Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Knit Scarf Finished!

Hello everyone from Europe! My current hotel in Paris graciously has free wi-fi so I can share my finished knit scarf expedition while I'm abroad instead of waiting until I get home! :)

So, after much scurrying around at home to get ourselves packed (and a lot of help from my mother-in-law to clean out our refrigerator (thank you again!!)) we got ourselves off to London on time! However, I hadn't finished the scarf yet!! I only had the very last large black stripe to do on the scarf so I willed myself to finish it on the bus. Here's pictoral proof that I was knitting on-the-go.

Unfortunately, I had to throw my knitting needles and the excess yarn away at the airport. I probably could have taken all of it through security, but i didn't feel like lugging the excess stuff around Europe with me for 2 weeks. I have more needles and I can always get more yarn when I get back home.

Once we got to London, we headed to our hotel for a pick-me-up nap and then headed out to the Fulham Football Club for the soccer (football) game we had planned for that afternoon. London was chilly and misty/rainy the entire time we were there, so the scarf actually came in handy more for keeping me warm than it did for letting my husband show off his Fulham fanfare. Here's a picture of me sporting it at the game and in the Tube around London. I'll add a picture of my husband wearing the scarf as soon as I'm able to get them off of my phone.

So, my first knitting experience was a success! I even learned how to bind off via YouTube video on the bus on the way to the airport. (I finished the scarf with about 2 minutes to spare before we had to get off the bus!)

Now, we're in Paris and just got back from viewing the Eiffel Tower at night. The weather isn't quite as cold here and really just gets a bit chilly at night. So, the scarf has been retired to my duffel bag for probably the rest of our trip. Everyone, both in London and in France, wears scarves all the time, so I've been inspired to make myself a knit scarf out of some snuggly material when I get back. I hear it's 80 degrees in Wisconsin, so I probably won't need it for a while, but you never know! Happy crafting!

Monday, March 12, 2012


My husband and I are leaving for a two week trip to Europe soon. We are super excited to get away and see some new places we've never been before. One of the first things we are doing is going to a soccer game in London on the day we arrive in Europe. I'm a little bit nervous to be in the stands with all of the soccer hooligans, but I'll have my husband there to protect me so I'm sure I'll be just fine. :) Anyway, with the completion of my jelly roll quilt I didn't really have any smaller WiPs on my to do list. My husband quickly had a suggestion for me.

He asked if I would be able to make him a scarf for the soccer game. I looked at him and said, "If I quilt it maybe, but I don't know how to knit and I'm awful at crochet." He said, "What if I challenge you to knit one?" I looked at him with a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me look. We only have a few days before our trip and I know I'm just terrible with yarn crafts. But, I'll admit, I was intrigued...

So, of course I accepted the challenge! (He is a sweetheart though and has told me several times that I don't actually have to finish this scarf by the time we leave.) I already had some white yarn from a wreath that I made a little while ago, so we just had to get some black. He even came to the craft store with me! Here's a picture of the scarf that my husband would like. At first he chose one with words on it - and I quickly told him that there was no way I could do something like that in a couple days! Maybe once I get different types of knitting stitches down I'll be able to make him a better scarf for next winter. I'm definitely not that great at it right now.

After watching a few youtube videos, I figured it wasn't as hard as I had always thought knitting was. I got my mother-in-law to teach me how to "cast on" and to do the basic knit stitch. After a few tries I got it down and then started going. I'm hoping that I'll have this done by the time we leave for Europe. I have a feeling all of my free time will be dedicated toward making this scarf, but I find it quite enjoyable actually. It's definitely going to be a little lopsided and not as good as it should be, but it'll work! I feel like I should have started with a pot holder instead of a soccer scarf, but I know it's something my husband will appreciate. :) Happy Crafting!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Finished Jelly Roll Quilt

This post includes a lot of firsts for me:
1) This is my first finished quilt of 2012! (Shouldn't have taken me so long to get to my first quilt finish!)
2) This is the first quilt I've ever made with a jelly roll - in fact the first jelly roll I've ever purchased or used!
3) This is the first quilt I've ever machine quilted!
4) This is the first quilt I've ever started and finished in the same week!

Wow, it felt really good to write all of that! :) As a brief overview, I bought the jelly roll from JoAnn Fabrics on Monday evening. I put all of the 9 patch squares together that night. Tuesday night I sewed them all together and added the borders. Wednesday I didn't work on it at all. Thursday I sewed on the binding and hand-stitched it all to secure it to the back of the quilt. This might very well be my fastest finish ever.

I'm planning on giving this quilt to my sister for watching our cats while we're gone on vacation. She'll have to deal with their rambunctiousness for a little over 2 weeks and I know they're going to drive her crazy!

I used fusible batting inside, and I LOVED it! I did pin down around the edges, but I didn't have to spend a lot of time pinning everything together to be able to quilt the top. It almost seemed too easy...almost. I stitched a large diagonal pattern onto the quilt that makes it almost look a little like argyle.

