January 30, 2013


Last fall I made my my third Scout tee (1 and 2 are here). This time I did deviate from the pattern – so much so that it’s not really a scout tee anymore. It’s a franken – tee.
The first and obvious deviation is that I used knit fabric. This was only my second attempt at sewing with knits (the Washi Dress #2 was the first). At the time I didn't have any patterns for knit garments (I've since loaded up), so I thought I'd adapt what I had.

I used the front and back pieces of the Scout, but I narrowed everything significantly because of the stretch. Then I cut a keyhole in the front piece by matching an existing RTW shirt. Lastly I used the pattern for the sleeves from the Washi Dress in order to give it a little more character. I love how the keyhole and the sleeves turned out, but I hate, hate, hate how short the shirt is. I only had a yard of fabric so I had to skimp on the length - lesson learned - never buy only a yard of fabric. I've been checking in at the Mill End store to see if they get any of this back in stock. If so, I have a plan for adding some length. If not, I may turn the hem into a hi-lo and layer it over a tank top.

In addition to learning to sew with knits and adapt patterns, this was also my first attempt at attaching bias tape the right way. I reviewed Dana’s tutorial and decided to give it a shot. In general it worked – the inside is a little rough, but I’m guessing that’s to be expected and at least the front looks good. I just cut off a couple stripes from the leftover fabric for the bias tape. I'd like to add the keyhole feature to some future shirts - I think it's a nice detail.

Not my most successful project, but I think it's wearable. At least under a cardigan.

January 28, 2013

Dancin' Socks

How cute is that girl? Try to look away from those pretty eyes and focus on her feet.

Over our Christmas holiday Sara mentioned that Elle could use some socks that will stay on her feet. Elle takes after her auntie and loves to dance. Since she can't stand up yet, she has to make do with "air dancing", which looks a whole lot like rubbing her feet together. As a result the majority of her store-bought socks eventually fall off. She has one pair of long white socks that seem to stay put, so using that pair for a size gauge I adapted this crochet pattern and whipped up a pair of baby socks. We got the yarn from a local yarn shop in downtown Mount Vernon - I can't recall the brand but it has some elastic in it making it perfect for socks. They are a little long in the foot, but they go up to just below her knees, so hopefully they'll hold up to her dancing feet!

January 22, 2013

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I managed to score some pretty cool gifts for Christmas too. One of which was the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Since I was down with the flu over the holidays and not really up for eating, let alone cooking, I only managed to peruse the book. As luck would have it, my sister Sara also got the cookbook and was very much up for cooking. So as I stood by offering my "assistance" (read: encouragement), she made the Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels and the Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby. The pretzels were delicious, though as a regular maker of soft pretzels, I would say that maybe they weren't quite worth the effort. I definitely wouldn't be adverse to eating them again, but I think we were both a tad let down that they weren't more amazing. Then again, I'm not a big fan of chocolate chips or brioche, so maybe the letdown was in my own expectations. The Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby was fantastic and well worth making, however - hard to go wrong with eggs, butter and ginger.

After I left for home Sara also made the Pancetta, White Bean & Swiss Chard Pot Pies and Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Galette (you can see a photo of it front and center on the above book cover). I was sad to have missed those, but luckily by that point I was feeling better and up for digging into the cookbook myself.

I started with the Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers & Dill because I love cabbage and anything pickled. It's appropriate that "Vinegar" is the first word in the title - it's a strong component! I made the salad for an after-work dinner with friends, so I actually made it the night before our scheduled dinner so that it would be done in time. As a result the salad sat in the dressing for about 20 hours. I paired it with some wet burritos, so the vinegar sharpness of the salad was a nice counterpoint to the richness of  the main dish. My friend said it was "very bright". The downside is that cukes will pickle quickly, and after 20 hours they were a little too bright. Next time I'll add the cucumbers later so that they only soak for a couple of hours. The cabbage held up really well, and we ate the leftovers over the following weekend.

The latest recipe I've tried is the Balsamic and Beer-braised Short Ribs with Parsnip Puree. Not an extremely appetizing photo (above), but it tasted delicious. Because the process for this dish takes place over several hours, getting the timing right is important. I managed to go wrong in a few places because I was rushing, or making assumptions based on other recipes. I misread the amount of tomato paste needed and threw in the whole can instead the required 2 Tbsp. I substituted garlic for the horseradish. And, I quickly dumped the boiled parsnips into a colander and then into the food processor and didn't ensure that all the water had properly drained off. As a result too much water got into the puree and it was a bit on the runny side. I did include the recommended amount of butter and cream, but next time I'll lessen the cream a little. This is a personal preference because I have an aversion to creamy things. My husband, however,  does not, and he thought it was just perfect. There were a couple of optional steps in the recipe which included finishing off the braised ribs in the oven and creating a brown sauce to go with them. I opted in for both of those steps and I think it was well worth it. The meat isn't flavorful enough to carry both itself and the parsnips, so the sauce really ties the two together.

