Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The bear and the country cottage.

Instead of making stuff for my Etsy shop (or at the very least catching up on my circle skirt), I spent the day indulging in some selfish sewing. :)

I fell in love with this little change purse on Etsy a few weeks ago and had been planning on making one for myself. Today I finally got around to it. Isn't he adorable?? {I also love this one from the same shop!}

The ears turned out a little longer than necessary, but other than that I'm in love with it. By the way, the mustard wool isn't really that bright...I think I accidentally left my camera with the white balance up. The white nose on his face isn't quite that bright, either.

The brown fabric came from an old tweed-ish pair of pants. The lining is a cute yellow polka dot print that Mom got me at a yard sale once and I hadn't had a chance to use yet.

I've had this book for a while, and though I love every project in it, this is the first one I've made from it. The country cottage! From the book:

My version:

I want to make tons of these and have little plush villages in my room and the craft corner. :) The black stitching lines can be done with hand embroidery, but I did like the author does: dropped the feed dogs on my sewing machine, took off my presser foot, and did a little free motion stitching. It's like drawing on fabric, and it looks a little messy instead of having the "perfect" look that hand embroidery would.

Can I just say how much fun it is to make something that you can be sloppy with, but still have it turn out cute?

The white part of the house is craft felt, but the rest of it is wool blend felt (Fancy Felt). After working with wool blend, I almost hate to mess with craft felt. But I only have a little wool blend right now and I use it very sparingly. :) It is expensive, but it's so lovely.

I used all of my fabric and felt scraps from today to stuff the cottage, so it's nice and heavy and I recycled pieces that I would normally throw away!

I had so much fun making these two projects today. To be honest, sometimes it's not that fun to make wallets or cozies all day for the Etsy shop. So it's nice to have a day like this.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A steering wheel don't mean you can drive.

Dear Switchfoot,
You guys are pretty much the best thing ever. Thanks so much for the gorgeous new album.

I'm currently on my third listen of the day. :) "Thrive" is my favorite right now.

{The new album is Vice Verses. It came out today. These guys are on a roll. First Hello Hurricane, and now this?? I know you probably only clicked on this post because of the awesome title. :) It's a line from "Thrive"-isn't it great?}

Until next time,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There You'll Find Me.

I've been looking forward to this book for months! It was pretty much guaranteed that I was going to love this book, because it already had three things going for it.

1) It's written by the hilarious Jenny B. Jones.
2) It has a gorgeous cover, and
3) It takes place in Ireland. Another plus is that it's sort of a spin-off/sequel to her book released earlier this year, Save the Date.

There You'll Find Me was well worth the wait. It's another example of Jenny's perfect mixture of wit and humor and her touching way of dealing with difficult situations. In other words, you'll be snort laughing one moment and sobbing the next. :) I loved the plot (having Beckett be a teen vampire star was hilarious to me, someone who's anti-Twilight), the characters, and the setting. Finley's personality was easy for me to relate to, because I'm also a perfectionist and a control freak. Beckett was sweetly arrogant and slightly misunderstood. Beatrice was appropriately mean and villainous.

And the end? Go ahead, Jenny B. Jones. Rip my heart out and reduce me to a damp, sniffling pile of mush. :) It was perfect.

As usual, reading one of her books make me anxious to go back and revisit my favorites, particularly The Charmed Life series and Just Between You and Me.

*I received this book free for review from Booksneeze. I'm only required to write an honest review, not a positive one.*

Until next time,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In which I discuss embroidery, old books, and knitting.

Lately I've been feeling like my blog posts have been a little blah. I don't know what the deal is, but I'm working through this e-book and hoping that it will benefit my blog in a lot of ways! So if you notice some small changes around here, that's why. :)

But now I have for you a very random post that includes embroidery, knitting, and thrift store finds. Ready?

I put aside embroidery for several weeks to focus on learning the basics of knitting. But I missed it like crazy so I've been on an embroidery kick again for the last week or so.

I've always meant to participate in Feeling Stitchy's monthly stitchalongs, but I've never got around to it. Until this month! The free pattern this month was a cute Halloween-themed one.

The top of the banner originally had skulls instead of candy corn. But I've never been into skull motifs, so I changed it.

My first time using metallic floss! It did fray obnoxiously, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I had heard terrible things about metallic floss. :)

P.S. I'm trying this new larger photo size. I think I like it except for that fact that it shows all of the flaws in my embroidery and not-so-great photography!

