Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Ετέλειωσα!", φωνάζει...

Another two items were added to the finished list today. L was here, playing in his 'play room', and it was nice to have someone to share the process with. In fact, he helped with a great idea for this book cover:

It is for a specific book, and I got the measurements briefly, but I haven't had it with me to fit accordingly. So, instead of my usual pattern I came up with two bands, so that the covers can be slipped through and be more flexible with the size.

When I showed it to L, he suggested that I add the corners, to keep it on more securely. As they were added later, it made the cover slightly smaller, but as a pattern I am quite pleased with the result, and very proud of L, who came up with the idea. It does give the whole thing an old-world look, doesn't it?

I also finished the first project I made, brother's hat. After searching frantically everywhere, I found the hat, cut a strip of flannel and added the lining.

I am finally done with the sewing projects I was planning to make. There are still a few knit items, namely two more hats, but these are easy, and I can do them on the subway. My problem with the sewn projects was that I need day light and with the days being so short I can only work on them during the weekends.

So, after a hard day's work, I had a last cup of coffee with the sewing machine, before she went to sleep for a while:

Τώρα μπορώ να παίξω!

(Yes, these are Oreos on the side. What can I say, I am a recent convert!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Almost done!

Some more things were added to the pile in the last few days, some were bought, some made. I would have finished a while ago with the original list, but I keep adding things to it as inspiration strikes, or as I remember someone that I would rather have a handmade gift for. And it seems that all my near and dear would, after all, appreciate a handmade gift!

Twin bags

Pillow case

After I was done, my room looked like a fabric bomb had exploded:

So I put on Bach Variations and went on a cleaning spree. I even pulled out one dishcloth from the pile (cheeky me!) and now my spotless sink has matching gloves and dishcloth!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Making and learning

My gifts list is getting smaller and smaller, while the proud pile of finished items is growing.
I have enjoyed every step of making these gifts, and this is much more to say than frantically trying to shop for something appropriate for everyone (I am not a great fan of shopping, have I mentioned that?).

Here is what was made in the last couple of days:

pot holder no. 1

pot holder no. 2

A new computer deserves a new padded sleeve

Yep, it is a good idea

Gravity-defying bag holder

Hat 1 of 3

I tried to learn a new trick or technique in every project. O.k., the wooly hats had nothing to teach me, but they are done with doubled worsted-weight yarn on 7mm circular needles, so they are really good comfort knitting. I have one more to make, and each took 2-3 hours from start to finish.

I have always wanted to play with log cabin design, and the pot holders were a good start. I was pretty careless about measuring things, so I 'd cut 2 pieces, sew them, measure the result, cut the next... Tedious. Consequently, these two took the longest to make compared to any of the rest of the pieces.

For the computer case I used my snap pliers for the first time. I need more practice, I kind of messed up this part! I also tried to figure out the most convenient (for me) way of making pen holders, and although I am very happy with today's end result, I haven't found the ultimate pattern (yet). As for the bag holder, I like the method I used, a slightly modified version of this lovely tutorial.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


November was a very scattered month, with little progress in crafting. This year, however, I am determined to give a few handmade gifts to friends and family. December seems to have got on a good start. Here 's what I made on Saturday:

Sleeping mask for brother

Drawstring bags, to give wristwarmers in

Zipper pouches with luxurious Chinese fabrics (one is for me, as I burned the zipper a bit and isn't working very well...)

Here is one with its mouth open

I also finished a woolly hat and did some other stuff, but haven't taken pictures yet. It has been very dark all day today. And it was the first snow of the year. O.k., of the winter, as it is still 2007...

I think the biggest surprise of making handmade gifts is how much I have been enjoying making them. Each one takes from under half an hour to several hours. All the while, I tend to think of the person for whom the present is intended, and trying to personalise it for them in each step. My colour choices, the very objects themselves, they are all an indication of how I interpret their tastes and preferences, their needs and whims.

