Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After it's all over

I finished Mr. T's first Christmas ornament around 11:30 Christmas night - just under the wire, so it still counts, right? (Confession: it's not really finished, since I still have to stuff it and sew up its belly, but we'll just let that go, shall we?).

As much as I love Christmas, I always feel relieved when it's over and the pressure is gone. Even if I didn't finish everything I wanted to, and I rarely do, I can move it to next year's list and have another whole year to put things off.

I do look forward to starting a new year, and I'm planning to work on clearing the decks first - finishing lots of stalled projects and organizing my sewing room before adding anything new to my list. This week is always a nice break, a chance to rest before a new year, and I'm spending it happily making lots of lists.

Just so this post isn't bare, check out this crazy picture of Mr. T and a photo of his dad. Nuts, huh?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last-minute Stitchery

There's still time! This is for those of you frantically scrabbling around in a pile of fabric remnants and bits of string, waving scissors and a glue stick, muttering about Christmas and Martha and perfect trees/centerpieces/decorations/gifts. I guess it's also for those rare creatures who are planning next year's projects, but who really does that? Not me, that's for sure, although every year is the year I swear I'll start - no, really, I mean it this time.
Seriously, though, this took me about 3 hours from start to finish - from cutting out the fabric to mounting the finished piece.

I created this embroidery to use for my holiday cards and for a decoration. I pressed the finished piece and scanned it, then printed it on cardstock for the cards. I want to start doing this every year, with a new design each time, and build a collection.

Get the embroidery pattern here! I'm traveling, and using a borrowed computer, so sorry for the imperfect pattern. I'm planning to redo all my patterns soon(ish) so they look better anyway. I used blue linen, and cream and very pale blue floss. Stitches are outline stitch, lazy daisy, brick and satin stitches.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making ...


a mess


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Handmade Kids

corduroy deer
corduroy deer by super*junk on flickr
My recent crayon apron project got me thinking: how do you raise kids who appreciate handmade gifts? Most birthday parties have the birthday child tearing through package after package of pink or blue plastic toys, tossing them aside in a wild fever to see what's next, and I often feel a handmade gift -- even one I would have loved as a child, like a crayon apron -- gets tossed aside the fastest.

When it comes to making gifts for adults, I'm already discriminating. I only give handmade gifts to those who will appreciate them, and happily those people prefer handmade to store-bought. Even if I don't have time to make gifts myself, I still search out thoughtful items on Etsy and at craft fairs because I like supporting artisans and there's something special about an item that's not mass produced.

vintage toys from flickr user amy_b
So how do you teach small children there's more out there than My Little Ponies and Matchbox cars (wow, I'm sure my toy references are hopelessly dated, but Mr. T's not into much besides crinkly softies and key rattles right now)? Is it just a matter of making a point to teach gratitude in general, or is it more complicated? I'm hoping Mr. T grows up to like making, and have halcyon daydreams of warm afternoons spent crafting together in a haze of mess- and tear-free creativity, and while I know that's slightly ridiculous, I think it would help him appreciate others' creative efforts.

Lots of craft blogs feature toys and gifts for children, with photos of ecstatic kids playing with handmade paper dolls and knitted toys, but I wonder sometimes if even Made by Joel's kids beg him for Handy Manny toolboxes when they're at the store (maybe he doesn't take them to Target -- could that be the key?).

What's your experience with handmade gifts for children, and how do you compete with bright plastic? Thoughts?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Chocolate Orange Bread Pudding

This rich dessert is perfect for the holidays. It's simple, but the Grand Marnier and dark chocolate -- as dark as you can find -- give it an edge over a basic bread pudding. You can serve it with a Grand Marnier sauce or make a hard sauce by beating a stick of butter, a cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of liqueur until it looks like whipped cream (it'll be super stiff and dense, so it won't feel like whipped cream). It's also fantastic with ice cream, but what isn't?

man, I wish I had a better photo of this!