My favorite part of the quilt is the binding. I used the leftover strips from the jelly roll, so it's all different colors. I think it makes the quilt very festive. All-in-all, I'm pretty happy with this little quilt, so I think I'm going to have to make one for myself sometime. I'll be linking this up to Crazy Mom QuiltsConfessions of a Fabric Addict and AmyLouWho's Sew-n-tell so be sure to check out their other finishes of the week! Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jelly Roll!

I'll be linking up to my first WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced for today's post. This week I started my very first jelly roll project! My husband jokes that it looks like the state flag of Maryland except that there's no red in it. I'm from Wisconsin, so I have no idea what the Maryland state flag looks like. 

Back to the topic at hand...

I found this jelly roll at JoAnn Fabrics, normally $12 but with my 50% off coupon I got it for $6! (Take that Maryland!) I really liked the different fabric patterns so I decided I'd give it a try. I have seen a lot of quilts lately made with jelly rolls so I figured I would see what I could do. 

I came up with this layout of 9 patch squares. They will be 5.5 inches square when the whole quilt is sewn together, otherwise they are 6 inches square in this picture. I played around a lot with the pattern. I started off with all of the dominantly dark squares in rows and the dominantly light squares in rows and it looked too stripey, so I changed it around and ended up with the pattern in the picture. I think my camera makes the yellow and black colors stick out more than they do when you're actually looking at it. But, I kind of like the asymmetrical look of this. I didn't want it to be too patern-y. 

I did buy some additional fabric in coordinating colors/patterns for the borders. I did 3 borders, the first was cut at 3 inches wide, the second was cut at 3.5 inches wide and the third was cut at 2.5 inches wide. Right now I have the quilt completely top stitched in a diagonal pattern, so it just needs the binding attached.

I started this project on Monday, sewed the borders on and quilted it on Tuesday, and now I'm so close to finishing I can taste it! But, my husband just got home from a long business trip and has to head out again tomorrow, so I'm not turning tonight into a finish - hence the timeliness of my first WIP post! I'm hoping to get it all finished up for a Friday Finish, so stay tuned to see it all completed! Happy crafting!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hollowed-out Book Safe

This is a craft that my husband really wanted me to do. He actually helped me with most of it. He told me that he's always wanted one of these hollowed-out book safes to put something in. He doesn't know what he's going to put in it, but I'm sure he'll find something. The other thing he really wants is one of those globes that conceals alcohol bottles that you can buy in Sky Mall. He flies a lot for work, so I think he has that entire catalog memorized. Here's what we did:

1) Get a really thick book. We used "My American Journey" by Colin Powell. This is not a book we would typically have on display at our house, nor one that either of us would probably read, but it was definitely thick enough! I think the key is to have a book that no one would really suspect of being anything but a book. And, you don't want one that's too interesting because then everyone will pick it up. That would defeat the purpose of hiding anything inside the book! When you see these things in the movies people tend to use the Bible, but I couldn't bring myself to rip pages out of a Bible. Colin Powell will have to do! (FYI - we left the beginning pages alone so you can still flip through the pictures like a real book!)

2) Open up the book to where you want the cutting to start. Then, peel back one more page (you'll glue that down at the very end so you have a nice clean top page). Using a mixture of 70% Elmer's glue and 30% water (roughly - we just eye-balled it), glue around the outside edge of the book. Try not to use too much at one time. You don't want it to be too thick or for there to be any drips. Put a piece of waxed paper in between the pages you glued together and the first un-glued page. Close the book and weigh it down with something heavy to compress the glued pages. Wait at least 30 minutes for the glue to dry before moving on to the next step.

3) Open up the book to the first glued page (remember to keep that one unglued page where you really want the safe to start unglued, unmarked and uncut for now). Using a ruler, measure and mark 1/2 inch from the edges and the spine of the book. This is the line you'll be cutting on. You can really make this any shape, but we cut 1/2 inch in from the edges. Buy a very sharp pen knife or x-acto knife and start cutting on those lines you just marked. I found it easiest to pull the knife toward my body and to spend some extra time on the corners for things to come out nicely. The straighter and more careful you cut, the nicer the inside of the book will look.

4) Be careful while you're pulling out the pages. If you try to do too many at once, you could pull more than you want and end up messing up the edge of the book. This almost happened to me, but I saw it before it was too late. I think I tried to pull out a page that wasn't cut all the way through and so it wanted to rip the entire page out, not just the section I had cut out. We left about the last half-inch of the book intact, but you can cut in as deep or as shallow as you want.

5) Using the same technique you did for the outside of the book, glue the inside edges of the pages inside the hole to reinforce everything. During this step you'll also put a thin layer of glue on the top edge (the original page that you marked with your cutting lines) and then glue down that one page you've kept out this whole time. Again, close the book, weigh it down with something heavy, and wait 30 minutes before going on to the next step.

