Super Secret Santa Sewing Update #4


I’m happy to report that my Christmas crafting 2010 was mostly on time. I delivered the table runner on time but didn’t have a good pattern in mind for the fiber I purchased so I made a gift certificate and presented it with the fiber. I also finished socks for Jason on Christmas Day. I didn’t wrap them but I did let him try them on so I knew how much further to knit. He only wanted another inch or two added so I have yarn leftover to make Boo a matching pair of socks or two.

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Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #3

Well, planning will only get me so far. During nap time today I was able to knock out most of the male cardinal block. When Boo woke up he needed much comforting because I was running a sewing machine when he woke up so I didn’t hear him immediately. I don’t really know how long he was in his crib awake and unhappy. Once settled, I recalled that Grandma L. is able to put him in a highchair while she cooks and he seems content. I wondered if I pulled him next to me in his chair while I sewed if he would find it interesting. I discovered that he is only interested in watching me sew if he can have his own bits of fabric.

Luckily for both of us I accidentally sewed and cut the wrong pieces so I had some extras that I could give him. I sewed them into a small block when Jason got home and turned Boo loose. He toddled around with it like it was treasure. Then I was able to finish the first block. While looking it at I realized that I originally wanted it set on point but designed it square.

We had family dinner tonight, so when we returned home I started work on the female cardinal. I wisely cut all the background squares Thursday when I was cutting the pieces for male block. I changed the color scheme again, the picture doesn’t do the female justice, she’s got a little purpley-pink tuft on her head and the tail doesn’t look that dark. I went to work cutting and then piecing. I am so chuffed with the results, most of my points line up, the ones that don’t sort of look like tail feathers and perhaps it was on purpose. The blocks look as good if not better than they did in my head, which is saying something. I’m not the best with color and I’ve never designed a pieced pattern before. I looked at a lot of different pieced cardinals and then combined what I thought were the best features into my own. The only thing that I wish I had remembered was that I wanted the birds to be mirror images of each other rather than duplicates. I should have flipped the female on paper instead of thinking that I would remember. You’ll notice they are both facing to the left, not one left and one right, I’m not redoing it. What Granny doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

Now I have to rework the center blocks in my head because I designed everything in my head on point with triangles. Luckily for me I only have squares now, much easier, I hope. I also have a knitting project to do as well. I had planned a cowl, but tonight she asked for a Calorimetry like mine. I assume I can pick different colors. I’ll do that first and then the cowl if there’s time.

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Jesse Tree Update #3

This will be the last Jesse Tree update for this year. I’ve got a handful of ornaments cut out, but I just don’t see Boo being ready yet for getting them on the tree. I’ll have to do most of that and then make him cry when I let him hold it and try to put it on the tree. Stay tuned next year, I already have 20 or so patterns picked, designed, and printed out so we’ll work on them during 2011. It will be a fun project, if we do one a week starting in January, we should have them completed by June or so.

Since we’ll already be playing with felt, I think we’ll also work on his quiet book.

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Attack of the Deadlines

Yes, you read that correctly deadlines, there’s an s on the end of that word. I have things to do and I’m running out of time. There is a nasty cold going around this fall that people are saying takes up to three weeks to fully recover and I have it, one down two to go. A week ago Friday I started to feel poorly and it went downhill from there. I was so sick last week I didn’t even feel like knitting or surfing my favorite knitting/crocheting/yarn site or much doing of anything. I’m starting to feel a bit better, but my nose is sometimes draining on to my throat causing me to clear my throat constantly and sometimes I have time to grab a tissue before it drains. Throw in driving to the vet once on Sat, once on Sun and again today and all I can say is I’m behind before I even thought about getting ahead.

    Here’s the list:

  1. Sweater-was supposed to be finished on Saturday, would have been if not for the illness, current status: one sleeve down, one to go and then the bottom edge
  2. Podcast-I had time on my hands to get the first episode recorded, but who wants to hear me while I’m sick, I’m hoping to release the first episode Dec. 1, a full episode, not just an intro. I’d like a promo out by tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath for that one
  3. Jesse Tree ornaments-I have a handful cut out, but I need to sew them together and create a tree of some sort by Wednesday, I also have to put the advent boxes together and hang them so Boo and I can open them.
  4. Super Secret Santa #1-I purchased fabric before I fell ill, but haven’t cut any of it
  5. Super Secret Santa #2-I have yarn, I have a pattern but I need to finish my sweater
  6. Super Secret Santa #3-fiber just arrived today in the mail for me to spin then I have to knit it
  7. Super-Super Secret Project #1-I am fairly certain I don’t have time for this one, it’ll get done, just probably not in time for the Christmas

Are you behind? Are you ahead? What’s your secret?

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Holiday traditions

Do you have holiday traditions?
On Thanksgiving we usually went to my maternal grandparents. It was usually the biggest family gathering we had. One year we had 22 people in my grandparent’s small house.My mom, her two brothers, a couple of spouses, four grandkids, friends and a the grandparents gathered around one long table. It was fun trying to get the butter. I miss family Thanksgiving dinners. This year I stayed home, by myself, with my cats and a cold while Boo and my husband had dinner with his family.

