Monday, July 28, 2014

Do You Ever Just Shake Your Head And Wonder?

Back in 2008, I made Andy some summer clothes in dark blue--his favorite color.  Having obviously just developed a love-affair with decorative stitching, I decided that what he would really LOVE was white decorative stitching details:
because what grown man, aside from Popeye and perhaps members of the Village People, wouldn't want to appear in public in a sailor suit?  Not even when I took this picture did I realize what a dippy outfit I had made for him.  To his credit, he has worn it around the house a lot, but not in public.  I don't blame him at all--but last week I decided that it was a shame to have gone to so much work for something that would get him beat up if he ever had to appear in public in, so
I have finally ripped out all of the decorative stitching except for just the collar and bottom, which looks rather nice together.  Since it took some serious time and effort, I have counted this as one of my Finished Projects for the year, and Andy is currently wearing them as I write this.  Un-doping a project counts as a new project, right?

In a mad-dash to get back on target for August, I have finished the corded rib socks,
 by the closest yarn margin ever:
There was a point when I hadn't started the toe decreases when I was beginning to wonder if I would make it.  That second sock might have been knit just a wee bit tighter than the first one......

Sunday I finally got to use the new yarn chest:
and have created the heaviest towel EVER.   Embroidery designs always mention how many stitches they contain, but that only works when one has been doing embroidery often enough to realize that 23,000 stitches is a really freakin' high number of stitches for anything that isn't supposed to end up bullet-proof.  The chef design came with the chest, but I added the words.  I think it would make a fun wall hanging, don't you?  As a wall hanging, I could make the font a bit bigger--what's a few more stitches?

Okay, and I love, love, LOVE the thread chest.  No doubt about it, I am glad I got it.  However, if I were the one designing the chest and the Madeira thread line in general, unless I had a really sadistic streak, I would have made the numbers in some sort of sequential order.  So, if for example some hapless little embroiderer embarking on her first project with the chest was trying to figure out the next thread for the thread change, color # 1241 ("Almost Grey") would 1.) show up in the color chart picture as grey instead of dark green, and 2.) wouldn't be in the chest between color #1000 and color # 1164 because a right-thinking embroiderer would be misled by the common assumption that 1241 does NOT come between 1000 and 1164 on any planet that has ever learned to count.  But hey!  What's more fun than a color-related scavenger hunt?  Goodness knows I have just longed to be locked in a paint store until I could figure out the difference in 347-shades of off-white.  I mean, who hasn't?

There might have been a new project for a bit of stress relief................

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thanks Everyone!

Thanks everyone for your kind words.  I am really pleased with the table runner, and there are no puckers on the back!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Inspired by this amazing FIRST in my quilting, I have started the next one:
I didn't notice until uploading the picture that the right side was folded over, but the actual table runner has all the stripes in the same order.  I think I prefer the first version better, but as I already have enough strip blocks done for two table runners like this, I'll stick with this version for two and the next one will go back to the alternating yellow pattern.  I just love the colors, and one of the best ways to learn crafting for me is to make the same project over and over and get a little bit better each time.  While I got the first one quilted without puckers, I still had trouble with the binding, so I'm hoping that these will help me with that. Now if I could just get all of them done by the 31st........................:)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Done!

I have finished something!!!!


Sorry, didn't mean to shock anyone. I know what a surprise a Finished Project is around here.......

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Well, It IS July, After All......

......which is a new month, so I shouldn't be surprised that the newest ornament kit has arrived,
though the fact that I received the shipping notification AND the ornaments on the same day was new.  The new kit will involve some gluing, though I just love how they look and really do want to make them.  I had put one set into my Summer Stash-Dash Basket, and decided it was time to start on them:
Okay, start on the easiest one.  This kit actually has FIVE ornaments, so I won't feel quite as bad if I mess one up.  Actually, as long as I get to count it for a Finished Project, I might not feel too badly at all.  Being almost a month behind on projects is terrifically motivating.................

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seriously?

Seriously--it's been over a week since my last post--you would think I would have a finished object or two to show you, wouldn't you?  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??????

First, I have washed, starched, and ironed the ribbon table runner, and
I don't think it lays any flatter than before.  I will actually use it as I've gone to all this trouble, but I think we can scratch this off as a potential gift idea.  I try to avoid giving gifts that involved a whole lot of swearing--that just feels wrong.

Speaking of swearing,
the gauze pants are progressing.  In the future, I swear I will have the sense to alternate difficult, fussy projects with easy ones.  Going right from the ribbon to gauze was just insane, and Theo only agreed to hang out with me from the safety of the thread chest box:
 I think you might be able to gauge the level of frustration by the progress on the sock,
since you can't see that twitch above my left eye.....

