Friday, December 25, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas dear readers!  I hope that every one of your Christmas wishes comes true, whether they are large or small.  I'll meet you back here on New Years' Day in 2010!  Until then, let your hearts be light... and have a peaceful, magical, and joyful holiday season.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday: Spritz Cookies

For this special Christmas Eve edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday, I bring you this fabulous 1950s era Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press.  This set belongs to a friend, and she brought it to my house Sunday evening so I could help her do some massive Spritz cookie baking to give as gifts for her coworkers.  The forming disks are so cute.  Among the fifteen disks, my three favorites are the Christmas tree, the dog, and the camel.

I wish I had some actual cookie shots of my own for you, but unfortunately, we *ahem* overcooked the original batch and had to start all over.  By the time we were all done it was two in the morning, and I just wasn't coherent enough to take pictures at that time.

One of my Christmas Eve traditions is to make cookies (for Santa of course!).  I am a big, big fan of butter cookies, so most of my Christmas baking centers around one or two of the myriad variations of butter cookie recipes in the world.   If you have (or can borrow) a cookie press, here is a vintage recipe for Spritz cookies that you may enjoy.  The most important ingredient in a butter cookie is the butter! Make sure you like the taste of the butter that you use before you use it for baking, as taste varies considerably from brand to brand. So as always, use a high quality and preferably organic butter for the best results.  It never hurts to use organic eggs, sugar, and flour too. 

Basic Spritz Cookies

1 cup unsalted organic butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
multicolored sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating

Cream butter, gradually add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add egg yolk, vanilla, and dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix to a smooth dough. If the dough seems too sticky to use in the cookie press chill it first. Force through the cookie press onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  A cold cookie sheet will help keep the cookie on the sheet  when you lift the press.  Sprinkle with colored sugar, taking care not to get the sugar on the pan as it will burn (or use parchment to cover the cookie sheet). Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes until firm, but not browned on top.   This recipe makes about four dozen cookies.

I like this version because they are not overly sweet, and are good with tea or coffee.  If you'd like a sweeter cookie you should be able to to increase the sugar to 2/3 cup without a problem.  These cookies are darling with multicolored sprinkles or colored sugar, and if you use the disk in the very last picture above, you can set a tasty Hershey's kiss in the middle.  The cookies pictured above are from the Forever Swedish website, as Spritsar are a traditional Swedish Christmas cookie.  You may want to try the recipe on that website, as it is sure to be authentic.  I'm sure that Santa will like them!

Second Mirro box image courtesy of Poetic Home.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winners: 'Tis the Season Giveaway

'Tis the final giveaway of the season and the year here at Serendipity Handmade.  Thank you to all who left comments.  I wish that I had the means to send everyone a little something at this time of year!  Well, with no further ado, today's winners are....

The lucky winner of the Snowbabies figurine is Danielle, at The Happy Wife!

Second prize will go all the way to Italy, to Betsabe at L'angolo di Betsabe, and third prize is for Jo Wyrosdick!  Congratulations! Please email me with your mailing address so I can ship your goodies to you right away!

And  if you need a last minute gift for the sewist in your life, look no further.  I offer gift certificates for Serendipity Vintage in any denomination in the Etsy shop.  I can email a certificate to your friend or loved one in time for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fabric, Fabric, and More Fabric....

...but very little sewing. I am completely behind in my holiday gift-making. Only 6 days until Christmas!

I've never been very stressed out about holiday gifts before, because I'm generally done with my Christmas shopping by this time.  But this year is different.  When I took the Handmade Pledge months ago I really meant for the majority of the gifts I give this year, and also in the future, to be handmade by me or by another crafter.  So as you know I've been busily crocheting, and I'm almost done with those projects.  I've haven't yet had some free time to start sewing, although I do have the patterns picked out and my fabric washed, ironed, and ready-to-go.  I wish I could tell you about some works-in-progress, but a few of the intended recipients read my blog and FaceBook posts, so I have to keep these things a secret until after Christmas! 

