Archive for January, 2011

Shop Update: Plussed Quilt Top Kits

Introducing the latest Quilt Top Kit design:  Plussed.

a monochromatic design of striking simplicity, offered to you in a Lap size Quilt Top Kit

Available in a handful of colorways, found here.


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The Report from The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge, Week 2

I don’t have a whole lot to show for this week’s challenge, save for some bloody pin-pricked fingertips and some good intentions.  I’m on the verge of wrapping up the Quilt Top Kits I’ve been hard at work on, but the light’s waning and the time’s run out for today.  Next week, I say, barring some unforeseen delay.

You remember the photo of Maker Mama’s mason jar stash that I featured last week, right? Take a look at the ‘after’ shot:

Well done, no?

Share with us all in the comments or via the Flickr group what you’ve been up to all week.

We’ll meet back here next Friday, when I shall reveal the challenge theme for February.  Whoooooooooo!


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Maybe what you need is to…

…glue some plates to your wall.



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Come find me at Elsie Marley

Because I can’t be bothered to do two posts in one day, (or the glue’s not yet dry for the project I intended to post here) you’ll have to follow me over to Elsie Marley. She’s kindly invited me to guest post today, while she languishes in the Hawaiian sun and misses us dearly.  You betcha.

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I’ve just added Abigail Washburn to the list…

of people I wish were my next-door neighbors.  Surely we’d be best friends.

I’ve watched this about three times so far today.  And it’s only 10:46 a.m.

Skip to 8:40 to hear her sing the Chinese folk song if you’ve only time for one song.  It gave me goosebumps.


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The Report from The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge, Week 1

Welcome to the end of the kick-off week of The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge.  How did it go for you all – did you make it out alive?  It was an interesting week here among my own over-stuffed shelves, spanning a gamut of emotions from satisfaction to panic.  A whole year?  From only this stuff? I had to talk myself off the ledge a few times.  There was a tour of thrift stores a few days ago, which severely tested my willpower and the foundation of this challenge.  I’m very happy to say that I dodged the mediocre offerings of fabric that I normally would have tossed in my cart and left with only a 100% cotton white flat sheet, a (dyeable) staple in my studio akin to thread or needles.  And while I don’t have a lot of finished things to show for my week of hard work, I can say that I made a pretty big impact on my project shelves.  Judging by the three bags of trimmings that were hauled out, I’d call the opening week a roaring success.  Replenishing my etsy shop with a fresh batch of Quilt Top Kits is my low-hanging fruit, and I hope to have the shop updated by Monday at the latest.  All week long my mouth has been watering at the luscious combination of colors that have transpired – I can’t wait to show you what’s emerged from these humble shelves!  A sneak peek:

But enough about me.  How did your week go?  The Flickr pool is starting to gather some steam as we all wade through the chaos left behind by the frenzy of holiday making.    Check out the lovely things that are emerging from others’ stashes.

from the Flickr pool: image by Maker Mama

To be clear:  this is a stash challenge, not necessarily a sewing challenge.  My stash happens to be sewing-heavy, but there’s plenty of other making to be done from the treasures I’ve been hoarding. Another point of business:  the rules.  There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to this challenge, there’s no whistle-blowing police officer looking over your shoulder to make sure you don’t stray.  The premise is simple – use what you have.  Replenish your staples as needed, and with mindfulness.  I’ve allowed myself an emergency Exception Clause, in case I come upon vintage fabric so wonderful, so shooting-star-rare that passing it up would be foolish.  But I’ll disclose all of that here, to keep me honest.  Another friend suggested trading with others.  What a great use of stash resources, I say!  But this is your challenge, too. Own it.  Assess your situation, determine what you need, and go with it.  And don’t forget to share your progress with us!

Ok.  Discuss.

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Still knitting like my fingers are on fire.

I am still completely enamored with this yarn and this pattern.  (Ravelry link) Only the sleeves remain unfinished.  All around me, however, the repercussions of knitting a sweater in less than 25 days are coming into focus.  Piles of laundry (mostly clean) dot the home landscape like newly-formed mountain chains.  The Pugs are quite the little climbers, it turns out, preferring the summits closest to the wood stove for their daytime beds.  (hence the “mostly” clean)  The refrigerator could use a restocking, though I’m greatly inspired by MommyCoddle’s very own stash-busting of her fridge and pantry.  ‘Would really rather knit’ is a far less noble reason than shoestring budgeting for not restocking the goods, my grown-up conscience tells me.  Then there was, and still is, all that business of making wood that’s waylaid the knitting, and also that business of cleaning my studio, reconnecting with my sewing machine, and issuing a challenge – all of which have severely hindered my sweater progress.

It’s a fever, I tell you, one that I’ve never caught before.  I just can’t stop.  Never, ever before has knitting held me so captivated for more than a few rows at a time.  So I hope I can pass this off as sarcastic tongue-in-cheek, rather than self-indulgent whining, when I say that I have to go now.  Need to get some groceries.  And it pains me.

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He had lipstick on his collar and was smoking a cigarette.

I’m so pleased to announce that we think our Girls are pregnant.  Of course they should be, right?  Sam the Sham, our ram, has been sharing living quarters with them since the end of October.  They’re young and presumably fertile; he’s young and presumably virile.  Why wouldn’t they be pregnant?  It’s just us Nervous Nellies, us newbie shepherds, wallowing in our ignorance and utter lack of experience.  We hadn’t seen any ‘action.’  Nothing.  Sure, it takes a while for the ewes to cycle, but once in the presence of a male, they should be inspired to do so.  Right?  I’m shooting from the hip here, with nothing but book reading to go on.  Surely, we thought, we’d see all kinds of barnyard antics.  Surely they’d all be busy doing their thing all the time.  But short of some tail-sniffing (which was encouraging) we didn’t spot a thing.  Just as I started to get a wee bit worried (what if he was abnormally uninterested?) I realized that I only spend about 15 minutes, 30 minutes max, with them or with them in my sight per day.  That leaves a whole lot of time for lovin’ when I’m not around, right?  So I relaxed a bit, turned my focus back to whatever was on my plate at the time and loosened up a bit.