The gifts are not ordered, some are even going to be surprises. It is a tricky path, I know. There is always the risk of making something with lots of enthusiasm and affection, only to be tossed aside by the recipient. I tend to be quite sensitive about my gifts anyway, and I know that this year as they 're all so special to me I will have even higher expectations of myself. It will be a learning experience in giving, then. I am not sure what I will learn from it, and if next year I will be even more inspired to give handmade gifts or I will find it too nerve-wrecking and will give up. For now, making presents is the only idea that makes sense, and I am having a lot of fun in the process. Whatever their reception, at least I will have enjoyed myself!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still here

I tried, I really did try to disappear off the surface of the earth (through snorkeling), but here I am again. I was away for the whole last week, and it was lots of fun, I got lots of rest, took tons of pictures and even did some knitting. But since I came back, it's been mostly work and coming home late, and making up with the kitties who have been quite mad at me for abandoning them for so long. And trying to get everything in order. So that I can focus on the final stretch and make everyone all the presents I have thought through and decided on.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of 'getting everything in order' is that I made vey busy plans for the entire Saturday, so no crafting for yet another day. Sunday better be a productive one. Why does creativity thrive around the 11th hour?

I think I have mentioned before how I don't like downloading photos into my computer through wires. So the over 500 (unsorted) photos from the Caribbean will have to wait a bit longer before they join their friends in iPhoto. Until then, Seven suggested I post a parting photo of her royal cuteness.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Knitting & chocolate

My brother was visiting over the weekend, and came bearing gifts!

The little guy next to the chocolate Santa is his helper, according to the Dutch tradition. I 'm almost reluctant to eat him up!

There was also quite a lot of knitting. I made a hat to match the flap-top mittens I made last winter.

The yarn is Chaco worsted weight on 4.5mm circular needles for both. I used the pattern from Handknit Holidays for the mittens, but I changed the way the flap is attached, and added a buttonhole opening on each thumb, so it can also stick out when necessary. Makes a big difference in the usability of the mittens!

The hat pattern is mine, based on something I glimpsed in the subway once. Then I decided I wanted to add ear flaps, for which the basic guidelines came from the pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I am not adding links, because I feel everyone knows about these books and patterns, and because Skid is hovering around me and wants attention.

Finally, I made the first of a series of dishcloths that I plan to give as gifts. Once again, it this is the very well-loved pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting, which I modified only in changing the size of the dishcloth.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Is no news good news, or just no news?

Clearly, there is nothing that comes to mind for a blog post. I 've been knitting, but no progress photos. I started a brown hat, to go with the brown mittens I made last year and end my matching accessories problems once and for all!

Oh, yes, there is news! I have received my ravelry invitation (I am, of course, ListmakerKat). This place is really fun, like everyone says. I am very impressed by how much can be created on a simple idea of filling a gap.

And, I joined my first ever knitting group, Norovember. It seems that almost everything I knit lately is with this wonderful yarn, so I thought it would be a good idea to 'make it official' and try to finish some of these projects during the next few weeks.

In kitty news, look at the cutie that has become our temporary tenant at the Southern Headquarters! Now he and L have their own little Boys' Club, to balance the Girls' Club up here in the North. He 's cute, but now that he isn't terrified of humans any more, we 're looking for a permanent home for him - the Girls would go on snuggle strike if he joined the family...

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Why are weekends so short? Though weekdays pass by pretty fast too.
I must be getting old.

This, all too short, weekend passed in a lovely, mellow rhythm. Saturday it was rainy, Sunday was glorious. There was some shopping

Fabric from Pearl River Mart

Skein of recycled sari silk from friendly Nepalese woman

... and some sewing

Another journal cover. I can't stop making them.

Finally, in the spirit of Halloween, Skid decided to turn from this

to this (note the ferocious fang!)

my yarn was scared!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Catching up

It's been a while since I had anything worth posting about. Life has been busy with... well, life. But this weekend I was inspired, and made a few flowers out of felt.

On Saturday they came in very handy during my 2-hour commute for what should take no longer than 35 min.... I was having so much fun making them on the subway, that I overheard two Italian tourists commenting on how calm I appeared in the midst of frustrated people. The joys of living in the big city.

I decided to applique them on one of the bright green pillow cases I made a while ago. The picture sucks, though - this photo-shoot was a last minute decision, and couldn't wait for daylight.

In other news, I made a spinach pie with ready-made dough and some odd concoction of "Egyptian feta" that bares no resemblance to the real feta. I thought the term was patented... Anyway, it was quite yummy and all that is left from it by now is an empty pan.

