Monday, August 27, 2012

Hand Knit Challenges

Mary had a Little Lamb was my theme song growing up, and so I have always had a fondness for little lambs.  When I saw the Hand Knit stamp set it was love at first sight.  I didn't knit much in those days, but I was learning.  In fact, my sister, Sally, had worked in a yarn shop for many years, and eventually bought in as part owner when she retired.  She was a fabulous knitter, with a great personality and tons of patience, so she saw to it that all her sisters, and many of her nieces, learned how to knit.  I used to call her "the yarn pusher", because she always gave you a beautiful ball of yarn as a gift, along with a pair of needles and a pattern, so that you would have no excuse for not learning.  Once she got you hooked on this addictive habit, it was going to cost you big time to continue knitting.  But, you've got to love her, and we all knit today.
 I decided that I was going to make some little tags and cards to sell at a craft sale. So today I worked up a little knitting and a little lamb (reminds me of all the beautiful knitting you see at the fair, and the sweet little lambs in the petting barns that I like to visit. Once again,I made the cards with 2 challenges in mind.  First is Dynamic Duos #17 to use Wisteria Wonder and Concord Crush.  The second was a sketch perfect for this little card from Retro Sketches#26, which had the simple layout I was looking for.
I ordered the Hand Knit stamp set and a stamp pad for Sally's birthday gift April of last year, and just before her birthday she informed us that the yarn shop would be closing.  It was very sad for Sally, and all the people who loved the shop.  It just did not sound like the right time to gift her with a knitting stamp set, when she was kind of trying to put that behind her.  So, I held on to it for a while, intending to give it to her later, but it proved to be irresistible to me, and I just had to crack it open and give it a try.  I always intended to make some cute little tags to accompany the hand knit things I have made, and give some to my sister's too.  I manage to get one made for each of the baby afghans I have made this past year.  I made two for the first baby, Kol, born last October.  One when he was born and another for Christmas.  I made one for Olivia, born in January, and several hats, too.  Now, I have started one for the next baby, a boy, due in September, but that one is not going so well.  I headed off to the yarn shop, pattern in hand, that I had gotten off the knitting blog of somebody I found on Ravelry, which is a knitters heavenly blog.  As luck would have it, my first choice of yarn, they did not have enough of a blue color in stock.  Second choice was green.  I chose a sage, celery, and camel combination.  It looked fun and kind of contemporary.  This blanket is made up of triangle pieces, and forms a hexagon shaped blanket.  When I got to the sage green, I was unsure about the color, maybe it was too dark.  After making four of each color squares, I put them together, and was unsure about whether I liked it.  I put the sage aside and decided I would go back and replace it with a different color, which I did.  Started knitting that one, and did not like it either.  I was talking with my sister about it, and she asked me if I really liked the project or not, and I decided that I did not.  The pieces are larger than I expected, and it looked more for a grandma than a baby.  So I stopped knitting.  I am looking for a new pattern, and I am taking the rest of the yarn back.  Looks like somebody may be getting an interesting scarf, eventually.
Hope you like my little lamb card.   I'm also going to share a few of my better knitting projects with you.  Someday, when the baby days are gone, I might make something worth entering in the state fair. 
Mary Alice
Tony & Smita
Kol's blanket by Me
Kol's blanket, hat by Laura, Sweater by Sally
Kol's second blanket
Kol & Gary
Laura & Me
Olivia's blanket
Olivia's spring hat


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Betsy's note set for a challenge

