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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All I Want is a Room Somewhere

I have a confession: I've never actually seen the musical or film, My Fair Lady, but the song Wouldn't It Be Loverly was a cherished song from my Mama, and always has held a special spot in my heart.  It is with the lyrics of this song in mind, that I present to you my sewing/craft space!

We've been in our house for over a year, and are still settling in.  The other night, I found some spare time on my hands and finally finished organizing!  The photos aren't the best quality, as my craft space is in our basement and doesn't have much for natural lighting.  But, photo quality aside, here is my room, far away from the cold night air!

Full Space

Project Corner: Storage Bins for on-going projects,
hanging bags for current knitting/crochet projects,
crate of craft books, and needle/hook storage canisters
Needle/Hook Storage Canisters (left to right): Made from repurposed oatmeal containers
Yarn Scraps, Knitting Needles, and Crochet Hooks & Circular Knitting Needles.

Sewing Nook: Filing cabinet for pattern storage and sewing machine components,
 tackle box for various craft tools, small drawer container for thread, needles, bobbins, and buttons.

Key hook turned scissor holder, magnetic project board.

Cutting/Yarn Area: Our old dining room table turned craft surface, curtains to hideaway
storage tubs under the table, IKEA utility cart for storing yarn
Writer's Corner: 1941 Royal Quiet Deluxe Typewriter from my Grandfather
(This is used for fun projects, including Box of Blooms)

Close-up of the keys - isn't this awesome?!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my little space.  Do you have a special place you like to relax or work on projects?  Share in the comments below!

All I want is a room somewhere, far away...               I currently have this song in my head.  Do you?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Finally Felt Like Felting

I am not a patient person.  In fact, I started writing this post, hoping to have some kind of creative opening about time-saving ridiculous things I do, or how to multi-task, but I grew impatient as I kept stumbling around and couldn't find the right words.  Instead, I'm just going for a dive-right-in kind of post.  HiHowAreYouLet'sGetGoing!

I have never crocheted or knit a blanket, or sweater, or socks. They take way too much time and/or concentration.  It's not worth it to me.  Why make one big, glorious afghan when you can make a gazillion adorable hats?  Well, the same itchy feeling that I get from taking on two big of a knitting project can also crawl on my skin when thinking about Felting (also referred to as Wet Felting).  Ever heard of it?  Using wool yarn, you knit or crochet a larger scaled project, then toss it in the washing machine on the hot cycle, and shrink it down.  In that shrinking process, it creates a thicker, fuller product great for bags, purses, clogs, etc.  So why haven't I jumped into the felting fiesta yet?

For starters, you generally have to make it THREE TIMES THE SIZE as what the final project will be.  Meaning: you waste three times the time, only to have an end product one-third the size of your original effort.  Let the skin crawling commence.  I couldn't get my(impatient)self to devote more time into making something big, only to get something much smaller.  But, I must admit, the felting process intrigued me.  After weighing the time factor against the this-could-be-fun factor, I finally decided to give felting a fighting chance.

I chose a small project, found through Lion Brand's website, to create a small holder for my crochet hooks, though the original pattern was intended to be a pencil holder.

I purchased a few skeins of 100% wool yarn, and began knitting.  And I knitted some more.  And took breaks.  And knitted even more.  I worked on knitting row after row over a period of a month - to which I should add I got bored, and picked up other projects, and then came crawling back - and had this final rectangle:

Knit Rectangle (Quincy, at 8 months old, was my assistant photographer)

Next, I tossed it in the washer to shrink it down.

Washer Settings

And then I washed it again.  And yet a third time.  And then I realized I had screwed up.  Because I had felted just a rectangle, not a pocketed hook holder.

Thrice Felted Rectangle

Apparently, you're supposed to sew up the pockets before you felt the project.  But I was impatient.  And didn't want to wait.  So why would I wait?  Realizing my mistake, I improvised by loosely stitching up the sides to create the portion for the hooks.  But then it looked more like a clutch to me, so I made one pocket to fit a phone, and added a braided loop as a button hole.

Improvised Clutch

Back into the hot waters of the washing machine it went, and out came a very fuzzy clutch.  I picked and groomed my way through, and after a large glob of fuzz, I had a trim clutch that just needed some final touches.

Felting Lint Fuzz

Fuzzy Clutch (Post First Grooming)

I sewed on a funky button (I've had my eye on this very button for a while, and this clutch seemed worthy of such a stellar piece), cut off the scraggly button loop (due to the felting process, my once pretty little braided loop had become a bit too much beverly-hill-billy-beard-esque for my taste), replaced said button loop with a more simple one, sewed on some decorative features, and now am happy to reveal my final project!  I call it the Felt The Love Clutch˚.

˚As in I felt the love put into this clutch. Punny, yes.  Can I help it?  Sadly, no.

Front View: Small Stitched Heart, Funky Button, Improved Button Loop

Back View: Large Stitched Heart, He Loves Me/He Loves Me Not Counter

Inside View: iPhone Pocket, Cash/Card Pocket

Funky Button
Seriously, my favorite button of all time.

He Loves Me/He Loves Me Not Counter
Who needs to pull petals off a flower when you've got this counter?
It adds a unique feature to the clutch you won't find on other pieces.
Plus, if you're a fidgety person, you'll always have something to play with.

Small Stitched Heart
For a little bit of love...

Large Stitched Heart
For more love (you can never get enough love!)

Sadly, I have discovered that I'm allergic to wool, or at least have quite the sensitivity to it: scratchy throat, watery eyes, some dramatic sneezes.  It is for that reason that I will be putting this item up on my new Etsy shop, as my very first item!  Yep, my Etsy shop is called Tugboat Yarning, and you can check it out here!  To the person (whoever you may be) that purchases this clutch, I hope you enjoy it!  I guess if you're reading this "birth story" of sorts, you'll realize that I had no clue what I was doing but that it turned into a cool design in the end.

