home dec mania

I like to start the new year off with a clean house ... and a lot of times, that means this last week of the year gives me the push I need to finish some home dec/fix-it projects that I've had on the "to do" list all year long. Do you remember when I first recovered my dining room chairs back in 2012? I did all six side chairs, and stopped before doing the two end chairs. Three years later, the seats were starting to look stained and shabby so it was high time I finished this project!



This is our well-loved chair. It is humongous. And comfy. And showing it. The worst is the ottoman, since it becomes a defacto "table" for the kiddos. No before shots this time, just the after. I recovered the top of the ottoman. I have enough fabric leftover to recover the bottom cushion of the chair too--but that's a project I've never done before and I hope to do a trial run first!


Last but not least, we have been in dire need of new kitchen table chairs all year. Luckily, we have an awesome Flexsteel factory outlet store here in town. Back in July I got the brilliant idea to do mismatchy chairs from there, unifying the chairs by spray painting them all black and using maroon shades of vinyl to recover the seats for easy cleaning.

 seat cushions before ...




Now I just need to luck out and find two more chairs at the outlet to finish the set! It's a game of patience, as you never know what they'll get! Phew. I've never used a staple gun so much in my life!

2015 sewing year-in-review

I'd be remiss if I didn't do a post taking a look back at all the sewing I did in 2015.

  • 18 tote bags (that's 36 yards of fabric!!)
  • two lap quilts and one king-size quilt (!!)
  • 8 pairs of pants for the kiddo (that's 8 yards of fabric)
Next year will be the year of the quilt. I have plans to make a Christmas quilt for my son, a Christmas quilt for my own bed, and a couple of flannel winter quilts for the kiddos. I'm also thinking placemat marathon and finally make my own knitting project bags (with zippers!) for further stashbusting purposes.

2015 knitting year-in-review



March - April



September - October



This year was epic on several levels. I knit more yardage than I ever have ever, and that's mostly because I knit not one ... not two ... THREE humongous garter squish blankets this year! I also set a personal sock knitting record this year, knitting a total of seven pairs of socks for myself (most years I'm lucky to knit one pair!). And the fall was dominated by a charity hat knit-a-thon that amassed 30 hats for local homeless kids. That was a fun project that will be repeated next year!

And now for the moment of truth ... how well did I do in achieving my knitting resolutions?
  • Goal #1: Knit down my stash. Results? MIXED. I knit more than I ever have,  but .... my stash grew like it never has before.
  • Goal #2: Finish, frog, or otherwise eliminate my current WIPs. Results? MIXED. I whittled my WIPs down to five projects, and that's down from 16!
  • Goal #3: Continue my Love Your Library project! Results? SUCCESS!
So what am I thinking about for 2016? I'm devoting this year to recovering my spare bedroom. Right now it is filled to the max with yarn, fabric, yarn, and more yarn. That means I need to get serious. Really serious. And I'm realizing that means I need to go cold turkey--no new yarn. Period. It pains me to write that, which is ridiculous if you could see the size of my stash. I'm also thinking it's time to go back to a more specific list of goals. When I go vague, I just don't get as much accomplished.
  • Goal #1: ZERO yarn purchases this year.
  • Goal #2: Empty at least two storage containers of yarn. 
  • Goal #3: Sew at least four quilts.
  • Goal #4: Knit at least three sweaters for myself.
  • Goal #5: Knit 50 charity projects.
  • Goal #6: Empty a storage bin of needlepoint projects.
  • Goal #7: Make new pillow covers for my front sitting room.
  • Goal #8: Continue to build my budding crochet skills.
  • Goal #9: Dye my own self-striping yarn.
  • Goal #10: Continue my Love Your Library project!
Phew. Yes, it's ambitious. But if there's any hope of unearthing my spare bedroom, this is what must be done. If you'd like to join in on the 2016 Love Your Library challenge, come back on New Year's Day! I'll post more specific details about those plans for the year. Happy New Year!

