The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Friday, December 31, 2010

Hand Made Christmas - Let's Bake Cookies

While I did bake cookies this holiday season, I also played with chocolate.  Several of my favorite local chocolatiers offer a chocolate enrobed Oreo's decadent to say the least.

I stopped by Hanna Krause and picked up their chocolate "cote" products in dark (personal fav) and milk chocolate.  The process was rather simple, I dipped the cookies in the chocolate (heated on a double boiler).


I decorated them with some sprinkles I had left over from a batch of sugar cookies.  I think I ate more than I gifted...It's the thought that counts...right?

Have a safe New Years eve everybody.  ~ksp
Kwanzaa Day Six:  Kuumba (Creativity): In some respects, I think I exhibit this principle the most throughout the year...having said that, there is always more/different that I can do.  In all endeavors I will do as much as I can, in the way that I can, in order to leave my communities more beautiful and beneficial than I inherited it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Merlot

The gift queue included a stash busting Double Irish Chain quilt.  When asked, the recipient reported their favorite color as "merlot".  Ah...merlot is one of my absolute favorite libations so a Merlot Double Irish Chain Quilt.

Grabbed a long-languishing Moda jelly roll (ETA: The colorway is Portobello Market) and two different burgundy fabrics and I followed this link.  Those who follow my blog know that I love the scrappy looking quilts so I go out of my way to incorporate variations in colors and fabrics.


Please pardon the crappy phone photos. I forgot to snap photos before wrapping and delivering it, so I had to grab a Blackberry photo.

Here's a close up of the center square. 

I very much enjoyed this quilt and it went by rather quickly...or I become delirious... The week of Christmas, I quilted it on a long-arm machine at Olde City Quilts with a meandering stitch pattern.
Day Four: Ujamaa (cooperative economics): During the coming year, I will work to support local and minority-owned business whenever possible.  I will work to circulate the money I spend in my community of residence/interest.

Day Five:  Nia (purpose): I will continue to build and develop my community and its members in order to restore and maintain values, traditions and customs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Quilted Sunshine

Quilted Sunshine

A good friend of mine is going through a rough patch.  She lives several states away so I cannot be a physically present help to her.  But, I can do something for her, I can bend a rule.

My general rules for quiltmaking are as follows:
  1. Quilts that I make are to be used.  I have never made a wall hanging quilt, I usually make bed/lap sized quilts and I want them to be used.  I don't care if they fray, I can make another one. 
  2. Most quilts are to commemorate a significant event.  Now this rule is a bit tricky because I most often gift quilts on the occasion of a new birth, but I've given for other reasons.
  3. I make the rules; which means they are subject to be altered at my whim.
With this quilt I exercise rule #3.

I followed the Oh, Fransson! tutorial here.  I wanted it to be bright and cheery and possibly coordinate with her living room which is an asparagus green.  I raided my stash and found a bright fat quarter bundle full of bright oranges and pinks and added to it as necessary.
I obviously cannot follow simple instructions and need a cheat.
I had the hardest time keeping track of the proper order of the fabrics...I was going for cheery, not perfect, so I pressed on.  I used a lattice lay-out for the 8" blocks.  The finished quilt was roughly 50" x 72".


The back.
Close up of meander machine quilting.
Day Two: Kujichagulia - Self-Determination: I will actively work toward defining myself, creating for myself and my community and speaking for myself and my communities of membership.

Day Three: Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility: I will use my energy to build and maintain my communities, to assist my brothers and sisters solve their/our problems together.


ETA: Delivered. She lurves it and it has already been installed. ~ksp

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays!!

Merry Christmas season, Happy Boxing Day (to my friends in Great Brittan and Canada) and lastly a warm first day of Kwanzaa* to all who observe.  Here in the US Northeast we are girding ourselves for a winter blizzard which is forecast to drop about one foot of snow across the glad I'm indoors until after the new year.

This fall season, I began to come back into my normal self.  Those who follow my dealings know that I am over-busy most of the time.  In fact, it is my "normal".  But this summer, between implementing a huge expansion project at work, being a caregiver to my mentee and the usual foolishness I have going on, it was a stressful time.  More than that, it temporarily robbed me of my creativity.

SLOWLY, I have come back to myself.

So this season, I was able to complete several very fun handmade projects, many of which I was able to incorporate many Christmas gifts into the queue.  I'll be showing you some of them.

Stash Sachets


I had a little a little clothes moth scare in a segregated wool stash.  Out of fear of harm to the mother load, I did some investigating of natural moth repellents.  I detest the smell of moth balls, I have too many childhood memories of old smelly church ladies...did I ever tell you that I have an exceptionally keen nose?

Anyways, I did some research on natural materials that protect fabrics and developed these mixes.  All recipes are approximate, but feel free to replicate and adjust as desired.  I gave several cotton/wool gifts where I included a sachet.

Mint Medley


1 part dried mint (any variety is fine)
2 parts dried lavender
1.25 ounces whole cloves

In a small plastic zip bag, crush the whole cloves with a rolling pin (or whatever you've got).  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Place mix in mini sachets.  I used some organza pouches from a craft store chain to bundle them up. 

Cedar Lavender

4 parts cedar shavings
1 part dried lavender

Mix ingredients and sachet as you see fit.

Any of these sachets can be enhanced or rejuvenated with essential oils.  I spruced up my cedar shavings with them.  Enjoy. ~ksp
*Umoja - Unity - is the principle of the first day of Kwanzaa.  On this and every day I will strive to create and maintain unity in my family, community, nation and race.