Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's Amazing What A Brooch Can Do

Sometimes my projects just don't work. I don't mind terribly (unless I'm under a deadline) because failure is part of my the creative process. Besides, if I were perfect my intimidation level would rise and I have few enough friends as it is.

What I Made:

I had an idea in mind for yet another wedding (I'm at that age, Sorry.) and I had everything but the top. In my mind I just needed something simple. I found some fabric at Joanne's in exactly the right color (though synthetic) and used Butterick B4132.

A lovely cowl-necked top. It fits nicely and looks fine on me, but the cowl was battling too much with the jacket I wanted to wear. The jacket won, but I still have a nice little top for those two or three times a year I need to look more trophy wife and less mom.

I also learned this little trick from Carrie Bradshaw (Sex In The City for those of you who live under the same anti-cable rock I do--I Netflixed the series).

If you have a cute little pin of some kind:

You can change up the neckline and add a bit of interest. I'm usually not into asymmetrical apparel, but sometimes the cowl feels like too much fabric to just let it flop around. This tames it nicely.

I just grabbed a silk flower for this shot (my usual pin being in a future What I Made), but it looks so lovely on Violet she may not return it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Light Spring Meal

What I Made:

A sun worshiper I am not.

It was a warm sunny day in my neighborhood and riffing Cuban fare just felt right. It also indicates that I was too hot to actually get any other sort of creative mojo going. It was smart of me to decide anything I cooked qualifies as What I Made.

Fried plantains with toasted coconut. Black and garbanzo beans with red peppers, lime, cumin and orange juice (OJ and black beans sounds weird but is really tasty). Rice with lime and cilantro. Mango, tangerine and blackberries. Someone from Cuba may poo poo my food, but my heart was in the right place.

It looked a lot yummier than my photography would have you think.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How Not To Be A Trophy Wife

This week I have a plethora of inspiration chasing me down and tackling me. It causes me to have the attention span of granola and a complete lack of focus.

The point? I keep browsing my archives for What I Made because I can't work on any one project long enough to actually complete it. Which means I'll have a week where I will finish so many projects that I won't be able to post fast enough.

What I Made:

I had a wedding to go to and nothing to wear. Coincidentally, one of the fabric stores in the area was closing and had some great fabric deals.

This cotton/rayon blend was hiding out in the home decor section. I find lots of fabrics there that would make perfectly lovely clothing.

I used McCalls M5314 thinking it combined with the fabric would make a darling, contemporary June Cleaver type dress.

It did make a cute little dress. Can't you just picture the pearls? This pattern was surprisingly easy to assemble and took me about four hours plus the movie time I spent cutting the fabric.

Unfortunately, when I wear this dress it enhances the fact I have no waistline and I feel like an elephant; something I avoid when playing trophy-wife at a wedding. I can't wear it. If I ever find my waistline, the dress will be too big for me.

It's probably a 12-14-16 if you think you can pull it off. It's a wrap dress (like a couture bathrobe) so there's some flexibility in the sizing. Just make sure you have a waist.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Look

Do you like my new header?

A friend of mine designed it and captured my personality beautifully. Even the Businessman is impressed by how perfectly it worked out.

Kerrie Robertson Illustration is my personal illustrator. Check out her blog and website.

I can't wait to bug her for more graphics. Hee.

What I Made:

I actually had to fiddle with the Xhtml for this blog. Kerrie would have gladly adjusted the image for me but it's something I need to learn anyway. My brain is now so fried I'll be surprised if I'm able to make toast.

Daring Bakers-April

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I think all basic cheesecake tastes the same. It never stops me from devouring a whole recipe mind you, but I've never really had one that stood out in my mind as truly exceptional.

Knowing I would consume the entire cake, I immediately decided this concoction would go straight to my knitting group. Not that 3 bricks of cream cheese and a cup of heavy cream don't sound light but...

The recipe went together easily. The only variation was using gingersnaps rather than graham crackers for the crust. I love gingersnaps.

