Elfing projects 2011

I had a great time making homemade goodies for gifts this year, and can now freely post about them.  Some of my favorites were these clay ornaments and gift tags.

These were so much fun, I was like a kid playing with play doh!  I found the tutorial online (though not free) and it was very detailed and helpful.  This project uses air-dry white clay (DAS is recommended) and some cookie cutters.  I used some rubber stamps for texture, as well as rolling between linen fabrics.  I had some special clay stamps for the lettering.  It takes a little patience for the drying, and you do need to flip them over frequently to prevent the edges from curling as they dry.  The final stage is some sanding (I used plain old emery boards) of the edges, and then adding loops of 1/8″ white ribbon.

It was a very satisfying project and well received, because the ornaments were chosen and embellished for the individuals involved.  I did lots of extras to use as gift tags (just write on them with a fine point Sharpie.) What I loved about these is that they are simple, basic and earthy, somehow at the same time both rustic and elegant, and very personal.

I made some brown sugar scrubs and just packed them in recycled cosmetic jars.  The luxury lotion bars were a simple matter of melting together three ingredients (beeswax, shea butter and avocado oil) and pouring into small molds.  I packaged these up rather grandly for the gifting, but you don’t need to go as far as I did!

One of my gifts was a box of hand-made ornaments for a person who will probably decorate a small tree for herself with them. There were several of the white clay ornaments, as well as crocheted roses in several sizes and different textures of yarns (forgot photos, sorry!)  There were some crocheted snowflakes and some fabric rosebuds, as well as these adorable yo yo flowers.

All the objects were white, off-white, or natural in color;  I just got started with the white clay and kept going, so I called her gift, “variations on a theme.”  There was also a button-covered, beribboned ball ornament and I am so kicking myself for not remembering to photograph it!   She loves buttons and all of them were white, off white or natural variations with a large silk bow.

Another fun project (mostly because it was for someone really special) is this shrug for my violin teacher, Monika.  I promised her I would not post her picture here, so the second best thing would be these photos with the strange color (the sweater is actually black.)

I almost forgot!  There was also homemade hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce, which people received with great enthusiasm.  I’ve already shown the caramel, but here is the hot fudge sauce being jarred.

I found a recipe that was very straightforward, though I must admit that the first batch got thrown out, due to a really dumb mistake.  I put about 10 times too much salt in it and it took for-EVER to boil, but it looked beautiful when it was done.  One taste, however, told me what I’d done wrong.  No matter how long you’ve been cooking, you can still make silly mistakes that destroy your project.  I tried not let it mess up my head and just started over.  In half an hour I had the project done correctly, but that was a long evening.  I was just grateful that I had enough of the ingredients to do another batch without going shopping again.

There were some huge batches of granola made for a few people, also.  I love this stuff myself and it’s a huge sacrifice for me to give it away, LOL, but the people who received it are very special to me, so it’s all good.

Hope your holidays are as wonderful and warm as mine.  I loved the making and giving….wish I could give handmade gifts to all on my list, but some don’t value it as much, or want/need more technical or practical things and that’s okay, too.  I spent time with my family (and Skyped with the daughter not here) and ate a bounty of good food.  All the gifts I received were thoughtful and personal (including the kitchen appliances that I specifically requested!)


Handmade Christmas

I did make several handmade things for Christmas/Birthday gifts this year (we have several birthdays in my family between 12/21 and 12/24!) and I promised photos.  I didn’t get them taken before they were wrapped and given, so I am using some photos taken from magazines, some links, and in one case a photo of my own item that I decided to keep.

These are my own fingerless gloves that I made from a pattern in Crochet Today.


I made two pairs for gifts in teal green and they were very warmly received.  The gifted ones were made from a wool/alpaca yarn.  Mine pictured here were from a Lion Brand yarn that looks like natural fiber but is not and is fully machine washable and dryable.  I love them!  These may not seem practical at first glance, but they are great at keeping the cold winds from blowing up your sleeve and you can still do a number of functions without removing them (e.g. drive and pay your bill at the drive thru.)  I don’t even take mine off in the grocery store and, therefore, I don’t lose them when they fall out of my pocket.

Next up is a necklace featured in Crochet Today last spring as a bridal item, but I made it in black with some black faceted beads.  They had just enough facets to add a subtle sparkle.  The black is a gorgeous contrast on my blonde, fair-skinned daughter.

This is probably the only one I will make (unless one of my daughters actually wants a bridal one at some point in the future.)  The pattern was a pain and I actually had to pull out several rows and redo them.  Not a fault of the pattern, just user error from a tired crocheter working on an extremely detailed item.  I am pleased with the final product and hope it will be an heirloom.

Next up are some earrings, also from Crochet Today.  Apologies for the fuzzy photo.

 I made 5 pairs of these and kind of got addicted to making them, though it took me about 5 tries before I got the hang of it and was satisfied enough to not pull it out and start over.   The pattern isn’t difficult–it’s only 4 rows, but working with the tiny hook around the earring hoop had quite the learning curve. (These are 40 mm hoops.)  I made them mostly in black so that they could be worn a lot, but also made a set in a blue/lilac/green varigated thread.  I plan to make some for myself now (red for Valentines Day and maybe some black ones.)  