I can share some of the fabulous holiday fabric that I purchased over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.  I took a couple of pictures before these hit the washing machine. Here are my favorites:

 Michael Miller's Joyful Damask

Retro Ornaments by Sheri Berry

I've got a bit of a story to tell you about my purchases.  Although I do shop at the big-box craft stores I am always on the lookout for small, independent local businesses to support.  I try to do the same when I order online.  So I spent a lot of time reading recommendations about shops where other sewists like to purchase their fabric.  In the end, I bought fabric from a couple of Etsy shops, some former Etsyians, and one independent big-box type of store online.  Service was pretty good from most places, but there were a couple of stinkers.  I'm not going to name names, but I kid you not, one fabric store sent several yards of the fabric I ordered wadded up in a big ball.  My items were literally thrown into a box and shipped!  Can you believe it?

I did find one store that stood head and shoulders above the rest, and that was Runner Girl Fabric, owned by Jennifer Willoughby.   Her prices are very affordable and she shipped my fabric fast.  If that was not impressive enough, her packaging made me ecstatic!  Jen takes the same time and care that I do in packaging my sewing patterns when packing her fabric in order to be certain that it will arrive in perfect condition:

Just so you know, Jen did not pay me to tell you this, nor is Runner Girl Fabric an official sponsor of this blog.  When my packaged arrived I emailed her straight away to tell her how impressed I was with her service, and in doing so, we agreed to offer Serendipity Handmade readers and Serendipity Vintage customers a standard 10% discount on all fabric purchases at Runner Girl Fabric!  (And Runner Girl Fabric customers get the same standard discount at Serendipity Vintage too!).  Just use the discount code VINTAGE when you place your order.  I've placed a button that links to Jen's shop in the sidebar, because I am a new loyal customer!

In other unrelated news, the vintage Christmas tree window decoration tutorial is in One Pretty Thing's Christmas Roundup!  How exciting! 

I'd love to hear about your holiday crafting and handmade gift-giving, if you have the time to tell me!  What are you making this year?  By all means, leave a comment!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vintage Christmas Tree Window Decorations Tutorial

I spent yesterday evening making a version of these lovely vintage window decorations out of Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas 1967.  It dawned on me as I was making them that I must have subconsciously chosen "trees" as a decorating theme for this year (remember the Advent Calendar?). These look really beautiful hanging in a window, and they are very easy to make.

I've included the original instructions for the materials below, but today I'm going to show you how to make slightly updated and smaller versions of the decorations. I apologize in advance for some of the photographs.  Acetate is highly reflective, like a mirror, so I had to shoot the designs at an angle and use the flash at times to minimize my reflection in some of the shots.  I used transparencies (acetate) so I could save my design from year-to-year; however, the original instructions state that you can also glue the decoration directly to the window.  But why expend all this effort only to dismantle it and, heaven forbid, have to wash the window later?

You can scale the size of these decorations up or down as you wish, and make substitutions for many of the materials.  I could not find Venetian (Venice) lace flowers at my local fabric stores so check online (I've included a link to one supplier below).  Check a framing supply store for the acetate, or purchase sheets or rolls online.  This project is a great way to use up scraps of of lace and trim that you may already have in your stash. 

Materials for the Lace Tree
Original Instructions

1 1/4 yds. white ruffled lace, cut into separate 2", 4", 6", 8, 10", and 12" lengths
2 yds. white Venetian lace flowers
20 x 24 inch sheet of 10mm to 115mm gauge acetate 
Scotch tape

My version
1 yd. white ruffled lace, cut to 1", 3 1/2", 4", 6", and 8" lengths
1 pkg. small white fabric flowers (look in the bridal section of your local big box craft store)
Trimmed piece of  a large transparency ( mine is about 9" x 11" and less than 2mm gauge thickness)
Self-adhesive clear and iridescent gems, various sizes  OR  Self-adhesive foam or paper snowflakes
Craft glue (a low heat hot glue gun may be ok, a high heat glue gun may melt the acetate)
Sharp pair of scissors

First, cut your piece of acetate to size.  Next, cut your lace pieces to the desired size.  Trim the ends of the lace pieces on the diagonal, like this:

Next, lay out your lace pieces in the shape of a tree: 

Check to make certain that you like the length and look of the lace pieces. The lace is graduated:  smallest at the top, largest at the bottom. As long as you like the way the pieces the look, the actual measurement of the pieces does not matter (this is a forgiving project).  I trimmed some of the pieces a bit more at this stage.   Position the lace on the piece of acetate to check that they actually fit.  Adjust the length of the lace pieces as needed.

