Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 favorites flashback

It doesn't seem possible that the time has come to look back on another full year that has passed but here we are. I wanted to take a little time to share some favorite from the past twelve months and invite you to share some of your in the comments section too. It has been fun to do this each year and I hope you will enjoy it as well!

I usually start with favorite books so that's where I will begin this year. My favorite fiction read this year was by the same author who wrote my favorite fiction read last year - Anthony Marra. His newest book, The Tsar of Love and Techno wins that top spot again because it was such an extreme pleasure to read. He has a way of creating such compelling characters - giving them heart and humor and impossible situations. There is a lot of darkness and a lot of light in his books and you can bet I will be reading anything and everything Anthony Marra writes from here on out.

Other great reads of the year were Want Not by Johnathan Miles, Redeployment by Phil Klay and the Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant. I am suddenly feeling so very lucky to have had the chance to read so many great books in the past year! You can find what I am reading and share what you are reading with me over on Goodreads (love that place!)

On the big and the little screen I am at a bit of a loss. I am trying to remember what I saw in the theaters in 2015 and all I can come up with is the Spongebob Squarepants movie. *sigh* It's been easier to wait a few months and catch movies at home so I have been luckier that way. I just sat down and watched "Amy" and really enjoyed that. I am a big Amy Winehouse fan so it was facinating to me to see some 'behind the scenes' type footage. Even people who aren't fans of her music would probably still find her story intriguing.

In tv land my husband and I finally caught up with the rest of the world and watched "Breaking Bad." this Fall. Okay guys - I see what all the hype was about - that is a fantastic series! I was so sad when we reached the end. Even though we missed all the water cooler conversation way back when this series aired, there is some advantage to being able to watch it all at once and for free (thanks St. Paul Public Library!)

My favorite new place I visited in 2015 was Fraconia Sculpture Park. We actually happened upon it by accident and decided to take a closer look. Their website the park as this:
Located in the scenic St. Croix River Valley, Franconia Sculpture Park is a nonprofit arts organization operating a 43-acre outdoor sculpture park, active artist residency, and community arts programming.
We all enjoyed our time exploring there so much and it's an ideal way to experience sculpture. If I can expose my kids to art and watch them have a blast at the same time that is a win-win in my book.

What were your favorites from the last year? And what will you be seeking out in the coming year? Leave a comment and share your 2015 discoveries!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Craft Confession October

I warned you this was going to happen WAY back in early 2012 I checked out a book at my local library and did a bit of swooning and then returned it. And wouldn't you know it - I snatched that baby right back up again as soon as an opportunity presented itself. My Crafting Confession series gave me an excuse to try out a craft that caught my eye all those years ago- needlepoint.

As you can see it's not a gigantic leap from embroidery but there are a lot of differences. And I should probably add before I get much further - please don't judge needlepoint by what you see here. I really didn't get too far and there is such an amazing world beyond this - you should really check it out!

What I was able to do was to try out a few of the stitches. What you see here are all of my second or third attempts at a stitch. It seems I always had to screw it up before I could get it right. But that's okay, really. Once you get the swing of a stitch it is really relaxing and fun to see the textures and patterns come together. 

Are you wondering how I could mess up something that looks so basic? Don't worry, I am wondering that too! It was just a matter of having the counts right. I would complete a row and then when a second row didn't line up I would see I was off by one square or something silly like that. You have to watch that kind of thing closely with needlepoint. The good news is that it's easy to back track and fix things once you realize where you were "off."

I stuck with embroidery floss because I have millions of miles of it on hand but you can achieve a huge variety of looks using different fibers and canvases. I recommend needlepoint to anyone who is drawn to textures, interesting color combinations and geometric designs. It's a craft that lets you explore and make the most of all of those. I hope that, in spite of my humble trials here, you can see the potential. Would I do this craft again? Yes!