Finally, here's a sneak peak of Seven's new favourite FINISHED (no borders yet) blankie. I can see I 'll have to fight for the right to use it. So far, it was almost impossible to do any work on it, as Seven would run and sit on it as soon as I went near it. I have no illusions that she may have wanted to help. She just wanted to snuggle on it. She won the first round, but I can be stubborn too...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

During the last two weekends I 've been putting my 'weekend traveller bag' to work. This meant that I was too busy having relaxing pic nics with yummy snacks, taming a kitten, and exploring new places. Air travel, though, ensured that I could sneak in some knitting. Always on unfinished projects, some visible progress was made.

1. Sock #1. Made with the yarn I dyed myself. It was my first try at using different colours, and I got lucky. The green starts just before the toe increases!

2. A little sneak peak at the last two squares of Lizard Ridge. With the weather getting colder, it is the perfect time to begin crocheting the border, and then snuggling under it. The cats have been enjoying the progress of each and every square, and I can't whait for them to honour the blanket (and my lap) as soon as it is put to regular use.

3. Some cute japanese napkins I found on my last trip to Flushing. Not sure what I 'll make of them yet, but they were so pretty I could not resist

4. Finally, a quick project I whipped up in 10 min., just to see how it's done. I used an old tie and a pair of D-loops. I don't use belts very often, but this is a fun way to recycle ond ties

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another day, another bag

Last week I looked around in stores for a weekend-trip bag. Once again I was reminded that I suffer from the "I can do that myself" disease. So I saved myself the $70 that they were charging for what I was looking at, and had a fun day making this:

I made it using this excellent tutorial, and just added the handles at the end.
It has a bunch of inside pockets, and between the two fabrics another layer of some plastic sheet, to make it sturdier and hopefully somewhat waterproof.

An extra reason to be looking forward to next weekend!

While I was making it I was enjoying the fabric, that made me very, very happy. I like the two-sized dots and the colour combination. In fact, it seems that these two greens together are one of my favourite, and that I often put them together

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Little moments of joy

It is a dark, melancholic morning. Fall is upon us, and I 'm not ready for cold. But it's Saturday, and that means I 'm staying mostly home, repaying the kitties for their patience over my long absences during the week.

I was sitting on the sofa, in my usual place. Where I knit, read, watch t.v., do computer stuff. The other side belongs to the kitties.

Skid came and curled up next to me, I registered her presence and kept on doing what I was doing. Half an hour passed this way.

Suddenly I turned to her, and saw she was dozing off. I reached out to her and put my hand on her. She 'd been cleaning herself all this time, and her fur was slightly wet, smelling of wet wool. In her half asleep state, she turned her head and rested it on my hand, her breath on my skin.

Now it doesn't matter that it's a dark, melancholic morning and fall is upon us.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have done basic embroidery on and off since I was a child but not so much recently. My fondest memory includes one summer when my mother was making one of the most unique tablecloths I 've ever seen. She made all these incredible cute drawings and was tracing them with vibrant colours. It was lovely, but she never finished it. She 's always been a painter more than a needle person. She designed one for my aunt, though, and that one is finished and it's lovely! (secret question: should I try and finish it myself? tempting...).

While she was working on it, of course I got into it and wanted to do some myself (I can't remember how old I was, but I had tried needlework before). So my father generously donated his pyjamas, and I drew some shapes on the pocket and sleeve. Sea waves and a sun on the pocket, an odd round shape on the sleeve that was supposed to be a boat's strirring wheel (we were on summer holidays). I also embroidered his initials on the side. All that very clumsy, of course, and for that reason even more cute! Even though these pyjamas are too worn out for use, I think he still has them!!

The other day, however, I came across a very pleasant book at the library that inspired me to try my hand at embroidery again. So I pulled out my stash of embroidery floss, which I have been saving (and brought from Greece) since highschool. Back then, I used to make these:

It was the 80s, what can I say!

After studying the stitches in the book, I made a list (of course) of all the stitches and decided which ones I wanted to practice. I drew some examples on a pad, and that really helped because as I was drawing them I was visualising how the needle would have to work. It was an unexpected help!

I then transferred it on a piece of cloth. I did that just by redrawing it. I guess if I had something harder to redo I 'd use some of the transferring techniques the book suggests, but this was simple enough.

Stitching over the pencil marks didn't take long (yes, pencil marks! I didn't really care whether it washes off or not. Anyway, it does wash off, and my father's pyjamas will testify to it)

I am almost surprised, and certainly very pleased with the outcome. It was enjoyable, and its slow and deliberate pace is very relaxing and meditative. I will definitely work my way through the book's stitches in similar small projects and add embroidered embellishments to projects.
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