Despite my mistakes the recipe managed to turn out really well, and I will definitely make this again - perhaps for Remi and Andrew to thank them for giving me such an awesome cookbook!

January 17, 2013

Mushroom Mobile

Ever since I started making baby mobiles 3 years ago, Susanna has asked me to make her one. Since my nephew is 10-years-old, and Susanna has emphatically informed me that she will not be having another baby, I have always put her off because I've been so busy making mobiles for all of the newborns.

This year for Christmas I decided to make far fewer gifts than last year, and to focus on making a few special gifts. In addition to Elle's quilt, I put a lot of attention into finally making a mobile for Susanna. 

When I visited her last October for a craft weekend I came home with several liquor bottle corks courtesy of her friend, Amy, and some inspiration from a craft magazine that Susanna had purchased.

awesome liquor bottle cork

See where I'm going with this?

Using acrylic paint, I put several coats on the corks and finished the tops with a satin coat.

The gnomes are made from wool roving, wool felt, pipe cleaners and embroidery thread.

The mushrooms are suspended from a ring, which has been covered with Paperclay and painted.

The stumps are also paperclay, and there are two air plants (tillandsia) resting along the ring.

Add some ribbon, woven cord and rubber bugs, and you've got a mobile fit for a 35-year-old woman!

January 13, 2013

A quilt for Elle

In case it bears repeating, I come from a crafty family. We all have some unique interests but a lot of overlap as well. One of the projects that my sister Sara frequently partakes in is to make quilts (here's the quilt she made for our niece Freya). And my mother is a big maker of crocheted blankets.

And we're also all very sentimental.

All of this combined last Spring when Sara announced that she was pregnant, and Susanna, Mom and I decided to make the baby a quilt. We had several planning sessions where we plotted out the quilt (size and number of squares), determined our theme, assigned topics for each square, and selected all of our fabric.

We selected fabric by wandering around Fabric Depot until we found a printed fabric that we all liked the colors of. Then we each took a swatch of the chosen fabric and found colors in that palette for our respective squares. We didn't actually use the sample swatch in our quilt, but it ensured that our colors all coordinated as we picked up fabric separately.

Sara and I made a couple of quilts for our nephew Aidan when he was born, but my contribution was just to make some squares and Sara put the quilt together. So when it came time to assemble the quilt we kept it pretty simple. There's no border or binding, but I did use batting in between the layers and a soft coral "minkie" as the back. I attached the front and back with embroidery thread at each square intersection.

Each square of the quilt is part of the story of Sara and Bobby, and now Elle.

The banjo represents Bobby's love of music (and his stellar skills):
"it may twang a little, 
but it don't hurt".

The Love square is a photo transfer of the the Robert Indiana sculpture in Philadelphia. My mom has had a miniature of this sculpture on her shelf for as long as I can remember. And Bobby and Sara both went to grad school in Philly.

The artichoke represents my parent's gardening skills, and is a reoccurring theme in my Mom's artwork.

Oh the football... Bobby and Sara are NY Jets fans. Sara says it's a form of child abuse to make Elle a Jets fan too, but what can you do.

Sara grew up in Washington, which is where Elle will be spending many of her future vacations. This square pretty much speaks for itself.

This square has two stories to tell: The sternwheeler is representative of Marietta, Ohio, where Sara, Bobby and Elle live. But the Sternwheeler patch is another photo transfer of one of Bobby's woodcuts.

St. Johns Bridge is Portland's most iconic bridge. And we happen to live in St. Johns! This square represents us, but also represents Sara and Bobby's 3 years living in Portland.

Mom and Mark have a landmark in their yard: the Eagle Tree. I've seen as many as 11 eagles at once sitting in this tree keeping an eye on the river.

Since Sara was 7-years-old our family has lived in the Skagit Valley in Washington State, and the Skagit Valley is known for their tulips!


Before we moved to the Skagit Valley we lived on a sheep ranch in Arlington where Papa was a shepherd.

We grew up in a family of girls, and as soon as we all moved out Mom got herself some male poodles - Jack and Gibbs!

For at least the last 20 years, if not longer, either one or both of our parents has had a stable of kayaks ready to take out on the ocean or river. I've had some wonderful times out on the water in those things and we hope Elle will enjoy it too.

