Shoddy Seamstress Adventures: Pen Holder Bookmarks

Behold! Some pen holder bookmarks on a composition book!

The end of the school year is quickly approaching for my kids. That means TEAHER GIFT TIME. Their teachers have been AMAZING. Between full virtual, and simultaneous hybrid (virtual and in-person), and all the madness that goes along with it, the teachers have been beyond PHENOMENAL. I want to thank them. And I’m not NOT giving gift cards, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Usually I forget all about specials teachers- not this time!

While perusing Pinterest the other week looking for little things to sew (and sell??), I stumbled upon these Journaling Bookmarks. This week I’ve been inspired to try my hand at sewing them. I didn’t love the aesthetics of the 1″ elastic on my first one, although my spouse claimed it for one of the testing log books for work. I knew I was onto something when my spouse claimed something I made, he tends to like practical things.

Prototype 2.0 on my Personal Planner

I made a second one with some 1/2″ elastic, but I don’t love this elastic either. I absolutely love having a pen ATTACHED TO MY PLANNER and I can easily bookmark where I want to open to. I’m still trying to figure out how I’ve lived without one of these penholder bookmarks.

Today I tested out using 2 pieces of 1/4″ elastic: WINNER. Its a bit more effort to get my placement correct. These are about as difficult to construct as a basic rectangular mask. However, flipping them right side out is a BEAST. I used a wooden “stuffing tool”, which looks like a chopstick, to help turn it right side out. My topstitching isn’t perfect. I need to remind myself that I’m NOT a machine. Nor am I a professional seamstress or even a particularly good sewist.

Today’s efforts.

I took advantage of having the machine already out to make some singe pocket versions. The single 1/2″ elastic is PERFECT for these! They were really annoying to turn right side out! I don’t love making these.

Other notes: I used a cutting mat and a rotary cutter to do most of the holders. It was fast and efficient. Usually I use my giant fabric shears to cut all the fabric, but the rotary cutter made for neater cuts and straighter edges. I will continue to improve my rotary cutter skills (and invest in a larger cutting mat.

I think these would be a little big for A5 sized books, but for a composition book, planner, or a regular letter (A4) sized notebook they work great! To make it work for the smaller A5 notebooks, shortening the elastic would be easy!

How I’m gifting:

For the school’s Reading Specialist!

I purchased 8 “dot” journals and a two packs of the Uniball Signo 207 pens in multiple colors. Each teacher and specials teacher is getting a journal, a pen holder, and 2 different color pens. Each teacher is getting a different pattern holder (all the notebooks are blue)! I’m going to make the kids main teacher a pencil case with a gift card inside. Those will be pretty simple to put together by next Thursday, I even have the zippers ready for the projects!

Year of Project: Week 42


Its a hot summery Sunday, its like 90-some degrees (Fahrenheit). Its super sunny. I ripped out a bunch of grass and non-zinnias from the beds that flank my front walk. I threw some OLD marigold seeds in the bare spots. If they grow, cool. If not, I’ll just thin some of the zinnias to those spots. Next year, I want to plant some Montauk daisies, they are perennials, and are much lower maintenance than most other options (in my opinion). Some people LOVE gardening, I’m not among them. Now that my self-imposed yard work is over, I get to write a blog on a SUNDAY.

Honestly, I started writing a blog the other day, but I was called away and never came back to my draft. So it goes. I hope this is not a foreshadowing of the month ahead.

YOP Updates!

I finished 2 pair of PJ pants that were on my YOP list for my kids. Joke’s on me, I didn’t take a picture of them. One pair Spider-Man, the other pair Galactic Space Unicorn Pegasus. I still have 2 pair of PJ pants to finish sewing on my YOP list, but they are for me.

