Saturday, December 31, 2011

Miss me?

Did you notice I was gone?  I won't make excuses for the absence - I've been a lazy blogger. I have been crafting, though.

Ethan's Star pattern, from Quiltmaker magazine
First up, I made this quilt for my friend Dawn who's expecting twins any day now.  Jenny, standing behind Dawn, is holding the matching burp cloths that I didn't get a picture of. They're cloth diapers with fabric that matches the quilts sewn down the center.

Wait, did I say quilts, plural?  Well, of course.  Two babies, two quilts.  My friend Michelle made this one.

We found out later that she was going to have monkeys in the babies' room

I think it's upside down, but whatever....

Next, I made this little shrug to go with a dress I bought, but I didn't get a picture the one time I wore them together.  So I took it to the farm and had Andrea take a picture for me.

At the beginning of December, there was a Christmas party with the knitters.  My friend Pretty Knitty Jewelry is a better blogger than I am, so you can check out her blog post about the party here. She and I are the ones with matching socks in the big sock picture.  She couldn't show you the stocking stuffers in her post, but I can.

Lots of wonderful goodies!

Ooooo, shiny!
I made these as my stocking stuffers. They're etched glass ornaments stuffed with wool roving mixed with a little angelina fiber for sparkle. I used six different snowflake stencils for the etching and made several different colors.  I tried to match the color to the recipient and these were the ones I had left over.
A crappy picture in general, but you can see the snowflake.

I whipped up about a dozen of these little pocket pack tissue holders for the doctors and staff at the vet's office.  They all had different dog and cat fabrics, all from my stash.

These two are mine.

There has been knitting, of course.  After I finished the Christmas socks, I cast on these:

Plain sock in Destination Yarn's in Vancouver 2010 Five Rings

When I finished these...
Spring Fern Socks in Knit Picks Stroll Tonals, Springtime

...I started these for my Mom.  Not much to show, yet, I know. But they should go pretty fast. I hope.

Stepping Stones in Sensations Bamboo and Ewe

Falling Leaves in Knit Picks Stroll Tonals in Foliage
Earlier today, I went to the farm again and cast  on these as a new knit-along with my friends, Julie and Ann. I had to rip mine out because I didn't knitting the first couple of rounds tight enough.  I plan to start over as soon as I post this.

While we were together, we took a picture of our last knit-along.  Look familiar?  That yarn is pretty popular this year, I guess.

Plain sock pattern, Wisdom Marathon North Pole yarn in Merry Merry

Well, that about wraps up my year.  I'm off to cast on those socks and drink a toast to the new year. Here's to a happy and healthy 2012.

Blue and Emma say....

Happy New Year!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dyeing for a party

Yes, that has an 'e' in it.  The weekend before last some of my knitting friends got together for a yarn dyeing party.  With this group, that included good food, lots of laughs and some knitting thrown in.  I didn't take any pictures at the party, but here's what I came home with.

First up, a pre-knit, two-strand sock blank that started out a cream/natural color.  I dyed it using Easter egg dye (2 tablets each of orange, red and yellow).  I mixed the dye in a Pyrex dish, put the damp blank into the dye all at once and microwaved it to heat set it.  My original plan was to go back and add black stripes for some cool Halloween socks.  But I love the orange so much, I can't bring myself to add the black, in case I screw it up.

Before and after

Next I had a couple of balls of Red Heart's Heart and Sole sock yarn, also in a cream/natural colorway.  I was having trouble deciding what color to dye it, then Tina had some extra Jacquard Acid Dye in the Chestnut colorway mixed in a squirt bottle that she was just going to throw out. 

Rather than let it go to waste, I put the damp yarn in the dish, squeezed the dye on one side, turned it over and squirted the other side. Then I added some water and poked it around with my (gloved) fingers.  I added some extra in the places that looked light and nuked it to set the dye.  It looked kind of purple while I was dyeing it, and it still has some purple shades to it.

I hadn't intended to make Cleveland Browns colors, it just kind of worked out that way.

And in keeping with all the stores, just in time for Halloween - CHRISTMAS! socks.  A couple of my friends and I ordered this yarn and started the socks in February. Julie finished hers first, I'm second, and Ann's in the home stretch.  We'll all wear them for our holiday gathering this year.

They just scream CHRISTMAS!, don't they?

I've made progress on a couple of my other sock projects.

Mystery Socks by Antje Gillingham

Spring Fern by Susan Lutsky - These are farther along now.

And finally, I bought a hank of merino/angora (rabbit) yarn at a fiber event this summer.  Every time Max finds it in the sewing room, this happens.

"I think I'm in love"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Where to begin?

Okay, I've been MIA for quite a while now, so I'm not really sure where to start.  I guess I'll start with the house.  You saw the new chimney mortar back in August.  After that, the mason came back and built a step by the side door.

Now people won't feel like they're falling out of my house.  I just hope the plow guy doesn't destroy it this winter.  I'm thinking of getting some kind of pot or statue or something to put in front of it as a marker, but I have no idea what.  Thoughts?

Then I got a new, non-leaking roof on the house, along with new gutters.

The last house thing was some painting.

Wrought iron railings on the front porch.

Garage doors and trim.
My friend Beth did most of the garage painting.I just did the trim around the side windows and the 2nd coat of trim on and around the doors.
At the beginning of September, I got ready for quilt camp.  This crappy old pillowcase was the carrier for my sewing machine extension table for a loooong time. It also carried any long rulers I wanted to take to camp.

