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Category: Tutorial.

Jellyfish Lanterns

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It’s been quite some time since I showcased a DIY project here. Admittedly, it’s because it’s been quite some time since I’ve done one. I did many knitting projects for Christmas presents and documented exactly none of them (#fail), and have been on a craft/diy hiatus most of 2014.

But the girls’ preschool has their annual fundraiser this coming weekend, and I volunteered to be on the decor committee for the dance on Saturday night. The theme is “Under the Sea,” so I offered to create some spirited albeit elegant jellyfish lanterns for the occasion. I am quite pleased with the result. I made up six of them, and will try to capture some photographs of them hanging in the space for the dance. In the meantime, they’ve taken up residence in our guest room to keep small human and canine paws alike away from them. They are a pain in the butt to transport, so I’ve been ferrying them over to the school one at a time this week.

Here’s how I put them together…

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White lanterns, 16″ – $22 for 10 

- I followed the directions included in package and assembled each lantern, tying a piece of clear fishing line to the top to hang them while I assembled the jellyfish tentacles.

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White crepe paper streamers, 500ft – $4.50

- I rolled out the streamers and cut the roll every four feet (or so) to use as tentacles.

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Wavy foil door curtain - $13

- I cut off the top of the curtain that kept the strips of foil attached to one another. I then folded and cut all the strips in half to use as tentacles.

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White plastic table covers – $3

- I cut the table covers into 2-3 inch strips, approximately four feet in length. I then pulled at either side of the strips, along the length of the strip, to create the wavy, uneven effect. These were the final material I used for tentacles.

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Scissors
Glue gun and sticks
Clear fishing line

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I then strung the various tentacles around the bottom third of the lantern, following the row of seams to keep them evenly hung. I used a glue gun to hold them in place, and then covered up the tops of all the materials with one of the strips of wavy plastic.

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I also tied some of the streamers to the inner bar of the lantern to give the tentacles some depth.

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They’re really quite attractive and fun. And they’ve inspired the kids to reenact the jellyfish scene from “Nemo” on the regular.

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Alas, I have to work this weekend so I’ll miss their debut, but I am hoping that they’re a hit!

Cardigan Nation

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Once again, my girls are benefiting from the talents of my dear friends. Ann Mae gifted the girls these gorgeous hand knit cardigans this Christmas, and they love them so. Namely, because of the EXCELLENT button choices.

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^^LADY BUGS for Kaki!^^

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^^Wild Jungle animals for Sunny.^^

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^^They are showing you what a Lion looks like when she ROARS!!!^^

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^^I love the detail under the arm for the sides of the sweaters. What a wonderful pattern. You can find it here if you’d like to give it a try.^^

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Pattern: “In Threes: A Baby Cardigan“ 

Charles

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I’ve admired Marimekko’s fabric selection for some time now. I’ve particularly swooned for this amazing cow fabric (alas, no walls in our home are tall enough for it!). I’m fortunate that the one and only Marimekko outlet is located just 40 minutes north of my home. I was in Manchester during the winter break and was thrilled to find this Rooster print for sale in the outlet. Feeling empowered after making Elias’ quilt and Momar’s quilt, I scooped up Charles (allegedly the name of said rooster) and brought him home to make a wall quilt. It was a straightforward project, but still time consuming, as is the way with quilting. I used Martha Stewart’s velcro suggestion for mounting the piece on our wall (her tutorial here). I’m quite pleased with the warmth and color it adds to our stairwell. My first quilting project for our family!

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^^CHARLES! Perhaps the only rooster that will survive life on Cartwheel Farm.^^

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^^Our itty bitty stairwell makes it difficult to photograph the piece straight on. Thank goodness for wide angle lenses!^^

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^^Charles is becoming acquainted with The Blue Fairy (a painting I purchased for Kimmy when we lived in Southern California at a street fair and that we’re holding for her until she has a home suitable for her magic).^^

Rainbow Kid

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Sunny’s request of me this Christmas was her very own Rainbow Dress. She knew that I was going to knit her a dress, as she chose the yarn herself, but she knew nothing about the style, and oh, the twirly-factor. I was so happy to find this pattern on Ravelry.

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I had leftover yarn, so decided to also make a dress for her Bitty Baby.