6) Open up your book. Using your pen knife, you are now going to create a clean cut through your top glued down page along the edge of your hollowed out portion. Once this is done, you really don't need to go on to the next step unless you want to. Your hollowed-out book safe is complete!

7) The edges on the inside of our safe were a little rough from jagged cutting, so we decided we were going to line the inside with felt. To do this, I brushed on a layer of glue on the bottom of the hollowed-out area. Then I pressed down my sheet of felt. Rather than cutting separate strips for the sides of the safe, I used my pen knife to cut through the corner area so I could make a straight edge. Then I glued around the edges, pushed down the felt and it was all connected. I used a regular pair of scissors to snip off the excess to make it flush with the top of the page. Voila! You're done!

I think we're going to try doing this again with more careful cutting to see if we can make one without the felt inside. Either way, I love how it turned out. I think the felt is actually a nice touch. I'm sure this book will get used more often now that it's been re-purposed rather than just collecting dust as a memoir! :) Happy crafting!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Upcycled Book Journal

My husband and I are going on a two week trip to Europe in just a couple of weeks and I desperately wanted to make myself a travel journal to bring along with us. I have read a bunch of tutorials on putting one of these together, so I don't really know who to give credit to for this whole project. There were so many good options to follow!

While I was putting mine together, I didn't really follow a tutorial step-by-step. I just melded all of the ideas together in my mind and went with it. I also didn't want to make a cover out of fabric or cardboard, so I used a smaller hardcover book that I bought from Goodwill. So far I've made one out of a "Tuesdays with Morrie" book and in this post I made one from a James Herriot publishing of "Animal Stories." I chose books that had neutral cover colors and were very solidly made. So, here's how I did it:

1) Remove all of the ***printed*** pages from the book. I left in the colored first and last page that is attached to the actual cover of the book because I will attach that page to my pages later on. I also left in the binding left over from the book's pages. Not only doe sit make the book look more official since my binding isn't quite as professional) but it also gives the spine of the book a little more support than if you were to rip all of the glue out. My pages cover it up anyway, so it really doesn't matter that it's there.

2) Make yourself a bunch of "signatures" - or groupings of pages folded together. Mine are cut down to fit the book from 8.5x11 inch pages of copy paper. I grouped together 3 pages (so when you fold them in half the signature has 6 pages in it). You can always do more, but the smaller the signatures the smoother the pages look on the edge of the journal. So use more sheets if you want a rougher look. I used 10 signatures for this particular journal, so 60 pages.

3) Make the folded edges of the signatures all even up, press down the stack and mark it with a pencil where you'll be sewing them all together. I marked mine a little ways in from the edges (just eye-balled it), and in the middle. You will need an even number of marks so you start and finish on the outside of the pages.

4) Open up all of the signatures and poke a hole where you made each mark. I used a thumb tack and it worked marvelously. You can use a fancy crafting tool, but I just had the tacks lying around not doing anything useful.

5) Once they are all pierced, you'll start sewing them together. Tie a large knot in a very long piece of string (I did double my "wingspan" for length). Start in one corner of the stack of signatures, doesn't really matter where, and thread in the string through the first hole, out the second, in the third, out the fourth, in the fifth and out the sixth (and so on if you have more holes that I did). Once you get to the place where you'll add the next signature, put one on top (or on bottom depending on which corner you started on) and thread through the first hole and out the second. Here is where I doubled back to the first signature I worked on and threaded into the second hole and out of its first hole, then back to the second signature through the first hole, and out the second hole to continue on my way down that signature. When I got to the end of each signature, I secured it this way to the signature I had sewn just before in order to keep the pages taught together. If this is confusing and you want me to make a diagram or something, just ask. Keep sewing together until you get through the last signature, then tie off the string in a knot.

6) To give the pages a little more stability, I glued along the sewing as well. I clipped the pages together and then found a very large, heavy book (text books work marvelously) to weigh the pages down. Then I used regular Elmer's glue (white or clear - doesn't matter I've actually used both) with a small paint brush and brushed the glue along the "spine" of the sewn together signatures. I was also a little impatient, so I used a hair dryer to make the glue dry faster so I could finish the book.

7) Take your glue, and spreading on a thin layer over the colored pages you left inside the book, press the first and last page of the signatures onto the glue. I lined up the edges so I glued the entire page down. Since I also left in some of the glue and binding from the original pages of the book, the thread that is left at the top and bottom of the spine gave me a great guide for where my pages should be so I didn't really have to measure or line anything up. So easy!

8) Just let it dry for a few minutes, and now you're ready to use your journal!

I love mine. I'm using one for a crafty journal and the one I just made for our upcoming travels. I hope you all try doing this, if you like journals. It is so easy and sturdy and I just love it! Happy crafting!
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