Saturday, April 19, 2014

Giving Homemade Presents

For those of you who give away homemade presents, do you ever wonder if your beloved projects are being loved by their owners? I do at times. The more handmade presents I made, the more I realize that when I see the present recipients, I look to see if my present is being used. Nothing thrills my heart more to see a zip pouch in my friend's bag, or a baby quilt lying in a bundle in a child's play area. Those glimpses... those make it all the worth while.

Why am I writing this you might ask?

Yesterday my sister received my package of her very belated birthday present in the mail.
In the package was this project that I finished a while back but never got around to sending it until recently. I made it by using this tutorial and I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with my fabric selection for the top flap. I am so embarrassed by it that I couldn't even force myself to take a picture of it. 

Anyways... back to the topic at hand. Do you ever doubt your final projects? Perhaps doubt the fabric selection. Perhaps all the seams don't add up. When you're finished do you reflect on all the flaws that your sharp eye can catch? Or am I the only one?  I remember making this and I totally did not love it by the end of it. I think that's what made me two months late in actually sending it. 

 But I got a call from my sister as soon as she got her package and she was so excited. I could hear the happiness in her voice. She told me that it was something that she would buy if she saw it in a store, and the fabric selections were wonderful and cheerful. I can't describe in words how happy that made me. I was sure she wouldn't like it, because I wasn't thrilled with it. 

I've been a bit unmotivated to finish projects for people because I wasn't sure if all my effort was worth it. If they would love and use my items. But now - after my sister's call... I am so excited to begin her quilt top again. 

Because I know she'll love it and appreciate all the work and the long hours it took to get there. Even though my seams might not all match up and it looks a bit easter egg in my fabric choices. I'm so grateful for her phone call yesterday... sometimes the smallest enthusiastic comment can make all the difference. Do you agree? 

What motivates you to complete and give away homemade presents? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Coasters

Remember when I started the baby blanket and told you about how crochet was my first crafting experience here? Well, the baby blanket wasn't turning out as I had planned. 

I grew up crocheting with acrylic yarn - I think that's why I didn't like crochet for the longest time. I always thought it was an itchy craft. It wasn't until I started reading about others who crochet with different materials (like alpaca and wool) that I started to see that the craft could be modern and beautiful. 

Well, getting back to the baby blanket that was - I went to our local craft store and I was determined to take advantage of this snuggly raining weather we've been having and start a crochet blanket. Well, at our craft store all they had was acrylic yarn and 100% worsted cotton yarn. So I figured lets go with the cotton because cotton is suppose to be soft right? Well, I started crocheting the blanket with my yarn and I got serval rows in before I realized that there was little to no drape and it felt very very stiff. Like bathmat stiff. I must admit it was a bit disheartening since it was baby's first project and it ended before it really got off the ground. But I got over that as I started using it for smaller projects like these coasters. There is something so thrilling about a finished project that is put into use! And here is a finish! A set of beautiful new coasters for the house.  Next will probably be pot holders and then I'll probably make my sister and mom and set for mothers day. 

Happy crafting everyone! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

First baby project

It has been rainy and cold here. A strange thing for Hawaii. But this invigorating cold and gloomy damp has my fingers aching to play with yarn. Crochet was the first craft that I ever learned as I stated here. I didn't learn it correctly (by reading patterns) and I mostly did afghan projects that were very repetitious (thus not needing to count very much but just do it by route memory).

Since I learned how to crochet, I have made a crochet blanket for each of the babies in church. I remember when I bought yarn for the first time here when Ross and I were dating to make a baby blanket for one of the soon to be mothers in our assembly. I don't know why, but I was slightly embarrassed for Ross to see me. He is a pretty cool guy - jock type, surfer, fisherman. I was a bit embarrassed for him to see me doing (what I had deemed in my head to be a 'grandma' craft) crochet. The first time I sat next to him when he was playing video games on a friday night with my yarn and my crochet hook, he kept glancing at me while playing. With heated cheeks I asked him, "do you think I'm a grandma?" He shook his head, "no, just wondering what you were doing." When I told him he said it was "cool." Wow - never thought he'd use that adjective! Now I get excited to show him what I'm working on. His praise keeps me steadily stitching - even more so now that I am working on a baby project for our baby.

Every baby blanket I've ever worked on has been a blessing. While stitching I have been able to sit and reflect on my relationship with the parents-to-be and to think of this blanket being used during nap times and play times other adventure times. Now, while I sit and stitch I think about what this child might be like. What the baby will like to do, the books that I want to read to baby, the dreams and hopes I have for baby, and the love I can't wait to share. During these quiet times I also wonder what type of father Ross will be like. With how caring he is I can't imagine a sweeter one.

It's nice isn't it - the ability to craft and create and pour our hearts into a tangible item. What a blessing!

finished project - the walker wall hanging

Ahhh... finally, the wall hanging that was started in the summer of 2013 is finished. A church friend from San Diego who had recently redone her living room asked me if I could make a wall hanging for her from fabrics she bought from Joanns and sent to me. She also asked if I could make it using patterns from the beach.

