Monday, June 30, 2014


I confess that I did not use cloth diapers with my kids.  I was just too overwhelmed with all other aspects of motherhood (and a complete wimpazoid, as my dad would say) to even attempt it.  So when Erin's good buddy, Emma, asked me for help sewing some fleece soakers for her sweet little boy, Mark, I was intrigued.  I was even more intrigued when I found out there were no fasteners or elastic in them.  I never realized fleece was this stretchy for some reason.  Emma sent me a link to a tutorial and this was the result:

I used some scraps left over from Peter's fleece Batman pajama pants.  (That's Batman's cape printed across the front of the soakers.)  The print is a little too large-scale for the soakers, but this was just a prototype after all.  I didn't have enough fleece to be able to fussy-cut it properly, but I was able to make the inside "wet zone" layer (which didn't need to stretch any particular way) feature a bit of the Bat symbol. Here's a view of the inside:

There IS an upside-down Batman on the bum.  Yes, better-matching thread would have resulted in the extra wet zone layer being a little less obvious on the outside, but it's not a terrible look.  It's not like the fatal fashion faux pas of the visible panty line.  It's pretty obvious that virtually all babies wear diapers, so I doubt Mark will be embarrassed by kids harassing him on the playground.

So, even though Mark's measurements indicated he needed a size medium, the sheer size of the soakers made me nervous that I had made a size too big.  I also made a size small (using green fleece that I have had for probably a decade, plus the last teeny bits of the Batman fleece).  Here's how they turned out:

View of the back:

And inside (poor Batman is going to bear the brunt of any leakage!!!):

Here is the small next to the medium.  I swear Charlotte and Peter could fit into the medium one, but there's no way I'm letting them try them on.  I figure if the size small is too teeny, Mark's big brother, Ike, can put the soakers on a stuffed animal.  If the size medium is too big, then sweet Mark can grown in to them.  We win either way, right?  I only used fleece I already had on hand and just a bit of thread from my stash, so I won't be bummed even if these don't turn out how Emma envisioned.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hair Accessory Organizer

A few months ago, inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest (there was no pattern listed), I free-handed this fun hair accessory organizer to help me corral Sonia's myriad barrettes and clips.

Notes for next time (if there is one):

1) Use a more substantial hanger!  That wire hanger is not quite tough enough for the weight of the yarn AND the barrettes.  I need to add some reinforcement scaffolding to make sure it doesn't stretch over time.

2) Use more substantial yarn!  I used some Red Heart Soft that I had on hand, and it just doesn't feel tough enough to handle clipping and unclipping these accessories.  Cotton worsted weight yarn would probably work great.

I'm not sure how long this holder will last.  But for now, I'm loving it!  We've been using it for several months, and Sonia and I love being able to see all of her accessory options at one time without having to rummage in a drawer (and this freed up drawer space!).  The organizer hangs in my closet, because I do Sonia's hair in my bathroom every morning.  But someday, it will move upstairs to her room.

I added a cute little flowery design to the top to give it a little flourish:

Better living and organization through crochet!  Now THAT is a good use of yarn and time.  I should make myself some baskets next.....

Friday, June 27, 2014

Potholders & Coasters

Not sure what first inspired me, but I have made a bunch of potholders lately!  I have a bunch of worsted weight cotton yarn on hand right now, so this is great for stash busting.  The first one is the Flower Potholder by Jennifer Martin.  I hooked this cool design for my sister-in-law's birthday, and I think it turned out really lovely!

The double layer really does make a good heat shield, and it turned out to be the perfect size (using a G hook).

The surface crocheting was kind of a grind (and hard on the hands), but it looks awesome.  It even looks nice from the back!

I crocheted this next one for my mother, who has really embraced her new home state....  This pattern, like her armadillo, is by Wolfdreamer, and it was so much fun to crochet.  Something about my crochet tension made it turn out more rectangular than square, but that's ok.

This next potholder was SO much fun to crochet!  The Interlocking Rings Hotpad by Caitlin Pensak is constructed by crocheting 7 separate rings and weaving them together.  Then, you crochet a solid backing, and join both pieces together with a round of sc stitches.  Our brother, Jordan, was the recipient of this awesome potholder, so I used Denver Broncos colors in honor of his favorite NFL team.

He asked for a hanger to be added to the potholder so he could hang it up above his stove, ready for action.

Jealous of everyone else's cool potholders, I decided to make one for myself.  I used Prescilla Hewitt's Scalloped Potholder pattern, and it worked up very quickly and easily.

My only regret is that I used this pretty Lily Sugar & Cream ombre yarn that does not properly show off the nice design (which is created with front post stitches).

You can see it in the navy on the back, though.

