Be  Back Soon!

Be Back Soon!

Taking a break from this blog.
I’ll be back mid-September.
I’m working like crazy on a very exciting new venture.
Share with you soon.
In the meantime,
Happy last few weeks of summer!
The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian

Here’s how I know when my kids are really enjoying the current read aloud:  They keep the book on them (or in a backpack or under the kitchen table).  Then anytime they see me sitting down for a moment, they bring out the book, shove it in front of me and beg for just one more chapter.

In theory, this is a good thing, yes?  Kids who can’t get enough book time – that’s like every parent’s dream, right?  In theory.

In reality, I haven’t enjoyed a peaceful meal or train ride since we started reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series back in June!  I swear, before I place my chopsticks down at each meal, whichever Riordan book we’re reading lands in front of me.  Two goofy grinning kids look at me expectantly and want to know what happens next.  This is terrible… but I suppose in a weird-good-terrible sort of way?  I’ve dug myself into a hole in my quest to create family traditions and instill a love of learning and reading.  This is driving me nuts!

And yet… I continue reading.  Because I still believe reading aloud is a powerful way to weave a bond between my boys and me.  Because I want us to share a love of books together.  Because, frankly, these are really good books & I want to know what happens next myself.

We’re 100 pages into The Last Olympian.  All three of us are heavily vested into the story of Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, Grover and everyone else from Camp Half-Blood.  When the boys discuss the characters, it’s as if they are talking about friends.  They continue to cross reference the original stories of Greek gods and demigods with Riordan’s take on it.  Simon (10) is now writing a reference book with pictures and descriptions of the gods, demigods and monsters.  Ethan (almost 8) is working on a comic book version of the same thing.

How am I feeling about our 14-month-old reading streak?  Frankly, there are days I want to kick myself in the head for starting the whole challenge because it’s just one more thing that has to happen every day.  When the boys get as enthusiastic about a series as they are now, it does make me a little crazy.  But overall?  Despite my earlier griping – I still think it’s a very cool thing.  412 days… and still reading.

Zippered Project Pouch

Zippered Project Pouch

Some of my friends have been teasing me about my “thing” for grey wool felt.  The answer is yes.  Yes, I do have a thing for wool felt.  As you could see when I made my giant grey tote, then the cross body bag and after that, my needle book.

Today’s project is also made from my favorite grey felt.  But, by special request!  When my friend, Rachanee, saw the other felt projects, she asked me to use the same fabric to make her a zippered knitting needle bag.

My first version of the bag measured 16 inches by 6 inches.  Big enough to hold at least one pair of jumbo 15 inch needles.  But not big enough to stash a whole handful of those things.

I made the second version a little bigger – 18 inches by 10 inches.

Keeping the smaller pouch for myself (can’t get enough of that grey felt!).

The larger one goes to Rachanee today.   Plenty big enough to store multiple pairs of jumbo knitting needles and various other knitting tchotchkes.

Personally, I love the look of these pouches.  I especially love the vintage zippers I paired with the grey felt.  To emphasize the zippers, I attached the fabric under the zipper (instead of the usual other way around).

The only sad note on this project is that I can’t get my hands on anymore of these particular zippers.  Went to buy more.  Alas, the store is going out of business and they are down to the dregs of their inventory.  Not a single special striped zipper left.  Sigh.  Well, lesson learned.  Next time I stumble across interesting vintage finds, I’m going to snatch the lot of them!  And in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my grey zippered pouch with the very special blue/orange zipper.  Hope Rachanee likes hers!

Kid Meets Sewing Machine

Kid Meets Sewing Machine

This week, I introduced my friend’s 12 year old daughter, Kerlin, to some sewing firsts.

Kerlin taught herself how to hand stitch all sorts of super cute stuffed creations, but she needed more than an online tutorial to begin working with the sewing machine.  I invited her over to my place for a few lessons.

Kerlin and I spent two days working together.

On day one, she learned to:

  • Use an iron
  • Measure and mark a square on the fabric (taking into account a 5/8″ seam allowance)
  • Pin and cut fabric
  • Thread the machine
  • Sew a straight seam using a sewing machine
  • Plant the needle and pivot when sewing corners
  • Slip stitch a seam closed by hand

We even had time to do a little hand embroidery.  Here, Kerlin is working on her back stitch.

At the end of day one, she completed this square throw pillow.

With a “K” in the corner for Kerlin (of course!).

On day two, we tackled a more complicated project.  Kerlin wanted to make a set of drawstring pouches to hang by her craft station at home.

She wanted her pouches to be curved on the bottom – which can be a little tricky.  But she did it!

I was impressed with her steady hand on the machine.  Can you see how beautifully she sewed around this curve?

One piece of advice I had for her:  When things start to feel out of control while sewing, do not power through!  Slow down.  Then take your foot off the pedal.  Sit up.  Plant that needle.  Pause for a breath.  Evaluate.  Then lift the zipper foot and make whatever small adjustment needs to be made.  Put that foot back down.  Sew calmly and slowly.  Repeat as necessary!

By the end day two, Kerlin finished four drawstring pouches.  These will go on hooks next to her craft table.  Perfect to store buttons, spare ribbon, and other supplies.  I think she did a fantastic job!

At the end of our two day sewing spree, Kerlin and I had a discussion about hand stitching versus sewing on machines.  We both agreed that different projects call for different methods.  It’s good to know how to use the machine so we have the option to pull it out and use it for bigger projects.  But it’s also useful to know how to whip something together by hand.  Also, a big chunk of sewing isn’t actually the sewing; it’s the designing, drawing, measuring, cutting, pinning and pressing first – before finally getting to the actual stitching part.  At the end of the day, the machine is just one tool for making.  So it’s good to know how to use it.  But for both us, the point of it all is actually the making.  Would you agree?

Kerlin’s Creations

Kerlin’s Creations

Giving my friend’s daughter, Kerlin (12) , a few lessons on the sewing machine this week.  Before pulling out the sewing machine and starting our lessons, Kerlin treated me to a show-and-tell session of some of her hand sewn creations.

Kerlin made her first felty (powder blue cube in the lower left corner) just nine months ago.  The kid studied templates and tutorials and then proceeded not only to teach herself how to hand stitch things she’d seen others make but also to design her own felt guys.  Impressive, huh?

My favorite was “French Toast” – an original Kerlin creation.  Something about this one just makes me laugh.  I’m also wowed by how much time she must have put into stitching him together!

If you want to see more of what this talented 12 year old is making you can find her work in her new etsy shop:  KerlysCrafts.

Machine sewing lesson #2 will take place tomorrow – but before we start, Kerlin has promised to show me how to make the sphere felties (like the pink octopus and the green peas).  Can’t wait!