November is going to be a tough one folks. It's my busiest month in the shop and finding extra time for laundry can be tough, let alone crafting for fun. I have come this far though and I don't want to quit now. All I ask is that you keep your expectations, like, super low, okay? I am going to do my best. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

'hot' new items at SeptemberHouse

Hi everyone! I am stopping by today to share some exciting news. SeptemberHouse embroidery patterns are making their way on to the iron-on scene. Transferring patterns could not be easier with this format and it's ideal for people who dread that part of the process.

iron on transfer embroidery patterns septemberhouse

booksmart modern hand embroidery patterns iron on transfers

I am kicking off this new option with three of the most popular pattern sets from the shop. Booksmart, Scandistitches and Kaleidoscope are all available as iron-ons.

scandinavian embroidery patterns iron on transfers

scandinavian embroidery patterns iron on transfers

Each set comes with the iron-on sheet with all the patterns from the collection, a full color insert with instructions on the back, a stitch guide, and suggestions for projects and materials.

butterfly embroidery patterns iron on transfer

butterfly embroidery patterns iron on transfer

All you need to get started with these is some embroidery floss, fabric, an embroidery hoop, a needle and an iron. Then you are set to go for many projects as these transfers can be used several times before they lose their 'ink'.

how to transfer embroidery patterns

See how easy these are to use?

I am looking forward to adding some more pattern sets in iron-on format soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

you want it, you need it

I gotta tell ya,

I ♥ my DMC floss color card! Why did I not seek this out and make it mine years ago? Well, I guess because I had heard rumors and complaints that these were no longer available or that they were outrageously expensive and wouldn't you know it - both of those statements are wrong. 

I am so glad I looked into it further. When I began my search I was coming across a lot of the photographed/printed color guides which wasn't what I really wanted, I knew I was going to need something more accurate than that. And yes, I did contemplate making my own - boy am I glad I abandoned that idea! It would take me years to create something as organized and complete as this baby. 

I did just a bit of digging and there on the DMC website was this gem at a price that I found to be perfectly reasonable. Especially considering the use I was going to get out of it. These are actual floss samples of regular DMC floss plus the specialty flosses. Now I can shop for floss online knowing exactly what colors I want and need. I can also find color matches when I need to identify a color from a project and I lost my little paper band (happens all the time!). And I don't need to drag my project and myself to the fabric store to do it! It also comes in handy when choosing colors for a new project. I love it!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

calavera cat

dia de los muertos calavera cat

If I never embroider just for fun then embroidery isn't going to be fun anymore, right? That's what this guy was all about - stitching for fun. He was never intended to go in the shop, this was a pattern I made for newsletter subscribers and I usually don't embroider examples of those. But I found myself having a blast stitching him up anyway when I probably should have been doing shop work.
dia de los muertos calavera embroidery

I just couldn't help myself. I HAD to see what he would look like all decked out in embroidery floss. So, I picked some super bright colors for the face (I know, I know, except for that light aqua and red I have strayed outside of my color comfort zone, haven't I?) Then I picked some white and grays for the floral border. I wanted a bony/skeletal look for that part and I hoped the face would stand out more if it didn't have to compete with the border.

dia de los muertos calavera pattern

And before I knew it he was ready for his premiere on So September. But I suppose it's back to work now. I have some new offerings I need to finish up before the holiday season really starts to kick in. I hope to be back soon to share those!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

craft confession - september - micro macrame

micro macrame owl

Whooooo is ready to find out what this month's craft confession is? 
It's micro macrame! This little guy is the final result and I am okay with how he turned out. 

micro macrame owl

I have a craft challenge for you now. Watch this micro macrame tutorial and try to NOT think, "oh yeah, I can TOTALLY do this, it looks so easy and beautiful" That's what I thought when I watched it. Well... it was a little tougher than it appeared and this guy is actually owl attempt number 6 or 7 - I lost count. He still could use some improvement but overall he does make me smile when I see him and he looks WAY better than owl number 1. I hoped to try some bracelet or necklace patterns this month but didn't quite get there. As you can see I have about 5 miles of cord left so I think I will have the materials needed for a future project, don't you?

Why micro macrame? My twin sister was actually the macrame pro growing up and she could knock out a toothbrush holder or plant hanger in no time. It was fun to see what she could create with just some knots. My sisters and I were also fans of the friendship bracelet back in the day too so I had some experience with some of the techniques. I was also drawn to the completely hands on aspect of this project. It's good for me to be pulled from the computer and besides watching the tutorial (again and again and again) I kept myself in the tangible world for this project.

I hope you will find yourself getting your hands dirty with a creative endeavor this month too!

Friday, September 4, 2015

craft confession august - wouldn't you like to know

August's crafting adventure was one that I have wanted to try for years and I am thrilled to have had a chance to do it. There are no photos to share this time and I cannot even share too many details so you will need to use your imagination a bit. This a secret.