I also crocheted myself some coasters to help combat the insane amount of condensation that forms on the outsides of drinks in Texas.  I know the humidity in Dallas is nothing compared to other places in the world (or even Texas), but it's more than I'm used to.  Anyway, I first gave Asami Togashi's Star Stitch Coaster pattern a try.... The pattern was more complicated than I was hoping it would be (making it too hard to crochet while chatting or watching TV), so I don't think I'm going to make a whole set of them.  This one that I finished is pretty, though!  It uses sock weight yarn, interestingly enough.

I also gave Moogly's Nautical Crochet Coasters a try....

....but I still wasn't all that happy with the results.  I had a hard time working with the thin cork (boy, is it easy to rip!!) and had to experiment a lot to be able to crochet the borders without ripping through the holes.  I had to use a smaller hook to get it through the holes punched in the cork, so then I wasn't able to use Moogly's exact patterns.  When I made up my own, I had less-than-stellar results. This red one doesn't lie flat (whoops).

This one turned out a bit better.

This is probably the best one.  I doubled up on the coasters after I punched the holes and that made the coaster feel a bit more substantial.

I still have plenty more cotton yarn left, so I'll keep experimenting with coaster patterns.  Coasters are fun, fast projects that are easy to tuck in a purse and do during my daughter's various activities, so I have a feeling I'm going to be working on them all summer long.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Birthday boys!

June is a popular time for our friends to have birthdays, and this past weekend I made four different little birthday boys their "age" shirts.  Can you tell I wasn't feeling especially creative about picking out fabric?

Happy birthday, boys!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sonia's dresser scarf

In Sonia's new house, her dresser doesn't fit inside her closet and thus sits out in the open.  Erin decided that the dresser needed a dresser scarf to protect it, and I hunted down some cute purple fat quarters and yardage to get the job done.  I sort of improvised a more modern-looking design (since country chic isn't exactly Erin's style) and came up with this.

It's about 40" long and 16" wide.  I had all sorts of issues getting the plain fabric not to look all puckery, but Erin assures me no one will notice once there are a few knick knacks strategically placed on top.

I quilted the plain parts with rows 1/4" apart.  I also chose to zig zag the final stitching on the binding because I wanted to make triple sure that I would catch the back (which was baaaaaaaaarely wide enough).  It doesn't look too bad, actually.

See those darn puckers and folds?  Grrrrrr.  I'm sure an experienced quilter could tell me what I was doing wrong.  I did starch the fabric first and I used spray basting to stick the pieced top to the batting (which was felt).  It was looking puckery even before I quilted it.  Oh well.  Just look at it from far away and squint a little and it looks fine!

I used my quarter inch foot for the first time and it was awesome!  I still need more practice with it, but hopefully this will help with my seam allowance issues.

I will be bringing this to Texas when we fly there on July 5th, and I hope to take a picture of it in place on the dresser then.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mark's Dalek from Dr. Who

To celebrate the arrival of Baby Mark, I decided I needed to crochet him one more gift in addition to the M pillow....  A Dalek!

Daleks are extraterrestrial cyborgs from the TV show Dr. Who.  What better way to say "welcome to the world" than crocheting an amigurumi of a killer robot from your parents' favorite TV show?

Lucy Ravenscar, who designs and writes the most wonderful crochet patterns, created this free Dalek pattern, and it is simply exquisite.  The bobble stitches are placed perfectly, and I wouldn't change one single thing about the pattern.

Help!  Please don't exterminate me, Dalek!

Mark's mom, Emma, took these utterly awesome and hilarious pictures because I was too much of a moron to remember to snap any pictures before I put the Dalek in the mail.

I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn and an F hook.  Emma used two handsome boys and some awesome props from their family Dr. Who Halloween costumes.  I'll bet Mark is really jealous that he was in utero for that Halloween!

Welcome to the world, Mark!  P.S. Emma, I LOVE those crystal doorknobs!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Update: Moogly Afghan Crochet-a-Long

I have been having such a great time crocheting these afghan blocks for the Moogly Afghan Crochet-A-Long 2014 (see my first blog post about it here)!  In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that I have crocheted 4 extra blocks in addition to the patterns that Moogly has chosen.  Here's what I have done so far:

I swear I don't remember the colors looking so patriotic in the yarn aisle of Jo-Ann Fabrics....  Oh well.  I am using Caron One Pound acrylic worsted weight yarn in the following colors: Claret, Cream, Azure, and Cape Cod Blue.

Each block is roughly 12"x12" and will be joined once I get all the blocks finished.  The red is a very strong color, and I need to strategically place it in the blanket to make it look balanced.  We are exactly halfway through the CAL (12 patterns have been revealed with 12 left to go), so I won't start the joining process until December.

