December 11, 2012
by Anna
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Cross Stitch Christmas ATC

I haven’t cross-stitched in a long time. I learned as a kid, and even worked on a pattern once in school. (Okay, so it was a reallllly boring class and the other students made fun of me.) Anyway, when I came across this Christmas ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap on Swap-Bot, I just had to join in. When partners were assigned and I viewed my partner’s profile, I knew just what to do – she loves Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. So I searched around for small (think 2.5″ by 3.5″ or smaller) Rudolph or reindeer cross stitch patterns and finally settled on this one:

Isn’t he cute?

I measured everything on the aida cloth I’d be using, and he would fit just perfectly. But first, I decided to try an experiment. I didn’t want just a plain white background, especially since the person I was making him for isn’t fond of white, but the only other colors I had were light pink and light blue. Pastels just didn’t fit, so I grabbed some dark blue paint and painted my fabric blue (sung to the tune of “We’re Painting the Roses Red” from Alice in Wonderland).

I was afraid the paint might cover the tiny holes in the fabric, which would have been a problem, but it glided on without a hitch. Perfect. Then I chose my colors of thread and got to work on the cross-stitching.

Somehow, despite all my measuring, he turned out a tad big for an ATC (grrr!), so I had to adjust him a bit. I secured the fabric all the way around with a glue gun to make sure it wouldn’t fray and none of the stitches at the edges would come out. I also sewed in some beads and sequins on the star for some added sparkle. I <3 sparkles.

And here he is in all his star-shining glory. I think it worked quite well for an ATC, and the method would also be great for Christmas ornaments. I’m glad I signed up for the swap and got to try cross-stitching again. I highly recommend it!

 

December 7, 2012
by Anna
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Flashback Friday – Christmas Doily

I’m a fan of sparkles. I don’t exactly enjoy loose glitter all over the place, but I do love a little added sparkle, especially on holiday items. Years ago I came across some sparkly holiday yarn by Red Heart. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I must have been entranced by the sparkliness, ’cause I picked up a skein each of red, white, and green. I apparently also picked up a free project sheet, as I later found it in my crochet pattern binder and decided to put my glittery yarn to use. I made this:

It’s not quite a doily, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a centerpiece, either. The project sheet simply calls it a “table center.” A rose by any other name… Anyway, it took me a while, but I was finally able to track down an online version of the pattern for those who may wish to crochet their own. I made this as a beginner, so it’s a fairly easy pattern to follow. I wish now that I’d made all the motifs the same, rather than alternating like the example. Thoughts? I’m sure these motifs would also work for other projects, such as a pretty winter scarf. I’d love to see what you do with it!

 

November 30, 2012
by Anna
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A Little White Horsey (Ornament)

I started up this blog in order to keep track of all the things I create. I’ve been sewing since I was a little kid, though the first items I remember making weren’t actually “sewn.” (My mom taught me how to cut out ponchos for my dolls. My poor Ken dolls didn’t have anything to wear but red- and white-striped, sash-tied, square ponchos! Oh, the inequality of outfits!)

Anyway, though I’ve been getting better at remembering to take pictures of my crafts before I send them on their merry ways, there are still many, many handmade items that I don’t have pictures of. Maybe someday I’ll be able to post about the sweater I made for my mom, the layered skirt I sewed for my sister, the strange little nesting chicken I crocheted… But today I’m posting about an item I made just yesterday – a little horse ornament for a swap partner many miles away.

I had joined a swap for handmade ornaments, and my partner wanted either a white or gray horse, a deer, or a nativity scene. The first thing that came to mind was the little horse appliqué on the tractor afghan I made for my nephew. However, I decided to search for other, more three-dimensional characters. I found quite a few, but this little guy from Kristieskids won out (scroll to about the middle of the page for the horse pattern).

Mine turned out a bit longer and thinner, even though I was using a smaller crochet hook, but I think he’s pretty dang cute. I wasn’t sure about the colors, so I left the saddle and halter out, but I did give him some eyes made of blue seed beads. I added a silver ribbon for hanging, and sent him on his journey to the UK.This little amigurumi horse pattern could be used for several different things. He could probably be made into a deer if given some crocheted antlers. He sort of looks like a My Little Pony pony, as well – just stitch on a little emblem on his behind and give him a name!

