holiday wrap-up: scrap happy

I finished the placemats! I may have been hand-stitching the two-inch hole I used to turn them right-side-out the night before our first holiday gathering, but that's done in plenty of time, right? I ended up not top-stitching them because I wasn't super careful about squaring them up prior to sewing them together, and a few are a tiny bit wonky. I thought top-stitching would only draw attention to the minor imperfections. So voila! I love how cheerful they are ... it'll be hard to put these away for next year!

holiday wrap-up: wreath crazy

Remember my original in-progress ornament wreath? Well, I ended up having to change course a little bit. Turns out that if you wait until approximately 2.5 weeks before Christmas, red glass ornaments are completely sold out in my town. (I honestly was shocked to make this discovery--especially considering red is one of the elemental Christmas colors!) I had previously purchased a bunch of red and green plastic ornaments from the dollar store, but the hole at the top of the plastic ornaments was too small to fit onto my plant-support form. So I ended up abandoning my half-finished wreath, packing those ornaments away to add to my collection for my Christmas tree. I wasn't too sad, since not long after starting that wreath I kept having visions of it falling from above the fireplace mantel and shattering to pieces in my family room. I would have been really really nervous to hang it in the spot it was intended for anyway!

While the plastic ornaments wouldn't fit on my plant-support form, they fit perfectly on wire hangers. So I scoured my closets for the few wire hangers I owned, and set to work making wreaths using them and my stash of ornaments from the dollar store. The verdict? Great success! I was so happy with how the first one turned out, I got a little obsessed and made two more. As I mentioned before, I followed Eddie Ross's instructions with a few exceptions:

  • I didn't hot glue gun the tops to the ornaments (I did do this for my real glass ornaments, but skipped it with the plastic. I have had a couple ornaments come off, but not enough to make me regret this decision).

  • Shaping the wire hanger into a circle was simple enough, but untwisting the top of the hanger to get it apart was difficult. Not impossible, but definitely a major pain. If you don't have some heavy duty pliers for leverage and/or hands and forearms of steel, you might want to grab your husband to get the task started. Human hands attempting to undo machine twisting of unflexible wire = difficulty. The hardest part is getting it started, after that it's not a big deal.

  • Similarly, re-twisting the top of the hanger together to make a complete circle was not so easy. You'll have a bunch of ornaments flopping around, and you're trying to twist together wire that is really inflexible and hard to work with.

  • One thing I noticed after hanging the first finished wreath was that if you leave the top of the wire hanger in its original position (pointed straight up, vertically), your wreath won't lay flat against the wall/window. So I started bending it back, not at a full 45-degree angle, but far enough so that my wreath hung flat against the wall when hung.

While there were a few points of annoyance along the way, I love love love the end results! The final cost of the red and green wreaths amounted to $7 each. You will need approximately 75 small ornaments, so hitting the dollar store is definitely the way to go. I also found that having some smaller ornaments was helpful to "fill in" along the way, so definitely look for a couple of different sizes.
I'm keeping this silver wreath up on the window of my kitchen door for the rest of the "snow" season (more like gray season here in Mississippi, since snow is a rarity here!) so I can enjoy it a little longer. My favorite part of these wreaths is that they are basically double-sided (see below). That makes them perfect for hanging on windows, as they look pretty on both sides (that way you can enjoy them inside and outside!).

I still needed a wreath/decor of some sort to spruce up the fireplace mantel, so luckily I found an old artificial one in our holiday stash and added some ornaments with floral wire to spruce it up a bit. Worked like a charm!



glass ornament wreath (no styrofoam!)

