2009 Finished Projects

Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's become my yearly tradition to post these project mosaics (see 2008 and 2007). So here is my 2009 project mosaic:

2009 projects: part 1
2009 projects: part 2

You'll notice that I ramped up the knitting projects considerably this
year...all I can say is that knitting has been a great stress reliever

I'm looking forward to turning 2010 into a "use my stash" year and I've got plenty of projects to keep me busy. I'll be staying away from retail stores in 2010 and unsubscribing myself from email sales blasts to keep the temptation at bay. Wish me luck!

end of the year projects

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here's my final two projects of 2009...I wasn't able to finish any of my WIPs for Jacquie's Joy in the New Year challenge, but we were able to finish up our basement and I've been devouring lots of great books lately.

coline hat

My first project is this hat pattern that I knit up from { a-black-pepper }. I had some leftover yarn from my red scarf project scarf and was debating about making another Koolhaas with it when Lucy published this pattern. I love the bubbly cables on this hat and it was really fun to knit.

coline hat

I made the medium size for the hat...either I'm a looser knitter than I thought or my head is smaller than I thought, but this hat turned out a little bit too big for me. (note: I actually think my head is smaller than I think it is, so for all future knitting projects, I'm going to go with the smaller size option).

The crown instructions were really confusing to me and I ended up knitting and frogging the top three different times before it finally made sense. My adjustments to the top are included in my ravelry project notes if you're interested.

This is such a lovely pattern, the crown is striking and I think it looks so great in red, so my little problems with the hat are completely minor in the long run. Lucy is so good at designing with cables and I always love seeing what new patterns she publishes.


a dollop

After seeing Amy's Lonely Dollop, I had to buy the materials to make one for my sister for this year's Christmas gift exchange. We're always getting each other random and off the wall gifts, so I think this was perfect for her.


And finally, Audrie asked me to be a part of her new quilting bee, Bee Beautiful, a few months ago. We're starting the year with my month and I just mailed the fabric to my other group members today. You can click on the link in my sidebar to see what the group creates this year.

overheard this afternoon

Sunday, December 27, 2009

completely out of the blue...Jon says:

"I would like to see our cats interact with a golden-headed lion tamarin someday."

<<uncontrollable laughter>>

"What? You have to admit that it would be pretty cute."

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009



it's not Christmas unless there's a home improvement project in the works

I've got two weeks off of work for Christmas and New Year's. It's the perfect time to relax, watch Christmas movies, catch up on my reading list and enjoy time with family, right?

True to form, Jon and I got it in our heads that these two weeks would be the perfect time to work on a little home improvement project. We're tackling our basement and sprucing the place up and cleaning it out. Things are moving along and we should have everything finished by the end of next week. I'll have lots of before and after pictures to share then.

simple yet effective shawl in progress

In the mean time, I have been working on this Simple Yet Effective Shawl by Cosmicpluto
knits at night. I purchased this fingering weight yarn from Oiyi's new
etsy shop, ATD Crafts, and it is so lovely to work with. I am trying very hard to resist the urge to invest in a spinning wheel and start a new hobby. I have a feeling that 2010 will be turning into the "use what I have year."

Holiday Traditions Exchange 2009

I also received a lovely package from my Holiday Traditions Exchange partner, Carrie. She made these cute little twig star ornaments and pine scented bags for me. I used them to decorate the little Christmas tree in my office. Now everything smells pine scented and Christmasy.

holiday traditions swap 2009

to Grand Rapids and back


Jodi, Jon and I made a little day trip to Grand Rapids on Sunday. We loaded up Jodi's car with sweet treats and DVDs early on Sunday morning and made it to our first destination, Mars Hill, with plenty of time to spare for the morning service. The service was excellent, as usual, and Jodi enjoyed her first time seeing the church in person. Yes, it really does look like nothing...she almost drove past it.


After a leisurely lunch at San Chez Caf√© (the other half of my favorite tapas restaurant), we took a quick tour of downtown Grand Rapids and got out of the car to see the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum.  



Then we headed over to Calvin College, my alma matter, and took a chilly outdoor tour of the campus. It's hard to believe that I graduated seven years ago this month. There are so many new buildings going up on campus and the place is starting to look so much bigger and different than when I attended. The only building that was open was the chapel, so we got to take a peek inside and listen to a few minutes of a choral group and orchestra rehearsing for a winter concert (brings back many memories of my times spent in the music department in rehearsals!).


My beloved Fine Arts Center is undergoing a huge renovation...I spent so many hours in here for the music,  and communications departments.