Zinnia Baby Afghan: I have 35 squares ready to edge in Aqua and then whipstitch together. I had initially planned a layout of 5×7 squares. But now I’m reconsidering 6×6 or 6×7: depending on how much Aqua is remaining after I edge the first 36. AND TIME. This being for my daughter’s current teacher, it needs to be finished and GIFTED by June 17th (the last day of school). I think it is reasonable to say I can finish it this week: the zillion ends will only take an hour or two to weave in. This counts toward stash busting! The blue and aqua were purchased to unify the squares- everything else was stash.

Baby Hat

I started a baby hat yesterday. Its on size 4 needles. I don’t know how sold I am on the pooling. I’ll finish it up and make a second, alternating rounds from each side of the ball. Both iterations will have little bear ears sewn on top. Aiming for newborn size. The yarn was on sale at Joann for $1.99 when I was there the other day. Its a chainette constructed DK weight (I think it knits closer to a sport weight), in a Cotton, Acrylic, Polyester blend. Not a lot of memory in the yarn, my stitches are not uniform in tension. VERY soft.

From the Kitchen

During the week I made some savory oatmeal for breakfast. I made Miso Oatmeal topped with Caramelized Onions, Kale, and Portabella Mushrooms and an Over-medium egg. I had intended to egg to be a bit runnier, to act as a sauce, but that didn’t happen. “Steps”: Cook oatmeal with Miso Broth (instead of water) add a chopped scallion. Caramelize the onions with the kale added 5 minutes into the process. Add the mushrooms toward the end and cook until all the water is released and pan is mostly dry. I am bad at fried eggs, so mine was over medium. The yoke was pretty set already when I flipped it over. I think I sprinkled some chipotle powder on top of my egg. I don’t remember. I did throw a bit of cheese into the oats, but it was unnecessary. I didn’t add any additional salt, the Miso Broth is VERY SALTY already.

It was a bit labor intensive, but I would 10/10 make this again for myself. If I didn’t have Miso Broth, I would have used veggie broth (giving it a different flavor profile).

Until next week!

Year of Projects: Week 41

What day is it even??

Holidays always get me all twisted around with my days. Today is Monday, not the customary Sunday when I (SHOULD) do my Year of Projects Posts (YOP).

Other Stuff First:

I’m mostly better from my mild illness. So much better in fact that my favorite trainer did his annual Memorial Day workout in the park this morning and I went. It was as grueling as it usually is, albeit unseasonably cool- which NONE of us complained about. But we ALL complained about actually exercising and doing crazy push-up variations, so it was just like “normal”. I’m excited that as early as NEXT week he’s going to be offering in-person personal/weight training at a boutique gym pretty close to my house. This morning really cleared my head and I feel much more at peace mentally. I get crabby and cagey when I don’t get enough joyful movement into my life. But I’m REALLY bad at motivating myself at home, and need to go somewhere for accountability. Johnny over at Straight Shot Training is awesome, and I’m thrilled to start training with him after a year long hiatus.

I Baked Yesterday

I made a bean and oatmeal pie yesterday. Yes, its good. Yes the ingredient combination is WEIRD. Usually Bean Pies are made with Navy Beans. I had some dried Pinto Beans, so that’s what I used. I had initially intended to make a mock pecan pie with the Pinto Beans, but all the recipes had pecans- an ingredient NOT in my pantry. I swapped the evaporated milk and the white sugar for sweetened condensed milk. I used a little brown sugar (1/4 c) for flavor. My kids loved it. The oatmeal was a bit gratuitous, but the pie does NOT fall apart easily. If I try it again, it’ll be omitted. I blended all the ingredients in the food processer until SMOOTH. Not a pretty pie, or a fancy pie. I’ll fiddle with the recipe again in the future.

Onto Yarn-y Business!

I have used 54/100 balls of stash yarn since January 1st of this calendar year. Go me, I’ve got this goal in the bag.


I finished my weird hat. I accidentally stretched the piece when measuring it. Its a BIT too snug. I’ll try blocking out the sock yarn. It’ll be fine. I had other pictures but they are not very good. Both yarns are stash.