Chocolate Orange Bread Pudding
8 slices slightly stale bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cans evaporated skim milk plus enough regular milk to cover 
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Grand Marnier
3/4 cup chopped dried orange slices
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 to 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli's 100% cacao chips -- just get as dark as you can find or handle)

Tear the bread into smallish pieces and place in a 9x13" dish. Slightly stale bread works best -- if the bread is fresh, dry it out in a low temperature (like <200 degree) oven first.

Beat the eggs and pour over the bread. Add the sugar and milk and stir. Add as much extra milk as you need to cover the pudding.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and let the dish sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

Place the dish in a larger pan of water to ensure even cooking. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until no longer liquidy and the top is browned.

Grand Marnier sauce
adapted from Food Preparation Recipes, Second Ed., by the late Alice M. Child and Kathryn Bele Niles

1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 Tbs. flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. butter
2-3 Tbs. Grand Marnier

Mix flour, sugar and salt thoroughly in saucepan. Add boiling water and blend thoroughly.
Cook until thickened. Stir constantly. Cover and simmer about 8 minutes.
Beat in butter and liqueur. Serve hot or warm (and it's excellent over ice cream!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making ...

to wear

to eat

to share

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Being Accomplished

This post has been sitting unfinished in my drafts for weeks because I wanted it to be perfect. It's kept me from writing other posts, and the sad thing is, stopping this perfectionism is exactly what it's about. So I'm just going to call "pencils down!" and throw it out here as is (well, I finished the last sentence. Oh, and added pictures).

Sunday evening, I was sitting on the back steps with my head in my hands, thinking about how little I managed to cross off my to-do list. All I'd wanted to do was hang the porch curtains and a blackout shade in Mr. T's room, and all I'd done was bring the drill up from the basement and plug in the battery charger. Even that trip to the basement was full of reproach -- the laundry piles snickered and mocked and grew and grew, in cahoots with the laundry baskets full of clean clothes that mocked me from the upstairs landing. I had expectations for when Chris came back, and nothing can be more dangerous, since expectations are rarely grounded in reality. So I sat outside long after I'd taken the laundry off the line, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and wanting nothing more than crawl into my craft room alone and spend a week. But even that was out of the question, since it's such a mess I couldn't begin to work on anything (even the ironing board cover needs ironing).

pressure gauge
Pressure Gauge by SnaPsi Сталкер, on Flickr
How did I get here? First, those expectations. Somehow, my mind tricked me into believing Chris being able to change, play with and bathe Mr. T when he wasn't at work would make each day last 10 hours longer and give me 6 extra hours of sleep. This is the same mind that used to convince me I could read the entire fourth floor of the library over lunch and get that 5,000-word essay finished by my 3 o'clock seminar in college. Of course Chris can't do that. He doesn't have a timeturner, for one, and he doesn't have magic food-giving boobs for another.

Second, I'd also spent the better part of two weeks trying to "train" Mr. T to take naps in his own bed. I was going to get so much done when he napped. Never mind that he wakes up after 45 minutes and has to be soothed back to sleep immediately, or else, which meant I was nursing him for the first 30 minutes and hovering outside his room for the last ten, waiting for that first peep, leaving only five minutes to get so much done. And half the time I wasn't able to get him back to sleep, so the nap was short and I was left totally demoralized.

This all built up to Sunday, when faced with Chris being gone for a week brought me crashing into what I thought was failure. Some tears, an early baby bedtime and some snuggles later, I had several a-ha!s (wow, that's a punctuation nightmare).

  • A to-do list is a great tool but a lousy dictator
  • Do what works best for us, not them
  • Make use of the time you have rather than try to use the time you don't
These are pretty banal, but they took a lot of weight off my shoulders. In conjunction with some fantastic articles I've caught out of the thousands of unread feeds in my RSS reader, these truths will (hopefully) help me change my ways.

