Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #2

Progress, of sorts, was made today. I was able to finish the basic shapes in Inkscape and then cut paper templates using SCAL and my Cricut. Originally I had thought I would put all the fabric through the Chricut, but when I looked back at the pieces of fabric I chose they are not large enough for any error with the layout. The Cricut is wasteful at times because it needs extra to cut through. I’ve packed up my drawing, my fabric and am seeking color matching advice tomorrow. I kinda like how it looks, but I’m not sure how pleasing to the eye it actually is. Here are the pics.


Jesse Tree for Advent Season

I have always been fascinated by advent calendars. I have memories of several paper advent calendars over the years. One was a village that had little flaps to open numbered for each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25. One year we had a nativity scene with flaps and another year we had one that had little chocolates in each day, of course we ate the chocolates that year and I have no further memories of that one. At least one was stored in the Christmas box because I recall it surfacing year after year.

Once I became an adult and was on my own, I stopped counting down to Christmas but the love of advent calendars didn’t fade. In 2006 I purchased a cross-stitch calendar with ornaments at a local flower shop turned seasonal Christmas shop. I was unable to start the project until I finished another one already in progress. In Feb. 2008 I began working on it and was hoping to finish it for Boo to use this year. I took in on vacation with us and worked on it until I discovered a glaring error. Demoralized, I began carefully ripping stitches out to get it to a point where I could fix it. Small errors abound with little impact, but adding 10 extra stitches into all the rows near the right edge of the calendar is a huge problem for me. Ripping stitches takes more time than adding stitches, maybe next year we’ll have the calendar. The pictures is the cover art from the package, what it should look like, bot what it currently does look like.

Either last year or the year before I stumbled upon the concept of a “Jesse Tree”. I admit the idea intrigued me even though I was unfamiliar with it. Using the following sites, I was able to piece together the understanding of how it works:

During the Advent Season, which varies from 23 to 28 days depending on the year, children learn/review the life and ancestors of Jesus as well as important events from Adam in the Old Testament all the way through to Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus in the New Testament. Each day has a Scripture reading and a symbol to remind us of the reading. For example, creation is day one and can be symbolized by stars, sun, moon, earth, a dove or whatever symbol causes one to think of the creation of all things. Each of the above documents seems to have different symbols listed so there is no standardization.

While looking up Jesse Tree in various searches, I happened across a photograph of a relief sculpture called “Relief of Tree of Jesse” in Cathedral St. Peter, Worms, Germany which apparently depicts the lineage of Christ back to Jesse, the father of David. While searching for more info on that I found other artwork depicting the ancestor’s of Christ and also referred to as Jesse Trees. While Wikipedia is not the end all for research purposes, it shows several interesting photos with brief descriptions of some of the works. So, Jesse Trees aren’t new, just being displayed in a new form.

Some families incorporate Jesse Trees into traditions by printing the symbols on paper, putting the Scripture passage on the back, coloring the front, cutting them out, and making them into ornaments to hang on an artificial table-top tree. Others purchase fancy ornaments to add to an existing Christmas tree. Still others will carefully craft ornaments by hand from materials that speak to the symbol, a wooden ark for Noah, a clay tablet for Moses and the commandments, and a tiny manger for baby Jesus. I’m somewhere in the middle. While paper is the simplest, I have a wee one and paper won’t survive the day let alone the year unless I laminate them and I’m not sure I’m fully committed to this tradition to laminate scraps of paper. If paper is the medium of choice, I’d rather wait until Boo can draw and color his own ideas. I don’t think I have time to hand make special wooden ones, but I did contemplate cookie cutters, dough and a bit of paint. This plan would put all the work on me without much for Boo to do.