I wasn't able to chill it in the fridge before serving. This caused the cake to have a fluffy mousse-like texture.

As I did the car swap that heralds Boy's Night Out/Mom's Knitting Night the Businessman eyed the cheescake wistfully and hoped some would come home. But even he had to admit the odds of this dessert surviving an evening among women were slim. The ladies enjoyed it and it was a small group so I managed to bring home a quarter of the pan...of which the Businessman may have gotten a sliver--after it chilled in the fridge.

He declared it the best cheesecake he ever had. I thought it tasted like cheesecake. But the recipe is straightforward so I'll keep it in my bag of tricks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Handknit Headband Giveaway

Remember when I made headwrap out of Noro and promised I would knit up the rest of the yarn into a giveaway?

What I Made:

A headband. The yarn is mostly cotton and silk with some wool and nylon. The cotton makes it very soft to the touch and the wool and nylon add a little elasticity. This headband would be good to hold your hair floomers (doesn't everyone get those?) back for light exercise or it could warm your ears on a mildly chilly day.

The cable is on both sides of the band so there is no wrong side (in the interest of full disclosure I made two errors in the cable so technically there is a wrong side).

I hate posting pics of myself, so we'll pretend this rubbermaid/scrap fabric is actually a lovely headform.

It goes to one of you. Simply post a comment telling me about something you created. Links are appreciated but not required.
  1. Only one comment per entrant
  2. US residents only
  3. Procreation (i.e. I made two children) doesn't count.

Post by Friday, May 1st. Winner will be selected at random on Saturday.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I say F-Bomb. Not the crasser word that F-bomb represents, I literally say F-Bomb.

For instance, when the businessman woke up last Saturday, itching to do a small project like try to seal of a couple mouse holes. After an hour of loud thumping I made my way down to the basement, turned the corner and hysterically shrieked:

"What the F-bomb are you doing to My Sewing Room?"

And he mumbled something about camping gear and dead mice.

Then I saw he tossed some of his possibly mouse carcass infected gear on my sewing table that has a huge pile of silk lying on it.

"Are you F-Bomb kidding me?"

See how well it works as a swear word?

What I Made:

I made him go to the hardware store and get shelves and evicted his nasty campgear from My Sewing Room. Now that closet is reserved for seasonal decorations. He's pretty sure there were no mice in the sleeping bags. Because, as a mouse, a nice soft fluffy sleeping bag is the last place I would make a nest.

Someday I'll tell you about Airquote Favors.

Rockin' Robin

I joined Twitter.

Was it the fact that I have heard Twitter mentioned about 5759 times in the past week? Was it registering my domain and wanting to have the Twitter name as well? Was it because my blog buddy also joined Twitter?

I think it's because Twitter is a devious scheme created by some underground network somewhere with no apparent intent to make money but an obvious desire to suck our lives away one bird chirp at a time.

Brilliant. Then again, I'm reading the Twilight series so I'm a little more in tune with such things.

For now, I intend to use my tweets for the shmaltzy kid quotes, random rants, and other TMI so I can focus the blog on my creativity. We'll see how long that delusion lasts.

What I Made:

I've been thouroughly absorbed in a book and I need to upload some pics so let's see what's in the archives.

*rustles through some dusty files*

Ah. Here we go.

I wish I had had an opportunity to wear this one last winter. It's from VK winter 2003 and knit up in Plymouth Boku. All the ravelry details here. Trying to get the colors to mirror each other was the biggest challenge. The bind-off around the edge is too tight--I should fix that--bit since it's about 145 degrees outside I really don't want to look at wool.

Violet is having layering issues. I should discuss this with her.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Still A Vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian for a year, for environmental reasons and thank you Yarn Harlot for that link. But I'm a hypocrite. I love raw fish. Sushi and lox. I cannot resist them. Which makes my whole environmental argument fly out the window living in a land-locked state and all. But it's so good.

First PW tortured me with images of Nova Salmon. Then I was reading a friend's personal blog and out of curiosity I clicked a blog link on her site, where thay made bagels from this site.