This month I gave guerilla art a try. (sneaky grin). I have loved this concept since it was first brought to my attention way back in my post college/ pre-baby days. Keri Smith explains it brilliantly as this:
Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places. It can be done for a variety of reasons, to make a statement, to share your ideas, to send out good karma, or just for fun. My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome. To do something that has nothing to do with making money, or listening to the ego.
You would think with the freedom of anonymity one wouldn't worry quite as much about the appearance of whatever it is one decides to make. But that was not the case and I worried quite a bit about it. But I powered through my doubts and ended up with several nice little bits that I could distribute all over the city/cities.

Actually I am still in the distribution process - I am not used to being 'sneaky' and it turns out I am pretty slow - and I am probably thinking about it too much. Hopefully what has been put out there so far has been found by someone who needed a happy surprise right at that moment they found it. Of course I realize there is a good chance that these bits may make their way to the bottom of a trash can and that's okay. You have to accept that once your art leaves your hands you cannot control what happens to it.

It's so rewarding to watch creative projects move from my 'want to do' list to my 'did' list and it confirms my suspicion that this year-long crafting confession undertaking would be worth the effort and dedication. There are still 4 more installments to go and I am looking forward to sharing them all with you.

This month I hope that some unexpected delight will find YOU out there in the great big world.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

new stitch sampler buttons from septemberhouse

I'm stopping in today to share a little something new from the shop shelves.

Hand Embroidery Stitch Sampler Buttons

A new color/stitch option for the SeptemberHouse sampler buttons is now available. This one is called "Pinwheel" and it is the brightest of the bunch. It includes four new stitches: stem stitch, split stitch, seed stitch and cross stitch. 

Hand Embroidery Kit Stitch Sampler Buttons DIY kits

These are available as a DIY kit and also as completed sets of two or four. Thanks for taking a peek at this new option!

Monday, August 31, 2015

i get a kick out of gardening

Okay is this hilarious or what? Who knew a vegetable garden could inspire so many giggles or turn up so many surprises?
I think Adam had to think twice about munching on this one - it seemed to have too much of a personality to eat it for dinner.... but we managed to do it anyway.

My garden has been tons of fun this year. It helps to have a near perfect growing season (that is what the local experts are calling it anyway). Now there is talk around the house of doubling the garden's size next year. Do you think we can handle it?? I am sure that by April we will be so ready to take on a challenge like that.

Of course this week we are scrambling to find ideas for what to do with all our tomatoes. These babies were roasted up this morning for a cherry tomato sauce. Most of it went in the freezer but I did sample some for lunch - yum! Thank goodness for neighbors who are nice enough to take a few of these off our hands and for Pinterest for helping me find temping possibilities like this and this and this

I would love to hear how your garden did this year!

As I mentioned in my ONLY other post this month - it is TOUGH to get to the blog during the summer months but I hope to be here more often once school kicks into gear again. I have a craft confession to share this week too - it's a good one!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crafting Confession July - Cast Concrete

concrete casting DIY garden projects with concrete

Finding time for extra crafting during the Summer can be tricky around here. Luckily my boys generally like taking on new creative challenges - which is good because they are around so much more in the summer months. They are not as patient while I am preoccupied with photo editing and blog post writing but who can blame them - that's not nearly as fun as getting your hands dirty with a project like this one. For July we took on Concrete Casting! You'll see a little shallow planter above that we made with concrete. I just put grass in it but wouldn't it look great as a base for bonsai or moss?

concrete garden projects DIY

This project incorporated three of my priorities for this month 1. It had to be something that the boys could help with 2. it had to be an OUTSIDE project that would STAY outside and 3. It had to be something I had not tried before. Step one - we gathered materials. We found some goodies at a local thrift store and our recycling bin and we picked up some concrete at the hardware store. I tried it with the countertop concrete shown here and also with some regular quikcrete. I liked how both turned out so I probably would not spend the extra money for the countertop stuff if I did this project again.

cast concrete pavers DIY garden projects

This little gem was cast from a bottle of "Simply Grapefruit" juice. Let me just stop right here and tell you that if you try this project you will never look at your recyclables in the same way. It didn't take long for all the interesting shapes, textures and designs found on plastic containers started to jump out at me. This was no exception. Wouldn't these make a lovely little garden border? I think so!

concrete garden globe DIY

We also took on this project that has been circulating on Pinterest. It was super easy and I love the way it turned out.
concrete garden globe projects

My boys like to take out the sidewalk chalk on draw on our new garden globe which is fine with me. It lets us change it up and adds some color and creativity to our garden. Now I just need to scout out some more glass globes at the thrift store so I can make a little set of these.

