Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31

 With the last two mitten ornaments:
I've reached 35 ornaments for the year.  I really thought I would end up higher with the embroidered ornaments, but I have been sidetracked the last few days by 1. Real life, 2. problems with pain medication, and 3.
other projects.  I rather wish this yarn didn't have random dots of color in it, but I still like the sock so far, and it's rather exciting to be making a 2013 Christmas gift early.  The second sock is well underway even, so I think I'll have a finished project here soon. 

I have been working on the latest sewing project, and last night managed to attach facings and the collar to the two shirt options:
The white stitching on the left is where I basted down the facing, and now I'm supposed to top stitch right beside it.  The problem, of course, is that this never really works for me. Everything is where it should be, but I always find this puckers a bit. Last time I made this pattern I cheated a bit
and stitched it down with decorative stitching at a half-way point, which also helped add a bit of color.  This time I'll probably just stitch it down a bit higher up.  The one with the collar will now get short sleeves, and the other long sleeves, so there will be some variety here.  The pants are also underway, and the skirt looks pretty simple, so I'm hoping to be able to add another 5.875 yards to the fabric tally after Finishing Friday tomorrow.  I have no dates for this, but I think the material probably dates from 2006 or 2007, so another big piece of old stash will be used up.  That's rather exciting.  Which is a great segue to the NON exciting totals for the month:

Skeins of yarn used: 2.25
Yards of yarn used: 538.5
Yards of fabric used: 8.5
Ornaments made: 35

I promised myself that this year I wasn't going to obsess over yardage, which was easier to do before the dismal 538 number, BUT I am on track to sew 100 yards this year, which would probably make a bigger physical difference in the sewing room.  Hm..........maybe a SEWING yardage goal would be okay...............

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Been 90 Days!

My name is Toni.  I'm a yarnaholic, and it's been 90 days since my last yarn purchase.
Borrowing from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Cold Sheepers in the Ravelry Stashdown group have badges.  The one-year badge is gold, and I am just lusting after that baby. 

Hey, if a woman can have 64,000 yards of lace yarn, she can lust after a virtual badge featuring a sheep.  It's probably not even close to the oddest thing I've done, when you think about it..............

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Warmer Finishing Friday

How a cat can tell from inside the house that it is substantially warmer OUTSIDE the house is a bit of a mystery, but this morning was our warmest morning in weeks, and Theo returned to the habit of waking Andy up at 5:00 AM to be let outside and actually went out.  Even more surprising, he caught a mouse.  Thanks to two nights of freezing rain and freezing temperatures, our backyard is covered with some solidly crusted snow, so I have no idea how Theo found the mouse, but as miserable as the temperatures have been outside lately, I strongly suspect the mouse was suicidal and simply gave himself up.

Andy and I spent a good hour or more breaking ice off our driveway and sidewalk yesterday, so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to move at all today.  I'm sore, but was able to spend all day in the sewing room!!!!  Which is good as it took me almost half the day to get more lace ornaments laid out on the computer
and transferred to my embroidery card.  This part:
kept crashing, possibly because I was trying to load too many large designs onto the card.  Newer machines have USB ports which would be a lot easier, but newer machines are mostly made in China, so I can live with cards. 

The lace icicle designs actually came as a set of 6, so I wanted to make the other 3 in light blue as well:
giving me a full set.  I just love how they're all different.   And different on purpose--not just because I mucked something up.  The other sort of "different" I don't love nearly as much....

When I decided to try for 365 ornaments this year, I purchased 4 ornament design packs that I'd been looking at for a couple years.  The 3-D ornaments and lace icicles I've now mostly done (there are still some 3-D ones, but I want to sew the existing ones together to make sure I like them before doing the remaining designs), one design set is cute, but more complicated, so today I tried the 4th set:
These are ornament covers for ball ornaments.  We have some plastic gold ball ornaments I bought several years ago (It being just too cruel to bring glass ball ornaments into a house with a clumsy woman and a hardwood floor), and I thought a black cover would look nice on one of them--not to mention it would use a thread color I would be unlikely to want for any other ornaments.  And I'm glad I did use an unusual color, as these use a LOT of thread.  I will definitely be sewing this one together to make sure it works before doing the others. 

