Sunshine rainbow plushie

I was feeling very crafty this weekend, and after all the great energy of Saturday night’s craft project for Craft Hope, I spent Sunday morning crafting as well!  In addition to the owls that we made, I had an additional idea of making sunshine plushies based on this tutorial from Chez Beeper Bebe.  Well, we decided that it would be most efficient to only make one type of plushie, so the idea of the rainbow sunshine was put aside.  Well, it was so cute and I had already bought the supplies, so I made two on Sunday morning.

Oh my goodness.  Super-cuteness!!  I want to make more! Mine are a bit bigger than her template.  I just used my favorite Fiestaware serving bowl as my template.  The other change that I made (when crafting the second one) is that I embroidered the face prior to sewing anything together.  I found that much easier and quicker.  Easier to hide knots, etc.  Maybe part of that is that I used a back-stitch for my embroidery instead of the split stitch called for in the pattern.  The fabric is just regular cream colored fleece that I picked up at Joanns. And I made sure to go over each ribbon as I was sewing three times to try to make it super-sturdy.  So, sew over the ribbon, back-stitch over the ribbon, forward-stitch over the ribbon again and keep going until you get to the next ribbon!  I just placed the ribbons as I went and didn’t bother pinning them in first, since I’m not a “pinner.”

And I would like to comment on her story about how the “corporate toy-making man” patented this whole idea of folding ribbons into toys.  I think it’s insane personally, as the whole process is so basic, I don’t see how it can be unique enough to be patentable (but I’m not a lawyer, what do I know?).  And this is not the first story that I’ve heard where they have gone after small craftspeople who are making toys with ribbons.  Of course they can send mean letters to these people who they know can’t fight them, or won’t because the only person who wins in that fight are the lawyers who you are paying.  I can certainly tell you that I haven’t bought one of that company’s products in a VERY long time, and I have no intention of ever doing so.  I understand that they are protecting their patent but the way that they go about it just doesn’t feel right to me.  In any case, make one for yourself!  Because they are super-easy, absolutely adorable, and I can’t wait to give them to my baby friends.

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Our 2011 Garden

Mmm...peas

I decided to create a new page on the blog devoted to our 2011 garden plans.  I couldn’t find my garden notebook last night when Hubby and I sat down to plan the garden, and I thought putting it up on the blog might be a nice record-keeping feature (thankfully, I did eventually find it).  If you are interested, you can check it out on the tab up top, or here.

Craft Hope Project 11

I host a monthly crafty group of friends here at my house.  Usually we just hang out and work on whatever projects we have going.  It’s great for getting together, getting feedback on what you are working on, learning new skills, etc.  And of course, there is always yummy food to be served!!  Well, I saw the latest Craft Hope Project 11 announced awhile back, and ran it by everyone as to whether we’d like to spend one of our monthly nights working on the Craft Hope project.  Everyone was very Gung-Ho!  So, all supplies were purchased, I did a few prototypes of the drawstring bag and owl plush stuffie, and plans were set into motion.

Craft Hope’s Project 11 was for Konbit Sante, a Haitian aid organization headquartered here in Maine. They run a health partnership on the north side of the island in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city. Health statistics in Haiti are pretty scary.  1 in 8 children will not live to the age of five.  5…  Maternal mortality rate is 1,400 for every 100,000. Only 1 in 10,000 Haitians has access to a physician.  Project 11 centered upon birth delivery kits that trained birth attendants will have on hand to use in their deliveries.  The kits contain the most basic of supplies – alcohol wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, latex gloves, string, and plastic sheeting.  Then for our special Craft Hope kits, we were also including a handmade flannel receiving blanket, an infant-appropriate stuffed toy, and all wrapped up in a handmade drawstring bag.

We met last night, and had a great time making up 10 kits for Konbit Sante to deliver to Haiti. We were up late, but they all got done because of some amazing work by my awesome crafty friends!  (And even those who claim that they are not so crafty were definitely up to the task.)

Working hard, after eating a yummy, fortifying dinner, of course. (Our friend Hilary had to leave early but did great work on the blankets!)

The medical supplies were easily obtained at the dollar store and the grocery store, and the hubby picked up the plastic sheeting from our local hardware store in the paint section (4mil was requested).  The sheets had to be 4′ x 3′, so we bought a 3′ wide roll and just had to cut off the 4′ lengths.

