Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Am Going To Get This

Feeling pretty brave, I decided to be a bit more daring with the new ornament design yesterday,
and have now decided that either I don't care as much for white thread on these designs, or I am just not good enough with the applique scissors to do light-colored thread yet.  Considering I managed to draw blood with the blasted things yesterday, gross incompetence with the new scissors is certainly an issue.  I am sort of relieved to know that I actually prefer that these AREN'T in white, as running out of white embroidery thread has been one of my biggest concerns for the no-buying year.

So, after dumping my scrap bin out and finding myself short on scrap pieces of satin in any color EXCEPT gold, I was inspired to experiment with color options with gold (see how nicely that works?)  And since dark thread covers my mistakes better than light, what could be better than
black?  I know it's unusual for a Christmas decoration, but don't you just love how this looks?  I think I have a new favorite ornament--which could lead to a new problem:
running out of black embroidery thread.  I still have one larger spool of black thread now that this is gone, and there is still part of me that gets excited every time I entirely use up a spool of thread, but how weird would it be to run out of black now?  Thank heavens I still have other options,
 though with free-standing lace, this thread supply isn't nearly as big as it looks, because the smallest spools do not have enough thread to do an ornament.  With lace, the embroidery thread has to be in the bobbin as well as in the needle, so they REALLY suck up the thread.  So only the colors I have in big spools are options.  That shopping list for November is getting bigger and bigger.....

Speaking of,
I've now used up an entire bolt of wash-away stabilizer and am on to the second.  I'm trying to decide ahead of time what to buy in November to do a 2014 spending ban as well, so I'll need to decide between one or two bolts of wash-away stabilizer.  The good news is, I'm really finding out what I use during the year.  The bad news is, this is going to be one AMAZING shopping spree in November.  Perhaps I should warn my credit card company in advance?

I'm doing the second design in black and gold now, and it seems the fabric glue doesn't take as well on this one, as I have a slight pucker on the fabric:
which will actually be almost impossible to see, but I might need to think of some new options here.  Holding it down with my fingers worked for the second piece,
but is probably a bit less than desirable.  On the next one, I'm thinking I might try pins.  Who knew there could be so much variation in wash-away stabilizer?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Did It!!!!!!!

Well, mostly.

I've never done applique with the embroidery machine (actually, I've only done one applique in my life), and while I love the cleverness of the designs in the set Andy gave me for Christmas, the instructions do presume a level of basic knowledge which I don't have.  I was hoping for some suggestions on what type of material to use, as a few minutes with Google only turned up a suggestion not to use fabric that is "too" prone to ravel.  Satin is prone to raveling, but I wasn't sure if it ravels "too" much or just enough, but as I couldn't think of anything else to use--nor find anything sort of shiny that ravels less. 

In the example,
they did color changes with the thread AND used two colors of fabric.  I decided to stick with just one for now, as the design wasn't too specific about how it was going to work.  I pulled the design up with my embroidery software and walked through the design, so I knew that it used thread changes to walk between steps, and I hoped they'd be clear as we went through them. 

Using two layers of water soluble stabilizer, I hooped up and started.  The first step is an outline of where the fabric goes.  First lessons learned:  a little fabric glue can really help at this point, and one needs to cut the thread in order to get the fabric in the right place.  Good to know.

Then the machine stitches out the design (those three leaf things), THEN the outline of the applique.  I guess this makes sense, so if one wanted to change thread colors, one wouldn't have the wrong color on the outline, but this is why the fabric glue would help.  
Then the machine stops so you can cut away the excess fabric. 
Not as easy as it sounds.  Knowing I wanted to try this, I bought applique scissors a few years ago, but had never tried them.  It seems they might be something one needs to practice with, as I had to trim again with my embroidery scissors to get close enough to the stitching--or almost.  After doing the second piece, I ended up with this,
and was getting rather excited about this ornament.  I'd been a bit worried that green and gold might look like a college football team or something, but
 I love the result!!!!  The stabilizer still needs to be soaked away, but I am really pleased with the results.  So much so that I tried a second design,
 with not-as-great results.  I don't know if I really did a much worse job trimming this one,
or if the white doesn't cover as well,
or if the design doesn't cover as well, but on this one the fabric edges REALLY show through.  Who would have thought that the hardest part of this would be the cutting?

