Monday, March 30, 2009

The Original Sewing and Quilt Expo

The Original Sewing and Quilt Expo was in Cleveland this past weekend. I usually try to at least stop in every year. I've never taken any classes, but there are usually lots of good ones offered. And there are always lots of good vendors, usually with good show pricing.

Last year and this year, Beth and I volunteered to take down the displays on Saturday after the show was over. It's pretty easy work and we get to touch the stuff. :) This year there was an exhibit of clothing and quilts made with men's ties. There was a skirt made entirely of ties, along with several items that had ties or bits of ties as accents. It was interesting. We also took down the Hoffman Challenge doll and clothing collection. I was impressed and awed that these people would put so much time, effort and talent into something that would be out of their possession for the better part of a year. I didn't take any pictures of the displays, since we weren't allowed. I did pictures of the goodies I bought, though.

I bought a baby blanket kit:

That's the pattern and some Jeanne cotton/acrylic yarn for the edging and 4 balls of Tofutsies sock yarn which is a blend of wool, soy silk (made from tofu manufacturing waste), cotton, and chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells). No, it doesn't smell fishy - I checked. It mostly smells like the vinyl project it came in. :-P The kit was kind of pricey, so if I make this as a baby blanket, it would have to be for a baby I really like. I'm thinking maybe I'll get some cheaper sock yarn to substitute in the blanket and use the Tofutsies for socks. Is that wrong of me? The Deborah Norville Serenity sock yarn is really soft and only $7 for 100g (2 balls) vs $16 for a 100g ball for the Tofutsies. That would take the price of the yarn for the blanket from $78 down to $42. That's more my speed for an item that's going to get barfed on, or worse.

It seems to be all socks, all the time for me lately, since I also bought some Noro Kureyon sock yarn (color #S102).

I love the Noro colors, but wasn't sure about this sock yarn, because it's not very soft. I talked to one of the ladies in the booth, and she said it wasn't the best yarn to knit, but it's her favorite pair of socks. Apparently it does soften up when you wear/wash it. I might have to use that yarn for a two-at-a-time pair. I didn't have a problem with second sock syndrome on my first pair, but I have a feeling I might if I don't like the yarn.

Finally, I bought a bracelet kit.

Yeah, I made that! I think it was offered as a class, and I was tempted to sign up for it, since volunteers get a free class. But I'm lazy, so I didn't. Then I happened to be walking by the booth where they were selling the beads, and they were doing make-and-take projects. I didn't have much time, so I picked out my beads and got about an inch and half of it started, then finished it when I got home, before I forgot how to do it. It was actually really easy as long as you didn't get the thread tangled. It cost $35, which was the supply fee for the class, and I got to learn it without "paying" for the class itself. Pretty cool, huh? And I have enough beads leftover to try to make matching earrings.

Notice it was the Sewing and Quilt Expo, and I bought beads and yarn. :)

Saturday was a milestone birthday for John's mom, so we had dinner at her house on Sunday. With the expo and visiting with the "in-laws", I didn't get a lot of knitting done over the weekend. I did manage to make enough progress on the 2-at-a-time socks that I've decided not to frog them.

I also got a bit farther on my toe-up sock.

I figure I have about about an inch or two to go till I start the guesset increases.

Finally, this is a very cute, but very naughty boy:

Blue has been sick off and on for over a week. Sometimes he was keeping his meals, sometimes he was giving them back to us. We took him to the vet last Tuesday and they did x-rays and blood work and ruled out a whole bunch of stuff. They didn't see anything on the x-rays, so they thought it might be a food allergy. We started switching him over to some special food (green pea and duck), but he was still getting sick and then he seemed to lose his appetite. Back he went to the vet this morning. This time they saw something cigar-shaped, about the thickness of a pencil, and about 1 or 1-1/2" long, possibly with some yarn or string wrapped around it. We have no idea what it is, but we'll find out tomorrow, when they do surgery to take it out. I'm sure he's scared, since he doesn't really like strangers and the vet's office smells funny and has lots of strange noises. I'm hoping he'll get to come home tomorrow, but it depends on how quickly he comes out of the anesthesia.

