Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sewing Sundays

On my way home from work yesterday I got a much-anticipated phone call: my sewing machine was ready to pick up!

So on my way to knitting group today I picked up Esther and as soon as I got back from knitting group this afternoon, out she came.  I sat down for an hour and I had this...
The columns are a smidge over 5 feet long. I'll put another blue spacer in between the columns as well as between the squares to give it a nice uniform look- well, as uniform as a t-shirt quilt can look.  But I got this all sewn up in just under an hour.  My machine was nicely reconditioned and was an absolute speed demon- stitching way faster than she was a couple weeks ago.  Everything was coming along nicely and my lower bobbin ran out of thread.  Oh well.  Tried to wind the bobbin and then realized...that my machine no longer winds bobbins.  Did one by hand (30 minutes) and decided there had to be an easier way.  So if the snow lightens up tomorrow, I'll go out in search of a bobbin winding machine.  Fun fun. I just hope the snow lightens up enough that I can get out of the house in search for that bobbin winder.
Other than the bobbin setback, I'm really liking this project. It's fun, it's fast and the fusible interfacing on the inside of the shirt is making a world of a difference! So take that, Martha Stewart.  That's all Paige right there.

 I was supposed to be hanging out with Rob tonight and not quilting, but as usual, homework came first and I'm alone.  The flirty guy at work is starting to look better and better.  So tonight I'm watching our shows alone, in my fleece pj pants and cross stitching my heart out. I'm not over the moon with any of my knitting projects at the moment so I pulled out last year's cross stitching project that still isn't done.  I should only have a few more hours of work...and then I can move on to the border.  If I actually spend a little time with it, it could be in my harvest home by this harvest season.  But we'll see.
I did finish one more little project- my fugly rug!  It's not pretty but it used up a ton of dishcloth cotton scraps and works just fine at...being a rug.  So mission accomplished. Voila!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

T-shirt transformation

My boyfriend Rob is a lover of t-shirts.  He will wear them until they are too small, then he will cut the sleeves off and keep wearing them, even though they're still too small in all the other areas.  We'd been dating for about 2  months when I started (joke?)  threatening to take his gross old college tees to Goodwill so I didn't have to see them anymore.  Then it got chilly and the blankets started coming out for the winter.  Rob's go-to blanket is an old comforter that is coming undone in a few places.  He's not even sure whose it is.  And I started feeling like a really terrible girlfriend.  I know how to make blankets in 5 different ways and he is cuddling up with this mess that has batting falling out of it.

So I thought, a t-shirt quilt would solve all of these problems.  I mentioned this idea to Rob who quickly shot it down.  No way I'm cutting up his favorite t-shirts.  Then Sunday night came around.  We were watching Shameless at his place under his derelict comforter and I was still a little bummed over the fact that my quilt was finished. And he finally agreed to the t-shirt quilt.  We paused the show and within 5 minutes had unearthed a quilt's worth of abandoned t-shirts.  He was still a little nervous about cutting them all up until I told him not to see it as that- this way he gets to wear all of his favorite t-shirts at the same time and he doesn't have to worry about how they fit.  Tada!

I took them home, washed them all again, bleached a few of them (boys are gross) and got ironing.  I ironed fusible interfacing on the inside of the designs before I started cutting since t-shirts are knit and not woven like most of the fabrics I work with.  Which means that Esther the sewing machine isn't going to like the shirts unless I come up with a way to make a knit behave like a weave.  Hence the interfacing.  Once they were all ironed and interfaced, I got cutting.  The hardest part was playing quilt-block tetris to make everything fit and not have too many of the same color right next to each other.  It took 3 hours from the first ironing to the final arrangement. Pretty darn fast.
I bought a bunch of solid royal blue fabric and I'll be using that as a "mortar" to the blocks.  Since 2 of the rows have 4 blocks and the other 2 have 5 blocks, I'm going to have to do some math to work out how big the blue breaks have to be  so that it all fits at the top.  I'll also do a blue border around the top and I'll try to bind it like I did with Emery's baby quilt- pulling excess backing fabric to the front and pulling it over.