4-corners baby sized

I finished my 4-corners C2C baby sized blanket. I ran out of the olive and tan yarns before I could complete my initial striping sequence. Whoops. Lucky for me, its now a “design” feature. I had no plans on getting more yarn for this scrap-ghan. I still haven’t wove in the ends, don’t have a recipient in mind yet.

Next up the centers for my Zinnia Baby Blanket. Stash and partial balls, except the blue and the aqua. They were purchased a few weeks ago to tie together some kind of scrappy blanket project. Ta-Da. This will go to my daughter’s teacher. She is expecting a baby early next school year. I hope its not too personal of a gift, but I like her and she has made her classroom in an unconventional school year run so smoothly. My daughter lovers her immensely. Currently I have 35 centers, with the intent to make the blanket 5×7 squares, but may amend to 6×6 (and whip up another square), if its too long and narrow. School ends on the 17th, I have 2 weeks to finish it up. Considering I started on Friday, I think I can do it.

No new progress. I hope the v-neck is as low and trashy with the sleeves on it as it is right now. (hahhahahahahha)

And that’s my week. Hopefully next week I can discuss some actual YOP finished projects.

Get Over It.

I had a head cold.

It was AWFUL. Just kidding, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad. At first, I thought it was just allergies, but then I was more tired and irritable than usual. Tuesday I had a slightly sore throat (I had the bedroom window open and the fan blowing ON me, which has given me a sore throat in the past) with itchy ears and eyes, Wednesday I had the runniest nose, Thursday I was super congested, Friday/Today a raspy voice. But I feel 100% back to normal otherwise. By Tuesday, it’ll be like it never happened. No one else in my house seems to be affected. I usually get an allergy induced sinus infection every year about this time- thanks Facebook for keeping track of my gripes!

I had to hit up my farmers’ market this morning: I had goat on hold with my meat guy. So I donned my mask, because I didn’t want to risk spreading my cold germs. Even if the likelihood of my being contagious is zero.

Keeping Busy

I haven’t changed all the sheets or folded and put away all the laundry from the week. It’ll wait for me. I listened to the Warbreaker Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson on Hoopla instead; I could have listened to that and done my chores but that is besides the point. It was a fantasy/sci-fi dramatically acted audiobook. It had a weird high-pitched sound in the recording that got on my nerves at times. But the story was compelling enough to be interesting for 17 hours of storytelling. I finished up my crochet blanket and my weird hat. And started on ANOTHER blanket to finish up all my bits (and give to my daughter’s teacher as a baby gift). I started the ribbing on my sweater. I tried it on as I was switching needle sizes. I think I want 5-8 inches of ribbing (so ambitious!).

Year of Projects: Week 40

Witty Caption Here

WOW. I only have 12 more weeks left of my first YOP. Dang. This last week brought a lot of doing, but not much knitting. I finished a tiny concept hat: it works. I need to test it out on and actual baby to see if its appropriately sized. I forget how tiny real newborn baby humans are. I’m working on an adult size, but with fingering held double- I want to finish in this lifetime!

Little 10-stitch Hat.

I’ve been plugging away on a “4-Corners of the Cro-pacalypse” (working title) C2C baby blanket. I’m in the home stretch, still haven’t taken a single picture. *facepalm*

This past weekend, my best friend since college got married. It was about 2 hours away, and the drive was STUNNING. I NEVER miss the opportunity to stop at the Sideling Hill Rest Area when I take I-68 in MD. Partly the view. Partly the toilet facilities. And climbing a huge flight of stairs is a nice way to stretch your legs on a drive!!

It was a mini-get-a-way without the family, that was SOOO BUSY; I barely had any downtime to create. But that didn’t stop me from bringing the sweater I’m working on (now that its summer temps here 80-90 degrees F). Which I was able to get a little bit done on while waiting for my hair, since I wanted that done before I committed to make-up. The New Germany State Park is beautiful and I will likely take my family in the future.