I have 2 craft sales coming up the end of September, and September starts next weekend. I always have more ideas than I have time for, so today I started making a list, and trying to prioritize.  Lacking motivation, or the supplies to get some projects done, I struggled all day with what to do.  I could waste a lot of time looking on the Internet for new ideas, but I decided that instead I would look for a challenge for my inspiration again.  Today I pulled out 2 challenges and my Betsy's blossoms stamp set.  I found a beautiful color palette from Color Throwdown 206 to use Cameo Coral (I used Calypso Coral), Certainly Celery, Pretty in Pink, and Tempting Turquoise (I used Bermuda Bay).  Since my plan was to make some little note card sets, and I was using 3X3" squares, I remembered that the card challenge 270 at Stamping411 was to use a square card.  The big challenge was to get the layout on my tiny cards, but, I did it.  My photos just don't do them justice, because it was really hard to get the pink to show.
The big blossom from the stamp set, which I always call the mum, was used in 3 different ways.  On one I used it for the whole square frame, the second it got punched with a Fancy Flower Punch and the third was stamped with the Blossom Bouquet Triple Layer punch.  I used all the layers from the triple punch to create layering pieces behind the flowers.  I did a bunch of stamping, punching and cutting to create these cards, but a lot of it was rejected, or ended up in the "to be used later" pile. 
I just could not have room for a bow on my layout, and hope that doesn't kick me out of the running for the challenge at Stamping 411. 
The basket idea is one I have been holding on to for years, and finally got around to making it.  After I got all the photos done, I decided that I really need to add a bow on the handle.  You may not be able to see that I actually have Calypso Coral ruffled edge ribbon on the handle, so I'll show another photo where you can see it a little bit.  I just made a little open box to sandwich between 2 4" scalloped circles.  When I cut them, I actually folded the paper, and made it so the fold was in about 1/2 inch from the edge of circle, so the circles are joined, and then I scored them and folded around the box. 
I had fun making this set, and plan to do several more in different paper and color schemes.  So I sure hope somebody comes out with another fun color scheme for the next challenge. 
That's the end of the weekend, and time to clean up a little and get ready for a fresh start tomorrow.  I have a job to do, if I am going to be ready for 2 craft sales. 
Hope you liked my project, and come back to see me again.    
Mary Alice

Crazy for a challenge

I was a little bit bored tonight, so I headed back to the craft room and looked for another challenge to do.  I decided to combine three challenges, for color, layout, and technique.  It's always fun to try to find some challenges that can work together, and I really had fun doing this one. First I went for the color, since I already had some of these colors on the table from the last challenge (not that I used any of that stuff in the end).  Colour Q Challenge #151 suggested using Pumpkin Pie, Tempting Turquoise, Basic Gray, Basic Black and White (I used white inside).  Second, I liked the idea of using herringbone design suggested by the challenge #132 at Hand Stamped Sentiments.  Looking at the graphic I had the idea to use herringbone paper, but then saw other cards using the paper piecing technique called herringboning.  Since I have been on kind of a state fair theme this week, I kept thinking of a quilt pattern.  I love the way they often choose some very bold colors, and back them with black, so I went with that idea.  Third challenge was deciding on a layout, and the one at  Sketch Frenzy Friday #712 was just what I needed.  I kind of liked adding the extra little matching stripes down the side, and I used them inside as well.   The paper I used is from the Brights Collection Paper Stack DSP.  This card was so much fun to make, until I come down to adding a sentiment. Unless I am making the card for somebody specific, I often have a hard time deciding on a specific sentiment.   I figured kind of a goofy card deserves kind of a goofy sentiment, and the wish big from Bring on the Cake was what I chose, and I'm not sure that was the right one to use, but decision made.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Make some creative time :)       Come back again soon.  
 Mary Alice

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Whhooooo stayed tooo long at the fair?