And here is a preview of my next big project: one of my entries for the Covered in Stitches contest. Because I have until November, I'm hoping to do another entry, too (hopefully of one of the Narnia books), but I'll have to see how this one comes along.

I also stitched up this paper airplane inspired by this one. It's going in my sewing corner.

By the way, my sewing space had a little makeover recently, because my dad made me some storage shelves. I've been getting everything organized, and I'm hoping to take some photos soon to share! I meant to this week, but the past three days have been really cloudy and dark.

I finished my second scarf! This one is done in a rib stitch (knit 2, purl 2) and I'm proud to say that there are no real mistakes! No holes or dropped stitches. :) I'm learning to be able to tell visually when I've done something wrong, so I can go back and correct it before I get too far along. The green is not really as bright as it looks in the pictures.

The one thing I would do differently: when I was binding off, I did it in a knit stitch instead of keeping up the rib stitch. Which means that it got a little stretched out and different looking than the other end. But that's okay! At the time, I realized what I was doing and thought it might turn out like this, but I was really anxious to just finish (it seemed like I had been working on this scarf forever!) so I kept going.

And my next goal is a pair of wrist warmers. So I'm learning to knit in the round, on double pointed needles. I was feeling pretty confident about all of this until I watched the YouTube videos and realized that I would need to grow a few extra hands to do this. Plus, this is my first time working with metal needles (I've only used bamboo before), and they are ridiculously slippery!

It was incredibly awkward at first, but I think I'm getting the hang of it for now. The problem is that my needles are a size smaller than the instructions called for, because this is the only set of double pointed needles I have.

And this tiny little tube is supposed to fit around my wrist. The finished project is supposed to be around 7.5 inches in circumference, and right now it's about 3.5 inches around?

My question to you lovely knitters is, did my smaller needles really make this much of a difference? If I keep going, is this tube going to stretch to fit around my wrist? Or is it going to stay small enough for a toddler's wrist? I know with knitting it's hard to tell exactly how things are going to be until you get further along. But I want to unravel it and cast on more stitches before I get too far along, if it's going to be this tiny.

Me and Marmee went in a lot of thrift stores when in town this week, and we found some good stuff. Especially as far as books go.

Here's what I found in Goodwill. Mom also got me some things for Christmas, because I am short on cash right now. I have about $1.50 in my wallet until some of my Etsy earnings are transferred to my checking. :)

The Henry Mancini record set features 31 Academy Award-winning songs in his arrangement. Good stuff like Moon River, Over the Rainbow, Swingin' on a Star, Thanks for the Memory, etc.

I have been tempted to buy this Charles Dickens volume with the gorgeous cover (it would be perfect if it didn't have that silly Oprah Book Club seal on it) in Target for a while now. I got it for $3. And added to my collection of Charles Dickens books that I have yet to read any of...

I'm a little bit of an impulse buyer when it comes to books. In a way. I will ponder over a book in Target for weeks or months. I'll pick it up and look at it every time I walk past, and I'll shop around for it at other places. But in Goodwill, I pounce. I guess you have to? Sure, it may sit on that shelf for years waiting for someone to buy it (and there are some books there that I seriously believe have been there for years). Or it may be gone when you come back in next week. So I've learned to not take any chances.

And then a 1937 copy of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. No, I have never read an Ernest Hemingway book (only a short story, for my college English class). Yes, I know that he had major issues in his personal life that would usually turn me off to reading his novels. But I got this one and my mom got me very old copies of For Whom the Bells Toll and A Farewell to Arms. Why?

1. His books are considered classics. I feel like I should read them sometime in my life.
2. Next month, I'm going to be doing something connected to Ernest Hemingway, and I want to have read at least one of his books by then.
3. The books were pretty. And old. With his fake signature on the front. And this one is yellow! :)

{By the way, after I got home, the thought crossed my mind that they might be first editions. After some research, I realized that they're by the right publisher, and published in the right year, but they're not actual first editions. I guess our Goodwill has learned their lesson about checking the value of things- they once sold a string of pearls as costume jewelry, only for the customer to later find out they were real and worth a lot of money! :) }

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you've probably realized that I have a book problem (though honestly it only feels like a problem to me when I leave Goodwill with $1 left in my wallet). I love reading books and I love collecting books.

And I have a thing for pretty books. New (as seen above) or old. There is something incredibly magical to me about a book that was printed in the 30s or 40s. To know that someone bought it and read it and loved it all of those years ago, and it's still holding together. I love it when I open an old book and see someone's name and address carefully written inside the front cover (all three of the Hemingway books we bought belonged to the same lady), as if they loved it so much they wanted to make sure that it was returned to them if, by some crazy accident, they lost it.

