Friday, October 25, 2013

A Pebble for Josh

I hadn't thought I'd get many knitting projects finished before the bird arrived. I even sourced out some knitting to my wonderful friend to make sure I'd have at least a couple pairs of longies and some booties, and I took up my mom on her offers to knit too. It turns out that knitting for babies is quick and easy, and a lot of fun. Between us three, a big pile of knits grew. After Josh was born, the pile continued to grow as I found myself wanting to craft and knit whenever I had the chance. Mama time to unwind, you know.

This little vest is the latest off the needles. It is the Pebble vest by The Thrifty Knitter. I really loved this free pattern. It was so simple to follow and it knit up so quick. I cast on a few days ago and sewed the buttons on this morning. The yarn is Luna Grey Fiber Arts Cosmic in the mushroom colourway. This is my favourite yarn by far. It's the same yarn I used for the hat in this post. What I really like about this vest is that it will keep his core warm without adding bulk around his arms. He is just starting to reach and grab things and sweaters can sometimes make things more difficult.

Along with being fun and relaxing to make, there is something so satisfying about seeing something you made being worn and used. It motivates me to want to make more!

These longies also came off my needles recently..

And that Gift Wrap Romper I made is almost outgrown.

Yes, we are loving the hand knits over here lately!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Leslieville in October

I was back at The Leslieville Flea this month with Lulu & Lolie, and was it ever a great day! We lucked out with some beautiful weather, and as usual got to spend some time with some great people. One of my favourite things about the Flea is talking to all the vendors and shoppers, and I always manage to run into a friend or two. Once set up, both Lucy & I take a turn exploring the other booths, searching all the treasures available this month. I am so grateful for such a wonderful partner in Lucy. There is no way I'd be able to do this alone with an eleven week old. She really goes out of her way to make it easier on me, and I hope I will be able to do the same for her.

Our booth changes each month and I think this month was my favourite set up yet. We had two clothing racks - one for coats and one for dresses/clothing - and lots of fun displays. We like to bring different stock each month so there is always something new for shoppers that come to each one. I love that we have some regular customers - it's nice to see people enjoying things we have carefully picked out. We also have a list of custom requests, and searching out those items for someone specific has become a new favourite pastime of mine.

Our booth was filled with colourful kitchenware, cozy wool blankets, sweaters, and coats, fun housewares, and some great items for kids. Some of my personal favourites were the Vintage authentic Cowichan wool sweater, a red Hudson's Bay coat that was just a little too small for me, and of course the Pyrex! There were also some really cute child sized antique lawn chairs.

October was supposed to be the last month for the Flea until May, but it has been doing so well that the organizers decided to bring it inside for the winter months. It will be the third Sunday of the month as usual, but will be held inside the Jimmy Simpson Community Center. It will be interesting to see how it goes inside as opposed to out!

There were lots of great vendors this month. Many returning from previous Fleas, and some new, everyone with something different to offer. I love that. There is something for everyone. Lots of vintage and antiques, but also new and handmade from local artisans.

One thing I will miss about the outside Fleas are all the dogs that tag along with their owners. I get to love on several furry babes throughout the day. This month we even had a neighbourhood cat drop by. Unfortunately that drop by included the cat eating some flowers and immediately puking them up in the middle of our pathway. At least the little guy was ok! I always worry about outdoor cats in the city. This little guy below is Lucy's dog Bertram, who is a frequent Flea visitor.

Today, I am resting up from yesterday and looking forward to next month's Flea. During Joshie's nap, I'm going through leftover stock and working on an exciting new project for Lulu & Lolie. I cannot wait to share!

We hope to see you at the Flea next month!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pyrex Love Cross Stitch Pattern

It's done! It's finally done!

As is true with most of my craft projects, it took me forever to finish this cross stitch. I had no idea what it would look like when I first started designing it, but I'm mostly happy with the result. There are a few changes I'd like to make - the Spring Blossom flowers, the shape of the dishes, and just a bit of tweaking with the border - but for now I'm just happy it is finished and up on my wall.

I promised to post a pattern when I finished, so here it is! I'll also post a link on my sidebar. I hope that you enjoy it if you try it out. Feel free to send some feedback my way if you'd like as this is my first pattern.

A Fall Drive

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. We usually have a big get together with family and all the fixings, but my mom was recovering from surgery and I didn't want Josh's first big family gathering to be one I was hosting, so we kept it quiet. It was good we did, because in the middle of cooking a smaller dinner, I walked down to the basement and realized the carpet was soaking wet. We were flooded! Turns out there was a clog in the pipe that was forcing water to come out of a previously capped exposed pipe (no idea where that cap went), and any time we used the kitchen sink more water poured out. The last time our basement flooded we bought a flood alarm so we'd know right away. The flood alarm? It was laying on its side soaking wet. Next time I'm duct taping that thing to the wall because it has to be upright to work. The day quickly turned into a furniture moving, wet vac-ing, carpet cutting, and phone tagging with emergency plumbers kind of day. I am thankful we noticed quickly, and nothing important was destroyed.

