Monday, September 30, 2013

Crafts: Pom-pom wreath

I finally finished my autumn wreath! I've had the supplies for two years, so it's about time!

I used a Styrofoam wreath form and five skeins of inexpensive yarn in marigold, dark orange, chocolate, vanilla, and deep aqua. I made 60 pom-poms, and I like how full and fluffy the wreath looks. The colors make me happy, too.

How-to: For each pom-pom, wrap the yarn around one hand's first, middle and ring fingers 75-85 times (I would sometimes spread my fingers a little to make the pom-pom bigger). Then carefully slide the wrapped yarn off your fingers and lay it atop a foot-long strand of the same color yarn. Center the wrapped yarn as best you can, and then tightly tie the strand around the wrapped yarn's middle. Snip the loops and trim the pom-pom into a pleasing shape.

I tied the pom-poms onto the wreath form as I went along to ensure no Styrofoam was visible and the colors were evenly distributed. After adding all of the pom-poms, I trimmed the ties and hot glued felt over the knots and exposed, center-back of the wreath.

Once I got started, this was an enjoyable project that came together fairly quickly. But pom-poms are messy to make! For easy clean-up, be sure to make them over a hard, flat surface, not a carpeted area.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crafts: Quilted baby blanket

My neighbor is having a baby boy. I had a stack of pre-cut squares I thought were perfect for a boy's "I Spy" quilt, and some leftover minkee fabric for the back.

I used Red Pepper Quilts' economy block tutorial, and the blocks were fun to make. Unfortunately, I had difficulty getting the points to match when I sewed them together. It's my fault, not the tutorial's. The prints are busy enough that my mistakes aren't terribly noticeable, but they still bother me.

I quilted only half of the blanket, because I like the look and feel of minkee with minimal stitching. I did topstitch around the perimeter, however, to prevent the layers from shifting.

The blanket has a warm, quilted side and a soft, fuzzy side. At 30 X 40 inches, it should comfort the little guy when traveling in the stroller and car seat for several years.

I hope he and his mommy like it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Travel: Vulcano Solfatara

This inactive volcano is the Ancient Romans' entrance to hell. It's also famous for steaming jets of sulfurous vapor and boiling mud, once considered remedies for respiratory illness, rheumatism, sterility, and ulcers. Now I think they simply produce raging headaches.

It really smells awful.

At any rate, Cole thoroughly enjoyed our visit - he's very interested in rocks, minerals and volcanoes. I think anyone with similar interests will find Vulcano Solfatara a worthwhile - albeit smelly - excursion from Naples.

Travel time: 1 hour round-trip

Cost: 18.50 Euro (admission for 2 adults, 1 child)

Transit options: parking is available on site, and the Pozzuoli-Solfatara Station is 1 km (downhill) from the entrance

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crafts: Wedding quilt

I made a quilt for my cousin and his bride. I've never met Rebecca, and I haven't seen or spoken to Mark since I was twelve. I made this as a favor to my mom, and based my fabric choices on the couple's wedding registries.

Because I don't know the bride and groom or their style preferences (How much can you learn from a wedding registry?), I made a small-sized lap quilt (40 X 60 inches). I'd hate to spend a great deal of time on a quilt they don't like, although - let's face it - all quilts are time-consuming.

At least I like the design. Paper-pieced string quilts are not the most fun to sew, but they are impressive when assembled. I also like the quilt's colors and kaleidoscopic effect. Film in the Fridge made a nearly identical quilt, seen here, which served as my inspiration.

I hope Mark and Rebecca like their quilt! I don't think I'll ever agree to make another...