The Minnesota State Fair is in full swing, and I love the fair!  Not sure when I will go, but I will be sure to attend as it runs through Labor Day.  They had a bit of excitement the first day, when one of the midway rides, the Stratosphere, which consists of swings circleing around a tower that raises you up 40+ feet in the air.  The ride broke down leaving people up there for 45 minutes, and the same thing happened again on Friday.  You won't get me on that ride!!  No way!!
I feel like I have been riding the Ferris Wheel for the past couple of days.  My daughter-in-law made a trip to the hospital, where they kept her for a day and a half for observation, and waiting to make a decision on whether they would need to deliver her baby early at 36 1/2 weeks.  So, I've been feeling the ups and downs, and round and rounds of waiting to see what will happen.  They sent her home on bed rest, which is a good thing.  However, this was the wake up call that they need to get things ready for the baby, NOW!   We had a shower for Melissa last Sunday, and she brought along a basket of baby clothes to wash while she was here.  But, today David brought the rest of the baby laundry, and went out to get the rest of the things they needed.  He had to make space in the bedroom for a crib, and find a place for a dresser, and they were going to buy a new bed for the big sister who will be sharing the room eventually.  Reality sets in fast, when that first false alarm trip to the hospital happens. 
I did not get much done the past few days, except that their daughter, Emily, who is 8 yrs. came to spend the day and night with me when mom and dad went to hospital.  Of course, the first thing she wants to do is hit the craft room.   So a fair card is what I made.
Ferris Wheel, Chicago World Exhibition 1893
I did this card with two challenges in mind.   First challenge #8 with Nacho Average Challenge to use Real Red, Pumpkin Pie and Tempting Turquoise, and I loved the combination.  Fun to work with for this project.  The second was CFC67 at CAS-ual Fridays to use banners and flags, and I hope I did not get too carried away to call this card simple.  When you are thinking like a kid, it's easy to get carried away. 
My first step was to make a Ferris Wheel.  I just finished reading a very interesting book, The Devil in the White City, which was a story about the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893, and that is where the first Ferris Wheel was made.  It held 2,000, yes 2,000 people in 35 cars that were the size of Pullman cars on a train.  It was an unbelievable feat. 
I used a flower from Mixed Blossoms stamp set for the wheel.  The owl and balloons came from Owl Occasions, and the pinwheel is from Happy You.  I guess my card is about as mixed up and diverse as a state fair.  Hope you liked it. 

 Mary Alice

Friday, August 24, 2012

A pair of Perfectly Preserved pears

This is my pair of Perfectly Preserved pears made with Nuggets.  The very first thing I made with this set was to make these little treat jars.  I just knew I had to make a 3D jar, because that jar just speaks to me.  I used to do a lot of canning, and pears was one of my favorites things to put up.  They are fun to pack in the jars, too, because they slip together so easily in the jar.
I used some of that little pear printed paper from Orchard Harvest DSP to wrap four Nuggets to pack in my little jars.  I made a little 3 sided box with a strip of paper 4 1/2" by 1 1/2" wide that I folded 1/4" in on either side lengthwise.  Then I folded  it twice at 1 1/2" and 3" so both the sides and bottom of the box are 1 1/2".  I punched the oval on the the two jars, then glued them front and back to my little box.  I put the nuggets in the jar, and took a 2" strip of matching paper for the jar topper, and folded it over the top of the nuggets and glued it to either side jar, so that the nuggets don't fall out of the top.  I added a ribbon, which also hold the top nugget in place.  A little tag that says Just for You makes this little jar all ready to gift.  This was one of the projects that Kay Kalthoff chose to demonstrate at our workshop last weekend.  Kay made a video demonstrating how to make it that you can find on her blog here.  Everybody enjoyed making this, and I was tickled that they all liked it so well.  Hope you liked it too.

Kay also designed a card with the Perfectly Preserved Bundle for the workshop.  It's quick and easy, but just homey and sweet, and I heard that it was a design from Mary Fish.  It reminds me of a jar used for a vase in grandma's kitchen with the gingham plaid oilcloth tablecloth, and all the flowers that we would pick out in the field by her country home.  My grandmother always had huge gardens, and you always took a walk through the garden and gathered things we would use for our meal.  I also remember that she would make up a jar of nectar for us kids.  We were used to KoolAid at home, but grandma had a syrup from Watkins Spice Co. that made a flavored drink she called Nectar.  It helped that well water taste much better to us city kids.  Grandma passed away about 15 years before we had to move Grandpa to a nursing home.  I helped my father clean out the house, and I had to look carefully through every drawer, envelope, and container, because my grandfather with Alzheimer's was hiding things like money all over the house.  In the cabinet in the dining room I found a peanut butter jar, with a piece of paper in it that read "Joe, you keep your hands off my garden and egg money".  It must have been where she kept the proceeds of the sale of eggs and produce she sold in her produce stand at the side of the road by her house.  I thought it very sweet that the jar was still there, but the money wasn't :)
I'm thinking about going to the fair today, for a little while.  But, I started a very strict diet this week, and there is just so much tempting foods there that I know I can't resist.  I just don't think I can help myself, so I might have to stay home, unless I can find somebody with great willpower to be my guiding conscience to go with me. 
Have a great weekend.
Mary Alice

