Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stashbusting #3 - or not?

Is it considered 'stashbusting' when it doesn't exactly bust your stash?

very small squares of flannel for violin wipes

Or when you're using it for what you originally bought it for?

reusable produce bags made of mosquito netting

Oh, well. My current project is very much busting my stash.

And it's making my eyes hurt a little bit.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blackberry Pie.

It starts in the fall with the picking.


It ends in the winter with the eating.

Pie this time. Smoothies frequently. Well worth the thorns.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stashbusting #2 - Ainsley's Apple Pants

Ainsley needed new pants, so I found corduroy fabric and said "This?", she squealed and found me a cute pattern in my pattern stash and these were born.

They're from Butterick 4277, a now out-of-print pattern.
I read up on the pattern at PatternReview, a website that my sister has me hooked on. I'm so glad I did. It gave me the confidence to go with the size that I thought I should (size 2 instead of size 4 - this pattern runs BIG) and I added a bit more flare to the bottom as several reviewers said that there wasn't as much flare as the pattern showed.

I'm really glad I made both of those choices. These pants fit her perfectly - both physically and personality-wise.

She chose to add falling apples, and they turned out really cute. All three were supposed to be falling separately, but this is the project in which Sarah learns the value of adding interfacing to the back of the applique. (I put a hole through the pants appliqueing the first apple and had to cover that hole with a second apple.)

I love these - and she loves them. I really want to make another pair, but am unsure if the hang would work with a cotton fabric. They're so fantastic in corduroy! What do you think?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New pants perfect for farm kids.

On the recommendation of lots of other bloggers I got a book called Carefree Clothes for Girls by Junko Okawa, a Japanese designer.

It's a pattern book and while the clothes were cute, they were (A) not my kids style - everything was white! and (B) scary. Don't ask me why using patterns from a book is so much scarier than using patterns from a store-bought pattern, but there you have it - it intimidated me.

Luckily, I have sisters that push me. One who taught me that I really can play with recipes and I probably won't ruin them - I may even end up with something much better than the original! And another who's taught me over the last year that I really can play with patterns and fabrics and I will probably end up with something better suited to me than the original. Damned if they both haven't been right.

It's funny that when I look at patterns with my girls, I take it for granted that at their ages I have to remind them that we can make the outfit shown in any color they want, yet I, at 33 years old, couldn't look at these white outfits in the book and think "Those could be *really* colorful to hide .... farm stains." When I did, oh, the options I had!

I picked the pants with legwarmers to start out with because they are perfect for chilly fall and spring days when regular skirts and shorts aren't enough but snow clothes are overkill. So the book became Carefree Clothes for Girls - and a Boy.

We grabbed some sweatshirt fabric that was on sale and picked some chunky yarn also on sale to match - this was not a stashbuster project.

Then I did something I've never done on my own before - I traced the pattern onto pattern paper and cut it out. And then I did it again, this time with seam allowances. They don't add seam allowances onto Japanese patterns.

The pants came together really fast - it was pretty much a pajama pant pattern. I was scared about following the sparse directions - one page of written and two pages of diagrams.

But it was easy - easier than many store-bought patterns I've used.

The designer wanted the pants to have a drawstring waist. When Hannah tried hers on, the first thing I did after I took them off was change the waists on all of them to elastic waists. Of course. No need to follow the recipe if it's not working. ;)

The legwarmers came together really fast and were easy to attach. I wasn't sure if the ribbing should go on the top or the bottom - the bottom, around the ankle made sense to me, but the picture seemed to show more structure just below the knee, though it was unclear because of the dark color of the legwarmers. I went searching around the internet, but nobody's blogged about making these yet. I *did* find a fantastic sew-along project - when they do the pants, I think I'll post these. I got some beautiful inspiration for more colorful versions of the other projects in the book from the sew-along.

I ended up sewing the ribbing onto the bottom of the pants instead of having it at the ankles and it's a fantastic design.

So now all three are done, and they really are perfect for the kids. One of the adjustments that I made to all the kids legwarmers was using a piece of yarn to gather up the back of the legwarmers so they weren't dragging on the ground.

I left the front long to cover their feet or shoes. It makes the kids more likely to wear them around the house since they won't be walking on them.

Hannah chose a starry night with yellow legwarmers.

I really liked the drawstring look on the front, so I braided a yarn strip, tied it in a bow and attached it.

Hannah always tweaks her clothes slightly to fit her style (she doesn't have the hangups I do), so she added little bows to the front of her legwarmers. I thought it would be too little-girly, but it *really* suits her, it's not too young at all.

Ainsley picked bright hearts and stars with pink legwarmers.

