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Archive for the ‘Handmade’ Category

Grams yarn hangersI am taking a chance and posting this before Christmas, hoping that my nieces are not reading! This is all about Gram’s hangers. Now, I know my Gram wasn’t the only person out there making these, but she was the only person out there making them for me when I was younger… hence, Gram’s hangars.

When I got a bit older (I’m guessing 10 or 12 years old), she taught me how to make them. I searched all of our closets looking for one of Grams hanger. Do you think I found one? NO!  I just wanted to look at it and work out how I was going to make them. Do you think I remembered how to do them?  Yes, and no! I worked it out rather quickly, but I knew mine are a bit different. In fact, when I took the hangars I finished to MN this past fall to wrap them up and stash them away for my nieces, my mom came in to see what I was doing and then started pulling hanger after hanger out of her closest. All Gram’s hangars! She has all of them! I couldn’t help but laugh.

Started at the base of the hookWhat I love about using these hangars is that my clothes don’t slip off the hangar (and I made them by recycling old wire hangars and gave them a new purpose in life)

You start with two metal dry cleaner hangers that are of equal shape and size.  Tape them together in a few spots so you are fighting to keep the hangars together as you are working your yarn around them. You need two balls of yarn. They can be the same color or different colors, that is completely up to you, but the yarn does need to be in balls (not skeins). I could not remember how much yarn it took to make a hanger, so I bought two skeins of blue (for one niece) and two skeins of pink( for the other niece) and started wrapping them into balls. Make your yarn balls a manageable size so you can handle it easily enough and not be fighting with it to get it through the triangle form of the hanger at each pass. I made two hangers for each niece and have TONS of yarn left over. I could probably make them two more hangers each year for several years and still not run out (and hope they still like the colors I have!)

Make a loop

Make a loop

I started at the bottom of the neck where the hanger branches out and the worked my way around the hanger ending up back at the neck and then worked my way up to the top of the hook and back down to the neck. I know working my yarn over the hook and back gave it a bit of extra bulk, but I didn’t want to end at the top of the hook and have loos ends and knots up there where it gets most of its wear as it is put on your clothes rod and taken off over and over.

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

Tie both balls of yarn onto the bottom of the neck of the hangers leaving about a 6″ tail to work with later.  You want to keep one ball of yarn on one side of you and the other ball of yarn on the other side of you. I hold the hangar between my legs so that my hands are free to work with the yarn balls. I will mention that the chair that I sit on in our living room is an old swan neck rocker. It has open arm rests which isn’t the best situation because there isn’t much room on either side of my body to rest the yarn balls without them falling through the arms rest, off the chair, and unrolling out on the floor.

Pull tight

Pull tight

To make a “stitch” make a loop with your yarn and then pass your ball of yarn over the hangar and through the loop. Now pull it tight. The tighter you pull the more loops you will need to make to cover your hangar. The loosen your “stitches” the lass yarn. I made mine rather tight. From time to time you can also push your “stitches” so they are tighter together also. There are no rules here, do what ever you are comfortable with.

You can do one “stitch” with each color yarn or more. I did one hangar with single “stitches” and the other with two “stitches” with each ball of yarn before working the other side.

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

I finished by knotting my ends together and leaving about a 6″ tail on each end. I added pom poms that I made out of the same yarn and used the tail ends to attach them to the hangers.

Crossing my fingers that my nieces will love them.

Have you ever made yarn hangers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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The past two weeks have kept me more busy than normal. Volunteering, working on things for a banquet, a party here, meetings, etc., all mixed in with doctors appointments. I was really ready for these past weeks to be over.

A few nights ago was one of the parties and a group of us have been working for several months to get the decorations finished. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.

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Bringing a group together and working to come up with ideas that we all can agree with and be happy with can be a challenge. We really wanted to keep the decorations simple, but make a statement with an old-fashioned Christmas theme in mind. From a center piece on each table that was a simple as a stack of wrapped presents, to foot after foot of red and green paper chains. From a small handmade box with a treat for each person to other die-cut things on each table, I think we were successful.

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The banquet went very well, and we had a lot of very nice complements on the decorations. That put a smile on my face.

Have you come up with some simple and creative ways to decorate for a large party or banquet? 

