Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Year's resolution

Up until my crafting/DIY days began I never put any stock into New Year's resolutions. I am the sort of person who has the best of intentions but hit-and-miss success at actually changing anything. Not because I lack the willpower.... I just don't remember. I go to bed that night and it all seeps into my pillow and weeks go by before I remember my life-changing resolution. So I try to make the important resolutions more frequently in hopes that something will stick... and it happens occasionally.

Starting two years ago I began to make New Year's resolutions for crafting, because that is something that is in my daily schedule and not likely to be forgotten. Instead, I search for the project that requires the most willpower... that project that has sat unfinished for months, the tedious monotony of making 50 of the same item, the project that never begins because it will be months in the making, or the project that cost more than you'd like to admit but in the long run will be much cheaper than buying the "real thing" but just seems to sit on the shelf. You know the type of project I'm talking about... the one that's lurking in the back of your supplies and the back of your mind... the one that will someday finish itself. Right?

I decided to tackle one of these each January. I get the double satisfaction of completing a major project and successfully accomplishing a New Year's resolution at the same time. In 2008, I sewed five mei tai baby carriers, three of which were to be listed on my friend's cloth diapering website. In 2009, I sewed 35 medium-size pocket-style cloth diapers for my eight-month-old, Ginny, who had outgrown her smaller sizes. I also repaired some of her hand-me-down diapers from her sister and exchanged snaps for old velcro that no longer stuck. For 2010, I resolve to finally knit Ginny an afghan.

Her older sister, Hannah, being the first born in our family, first of her generation in my husband's extended family, and the first girl born for quite some time at our church, received no less than five hand-knit or hand-crocheted blankets. She loves them dearly and one of them has the distinction of being her "special blanket." I had every intention of knitting Ginny a blanket before she was born, but never found the time. When she was an infant I bought yarn to begin one, but I didn't like the design I had chosen and the yarn slowly turned into hats and other smaller projects. Just after New Year's, my friend gave me a box of knitting patterns, and as I flipped through it I saw the sweetest baby blanket pattern by Anny Blatt and immediately sat down to rework the pattern.

It was originally in quite small dimensions with lightweight yarn on US 4 needles, but I rewrote it for Caron Simply Soft worsted weight yarn on US 7 needles and it will measure 60"x60" when it finishes. It is edged in over three inches of moss stitch and the center blocks are done in a "fancy pat" pattern that looks similar to minky dot fabric
to me. On the white squares I will be embroidering a very simple flower shape. For the colors I am using all Simply Soft: White, Blue Mint, Limelight, Berry Blue, Watermelon, and Mango. I played with the colors for hours but couldn't come up with a good solution for the green flower above the green square, but I think it still looks fine, especially since the embroidery will be quite thin.

My progress so far is.... well, what you see in the picture at the top of this post. Not tons yet. But moss stitch is a slow stitch for me since it takes me a while to get a good rhythm switching between knit and purl. I have 20 rows done and have seven more to go before the blocking begins and I get to try my hand at intarsia knitting! But more on that later...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Meet Heidi

Here is a recent addition to my Etsy shop.... her name is Heidi. She is 12 inches tall, has lots and lots of sandy colored hair in my favorite super-soft cotton/modal blend yarn, blue eyes, light skin tone, and rosy cheeks. If I had been able to design a custom Waldorf doll as a child, she would have looked exactly like this!

I have been making a lot of hand-knit shoes lately. Maybe because my own slippers are getting old and sporting enormous holes so I'm living my dream of new slippers vicariously through the dolls I make. Or maybe they're just cute! In any case, all my dolls come with an accessory, and this month it's mostly knit shoes!

See Heidi in my Etsy Shop: Janel's Rainy Day Toys

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A DIY addict is born

It all started about five years ago. My husband and I were newly married, poor, in our pre-children years, and starting a new life in a new state. I had tried working to pass the time, but we only owned one car and doing a double commute everyday quickly lost its appeal. I had always wanted to learn to sew before I had children, so one day I borrowed my mother-in-law's antique green, solid metal, attached-to-its-own-table, workhorse sewing machine, bought some patterns and fabric, and set about teaching myself to sew. I have to say, my first five or ten projects have since been cut up and turned into rags, baby wipes, or just plain thrown out. Who knew that a two-year-old sized baby doesn't require buntings? Not me, apparently, but it was good practice. At the same time, I was beginning to make friends in our area and was invited to learn to crochet and knit. Admittedly, I didn't take well to either one at first since I could get such a quick result with sewing and I didn't like spending months on a knitting project. But at least, I had the basics down.

A few years passed, and thankfully I don't have to cut up or trash projects anymore... at least not very often. I have also learned to enjoy knitting after all. Not crocheting quite yet, but never say never! One thing that hasn't changed since those newly wed days in Ohio: we're still poor! My husband decided to go to grad school and recently finished, so we have lived quite happily on a tiny budget for some time now. In our experience, it's been a good life! We have food on the table, a roof over our heads, close family, good friends, and lots of imagination! And one thing is for certain: imagination + tight budget = a DIY addict in the making.

So welcome to my blog about all things crafty and homemade. I dabble in many areas so I'll be talking about sewing, doll-making, knitting, soap-making, baking, cooking, and maybe even crocheting eventually!

Most of my projects are for use around my house or for gifts, but I have an Etsy shop too, where I mainly sell handmade Waldorf-inspired dolls. Check it out! My Etsy Shop