Sunday, June 29, 2014

Down To The Wire.........

Saroyan is done!
It used up almost every bit of the Aunt Lydia's worsted weight denim I was using,
which is where the cool cardboard tube came from.  It actually found a home protecting one of my pepper plants from my little helper
so it turned out as sort of a win-win.  I did use it and it IS doing something helpful, but it isn't in my craft room.  Which is good, because basically everything else IS....

...which is why
I am joining in a 2-month basket dash on Ravelry, starting July 1.  I have made 45 things this year so far, but it doesn't really feel like I've used up much of my stash, so I thought I needed a little visual reminder.  I'm putting together a stack of things to use up in the next 2 months. I think sewing and I are back on speaking terms after this:
I've had a yard of this adorable froggy fleece fabric for several years, and had just taken it out of a shelf to make room for this
which is seven yards of some sort of suiting material in tan which I didn't have on my fabric spreadsheet, and after taking the fleece out, I thought that if I made a couple baby blankets out of it, I 1.) wouldn't have to fit it back into the shelves and 2.) could actually be ahead on baby gifts again.  And, okay, 3.) would get two finished projects in just under the wire.  I swear that wasn't really my prime motivation....  Though this might also have had something to do with it:
Picking out decorative thread colors!  I love the new thread chest, love playing with it, love looking at it, have started putting together a big list of embroidery projects to make, but haven't used any of the thread yet.  When possible, I've been using up the thread I already have because then I won't need to store both.  But this does make it very fun to match colors. 

I have done decorative edging on fleece blankets several times, but not for a little while--maybe a few years.  Long enough, at any rate, to forget what on earth I did to get them to not pucker on the stretchy sides:
The first blanket is finished, and might get a little less stretched out when I wash it, but not much.  So for the second one, I picked a less thread-intensive stitch, reduced the pressure on the pressure foot, and...
stitched the hem on the wrong side.  Fleece rolls to the wrong side when stretched, and I had stretched it, marked it, and then still put the hem on the wrong side.  This was annoying enough, but 
when I couldn't unpick the hem I got frustrated and tugged on the fabric,
and now it's all wonky.  For its own protection, it's in a bag at the bottom of the closet right now, but when we're back on speaking terms, I will be cutting the edging off with a rotary cutter with the wavy-edge blade and calling it good.  Not even the possibility of another finished project before the month ends tomorrow will make me go near that darn blanket right now, and THAT is saying something.............

Friday, June 27, 2014

Take THAT, Pinterest!!

I have a big, heavy cardboard tube
and I am throwing it away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yes and No

Yes, I did sew today.....

No, I'm not ready to talk about it..............

5 Days To Go

Okay--even I have admitted that I won't finish the month at 50 finished projects.  I'm an optimist....and a pretty deluded one most of the time....but I need 7 projects in 5 days when we have plans for most of those days does seem a stretch--even to me.  However, the second beaded scarf
might have been preempted by the Saroyan scarf,
which is on size 10 needles and is currently half finished and has at least some chance of being finished object 44 before the end of the month.  I'd still be behind, but not quite as far.  These things matter,
 at least to some of us............

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are You Sitting Down?

ONE OF THEM IS DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Which is great, because
the next kit just arrived today.  Oops.  I have to say, I still miss having yarn arrive at my door, but having sequins and beads arriving monthly is a great consolation prize.

I think I put the wrong hanger on the cross, but since I know that I put the sequins on upside-down, I am not going to change it.  There was a little package of hangers, so I grabbed one, wrestled the knot of the cord into it, managed to stick it on the ornament without knocking off any of the beads, then noticed the instructions said to use the 14 mm hanger versus the 16 mm hanger.  REALLY?  I just got my first bifocals and can't even see the stairs clearly, much less a 2 millimeter difference in something.  They must be kidding.......

Friday, June 20, 2014

From a Friend Who Has Seen My Craft Room


And It's Off!

