January 27, 2024

The Art Room/Play Space Reveal

We finally moved my grandma's sewing machine upstairs and have completed the transformation of our guest room (some "before" photos here) into a making and doing area.
SoJo and I have been enjoying the room quite a bit, though I can't say I get any needle work done with a toddler wanting to play (which is fine by me, most days).
The rest of our house is not this "colorful"--or cluttered, as Mr. Geek is prone to saying. The man would be happiest in a room with a chair and white walls. I try to keep the rest of the house more toned-down, though he would disagree.
I'm so pleased that my grandma's sewing machine is back in view after spending the last 5+ years in basements--first my parents', then mine.
When she was alive, I loved to look at it in her converted-closet sewing room. I always told her that it was the only thing of hers that I wanted one day, and here it is. I removed the original sewing machine (which is still in the basement) because it needed work and was just way too heavy inside it. I love all the little drawers that were filled with forgotten treasures.
All of grandma's sewing notions were still stuffed inside. I can't believe I forgot about them! Everything from thread to bra extender straps!I love this velvet pincusion from Niagara Falls which was embellished with Iroquois beadwork.
I also found a ruler with weird notes on it, along with a cool wooden needle holder. I've been using one of her vases to hold my felting needles.

Here are some of her silk threads,
which I've put in one of my hand-felted, handsewn button bowls.
Back to the room...one of the best parts about it is that so much of it was furnished with roadside finds, like this bamboo shelving unit
and the white kids' table and chairs.In fact, the only thing I bought was that shelving unit under the quilt, which we had had for years. Everything else was either found on the street or given to us, including the chalk board (an alley find), which I repainted. It really pays to live in town! Except of course for those drunk college kids.That red wicker chair? Totally found on the street in my parents' neighborhood. Weird what people throw out.It's nice that this room adjoins SoJo's room, so we can just open the door and let him go back and forth. So there you have it. I'd like to sew some bunting for the windows to replace the paper ones (made from book pages), but that will probably take me some time. Oh, and to repaint. I made the mistake of painting it a gray-purple to go with the one of the bedspreads that I had in the guest room. It's an ok color, but I'd prefer something cheerier. Repainting will probably happen when we move SoJo's bedroom into here in a few years.

So there you have it. Hopefully this will be a space to inspire many creative activities to come.

Do I Really Look This Bad?

Whenever we read this book:
SoJo points to this character
and says "Mama!" I know as a SAHM, I'm not the best dressed and all, but really? And I suppose my hair is curly and reddish like this lady/man, but my teeth just aren't that sharp and I don't have the jaundiced eyes. And I do shave my beard more regularly. :)

In other subjects, it's just been a hectic week around here. I've been working at the museum with reinstalling the children's gallery (which has been really fun, as usual--photos to come) and my husband's grandfather passed away, so we will be at a funeral later in the week. Hence the lack of blog posts. Hope things are well your way!

January 21, 2024

Yay! and Goodbye to the Hearts

Remember my post about Craft Hope for Haiti from a few days ago?
Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time
Well, I donated my knitted heart garland and it sold! Yay! I'm stunned that it sold so quickly; I didn't even have time to tell my readers about it being for sale.
So it's goodbye to the heart garland (I'll miss it...it is so pretty) which will be headed to Colorado tomorrow or Saturday. I'm so happy to have contributed something to Doctors Without Borders and the Haitian earthquake survivors, even if I'm not able to give much of my own money.

Please, check out the Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy shop and make a purchase. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. As of this morning, they've raised over $20,000 (!!!!!) just through the Etsy shop, which has been open since the weekend. Amazing!

January 19, 2024

Alphabet Mobile on the Cheap (Tutorial)

I'm nearly done with our guest room revamp, turning it into a play room and art space, (thank god!) and so far it's fabulous. We've been hanging out in there during the day, chillin' to Sesame Street Playground and such. Mischief abound, of course.
Notice the empty nail behind mischief-maker's head.

I'm waiting until my grandma's sewing machine/cabinet makes it's way out of the basement, (I'm trying not to nag Mr. Geek no more than twice a day-but it's been 2 weeks) to take some proper photos.
In the meantime, I whipped up a cool little mobile for the playroom,
using nothing more than decorative paper, scissors, glue stick, a pencil, a juice glass
embroidery floss, an embroidery hoop that I painted red
and fonts printed from the computer on white paper.
The font I used is called 101 In My Yard which I downloaded for free here. I think the garden-related images are so charming, and it will be fun for SoJo to hunt for the letters and numbers when he gets older.

Step 1
In Microsoft Word, I typed the alphabet in capital letters along with the numbers, adding spaces in between. I used a font size of 125. You might need to modify the size depending on the size of your circles. I printed two sets (for the front and back of the circles). I cut out each of the letters and numbers and set them aside.

Step 2
Cut 36 strands of your embroidery floss or other string for hanging. Mine were each roughly 2 feet long.

Step 3
Trace a circle, either from a juice glass or other object.
You can make the circles large, small, varying sizes, etc. Or if you have a circular paper punch that is the size you want, that would make things so much easier.