Think good thoughts for my baby Blue. I hope this experience makes him think twice before he eats something that isn't food, but I'm not counting on it. I've had cats for 3/4 of my life, and I've never had one eat something that had to be surgically removed.....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saturday was National Quilting Day

Want to know how much quilting I did on National Quilting Day? Zilch. Oh, I thought about it. But after I ran my normal Saturday errands, we put in the last 2 discs of 24: Season 3 and my behind never left the couch.

I made up for it on Sunday, when I finally did some quilting on the border of my Getaway project and put the binding on the front.

Now I just have to get the binding stitched down on the back and I'll have a finished project. It could probably use some more quilting but that's unlikely to happen, since I have the sleeve attached already. I'd have to take out the top section of binding (releasing the sleeve) to do it. Very unlikely.

Other things I completed over the weekend:

Tea Cups

My guild is doing a fundraiser at the quilt show (April 18-19, at Westlake High School, mark your calendars) called Bras for a Cause. Proceeds go to a charity that supports breast cancer patients ad their families. So Thursday night my friend Beth and her 11-year-old daughter got together to decorate bras for the auction. There are some very clever ladies in my guild. You can see some of their creations here. Beth did the Cupcakes bra, and her daughter did Moon Beamers. It was fun. All I did to mine over the weekend was add the tags (sorry, Sarah, they don't spin) and sugar packets.

Side story: I bought the bra at the dollar store during my lunch break. A couple of my friends went with me, and when I started looking at the bras, one of them wanted to know if I needed to borrow money. She was relieved when I told her what the bra was for. :)

I made the clay part of this name tag at the NEORQC Getaway.

Sunday I added the beads and put some felt and a pin on the back.

Some unfinished knitted objects that I worked on over the weekend include a garter stitch scarf, that makes for good TV knitting.

It's going to be really long when it's done. I figure I'm 1/2-2/3 done so far. I'm just going to knit till I run out of the yarn. I have a bunch of yarn like this that I bought when I first started knitting, thinking I'd make sweaters. I don't think it will work out too well for that purpose, since it snags pretty easily. So I'll either make a boatload of scarves for charity, or I'll just give it away. The women's club at my office is always taking yarn donations.

I also worked on some socks.

Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock

Two socks at a time (worsted weight yarn) from Knitting Circles Around Socks

I'm not sure about the 2-at-a-time socks. They will eventually "match". The yarn is the same colorway and dye lot, if you can believe it. I really don't know if I'm going to like the technique. Friday night the two balls of yarn got pretty badly tangled, but I think part of that was my own inattention when I was turning the needles. I'm also not sure the joins are joining right, but I'm only about 3 rounds in, so maybe it'll be okay.

The nice thing about knitting is that do-overs are usually pretty easy. Not so with quilting. Like when you've just cut that strip 2-1/4" and it should have been 2-1/2". This normally happens when you only had 4" left of a fabric you bought 3 years ago and don't have a snowball's chance of getting more. Good times.

So far this week, I haven't done anything crafty. I took in my car yesterday morning to get the bumper fixed. I picked it up this afternoon and it looks great! Actually, the bumper looks better than the rest of the car. But since I park in a garage downtown, there's really no point spending a lot of (my) money to get the dings in the doors fixed. As long as the car's not in danger of rusting to oblivion before it's paid off, I'll leave the dings there. They add character.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The making of a quilt label

This is a long one. Hope you're not in a hurry.

My friend, Mike, father of the twins*, asked where we found the embroidery design we used on the baby quilts. I'm glad he asked, because I was going to write up a post about it. See, we didn't find it, I made it.

The baby quilt plans started with this quilt pattern:

which would have been *perfect* for Mike and Carrie's baby, since Mike belongs to a clock/watchmakers guild. We made this quilt for him long before he got married:

The watch faces on the one fabric glow in the dark.

The only problem with the baby clock pattern is that it's all applique and we don't do applique (says the woman making a Dear Jane quilt). We could have done fusible applique, but didn't think that would hold up to repeated washings, and we wanted the quilt to be used. We knocked around several other ideas, then we found out the "baby" was actually "babies" and we had to make two quilts. So we decided to make them using the same pattern as Mike and Carrie's wedding quilt.