Or will be if the printer ever spits out the shipping label.  I honestly wonder sometimes if technology has truly sped things up or just added new things to go wrong.  At any rate,
the wedding gift for our niece getting married is finished, wrapped, and packed!  Andy made the napkin rings,
which he made with thin sheets of aluminum between the layers of wood to get a thin silver band.  We saw this technique used at the Woodturner's Association show earlier this year, and while it took a few attempts to get it right, I love how they turned out.

The table runner was a last-minute idea.  Originally, I had intended to do this
which was in the current issue of Sew News
which is a nice magazine and worth checking out if, like me, you maybe aren't up to the level of Threads yet.  I even picked up the ribbon for it,
but ran into a little difficulty over the directions.  They use water-soluble stabilizer with paper backing, which I don't have and haven't found in anything but 12-inch widths, which I think would complicate matters.  I think I can work it out with regular wash-away stabilizer, but I didn't want to hold up a gift while I experimented,
especially since I'll be making one for us to work out the technique, so
I found some poplin that I'd picked up to make place mats for us, and because it has a little bit of polyester in it, I used a heavy craft interfacing as the batting/stabilizer.  It makes a lovely weight for the runner, but it is so stiff that I wasn't sure I'd be able to hoop it.  The decorative stitching out from the center held it in place without adding too much, because I wasn't exactly sure if I'd be able to add anything to the edges.  I tried a decorative stitch right on the edging, but made the mistake of trying the walking foot while doing it, which doesn't work on all fabrics.  So, I got to pick out 10-inches of decorative stitching.  I do try not to swear while making gifts, but at times like these, I'm not always successful...........

I ended up edge-stitching all the way around the runner using my blind hem foot, then
added decorative stitching about one inch from the edge where the seam allowance couldn't be an issue and so it would pick up where the ribbon stitch left off, 
and I must admit that I'm quite pleased with the result.  AND IT'S FINISHED PROJECT 42!!!  And if I finished 8 projects in the next 10 days, I'll be all caught up!!!!!!!!!

Why does that not strike me as a completely crazy idea?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random Tuesday

Heavens! It's been a week.  How did that happen?  In no particular order, a little catching up:

*  The beaded scarf is done!!!  It isn't blocked yet, so it looks like a big noodle-y mess with beads right now, but yesterday I dug out my bead stash to find beads for the second one,
and have narrowed it down to three choices.  The yarn is more maroon than it looks here, and the pink would blend the most, the clear are a safe choice, but the ones in the center are where I'm leaning right now.  To put it in the most unclear way possible, I'm looking for "contrast, but not too much contrast."  Thank heavens I'm not having to torture a sales clerk with this decision.

*  Needing a break from beads, yesterday I cast on Saroyan,
which is a scarf in worsted weight on size 10 needles.  I'm using a ball of cotton yarn I'd purchased years ago to make dishcloths with, but all of my knitted dishcloths have been absolutely shredded since I got married, so I've stopped making them for us.  So, this is old stash that needed a new purpose, and I think it will work well for this--it should have a nice drape and won't be that warm so it can be a decorative scarf.  They might be airy, but lace scarves in wool or alpaca can be surprisingly warm, and sometimes scarves just need to be decorative.  And perhaps able to wash dishes.........

*  While today we're expecting a high of 65 and yesterday was just downright cold, we hit 90 degrees last week,
which was made even more uncomfortable by the fact that I hadn't even switched the furnace from winter to summer yet, and hadn't programmed the thermostat.  It's our second really hot day already, which probably means another miserable summer.  I know I don't have it as bad as Theo does as I'm pretty hairless in general, but it's also a lot less socially acceptable for me to lay down under the ceiling fan, so I think we're about even.  Last year we set a record for most days over 90, and I think the year before was the record for hottest recorded temperatures.  Between the constant conversion of dirt to concrete combined with global warming, I know this is only going to continue, but I don't think I'll ever learn to like knitting wool in extreme heat, so
I started the new apron.  Let's hope that by the time it's finished I will have learned to stitch truly straight lines. 