Do Work Gocco screenprinted lined notebook from Etsy seller TwoGuitars

A to-do list is a great tool but a lousy dictator
I love to-do lists. I have one on my fridge and two on my phone, one of which links to an account online so I can get to it from my computer, too. I also have several notebooks and loose pieces of paper. This is wonderful, in some ways. I don't forget to pick up bread when I'm at the grocery, and I get the satisfaction of crossing things off when I finish them (I've been known to put "get dressed" on my list just to give myself something to mark off). But when my life is ruled by thousand-mile-long lists of everything I want to accomplish ever, it's overwhelming. So I've scaled back. I have a permanent list of things I need to do every day, a long-term list of projects I want to make and a list of possible blog posts for when I have time to write. The only one I look at every day is my, erm, daily list. The others are so I don't forget the blindingly genius gift idea for great-Aunt Mabel I came up with in line at the supermarket, or whatever. Which reminds me, I've also stopped letting myself be guilted by all those "Handmade Holidays!" cheery blog posts. I'm not Martha; hell, I'm not Not Martha. All those dream gifts are going on my list for next year, and whatever I finish is great. That's why I have a long-term list. Use lists; don't let them use you.

Do what works best for us, not them

Should my sweet baby be on a schedule? Maybe. Guess what? He naps for 1.5-2 hours twice a day, at 11 and at 3. He just happens to nap in my arms, and that's ok with me. When I was stressing over getting him to sleep in his bed like "everyone else's baby does," he was tired and miserable, and so was I. I wasn't getting anything done because I was pacing up and down his room shushing and jiggling and patting trying to get him to sleep. What works best for us is for him to sleep on me. Does eating lunch at your desk work better for you than going out every day with your coworkers? Great. Do it. Would you rather just write a check to the local women's shelter than spend hours crocheting blankets for the needy? Great. Do it. You're the one who has to live with your choices, so make them the best for you.

Seed by Nicole Docimo/Blue Bicicletta

Make use of the time you have, rather than the time you don't

Lucky me, I now have three or four hours every day where I get to sit and read, catch up on email, knit, write letters, watch tv, nap, whatever I need to do! And all the housework I wanted to do while Mr. T slept is easier to do when he's awake than reading or working on the computer, and way more fun for him (except vacuuming. He's terrified of the vacuum, so that has to wait until either I or Chris can take him out of the house so the other can vacuum. In practice, this means I haven't vacuumed the rug in weeks). He loves "helping" fold laundry, but he isn't so helpful when I try to type emails. So take a look at your priorities, figure out what you need to do both to keep your job and to keep your sanity, and find the best time in which to do them. Take advantage of down time wherever you can.

Listen to others

And by "others" I don't mean me. I started reading through my backlog of unread RSS feeds and it seems the universe is trying to tell me something. Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl always has something thought provoking to say, and this post on distraction, busy-ness and choice got me thinking about how I use my time. My pen pal Nicole of Blue Bicicletta, in addition to being a fantastic artist, has a great little series going on her blog on creative living. I loved her post about working softer, not harder.

It's been several weeks since I started writing this post, and things are much better. There are still projects that mock me -- the curtains on the porch laugh every time I open the back door -- but I'm making peace.

What kinds of things are you doing to stay sane this time of year? Are you cutting back on gifts altogether, or buying handmade rather than making your own (or buying commercial)? Serving leftovers a couple of nights a week so you're spending less time in the kitchen? What helps you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick gift: Crayon apron from Prudent Baby and Bobaloo Kids

A couple of weekends ago, we had a last-minute birthday party to attend and I needed a last-minute gift. T and I weren't up to braving Target even one more time that week, so I pulled up my absolute favorite go-to place for baby and kid DIY, Prudent Baby. I've made crib sheets, changing pad covers, sun hats, a nursing cover and probably other things I just can't remember right now, and every project has been simple and wicked cute. This crayon apron is a guest project from Samantha at Bobaloo Kids, and I jumped on it. Seriously, how awesome is a crayon apron? I really want one for myself, too (I think I'll have to adjust the measurements, though ...).