When Susanna was pregnant with Aidan we called him "Lil Fishie". Susanna has a Pisces tattoo around her bellybutton, which started the nickname, but it was also apropos of his dad and grandad's careers as Alaska fisherman - and now Aidan has started as well!

This square represents Sara and Bobby's house in Ohio. See Elle in the picture too? Their house is actually mint green, but we took some liberties in order to stay within the color palette.

My dad used to be an epic hiker/trekker - hitting the trail for weeks at a time. He couldn't convince any of his daughters to join him for such a long hike, but for many years we joined him to hike Sauk Mountain.
The trail is a series of switchbacks through wildflower meadows, and the top has lots of rocks and boulders for scrambling.

Bobby went to grad school for the Book Arts, Sara has a book published (Soil Mates) and they both love to read - 'nuf said.

Just A Jar - the name of Sara and Bobby's Letter Press & Design business. Get it?

Last, but not least, a bear. A reocurring theme in Bobby's artwork, and something that I really like making (see here and here).
Naturally, he had to be included in the quilt as well.

Making this quilt was actually a lot of fun. It helped greatly that I was only responsible for a third of the squares and that we kept the construction simple. But it was fun to plan with Susanna and Mom, and to think of Elle asking about each square when she's older, and Sara and Bobby telling her stories.

January 10, 2013

A "Just A Jar" Mosaic

Remember way back in February 2012 when Mike and I took a Mosaics class through PCC and I made this mosaic?

Well, this is what Mike was working on - and managed to finish on Christmas day in time* to gift it to our brother-in-law Bobby.

The image was taken from one of Bobby's own pieces of artwork ; one that Mike and I both really like. 

When Mike decided to make a mosaic he knew right away that he wanted to render one of Bobby's pieces as a gift for him - the trick was deciding which one. We thought it'd be done in time for his 30th birthday last Spring, but Christmas is good too!

This piece is much larger than mine, about 4 times as large. It's "mosaiced" directly onto a plywood backer, and framed with Cherry. It's all set up to hang on the wall or made into a tabletop.
I think it turned out beautifully, and the really wonderful thing is that Mike is proud of his work - which is a rare thing for him!

*by this I mean he gave it to Bobby about 4 hours after we finished opening gifts.

January 5, 2013

Sewing & Crocheting for Lucy

Just before Thanksgiving my friend Katie gave birth to a baby girl - Lucy. She's a dark-haired, sweet-cheeked little thing. I was finally able to meet her over my Christmas holiday, and share some little goodies that I made.

Using the other half of the owl minky fabric, I made a "taggie" blanket much like the one I made for my friend Stephanie's daughter last spring. This one has larger turquoise ribbon tags, and it's overall size is slightly larger as well. I figure it could double as a changing pad blanket too.

I crocheted her a carrot rattle as well. I used the "Sleepy Sarah" crochet pattern by Mia Zamora Johnson at Owlishly. It's a free pattern, and I've used it a lot. For this one I just altered it by tapering the body and crocheting in the back loops only for the orange parts. I put a little rattle inside - and left off the face because the faces I make are always a little creepy looking.

I made her this layered skirt over the summer when I learned that Katie was expecting a girl. It was whipped up from the fabric scraps of a nightgown top that I made my mom and never blogged about. I used this tutorial from Made and downsized it for a baby.

Lastly, I crocheted her a flutter sweater just like the one I made Freya, but in a smaller size and in a different yarn.

Katie has always been such a supporter of my crafting (she got me started on the baby mobiles!) that I wanted to share a little something for her daughter as well. Hopefully Lucy will get interested in crafting and be able to join us at the table in a few years!

January 3, 2013

2012 makes way for 2013

2013 has arrived; and without a lot of fanfair in my life. I spent the last two weeks of 2012 surrounded by family and friends, but also down for the count with the flu. It was kind of a mixed-bag on how to end a year.

2012 was wonderful though. I accomplished some real goals:

We spent many a great weekend in Bow, Sedro-Woolley and Port Orchard, as well as took trips to Seattle, Ohio, Austin, San Diego and Florida.

We got to the Oregon coast repeatedly, and continued our tradition of an annual family vacation.

I took up running.

I made 5 baby mobiles.

We began and are nearly finished with our long-awaited kitchen remodel.

And we welcomed a new family member: our niece, Elle!

2013 is without a lot of goals thus far.
I'm not sure which projects will arise out of the year,
or what I'll learn,
or where I'll go,
but I'm looking forward to the adventure!

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