With the flood dealt with and industrial fans blowing, on Monday we needed some fun. We went on one of my favourite yearly traditions - a Fall drive to look at the leaves, and getting our pumpkins for the year. It was beautiful out!

He slept right through his very first pumpkin experience. I had planned on switching him to the baby hawk, but he was so peaceful sleeping that Jer carried him in the car seat. Both he and the dog pass out on car rides. I wanted a picture of him in the pumpkins, so this is what I got!

We did our usual abbreviated pumpkin experience at "Front Door Farms". They have piles of pumpkins out front and we take our pick. Next year when Josh is a bit older we will be doing the full on wagon ride to the pumpkin patch where we'll pick for ourselves, and I cannot wait!

It has been such a beautiful Fall this year. I think we may have to do this again next weekend!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sewing For Baby: Bandana Bibs

It has been getting a little moist in here! I guess that's what happens when you have a two month old, but this came as a surprise to this still new mama. You see, when I had walked by those teeny bibs in the baby stores I laughed them off as unnecessary accessories. Decorative props for photos. Baby billboards. A Santa bib for Christmas, a Menorah bib for Hannukah, a jack-o-lantern bib for Halloween, or those silly little "I love mama...give me cookies...I'm a boob man" sayings. One for all occassions! Bibs were really for protecting baby clothes from solid food, right? That was months away! We were lucky to avoid spit ups for the first while, and I thought the whole drooling thing held off until teething began. We bought one, and only because it had a monkey on it. It wasn't until the bird turned two months that I realized just how much spit up and drool could come out of such a tiny human. We were doing a crazy amount of outfit changes so he wasn't sitting in a wet top and it was time to embrace the bib.

A good friend from over seas had sent me the most wonderful care package after Josh was born. It was filled with cloth diapers, hand dyed muslins and onesies, teas and goodies for me, the most thoughtful card (and one from her little daughter too!), and some other lovely gifts. Included in there was a little rainbow striped bandana bib. Maybe it's because I don't run in the cool mama circles, or because they're much more popular in the UK, but I had never seen one before. I loved it! It was practical, but also super cute, and actually looks like part of an outfit. Instead of running out and buying a bunch of bibs, I decided to break out the failed cloth diaper making supplies again and make some myself. This time I got to use the snaps too!

These are so quick, which means I'm at the sewing machine several times throughout the day trying to make a few more while the baby sleeps. We go through these things fast! They're as easy as cutting out a triangle of fabric and a matching triangle of the organic cotton velour that I still have mountains of (polar fleece would be a good option for these since it will wick any wetness away from baby's skin so the bib can be worn longer), sewing them right sides together with an opening to turn, turning and top stitching (I closed the opening with the top stitching rather than doing it by hand), and attaching the snaps. If you don't have a snap press, velcro or a button & hole should work fine.

To get the right size, measure loosely around your baby's neck. Add about an inch on each side for the snap, and then enough seam allowance. If you wanted them to last longer, do a larger triangle and add an extra snap or two so you can loosen the bib as your baby grows.

If you do decide to invest in a snap press, do yourself a favour and get a proper one. I got this hand held one at a tiny fraction of the cost, but it is finnicky and cracks 75% of the snaps I put in. It also isn't as effective so some of the time one side will pull out when opening. If you plan to use it a lot (like to make your own cloth diapers!), the proper one will pay for itself.

These won't sit flat like a typical bib, but I actually like that as the folds tend to catch the more serious spit ups better than a flat bib. Much love for the bandana bib! Now to make that pile bigger.

*Of course, don't keep anything around your baby's neck without supervision.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Let's Talk Thrifting

I love thrifting, and get asked questions about it from time to time, so I wanted to make a post that would hopefully answer them. I want to address the idea that you should only shop at thrift stores if you fall under a certain income bracket. I have seen some harsh judgement on thrift shoppers over this, but it is not true at all. Most thrift stores are charity organizations. The profits made from sold items are donated to charities and/or put into community programs. The more that sells, the more the community benefits. Most stores put what doesn't sell into dumpsters. Some things that are never even put out on the shelves are thrown into dumpsters because there is so much donated. Aside from saving some cash, maybe you shop at thrifts for environmental reasons, maybe you just like vintage. There are many reasons to thrift, and anyone is welcomed to.

What I hear most often is 'I don't know how people find all this great vintage stuff. I went to my local thrift store and all I found was crusty old clothes.' When I first got into thrifting I felt the same way. I had gone in expecting to be greeted by a meca of beautiful vintage goodies, and that just wasn't the reality. On my first trip I came away with two pieces of not really that great Pyrex. For every time I find something really great, there are several times I've gone where I've found nothing at all. The simplest answer is you have to go a lot, and you really have to look.

Here are a few helpful tips..

