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, 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!

Donder and Blitzen hat

Remember when I used to make lots of stuff?  Me, too.  That was nice.  Oh well.  There’s a season for everything, right?

I thought I’d share this Christmas hat that I’ve been poking along with.  I started it late in the Christmas season and had hoped to finish it before the semester started, but got sidetracked with deep cleaning projects.  It’s Amy Miller’s Donder and Blitzen pattern, and I’m hoping it will be adorable when it’s all done!  I picked the pattern based on the red and green Plucky primo worsted yard I wanted to use for a Christmas project.  I never tracked down a suitable near-white in primo worsted, so I swapped in a white worsted yarn from a local yarn shop.  The only thing I didn’t factor in was how long it makes the red strands of carried yarn.  I have some concerns about sections where I may have pulled too tightly.  Hopefully it all works out!


Fran Cooper - Love this HAT!!!

nothin into nothin, carry the nothin

While I made several cute things this fall I lost a memory card in early December and so I’m missing pictures of a bunch of the cute things.  (And probably of my kids, too, but I’m trying not to think about that.)  Luckily, one of my favorite projects DID get photographed and those photographs DID make it onto my computer and so I present to you without further ado the box I made my sister for Christmas:

target cross stitch box firefly serenity jayne

I modified this cross stitch pattern to make Jayne a little shorter so he’d fit.  (The title of this blog post of course referring to one of Jayne’s best moments in Firefly.)   A couple of things in this project made me a little crazy, like the actual painting of the box (I disassembled it before painting it and used masking tape and it STILL had the nerve to come out imperfect) or how the “shiny” didn’t end up being centered event though it totally was when I did the original math or how when I went to put it all back together I discovered that the hinge was on the LEFT of Jayne instead of at the top.  But the beauty of making something for your sister is that you know she’ll see the love and not the flaws!

target cross stitch box

The box is from Target, in their craft aisle (though some locations are regularly sold out, you can get them online).  I used a full 6 strands of regular embroidery floss for the project and the needle that comes with the box.  To cover the back of my work (which is always a disaster) I cut a piece of cardstock to fit and popped it into the space (green in the above picture).

target cross stitch box firefly serenity jayne

All of this just reminds me that it’s been too long since I binge watched some Firefly.  Time for some laundry folding and Nathan Fillion, my friends!

Disney’s Inside Out Halloween Costumes | Family Cosplay

Remember that time when I thought I could go to nursing school and work and have a family and post regularly on my blog?  I am adorable sometimes.

Anyway, for those of you still holding out hope that this little old blog will be updated, hurray!  It’s finals week so OBVIOUSLY I am going to do a blog post.  Because I firmly believe that hobbies are the antidote to crazy stress.  I have a lot of posts to catch up on, but I’m missing my babies right now so I’m going to do a blog post in which I get to look at pictures of my babies, which means it’s time to share our best ever Halloween!

inside out disney cosplay

So, you know how when you have babies you get excited about all their first holidays and you dream up their costumes and can’t wait to see them in the outfit of your dreams?  Now imagine that instead of that, your sister-in-law is me, and you have to dress your babies, yourself, and your husband up to fit their family’s fought-over-it-since-November-1st-of-last-year-and-finally-settled-on-a-theme theme.  It takes a special sister-in-law to do that, but that’s the kind of sister-in-law I have!

Our theme for this year was the Pixar movie, Inside Out.  Ellie was obviously going to be Disgust, because she totally nails that whole persona.  I called Sadness, because Sadness wears a sweater and I live in Colorado and am no fool. We assigned Nic to Fear because he’s the tallest of our crew, and Will got Anger because (a) he’s the shortest male and (b) it was a costume we could get him excited about because I told him I’d make him a fire wig.

inside out disney halloween costume family

I got really excited about the theme once I started doing research for what other people had done for Inside Out cosplay.  When I saw Riley’s imaginary boyfriend cosplayed I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I shamelessly stole it for my brother-in-law.  (While we’re talking about other people’s cosplays of Inside Out, how completely amazing is this girls’ Bing Bong?!)  I had been trying to think of baby-friendly costumes, and when I realized the babies could be Joy and Bing Bong (switching off on our two nights of costume related events so that neither of them require therapy later) and sit in the “rocket” it felt like everything was going to come together beautifully.  My sister-in-law could be Riley and we would have the movie well covered.  (The babies ended up totally hating their rocket ship, but it still made for an excellent beer/supplies transporter, so not all was lost.)

inside out disney costumes

Wigs:  Ellie’s wig was an Amazon find, mine came from Epic Cosplay, and Riley’s wig (which ended up being much shorter than pictured) and Will’s wigs came from Arda.  Will’s wig was the Malinda that we then tried to gel into its upside down shape (much harder than it seemed like it would be) so I ended up using bobby pins to secure it at Boo at the Zoo and sewed it up for Halloween night.  To get the flame color Nic and I chalked it with yellow and two shades of orange.  The color ended up being really cool, but I’m not sold on the styling.  I should have devoted days (and bought glue) to get it the way I had pictured.  Lesson learned.  Nic’s single fear hair was a purple pipe clearer he attached to his head with double sided wig tape (everyone wanted to know how it was attached!!).  His eyebrows were actually a purple mustache I found at Party City that I cut in half.