Of course, despite my clicking finger being exhausted (and possibly having everyone with personal blogs block me from reading their culinary escapades), I thought "I can do that."

What I Made:

And I did.

Breakfast of champions here.

I don't want to know how far this traveled, or how it got so orange. It fulfilled a primal urge--eating raw fish, freakishly overgrown capers, and hot coffee while my cereal consuming family stared at me in concern.

Perhaps I'm reading too much Twilight.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reusable Produce Bag

I got a great response off my wedding dress series. Thank you.

Of course, there is really no way I can follow such a great project with a better one so I won't even try.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Traditionally I make a lifestyle change on Earth Day. Sometimes it's small (no more bottled water), sometimes it's big (no more meat). This year I am going to explore ways to seriously cut back on my plastic consumption. Starting with produce bags.

I'm pretty good at remembering my reusable grocery bags. But since becoming vegetarian, my use of produce bags is higher. So I am trying to develop a reusable produce bag. It needs to be lightweight, quick-dry and easy to clean. I'd also like it to be somewhat translucent, closeable, and it would be nice to have different sizes (small for garlic, large for greens, etc.).

What I Made:

Prototype 1. I found some mesh in the Home Decor section of the fabric store. It reminds me of the mesh in men's swimwear so I really can't imagine why it's in Home Decor. I made a long rectangle and sewed the edges together (so there wouldn't be a seam at the bottom--a seam will and should be the weakest part of a garment). The fabric doesn't seem to ravel so serging the edges was overkill and adds to the weight of the finished bag. I ran a couple lengths of ribbon around the top and voila:

It's lightweight, and durable (so far). If I were being a perfectionist I would have used a white ribbon but it's a produce bag people not a wedding dress. This is the perfect size for apples, oranges, and other round fruits and it holds a lot (my kiddos will eat all these in about 2 days). It's a little too narrow for greens and the grocery clerk had to open the bag to identify the contents. On the plus side, she gave me a reusable bag credit for it.

So my questions: How much would you pay for something like this? Is it worth trying to sell?

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Made My Wedding Dress--Finale

Having made the bodice and petticoat of my wedding dress I realized I had a small problem. In finding the prettiest fabric ever, I had severely limited my choices for the skirt. Nothing seemed to work. Ivory/cream was all wrong and brown was too dark--I was already causing a bit of concern with not wearing a white dress. So I was trying to come across a miracle and match the beige-y taupe-y color (Behr Paint number 330F-4 Pebble Path) of the brocade.

I had designed the skirt so I knew I needed exactly five yards of fabric. I found a silk dupioni that would do. It wasn't quite right though. It had the same glow and almost the same shade as the silk wasn't perfect. I purchased it anyway just in case. As the wedding approached, I gave up--there were plenty of other wedding details I needed to work out.

One day, I had a day off and decided to explore a fabric warehouse far to the north of me. I went on this little fieldtrip with no swatches, no plans and no idea what I'd find--my wedding dress was the last thing on my mind at this point. I meadered through a building the size of Costco and while poking through some Calvin Klein end-of-bolt stuff out of the corner of my eye I spotted a satin in a stunning topaz color (topaz is my birthstone).

It doesn't look like five yards. There might be enough. You forget your swatches idiot. I think it might match. Are you willing to spend $50.00 to find out? Shush! It's my wedding dress.

I took it up to the cutting counter where they measured exactly five yards. When I got to the register, my tab was $17.00. I promised them there was a mistake but no; I took the end of the bolt, which discounted it further.

I'm thinking I must have done something really good to have such great karma that day.

I wasn't a very experienced seamstress when I made this dress, just a little too stupid and a lot too fearless. My sewing skills have improved vastly since then but they are by no means professional. I'm sloppy and I leave loose ends all over and avoid hand sewing the same way my cat avoids the vacuum. But I love it.

And I get to say "I made my wedding dress."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Made My Wedding Dress--Part III

Part I, Part II, Finale

Having made the top half of my wedding dress, I now needed to find the perfect fabric for the skirt. It's possible I loved my silk brocade so much, I never considered how hard it would be to find a good coordinate.

