Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Stopped at the Uwajimaya in Renton today after taking the boys to have lunch with their Great Grandma, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncle and cousins. 

I can hardly wait to show you what I found!

Moomin Candy!!!!

Y'all familiar with Mumintroll(Swedish spelling)?  Read much Tove Jansson?  She's a Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer.
I have been such a fan of Moomin for a few years now and it is not easy to find anything Moomin-ish, in stores here.  Uwajimaya has had the most offerings, besides online sources, that you can actually see, touch and feel.  I got candy, folks!  And it's good!
I figured these little tins will make great craft containers and I just love the Moomin stories and characters so even just to look at them makes me happy!  If you aren't familiar with Moomin, check out the comic strip and books.  If you like unusual, strange, interesting, funny, smart, weird stuff like I do, you'll LOVE the Moomins!

I also found some more new kitchen containers.  Look at what they say:

I just LOVE these!  Some of you may remember the ones I got over the summer:

I also found a few small ceramic containers that are so cute and useful:

Luckily (for my wallet's sake!), they did not have a Kinokuniya Book Store attached to this particular Uwajimaya so I didn't have to struggle with the do I buy it, don't I buy it, soul-splitting head-banter I always encounter upon trying to leave Kinokuniya without spending the mortgage money!  Oh, those Japanese sewing books!  They have me by the balls!  Love, love, love them!

Blessed Holidays Everyone!
Enjoy the season,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New - Old Sweaters

So my Aunt Charlene saw my previous post about the Granted-type sweater I found at the Flea Market for $30.  It looks like this:

And it reminded her of the sweaters my Grandma knit (first photo, above)for her and my Uncle Steve, way back in the very early 70s, when Grandma was still working at Boeing and before my cousin Marci or I were born.  My aunt sent me an email a couple days ago and asked if I would want them, when we met at my Grandma's today for lunch, since she had had them in storage for many many years.  YES!  YES!  I want them!

August LOVES the sweater that fits him.  He says he feels like he should be wearing it on a college campus!  Can't you tell he thinks he looks good!  He does look good!
My Grandma knit them in wool and she even lined them!  They zip up and they don't have pockets but that's OK.

August is showing you the lining here.

So the other sweater fits me great but Gus is not thrilled that we have "matching" sweaters.  I told him that I wont wear mine when he wears his, but otherwise it's fair game!  Some day Jasper will fit into mine and then they can be matchy matchy brothers!

We LOVE our new - old sweaters!  Thanks Aunt Charlene and Uncle Steve!  Thank you Grandma for being a knitter back in the day!  I so adore having these family treasures and I love to use them!

Merry Yule and Blessed Solstice everyone!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Carpet Bag

Finally finished the carpet bag!

I found this rug piece in Tucson last spring and hauled it home with me.  I also found a full size rug, perfectly worn, that I hauled home too.  Thank you Southwest Airlines for letting us each check two bags for free!  I was able to bring home a massive ton of loot!  Anyhow, here is the rug piece, as found:

Here is the piece, as found, layed out on my floor.

Here is a closer-up detail.

I used dark brown linen, from an old dress, to line the inside side.  Its hard to see but I made a pocket too.

This photo shows how I just guesstimate about where and what size I want a messenger style bag to be.  I line the entire piece first then play with bag/flap size until it looks just right to me.  Then I pin in the side/strap piece.  This time I used the brown linen for one side of the strap and some army green linen from and old pair of shorts I picked up at the Lopez Transfer Station, Take It or Leave It, over the summer. 

Here is the strap before I began pinning it to the bag.

In these two photos I am trying to show the pinning of the strap to the bag in a way that you can see how I construct it.  But these photos don't do it justice.  I basically pin the bottom of the strap to what I want to be the bottom of the bag and then sew it up the sides to the top.  In this case, I made the strap too long so I need to go back and shorten it.

So with the carpet bag finished I can move on to other projects that have been left unfinished and half started.  Still working on my jacket from a vintage pattern.  Still working on a few other bags in progress.  Still have a few dolls being embroidered.  Still have mending and tweaking on several garments to finish.  Still, still, still.  And most of it will have to wait until I am back from vacation because that is fast approaching and I have many little ends to tie up before we fly off.  I plan to show you many of the finds I have discovered in the past couple weeks.  Stay tuned.  Normal programming will resume in the New Year. 


Thursday, December 2, 2010


Jasper embroidered his turkey design for his Grandma.  Every year he gives her some kind of turkey art project near Thanksgiving.  This year he decided to draw his own design and "sew" it on muslin for Grandma.

Jasper drew his turkey on paper with pencil.  Then he traced it with a Sharpie so the lines were dark.  Then he taped the picture up on the window and then we taped the muslin piece over it.  I helped him with the tracing of the design onto the muslin with pencil.
Hard at work, concentrating.

The back side.

