Baskets!

For the last few months, I’ve been working on what I’ve been calling “Operation Organized Sewing Room”. At all the houses we’ve lived in so far, I’ve only had a corner of a room for all my crafting things, and now that I have a whole room, I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out where to put everything, with storage being an especially big issue. I like to have stuff at least partially visible, because I often don’t know what I need until I see it. It basically always looks like fabric just exploded in there, especially the scraps everywhere that I refuse to throw away. I wanted to sort them by color (I’ve found that works better for me than say, by shape), so I needed a lot of containers, and those containers had to be pretty but functional – this is going to be my studio for the foreseeable future, so I want it to look nice! I tried a few different variations on a basket, but my absolute favorite is rope bowls.

MeasuredandSlow_1

I’d seen some pictures around Pinterest and they looked fun, so I grabbed a couple of packages of clothesline and started experimenting…and now I’m hooked! If you’ve ever made coil bowls out of pottery, it’s a very similar build process; you slowly coil the rope, zigzaging with your sewing machine as you go, and then when you feel the base is big enough, you just tip the whole thing up to be parallel with your machine and keep sewing. It’s like magic! This is the shape you get with no manipulation at all, just letting the bowl shape how it wants to:

Rope Baskets 9

But you can also vary the tension of the rope as you sew to make more deliberate shapes:

MeasuredandSlow_5

Rope Baskets 3

And, to make cool patterns, you can cover the rope in scraps of fabric:

White Bowl Pink and White Basket

I finish my bowls with embroidery thread to close the ends, but lots of people just go back and forth with the thread to secure it, which looks cute too.

Rope Baskets 8

I use variegated thread on most of mine, because I really like the way it looks, but really any thread works (I’d recommend 40 weight or thicker; anything thinner than that kind of disappears into the rope). I’m having a lot of fun working out how to different shapes, adding handles, and (maybe my favorite thing), making yarn bowls!

tumblr_ntrpsi44e01t6ct2xo1_1280Basket 29

Some of these are already listed in the Etsy shop, and there will be a lot more in my future, so keep checking back for new listings. Happy Friday and have a good weekend, everyone!

241 Tote

A few months ago, my friend Kelly asked me to make her wife Aivanett something for her birthday. She wanted an accessory of some kind, and after looking at some patterns, we settled on the 241 Tote from one of my favorite designers, Anna Graham of Noodlehead. I was really excited to make it; I’d had the pattern for a few months but had been too busy to make one, so this was a perfect excuse – and this pattern did not disappoint! Here’s how my version turned out:Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

Kelly picked the main fabric with the cute kitchen stuff (Mix Things Up from Robert Kaufman), and then I matched coordinating colors for the pockets. I took a chance on the red with white polka dots, as I was ordering online (from Hawthorne Threads, my very, very, very favorite online retailer), and I got really lucky that it looked great with the aqua. I had the gray (RJR Cotton Supreme in Gray Stone) in my stash already – it’s my preferred neutral, and I thought the bag needed a calmer color/pattern to balance out the two brighter fabrics. I lined the inside with some Letterpress by Michael Miller – yes, I still have this in my stash and yes, I will continue to use it on everything!

Inside of 241 Tote with letterpress by Michael Miller fabric

I opted to do just one front pocket on each side, as I didn’t want the zippers to overwhelm the pattern, and I lined each of those pockets with more polka dots:

Showing red and white polka dot fabric lining the pocket of a 241 Tote

I love those pockets – they’re just the right size for a phone or some keys, or even a small wallet, and having them on the outside saves you from having to dig around for small stuff. The only significant change I made was to extend the strap to make it crosswise rather than a shoulder strap, which I did by cutting two strap pieces rather than one; one in the gray fabric, which I then cut in half, and one in the aqua fabric. I then sewed a gray piece onto each end of the aqua and continued with the instructions as written, just with a strap twice as long.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

The external pieces are lined with fusible fleece, which I really liked – the bag came out fairly sturdy without being too bulky, and it made the shoulder strap pretty padded and (hopefully) more comfortable.

The pattern itself is, like all of Anna’s patterns, very clear and easy to follow, and the size was great for an every day bag. Each piece fit together perfectly, which can sometimes be a problem with patterns that have a lining, and I think it would be fairly easy for a beginner to follow. It took about a day and a half altogether from start to finish, which isn’t bad in my experience. I liked it enough that I’m still planning on making one for me, but I think I might enlarge it just a little, as I’m most often carrying a project to work on and might need a little more space.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

And now, a little shop news! If you haven’t visited in a while, I’ve got some pretty cute yarn bowls in there, along with a few other baskets:

Pink yarn bowl, rope basket

And, both the Kaleidoscope wall hanging

Kaleidescope rainbow quilted wall hanging using apple core EPP

and the Kisses wall hanging

Wall hanging quilt with lips on it, andy warhol inspired

are up for sale! There’s a bunch of other new stuff too, so head over to Etsy to check it out, and have a great Thursday!