Have anything you felt like doing, and finally did?

Impatiently yours,


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Box of Blooms

Did you receive a package in the mail with a curious card tucked inside?

You may be wondering, What is this?  Why was this sent to me?  Well, you are holding this curious box in your hands because someone out there LOVES YOU, and wants to make sure you know that you are loved. 

I first  began making these boxes as a way to tell some very important people in my life that they were not forgotten, but instead greatly appreciated, loved, and remembered.  Whether it be in the wake of tragedy, celebrating a joyous occasion, or just saying hey, a Box of Blooms can go a long way in making someone know they are loved.

Each Box of Blooms is uniquely handcrafted: The note is slowly typed out on my late grandfather's typewriter made in 1941; the box is made from repurposed greeting cards, or check boxes, or other quaint boxes that have been brought back to life,  repurposed and re-designed just for you.

And, cradling said note, is a bed of crocheted flowers, each bloom a reminder that someone out there is thinking of you.

Want to send a friend or loved one a Box of Blooms?  Check out Tugboat Yarning’s Etsy shop here!  You can submit the message you wish to include, select the yarn hues for the flowers, and ask for other added features that may make your Box of Blooms particularly special for the receiver.

If you've held a Box of Blooms in your hands, pulled off the lid, and gazed inside, I hope it warmed your heart and made you realize just how wonderful and amazing you are.

Spread the love!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Traditions: Garlic Festival 2012

Many Garlic Cloves Were Harmed in the Making of This Festival

This past Labor Day holiday, we stepped out of our usual daily activities, packed an exorbitant amount of baby gear, clothing, and minor essentials, climbed into the car, cruised across the greeness of Michigan, coasted through the boring parts of Ohio (sorry Toledo, but it's true), enjoyed the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania, and finally made it thirteen hours later to our destination: Jess and Marcus' Apartment.  And where, you ask, is this?  Why it's just two short hours (or long hours if you have a tired infant traveling with you), from the one and only GARLIC FESTIVAL, of course!

A special note of pronunciation and dramatization: Whenever saying GARLIC FESTIVAL, you must pronounce it as if you have wicked-awesome garlic breath, otherwise it's no fun.  Say it.  Say it now.  GARLIC FESTIVAL AHHHHHHHH.  Good job.

Now, one thing you should know is that we are Professional GARLIC FESTIVALers.  This was our third time attending, and we've learned a few things along the way.  But first and foremost, I need to introduce the champions of this year's GARLIC FESTIVAL:

Action Shot of the Pro's: Brad, Quincy, Marcus, & Jess

As I was the photographer for most of the festival, this was one of the few normal shots taken:

Maggie, Garlic Festival 2012 Photographer

Why go to the GARLIC FESTIVAL, you ask?  Because it's all about the food.  Specifically, food laced (not-so-secretly) with garlic.  Below is one of the more garlic-themed food stands.  Fifty imaginary garlic points to whoever can guess how many times garlic appears in the photo!


First, we wandered around, scoping out the various food stands and attractions, and then we pounced.  Our feast was comprised of an eclectic group of garlic goodness, though I have a confession:  The pierogis and potato pancakes I devoured (before taking photographic evidence of their decadence) had no such garlic, but what it lacked in garlic, it made up in onion breath.  Thankfully, Marcus donated some of the garlic sauce that came with his fries, so I wasn't thrown to the garlicless crowd.  Here were some components of the feast:

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Coconut Shrimp, Side of Bottled Water

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

Garlic Drenched French Fries
Garlic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Blueberry Lemonade

Corn on the Cob (first dipped in a vat of butter) with All the Fixin's

We unfortunately continued another tradition with the GARLIC FESTIVAL, which is to not try Garlic Ice Cream.

Will We Ever Love It?  Sadly, I Don't Know.
This was our third year of seeking out the (in)famous treat, only to find it had been sold out.  Maybe next year we will have the (good? bad?) fortune as to finally taste the elusive Garlic Ice Cream.

If you decide to attend any future GARLIC FESTIVALS, be sure to watch for this sign:

If you see it, RUN AWAY.  Or, use the fact that you're nursing an infant, and it could spoil your milk supply, causing said infant to be fussy and irritable, to excuse yourself from any competition - as I did.  If you aren't able to avoid Vinegar Shots, this is what you'll look like:



Oh Em Gee, That's Awful.

Baaaaaawww, It Tastes Like Choking

Try Another?

Be sure to stop by the honey vendor for delicious honey.


And also try a sample of Garlic Honey, or Hot Garlic Honey - they were actually pretty good!

Garlic Honey

And, to close out this post about the GARLIC FESTIVAL, I thought I'd share some additional photos from the day.  Thank you Jess & Marcus for an awesome weekend!

The Bridge to the GARLIC FESTIVAL
Entrance Stamps: Look like apples, but the ladies
administering the stamps swore they were garlic cloves. 

Bags of Garlic

Baskets of Garlic

Bunches of Garlic

American Garlic, Jess & Marcus

Quincy, The Garlic Intimidator

Marcus' Prized Possession: Maple Syrup (sans Garlic)

What are "Awesome Specialty Foods"? I don't know,
except that they're awesome and special.

Brad & Quincy

Jess & Marcus

Brad & Quincy

Action Shot of the Garlic Drenched French Fries

The Garlic Crew (minus photographer Brad)
Maggie & Quincy

Quincy, Scouting for the Garlicless Crowd

Our Picnic Spot on the Hill

Hopefully you have enjoyed our take on the GARLIC FESTIVAL.  Maybe see you next year?