Thursday, February 25, 2010

neighborly news: a finished knit, blessings and a give away!

I finished my grown up girl neighborly a while ago and have worn it several times.  I love it!  Larissa sent me the yarn and the pattern (quite a neighborly gesture wouldn't you say?!?) and I started it before Christmas.  But, with all of  the holiday finishing, it got put aside until after the holidays.  That actually worked out great as this sweater turned out to be the 'best riding to basketball game' knitting ever.
 I was thinking it was going to be a be a bit short on me, but some aggressive blocking helped with the length.  If you've never knit yourself a garment before, I highly recommend this one.  It's fast and simple with no seaming whatsoever.  And the noro yarn makes for fun knitting as you get to the end.  Thanks Larissa for blessing me with such a fun project. 

The knitty gritty:
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted - 2 skeins ~ Chocolate Souffle
Noro Kureyon- 2 skeins ~ #156
Needles: US 8 circulars and US 6 size double pointed needles
Size: Medium
Mods: None...I knit it just like Larissa wrote it!

In other neighborly news, I've been blessed recently with some tremendous gifts from some of my wonderful friends:
~a special mini quilt made from vintage linens from Jodi of Jolly Bee
~some adorable sachets and yummy fabric from Larissa of Stitches in Play
~and a package full of goodies and this too cute for fingers hand-towel from Kristyn of Kristyn Knits
I love every one of them.  So in the spirit of being neighborly...and because I've been so blessed..."Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows~ James 1:17" .....I thought it would be fun to have a little neighborly give away.  Just leave a comment sharing one of the blessings in your life and I'll enter your name for a chance to win a perfect box pouch and a snappy fabric cuff!  I'll pick a name March 1st!  Enjoy the blessings in your life...both the big and the small. 
 ***oh and Grasshopper...I don't have your email address so if you could email that to me or leave it in the comments, I'll make sure you have a napkin swap partner.  Thanks! 

Saturday, February 20, 2010


My small change for February was for our family to do away with paper napkins.  So, we made the switch to exclusively using cloth napkins.  So good.  When I originally posted about that small change there was some interest generated in having a cloth napkin swap.  Courtney actually suggested we've been 'talking'.  Courtney and I are excited about the swap and it sounds like several of you are as well. 

So, here's the nitty gritty:
Leave a comment here with your email address so I can get in touch with you.  {If you have a blog, make sure you're signed in, in order for me to get your address....sometimes I get that no reply comment thingy...that won't help me get in touch with you.}  If you don't want to leave your email address in the comment section...send me an email instead.  My email is on my side bar.  Once everyone has signed up, you will be paired with a partner and you and your partner will swap a set of 6 handmade cloth napkins ~ 16" square. (version 1...directions here.)
Here's the mother in me coming out, but if you sign up, you need to follow through with making and sending your napkins to your partner.  We've all been the recipient of a secret Santa exchange gone bad...and you know how that feels.   So, sign up under 'Scouts Honor'.  You and your partner can be in touch with each other and share addresses and color preferences once you get their name.  Just think, you'll be making a new friend as well as getting 6 napkins!  So, if you're commited to making 6 napkins and sending them off to a new friend, leave a comment or send me an email.  Hopefully, we'll get a flickr group set up so you can post pictures of your napkins as you make and receive them.  The deadline for sign ups is the end of next week....2/27.  I'll aim to get you your partner's information by March 6th...You should plan on having your napkins in the mail along with your taxes by April 15th...sound good? 
Oh! and Courtney made a button (isn't it cute!?) if you participate feel free to grab it and add it to your blog!
napkin swap button

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

snowthing much

We're out from under the bulk of the snow....but it's still piled up all around outside.  We're slowly getting back to our regular routine after having all of life cancelled.  It's been nice to be home enjoying the slower pace that snow days bring.  We've been:
{drying out}
{warming up}
We've also been shoveling, doing school, crafting, baking and watching lots of basketball.  Hope your days have been full as well...Check back later this week for sign ups and information about the Napkin Swap....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

napkin fever and a feeler

You guys are the best..thanks for sharing all your thoughts and ideas on my last post.  I've gleaned some great tips for reducing our paper towel usage. Sounds like so many of you use cloth napkins regularly or want to. 
So I was thinking ahead to my next post and I was going share my thoughts on how to survive a blizzard.  We're under a blizzard warning today and we've already got over 2 feet of snow piled up out there. 
However, several of you asked for directions on how I sew my cloth napkins so I thought that might be a better post instead.  And besides, if you're inside during a blizzard it will help you pass the time.  (two birds with one stone!)  Here are 3 quick ways to whip up your own set of cloth napkins.