She's a pretty basic girl, though she's starting to get into embellishments, so she kept these plain but pretty.
Grayson got red with slate gray legwarmers.

And you get five pictures of him. He learned that he loves posing. :)

For Gray, I added pockets because he loves putting his hands in his pockets. I didn't do in-set pockets, I just sewed them on with an embroidery running stitch.

I didn't bother machine stitching it because he doesn't load his pockets full of stuff, so they didn't need to be *that* sturdy and I'm glad I didn't. I think that the running stitch looks nice with the embroidered car I added to one of the pockets.

And he loves them as much as I hoped he would.

So that's one pair of pants down for all of the kids. So cute and so useful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet my new baby.

It's been two years since I lost the best dog I've ever owned. That loss, combined with the loss of my childhood best friend a month later, affected me in ways that I had no way of foreseeing then but am just now overcoming. So this puppy, accepting her into my life, is a declaration of healing of sorts.

I've been looking for a border collie for the last 8 months or so. None that I've seen or met have clicked with me until I met this one. Just look at her.

(Ains took that picture unexpectedly, but I love it.)

It wasn't just her - I met her father and mother and her breeders. Her father was very much like Dan temperament wise, but bigger and hairier physically. A total sweetheart with a good working drive. Her mother was young with lots of energy and lots of working instinct. Her breeders work a large ranch in Nevada and answered all of my questions in just the right way for me.

I was so hooked on this puppy that I weeded through my goat herd and sold four of my goats to be able to afford her and the kennel she'd need. I was grateful to the owners that they kept her for me until I could get her.

I'd forgotten how much I am in love with this breed of dog. The way they look at you, the way they move around the farm, the way they pick one person and become *that person's dog*.

If I sit down, I have a puppy chin on my foot within 30 seconds. She's like a 3 month old ball of fur and love.

And she's learning how to play with the kids nicely.

She's fun but needs to be reminded not to jump up on the littler ones.

Cygnus and Bella are reacting predictably to her. She is an energetic puppy after all. Cygnus is being extra (and so-annoyingly) protective of his bones but is tolerating her otherwise. Bella is tolerating her as long as she doesn't try to play with her - then she gets cranky, but I can see her wearing down. The other day when we were going to feed the chickens, Bella started playing with the puppy when she didn't think anyone was looking.

So now we have a dilemma. I can't keep calling her 'The Puppy.' She needs a name. Because she is going to be a working dog, her name does have some restrictions on it. The name she's called when working has to be one syllable and needs to start with a hard sound like 'Ned' or 'Dan'.

We've come up with several, but we're stuck. Can you help? (Or suggest anymore to mire me even deeper in indecision?)

- Meg
- Niamh (Irish name I love that's pronounced 'Neve')
- Ang (short for Angelina Ballerina, natch)
- Mist

Vote vote vote! She needs a name.

I've hit my 3 dog limit now and am so grateful to an ever-patient husband who has a 0 dog limit but has put that aside for his family members.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Goat meat tamales to die for.

Remember when I waxed poetic about the first goat meat tamales I made. They were so. good. My computer's running too slow to go find the post for you, so you'll just have to pretend you remember. The only thing wrong with them (according to my husband) was that they were A) goat meat and B) not juicy enough. I pulled out another recipe to try to fix the juicy and went for it with all of my remaining goat meat.

Tamale making is an all-day ordeal.

Seriously.

Nothing else got done yesterday - including Christmas presents that need to be mailed off.

Just making these tamales that smelled so amazingly good. I didn't have time to eat one in between batches because I was too busy making the next batch.

I really should have taken that time.

When they were all done, I sat down to eat some, and people, they were to die for. Seriously. You'd die if you ate them. So incredibly ... GROSS. So, so bad. All 80 of them.

*sigh*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hannah's new coat.

Apologies in advance for what will be a sewing-heavy few stuck-inside-winter-months-worth of posts.

Hannah was the only one who needed a new coat this year, but she wanted a 'stylish' coat. I told her she could pick out a pattern and I'd make her one. I've never made a coat before and thought it would be good experience. Now that I'm done, I have to say ... a pox on experience!

It wasn't really that bad, but I did tear out more seams than I have in a very long time.

She chose Simplicity 2778 for her pattern. (If you watch the sales, you can get Simplicity patterns for 99 cents at JoAnns and Hancocks - the fabric chain stores in this area)

This uses a faux shearling fabric and is built with some seams inside out. That caused a few headaches for me. The first inside out seam I tore out three times. Three. Times. I am so used to sewing with right sides together, that sewing with the wrong sides together took a bit of getting used to. Then, as soon as I was used to it, they'd have me sew a 'right sides together' seam.

The coat came together really easily other than that, and she loves it. It's perfect for her and her growing-up style.