Andy went rafting with friends on Sunday, so I had the house to myself for several hours, and spent it:
making and quilting a new table runner.  It's hard to see in the picture, but I was playing with the walking foot and decorative stitching options.  I've had a lot of trouble with the walking foot with decorative stitching before, so I actually cut out lots of strips and will put together two or three table runners in this color to see if I can work them out.  I also tried a new batting--I've been using the bottom-of-the-line polyester stuff, and I think I pull it around too much.  Even though I prewash all my fabric, my quilting tends to pull in when it's washed, so this week I picked up a poly/cotton blend batting to try, and it's SO much easier to work with.  If I can get my techniques down, there are several quilts waiting in my To Be Finished pile.  Maybe not as many as my To Be Started pile, but that's another story...........

Monday, July 14, 2014

Suck It Up

Now that the party is over, I'm caught up on the canning, and the garden is going to have to get along without me until we drop below 100, I am concentrating on my hip again, so this morning I went down to the gym for some weight lifting and some pool walking. 

I've decided that it must be something about being almost naked around a bunch of strangers that really brings out the best in people, because I always meet such nice people when I'm in the pool.  Today was Wilma, who is 82 and who goes to the gym 6 days a week.  While we were talking, another woman showed up who has had both legs amputated below the knee and who is apparently a Monday-Wednesday-Friday regular.  I think any excuse I can come up with for not exercising has just been annihilated, so I'm going to drag my sorry self there again tomorrow morning. 

After spending time with them, I came home determined to tackle that blasted table runner and stitched the remaining red ribbons:
and almost decided that every project doesn't have to be loved.  Originally, I had planned to stitch the white ribbons with red thread, but if this has any chance of laying flat, I think those white ribbons need to be able to move.  From here the ribbons went to soak in the sink with some leftover pieces of wash-away stabilizer, which is starch, and some blocking and ironing.  I think it has improved a lot--we'll find out tomorrow.

Still motivated by my new friends and thinking that honestly, even gauze can't really be worse than sewing on ribbons,
I dug out the gauze and a water bottle to smooth out wrinkles in the fabric as I laid it out to cut.  This will be tomorrow's after-workout project...provided I'm still mobile.  These 80-year-old ladies are a tough crowd to run with.........................

Sunday, July 13, 2014

And the Recovery.............

We had a fabulous time last night and got to catch up with lots of great people.  I'm pretty wiped out, but I have to show you this:
A friend of ours does portraits for everyone when they turn 50, so this is Andy with the one she did for him.  It's hard to blow it up enough to see, but she gave him a mandolin earring, and reflected in one of the lenses on the glasses is a ball of yarn and needles to represent me, and on the other side is a cat just peaking over the edge.  It's wonderful--we had to hang it up first thing this morning.  Don't you just love it when people share their creativity?  I just love this picture.

Today Andy went out with a friend to listen to some blues, but I am resting and staying well away from the heat.  I don't know why barbecuing is so popular in the summer.  It was over 100 last night, and bright bulb that I am, I had invited everyone over for barbecued hamburgers and sausages with a selection of my homemade mustards and relishes.  The mustard and relish part worked out well.  The standing-over-an-open flame-in-100-degree-heat was a bit much for me.  But, doing something as daft as that REALLY put things in perspective for me, so I have finally mustered up the courage to tackle this:
For one, the air conditioning is on full blast.  For another, the sewing room has a ceiling fan.  For a third, I want the use of my table back.  So, I pinned and pinned and pinned, then gathered the whole mess up,
and am sewing the whole thing together.  This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO going to be an only child.  I gave up on it being exactly even, and have even abandoned the hope that it will lay totally flat.  I just want it to be done and possibly usable.  If not, at least I can use my table again.  And,
I cast on that next pair of socks to help cope with any stress or trauma I might end up with.  I find it best to be prepared......................

Friday, July 11, 2014

50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We're having a party for Andy's 50th birthday tomorrow, so things have been a bit busy around here, but there has been some crafting!

First, Robin had suggested pinking shears as a way to rescue the second frog blanket, 
so even though it's a completely lame project (piece of fleece with pinked edges), I'm counting it as a finished project:
When it has an intended recipient, I'll embroider the name on it to spiff it up a bit.  I could have left it as a bigger blanket and let my two oldest nieces duke it out over the frogs, but the baby gift bin was running very, very low lately.

I also finished
an almost-identical pair of socks for me!  Really, I gave up trying to get self-striping yarns to ever really match, but I take full credit when they match out of sheer dumb luck.  I bought this yarn while still living at my old house, so that puts it as at least 8 years in the stash, and there's something always a bit thrilling about using up Deep Stash.  If one has a scary amount of yarn and only works with the very latest editions, then it's a little harder to justify hanging on to the older stuff.  But since none of my yarn stash is more than 10 years old, I have just finally gotten around to using up some of the earliest stash.  AND I've always loved this yarn, so I finally have the socks from it.  Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!

I just finished another item from my summer basket:
 which I made with two fewer rows in the ribbing just in case the problems with the red hat were my fault, and ended up with this:
So, not me.  The red ball was actually short on yarn.  Thankfully, that was the last ball of the red in my stash and it will still work as a chemo cap, but when I eventually order more of this cotton and elastic yarn for more chemo caps, I'll avoid the red yarn, just in case.