A Lavender Mermaid!

Okay, I know it may seem like I make only Lalylala dolls now – I am working on other things, but a lot of them are top secret projects that I can’t talk about yet. All will be revealed in time, but for today…yes, I made another one! This time I decided to try Mici the Mermaid, and she’s probably my favorite so far.Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid holding buttercups

We have about a million buttercups in our yard right now (which I love), so I thought I’d use some as props, and I love how these pictures turned out. Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid holding buttercups

Mici is made of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colors Cloud and Haze Heather (with a little scrap ball of dark purple for her girdle), and size 2.75mm hook. I also used a gold metallic thread mixed in for the tail and hair; it was really difficult to get a good picture of it, but you can see it a bit in the photo above. A tip on the thread if you decide to do this: make sure you buy a bunch of spools! The yardage did not last as long as I thought it would, and I kept having to go buy more. I think I ended up using about 6 spools of this DMC thread.Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid in bunch of white peoniesI like using wool to make these toys, because it’s kind of sticky and sets up well when you stuff them, but the downside is that you can’t just throw it in the washing machine. I usually recommend that toys be hand washed anyway, to keep the stuffing where it should be, but it’s nice to have the option if you’re in a hurry. Still, the colors that Wool of the Andes is available in are hard to pass up, and it’s nice to work with.

The body and tail were pretty easy on this one, but the hair was incredibly time consuming! Each little swirl is individually crocheted and then hand sewn onto the head…not quick process. This is her after the first row, about the time I realized this was going to take me a lot longer than I thought!Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid in process of getting hair

Yeah. It was a lot of work. But when she was all done…man was I in love!Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid sitting in a tree

I’ve seen from some other people that they made their Micis a little bikini top to wear, and I also toyed with sewing or knitting one, but nothing I designed looked quite right, and in the end I just left her the way she was. I think it works! If you like my Mici (or want one in another color!, she’s available to purchase in the Etsy Shop, or you can get the pattern to make your own over at the Lalylala website!

Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid laying on bricks

Have a great weekend everyone!

Copper Jewelry!

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone in the US had a great Memorial Day Holiday (and everyone else just had a great weekend!). I’ve been hard at work picking up a new skill – jewelry making! Here’s what I’ve made so far:

Copper Jewelry

For my first bracelet, I knotted some strands of copper wire together in the same way you would to make a friendship bracelet.

Copper Green Beads Bracelet 1

Once I felt like I had enough, I wrapped the back in more wire and some green glass beads, for a pretty two-toned effect.

Copper Green Beads Bracelet 3

I was pretty hooked after that one, so my next experiment was with knitting copper wire, which I’ve been meaning to try for a couple of years now. I cast on about 16 stitches and knit the wire exactly as I would have done with yarn, then rolled it into a tube and grafted the ends together.

Copper Knit Bracelet 1

I love how this one turned out, but I think next time I’ll use thinner wire; these are all made with 24 gauge, and it was pretty difficult to knit with.

Next up, I made a pendant necklace with a polished piece of white quartz.

Copper White Quartz 4

I’ve collected stones since I was little, and I love the idea of incorporating them into jewelry. The ones in this batch are actually from our last trip to Ashland to visit one of my mamas-in-law; we were killing time before dinner one night and ended up in a little shop that let you choose your own bag of polished rocks – an offer I couldn’t pass up!

Copper White Quartz necklace

On a side note, all of these pictures were taken in our front yard, and I’m so in love with the backdrop of these flowers for the jewelry. Everything is so gorgeous right now!

My next piece was a big, chunky ring using another stone – rose quartz this time.

Copper Rose Quartz Ring

This one is probably my very favorite (in fact, I’m pretty sure I’m keeping this one!). It’s definitely a statement piece, but I love the way it looks. I tried it out yesterday on a date with my husband and I think I’ll be wearing it with as many outfits as I can manage this summer!

Copper Rose Quartz Ring 6

And last, I decided to make something a little more delicate, and braided some beads with the copper wire to make a very fine ring.

