Friday, January 30, 2015

Dreaming in Dresses and Shawls

I've been chugging along on my baby quilt. Progress has been slow since I've been staying an extra 90 minutes late at work every night. I've also been much more diligent about getting to the gym, which is great since I got a little squishy last year when my favorite Zumba teacher quit and I didn't really care for the next one. Or pilates. And I am suddenly much more motivated (more later).

I finished the back of the baby quilt and have begun with the actual quilting part- the sewing together of the three layers as perfectly and wrinkle-free as possible. My process involves a few minutes of sewing and many more minutes of re-pinning to make sure the bottom doesn't bunch while I'm quilting. It's a slow process. This is the first time I'm using thread that's really obvious, so there's a lot more pressure to make it look nice. It's a slow process, but rewarding.  I'm very excited to see it finished, and I might get that this coming weekend since Tall/Dark & Handsome is out of town at a bike show.

I've also started in on another baby cardigan. I'm using Cascade Jewel Hand Dyed, a yarn I've had in the stash for a couple years that I occasionally bring out to pet and then put away again. It's day has finally come. I had 2 hanks, so enough for 2 hats, a good scarf or another baby sweater. Baby sweater it is. It's just a basic raglan but the thick and thin yarn is super cute and it's going to make a very warm sweater. I'm making this one in the 1 year size as well, and since it's going to be a gift to a buddy who already has a kid about this size, I'll try to finish this quickly so older brother and new baby can both wear it. I love it, and I've made her promise to give it back one day.

I'm a little obsessed with the baby sweaters right now. They're just so precious!

I've also been working in spurts on this crazy sweater I started maybe 5 years ago. I bought it because it was a new company I'd never seen before and quickly realized I liked it much better in the hank. Fast forward 4 years and I'm organizing my stash room, preparing to move out of my parents' house. I find half a yoke of a top-down sweater and throw it in the car. I'll finish it someday. I got really into it for a while and then after starting the first sleeve, got bored with it again. That was last February. It's been hanging out in my African market basket since then, taunting. I had another quick fling with it while I ignored the baby cardigan for a few days, and finished the first sleeve/started the second at knitting group last Sunday. I was really determined to finish it Monday and that would have really worked well...if T/D & H hadn't torn up his knee playing hockey Sunday night and required a day of driving around to different Dr's offices on Monday.

He also did something kind of crazy Sunday night. Almost a year ago, he broke his leg in 2 places and torn a bunch of tendons. He's not back to where he was, but he's finally getting closer. We went to urgent care but they were no help, so we went home, iced and propped and were sitting in bed going "are we really doing this again?". His knee on his good leg was swelling by the hour and starting to change colors. Our plans for our trip to Tahoe next month for snowboarding were laughing at us. He was in pain. I was worried. We weren't going to get any sleep. He hobbles down to the basement and come back up, slowly gets down on the good knee, and opens a box.
Well of course I said yes! The guy designed the ring back in October but it was just finished last week. It's set really low so I won't knock it in the garden or dye studio or get it tangled up in my yarn. So thoughtful!

*In case you were wondering, his knee will be fine. He tore his MCL, and not completely. We originally thought he had torn his ACL. He just needs to keep a brace on and ice it and try not to fall for around 6 weeks*

We aren't officially wedding planning yet. He is in the process of moving his bike shop, I'm getting ready for my dye class next week and the trade show after that, and I think it's a little bonkers to try to add venue shopping to that. I want to have as much DIY stuff as possible...ish. I'm thinking about making the dress but also thinking that could be really stressful and REALLY time consuming. But cheaper. And would fit perfectly. But then I'd miss out on shopping with the bridesmaids! See- it's quite the dilemma. To knit or not to knit. Whether it is a noble cause to sew a bodice and tack on crochet lace that could easily take me all year. I think I'll make a wedding shawl and just buy a dress. I'd also like to do my own flowers. And by do my own flowers, I mean call a friend with flower arranging experience, giving them lace, ribbon and pruners and sending them out in the yard. I've worked my ass off in that garden, I'm making it work for me. Flowers aren't cheap.

So that's this week in my crazy life. I'll hopefully be able to squeeze in a post before I leave for knitting camp next Friday, but if not, wish my 80 students and me luck!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ode to Weekends

I just love being able to go to bed Sunday night knowing that the house is clean(ish) and I am down one or more project.

