What I made in 2022

I like to do these end-of-the-year recaps of what I finished in a year. It always makes me feel productive, and I even want to start more projects.

Knitting

Hats were my thing this year. They are my go-to project when I need something to do. Several were donation hats, and the rest were gifts for friends.

Left to right, top to bottom: tape yarn pouch with vintage cloth lining, Antler toques for donation, Feather and Fern wrap, Year of hats, March hat, Scrapy shawl, Felicity hat for donation, Jelka hat, Kaarre hat, Maize mitts


I’ve also been slowly getting rid of my yarn stash. Luckily I meet “L,” an amigurumi crocheter, at the thrift shop. I’ve been giving her yarn for projects.

Stitching

I’ve been using stitching in my upcycling project this past year. The stitching keeps me present as I usually don’t have a well-laid-out plan, and I’m letting the stitches inspire me on the subsequent placement.

Left to right, top to bottom: Stitching to cover up staining, bookmark, top stitching on the underside of the whale, stuffed whale out of a vintage dress, Hawaiian quilt pillow for donation, Aloha shirt patchwork, blanket stitch top of trivet, trivet made out denim scraps and hand stitching, cat toys made out of scraps of fabric from my cousins mask making venture.


Cooking

I’m breaking this section down to savory and sweet, and I’m not including the jam I made this year. I’ll say the strawberry guava is always a hit and the cherry jam is also a favorite.

Savory

I’ve been trying to be more healthy for dinners. I need to use a lighter hand on the salt. Ahh, signs of getting old. My recent favorite is Mapo eggplant. Here’s the link to the recipe I used from Just One Cookbook: https://www.justonecookbook.com/mapo-eggplant/

Left to right, top to bottom: roasted tomato salsa, zucchini and caramelized onion quiche for Julie, my attempt at pad see ew, cheesy biscuits, tuna and tofu patties, pickled veggie slaw, lemon and capers halibut (thank you, Dave, for the fish), mapo eggplant, ginger pork.


Sweet

I’ve been going through my mom’s recipe box, making my favorite recipes. One day, I’ll put them in a book for my family. I made several batches of Tanaka bars (a family favorite) for my holiday bake, and a few bakes came out too gooey. I googled “blondies too gooey” and found an article from food52 saying the batter needed more air. I need to return to my hand mixer to get the air into the batter. Here’s the link to the article: https://food52.com/blog/21928-why-your-blondies-are-raw-in-the-middle-the-stella-parks-cure

Left to right, top to bottom: Pumpkin bread, pineapple cookies, garbage cookies, lilikoi coconut pie, mixed berry creme fraiche scones, Nutella rice crispy treats, Tanaka bars, Laurie’s pear cake, cherry scones, lemon loaf cake, Tre Leche cake, apple crumb cake, apple vanilla pound cake, lemon blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate birthday cupcakes for the birthday girls.


To my surprise, I worked on a lot of stuff. It didn’t feel like it. I’ve been struggling this year to find what I should be doing with my life since my freelance gig has dried up.

I’ve discovered myy stitching is good for my brain. It lets me move through the piece spontaneously, letting the stitches decide for me. So I decided 2023 would be my year to sell or show more of my works. I need to be brave and put it out there. So there will be more to come. I hope you stick around to join me on my journey.

Mending

If you look up stitching or mending, you may notice the term slow stitching. For me, slow stitching is a mindful practice to keep my anxiety at bay and to create and learn something new.

This spring, I found an online workshop called Making Zen from https://www.zenstitching.ca/ with demonstrations of all different stitching techniques and processes. The workshop lit a fire in me, seeing what others were creating out of stitching and mending. I posted about the blanket stitch technique I used on my scrappy jeans trivet in Seams and Scraps.

I’ve recently started doing random stitching projects involving upcycling items being tossed out. They still had a lot of life in them. It would be my job to address the staining, broken zipper, hole, or tear to have another round of enjoyment by someone.

Aloha Shirt

I got this long sleeve aloha shirt from the 2 for a $1 bin. Its only real problem was a brownish stain on the front pocket area. I had an idea about using a running stitch technique in a lighter blue to disguise the staining.


Slouchy Hippy bag

I should have put this bag out to pasture. Broken zipper, tears, and staining on the inside, especially on the big pocket. I saw its potential to continue to carry things.


