Category Archives: Crafting

Handmade with Love

So I realize it’s a while past Christmas already, but I wanted to post on the handmade gifts that highlighted the holidays this year.

Despite all odds I was able to complete:

  • 2 hand-knitted cowls
  • 4 felted wool dolls
  • 1 felted wool cat
  • 5 flower headbands
  • 4 reusable fabric gift bags
  • 2 batches of triple layer peppermint bark

I started working on some of this back in the fall but it still came down to last minute for a few pieces (such as the cowl I was knitting in the dark as we drove to parents house on Christmas Eve).  Still, it was so much fun watching everyone open their handmade gifts.  And I wasn’t the only one with busy hands this season–my Mom and several siblings (and possible future sib-in-law) also had handmade gifts.

Without further ado, I present handmade Christmas 2010:

First up–Wild Things! Made from recycled felted wool sweaters. Hand and machine stitched with embroidered details.

Got the color right on this one, didn't I?

My little sister decided her Wild Thing needed a pink dress to match

And onto other gifts:

"Welcome" cat--made with felted wool, embroidered details

Seed-Stiched Cowl--hand-knitted and made with burly spun lambswool

Handmade reusable "gift bags"

Jersey headbands with felted wool flowers

Triple layer peppermint bark

And gifts made by others:

From my 11 year old sister: decoupaged fridge magnets made from scabble pieces and a hand-painted necklace

"Crown" made by a sister for a sister

Hand drawn and framed picture given to an aunt (sorry--forgot to get the actual drawing!)

Pottery cat pitcher made by my brother's girlfriend and given my Mom

And other handmade items I forgot to take pictures of:  painted wall hangings, painted stone coasters, an upcycled cardigan, and more!

In addition to our handmade gifts we gave nearly everyone soap or beauty products made by Carl B’s (out of Salem, SD).  You can see the Anise bar in the felted cat photo above.  We also personalized some mousepads made with Harper’s baby picture and gave multi-photo frames filled with family pics.

It was obviously a fabulously creative holiday season, and I hope to give many more handmade gifts in time.


Handmade Holidays

I am working hard this season to craft gifts for Christmas. I’ve been knitting while I nurse the little one, sewing during naptime, and cutting pieces during the evening hours. A few stitches here, a few buttons there, it’s all slowly coming together.
We’re making a point to give mostly handmade, locally-produced, or thrifted items this year. This requires some planning and the dedication of more time than usual, but the results have been fabulous. I feel like our gifts this year are truly special!  Giving handmade also allows us to skip much of the mass consumer hysteria of the holidays, which is definitely an added bonus both for our wallets and our mental health.
After the gifts have been given, I’ll put together a post and share our handmade presents. Until then, these items are under wraps!

Chaos in the craft corner!

In stitches

Sewing:  a great radical homemaking skill.

The last few weeks I’ve had a little more time during the day to do things other than office hours and baby care.  This is due to having some day-long work commitments that took up nearly half of my week’s hours at one shot, which leaves me with a few hours in the day to fire up the ol’ sewing machine.

I grew up in a family of crafters.  For as long as I can remember my Mom (and my Aunts and Grandma) have been selling at craft shows.  For much of my child hood my parents were self-employed and ran their own business, operating two stores in Mitchell, SD, and selling at craft shows on the side.  They created all sorts of items, usually using vintage and antique materials.  Their main line was clothing made from fabric printed with reproduction feed sack labels.  We traveled all over with the business, and I grew up believing I too would be an entrepreneur like them one day.  I learned to sew at a young age and enjoyed creating dolls, pillows, etc .

As you can imagine, sewing fell to the wayside as I aged.  Sewing is um…some might say, “uncool.”  Especially if you’re like, 16.  But as I’ve aged a little I’ve gained a new perspective.  Sewing is um…like so cool!  If you know how to sew you can create what ever you want to.  You can tailor clothing to your body, you can create that baby blanket in the “perfect” colors, and you can repurpose old textiles and use them in a fresh, new inspiring way.

Well, with a tad bit of free time on my hands, I’ve been stitching up a storm.  I finally got my sewing area set up downstairs and am making good use of the machine.  Since last winter I’ve been sewing for my Mom’s business, Pieces of Olde, which sells through Etsy and the South Dakota Local Foods Co-op.  I sew her grain sack tote bags, which are made of vintage grain sacks and are perfect for farmer’s market, grocery shopping, etc.


Still available

Recently I was checking out Etsy looking at natural, soft toys for Harper.  Etsy is wonderful.   I absolutely love having the  largest network of artisans and crafters in the world at my fingertips and being able to buy from and support them directly.  As we’re on a limited budget around here I don’t get to purchase very much (however, I do have a birthday special order coming soon…), but I do find tons of inspiration from browsing the shops.

After checking out some adorable woodland creatures, I said “I could make that” and swiped a few felted  sweaters (the result of Wyatt doing the wash) off my craft shelf and whipped up this little guy:

What an unusual owl perched in that bush!

He has embroidered eyes and is made with soft, felted wool.  Felted wool is one textile I really like sewing with.  As a knitter, I find wool just to be a delicious fiber.  Felted wool makes an excellent “fabric” because it doesn’t unravel and has neat edges that don’t require serging when cut.  I like to felt old sweaters that I find at thrift stores.  Felting is an easy process.  You do exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do with your wool clothing:  throw it in the washer on hot and dry it in the dryer.  Many of you have probably unwittingly felted a sweater or two in your day.  Sometimes you can find “pre-felted” items at the thrift store…they’re those suspiciously tightly woven wool sweaters often found in the children’s clothing section…

After creating my owl, I thought I could branch out in the animal kingdom.  I wanted to create a little hedgehog or mouse for Harper.  I experimented by creating paper patterns to get a “3-d” body, but found I couldn’t figure out the construction very well.  I went online and looked for a free mouse pattern and quickly made this simple little guy out of some scraps of felt:


Yes, this was made using a "free cat toy pattern"

I wanted to create a bigger, more “pillow-like” animal using that similar construction, so I dug out a couple of thrifted baby receiving blankets that I had purchased for the purpose of using as fabric and threw together this friendly fellow:

Can you guess why he's named "Mr. Whiskers?"

Harper checking for quality control

Harper checking for quality control

After all of that I’d quenched my stuffed animal making thirst, so I moved on to clothing.  I had a few fabrics that I purchased a long time ago with the intention of making into a skirt, so I finally dug them out and whipped up this fun little number for myself:

Well, then I thought it was only fair to make Harper a little something, so after checking out a quick and easy tutorial online, I recycled a flannel receiving blanket and made him these cute little pants:



just chillin'

I’m definitely going to make some more pairs of these pants.  They cost next to nothing to make (I used 1/4 of a receiving blanket that cost $1.50).  They’re soft, comfy, and can be sewn up in about a half an hour.

I’m loving having a few more moments to do something creative.  I especially like making the items for sale through my Mom’s shop.  It’s a great feeling to make a unique and quality item and have someone order it for themselves.

Embracing my sewing heritage and stitching on.