November 29, 2012
by Anna
1 Comment

Stocking Stuffers for Adults – A Helpful List

I have helped my parents with the stocking stuffers for my family since I was a kid. I enjoy it, whereas my mom doesn’t like shopping. I love finding fun and unique items (relatively inexpensive ones, that is) to stuff into my siblings’ stockings. But my family has changed over the years, and now most of us are adults. Gone are the simple days of dollarstore toys and tons of candy. So my stocking to-buy list has certainly changed, but it is just as possible and just as fun to fill up a good ol’ Christmas sock for an adult!

Here is a list of stocking stuffers I have used, plan on using, or think would be fun:

  • favorite snacks (from jerky to bulk chocolate-covered peanuts, to popcorn , everyone likes treats)
  • fruit (mandarin oranges are great this time of year)
  • keychains and key-toppers (adults tend to have keys – don’t let them be boring!)
  • Christmas ornaments
  • socks (dressy, work, cute, whatever!)
  • gloves, beanies, and scarves
  • ice-scrapers to keep in their cars (you can never have too many!)
  • hand-warmers
  • wallets for men
  • nail clippers
  • nail files, nail polish and other makeup items for women
  • small tools for men (screwdrivers, tape measures, Swiss Army gadgets, pocketknives, etc.)
  • duct tape (fixes darn near anything and comes in all sorts of colors now)
  • hair barrettes for women
  • small flashlights (great to keep in a car or purse/backpack/bag)
  • scented candles (mostly for women)
  • perfume or cologne
  • jewelry, cufflinks, tie tacks
  • contact or glasses cases
  • Tide pens
  • lint rollers (great for people with pets)
  • air fresheners and other small car accessories (gave my brother a dashboard hula girl once – it was a hit!)
  • good pens or pencils
  • fun notepads
  • $5 card to fast food joint
  • mugs with packs of cocoa
  • scissors (really!)
  • refrigerator magnets
  • lotion, handsoap, chapstick
  • paperback books and bookmarks
  • funny Tshirts
  • watches
  • small food containers (found some specifically for pizza this year)
  • underwear (generally best for a spouse!)
  • hobby-specific items (gloves and seed packets for gardeners; yarn and hook/needles for knitters/crocheters; thread, needles, measuring tapes for sewists; art supplies for the artsy; kitchen utensils for those who like to cook; safety goggles and nails/screws for woodworkers; fun things for gamers from ThinkGeek; sweatbands, tennis/golf/baseballs for athletes)
  • gum, mints, or breathspray (Perpetual Kid has some hilarious stuff!)
  • cards or other small games
  • shoe inserts (hey, feet can hurt after a long day!)
  • paperweights
  • laser pointers
  • USB flashdrives
  • CDs/DVDs
  • calculators
  • batteries
  • head-scratchers (sound funny, but are actually quite nice – and make a funny gift!)
  • cellphone and other device chargers
  • earphones/buds
  • fun USB-charged devices (I got my husband a USB missile launcher one year)
  • small packs of tissues (even cough drops for those with seasonal colds)
  • lap-sized fleece blankets (easy to make, too!)
  • stationary and stamps for someone to write to you (such as a college student)
  • items good for a laugh (fly-swatters, air freshener spray, feather-dusters, dryer sheets, kids’ toys)

Feel free to comment with other adult stocking stuffer ideas. I’m sure there are many, many more!

November 24, 2012
by Anna
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Hosting My First Swaps

I love Swap-Bot. I’ve been a member for over a year now, and I love to join crafty and ATC swaps. I’ve never hosted any swaps, however – until now.

Though I collect snowflake ornaments, and I was given an angel one every Christmas as a kid, I also love unique ornaments to hang on our tree. I make or buy an ornament for my husband every Christmas that has to do with something special or big that happened that year. We’ve got trains, tools, and even a palm tree to hang on our tree. Last year I got the hubby this ornament to remind us of our cruise to the Caribbean and swimming with the stingrays.

Thus, I’m pretty fond of unique and interesting Christmas ornaments. And I love making things specifically for a person – be it friend, family member, or swap partner. So I thought it would be fun to swap handmade, doesn’t-have-to-be-Christmas-related ornaments on Swap-Bot. I didn’t see any swaps like it (not surprised), so I decided to host one. Then it turned into two as I was asked to make an International version.

I have some watchers, though not many have signed up as of yet. I was hoping to get a lot of members to join, but it’s getting pretty close to Christmas already and people are busy. Wish I had thought of it sooner. If I host it again next year I will leave more time. No matter how many swappers join up, I know it will be a ton of fun!