After some thinking, my favorite idea was knitting and/or crocheting them, but again with the deadline looming that felt like an impossible task. November 28 is the start of Advent this year and I just don’t have the time. If I turned out one a day (and that’s a big if to make a crochet apple takes me 45 min. uninterrupted), I might be able to complete them but it would be at the expense of my other holiday projects. I have tentatively settled on simple, flat, felt ornaments with a felt tree or some sory. I think I can cut out and glue at least 5 a day even with Boo’s help. I have to get supplies, so the project can’t start until Sat. most likely. I’ll cut and put drops of glue on and he can stick things down. I am sure I could reuse these in other projects if we move to a different medium another year or if the tradition just doesn’t work for us. When Boo is older, I’ll give him the opportunity to decide if he wants symbols made from different materials or if he likes what I made this year, assuming they turn out and stand the test of time.

While this last link isn’t specific to Jesse’s tree, it does have some neat Advent ideas. There is a mixture of secular and religious activities. has recipes, online games, crafts and printables for each day counting down to Christmas.


Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #1

Every year for Christmas, my husband’s family pops names into a bowl and each of us selects one person to give a Christmas gift to. We are encouraged to make it if possible. This year I have Granny again. I last had her in 2006, where I cross-stitched a stocking that took me a few years to actually complete. In my defense, I started the project too late and had a very busy next year.

As the following is super secret, please, for the love of everything good, don’t tell a soul. It’s why I’m putting it here, to keep it under wraps.

I have been contemplating this year’s present since we drew names. I have finally settled on a couple of things, the largest being a Northern Cardinal table runner. I have hunted high and low for the perfect pattern and not finding it I created one with Inkscape with the goal of cutting all the pieces with my Cricut. I couldn’t get things lined up just right so last night I sat down with paper, pen, and a ruler to draw. I’ve taken measurements of my drawing, made copies to color and am ready to head back to the computer for more drawing. I’m pleased with the results so today my goal is to size all the pieces with a seam allowance and get it back into Inkscape for cutting. There are entirely too many pieces to cut by hand. By next weekend I hope to report that pieces have been cut and I have started sewing them together. There will be a male cardinal at one end and a female at the other. I will use neutral border colors and center mounting squares so that Granny can use it any time of year. I haven’t decided on the quilting yet, but there’s plenty of time.

The second part of my gift is a handspun, knitted cowl (neckwarmer). I didn’t purchase enough fiber, so I’ve ordered more to be dyed but it won’t ship until the 19th. I was able to spin 50 yards in an evening, so my hope is that I can spin the rest (150 yds) the week it arrives and then knit. Merino-tencel is a difficuly blend for a newish spinner. I’ve received lovely advice that I think I’ll follow when I get the rest of the fiber-spin over the fold.

The last part of my gift came about as a a compromise on an earlier idea. I thought to make a fabric wallhanging of her family tree, but I do not have access to an embroidery machine for lettering. It would take me too long to hand letter as my handwriting leaves much to be desired and too expensive to have the work done by the companies in the area that specialize in those kind of things. I found a neat poster that maybe she will enjoy filling in and then we’ll mount it somehow and hang it when she’s used her beautiful handwriting to complete it.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates.


Inventory of projects

September is WIP Wrestle, so I’ll be tackling all my works in progress. Admittedly, I have done a fairly good job since the last time I wrestled with them so my sticks are fairly empty. I have more “want to starts” than I have actually in process.

Currently on my sticks:

  • Amigurimi animals for Boo-crochet
  • Plushie-intarsia knit
  • Jellybean socks-two at a time toe up

Once I finish those, I’ll tackle my holiday crafting. In theory I have plenty of time between now and my tentative completion date to complete the following:

  • For Boo
      Boo’s animals
  • Top secret gift knittingx2
  • Boo’s Secret Elf gift
  • My Secret Elf gift
      Sewing project
      Spinning/Knitting project
  • For me
    1. homespun sweater
      2 pairs of socks

If my hands still work after that list, I also would like to complete:

  • Purse
  • tennis ball frog
  • Spinning, lots and lots of spinning


2009 Final Christmas update

The placemats are finished and residing in their new home. Alas, I have no pictures to show for my work as I sent them along without photographing them. Hopefully, a picture or two will be taken while under a plate or cup and I will be able to show them. They were not perfect by any stretch, the binding was much better, in some respects, as I neared completion of the project. Now to begin work for this Christmas.