Here's the latest of my projects in progress ... a glass ornament wreath! I fully intended to finish this one when I started it, but ran out of shiny red ornaments (of course). I have lusted after ornament wreaths for years, but this is the first year I've gotten around to making one. I originally intended to use a styrofoam wreath form as my base, and use my hot glue gun to attach the ornaments ... but then a quick Google search introduced me to Eddie Ross's brilliant idea to use a wire hanger instead. Given my impatience to get started on the project, and given that acquiring a styrofoam wreath form would require a one-hour drive to my nearest Hobby Lobby, I decided to give Eddie's version a try (it actually is a lot simpler, really!). I started by scouring my house for wire hangers, but then realized that I wanted a larger wreath than a wire hanger would create (I want to hang this over our fireplace mantel). Then after doing some yard work outside, I realized that my wire plant supports would work perfectly. They are already in a circle shape, and had the scale/dimensions I was looking for. Bingo! I was skeptical when I first started (it looks pretty ugly at first), but eventually it takes shape. I can't wait to track down the remaining ornaments I need at my local discount stores!

advent book calendar

Old traditions ...

I always pounce on the $5 amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs at Walmart the minute they put the Christmas stuff out. Not sure if I planted them early enough to get blooms by Christmas, though!

This year I lucked out and got a bulb sending up two flower stalks (!!!). That's never happened for me before!

.... and new traditions! I first stumbled upon the idea of using books for an advent calendar at the cute craft/art/family blog, Jupiter Buttons (she discovered the idea on Ohdeedoh). I've always loved advent calendars, but wasn't into the idea of candy and presents everyday. Books? Now that's a tradition I can wholeheartedly support. I tried to keep them all holiday/winter themed, and have displayed them in descending order so you can always see how many days are left until Christmas by looking at the mantle. We started a few days late this year, but here are the books we're using:

So far, it's been a great success! We're keeping the books out in a basket in the main living room, and they're getting read over and over and over. I can see this tradition continuing for many years to come!

not so scrappy

My pile of scraps? Here's what created it ... more placemats! Inspired by my previous placemat success story, I got the bug to make some holiday-themed placemats earlier this week. They'll be double-sided (see the "top" above; "bottom" below ... or vice-versa, depending on my mood!) and this time I'm using a wool batting instead of the double-sided fusible interfacing I used last time. I can't decide which side I like better ... the main fabric on each side is Anna Griffin, from her "Isabelle Christmas" line. Love, love, love!

Have you started Christmas-themed crafting projects yet? We have a strict no-Christmas-decorations-prior-to-Thanksgiving rule in our household, and I feel like I'm cheating a little bit with projects like these. But if I don't start now, Christmas will come and go and my project will only be half-done!

Don't forget to check out the other WIPs at TamisAmis!

in print

It's here! I finally received my copy of the December/January issue of Country Living ... in which all the Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Award winners are profiled. So exciting! I'm still in amazement that I am lucky enough to be honored along with these shockingly talented ladies! If you are stumbling across my tiny little piece of the blogosphere for the first time thanks to this issue, welcome! And thanks again to all my wonderful readers! Now on to more crafting misadventures ...

You know it's been a good afternoon ...

... when you look around yourself and this is what you see! Well, my unplanned, unintentional (but much needed) sabbatical was much longer than I intended. But the joyful prospect of a houseful of holiday guests this December has brought my crafting mojo back in full force ... Expect a slew of holiday-themed projects to come!

WIP Wednesday

After all the sewing I've done lately, it's back to knitting in full force! Here are my two latest projects ... above, a pair of no-purl monkeys (Ravelry pattern page) I'm starting early for Socktoberfest (a month-long celebration of the sock that happens each October). The yarn is Miss Babs Yummy Sock Yarn, in the colorway Duck, Duck, Quack. The rich reds, golds, and yellows remind me of fall foliage, so these socks are my little celebration of fall.

Below, I've cast on with the gorgeous Malabrigo I snagged in St. Louis to start my Mom's Vest from the Fall 2011 issue of Knit Simple. The back is plain stockinette, but the front will have some great cables. The Malabrigo, as usual, is knitting up like a dream. It feels like a soft cloud! Love, love, love all around.

Don't forget to check out the other works-in-progress at TamisAmis!

leap of faith

I've been working on another Tapered Tote behind the scenes here over the past few weeks. This time I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes yarn for the first time (colorway: Fairy Tale, a really pretty trendy purple). The verdict? Excellent felting yarn! It felt up much more quickly than Cascade 220, which means you should pay closer attention to your project while it's in the machine (but also means you waste less water and electricity repeatedly running your machine!). I'll definitely be using Wool of the Andes again!

