Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Easy Wee One Baby Bib Tutorial

I thought bibs were hard to make and had to be edged in dreadful bias tape. Well, turns out they do not have to be either of those things. Made from two pieces of flannel, these bibs are reversible as well as super cute. Here's the specs:

Fabric (I used some flannel, but you could use cotton with some terry towels as the back piece -- or I'm even thinking old soft t-shirts for the back piece).
Dinner plate and drinking glass (to make a pattern).
Pen or pencil
Sewing machine
Pressers (or Velcro but seriously, my Wee One yanks those Velcro-close bibbies off in two seconds flat...)

1. MAKE PATTERN--take a dinner plate and trace around it on paper. Take a glass and position it closer to top of circle than bottom. See picture. Cut out around larger circle and inside the smaller circle. I used an 8.5" plate at first but went up to a 9" plate for my next two bibs. If you are making the bib for a smaller baby, the 8.5" would be fine but for a baby over 6 months I would go with the 9" plate or larger.

2. TRACE AND CUT OUT FABRIC--take your pattern, trace it onto the back of two pieces of fabric and cut them out. I used two different fabrics (both flannel leftover from another project) but again, feel free to use whatever you might have lying around.

3. POSITION AND PIN--take your two bib pieces and place them right sides together; pin around both outer and inner circle edges.

4. CUT FOR NECK OPENING--cut one side through both fabric pieces to make the neck opening. Pin these edges as well.

5. SEW UP--Leaving room to turn the bib right side out, sew along the outer, then around the inner circle in one continuous sew-fest. Remember to back stitch at the beginning and end. You can see where I left my opening to turn along the right side of the bib.

6. TRIM, CLIP CURVES AND TURN--Trim the edges, clip into the curves and turn the bib right side out. I used my pencil (eraser side, please) to help get the part that goes around the back of the neck turned.

7. TOP STITCH--fold the opening left for turning into the bib (if you are super fancy you can press this as well as the entire bib, but obviously I am not as you can see mad wrinkles abound); top stitch along the edge of the entire bib (start around outer circle, then keep stitching along inner circle until you get back to your starting stitches). I tried to place my start and stop position where the presser might hide it.

8. INSTALL PRESSER--Follow the instructions on your presser package to add a presser to the opening of the bib. Or your Velcro if you have a well-behaved baby.

9. BIB YOUR BABY--put on your baby and admire the extreme cuteness. Of both, of course! Or put it on someone else's baby you happen to love.





With a very big birthday coming up for a very Wee One, I've made a few things for his special day. This guy here and this little ball (although it looks like a lemon shape more than a round shape if you ask me...I'm hoping he won't really notice). I upcycled some of his baby receiving blankets--the best part is they still smell like him when he was so so little.

I made him some bibs too:

I made my own pattern and sewed them up last night. They are reversible as well. I actually did take some pictures during the process and might try and write out a tutorial next.

There are other birthdays to make things for now too. Kay has a birthday the day after Wee One. I made her some earrings (the stone is Unakite):

She is also going to be guessed Origami Wrap.

In her version, the sleeves and body are a little shorter and I hope she can use it on chilly summer evenings. Maybe at the beach for our big trip later in the summer.

I also made another pair of earrings (amethyst)...

...and a second wrap for someone else. I feel good, sitting down, making stuff, getting it done. Sometimes I get stuck and don't make much but these times buoy me up and keep me going. I raise my glass and toast to you, "Until the next Craftfest...may your crafting be fun and your finished crafts usable!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Friend

A new friend is visiting Knitsburgh...

...just in time for a Wee Birthday coming up soon! He is from a knitted gnome pattern from Plain and Joyful Living, with a few tweaks. He has a striped stockinette sweater and eyes, mouth and beard.

Here was the first harvest last week from the estate garden:

Along with some cherry tomatoes growing from the bottom of pots rigged into hanging baskets with some hemp twine. Basic instructions were here; I used whatever materials I happened to have on hand to make them. Basil tops off this one...

Oregano here...along with a couple of resting flies.

After a weekend away visiting family, we are settling back in the daily routine again. Everyone but Blue Molly, my trusty steed, my loyal vehicle. She is in the shop as she is not feeling well. We hope to have her back tomorrow as we miss her but honestly, I would not have used her yet this week. Luckily we pass many local shops on our daily walks, the Wee One and I, so we do most of our errands by foot. Now if the stroller were to break down, we would really be in a panic!