Because I didn't know what I was doing, the ornaments weren't ones that I could start and move on to other things as Jeeves embroidered, but I did take a break after the second ornament to scrounge out these,
and cut out felt strips for handles. I hope to finish these up today.  And this:
 is my current apparel-sewing project. The pattern calls for lightweight linen or broadcloth, but for something to wear around the house, I thought the cotton fabric I used for the gardening dress would do nicely.  It's pretty thin and light for cotton, so should work like broadcloth.  And my notes showed that the piece of fabric was originally 12 yards, so I would have PLENTY of fabric to make the outfit shown in green and white.........

Or not.  After cutting out the pants, I needed 2 1/8 yards of fabric left for the top, but what I had laid out on the floor looked suspiciously less than two.  And IS less than two.  If the 12 yards thing had been correct, it should have been about 5 yards left.  I guess the GOOD news is that I'm branching out--usually I leave the math mistakes for knitting.  I decided to go ahead and sew the pants together, and through a lucky scrounge of the sewing room..............
I found another bolt of the same fabric.  Thank heavens--not that I couldn't have made the shirt in white or a print, but that can be later if I like this. I hate to admit that my fabric stash came to my rescue here, but.............

Friday, June 28, 2013

And We're Off!

It's Finishing Friday, and aside from a trip to the gym for an hour of pool walking, I am crafting!  It's supposed to hit 100 degrees here today (THEN work its way up to 105 by Wednesday before this insanity is over), so I can guarantee that I won't be gardening. 

Wednesday night I thought I would get a head-start on today, so I loaded up my embroidery card for some new ornaments:
(well, the lace snowflakes aren't exactly "new," but at least I haven't done them in a while).  What I really wanted to try--and what I haven't yet found the courage for--is this:
It's one of the designs Andy gave me for Christmas.  It's a flat free-standing lace ornament, but those big open spaces are for appliqué, which I have never done.  The picture shows the lace in white with red fabric for the top and green for the bottom, which looked very cool.  The problem is, the directions assume one isn't a complete novice and doesn't mention what fabric works best.  I found red and gold crepe-back satin (and HAVE several other colors of it as well, but as I didn't think to sort fabrics while I moved them back in to the sewing room, I have no idea where they are).  If I have to work with satin, I prefer crepe-backed, because at least one side of it isn't slippery, but both sides of the ornament will be visible, so I was thinking maybe I should try two layers of regular satin back-to-back so it looks nice on both sides, or even just one, because the back of regular satin isn't quite as obviously the back.  I know that all I really have to lose by trying this is a little time, some thread, scrap fabric, and stabilizer, but it got the best of me Wednesday.  But TODAY I am ready for it!  Though I may start out with one of those snowflakes all the same...................

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Plan A Has Failed

Not surprisingly, my first approach to dealing with Google Reader's impending doom on July 1--just ignoring it and hope something will change--has failed.  It's one of my favorite methods, though to be honest, I can't think of a single time when it's actually worked.  So, it's time for plan B:  choosing a new reader.

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts earlier.  I have narrowed it down to two choices (The Old Reader and Comma Feed), and last night I set up both of them.  So far, I don't like either of them simply because I don't want to change.  I had already changed once TO Google Reader, so I'm still grumpy about having to switch to something new.  So I'm giving them both a test run to see which seems least likely to make me switch yet again.

