crochet coasters

I went home for Easter, and while at my parent’s house, my mom asked me if I could make her some replacement doilies for her bedside table—maybe in black, or a very dark blue. Uh, what? While I’m sure there are some very nice doilies in those colors, I knew they’d look terrible on her dark wooden table. It turns out she was trying to avoid the constant coffee stains that show up on lighter color doilies, so we compromised.

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Isn’t that teal much nicer than navy? It’s a bit more green in person than in the pictures, and though light enough to still stain, I’m hoping the mercerized cotton yarn  I used will hold up well to any requisite cleaning.

 

tea sandwiches

When I’m at my parents for the summer, one of my favorite social activities is throwing fancy tea parties with my sister for our friends. I am not the best baker, but out of the two of us, I usually end up in charge of the menu and cooking. This role has greatly endeared tea sandwiches to me—after a day spent cooking fancy desserts, throwing together two or three sandwich types is a very nice respite.

The first image is of a party I made where one of the guests was gluten-free, hence the large variety of meringue-based treats. That one was especially tricky to put together!

However, while I don’t often make desserts for myself—shortbread or berries with cream is usually the extent—I find tea sandwiches a nice way to make something quick and easy that still feels like a treat. This week I made them extra special by buying some pumpernickel bread (I usually bake all my own bread).

I think tea sandwiches feel special because you can put the focus on one or two nicer ingredients and really enjoy them. I frequently cut or substitute ingredients to save money or use up leftovers, so buying something “extra” is an easy way to treat myself. For these sandwiches, for instance, I actually bought green onions, a lemon, and some nice local radishes. For the radish sandwich, I diced green onions and added them with some lemon juice to butter. For the other, I made curried egg salad. You can’t see it in the picture, but I also used the lemon to make a vinaigrette for the radish greens—instant salad!

They may be simple, but they were delicious! 🙂 Anyone have any other simple meals they enjoy making as special treats?

finished lily-of-the-valley pincushion!

I finished my pincushion! It turned out super cute. I went with a Rifle & Co. print fabric for the back, and also used it to make a covered button.

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I really like how the embroidery turned out. I found it a little difficult to steel myself to cover up parts of it, since although it didn’t take that long to do, it still was work. But the end result was totally worth it.

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You can see some of the lily disappearing into the seam. 🙂 I really loved this fabric too, I mean most of rifle & co’s prints are great, but the blue-heavy floral made an excellent contrast to the gray & white of the embroidered linen. I only got 1/2 a yard before, but I may have to order some more! Or if anyone knows of simmilar fabrics to recommend…? 

wall quilt & garland

One of the less fun things about being a grad student is the lack of money. This is especially a problem, if like me, you tend to prefer handmade furniture and oil paintings (I know, I know). My dad is a very good woodworker, and has so far indulged me in the desire for very nice furniture, but I’ve had to be a bit more economical with art and decorations. I decided to combine my desire for less-blank walls with my desire to improve my quilting skills, so I’ve been making wall quilts! They’re not exactly my favorite pastoral oils, but they are very cute. 🙂

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This is my first finished one—I made it to hang in my kitchen. I thought that the redwork embroidery looked a bit vintage, and the teacup of course makes it very suitable. I didn’t do a very complicated block, since this was for practice, but I did make sure the cat fabric formed a nice border. I think my hand-quilting has improved somewhat—the stitches are getting a bit more even!

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Once it was done, I thought the wall still looked too blank, so I added a little crochet garland. The stars are very simple, only two rounds, so it went quite fast. I used scraps leftover from the cotton I use for my dishcloths, which luckily I’ve made in a nice variety of blue shades.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this simple decorating! I still have a few more things I’d like to make for my kitchen, and then onto the next room. 😉

cotton cami

I very much want to be great at sewing, but sadly, that day is many years of practice into the future. However, I do have exciting news! I finally sewed my first wearable garment!! I saw a simple cotton tank at uniqlo a while back, and of course, thought that I could totally make it. 🙂 Thus despite my limited confidence in my sewing skills, and even more limited confidence in my pattern making, I cut some fabric and it turned out great! Honestly, I didn’t make this expecting to like it much, I mostly just wanted to see if I could in fact make it. But it ended up being pretty cute!

IMG_3362 (1)Ignore my poor photography, but here are some pictures so you can see how it turned out.
IMG_3355I had no idea how to do the shaping for where the arms go, so I kinda just guessed. I also didn’t have twill tape for the straps, which is what the uniqlo one used, so I put in cotton yarn for now—it’ll be an easy replace next time I get to a fabric store. I hemmed everything with rolled hems, and used french seams for the sides.

Anyway, this has definitely boosted my comfort level with sewing. I know it wasn’t complicated, but it feels pretty cool to have made something I can wear, without even using a pattern. I’m thinking it’ll be great for gardening this summer. 🙂

traveling toy house

Last summer two of my younger cousins visited, and were totally enraptured by my spinning wheel and knitting. Every time I got either out, I was immediately surrounded! Of course, one of the things they were most curious about was what, exactly, you could really make with knitting. I figured a good demonstration they would enjoy would be a knit toy, so I showed them a rabbit I’d made for my younger sister a few years ago. Well, as soon as the rabbit appeared, I got the question I was fairly sure was coming—”Maia, can you make me one???”

So obviously they each got matching rabbits for their birthdays. 🙂

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For Christmas I made them each a few more outfits, but now that summer is coming up again I thought it might be fun to try something a bit ambitious—a portable toy house, which will certainly be a challenge for me to sew. I’ve seen a few of these on pinterest and flickr, but since I wanted mine to fit the rabbit toys I really just winged it. So far I have the front done, and it looks pretty cool!

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Now just 6 more sides to go. 😉

patchwork pencil case

When my sister went to college I made her a pencil case for her first care package. 🙂 It may seem a bit more appropriate for an elementary-schooler than for a college student, but I think cute pencil cases and stationary always makes classes and homework more fun, no matter what age.

Unfortunately, a pen got uncapped in the case and spilled ink everywhere. My sister was sad, but I was actually a bit happy that I got the chance to make another of these cute patchwork cases.

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I used A Spoonful of Sugar’s wonderful pattern. It was very easy to follow, and I feel like my result matched their pictures pretty well! I really liked the cute kitty fabric especially.

Anyway, my sister was quite happy to get a new pencil case and says it holds up well. And just in case, I may have to make a few more if, say, something also happens to this one. 🙂