Anyway, I was able to sew this up on Friday for a party on Saturday -- nothing like waiting until the last minute -- and it was easy enough to do in short happy baby bursts, so it'd probably take someone with no kids, older kids or a baby who naps alone (I can only dream) only about 15 minutes. The only change I made was to combine the center six crayon pockets into one bigger pocket in the center for a notepad -- what good are crayons if you don't have paper to draw on? Then you have to do things like draw on the walls! The pocket fits 3"x5" index cards, which I used to make the little notebook. I meant to make a matchbook-style one like this super cute one from Daisy Janie, but I didn't have the instructions and kind of screwed it up, so I just made a basic flip pad by punching holes in one end of the notecards and tying them together with yarn. Bonus: it's refillable! I also made a couple more for the birthday girl's little brothers, and I'll definitely make more of these aprons.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Octopider? Arachnopus?

Whatever you call it, it's safe to say this is a major fail. And it's one of those bloody infuriating fails - the time-intensive ones where each attempt to fix it just makes it worse and worse and worse.

I got Amigurumi Knits for my birthday and immediately started planning which cute little critters to make. I decided on the octopus, and wanted to make it more baby friendly. The octopus itself wasn't a problem - easy peasy and totally adorable (I'm ignoring the bit about cotton being a major pain for Amigurumi - not enough give for such a tight gauge and all those short rows - and I'm pretending like I did whatever you're supposed to do with all the short-row wraps to hide the ugly bars).

My plan to make it baby friendly was to leave out the pipecleaners and to sew it onto a little blanket so it'd be like those teddy bear lovie toys - you know, the ones with the bear head and a soft fluffy blankie instead of a body. No problem.

ahh! it's got me!!
Except who knew a blankie was such a problem? Right now it's a knitted blankie (ok, yes, a dishcloth). This is actually the 3rd version. The first was in the same yarn as the octopus, and I ran out of yarn. The second was this Pi Dishcloth pattern, and used yarn overs to add stitches, so it was lacy looking and full of tiny finger-catching holes (it's quite a nice dishcloth, though). The third (oh, wait, there've been 4 versions so far) was this crazy hex dishcloth, and I couldn't figure out how to double the size of the pattern, so I went back to the Pi dishcloth and settled on a knit-front-and-back increase and simple garter stitch.

And apparently I made a spider web instead.

So now I'm going to painstakingly remove the cloth from the octopus and hope I don't cut the octopus in the process. I'm planning to make a square blanket out of some cream-colored fleece and bind it with blue satin, the sew the octopus on it.

see, the binding's already a hit
I'm hoping the square instead of circular blanket will keep the octopus from looking like either a spider or one of those hideous angel Christmas tree toppers or like an octopus wearing a dress.

lovely, isn't she? you can get her at wal-mart.
What do you think? Can I salvage this mess, or will I just end up putting the toy away until Mr. T is old enough not to choke on the legs?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stained Glass

I wish we could have real stained glass in our house! Almost a year after moving in, I'm finally getting around to decorating like we'll be here a while. We may, we may not, but even a temporary home deserves pretty windows, right?

This is just that vinyl film by Artscapes. The bathroom windows are an odd size, so it's taking some slicing and dicing to piece together something that fits and makes aesthetic sense. Luckily this is no-adhesive stuff so I can peel and re-place as much as I need to, and all four panes are the same size, so now that I've figured out an arrangement it should be easy to duplicate. Hopefully I can finish this weekend - it's a window weekend since Mr. T's blackout shade came in and I got rods to hang the porch curtains! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop 

p.s. I'd love to find someone who will custom-make these kind of vinyl window films. I searched Etsy but didn't find anything for glass and honestly was in a bit of a rush when I was looking. Anyway, if you know of a shop, leave a comment!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finished Mobile and Biplane Pattern

As I mentioned two (! has it been that long?) weeks ago, I've finished the mobile for T's nursery. We chose airplanes (and one helicopter) because Chris loves aircraft and when I was planning the nursery, we couldn't agree on dinosaurs or airplanes, so we went with both. Chris has a special affection for biplanes and dreams of owning one someday, so I had to include a biplane on this mobile. I couldn't find a pattern for one, so wrote this one.

