrapping up game' ...
I must give a loud and warm shout out to Janice, Rachel, Louise, April and Barbara (I hope I caught everyone) - all have tagged or given me lovely awards in the past months. I've been terrible at playing along I know - and distracted with moving etc - and I can't tell you how much all the comments mean to me. I loved how and what Jodie (from RicRac) wrote back in August about the whole tagging/award debate - and I'm sorry to be such a party pooper. By the way - have you seen Jodie's Big Selvedge Project - it is truly amazing and should not be missed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My First Magazine Article

The bunnies decided that today was a grey day and only good for staying in bed and reading magazines.
But what are they reading? It doesn't look like a magazine I recently brought. As I got closer I could hear the bunnies whispering ...

Bunnies: 'Oooooh ...... aaaahhh ... oh ... look ....'
Me: 'Bunnies - where did you get that magazine from?'
Bunnies: 'It came in the post today'
Me: 'And what has you so transfixed?'
Bunnies: 'It is an article that you wrote about how to make a Socktopus'
Me: 'Really? My 'how to' in a real magazine?'
Bunnies: ' Yes - look'
Me: 'Ooooh - doesn't it look pretty'
Bunnies: 'Yes and they wrote nice things about you too'
Me: 'Oooooh ...... aaaahhh ....'

Do you remember the Socktopus? He was quite a sweetie. Anyhow he was spotted by the folks of CraftStylish back in June and I nearly died of excitement when they asked me to write a complete 3 page 'how to' article for their Fall magazine. An additional bonus was I got to make 4 more socktopus's ... ...and I sent all five off for their big photo shoot (how I would have loved to be there). Gifts to Make is available through Taunton's online store, Barnes & Noble, Borders and all major craft and fabric stores. AND for an added bonus if you turn to page 8 you get to see what I look like (how I hate photos!)

I left the bunnies to continue reading the magazine - this little bunny looks quite studious don't you think? Maybe the bunnies will learn how to sew and knit soon so I can have a rest!