It might seem odd that someone who keeps a blog is so hostile to technology, but it really isn't odd at all.  I'm 42, so depending on what one defines as the "computer age beginning," I am usually somewhere in the first computer generations.  I was just learning to use the old Commodore computers when IBM clones burst on the scene.  I spent a year in high school learning to program in BASIC, use dBASE and Word Perfect, then spent another semester in college learning Lotus 1-2-3, Word Perfect, and BASIC again.  Anyone seen those around lately?  In my last year of college, one of my most forward-thinking professors (especially for an English professor) decided that email was the way of the future, so we should all email our assignments to her.  Fine and dandy, except that this was in 1992, so the only place to email anything was in the UNIX lab on campus, which was compatible with absolutely nothing, so I spent a great chunk of the semester in the UNIX lab typing papers in order to email them to a professor who probably had to go to the exact same lab to pick up the blasted things.  I have a minor in Latin, and yet because of the rapid change in technology, Latin isn't the most outdated thing I studied in college.  (We still use Latin, probably more than most people realize--"people" itself coming from the Latin "populus")  The technology classes are obsolete.  The state-of-the-art computer with the new 3.5-inch disks that were so new they were incompatible with anything on campus has been obsolete for probably 20 years.  The first cell phone I used--the first TEN cell phones probably--are obsolete.  My first real job was selling pagers for heaven's sake--when was the last time you saw someone with one of those?  I used to get really excited about learning how to work different programs or computers, but now I know what I need to know to get by until the next great something arrives and makes everything else impossible to use.  So I am testing the readers to see which will need the absolute least from me and be most like what I am used to.  No wonder I knit--that probably hasn't changed in 500 years.................

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is It Wednesday Already???

What the heck have I been doing with myself?  Oh yes:

*  sucking up to a cat who has spent a great part of the last two weeks drugged and/or caged

*  following a cat around to make sure he's drinking and peeing (and is now avoiding the obsessed crazy lady)

*  weeding

*  cursing myself for the half-hearted mulching job two weeks ago

*  getting back into my pt routine and gym schedule

*  learning about stomach ulcers and how they can be caused by extended use of the pain medication I've been on for the better part of a year and a half

*  researching stomach ulcer-friendly diets in case my stomach doesn't start healing immediately now that I have stopped taking all pain medication

*  inventing crazy new ways to "enjoy" hot cereal for breakfast every single morning

being thankful that the healing process is only slightly slower than my speed at reaching satiation on the Bland Food diet

*  doing extra exercises (albeit very slowly and VERY carefully) because now I'm without pain pills as a back-up

*  wondering what in the heck I did with all my crafting time?

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Can Lead A Cat To Water.

..but making him drink is going to result in bloodshed.

The good news is, Theo has been in absolutely no pain all weekend.  The bad news is, in addition to being insanely groggy, he refused to eat or drink anything.  Now I can understand this, as I've had more than my fair share of pain medication, and it all makes me sick in one way or another, but when one is trying to make sure one's male cat HASN'T developed a urinary tract infection, one really needs that cat to take in liquid.  All forms of bribery failed--beef broth, canned kitty food, begging--so we resorted to the syringe method.  I thought I had gotten pretty good at giving Theo liquid medications during his leg saga, but I've gotten rusty or he's gotten smarter.  I am sure some of the water ended up in the cat, but not half as much as ended up on the OUTSIDE of the cat.  It seems to have worked--this morning the medication has finally worn off, he's regained his appetite, and though we haven't seen him drink anything yet, he's obviously done something among the peppers, and he's not straining to urinate, so we'll still have to keep an eye on him, but it might have given things a little time to heal.  If we have to go to the vet again, Theo may never be on good terms with me again..............

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Surprise Find And A Knitter's Worst Nightmare.

So, you know that buy-nothing goal of mine?  Um, yeah......

Out of morbid curiosity, I often browse Ebay looking to see how many embroidery machines like mine are up for sale.  If I can get parts for mine, I think mine could  last another 10 years or more--but the problem is that there's no telling how long they'll be available.  So, I keep an eye out for the embroidery cards and/or the reader/writer I use to transfer designs to my machine.  The last writable card I bought was in a clearance basket (though still insanely expensive considering how little support the old machines get), so you can see why I worry. 

So, before we left for Indiana, there were several cards on Ebay.  Usually I don't bother with the ones with designs already on them, because they're still REALLY expensive and I'm not interested enough in the designs.  But there was an unused writable card which wasn't going for much, and a lace card with maybe a $10 bid.  I thought about them for a while, and decided that a reasonable exception might be made to keep Jeeves going for a few more years, so I placed a bid of $80 on the blank card and $18 on the lace one.  An unused card goes for $160, but because one never really knows on Ebay, I was only willing to go up to half--I'm planning to buy a new one from the good Husqvarna dealer in November, but an extra wouldn't hurt.  I was somewhat relieved when I got outbid on the blank card, but for about $20, I am now the proud owner of:
I'd like to say I feel guilty, but I'm utterly thrilled.  The cards don't look like they've ever been used, and the more designs I have on cards the longer Jeeves will last, so that's my Surprise Find exception. 