I slipped a piece of black cardstock underneath my acetate to make the next steps in the tutorial easier to photograph.  Apply a thin layer of glue to the back of the band at the top of each piece of lace.  I applied glue to all of my lace pieces prior to positioning them on the acetate.  Press down gently on the lace to make certain that it is flat and glued evenly on to the acetate. 

Don't worry about a few blobs of glue here and there at the top of the lace.  You will cover these with the Venetian lace flowers (cut apart) or fabric flowers.  Glue them across the top of the bands of lace.  If using fabric flowers, be certain to press the petals down into the glue to make certain that they adhere to the lace.  Cut a small rectangular scrap of lace to make the tree trunk:

Next, add stars or snowflakes in the "sky" with the Venetian lace flowers, clear/irridescent gems, or foam snowflakes.  I liked the look of the gems:

 Hang the lace tree on your window with tiny pieces of Scotch tape and enjoy your handiwork!

Materials for the Braid Trim Trees  (not pictured)

Original Instructions
2 1/4 yds. green loop fringe
2/3 metallic gold braid for the large tree
1/2 yd. metallic gold braid for the medium tree
1/3 yd. metallic gold braid for the small tree
9 blue jewels, 9 aqua jewels, 6 lavender jewels
20 x 24 inch sheet of 10mm to 115mm gauge acetate

My version
3/4 yd. green loop fringe; cut three 3 inch pieces, three 4 1/2 inch pieces, and 2 one inch pieces
1/3 yd. gold braid trim in two different styles; cut three 2 inch pieces and three 3 inch pieces
Self-adhesive gems in clear, iridescent, and red
Self-adhesive foam or paper snowflakes
Standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch transparency (less than 2mm gauge thickness)
Craft glue
Sharp pair of scissors

Basically, you will follow the same procedure as above. Glue the loop fringe to form a triangle, and glue the gold braid inside of the trees.  Add gems in colors and designs that please you to the inside and the top of each tree.  I liked the look of the foam snowflakes with the braid:

When you've finished, if you have stray bits of glue or fingerprints on your acetate, simply wipe them off gently with a damp paper towel or microfiber cloth, as a cotton rag or dishtowel may leave behind bits of fuzz.   My transparency is an old one and you can see the scratch in the picture above.  When I hung it on the window it wasn't as noticeable as it is in the photo.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask!  Email me, or leave a comment.  Happy crafting!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'Tis the Season Giveaway!

'Tis the season to be jolly! I'm happy to announce the last giveaway for this year -- and this decade! There will be *three* winners this time....

First, a very good friend of mine has donated a unique craft-themed collectible just for you:

This charming Snowbabies figurine is called "Knitting is Pure Joy," and was issued in 2005. The figurine is in mint condition, though its outer box has seen just a smidge of wear and tear to the lid. This would make a great holiday gift for a friend who knits. Or keep it for yourself! Unfortunately, due to the shipping weight, the winner will have to reside in the United States.

Don't despair international friends, as I'll ship these next two gifts anywhere in the world:

Both petite books celebrate the joys of the Christmas season. Sharing the Season contains poems, holiday trivia, and recipes. Holiday Desserts is dedicated entirely to scrumptious dessert recipes. As 'tis also the season to gain 10 pounds I'm sure you'll understand why I'm giving the recipe book away! Each book winner will also receive a pair of Dainty Earrings, handmade by me. (Yes, I photographed the same pair twice. I've been busy and I still have to make the second pair!).

All you need to do to enter this giveaway is leave a comment for this post. One comment per person/household please! If you live outside of the U.S., please indicate that you are an international reader in your comment.  This giveaway ends on Sunday, December 20th, at 12 noon PST.  The winners will be announced the same day.

Good luck to all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pattern for Smartness

I ran across this little gem recently and just have to share it with you! This hokey yet fabulous little film, Pattern for Smartness, is basically a 1940s Simplicity Pattern Company advertisement for some of the wonderful patterns of the time. I search You Tube and the Internet Archive now and again to find old Coronet and other instructional films of the 40s and 50s about beauty, home economics, etiquette, and fashion for teens. A lot of these short films were shown in public schools as part of the curriculum, and they fascinate me from a social history, gender roles, and fashion perspective.