On Christmas morning she happily, but without much surprise, opened the dress for her and instantly put it on and began spinning around the room. I told her that there was a second part of the present, and the look of shock and awe on her face when she pulled out the dress for her doll made all those hours of twiddling, knitting fingers and morphing into our couch cushion worth it.

Well THIS is a surprise, she whispered with wide eyes.

That reaction was all I needed, the best form of thanks.

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Sunny’s Dress pattern here. Doll dress pattern here

Suzani Love

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Last weekend while James was out galavanting at a friend’s birthday (re: a group of dudes shooting skeet, drinking beer, and lighting burn piles aflame. I done married myself a country boy), the kids and I tackled reupholstering this pair of beat up old folding chairs. I purchased that purple, Suzani-esque fabric over two years ago. At least it FINALLY got some use! (I am a fool for Suzani and have been slowly accumulating more original Suzani pieces. But this fabric was far more affordable than those investments.)

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The kids were bored about 2 seconds in, but fortunately it was a beautiful day, so they played outside on the swing set while I tore the fabric off and scrubbed the chairs down. The girls were highly intrigued by the spray painting process (I gave the chairs a fresh coat of black paint). And while they napped, I covered the seats with the new fabric. Voila! Totally awesome new chairs.

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So much better. These may be my favorite pieces of furniture in the house now. And just in time for holiday entertaining! My sister and parents arrive tonight for Turkey Day festivities, and we’ll host Christmas as well, so hooray for happy chairs around the table!

Scrap Hats

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I love these two people so very much. And boy, they sure do love each other. I asked them to be my hat models during Auntie Kimmy’s visit last weekend.

I whipped up these two hats using a bunch of scrap yarn and my favorite Bubble Hat pattern. It was a great way to put those stashes of yarn from previous projects to use. Donna, Kaki’s nanny when she was a wee babe and now the woman responsible for keeping my marriage together (she is our housekeeper, organizer, all around super hero), saw the hats and fell in love with them, so BOOM early Christmas present for Donna!

Now bask in the Auntie/Niece affection.

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More details about the yarns I used for these hats and a link to the pattern in my Ravelry here

Garden Sweater

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It would seem that we grow the teeny, tiniest vegetables around. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. And now check out that itty, bitty singular pumpkin our garden was able to produce. *sigh* Better luck next year!

The size of the pumpkin in no way dampened Sunny’s enthusiasm for this wee gourd. She was thrilled when it was finally ready for picking, and it has been on display in our home all month. We’ll be decorating it in googley-eyes this evening, a last minute Halloween DIY (inspired by last year).

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Meanwhile, Miss Brie Brie’s family has produced an entire patch of impressively sized pumpkins. We’ll have to learn some tricks of the gourd-growing trade from them next year.

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However, I’m not here to showcase the pumpkins, so much as the two finished Garden Sweaters being worn by their respective recepients. I snapped some photos of Courtland wearing Brie’s this spring, but now I’ve (finally) finished Sunny’s – and Brie fits hers! And I’m thrilled to think about another photo shoot in a year or so with Courtland and Lila then rocking the look. The joys of sisterly hand-me-downs!

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To create the sweater I adapted this pattern, Tasia’s Cardigan, by Dana Gibbons. I made the 1-2 years size for Brie (currently aged 18 months) and the size 3-4 year size for Sunny (currently 4.5 years). To make both sweaters, I used three skeins of the Dream in Color Classy in SOME SUMMER SKY, and one skein of the Dream in Color Classy in SPRING TICKLE. For the garden beds, I used two skeins of Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran in RUST. I worked on a US7 circular needle.

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I ordered the crazy adorable pewter barnyard animal buttons from Morehouse Farm here.

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I adapted the pattern as follows (being sure to follow the original pattern for the button/center area of the cardigan throughout).

I knit in the Dream in Color, “Summer Sky” until 2 inches below the armpit, following the original pattern as is.

I then worked for 2 inches in the Dream in Color, “Spring Tickle.” I knit six rows in a garter stitch, then worked six more rows in a garter stitch, but on the knit rows I did a wave stitch:

  • k5, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap4, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat….
  • Purl rows in between knit wave rows
  • k1, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap 3, k1 wrap4, k1, wrap 3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat Alternate between those two knit wave rows with purls in between for as long as desired.

Finally, I worked in the Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran, “Rust.”

Knit 2 rows
Purl 4 rows
Knit 4 rows
Repeat 4 purl rows, 4 knit rows for long as desired.