Sort of  functional but not very interesting.
So before camp this time around, I dove into the stash and made this:

The outside is a home dec remnant, and the lining (not shown) was a piece of fabric from my neighbor's garage sale - fill a grocery bag for a buck. I had to buy the blue strapping. In hindsight, I should either have had a longer piece of strapping, and/or put the straps closer together. It's a little awkward to carry the way it is.  But I wasn't about to take it back apart, since I use it maybe 3 times a year. The brown strip covers the seam in the strapping. 

I made it big enough to hold my 18" x 24" cutting mat and 20-1/2" square ruler
While I was at quilt camp, I worked on a couple of  quilt tops that I didn't take pictures of, as well as my Dear Jane.




When I got back from camp, I took this stuff:

Comfy plush fabric, flannel and assorted ribbons and trims
and made three of these little tabbed baby blankets

Cute, isn't it?

Two of them have solid orange backs, but I had to piece one of them.

There has been knitting. Some of it is stealth knitting, but I don't have good pictures of any of it, yet, so more on that later.

The cats have been busy bird watching.

Some of them anyway.  Max was napping.

More later....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bag lady 2011

Those of you who've been reading this for a while might have noticed that I occasionally become fixated on a certain kind of projects. There was the Dear Jane phase that started the blog, followed by the baby blanket phase of '08 , several beading jags, and the ever-present socks. The current obsession is bags. Again.

I got some free fabric at quilt camp in May, so I used a couple of pieces to make this little bag.

A larger version of the Straight Sided Triangular Cosmetic Bag

I adjusted the size to make the most of the cherry print fabric. If I make another one of these, I'll either put the handle on the other end of the zipper, or add another smaller loop on that side to make it easier to close. Here's the inside:

I was going for instant gratification, so no inside pockets

You might recall that I started assembling the outer panels of this bag at quilt camp in May. I finally finished it.

Charlottesville Courthouse Bag, by Jean Bailey of Wildcat Studio

The pattern isn't available online, but I can put you in contact with Jean, if you're interested. This puppy is BIG - 18" long, 13" tall and 8" deep, give or take a fraction. All of the fabrics are by Jinny Beyer, mostly her Rosewood Collection. You can't see them in the pictures, but it has 5/8" oak dowels for handles (Jean sells the finished handles, too) and metal feet that weren't called for on the pattern..

Inside there are a couple of small open pockets, also not in the pattern.

And a big zippered pocket, which is in the pattern.

The zipper pocket was easier than I expected. I used this technique, which is very clever, and less fiddly than the one in the actual pattern. I used a piece of foam core board in the bottom to give it a little structure without adding much weight. I really love this bag.

A couple of months ago, I spent several evenings and most of a Sunday afternooon cutting out and fusing this stack of pieces-parts.

Most of them became these.

Four standard and one large size Two Hour Tulip Purses

I love these bags, even though the name is a little deceiving. You can easily sew one together in two hours, but it takes at least that long to cut and fuse all the pieces.

Here are the insides:

Standard size red. I tried to get all the horizontal lines to match, but the fabric was kind of wonky.

Blue paisley - more Jinny Beyer fabric on the outside of these. Not sure about the lining.

The large size red bag has a patch pocket and a pleated one on the inside.

There's one more bag that isn't finished yet, but you'll see it eventually. I have a fairly large stack of fabric and several other bag patterns waiting for me. No, I don't know what I'll do with them when I'm done, but that's never stopped me from making things before. I can always give them away as gifts.

Of course, Emma supervised the construction.

"I'm pressing these pieces for you, Mama."

And Max tested the finished tote for me. This might give you a sense of the size of the bag, since he's a pretty average sized cat.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Or, the latest chapter in Connie vs. Water.

In our last episode, we learned that the Evil Chimney Monster was shooting mortar onto the roof.

Notice the hole on the left side.

Mister Mason Man came to the rescue on Wednesday and put the Chimney Monster in it's place.

Take that, Chimney Monster!

Undeterred, Water retaliated on Thursday morning by installing a water feature in the tree lawn. Apparently there were several water main breaks in the area on Thursday. Weird.

Wow, my yard looks horrible.

A couple of hours later, Spike showed up and started attacking the street.

Die, three-year-old road, die!

An hour or so after that, there was a very large hole where the fountain used to be.

At one point, one of the guys was standing in the hole with the backhoe digging right next to him. Brave? Stupid? Both?

The men left a huge hole filled with gravel, which is still there, despite them telling me that they'd come and blacktop over it today. Hopefully early next week....

In other news, I've been doing some sewing lately. I veered away from my usual genre and made clothing this time. Behold the reversible wrap skirt.

First rule of modeling - don't look directly at the camera

I used the tutorials here and here to draft the pattern and sew it up. I scoffed when it said you needed 3-3.5 yards of fabric, but because of the shape of the pattern pieces, they really mean it. Because of that, instead of having 2 pieces on each side, I had to have 3. Live and learn. And if/when I make this again, I'm going to draft a new pattern - a little smaller and with a better curve to the waist. You use the waist curve to get the hem curve and my hem's a little wonky in the back.

A glimpse of the other side of the skirt

And a close-up of the hem.

Oooo.... beads!

No, I didn't string all of those little dangles by hand. I bought a big hank of beaded tape at the Sewing and Quilt Expo several years ago and finally found a use for it. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result.

Many thanks to PrettyKnittyJewelry for playing photographer for me.

It's been pretty hot and humid here lately, but Max has been chillin':

"Thanks for the virtual fig leaf, Mama. I'm really very modest."

I do have more sewing and knitting to show off, but that's for another day.