Not yet finished but at least started,
 I have been working on the ribbon table runner.  Putting it face-down, I marked mostly parallel lines on the wash-away stabilizer, then pinned the ribbons on top of it.  Just in case you were wondering, having put decorative stitching on the ribbon on top of the stabilizer didn't really work, and the whole thing puckered like crazy.  So badly, in fact,
that I had to soak it away to continue working.  I've also had to iron the ribbon with the decorative stitching, and am STILL working through finding a way to get the ribbons in place and secured enough to stitch down.  I'm not giving up, but unless I have a sudden flash of brilliance soon (and I do have to be due for one sometime), this is going to be a one-of-a-kind item.  I had thought it would make great gifts, and it probably would, though probably from someone with lower stress levels.............

Sunday, July 6, 2014

47!

And I sort of got to use the new thread chest.  I tried, at any rate. 

A friend of ours had a birthday Wednesday, and his wife surprised him with a dobro (resonator guitar).  I was excited because I knew I had an embroidery design of one of them, and I hadn't made a music bag for him yet.  After a little brainstorming for something funny to say, I came up with
Some days I crack myself up--though it could be the heat as it's been 100 degrees or so for the last several days and it really isn't that funny.  At any rate, the really exciting thing about this design was that it was laid out in Madeira colors--which I now have!  Usually, I have to sit down and go through each color online because my software imports the color numbers as belonging to Sulky, so this company's designs come through as a bizarre array of purples and oranges.  But I had the color chart!  So, after fixing it on screen so I could see it clearly, I pulled open the "warm" colors drawer of the thread chest,
to find I had exactly ONE o the colors I needed.  Out of 11. 
 Pulling out the threads I already had from Madeira,
I still only had one.  Using the thread conversion charts for Sulky, I found I also had exactly one in the Sulky colors.  Having gone through 29 paint chip colors trying to match the "antique white" paint that was used in our house, I guess I should have realized that there are truly an infinite number of colors in the world, but I am a child of Crayola.  I grew up thinking that when I reached 3rd grade and could have that box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener that I would have all the colors in the world.  This time it was a bigger and more expensive box, and no sharpener, but the same idea:  How can there be more colors than this???  

Through guesswork and color charts, I did get the bag embroidered,
 and Theo is still very, very happy with his part of the new thread chest:
the box that it came in!  I have it in the sewing room for him right now, and it's a new favorite spot.  As well as
sprawled under the ceiling fans.  We've had the air-conditioning on nonstop for the last few days, but it still gets a bit hot upstairs.  I've flirted with the idea myself. 

Extreme heat is, of course, the perfect time to be making wool socks
since I can't find the one WIP in cotton yarn.  Apparently throwing the second pair of socks into the summer basket wasn't such a bad idea after all.............

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And We're Off!

Ideally, yesterday I would have had a basket all neatly filled with what I plan to make between now and August 31.  However,
on Saturday we went to a Harvest Party at one of the local-ish orchards and wineries, and they had a wonderful variety of apricots that I hadn't tried before. 
In general, I don't care much for apricots compared to other fruit as the things in stores are pretty dry and flavorless, but these were quite wonderful, so being me, we bought a box of them.  Which explains why I haven't gotten my basket done this morning either:
though I'm thinking I should get a special gold star or something for 18 jars of apricot jam in two days.  And, in case you were wondering, 16 pounds of apricots makes significantly more than 18 jars of jam, making tomorrow "brandied apricot preserves" day.  Maybe I should have made that apricot box part of my basket?

Speaking of items for my basket:
a pair of socks that I started with a pattern I really haven't liked, so last night I decided to toss out the rest of the pattern and do the heel and everything as I want.  I wanted to try new heels and toes, but not when they leave big gaps in the heel.  Joining them,
 is a home decorating fabric that I thought would make nice grocery bags or some wonderful summer decorations.  I have just over 4 yards, so it could go either way, but I've had it for some time now, so it's time for it to become something.  That was joined by a ball of red yarn,
which would be another chemo cap today if I hadn't knit it too loosely and run out of yarn.  I had to rip it back and restart the crown decreases.  Fingers crossed that it will work this time. 

The green jacket is also in the basket,
virtually, if not really.  I'm aiming for 20 finished projects during the basket challenge, and existing WIPs make a nice headstart. 

Of course,
 I also tossed this in as well because finishing up two pairs of socks in two months doesn't seem at all idiotic to me........
....no matter what Theo thinks.................

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1

The problem with being a Type A crafter who feels the need to have goals every year is that those goals are rarely reasonable.  If I were every prone to being reasonable in the first place, I wouldn't have goals for my hobby and my friends wouldn't speak of my crafting room in the hushed tones one only uses when discussing those who have gone completely off their rocker.  So, here we are.

I ended the first half of the year with 45 finished projects, just over 29 yards of fabric and 22 balls of yarn used up.  I think I can still make 100 projects, though I find the idea of 71 yards of fabric just a wee bit daunting.  Can I do 12 yards of fabric per month?  And how many pairs of pajamas can two people wear......?