I have to admit that I did minimal quilting on this - I didn't do in much echo stitching. I was afraid if I did too much quilting on it, she would never get it seeing as how we are entering our third trimester next month.

But I'm happy with it, and I hope she is too. This counts as a real finish because I actually sent it out in the mail yesterday instead of holding onto it for months like I usually do with projects.

 I actually did my first wall hanging sleeve using this tutorial.   (Please don't mind the camera cord!) It was a really easy tutorial to follow. I did have to rip out several stitches at times when I first hand sewed the sleeve down because I was scrunching up the fabric too much and it was scrunching the front. I've learned that when hand sewing the sleeve down it's best to lay it on a flat surface and sew.

Below are a few reminiscent pictures of the process. Choosing from the bundle she sent me, matching threads for hand appliqué, prepping the squares for hand work, and finally, getting the top done. It was a fun journey, but I'm glad to be done. =)

Now a cup of tea.... mmmm creamy goodness. 

One from the stack of 2013 projects that followed me finished... ahhhh.... it's so motivating when a project gets finished! Ready to tackle the rest... which will be a while till the next finish considering I move at glacial speed... :sigh:

Happy sewing everyone! =)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The weekend in pictures

I'm going to try and start something new.  A lot of the blogs that I follow do a post about what they do over the weekend, and I find myself drawn to stories of their life as well as pictures of what they are working on. A goal of mine is to start blogging more freely about my thoughts and share more about who I am and the life that Ross and I live here. =) So here it goes: my first weekend post. 

We went to our friend's birthday party for their son's first birthday. Man the decorations were cute! =) Our other friend had spent the entire month making handmade touches for the event. I trip out at her creative hand. The piñata in the top right corner was all made by hand... when I asked her if she hand cut all of the materials by hand she gave me a sheepish smile and admitted that she did. My jaw literally dropped open. That girl has crazy skills!

Originally my friend who was throwing the party wanted to rope me into helping make the whale cookies but I had to veto that idea right away and redirect her to our other friend who is so amazing at making decorative baked goods... (my baking style is more like homey and yummy bake sale and not something you walk into a gourmet bakery and buy)

Clockwise: Bacon okonomiyaki, strawberry and blackberry mix, pizza from a local pizza place, and a chai latte from starbucks. 

Yes - this weekend was also spent eating and drinking lots of yummies! Here is a collage of all the foods that baby responded to with extra happy kicks... the baby especially liked the pizza. I think baby was doing a bit of a happy dance inside my belly! 

And guess what? 
Yup that's what you think it is! A binding shot! Something was finished this weekend! The post will have to wait till tomorrow though cause the hubby was using the clothes line to dry his Jujitsu gi and I wasn't able to get pictures of the entire finish! Oh my goodness! I have a finish! 

Will hopefully post tomorrow! Hope your weekend was full of laughter, amazing food, and restful times! 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Early Morning Energy

Good morning! I woke up at 4:45 this morning with energy - and it felt so good to get up in the early morning hours! Before I was pregnant I woke up every morning at 5:30 for a warm cup of creamy coffee and some quiet time before getting into the morning routine of getting ready for work. Often times,  I was also able to get some hand stitching in. Ahhh those were my favorite times... sitting at the table and putting in a few stitches while listening to the world around me come alive. Hearing the birds wake up, the wind rustling the palm and coconut trees outside, and most especially, watching the sun come up over the water from my favorite windows in the house.

Clockwise: Last block to quilt on the Walker Wall Hanging, Big Breakfast (my local boy ended up adding a scoop of rice to his, very predictable), fresh warm biscuits cooked in my cast iron skillet (a recent birthday present), and a cup of creamy tazo awake tea with a view of the morning waking up.

I see why people call the second trimester the best - because you feel mostly like yourself. There are so many things that I want to get done and that I am excited to finally have energy to do. The last appliquéd block is being hand quilted in the Walker wall hanging and I am straining at the bit to finish this and bind this so I can move on with my life already! This project has been hanging over my head for three quarters of a year - because I couldn't in my right mind work and finish on my family project quilts while having this request weighing on me. Do you ever feel like this? Say "yes" to a request and then have it become more burden than blessing at times? I have a feeling though that when it is finished and sent to its new home, I will appreciate the time and effort that went into this - but honestly, with every burst of energy being so precious and scare, I covet the time put into projects.

Ahhh - but enough of that. The week has been busy with work, and I have two days off to rest and find a love for sewing again. I've been doing a lot of reading on my kindle the past week during the down hours after work. I love the fact that rereading books is such a pleasure and that I get to fall in love with characters already so beloved over and over again. (Also, can't complain about how economical it is to reread books!) I never pegged myself for a kindle girl. When I was little I dreamed of having a library like the one in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. You know, where she's hanging off ladders against the ceiling to floor bookshelves. Ahhh that was the dream I had. Little did I know that I would end up moving to the country - where there was no bookstore, and the few books I did have would end up growing mold due to the constant humidity that we get. ::insert sad face:: But, my saving grace has been my kindle. =)

Well - I better get going on my sewing before the energy boom disappears! =)

Happy Aloha Friday!