Outfits:  I found Nic’s entire outfit on Amazon as well as my glasses.  I know that Fear’s shirt isn’t actually purple, but when planning Halloween costumes I talk a lot about what is “emotionally correct” versus what is actually true to the film.  (Which is how I ended up feeling about Riley’s imaginary boyfriend’s jacket that I found at the Salvation Army when in reality he wears a forest green button down shirt.)    I bought a grey tie for Will and then used fabric paint to create the same design as Anger’s real tie, and Ellie’s belt buckle was a wooden “d” from Joanns that I painted green and covered in green glitter.  I purchased her sweater on AliExpress, and made her belt, scarf, skirt and capris from fabric at Joanns.  I spent a thousand years looking for the perfect Sadness sweater until I finally stumbled upon it accidentally at Costco.  I knit Joy’s hat from some blue glitter yarn I found at Joanns, using a basic baby cap pattern that I customized with a ribbed brim instead of rolled (just because I like that better) and then I changed up the decreases at the end so that it would come to a point like Joy’s short hair.  I made Bing Bong’s flower pin from felt, the rest of her outfit her momma found online.  One of my favorite items just doesn’t come across in photos well.  I bought a large “glowing orb” that changes colors as a memory ball for the kids/adults and a tiny one for the babies.  You let it cycle through its colors and then just stop it on purple, red, green, yellow, or blue, for whoever was carrying it.  It was really cool in real life after dark, you can just trust me on that one.  😉  I also painted the kids trick or treat bags the appropriate color and covered them in glitter, but it was kind of a disaster.  I had wanted them to really look like memory balls with the tops cut off, but the closest shape I could find were the traditional jack-o-lantern treat bags and most of the glitter fell off.  It was one of those “I’m in nursing school, this is good enough” moments.

inside out disney costumes

Alli - Holy moley, that’s a ton of costumes! You did a fantastic job — everyone looks awesome! 🙂

Officially fall = Halloween decoration time

Today it is officially fall, and I am celebrating after passing my assessment check off in nursing school (woot woot, 2 down, only 8 million more skills checkoffs to go!) so I broke out my big orange and black bin and got my Halloween decorations on.  In the process of unpacking all of my Halloween treasures, I found these two cross stitch projects from last fall that never made it to the blog.  They were my first and second ever cross stitch attempts!  Both patterns are from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery and were amazing fun quick crafty projects!  I’m still looking for the perfect frame for the little Frankenstein piece, but hopefully I’ll find something this year for it!

halloween cross stitch decoration

halloween cross stitch modern

halloween cross stitch trick or treaters

Handkerchief baptism bonnets

In our family the baptism outfit is full of sentimental touches, from the family gown to the bonnet made from a handkerchief. At the baby’s baptism it’s a bonnet, but made from a handkerchief it’s ready to be converted for the baby’s future wedding day.  For my goddaughters’ baptisms I chose handkerchiefs with German lace to honor their German heritage from Bumblebee Linens.  I was concerned about the size–the heirloom handkerchiefs are 10″ instead of 12″, but the bonnets fit fine. They are super easy to make!

baptism handkerchief bonnet

Me with my newest godbabies

28 may baptism photos 193

Will with his godmother almost a decade ago!


Poor Eloise (2010) was 10 months old for her baptism (hazard of having international godparents) and we had to squeeze her into both the gown and the bonnet!


  • Handkerchief
  • Ribbon for ties
  • Rosettes

baptism handkerchief bonnet instructions

How to make a handkerchief bonnet:

  1.  Fold one end of the handkerchief back about 3-6 inches and press with a hot iron.  (This will be the brim.)
  2. Fold the opposite end back 1-3 inches and press. (This will be the back of the bonnet.)  Open up and see that pressed line.
  3. With a needle and thread, make a running stitch along the pressed fold at what will be the back of the bonnet–these are your gathering stitches.
  4. Cinch that back closed and tie off the thread you had made the running stitch with.
  5. Make a bow with ribbon and tack it onto the spot where you tied off the gathering stitch.  The back of the bonnet is now done!
  6. Sew ribbon onto the front corners of the bonnet–these are your straps.
  7. Sew rosettes on top of the raw ribbon edge.