*  There has been sewing!!  In looking for something else, I ran across this:
which seems to be a cotton twill of some sort--probably not a blend as it REALLY wrinkles, and I had 4.5 yards of the stuff.  I do actually have a spreadsheet where I keep an inventory of fabric, but this stuff wasn't on it.  However, over the weekend, I made a pair of shorts with it.  Because my hip still can't cope with any rigidity in clothing, I just used a pattern with an elastic waist.  Thinking I'd be clever, I added four darts to the waistband,
then had rip them all out again when I figured out that I wouldn't be able to make the waistband casing if the top of the fabric was 2-inches less in diameter than the rest of the fabric.  Why these things can't occur to me BEFORE I do them remains a mystery, but they are finally finished, washed, and when we're back on speaking terms, they can be photographed.

*  The really big news of the week, however, is:
I finally got the thread chest!  I had ordered this last year for myself to celebrate the year without buying anything, but it never arrived.  They refunded my money, of course, but I was too disappointed to order it again.  The pillowcases, however, finally pushed me over the edge.  I realized how much I have been avoiding doing anything but single-color designs because of the hassle of digging through all my thread to find the colors, and that's really a waste.  So,
all the colors are now nicely laid out for me in an orderly manner (in MY sewing room!), and I am ready for anything.  Of course, if I could figure out how to tell my embroidery software to use Madeira thread numbers instead of Sulky as the default, it would be even MORE exciting, but we can't have everything. 

Of course, the arrival of anything needed to go IN the sewing room required cleaning OF the sewing room, and that is mostly what I have been doing with my crafting time this past week.  I have started a tablerunner to go with the monogrammed napkins,
which is what Theo is laying on at this moment.  I'm using the same silver thread as the napkins, so I haven't yet used the new thread, but it did finish off one spool of existing Sulky thread, so it not only matches--it's using up my existing thread stash.  I'm using a trigger poplin fabric that I'd purchased to make a summer table runner for us with place mats, so that will be the first embroidery project with the new thread.  I use strawberries and roses for our "summer motif," so I have some strawberry edging designs I want to try. 

*  No cleaning would be complete without
attention to existing WIPs.  This is a dress from a pattern I've made before and wear a lot, and the fabric has a nice drape, so it will be really nice to have it done.  Then back to the planned summer clothes.....

*  I WALKED OVER 10 MILES LAST WEEK!!!!!!!!!!  Granted, by now walking doesn't really do much for building muscles because I've been doing it so much, but it was a really big milestone to be able to do that after the stress after the party.  Stress is really hard on my back, and always hurts a lot, but bouncing back more quickly is at least a step in the right direction.  I haven't been able to do much walking this week because we met my parents for lunch for father's day on Sunday, and it was an hour's driving each way, which was more than my back could do just yet and yesterday was REALLY painful, but today is better.  I'd like to just skip the set-backs as pain is really pretty exhausting, but they aren't as bad as they used to be and I'm bouncing back sooner.  Let's hope that's a step in the "gone for good" road.......

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

THEY'RE DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ta-da!
They're done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And I haven't washed them just yet so I can double-check them when I'm a bit less giddy from the Finished Project fumes, but I really checked these over last night and couldn't find anything left to do.  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And it only took about 6 weeks (plus, of course, however many years elapsed between starting that first pillow case), which is even MORE amazing.  Suddenly the fact that I had TWO sets of these doesn't seem quite so insane.  Only partially..........