Its very own compartment in my GIANT toiletry bag.

Saturday was a beautiful day in Western Maryland. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. The lake clear and the trees lush and green. The other bridesmaid and I brought the party, and danced all evening. I danced so hard my fake eyelashes came unglued. I barely took any pictures. I lived in the moment and let the photographer do her magic.

The cake was also REALLY good.

Sunday my feet ached and my legs and hips were SO TIGHT. Signs of a successful wedding reception. I danced like I was still in my 20’s, I felt every bit of my 40 years the next day!

But before breakfast, we got to observe this little guy and his siblings munching on the greenery.

Now its back to my normal life. See you soon with (hopefully) some finishes!

A Little Finish

Bitty Sized

I decided to work up another hat in the “experimental” fashion. This one is also a newborn size as well. My friend’s baby is due in June, so within the next month (or so), I’ll be able to try it on a human. The next iteration will be an adult sized hat in the same style. I do want to try another weight yarn.

Year of Projects: Week 38/39

What Did I Even DO?

As I start typing this, I have NO idea what to write about. I’ve been making some slow progress on “stuff”. Here is a recap (some of which has been chronicled since my last YOP post).

The photos on my phone would suggest that I’ve done little fiber stuff and a small amount of sewing. This is partially true? I’ve made some knitting bags (that I don’t actually need) to test out the prospect of selling some on Etsy. I posted about the shown projects here and here. I’m making some masks for the wedding I’m in next weekend. Me, the bride, and the other bridesmaid are all vaccinated, I’m still going to finish the masks. I’m only making them 2 layer instead of 3 (like all the other ones I made). As long as my kids are unvaccinated, I will be wearing a mask indoors. Not shown: 6 pairs of kid sized PJ pants that need waists and hems. Cutting and body sewing took less than 2 hours for them all. The next part requires ironing. And also elastic, which I may or may not have enough of for ALL 6 pairs. None of the fabric was stash, all was purchased specifically to make kid PJ pants.

Knitting: I’ve been working on some baby sized hats. One was a proof of concept (top center), the other is a refinement (top right). Both are fingering weight. Not shown knitting: a newborn red Magic Sea Captain Watch Cap, chunky weight yarn.

Crochet not shown: I started a striped C2C baby blanket of worsted leftover yarns, I just started the decrease side so I’ve about 50 “rows” remaining. I don’t think I’ve taken any pictures of this blanket, I think I have enough yarn in the colors selected to finish??

Yarn Stash-down: I’ve currently used 42 full skeins in calendar year 2021, out of a goal of 100 skeins.

I guess that’s it? Adieu!

Get the Mail!

It’s Stuff I actually WANT.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how my favorite dyer (AT Haynes House Yarns) was using the proceeds of their colorways Fight and Until We Win to help offset costs associated with her sister’s cancer treatment. After an very short wait and SUPER SHORT SHIPPING TIME, my pretties have arrived!

Fight and Until We Win

I’m already thinking about the beautiful and EPIC shawl I’m going to create with these two yarns. There are some similar crossover colors, so they’ll coordinate nicely. I have 435 yards of each colorway, both in the MCN (merino, cashmere, nylon) base. I’m leaning toward a parallelogram shape. I have so many triangular shawls that I want something slightly different.

My other special delivery were the sandals I ordered last week! I’m in a wedding next weekend, and needed a new pair of dress sandals. I have a nice pair from Seyschelles (like these), but they make my feet ACHE SO BAD anymore (my feet are so difficult and temperamental these days). So I purchased a sensible dress sandal from the Birkenstock Papillio line, these. DSW usually has pretty good shipping turn around, so I ordered from them instead of direct from Birkenstock (same price); plus I get rewards points from DSW. They got shuffled about by FED-EX for about a week (making me feel pensive about getting them in time). I was SOOO excited to get them out of the box and onto my feet today.