I love old books. Which was a large part of why I picked out those books, instead of buying shiny new copies at a store.

My love of old books and pretty books is also why I now have four (!) copies of Jane Eyre. My first copy: a plain paperback that came in a set. It was the copy I read when I fell in love with the story. My next copy: a lovely 1940s teal-covered one with a girl's name and address in the front. My third copy: this beautiful one. And my fourth copy:

I had read about this one somewhere before. The one with beautiful, creepy illustrations. I'm thinking it was a long time ago on Natalie's blog, but I could be wrong.

I love the illustrations! They fit the story perfectly. I wanted to get more photos, but my camera batteries died. :)

Oh my goodness. I think this may be my most random post ever, and that's saying a lot. As I've been sitting here writing it, I've been thinking that you guys will probably think I'm a nut by the end of it. :) Oh, well. Maybe I am.

One last thing- I'm working on Christmas items for my Etsy shop! Here's a sweet Charlie Brown Christmas tree embroidery:

It's not such a bad little tree after all. Maybe all it needs is a little love! :) If you want it to be yours, you can find it here. I've got another Christmas-themed hoop finished, but it's been too wet and dark to get photos outside yet!

You should know that while I've been thinking about Christmas (and movies, particularly Christmas in Connecticut!) while making these, I have not listened to one single Christmas song yet. :) I force myself to wait until the beginning or middle of November, because while I like to enjoy the holiday season as long as I can, I'm also superstitious about waiting until then! You can have too much of a good thing, you know. :)

Until next time,

{My signature is another part of my blog in progress...}

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lovely voices {female edition}.

After reading the comments on my last post, I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who notices voices. :)

{Am I the only one who doesn't like the new Blogger interface? It's very strange, white, and impersonal, I think.}

I have to agree with Audrey and say that, for some reason, I don't pay attention to women's voices as much as I do male ones. But there are a few that came to mind immediately.

Myrna Loy.
I just adore Myrna Loy's singsongy voice. It seems to fit her perfectly. :)

Judy Garland.
Both singing and speaking. I'm amazed at what a beautiful voice she had even at a really young age (around twelve or thirteen), though I'm not especially fond of how it changed in her later years.

Audrey Hepburn.
Everything about Audrey Hepburn was elegant, even her voice.

Shirley Temple.
I haven't really seen that many of Shirley Temple's early films, but I love the matter-of-fact, dignified way she spoke, even as a young child (sort of like the way Margaret O'Brien spoke). I couldn't find a good clip of her talking as a child (only singing!), so here's a scene of her as a teen from one of my favorite movies.

Jean Arthur.
Jean Arthur's voice is a strange mixture of squeaky and throaty. You can always recognize it instantly. {I just love Jimmy Stewart in this scene, too!}

Emma Thompson.
I'm not sure why I like Emma Thompson's voice so much...I guess it's just a nice, lovely English voice. :)

Until next time,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lovely voices {male edition}.

I love voices.

I like to notice not only different accents, but the way that people speak and the expressions they use. I love how someone from the southern part of a state can say a phrase that completely baffles someone from the northern part of the state. And vice versa. :)

Maybe this is strange, but I've been meaning to post about my favorite voices for a long time. So here favorite male voices. In no particular order.

Cary Grant.
I have never, ever heard anyone else speak like Cary Grant (the Gilligan's Island episode where the Professor tries to imitate him doesn't come close). His unique voice is only a small part of his general awesomeness. :)

Gregory Peck.
Gregory Peck's soothing voice might not be one of a kind, but there's something very normal and familiar about it. You could know someone in real life who has a voice like his.

Frank Sinatra.
One of the most incredible, swoon-inducing singing voices ever. :) And it's not too bad when he speaks, either, though I'm usually not very fond of New Jersey and other northern accents. Anyway, just close your eyes and listen.

Gene Kelly.
There may not be anything special about Gene Kelly's voice. It may be possible that I'm just crazy about him and his voice is a part of that. I read once that his singing voice was a natural extension of his speaking voice, and I agree completely. I love how effortlessly he can go from speaking to singing. By the way, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a clip of him actually speaking instead of dancing? :) I decided to go with the best.

Jimmy Stewart.
Jimmy Stewart's voice is instantly recognizable, sort of like Cary Grant though in a completely different way. :) I once saw a clip from What's My Line? and Jimmy was the guest. Poor guy didn't stand a chance.