The most thrilling part of finishing the pillowcases was to get to check them off on my Projects to Make list.  For years I've kept various lists of projects that I have the material or yarn for and haven't yet made.  Sometimes it's worked better than others, and since we upgraded to the "smart" phones, I've been keeping it on there.  Of course, it's a relatively recent list, so the number of checked-off projects isn't that big--the pillowcases make 26--while the projects to MAKE list grows and grows.  Yesterday out of curiosity, I dug out my original list, which I always kept in the paper calendar I used while working.  It was fun to see how many projects I had finished and checked off, how many I'd finished since, and what was still on there.  I decided it would be nice to have a permanent record of projects to flip through, so
this is my new project book.  It's simply a list of all the projects I have on my list to make.  For sanity's sake, I included the projects I've finished recently so there could be a few checked off, which is nice because I'm already up to the eighth page.  It's not perfect and it will never be fully complete because whatever I include has to be recognizable, so to say "gift bag" would only work if it was a very specific gift bag that I would remember in a year.  But, it is a good way to keep things organized as I think of them, and it's a bit sobering to review, which should help a LOT when I earn that 2-year Cold Sheeping badge and have to decide whether to try for a third year.  To keep me motivated, I'm also going to include the remaining color-work ornaments--the book has 55 patterns and I've made 17.  I'll also include the painted mice ornaments as individual projects, though I'm listing the ornament of the month kits just as kits.  I made sure there were lots of pages in the book............:)

The beaded scarf has also made progress,
and I'm pleased to say that I worked on it after finishing the pillowcases, rather than diving right into this
which is also in my stash.  This year Andy is making the Christmas gifts, or at least most of them, so the pillowcases are ready for next year.  I'm never that organized, and am so excited about the very concept that I wanted to stat on another gift immediately, though the person I'd like to give this to has a birthday this weekend, so I'll either be late or do something else and make this for next year. 

And the BIG challenge of the week will be
a gauze ensemble. I love gauze fabric, and it's perfect to wear for summer because it's so light and airy.  It is, however, a nightmare to work with.  I'm sure there's a knack to it--I just don't know what it is.  This fabric has been in my stash for years.  It's even got a few color issues--I don't remember if they were there to begin with, but getting them in the closet seems unlikely.  The sewing room gets a lot of sun, but none of the fabric is in a place to really get hit by it, and it didn't fade--it sort of turned peach in one spot and might have a stain of sort in another.  So, it's a good piece to learn on.  Thinking this would be a good idea, when I first got it I washed it and dried it on high to get all it's shrinking done--which turned it into a crinkly mess.  This weekend I washed it and stretched it back out, and let it hang to dry.  One of the things I've learned NOT to do is to iron this stuff flat, because then whatever you make will wrinkle right back up after washing and be completely unwearable.  So, we'll try this.  I have enough fabric for two of the tops and the shorter pants, so if nothing else, I'll hopefully at least end up with some lovely cool clothing to wear around the house. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

38!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ignoring for a moment that I should be at 50 finished projects by the end of this month, I am still pretty excited about finishing the trick or treat bag.  It still needs to be washed to remove the cat hair and chalk lines, and I had to come to terms with this
because those lines connecting the bear's face aren't the usual "jump" threads that I can cut away--those are actually stitches that I just can't get at without injuring the design.  I think I can remove this sort of thing from a design using the embroidery software--we'll add that to the List of Things To Look Up When I Find The Manual.  It's becoming a very big list.

The other side turned out fine as well,

though there seems to be some damage to the writeable card I'm using to transfer designs, because it jumped between the "r" and "e" in "Treat" again, but knowing it was going to jump and when, I was able to slide the design back and finish it without too much trouble. 

This is the first bag using a lighter poly/cotton broadcloth.  It has more sheen to it and doesn't wrinkle, but the thinness and slight slipperiness made it a bit challenging to work with.  I ended up using fusible fleece as a stabilizer, which seemed to solve the problem, and gives it a nice stiffness to the bag, so I'm very pleased.  And it's FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I finished more gift bags,
and need a break from bags for a while.  For Andy's birthday, I promised him a new set of summer clothes, so I have broken my fabric-buying ban for this lovely tan,
which is now thoroughly covered in cat hair.  Good help is SOOOOOOOO hard to find.......and bad help is so difficult to hide from.

I have the rest of the day to craft, but haven't yet decided what to do with myself.  Start a new sewing project?  The beaded scarf?  One of the ornament kits?  One good thing about having a monstrous stash--the possibilities are ENDLESS!