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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While reading Xan’s post yesterday about the benefits of being frugal, I started to think about how different a lot of our Christmas decorations are compared to most other people we know.  While we have purchased a few things, a majority of our holiday decor is inherited, hand made, bought on clearance at the end of the season, or a “treasure” taken from trash that belonged to someone else!  I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

It’s big, and I’ve not seen anything like it,  but it’s one of my absolute favorite Christmas decorations.  We inherited this beauty from the husband’s Nanny several years ago…

Another decoration high on my favorites list is my grandma’s nativity set.  While I would prefer a Willow Tree nativity (as far as looks go, it’s much more my style), this one holds a great deal of sentimental value.  There are definitely a  few chips and nicks on these figures, and one of the wise men is missing a hand.  We just say it adds character!

We have received many handmade gifts and decorations over the years, but one of my favorites is this set of stockings.  A very kind lady from church made these as a wedding gift for us.  What a thoughtful gift.

Now, here is the disclaimer for the rest of this post…. the husband has some decorating favorites of his own!  He is all about the cheese factor.  He has been an avid Coca Cola memorabilia collector for as long as I’ve known him.  Several of “his” decorations have literally been saved from the trash.  We have a few of these grocery store cardboard “Santa Coke” advertisements scattered throughout the house.


While I was off on maternity leave with #2 (during the holiday season), the husband picked up a job cleaning a few banks in the area.  He found this “treasure” in the trash… new and in the box!  It was several years old, but had never been taken out of the box.   So of course it came home with him.

This sign is proudly displayed next to his full size leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” every year.  I will spare you that picture!  Another image I will leave to your imagination is the massive amount of garland he has strung all over the place.  It was all bought for pennies on the dollar at after Christmas clearance sales.

While we obviously have two distinctly different styles in decorating our home for the holidays, we make it work with a little compromise here and there (I decorate part of the house, he decorates the other).  The boys love it, and will always have great memories to share as they get older.  Best of all we spent little to no $$$ on any of it (except the leg lamp)!

How do you decorate your home for the holidays?

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Short days, wet patio, warm blankets and hot mulled cider: it’s Fall, y’all which means TIME TO KNIT!

I’ve got two new knitting books checked out from the library for inspiration and am trying my hardest to finish this last pair of socks so that i can dig into Christmas projects and some warm clothes for personal use. On my list to make this season: mug coozies, leg warmers, fingerless mitts, mittens and a bunch of baby things like socks, bonnets and toys. I love knitting stuff for others, and love it even more when i get all those gift projects finished and can work on stuff for me! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, knitting for yourself is the best way to learn. If you keep giving away all your finished knits, you have no idea how they wear: comfie, itchy, good, bad, long lasting, etc. My last project was an experiment that failed, and i’m okay with that. Plus, now i have yarn available for another project after i rip out this non-cowl.

What sort of projects are you looking forward to working on this fall? Do you knit, quilt or sew? Do you like making things for yourself or others more?

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Burnt orange, brown and mustard yellow have always been my favorite colors. That is they WERE my favorite colors until i moved to Austin, TX: land of the UT Longhorns with the team color of burnt orange. Burnt orange coated, no SATURATED that city and i wanted nothing to do with any affiliation with a sport team, so i quit wearing burnt orange. Luckily i moved! Now i live in a town with team colors in….. ORANGE! haha. Ah well, it’s Fall and i’m wearing orange, darnit!

I picked up some lovely batts of pygora fiber at this summer’s Black Sheep Gathering and spun it into a lovely three-ply yarn. I’ve finished my husband’s knit hat in time for the cooler weather, and it’s not quite Christmas knitting crunch time (though in reality, it probably already is) so i’m knitting myself something. Despite never having worn a cowl, or knitted lace – i’m combining both into my current experiemental knitting project. Doesn’t this yarn just scream autumn? I think so.

Read more about my knitting adventure and get the “pattern” for achieving this lacey look over at today’s Pocket Pause.

Are you a knitter? Do you rely on patterns and charts, or do you ever just wing it?

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As I was getting the beds ready for our guests a few weeks ago, I was looking, specifically, for a few more of my Gram’s embroidered pillowcases. I love using them in general, but really wanted to have them out for my mom and my niece.

“A crust that’s shared is finer food that a banquet served in solitude”

I enjoy the things that I have from my parents and my grandparents. I enjoy things that I have picked up at estate sales and yard sales. Things from the “past.”  Some of these things have stories to tell, others have memories attached.

