Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Secret gifts

Now that Christmas is past, I can reveal more of the gifts I made. Click on the image to go read my write-up on the patterns on

This apron was for my sister:

I made these slippers for my mom:

And these fleece socks were for my nephew:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Christmas traditions -

The elves that I grew up enjoying every Christmas now grace my mantel.



Krumkake, which are from my Norwegian heritage, and sugar cookies from my grandmother's recipe.


And then a new tradition. Last year I made toys for our four cats. This year I knit these toys for them from a pattern in Stitch and Bitch Nation:

Cat toys

They didn't get a very warm reception at first, despite the catnip inside:

And what are these?

Felix eventually decided they were ok:

He discovered the cat toy

But later Felix was not very happy when I tried out my new camera flash on him during his nap:

Not amused.

I never did get to the ornaments I was planning to make. I was going to embroider designs from the Rudolph TV show on felt, reversing one image to make them double sided. But my sewing machine cabinet broke. Broke! And in fussing with trying to fix it I just lost interest (and time) to get them done.

The cabinet, which was made by Horn of Australia, has a sewing machine lift consisting of a wire cable and pulleys, not the back-mounted hydraulic lift in every other cabinet I've every seen and now I know why! The plastic pulleys all disintegrated over the 6 years I've had the cabinet and I had no luck trying to get it fixed through my dealer and I didn't want to ship it to Australia to get it fixed. My husband and I fixed the mechanism ourself twice by replacing pulleys with screen door replacement wheels, which were nearly an identical match. But we never replaced all of them because the final pulley was a double wheel. Well, that last wheel finally broke to bits and our attempts to fix it failed. I am going to order a hydraulic sewing machine lift from and just replace the whole mechanism.

It's probably a good thing I am out of commission as far as sewing goes. We have drywall and floor refinishing and painting to do anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stolen art

I'm helping to get the word out. Susie Ghahremani had six pieces of her artwork stolen from the Giant Robot art show in San Francisco on Dec 16th. If you see them, please contact her. Thanks.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Knitting Stuff

Here is the knitting needle rollup and notions bag I made for a knitting group gift exchange. I wrote a review on I didn't use a pattern for the rollup, although I did look at Simplicity 4542 for ideas. The bag is simple to make - I probably could have figured it out on my own but I used these instructions on this entry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I feel badly for my neighbors

Their house was burglarized yesterday. The burglar(s) entered through the bathroom window, stole jewelry, and left through the garage. None of the neighbors saw anything suspicious enough to call the police. When we came home from work my husband noticed a white car in their driveway but didn't think anything of it. Another neighbor reported that he saw a white car drive off quickly. We were even out by our cars in the driveway for about 5 minutes and didn't notice anything strange.

The neighbors aren't home very much. The wife moved in about 5 years ago as a divorcee with two daughters and has since remarried so I think they sometimes stay at his prior residence. The daughters are now grown, and I think both married, and sometimes they are at the house with friends. It's hard to really know what's suspicious or keep track of what vehicles belong there. When I left for my sewing group around 6:45 last night, I noticed the garage door open and our trash cans were still out. They didn't have any cans out, which isn't unusual, but generally if they come home and see our cans, they'll bring them up to the house and vice versa (although we didn't even bring our cans up last night).

We live in what I consider to be a safe neighborhood although it is a densely populated area, so some bad stuff is bound to happen. We had a radio stolen from an old truck once and someone broke the locks on our cargo trailer twice but didn't take or even disrupt anything (my husband joked that maybe they put something in it instead). I suspect a kid stole the radio since whoever it was crawled through the tiny sliding window in the truck cab. With the cargo trailer, someone might have been looking for tools, which are highly pawn-able. The robbery next door may have been one of opportunity or it might have been cased. The neighbors are Iranian. You look in their window and you see opulent marble floors and fancy furniture, so doubt someone could expect the jewelry box would be a good hit. Apparently only the bedroom was ransacked and the jewelry stolen.

