Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Crochet Resolution

I don't take nearly enough pictures of Christmas. Now everyone has a digital camera and we spend lots of time talking about the settings and all that. "Forced flash off inside!" is my camera mantra. We had a lovely Christmas. Nana (my mother-in-law) came and spent most of the week with us and my Mom and Dad are close by so they came over too. Having them with us makes us feel like the holiday is extra special. We got a couple of new video games and are having fun playing them. Guitar Hero is the biggest hit. My husband thoughtfully wandered into the local JoAnns on Christmas Eve looking for gifts for me. The ladies helped him pick out Gingher scissors! He also got one of their awesome ironing board covers with the measurement grid on it. Most wives wouldn't really think of an ironing board cover as thoughtful but I did specifically ask for it and it is awesome! I got other wonderful things too like nice cookbooks and a Gees Bend art quilt book.

Last night we cleared out all the decorations. This is a few days early for us, but the stuff was getting all dusty and I was starting to feel like it was all closing in on me. Sewing is back on the dining room table. I had a lovely evening last night listening to podcasts with my 6th grade son. He was assembling a new Lego set he got and I was cutting beautiful fabrics for some overdue baby quilts I want to finish.

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions so no thoughts from me about dieting and exercising more in the new year or anything like that. As I look back on the year and my blog it occurs to me that I keep meaning to tell you that I realized this year that those magic scrubbers you make from those Japanese crochet books are scratchy acrylic yarn and not cotton.

Flower Scrubbers

Okay these are cotton... I test drove a few versions. The cotton is more absorbant, but the ones I did in cheap Red Heart acrylic (which is generally sort of awful to use) are really scrubby and nice. They are great to use in the shower or bath like a loofa and they launder well. I even made one to do the shower floor and it works great. Most of the ones I made I have not photographed. Sorry about that.

So in the new year, I plan to remember to knit cotton dishcloths, and crochet acrylic scrubbies.

If you know me in real life. I didn't forget your Christmas card! The time felt really compressed this year and I didn't get my cards out on Christmas Eve like I usually do. This time I threw in the towel and have decided to send out Valentines or snowy greetings instead...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

White Christmas!

Bing dreams of a White Christmas, but we don't have to dream here, we've got one for sure! The snow is more than 2 feet deep now near the house. Today it is coming down in big clumpy flakes and is sticking to the trees making a beautiful wonderland. Later it promises to be cold and blustery but we don't have to go anywhere except church tonight.

We are all shopped and wrapped and the good dishes are set at the dining room table along with a pretty gingerbread house Nana made with Emma. Wild rice soup is simmering on the stove for supper and I have everything ready for tomorrow's feast.

This winter, among other things, we are grateful for our generous neighbors with massive snow blowers.

Joy and happiness to you and yours this Blessed Season!

Edited to add: Click HERE for the Hallelujah Chorus. This might be the most glorious music ever written. In my opinion anyway.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Twas the Night for Latkes

This image is borrowed from Bent Objects. His blog is fantastic so you really should check it out. Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends and readers!

We were caught up with our Christmas weekend with out-of-town family and I didn't even realize the Festival of Lights has already begun. We are totally having latkes for supper tonight. I like any excuse to make these. My children cheer with joy when I serve them. I might even do some doughnuts too. Last year I tried doing jelly doughnuts and they were awful so I'll stick with the regular kind. We use Canola oil or that Smart Balance oil, so they aren't that bad, right? It is so super cold here in Chicagoland that we are all craving the fat and carbs anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Prep

This time of year is so busy! We try to keep things low key, but I dunno. It is just the time of year when everything happens all at once.

Remember, when things look wonky, another word for that is "charming". Case in point, our star topper:
Wonky star is charming

I don't know about you all, but we didn't adjust that much with our gifts this year. Mostly because we did all that adjusting awhile ago. We don't exchange with nearly as many people as we used to and it is much easier. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make a bunch of things and I don't need to do that. I like the Handmade Pledge and all, but sometimes buying practical things like lotions, lip balm, and socks is really simple and easy and eases the time pressures of the season.

Of course, the season isn't really about the gifts for us. We have fun every night doing Advent readings, singing, and stories with our kids. We've been attending a new church and are happy to see that our children are connecting with the bible stories and theology in nice ways that they haven't before.

Here is a glimpse of some of what I've been making. I can't say what these things are for fear of discovery!

Gift for Mom

The gift below involved lots of little snaps. I am mad at the manufacturer Dritz. I just might boycott them. $2.50 for 7 size 16 (tiny) snaps?!? My friends, that is only 7 halves of the snaps, so in a package you only get 3.5 snaps! *grumble* The Prim company (available at WalMart) charges about $1.50 for an actual full set of 7 snaps. Maybe I'll get my revenge and write an article about snap buying woes at Craft Critique. I ended up using both of those types from the notions stores and found that they are interchangeable and then I ordered a big bunch of different snaps online to use later.

Sewn gifts

I thought I could put away my sewing machine and then I remembered that I wanted to make these:
Luggage tags

Finally, I got a couple of pom pom makers for my birthday this fall. They are so fun! I'm using up my fuzzy acrylic making a stack of them to use on our gifts:
Pom Pom makers are fab!

Overnight tonight we expect a foot of snow with a inch of sleety ice mixed in. I'm about 80% certain my children will not have school tomorrow. I hope to get some baking done! Granola and pumpkin bread! Mmmm... This weekend is our favorite holiday party at John's and our McKee family Christmas. Nana comes on Monday. Yay!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quilt and Corruption

I can't get enough of this Illinois corruption scandal! Let me tell you that none of this comes as any surprise to anyone in Illinois. What is amazing to people I talk to is the lack of finesse Blagojevich used in soliciting payoffs. This is hardly a dark time for Illinois. Things look brighter here all the time at they throw more and more if these corrupt politicians in prison.