Saturday I got up and got my bangs trimmed and ran some errands around Broad Ripple, and went to go work on my quilt for the first of 4 babies coming this Spring/Summer. I'm sure there will be more, but there's 4 that I'm preparing for now. I was just not having the best day quilting. I sewed a couple pieces on upside down and had to rip them out. I burned my middle finger on the iron. I sliced open my other middle finger on the rotary cutter, and then I decided I was done. Madeline was fast asleep on some of the toadstool fabric in a sunbeam so all was good in her world.  I put everything away for a couple days and got ready to have a couple friends over to dye yarn. Here is the baby quilt as it stands now. I still need one more row and then I can get to the next steps. 

I also realized that the quilt top is bigger than I anticipated and I needed new fabric for the backing. I could have probably just bought more of the batik I was going to use originally and sewn the two together, but then I saw this Dr. Seuss fabric and it was 40% the batik will go elsewhere. No regrets.
Sunday was a little better. I got to sleep in a little more and then went to knitting group where I finished knitting a little sweater I started a couple weeks ago for the first arrival in Spring.  The pattern is kind of Baby Sophisticate, which I altered because my gauge was nowhere close and I really just needs to know how big the chest of a 6-12 month old baby is and how long to make the arms. It looks like the picture did, so all is good. I made the sweater in a mostly acrylic but a little wool blend and while it was really cute, I was over it. I've made several things with this yarn before and I'm glad to be done with it. It's totally cute so that's good. I've already moved on to the next sweater, which might go to baby 1,3, or 4. Or not go to anyone because it's so cute and I might want it in the extremely distant future.

Anyhow, I finished the knitting at knitting group, I came home and ran it through the dryer with some clothes for a few minutes to soften things up, and then sewed on the buttons while the Colts were massacred by the Patriots. F'ing Tom Brady. 

And then Madeline and I jumped right into the next one.
Have a great week! Stay crafty my friends!

OH! And if you are super bored, you should check out my first Youtube tutorial on how to make pepper jelly with my co-host/ co-worker/ crafty buddy, Rachel. Tiny Kitchen Cooking & Craft Show

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sew many things happening here

I love my man to pieces, but I really loved that he went to Detroit without me this past weekend. I had 2 solid days of errand running and crafting, and it was glorious.

I'm teaching a class the first weekend in February, and I had a ton of supplies to find. I did most of that on Saturday. Tomorrow I'll do a test run of my class with some friends (if you're in the Indy area and would like to dye yarn Wednesday 1/14, let me know!) to make sure my new equipment works and then I'll hopefully pack everything up and have it ready for the big day.

While I was out, I also headed to my favorite little quilting shop, Crimson Tate. I love quilting and learning new patterns, but picking out fabric isn't my forte. Luckily they are happy to help and I brought home fabric for the first of my baby quilts for MJ. I know that the first of her upcoming arrivals is a boy, and we aren't sure what the second one is yet. I knew I wanted to follow a tutorial I found on Pinterest, and I knew I would like to have it blue and yellow but after that I was pretty open. I came home with this:
While this was in the wash, I sat down to finish a woven and then sewn bag that was supposed to be a Christmas gift. And I hated that thing. The more I worked on it, the more disgusted with it I became. So I scrapped it and pulled out a bunch of...well, scraps. Several months ago I had a bunch of 4" squares and I decided to make a patchwork quilt for my brother. I put together a bunch of strips of squares and decided that really was never going to get finished. I pinned a bunch together and sewed them into a big tube, put a bottom on it and added some straps and a lining. Since the strips were pre-made, it only took about an hour. And I'm so much happier with the new bag than I was with the woven bag.

Then I went to the local pub, knitted with a martini for a bit and watched 3 episodes of Downton Abbey in fleece leggings with the cat. Like I said, Gavin was out of town. And the cat doesn't judge. She likes the leggings. 

Sunday I went to knitting group (since I stopped working every Sunday at the nursery it's nice to get back to the old knitting group) and came home and got started with the cutting of the freshly washed and ironed baby blanket bits. I cut 10" squares, sewed and cut again. And then got back to work on my yarn business. That yarn won't ship itself out! 
Last night I met Tall/Dark & Handsome and his friend for dinner on the way back from Detroit and I came home and couldn't resist those perfect little squares on the dining room table. I must have blacked out, by the time I realized what was happening I had this:
Okay that part is a huge lie. The middle mushroom bit took me longer than anything else. The pattern I printed out is really more of a guideline and it assumes the quilter has done this before and not had a gin and tonic at dinner. It took me about 45 minutes and lots of seam ripping to get those 4 little mushroom triangles to a) all be the same size b)go the same direction and c)just fit. For cryin' out loud- WHY AREN'T THEY FITTING?!