As for us, we have an alarm system. We had talked about getting an alarm system for a while and it took a TV show to get us to finally have one put in. Yes, a TV show. The show was called "It Takes a Thief" and was on Discovery channel I think. The premise of the show was that a former burglar would look for a likely home to target, then approach the owners with the idea that they would try to break in and if they were successful, the show would help them correct their lack of security. The owners fell into two categories - those who believed their house was secure and those who admitted that they were lax. Unbelievably, people didn't lock doors because they'd lost the key or there kids didn't have keys, or they'd leave windows open or they'd just have really cheap non-deadbolt locks on the doors. During the burglary, the owners would sit with the host in a van outside their house and watch via cameras positioned throughout the house. In ten minutes the guy was in and out with the owner's credit cards, checks, cash, jewelry, expensive handbags, and anything else pawn-able. Sometimes they'd find the keys to the second car and steal that as well. The owner would then see what was stolen (and get it back of course), the house would be cleaned up, and an army of people would come in to install an alarm system, deadbolt locks, and a safe. Unfortunately for my neighbors, Discovery was not involved in their burglary. The wife may never see her precious jewelry from Iran again.

The sad thing is that our neighbors have a relative who owns an alarm system company. They just never got around to having one put in. When we had our system installed I thought it was a bit overkill, but not anymore! We also put in a safe and a locked box for our spare keys. Someone told me that they thought having an alarm system would advertise to thieves that we must have something worth stealing. Well everyone has something worth stealing, even if it's your bank statements with your name and account number on them, or your social security card. I feel awful for our neighbors, especially if it was a crime of opportunity and the burglars chose our neighbor's unalarmed house over ours. We don't have opulent marble floors but the tools that are out in plain sight while we remodel would be enticing as well as the other electronic toys we have. But my few pieces of good jewelry are in the safe or on me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Oh this day is not going well. First I had to return home after leaving this morning because I forgot my laptop and paperwork I needed for work and thus was late for a meeting. And now I just noticed the wool sweater I'm wearing has two moth holes on the sleeve. I really like this sweater and even though it wasn't handmade or expensive, I'm sad. I hope I can fix it somehow. The sweater looks like it's boiled-wool, but it's not. Since it already looks felted, I wonder if I can weave the holes closed - or fabric-glue them from the back, if that would work - and wash it. I hate dry cleaning because of the chemicals and the cost so I try not to buy garments that must be dry cleaned. I wash my silks and wools in a front loader, which seems to do ok for non-structured things, i.e., not suits. Fortunately I no longer wear suits to work.

The moths drive me nuts. We have cedar in our closet and we put out moth pheromone traps (which are empty by the way) and still, we find holes. I don't want to have to haul every piece of wool that can't be machine washed out to the cleaners but I'm afraid I may have to do that. I guess I have to go through the closet, inspect every piece of wool, and either discard it or get it cleaned/washed. Bleh.

And they sure better not get into my yarn or fabric stash!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gift exchanges

Here's a tip...if you participate in one of those gift exchanges where you can either pick a wrapped gift or "steal" a gift from someone who's already opened one (and then they get to either steal someone else's gift or choose from a wrapped one)...choose one that's already unwrapped. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with one small skein of chenille yarn in a completely wrong color for me, large plastic knitting needles and a small glass vase (when I already have too much glassware and am in the midst of donating or selling it). If the person who brought it to the knitting exchange reads my blog, well, I'm sorry it wasn't matched up with someone more appreciative. I was sooooo hoping someone would steal the gift from me and it almost happened but didn't. I guess I'm a little disappointed that I spent a lot of time making a gift and didn't receive something I like but I know "them's the breaks." The recipient of my gift loved the needle rollup and notions bag I made (pictures to come) and that's what really should matter to me. But you can bet that next Tuesday at my sewing group gift exchange I will pick a gift that's already opened. Yes indeedy.

So now I'm totally burned out from gift-making and rushing to get things done and I've decided not to make the gift I was planning for the sewing group gift exchange but will instead bring something I bought a while back specifically as a gift and forgot about. It's a really nice gift that I got at a good price so I hope the recipient likes it. I would really like to have made something for the group exchange but I'm pooped. I sewed the last stitch on one of the handmade gifts last night and packed them all up. Whew! Oh and my eBay items are on their way to their buyers. Double whew! I sold 7 out of the 9 items I listed and while none had the bidding wars I hoped for or sold for a lot, I'm still happy that they're going to people who want them. And I have a bit of cash in my PayPal account now for future purchases or patternreview membership fees or whatever.