Copper Bead Braid Ring 1

This one is, honestly, probably more my style, and more of a ring I would wear every day or to an occasion where a huge rock isn’t appropriate!

These pieces are have just been listed in the Etsy store, so if you like them as much as I do, head on over to get yourself some cool copper jewelry!

And in other exciting news, I have an announcement; I now have a Patreon! If you love Measured and Slow, want to support me as I continue to grow, and love cool rewards (like personalized cards, discounts, exclusive videos, and more!), please head on over to my page and take a look.

Copper Bead Braid Ring

Giveaway Day!

Hi all, the giveaway is officially closed (sorry I’m a little late!) and the winner is Amanda! She says:

“I love the flowers and spending so much more time outside!”

Thank you to everyone who left me a comment or became a new follower – you guys are awesome!

Hello lovelies! Today is the day for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, and I’ve got something really cute this time around! Meet Rita the Bunny:

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn

Some of you may recognize Rita as being related to a few of my other recent finishes, and you’d be right – he’s the fourth Lalylala doll I’ve made so far! His hobbies include climbing…

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn back view

…hanging in the library…

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn hanging in library

…and gardening!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn with plant

He’s made of completely washable and dryer safe yarn, with safety eyes and recycled stuffing, and he gives great hugs!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn hugging

This time around I’m trying something new, so you’ll have two chances to win! For one entry, leave me a comment telling me what your favorite part of spring is (mine is flowers, especially magnolia blossoms!). And for a second chance, if you’re a follower, leave me another comment telling me how you follow (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or on a service like Blogger – or there’s an email sign up over there on the right!). I’ll pick the winner from a random number generator and the giveaway will be open until 6 PM P.S.T on Sunday, 4/10. I will ship internationally, so if you’re one of my overseas readers, go ahead and enter! If you are a no reply blogger, please make sure I have an email for you. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn with sail boat

Hitofude Cardigan

Last year, one of the blogs I follow (I can’t remember who it was, so if it was you, let me know!) was participating in a knit along for the Hitofude Cardigan. Although I didn’t have time to follow along, I bookmarked it to start as soon as possible, and finished up my version right as we went in to winter:

Hitofude 7

I couldn’t wear it right away because it got too cold (you may have noticed that this is kind of a theme with me!), but now that it’s warming up, I’ve found that it’s basically the perfect spring sweater.

The construction on this pattern is, seriously, genius; it’s knit all in one piece, so the only seams are underneath the arms (my favorite kind of sweater!). I’m going to quote the pattern notes here, because she explains it better than I ever could:

“The yarn stroke starts from the upper body and sleeves worked together in a rectangular piece, then moves to lower body, where the lace pattern increases evenly, creating a gentle drape.”

When worn, it hugs the shoulders (I think I actually could have made mine a couple sizes smaller and been fine – it blocked out a little more than I’d anticipated), and then falls very softly (and very flatteringly) around the upper body.

Hitofude

The back dips low enough to cover the bottom, but the soft shape and lace pattern keep it from looking frumpy or out of proportion, and the waistband creates just enough definition.

Hitofude 10

You can’t really tell because of the drape, but the sides are actually quite long.

Hitofude 12

Hitofude 11

They easily overlap, so the sweater can be worn held together in front with a shawl pin if you want…or you can just pretend to have a cape!

I used Cascade Yarns Heritage in color Como Blue, and for the most part, I really like it. It’s warm enough to be the perfect layering piece, but not so warm that it gets too hot wearing it on a sunny day, and the yarn is very soft and washes well. The label says that you’re able to machine wash and dry it, but after a few weeks of wearing it (admittedly, pretty constantly), it is starting to pill just a bit under the arms where there’s a lot of rub, so I’d probably stick to hand washing for this one.

It’s quickly become one of my favorite pieces of clothing and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it, so I definitely recommend it; however it is kind of a technical pattern, so I’d say it’s for intermediate knitters, or newer knitters looking for a challenge!

Bee Update!

Since it’s officially a very happy spring here in Seattle (we’re in the 60s and sunny today!), I thought it was just the right time for an update on how our bees are doing. We (by which I mean, my husband Kyle – I’m just the official picture snapper) did a hive check a few weeks ago…

Bee hive check…and our bees appear to be super happy and healthy! Because we didn’t do a big honey harvest last year (they swarmed last year and we wanted them to have as little stress as possible during the winter), there’s still a whole lot of it left over from last year – all of the dark stuff in this picture is pure honey!

Man in bee suit holding frame of honeyWe decided we could take just a little for ourselves, so we extracted a frame’s worth with our super professional technique of using the bee scraper to scoop what was on the frame into a strainer.