Now, the Knitter's Worst Nightmare exception.  Because of all the stress over Theo before we left, I hadn't really paid attention to the pattern of the ONLY knitting project I was taking with me:
 a new lace capelet made with sport-weight yarn and (mostly) size 8 needles.  Had I read the pattern before we left, I would have known that size SEVEN needles were also required, and sooner than one would think.  The pattern (as I found out in the plane) is knit from the bottom up, rather than from the side as most rectangular-ish shawls are, and that one does 2 chart repeats, then switches to the smaller needles for one more repeat, THEN puts the knitting on stitch holders to start the edging.  Having finished the first repeat on the flight, I faced a knitter's worst nightmare:  I could run out of knitting before we got home!  Can you imagine the horror?

Right then, I knew had to make an exception.  What would I do each night to unwind without knitting?  What would I do on the plane?  What if we had delays in the airports?

Have you ever noticed that there are craft or fabric stores every 20 feet when you don't want them, and every 100 miles when you do?  I didn't want to take extra time to drive out of our way to find a fabric store because we wanted to spend as , but our hotel was near a Walmart, and desperate times call for desperate measures,
and unlike almost every other needle in existence, I can promise that I didn't get an emotional thrill buying these needles.  I, of course, learned to knit on Boye aluminum needles since they were the only ones available, but I both already HAVE their size 7 needles, they are the absolute last needles I would grab.  But a knitter facing a lack of airplane knitting is a desperate knitter indeed.

To add insult to injury, I didn't end up needing them.  We were usually outside all day every day, and with the heat and the humidity and the 2-hour time change, we basically returned to the hotel in time to crawl into bed, and our last flight was so late that I was too tired to even knit.  So, they are unopened.  We've looked everywhere, but didn't save the receipt.  I think I might save the needles as a gift for a new knitter, as wooden needles can be very sticky for new knitters, though I'm tempted to keep the accessories.  To make myself feel better, I'm setting them aside until after November 1.  I'd like to return them, but last time I tried--which was, admittedly, more than 10 years ago--Walmart was a total stinker about returns of any sort.  I suppose one would be when one sells crap in the first place.

I will never, ever, EVER fly travel without checking my knitting ahead of time--it's just too stressful to contemplate, especially since it resulted in having to shop at WALMART.  *shudder*

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Finishing" Friday

Thursday night I had some spare time, so I thought I'd get a head start on Finishing Friday with three new icicles, 
 and three new patchwork ornaments, trying some new methods of tracing the pattern onto the felt,
none of which worked any better, and I seem to have not photographed the third one.  Oh well,  it's a heart--pretty much like the last one.  I think we can now say that THREE strips of fabric was maybe an over-estimation of how long my interest in these would last.  They are a great way to catch up on my ornament tally, and I do like them, but I am now counting the days until I can buy fusible webbing and new marking pens.

I like the hand-stitched look on ornaments, so both to solve the tracing problem AND try a new look, I made a stocking which I could cut out first, THEN stitch. 
It worked reasonably well, though I need to practice a bit to get my stitching a bit more even, and it's hard to see in spots, but I thought it turned out reasonably cute.  And, while I think it would look better on a solid ornament, maybe these are a good place for me to practice.