Speaking which, I found some pictures of the top, with and without the quilters.

I think the picture of the finished quilt, if there ever was one, is on the SD card that I fried last year. This quilt was fun to do. We found a pre-printed panel of love quotes, then Ann embroidered a few extras to fill in the gaps, including a quote from the Princess Bride - "Mawidge…that dweam wiffim a dweam..." We love that movie!

Oh, and here's a blurry picture of the label:

Okay, back to the baby quilt labels. A couple of years ago, I bought the Pfaff 3D software, which I intended to use to organize my many, many embroidery designs [ hasn't happened yet, btw ]. A few months later, they announced the 4D software, and of course Gadget Girl (that would be me) had to upgrade. The portion of the 4D software I bought included an auto-digitizing feature. I didn't think I'd ever use it, since I'd tried some auto-digitizing programs before and wasn't impressed. This one is actually pretty good, though.

I started by scanning in one of the clocks from the Tick Tock Clocks pattern:

Then I used MS Paint (heaven help me) to clean up the edges and color in the sections, based on the coordinating clock fabric I'd used in one of the baby quilts. If I'd had better software, my hand/wrist wouldn't have complained about it so much, but I used what I had. This is what I ended up with:

Then I used the 4D software's design wizard to create the design. You tell it what kind of fabric you're going to use the design on, weed out the stray colors you don't need, and end up with this:

Then I used the software again to add in the names, locations, date. I had already used the font wizard within the software to digitize the MS Comic Sans font. I *love* the font wizard! It'll digitize any font - very cool. When I stitched out the labels, I used threads that went with the colors on the front of the quilt, more or less. I hadn't seen the I-spy quilt top when I made the label, so I was just going by the color descriptions Julie gave me. Here they are after stitching out:

They actually say
For Henry Lawrence
Jack William
Last Name
Babies' Hometown
February 6, 2009
Made by
Quilter's Name
Quilter's Location
Quilter's Name
Quilter's Location

It's a lot of information for a quilt label, but one of our quilters is a librarian/historian. :) I think they turned out nicely, and the twins' parents seem happy with them.

* It's still weird to think of "Mikey" as someone's dad. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finished Stuff and Beady Goodness

Now that I'm done with the stealth projects, I'm back to being able to show you my productivity. Check it out -- finished socks!

They were made with Red Heart's Heart and Sole yarn in the Toasted Almond colorway, using the sock pattern from the Red Heart web site. I don't recommend it for first time sock knitters, since they are off on the measurements for the foot. I made some adjustments (after following their instructions the first time) and now they fit. I actually think they could have been just a smidge longer, but they are definitely wearable as they are. I wore them to work today and everything.

I also finished this over the weekend.

My friend, Lisa, pieced the center. I added the border, quilted and bound it. We, along with our other friend, Kathryn, made two of these for babies of people at our office. I quilted the other one over the weekend, too, but didn't take a picture of it. I also forgot to give it to Kathryn today so she can bind it. Oh well. She's working tonight, so probably wouldn't have gotten to it anyway.

Last week, my friend, Sarah, asked me to make her some stitch markers with words on them, so I put these together on Sunday.

The column on the left are for me, along with that pair of earrings that I re-did. I'd used some really cheap gold colored plastic beads the first time, and the gold all flaked off. These ones have actual metal beads. Column #2 are the ones for Sarah herself. We'd seen a web site selling dual purpose stitch markers that were on lever-backed earring wires so you could wear them as earrings, too. She said she probably wouldn't wear them as earrings, but wanted to try them out as removable stitch markers. The last two columns are markers she asked me to make to give to her knitting friends. Hope they all like them.

Since I make my purse modifications, I decided that the zipper pull was a bit small, so I pulled some beads out of my stash to add a little beaded charm to make it easier to find the tab. Sorry for the blurry picture, but I didn't feel like pulling out the macro lens again.