But first I have to cut the blue, sew it all together, and make an appointment with my friend with the long-arm quilting machine.  I could probably have the top done in 2 days once I get my machine back, but I have no idea how long it will take to get in for the actual quilting part. Then if we are able to quilt it and leave enough backing fabric free then binding will only take an hour or two.

But until Esther gets back from her spa trip, Madeline will be dive-bombing the squares. I'm so glad I got a picture before she started.
So that's the t-shirt quilt.  I hope it ends up looking like it does in my head!

I'm also getting farther in the super fugly bath mat.  It's almost done, and that's a good thing. I'm quite over this whole "freeform" thing. Only 1 more ball of cotton left! Hopefully I'll be able to finish it up sometime this week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quilt down

I had a most exciting Saturday.  I went to work, worked a very busy day (which I kind of loved) and then came home, cleaned a bit, finished binding my quilt, and cleaned a bit more.  Okay, it was a pretty lame Saturday, but I got a lot done and didn't spend any money- so that's a double awesome thing for me since I'm being super frugal for the Paris trip.

So here's the quilt.
It's 81" x 81" and I love it. I'm so happy with my first quilt.  I do wish I had studied up and looked at other people's Swoon quilts online because then I would have figured out how to make it fit a bed and I could use it as a comforter.  But that's okay.  I took a class, I made a Swoon, I learned a lot, I love my quilt and I'll find a way to use it.  Right now it's hanging out upstairs in my office on the rack I got for Christmas (because I was totally going to finish this quilt by Christmas- ha!) 

I was kind of hoping for another day of brilliance, but it feels a bit like a break up.  I miss my giant project on the couch that kept me warm and busy at the same time.  Good thing there's another in the cutting stage. 
I must be getting faster at hand-sewing the binding.  I had about 3 feet left and I estimated that it would take about 3 hours- and was subsequently dreading the idea of 3 hours of hand sewing ivory stitches on an ivory quilt.  A silly Rom-Com was just getting started on tv so I jumped right in, got up and cleaned the kitchen a bit during the commercials (things get messy when I'm not here!  This hurry-and-get-ready-and-make-lunch-in-4-minutes thing makes a bit of a mess too over time) and just as the ending credits were about to roll I was putting the last stitch in and weaving in the final ends.  So it really took more like 1 hour and 40 minutes to finish my binding and that's pretty awesome.  I was thinking that I might bind the next quilt by hand and then I remembered that while I enjoyed the process, it did take about 7 months to finally bind all the way around. So we'll just see.  

Now I can't decide...jump right in to the quilt I've been cutting fabric for (plus buy another $50 of white fabric and cut that before I actually get started) or go through Rob's closet with him to dig out all his old Cross Country shirts that don't fit anymore and start turning those into a T-shirt quilt.  His birthday is in June, I can totally swing that...right? I think I can if I'm not hand-binding anything. But then I'd have to buy a bunch of backing fabric...if I don't have anything that would work.  We'll see about that. I might have something manly enough in the stash.  Either way, I'm going to need to buy some batting, but I'll just wait until I have a coupon for that so it won't be a huge purchase.

I'm thrilled to have another project crossed off my list.  There's nothing at the moment that I'm dying to cast on (which is making me both relieved and nervous) so I'm just going to keep on finishing things.  Next up that I'd like to finish:

Fugly Freeform Bath mat.
I have been using all my kitchen cotton partials (leftovers from pot holders mostly) and crocheting them into this beast because my old cat peed on my old bathroom rug so much it fell apart in the wash.  And to get rid of all of those kitchen cotton oddballs.

It doesn't lie flat.  I was hoping it would.  But I really don't care.  It's going to get stepped on with wet feet every day and it doesn't have to be beautiful, it just has to keep me from busting my ass on the tile floor. And I think it will suffice.  It's still a little too small to be a bath mat but as you can see, I've still got a few oddballs to go. I also think that I'll just keep adding to it for a while every time I finish a pot holder project until it's finally a good size.  But when these 6 oddballs are gone, it's getting put to use.