Felting was one of the things that really got me into knitting, so it will always hold a fond place in my heart. No matter how many times I successfully felt a project though, I always have a moment of doubt--a moment of, "will this really work out?" Felting is always a leap of faith for me. Take the above picture, for example. This is my "before felting." What do you have before felting? A massive, misshapen, floppy bag. Frankly, a god awful, ugly bag! No matter how many times I do this, I always have a fleeting moment of fear when I see how unattractive the project is before felting.

(this project used four skeins of Wool of the Andes: here's what was left of the fourth skein when I was finished)

But somehow, like magic, it all turns out. I think that's what I love best about felting, the feeling of magic around it. That, and how felting makes all your mistakes and imperfections disappear. (for that reason alone, I will always argue that felting is a great "beginning knitter" project: no one will see your uneven tension or dropped stitches!). Here's what my project looked like after one full "whites" cycle in the washer (no other clothes/towels, in a high efficiency, no agitator machine). The bag on the left is a finished Tapered Tote made with Cascade 220 yarn. As you can see, it was almost there, but not quite complete yet. The proportions were still off after only one wash cycle.

But all it took was a "quick cycle" (approx. 30 minutes) to get it finished! Here you can see the bags now are almost identical in size.

It will never cease to amaze me that the difference of 30 minutes in a hot wash cycle will take a bag from fugly to adorable!

happy day

Friday was a happy day for me because ... drum roll ... I found out that I won the Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Reader's Choice Award for the "Crafts" category! Frankly, I'm still flabbergasted by it all! I can't thank you all enough for recognizing my crafty little corner of the web. Seriously. You are awesome. And for those of you dropping by for the first time, welcome!

Remember the happy day flag banner I was admiring in Doodle Stitching? This is my version ... I'm using felt instead of cotton, and went for a different font than the cute cursive script provided in the book's templates (I thought the cursive was cute, but wasn't quite bold enough for this project). This is the "Huxtable" font from Microsoft Word, at size 200 font. I love how preppy and "varsity" this is feeling! I plan to stitch up some balloons or another festive, celabratory motif from Doodle Stitching on another flag to separate the two words.


Thought I'd practice some free-motion quilting with some super-fast coasters. I forgot how rusty I am! Here are a couple of my favorites ...

roar! lion scarf

This is the lion scarf from 60 Quick Knits, a great book full of super-fast projects featuring Cascade 220 yarn. This was the project that convinced me to buy the book--and it didn't disappoint! How stinkin' cute is this? My favorite part are the ears, which were much easier than I expected (you knit four rows in seed stitch, then pull your yarn through the stitches to "gather" the yarn and make the curved shape of the ear--then embroider along the edge to make it look neat. That's it!). I ended up using Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn for the "body" and face of the lion, since it is super-soft, and since this is a kid's scarf, will need to be machine washed. The brown mane is some of Vanna's Choice Lion Brand (which I did find slightly ironic, to be making a lion using Lion Brand Yarn). My little munchkin is already running around the house with it draped around her, telling me "roar." I love it.

Don't forget to check out the other FOs this week at TamisAmis!

pop can jewelry

Would you believe that this ...

was once this?

When I first heard about making jewelry out of pop cans using paper punches (the kind used for scrapbooking and card crafting), I was a little skeptical. But the idea was so crazy and ingenious I just had to try it during my last big chunk of time over the three-day weekend.

Consider this a quick and dirty tutorial on my process:

1. Rinse and dry your pop cans. (I ended up using a lot of non-brand "fruity" flavors--they provide a variety of colors, and have larger sections of color without logos. However, I did have some fun creatively cutting into the logo portions of the "big brand" cans.)

2. Cut off the top and bottom of the can. I started one side with an exacto knife, then switched to sharp kitchen shears and cut across the can through the nutrition label to reach the other side. Then I was able to cut off the other end using the kitchen shears. Make sure you cut off any rounded edges, as they won't fit under your punch.