I made several other sets of fingerless gloves in the design shown here:

These are from Etsy artist “whiletheyplay” and she has many other designs, as well.  She sells her own handmades, but she also offers quite a few as patterns and I was lucky enough to buy 3 patterns for $10 awhile back.  I love how they worked up.  I made these in several colors and added unique buttons from my own collection.  My favorites were the red ones I gave my sister-in-law that have multicolored ceramic buttons.  They were stunning.  And some black ones for my sister with silver and black buttons….very chic.  I couldn’t resist and made one of these for myself, as well, in varigated cream/tan/green with a tortoise shell button to match my winter coat. 

I hope I’ve inspired someone else to make some handmade gifts.  It gave me more pleasure than anything else in my holiday.  I wish I could find things for everyone on my list that would be received as well, but some people (men mostly) are harder to do handmades for.  At least the ones in my family, anyhow. 

I’m back to working very hard on my fiddling and planning some handmade home items, like cloth “paper towels” and napkins.  Then on to recovering the booth cushions from the camper (yuk) and making curtains for same camper (double yuk.)  It’s got to be done.  Maybe by spring I can do something fun again.

Happy Saturday!

I’ve had a very good one.  Netted some good stuff at the flea market this morning; found a gorgeous jade green wool melton cloth ladies coat for $5.  I already took it apart, discarded the cheapo acetate lining, but saved the buttons, and then washed the wool in hot water and ran it through the dry to “felt” it.  It looks great.  The pieces are long but narrow, as the coat was made in several panels.  It will work fine for my future wool quilt for which I’ve been hoarding wool for years (probably 13-14??) 

I found nearly a bolt of white tulle for $1.  I already pulled off about half of it and shared with sis-in-law for her Christmas projects.  She’ll probably get hers used before I do mine, but it will be there when I want it.  Tulle is not expensive, but this much for $1 was more like FREE.

I found some Little Golden Books that I couldn’t resist for future grandchildren.  Some are duplicates of ones we had when our kids were little that have simply disappeared or fallen apart from love/use.  We had a lovely large copy of Home for a Bunny that I’m sure disintegrated somewhere.  I used to know the whole thing by heart.  Today I only bought books I already knew and loved.  Some books are just ‘eh’.  These were all keepers.

I spent some hours this afternoon trying to play a song by ear on my fiddle.  It’s my first effort at this and an assignment from my teacher.  I got to pick the songs and I found a song from Jewel’s LULLABY CD that I thought was simple, had an easy-to-hear fiddle melody which I love (so I won’t get too tired of hearing it repeatedly.)  Whew!  It was harder than I thought.  I presume it will get easier….or maybe the song I chose wasn’t as easy as I figured it would be.  Anyhow, I got about half way through and still am not sure of what I’ve got.  Will have to make a fresh start tomorrow.  I found the first note the most difficult. 

Just want to say to anyone who ever wanted to learn an instrument that it’s not too late no matter how old you are!  If you love the sound that your instrument makes and you really, really want to do it, you CAN.  I still can’t technically read music, but my fingers know where the notes are on my strings and I am making music (roughly defined, of course).  Now (so my teacher tells me) I have to make the music MY OWN.   I’m trying.  Now someone has to tell my right arm (that holds the bow) that it isn’t supposed to make the same motion as my left hand when I’m trying to make my sound a vibrato.  I feel like I’m trying to pat my head and rub my stomach.  Totally spastic.  Good thing I can laugh at myself, but no videos will be allowed.

Made myself do a little (very little) housework and bank account catch up and now I have to put clean sheets on my bed.  Looking forward to a productive day tomorrow and then a very short work week.  We are only working Mon. and Tues, as Wed. is a required furlough day and Thurs. & Friday are holidays for us.  Yay!  I’ll be cooking for Turkey day, so will have a busy couple of days and then can maybe clean up my sewing room so I can actually use it again. It’s gotten away from me…again.

I’ve been busy crocheting Christmas gifts, but can’t post photos till after the holiday.  Found a few patterns I really love.   The best part of the holiday for me is to make something for someone with my own hands, whether it is food or other things, and watch them truly enjoy it.  Wish I could do that for everyone, but some are easier than others when it comes to homemade.  I do like to give these sorts of things to neighbors, coworkers and a few family members.  I liked to give handmade things to special teachers when the kids were younger.  I thought the teachers who really inspired my kids deserved something special and made efforts to make something myself when possible.

Snow Hill Fiber Festival

We have looked forward to attending the local fiber festival in a nearby small town ever since our first two visits.  We love the wool, spinning demos, live animals and lots of other goodies.  I also enjoy the people involved in these things and this is where I met my violin teacher.

Today, Monika Lilley (of Upper Room Studio) played music with her younger siblings (The LilleyBillys) and demonstrated spinning angora wool directly from the animal.  He just sat in her lap while she plucked fur fibers and spun away.  So cool.  We enjoyed petting the alpacas, too, though the recently sheared goats were not interested in being petted.  Maybe just a bit skittish from their recent shearing perhaps.