So that's my project right now.  Up next: finishing a wool cat blanket and a few shelter blankets.  Riveting stuff, I know.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fair Isle and Delusions of Brilliance

After I finish a large, particularly challenging project, I will admit- I have a little extra pep in my step for a few days.  I get a little bit of a big head when I finish a project every once in a while.  It's been a while since I had one of those "I pretty much am the most awesome crafter in the world today" days, but today was one of them.  Why you ask? I finally finished my fair-isle pullover that I started last July.
Okay, it really took about 3 rather obsessed weeks, but one of those weeks was in July, one of those weeks was in December, and I picked it up again March 1st and didn't put it down until it was done.  Which was last night during Jon Stewart.  I did a bit of a victory dance in the living room like I had just discovered fire or something and thought I'd wear it today.  It's been warm- Spring is finally on the way, so I thought I had missed my chance to wear it.  But today the Knitting Gods smiled down on me, and there was snow this morning. So I wore it to the Flower and Patio show, where I had a lovely time with my grandparents and my Aunt Neany. My grandpa (aka Crappaw) is quite possibly the most ornery man on the planet and is absolutely hilarious to hang out with.  But every time we struck up a conversation with someone about any topic at all, he would suddenly interject "See this sweater?  She made this!" Which would cause me to turn bright red. I did have one unprompted man say, "Hey- that's a cool sweater!" which led to another lovely conversation and he wanted to know if I had made any Super Scarves for the Superbowl last year.  I told him about my involvement with the committee through my old job and that was that.  So yes, I have a new sweater.  Thank goodness the neck is nice and big so my giant head can fit through it.  I hope that subsides soon.

*I'm not crazy about the neck actually.  I'm having the same problem with it as I do with some raglan sweaters- the neck comes a little too high up on my throat and I feel like a really weak person is trying to clothes-line me all day.  I haven't blocked it yet so I'm hoping that gets better after blocking.  If not, stay tuned for more adventures in steeking.

So one more project down.  I still have one more goal to meet before the end of March, and I think I could have it done by the start of next week if I got determined.  And that's the last bit of hand-binding on the quilt that began last May.   But that is the most boring blogging ever so I'll spare you. After the quilt is finished I will be down to 9 projects, which is a number I haven't seen in a while.  I'd like to finish up a few more and keep it around 5.  The plan is to always have a couple knitting projects, an occasional crochet project, a quilt, and maybe a cross stitch project.  Weaving projects occur randomly but are normally finished pretty quickly as the loom in the middle of the living room drives me nuts until it's done.  Perhaps one day I'll buy a stand for it and it won't be such a mess to work it.

I did pull out a old WIP that's been hibernating for a year or so thinking I would try to finish that before the end of March too.  I walked by it a few times and decided it would really do better being frogged and added to the shelter blanket pile.  One of my goals for next quarter is going to be eliminating a good chunk of the shelter blanket oddball pile, which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about being kind to animals in need since I can't adopt another for a while and gets rid of old stash that can't really be used for anything else.

Let's see...I can finally share a project I made back in January with you! I made a shawlette out of some sock yarn for a swap and I shipped my package out March 1st.  It was ready early February, but we had to hang on a bit before we could send it.  So here it is!
The pattern is called the Zetor Scarf and this is the third one I've made.  The yarn is a tiny bit busy for anything more complicated and I think the highs and lows really worked out well with this simple lace pattern.  I have made it with 2 different sock yarns in the past and get so many complements on the ones I wear out and about.  So I really wanted to branch out and try a new pattern, but I went with an old favorite and it went quickly and I don't regret it all.  It took about a week, and I had about 3 feet of yarn left after the bind off.  I love it when you really get your money's worth out of a yarn like that.  The yarn is some of the English stash, a gift from a Colchester knitter which was dyed by another Colchester knitter.  Yarn is Bearium Necessities by Lucy and I love it.  It's a wool/tencel blend and has a lovely shine to it but that's tricky to show in the pictures.  More info on my ravelry project page if you need it. 