Jasper asked me to finish the edges for him.  He did not want it to have tabs or any particular way to hang.  He wanted his Grandma to lay it flat on the table for his other clay turkeys to sit on.  He signed the bottom corner with a Sharpie.
And the minute he was done:

he picked up his knitting!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Basket Liners

I made some basket liners for my friend Kathy last weekend.  She had this rolling market cart that folds flat and she had a large circular rolling basket that she wanted to use for laundry.  Unfortunately I forgot to take final photos so I only have a few of work in progress.

Here you can see the print on the fabric and the awesome green color on the wheel and spokes.  Kathy and I found a queen or king size Ralph Lauren sheet at Goodwill and that's what I used for one side on these liners.  The other side in unbleached muslin.
The liners are super easy to make.  You just measure all four sides of your basket and then add in an inch or so for a seam allowance.  You lay it out like a huge rectangle.  Then with right sides together you sew it like your making a pillow case and leaving an opening to turn it right sides out.  You do the same for the bottom piece and then you attach the sides to the bottom.  You can see above how I try to make the seam run down the center back.
I use sets of ties at the top to hold the liner secure to the top bar of the basket.  On this one I top stitched the ties to the sides of the fabric.  You can either have them pinned in and sewn in the seam or you can top stitch them on after you've turned it right side out.  Either way its cute and it works!

This is the large circular basket that Kathy will use for laundry.  She had originally just wanted it all muslin but I forgot and made one side with the RL sheet.  Here is where you won't see a photo of it complete but you get the idea.  You can see the bottom piece here.  Once I had the super long rectangle of fabric for the side complete I simply pinned it to the bottom circle and sewed it all together.  On this one I did pin in the sets of ties to the seam, sandwiched between the right sides, so when it was turned right side out, the ties were dangling from the top, every 6 inches or so, all the way around.  Easy pie!
Here is a view of the circular basket from the top.  What's nice is that these liners are reversible.  You can have either side showing, inside or outside.  They are also completely washable, durable and preshrunk so you can get a lot of use out of them.

I have several more market baskets I will be making liners for and selling at M&M.  I made a liner for one last spring and it sold the day I brought it in.  A lot of us use the market baskets at antique shows and flea markets to carry all our loot in and help keep our hands free for browsing.  They would also be handy at a park, the zoo, the beach, and at concerts or festivals.

I will let y'all know when I have some for sale.  I am not listing them in my Etsy shop since the pacakaging and shipping is not something I can take on at this time. I really do have at least 10 more market baskets in the basement so do let me know if you want one.  I will take custom orders.  Thanks!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland

As the snow started to fall at our house I couldn't resist getting out a few holiday ornaments to enjoy for the next few weeks.  I said I would resist since a surfing, snorkeling, birding, and yoga-filled 2 week holiday vacation is coming up.  I had told myself that I would not be putting out these decorations, that it wasn't needed and it would be nonsense to bother.  But I just can't help myself.  I love the winter holidays and I probably have enough decorations and holiday paraphernalia for two houses so I figure one litte holiday "alter" can't hurt!

Framed trees arranged on velvet made of vintage costume jewelry picked up at the thrift store many years ago for $2 each.

As you can see, I have quite the collection of holiday woodland folk!  When my Grandpa McAlpin died I inherited all his Christmas decorations.  I unearthed a large box full of the pinecone elfs.  Each one had a double and there were at least 10 sets.  Over the years I have gifted the duplicates to other family members and have continued to collect them for my family.  They hold books, lanterns, instruments, gifts and trees.  Right now I have about 40 different ones!
I have also been collecting vintage deer figures, little snowmen and other woodland creatures as well.  Most of these items are vintage "made in Japan" decorations.  To keep the creatures contained this year I used two matching tiered silver tray thingys, set on top of an antique pie safe, and displayed the deer and friends around them.  The plastic elfy gnome couple above watches over it all.

I love this photo.  It appears to be a Scandinavian Christmas pageant complete with snow, crowns, costume gowns and Father Christmas.  The back says "xmas 1916."

Leafless tree full of tiny vintage glass bulbs sitting on an antique plant stand between the dresser and the pie safe.  And the penguin is vintage chalkware.  The green tree a beeswax candle.

On the left is a photo of my dad around 1950.  On the right is a photo of Chad around 1979.

The grouping of pictures above contain images of the display on top of an antique dresser next to the pie safe and plant stand.  The two soft white Santa's are reproductions, not vintage, but all the feather angels and buildings are vintage made in Japan.

On Saturday I took the boys to Yulefest at The Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard to check out the festivities and celebrate our Danish heritage.  I am a Nielsen, after all.

Jasper with Santa at Yulefest.  I couldn't get August to be in the photo. Uggghhh....teenagers.

The Snow Queen, her sleigh and Reindeer.

We hung our Danish flag garlands in the window, attaching them to our net collection.  Jasper wanted the Danish flag we bought for his room.  Some day we will travel to Aarhus, where our ancestors are from to visit and discover our roots.  We can't wait!

Is it trying to snow where you live?  Does it make you want to decorate for the holidays?  We usually have a big Winter Solstice celebration.  It will be strange to not have a tree and be in the tropics for Winter Solstice.  But I think I'll survive it.  Surfing on Solstice, Christmas and my Birthday will suffice!