So, I went in to Finishing Friday with SEVEN new ornaments..........and didn't get any crafting at all done.  Instead,
we went to the vet.  After our first disastrous episode with the pill-cat scenario, I thought Theo might heal faster WITHOUT additional stress.  So, we skipped the pill episode Wednesday night.  By Thursday morning, he was back to trying to urinate with no success.  So, I gave him one of his pills, and I think we were both surprised at how quickly it worked--Theo was obviously caught off-guard and I must have had a stroke of brilliance, because it's the only pill that we are positive made it INTO the cat.  When we tried Friday morning, with the combined efforts of Andy and myself, I'd say only trace amounts of that pill ended up in the cat, and we are signing Theo up for the kitty-spitting Olympics.   At this point I got worried, because if Theo's health depended on us getting those pills inside him, we were going to be in trouble.  So I called our regular vet, explained the situation, and asked if the medication came in liquid form.  It didn't, but they suggested I bring him in.  So, I cornered my already-stressed out kitty and drove him over to the vet......where we discovered that the pills we came home with were an anti-anxiety pill.  Now, those of you who have cats can probably see the problem here, but if you don't have cats, let me assure you that the fastest way to INCREASE the anxiety of all concerned is to try giving a pill to a cat, so I think whoever came up with an anti-anxiety PILL deserves to be smacked soundly by every cat-owner who has the battle scars from administering the darn things.  I thought it was a pain pill.  His regular vet checked him out, made sure his bladder wasn't full, and gave him a 72-hour pain INJECTION.  It has made him lethargic, which we're kind of hoping will make him forget the pill episode, but Andy and I might need therapy............

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Look What Was Waiting For Us!

Look what a friend sent me while we were gone!
Isn't he cute?????  She knows about the ornament project and sent him along with the directions for how to make several ornaments she's made (him included).  Isn't that great? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...........

It may not look like it, but this
is a cat with stress issues. 

We flew out to Indiana for Andy's family reunion obscenely early on Thursday morning.  Because it's such a busy time of year for our friends, how much I would worry about fires with the drought this year, and because I wanted to poison the little vole-monsters who have been plaguing the garden all spring, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to board the cats while we were gone.  Because of our travel times, the cats were due to check in the day before we left and get picked up the day after we arrived.  I made the reservations well in advance, made a copy of their immunization records, and thought I was really pretty clever for coming up with this whole idea in the first place.

STILL feeling like I was planning ahead, we dug out the suitcases Tuesday night.  I have joked many times about Theo getting upset when he sees suitcases come out because he hates change so much, but I always thought I was just joking.  As we now know--it's really true.  I woke up at 6:00 AM Wednesday morning with a kitty who was trying to urinate about every 10 minutes but couldn't.  Urinary tract infections are painful enough for anyone, but for male cats they can be quite dangerous.  Theo has never had one, but my old cat, Catanova, had, so I knew the problem.  So, rather than checking them in later in the afternoon after a trip to the gym as I had carefully planned, I collected the cats and took them to their hotel early so the vet could have a look at him.

It turns out that there are two things that can stop a cat from urinating:  stress, which causes inflammation of something and results in blood in the urine, or a bacterial infection, which is the one that can kill male cats.  But it also turns out that a stressed-out cat can hold his bladder for a good 24 hours.  The vet checked him, thought he looked okay, put him on a pain-reliever after I explained that he had been trying to urinate all morning, and said they would keep me posted.  So, rather than getting to worry about the house burning down with the cats trapped inside, I got to worry about my cat's urination problems--because boarding one's cats in a cat hotel just isn't weird enough on its own.

Now I don't know what your experience has been with vets, but mine has been all over the place.  We've had the wonderful people who took care of Theo when he broke his leg, and I've had two of the I-need-a-new-boat vets--one of whom ran several hundred dollars worth of tests when I took Catanova in for fur falling out and sent me home with shampoo for a skin irritation which wasn't a symptom of anything they tested for (and, to add insult to injury, was--until that point--a friend of mine), and the other one wanted to operate on Theo shortly after his leg saga to REMOVE the pin in his leg when I took him in for a coughing problem that would turn out to be asthma.  So, I was a bit worried that they put him on pain medication instead of antibiotics, and then was REALLY worried after the vet called and didn't know that Theo had been trying to urinate since before 6:00 AM and couldn't, in spite of my telling at least 3 people, including the one I called to ask if I could bring him in early to have the vet look at him.  I suppose it's possible, of course, that among their circles of friends they regularly discuss cat urinating in normal conversation, but I was sort of thinking that at least one of them might be writing it down so the vet would know why she was looking at him in the first place.  I shall know to always look for pens or typing in the future.