Frame of honey being extracted by handPro tip: anything you use in the honey extracting process will then be unusable for anything else, so if you’re considering this, I’d recommend picking up some old secondhand stuff. Learn from our mistake!

When we started extracting it, we saw that the honey had been in there long enough to turn super dark!

Very dark honey being extractedLook at the difference between that and the very first extraction we did early last year:

Very light "new" honeyYou would think they came from two different hives, but it’s just the difference between “new” honey, and honey that’s been stored for a while. It also has a lot to do with what the bees have been eating. I’m so curious about what went into our honey, but it will have to remain a mystery!

After the extraction, we decided to try refining our wax for the first time. I really thought it was going to be easy, despite the number of things we’d read that assured us it was not. I’m sad to report that we were wrong and everyone else was right…this is a really involved process. We decided to go with a method we’d read about where you put all the wax in old socks (which act as a filter) and then put them in a slow cooker with water for several hours.

Extracting wax in socks in a crock potThe idea is that the wax will melt out of the socks and rise to the top of the crock pot, and then once you turn off the heat, it will harden at the top and be easy to pick out. I’d classify this as mostly successful, but Kyle had to fashion a little tool that would hold the sock down – we found that without some pressure, most of the wax didn’t come out of the socks. The amount in the pot is about six frames worth, and this is the amount of wax we got at the end:

orange beeswax after being refinedI finally understand why beeswax candles are so expensive! This is a whole lot of work for not much wax. You can see that ours has an orange color to it; this is because we were using some older wax, and wax that had been part of brood comb (where the baby bees hatch). The wax from these sources is darker, and turns out finished product that is orange or golden in color rather than the pale, nearly white stuff we’re used to seeing. It was fun to see how it came out though, and we have a nice little brick of wax to do something with (we can’t agree on what yet!).

And, lest you think it’s all smooth sailing, I’d like to remind everyone that safety gear (like that lovely bee suit up at the beginning) is really important when dealing with bees. If you forget it, you may end up looking like this…

Man having allergic reaction of eye from bee sting…when one of those lovely ladies gets annoyed at you and stings you in the eyebrow! For the record, he’s fine now – a couple of days of medications and he was all better, but take this as a warning and always wear your gear!

Paddington Bear Wholecloth Quilt

A while ago I got a commission to make a simple baby quilt in gray and cream. Looking around for cute gray fabric, I stumbled across the new Paddington Bear collection from Camelot Fabrics, and it was perfect! I ended up with a soft, drapey quilt that still had an cute (but not cutesy) design:

Gray baby quilt, Paddington bear fabric with teal binding

The gray colorway is Tonal Paddingtion in Grey and I really loved working with it; the cotton is so soft, it almost feels like flannel. For the back I used Medium Dot in Cream on Cream by Riley Blake:

Riley Blake Medium dot Cream on Cream wholecloth quilt, teal binding

Paddington Quilt 8

To get accurate circles, I used my making pen (always test first!) and a compass to draw them as straight and close together as I could, then quilted those lines. I really like the little diamonds in between each circle, and by following one curved line after another (so, top half of one circle into the bottom half of the one next to it), I kept the stopping and starting to a minimum.

Tracing circles onto a wholecloth quilt

This technique worked well and I’m definitely going to use it again, although I think I’d make my circles smaller, just because I tend to like things more densely quilted. I added some teal binding (Ta Dot in Teal by Michael Miller) and once the baby was here, his initials and the date of his birth.

Folded Paddington Bear Quilt with teal binding

I usually just freehand when I do initials, but I wanted these at a specific spacing within the circle, so I used my ruler to give myself some lines while I was writing.

Close up of embroidered initials

All in all it turned into a pretty little blanket even without the piecing I usually do, and it was certainly a lot faster! I think I’m going to do a few of these when I’m having one of those “need to sew, but don’t want anything super complicated” days.

Paddington Quilt 2

Lalylala Dolls

A while ago I saw a picture of a Lalylala doll, and I was instantly in love. I put off buying any patterns until I had room in my schedule, which turned out to be a good call, because now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! So far I’ve made a bear, a dragon, and a lamb:

Lalylala amigurumi dolls - pink dragon, brown bear, teal sheep

I love these patterns, not only because they’re adorable, but because they’re incredibly easy to read and follow. She breaks down every little part, there are tons of pictures and diagrams, and she specifically notes things like where the eyes should go or where the arms should be sewn. These are some of the clearest patterns I’ve ever worked with, and she’s translated them into a bunch of languages!