2015 wrap up: love your library challenge

I did it! One last love your library project finished! (and that's one more WIP I can cross off the list, too!) This one took awhile, as I cast on for this, my fourth time knitting the Riverbank cowl, way back in May. Oops! This last version is the first one for me. I can highly vouch for it being a great gift knitting pattern!

Pattern: Riverbank (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: Size 7 Addi turbo's
Yarn: Madtosh Merino DK in the Mandala colorway (used 1.67 skeins)
Mods: at this point I use the pattern for the cast on number and from there knit my favorite combinations of textures.

It's the last Tuesday of 2015 so it's time I did a year-end wrap up for my 2015 Love your Library challenge!  The grand total ... 22 projects knit from patterns in my current library! Woohoo! That's a major improvement over last year's performance--last year I only knit six projects from my pattern library. To be fair, a lot of this year's progress included "repeaters" ... patterns I love so much that I've knit them multiple times now. The Riverbank cowl, pioneer peak hat, sidewinder hat, luuk hat, garter stitch mitts, lullington hat, fine tune, and undersized unicorn are all patterns I have knit more than once now. See what I mean?

So on one hand I'm really happy with this year's progress. I'll just ignore the fact that I started 2015 planning to knit from several specific books and completely failed to do that .... and what's up for next year? A new year means that the challenge continues! Come back on January 1st for this year's challenge details and to link up with the other participants!

Show off on how well your challenge went for you this year! Add your link below!

sunday's stitches

sunday's stitches: a moment to slow down and savor whatever your stitching on

See my progress from week to week on past sunday's stitches.

christmas catch-up

One last thing I finished on Christmas eve, just in time to wear that night! Three pairs of pajamas for the kiddo, using the same pattern I used to make her school pants. That's now eight different pairs of pants I've made with that pattern--I've definitely got my money's worth!

merry christmas to me!

I finished Omena yesterday! And I love it, despite the grumpy look on my face above (heh). I think next time I'll try making the armholes a bit smaller. This'll be a great layer, but as you can see by my short sleeves, not necessary today! We're in the 70s and on the lookout for severe weather. Yay.

Pattern: Omena (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Universal Yarn Classic Shades (colorway: Neon Lime Surprise, used ALL of four skeins)
Needles: Size 9s
Mods: None! Thought I would want the larger size, but it is plenty long in the smaller version!

Today I'm linking up with Tammy's Stitch-Along Wednesday, Ginny for Yarn Along, and Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

love your library, vol. 30

I picked my Riverbank back up to see if I could squeak another "Love Your Library" finish in for the year, and in a moment of knitting ADD, cast on for a Foolproof cowl as well. The Foolproof most definitely won't be done until 2016, but it's nice to have finally started a pattern I've been wanting to knit all year long!  Next Tuesday I'll post an end-of-the-year challenge wrap up taking a look back at how successful this challenge was for me this year!

christmas bow wreath tutorial

Remember when I mentioned last week that it looked like Christmas had exploded in our house? Well, it's still pretty much all over the place. Several years ago I made some cheap dollar store Christmas ornament wreaths (see tutorial here) that I loved, but have eventually worn out over the years. I've always admired Christmas bow wreaths and thought it would be a fitting replacement. So out came the glue gun!

This project was pretty straight forward. I kept the paper adhesive tags on the back of each bow, using them as my spot to put the hot glue. Then I slowly attached them on a wreath form, leaving the interior and exterior edges for last.

To make a loop to hang the wreath from, I wrapped some wire-edged ribbon I already had on hand around the wreath form and made a loop when tying it closed. Then I covered the ribbon with bows.

Ta da! Cheerful and catches the light nicely above my mantel!

sunday's stitches

sunday's stitches: a moment to slow down and savor whatever your stitching on

 This is my fourth ornament made since Thanksgiving!

 See my progress from week to week on past sunday's stitches.

something selfish

Sometimes when you're in the middle of a lot of gift projects, you just have to make something for yourself too. This is the omena vest, which is hard to photograph while still on the needles. It's basically a circle vest, and I'm using a color changing yarn (Universal Yarns Classic Shades in Neon Lime Surprise). What looks like navy blue in this photo is really more of a dark purple. I'm zipping along on this one! Fun and relaxing, my kind of holiday (selfish) knitting project.

under the sea

I finished the mermaid tail! And in plenty of time for Christmas delivery! Phew. This was fun and surprisingly easy--really perfect for a newbie crochet project!