We had been trying to make sure everything went smoothly, because this was the first time I'd tried traveling since I hurt my back, and stress makes my back worse, and the Valium was only going to be helpful in a limited sense because the amount needed to relax REALLY tensed muscles is also the amount that would have made it really hard to get me off the plane in Denver and onto a connecting flight without the aid of a stretcher.  Luckily--and I'm sure I'll never say this again--getting up at 4:00 AM makes one groggy enough to compensate for the lack of drugs.  We had some time in Denver, so I called again and luckily Theo had urinated and did have blood in the urine, so it was just inflammation, and they were going to keep him on pain-killers and an anti-depressant while we were gone.  So, I enjoyed the rest of the trip with feelings of guilt rather than worry, which is a slight improvement.

We arrived home Monday night sometime after midnight, and set off to rescue the cats pretty early yesterday morning.  They received a report card for their behavior,
which seemed pretty cheerful as Calisto growled and hissed all the way home.  I suppose "was a total jerk" and "terrified" doesn't earn repeat business.  Theo was sent home with pain-killers in pill form for a play-at-home version of the torture session, and it's possible that we gave him one last night.  Two humans, an 18 pound muscular cat, and half a turquoise pill made for an interesting evening, and as we could no longer find the pill anywhere, we think it might have ended up IN the cat, but it isn't certain.  I'm speculating that NOT giving the pills will help relieve the stress and the inflammation faster than GIVING the pills will, but I'm keeping a close eye on him.

The cats were glad to be home and spent most of the day in the backyard,
but it took several hours to forgive Andy, and I--as the instigator of this whole horrible episode--have only gotten back into kitty good-graces this morning after a great deal of groveling and a solemn promise to find a cat-sitter next time......... 

Friday, June 14, 2013

When The Going Gets Tough..........

........the tough make three quick ornaments to stay on track:
I had actually decided that I had enough lace icicle ornaments for a while, but this week between trying to combat the vole infestation in the garden, trying to get to the gym, doing my pt exercises every day, then trying to get the garden plants weeded and mulched before the next wave of extreme heat hits, I decided that one can NEVER have too many lace icicle ornaments.  It's best to be a bit desperate flexible with these things.............

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Arrrggghhh!!

I realize it will pay off at the end of the summer, but gardening is REALLY getting in the way of my crafting.  Dang it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Not So Much Finishing Friday

It's this hot today,
and after three whole days completely off pain pills, I had a rather bad night and ended up back on full meds for the rest of the night.  That's always a bit hard to take, but on such a hot day it just sucks the life out of me.  And Theo. 


Last night I did get the remaining two sets of strips sewn together,
with a new color order on the smaller one, 
and the original order on the set made with 2-inch strips.  I'm really rather proud of myself for moving on to the next sets.  The way I usually do things is to finish the first set, set the second set aside "meaning to get around to it," and then spend the next year and a half moving it around rather than finishing it.  Of course, these still have to make it all the way to Ornament Stage, but I think them even making it to Long Uneven Strip Stage might be some serious personal growth on my part.  Or, as close as I ever get. 

In the meantime, I am keeping myself under close observation because in order to have something to knit that isn't wool, alpaca, or mohair, I was actually thinking that it wouldn't be at ALL a stupid idea to cast on a lace tablecloth using crochet thread and size 4 needles for a table that takes an 84" long cloth.  And I had hoped to get off pain pills entirely before my brain completely snapped.  Darn........................... 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ta-Da! 163!!!

Last night my "helpers" and I finished two more striped ornaments,
and kept an eye on all suspicious (meaning "dog") activity in the neighborhood.  
(We try to do our bit for the community)

It seems that we have had our "nice" summer weather, and have moved on to the "hot and horrible" phase.  For crafting, this means that the morning of Finishing Friday--like all mornings--will now be spent in trying to keep the garden alive.  The afternoons, which will now be mostly in the 90s or higher, will be spent somewhere with air conditioning.  I know temperatures are rising and everything, but I still wonder about people who lived here before air conditioning.  Did they just spend the summers naked?