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Actual "Finishing Friday"

Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement.  It is amazing what a destructive force alcohol can be at times--I had a long-standing friendship finally end a couple years ago because of my friend's drinking, and while I miss how the friendship once was, it has never been anything but a relief to be away from her behavior while drinking.  And that's a really sad thing to realize. 

After all the party prepping over the last couple weeks, I have been unwinding this week, and doing a LOT of exercising.  After 70 minutes of walking yesterday, I've been a bit sore today so postponed my trip to the gym until tomorrow.  There has, however, been a new bowl,
which I intended to be oval.  The odd thing about making bowls this way is that it is actually a bit difficult to achieve anything except round.  Isn't that amazing?  I couldn't draw a circle if my life depended on it, in spite of all my attempts otherwise my pizzas are almost always square-ish rather than round, and the one circular shawl I tried to make is basically a lace funnel.  But with bowls, even starting with a two-inch lead to set the shape, they just come out round.  Everything must have its quirks, I guess.........

Thanks to the extra exercising this week, there has also been extra time on the heating pad, so
the pillowcases are actually close to being finished!  Can you believe it??????????  Okay, they're stamped cross stitch and not counted, but the only other set I've done spanned a few years and one move, so this is rather amazing.  And when it gets hot, these are SO much easier to do than knitting!  Though,
there has been knitting and beading!!!  Really, I just love how this scarf is looking, and it's a good thing that I really, really, REALLY like these women, because otherwise this scarf would be the newest addition to my fall wardrobe.  I can't even make myself one just like this, because this is all the black alpaca lace yarn I have in my stash!  I think I have just discovered one of my stash issues--it truly distresses me to use up a yarn in my stash if there isn't any more of it.....which is the way stash works, of course--it just isn't the way my maturity level works.  But it's going to be a kick-ass gift and I will be a grown-up about it.........

Speaking of being a grown up, 
I've been making single color gift bags because I was irritated about the Halloween bag not turning out, but decided today would be the perfect time to suck it up and take on my most difficult machine embroidery project yet.  This:
The bedding industry has simply no regard for the home machine embroiderer.  Nowhere on the package did these pillowcases state that they had a 3-inch hem on them that should only be attempted by the most advanced of crafters.  Nope!  All they cared about was washing instructions and thread counts.  Really, what can they be thinking? 

Three inches is a bit of a problem, because even my smallest hoop,
 which I used to make a new lace ornament while I got all my whining out of the way, is 4-inches wide.  I had carefully measured as I laid out the design to make sure it was all less than 3 inches tall, but to hold it in the hoop is a bit more tricky. 

I decided to use a cut-away stabilizer in case any of the design went beyond the hem into the actual pillow,
and used quilt basting spray to hold it while hooping. I even used the grid that came with my hoop to make sure everything was perfectly straight (which I usually don't take time to do), and even located the bag of clips that came with one of my hoops,
but didn't find the instructions that would explain exactly how they were supposed to help.  We'll put that down as "thing to be figured out for next time."  On that list, I'm going to include "why the grid for centering has the grid 'center' off to the left by not quite 5/8s of an inch."  I think this makes no sense whatsoever, and even after adjusting as far as I could with the machine,
the first pillowcase is a bit off center.  For the second one,
I marked the center of the pillowcase and made a line about 1/2 an inch to the left of the center, then used the machine to center just a bit, and that worked perfectly.  It took most of the day to make these--even with Jeeves doing all the work--because each pillowcase required 25 separate thread changes.  That means re-threading the machine 25 times PER PILLOWCASE.  Because I thought it would be easier to do each duck separately rather than having to deal with all the threads of the machine sliding back and forth.  To be fair, this was the better choice because even with the initial basting around the design, the back and forth could easily have upset this sort of hooping, but it will be a long, long, LONG time before I'll do something this crazy again.  At least until tomorrow, at any rate....................