Since I used to be an obsessive Elvis fan (I'm still a big fan, I've just calmed down a bit :), I had to include him. I can't stand Elvis impersonators, because nobody can sing like him. Here's one of my favorite songs of his.

Now on to more modern faces...

Matthew Macfadyen.
I think I once devoted an entire post to Matthew Macfadyen's voice. :) Seriously, though. He has a gorgeous English voice. I could listen to him talk all day. In 2005 P&P, you get used to him speaking like the video below. So when I watched The Way We Live Now (an overall depressing mini series), I had to laugh every time his character opened his mouth. Because he didn't talk like this. He whined. And he was a spoiled mama's boy. It was hilarious, even though he was terribly obnoxious and unlikable.

Leonardo DiCaprio.
There's nothing extraordinary about Leonardo DiCaprio's voice. I guess I'm just fond of it because of the obsession I had with Titanic when I was younger. {I'm still fascinated with the whole history of Titanic, but not as much into that particular film. Unless I'm armed with TVGuardian on my DVD player.} I had forgotten how much I liked his voice and how familiar it was to me until I saw Inception a few months ago. I didn't blog about it, but it was a really good, though strange movie.

I was going to insert an Inception clip here, but embedding was disabled. Sorry, but now you guys get stuck with a cheesy Titanic scene. :)

{I previously wrote about the Titanic here and here.}

Tom Hanks.
Wow, I know you guys might think I'm crazy with these last two choices. :) But like I said, part of me liking a voice may be because it's so familiar to me. Like Tom Hanks. I never, ever thought of him as a leading man until I saw You've Got Mail for the first time a few months ago. It's now one of my most favorite movies ever. :) But I think one of the reasons I like his voice is because whenever I hear it, I automatically think of Woody. Because I love Toy Story. In YGM, at the end, when he speaks but you can't see him, I am temporarily pulled away from the sweet story in front of me and I half expect to see Woody and Buzz coming around the corner.

Having said that, I am not talking about Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump accent at all. I'm sorry, but I have never liked that movie.

Matthew Thiessen.
Also known as the lead singer of my favorite band, Relient K. I really love his singing voice. I don't know that I've ever heard him just speaking (except maybe years ago at a concert), so I can't say much about that.

I don't write about music too much here on the blog. And when I do, it's mostly oldies music. To be honest, pretty much the only modern music I listen to are the bands listed here. But Relient K has been my favorite band for around 7 years now. The music is great, and the lyrics range from quirky to very introspective "oh my goodness, has he been reading my mind?" type lyrics. Relient K is a genuinely original band. Which is why I'm at a loss (and very disappointed) as to why they're releasing a covers album next month...

Jon Foreman.
Lead singer of my second favorite band, Switchfoot. I love his unusual voice. He also seems like such a nice, real person. And because acoustic Jon Foreman is one of the best things ever, he deserves three videos. :)

And just when you thought things couldn't get any better...a long story-song by Relient K with Jon Foreman at the very end. It gives me chills. (If you can't listen to it all, at least listen to the last minute of it.)

I've been working on this post for days, because it's so easy to get distracted on YouTube! I've got a female version coming up soon.

So make me feel like this post wasn't that weird...what are some voices (of guys, this time) that you all like for whatever reason?

Until next time,

Sunday, September 11, 2011


On Monday afternoon, I was in the Pit of Despair {10 points if you can name that film} while quilting. In a moment of exasperation, I said, "Maybe my sewing machine just isn't meant for quilting!"

Note: I very rarely speak badly about my sewing machine. I love it, and it really is an amazing little machine. I bought it almost exactly three years ago and it's probably my best purchase ever. But like I said, I was in the Pit of Despair.

My dad told my mom, "It's time." I objected, thinking he meant it was time for me to trade in my lovely sewing machine and upgrade.

They disappear into another room and come back with this.

My first vintage sewing machine!

Mom got it at a yard sale last weekend. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but they couldn't wait that long. :) She paid $20 for the machine and all of the extra stuff shown below.

I've tried to search online for more information about this machine, but there's not much out there. From what I can find, it was made in Japan sometime after World War II. Japan started producing colorful sewing machine that were pretty much clones of Singers, with interchangeable parts and everything. They were made under lots of different names (this one is Modernage), and some people collect them because they came in such unusual and pretty colors. :) The color of mine is much lovelier than you can tell from the pictures!