This afternoon's stay-in-the-airiconditioned-house project was:
more ornament shapes!  I decided to try out some new shapes, and I thought cookie cutters might be a good source, and these are the ones I found.  We might have more, but I wouldn't swear to it.  I've made sugar cookies maybe twice since we've been in this house--which will be 7 years next month.  Part of it is I don't make a lot of sweets, part is that sugar cookies are one of the few cookies that I actually like so I would gain weight for my efforts, and the remaining part is that I am generally too lazy to do any cooking that involves a rolling pin.  I make the occasional exception for pizza, but that's about it.  Every year I swear I'm going to bake a pie, but it hasn't happened yet.  Sort of like the final bridesmaid's quilt.........
Aside from still having trouble marking on felt, most of them turned out pretty well and I have now completely used up the first set of strips and will start assembling the second one tonight.  One of the candy canes had a bit of a mishap:
which raises an interesting point.  If one is tracing the ornament design to be sewn on the BACK of the piece, the smart thing to do would be to cut away the excess felt so one keeps all the ornaments on the actual fabric.  Good point, that.  And yet another ornament for the "relatives-we-feel-obligated-to-give-things-to-but-who-never-bother-to-thank-us" bin.  It's a big bin....................

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Ornament Design

I've been thinking about a new ornament design, and this afternoon it was a bit too warm to work in the garden, so I thought it would be a perfect time to try it out.

First, I dug out 5 blue Christmas fabrics, ironed them just enough to get by,
then cut two 1 1/2-inch strips and one 2-inch strip from each color.  Then it was time to play with one of my favorite feet:
I have 3 different 1/4-inch quilting feet (one came free with the second Husqvarna), but this is the only one I can truly manage 1/4-inch seams with.  While I think I'm staying on the edge of the other feet, I don't always stay as close as I should.  This one has a guide for me to use, and I am happy to say that even I can manage 1/4-inch seams with this one.  I laid out the strips in the order I wanted,
sewed them each together with the 1/4-inch seams, then pressed the seams toward the dark fabrics.   One thing that always amazes me with fabric is this:
every last one of these fabrics was sold as 45-inch widths, but after washing and drying, all of them are different widths.  Isn't that amazing?

My original idea was to attach the strip to white felt by using fusible webbing, but either I don't have any left or I can't find it--either is quite possible.  So I resorted to quilt basting spray and a few pins to keep the fabric in place,
then cut out around the strip--leaving ease on each side in case the fabric moved during stitching. 

Then I picked out rayon embroidery thread for decorative stitching,
and decided to stick with the white thread for this one, though the icy blue is a contender for the next set of strips.  I used regular white thread in the bobbin,
 selected a decorative stitch to use,
and stitched down the center of one of the center seams.  At first I flirted with the idea of using the same stitch for each seam, but this one was a multiple-step stitch and was incredibly slow, so I decided that using a different one for each seam would be more "artistic,"   which sounds a lot better than "lazy."
For the next stitch, I used a much simpler design, which went a lot faster.  It pulled the fabric just a bit, so I eased up the pressure of the presser foot by one, but it helped to do all the seams in the same direction.  Eventually, I got all 4 lines done,
which was a fun way to explore some decorative stitching.  One could also use zig-zag or even hand-stitching if one was REALLY ambitious. 

Next, it was time to make ornaments!  At first my idea had been to trace the ornament patterns onto the fabric, stitch them, then cut them out with pinking shears, 
 but it turns out I don't have any marking pens that will show up on this but not remain visible.  So I opted to cut it out,
and sew it together using an overlocking stitch.  Not bad, and with the fusible webbing it would probably work as the fabric wouldn't tend to fray as easily, but such is not the case here.

Next I got the idea to trace the design on the WRONG side:
which would work even better if my pens weren't dying.  The purple is a disappearing ink, which would be ideal, but the blue should go away with some water.   Let's hope,
at any rate.  

Still, 
I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.  I have some other templates to try out, and I have the other sets of strips to sew together as well.  I definitely think the 1 1/2-inch strips are the ideal for this, but I have two larger templates that I'll use when I put the 2-inch strips together.

Kind of a fun project for a warm afternoon..............