(For step by step photos, see the Bumblebee Linens tutorial.)


Red Rocks Canyon Open Space


When I first started posting trail reviews I was really excited to write about Red Rocks Canyon Open Space…but then it was closed for an unannounced period due to flooding damage.  I was worried it would turn into a Williams Canyon closed-for-years situation, but then it reopened on the 4th of July weekend!  Thrilled, we checked it out that Monday to make sure things were as I remembered.  In all the important ways (fossils, fun easy trails) it was.  It was also exceptionally crowded for a Monday-that-was-threatenting-to-storm.  Given its closure, this expect this one to be crowded for a few more weeks as people celebrate its reopening.

Pros:  The elaborate trail system allows you to make a hike of any possible length.  It’s popular and accessible, so this is a great weekday hike you can feel confident doing alone with your little ones.  It’s as beautiful as Garden of the Gods, but much more rugged–while the trails are easy for all levels, you won’t find the pavement or dense crowds you’ll find at Garden of the Gods.  As an added bonus, on the western edge of the park you can find fossils in the sandstone–giant ammonites as well as clams/mussels.   A total treat for budding geologists!

Cons:  Along with the published trails, there are also a number of social trails, which can make staying on your intended route difficult.  The good news is that it’s a not a huge park and the social trails eventually lead back to a main established trail.  This park is also popular with mountain bikers, so you may find yourself stepping off the trail quite a few times on a busy day.  Finally, there is not much in the way of shade, so if you take your sea level visitors on a four mile hike in the middle of a July afternoon, force plenty of water down them.  They’re bound to underestimate the amount they will need!  (I’m looking at you, Kelly May!)

Difficulty/distance: A dense network of easy trails great for young families.

Directions:  There are two parking lots for the park.  The one on the western side is the less formal parking lot, but is the closest to the fossils.  If you want to look at fossils without actually walking, this is the one for you.  The more obvious parking lot is farther east.  For both, take Highway 24 west toward Manitou Springs.  For the western parking lot, take a left on 31st street.  The parking lot will be on your right.  For the main parking lot, stay on Highway 24 past 31st street and take a left onto Ridge Road.  The park is visible from Highway 24.

Trail teaching:  

  • Fossils!  Along the western side of the Hogback Valley trail you’ll find sandstone that houses ammonite and clam/mussel fossils.  If you go off trail and climb to the top and then down the back side you’ll find many.  If you don’t fancy that much scrambling (and the feeling of being Off Trail and therefore Naughty), there are some very accessible ones if you follow the trail to the western parking lot as it branches off the Hogback Valley Trail.  You only have to go off trail a few feet.  This is the view from the trail:

red rocks canyon fossils

It is located about halfway between the two round holes in the rock (which probably have an actual name but ’round holes’ it is) just above kid eye level.

red rocks canyon

A closeup:


Mussels and/or clams near the ammonite:


  • The history of the park from which includes information on the old quarry in the park:”Activity on Red Rock Canyon dates back to 7000 B.C., during the Archaic Stage. Due to its close proximity to Fountain Creek and its abundant wildlife, this was an ideal location for settlement.During the late 1800s the property provided many building supplies for Old Colorado City and the surrounding communities. Material taken from the quarries included Gypsum, building sand and sandstone blocks. The Kenmuir Quarry, mined during this time, was open seven days a week due to demand. Declining demand for stone and increased demand for concrete and steel, forced the quarry to close in the early part of the 20th Century.

    Opening in 1886, the Colorado-Philadelphia Company Mill used the land to refine the ore shipped by train from the gold mines in Cripple Creek. It was the largest mill of its kind in the United States, until the new Golden Cycle Mill was built in the early part of the 1900s.

    John George Bock purchased the property in the 1920s-1930s and later willed it to his two sons. John S. Bock, the eldest son, continued to live there until his death in 2002. The family had grand plans for the property including a resort community with convention center, high-rise towers, commercial centers and a golf course. In the end, they were only able to build a few residences and outbuildings, two dozen mobile home sites, a 53-acre landfill, and two gravel quarries. In 2003, the City of Colorado Springs purchased the Red Rock Canyon property to be used as public open space.”

  • Lots of opportunities to talk about the different rock formations exposed here.  We took this walk just a few days after the Dinosaur Ridge and Triceratops Trail walks, and so I was able to point out to the kids that these were the same formations we saw up in Golden.  Here’s a link to a map detailing the different formation and their period.
  • The recent flood damage is a great illustrator to kids of how powerful water is at carving landscapes and eroding away rock.







Eeek!  My littles got big!


The old quarry:





Photos on July 6 2015 after the park reopened of some of the flood damage: