Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, Project Life scrapbooking, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

the elsa frozen dress

It has recently come to my attention that there are still people left in the world who don’t know what Frozen is, so in case you have been living in such a world, let me tell you:  in 2013 Disney came out with a movie called Frozen.  It was the best movie ever.  The end.

Except it’s not the end because there was this little girl who happens to belong to me who was just as obsessed with Frozen, and in particular Elsa, as every other little girl in America.  She really wanted an Elsa dress and since the cheaply made Disney versions always make me a little sad (though the $90 Anna dress I saw at the Disney store the other week was pretty amaze-balls) I bought up everything blue and sparkley at JoAnns and made Ellie an Elsa dress for her birthday.

Long-time readers might think this looks a lot like the Snow White dress I improvised for her last year.  They would be right.  This one is better, though, because my mom helped!  (Which means that it has great features like a velcro back for easy on-and-off and soft fabric sewn over where the ribbon attaches to the bust.  She’s nicer to Ellie than I am like that.)


I used four different fabrics for the skirt–a light blue lining, a basic blue tulle for volume, a shimmery blue tulle over the top, and then a sheer blue fabric with glittery overlay for her train (which, like Elsa’s, runs across the length of her back).  We paired it with a ice-like accessory for her hair (found in the floral section of Hobby Lobby) and the clearance rack fur coat I had a friend get for me last year because for $5 you just KNOW you’ll eventually find a need for it.  She was the belle of her Frozen themed birthday party.


Sherry - That is beautiful! I have not seen the movie yet (so ready for Tuesday night!), but my twin daughters saw it with their dad and they are in love with Frozen. I will be making a Elsa and Anna dresses soon for their Frozen party as well.

Jessica - Is it weird if I also want a dress like Elsa? And also her voice?

the knitting obsession

I’ve been knitting up a storm lately and thought I’d share my projects from the last few months!


Last night I finished up my “weihnacht socken”–the Christmas socks I knit mainly in Germany and Austria over our Christmas trip.  I had run out of the green yarn that I used at the contrast color but got that last week and was able to finish these off.  I just love Jessica of yarntini‘s self striping yarns.  They make for such a fun easy knit and she is WONDERFUL!!!  This strip was a dk, so I held the lime green standard fingering weight sock yarn double for the heel, toe, and cuff.


This honey cowl was my first finish when I revitalized my interest in knitting but I somehow managed to forget to post about it in my last knitting post!  I love it but I’ve shelved it until the weather warms–it sheds like CRAZY on my black wool coat.


A Millwater cowl in Madelinetosh vintage yarn in antique lace.  One thing I’m not crazy about with the Madelinetosh yarn is the smell it gives off when you get it wet to block it.  You can really smell those chemicals.  ::eeek::


Speaking of yarn, like a lot of knitters I’ve fallen head over heels on the very-difficult-to-get-your-hands-on Plucky Knitter yarn.  So many gorgeous colorways.


We visited Stash in Castle Rock because I told Ellie she could pick out yarn for a hat.  She told me she wanted white, which I was surprised by (she’s a pink fan) but totally excited by–a cute white beret would be adorable on her!  But then she saw this pink skein and it was all over.  She was on me like white on rice to get this finished.  She literally woke me up one morning and made a very pointed comment about how “I would like to be wear my hat when we go to Germany” (a trip that was just days away at the time).


If you knit, I absolutely love this toiletries bag I got at Target right before Christmas as a knitting organizer.  It’s perfect for the task!


Another honey cowl for me, more Madelinetosh yarn.  Pashmina in cathedral and weathered frame–I alternated rows (the cathedral on the k1s1 rows) to make the variegated yarn effect a little more subtle.  I’m really happy with how it came out–just finished it Saturday!


This project is in danger of becoming one of those what-was-i-thinking projects if we don’t have some sort of snow-pocolypse where I’m stuck inside for a week.  I’ve started it four times.  Following along with a lace pattern is not my strong suit.  It’s just a baby lace project, though–a cute headband, so I feel like I should press through!  I need to learn how to knit and read a pattern at the same time though instead of having to look from the paper to the yarn and then back.  Makes me lose my place every time.


I knit this on the plane to Germany and then finished it right before Christmas (or maybe on Christmas?).  I didn’t realize when I picked the pattern that it was reverse stockinette…made for a LOT of purling!  But I still love it.  This one is in plucky yarn, the sweater base and ‘good ole days’ colorway.  It got a lot of use in Europe!

Suzanne - What beautiful knitting projects!

Laurie - These are all GORGEOUS! I especially love the socks.

We emailed back and forth a while ago when i told you I was moving to CO Springs. Well I am finally moving there- we will be there in about 3 weeks. Are you still involved in the guild.

Beccy - Lovely! I had a friend teach me to use a post it to keep track of where I was on my chart, so helpful. You do amazing work!

Quiltmania 2013

In the six weeks between Halloween and our departure for Germany for Christmas with family, I made three quilts.  Three.  It was insanity.  Insanity that was supposed to have been completed well before November, of course…but having to commit to things like a pattern and fabric in a quilt that was JUST RIGHT for each recipient was too hard and I kept putting off committing to each quilt until the last. possible. second.

There were those who said that it couldn’t be done.  (Or just those who said that it wouldn’t be done by a sane person.)  BUT I DID IT!  With minimal crazy, too!

First up, a gift for my father-in-law.  A quilt with patches illustrated by his grandchildren (Crayola fabric markers on white fabric that was ironed to freezer paper while the kids drew on it) and then tied to a green fleece back (making for a very soft and warm quilt like the one I made that is in heaviest rotation in our own house).

gift quilt idea grandparents

I serged the edges as I did with our family’s quilt in this style, but it didn’t work as well–the cotton top shrank while the fleece backing did not meaning the edges are very rolled and a little wonky.  Were I to do it again I’d serge the quilt top, wash and dry it and then tie it to the fleece backing and serge it again.

