Hooked on Needles

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crochet Needle Roll ~ a Christmas Gift for my Sister

This year for Christmas, I decided to make my sister the Sister (you've met her here, here, here, here and here before) a needle roll for her crochet hooks. This decision was an easy one to make after seeing how her crochet hooks were kept during a visit early in the fall. She had asked me to show her how to do some little detail of a bag she wanted to make, so she brought out her collection of hooks and then proceeded to dig through it looking for the right size. Ugh! My decision was made!

And now that it is several days after Christmas, and the day before we will be visiting her, it seemed like the perfect time to finally make the needle roll! It only took about an hour, so really I could have even waited until tomorrow!

Crochet Needle RollI just love this fabric! You might recognize it as the fabric I used for the lettering, backing and binding on the Eat Play Sleep Repeat baby quilt I finished recently. Sandy Gervais designed this Frolic line of fabric, I am pretty sure, just to make me smile!

Crochet Needle RollUnrolled, you can see the inside of the pouch with about 18 spaces to store crochet hooks. Many of the hooks she has in her collection are the very tiny metal hooks for use with crochet thread, like what you would use to crochet a doily, so those can be stored several to a pocket.

Crochet Needle RollThe little flag on the top goes over the top of the hooks so that they will not slide out when the pouch is rolled up and tied.

Crochet Needle RollDid I mention I love this fabric?

Crochet Needle RollThe ties come out one side and then wrap around the outside of the rolled up pouch where a bow is tied to hold the whole thing closed.

Crochet Needle RollDo you think she'll like it? With this fabric, how could she not?

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, December 27, 2010

A New Siggy Block Swap

Judy is hosting a Siggy Block Swap over on Flickr, and I have already signed up for it! Last January I jumped into my first Siggy Swap and had such fun making my blocks and receiving all the pretty blocks back signed by people all over the world.

If you're interested in a fun swap, go check out the guidelines on Flickr and send Judy a note. She's going to close the swap at 75, so don't wait too long to decide! I'd sure love to get a block from you!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

SSCS Gifts Opened ~ Martine spoiled me!

Yesterday was a fun filled family day here and just the perfect way to spend Christmas day. After Mass on Christmas Eve, and then a busy day of exchanging gifts and playing with new toys and fixing a few yummy meals, it was time for me to open my gifts from Martine in Belgium. Martine was my secret Santa this year for the Secret Santa Christmas Swap hosted by Chookyblue all the way down in Australia. This is truly a worldwide swap so it is fun to see what wonderful gifts have made their way all across the world.

Here are mine...

SSCS Gifts OpenedThe little stitched ornament in the front has been hanging on my tree since my package arrived many weeks ago, but all the other gifts were waiting for Christmas to be unwrapped. And just look at the wonderful things Martine sent me!

SSCS Gifts OpenedThis darling little sewing basket which is filled with some delicious looking biscuits that Martine says are a Belgian specialty. I'll enjoy some of them with my tea this afternoon. Yum!

SSCS Gifts OpenedIsn't that just the cutest little sewing basket? Perfect for pins, needles, bobbins, all sorts of little things!

SSCS Gifts OpenedI have not yet opened this bag of chocolate treats. I'm afraid once it is opened, they will not last very long! I love chocolate and will have to practice quite a bit of self control to keep from eating the whole bag!

SSCS Gifts OpenedAt first I thought this was a little book of blank pages, but then I opened it up...

SSCS Gifts Opened...and discovered a variety of little sticky note pads and a page of stickers, all in such lovely colors and useful sizes too! I use sticky notes everywhere in my house, in the kitchen to mark recipes, in my sewing room to help keep my place on patterns or to jot down little notes to help me remember some little detail, in the office when paying bills and such. This collection of sticky notes will come in handy all around the house!

And then the best of all Martine's gifts to me...this darling Christmas stitchery! The design on it is so cute with those reindeer standing on each other's backs to help Santa fill his sleigh!

SSCS Gifts OpenedThe look on Santa's face is priceless!

SSCS Gifts OpenedAnd his little helpers are just as happy as can be, doing their part to spread Christmas cheer!

Martine has definitely spoiled me! Completely! I hope each of you had someone to spoil you this Christmas too!

Speaking of spoiling, my sweet husband has also spoiled me, but I'll save those gifts to share with you another time. I want to play with them a little first, and I cannot wait to have a few minutes alone with them! In my sewing room, of course!