I made each one out of a different yarn to see how they behaved (all were crocheted with a size C 2.75mm hook and used size 9mm safety eyes), and tried different stuffing methods for each. First up, we have Lupo the Lamb:

Lalylala amigurumi doll - teal lamb

I used Caron Simply Soft in Cool Green and White. I like how she turned out for the most part, but if I were using this yarn again, I think I’d go up a hook size – 2.75mm was just a little too small for those bobbles. She’s stuffed using regular old Poly-Fil, which turned out okay, but wasn’t as sturdy as I wanted her to be, so she’s got a bit of a slouch going on, which luckily seems to be working for her!

Lalylala amigurumi doll, teal lamb

Lupo has a hat (most of the others have hoods that connect to the body, but this one has a hat that fully comes off) that’s tied with little single crochet strings ending in pompoms. The pompoms are a pain in the neck, but I’ll admit, they might be worth it. The ears are very easy to sew into place, and that’s really the only part that has to be sewn at the end (the head is crocheted from stitches picked up from the body).

Next up, Dirk the Dragon, made in Cascade Cherub Aran in colors Rouge (the hot pink) and Cotton Candy (the lighter pink).

lalylala amigurumi doll - pink dragon

She’s stuffed with a firmer stuffing (I used this Air Light recycled stuff, which I really like), and stands up better, but I think it made the head too heavy – probably not a thing anyone else would notice, but something that bothered me a bit. Despite that, this one is probably my favorite of all the dolls I’ve made so far. The spikes are so clever, and the tail and ears are just too cute.

lalylala amigurumi doll - pink dragon

The hood is supposed to come off, but I wasn’t being careful enough when I crocheted the spikes and got some of the head too, so the hood is just for show on this one.

And last but certainly not least, I made Bina the Bear from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate and Oyster Heather.

Lalylala amigurumi doll - brown bear

This time I tried the firm stuffing in the body and the lighter Poly-Fil in the head. I took extra care to basically over-stuff the neck, and that seems to work well. I probably should have used a darker stuffing because it shows through a bit, but mostly I really like how this one came out. Next time, I might double up on the yarn and increase the hook size when I make the ears and tail, because I felt like they could have been bigger, but that’s just personal preference. Bina’s hood does come off, so I may add hair at some point!

Lalylala amigurumi doll - brown bear

Overall, I highly recommend these patterns. You’ll need to have intermediate crochet skills – most of it is single crochet, but both the dragon and the lamb use double crochet, half double crochet, and bobbles, as well as increases and decreases, but if you’re familiar with those things, you should be all set. Or, if all that sounds like too much trouble, the dragon and the bear are both up for sale in the Etsy store!

Lalylala amigurumi dolls - pink dragon, brown bear, teal sheep

Spring Wreath Tutorial

We have been graced with a very early spring here in Seattle, and it’s put me in the mood for all things bright and sunny, so when I saw these ready-to-make paper flowers at Daiso, I picked up a few packages. You just never know when you’ll need some bright tissue flowers, people!

Tissue paper flowers, pink, white, and yellowI finally sat down this week to figure out what to make with them, and remembered that I had an extra wreath form (these are obviously easier to get around the holidays, but it looks like they’re available on Amazon and at most big craft stores) that I’d saved from a Christmas wreath. A cute door decoration sounded just perfect, so I tied a ribbon around the top…

Empty wreath form with pink ribbon tied to it…and then started to put my flowers together. These things are crazy easy to make, so this would be a great craft to do with kids; I got some that came pre-folded with a twist tie in the middle (makes affixing them a snap) from Daiso, but they’re also really simple to make from scratch (this is a good tutorial, and you could use different colors in the same flower). You start by fanning out each side:

White tissue paper flower Then gently pulling up each layer, alternating sides:

Half finished white tissue paper flowerOnce you’ve pulled up all the layers, you end up with a pretty tissue flower that kind of looks like a peony (one of my favorites!).

Pink tissue flower White tissue flowerThen, I just used the twist ties to tie them to the wreath form:

Back of spring wreath, flower held on with twist tieI didn’t really have a plan, so I just put flowers on until it looked full enough, and ended up with a pretty cute spring wreath for the door!

Yellow, white, and pink tissue paper wreathI’m not sure how this will hold up when it rains (although it is under a covered porch), so I may move it to an inside door if it seems to be getting too wilty out there, but it will look cute either way!

Yellow, white, and pink tissue paper spring wreath