Project: Bulky and Quick Mermaid Tail by MJs Off the Hook Designs (link to my Ravelry page)
Hook: P/Q (15 mm) and M/N (9 mm)
Yarn: two strands of Red Heart Super Saver in bon bon print (used just under six skeins) held with one strand of Red Heart Classic in grenadine (three skeins); bottom fin, two strands of  Red Heart Super Saver in Pretty 'n Pink (one skein) held together.
Mods: None, other than using three strands of worsted instead of the yarn called for in the pattern. I switched to the smaller hook for the fin!

christmas candy sleighs and snowman "soup"

Okay, I need to 'fess up. I've always wanted to make these candy sleighs. For years I've seen them all over the web, but it felt silly to go to that much effort to only destroy your work to eat the candy! But this year I finally had the perfect excuse--classroom party goody bags!

As you can see, I used a Kit Kat bar as the base to attach two regular size candy cane runners to. Then I used double-sided mounting tape to attach three fun size Twix bars and then finished the pyramid with Hersey's sampler bars. A teeny tiny chocolate santa is wedged in last. I used tape to assemble it all together.

Candy is an essential component of any goody bag, but I thought something to drink would be good too. Then I saw tutorials for "snowman soup" on Pinterest and used that to inspire these snowman cocoa cups. Sharpie drawn on nose and mouth, and googly eyes! That's it! Then stick in a pack of cocoa mix and mini candy cane into the cup, and package together with a clear treat bag. Done.

Last but not least, we had to assemble the bags. We kept it simple, using plain 'ol lunch bags. I prettied them up by trimming the top edge with a scalloped scissors and then using a hole punch to make holes to tie grosgrain ribbon through. My daughter decorated the trees using a set of foam stickers we found at Hobby Lobby. Simple but cute!

christmas teacher bouquets!

Right now it looks like Christmas exploded in my house. We are decorated to the max, and then add to that Christmas ornament making, teacher presents, and classroom party gift bags! Yup, total explosion! Today I'm going to share what is starting to become a tradition for me--making a "bouquet" of flowers using dry erase markers (and this year, Elmer's glue bottles!). Super fun and unique for sure. (also relatively quick to pull together too, for anyone looking for last minute teacher present ideas!)

What you'll need:
1. One large pack of dry erase markers (or highlighters, Sharpies, anything you know your teacher uses!). This bouquet used a 12 pack of dry erase markers and a 8 pack of Sharpies. It looked pretty full with just the dry erase markers alone though!
2. A "vase." Last year I used an oversized mug, this year I used a popcorn tub container I found at Walmart.
3. Two sheets of tissue paper.
4. A disc of floral foam.
5. Floral arrangement picks.
6. Assorted colors of felt in floral colors.

Let's get started!
Step 1: Cut a square shaped piece of felt for your leaf layer.

Step 2: Fold the square in half and cut a slit large enough for your marker to fit through.

Step 3: For the leaf layer, I cut random jagged edges around. Then repeat Steps 1 & 2 to create the flower, but this time cutting petal like rounded shapes instead. My flowers are not perfect at all--I just eyeball it, and it turns out pretty cute once the whole thing is put together.

Step 4: Assemble the "flower" by slipping the flower onto your marker, followed by the leaf layer. Ta da! Cute, huh?

Step 5: Attach your disc of floral arrangement foam to the bottom of your "vase" using double-sided tape.

Step 6: Attach a floral pick to each flower, then insert into floral foam base.

Step 7: After you've filled your vase, slip tissue paper into the gaps around the edges.

Alternative version! This one I made for the teacher's assistant using Elmer's glue, since kindergartners aren't good at limiting glue usage and they are in constant need of more glue!

Have fun with it! I'm sure you could do this with a variety of school supplies.

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 ...