Barn owls and busy-ness...

Oh my...big errand day today and this post almost got away from me...almost but not quite. Advent day 9 ~ more adventures in needle felting!

 

A wee little barn owl...

Can you tell I'm having fun with this? I am kind of loving it, and I can tell that if I'm not careful I could easily follow these little felties right down the rabbit hole. It could happen ;-)


Hope your weekend has been full of good things!
 

~xox~

alison

 

 

 

Oh hey December!...

Hello, hello...

Happy December!  Okay, in honor of all of the beautiful turning leaves I've been enjoying all fall I am going to turn a new one (leaf that is) and refrain from my usual "oh my gosh how did we get here..." patter.  Suffice it to say that I/we have been blessed with the most wonderful string of days, that Vermont gets only more beautiful as I watch her ever changing ways, and that this sabbatical, while not being especially good for my commitment to regular posting, has been good for me and my family in every other way.  It's official.  I love being here as much...no...even more than I thought I would.  I am sorry for falling off the face of the blogosphere, but I know you all understand.  I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores but let's just say this sabbatical was way overdue and was needed all around.  And it's been good.  Very good.  And I've been a bit distracted by it.  I wish so fervently that each of you are graced with a bit of time and a happy-place of your own.  It's a good thing. 

And so without further ado I offer this collage as a way of taking November (okay and October if truth be told) in hand... 

 As you can see, it's been quite a stitchy time with lots of walks and fresh air and fun thrown in for good measure.

Now...back to the calendar...December 1st!!!...Advent Day One!  If you've been around these parts for a while you may remember this...


The stockings are hung by the window with care.  My advent garland is up and ready to go.  This is a free pattern that I offered a couple of years ago.  You can still get it if you want.  The pattern directions are available here.

Last year I knitted little friends {teeny-tiny friends}, one per day to fill the advent stockings (there is a blog post for each day of advent last year if you're interested).

This year I will be combining all kinds of crafty goodness to fill the stockings.  Because we are away from home we have no ornaments to grace our tree~~so the advent goodies this year will be all about creating decorations.  So what's up for Day 1?  Want to see?...



A little birdy buddy.  The pattern is based on this free pattern from Lucy at Attic 24.  If you haven't checked her blog out then you should definitely scoot on over there.  She has the best crochet tutorials and every day is full of color and enthusiasm in her little corner of the world.  I mean it folks.  I did not crochet at all until I went over there and now I have blankets, snowflakes, garlands, pillows, and no end of trim and flowers and frippery under my belt.  She makes it easy and keeps it fun.

The Details on Birdy~

*Made with Cascade 220 on a F hook (a bit tight I know but it covers all the stuffing that way)
*My bird is only five rows deep as opposed to the pattern's seven.
*I omitted the buttons {the button box is languishing at home sadly}
*I worked the legs with a double strand of yarn, knotted the ends and left a bit to dangle for feet
*The eyes were worked using an extended french knot.  I wrapped the yarn 5 times around the      needle instead of 3 and insterted the needle about a 1/4" away from where the needle came up at the beginning of the stitch.  This creates a little oval shaped eye.

Okay,  there you have it.  Easy peasy!  Off to make more of these little guys now.  I think we will have a whole flock nesting in our tree before all is said and done.

Happy weekend~ing!  Hope it finds you cozy and making merry!

~xox~
alison   


Fickle heart garland...

Just a bit of silliness by way of another hearty garland {sorry I couldn't resist!}...this one is a quick and easy, almost no-sew project {just sewing buttons on} that was born out of the need to display some gorgeous Amy Butler prints in in a way other than leaving them in stacks all over the living room.  But which one to pick?  They are all so beautiful...you can't use just one...so this garland is two-faced...in a good way...two prints on one side...


...and coordinating prints on the opposite...


The no-sew part was prompted by the unhappy grumblings of my sewing machine  : ( and my fear of pressing my luck with too much sewing before getting it serviced...enter Heat and Bond.


Have you ever used this stuff?...I'm sure you have.  It's fusible web.  I think there are several brands of it, but this is the one that I use.  I love the stuff!  It's great for applique work and all sorts of other fun things.  It works on paper and fabric...I love it for making two sided fabric like in this garland.  It comes in several different weights and is so easy to use.  Every time I pull the stuff out I think of new uses for it...all sorts of ideas that would be fun to try.