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our state fair is the best state fair, and it starts today

 The Minnesota State Fair starts today, and it's a really big deal around here.  Since the fair is in St. Paul, where I live, I grew up going to the fair every year.  Sometimes more than once.  It's 12 days long, it covers a lot of ground, and there is so much to see and do.  Great entertainment, great food, great people watching and great exhibits, that's why they call it "The Great Minnesota Get-Together". 
Even though the fair is still not all about farming, that is always been an important part of any fair, and people all look forward to seeing the animals, the crop exhibits, the farm machinery, and the tasty treats that go along with it.  The dairy building makes the best malted milks and sundaes, and you can watch them carve the head of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way (the queen of the fair) out of butter.  All the princesses who represent counties all over the state get their heads carved in 25 pounds of butter.  They sit in a refrigerated glass room with the sculptor for hours.  They get to take it home, where some busts end up in the freezer to save, others use it for a big corn feed party.  The agriculture-horticulture building has exhibits of seed artwork, and the top prize winning produce, and the best honey candy. 
 Growing up my favorite fair treat was a carmel apple, or mini-donuts, whichever was closer at the time. 
The first thing I head to now is the Creative Activities Building to see all the beautiful quilts, and knitting, and sewing and lace, woodworking, and home baked or home canned food.  I have always dreamed of entering baked goods in the fair.  Maybe one of these days I will.  But for now, I will continue to hone my skill at paper crafts. 
These are scrapbook pages that I made to honor the state fair, but they could also represent your garden or your canning activities.  Could be a prize that is won at the fair for just about anything. 
The stamps are all from the Perfectly Preserved set with coordinating Framelits, that come also in a bundle.  It is so much fun to be able to cut out the shapes and play around with them.  Your imagination runs wild when you get your hands on these.  I was stamping fruit in the jars (where I used a masking method to get them stacked in).  I was lining fruits and veggies all over the place.  Kind of stamping gone wild, much like my vegetable garden.  I also had to include a few needlework pieces, with embroidery and a quilt  made from the Orchard Harvest DSP that was used on the page.  The Orchard Harvest Suite in the new SU holiday catalog is such a delight.  I have never had as much fun as I have had with this set.  I know you'll love it, too. 
Come back again for another visit to the fair with me.  I'll have more fair exhibits tomorrow.

Mary Alice

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Scentsational Season projects

 Couldn't you just eat these up?  I love this stamp set called Scentsational Season, and it's coordinating Framelits Holiday Collection.  This first card was used to cut 3 of the figures out of Crumb Cake paper.  Then we laid the crumb cake piece over the white card and pencil traced the outlines.  We added adhesive using the Adhesive Circles to cover those outlines, then layered ribbon to cover each outline.  The crumb cake paper was then layered over it using dimensional adhesive to lift it off the surface.  We added a little dot and dash outline with a white gel pen, and finished it off with Espresso brown Baker's Twine and a tiny tag. 
Using the same Sensational Season stamp set, we used the mug, steam, and candy cane stamps to create this sensational gift pack.  It's an awfully sweet idea, but what makes it even more fun is you can add some Sugar & Spice or Peppermint Sticks Scented Stampin' Emboss Powder to the stamping to add a flavored scent to your project.  Isn't that sweet?  We tied a little candy swizzle stick to the pocket using 1/4" Sweater Trim in Cherry Cobbler, added a cocoa packet, and this little gift should perk anybody up, whether it is a sick friend, or the neighbor who shoveled your sidewalk when it snowed.  
These cute little projects were ones I made at our demo workshop last weekend, where we got to try out all kinds of products from our SU holiday catalog.  All of these products can be found there. So, I can't take credit for the designs, but I can take credit for the assembly :)  I'm so glad I got this stamp set, because I just know I will want to make more of these.    How about you? 
Mary Alice