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all...

...and to all a good night! Don't you just love that poem? Are your stockings hung by the chimney with care? Are your children nestled all snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads? Do you have your kerchief or cap on and are you ready for your long winter's nap?

Well, we don't hang stockings. Instead we hang huge knitted mittens! I don't have a current picture of them, but you can see them HERE from a few years ago.

All our homemade goodies have been wrapped up and given away to friends, teachers and neighbors. Here's what some of them looked like before being wrapped...

My very favorite spritz cookies. I make them in Christmas trees and flowers with a little cinnamon red hot in the middle. They are so delicious dunked in a hot cup of tea!

And almond roca, a candy my mother always made but I never had much luck making myself until I found a new recipe for it on the Land O'Lakes website. Since then, every batch has come out perfect! The only things I do differently from the recipe are that I use almonds instead of pecans or walnuts, and I use melted milk chocolate on both sides of the candy instead of semi-sweet on only one side.

I also made some white chocolate macadamia nut biscotti which is also so scrumptious dunked in tea...I don't like to wrap up the end pieces for gifts, so I have to eat them myself! And of course, I included in some of the gifts a jar of jelly that I make every year. Yum!

Our Christmas tree is all decorated with hundreds of ornaments from our 28 Christmases together, and this year we added a colorful paper chain at the request of our crafty little kindergarten student Grace! This picture was taken last week before most of the gift wrapping had been done, but right now you can hardly get within arm's length of the tree for all the gifts surrounding it.

Our nativity set has its place of honor in our home and you can see that Baby Jesus has arrived. What a joyful occasion!

Our children are nestled all snug in their beds and Santa has already come to our house. I think that means it is time to wish you all a very merry Christmas, and sign off for a day or two. Christmas blessings to you all!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Gift - An Apron for Thomas

The other day I got an email from an old friend for whom I have done some sewing projects in the past few years. She had a friend who was hoping to give her son an apron for Christmas and my friend thought I would be just the person to make that apron. A quick exchange of emails, a last minute trip to Joann's, and a few hours of sewing in my cozy basement sewing room on a cold winter day, then the best part...delivering the apron and visiting with lots of old friends just before Christmas!

Here's the apron Thomas will be wearing while baking with his mom over Christmas vacation, but shhhh, don't tell! It's a surprise!

Thomas is a big sports fan and his mom suggested any fabric that had any kind of sports theme. This one seemed to have all the major sports represented and I thought the colors were perfect for a 7 year old boy!

The pocket is divided into two and lined with the blue fabric.

The apron is reversible too! T is for Thomas and as it turns out, red is his absolute most favorite color in the whole wide world, a fact I did not know until I gave the apron to his mother!

I can just imagine the memories that will be made for Thomas and his mother while working side by side in the kitchen wearing his new apron! And I am so glad my friend didn't think I would be too busy for one more project right before Christmas!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Bernat Mystery Afghan is finally complete!

One more afghan finished for this year! I think that makes three, or maybe even four. I'll have to go back over this past year's worth of crochet posts and count how many!

Anyway, this one is the Bernat Mystery Afghan Crochet-along afghan. Some of you participated in this project as well and have made your own similar afghan. I am so very pleased with the result, and I've enjoyed checking out everyone else's finished afghans on Bernat's Flickr page.

Here's what mine looks like...

Bernat Mystery Afghan is finally complete!Here it is, all spread out over our big cozy chair.

Bernat Mystery Afghan is finally complete!I was intrigued by the border pattern when I read the instructions, and I really love how it turned out. It's not something I ever would have come up with on my own, sort of outside of my creative box for afghan borders, and I really like it!

Bernat Mystery Afghan is finally complete!Can you imagine spending a snowy winter afternoon cuddled under this afghan with a good book and a cup of hot tea? I sure can!

Bernat Mystery Afghan is finally complete!Of course, you'd fold it neatly when you're ready to get up and make dinner, right?

The yarn this pattern called for is Bernat Softee Chunky, a yarn that I had never used before, so I was anxious to give it a try. I found it easy to work with, not prone to splitting, and very soft! I enjoyed it. I even have enough leftover to make a lap blanket or throw using a pattern similar to this one which is so good for using up odd amounts of yarn and still ending up with a usable piece. The only difference is that I am making this one square instead of rectangle!