While I had all my beading stuff out, I decided to put together the icicle ornament kit that was taking up space in my beading box. I followed their instructions, but after making a dozen icicles, I still had a bunch of beads left over. Here's what I eventually ended up with.

Obviously, I added the headpins, earring wires, and rings for the stitch markers. But the only beads I added were the little gold stars on the lower set of red and gold markers. Not bad for a kit I got on clearance at Michael's. Anyone want some icicles, earrings or stitch markers?

Finally, I started a new project. Actually, I started two. The first one is a garter stitch scarf to use up a skein of Lion Brand Homespun-esque yarn left over from a baby afghan that I made last summer, but didn't take a picture of that. I did, however, take a picture of this:

That's a toe-up sock, using more Heart and Sole yarn, this time in the Spring Stripe colorway. I'm using Wendy's detailed toe-up sock pattern (aka, the toe-up for dummies version). I had to rip it back once because I biffed the short rows. I also learned the importance of making sure you don't split the yarn in your provisional cast-on. But so far I like it. I definitely like the idea of not having to graft the toes at the end. I don't like that part very much. Also, the toes of my first socks are pretty pointy, which don't really fit my duck feet very well. These seem more anatomically correct for me.

I was going to start a pair of 2-at-a-time socks, but I actually knit a swatch over the weekend and my gauge was off. Not thinking properly, I thought I needed to go down a needle size, and therefore, that I didn't have the right size needles. I was wrong and needed to go up a size, so I do have the right size. I'd like to try these before my library book is due back, so maybe I'll start those later this week, too. They're done in worsted weight yarn (only 40 stitches instead of the 60 on "normal" socks), so they should knit up quickly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

It ony *looked* like I was slacking...

...since November.

My stealth projects have been delivered, so now they can be revealed. You see, one of my best friends from college, Mike, got married a few years ago. Back in the late summer/early fall, and and his wife, Carrie, announced they were expecting. Now, there are four quilters among our group of KSU friends (aka the Lunch Bunch). Three of us are knitters and one of us scrapbooks, too. [Mike and Carrie got a group quilt and a handmade wedding album, albeit after their first wedding anniversary.]

Anyway, we were all very excited and tried to decide what quilt pattern and fabrics we'd use for the baby quilt, and how we could include Sarah, the member who doesn't live in northeast Ohio. There was also a lot of talk about knitted goodies for the baby. Then we found out they were having TWINS, so then there was twice as much fun to be had.

The stars aligned when I had to go to Boston for training in November. I made the top of this quilt, and took it with me so Sarah could quilt and bind it. The pattern is the same one we used for the wedding quilt. It used to be on the web site, but it seems to be gone now.

Mike builds/repairs watches and clocks so when I found this fabric a few years ago, I bought it specifically for his future child.

Around Thanksgiving, I started my stealth knitting project, which was this prayer shawl for Carrie.

It's about 20" x 60" and made from Berroco Comfort yarn, in ivory. I thought it would be good for throwing over her shoulders for mid-night feedings, etc.

Since there were now going to be two babies, Julie and Ann made a second quilt using the same pattern, but different fabrics.

I embroidered matching labels for the quilts.

As you can see, the babies are five weeks old today, though we still say the gifts aren't late, since the babies weren't supposed to arrive till mid-March. The original due date was April 1, but it was adjusted because they are twins. They were born at 32 weeks, but both are healthy and home (and have been for weeks now).

In addition to the quilts, Sarah made striped hats for the babies, and Ann made matching hat and bootie sets (large preemie size).

Add a few more things, including an antique clock book for Mike and a package of treats for Max the dog, so they wouldn't feel left out, and this is what I shipped to the Pacific Northwest on Monday.

According to the UPS site, it was delivered around 2 o'clock this afternoon, PDT. I didn't tell them it was coming. I hope they were surprised, and that they like all the gifts. They might not be perfect, but everything was made and/or chosen with love.

Welcome, Henry and Jack! Wish we could be there to meet you in person.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

Can I just say that I hate Daylight Savings Time in the spring? There's just something so wrong with making the weekend a whole hour shorter.