The weather was PERFECT and it was just the sort of thing to lift our spirits high.  I share some of my favorite images here.

Beautiful and friendly alpacas

Yummy yarns

Angora fiber being expertly spun directly from rabbit to yarn

Some Lilleybillys providing music

My lovely violin instructor, Monika Lilley


Monika focused

I didn’t manage to catch a photo of Monika smiling, but when she does, she lights up a room with her spirit.  And she is a very, VERY patient teacher.

Oh my!

More than a month has gone by since I posted and we are getting ready to leave again.  I have not been inactive—-on the contrary, I’ve been busy, busy, busy.  I will post some photos of some baby things I’ve crocheted when we return, just haven’t gotten around to taking the pics yet. 

I began formal violin lessons this week.  I only really intend to learn to play by ear and be able to play mountain music for my own enjoyment.  I’ve been working on learning on my own for over a year and finally bit the bullet and found a teacher.  She is young and is classically trained, but she’s taught her own younger siblings and teaches others as well.  She asked what my goals were and my goal is NOT to play classical (though I love hearing it) and I don’t need to learn to read music.  I just want to play for the joy of it.  She is on board with helping me learn to hear the music and play what I hear.  She is not experienced with mountain music, but is happy to help me.  She has a younger sister who plays blue grass, so she will be joining us sometimes.  My teacher also plays guitar and will join me sometimes.

My first lesson was chock full of information for me to assimilate and practice will abound before my next lesson in a couple of weeks.   I’m off to practice now….

Will be leaving Sunday morning for the mountains (our last trip till next May) and will probably return Oct 4.  I’m looking for fall.  It was in the mid-90’s here today.  We broke a record.

Productive times.

I haven’t posted for awhile because I have been busy making stuff!  I had promised my daughter two skirts that we saw in Threads magazine and I didn’t quite get there by her birthday, but close enough.  No pattern needed for these, just measurements and some good instructions in the magazine.  It’s all simple rectangles and some slashes.  The rectangles get sewn in as “godets” (non-sewers may have to look that one up, sorry.) 

 The ivory knit was easy, except we made changes, but the black and ivory stripe was difficult because of trying to keep stripes straight and matched up on a very soft, wiggly knit.

 But she loves them, looks great in them, and they are very easy wash & wear, as well as very comfy in her car while traveling for work, which she does for many hours per week.

We also have a simple, pastel-striped sheath to make next, but we are working from a pattern we used when she was in her teens and there are some size changes to be made.  I couldn’t find a new one just like it, so I will have to wing it and hope for the best.

I also have been making things for myself….something I rarely do.  I have crocheted myself these wonderful wristlets http://www.etsy.com/listing/41161110/romantic-fingerless-glove-pattern-pdf from Etsy artist, whiletheyplay.  I think they look very cool and make me feel very feminine.  I think their practical use is that they can be used when the weather is cold and windy, but you still need the use of non-slippery fingers.  I guess I’ll find out next winter.:)

For more immediate use, I’ve been crocheting hats!  I have a couple of straw sun hats, but sometimes I need a hat for a bad hair day–more specifically, when I’m at the camper and cannot get my hair styled due to water issues.  I don’t need a sun hat with a big brim for going to breakfast, but I do need something that covers my head and makes me feel a little less “bedhead.”  So I crocheted this hat (pattern by the same designer that designed the wristlets above, which also could be a sun hat, but it’s kind of warm for that (fuzzy, bulky acrylic yarn.) 

 I found a pattern that is cooler, made with open crocheted stitches and cotton yarn, and made it in both white and sea mist green.  

The pattern is from Crochet Today magazine, April-May I think.

I have a whole list of future yarn projects, which I plan to work on while I’m at the camper this weekend.  We leave on Friday, the 18th, and will return the following Thursday.  I am counting the minutes till I’m back at my little paradise.  Jim has more work to do on it this time, but all I have to do is stay out of the way, which won’t be a problem for me.  Cripple Creek awaits.

Found my photos!

I had lost some Thanksgiving photos and really was in a quandary about where they went.  They were not showing up on the memory card of camera and didn’t show when I reviewed the photos directly from the camera.  Then one day, when I had the memory card inserted into the computer, I turned on the camera and there they were!  I don’t know why they saved directly to the camera’s small, built-in memory, but there they were.  Also don’t know why I couldn’t see them or download them before. 

I took out the card tonight and downloaded them using the USB cable, and voila!  I won’t post the food pics, since we are nearly 3 mos. from the event, but here are some good pics of my shawl project.  I rarely make anything for myself, but this project really inspired me and I wear it whenever the temps are in the 38-60 range and not blowing too much.  The open spaces allow too much wind to come through, so it’s not good for a cold/windy combination, but just perfect on many fall days.

I am currently basting the “quilt sandwich” on a quilt for my grandson who will soon be 14.  I promised this quilt nearly two years ago, so I’m really trying to get it done.  It’s got lots of woodsy, nature prints and I think he’s going to love it.  Will post those photos in a few weeks when it’s complete.

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