For Solstice this year, I really only harvested some green beans and peas from the garden and spent time out of doors in the sun with the Wee One under a fountain, walking, swinging, playing. We had our home grown veggies for dinner with seitan (me and Wee) and chicken (Nature Boy). In the evening before the sun went down, I worked in the garden, then relaxed on the porch with Nature Boy and a Blue Moon as the sun set. It was a lovely, lovely day. I hope you had the chance to enjoy the sun yesterday too!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts...

One year ago today was Wee One's due date. Of course, he was late so it is not his birthday but it's still special to me. Such an exciting day it was! And such an exciting 11 1/2 months!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reconstruction Junction

When I was pregnant, I bought some things super cheap at Old Navy. Like this dress for $3 that has been lounging around in my closet for over a year.

Now it doesn't look so bad lying on the table but trust me it was a mess. First, the size. I bought an XL because there were no other sizes and I thought I could make it work. Maybe had I been brave about alterations I could have; but if you look closely you will see what my meager attempt was to alter it--tie the straps in a knot to make them not so long. Thankfully, the bodice just didn't work, it was to the point of obscene. Which makes me wonder--why oh why, garment designers, do you think small thin straps will ever hold up a dress for someone who needs a bodice so large? Obviously they will be wearing a substantial undergarment underneath, especially if we are talking maternity wear. Hmm unless there are implants involved, then they will stay up by themselves I suppose...

Old Navy, I don't have to take it! I'm an all-natural girl and I will wear this dress and it will work and I won't even be pregnant when I do it.

Gathering up my courage (thanks again Marisa for the inspiration, you are amazing), I cut the entire bodice off.
The bodice pieces (lucky me the striped fabric was lined underneath with olive fabric) would become the new wider straps and the belt. The elasticized underbust would now become the top of the dress, worn over the bust and shortening the dress to a more flattering length for me.

Of course, I needed to bring the waist in and opted for a drawstring waistband. From the wrong side I folded down the fabric to create a little tube and sewed it all the way around.
It made a cute little casing for the drawstring.
The drawstring was cut in one continuous piece from the bodice lining, then pulled tight to create a rolled belt. Some of my cutting was not very even so some of the drawstring is a bit ragged; I would improve on this aspect if doing it over.

I then cut long pieces for straps from the bodice fabric, pinned the front in place and sewed, then had Nature Boy pin the back straps and sewed them.

And here you have it...a dress I will actually wear!


Sunday, June 13, 2010


I just finished reading a book today and thought I would share. Why? Because it moved me deeply. The stories, the people, the gardens. Anthropology, sociology, biology, psychology, history.

The Earth Knows My Name : Food, Culture and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindeinst.

Maybe it's because of Bill. Ever since I can remember, he had a garden. He grew things and taught us how to grow things. Bill is not an easy man to converse with or sometimes understand but in the garden, there was a connection, something to talk about and look at together. I remember getting the soil ready and following behind him as he manned the rototiller, picking out rocks by hand and taking them to the Rock Pile in the corner of the garden. I remember the planting, how he would show me how far apart to place the tiny seeds, then cover them and water them. I remember checking it every day to see what was new or who needed some love or to find evidence of any visitors who wanted to munch something too. And the harvesting, the best part! Eating tomatoes right there in the garden with a salt shaker and smiles.

Tomato seeds are a big deal to him and now to me. He got them originally from an Italian friend with the last name Vignoli and that's what we call them, Vignolis. Each tomato I harvest and slice that is a prime specimen has the seeds separated from the flesh. I rinse them and they dry on a paper plate in the kitchen, then are placed in a paper envelope for next year. Every spring I look at the calendar and pick the day they will be planted. I always plant on the full moon. This year Bill's seedlings did not fare well and we were quite proud to give him some of ours.

I've learned over the years not everyone cares about them like we do. I have offered the seeds to others and given plants to others to nourish but no one seems to understand their importance. They don't save the seeds and plant them again. They are heirloom seeds; they are not Early Girls you buy at the store already sprouted who will ripen quickly and have had pesticides poured on them. They have been saved with love and with hope year after year and it still seems impossible to get a whole plant out of such a tiny little thing, that seed. We alone seem to care about them.