Here's Jon and I in front of the Commons lawn.

Our final destination of the day was to the Frederik Meijer Gardens (the Frederik Meijer of Meijer grocery/all purpose mega stores). The gardens were decorated to the max for Christmas and the hallways to each of the greenhouses were lined with Christmas trees decorated to represent traditions from around the world.

Japan Christmas Tree

Christmas tree representing Japan

Bird Christmas Tree

Christmas tree for birds


Christmas lights representing the Philipines


Frightening little children

Holiday Traditions Exchange

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Traditions Exchange 2009

Sew Liberated has been running the Holiday Traditions Exchange for the past two years and my December schedule was light enough this year that I was finally able to join. I put together a little package of recipes, my holiday traditions, my favorite Christmas music and this stocking for my partner, Carrie, at sweetmommydreams.

Stitchette Stocking

I've been eyeing this Elf Stitchette pattern from wee wonderfuls ever since it was published a few years ago and finally had an excuse to stitch it up and turn it into a stocking. 

Elf Stocking Detail

I based the pattern for the stocking on these stockings that I made a few years ago. The stocking is lined with a green polka dot fabric and a layer of thin cotton batting. I had fun in the trim aisle and used an iron on rick rack and a pom pom trim that I secured with a zig zag stitch. For the foot and toe, I used fusible webbing to adhere it to the stocking base and then used a zig zag stitch to applique it to the fabric.

Stitchette Stocking

local light show

Thursday, December 10, 2009

insane local Christmas light display

insane local Christmas light display

A family in our town puts up a spectacular light display each year in
their yard. They are giving the Griswold family of Christmas Vacation a
run for their money with these decorations! It is truly a sight to behold.

insane local Christmas light display

They've got lights, figurines and inflatable filling every inch of their yard. People park their cars and take a few minutes to walk up and down the sidewalk to see all of the decorations on display. I think this house is a local landmark at Christmas.

insane local Christmas light display

This choir lights up in rhythm with Christmas music that's playing through a loud speaker. And, if you look closely, you can see the countdown to Christmas clock on the left side of the photo above.

insane local Christmas light display

insane local Christmas light display

They've got a huge nativity scene set up and nine reindeers pulling Santa's sled.

insane local Christmas light display

Ever since I first discovered this house about five years ago, we've been bring friends and family by the house during December to see
the display for themselves...it's much more impressive in person!

adventures in felting

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I've never tried any fulled knitting projects until now. Someone in my summer knitting group did this Noni pattern and I loved the outcome of her bag so much that I bought the pattern and yarn to make my own version.

I used Paton's Classic Merino, doubled, for this. Previously, I used the same yarn on Jon's Cobblestone sweater and I don't remember it being as soft and squishy as it was this time around (maybe I'm just becoming more acclimated to working with wool?). It was quite satisfying to go through so much yarn so quickly and I love the contrast of the lemongrass and dark grey together.

Noni Medium Sized Carpet Bag

I didn't get an after picture with my bag and water bottle, but the felted bag is now the height of the water bottle.

I finished up the bag, took one pre-felting photo and stuck it in the washer for one hour of agitation. It was so exciting to see the bag start shrinking. After it seemed small enough, I ran it through the final spin cycle and set it out to dry. The next morning I starting making a lining for the bag. Due to some measurement errors on my part, I made the lining too small. Because I didn't have any extra fabric, I stuck the bag back in the washer to let it felt some more. After another 30 minutes, the bag finally shrunk down enough to fit my lining.

Noni Medium Sized Carpet Bag

yay for having fabric in my stash that matched and using what I had on hand!

I followed the directions on the Noni site for adding more reinforcements to the bag (think giant plastic needlepoint canvas). Then I added the handles and sewed in the lining.

Noni Medium Sized Carpet Bag

I've been procrastinating posting this project because I wanted to find the perfect flower for the bag, but, as you can see, that didn't happen. I think I'll eventually make a fabric flower using this flower tutorial, but for now I'm calling the bag finished. This is going to be a new project bag for new knitting projects that I start.

Noni Medium Sized Carpet Bag

Pattern: Medium Sized Carpet Bag by Noni

Yarn: Paton's Merino, doubled

Needles: Size 11

Ravelry link: craftr's Carpet Bag

It was fun to try out this felting pattern, but I don't think I'm going to become addicted to felting just quite yet. It's a bummer to lose stitch definition due to felted fabric, so it's hard to want to spend a lot of time knitting something that is just going to be felted.  I do have two more smaller felting projects that I'd like to try, though: Felted Ballerina Slippers and the French Press Slippers.