We went for a ride in a biplane a few years ago. Fun, but kind of scary!

The bomber and the tiny jet came from Ravelry (but those are non-Rav links), and making those planes helped me get my patterns set in my head. My dad made the framework for the mobile out of walnut scraps leftover from the bookcase he built, and I hung the toys with nylon thread and used Elmer's glue to secure them.

I used Lily Sugar n Cream yarn, bamboo fiberfill and a size H6 hook.

sc = single crochet
sc inc = single crochet increase
sc dec = single crochet decrease


Round 1: 5 sc in ring, join, ch1, turn
Round 2: 5 sc around, join, ch1, turn
Round 3: 5 sc inc (10), join, ch1, turn
Round 4: 10 sc, join, ch1, turn
Round 5: 2 sc, 5 sc inc, 3 sc (15), join, ch1, turn
Round 6: 15 sc, join, ch1, turn
Round 7: 5 sc, 5 sc inc, 5 sc (20), join, ch1, turn
Round 8-16 : 20 sc, join, ch1, turn
Round 17: 20 sc tbl, join, ch1, turn
Round 18: 2 sc, sc dec 5 times (15), join, ch1, turn
Round 19: sc, sc dec around (10), join, ch1, turn
Round 20: sc dec around (5). Fasten off.

Wings (make 4)
Ch 6
Rows 1-5: 6sc, ch1, turn
Row 6: sc around two long and one short sides of wing. Fasten off (leave tail for attaching to plane)

Tail (make 3)
Ch 2
Row 1: Make 4 sc in 2nd chain from hook (4)
Row 2: sc around (4)
Fasten off.

Propellor (make 1)
First, crochet a tiny button to go between the prop and the nose of the plane.
Round 1: 4 sc in a ring, join, ch 1, turn
Round 2: sc, sc inc around (8), join, ch 1, turn
Round 3: 8 sc. Fasten off.

Then work the propellor:
Ch 2.
Row 1: sc in 2nd chain from hook, sc, ch 1, turn.
Row 2-3: sc inc, sc
Row 4-5: 4 sc
Row 6: sc dec, 2 sc
Row 7: sc dec, sc
Row 8: 2 sc
Row 9: sc inc, sc
Row 10: sc inc, 2 sc
Row 11-12: 4 sc
Row 13: sc dec, 2 sc
Row 14: sc dec, sc
Row 15: 2 sc
Sc around the edges, fasten off.

Attach the pieces firmly with yarn.

Download a PDF version of the pattern from Ravelry!
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Pumpkin-Artichoke Risotto

I have a confession: I buy some seasonal produce more because I like the idea of eating it rather than actually eating it. This is especially true in the not-summer with squashes, root vegetables (ahem ... turnips) and greens like kale. At a recent trip to the grocery, I bought a cute little baby pumpkin, planning to bake it. But I don't actually really like baked pumpkin -- at least, I don't think I do. At any rate, I wasn't in the mood for plain baked pumpkin, so I started flipping through my cookbooks for a recipe.

This risotto recipe is perfect -- the pumpkin gives it just another layer of velvety creaminess. The artichoke ends up being the dominant flavor. I used a white pumpkin (again, impulse buy), so I imagine a standard orange one is a bit stronger. The recipe's loosely based on one from The Silver Spoon, and is a great stand-alone dish and is wonderful served with fish or a baked sweet potato for extra beta carotene.

Pumpkin-Artichoke Risotto

1 baby pumpkin (about 1.5 cups)
3 artichokes, or one can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
2 cups arborio rice
about 6 cups vegetable broth (you can use chicken, but it is a little too strong for this dish)
salt and pepper
a couple handfuls parmesan cheese

Remove the stem from the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until the flesh is cooked.