I have a serger (that I will admit to only using about 3 times, and I really had no clue how to thread it).  My friend brought hers as well, and I took the opportunity to learn how to thread my serger!  The sergers made quick work on our 10 receiving blankets.  They were just made with two layers of flannel, serged together.  We used a bowl to make rounded corners to follow when serging which made things easier.

Flannel receiving blankets

For the drawstring bags, I looked up a few different tutorials and combined them into something quick, practical, but durable.  The edges of the drawstring casing are folded over and sewn so they won’t fray.  And we made french seams on the inside, both durable and attractive.  I used a piece of 16″ by 32″ cotton, folded in half to 16″x18″, which was plenty big for the items we were placing inside.  Make sure the casing is wide enough to fit the two layers of string that go through (in opposite directions).  If it’s too tight, then the drawstring doesn’t open and close as well.  We used 1/2″ cotton twill tape (totally cleaned out Joann’s supply, should pre-order it online next time since Joanns doesn’t stock more than one reel at a time) and made the casing somewhere between 1″ and 1.25″ (we eye-balled).

For the owls, I saw a picture on the Craft Hope website of some owls that someone else had made.  They looked like a rather easy shape, so I just created my own drawing of an owl shape to use as a template.  We cut them out of fleece in different colors.  Sewed on the eyes and nose first with a small zig zag stitch, then with right sides together, sew around, leaving a space to turn.  Turn it inside out, added some ribbons for feet, and stuffed and sewed closed.  The ribbon feet were a bit difficult to add because I forgot to tell my friend the little trick that I had figured out.  Oops!  Things were a bit hectic with everything going on.  You fold the ribbon loops and sew them to the seam in the open area where you are stuffing, on just one side of the seam.  Then, stuff the owl.  And then sew the opening closed (we just did it on the outside for quickness, but you could also hand-sew it closed).  It’s easier to sew the hole closed if the ribbons are already securely attached, and it also gives them extra security as well.  I would say that the owls are very easy to make. The fleece is a little harder to manipulate than the flannel that I used initially in my prototype since it’s kind of stretchy.

I am very excited to mail out our 10 kits tomorrow!

All boxed up!

Grain and Grain

If anyone is interested in what the hubby does while I am busy sewing and crafting, you can check out his new blog over at Grain & Grain.  He is usually busy being “crafty” himself with his man-adventures.  These adventures are good enough to provide me with furniture and adult beverages.  Win!  Title of the blog comes from his main hobbies which are grain=beer making and grain=wood working.

Craft Hope

On Saturday, my monthly crafty group and I are going to put together safe-delivery kits as part of the current Craft Hope Project 11.  I am very excited to finally participate in one of their projects!  Deadline is fast approaching (March 1), but the recipient organization – Konbit Sante – is located about an hour away from here, so if I mail the package on Monday, they will receive it on Tuesday.  If you have not yet heard of Konbit Sante, then PLEASE click on the link.  They have been doing amazing work in Haiti for a long time.  You can read about the project from Konbit Sante’s press release here as well.  Only 1 in 10,000 Haitians have access to a physician.  1 in 8 children die before the age of five.  The maternity mortality rate in Haiti is 1,400 for every 100,000.  These kits are a small step in a safe delivery.  I am not sure how many we will be making on Saturday.  My goal right now is 10.

Learning to Knit

Lego-man and I are learning to knit.  Hooray!  My friend taught me to cast on a few weeks ago, and having a live person show me how (as opposed to reading about it in books or watching videos) was really all it took for a light to go on.  I’m still playing around, but have figured out the knit stitch, and even the purl!  Although, I don’t find purling very easy, but I guess it’s just a practice thing.

A Winter Morning Walk

One of my favorite things about winter is that I can walk on the trails behind my house that aren’t accessible in any other season (too marshy!).  But in winter, it all freezes up, and our neighbors with snowmobiles even drive around and clear a path for us!  So, every morning, I can walk out in my backyard, and take the dogs straight to the trail for a walk through the woods and across a corn field.  It’s lovely.  A few days ago, we had some snow in the morning.  I decided to try out my new camera that I got for Christmas in the snow!

Playing basketball while waiting for the school bus

Because, sure let’s take off the gloves and shoot some hoops in the cold, blowing snow!

Here comes the bus!

So, kids are off to school, and it’s time for that walk before the work-day starts!  If the snow is fresh and not too packed down yet, then I use my snowshoes, but this morning was just an inch or two of fresh snow and the trail was fine with just boots.

Cornfield

It’s such a wonderful start to the day!  The puppies agree!!  Even the gimpy 11-year old loves a good run!

Post-walk snow roll for the pup