I decided to make the petticoat while waiting for the skirt fabric to find me.

I went through numerous fabric stores and listened. I wanted to rustle. I found the rustly-est combination of tulle and taffeta and got very familiar with making, pulling, and sewing gathers (to this day I wish that I had sprung for a gathering foot).

I didn't use a pattern so I guess you could say I designed it, but I never really thought of it that way.

So many ruffles and I edged every one of them with sequins. Sixty yards of sequins. You read that right--180 feet of sparkly, ruffly, rustling.

There's a rumor that I was dancing around the house in my petticoat recently. I have no idea why someone would spread such lies about me. still rustles.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pull Out Your Scrap Paper And Scissors

Hey folks! I found a cool little contest that some of you might want to enter. If I had found out about it sooner I might have given it a try. I still might.

Go here to SG2 Paper Crafting Challnge and give it a shot. What can it hurt right?

It looks like a blog after my own heart. They have regular contests that encourage the world to be creative. Love it!

What I Made:

This is not my entry--it has nothing to do with contrary gardeners.

This lion is made completely out of paper (and if I ever become profitable, I am getting a decent camera). My oldest son had a jungle room in our last house (I'll find pics of that eventually) and I whipped this guy up as a wall hanging. He now hangs by my kitchen.

This was one of those car-worthy items during the move as I didn't trust anyone else to treat it right.

In spite of all that, he doesn't have a name.

Why Mountain Mama?

I always thought it might be fun to do a Q & A someday on my blog, but you will have to wait until I get more traffic. Most of you who read this blog know me a little too well and might get a little ornery with your questions.

But I will answer one: Why are you Mountain Mama?

The short answer is...well, there really is no short answer, however:

  • The only time I have lived away from the mountains I didn't like it (and the Businessman hated it). I suspect I will always live near mountains.

  • I have two children, therefore I will always be a mama.

  • I like alliteration.
I have never been to West Virginia, but I do like some of John Denver's music. Last week on The Office Dwight and Andy were playing Country Roads and they kept stopping the song right before "Mountain Mama." I took it as the deepest of insults and refuse to watch the show ever again.

Who am I kidding? It's the closest thing the Businessman and I have to a date. Besides, they eventually finished that line in the song.

What I Made:

I whipped up this little hat (Lidsville by Kellen Wallis) last year right before the St Patrick's Day Parade. I thought it had an Irish feel about it and it made Vish's curls and ears look a little leprechaunish. I think I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes but I'm not sure.

I did crochet the hat but I did not make whatever it is that is hanging on the right side of this picture. Looks like someone else found time to be creative.

You go creative random parade person!

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Made My Wedding Dress--Part II

Part I, Part III, Finale

The odds of my truly becoming a princess a la Princess Diaries are slim. However, I was determined to feel like a princess on my wedding day--with a princess dress. I had the vision. I wanted a corset bodice that laced up the back. I wanted a voluptuous skirt that was pleated not gathered. I was rapidly steering away from a white, fouffy wedding dress.

I found the perfect pattern for the corset--Vogue 1605 (now out of print). The skirt of the pattern left something to be desired, but the corset was just right.

I made a mock-up with some cheap satin (I figured my silk would not be a good thing to practice on). I made some adjustments (discovering I have a long torso along the way) and adjusted the pattern pieces accordingly. I laid out the four fabrics I was using--silk brocade, silk lining, organza interlining and baby flannel interlining--took a deep breath, mumbled incoherently and started cutting.

The whole thing went together in a day. Once I started, I couldn't stop.

Have I mentioned how much I love this silk?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How I Handwash Socks

After waxing nostalgic with my wedding dress, it's time to come back to reality. And what better way to come back to reality than with laundry?