So this afghan will be wrapped up and mailed to my nephew and his new bride for their wedding gift. I sure hope they like it! One week after they got married, another niece got married, so I will be starting on her wedding gift afghan after the new year. Never a dull moment for wedding and baby gifts in this family!

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Layer Cake Quilt-Along Block Four

A cold, lazy, quiet Saturday a week before Christmas is the perfect time to make a quilt block, don't you think? All my shopping is done, most of my wrapping is done, almost all of my baking is done, and the only thing on our calendar for today was our little guy's cub scout pack meeting this evening. So I was able to spend some time downstairs in my sewing room which is a rare treat lately.

The fourth block of the Layer Cake Quilt-Along was posted this week so I was anxious to check it out. I really like it, but had a very hard time choosing my fabrics for this one for some reason. I decided to add two more colorways to this project from my stash since, for this block, I didn't like any combination of the four I had originally chosen. I had the gold trimmed floral fabric in pink and a real pretty sort of teal color in my fat quarter stash, so I pulled those out and paired them up with two other fabrics similar to the other fabrics I had already chosen. Then I picked two of the pinks and one purple for this block. Oh yes, and the white background fabric - this is the first block where I used background fabric and I hope I don't end up regretting using plain white! I'm happy with how it turned out...

Layer Cake Quilt-Along Block FourI love the contrast of the white and pink, and the more I work with that gold trimmed floral fabric in all the colors, the more I like it!

This quilt-along is such a good experience for me because it's helping me get over my fear of sewing triangles and trying new techniques. So far with each block, I've learned something new or an easy way to do something I thought was hard. It's so fun to look at everyone else's blocks on the Flickr group too.

So besides making this block and getting the bindings ready for the four I Spy quilts that are still waiting to be finished, the only other activity for the day was a nice little walk I took with my husband this afternoon. It was cold but sunny, and we had the chance to leave the three kids at home and get a little fresh air and exercise together. It was a nice, simple and inexpensive way to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary! What the heck were we thinking getting married one week before Christmas? Who knows, but I'm glad we did anyway!

Are you squeezing in a little non-Christmas stitching these days?

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Pillowcases

Are you ready for Christmas? Have you wrapped all your gifts and baked all your goodies? Is the house all decorated with festive greenery and lights and ornaments? Here at our house, we've been doing a little every day for the past few weeks, and except for the baking which I will be doing later this week and over the weekend, I would say we're in pretty good shape.

I even took the time to make Christmas pillowcases for my two little cherubs. They got to use them on their pillows for movie night at their school where lots of their friends brought sleeping bags and pillows and wore their jammies for an evening of games and treats and a movie in the gym. It was great fun for everyone!

This fabric is from Connecting Threads and came in a kit to make two pillowcases using the popular burrito design of sewing a pillowcase where there are no unfinished seams when it is finished. Isn't the fabric just darling? I love those snowmen!

I've also been working on making the binding for the I Spy quilts that I quilted early in the fall. I was hoping to have them all bound and ready to go before Christmas either for my Etsy shop or for our local shelter, but I don't think that is going to happen. I was, however, able to enjoy using the never ending bias binding method from my tutorial to make all four bindings while we were having our well tank replaced the other day. That's always a good way to occupy yourself when you have to hang around waiting for a project like that to be done and you don't have access to any water in the house for a few hours! Ugh! Then the next day, the kitchen faucet started leaking all over the place, so my husband spent the beginning of his Christmas vacation replacing that! I don't even want to think about what will go next!

So anyway, I've been keeping busy with Christmas preparations and activities with the family and at school and have not been stressing too much about new projects or taking pictures or posting for now. My kids won't be this young ever again and I don't want to regret not spending time with them and for them in favor of my hobby. But I'll have pictures soon of the Bernat Mystery Crochet-along afghan that is so close to being finished, and also the gifts I am making for one of my sisters and for my mother.

I put a few new tools on my Christmas list this year, so if Santa is really good to me and paid close attention to the list I sent him (links and sale dates and free shipping offers included), then I should have some cool new toys to show you after Christmas! Oh, the anticipation!

I sure hope Santa is good to you this year, and that you spend precious time with your family and friends this Christmas season.

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Secret Santa Christmas Swap gift received!