I finished the sweater with 5 rows of ribbed stitching, 2k, 2p, 2k, 2p, repeat.

For the details, I used scrap yarn and did a combination of sewing on top of the finished sweater to create the clouds, trees, chickens, etc. For the vegetables, I crocheted pieces of scrap in various ways, and tied them into the knit rows (or ditches of the garden bed). For the rolling hills area, I did French knots in pink yarn to create the flowers. A good tutorial about how to make French Knots here.

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There is no right or wrong way to approach adding details to this sweater. It is a whimsical, arty piece indeed, but lots of fun if you’re comfortable getting creative and experimental with a project.

Further details on my Ravelry page here.

Skeleton Costume // diy

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I’m just returned from Atlanta, and boy has the late fall weather properly set in. The trees are looking mighty bare, and there’s a distinct chill in the air. I’m bundled up in long underwear, fleece blankets, and wool socks, all in the name of not turning on the heat until November. Such hardy New Englanders are we!

With all that being said, it’s clear that October is coming to a close, which means Halloween is just around the corner! I’m really excited to share with you my first handmade Halloween costume. I attribute this accomplishment to my slow but sure accumulation of minimal sewing skills this year though My Mother’s Attic and my inaugural quilting project.

I’d fallen in love with this hand sewn skeleton costume on Etsy, but when I saw the price tag, I figured that I could try and tackle my own version of the look. I will say, the cost of the Etsy costume is more than reasonable considering the time and effort that went into making Kaki’s, so for those of you who do not find joy in the DIY process, I would highly recommend investing in Small Threads apparel.

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To get started, I purchased Asphalt-colored versions of American Apparel karate pants, solid rib long-sleeve shirt, and baby rib hat in Courtland’s size. I then bought silver thread, white fabric with some silver metallic sheen, and a small amount of red fabric for a heart. I washed and dried everything before beginning the construction!

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I printed out Mini eco‘s skeleton template and traced each bone onto freezer paper. I improvised some of the bones to create pieces for the back of the costume, but the template was a great starting point.

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I then ironed each piece of traced freezer paper onto the white fabric for the bones (and I did the same with a heart trace on the red fabric). The shiny side of the freezer paper goes down on top of the fabric, and the heat of the iron temporarily adheres it to the fabric.

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I cut out each fabric bone with the traced freezer paper as my guide.

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I laid the fabric pieces out on the costume to get a sense of placement and ensure that each piece fit comfortably on the costume.

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Spray Adhesive was a MUST for this project. I sprayed each bone with this Spray Adhesive and carefully laid it out on the base of the costume.

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The great thing about the adhesive is that it is temporary, so I could always readjust the placement before committing to sewing the pieces down.

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Once the pieces were in place, I slowly and carefully sewed them down using a silver metallic thread on my sewing machine. I followed along the edges of each bone to secure each part of the skeleton in place. I then threw the costume in a gentle wash cycle to get rid of any leftover adhesive, and BOOM!

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A Bony Baby (er, toddler?) was born!

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I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result. It was a lot of time and hardwork, but I am really pleased with how cute and cozy and comfortable the costume is for my picky 2-year old. If the weather is chilly, I can always pile some layers underneath, and of course she can wear the costume as her pajamas for the rest of the winter.

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I think it’ll be a Happy Halloween indeed. (And Sunny is going to rock her Lilac Fairy costume (with a fall twist, i.e. LAYERS) one last time as she is very quickly outgrowing its awesomeness. Fortunately, Courtland will get a chance to wear it, too!).

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Ice Cream-Palooza 2013

Kaki’s Birthday was a sweet affair, indeed. Since Saturday was her actual birthday, we were able to have the celebrations on the same day. James’ parents’ offered to have the SoCo Creamery ice cream cart come to our home for the party, so an Ice Cream-Palooza was planned.