Once I got the first two the same size (4th try is the charm) I figured out a system and the last two were a piece of cake. Then I got the next round done, stepped away and fell in love. It was 11 o'clock but I couldn't stop. One more round!
It was then that I made a couple realizations. Firstly, that the mushrooms that took me almost an hour to get going the same direction are going the opposite direction of the other mushrooms. I also don't care enough to change it now. It's a quirk, not a defect.The Amish always put a mistake in their quilts because only God is perfect. Another realization was that the pattern/guideline wasn't quite accurate in how much fabric was needed. Had the final size of the quilt been listed, I would have probably figured out that the suggested pattern amounts weren't going to be enough. So I need to go back to the fabric shop because I'm on halfway done with this quilt top and nearly done with my fabric. I do really like this pattern despite the road blocks, so I will probably just buy a yard of everything and have enough to make a whole other baby quilt because someone is bound to have a boy eventually. But this time I'll get the mushrooms right.

And on a final note: the most boring cross stitching in the world. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year & New Projects

Happy New Year!

This year started out with a finished baby quilt and some extremely exciting news from a dear friend...who will require 2 baby quilts. I'm absolutely ecstatic so stay tuned for baby quilts, baby sweaters, baby booties, baby everything until my hands fall off because I'm just so excited.

So I should probably start with the quilt I just finished and handed off to my colleague yesterday. I had a bunch of 4" squares leftover from my king sized quilt I made last year, so I was happy to get rid of some of those.  I also had a bunch of blue paisley flannel from high school that I found when my parents moved. So I got to use half of that up as well. I did buy a couple yards of a soft pink swirly fabric to put in between the 4" squares to break up the color and I'm glad I did that. So...voila!

The completed quilt top
Quilted to the flannel backing
(Side note: I'll never quilt to flannel again. It stretches funny and you end up ripping more than you sew. But oh my goodness it is soft and fluffy!)
And the finished quilt! It's 41" square and I had originally tried (and failed) to pull the excess flannel from the backing to the front and bind it like that but that looked awful. 3 hours with a seam ripper later, I did some digging around in the fabric stash and had the perfect amount of bicycle fabric left from my giant bedroom quilt. It's cute and most importantly, it's done. 

For the friend with 2 babies coming, I figured I'd get started immediately. We know one is a boy. I also happened to have a bunch of batik scraps leftover from the quilt I cut on Christmas Eve. Originally I had planned to make a bunch of potholders for people but thought these 8" squares of hodge-podge fabric were too cute to not use. I'll make as many as I can from the scraps and a couple extra batik fat quarters and if I can get a decent looking blanket, then I'll do that. I bought some teal batik fabric to put between the squares as a little color buffer/filler. It looks really nice in my head but we'll see. If I get the squares all done and don't love it...then I go back to potholders and start with something else. I'm just using scraps so far so no big deal either way. 

Lastly I'd like to show you a couple newer projects that are totally selfish.

This time last year I was snowboarding with Tall/Dark & Handsome and some of his friends in Utah. It was interesting to say the least (sharing a hotel room with 4 smelly guys, sleeping very little and breaking my tailbone on the third day of a 7 day trip) and while I was hanging out in the lodges with my butt on a pillow, I couldn't help but notice this amazing and frankly hideous fair isle sweaters. They were made by this fancy snowboarding brand and so many people had them- and they were so expensive! What I took away from my few days of lodge lounging was this: I had to have one of those ugly sweaters. I also refuse to spend hundreds of dollars to make this happen. I went stash diving and came up with a poorly made hoodie (my first completed sweater) in Rowan Kid Classic. I had 3 colors in it and after frogging, about 7 hanks. I knew that a fair isle sweater would take a little more so I went shopping on Ravelry and found someone who had made a striped cardigan and had partial hanks of 4 other colors. Sold! I cast on Thanksgiving evening (T/D  & H's mom was there so I couldn't work on her scarf) and have been playing around with it since. It knows it's ugly, but I'm getting a lot of fair isle practice and will have a crazy-warm sweater to wear to hockey games and snowboarding. I'll also have a winner for future ugly sweater parties.

And lastly, I started a new cross-stitching after finally finishing the 3-year Halloween project.  It's a silly little kit from Curly Girl Designs, but little doesn't always equal fast so I'll keep you posted on that. I'd like to finish it before the end of March...and then get to the other 2 kits I bought after that. I don't have a picture yet but I can tell you it's navy blue fabric and white thread and looks like 4 straight lines. Riveting stuff, I know.