Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ana Paula Rimoli's Amigurumi World

It's enough to make me go find my crochet hook!

This morning on PBS's Knit and Crochet Today program, one of the hosts, Drew Emborsky, made that cute amigurumi coffee cup (third from left in top row above) and I was hooked!

The creator of these tiny toys, Ana Paula Rimoli, has a wonderful blog, Ana Paula's Amigurumi Patterns and Random Cuteness  and an Amazon bestseller book, Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet, published by Martingale in February 2008. Or you can buy her wonderful toys on Etsy at her virtual shop Anapaulaoli, where you'll also find more patterns and lots of pictures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Star Wizard: a holiday story about finding joy even when all the stars have fallen

Meggie Lee and Moggie Lou cowered in the window seat of the great hall at Pine Tree Knob. Outside the window silvery snowflakes embraced the Kingdom of Laurel Mountain and reflected brilliant light through the glass doors that lined the southern wall. The light jangled through the tiny hammered-gold feathers of the Winter Wizard’s wings as she stomped her red cowboy boots along the flagstone hearth. The red and gold flames of the fire snapped no brighter than her angry blue eyes.
                “You don’t want to make Christmas?” she said in a trembly, low voice that rose at the end to a babyish squeak. Her wings tinkled in accord. “Are my little princesses too regal to plait hemlock wreaths and blow glass bubbles?”
                “No-o-o, teacher . . .” moaned Meggie Lee through the tail of a blonde curl she had tucked between her teeth.
                “We’re sad,” said Moggie Lou. “The stars have fallen from the sky and we don’t know what to do.”
                The wizard stopped pacing and hooked her thumbs into the hip pockets of her blue jeans. “Ah,” she crooned. “Are you little astronomers? What have the stars to do with you?”
                Moggie’s lip pouted and began to quiver.
Meggie put her arm around her twin’s shoulder and glared at the wizard. Her braid tumbled out of her mouth. “Wouldn’t you be sad if you lost even a single star!”
The wizard’s eyes grew wide with amazement. She opened her arms and scanned the snow-bright landscape. “The world is full of starlight!”
 “That’s the sun,” Moggie Lou grumbled.
“I say it is a star,” said the wizard.
“I say it is the sun!” said Meggie Lee.
“Is the sun not a star?”
“It’s not the same!” both little girls shouted together.
“Not the same, not the same,” the wizard muttered to herself as she strode around the room gathering shafts of sunlight—long as her arm, thin as paper, and no wider than her thumb. She tucked one under each arm and carried one in each hand. Striding to a long oak table, she elbowed a bowl of quicksilver out of her way and tossed the ribbons of light onto the dark surface. The tiny gold feathers of her wings sang counterpoint to her whispered song—not the same, not the same . . .
The two princesses rose from their seat at the window, clasped hands, and crept to the table.
“What are you doing?” said Meggie Lee.
“You want a star. I’ll make you a star.” She began folding the ribbons of light in half, then wove them into a tight little square with long tails waving toward the edges of the table.
“That’s not a star,” said Moggie Lou. “It’s a mess.”
“Don’t judge a work in progress,” mumbled the wizard. She continued to fold the light beams, making four little points on one side and then flipping the mess over to make four more points in the opposite direction. The tails of light sprung from the center of the weaving like electric eels.
“Ick,” said Meggie.
“Ugh,” said Moggie.
“Everyone’s a critic,” said the wizard, twisting the squirming light eels into tiny points of light in the center of the star and tucking the ends neatly away. She pinched the ravels from each straggling ribbon and carelessly tossed the pieces into the air. Meggie and Moggie watched as the gleaming snippets bounced and joggled until they could no longer be distinguished in the light-filled room.
“Ahem,” said the wizard.
A sixteen-pointed, three-dimensional star scintillated in her outstretched hand.
“Oooooh,” said Meggie Lee.
“Aaaaah,” said Moggie Lou.
“Make more, make more,” they both cried together.
“You make them,” said the wizard. “I’ll help.”
They worked together all day long.
As twilight descended they threw open the big glass doors, marched onto the snow-covered parapet, and tossed hundreds of shimmering stars into the indigo sky.
Linda Theil © 1998

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday handbag

I got the idea for this cute holiday handbag from a pattern called The Essential Bag by The Country Quilter. I made some adjustments to the materials and the construction method and made several for holiday gifts.

outside fabric (print) 7.25 x 16 inches
lining fabric (print or geometric) 7.25 x 18 inches
decorative flap 5-3/8 inch square (solid or geometric), cut on the diagonal
optional: sew light interfacing to wrong side of 7.25 x16 inch fabric piece
18-50 inches coordinating cording for handle
7-inch zipper to coordinate with fabric
thread to match fabric
beads and findings for zipper pull and trim (if desired)

Use 3/8-inch seams throughout. RST means sew with right sides together.
1. Stitch triangle pieces RST along two short sides of triangle. Clip points, turn and press. Embellish with beads if desired.
2. Insert raw edges of triangle between rights sides of one of the short ends of outside fabric and lining fabric.
3. Stitch short ends of outside to lining RST. Turn and press, with 3/8-inch of lining showing on outside.
4. Fold bag with 2-inch flap to make an 8x7-inch rectangle.
5. Using sipper foot insert zipper into bag opening. Turn bag inside out. 
6. Cut cording into desired length for handles. Insert cording ends into top of side seams. Coil cording between right sides of bag to keep out of way of stitching.
7. Stitch one side seam of bag.
8. Unzip zipper so that you can turn the bag when second seam is sewed. Stitch second side seam. Zig-zag stitch the seam allowances of both seams to finish.
9. Turn the bag through the open zipper. Press.
10. Using a head-pin, fashion a jewelled zipper pull for zipper.
Here's a finished bag made with a lining of the same fabric as the outside of the bag.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jake's Stocking

I made a Christmas stocking for Jake from a printed panel I bought last year at Jennifer's Quilt Shop in Pinckney. The panel is called "Jolly Old St. Nick" by Susan Winget for Benartex. It's really pretty with St. Nicholas in his sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. I used waste canvas to cross stitch Jake's initials to the top of the panel, and added a few beads to highlight the design. Then I quilted the front panel, outlining the design in places with a running stitch. I made pretty, fat cording for the seam and lined the stocking. I think it turned out pretty cute. It's a good size -- 14x27-inches -- and is nice and wide with lots of room for gifts inside.
Here's Jake, the boy, with his Aunt Alisa at Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brandi's bag

I tried to copy a bag that Brandi likes and here is the result. One of the most interesting aspects of the bag, to me, was the way the handles were created out of one 60-inch long piece of stitched belting that looped on either side of the bag and met on the bottom. I hope she likes it!