Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy holidays!

Back in September I had made a little deal with myself that I would make NO gifts this year. I knew the baby would be coming no later than the first week of November and there was no way I wanted to get myself into making lap quilts for everyone again...or doll clothes, or even cookies or caramel corn as I have done in years past.

So, of course, I started a small decorative sewing project in December. While shopping, I saw another gift that would really delight the person I was sewing for, and I talked myself out of buying it, out of having a back-up plan. And Christmas morning, I had nothing to give this woman. When I saw her, I just apologized and explained that I hadn't had the time to finish what I wanted to give her. She looked at me and said, "You are busy," and kind of implied that I shouldn't have bothered this year. She was right. There would have been no shame in the back-up gift.

Eventually, I will finish that decoration and get sewing regularly, but my relative really put it into perspective for me. I am busy. Caroline will only be a newborn for a short time, and I need to just accept what I cannot do right now.

I present, the extent of my finished Christmas crafts. I'm slowly building a scrap book for Caroline with My Memories Suite. I don't talk about the software I did the giveaway for very much, but I do use it, even more so since they released a Version 3. It is a lot more user friendly, with a lot more variety. I'm still discovering things they have made easier and every time I do, I just want to play with it more! Boy, did that sound like an advertisement, but I swear, I really do love it and am not being compensated for saying that, though I do get a small kickback for everyone who purchases the software using my discount code (STMMMS79028 for $10 off the software and a $10 code to purchase kits and accessories in the store).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A cry for help, and a baby pic

Remember that bookshelf I was refinishing? Well, I sanded it and was nearly done painting it when my water broke, leaving me a full week less than I thought I would have to finish it. Of course, I didn't have the time to get to it with a tiny new baby and it started getting too cold to paint in the garage. So my husband brought my project into the basement where I could work on it at my leisure.

What happened and how do I fix it? I have refinished furniture before, including a few other antique pieces, but I have never had anything like this occur. I want to say humidity, but really I am fairly inexperienced with wood, and I'm not sure that makes sense.

In other news, the baby is getting bigger, and I'm getting more sleep, but I'm still not fully functional. How could you look at this, though, and think a few months of hardly crafting was not worth it?

I love babies in grown up clothes. Teeny tiny jeans are adorable without chubby little thighs stuffed into them, and crazy adorable when you combine the two!

And she is waking up to eat again...did you know that in the past two days I have watched an entire season of How I Met Your Mother ONLY while feeding her? Truth. This is why my blog is lacking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A year in the making...

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how I had stupidly decided to try out a new craft right before Christmas, and make it as a gift for someone. Now that it is finally finished, I'm going to explain what happened, and sort of review the kit I purchased.

In 2009, Gabe and I each received a needlepoint stocking as a Christmas gift from a relative up north. Of course, I briefly looked them over, then packed them into the Christmas decorations when we got home from our trip. It wasn't until I got them out last year and hung them up next to my husband's decade old needlepoint stocking that I realized only one person in the family didn't have one, my step-daughter. And it looked wrong!

So I went to L.L. Bean where the stockings had been purchased for my son and myself. Of course, a lot of the designs are the same year after year, and when you took out what Gabe had, and what I had, what was left was nothing that my step-daughter would like. So I checked Land's End (where my husband's came from years ago), and there were a couple cute ones, but what I was really looking for was one with a penguin on it, to match the fleece stocking she picked out years ago. I finally resorted to Google, and I found this Dimensions needlepoint stocking kit.

I thought it was like a Christmas miracle that I found a needlepoint stocking with a penguin on it, and being an experienced crafter, I thought it would be no big deal to finish the thing.

Then it showed up...and it faced the wrong way. Now, that is something that the photo on the front of the kit clearly shows, but not something that looks out of place when you're looking over a million and one stocking kits on a craft site like JoAnn. Because ALL of Dimension's kits face the wrong way. Is this a marketing ploy? If you have one handmade stocking you must have a handmade stocking for everyone because ALL commercially produced stockings face the opposite way? If so, it's a crappy one. I was pissed, but I was determined I could make it work.

So, if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the wrong way, this is how the canvas looked. Nicely pre-printed with a close approximation of the color you were supposed to be stitching in the correct area.
And if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the right way, as I did, this is what the canvas looked like on the opposite side.

I would do a couple stitches, flip it over, count how many I had left and do a couple more stitches before I forgot what I counted and had to do it all over again. It was tedious. It was annoying. It took me until January to finish just the basics.

Then came the embroidery. The name was easy, because it was just a little chart in the instructions, but the fine hairs on the penguins were nearly impossible until I had the bright idea to go to Kinko's and have a mirror image made of the pattern. Once that was done, the stitching went much quicker and I was ready to finish.

Surprisingly, the finish is the biggest problem I have with the kit. Even if I had decided to face this the way the kit faced, the stocking still would have taken hours and hours of my time, and do you know the instructions Dimensions provides for finishing? Cut a piece of cheap acrylic felt and sew it on. No lining to protect your delicate stitching, no sturdy velvet backing like you would get on anything you purchased, you just get a piece of craft felt. Now, thankfully, I know what I'm doing and was able to both fully line this in cotton and back it in the only blue velvet I could find locally, because there is no way this stocking would have lasted more than a year without a lining and a sturdier fabric for the back.

It still stands out, but will stand out less when I order Caroline's this year. Which, I guess is the ultimate conclusion to my review. I won't be doing this again, ever. With the $20 the kit cost, the hours of time I put into it, and the extra money I spent purchasing lining and backing fabric to make it last a decent amount of time, it is not at all worth it. There isn't any savings over purchasing a commercially made stocking. I know savings isn't the point. The penguins were the point...but I think she would have settled for a polar bear.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Moments: Retro Edition

The comment I got last week about Caroline being a little Gabe clone inspired me to hunt down his one month photo. I have to say, they're pretty similar.

In the process of finding the photo (remember that was a crashed computer ago), I discovered something else. I had this memory of taking Gabe's picture exactly on the days he turned each month older until about seven months when I forgot. I remembered beating myself up about that day. And it was those memories that made me so upset I didn't take Caroline's photo at exactly one month. What kind of future were we going to have if I was already forgetting her pictures a full six months before I forgot her brother's?

Only, I remembered wrong. This picture, which is in Gabe's baby book as his one month photo, was actually taken a day after he turned one month old. Apparently, I wasn't such a great mom then either..and that actually makes me feel better. Much better.