A Very Crafty Summer


Aside from writing like a lunatic this summer, my two months of freedom also turned out to be an adventure in crafting.  It all started when I got the bright idea to clean out my craft closet, which had become ridiculously stuffed and unorganized.  As I started pulling things out and sorting through supplies, my muse went nuts.  It’s like walking through a craft store and getting bombarded with a million ideas in every aisle, (some would say I have an entire craft store in my closet).  Old, unfinished projects looked fun again and I realized I had the time to revisit hobbies that wandered to the bottom shelf or under the bed.

With my crafty summer coming to an end, (the day job has started again), I can’t help but reflect on all the things I made between June and July:

1) Cross-stitch. In addition to cleaning out my closet, a friend’s request for a cross-stitch to celebrate the arrival of her new baby is also responsible for the start of my crafting extravaganza. Seeing as there are virtually no cute cross-stitch kits in stores these days, I ended up creating my own pattern.  It had been a couple of years since I’ve even touched aida cloth and embroidery thread, but the addiction immediately came back!  After completing the baby cross-stitch, I jumped right into stitching another project based on a pattern I’ve always wanted to make.  I’d post pictures of both, but they are gifts that have not been given just yet.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

2) Penny rugs.  For my birthday, I received a penny rug kit from my aunt.  She knows I love this traditional art form, so I was truly excited to whip those concentric circles into shape, (see Penny Rugs: Boot Scrapers to Placements for a picture of this particular rug).

After completing one penny rug, I was anxious to make another.  So, using all the scraps of wool I had lying around, I made a very traditional penny rug for my coffee table.  All in all, I cut out and sewed more than 160 circles!  The best part about this project is that I didn’t need or use a pattern.  I cut out circles until I had enough and let the colors land where they may.

Penny Rug Table Runner – Created by c.b.w.

While the table runner turned out great, penny rug mania still had a firm grip on my creativity. I decided my end table needed a penny rug that matched the one I made for the coffee table, (I still had a ton of wool scraps!).  However, I didn’t want to make it an exact match.  I borrowed a simple penny rug mat from my Grandma and used it as the inspiration to make one for my end table. Again, no pattern necessary – all I needed was a pretty good guess on how to construct all the elements.

Penny Rug Mat – Created by c.b.w.

3) Quilting.  When I was 16 years old, I started hand-sewing blocks to make a huge quilt. Each block has 40 pieces and it took me two years to make enough for a full-size quilt.  Unfortunately, college and life in general caused my creation to end up stuffed in a closet for twelve years.  Once I moved into my first house, I took the blocks over to my grandma’s house and we pieced together the top layer, marked quilt lines, and pinned the backing.  Then, the poor thing got shoved into another closet for six more years.  Seeing as this quilt is now a legal adult, I figured I’d finally finish it.  To my surprise, it unfolded exactly as I’d left it and nothing had shifted.  Within a week, I had it quilted, yarn tied, and bound.  It’s now on a bed and gorgeous!

Eight-Point Star Quilt – Created by c.b.w.

4) Knitting. For the longest time I’ve wanted to learn how to knit. I have a rudimentary understanding of how it works, I own knitting needles, and I made a scarf once, (actually, it was more like a poncho and my mom had to cast on for me), but I’ve never been able to get the hang of it. Being left-handed might have something to do with this, because everyone around me who knows how to knit is right-handed and every how-to book and video is for right-handers as well.  The knitting board turned out to be my savior and now I can’t get enough of this ambidextrous wonder.  At the tail end of my summer, I learned everything about knitting boards and began knitting socks, (which I actually wear!).  And I am still knitting socks!  In the coming weeks I’ll be posting about my various sock projects, so I’ll hold off on pictures except for one of my first pair.

My first pair of knitted socks!

The funny thing is my craft closet is still a little messy!

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c.b.w. 2012

Blue Ribbon Mania


The Arizona State Fair opened this weekend complete with a ferris wheel and a myriad of deep-fried foods on a stick.  No matter how old I get or how many times I’ve gone to the fair, it’s still exciting to hear the gates are opening once again. Bring on the livestock shows, fast-spinning rides, and homemade fudge that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!  However, my favorite part of the fair happens inside the exhibition halls as my family has had a long tradition of competing for ribbons in the Arts and Crafts shows.

I’ll be the first to say my family is a talented bunch.  My mom makes amazing wreathes, ceramics, and mop dolls, while my sister is the ultimate paper crafter and gives Mom a run for her money in ceramics.   Grandpa constructs amazing model trains and Grandma sews quilts so beautiful it feels like a crime to touch them.  As for me, I do everything from sewing, paper crafts, cross stitch, quilting, and felt applique.  The fair always gives everyone a project  and a reason to try something new.  No matter the category, it’s all about that blue ribbon or better still, the coveted rosette.

Over the years, I’ve collected a number of ribbons for various projects and with the fair opening this week I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic.  The fair always brings out the best in my family not only in terms of artistry, but in creating strong connections and wonderful memories.

My collection of State and County Fair Ribbons

It took some doing, but I managed to track down some of my previous projects. Many of my projects are given as gifts or even disassembled for spare parts, but I do keep track of what wins on the back of each ribbon.  They have pesky rules about entering a project more than once, so its important to remember what’s been entered and when!


When I was very young, my Grandma taught me how to sew.  It’s a skill I use to this day and its brought me some luck at the fair, too!  Most of my ribbons were won in sewing categories including quilts, felt applique, and stuffed animals.  The sunflower quilt was the first blue ribbon I’d ever won and it remains one of my all-time favorite projects.


Ever since I was a small child, I loved Barbie and that love has yet to subside.  I’ve made everything from evening gowns, wedding dresses, and vintage designs for my dolls.  A number of my dresses have won blue ribbons, while the rest raked in the red second place ribbon (still nice!).  There are at least three more dresses floating around somewhere, but try as I may, I could not find them.


The nice thing about the fair is that it occurs in October, which is well before Christmas and right before Halloween. I like to make holiday decorations for my home, so most of the holiday projects I make for the fair have a long life after the ribbons have been awarded.  The felt applique advent calendar is one of my favorite pieces.  It hangs in my house every Christmas and it has the added bonus of being a blue ribbon winner.  The cross stitch Santa is one of those projects that took years to complete (it’s the largest cross stitch I’ve ever done).  I’m pretty proud that I actually finished it and even more thrilled that it won!


The Halloween placemat is the one and only decoration I have for that holiday.  I’m usually not inspired by black cats and pumpkins, but for some reason I was compelled to make this using three different patterns.  It goes out every year and I still love my “boo-tiful” felt project.

Its been a few years since the family has competed.  The fair stopped giving rosettes and life has interfered with a few distractions as it often does.  However, we are planning to get back into the game next Spring with the County Fair.  The spirit of competition calls and we can’t help but answer. Besides, we are crafters and creativity can only be kept at bay for so long!

c.b. 2011