This was probably an instructional film shown in home economic classes, as it is aimed at the teenaged sewist and is quite a bit longer (about 18 1/2 minutes) than the usual advertisement or news reel shown in movie theaters at the time. (I guess product placement in schools may not be such a new idea!).  The acting and dialogue are awful, so ignore Johnny's whining about how Betty is "always thinking about clothes," and wait just four minutes for the interesting look at how Simplicity patterns were designed.  Next is a sewing lesson using Simplicity patterns, and finally there is a cute fashion show near the end. Lesson learned: with the right pattern, we all can have Betty's "know how" look!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kreativ Blogger and One Lovely Blog Awards

Today Serendipity Handmade is three months old.  So to commemorate this little milestone I'm delighted to share with you that this blog has received two more awards.  I'm really excited about the fact that Serendipity Handmade was recognized a total of three times before it was three months old!  And I'm really glad that you all are enjoying the blog so much.

I want to extend a big thank you to Ginger, The Seamstress of Avalon, who passed along the Kreativ Blogger award in October. If you've never read her blog you really must stop by and take a look at her work, as it is exquisite!

This award came with requirements, as always:
  • Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page
  • Thank the person who gave it to you and link back to their blog
  • Write seven things about you that we don't know
  • Choose seven other bloggers that you would like to give the award to
  • Link to the bloggers that you choose
  • Let the winners know that they have the lovely award.
So here are Seven Things That You Don't Know About Me:

1. I’ve been a collector of odds and ends since childhood.  Some of my first obsessions were Lisa Frank stickers, marbles, Hello Kitty, and tiny glass animal figurines.  (Did you know that Hello Kitty has been around for 35 years?!)

2. The very first thing that I ever tried to (hand) sew was a little yellow sundress for my Barbie doll.  I tried to use this Simplicity pattern.  I don't know what happened to the original pattern, but I was able to find another one.  It's a keeper.

3. I was a Girl Scout. I miss my badges, so I bought a little of this.

4. I have a deep love of historic costume, and although I am not a historical re-enactor, for many years I have wanted to make myself the Hayward evening dress in black silk net and ivory satin that is found in Patterns of Fashion 2.

5. I enjoy watching many different types of musical productions: silly classic musicals, plays, opera, and cute Bollywood films.

6. I once volunteered to work on a float for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Two nights prior to the parade I stuck yellow rose petals onto a humongous lady's dress with rubber cement, in the cold, for hours, until my fingers were nearly stuck together permanently.  Never again.

7. In my other life, I collect and preserve things professionally, as I am a librarian.  I actually enjoy doing research, organizing, and helping people find things!  Yep, I'm a geek. Here's a little librarian humor for you.

And here are seven other crafty and "Kreativ" blogs that you may enjoy:

I also would like to warmly thank Favorite Vintage Finds, who passed along the One Lovely Blog Award.  I'm so glad that this award didn't come with too many rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who's given it to you, along with the link to his or her blog.

2. Pass the award to several other blogs that you have recently discovered.

I am going to pass this award along to Elsa Mora, whose papercuttings and personal style I adore, and to The Paper Collector, whose paper doll collections I envy!

And thanks again to all of you, dear readers, both "old" and new!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Giveaway Day Winner!

Thank you to all who participated in Giveaway Day! (Sorry for the delay in posting.)  Ring the bells, we have a winner....congratulations to MM4ver! You can stop by her blog, Life in Alaska.

(Note: If you are going to count comments be forewarned that there were only 24 entries, not 28, as there were persons who left a comment who did not enter the giveaway.)

Please take some time to peruse the list of wonderful charities mentioned in the comments, and follow the URLs to the websites.  There were a good number that I hadn't heard of before and intend to research.  There is a lot of work to be done in the world, so I would like to highlight a few crafty projects and charities that you may be interested in supporting:

Knitters and crocheters, I wish I had found The Red Scarf Project sooner!  If you happen to have a red knitted or crocheted scarf that meets the project requirements, by all means pop it in the mail right away!  The Orphan Foundation of America collects scarves and distributes them in a Valentine's Day care package to an orphan attending college or trade school.  The deadline to send a scarf is December 15th, so hurry!