Don't feel like you have to go early. Many stores put things out throughout the day rather than stock the shelves early in the morning. Stores will be less busy on weekdays during typical work hours, unless it is a special promotion day (like 20% off for seniors on Tuesdays), so if you don't like crowds and are free during those hours, go then.

Don't give up on a shop if you don't find anything for a while. I have several favourite locations in my rotation where I tend to find more, but occassionally I will find something amazing at shops I don't usually see anything at.

Pay attention to the neighbourhood the shop is in. If I want to find name brand baby clothes in excellent condition for the bird I'll shop at a location near a more upscale neighbourhood. If I want to find antique mason jars for under a buck I'll shop at a location in a smaller town surrounded by farm land. If I want to find mid-century furniture I'll shop in an neighbourhood with homes built in the 1950s/60s where residents may be clearing things out. For the best records and vintage clothing I'll go downtown. That isn't to say you won't find these things at other locations (last week I saw a shelf full of antique mason jars at 99 cents each in the more upscale neighbourhood location), but it can pay to be aware of where you shop. I find that friends who live in the Mid-Western US find the absolute best stuff.

Be open with what you're looking for. I always have a list of things I'm looking for, but I like to look at all the shelves and sections when I'm at a shop because I really never know what I'll find and fall in love with.

Bring a friend and make a fun day of it. Even if you're looking for the same things it can be more fun to shop with a friend. Lucy and I have gone on some great thrifting trips, hitting up several stores in a day, and my mom is a favourite thrifting buddy. It's great to have a second pair of eyes and a second opinion.

If you aren't sure, put it in your cart. You can always put it back later. Most times when I pick an item up and put it back on a shelf, someone else grabs it before I've had much of a chance to step away. If I think I may want something, it goes in my cart. Now, if you are trying to avoid buying things you aren't completely in love with, putting it back can be a good strategy. If someone else picks it up, you can't buy it.

Don't buy something just because it's inexpensive or you think it's worth a lot. If you won't use it and you won't see that money, it's not worth anything. Only buy things you actually like.

Don't be afraid to ask for discounts on poorly priced items. Some thrift stores fancy themselves boutique vintage shops lately with how popular thrifting has become. Prices can get pretty outrageous. Let a manager know that something is priced poorly.

Go when you travel. You never know what you'll find at a new to you location. Just be aware of how much space you have in your luggage.

Do an online search for locations. There may be stores near you that you never even knew existed.

Some other places to look for great vintage items: antique malls, estate sales, church sales, flea markets, garage sales, craigslist/kijiji, etsy/ebay. Do an internet search to see what's in your area, check craigslist/kijiji for garage sale/estate sale/church sale postings, check your local newspaper's 'what's going on this weekend' section, and use the saved search function on ebay.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

If you can't get what you want, make it yourself

I love most things about living in this country. I am very lucky. In the grand scheme of things this is a very minor, slight annoyance, and hardly a blip on the radar. I'm talking about Canadian shipping and the many, many places that just don't do it. A while ago a certain store with sometimes very cute home decor and accessories pulled Canadian shipping from that section of their website. Around the same time the same store stopped selling any home stuff in Canadian locations. This happened just after the cutest pintucked pillows debuted, and just before I decided to order a couple.. of course. I thrifted a cute little red corduroy version a year or so back, but the velvety versions in lovely colours were just too much. I took to Etsy, sure that a talented artisan or two would have an even better version, but surprisingly I didn't find much. Ebay? Nothing. Google search? Again, nothing but the same store and many, many blog posts about how adorable these pillows are. There was also this.

I've never smocked before, but with instructions that straight forward this was totally doable. I could have my pillows, and even better, I could make them myself!

Then came the challenges. Oh, the challenges! I couldn't find my pink velvelty fabric. After some searching online I found a close match on Etsy, but it wasn't exactly cheap. Round pillow forms don't seem to exist in any store near me, so again I had to order online. The forms were under $4 a piece, but shipping for those babies cost a pretty penny. A doll making needle to pass through the pillow for tufting? Nope! Every craft store, fabric store, specialty store, and craft section of a big box store failed me, which I'm sad to say is not an uncommon occurance. I'm beginning to wonder if these shops are useful for more than cute scrapbooking supplies, cake pop kits, and a limited selection of novelty fabrics. Most online shops who carried the needles didn't ship to Canada. Etsy saved me again, and my pack of 5 to 7 inch doll making needles were on their way. The only part of this project I actually found in person were the button making parts.

It's not perfect, and I can't even claim to have saved some cash by making it myself after all of those shipping fees (I will save on the second since I just need the fabric!), but I have my pretty pink round "pintucked" pillow and plans to make a plum version to go with it.

It's just a pillow, and a silly thing to get worked up about, but I'm glad to have been able to make it, and I do love the way it looks on my chair (I really did need a pillow for this chair since it stops halfway up my back and it's where I sit to breastfeed the baby's the comfiest chair otherwise). I'm so glad for crafty bloggers who are willing to share tutorials with the rest of us.