Now I know other gardeners out there feel this way and more. They have come from far-away lands and brought tiny pieces of their lives and childhood to a place that worked to make them feel ashamed of where they are from, worked to make them forget it. Or for some, they were here first but had everything taken from them by strangers to their land, were marched west and given inhospitable desert lands to live on and have still managed to scratch the dusty earth and bring forth life. I don't have any seeds to plant from my own ancestors but plant some from an Italian man I've never met. Now I want to seek out other seeds, other ways of growing and planting. I am so inspired by this book I have to slow my mind down as I am already dreaming of next year's garden while this year's garden is still out there growing!

Anyone who would like some Vignoli seeds, please give me your email address and I will contact you for your mailing address and send them out to you this October after the harvest. They appear to us to be similar or the same as Oxheart tomatoes. The fruit is pink rather than red at harvest and they are heart-shaped. The plants themselves get really tall, you'll definitely need a large stake for them. They are a very late tomato, usually being harvested in September but I promise, worth the wait!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Ah, leftovers. Sometimes a good thing (like when you work really really hard all day outside on the estate grounds and would rather not have to cook); sometimes not so good (when you've eaten the same thing for three days in a row...)

Remember the grahams I made for our camping trip? There were some stragglers who were quite frankly, overstaying their welcome. Need I mention they were also getting somewhat stale? I took them, crushed them up good with the ole' rolling pin, and mixed in some melted Earth Balance. I pressed them into some muffin tins I had also lined with these little gems, then baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until they were nice and browned.

Once cooled, I made some mini coconut cream pies with Vegan Lunch Box Around the World as my inspiration. Here's the recipe for the filling:

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 can coconut milk (I used full fat, not light--make sure to shake the can before you open.)
1/3 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup soy, almond or rice milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Toast the coconut in a 350 degree oven (or in your toaster oven, like me) until brown--watch it closely, I almost burnt mine! In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, then add your coconut milk and other milk. Whisk on medium heat, being careful not to let the pudding stick on the pan bottom. Once it gets thick, I mean really thick, remove from heat, stir in the toasted coconut and vanilla, fill your graham cracker crusts and chill.

This made eight mini coconut pies and one nice warm bowl of pudding for me to sample. Does anyone else like their pudding best warm?

I also melted some vegan dark chocolate and drizzled it over the top. It didn't NEED it, but sometimes you have to go big. Whilst eating one I commented to Nature Boy I think I was meant to live in the tropics; I would eat coconut and mango every day and swim in the ocean for hours. It was a mini-vacay, that tasty little treat was.

Ok--more on leftovers. I save all the odd bits of veggies, like the onion ends and broccoli stems and green pepper caps and mushroom stems, etc., etc., and freeze them. When I have a good amount, I throw it in a big pot, cover it with water, add some spices or not, and let it simmer for anywhere between 1-2 hours. I strain it when it's done and I have veggie broth.

So some of the veggie broth was used in the Mujaddara recipe from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. Really, it's lentils and rice. This recipe features lots of fried onions which I opted out of. I threw in a small amount of chopped onion with the rice and lentils to saute, then added my veggie broth in lieu of the water she recommends. To be honest, it was ok. Not great, not horrible, just ok. I have a ton of it in the fridge which is now the "I'm tired of eating it" sort of leftover, so it may be frozen for a quick meal down the road. I served it with some chipotle-flavored tostada chips from our local Mexican grocer down the street and they gave it some pizazz.

Onward to leftover fabric. I bought a bunch of some Asian-inspired cheap stuff at Walmart some time ago. It has moved with me a least once, I think, maybe twice. It has been used to make a knitting bag and that is it. It's cousin was used for some pillows and later the backdrop for my jewelry holder thing. But I digress...

Threadbare in spots...

You see, the Vegas Vacation Bag, now two years old, is in very poor shape. I use her every day so I'm psyched she's had such a good life but sad to see her go. She went with me on my last holiday (to Vegas) before we began to hope for a Wee. Then a Wee was on the way and she held prescriptions for sonograms and snacks (I was hungry every three minutes it seemed). Finally with the Wee One, she holds Wee snacks and toys. She's come full circle with me and I will miss her.


Lining with pockets...