Here are the blocks by themselves (excluding the ones that I talked about in the previous Moogly CAL blog post):

Lion's Mane (by April Moreland):

More V's Please (by Melinda Miller):

Drop in the Bucket (by Janie Herrin):

Princess (by Melinda Miller):

 Op-Art (by Jennifer Christensen):

Flower Tile (by Marta Chrzanowska):

Summer Romance (by April Moreland):

Summer Solstice (by Margaret MacInnis):

This last block (Summer Solstice) is my absolute favorite so far.  Look at the 3-D quality of this awesome design!!

And now for my "extra-curricular" blocks....  I was inspired by a blog post that Moogly did, encouraging us to swap out any block patterns that she chose which might not suit our fancy with some other alternate patterns.  I have liked most of the Moogly-chosen patterns so far, so I might just make a larger afghan and include everything.  We'll see!

Eight Pointed Flower (by Julie Yeager):

Patriotic Star Square (by Rik Gillette):

I used very strategic color changes on this Patriotic Star Square....  In honor of our family's move to Texas, I wanted to make it look reminiscent of the Texas state flag.

Magic Spike Mandela Square (by Tamara Kelly, Moogly herself!):

The Crocodile Flower (by Joyce Lewis):

I am so proud of this last one.....  It was tough but so satisfying.  I think I need to make more crocodile stitch patterns because I am in love!

This last afghan block is so special to me.  Moving from Illinois to Texas has been rough because I had to leave behind a wonderful group of friends, and I miss them all a lot.  One friend, Joann, is a fellow crocheter, and as a going away present, she figured out what yarn I was using for this Moogly CAL and crocheted me a block to add to my afghan!  To make it even more meaningful, she chose a pattern called "Circle of Friends Square" (by Priscilla Hewitt). Joann gave me the afghan block two months ago and I still can't look at it without getting a little weepy.  I love it so much.  Joann, you are such a thoughtful lady.  Thank you so much.

I love getting to exercise my doily-crocheting skills through these doily-esque patterns....  I have missed doing more complicated stitch patterns with amigurumi crocheting, in which you basically use one or two stitches for the entire pattern.

But the best part of the CAL is really getting to see what everyone else is doing.  A lot of the participants post pictures to the Moogly CAL 2014 group on Ravelry, and it is amazing to see how different each pattern looks when hooked with different yarn colors, different yarn types, and different color changes.  I can't wait to see what the other 12 patterns are, and I am looking forward to hooking a few more extra-curricular blocks.  So many cool patterns, so little time....

More afghan updates to come in the future!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cathedral Window Pincushion experiment

I was bored one day and decided that although I really don't need another pincushion, I totally needed to try making a cool-looking Cathedral Window Pincushion I had seen on My Go-Go Life.  I have never tried a complicated piecing technique like this, so it was a complete and total experiment.  It turned out a little wonky, but it wasn't bad for my first attempt.

The tutorial was great, and I know what to do differently next time to get an even better result.  The button in the middle is hiding an ugly spot that I think I know how to fix in the future.  I wish I had used white fabric for the "window panes" or bought some of the right shade of blue thread, because this would be even cuter if the stitching wasn't so obvious.

[By the time I got to the step where I needed to hand-sew the opening shut, I was too lazy to pay attention to which color thread I should have used (hence the white stitching on the dark blue, which looks AWFUL).  So, this is going in my sewing cabinet (with the ugly side turned to the back, of course).  I do want to try making one of these again, though!  If I ever figure out someone who might like a little pincushion, this will be my go-to design.  Very few of my friends sew (actually, only one), and my relatives who sew are probably well supplied with pincushions.  This would also make a cute doll pillow though.  Hmmm...]

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nesting scraptastic baskets

I made these adorable baskets the same day I saw the tutorial posted for them on Emmaline Bags.  She calls them "Scraptastic Baskets", which is hilarious because it rhymes AND has a made-up word in it.  Love it.

The tutorial includes a printable pattern (thank goodness I finally bought printer ink!), which you simply scale up or down to get different sizes.  The biggest one was the largest pattern piece printed at 100%, the middle-sized one was printed at 75%, and the baby one was printed at 50% (which is probably the smallest that would work since it gets increasingly hard to sew around the circumference of the top).  I do think I should have added a bit of height to the smaller sizes so they could have a bit more to roll down (because the cuff is key to the basket's stability and cuteness).  It worked though!

I cheated a little by using different fabrics for the interiors instead of cutting all four pieces from the same fabric, but I only did that because I had just won an amazing pack of fat quarters (26 of them!!!) from Connecting Threads and I couldn't decide which prints to use.  I hardly made a dent in the stack.

My goofy children keep stealing the baskets and nesting them inside each other.  Charlotte was calling them "Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear" and giving them voices too.  She's a strange one.

I was debating whether I should give these away as a gift, but I think I love them too much.  I think they will soon be filled with fabric scraps or other sewing supplies of some sort in my sewing room (aka the folding table set up in the bay window of my dining room, because I'm classy like that).