20 March 2011

Project Success

Remember that time I failed big time on the project I was working on? Well, if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

I made these counting fish for my nephew's second birthday. I was first inspired by this post, which linked me to this blog (which happens to use the same background as I do.) Because of the small buttons that could potentially pose a choking hazards, they may not be quite suited for his age yet. I think he can still have fun with them with adult supervision, though.

Each of the fishies has a specific number of objects on it from 1 to 10. Then, there is a washer in their nose (do fish have noses?) and a magnet on the end of a string attached to a dowel so that the fish can be "caught." I had to do some embroidery for this project, including blanket stitch around the edges. I was a little intimidated by that, so I put off the final step until late the night before they needed to be finished. I then learned, that blanket stitch is disgustingly easy.

Number 8 is my favorite.

But number 4 is pretty great too.

I do what i can to not-so-subtly encourage the little guy to hone the skills that he will need as an engineer. Hence, the counting game for a two-year-old. I also slipped this puzzle into the package. I picked it up in the Target 1 spot, and added my own labels. Engineering school, here he comes!

16 March 2011

Craft It Forward 2011: Round 1

I have embarked on a special mission: Craft it Forward 2011!
One of my friend's had a facebook status that read, "Craft it forward 2011. I promise to send something handmade to the FIRST 5 people who leave a comment here. However, to be eligible, you must repost this status, offering the same thing to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011. Here we go!"

I'm always up for a good challenge, so I signed myself up! However, my list quickly grew longer than 5 people, because I just couldn't say no to anyone. Also, I signed up with a couple of friends who had posted it as their status, so I decided to make them gifts in return. I've finished about half of the projects I decided to do, and I just mailed them off to their new homes.

Here's what I have made:

I've already shown you one of my projects. For Aunt B, I made the bumblebees from this post.

For my sister Megan, I made pink bunny slippers. The foot of the slipper is based on a traditional "Aunt Maggie" slipper, and then the ears, face, and tail are added to make the bunny. This could be adapted to become any animal, but I thought that that a nice pair of bunny slippers seemed right up Megan's alley! Instead of using two strands of worsted weight yarn like the pattern calls for, I used a single strand of bulky yarn (Lion brand Homespun in "Mixed Berries.") The little pom-pom tails are my favorite part.

I made another pair of slippers for my friend Cathy. I used the bunny pattern again, but I left off the "bunny" parts. For this pair, I used two strands; one was Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight and the other was a soft fluffy yarn I had in my stash. I honestly have no idea what brand it is, or why I bought it. It really softened up the plain-ol' red heart yarn and gave it a unique and fun look! I almost kept them for myself. :)

For my friend Megan, I made two dishcloths. I just love making dishcloths. They're quick, easy, and the perfect way to try out new styles and patterns. I've never made two alike! Years ago, I bought a big bag of cotton yarn at a garage sale, and I've been working my way through it ever since. For Megan, I made one as a diagonal knit (tan) and one in grid pattern (blue).

Shelly got a fuzzy scarf. Since it’s knit in stockinette, it curls up along the edges, which I think makes it look like a snake. The colors and the broad stripes remind me of something that might be worn at Hogwarts, if there was a fifth house with silver and purple as their colors. I started this scarf to use up some excess yarn I had from another project. It was on the needles for over 3 years until I got really motivated and finally finished it this winter. It’s kind of narrow, but super long so that it can be wrapped around the neck several times.

Evan was the only one who didn't get a knit item. Instead, I sewed a retro potholder following this tutorial. I used some fabric crafts from a quilt I made and from little a's tent. This is a really quick sewing project. It took me about an hour and a half, but most of that time was spent cutting out the circles and pressing them into quarters. This project leaves a lot of room for personalization with different fabric and quilting styles. I choose this fabric from my stash for Evan, because they are the colors of our Alma Mater, Iowa State University.

Fun with MS Paint

For your viewing pleasure. :)

The likeness is uncanny, isn't it?

10 March 2011

Little a's Tent

This post is long overdue, as it is about a Christmas present that I made for my nephew. Little a will be turning 2 this weekend. Time sure flies! When I was thinking about what I could make him as a Christmas present, I was reminded of a tent that my babysitter had in the playroom. I loved that tent. I would play in it for hours. It was one of several of my regular forts. I don't know what it is about forts, but the small, dark, and secret space does wonders for the imagination. My husband as well had fond memories of a denim tent that his grandfather had made him. We joined forces on this project. I did the sewing, and Sam did the woodworking.

I couldn't find any free plans online that I really liked for this project, and I couldn't bring myself to pay for any, so I free-handed the whole thing. I looked at a lot of pictures on Etsy to see all of the different ways that people make tents like this. I drew out some dimensions, and set off for the fabric store. I'm going to try to dig up my scrap paper with my notes, and put together a formal tutorial for this. I will likely make more in the future, when I have more nieces, nephews, or children of my own.

The tent body is made from red and blue denim. Denim is a little more difficult to work with than cotton, but I liked how it made the tent nice and dark inside. Either would work though. Next time I make one, I will spend more time scrounging thrift stores. Perhaps I can find some flannel sheets to upcycle.

The most time-consuming part about this project was the detail work, but I think that is what makes it really special. I put in a window, in case it was too dark inside. The windows rolls up or down and is held in place with Velcro. I also decided that I needed to use my newly-discovered skills in applique, so I added little a's name down the side.

BONUS: We got to buy a staple gun to make it! Woo new tools!

As you can see from the pictures, little a was very excited about his new play tent. He even moved his rocking chair inside so he could talk on his phone in privacy. :)