Growing up, we usually cut down a fresh tree in the first or second week of December and decorated it as a family. I loved seeing the familiar ornaments year after year, my favorite were the engraved metal ones that my grandparents would get me every year. Eventually I began to dread those because I no longer went by Debbie, but I still have them and use them and cringe when I pull them out. I was always mystified by families who didn’t up a tree up until Christmas Eve or worse, put it up after the children went to bed. I thought, how sad, it’s a wonderful family activity. Then I had a baby last September. We put up a tree last year because I thought it would be fun for him to stare at the lights but it was work. This year I’m going to wait as long as possible and put the baby play yard gate around it. I may even commit the unthinkable and put it up after he goes to bed. Will that make him more curious about it? If we do put it up, it’s going up in stages, first the tree for a few days, then the lights for a few more and finally the ornaments but only the nonbreakable ones. Between the three cats and Boo there won’t be much of a tree if I don’t.
Does anyone know where I can get indoor barbed wire?

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Jesse Tree Update #2

Do you have holiday traditions that have been passed down from your grandparents, parents or other family members? Have you created new traditions with your family? A Jesse Tree advent calendar is a new idea to me that I began to research in this post. After reading and reading and reading and talking, we’ve decided to try this out during our holiday season. Last week I went to GR to find materials for our advent calendar. I happily discovered that Hobby Lobby had felt choices galore and on sale. I stacked and stacked and stacked until the pile was so large that Boo couldn’t resist touching and trying to peel stickers off of them. I was so excited to find as many colors in stock as I did. Boo and I are working on ornaments for our tree.
Here’s our plan so far:

  1. For creation, I’m making a globe. I didn’t like the idea of focusing on just one aspect of creation from Genesis 1.1-2.4.
  2. For Adam and Eve from Genesis 2.7-9 & 18-24, I’m making stick modernish people, so the woman looks like she’s wearing a dress. Not historically accurate, but clearly a man and woman.
  3. For the fall of man, I’m making a generic red fruit as depicted in Genesis 3.1-7 & 23-24
  4. For Noah and the flood, I making a rainbow, see Genesis 6-8.
  5. For the tower of Babel, I’m making a ziggurat/tower. Although the tower represents disobedience, without it we wouldn’t have scattered and developed all the cultures. This story is told in Genesis 11.
  6. For Abraham, I’ve chosen the Star of David because he became the father of many nations, more numerous than the stars., Genesis 12-15.
  7. For Isaac, I’m making a stone altar because he trusted his father and God, Genesis 22.
  8. For Jacob, I love the image of the ladder to represent Jacob’s dreams at Bethel of the stairway to heaven to remind Jacob that in time God would allow him to return home.
  9. For Joseph, I couldn’t use anything but his coat of many colors that became the physical manifestation of his brothers’ jealousy. Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-45.
  10. I have a cute lion which will either represent the prophesy that a lion from the tribe Judah will rule or Daniel’s obedience and punishment of the lion’s den.
  11. For Moses, I am making two. A basket will represent his mother’s (dis)obedience by hiding him in the river and stone tablets to represent his obedience to God by talking to him on behalf of the people. See Exodus 1, 3, 19 & 20.
  12. For Samuel, I am making a candle to represent the lamp of God that was burning in 1 Samuel 3 when God first spoke to Samuel.
  13. For Ruth and Obed, I’m making a stack of wheat because she obeyed God and stayed with Naomi and allowed themselves to be redeemed by Obed after working his fields. See the book of Ruth for this story.
  14. For Jesse, I am making a sheep as he had many flocks his sons had to care for. In 1 Samuel 16, Jesse says he has one more son in the fields with the sheep.
  15. For David, I am making a slingshot to represent his obedience in the face of certain defeat when he went up against Goliath told in 1 Samuel 17.
  16. For Solomon, I am making a crown because he was a wise king, see 1 Kings 3.
  17. For Isaiah, who foretold the Messiah in Isaiah 9, I’m making a scroll with Emmanuel, God with us embroidered on it.
  18. For Jonah, I’m making a whale to remind us of the cost of disobedience with the possibility of redemption when we seek forgiveness. See the book of Jonah.
  • Pictures of finished ornaments and at least 6-8 more symbols to come . . .

I originally thought to glue them down because I didn’t want to invest too much time in something that may not stick as a tradition, but after seeing the sites I’ve linked below, I’ve decided to sew them by hand or machine depending on the size of the pieces. Serendipity has lovely ornaments that I looked at when deciding that my shapes would look like. I linked to the general topic rather than one post because the ornaments span five posts. From this gallery of ornaments, I found a slide show of ornaments (52 images). I’m considering sewing my ornaments down to leaves as well, but I’m not sold on the holly tree look. I love the stitching detail and the idea of the same base on each ornament to bring a unified look to my tree. I love the 3D and texture variety in materials of the ornaments I’ve seen, but for ours I like the simplicity of felt ornaments that will pack flat at the end of the year. I like continuity of materials from one ornament to the next. If I made one from modeling clay, my brain would want them all to be like that. I don’t have enough clay in my stash for that kind of project, nor do I have the time to make a 3D tree and hangers. I can almost guarantee that my ornaments won’t be sewn to leaves this year, but I’m making them to a similar size, around three inches high, so that in the future if I decide to create a base it will be easier.

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The holidays are nearing

How are you doing on your holiday projects? Do you have holiday projects? I’m behind, I’m always behind. I procrastinate. I’m procrastinating right now with a warm kitty on my lap and my blog on the computer. A podcast I listen to linked the Christmas Countdown Clock and I love it. If I had a separate computer to show it on, I’d run the clock all day. I like the design of it and it just might spur me on to work a little more productively.

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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.

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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. About.com has recipes, online games, crafts and printables for each day counting down to Christmas.

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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.

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