The next two quilts were both quilted on a friend’s long arm–I traded her a family photoshoot for time on her longarm to get these completed and there’s no way I could have made the deadline without that machine!

My sister-in-law has two quilts already, but they’re both small crib-sized quilts and she had requested a picnic quilt.  She’d previously told me she liked three fabrics I had in this sweetwater line, so I let those guide the rest of the fabric choices.  Super bummer of bummers–the day after Christmas we were sitting under the quilt together (in an amazing hut in Austria because we’re kind of fabulous like that) and I was talking about the quilting on it and ran my finger over A GIANT SEAM THAT HAD POPPED IN THE QUILT TOP.  Whether it popped in the washing machine or in the suitcase on our way over I’m not sure but it’s pretty awful.  I gave them a broken Christmas present.  Disaster.  So now I owe her another quilt.  One without any “that seam allowance was clearly not 1/4″ on that particular triangle” issues.  A big-enough-to-picnic-on quilt that isn’t totally hobo.  Good thing we have many more decades of Christmases and birthdays together!


You will note that the light for these sucks.  I should have retaken them in Austria but we were too busy eating cheese.

And last but not least a quilt for my brother-in-law and his girlfriend in Germany who were our gracious hosts.  I knew I would love this one so much I’d have a hard time letting it go that I cut enough fabric for two quilts.  Of course, having made it once I have no desire to make it again…but I know from my last scrappy tripalong that you quickly blot out the trauma of the experience, not unlike childbirth.


The backing on this one ended up being a bit of an epic adventure.  I wanted to do something very minimalist and improvisational…but in the middle of constructing it realized I’d be cutting it insanely close with the grey fabric.  And it was.  When I was done with the back (and it was just perfectly sized) I had less than a fat quarter of scraps of the grey left over.  :O


And there you have it–my big quilting hurrah of 2013!

Sarah - By the way I still think it is insane that you thought you could do it and that you actually did speaks for what an amazing insane woman you are!!!!

a knitting frenzy

It’s always nice to forget a hobby for a bit and then get back into it and remember why you loved it in the first play.  I’ve gone a little off the deep end with the knitting.  Not sure if it’s the weather, or the fact that I can do it while snuggling a sick child (which I did a lot of this week) or the fact that it has nothing to do with anything of the things I’m SUPPOSED to be doing, like getting caught up on my miserably-behind Project Life or sewing Christmas presents or embroidering Christmas advent ornaments or you know, laundry/cleaning/cooking or something even worse like accounting or work website updating.  It’s probably a lot of that.  But regardless, I completed another project this week: the star crossed beret and I *LOVE* it.  The yarn and pattern were such a perfect match and I am going to wear the crap out of this thing this winter!  It was a totally fabulous first cable project.  I really enjoyed the cables (and I love the look of them) so I think I’ll try a millwater cowl next!


I’m trying to go back and resurrect some UFOS, too, like this shawl from over a year ago.  I had slowed down and eventually abandoned it because (a) I didn’t like how dark the gray was looking against the stripes and (b) the lace wasn’t looking right at all.  I learned a few days ago that it’s because I was doing yarnovers backward.  So…while exiled upstairs with Ellie last night during the Cub Scout meeting (trying to keep people away from her germs) I ripped out the grey and have it all set up to try again with white and correctly oriented yarnovers.  I just need a LOT more stitch counters and then I’m off to the races!


I am loving having a little wiggle room in my schedule now that wedding season is over.  I have a couple of portrait shoots every week but yesterday for the first time in months I had zero client work to do and that feeling was amazing.  I’ll be back to having client work this afternoon after my session, but to know that for a few days each week I won’t anything on the edit list is the lightest feeling in the world!

erica - Oh,, I LOVE that beret.. I had forgotten that I had that in my queue. Gorgeous!

Children at Play Quilt: Finished!

When my mom came to visit in 2012 we started a strip quilt together with the girl fabrics from Sarah Jane’s Children at Play line (I’ve earned a reputation as making my guests work) and I had everything but the binding finished this past spring.  When my mom came to visit in October I realized it would be perfect if she got to help me finish the quilt she helped me start!  We had two nights to work on the binding (hand sewing it down to the back of the quilt) and after the first night we realized that it probably just wasn’t going to happen for us.  We were shocked to find that on the second night we were just cruising and we finished it!

sarah jane children at play quilt


So….checking in on my sewing list for 2013 I get to cross one thing else off the list!

– Finish the bow tie quilt

– Finish the boy colorway Children at Play improv quilt

– Girl colorway Children at Play strip quilt (top finished, need back)

– Weekender bag (in progress)

– Advent elf

– Finish the full set of Jesse tree ornaments

– Sew something with knit fabric

I think I’ll be able to cross off the Jesse tree ornaments before January 1st but I think the rest of this list will sadly be passed on to 2014!

Sherry - Love the quilt, it came out beautiful! I have a question. What is the elf advent? Sounds like a cute project/idea.

knitting: a bear cowl and boot cuffs

At the end of last winter I started knitting the Burton Bear Cowl for Ellie.  It was a fun knit and I had it almost finished…when I looked ahead and saw that I’d need to crochet the ears.  Ugh.  I hate crochet.  I never feel like I’m actually doing it correctly.  So I procrastinated on the project until I picked it up a couple of weeks ago determined to finish it for her to enjoy this winter.  Finish it I did and the very next morning we had our first real snow of the season!

burton bear cowlburton bear cowl knitting project

With the leftover yarn I managed these boot cuffs which I love so much I’m having second thoughts about their intended purpose as a Christmas gift!knit boot cuffs