While Jeeves was working on the ornaments, I fired up the two sewing machines and worked on the micro-suede set.  When people see the sewing room, I always know they think I'm a bit crazy for having two sewing machines, a serger, and the sewing/embroidery machine (or maybe it's just the crazy amount of yarn and fabric staring at them from all sides), but it is SO handy to have one set up for basting with an alternative thread color that is easily pulled out while the other is set up for sewing.  Really, there are days when I have all FOUR machines going.  I love those days--they make me feel like the Queen of Crafting--rather than The Deranged Lunatic Who Has An Insane Amount of Crap In the Sewing Room.  Some days, it's a very fine line............

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ahem.

Well, I got my wish.  It is warmer this morning--21 degrees when I got up, in fact, which is I think the high temperature for 2013 so far.  In fact, it's so warm
that we got freezing rain last night and everything is covered in ice.   It's supposed to get all the way up to 35 today so we can get some serious snow, but they've been saying that for a couple days.  So, my planned errands for today will have to wait--possibly for spring. 

Andy arrived home safely on Tuesday, which we were both really thrilled about as being away for more than a week gets very, very long.  I didn't get as much done in my crafting vacation as I had hoped, but I did finish it off with 3 new lace icicle ornaments
which I think look nice in light blue.  White would, of course, be the most logical color, but I still have lots of other ornaments to try and some of them will need to be in white, so I'm trying to not go crazy on the icicles--as tempting as they are.

And speaking of thread problems, I did start sewing the new ensemble together, only to discover this:
 is the ONLY spool of thread I have in the closest matching color.  I probably should have actually checked prior to starting the spending ban, but with this:
I honestly assumed that I had an extra spool of every color on-hand.  But, as it turns out, the color I probably sew and wear most often is THE ONE COLOR that I only have half of a tiny 110-yard spool of.  Clever.  Since I'm doing seams right now, I've switched to the darker teal thread you can see in the lower right-hand corner as it's close, but I was really pretty stunned.  One of the reasons I'm doing the buying-ban is because I feel like I have been buying thread and zippers and buttons more for the sake of buying something when they're on sale and not using them nearly as fast as I buy them (which is probably the case), and have been really rather pleased with myself each time I use up a spool of thread.  In fact, I've been keeping the empty spools in a bag both to sort of track my stash-using progress AND because I want to use them to make a Christmas wreath for the sewing room, which I think would be fun and festive, and might force me to finally come to terms with that blasted glue gun.  I won't be nearly as pleased to finish up this particular spool...

One big accomplishment for crafting vacation is:
on the left are the triangles ready to be used for ornaments, and on the right, all those silly little rectangles have been folded into squares with one edge turned up 1/4 of an inch.  Ideally, ALL of them would now be in the box on the left, but this is a REALLY time consuming little project.  I keep reminding myself that this is the hard part, and as soon as this is all done, it's just putting the ornaments together, which helps.  But thank heavens I don't need 365 of THESE ornaments!

I still get sore and tired in the afternoons, so
there has been knitting!  This is a little twisted rib (3 rows of K2, P2, then 1 row of a 2-stitch twist, p2) which is working really well on the self-striping yarn, I think.  This isn't the best self-striping yarn I've ever used.  The ones I prefer are printed so they actually show a true pattern like these:

 but I do like the colors and it seems like it's harder to find sock yarn with the more pronounced patterns.  (Not that I'm still looking FOR sock yarn, of course.....)  But at least I like the pattern and the recipient will LOVE them, AND I've found a cuff-down pattern for striped yarns that I like. For these socks, I used a toe-up pattern, and I always got ONE heel to look perfect with the short-row heel, but I could never get BOTH of them to work. Of course, to be fair, I doubt anyone's FEET are perfectly symmetrical either, but I'm not in charge of that......