Christmas 2009 sewing project update #4

I was able to complete 5 more placemats for Julie. Even though one picture shows 6, only 5 were delivered because I found a small 2 inch section that needed to be sewn again. I’ve ripped that section and repinned. I discovered that I needed to pull out new pins and trash the old ones. A craftier would have kept them and made some new thing out of them, but they were too dull to keep using on fabric. Now I’m on to the winter/summer placemats-one pinned, nine to go.


Christmas 2009 sewing project update #2

Well, the best laid plans . . . Here it is December and I’m still working on my super secret family Christmas Elf gift. I had hoped to be done before Boo arrived, but at least I’m not late, yet. This is post number 2 because in July I posted a bit about what I was working on, of course I danced around what it the project actually is and I’m still dancing. Until the gifts are presented I’ll not be sharing too much, only what I think can safely be viewed without giving too much away.

Should you happen upon a password protected post for the 2009 Christmas season and you feel I am not making the gift for you, please leave a comment here with a valid email address. Your email address will not be published. It will only be used so that I am able to send the password your way, unless of course you are the recipient of this gift. The password will be the same for all top-secret posts this season.


NaBloPoMo 2009


I have successfully completed another Nov. 30 posts in 30 days. I have learned some valuable lessons and managed not to blog about the 30 posts in 30 days as any of my Nov. posts. Well, mission accomplished by the skin of my teeth no thanks to my webhost going down for several hours just as I was finishing my post. This week has been lousy for my satisifaction rating with goods and services.

I have a bunch of new Gerber vinyl diaper covers that were given to me proceed to degrade with each use. I have received a note back from the customer service people at Gerber saying that if I send the product into them I will receive replacement/refund. That’s possible for three of them, but the others were thrown away one at a time as the holes developed, which means people purchased gifts for us that we basically threw away. Why is our society so disposable? Why, oh why, has it taken me this long to get our cloth diaper supply up and running? Well, procrastination and unscheduled abdominal surgery at the end of September, but mostly the first and only a little of the second.

I tried to order prints from, which by the way I will never recommend to anyone and will not attempt to use them again. It took me most of the day but I uploaded a bit over 460MB of data to their site before the colossal fail. They had a nice coupon deal wherein I could receive 100 free prints, I had 150 I wanted to order. Apparently, despite the fact that it is still plastered all over their site at 1AM EST, you can’t actually use the coupon. That, however, was not my problem because I didn’t try to order them on Dec 1. It was still Nov 30 when I was ordering but the clock switched as I clicked to pay for my order. My order suddenly when from $13.45 to over $20. I deleted my cart, my pics and sent a complaint email as well as a request to delete my account.

Maybe Dec 1 will be better, it really can’t be worse. To end on a positive note, my MIL (mom-in-law) came over this morning and hung out with Boo so I could work on my Christmas project. After I found the iron I misplaced, I spent an hour and a half in the morning and a few minutes in the evening working so that I am 37.5% completed which is to say, well, I’m working on it.

I will not be late this year.
I will not be late this year.
I will not be late this year.
I will not be . . .


Book Club & The Christmas List

by Richard Paul Evans

a review & summary
An extremely fast read, high on sap low on plot. In the introduction the author shares that he had always enjoyed Charles Dickenson’s “A Christmas Carol.” The Scrooge in this book is named James Kier and is three ghosts is a premature obituary wherein he understands that even his own son can’t stand him. This book is highly predictable with emotional twists and turns designed to elicit tears and joy in all the “right” places. Borrow it from the library if you must read it, I’m not likely to read another by this author. I like to at least guess at the out come, not have a map drawn to me.