DIY garden projects with poured concrete

There were a few more little pieces that the kids made with silicon molds and mandarin orange cups. This is going to be one of the confession projects that lives on past it's designated month because I have ideas for even more things to cast and I of course I have a half bag of concrete left as well. Fun, easy, perfect for Summer - I am going to call this one a success.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2016 DIY calendar fun

2016 DIY calendar panel fabric calendar by septemberhouse

There's really no reason why I can't have a little fun with these too, right? I just couldn't help myself and whipped up a 2016 calendar panel for myself using some simple flower designs. 

floral applique fabric DIY for 2016 calendar panels

I found these beautiful flower templates when I read the book, Urban Scandinavian Sewing: 18 Season Projects for Modern Living by Kirstyn Cogan. They were tucked in among all the wonderful project there.

floral applique tutorial DIY fabric applique project

I finished off my sides with some homemade binding tape and used solid cotton fabric is a variety of colors. Oh and don't forget buttons - everything pops with a few buttons thrown in the mix, right?
This was a super easy project that I was able to complete in just a few hours and I love the results. I still want to make one of the tall skinny panels because I have a few ideas for those as well!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Craft Confession June Hand Lettering

Hand Lettering Spanish SeptemberHouse

It's hard to believe but I am nearly to the halfway point of my Crafting Confessions series and have managed to produce something every month so far. No one is more surprised by that than me. This month I took on the daunting challenge of hand lettering. You see it everywhere - it's so popular right now and how hard could it be, right? wrong! I humbly bow to those talented folks who can do this. I feel okay with this for my first try but there were a LOT of hours of fussing trying to just get it to this point.
Hand Lettering Spanish SeptemberHouse
The point is, practice makes perfect - and that is exactly what this says so it's kind of the perfect phrase to start with in my opinion. I packed this with even more significance because I have been working on learning Spanish for a couple of years now. I took it in high school and college but recently picked it up again once Adam started school. Choosing a Spanish version of a popular phrase made me even more motivated to working on this project.

Hand Lettering Spanish SeptemberHouse

And guess what - I actually DO practice it every day. I am having fun with it so that makes it easy to stick with it. I don't remember it being fun in high school but I put a lot more pressure on myself back then which makes a huge difference.

But back to hand lettering. I forced myself to keep away from my computer for this and I am sure that shows. Oh how very dependent I am on my computer to draw my straight lines and to space everything evenly. I suppose it's good to force yourself to use your own eyeballs and fingers once in awhile, right?
Would I try this again? Yes, I would. I would actually love to try this exact design over again (practice makes perfect you know!) For now though I should focus on a new adventure for July. I need to pick something I can do with my kids. Stay tuned for that!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Crafting Confession #5 Polymer Clay

  polymer clay hair slides

I know you are too polite to say anything but yes, it's true, I am late with my confession this month. I had some photo issues and well, I also got off to a late start with these so there is that as well. I'm here and ready to share today though! I chose polymer clay this month and was really looking forward to it. I love looking through all the great colors and tools that are available for this medium and I couldn't wait to get started. Deciding what to make was the trickiest part. I wanted to make something I would actually use (I can be stubbornly practical that way) and something I had never made before.

polymer clay hair slides

I have eyeballed some of these beautiful hair slides on Etsy and thought a polymer clay version was definitely in the realm of possibility. I wanted to keep that open delicate look but with some fun color and clean designs. Hopefully I got close to achieving that, even if I didn't I had fun trying. (I did make a third one with a pretty stamped design that I planned to paint. The painting part did not go as well as I hoped so that one got scrapped.)

polymer clay hair slides

It did occur to me about halfway through this project that I would probably have to try to take a photo of these in use. I almost abandoned it right then and there - how was I going to get a photo of the back of my head?? Well, I tried but it ain't easy! This 'way too close up' version was the best I could do and I hope you will be kind enough to use your imagination a bit and fill in the blanks with these fuzzy muddy pics.

polymer clay hair slides

If you haven't played with polymer clay I would recommend it. It's an inexpensive and versatile medium that you can do on your own or with any young ones in your life. Like all my crafting experiments though, this one did also give me a new appreciation for those artists who do this really well. Creating pieces that are super smooth, highly detailed, strong and sturdy and beautifully color coordinated is not nearly as easy as it seems and I admire those who have mastered it.