If you are using fresh artichokes, steam them for 20 minutes or until done. Remove the leaves and the choke, and chop the hearts. Put in a saucepan and add the cooked pumpkin. Mash the vegetables up with a fork and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the rice. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the broth 1/2 a cup at a time. Stir constantly, waiting until the broth is absorbed before adding more. This will take about 30 minutes, maybe more. When all the broth is absorbed, season with salt, pepper and cheese, then serve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Things I love right now

the gorgeous weather

the finished mobile

my (slightly more) independent little man

and you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Microwave Chocolate Cake

Monday was rather trying. Mr. T is resisting naps like a Frenchman resisted Nazis in WWII (um, a member of the Resistance, not a Vichy type ... terrible simile, moving on now). After feeding him for what seemed like hours, I put him down, tiptoe away, only to be called back seconds later by his heartbroken wails. Lather, rinse, repeat. I finally got him down for a blissful hour, and that afternoon popped a smiling, rested tot into the stroller to visit some dear friends who are moving away soon. Of course, when we got there he cried and cried and CRIED, only to revert to Mr. Smiling, Rested Tot when I bundled him up to head back home. Sigh. Once I finally got him down for the night, I really needed a pick-me-up. I really wanted a gooey, warm piece of chocolate cake, but no way was I going to bake one. Enter my new bff, the microwave!

I found this recipe and minutes later, with a few tweaks per the recipe's reviews and a buttercream icing I whipped up myself, I was sitting down to a fudgy bit of heaven. At least as close to heaven as I'll get these days, anyway. The recipe makes two bad-day-sized servings, or three normal-day-sized ones. Because it uses baking powder instead of baking soda, you can refrigerate the batter to use later without losing any fluffiness (this isn't exactly a fluffy bakery-style cake anyway, since it's steamed rather than baked). I'd recommend saving batter rather than cooking the whole thing and saving cooked pieces -- I think it'd probably dry out and get chewy. You'll also want to eat it fairly soon after cooking it to have the best flavor and consistency (and why wait, anyway?).


3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt

Grease a microwave-safe bowl, coffee mug or ramekin and set aside. Mix the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk in a medium-sized bowl. Mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and stir into wet ingredients. Pour into microwaveable bowl and nuke for 2-2.5 minutes, until the cake is springy and a knife run around the sides comes out clean. Don't overcook it, especially if you're cooking a portion of the batter instead of the whole batch -- you can cook in 1-minute increments to be on the safe side.

Buttercream icing

1/2 tablespoon butter
splash of milk
2 tablespoons cocoa
about 3/4 cup powdered sugar (enough to make the icing as thick as you like it -- I like mine kind of runny so it soaks into the hot cake)

Heat butter and milk in microwave until butter is melted. Stir in the cocoa and sugar.

Enjoy! It's really easy to make, so you'll find all kinds of excuses to whip one up. Oh, my alarm didn't go off today, need some cake. Went for a run today, need some cake. Blogbooster ate the post I painstakingly thumbed out using my phone while feeding the baby tonight, need some cake (this may or may not be true. Hint: it's not the first option).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How not to make curtains

When we moved into our house last December, I fell in love with our big screened in porch. I had visions of gauzy, white curtains billowing in the breeze, a filmy shield from the neighbors' view that still let in sunlight. When I get a picture set in my mind, nothing but exactly right will do and nothing will get in my way (just ask my mom how awful I am to shop with). So I'd been on the lookout for the just-right fabric for nearly eight months when I found a bolt of cotton scrim at the back of the fabric store back in August. It's the stuff bandage and mummy costumes are made of, so if Sherman's ghost comes through on Halloween, I can pull them down like some zombie Scarlett O'Hara and help out the Red Cross (but for Sherman's side, not the South, so not really like Scarlett at all, especially since all she managed to do was make a dress, not help the wounded). Anyway, I had this brilliant plan. The fabric is 54" wide, so it was going to be so easy - hem the top and bottom, use the selvedges for the side hems and voilà, curtains in minutes.