Don't you just love it when you run out for a quick errand and when you get back, the mailman has already come and he leaves you a little note saying that since you weren't home for that 15 minutes, you now have to make a special trip to the post office to pick up a package that was sent all the way from Belgium? Ugh! It never fails! And the worst part is that this happened on Saturday, so I had to wait all the way until Monday to get this package! I guess I can't blame George since he was just doing his job. Timing is everything, right?

Well, would you like to see what was in this package? It was well worth the wait!

Secret Santa Christmas Swap gift received!Lots of neatly wrapped gifties just for me! And a lovely card from Martine.

Secret Santa Christmas Swap gift received!See that white tin in front? Since it wasn't wrapped, I thought it would be ok to open it and see what was inside. All I can say is YUM! They are little lace crisps made from butter, sugar and cashews...oh my! So delicious and rich!

Secret Santa Christmas Swap gift received!I don't know what's in all the other packages since they have to wait under my tree until Christmas (Chookyblue's rules of the swap!), but the package labeled 'ornament' was for opening right away. So I did. Isn't it darling? I love the paisley border fabric too!

Secret Santa Christmas Swap gift received!I hung it right on my tree in the living room along with the ornament I received in last year's swap. Thanks so much, Martine, for all the lovely gifts. I'll be sure to share the others with everyone after Christmas.

I am still waiting to hear from the person who received my swap gift. I know she received it because she emailed me, but no word yet on whether or not she opened it. I don't dare show what it is since she now knows who I am and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Do you have a hard time keeping secrets this time of year?

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!

This past summer I purchased fabric to make a baby quilt for a friend's new baby while we were on our family vacation up in New Hampshire. My annual shopping trip to Keepsake Quilting is always much more fun when I have a project in mind to find fabric for. Over Labor Day weekend, I showed my original plan for the layout of the quilt and had decided that it was not going to work. Eventually I got my hands on a piece of the solid fabric of the same Frolic line I was using for this quilt, and was able to continue putting it together. Just the other day, I had the chance to do the longarm quilting on it myself and now it is all bound and just about finished. All that's left to do is put a label on the back and wash it, and then of course deliver it to the little guy who will get to use it. I just love how it turned out...

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!Instead of laying out the words as in the Moda Bake Shop design for this quilt, I decided to put them around the edges and leave the middle empty. I also printed my own letters using a different font which I liked better, and I made them larger than the original pattern. The only thing I might do differently if I were to make this again would be to center the words on each side since 'eat' is so short and 'repeat' is so long. My husband even had a suggestion for this quilt...to replace 'play' with another four letter 'p' word, but I think I'll pass on that! I wouldn't be too surprised if this quilt sees its share of that stuff anyway since I expect it to be used and abused and loved!

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!I did a very tight loop meander for the quilting and worked a little zig zag around each of the letters.

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!The backing is just the blue and green dot fabric pieced together since those are the two I had the most of besides the cream. I didn't think the cream would be a good choice for the backing since it would show dirt more easily and it might also allow the color of the words to show through from the front.

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!For the binding, I used each of the four colors on the corners opposite the border strip of the same color.

eat. play. sleep. repeat. quilt finally finished!This line of fabric, especially the dots, is so cheerful and fun. Once again Sandy Gervais comes through for me! Have I mentioned before that I'm a big fan of hers?

So that's my latest finish in the sewing room. My next project is going to be a quick one. I found a pillowcase kit on my shelf to make Christmas pillow cases, so I'll whip those up for my two little ones to use. Then I have an idea stewing in my brain for something I want to make for my mother and my oldest sister, the nun, and for myself too. If it turns out as awesome in real life as it is in my head, I'll be sure to let you know!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sophie's New Christmas Stocking

Remember last year when I made those hand embroidered Christmas stockings for my friend Kathy? Since then, the family of Kevin, Donna and Riley has grown to include one more of the canine variety. Sophie joined the family and was in need of a stocking. So I made her one...

Sophie's New Christmas StockingSince Riley's was red, I made Sophie's in green. I thought it was a little more girly.

Sophie's New Christmas StockingCan you see the little paw prints on the green fabric? How cute! I'm sure Santa will be able to fit lots of yummy little doggy treats in this stocking for Sophie this year and for many years to come!

If you're interested in having stockings like this made for your family, just contact me (HookedOnNeedles [at] gmail [dot] com) and we can discuss color preferences. The cost is $40 per stocking, plus whatever the exact cost of shipping might be.

Happy Stitching!

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