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy halloween treats

This past Saturday, I attended a holiday workshop where we created lots of fun projects.  I was especially excited about these Halloween projects.  We had some wonderful demonstrators who created these projects, and I just had to do the assembly, so I cannot really take the credit for them.  My favorite was the treat box, which is similar to one in the SU holiday catalog.  After watching the demonstration, I was ready to make this one my first project.  I thought this was cute, and quite easy-peasy to make.  I took my black box, which was already scored for me, and I attached the plaid paper, and headed over to the the Big Shot to cut the frame out.  When I completed the cuts, I came back to assemble and said "How did that happen?"  Somehow in the course of cutting the Framelit moved, the plaid paper moved, and my cuts were made right over the crease line for the box!!  I screwed up, big time!  I was so disappointed ;( 
Since I blew the first project, and did not want to proceed with assembly, I packed it up, to take it home, and make it over with my paper at home.  (Only one pre-packed project per person, of course).  I took a photo of the original project, so I could make mine later, and went on to the card. 
To jump ahead a bit, today, while the baby napped I took out my treat box to remake it, but I did not have access to my camera (in the room where baby slept), so I did it from memory.  I think it turned out really nice, but if you go to the catalog to compare it, I flipped everything around.  I guess you could say, I made it all mine. 
The card was quick and easy, but was made with one of my favorite stamps, the iron gate.  It reminds me of the gate in front of the witches house that was down at the end of my street.  It was one of those houses that you would be afraid to approach on Halloween night.  It was painted an ugly green, the shrubs were overgrown, vines climbed all over the fence, it had a witches hat turret on the corner of the house.  Scary looking, but the lady that lived there was our Avon representative, and she was a nice grandma type lady, who always gave you a cookie for dropping off mom's check for her order. 
The card has a bit of a spooky look that reminds me of all those beautiful old houses in my neighborhood, that we scary at night. 
The stamp set is called Toxic Treats, and the paper is Howlstooth & Scaringbone DSP.  I've got the paper, but now I must get this scary stamp set and get some toxic treats cooking.  AAaak-ha-ha. Hah-ha!!
Come back real sooon, and see what I've got brewing ;)

Scary Mary Alice

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wonderful Workshop Weekend

I went to a wonderful Holidays Camp-a-Rama hosted by Dawn Olchefske this past Saturday, and, as usual, I came away full of inspiration, and a box full of samples.  I always enjoy getting together with the ladies at workshops like this, because I make so many new friends.
We had great demonstrations, wonderful sample boards that gals brought to share, a card swap, along with a card contest where we could vote on our favorites from the swap.  This was one of my favorite projects, and I could not wait to show you.  If you have seen the Stampin' Up! Holiday catalog you would be awed by the lovely ornament on the cover, at least I was.  Of course, there are always a hundred things I want in the catalog, so some things get pushed down the list, and my favorites get purchased first.  I usually have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of creating Christmas projects in July and August.  So, I usually order things that I would be more likely to use right away.  Everytime I turn around, somebody has made another beautiful project with this Ornament Keepsakes bundle, which includes the ornament stamps and the framelits dies to match.
This ornament  one pictured in the catalog, and it involved stamping and cutting 18 ornaments, but I think it's worth the time and effort.  We were just fortunate that many people were willing to bring their Framelits to the workshop so we were able to cut 4 matching ornaments at a time on the Big Shot.  I imagine doing them one at a time would be worth it, too.
I know that this is one stamp bundle that I just have to get my hands on.  Can you imagine this made in autumn colors for a beautiful fall ornament?  I can :) 
I'll continue to share some of the fabulous projects we made.  We were able to try our hands at so many amazing products, but Dawn also saw to it that we each came home with pads of swatches of all the designer papers in the catalog, and samples from all the different kits available, as well as sample embellishments and ribbons.  I got 42 beautiful handcrafted cards that other demos swapped with me.   I felt like spent the day trick or treating.   
I want to thank Dawn for coordinating the workshop, Patsy for sharing her story as a guest speaker, Kay, Jan, Jolene, and Laurie for presenting us with the projects we made.  It was such a treat!!
Hope you had a wonderful weekend yourself. 

Mary Alice