End of May Hat & Handspun Scarf

Friday, November 27, 2009

end of may hat

I finished up the End of May hat on Monday night. This project was so much fun and I'm officially addicted to stranded knitting. I've got lots of yarn left over, so I will be making the matching mittens to go along with the hat.

end of may hat

Here's the details:

Pattern: End of May Hat by Zig Zag Stitch

Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca

Needles: US4

Size: Large (next time I will do the smaller size and use size 3 needles)

Notes: I guess I had some gauge issues with this hat, because it turned out a
tad too big for my head (width and lengthwise). I remedied the
situation by tossing it in the dryer for 10 minutes. The hat fits much
better now and doesn't cover my eyes when I pull it down all the way.

Rav link: craftr's End of May

I've been trolling Ravelry for fun colorwork patterns now that I can officially add colorwork as one of my knitting skills. I discovered SpillyJane Knits through a Ravelry ad last year and now I'm ready to take the plunge to make up some of her cute mitten patterns. My favorites are the Swedish Fish Mittens and the Carrots and Beets Mittens.

stash for Ravelry

Before I stock up on fingering weight yarn and tiny needles, I plan to make the Chevron Love Mittens with this Farmer's Market Kit that I bought last winter. It hurts me a little to wind up these cute little hanks of yarn into balls, but I've got to bite the bullet, right?

I also finished this scarf made out of the handspun that I bought last Saturday. I based it loosely on the Noro Striped Scarf pattern.

striped scarf with handspun

Here's the Details:

Yarn: Handspun by hands + notions (130 yards of wool locks, silk and alpaca)

 Takhi Sedona in off white (2 skeins held doubled)

Needles: Size 10.5

Pattern: Cast on 17 stitches. K1p1 alternating between 2 rows of natural yarn and 2 rows of handspun yarn, slipping the first stitch of each row.

Size: 5 inches by 84 inches

Notes: The Sedona yarn was really great to work with. It's a nubby thick worsted and really soft. I'd definitely use it again. Now, I think I'm a little hooked on handspun yarn. I will be desperately trying to keep myself from picking up another hobby. Wish me luck!

Rav link: craftr's Handspun Scarf

• • •

We had a very productive day at our house! We cleaned it from top to bottom (including the fridge!) and we put up all of our Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations are up!

Bring on the hot chocolate and Christmas tunes on repeat for the next month!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We're leaving soon to head to my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving dinner. The butternut squash and sourdough stuffing are baking away as I type.

I love Thanksgiving dinner and I love stuffing...I would eat it every day if I could. Here's my all time favorite stuffing recipe:

Sourdough bread stuffing

Sourdough Stuffing


1-pound loaf sourdough bread

8 tablespoons non-dairy butter
(I use Earth Balance)

10 ounces cremini mushrooms,
sliced 1/2-inch thick in both directions

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 stalks celery, halved
lengthwise and sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves
stripped from the stems

12 fresh sage leaves, chopped

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons chopped Italian
parsley leaves



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

Cut or tear the bread into
1-inch cubes and spread it evenly on 2 baking sheets. Toast the bread in the
oven until completely dry and beginning to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl.


Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter
in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a few pinches
of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 to 8
minutes. Add celery, onion, 2 tablespoons butter, and thyme. Once the butter
has melted, cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened,
about 5 minutes. Add sage and remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add vegetable
broth to skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


toasted bread cubes to a large bowl. Pour the vegetable broth mixture over the
bread cubes and toss to combine until the bread cubes absorb the liquid. Pour
the mixture into the greased baking dish, and sprinkle with parsley. Bake in
the center of the oven until heated through and the top is golden brown, about
40 minutes. Remove the stuffing from the oven and allow to cool about 15
minutes before serving.

Blurb book

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Europe Blurb Book

I put together a blurb photo book of our Europe trip and finally received the finished product.

I ordered the book from blurb and used their design it yourself templates for Adobe InDesign. This is
the program that I use at work all the time, so I am comfortable with
the software and the templates were very easy to use. The album I made is a 12"x12" hardcover book. I set up each
page with a 3x3 grid of 4-inch blocks and then added and resized my
pictures to fill the blocks. Some photos fill one block and others fill
up to 6 blocks of the page. It was a little overwhelming to fit all of
the pictures in the book, so coming up with a simple grid to use made
the book easy and quick to put together.

Europe Blurb Book

I stuck with one color bar for each city that we visited and added
some of the text from my blog entries and some of my own additional
commentary. Friends and family are having fun playing "spot the typo."
Luckily only two have been found so far!