3. Slip your now flat-sheet of colored aluminum into your punch. This is the apple punch from Martha Stewart's line (in the picture below, I've flipped it over to be able to see how I've lined up the image). Once you've lined things up, flip your punch back over (otherwise your apple will shoot up towards you!).

4. Punch out an assortment of colors for your project.

5. Using a 2mm hole punch, I punched one hole in the corner of each apple to attach a jump ring.

Here you can see how I positioned the hole. I thought about punching it in the stem/leaf, but that seemed too narrow. I liked how the apple dangled at an angle by doing this, and it had the added benefit of positioning the stem in a way that would keep it from tangling in the bracelet's chain.

6. Attach your cute new apple charms to your pre-made bracelet chain, and then enjoy!

Other notes:

  • You do need to be careful about sharp edges with this project. I found that the cleaner line you cut, there weren't any issues. Small jagged edges can be filed with a nail file.

  • The charms ended up being really lightweight. Which is great if you don't like heavy jewelry! I think I'll try this method again for funky earrings/necklace pendants. My only worry about bracelets is that you may easily end up bending your charms during your daily activities (the aluminum bends really easily).

an apple a day tablecloth

Having grown up on a five-acre apple orchard, apples have a fond place in my heart. When I stumbled across this fabric in the bargain section at Hancock Fabrics, I knew I had to make something using it. Have you seen a cuter apple print? (unfortunately, the selvedge has no labeling, so I have no idea who makes it if I want to track more down ...) But what to make? My first thought was kitchen. My Mom's been on the hunt for a bright, cheerful tablecloth for the better part of a year now with no luck. Bright and cheerful? Check. Tablecloth it is!

My plan was to feature the apple print, and then make up for the lack of width with some piecing around the perimeter (my sisters got me the dimensions of Mom's table, and then I added 9 inches to each side to give it a good "overhang"). With so many colors in this print, there were a lot of different ways I could go in terms of picking a color scheme. Since I wanted to keep it bright and cheerful, I decided to stick with orangey yellows and throw in some classic apple red. I ended up doing long horizontal strips of the yellows and oranges, with smaller pieces of red in between each strip (just enough to keep it interesting, but not so much that the red took over). I staggered my strips (see below), a method I love for a couple of reasons: it looks interesting, and I don't have to obssess over making sure things line up perfectly.

And here's the finished "top." I am so happy with how it turned out! My plan is to attach a backing (a red flat sheet purchased from Wal-Mart) and finish the edges with binding. I'll do some simple quilting to hold the front and back together, but nothing too elaborate.

With any luck, I'll have this finished by the end of this long weekend! (fingers crossed)

Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards

I can't believe I am typing this ... I just found out that out of 700 submissions, I am one of the finalists in Country Living Magazine's Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards! Seriously? This isn't a joke, right? My little blog? For real? I am so humbled, and so excited to be recognized. Country Living has assembled a celebrity panel to choose the winning blogs in each category, but you have a chance to vote for your favorites in the Reader's Choice awards. So this is my humble appeal for your vote. I appreciate your readership over the nearly five (!) years I have posted my crafting ramblings on this little space.

To vote, visit Country Living Magazine's website and vote for me, Snapdragon Crafts, in the "Crafts" category. You can vote once per day until voting concludes on September 15. Thanks for your readership and support!

smile: it's friday!

My finished object this week makes me smile every time I look at it ... it's the happiness wash cloth (free pattern!) by Heather Mountain (Rav link). Our knitting guild is knitting up a bunch of these using Hobby Lobby's uber-soft I Love This Cotton, and then will sew them together to make a blanket we'll donate to a local charity. I haven't knit many "picture" dish cloths like this one before, but now I'm hooked! There are soooo many funny and cute patterns out there.

Here are some that have caught my eye ... the next time I need some easy knitting, I'm casting on for one of these:

Be My Dishcloth, by KrisKnits (another freebie!)

Pig Out! by Elaine Fitzpatrick (free!)

Happy Penguin by Alli Barrett

Little Miss Happy Flower by Rachel Van Schie

Don't forget to check out the other FOs at TamisAmis!

2021 year in review

  Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...