I'm not sure what parts you're supposed to photograph on a vintage sewing machine...:)

Needle plate and presser foot:

Bobbin winder:

The bobbin fits down in there- a scary experience the first time I tried to get it in and out! :)

Foot pedal:

This is a cute little chart on the back of the machine with needle and thread info:

The machine is built onto a little wood stand, but the pictures in the manual show it sitting on its own. You can lift the machine off the stand, like shown, but it's hinged on the back. I'm wondering if you unscrewed the hinges and took if off, if it would sit by itself?

Anyway, it's so beautiful. :) It works perfectly- the lady told my mom it might need to be oiled. But I've sewn some seams with it and it seems to be fine. It's super heavy, and all of the pieces are metal instead of plastic like on my new machine (the bobbins, the foot pedal, bobbin case, etc.).

So far I've learned how to thread it, insert the bobbin, remove the bobbin, and adjust stitch length. Next up is learning how to wind the bobbin. :)

The machine also came with a huge plastic sewing box (sorry, no pictures), with two trays full of vintage sewing goodness.

Here's some of the stuff I found inside: zippers, thread, bias tape, hem tape, buttons, lace, hooks and eyes, patches, needles, bobbins, thimbles...

Plus a box of attachments and strange looking presser feet, a very 60s sailboat patch {it's called a Joy Patch :)}, an extra belt, and a huge Singer attachment (not yet sure what it is?).

The original sewing machine accessories box, with scissors, screw drivers, a tracing wheel, and some other little unknown tool.

And two 70s/80s patterns, tracing paper, and a book about the attachments.

The original instruction manual! Very helpful, because otherwise I would have no idea how to thread it or get the bobbin out.

And this adorable vintage needle book. I don't have many hand sewing needles and was planning on buying some soon. Now I don't think I'll ever have to buy any again. :)

I love my (new) vintage sewing machine, and all of the accessories. And while it would have made a great surprise on Christmas morning, it also made a great surprise on Monday afternoon. :)

I made these last week and meant to post them before now.

A needle case to hold my knitting needles and crochet hooks. I got the idea from one of my knitting books, but I made this pattern myself. There are just a few things about it that need tweaking.

As you can see, I don't exactly have enough needles and hooks to fill it yet. :) I only have three sets of needles (one set in use when I took these pictures) and one crochet hook, so it's a little empty so far.

I also made this new journal. It's made in the same basic way as my last leather one, but this is the first time I made a fabric one.

I really do love how it turned out (this is currently one of my favorite fabrics), but this is a perfect example of what happens when I don't think things through completely before I start a project.

First of all, I meant to make it so that the back cover came around the side and overlapped the front one. But I didn't think about that until I was halfway done. I also made it the cover about an inch too wide, because I didn't stop to think about how wide my pages would be. And the rickrack closure was a better idea in theory, but I still think it looks pretty cute.

I made a little pocket to keep things in- there's one in the back, too.

There are six signatures, and each one has 6 or 8 folded pages in it. I can't remember exactly. :)

I'm planning on making another one of these soon, though smaller and with less pages. For something special coming up for me next month. :)

And finally, a quick quilting update: things are not going so great. I'm just being honest here. I mentioned in my last quilting post that needles were breaking, etc. My brand new walking foot wasn't working properly. Instead of walking, it jumped. This sounds amusing, I know, and it would be if I hadn't paid $30 for the thing. Anyway, the whole walking foot would lift up and then slam down. I don't think it's supposed to do that. Plus, the needle hit the foot sometimes (thus the broken needles), even though I have the right stitch and everything like it should be. I also realized that part of the plastic on the foot was cracked, so I couldn't use it anymore.

Then I thought I would be all intelligent and prove the quilting snobs wrong by *gasp* using my normal presser foot. It worked alright, with just a little pulling, on the first seam. Then things started getting ugly- wrinkled and distorted squares, etc. So guess what? When everyone on the Internet says you need a walking foot for quilting straight lines, they're right. Trust me.

So now the quilt has to be put aside until I can get my hands on another walking foot. I sent back the first one yesterday, so hopefully in a week or two my replacement will arrive. This setback is really frustrating to me, because the project was going so great at first and I wanted to get it done soon. But now I have no excuse for not sewing items for the Etsy shop, and I've been putting a lot of time and effort into my shop that had previously been focused on my quilt.

For example, I've added about eight new items to my shop this week, with possibly that many more coming next week! The iPod/cell phone cozies are now back in my shop. :) Check it out!

Until next time,