Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Prep

First off, I learned last night that candles and ceiling fans don't mix. The votive candle was fine, but the red candle burned out, and the white candle leaked wax all over the plate. Looks like the plate will be spending some time in the freezer...but I think I won't worry about it until time to take down the Christmas decorations.

I have a friend spending Christmas with us, so I made her a quick stocking from some scrap fabric I had. I traced around one of the stockings I already had, sewed the black part together, then added the cuff, then topstitched it to secure the inside, and turned the cuff over. Only then did I realize I had no way of hanging the stocking!

No worries, though--I used a bit of ribbon stuck on with a safety pin. Yes, this is probably the most rapidly-put-together stocking in the history of stockings, but it will do the job!

It's finished! I don't love the shape, but it pretty much matches the stockings I already had, so I guess that's okay.

But now that it has a hanging loop, I still have no stocking holder for it. That's why I love Command hooks. I laid one on the shelf and hooked the stocking to it. Nice invisible stocking hanger!

Just so you know, glass ornaments and tile floors don't mix. I was taking the price tags off the pair of pretty little bird ornaments I had gotten for the family ornament exchange when I dropped one. It bounced, then shattered. Sad. I was going to go and get a replacement, but I didn't really want to go shopping two days before Christmas. Then I remembered some partially-made ornaments I'd found in my projects-in-progress when I was organizing my craft room.

You take a styrofoam ball, yo-yos made from gold lame, and some pearl beads. The trusty hot glue gun is, of course, a given.

Stick the yo-yos to the ball, then put a pearl in the center of each one, as well as the intersections where 3 yo-yos come together.

Add a ribbon hanger, and you have a pretty, sparkly ornament!

Here's the Christmas tree corner the way it looks now--three stockings and lots of presents!

I didn't have labels, so I made some out of stamped cardstock.  Some are tag-shaped, and some are diamonds.  I hung some on with ribbon, and just taped others.  I'm really pleased with how they came out!  That said, I'll be sure to get some tags at the after-Christmas sales.  I don't always have time enough to make something creative for every single gift I'm giving!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Finally Decorating!

Yes, I know I'm really behind on things, but I have just in the last couple days gotten all my Christmas decorating done. The outside stuff was, for once, the first thing that actually happened. I put lights on my roof for the first time ever!


I also hung wreaths in all four front windows (the wreaths now have bows on them, but I forgot to take a picture after adding the bows) and put candles on the windowsills.

I put the manger scene on my console table in the living room. I think I should do something about those lamp cords, but I'm not sure what. Use zip ties to attach them to the table legs?

Here's the coffee table. It has an amaryllis wreath underneath, and on top is a red charger (plate), three candles, some miniature green ball ornaments, and a garland. I did the same thing last year, and learned that the candles should not be touching each other, especially the glass ones. I had gotten some candles misshapen from touching glass votive candles that got hot over the course of a few hours.

It took forever to put the arrangements together for these shelves, and even now I'm not 100% sure I like everything.

Here's the Christmas tree! It stands on top of a tall box behind an armchair, which makes my little 4-foot tree look a bit more substantial.

I used a few extra ornaments on the garland over the doorway. These ornaments are all silver and white, and are angels, stars, snowflakes, and a few balls.

Another brand-new decorating element--I hung plastic (not glass--that's just asking for disaster) ornaments on ribbons, then used thumbtacks to stick the ribbons to the archway leading from the foyer into the living room. I like the way it came out!
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Monday, December 19, 2011


I've been doing a good bit of crafting, but since the people who read this blog are the people who will be receiving the end products of the projects in just a few days, you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I've been up to!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Little Christmas

I've finally done my first bit of Christmas decorating! Well, I'm not sure if you could really call it decorating yet. It's a single candle and wreath in one of the four windows on the front of my house. As you can see, I didn't even get it really centered. That's okay, though, because the wreath is going to have to come inside to get a bow put on it once I borrow the bow maker from my mom this weekend. It's just that I'd gone as far as I could with all my other Christmas crafting, and wanted to see how this would look. I've never hung wreaths out a window before, but it was actually pretty simple.

Step 1: Fluff wreath. These wreaths were squished pretty flat, but it looks pretty good now that it's nice and fluffy.
Step 2: Cut ribbon. You need twice the distance between the top of your window and the inside of the top of your wreath, plus a foot or two for going around the wreath and inside the window.
Step 3: Remove screen from window. Also something I've never done before. When you live in Florida, the only month you can guarantee you won't want to open the windows is probably January, and if the screens aren't in the windows, you'll wind up with a house full of bugs. My screens have tabs at the bottom on the inside, and it came right out when I pulled on the tabs. I'll have to look carefully at the next one so I can figure out how to put them back in when I take the wreaths down!
Step 4: Open the window from the top, loop the ribbon around the wreath, and toss the wreath out the window. Close the window with the ends of the ribbon caught between the window and the window casing. It seems to close tightly enough to hold everything in place!