Now that I'm knitting children's socks and feel a little bit like a sweatshop I have found that I am hand washing those socks frequently. Luckily, socks are small and can be easily washed in the sink I have in my laundry room. Most of these socks can be machine washed, but a couple pairs of hand-wash only have snuck in. I want my kids to see me hand wash these things so they become familiar with this habit later (assuming they will continue to wear hand knits).

First, you need to make sure you separate the socks from the rest of the laundry. This batch has seven socks so I suspect I failed step one. Fill up a sink with water that's about body temp. There are all sorts of wool washes on the market but I just pump in a few squirts of hand soap because it's there--my wool wash lives by my bathtub where I wash my nicer and larger knitwear.

Gently swill the socks around until they are saturated. You can leave them and forget about them but eventually you need to come back and gently squeeze the socks and try to get some of the dirt out--these are boys' socks after all.

Speaking of which the next picture is so disturbing it may turn you off to boy children for the rest of your life.

Seven socks' worth of grime. I bet you didn't know little feet could produce that much nastiness. No, it's not dye from some of the yarn, the water always looks like this (for socks). You'll want to do a good and thorough rinse, with body temp water.

What I Made:

Seven clean socks sitting by the fireplace. Getting nice and dry for another round.

I did eventually find the eighth sock.

Part II of I Made My Wedding Dress will be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Made My Wedding Dress--Part I

This edition of What I Made comes in installments. Part II. Part III, Finale

When I started shopping for my wedding dress, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. I tried on a few, but nothing on the racks seemed right.

Story of my life really.

I quickly decided I had to make my dress (do you know me at all?). My mom, being a wedding coordinator, took the reins of everything else. I was living a different state and knew she had a good handle of what I wanted. I wanted to sew my own wedding dress.

And thus the search renewed, but this time in fabric stores.

I fell in love with this fabric:

A gorgous silk brocade. The beigey taupey background was irridescent and the cherry blossoms glowed. This fabric became the decision maker of the wedding. White tulle and lace? No thanks, they don't enhance my brocade. Floufy poufys? Have you seen my brocade?

Five years later, I found a cheaper (ie not silk) version of this exact fabric and bought yards and yards of it. I now use it to decorate my house and have had paint mixed to match.

It's hard to believe I could love the Businessman more, but I do. A little bit more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Noro has been the talk of knitters for a while now--maybe 2 or three years. The first time I actually saw it in the wild I was surprised about the hype. The yarn quality seemed average to mediocre and I'm not huge on yarns with a lot of color variation. Call me humble, but I prefer to let my knitting do the talking--not the yarn.

To be fair, it's the color that draws in knitters (and weavers). The color combinations are incredible and give any project an artistic feel.

I can't deny that there is some lovely Noro knitting out there.

What I Made:

I noticed my LYS had a new shipment of the stuff and I had been eyeing the hat another knitter had made for her son. So I decided to get a skein and make it. Then I spied one of the LYS employees wearing a neck wrap. When she took it and pulled it around her head I was hooked. It also helped that they had a skein with the colors of my alma mater.

Cast on 46 stitches. Knit in stockinette until it fits around your noggin. Sew (or graft) the ends together.

It used less than one skein of Noro Taiyo. Even more amazing was that it took exactly one full color repeat (which means I could graft my ends and you have no way of knowing where I started. Knitting doesn't get much easier than this folks. I wish I had cascades of that beautiful curly hair that looks so great in headwraps like this. Give me a couple more years and maybe...

I even have enough left to make a little something for another giveaway.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I smuggled something out of my parent's house last weekend. It's one of my quintessential creations. Some of you may recognize it. Any guesses?

I'll feature it later this week.

And the Winner is...

I had four different people leave a comment in my Reusable Giftwrap Tutorial post. I used an online random number generator and got the following result:

2: Regina, you won. I will contact you shortly for your mailing info.


I plan to do more giveaways in the future. It will mostly be stuff I made. I also intend to get stuff up in my Etsy Store but that will be a slower venture.