Sewists, consider Little Dresses for Africa, an organization I mentioned in an earlier post.  I discovered their work nearly a year ago, and the stark need for girls' dresses is one of the reasons that I wanted to begin sewing again.  I am pleased to see that the project has grown a bit and that so much love and care is being put into the dresses. I have chosen to use the out-of-print New Look 6195 pattern for this project.  Remember the "Test Dress" that I made in sewing class a couple of months ago?  That was a warm-up.  I'm planning to sew some dresses from that pattern and send them out in the coming year.

Craft Hope sponsors various project drives and works with different organizations around the world to "share handmade crafts with those less fortunate."  You might also be interested in the work of The Toy Society.  If you think you may want to make a toy prior to Christmas, be certain to read about the World Wide Christmas Toy Drop of 2009.

That's all for now!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Calendars

My husband and I have a new tradition of having an advent calendar every year. One year we had a Charlie Brown Christmas advent calendar, with stick-on Peanuts figures and props. Another year we purchased an imported chocolate-filled calendar meant for kids, but it was a bit of a disappointment because the chocolate tasted a little off. Well, we are late in buying our calendar this year. Advent began on November 30th and today is December 3rd, so rather than rush out to look for a ready made calendar I decided to make a quick paper calendar using a free PDF dowload from Mibo.

My calendar took less than an hour to make and cost less than $2.50, including computer paper and colored ink. I went for a "starry night" theme. Although I don't scrapbook I do have a small collection of paper, punches, and decorative scissors that I received as gifts some years ago. The only items I had to purchase were a 22" x 28" piece of black posterboard ($.89 at my local craft store), and a sheet of EK Sticko Trees & Holly stickers ($1.39). After following the instructions to cut out and glue the calendar. I cut the posterboard to 16" x 19", and then cut out a 7 1/2" x 9 3/4" rectangle to make a frame. This leaves approximately 4 inches of poster board to decorate on each side. I punched out the stars using the sheet of white computer paper on which I had printed the calendar instructions and glued each one around the frame. And that was all! It's less than perfect, but it was fun. If you'd like to make a similar paper calendar using vintage Santa or Victorian Christmas images, try this tutorial.

There are a ton of advent calendar examples and tutorials around the blogosphere.

Advent calendar by Jordan Ferney

Here are links to some of my other favorites:
Online, you can visit this vintage advent calendar that features historical articles about Christmas and traditional recipes. Candlegrove is an excellent website that traces the ancient origins and traditions of the winter holiday season from Thanksgiving to Epiphany; this year the countdown will take place on Twitter rather than on the website. My absolute favorite online advent calendar, written by the talented Penny Schenk and found at, features the adorable and inquisitive black cat named Tate. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Giveaway Day! A Vintage Sewing Pattern

Wasn't that quick?  You didn't have to wait long for another giveaway!  I'm participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway DayThis is the first of the giveaways I have planned on my blog this month. To me, this season is all about the spirit of giving.

This giveaway ends on December 6th, and as usual, the winner will be drawn by random number.

The prize is an uncut and factory folded vintage sewing pattern, Simplicity 8793, which will make a snuggly pullover top, caftan, or robe to keep you, a loved one, or someone in need warm this season:

To enter, leave one comment below to tell me about your favorite charity, why they are important to you, and if possible add a link to their website.

Don't forget to check out the other giveaways...for more information, click this link to the Sew, Mama, Sew blog!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Giveaway Winner!

 Thank you to all who entered...we have a winner!

Congratulations to commenter number thirteen, Lin3a Rossa!

Enjoy your prize! For those who didn't win this time, don't worry, I'll have another giveaway in December!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a little post to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to all of you!  This blog wouldn't be anything without readers, and I am grateful for your readership.  Have a lovely day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November's Giveaway: Take up Dressmaking

Over the last couple of months I've been wading very slowly through all of my books in order to determine what to keep, what to sell, and what to give away. As you've probably guessed I have a lot of craft books and booklets. And I do mean A LOT. As for the craft books, I'm only keeping those that I use or am absolutely certain that I will use some day. Which leads me to this month's giveaway:

I'm giving away one copy of Take up Dressmaking, a simple little book designed to teach the newbie how to sew. However, the projects in this book can be used by more advanced sewists as well. It was originally published in London in 1994 (this edition hails from 1999), so it contains both metric and American measurement equivalents. It has directions and pattern layouts for eleven easy projects. For example, you can make a pair of retro 80s leggings, a Chanel-style jacket, and a slip or camisole:


To enter this giveaway, just follow my blog with Google Friend Connect and leave a comment below. If you are already following Serendipity Handmade, then please follow the Serendipity Vintage fan page on FaceBook or SerendipityVint on Twitter, and leave a comment below. If you are already doing all three -- thank you! -- just tell me so and leave a comment below! International entries are welcome, as always.

