Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Separating the Blankies from the Blankets

I always wondered what separated the blankie havers from the blankie have-nots (I mean, other than the blankie).  I was a have-not.  I don't remember needing anything specific to fall asleep and I swear I loved each of my stuffed animals equally.  The only thing I remember my parents frantically searching for were my bifocals and my retainer - neither of which I really wanted found.

But my husband was a blankie haver.  He has a horrible family story about the time his parents, in an attempt to comfort their distraught son, had to search through a hotel basement laundry room in the middle of the night for his missing blankie.  Knowing that blankies run in the family, I've always been a bit wary of letting J get too attached to any one object whose absence will affect her ability to sleep or be happy.  And so far so good - she doesn't seem to desperately need any one thing, though she certainly has an appreciation for this blankie-type blanket, a gift from her auntie (I am not in denial, I swear I am not).

Her favorite thing about it is the satin binding.  Apparently satin tastes great because she isn't the only kid I see sucking on it.   The problem is she's getting a little too big to fit under it so we were in the market for something a little larger, but equally soft and silky to keep her warm.  I was also in a bit of a hurry because j's daddy was starting to "look around online, just to see what's out there."  

I've been enjoying this scarf I got from Frugal Fannie's for $9.00, it's made out of something soft and 100% synthetic called cashmink:

So I decided I'd just buy three and sew them together for the quilt top.  They are super soft and pretty thin.  For the bottom, I wanted to use Minky.  What is Minky? It's like the stuff my Target bathrobe is made of, but even softer.  I think it might be made from unicorn eyelashes or something.  It's like a drug for babies.  This is what they do when they encounter it:

I used a thin cotton batting and of course, there had to be a satin binding- I sewed it on so that the blanket came right up to the crease, but I think J actually prefers it when the satin hangs off the edge a little more.  Maybe because it's easier to fit in her mouth.  I also don't think Wright's satin binding is as silky as stuff that comes on a ready-made blanket, but I couldn't find a good source for higher quality binding, and I was in no mood to try and make it myself.  (suggestions welcome!!!) At any rate, she's not so taken with the binding on this quilt (maybe that's what separates the blankies from the blankets?).  Here's the finished product:

And the satisfied customer:

It's no blankie, but she's already got one of those anyway not the type to need one.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

There's A New Girl In Town

Is there anything weirder than watching a good friend get bigger and bigger and then BAM there's suddenly a brand new person in her arms?  One of my besties brought a baby girl into the world this week.  There's the wonder of the little hands and feet, but also the wondering who she's going to be - this little one that will grow up and annoy her sister and ignore her mother's advice and do brave things and fall in love.  But right now she's just so sweet and tiny and new!

For this little one I wanted to try a quiet book (one of those cloth things that won't hurt the cat when you throw it and that has some interactive stuff).  I knit her older sister a hoodie when she was born, and not only was it like, six months late, but the hood was totally messed up and ended up lying like a cape down her back with no form whatsoever.  But my friend is super appreciative of anything homemade, so I knew she wouldn't mind being a guinea pig once again.  I just wanted to deliver (haha) this one on time!

So here it is.  For clarification,  Carroll and Fox are family names.

The little door has jingle bells sewn inside!

Very proud of my removable bagel top (velcro attached)

That water is a pocket, people.

This was harder than you might think, but in the end, someone with a small hand CAN stick it in this mitten!

For this one I traced a girl out of Little Stitches because I cannot draw.  I love her patterns; they are very simple and quick.

This is my first, and maybe last, quiet book.  I really enjoyed it - every page was like starting a whole new mini-project, so the nice thing was that I never got bored.  On the other hand, confronting 'how on earth am  I going to do THIS*' every day can be challenging (*sew a bagel inside out, insert a mirror so that it'll stay, attach just one half of a very thick mitten to very thin fabric, bind 16 pieces of fabric together).  There were days when I ignored it in frustration and longed for the mindless repetition of cutting and piecing a quilt.  It was fun, but I don't think I'll do another one anytime soon.  You people with your spring babies can expect something else!

Then there are the burp cloths made from gerber diapers and leftover fabric scraps from the book.  I made some of these for myself and found them vey practical ("can you pass me the ostriches?  I've been using the dandelions all day so it must be getting kind of nasty").  These have become my go-to baby gift - who says spit up has to be all bad?

I got the idea from here, but honestly haven't had to refer to the tutorial again, it's pretty basic.

So welcome little girl, now it's time to gear up for the soon-to-arrive boys! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love and Friendship

I know I should hate Valentine's Day the same way I hate New Years Eve - it's such a lose/lose situation.  You're either overpaying for a dinner that doesn't feel that romantic, or you're feeling bad that you don't have a date who would overpay for your dinner.   It seems like it's all about spending money to express a sentiment that at its sincerest shouldn't involve money at all.

But have you ever seen a sixteen year old boy walking down the street with a single rose wrapped in plastic?  I just love it.  I can't help it, despite being single for the majority of my V Days, it's always been my favorite holiday.  Hearts and red and chocolate and flowers, these are a few of my favorite things.  I just don't see how I could hate a holiday where THIS is the traditional gift:

Maybe I like it because it's not just about romance for me. I love the idea of a day dedicated to telling all the people you love that they are truly hearted.  I've always liked the Spanish version - Día de Amor y Amistad (day of love and friendship) because really the friendship v-day memories are some of my favorites:

- The Valentine's Day in college when a much more flirtatious and outgoing friend convinced me to send  a flower ("get him a lily, roses are boring!") to a boy I'd been staring at all semester with a card that read 'hey lover this is more than a crush' (I don't remember if she was as supportive of me using the lyrics from an LL Cool J song).

- First year out of college, flipping through the Guardian with a friend looking for something different to do on v-day.  All I know is that by the end of the night Lisa had won a bullwhip at a lesbian strip club.

- And then there were the Valentines Making Parties.  Started by the aforementioned winner of the bullwhip when she was in college, the annual party continued in San Francisco, where we would cut up magazines and make inspirational wall hangings from promotional salsa club cards and fancy magazines.  Lisa's kept the party going for 17 years (currently hosted in DC) and I recently started up my own version here.

I love seasonal fabrics, but it's hard to invest the time in say, a Christmas quilt made from Christmas fabrics if it's only going to be used a couple weeks out of the year.  So on a trip to my local quilting store it occurred to me I could use lots of valentines fabrics for bunting to string up at the V-day party.  I went a little overboard on the amount of fabric and ended up with about 25 yards of bunting - so I sent some to Lisa, in a fancy box I lined with some of my favorite Liberty fabric.

She was surprised when she opened it, wondering why I had made her 45 pairs of funny little underwear.

J was just too in love with some of the fabric that had kittens in teacups, so she got something out of it too:

I went small with my party this year, and the snowstorm made it even smaller than intended, but that didn't stop me from decorating up a storm!

I got some help hanging the bunting:

We got a little hearts-y with the food too.  We did some cream-filled chocolate cupcakes:

Some heart-shaped baked lavash brushed with olive oil, turkish spices and salt.

 Strawberry lemonade, because we've got to use these ice cube trays at least once a year

 J set up her decorating table:

and the party was on!

Everyone got to submit one card for judging, and I think I'm supposed to make cupcakes for the winner - so please state a preference for one of the following!

1. The crafty rose:

2.  The googly-eyed tiger

3. The Dowager Kittens

4. The Russian

5.  Full Hearts Can't Lose

Hope you get a moment to contemplate some love and friendship this Thursday, and don't forget those heart-shaped chocolate boxes are 40% off on Friday and taste just as good!