What I made:

I finally fell into the Noro trap. Noro desreves it's own blog post (probably tomorrow) I found this lovely yarn (Noro Silk Garden) and knit up this Half-Pipe Hat by Debbie Stoller (all ravelry links). Another mom in my knitting group made one for her son and I loved the way hers looked (i.e. not girlie at all).

I didn't need to adjust for a smaller head, but I did knit the stockinette part for two inches rather than one. It seemed really short otherwise. I also did my decreases a little differently so I wouldn't get a spiral.

Nothing says "manly" like silk and mohair right? Right??? Well I think it looks nice on him. He wore it yesterday with a hooded sweatshirt and looked just like a teenager. Except for the silk...

...and mohair.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

It's 6:30 AM and my children are still sleeping. The Businessman is brewing some coffee for me and we are waiting impatiently (and suppressing the desire to meander into their rooms and ask if we can sleep with them and then hog the entire bed).

What I Made:

What to do when you have a fresh pineapple and a couple black bananas?

Tropical breakfast. I took a banana pancake recipe (from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz) and instead of making several, I just dumped the batter into an iron skillet I preheated in the oven (about 375). It took about 25 minutes to bake through.

Then I concocted a quick fruit compote of pineapple, mango and clementines. A touch of maple syrup, a sprinkling of toasted coconut (I only burned it a little bit) and a dollop of whipped cream (or the creamy stuff on top of the coconut milk if you want to stay vegan) and the kiddos (and the businessman) will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus in no time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs

If you haven't had a chance to enter my first Giveaway meander over here. I'll wait.
What I Made:

Let's just jump right in shall we? Of course I dyed Easter eggs. I have a mind blowing tip for you though. Compare and contrast the two dozen eggs below:

Besides the fact that several of the eggs in the top dozen are multicolored, do you notice anything else? Maybe how beautifully vibrant the lower dozen is?

Here's the secret. The bottom eggs...they're brown. Same old food coloring, same old vinegar, but brown eggs. If having the most beautiful Easter Eggs in town floats your boat (and if not humor me), buy a dozen brown eggs and knock yourself out.

I learned this trick years ago while my mom and I were buying several dozen eggs. A random stranger told us to try it. Whoever you are, random lady, you have benefited the brown egg industry.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reusable Giftwrap Tutorial

Edited April 13, 2009: A winner has been chosen. Thank you for participating.
The Easter Bunny told me that he wanted to give the kids some movies, probably out of respect for my tendency to inhale all chocolate that tries to reside in the house. I let him know I would leave some reusable wrapping for him so he wouldn't have to use any paper.

Then I thought maybe you too might like to know how to make something similar.

First, you will need some fabric, some fusible web (Heat'n Bond was the brand I used) and a sewing machine if you want finished edges.

After several hours of fine and precise measurements using a protracter, compass, slide rule and graphpaper I concluded a good size (for movies and Wii games) is 12 inches (just kidding, I eyeballed it). Cut both fabrics and your fusible web(FW) accordingly (you'll have to figure out what size to use for cds, books, bicycles, etc.).

To use FW, first iron the web to one of your fabrics. Note the paper is on top. This is very important unless you like cleaning your iron (go ahead, ask me how I know). Repeat after me: Fabric right side down, then FW, glue side down.

Then peel off the paper (see the glue stuck to the fabric?).

Next, iron the second square of fabric to the glue. You might want to keep the paper on hand to avoid gumming up your iron (you'll notice I didn't do this).

Does anyone know how to clean an iron?

Next, finish your edges. This is where I show off Nina, my serger.

She's been whining about the lack of modeling gigs lately.

Add a button hole (note how lovely and crooked mine are).

I did a double buttonhole so I could tie this one with ribbon. The first one I made I sewed on a button. Don't tell the Businessman. He still thinks I don't know how to sew buttons.

Then you wrap and tie:

What I Made Am Making:

Here comes Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail. Hippity Hoppity Easter's on its way!

How would you like one of these?*I have an extra. Leave a comment (with a way to contact you) telling me your hobbies.

Edited: the winner will be chosen at random on April 13th.

*Only U.S. readers please. One comment per person.

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