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!

look at that, 2013!

Look at me go!  The first week of the new year and I’m actually working on one of my goal quilts!

I had planned to make an improv log cabin quilt out of this Children at Play line and had 9 blocks started.  Realizing that my original plans weren’t so realistic I decided to just put them together in a larger improv way…here’s my initial progress!  (excuse the bad pics–the light where I’ve laid these out to work on them is awful!)

Suzanne - I like what the reevaluation of your goals is becoming. :-)

laurie - I have these fabrics too – i bought them right when they came out and I still haven’t cut into them! Your project is great.

Welcome 2013!

For the last two years I have done a recap post at the end of the year and I’m not one to let a tradition die, so here goes!

2012 did not play out like I’d expected it to craft-wise.  Bronchitis, pneumonia, and a hospital stay dominated our February and March, traditionally my most productive months when it comes to homemade things!  After recovering I found myself looking at my balance in life and readjusting.  Crafts went back to hobby status (as opposed to the obsession status they’ve occupied in past years)!  Project Life got most of my craft time, and I read a ton this year.  According to Goodreads, I completed 77 books this year–an average of one and a half books a week!  They ranged from Amish fiction to history to Christian apologetics to the Little House on the Prairie books to the please-God-wash-my-brain-out trash that was Fifty Shades of Grey.  It was a busy year for books!

A couple of standouts:  Code Name Verity, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, Kisses from Katie, American Wife and The Big Short.

This is all a prelude to saying that my ‘to do’ list for 2012 is a disaster.  Here are the things I’d hoped to make:

– a lone star quilt

– a kaleidoscope quilt

finishing Ellie’s quiet book in time for her Jan 28th birthday

– finishing Will’s Children at Play wonky log cabin quillow in time for his Feb 20th birthday

– finishing the Ruby patchwork quilt (needs to be quilted and bound) before spring

– more Wiksten Tova tops for me

– at least two vintage pattern clothing items for Ellie

– a dress for me

– growing my hand pieced star quilt by 20 stars (I made 12)

– finishing one UFO

-a bow tie quilt

If this was a game show, there would be a really good “wah wah wah” sound right now.  3 out of 11.  Not stellar.

Here’s a look at what did manage to find its way out of my sewing supplies this year…

Lots of clothing items for Ellie andsix quilts (one I haven’t blogged yet, one I couldn’t find a pic of for this grid).

Now onto my survey answers for this year (the same ones I answered in 2011 and 2010)!

Looking back on the sewing scene of 2012, what trends stand out in your mind?

Traditional blocks making a big comeback.  I had a thought somewhere during the spring like “well, if we ever see a churndash quilt from a modern quilter, then it will be safe to call it”) and a few months later I did!  Last year I wrote of things I expected to happen: “I’m going to take a guess and say that the interest in traditional and more complex blocks might transition into more hand applique in modern quilts.  I’m also guessing that paper piecing is going to be big in 2012,” and I feel like the paper piecing prediction was dead on!

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)

Seeing everyone’s weekender bags was really fun.  I’m loving all of the cool piecing done on them.

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)

Chickopee.  No contest.

What was the best thing you made in 2012? (Be sure to share a photo!)

Ellie’s Snow White dress.

What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?

Looking at the mosaics I made in previous years is fun, so here’s another one!

What do you think 2013 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)

I think cutting back is going to be big.  Less fabric, smaller stashes.  It’s true for me–with so little sewing it’s hard to justify any fabric purchase!

What’s on your sewing agenda for 2013? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?

My sewing agenda for 2013 (and let’s hope it’s more successful than my 2012 list!) which I will update as the year goes along:

– 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’ve got a sewing retreat coming up next month that I’m very excited for.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make lots of fun things!

Suzanne - I am blown away by how much you read. Thank you for reminding me about Kisses from Katie. It’s on my nightstand and it needs to find its way into my hands again. Good luck with your goals for 2013

Marta S. - Oh, Traci, I could just squeeze you! I’m so relieved to not be the only one trying to relegate sewing to “hobby” status, especially in favor of reading more. I feel like I’m constantly trying to keep up with everyone doing amazing things instead of just doing what *I* want to do. I’m embarrassed to say that I read less than a dozen books this year, which not me. And to top it off, I don’t even feel good about the number of sewing projects I completed –the same sewing projects tearing me away from books!

ANYhoooo, before this comment becomes a novel you add to your collage above, I’ll just say thank you for the great post and tell you how lucky I am to call you a friend. You raise the bar!

Heather - I read Kisses from Katie, too. Isn’t she an amazing young woman? I’ve never met her but I know her parents only because their son plays college lacrosse in Kentucky with my son. Katie’s family are such good people, it’s no wonder she’s such a remarkable individual!

What an amazing Snow White dress you made and if that’s your daughter wearing it, what a beauty she is!

Paper piecing. I’ve never tried it but it happens to be at the top of my list for 2013, as with so many others in our recently formed Modern Quilt Guild (via survey). You were right.

our best Christmas yet

We added a few things to our Christmas and Advent celebrations this year that made it one of the most meaningful celebrations we’ve had!

Joy to the World was my guiding book this season, with We Light the Candles guiding our Advent celebration each night.  I have loved Joy to the World.  Unlike some guides about adding more meaning to the Christmas season, it doesn’t disparage the fun of the secular traditions.  It encourages the fun along with the meaningful, and even gives you ways to add meaning to secular traditions.