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^^Naturally, I had to make some ice cream decor to compliment the party theme. I used this card on Paperless Post for the invitations.^^

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^^ Then, I put my dear college pal Kendra (who was visiting for the weekend) to work crafting up a series of cones for the balloons using old paper grocery bags. When we picked up the balloons on Saturday morning, we attached the cones to the base of the balloons using Scotch tape. Unfortunately, the bags weighed the balloons down so they didn’t float, but we made it work regardless.^^

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^^Adorable, no? We enlarged this template to create the cones.^^

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^^I ordered these ice cream cone bowls from Amazon for party favors for each of the kids. They used their bowls during the party for ice cream, and then were able to take them home at the end of the festivities.^^

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^^We set up the ice cream cart on our deck, and had a SoCo helper scooping for all those eager kids (and adults!). They had five flavors to choose from: Salted Caramel, Dirty Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Oreo, and Mint Chip. Then, of course, there was a topping station. We discovered Courtland eating a bowl full of rainbow sprinkles later in the afternoon sans ice cream. The toppings were clearly as appealing as the ice cream itself.^^birthday_blogalacart-8

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^^Using an extra-large pom pom maker, I created yarn pom poms that Kendra and I attached to these paper cones, and then strung together as a garland that hung behind the ice cream cart.^^

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^^Bowl #1 of 800. Granted, of the 7,000 or so calories she was served, I’d say 6,000 of them wound up on the front of her dress.^^

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^^We had a simple beverage station of lemonade and sparkling water, with mason jars and colorful straws to compliment the balloons, pom poms, and ice cream cups. Honestly, the kids’ favorite toy during the party was that enormous beach ball, which doubles as a sprinkler, but proved way more fun to kick mid-air while swinging on the swing set.^^

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^^Kendra models the ice cream cone crown I created for Kaki, complete with tulle accenting.^^

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^^Kendra sneaking in while Kaki is distracted by delicious ice cream.^^

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^^That expression says it all. What the?!^^

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^^Attempting to shake the crown free.^^

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^^She gave up, and returned to the sweets at hand. Smart girl.^^

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^^Note the ice cream bow. Thanks, Ann Mae!^^

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^^This girl loves her Uncle Ben who impressed all of her guests with his crazy cool tricking skills. (No, seriously, watch him in action). Also, she wandered around the yard licking ice cream drips from her dress. It was her party, the girl did what she wanted to.^^

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^^Present opening was, of course, a highlight. And check out those chocolate mugs!^^

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^^James’ parents gifted her this cart, which big sister dragged around the yard with Courtland proudly perched within.^^

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^^She also received this lawn mower from Ghillie and Ranger, so that she can now help Daddy with lawn care.^^

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^^Kendra rocked the crown the rest of the party, because, wouldn’t you?^^

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^^Overall, it was a happy day. Between the ice cream, and this bucket of bubbles, Courtland was entertained for hours. We heard her still merrily babbling in her crib at 11pm that night. The sugar high was stronger than the post-party exhaustion. My sweet sweet two year old.^^

Baby Quilt

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Since moving to the Berkshires, I have befriended two positively amazing women who both happen to be positively amazing quilters. I am in awe of the quilts they have made and was intrigued to give it a try myself, but despite my crafty tendencies, have always felt intimidated by quilting. I’m an instant gratification kind of gal. Quilting seemed far too time-consuming and meticulous a hobby for my impulsive personality. But then Sunny’s FGM was expecting a baby, and my favorite gift following Sunny’s birth was a handmade quilt from Dellie for Sunny. And Kaki’s FGM, one of the aforementioned Berkshire quilters, made a quilt for Courtland’s birth. And, dang it, it was time for me to make one, too.

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So I emailed the most important lasses in Dellie’s life and asked that they contribute a piece of fabric to my inaugural quilting project. They each sent me a variety of fabrics and patterns, all partnered with letters to be gifted to Dellie and Jeremy and baby boy upon his arrival.

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It was quite the puzzle to figure out how I wanted to weave all the pieces together, but thanks to some serious handholding, guidance, and moral support from Laura, we figured out a pattern and she taught me how to turn scraps of fabric into a beautiful handmade quilt.

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The afternoon of Elias’ birth, I went home to Dellie’s house and embroidered around the date of his arrival, a special reminder of when he entered our lives. I so hope he treasures this piece for years to come the way my own daughters adore their quilts.

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Fortunately, the blanket is small so it wasn’t nearly as time-consuming as I’d envisioned to create. And while quilting is certainly a meticulous process (as I’d imagined), it is also an entirely addictive one. I felt so thrilled with the final result and was beyond excited to gift this to Baby Elias after his birth, and bring words of love and support to his parents through the letters of all their friends that participated. I totally get the quilting compulsion. We’ll see if I have the patience to now make one for my own household…

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In the meantime, I’ll delight in Elias’ creation, the ideal recepient of my inaugural quilting project.