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature:

Please let it warm up at least above freezing before I get any wild ideas about knitting alpaca underwear or something equally crazy.  PLEASE!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Typing Fast

As I have taken enough Valium to knock me silly and need to finish before it kicks in.  The good news is that the freak cold here is supposed to clear up by weekend, at least for a little while.  I'm doing better, but as soon as I get a little cold or a little sore, I tense up which makes me hurt a LOT which makes me tense up even more......and this little cycle just keeps going and I can't get it stopped without drugs.  The white chocolate martinis actually work a bit better, but I'm tired of them.  I never thought I'd say that, but I've never had them 3 nights in a row either.  I guess that makes them a pretty safe muscle relaxer, since if I can get tired of something that tastes THAT good, my risks of becoming an alcoholic are minimum.  Still, I'm ready for real life again.  

I do see a lot of improvement in my back.  Today was really cold and I'd not slept very well, which led me to a day in bed last week, and today I was pretty mobile until afternoon. 

Theo and I messed around with a project idea I'd seen somewhere on the internet (though, of course, I don't remember where).  Before Theo took over cutting
I cut a 7-inch wide strip of craft felt, folded it over to sew a 3/8-inch seam at the long side, then turned it inside out and sewed a second 3/8-inch seam across the fold, and turned it inside out again:
I decided it looked better with the fold on the inside, but it was easiest to make the first seam the one that joined the edges, which explains all the crazy turning inside and out.  Of course, better pinning and planning might have worked just as well.

After all that rigmarole,  I cut 1-inch slices from the end to make:
felt hearts!  I have white craft felt as well, so I'm thinking of doing a little garland here with red and white hearts, and maybe some beads.  This is as far as it is right now.  At this point, we moved on to:
cutting patterns!  I decided it wouldn't hurt anything to at least get the pattern cut out, and as it turned out, in spite of the pattern's estimates, I had enough fabric to cut out all 4 pieces of this:
Two shirts, a skirt and the pants.  What would be really CLEVER would be if I also had some more crepe-like fabric in my stash that would GO with the hunter green micro-suede to make this more of a "wardrobe" project instead of looking like I have some weird passion to look like the Jolly Green Giant, but so far my fabric purchasing has been more of the "ooh, shiny!" method versus "this would work well with the clothing I actually already have" sort of process.  Oh well--that could be a future project.  In the meantime, I may have a future promoting green beans and creamed corn............:)

There HAS been knitting, but it's a Surprise Project, so it won't be seen on here for a while.  But keep on the lookout for a jump in the yarn used up tally...........

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Three More!

My goal for my vacation week has been to sew every day.  Yesterday my back was very, very sore (thank you freezing weather), so it was "token" sewing:
but it was enough to keep my streak going, it made another ornament, and
it made someone VERY happy.  It is now traditional to never move my chair in the sewing room as there is almost always a cat body nearby.  I assume this will end as soon as it warms up and they're willing to go outside, but in the absence of backyard mouse-hunting, I am the best cat entertainment in the house.  Kind of makes me feel sorry for the cats, really......

I had started laying out the quilted ornaments,
but got stuck after two rounds of pieces because I didn't have any markings to line up the next round, which is idiotic, really, as nothing ELSE I've ever done quilting-wise has lined up perfectly and is unlikely ever to do so.  So last night once the martini numbed the back pain and the idiocy,
 I finished laying one out.  I'm using fusible webbing, so it's not technically sewing just yet, but this one is ready for a backing to be attached--which I didn't think was a spectacular idea after a martini.  So:
Incidentally, the long-tail cast on might be best for the tops of socks, but it is a REAL challenge after a martini.  I am SO ready for warm weather!

Thanks to martini therapy, I slept really well and have had a decent back day.  I finished the missing piece for the 3-D snowflake ornament, so I'm counting it as "finished."  They have to be sewn together, but that will make them a bit harder to store, so I'm going to wait a bit for that. 
I also made a new mitten ornament this morning:
and now I'm trying to decide if I'm up to cutting out the micro-suede tonight.  It's harder to work with, I'm still on pain pills, and am still probably a bit rusty as far as sewing goes, so I might try to pick out something a bit less tricky--maybe cotton?  Flannel?  Heaven knows, I have LOTS of options--lots and lots and LOTS of options..........
 Ahem..................

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2 Lessons Learned

1.  When it's really cold, a white chocolate martini relaxes sore back muscles more than Valium.

2.  Always update the blog before the white chocolate martini............

Friday, January 18, 2013

One!