To make the garland, you will need...
~one yard of fabric total {two or more coordinating prints}
~an assortment of buttons {two for each heart in your garland}
~needle and thread
~1/2 - 1 yd. fusible web {I used med-heavy weight for mine}
~ribbon or rick-rack {about 1 foot for each heart, plus and extra 3 feet for each end of the garland}
~notebook paper
~light weight cardboard or cardstock {an old cereal box works well}
~pencil or marker {if you have a fabric marking pen or pencil, that works best}


First, select several coordinating prints {I used 3} and, following the package directions, fuse them together using fusible web.  Ta-da!...two sided fabric...like magic!...I'm so easily amused...but I really do love it...so easy and the weight of the fabric is so nice and substantial.  

Next, make a stencil for your heart cut-outs.  I drew and cut a heart shape out on notebook paper, traced it onto an empty cereal box, and cut it out.  The hearts here are about 5" across {at their widest point}.  After that trace around the cardboard stencil {directly onto the two-sided fabric}...

 

Cut out your hearts...I used pinking shears for mine, because I like the zig-zaggy edge but regular scissors would work just fine...


Once the hearts are cut out, cut your ribbon/rick-rack into 4-6" lengths.  These will be the lengths that connect the hearts—you will need one for every two hearts on your garland.  This rickrack frayed badly so I fixed the ends to keep them from unraveling with a little fray check—worked like a charm.


Next, sew the trim, to the heart with one button on both the front and back sides of the heart, like so...
First, thread the needle with sewing thread, knotting the end of the thread, and make a stitch on the heart at the spot where you wish to attach the trim.
Next, make a sandwich by placing the trim on top of the heart and placing a button on top of the trim.  Bring the needle from the back of the work, through the heart, the trim and the button.  Place a second button underneath the heart {on the backside of the piece} and bring the needle down through the first button, the trim, the heart and finally through the second button...



 
Sew the buttons on in this manner, going through a button on the front side of the garland, the trim, the heart, and a button on the back side of the garland with each stitch.

Repeat for each heart.  As you work your way across the garland, you will use the trim attached to the previous heart, thus connecting the hearts together.  For the last and first heart of your garland, you will use the longer lengths of trim on the outer edges.  This will allow you to hang your garland.


Easy~peasy...just a little ironing, some cutting, a bit of armchair sewing, and VoiLa!!!

Many hearty returns...

xoxo~alison

Hearts and flowers...

Now that we are halfway through January, I think it's safe for me to indulge myself in a little Valentine's day decorating.


Valentine's Day is sort of like Halloween for me...I love the colors, the chocolate, and the opportunity to festoon the house with decorations {I've found that I'm a much more accomplished festooner than cleaner, and fyi—the more you drape the light fixtures and deck the halls, the less noticeable the dust}.  I've never been in to the whole lovey-dovey, perfect date, big gift,  prove how much you love me thing...I see Valentine's Day more as an invitation to send a little love out to friends and family, usually by way of a posy or two, a card, or some little something freshly baked or made.  So with that in mind, and because I always seem to need a little pick-me-up this time of year {feeling itchy after the lull in all of that holiday crafting}, I have started planning and collecting the materials for some little love tokens.  Hopefully all of my planning will be fruitful...I have been known to be overly ambitious in this regard before...you know collecting materials and planning but never finishing...but I have faith this time...I can do it...more on this later. :)

In fact, the lad and I have already gotten started.  He helped me whip up these festive and oh-so-easy hearts and flowers garlands...see...

Okay, we didn't keep them outside, but they did look pretty there...if only they were waterproof.

First we collected the materials...we used vellum {any paper would work well, as long as it isn't too thick}, paper punches {you could use scissors instead}, sewing machine, thread...


See those punches?...I put the package in the pic for you so you could find them if you're interested...I was skeptical about buying these—I hate buying things that don't get used and just end up taking up space—so while I shopped the punchers took a ride in my cart and I did a mental checklist of the potential uses (it was surprisingly long).  Obviously, I decided to give them a go, and so far I love them.  I really like that you can see where you are cutting with these—no more shapes with chunks missing.  I also love that they are easy for little hands and that we don't have to dance up and down, pressing with all my might to get them to cut...very nice...


Once the shapes were cut, it was on to the sewing machine...


*Place the edge of your first shape under the presser foot and sew through it, grab it with the left hand as it emerges at the back of machine and gently pull it and keep the machine stitching away {through nothing—I know it feels weird, but keep going—the bobbin and needle threads will form a chained thread between the shapes—this is particularly pretty if you use two colors of thread}.  Once the chained thread is the length desired, feed the next shape under the presser foot, and repeat from the beginning {*} until your garland is as long as you like it.  Here are some close-ups of the chained thread connecting the shapes...