It has a detachable hood and a matching scarf.

Another thing that I messed up on was the seam markings. I learned a few years ago to use snips in the seam allowance instead of notches on the markings where seams meet up. That doesn't work so well on seams that are on the outside.

The coat has a natural bell shape on the bottom - more from the hang of the fabric used - which kind of bugged me, but Hannah loves it and like she says "It's perfect for when I wear poofy dresses." Now she needs a poofy dress.

I made a matching coat and hat for her chihuahua. I think that dog loves to dress up almost as much as Hannah. She sat at my feet the whole time I was sewing her coat and got excited every time I reached down to test the fit.

Not a great pattern for the dog, but I learned some and think it wouldn't be hard to just make my own pattern for this style of coat for her.

It's not the best chore coat - too fancy.

But for playing in the snow, it's perfect.

It used a bit less than 4 yards of fabric that I had an awesome coupon for, so this coat - and Bella's - only cost me $27. Not bad for such a stylish little girl - and her little dog, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stash busting. #1

I have too much fabric. Not as much as some, but a lot more than others. It isn't a problem on the same level as my book problem, but it's a bit ridiculous. Fabrics that I still remember the original project I had in mind for, fabrics that were on sale and just too cute to pass up, fabrics that I have no idea what to do with ...

So a few months ago, I decided to start stash busting. Going through my fabrics and using them up. We'll see how it goes.

This is one of the first ones I did.

Since Hannah was one year old, I've been planning on making a puppet theater. Not a fancy one, mind you, just a simple piece of fabric on a tension rod. Two seams to sew. For the last five years I've been planning this. About three weeks ago, I finally did it.

I was pushed more by the need to get our toy room organized than by a desire to finally get it done. The basket of puppets sits down in the toy room and when I clean the room, I am inevitably picking up all of the puppets which have been used as projectiles.

I stopped in the middle of picking them up one day, walked into the craft room, dug through my fabric stash, cut some fabric the right length, sewed a hem on one end and a tube on the other for the tension rod, put it on the rod (which I've had in the craft room *for this very purpose* for three years), and put it on the stairs. Then I went back to the toy room, threw all of the puppets in the tub and hauled it upstairs also. Within 30 seconds, I had two big kids upstairs using the theater - and puppets - as it was meant to be used.

Finally, after FIVE YEARS, we had a puppet theater in use.

I also had one 2 1/2 year old using them as projectiles *over* the theater. (Notice the flying lion)

Now the toy room is more organized because the puppets are not adding to the mess anymore and the puppets get played with at least once a day because their basket is upstairs in the game area in plain sight. An added bonus is that they get picked up almost immediately because if they don't, they're right in the way.

So glad to have this yard and a half piece of fabric out of my stash and in use!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First snows always melt fast.

That's the way it's always been. Mother Nature is breaking tradition this year.

Five days since this snowfall and the snow has been falling or blowing steadily since then and looks like it will be here at *least* another week, if not more.

The goats are in their hutch, the calves are in their straw bale house, the chickens are in their coop - and they're not coming out.

It seems nearly the entire state of Idaho was shut down yesterday. The wind and snow was so bad that there was a burrowing owl hunkered down in my daughter's bedroom window.

He was curious about us first.
Then he got scared and mad and started hissing.

So I backed out of the room and shut the door to keep him comfortable. Strange to see a burrowing owl up close like that.

More snow fun pictures on my other blog.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween in the country.

It's not so exciting. It takes an hour to go to four houses since you have to drive there, do the polite chit chat for ten minutes or more (while the kids either moan about boredom or disappear with the kids there and get upset about leaving), and then drive to the next house. This year, we opted to go into the nearest 'big town' for parties and trick or treating.

The kids were all superheroes this year.

If you care about the sewing details - which likely only my sister does - you can read about them on my other blog.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An excellent addition to the kid's garden.

New seeds are always a crap shoot. Will they grow? Will they be a hit?

Last year's carrots and lettuces in the kid's garden weren't a hit at all. The tomatoes and chives were. This year I added pink radishes and a different type of carrot - the Tonda Di Parigi. The radishes were a huge hit (they *were* pink after all). But the carrots? Surprisingly, they were a hit also! The perfect size for little hands to dig out, even when there wasn't a shovel around, and the perfect size for a fast nibble - and so sweet.

If we can nab some of these next year, we will.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall weather.

It means it's seed collecting time.

I'll have enough to share this year!

Another batch of calendula petals drying.

Somehow we only have lavender zinnias right at this moment. Strange.

(and they're not lavender, I'm told. "THEY"RE PINK!" Okey-dokey.)

It's chilly enough to dress for it.

Well, sometimes.