Okay so back to crafting. I made this quilt for my brother when he got married 10 years ago. I think I gave them a regular gift and then got this to them sometime in their first year of marriage:
Crossing Stars Quilt

I remember having a whole set of fabric purchased for another quilt. My brother didn't want anything that was regular blocks. He wanted something that had a pattern that changed across the quilt. (My brother is sweet, he really had no idea that he was asking for something that was a stretch for me, a newer quilter, to make.) This pattern was on the cover of my Quiltmaker Magazine that came in and I knew that he and his wife would love it as they are big fans of color. The pattern wasn't that difficult but the setting of the blocks makes it really effective.

Quilt detail

I machine pieced and hand quilted the whole thing. Hand quilting is happily something I never do anymore. It took a lot of work to finish, but I was really motivated and I think it took a few months to do.

At the time, I didn't know that it isn't such a good idea to trace quilting patterns with pencil because you can still faintly see them.

Quilt Label

This was in my professional "Susan" period. I've since returned to the name I've had my whole life, "Susie" and only use Susan when I'm trying to get serious with some customer service department on the phone or something like that.

Now I am into holiday gift crafting. I'm afraid to photograph those things because I am afraid the family will see them. I think maybe it is only Mom who actually reads my blog regularly so I probably have nothing to worry about.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Craft Show!

Craft Show Set up

This is my set up for tomorrows craft show. I thought I didn't have enough stuff but when I put it all out, I think I have plenty. My daughter's 2nd grade friend thinks I should have made more things with monkeys, but she assures me that she'd spend a lot if she didn't have to keep her money in the bank ;-)

The sun already set around here, so these detail pics are blurry. I sometimes forget to photograph things before I sell them or give them as gifts and then I forget how I made them. Anyone else do that?

Kitty Pouches:
Kitty Pouches

Surprised Owl:
Owl Pouch

Mushroom and Sunshine Overtaking Cloud:
Mushroom and 'Doh Cloud


Cupcake and Cookies:
Cupcake Pouches

I have a bunch more pouch designs. These are the ones I haven't shared yet.
They have a simple velcro closure and measure about 6 3/4 x 5 1/2 inches with a 1 1/4 inch square gusseted bottom and a velcro closure.

I also have embroidered hairclips, crochet flowers, Cotton crochet pots, and a few felt envelopes.

Wish me luck! (Edit: The show was tonight and my disc barrettes were my best sellers. I got great feedback. It was a really cold forbidding day weatherwise so it was kind of slow with customers.)

I do have an Etsy shop. You can email me there if you are interested in my work, but aren't local to suburban Chicago. Look for the little "Contact IamSusie" on the side of the shop page under "IamSusie's info". I ship worldwide!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Felt Hairclips for Craft Show

Mushroom Hairclip

I've been stitching like crazy for a craft show I'm doing locally on Friday. I have no idea how busy the show will be, but I know we have some talented sellers! I've decided that I can't control whether or not people decide to buy, but I can make a cute pile of stuff, so that is what I've focused on.

Above is a detail of a mushroom hairclip.
Mushroom Hairclips

I made some cupcake versions:
Cupcake Hairclips

Gnome Hairclips

I did some little embroidered snowflakes on these:
Gnome Hairclip

Here are some elephants:
Elephant Hairclips

Little Red Riding Hood:
Little Red Hairclips

and some more boy and girl doggies:
Doggie Hairclips

I also wanted to do monkeys, flowers, and a little kitty, but I am exhausted and I think this is enough for now. I also have a pile of fabric pouches, a few felted sweater totes with felt applique, and a stack of lovely crochet flower pins including some festive pointsettias.

A few of my hairclip designs are available at my Etsy shop. I also accept some special orders of things I have photographed but not actually gotten around to listing in the shop. Just email me or send me an Etsy convo and I'll see if I can send you that item.

If you are in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, come to our Grayslake Holiday Boutique.We'll have 2 sessions on Friday, December 5: 11-2 and 5-9. I'll be set up at both sessions. Free refreshments! I'm baking a variety of brownies too!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Creative Blog Feature!

I feel so lucky today to be featured by Kim on Today's Creative Blog!

My article is HERE. Thanks Kim! I'm tickled to be in such talented company! You really should check out all her awesome featured bloggers. Such inspiration! I'm particularly fascinated by people's creative work spaces..


My brain is fried! We are having our first snowstorm and true to my winter biorythms, yesterday I was drowsy all day and wide awake at night so I got to see the weird snow lightning we had. The power went out when I was watching a spooky Korean ghost movie and crocheting... Don't ask me how I read subtitles and crochet at the same time, but it is fortunate that these Korean or Japanese horror movies are always about the same things: ghosts tormenting schoolgirls. Asians don't seem to have the same good vs. evil themes we have in our scary movies. It's always vengeful ghosts. I didn't see the end because the power went out at my house, but I suspect that the ghost was connected in some way to the scared schoolgirl's family past. They always are!

Snow lightening is odd because you can't hear any thunder. Since there was already a white blanket of snow on the ground, it was unearthly urban orangey light outside. Then just as the ghost was scratching at the window in my movie, the sky lit up bright orange like an explosion. I thought we were having some strange fire while the power crackled out. I went and peeked outside and it was that glorious, wonderful silence that you only experience during a snowstorm. All was well by morning although all our clocks are wrong. My kids even seem to fit into their boots from last year and my son has gotten to the wonderful middle-schooler age where they do not require snowpants every day during winter.