Update:  Sorry I wasn't clear about this earlier -- there is a maximum of one entry per person so the giveaway will be fair to those who are already following.  There are no multiple entries, so please just leave one comment as your entry.  However feel free to follow anywhere you wish!

I'll use the random number generator on to draw the winner, and the winner will be announced on Saturday, November 28th! Good luck!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Classic Jeweled Treasures

Several years ago I walked into an acquaintance's living room during the Christmas season. On the wall, lit from behind, was a Christmas tree made entirely out of costume jewelry. I instantly loved it, even if it was mounted upon black velvet. All she could tell me about it was that her grandmother had made it years before.

Fast forward to December 2006. I was reading Cathy Callahan's blog when, lo and behold, she wrote a post about Bobi Hall's Classic Jeweled Treasures! And thus I learned that there were actual directions to guide me in the creation of these lovely trees:

It wasn't until late this summer that I found two copies of the booklet at an estate sale. Lucky me! I wear the majority of my vintage costume jewelry, so I have been hard at work over the past couple of months looking for cheap and sparkly costume pieces at estate sales and thrift stores. Here are a few of my finds:

I've also found some lovely vintage rhinestone buttons that will work really well for this project. Most of them I've purchased online, because I hardly ever find these at estate sales in my area:

I think it may be a while before I have amassed enough jewelry, buttons, and beads to make myself a tree. I'm in no hurry. I may break down and use those wonderful rhinestone buttons in some other project.

What do you all think of the costume jewelry tree? Do you like them, or do they remind you too much of Elvis on velvet? Well, if you would like to make a "jeweled treasure" for yourself, I put the second copy of this wonderful craft booklet in my Etsy shop!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One Project Down, and Four to Go

I finally finished the shawl for my grandmother. It's out-of-season now, but I hope she'll wear it around the house until next Spring.

It is modeled here by the lovely Esmeralda (Esme for short), a mannequin I purchased from a tiny discount clothes store that was going out-of-business a couple of years ago. Underneath the shawl Esme is wearing a delicate light blue vintage nightgown that doesn't fit me but I can't bring myself to sell quite yet because I love it so.

It took a lot longer than I thought it would to finish, no doubt because I was distracted by sewing class and there were a couple of minor setbacks along the way. It was my fault, really, because I didn't store the project safely away in a covered plastic bin, but left it in a soft-sided collapsible cube in my closet without closing the closet door. My mistake tempted a certain little dog named Teddy beyond the limits of his control. You would think he was a cat he loves to play with yarn so much. He "helped out" by playing with my last full skein of Cotton Ease as I was crocheting the border:

The culprit:

I wanted to finish it quickly after that, so I decided to find more yarn rather than spend several hours untangling the mess.  It seems that my local big-box stores have very little Cotton Ease on hand, because I had to go to three stores to find more.  As it turns out, Lion Brand has discontinued this yarn.  I'm disappointed because I really enjoyed using it and would have bought more for future projects. 

I think the shawl pattern was very easy and recommend it.  I didn't like the look of the border after row two, so I eliminated the second row of the pattern and just kept rows one and three.  The border is now just a simple shell stitch pattern.

I've also begun work on my holiday gifts, but I'm not going to say too much about them just in case the intended recipient read my posts.  I have almost completed the One Skein Scarf out of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet, which is really very easy and quick to make:

This is one of the few times that I've actually used the suggested yarn when crocheting, because I wanted to see if I could really use just one skein.  However, I should have checked the gauge before I started, because I've just started on my second skein of Paton's Classic Wool in Paprika. If you would like to make this scarf, JoAnn's has also posted a free PDF of the scarf and a matching beret.

I've also started a bookmark and a pair of earrings.  More later!