Okay, I had really believed I could finish one sewing project a day this week, so I think we can tell that either the pain pills are having a lasting effect OR it's been too long since I did much sewing.  But, now on my 5th sewing vacation day, we have:
finished pajamas!  I do need to tack down the facing just a bit, but want to let it hang for a couple hours before I do that.  BUT, they are done, I have used up 5 yards of fabric from the stash, and I am wearing these babies tonight because while we're maybe going to get a high of 17 degrees today, it's dropping to 2 degrees tonight.  I am beginning to hate winter. 

So is Theo, whose life got even worse with the finishing of the pajamas:
so I took pity on him and have the next fabric laid out for pinning,
 which has cheered the Cabin Fever Kitties immensely. 
Theo has barely been off of it since I laid it down.  Poor little guy--I didn't realize how much he was missing sewing. 

I do finally have pictures of some knitting.  This is a baby sweater I started a few weeks ago.   The back is done, the front is getting close, and the sleeves should go pretty quickly.  I love baby sweaters for their smallness.  
 It's only 2:00 PM now, so I have time to start a new sewing project but I'm not sure if I have the heart to take the microsuede away from Theo just yet.  Maybe it's time to revisit those quilted Christmas ornaments.....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Crafting Vacation - End of Day 4

Today was a sore-back day, so my goal to sew every day might fall apart today, but there HAS been knitting.  There are even pictures of the knitting.  Now if only I could remember where I put the camera, I would be showing them to you.....

It's hard to say who is enjoying the cold less--myself or the cats.  Usually, they like to go out in the backyard for a bit first thing every morning.  When Andy is home, Theo believes this should be at 5:00 AM.  However, since Andy's been gone, Theo has decided sleeping in is a fine and dandy program and FAR superior to going outside with single-digit temperatures.  We're pretty unanimous in this feeling, actually.  For the first couple mornings, Theo at least wanted the option to go out when I went downstairs to make coffee, but I think he's decided that the open doors make things just too chilly, so now he doesn't even ask for the option.  Even though he's now 6, this is the first real winter he's seen with snow on the ground for weeks at a time.  Generally if we get snow it melts off by afternoon or in a day or two at the latest.  He's never had to really walk IN snow, and while I have explained quite nicely that a cat with THAT much fur is probably actually MEANT to be in snow, he thinks it's a completely ridiculous idea and one try was enough:
Photo: Theo, our cat, wanted to go out in the worst way this morning. Once we finally let him out, he very quickly changed his mind.
Fair enough--you don't see my tracks or Andy's out there either, do you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crafting Marathon - End of Day 2

It's right here where I should be showing you a finished project.  And you'll notice there isn't one.  Last night I hosted knitting night at my house, and did spend a fair bit of time tidying downstairs, and since it's been extremely cold here and everyone is just recovering from the holidays, there was a lot more wine and general fun than actual knitting last night.  Killer night--but not much knitting.

Yesterday I decided to kick off my sewing adventures with a scarf project I'd seen online somewhere, using some scrap yarn I have:
but it looked a little too kid-craft for me.  So I ripped it out and will send the unknown yarn to my youngest niece, who has learned to finger-knit and who will probably find something to do with it.  Nice way to kill an hour of my time, but not what I had hoped for.  Oh well.

I did manage to get some pajamas cut out in spite of my "help,"
Theo hasn't been terribly excited about the sewing room since the shelving project, and wants nothing to do with embroidery, but now that there's sewing again, he's all over it.  Literally.

I am making the green pajamas from this pattern:
I already have 2 pairs from this pattern and it's my favorite, especially lately as the extra layer of the long shirt helps with the heating pad or icing of my back.  The fabric is a flannel-backed satin, so it's warm but if I put flannel sheets on the bed--which at 5 degrees overnight is a seriously good idea--then I don't have that flannel-on-flannel velcro problem.  When it's a bit warmer, I also like to think that the satin looks more attractive than just flannel, but it's 13 degrees right now, and I just don't care.