In these next few holiday weeks I have plenty of other things to do. Cookies to bake. Trees to trim. Drywall to put up. Yes, drywall. We...or shall I say my husband, started the demo for the living room project. I would have preferred to have waited so that I could enjoy the pre-Christmas festivities of cookie-baking and holiday movie watching, but I know he's sick of me putting this off. He even got tired of waiting for me to finish packing up the last items in the living room and started tearing out walls with stuff still in the room. Oh well. He knew I was a procrastinating Virgo when he married me. To his credit he does have two of the four recessed lights installed and power to the center of the room for the ceiling fan. I just wish we could work a bit better together on these projects. I guess having been able to redo a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, family room and computer/sewing room without divorcing means we have a good marriage. But I wish he'd remember that I'm not trained as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, tiler, interior designer, lighting consultant, or architect and he shouldn't expect me to act like I am. And oh yeah, I'm not a mind reader either.

So I'm still bugged by that stupid gift exchange and I know I should just get over it. I'm trying to think of what I can do with the gift. Any suggestions? I can't re-gift it to my sewing group because it's not sewing related. If there's enough I could make a scarf (barf) but I already have one in chenille plus a bunch of other scarves and don't need more, especially in this climate. Ditto for a hat. Plus, the color is wrong for me. I could make a scarf or hat and give it away but it won't be as a gift for this year so I guess the yarn will go to my stash and the vase will go to the back of the china cabinet. And the needles? They're blue and sparkly. Maybe I can give them to my niece.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Working like one of Santa's elves

I have nearly finished another Christmas gift. This was supposed to be a quick project but I was just not thinking last night. I sewed, ripped, sewed, ripped, sewed, ripped. ARGH! I did it right the first time but thought it was wrong so I redid it...the wrong way...and then finally got it right. I do want to make more of this item, so maybe the next one will go smoother. I sure hope so!

This weekend will be a busy one full of errands. I'm going to check out a LYS for a maintenance kit for my Ashford spinning wheel. I mostly need the oil but would like to have the extra pieces in the kit just in case. I'm also hoping to pick up a copy of The Ashford Book of Spinning. I've yet to try any spinning on my wheel. We oiled it with some sewing machine oil just to get it going and also polished up the wood so it looks real nice. I did a bit of internet searching to see what kind of oil to use on the wheel and found that sewing machine oil will do in a pinch but it needs something of a heavier weight, about the weight of 10W30 motor oil. I'm not about to use motor oil because I think it would be quite messy and might stain the wood. I can wait to get the right oil.

Also on my to-do list this weekend is a trip to Calico Corners in search of a sturdy curtain rod. We have a sliding patio door in the family room and I put up a traverse rod so we can close it off with curtains for both warmth and privacy. Up until now I've had linen curtains on it, which worked fine but they off no insulation for the winter months. I bought some velvet Ikea drapes, but they're a bit too heavy for the traverse rod. The top of the rod shows and it's hard to open and close them. I'd like to put up a nice metal or wood pole with rings but I want something that doesn't require a center support so that the drapes can be pulled all the way across. Fortunately it's just a standard sliding door size so I hope I can find something.

This will also be a weekend of packing and shipping. Hopefully I'll get the Christmas presents done, remember to take pictures, wrap them, and ship them out. But I also have 9 things up for auction on eBay and the auctions end tonight. As of this writing, two have bids and will definitely sell and five others have people watching so I expect most of those will also sell. I've been a buyer on eBay but this is my first time as a seller. Let's hope it goes smoothly, because I have a bunch of other things I would like to sell. If you're curious, here's my auction page. Nothing crafty for sale (yet!), just stuff I no longer want but hope to sell to someone who does want them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Keeping up the blog

If you are on my blogroll, you might be seeing a bunch of edited posts showing up. I'm moving pictures from my soon-to-be old internet provider website to the blogger photo space so I have to go back and change all the links. Such a pain.

One more finished

I finished the _______ for ___. Can't say what it is or even who it is for because I want to keep the fact that it's handmade part of the surprise of the gift. So that leaves one gift partially done, one is in the sewing stage, and the sewing guild neighborhood gift exchange gift yet unfinished.

I have to remember to photograph the gifts before I wrap, and in some cases, ship the gifts.

Such a hectic time of year, but I'm pleased with myself for actually completing some handmade gifts! Every year I strive to make gifts and most years I have to resort to store-bought items because I take on more than I can finish.

After the gifts are finished, the Christmas lights hung, the tree put up and decorated, and the cookies baked, I hope to make some Christmas stockings or ornaments. I'd really like to stitch out those Rudolph designs, maybe just on some white felt (if I can find some this time of year!) or I'll get more productive and use white muslin, which I'll then stuff with fiberfill. I'd also like to make the kitties some new catnip toys, perhaps knit some mice, since last year's felt toys went over quite well:

One year later, most of them are quite shredded or completely demolished.