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!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Patchwork Pumpkins (and a Giveaway!)

I really love pumpkins and when the Halloween season comes along I squeak like an over excited toddler when ever I see a pumpkin patch. Each year I have been here (did I mention it is 5 now!) I have insisted on carving pumpkins. When we were little no one celebrated Halloween in the UK - in fact if someone did ring your doorbell you didn't answer it for fear of having eggs thrown at you or something horrible like that. So the discovery of dressing up, stupid amounts of candy, tacky decorations (our front lawn was so nearly decorated in polystyrene tombstones last year - until I realized ... at the check out ... tombstones in hand ... that it might lead to divorce) and of course - pumpkins!!

Last year I made some life sized patchwork pumpkins.
They were very luxurious and really quite beautiful. I used recycled silk ties and lovely thick upholstery cord to tie around the pumpkins. However lovely they were - and they were certainly big - they deemed to be totally impractical for selling on Etsy due to postage costs!

Here is my tutorial for making your own simple patchwork pumpkin. My version this year is much smaller - but the tutorial will help you make any sized pumpkin - it is up to you. Remember that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes - so if you think your sewing is too dodgy or your stuffing is too lumpy - it won't matter in the least - throw caution to the wind and dive on in!!

Simple Patchwork Pumpkin
You will need:
- colorful fabric- yellows, gold, oranges
- thread for sewing
- some sort of stuffing - I tend to use Poly-fil
- selection of yarn, thread, cord - NOTE: you will need 12 x the length of your template
- felt for leaf (optional)

1. Make your template. Your template can be any size - as long as it is this sort of eye shape - it will work.

2. Cut out the template out 6 times from different fabrics. This is a great way to use up all those small pieces of fabric you have lying around - sew pieces together to make patchwork strips ...... and then cut out the templates. Each section of the pumpkin can be as plain or as 'patchworked' as you like.

3. Sew the shapes - one by one - together to make a ball. Remember you need 6 pieces sewn together make a pumpkin. Leave part of the last seam open - this will allow you to turn the pumpkin right side out. Turn your pumpkin right side out and stuff. Sew shut the open seam.

4. Now you need to cut your yarn/thread that will wrap around the pumpkin. You will need 12 x the length of your template. My template here was 5 inches long so I cut 60" of mixed yarns. I chose to use 4 strands of yarn - a dark green, light green, yellow and a cream. There are so many things you could use to add decorative detail here - ribbons, sequins, lace etc - just experiment!

5. Tie your yarns around your pumpkin (I twisted my yarns together as I went.) Make sure the yarn is tightly squeezing the ball - this will help give the 'pumpkin' shape. You will find that knotting the yarn at each 'junction' will help it stay in place.
Make sure you make a nice strong knot at the top of the pumpkin.
6. Once you have tied the yarn around your pumpkin - you will want to make a stalk. Select one strand of yarn and use it to wrap around the other strands. I used a simple slip knot which I repeated (keeping it nice and tight) until I didn't have any yarn left and a little stalk was left at the top of the pumpkin.
Tie a knot at each end of each yarn strand and trim to your desired length.

You can add a little leaf to your pumpkin if you wish. I cut a pumpkin leaf from green felt and tied the leaf to the stalk of the pumpkin.

So what to do with my little pumpkins. Well this little pumpkin is just the perfect size for a pincushion ...... and if you would like to win this little pumpkin pincushion - all you have to do is leave a comment on my blog (remember to leave an e-mail address so I can find you) before midnight (EST) on October 23rd!

UPDATE: Pumpkin was won by Donna from Cottage Days & Journeys. Number was selected by the Truly Random Number Generator!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back in the Sewing Seat

So I have moved back to the Big Apple - and all the bunnies in the Rachael Rabbit workshop were feeling a bit like this on moving day ...
... it was a sad sad day - but now I have set up Bernie in a corner of the flat and I everything is neatly stored in boxes so that my husband doesn't go mad with all the mess of having my very very important crafting stuff scattered around.

I can not tell you how good it feels to be back in 'the sewing seat' so to speak. I've been so distracted from crafting projects by packing and the move - the lack of creation in my life was beginning to really get to me. I've just finished another quilted play mat / wall hanging.I spent a quite some time on the detail of this one - the little felt flowers and the light shining through the castle windows. My husband exclaimed that he thought it was one of my best - I'm not sure - I am getting better at the whole sewing thing - or at least I'm now managing to control the sewing machine a little!
I even became brave and added little embossed hearts to the border - I would really love to learn how to free motion quilt one day.
I'm still knitting away at my second cable blanket - the wedding is in early November - so sadly I don't think it will be finished in time. The skeins are just enormous - I'm on only on the 2nd - only another 4 or 5 to go ... my little knitting hands might fall off!

I realized that I have been living in the US for 5 years now. 5 years - I can't believe it - that is about 1/6th of my life - time goes by so incredibly quickly - which reminds me that I lots of work I need to get back to. Hurrah for crafting - I seriously love it ;-)