Looking at the picture, you can see the screen that I haven't yet put away, and you can tell that the wreath isn't centered yet. Both of those will probably happen Monday, since the weekend is pretty busy. That's also when I'll add a bow to the wreath, and hopefully duplicate this in all the other windows. I think the candle could stand to be taller, but I don't have four of anything for them to stand on. Besides which, once the bow is at the top of the wreath (I'm usually a bow-at-the-bottom person, but that would put the visual center way too low on the window), the "flame" of the candle will be just about at the middle of where you can see, which will probably be fine. After I do all that, I'll have another first on Tuesday--putting lights on the eaves of the house! My sister is helping with that, and she's actually done it before. Hopefully it works out!
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Okay, so it was pretty warm the day I finished this hat and scarf for my sis. But there are definitely times you need a bit of extra warmth, which is exactly what hats and scarves do. I found the pattern for the hat here, and the scarf here. Both were free, although the Gleeful Things site also has some really cute patterns for not-too-steep prices, as well. Both patterns were also simple enough that I could converse while crocheting, which is always nice.

My yarn was Sensations Rainbow Classic from Jo-Anns, a fluffy brushed yarn that's a bit heavier than worsted weight. I used a size N hook for everything--hat, scarf, and the wristlets/hand warmers that I posted about earlier.

The hat is a slouchy beanie type. It fit my head, so I was a bit concerned about it being too large for my sister. She can't wear most adult-sized hats and has to get sunglasses from the juniors section. But happily enough, it fit her when I made her close her eyes and try it on! The scarf (the first part of the set I made) is a ripple pattern--like an afghan. I was hoping the variegation in the yarn would be long enough to show up as stripes--I thought that would look really nice in the ripple pattern--but unfortunately, it wasn't. You see spots and splotches, rather than stripes. That's okay, but I think it would be nice to try the pattern again with self-striping yarn, so you could see the zig-zag pattern all over, rather than just at the edges.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011


Wow, it's been over a week since I've blogged anything!  It's not that I don't have anything to blog (I have photos from two projects that I haven't yet put up), it's just that this time of year is absolutely insane.  I haven't done any new projects this week.  Not only is my house not decorated for Christmas, I haven't even put away the Thanksgiving decorations.  Such is the life of a musician this time of year.  Almost every afternoon/evening I've had rehearsals and performances.  Sometimes I've had multiple rehearsals and performances in one day.  Lots of ten- to fourteen-hour workdays.  By the time I get home at night, I eat supper, maybe watch some online TV or straighten up the kitchen, and go to bed.  This next week should be better, so after I get my house back to looking like a hurricane didn't hit it, and do some Christmas decorating, I'll do some blogging.  I'll have a house guest for Christmas this year, so I definitely will be having some domestic adventures in the next couple weeks--cleaning, decorating, cooking, baking...there should be plenty to blog about!  Oh, and present-making.  Sounds like I won't be any less busy even after the rush of concerts and gigs is over!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Warm Hands, Warm Heart

I made a scarf and hat for my sister (her favorite color is green), and had a pretty good amount of yarn left over, so I decided to add some arm warmers to the set.  We each have a set of knitted ones we got for Christmas (I think they were from Target), and we really like wearing them.  They're nice for Florida winter, since they keep your wrists warm, but don't require that you wear long sleeves all day.  They're also just a fun fashion statement!

I found a couple patterns under "Free crochet patterns" on the Lion website, but they were all made from squares of plain single crochet.  I started making one, then abandoned it when I realized that I would have a not-very-stretchy tube that would be either too tight around my hand or too loose around my wrist--not very good if you want it to stay up comfortably. 

Enter crochet "ribbing."  I made a chain 30 stitches long, skipped the first chain, and did single crochet all the way across.  Chain one, turn, and here's where you get the cool stuff.  Single crochet in just the back loops from here on out, and you get a ribbed effect.  I continued until the rectangle was wide enough to fit comfortably around my wrist--not too tight in the hand, not too loose in the wrist--about 15 rows for me. 

At that point, I finished off, leaving a tail about two feet long.  I used that to sew up the two sides of the tube.  I sewed four stitches from each side together (rather firmly), carried the yarn through five stitches (to leave a thumb hole), then sewed the rest of it together.  It works quite nicely! 

If I try making these again in solid-colored yarn, I might add some decorative stitching with contrasting yarn on the back of the hand, just to make them more interesting.  These, however, are perfectly lovely the way they are, I think.  They didn't take much yarn, either--I still have enough yarn to make another pair or two!

I suppose I should talk a bit about the kind of yarn I used, but I think I'll do that later when I write about the hat and scarf. 

(Now I need to find some leftover yarn in another color to make a pair for myself!)

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