For all the versions,  You will need cotton or linen fabric.  Your should be something easy to launder and something you'd want on your table.  You can cut your fabric to the size that works for you and your family.  Standard cloth napkins come in a variety of sizes...12, 14 or 16 inch square seem to be the most popular. 

Version one:
This is the one I use almost exclusively.   You'll use one piece of  fabric for each napkin.  Cut your fabric to the size you prefer and iron under all edges 1/4 of an inch. 
Then go back and iron them all again folding them over another 1/4 of an inch.  (This hides your raw edge inside the seam.). 
 Using your sewing machine sew all the way around; pivoting at each corner. 
 (If you want a really sharp, professional mitered corner then follow the directions on this tutorial.) Press and enjoy. 

Version two:
This version yields a thicker, reversible napkin.  This is how Larissa made the napkins that she sent me.  Cut two pieces of fabric the same size.  You'll be using two pieces for each napkin.  With right sides together, pin around the edges.  Sew 1/4 inch seam all the way around leaving an opening for turning.
Clip your corners and turn right side out.  Press, rolling your seams to get them flat.  Now, topstitch around the edges closing your opening as you go. 
Press and enjoy.   

Version three:
This version is the one my mom made and used when I was growing up.  It takes a bit more time but it looks really nice once you've finished.  For this version, a woven fabric such as a homespun works really well.
 In order to tell if you have a woven fabric look at both should look the same on both sides.  Most cotton prints have one side that is the obvious right side.  With homespuns, both sides are identical because the design is in the color of the thread so both sides are the same.  Homespuns are also woven more loosely and they fray better.  Cut your fabric for the size napkin that you desire. You'll only be using one piece for each napkin. 
Sew all the way around your piece about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch with a straight stitch. The bigger the seam allowance, the more fringe you'll get.  
Now, using a straight pin, start fraying the edges removing the horizontal threads.  (Grab a comfy seat...this part takes a while)  Fray until all four edges are done...this results in a great edge that won't come undone because your stitching holds the remaining fibers in place. 
Now that you're done, use those beautiful napkins!!!  I just throw mine in the wash with my towels and fold them when they come out of the dryer. I don't even bother with pressing them...we just load them back in the drawer for the next meal. 
So here's where I want to see what you guys think...there's been some interest in doing a cloth napkin swap.  Courtney and I've been talking about it so, I'm putting a feeler out there to see who else is interested.  I'm thinking that swapping sets of 6 handmade cloth napkins would be pretty practical.  Let me know what your thoughts are...are you interested?    Once I see what the interest is, I'll post that here and we'll go from there....sound good?

And enjoy your week...however snowy or clear it turns out to be.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

small change for February

In January we made a small change to eliminate purchasing plastic water bottles...and I'm pleased to report that it was a big success!  We've been filling reusable water bottles for trips and basketball games and so far I haven't heard any complaints from the crowd.  I've also been drinking more water which is a bonus benefit.  So, for February our small change is going to be do away with paper napkins with a curious glance at the possibility of dropping paper towels in the near future. 
 When John and the kids and I were talking about what to institute in February, everyone was all on the same page with the cloth napkins.  We've actually been using them more and more since last summer and everyone seemed to feel like we could make the switch to all cloth.  I've got a good stash started and it really doesn't require more work as I just throw them in with our regular laundry. 
The other day, I saw these snack mats on Audra's blog and thought they were a great idea. Some of the time we use paper napkins as snack holders...rather than dirty a dish the kids will just put some pretzels or cookies on a napkin.  But since we aren't going to be using paper napkins, I figured these little mats would come in handy for snackin'.  
We're trying to choose changes that will work for us as a family.  So, when I mentioned what Jessica had done for her January small change by eliminating paper towels I got some mixed reviews.  John wasn't sure he wanted to go cold turkey without paper towels so we're going to do a bit of a trial run with the possibility of making that our March change.  I'm going to gather some discarded sheets and t-shirts that can be cut into cloths to use in place of the paper towels. 
We'll still have paper towels available, but  hopefully our first choice will be to grab the reuseable cloths instead of the paper towels.  I'll keep you posted on our progress...the fun thing is that I've got the excuse to make some more cloth napkins!  How about your house? you use paper towels and napkins or have you made the switch to cloth?...I'd love to hear what you've found that works!