My fabric stash is a bit like an archeological site--I can sort of date fabric from where they are.  This has been in my stash several years--possibly even from before moving into the house--because it had good shelf space in the actual closet.  
rather than the new shelving:
so I know it's old stash--like maybe 2006 or 2007.  There wasn't much fabric at my old house, so 2006 is pretty much as old as the fabric gets unless it's a WIP, and even those are limited to no earlier than 2005, so nothing has reached the decade mark yet.  I have no idea what the actual size of the fabric stash is, nor if I am closing in on SABLE, but I'd like to think that I can take a rather large chunk out of it before I reach the one-decade mark of sewing as a hobby.  Crazy, perhaps, but I'm rather proud of myself for not thinking I could use it ALL up before 2015.  This could be a sign of maturity--or perhaps a remembrance of lugging it around the house while the shelves were being built--but right now I'm pretending that the sewing room could look manageable in just 2 years of sewing from stash.  I tried to pull out another sewing WIP, which would help get rid of the sewing WIP bin, but things aren't quite organized enough yet to locate WIP bags and their patterns AND instructions yet, so that's for another day.  I'll settle for using old stash fabric.Progress is progress.

While excavating the flannel-backed satin, I ran across some beautiful hunter green micro-suede,  so it has now been washed and will be made into:
I have enough of it to make both shirts and the pants.  I thought about the skirt, but it's hard to consider skirts when it's this cold, and since I just finished a hunter green dress, I thought pants would be a nice break.  

If I get all of THAT done, I'll have used up 10.875 yards of fabric from my stash.  Considering I only used up about 14 yards of fabric TOTAL last year, that's an exciting number.  I'm hoping, of course, to get a few more projects done as well, and have laundered fabric for a fleece jacket for Andy that he's requested for his Valentine's Day gift.  He does his woodworking in the garage, which is rather arctic lately, so he's originally asked about 2 layers of fleece, which I think would work except for leaving a lot of bulk under the arms where the seams would be, so I'm thinking of making it with a layer of fleece and a layer of flannel--or perhaps 2 layers of flannel.  I'll use this pattern again:
 as this is probably Andy's favorite thing I've ever made for him, and nothing about it really depends on the fabric stretching, so I'm thinking it should work.  We're after warmth over fashion, but I would like it to look nice.  I have a lovely purple fleece that Andy likes, lots of white flannel, so that is the next project up if I get the others done.  Generally I would have tackled the gift first, but I haven't really sewn in at least a year and am admittedly rusty, so I thought pajamas a safer place to start.  Sometimes even I have the sense to know I might not be ready for improvising............

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Countdown To Crafting Marathon Begins.......

In the morning, I'll be running Andy to the airport for a work trip, and since we're having an abnormally cold snap (currently 8 degrees and sinking), nor am I to lift or do anything I would normally do, I am going to sew (if I can sit) and knit (if I can't) like a maniac while he's gone.  I'm not sure what the first project will be, but if this single-digit-temperature nonsense continues, I'm thinking something involving flannel, fleece, or wool............

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Are You Sitting Down?

Aside from buttons, there is a finished sewing project!
And not just ANY sewing project:  This was my oldest sewing WIP.

That's right--this dress has been AT LEAST 7 years in the making--potentially 8.  I had learned to sew in sewing 4-H as a kid and hated it, so I didn't do any sewing until I bought my first house.  Then there are all sorts of expensive-to-buy-but-easy-to-make things one needs, like curtains and that sort of thing.  I also ended a 5-year relationship, and decided I needed to do something new to take my mind off things, so I bought a cheap little sewing machine from Costco.  AND LOVED IT.  Of course, I'd forgotten almost everything I'd learned, so this dress was maybe the second or third dress I attempted, and it was just too hard for me at that time.  But it's made from a nice pin-wale corduroy (I think), and it has survived 2 moves, 2 shelving projects, and 7 years in a WIPs bin pretty nicely. 

I think these are the buttons I'm going to use:
but I have lots of options if those don't work out:
It becomes more and more obvious why I'm not buying any crafting supplies for a year, doesn't it?

I am so shocked that I actually finished this dress!  If this one could finally be finished, then there is truly hope for ALL my WIPs!  And maybe I'll finish another one this year!  Stranger things have happened..........