Europe Blurb Book

Blurb was great to work with. I used Blurb for my parents'
anniversary album earlier this summer. For the Europe book, I used the cover wrap option which turned out nicely. For my parents' album, I used the dust jacket option, which turned out nice too. Here's two tips that I
discovered myself through purchasing two books and through reading
Blurb forums.

1. Don't pay to upgrade from Standard to Premium paper - it's not much of a quality jump to justify the cost.

2. Don't pay $15 extra to remove the blurb
logo from the last page (custom logo option). I was able to tear out the final logo page
myself for free (blank white page with a tiny logo at the bottom

Europe Blurb Book

Europe Blurb Book

Europe Blurb Book

Europe Blurb Book

Europe Blurb Book

For past trips, I have just put photos into 2-up or 3-up albums
and written captions and information. The scrapbooks and photo albums
are starting to take over our house, so getting a photo book like this
printed is a great space saver for the amount of pictures that it can
include. It fits easily on our bookshelf and is only about 1/2" wide.

A coworker of mine has had great success using Walgreens for photo
books, too. She came up with the best idea for creating a yearly album.
She started a new book on January 1 and adds pictures to her online
album layout throughout the year when she has a chance (once or twice a
month). At the end of December, she'll have a complete album with all
of the pictures she's taken this year included in it and won't have to
scramble around to remember what she did or where she misplaced photos
of a certain event. I think I'm going to try this method out for 2010.

on (and off) my needles

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I've been doing lots of knitting lately. It's a great break from
studying and is a lot less of a mess than sewing or quilting, so I
don't have to worry about cleaning up after myself when I pull out the

As with all of my sweater projects, I tend to get sick of them about
halfway through and want to cast on anything but another sweater, so my
Amelia is waiting in the wings right now until inspiration strikes
again. I still hope to finish it by the end of the year, but I have to
get a couple small projects finished up before I start on it again.

Amelia in progress

My first break from Amelia was for this Red Scarf Project Scarf. I've been in a bit of a purple rut lately, so it was so refreshing to use yarn that is not purple for a bit. The yarn I used for this project is called Shepherd's Wool and it's from Stonehedge Fiber Mill near Traverse City, Michigan. This yarn is Michigan's best kept secret. It's similar to Cascade 220 because it is a solid worsted weight yarn that comes in lots of colors. But, it's 250 yards/skein, is a lot softer than Cascade 220 and is thicker and woollier than Cascade. It's great for felting and it's super soft to wear on your skin.

stash for ravelry

Red Scarf Project

I pulled out my old bamboo needles for this project. They are my first pair of needles and the pair that I learned to knit with and it was fun to use them again. I mainly use my interchangeable circulars for all projects now, but wanted to use these for nostalgia's sake.

Here's the finished scarf:

Red Scarf Project Scarf

Pattern: ScaWiNoNa or Scarf with No Name

Size: 6"x72"

Needle Size: 9

The Red Scarf Projects is taking donations until December 15. Check out their website for details. Thanks, Melissa for spreading the word about this great cause.

Also on the needles are this Big Montana Tunic from the Fall Interweave:

Big Montana Tunic in progress

I was sort of in denial for a while about how this sweater would look on me and then I saw something online about how women with larger chests should not wear sleeveless turtlenecks and it kind of sealed the deal for me. I'll be ripping this one out and starting on a different project. I've got six skeins of this yarn to work with, so I think I'll use most of it to make Wrenna from French Girl Knits. It's a short sleeved cardigan and I think it will work much better with my body type.

End of May Hat

My weekend project has been working on the End of May Hat, this beautiful colorwork pattern from Zig Zag Stitch. I am slowly getting the hang of knitting in both hands and it's been fun to see the pattern progress as I go. I think the yarn that I chose for the project is a bit too close in value, so the colors won't pop individually, but I'll save my final judgment for when the hat is finished.

• • •


Finally, Jon, my sister and I went to the Detroit Urban Craft Fair yesterday. My sister got a stained glass Michigan necklace, Jon and I got a couple of screenprinted designs stretched on canvas from All Things Grow for our offices, and I bought my first skein of hand spun yarn from hands + notions.


In the words of my sister, "I really like how it smells. It's sort of gross, like sawdust or something, but it smells good to me." I agree. Ahh...the smell of wool! I'm going to pair this yarn with a cream yarn and make a striped scarf similar to the Noro striped scarf. I'm so excited to work with handspun for the first time!

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