Anyway, I know it's been pretty slim pickin's here lately, craft-wise. I have been busy working on stuff, but it's all been unbloggable. I didn't even work on my Dear Jane blocks at my meeting Thursday night. However, notice that I did finish the latest stealth project! I still can't blog about it yet, but soon. Very soon.

Meanwhile, since I finished that, I'm back to working on my second sock. I've acquired a bit more sock yarn lately, so I figure I should really get past the first pair. Here's the second sock's current state:

I turned the heel and picked up the stitches for gusset. All ready to start my decreases for the foot. I'd say I've officially hit the home stretch. Yay!

It seems strange to have that big project done. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself now. Okay, yes, I'll finish this sock, then cast on another one (or two). I haven't decided if I'm going to do the next pair toe up, on the square DPNs or on two circular needles. I have a couple of books that talk about using two circulars. My friend did some two-a-at-time socks and didn't care for it. But I borrowed a book from the library that has instructions for making two socks at a time, using worsted weight yarn. I have some self-patterning worsted weight yarn, so that might be worth a shot. They should go together pretty fast, at least.

I suppose I should also get back to my felted clogs and that lace scarf I started months ago. By the time I'm done, it'll be too warm to use them (I hope!). The problem with those projects is they actually require some concentration. It was risky enough turning the heel while watching crack (aka '24') earlier today. Once I get to the foot of the sock, it will be good mindless knitting, though. And we won't get to watch any more crack till next weekend, so I'll have time to prepare. :)

Happy Daylight Savings Time. Bleah.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NEORQC Getaway 2009

This past weekend was the annual NEORQC (North East Ohio Regional Quilt Council) Getaway at the Bertram Inn in Aurora. I've been going every year for more years than I can count. It's really nice to be pampered for the weekend. You might recall that I go once or twice a year to "UFO camp" in Holmes County and that's great, too. But the NEORQC Getaway is a bit more extravagant. Here's the dining room.

The theme this year was Quilted Confections. Here are some of the decorations the hotel provided. They look good enough to eat, don't they?

The format this year, as in previous years was dinner Friday night, followed by class time. Saturday we get three meals and class time in the morning and afternoon. Most of us go back to the classrooms after dinner, too. Sunday is breakfast, class time, then lunch and show and tell. There are also vendors available. It's a bit pricey, but worth, it, I think. Unfortunately, with the economy as it is, attendance was way down this year so next year they're making some changes to hopefully attract more people. We'll see how that works out.

This year, I took Kim Montagnese's Mirror Magic class. Even though I was a slacker and didn't do the prep work before class, I almost finished my project. It needs some quilting in the border, a hanging sleeve and binding.

Those are little mirrors behind the lattice. I used the leftover fabrics from Big Blue (which still isn't close to done, but I have the pieces all cut). I found the blue hand-dyed yarn for sale in another classroom (Sue Spargo's) . The other embellishments were made by little ol' me, using polymer clay and powered pigments, which was a lot of fun. I might have to steal the pasta machine my parents never use and get myself some clay to play with.

My friend, Beth, took the class with me. She made lots of stuff with the clay, including some earrings for herself. I made myself a name tag, but it's not done yet. I didn't get a picture of Beth's project, which is for her daughter. She said it wasn't done yet, anyway, so I'll have to get a picture of it later.

Several people in the class finished their projects. I got pictures of a few of them.

You'll notice my project is a little bigger than the ones the rest of the class were making. That's because I have specific place I want to hang it. It should be done in time for my guild's quilt show next month.

Speaking of our quilt show, this is the guild's latest raffle quilt.

If you're interested in buying tickets ($1 each or 6 for $5), let me know. ;-) And please come to the show! It's one of the biggest in the area and there are always lots of beautiful quilts.

In other news, I know it's been kind of quiet here. I've been busy working on as-yet unbloggable stuff. I'm 92% done with my stealth knitting project and once that's done (this week), I'll be able to post about it and a number of other things I've been working on. I have at least 2 posts planned - watch for them next week. I might have a new Dear Jane block to show at the end of this week, since my Dear Jane group meets Thursday night.

One last thing I can show you is the label for another baby quilt. Here you go....