Here is the new bag. I will call her the Five Bag as she has five pleats, five topstitched rows on the strap piece and consists of five cut fabric panels. I saw a bag on Prudent Baby with pleats but it's construction and look wasn't for me. I am the need-a-big-roomy-boho-bag-to-sling-across-my-body-so-it-doesn't-fall-off-when-doin'-stuff kinda gal. I need a large strap to hold the heft of all that is crammed in said bag. I did like the pleats but wanted them to be on the back and on the top piece that flaps over the front. She is made pretty much the same as the Vegas Vacation Bag except she is much deeper. Now I can carry all my crap and maybe the wipes and diapers at the same time. I haven't tried her out yet so we shall see...

Now to figure out what to do with the leftover hours until bed...don't worry, I'll come up with something...

EDIT: I entered The Five Bag in Tea Rose's Link Party. Go check out the cool stuff other crafty folks have made!

Friday, June 04, 2010


I made an Origami Wrap last week-

Really my speed as far as sewing-three seams, no finishing. How 'bout that?!?! To be honest though, the folding was difficult to figure out. It seemed to me it helped to look more at the schematic than the written directions, which for some reason threw me off. Nature Boy lended support and without his eyes and opinions it may not have happened. If you try and make one and get stuck, get in touch with me and I'll walk you through it.

I used the knit fabric I bought and was using as a Wee One wrap, back in the day when he was itty bitty and liked to be held. Now he's heavy and very very wriggly!!!

The Origami only took up half the fabric (and one baby wrap). I still have a second piece but I'm not sure what to make with it. Maybe a skirt? Maybe another wrap? The folks I have in mind for a wrap don't love this color green like I do, so I'm thinking I'll need to get some fabric in another color for gifts.

The Every Way Wrap is coming along. I only knit three rows whilst camping. Pathetic, huh? Hopefully I can kick it into high gear and finish it up. Then I'll be able to wrap myself in wraps upon wraps, every day a new wrap. What's up with me and wraps?!?!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Camping Fuel

We have been busy at Knitsburgh. Well, maybe busy away from Knitsburgh, I guess we should say.

There was camping. It was wonderful and quite delicious too. For us, the forest is the best part, then the food. We always have an easy meal of dogs or burgers (meat for Nature Boy, meatless for me) for dinner the night we set up camp. The next morning, we make what we call "hash." We cook some chopped taters, onions, green peppers and a jalapeno pepper in some oil over the fire in our big campfire pot. We flavor it will generous amounts of dill, salt and pepper. This trip we also had sausages (again, meat for Nature Boy and meatless for me), roasted over the fire in our mountain pie makers. Breakfast was quite tasty.

Lunch is usually a granola bar and an apple on the trail. I made some homemade vegan bars using this recipe with a few substitutions. I used oats (ground into a flour in my food processor) instead of the almond and rice flours. I also covered the pan with vegan chocolate chips which melted and when I took it out of the oven, spread them with a knife evenly over the bars to make a chocolate icing. Then I put on some shredded coconut and some almonds and baked another 5 minutes or so. They were divine!

My favorite camp meal is our dinner on the 2nd night. We always make mountain pie pizzas. I use a local bread called Italian Peasant Bread, spread the outsides with some Earth Balance, lay down some pizza sauce, chopped onions, green peppers, olives, shrooms and even some fake pepperoni, top it off with some vegan chreese (used Daiya this trip, the mozz flavor and it was so melty and cheesy-like) and cook it over the fire until I can't take it and need to eat it right away. I usually burn my tongue. I usually don't care a bit. It's that good, hands down the best damn pizza I have even eaten in my life. I don't know if it's the fire that does it or the magic of the woods and the stars and the bullfrogs croaking or if it's how it actually tastes, but it's my favorite thing to eat. Until I've eaten two and then...

...s'mores!!! Vegan marshmallows, vegan chocolate and homemade vegan grahams (recipe featured here.)
So melty and sweet and crispy and smoky and messy and fun. I love roasting the marshmallow, not letting it get too burnt, not letting it be too undone. I love squishing it off the stick onto the cracker atop the chocolate, then holding it over the fire to help the chocolate get really gooey. So good.

After that, there's not much more. The last day we eat a breakfast of granola bars as we take down the tent and say goodbye to our chipmunk friend who is at our same site, year after year, with his little den under the stump. The feasting is over; on the ride home we much on the leftover chips and pretzels and plan the next trip. We can't wait to do it all over again!