A couple of days after Christmas, I received a sign.  I shrieked and giggled and finished my chores quickly before sprinting in the house to deliver the good news.  What did I see?  What did I notice?  It was the wool on the Girls’ backs – all ruffled up and disheveled.  As if it had been tousled by the front hooves of a Mister sneaking up behind.  (also, he had lipstick on his collar and was smoking a cigarette)

What a relief!  So, counting on my fingers, we could expect to have lambs anytime from the end of March to the end of May.  (Go ahead and impress your friends with the tidbit that sheep gestate about 5 months.  I do.)  That’s a long stretch to be an on-call midwife.  A long stretch to not go anywhere for the weekend.  Maybe, come early April, we’ll up to our cheeks in lambs and I’ll be laughing at all my prior nervousness.  Maybe not.

What I can tell you right now is that expecting our first batch of lambs is a lot like expecting a first baby.  There’s the fear of the unknown, the grappling with a lack of experience that can only be minutely overcome with research.  There are the apparati that are foreign and daunting (!!).  I have to start keeping iodine on hand, for cripes’ sake.  So much reading to do, so much to get a working knowledge of in just a few months’ time.  Right about now I wish I were the daughter of farmers, that I had even the slightest shred of experience in this, that I had someone in my back pocket to go to for advice or a swift kick in the arse.  I’d have it made if that were the case, right?  Ah, but that’s the trade-off for marching to your own drum beat, to wading through uncharted waters. Uncharted in our previous reality, that is, but we’re finding plenty of neighbors here in this new place. And lambs are being born every day.

On the upside – I will, at some point, get to see lambs being born!  I get to, when needed, be a midwife, get to envelop my senses in the earthy goodness of newborn lambs.  I imagine it will be sublime and intense and like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

But for now, like newly-expectant mothers everywhere, I’m a little freaked out.

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It’s that time of year?

Last year at this time, we were all crafting for the cause of Haiti, to lend our support to the devastation there.  This year, it’s Queensland.  It looks like there are a few different ways to lend our support as crafters.  SewMamaSew just linked to this:

And Monkemoomoo, an  Australian herself, alerted me (thanks!) to this Dolly Drive :

I’ll bet that more things will be popping up in the days to come.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make a barrel of Menswear Bunnies from Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing, which I gleefully received for Christmas.  A birthday gift or just another stuffie for The Boy would have been sufficient, though – wish the impetus for making these wasn’t massive flooding.  Might also try this felted wool animal project too. Care to join me in the Dolly Drive, anyone?

Here’s hoping that this time next year will be peacefully quiet and devoid of major natural disaster.


Thanks for all the feedback so far on The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge!  It’s going to be fun, no?  Start uploading your pics to the flickr page – I’ll be highlighting some of my favorites to share in Friday’s Project Report post.  Finished projects, before-and-after, even shots of your (unruly) stash are all fair game for sharing.

I’m also getting some mixed feedback on the button – if it’s not working properly for you, shoot me an email and we’ll see if we can figure it out.  fivegreenacres at gmail dot com.


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The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge

Because Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Because sometimes we have to build some fences in order to jump over them.

Because there is so much good stuff to work with, right here.

Because I don’t think I could fit another new thing in this studio without a shoehorn.

Because it’s winter here in the northern hemisphere, and Mother Nature tells us to mindfully eat what we’ve squirreled away.

Because I think I could probably work off of this stash for a whole year without running out of things to do.

Because it will be so much fun replenishing it all with shiny new things next year!

Because it’s time to focus.

I’ve issued a challenge –  to myself and to anyone else who has a stash to burn.  The Rumpelstiltskin Challenge. It’s simple: what can you make with what you have on hand?  How long can this stash sustain your creativity? What materials have you been socking away for that magical moment when you’d make ____?  The moment has come.  It’s time to see those projects to fruition.  Time to excavate, slowly, project by project, the goldmine of things we’ve been intending to make and set them free.

For my part, I’d wager that I’ve got enough here in my studio to keep me going at full speed for the rest of the year.  Whoa.  How about you?  Could you go a month? Two? Six? Join me, for as long as you’d like, as long as you can stand.  I’ll be here all year.

There’s a year’s worth of sewing in here, no doubt, but I’ve also got some other projects that have been waiting for a chance to make it to the work table – some creative repurposing into home decor and who-knows-what-else.  I’m choosing not to include my knitting stash in my own challenge, but that’s because my stash is surprisingly small.  Your fiber stash may be the perfect spot to focus your attention, so go for it!

I’ll be checking in here every Friday to report how I’m doing, what I’ve made in the past week.  Join me and share your own triumphs.

There is, of course, a flickr group to document what we’re making.  Find it here:

I’ll also be concocting themes for each month, which you may find useful in kick-starting your creative process.  Follow the themes or not – your choice.

Let’s begin, shall we?  Grab the button and pin it to your own blog, share this post on Facebook, tell your mom, whatever.

Copy and paste this for the button:

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<img src=””&gt;

January’s theme:  Low-hanging Fruit

Pick the easiest, already-started, laying-on-top-of-the-pile projects and start whipping something out.  Sew a button on something, felt that bag that you finished knitting ages ago and start using it. (MOM!)  This is the time to build up some momentum with quick, easy, satisfying projects.  I’ll be tying up some loose ends and opening up a little bit of breathing room in my studio before moving on to more complicated things.

So, are you in?

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