As a final note I want to quickly share my small reservation I had with this project. As I tiptoe into middle age I have found that I am asking myself a lot of "am I too old for 'x'?", "am I too young for 'y'?" questions and I did the same with these. I must have known an older woman who wore these at one time in my life or something because there was a tiny voice telling me that I should maybe save hair slides for another decade, that maybe I am too young for an accessory like this. And then I said 'who cares' I like them right now and that's that. Still, that second guessing what is appropriate for my age is happening more and more, have you heard that tiny voice too?

Now I need to clean up all my clay bits and maybe even share some of my leftovers with my kids who are begging to make little monsters with them. Onto another crafting adventure!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

some ornament updates

2015 Baby's First Christmas Holiday Ornaments by SeptemberHouse

It's update time at SeptemberHouse and one my "to-do's" was to tweak some of my holiday ornament designs and get them ready to go for 2015.

2015 Baby's First Christmas Polar Bear Ornament by SeptemberHouse

When I look at the two bear ornaments now it's almost difficult to recall what changes I made to them and how I managed to spend hours working on such teeny tiny upgrades. The differences between last year's versions and this year's are subtle but I don't let any year go by without trying to make my ornament designs better than they were the year before.

Baby's First Christmas Woodland Bear Ornament 2015 by SeptemberHouse

The elephant pull toy ornaments however, saw some bigger changes come their way.

Baby's First Christmas Elephant Personalized Ornament 2015 by SeptemberHouse

There are new colors, new backgrounds and text changes too. I like the soft look of these and I LOVE aqua blue even at Christmas time so I was glad to have a chance to add that in to both the girl version and the boy version. These guys are all in the shop now and ready for an exciting Holiday Season!

Baby's First Christmas Elephant Personalized Ornament 2015 by SeptemberHouse
And yes, I DID create something for my "Crafting Confession" series for May but haven't had a chance to get some decent photos to share. I have not forgotten, I promise and will be sharing that project very soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2016 calendar panels arrive

2016 Fabric Calendar DIY

I think I am going to make it folks! My personal goal each year is to have calendar panels ready by the end of May and it looks like I am going to squeak by this year without too many more days to spare. So without any further delay allow me to share what is new for 2016.

2016 Fabric Calendar DIY Kit

There are three varieties this year and each one has three color choices. I added in this Tall & Skinny style that has room at the bottom instead of the top for embroidery (or whatever else you might like to add in here). When completed these are about 7 by 19 inches. These come in three colors: Sunflower, Poppy and Dusty Turquoise

2016 Modern Floral Fabric Calendar

The next option features a pre-printed floral design. There is no need to choose a pattern or to transfer a pattern with these - they are ready to go right out of your mailbox. Each panel will include a skein of matching embroidery floss too.

2016 Modern Floral Fabric Calendar Embroidery

The three color options are Blueberry, Raspberry and Pear Green (hmm...anyone else hungry now?) The design here is detailed but can be done using basic stitches so while it would require a time commitment I don't feel like it is something that a beginner could not handle. Just following along the lines is going to result in a beautiful piece of embroidery but I like the idea of going back in with some filling stitches too to add some pops of color.

DIY tea towel calendar with floral design for 2016

Hand Embroidery Blanks 2016 fabric calendar

I also have included some panels that are more along the lines of the standard panels I have offered for years. These  have a finished size of approximately 11.25 inches wide by 15.5 inches tall and have room at the top for whatever embroidery design you would like to add. Three different colors are available: Navy Blue, Stone and Paprika.

Hand Embroidery Blanks 2016 fabric calendar

And finally, each of these panels comes with a full color guide that provides suggestions for finishing and hanging your calendar panel plus gives matching floss color recommendations for both DMC and Anchor floss. I hope people will like these new styles and will have a lot of fun creating these calendars for themselves or as gifts for friends and family!