Here's how I managed to screw up and then salvage the curtains in seven easy steps.

Step 1: do not cut your fabric with the bolt standing on its end. You'll never get the curtain cut straight this way.

Step 2: with this flimsy fabric, do not wash it before you hem it. I know this sounds crazy, but when it's washed it gets all frayed and wrinkly and is next to impossible to work with.

Step 3: if you screwed up already by doing what I did instead of heeding my warnings, try to trim the raveled edges as best and as straight as you can. Press the top 12 inches or so of each panel, fold in half (selvedges together) and trim at a 90-degree angle to the selvedges.

Step 4: you'll have to turn the raw edge under 1/4 inch and press, then turn again to your desired hem length. I was so annoyed by this point, I didn't measure and just eyeballed it. Don't do this - they won't be even. DO use spray starch to make the fabric easier to work with.

Step 5: use a zigzag stitch to sew the top hems. At this point, the bottom hems are still unfinished, because the panels were cut wonky and they need to be hung to get them trimmed all to the same length.

Step 6: don't use string, nails and thumbtacks to hang the curtains. It's a real pain in the rear and looks tacky. Plus, the thumbtacks will pop out more than once. Use real curtain rods.

Step 7: don't leave the bottoms unhemmed and frayed because you're so sick of the effing curtains you want to scream and don't care anymore how they look. Pin them up to the same length, take the curtains down, trim, starch, iron and hem as you did the top, then come over and finish mine for me! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Friday, October 8, 2010

Crochet Helicopter

Recently I've been going a wee bit crazy with to-do lists (my favorite right now is Hiveminder), and one thing I'm trying to do is finish all my in-progress projects and chores (like cleaning out closets -- ugh). At the top of my list is a mobile for T before he gets too old for a mobile! I started crocheting little aircraft a couple of weeks before he was born, and finished them about a month ago. My dad made a nifty wooden frame that attaches to the crib, and the only thing holding me back is a lack of nylon thread for attaching them.

I used other people's patterns for two of the planes, but wrote my own for the little chopper and the biplane. Once I get them hung, I'll share the finished product. Until then, T is playing with them and I'll leave you with the helicopter pattern (I haven't finished writing out the biplane yet). It's about 4 inches long -- just the right size for chubby little hands.

I used Lily Sugar n Cream yarn, some bamboo quilt batting that was awful for quilt batting but makes nice stuffing, a size 6 hook and size 5 circular needles.

sc = single crochet
sc inc = single crochet increase
sc dec = single crochet decrease
co = cast on
instructions for knitting i-cord can be found here


round 1: 5 sc in ring, join, ch1, turn
round 2: 5 sc around
round 3: 5 sc inc (10)
round 4: 10 sc
round 5: 2 sc, 5 sc inc, 3 sc (15)
round 6: 15 sc
round 7: 5 sc, 5 sc inc, 5 sc (20)
round 8-9: 20 sc
round 10: 8 sc, 5 sc inc, y sc (25)
round 11-15: 25 sc
round 16: (sc dec, 3 sc) x5 (20)
round 17: 20 sc
round 18: (sc dec, 2 sc) x5 (15)
round 19: (sc dec, sc) x5 (10)
round 20 (sc dec) x5 (5)
Tie off, using the yarn tail to close the opening.

Knitted i-cord rotor (make 2)
co 4
knit 30 rows i-cord

Knitted i-cord skids (make 2)
co 3
knit 17 rows i-cord

Knitted i-cord tail rotor (make 2)
co 2
knit 3 rows i-cord

Sew rotors and skids to helicopter body. Make sure to attach very, very securely if this will be a baby toy.

Download a PDF version of the pattern here!
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