AND I STILL NEED TO DRIVE OVER TO THE MALL BECAUSE THEY FORGOT TO REMOVE THE INVENTORY CONTROL TAG FROM MY PURCHASE. The mall is only 10 minutes away, so its not really that much of a hassle; its the principal of the whole thing. They don’t pinch or rub or make my toes go numb. Other to-do items for the week: pedicure.

Shoddy Seamstress Adventures: So Much Sewing

Some sewing project for the week

Sometimes I get the itch to SEW. And SEW I did this week. I had initially intended on making PJ pants for the kids. Yeah… Haven’t done that yet. But I’ve made a bunch of other stuff. So far I’ve made 2 zipped pencil pouches, 1 zipped pouch, 1 bag, 1 weird basket thing, and 2 knot style bags.

When it comes to interface, I’m CLUELESS. I purchased some stiff iron-on interface, but it was too stiff (dark zip pencil case), I ordered some fusible fleece instead. Its not quite as stiff as I wanted, but soft and helps keep the shape more than nothing. I used it in the banana pencil bag above. That one is for my daughter- bananas are her recent jam. I’m going to make my son one, and both my kids’ teachers one for end of the year gifts. They are moderately easy to put together. AND I discovered my sewing machine can do a zig-zag over lock stitch that looks a bit like a serger finish. COOL.

I have some old recycled zippers that I pulled out of my grandma’s sewing supplies after she passed (like 15 years ago). The teeth are metal. I used one of the long ones for the pouch with some fusible fleece. Its a weird shape, the pouch, not the zipper. Working with the large tooth metal zipper is somewhat more difficult than a nylon ones I usually use. Much less flexible for one. Also: I’m a bit paranoid that the machine will hit the metal zipper at the wrong spot, snap the needle and it’ll fly into my eye. Unlikely. Irrational. Foolish. But yet, somehow in the back of my mind when sewing on a metal zipper.

The cat faced bag is Simplicity #2658 paper pattern I purchased 10 years ago. I didn’t add the bottom, I sewed the front/back and made a little box. I also frenched the seams of the body, for shape. Meh on that. I won’t to that again.

My weird basket was a fail.

Knot bag!

I made the knot bags yesterday. They are both corduroy with a (thick-ish) polyester liner. These turned out really good. My stitching is REALLY even. Its almost as if with all this sewing practice I’m getting good. I’m thinking about making and posting some additional bags on my Etsy for sale.

Action shot!

I also took my kids biking on the C&O Canal Towpath on Wednesday afternoon. Its a smooth gravel path. VERY VERY FLAT. We were able to do almost 6.5 miles in just over an hour. The ride was SO easy, that my smart watch didn’t count ANY of the ride as exercise- even though I had a workout running (I wanted to capture our total miles). It did register exercise for loading and unloading the bikes off the carrier, go figure.

Not a lot of knitting/crochet this week. I’ve been sewing while the kids are at school and doing some dumb chores that I don’t want to do. I will be back Sunday to give 2 weeks of YOP updates.

Experimental Knitting

The other day, I was thinking about interesting construction concepts for hats. And I had a somewhat unconventional idea that I wasn’t certain if it would work or not. The only way to get these ideas out of my head it to dive in and construct.

Proof of Concept

What worked: the slip stitches worked great for connecting the 10-stitch strips, picking up the ribbing and the crown.

What didn’t work: the yarn. I like this yarn coloration, just not for this project the stacking is meh. I started the increase on the wrong side, so my joins are on the wrong side. The 10-stitch strip may be too wide for a newborn-ish sized hat, maybe its just the weird patterning of the yarn I used.

Conclusions: It is likely I will choose a new yarn and make this hat again. If the newborn size works with my modifications, I’ll try some other sizes. I think this would look REALLY nice in the right solid. OR a solid with a little cable!! OK. I need to rush off and try this.

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