Cut out your circles (I was able to cut a layer of 5 pages at a time).
Because I wanted 36 circles on the mobile (10 numbers+26 letters), I needed to cut out 62 paper discs to make up the fronts and backs. I used 5 different patterns of paper for variety.

Step 4
Glue your alphabet and numbers to the decorative paper, one letter for each side. Here are the front and back, waiting to be glued together.
Next, put some glue stick on the backs of the circles, sandwich a strand of the string in between, and glue it all together.
I left a little tail at the bottom, thinking I might add a bead to each letter for weight and decoration, but then I didn't need to. I ended up trimming them off.
Step 5
Once your circles are glued together, it's time to tie them onto the inner hoop (the one without the metal tightening screw). Notice that I only painted the inside of the inner hoop and the outside of the outer hoop. Those will be the only parts seen from below anyway.
When I tied the circles on, I made sure to stagger the letters for interest and so they are easier to see instead of being bunched all together.
This is much easier to do if you hang the hoop somewhere and tie them on while suspended. I just used some upholstery thread (fishing line would work well too, or more embroidery floss) and tied three strings to the top for hanging.
Step 6
When you have them all hung, space them out around the hoop so they're not too crowded on one side. Clip any stray threads.Then put the outer ring over the inner ring and hang. Admire your work!
The possibilities are endless! You could cut images from old children's picture books and use those instead of letters, or even just do larger circles with your child's name, rather than the entire alphabet. I'd love to see what you come up with, so email me if you decide to make one of these. Happy crafting!

January 15, 2024

St. Valentine's Knitted Heart Garland Tutorial

Though I love holidays and decorating, we don't really go overboard here with decorations. I like simple, homemade things that can be reused each year, and I adore garlands of all kinds. While putting away the last of the Christmas decor, I realized that I don't have anything for Valentine's Day.
Not that it's a big holiday in our house (we almost never do anything anymore), but that blank space above the doorway was driving me nuts. I miss my recycled book paper garland!

So I decided to knit up a heart garland that I can pull out each year before V-Day.
I had lots of yarn remnants in pink and red from other projects, so it was a perfect way to use up those bits.
This garland would be equally cute in a girl's bedroom after celebrating St. Valentine. The project requires basic knitting skills, but is very simple to whip up.

St. Valentine's Knitted Heart Garland
  • yarn in various shades of pink and red (any weight is fine, though your hearts will vary in size)
  • knitting needles (I used size 6, but you could use any size you'd like to get the gauge you want)
  • double pointed needles for making i-cord (again, whatever size you'd like, depending on how thick your yarn is or how thick you want the i-cord to be)
  • yarn needle
Step 1
For making the hearts, cast on 3 stitches
Knit across those stitches. On the next row, knit one stitch into the front, and one stitch into the back of the first stitch.
then knit the center stitch, and knit into the front and back of the last stitch. You'll now have a total of 5 stitches.
Knit the next row. Continue like this, knitting into the front and back of both the first and last stitch of every other row (knit the other rows) until you have a total of 17 stitches.
Step 2
When you have a total of 17 stitches, knit 10 rows even.
Step 3
Now you're going to divide the knitting into the two tops of the heart. Knit 7 stitches, then K2Tog (knit 2 together). Pull out a long piece of the yarn (like a yard) and cut it there. Then reattach the yarn ball to the next stitch, and knit across.
You will have 2 sections now, which both have their own yarn.
Step 4
Knit across, making sure to keep each section separate with its own yarn.
Next row: SSK (slip first stitch onto right needle as if to knit, slip second stitch onto right needle as if to knit, put them both back on the left needle and knit them together), knit 4 stitches, then K2Tog. Do the same for the other set of stitches on the needle (SSK, K4, K2Tog).
Knit the next row.
Next row: SSK, K2, K2Tog, SSK, K2, K2Tog.
Next row: SSK, K2Tog, SSK, K2Tog
Bind off.
That's your heart!
Weave in the bottom yarn, and save the top two for sewing onto the garland.
Step 5
Now onto knitting the cord for the garland. This is called an i-cord, which looks like a knitted rope.
Pick up your double pointed needles and cast of 4 stitches in whatever color yarn you'd like.
Knit across, and instead of turning the work to purl, slide it back to the right side of the DPN and pick up the yarn around the back and start knitting again. You're essentially making a long tube and knitting in the round.
Continue in this manner until you have as long of a cord as you need. Mine was 45" long. This was the most tedious part of the project. The hearts were much more fun to knit.
Step 6
Once your cord is done, bind off and sew in loose ends. Then sew each heart onto the i-cord with a yarn needle, using the threads at the top of each heart. Weave in or snip any loose threads.
Hang and enjoy!
You could also make individual hearts and hang them as ornaments throughout your home.
It's a bit addicting! For a cute crocheted heart garland (I need to learn how to crochet), check out Skip to My Lou's post.
There's also a very cool one made from magazine papers sewed together at Oh So Crafty. Lucky me won one from the very generous Tricia over there, and it's so pretty. I love how the light shines through the pages, even in our dark kitchen.
Thank you Tricia, and happy crafting everyone!
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