And lastly...the quilting projects.  I've been cutting up fat quarters for my King-sized quilt that I'll be starting after I finish a couple more other projects, but I thought I'd sneak in a little project first so I don't have to interrupt a big project to get a little project done. I've knitted Rob's mom a couple little gifts and she always seems very pleased with them- she won't use the knitted dishcloth I made her because it's hung on the wall like a picture.  Oh well.  She throws a giant 4th of July party every year and her birthday is right around that time too.  Her house is Americana-themed and when I saw some patriotic fat quarters in Florida, I thought I'd make her a few quilted potholders for her birthday, which is late June.  I think. 
I managed to quilt and bind one of the log-cabin tops before Esther the sewing machine decided she was done.  So now I've got to go and get her fixed so I can finish the other and make a few more (I have loads of batting leftover from my other quilt so I figured I'd just go until I was out of fabric).  I'm really bummed out that I'm going to have to put some of my "Paris savings" into fixing the sewing machine, but I'm also really glad I didn't wait until the day before her birthday to start making them and have a problem then.  Also glad she didn't crap out in the middle of my next project which is still just a bunch of fat quarters that still need finished cutting.  I really think I'm done adding to the pile of fabric though- I think I have too much as it is.  (7 more fabrics off to the side that need cut up tonight)
So if you need me, I'll be cutting and binding.  Can't wait to get this quilt done- I feel another delusion of brilliance coming up! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

loose ends/new starts

It's March and for those of you playing along with the Quarterly Goals challenge, it's time to pick things up and get them finished.  For once I'm thrilled with all of my progress on my goals.  I've met all of them but one and I still feel like finishing the last one is doable by the end of March.

In case you're in the dark on this one, my goals for this quarter were
1. Learn to steek and finish that project. (Pink sweater- done)
2. Make baby quilt for Emery (done)
3. Finish hand sewing quilt binding (not done yet)
4. Finish mom's mermaid (done)
I'm having a bit of a hard time working on the binding because this quilt is both Madeline's and Rob's favorite blanket in the entire house.  Clips, needles and all, they fight over who gets to lay under the quilt.  Madeline wins most of the time.  
Naturally I have finished quite a few other projects as well but those were the big things that I wanted to finish that I felt like I needed a deadline to really commit to working on it.  In addition to the quarterly goal challenges, I've also been playing the Highland Games on the Outlander group on Ravelry. The Highland games are a fun activity for those who are addicted to the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and like to knit and read.  There is a swap happening (my package went out last Friday and once the spoilee confirms that she's received it I'll share my project that I made for it), and in addition to the swap there's puzzles and crafting challenges that must be tied in with the theme.  You craft and solve puzzles so that your Clan can win the Highland games.  I'm a MacKenzie in the Highland games, so I complete challenges from the other Clans.  I've only done one of the puzzles because I'm lame like that, but I have done crafting challenges.  The most recent craft challenge theme is "tying up loose ends" which means that you're welcome to finish an old project, provided that you've actually got quite a bit of work left on it.  No points for binding off a warshcloth or just weaving in ends. In addition to the challenge of finishing up an old project by the end of the month, you must also be able to tie it in with the challenge theme.  So this month we have to create or finish something that one particular character could have used on his journeys throughout the novel.  I had two projects that could possibly work for this challenge, so naturally I chose the biggest one, a fair-isle sweater. It's going to be a bit of a stretch to tie it in to the challenge, but I'm sure it will work.  And if they don't accept it, I will still have a lovely new sweater.  So that's a really long way of saying "I'd like to also finish this sweater by the end of March." 
Except that there isn't this much progress anymore.  I started this sweater back in August during the Olympic Opening ceremonies for my Olympic challenge.  Then two days in, a friend of mine's daughter died and I put together a comfort afghan (with the helps of loads of other knitters and crocheters) for her instead of finishing the sweater. I managed to finish one sleeve up to the armpit and about 6 inches of the body before I put it away.  I dug it out again before I went to New York in December, and then finished the body (up to the armpit).  When I dug it out March 1st I was trying to figure out where I left off and things weren't matching up.
I followed the stitch markers and figured out that I had made the body for a 32" chest and the sleeves for the 36" chest size. Crap. So I ripped the sleeves back to the first 4 increases were and started knitting without increases from there. Not a big deal, finished Sunday night watching Once Upon A Time.  Monday morning Miss Wonderpossum woke me up ridiculously early so I figured I'd start the next sleeve before work (I started a part-time seasonal job this week! Yay for regular income!).  Thought the body looked a bit funny and then figured out I had marked the body for the size 32" chest but it's actually 34" chest.  Which means I've just knitted the sleeve the wrong size AGAIN.  At this point I started laughing maniacally in the middle of the living room floor and scared the cat.  Thank goodness I live alone.  Ripped out the last 8 inches of the sleeve and added more increases. Worked on it last night during Castle and am now 1 inch away from finishing the right size of the first sleeve.  So if you're playing along, you've counted that I've now done the first sleeve 3 times.  And after I finish this sleeve, I get to do it all over again for the second sleeve. I hate sleeves.  But I know that after I get past the second sleeve, I get to join the sweater at the armpits and work a few massive rows of eleventy-billion stitches before I start the fair-isle part which is the most of exciting part of any project I have going right now.  So I'm doing it.  I'd love to get the sweater all put together before the weekend because I have a trunk show for Good For Ewe yarn in Nashville (the one in Indiana) and I'd love to have just one more example of how awesome Claddagh is. Because I'm not biased at all.