I grew up without an Advent wreath, so when Nic suggested it this year I knew I’d need help on exactly what to do.   We Light the Candles was a great guide.  For each night there is a short bible excerpt, a devotional passage, and then a suggested song.  Will and I played the piano for the song, depending on whether or not he knew that particular one.  After the song we moved over to our Jesse tree, where we read the day’s bible story from Joy to the World (with the first three weeks of readings rewritten well for a young audience) and hung the applicable ornament.  Then it was back to the wreath for a closing prayer and blowing out the candles.  It quickly became the highlight of Ellie’s day (“Advent time?!” she would shout at the end of dinner each day) and we made it happen even when meetings or work made the logistics a little tricky.  It was such a quiet centered time of day that none of us wanted to miss it!

In searching for our Advent wreath this fall Nic had requested a wreath like the one he grew up with (a solid wood disc with spaces carved into it for the candles until the traditional ring shape).  Unfortunately I was unable to find one close, but in my search I discovered this wreath.  Since it moves with the family from Christmas to Lent to the Easter season it seemed like the perfect tool to help us celebrate the liturgical calendar.  (My only complaint [and it’s sort of a big one] is that it doesn’t quite fit standard taper candles, so you have to shave them down.)  To make it more like a traditional Catholic Advent wreath, I placed the four candles (3 purple, one pink) around the spiral on the spot where that particular Sunday fell.  (So with the 25 hole spiral and Advent starting on December 2nd this year, our first purple candle went in the second hole, then another in the hole 7 spots later, etc).

We’ve also used the wreath as a tool to celebrate the days to Epiphany.  I’m passionate about the fact that CHRISTMAS ISN’T OVER YET.  For so many in the US, the 25th marks the end of Christmas (because for the stores, their work is done–the presents have been purchased and it’s time to move onto selling people Valentines Day items), and many have already packed up their Christmas decorations.  However I want my kids to grow up knowing that the 25th is the START of Christmas, not the end.  This wreath is a great way to mark that!  We’ve put twelve gold candles around the wreath (for the 12 days of Christmas, since Epiphany actually falls on January 6th this year) and are lighting a new one each night.  (We started out adding a new candle each day but it’s too pretty with all of them to see that for only one day, so I put all 12 into the wreath and we’re lighting the appropriate number each night.)

The kids have LOVED blowing out the candles and it occasionally gets a little less reverent and a little more rowdy, so I picked up a candle snuffer this weekend to help us out in that department.  Pier 1 has festive bedazzled ones.

Jesse Trees seem to be making a comeback, which made it easier for me to design and make the felt ornaments I wanted to use for it.   Many of my ornaments were heavily inspired by the ones on Fig Tree Freedom.   The tree I spotted at Pottery Barn and it could not have been more exactly what I was looking for.  The ornaments were more work than I expected (or then I think they look!) and I would absolutely suggest making them well before Advent, not making them on a day-to-day basis like I was doing!  They average out to about an hour a piece, with more involved ones like the rainbow going into the three hour arena.  Next year I’ll be reading this with Will and Ellie, but this year we used the Joy to the World passages.

Since the length of Advent varies from year to year, Joy to the World includes more stories and suggested ornaments than you’ll use most years (and I noticed that some are slightly different than the lists I’ve seen online that include  24 ornaments each year and always begin on December 1st).  I still actually have one last ornament to make for this year–a pregnant figure to symbolize Elizabeth that just didn’t happen on the right day.  I’m hoping to finish off the whole set in January so I won’t find myself throwing in the last stitches during dinner again!  I might redo one or two of these ornaments that I’m not in love with later down the road, but for now just getting the set finished is my goal. :)  I used 100% wool felt from Etsy because I want this to be something that is with us a long time.

In non-kid-land, I’ve been reading and loving this each day for a more adult focused Advent activity.

Angela - I love your Jesse Tree. I did one as part of a group/swap this year. Looks like you’ve had a wonderful Advent and a lovely Christmas season.

Suzanne - Thank you so much for this post. We are big fans of Advent and the celebration of Christmas through until Epiphany. I have never seen a wreath like that. I appreciate the review of it–especially the taper candle fit. I feel filled up by what you shared and hope to adopt some of your ideas for our own Advent next year.

Kate - I love these ideas, Traci! Thanks for sharing. Every year I tell myself to make all of my Christmas crafts during the summer. And every year I end up finishing things around Dec. 23. :) Maybe next year?

Susanne - I was excited to read this today. I just finished taking down our Christmas stuff. The concept of advent was a big one in our house this year (now that the kid are old enough to get it). I love your Jesse tree. It’s perfect!!

Project Life Review

One of the crafty things I put the most time into this year was Project Life.  As the year comes to a close I’m so glad I invested the time into it and wanted to share my passion for this approach to scrapbooking with everyone!

My take on Project Life is posted on here.

Ellie’s bedroom redo in progress

Last month we moved Ellie from her crib to the futon in her room and got rid of the crib.  Suddenly there was a room there instead of just a giant pile of furniture!  I made her room my November project,building a bookcase for her (and look!  there’s a floor where all the books and toys used to be!), and working on her bedding.  In a house as cold as ours flannel sheets are mandatory, and for a girl as one-minded as Ellie, pink was required as well.  I’d seen these gorgeous pink flannel sheets at Garnet Hill before so when they went on sale I pulled the trigger, buying three flat sheets so I could turn two into her princess and the pea duvet cover.  The pink was a given, but I also wanted to work in the green from her wallpaper and was thrilled to see how well the brown ladder ties in her curtains (meaning I might not have to buy new curtains after all)!

Next on the list: a quilted pillow sham, a pillow for the rocking chair, and a coordinating quilt for the extra chilly nights.

A.J. Dub (Amy) - That duvet cover is adorable!

button christmas trees

I saw this tree on pinterest and thought it would be a fun project to do with the kids.  I used vintage thread spools and plain wooden spools for the bases with a little bit of ribbon.

Will managed his all by himself and it’s super precious.  Ellie got to sort and thread buttons. :)

Fran Cooper - Super cute!!

Susanne - These are SOO cute!!! What a great idea!!!