I decided to address the staining on the inside pocket. I didn’t have a real plan, but I knew I needed heavier coverage at the bottom, with most of the staining. I don’t know what this stitch is called, but I’ve used it with flowers and grass. I like adding other colors to give it more depth. It is still a work in progress.


I’ll post more when I start working the outside, patching up the holes. Then I’ll tackle adding a working zipper back again. Stay tuned.

Quilts Galore

The hospital thrift shop I volunteer at has a donation of Hawaiian-style patchwork quilts. The hospital has a group of craft ladies that made up these patchwork quilts for use within the hospital. The hospital did not need the quilts, and the volunteer service group decided to sell them at the thrift shop. These quilts have become very popular with our clients. They are always asking for more.

It was my job to get the dimensions and price the quilts. I got to see them all and have taken a few pictures of my favorites.


Last week, as I sorted through another batch of quilts and asked the volunteer services manager about them and the group who made them. He told me it’s not a group but one lady that made all of the blankets. He said she would talk to him about how she would think about the placement of the prints and layout of the patterns for each quilt.


The volunteer service manager said she hasn’t brought in a quilt since covid started. I hope these aren’t the last of her quilts. They are so fun and inspiring to me. I want see more of her work.

Seams and Scraps

What do you make with jean seams and aloha shirt scrap? I made a trivet using hand-stitching. I also taught myself how to use a thimble. It helped a lot with all the stitching on denim.

I love the look of all the ends but decided against leaving it as is. It would probably get too dirty.


I lined the back with a large scrap from my whale project to hide the rough edges and give it a little more support. I tried out the blanket stitch technique from the Zen Stitching workshop from Mirjam Gielen .

In the end, there really isn’t a front or back. I guess whichever you prefer. This project took longer than I expected. Stitching through denim is tough. But I liked the finished product. More to come.

Three Whales

I’ve been working on several upcycling projects, and I’m proud to show you what I’ve done. I worked with a couple of jeans and a batik print dress. I started out with the jeans, one dark, and one light denim. I decided to try out the denim whale I’ve seen on Pinterest. I got the pattern from FourSixtyTwo.

The Denim

Mom’s capri jeans

I had two pairs of jeans, mom’s capri jeans and old pair of acid-washed ones. Yes, acid-washed, and it had a high waist and pleats. It was straight from the 80s. The first task is to take apart the clothing. I cut the legs off on the jeans, getting as much of it as possible. I’ll save the top of the jeans for later for another project. I then rotary cut the seams and put them aside to see if I could come up with a use for them. I also took off some buttons from the darker jeans.
I used the darker jeans for the top of the whale and the acid-wash for the belly. I started out machine sewing, starting with the tucks on the stomach. So far, so good. Then I started on the fins and tail. It was a no-go when turning it to the right side [for all the non-sewers, you sew the pieces together with the right sides facing together, stitching on the wrong side]. The pointy tips looked bulky and bumpy because of the thickness of the denim. Boo!
Instead of fighting with the seams, I ripped out the stitches and decided to hand-stitch the tail and fins [for the hand-stitching, it is sewed right side out]. Then I continued with the hand-stitching with the top-stitching on the tail and fins, and to be consistent, the body, once I attached it to the body.

Tah Dah! Whale #1: with pleats on the belly

Wow! I liked the look of the finished product. I decided to do another whale because I had enough fabric. I made a few adjustments to the pattern to help the points of the tail and fins lay better. I also decided to try eliminating the pleats on the belly and machine-stitched the underbody instead. And for Whale #2, I hand-stitched the entire whale except for the top-stitching on the underbody.

Closeup of the machine-stitched underbody

Batik Dress

batik dress from the 80s

I thought the whale would look great in a print, maybe an aloha print. I liked the gray and navy section of the dress for the whale and thought the bleached pattern looked like marks on the whale. The fabric was rayon; it was soft and flowy. I lined all the pieces with some lightweight material to give them stability.

The lined pieces were lighter than the denim, so I decided to use the machine on the larger sections of the whale. I added top-stitched the underbody where the pleats should be, then stitched the underbody together. I handstitched the fins and tail together to keep the points sharp, lay flat, and added top-stitching.

Hand-stitching

I took a stitching workshop in May through Zen Stitching to get inspired. It was five days of classes. I was able to take almost every session I wanted to. I loved that I found others who combined upcycling, boro, and hand-stitching.

I added a few techniques to the whale. I added groups of running stitch using a bleached print to inspire the pattern. I also added French knots. I like how it came out. Now, if I can only get these posted on my Etsy shop.