So that's what's happening in the craft world of Paige.  I have a couple little Good For Ewe projects that I'm working on (3 at the moment) and I've still got some cutting of fat quarters to do for the next quilt, but I'm really trying to just finish a few more projects before anything new starts.  I did start my little "garden" today inside.  Working at a nursery (the plant kind, not the little human kind) has given me so many ideas on things I'd like to grow and it's so hard to not come home with a new houseplant every day.  But they did hand out freebie seeds the other day and I came home with Thai peppers and pickling cucumbers.  I've started them in little pots and when it's time to move them outside, I'll move the cucumbers to bigger pots.  The peppers will probably be fine where they are as long as there's only 1 plant per pot.  I also have 3 Swedish Ivy plants up there- 2 of which need to go to their new homes.  I've also got 2 Christmas Cacti up there, the one in the orange pot is the baby I started last fall and now has 3 (!!!) new leaves on it and the wilty one in the terra cotta pot is Esther, a rescue plant.  My aunt thought it didn't need water because it's a Christmas CACTUS but it's a bit of a misnomer and it's actually a tropical rainforest plant, which means it needs a little water very frequently.  So I'm working on bringing it back to life.  I broke off a few of the sections that were too far gone and the rest of the plant still looks awful, but it's also looking a lot better.

So that's it!  If you are free on Saturday and feel like a trip to Brown County, I'd love to see you! I'll be doing a trunk show on Saturday at the Clay Purl and will have all my yarn goodies with me including patterns in progress and a few new ones that are written up and ready to be knitted up by you!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Cupcakes are here!

I continued my finishing spree last night when I hanked some camel handspun off the wheel last night that's been an on-again-off-again project for a few years.  It's one of my more balanced yarns I've ever spun, it's extremely soft and I'm really proud of it.  But I listed it on ebay anyway.  Hey- when your friend has a super expensive destination wedding and your boyfriend is one of the groomsmen, you can't say no.  But yes...handspun camel on sale on ebay! There's a link to the ebay shop (mixed in with all the blogs) if you are curious!
I have also written up my cupcake pattern for those of you interested in making little baby hats for the little sweet ones in your life! I wrote up the pattern for a newborn and for a 1 year old.  If enough people are interested then I may write up patterns for other sizes. So far I've sold 2 copies so it's not having quite the start I had hoped.  But oh well.  If you're curious, here it is! 

**If you go to the etsy shop, you have the option to buy the pattern, buy a cupcake hat that's already made up, or order a custom cupcake where you get to pick your size, "cake" and "frosting" flavors/colors.  

And one other little thing...last Monday I sent out a wedding gift that I had made.  It was one of the doilies with the last names in it in a frame.  Today I got it back- the couple had returned it.  I'm not really sure how to react to this one...have you ever had a hand made gift returned?  What did you do?