Green Apple and Aqua Quilt

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Ever notice how some people have a kind of family color palette? They pick out clothing and decor with the same basic colors again and again. For me, that palette is blue and orange. I can’t seem to get enough of different variations on that theme, both in clothing, decor, and even in my paintings to a certain extent.

I always think of red and blue as being my parents’ family colors, and for my in-laws, at least for the women, green apple and aqua are a recurring theme. My daughter has in the last few years adopted that color palette as her own, and I love it.

She came up for the concept for this quilt/ duvet cover—the colors, the shapes. She picked out most of the fabrics, with a few scraps coming from friends and family. I put them all together, and I’m pretty happy with it, if I do say so myself. It took me two years plus to finish this project, though of course I was doing lots of other things in between and lost interest several times.

I’m so glad it’s finished!

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Cashmere Patchwork Throw #2

 

I’ve missed you, readers! I’ve been busy with work, writing, and taking care of the family. Meanwhile I have been crafting, but mostly on big projects where my progress has been slow.

Here’s one project that’s actually finished. If you’ve been around long, you may remember my previous similar project in different colors. This one is very much the same, made from thrifted cashmere sweaters.

It’s crazy hot in North Carolina, but this throw is already in high demand around here. There’s just nothing like wrapping yourself up in cashmere.

Read or watched anything good lately? I loved the indie film Sing Street, about an Irish 80s teenage band, created to impress the hero’s love interest. Also enjoyed reading The Nest, a funny novel about grown siblings fighting over their shared inheritance.

I’ve been thinking about my fall wardrobe and new ways to mix things up. For one, I’m working on getting things fixed that have needed it for some time: shoes, boots, clothes needing alterations, beads that need restringing. Have to replace some buttons on a sweater and am even going to attempt repairing some cashmere sweaters that have a hole—wish me luck! I’ll be reporting back on that.

Loving following Sherri Lynn Wood’s Instagram feed (@sherrilynnwood). She’s an artist/ quilter, and I always love her style, but this summer is special—she’s been doing a residency at the San Francisco dump (yes, the dump!) where she’s been uncovering amazing finds to make into quilts. I can’t wait to see her finished products. Nothing I love better than watching treasures be uncovered and made into art.

That’s all for now. Hope I can make it back here in the near future!

Stick Chic

Painted SticksDo you ever feel like your subconscious is leaking out?

I was researching decorations for my dear friend’s wedding when I got kind of stuck on sticks. Here’s my pinterest page on stick decorating.

My kids never saw any of this, but somehow, they seemed to know about it, because later that day, after hubs had trimmed some bushes, they hunted down the paint and began decorating these sticks. I’m loving the Dr. Seuss vibe.

I also chopped (with the trimmer) a bunch of sticks into shorter segments for us to make into a new winter wreath. Our old one is kind of sad and decrepit.

I’m alllllllmost finished with a dress I’m making. Just three more buttons! I can’t believe I actually made 9 successful buttonholes. This is a new milestone.

Meanwhile, I hope a certain little ninja will appreciate his costume that’s nearly finished. Who am I kidding? Kids have no idea the work that goes into costume-making. That’s okay. I’ve had fun making it, and I’ve kept it really low-key. I may make a little tutorial about the tunic part of it.

I’m still plugging away at my writing projects. Trying to keep my nose to the grindstone. And made Foster’s Market Jamaican black bean soup last night. Also put up some pesto. Yum!

Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New

Craft Books for Kids

I love looking at craft books almost as much (okay, sometimes more) than crafting. In my house growing up, my mom and I always called these “make it/ do it” books, after two of our favorites, her own McCall’s Giant Make It Book (1953) and my Great Big Golden Make It & Do It Book (1980).

Many happy hours were spent poring over those pages. Most of the projects I never made or did, but just knowing that I could, imagining them, and looking over the pictures and instructions was (is) very satisfying.

Kids' Craft Books

I still love make it/ do it books, and in the stack are a few more recent favorites.

Made to Play  by blogger Joel Henriques. This book, given to us by a good friend, inspired our cardboard factory last summer. The author’s blog is madebyjoel.

Sticks & Stones & Ice Cream Cones by Phyllis Fioratta is another childhood favorite.

Oodles to Do with Loo-Loo and Boo by Denis Roche, a Vermont College friend of mine. This one has great illustrations and fun characters who guide you throughout as you make arts and crafts with easy-to-find and recyclable items.

Things to Do Book by Jennie Maizels. I love, love this concept for a book. Each illustrated spread has a theme (“in the car,” “in the garden”) picturing various activities in a particular setting. There are little flaps to lift that are like secret treasures. In concept, it’s a little like a Richard Scarry book with activities to do instead of labels. Perfect for those “I don’t have anything to do!” moments.