 

Note... As you pull your shapes through the back of the machine take care to stack them neatly, otherwise they will become hopelessly tangled.
 


Now it's time to festoon, drape and deck the halls with your newly minted heart garland...




Silly, I know, but they make me happy, and I kind of love them.  Plus, I think they look pretty with our  snowflakes

Wishing you a day full of hearts and flowers...
xoxo—alison

ps~Thanks for all of the mom love out there and the warm wishes for our visit.  It was wonderful and I miss her already, but am so grateful for the days we spent together.  Here is a pic taken right before she left...

...sorry, I couldn't resist...love my little shoe shiner.

Cheers!...

To you my bloggy friends!...and thank you!...you have allowed me to share the last five months of 2009 with you—there aren't words enough to express my appreciation for that.  I am grateful for your friendship, for the words you have shared with me and the generous way you have welcomed me into your lives, for your creativity and the inspiration you give, for the beauty and hope that you keep me believing in.

So Goodbye 2009!...a growing year, a year filled with firsts, with new challenges and opportunities for growth, with some highs, a few speed bumps, but more importantly a year punctuated by new friends made and old friends found—in the end, a good year.  Farewell dear 2009!...it's been fun and I will think of you fondly!

And as for you 2010...no list of resolutions to welcome you here...no grand proclamations, just a lot of hope and a sincere desire to be present, open and generous of heart, and helpful and creative of hand, to be worthy of the wonderful friends and family with whom I have been blessed.    

Hoping that you, my friends, are feeling the love...wishing you the happiest New Year today and throughout!...

xoxo—Alison

'Tis the night before Christmas...

I'm in my kerchief, and Pa's in his cap (well, figuratively anyway).  It will be awhile before I rest my head tonight, and there are no sugarplums here, but visions of the lovely holidays that you are making and creating are dancing in my head...and such a lovely vision it is too—thank you very much for that!

I hope you have a joyous and restful holiday filled with all good things!  Be back soon!...xoxoAlison

Wrapping up...

Today I had a little last minute fun wrapping these gifts.  One old piece of canvas, a couple of cuts, a fold, two seams on my sewing machine, a rubber stamp, some acrylic paint, and a jaunty red bow later and you have eco, cheapo, super cute wrapping.  I don't know why but these little guys make me inordinately happy.  I had a really hard time boxing them up and taking them to the post office because they looked so cute on my mantel.  They are so happy looking.

 

Then there was this last minute gift wrapping...

 

My brother-in-law traditionally gives all of his gifts wrapped in newspaper.  He's done this for as long as I've known him, long before it was cool.  So in honor of his traditional wrap, I thought I'd make a newspaper gift bag for his present this year.  It turned out pretty cute, I think...



Then there was this...



Okay, before I incur any outrage let me say, that I am absolutely opposed to defiling books, but these two poor souls are an exception—one was the victim of an untimely eggnog incident and the other is a battered and bruised copy that I rescued from a friend's garbage can {please tell me that I'm not the only one ready to raid a friend's trash for the sake of future crafting possibilities—it was a good move too, as this book has lent its worn and torn pages to lampshades and all sorts of collage projects}.  Even so, on the few occasions when I do take scissors to the pages of one of these two books, I cringe, but I put guilt aside, and look what my old book's tired pages gave me...



...I kind of love it, and it's just right for a certain gift for a sweet somebody!

Of course now I'm thinking of all of those little pieces of discarded gift-wrap that I have collected over the years—you know the ones that are too pretty to throw away—and then there are all of those papers that collect throughout the school year {not the precious ones that have to go into a drawer for safe-keeping, but all of those math assignments and spelling tests that come home and never quite make it to the recycling bin} wouldn't they make cute end of the school year gift bags?  Now I've got patchwork paper gift bags on the brain, and I can tell I'm going to have to dig all of that paper out of the cupboard and raid the pile of papers growing on my desk to make some little patchwork gift bags.

For those of you who are wondering about this weekend's cake....Yesterday...yes, it was yesterday, though it seems like it had to be several yesterdays ago {time somehow seems to get a little blurry during the holidays*does that happen to you too?} I finished and delivered this...



This one was a real squeaker...a last, last minute order and it got done just under the wire—literally not a second to spare...not at all the way I like to do things—way too much drama for this girl, but in the end, the cake got baked, decorated and delivered, and the bride was happy and that's all that really matters.



I'm off for now...still more shopping and wrapping and baking and even some decorating still to do...busy, busy, but so good!

Happy Monday, friends!

sos  
too funny!...I just typed sos instead of xoxo—do you think that means anything?
 ...xoxo—Alison