When I was 10 years old, we moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota and my Gram moved with us and lived with us for several years. After Gram moved out and I got older I spent more time with her and learned to crochet and tat and knit.

I remember my Gram always had some sort of handwork she was doing. Whether it was knitting, crocheting, tatting. sewing, quilting or embroidery, there was always something to work on in the evening after the dinner was served. After the dishes were washed.  After we were in bed.

As I went into the drawers in search of more pillowcases I found other beautifully made items from Gram and my other grandmother. I also came across things they had collected over the years. I already have a number of linens out and on top of dressers and tables, but I decided to change a few of them so I could enjoy more of the beautifully handwork.

I am always amazed at the quality and beauty of each piece as I look at them. They make me think of my Gram, Grandma and the other people that made them. I wish I could turn back the clock to questions about each item, but I can’t. There are so many varying styles, I just don’t know who made what.

I know that the card table cloth in this last photo was made by Gram. As I look at each of the fabric circles I wonder where they came from. An old dress, an old shirt, my dad’s pajamas? I am sure if she was sitting right her, I could hear the stories.

Going through these linens from time to time always gives me a glimpse into the past and makes me smile. I had hoped when my mom and niece were her that we would have had time to sit down and look at them all together and talk about some of them so that my niece would have a glimpse into the past also, but there just didn’t ever seem to be enough time. We will get to it one day.

Do you have linens that cherish from the past? Do you use them?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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My 9 year old niece is visiting us in Texas for the first time and we are doing a lot of new and fun things while she is here.

Visiting my friends next door is definitely a high point where feeding the “wild” deer has ranked #1. The first day she went out with my neighbor, then he decided she could go out on her own the next morning.  The deer were a little shy that first day on her own, but the second day she had one eating out of her bucket and she could reach out and pet it too. What an experience!

After she fed the deer, she would join Poppy (the bunny) who was out hopping and running around the yard for a little exercise. It was hard to tell who was having more fun: Poppy or my niece. Poppy would run and hide, my niece would run after him and then he would pop out and run to her. She would then pet him and he would turn and hop off in another direction. When Poppy was ready for a break, he would head for his resting spot under and bench, dig a little, then sprawl out and cool off for a while. When he was ready to go, the games continued.

Blackie (the cat) had to get in on the fun too. A good belly scratch was in order and my niece loved it as much as Blackie I think.

This list doesn’t end there. There were Koi and other fish to feed out in the water gardens. She talked to the cockatoo and the macaw.  Fed the turtles and peeked in on the doves. Our daily visit was full of adventures. Full of new experiences and learning opportunities and there was a lot of time to explore.  Then we would head home and eat our lunch before heading upstairs to make cards.

I have made cards to give to my niece before and also made cards for her to put together, but this was the first time we have made cards together, so I went through choosing designer papers, and colored papers. Talked about layouts and other creative options. She had a great time adding ribbon and using the stamps and ink and then she put the cards together. Before we knew it, she had three cards made up and was ready to send them off in the mail, so we dropped them off at the post office on our way downtown to meet my husband for dinner.

We stopped and met my husband at work to look at some of the airplanes that he flies and maintains, then we headed downtown to Riverwalk. It was a week night and not very crowded down there. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant followed by a boat tour on the river. We had a lot of fun down there.

I also showed her how to knead bread. I completely forgot to get the aprons out, so there was a bit of flour covering her when we were done. Not a disaster by any means, it was actually funny and we both had a good laugh.

As you read this, we are out on yet another adventure. Today is my quarterly manure pick up day, so we will head out early this morning to shovel horse poo into our truck. She will get to meet my friend and cowboy (who is also a singer/songwriter). She will get to meet his four horses; 3 paints and 1 kiger mustang. And she has even asked if she can help load the manure (really, she asked!)

I have wonderful memories of spending time with my Great Aunt. She introduced me to so many creative and wonderful things.  I remember how special I felt to when I was invited to spend time with an adult (My Great Aunt.) It gave me a feeling of independence and confidence, yet I realize now that I still was under the care and watchful eye of a family member that loved me.  I only hope that I have helped to create some wonderful memories and experiences for my niece and that I have more opportunities as the years go by.

Do you have someone that made you feel special when you were younger? Someone who taught you things and opened up your world to creativity and fun?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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