I also remember loving A Boat, A Bat, and A Beanie: Things to Make from Newspaper from the library back in the day. It shows you how to make great stuff (sandals! a wig!) out of, yes, newspaper. I think I need to order a copy of it. I love getting copies of old library books I used to check out over and over.

Below: It was so well-loved, we had to re-cover mom’s copy of the McCall’s Giant Make It Book:

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Here are a few of the inside pages:

Vintage Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Ach! There’s just something about these glowing 50s illustrations that just gets me every time. Everything looks so fun! The clothes so quaint! I just want to jump into the pictures, like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings.

There’s a little video about the McCall’s book here.

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft books of your own, or do your kids? I think craft books make great gifts.

For more kid craft posts, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the Carolinas conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lucky for me, it’s right here in town.

The Cardboard Factory

Cardboard Crafts

I’m not exactly sure where it started (maybe with the rocket? maybe with this book?), but over the course of the summer, our dining room became piled high with cardboard creations.

I thought I’d share a few, in case they might inspire you or your kids. The center photo is the first guitar my son made. The others, clockwise from the top: a rocket, guitar  #2 and drum, shadow puppets, tube puppets, shadow puppet theater, and sword.

Summer’s over, and the factory had to be cleaned up, but we make sure to have a small cardboard stash at all times for building material. For more kid’s crafts, click here.

Fiber-Wrapped Spring Wreath

Fiber-Wrapped Wreath

The front door needed something, something that was NOT the red berry wreath that has seen better days. I wanted to make a wreath that wasn’t permanent, not too fussy or prim, but would give us a burst of spring color.

Also, it had to be easy and quick. I pictured something along the lines of the ribbon wreath my daughter made last year. Or maybe a little like the Anthropologie thread-wrapped bricks I saw on Pinterest. Or the yarn-and-fiber wrapped rabbit I’d seen at the Ackland Museum Store in Chapel Hill. For the life of me, I can’t find the name of that artist or a link to her work, so let me know if you know what I’m talking about.

I bought a straw wreath form at Michaels and pulled out a bunch of spring-colored scraps: leftover strips from this quilt, scraps from this dress and this one, and Kool-Aid dyed yarns.

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I started wrapping and pinning on the darker color strips, hoping a little dark poking through from the bottom layer would keep the color scheme from getting too saccharine. Though in the end there’s actually very few darks to be seen.

Fiber-Wrapped Wreath

Next came the lighter and brighter strips, then the ribbons. Last, I started wrapping the yarn, but my five-year-old was really into that part, so I let him wrap until the whole thing had a good spreading of yarn.

In the end, I’m fairly happy with the results. It hit all my requirements, though it didn’t quite match up to my vision. Hubs wasn’t so sure about it at first, but it’s grown on him, he says. Either that or he just wants to make sure I make his favorite chicken salad this week.

For more of my posts about crafts, click here.

Is it spring where you are? We had lovely weather over the weekend, and things are sprouting up in the garden.

Meanwhile, I’m still inching along with the revision on my novel. I’m remembering something Katherine Paterson once said/ wrote….something to the effect that she had to sculpt her plot out of granite, using straight pins. My process is feeling something like that. I keep making headway but then realizing there’s so much more to do. What are you up to?

Child’s Linen Pants

My little guy (4), who has seen me make lots of things for his older sister, asked if I’d make him some pants. I was touched, but I hesitated.

“Pants are kind of hard,” I said. I mostly make really simple skirts for my daughter.

“But you could do them like this,” he said, pointing to the elastic waist of the pair he had on. How he knows anything about garment construction is beyond me, but he had a point. Why not? I started them during Kid’s Clothing Week Challenge (when I made the hats and nightdress also).

I think he even picked out the fabric, the same linen I made this dress from. I used this pattern, which is super simple and has very good instructions. I lengthened it a little (it’s a size 3 I think) and added a little width. I made a very wide hem so I can take them out again when he grows.

I’m really happy with how the pants turned out. They look so comfortable I almost wish I had a matching pair for me. They would also be really easy to make as shorts.

I just finished re-reading What Happened in Hamelin. It’s out of print now, but I’d read it as a kid and had to find it again since we are now living close to Hamelin. It’s a realistic retelling of what might have actually happened with the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Pretty dark and a bit scary, which I think is why I liked it in the first place. I was surprised at the images that had stuck in my mind for so many years—don’t want to spoil anything for you by hints, sorry. It’s definitely worth a read if you can get your hands on it. I donated my copy to the international school here.

Have a great weekend, everybody!