Saturday, April 27, 2013

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me or can everyone else on Pinterest tell the difference between pinners who were alive during the 1970s and those who weren't? 

I'm not being critical--there was a crafting optimism in the 1970s that was rather inspiring.  Since I'm in Idaho and we're always a bit behind the times, it might have started in the 1960, but I wasn't alive then so I don't know.  What I do remember from my childhood is that it was a time when one could add pom poms and fringe to any project with wild abandon.  Color schemes were daring--often glaring--and pants were flaring.  (Sorry, couldn't resist that one)  If you could make it, you did it--damn the consequences or the "rules" of taste.  Beer can crocheted hats, ponchos in earth tones made with acrylic petroleum-based Red Heart yarn, dogs crocheted around soap, dolls crocheted around toilet paper, and macramé plant hangers in front of every window.  As anyone who remembers the 70's love affair with tube tops will remember, nothing was ever too "tacky" to make or wear.

However, this freedom from taste came to a crashing halt in the 1980s (which defies logic with the clothing trends the 80s brought, but I digress......).  Hand crafts became decidedly "uncool," (and based on an old turquoise and red poncho I had as a child, I could understand the sentiment) and those of us still knitting were driven underground.  Afghans were scratchy, pilling things that one hid deep inside closets until the mercenary relative who had plagued you with it came for a visit.  Doilies were for old ladies, sewing was for sissies, and suddenly your friends would scoff at you for even having the knowledge to sew on a button.  Take a quick browse through any thrift or charity shop, and you're still likely to find the unwanted craft children of the era of free crafting.

So it's with a little nostalgia, a little longing, and a little humor that I browse the DYI and craft board on Pinterest.  I was too young to be part of the 1970s free-for-all, and now in 2013 I am so rigid in my "Yes-but-will-it-draw-derision-in-10-years?" mentality that I cannot even bring myself to add fringe to even the most tasteful of lace scarves.  Scarred by the 1970s and the aftermath, I skip most popular color schemes as they come along (pink and brown, turquoise and brown) because I've seen them before and know how quickly they look dated.  I browse Regretsy and wonder what on earth people were thinking, yet some part of me wishes I had the confidence to just assume that no matter how "out there" my idea might seem, it is tasteful and "art."  But I know how long I hung on to positively ugly items because someone made them for me--finally dropping them off outside charity shops in the dead of night so they couldn't be returned or refused--and I think maybe a little restraint isn't such a bad thing after all.............

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet The Problem Child

Remember the redwork ornament idea I was toying with?
It gets the award for Problem Ornament Thus Far.  The issue is to get everything stitched down without anything shifting or pulling.  In the above ornament, I tried pinning.  It's close, but it's a bit wonky.

From a safe distance,
Theo watched me make two more slightly wonky ornaments,
and basically prove that my fabric glue stick didn't really work either.  Next up was a regular glue stick, then finally, being completely desperate,
I broke out the hot glue gun.  Anyone who knows my track record with the hot glue gun will recognize this for the sign of desperation that it was.  Shockingly, that worked much better, but in trying a new approach for sewing the second piece of blue on for the backing on the ornament on the right, I made it exceptionally hard to cut out  (Note to self: remember the ribbon hanger might make it awfully hard to cut an ornament out after the fact).  So, on the final ornament--the snowman--I gave up on sewing altogether and hot-glued the thing on, which finally worked as I had hoped.  No other ornament has taken FIVE tries to get correct, and what makes it even stranger is that it was the hot glue gun that solved the problem.  Usually in my life, the hot glue gun is the fastest way to CREATE a problem.  But it looks like this ornament experiment is going to change my views on a few things.  Maybe by December, I'll even have a better view of Fun Fur.....

While I was wrestling with the red-work ornaments,
Jeeves effortlessly made 3 new icicle ornaments, so I am now at 131 ornaments for the year.  Thank heavens the wonky ornaments still count as ornaments.....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Hypothetical Post

I'd like to be showing you a spotless, fully-organized sewing room right about now, but

1.  I've never actually seen one
2.  I certainly don't have one
and 3.  I can't get Blogger to upload anything anyway

The sewing room sort of looks like it did last time anyway.  Tuesday my back was finally feeling good enough to run a few errands, then I had an eye appointment.  It is proof of how much I hate eye appointments when I tell you that, while I am willing to see the dentist twice a year and even undergo the dratted female "wellness" exams yearly, it's been 5 years since I've been near the place.  I am very near-sighted, so since the age of 6 or 7, our annual school shopping trip involved FIRST a stop at the eye doctor, who for reasons best known to himself never had patients pick out frames prior to getting their eyes dilated, and instead waited until they couldn't see a darn thing, and I would get to spend the rest of the entire day wearing dopey cardboard sunglasses, buying school supplies I couldn't actually see, and trying on blurry clothes.  Not to be prejudiced in any way, I hate shopping and cardboard eyeglasses to this day as well, so my loathing of the entire yearly experience was spread out pretty thoroughly.  They have at least changed the drops so that one's eyes go back to normal sooner, but then again, I have the sense to take the latest appointment in the day that they will give me, so it wouldn't screw up my entire day anymore anyway.  What they should have spent their time on was developing non-stinging drops.  Almost 25 years later, those drops STILL sting like crazy.  I appreciate the fact that the waiting rooms now contain complimentary coffee, but if they're not going to fix the drop stinging problem, I think they'd be better off serving up straight shots of tequila.

Tuesday night, being unable to focus on anything within arm's reach, I opted to not knit.  Admittedly, I do often knit without looking, but knitting while unable to look seemed far riskier.  So Andy fixed dinner and martinis while my humongous pupils and I hid upstairs in a room with the blinds drawn. One of the things I love about our house is the availability of natural light--in some parts of the house, there aren't even any blinds, which is all well and good until one has turned into a vampire or is trying not to burn her eyeballs.  At these times, it's best to just crawl into bed at 6:00 PM and try again tomorrow.......................

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Cleaning

One of the flowers to earn in the spring flower dash is the Cosmo, which is earned by spending one hour cleaning or organizing one's stash.  (You might have guessed that I pick these things according to what I desperately need to do).  My back was feeling pretty good yesterday, so yesterday without getting too crazy and after notifying Andy to come find me if I didn't surface again by evening, I dived in:
One of the things I've noticed while doing the 365 ornament challenge is that I have several boxes containing the same things.  I like these plastic boxes for specific projects--so the winter mitten ornament garland has a project box, as do some quilts or other projects until they're finished.  But there were several different containers containing Christmas ornament stuff, so after emptying a larger container that had been in our back room,
I started combining.  In reality, much of what I am doing right now is specific only to this year, but that's okay.  It's actually sort of helpful, as now I have located the felt stash,
and it is now easily accessible.   Some things are sorted and available in the space in under my sewing tables,
which has the added bonus of keeping my sewing foot pedal from sliding too far out of reach.   There was even more available space under Jeeves,
because I don't have to have much leg room at all to embroider.  To be prepared for this year, when I found fiberfill on sale at Joanns, I bought 3 boxes.  I was so used to going through the smaller bags so rapidly, this didn't seem at all a foolish idea for an entire year of ornaments until,
opening one and finding they double in size when not compressed.  I'm not too bothered as I still have several ornaments I haven't stuffed, as well as some snowmen decorations in need of stuffing and several on my list to make, but it is nice to know that 2 additional boxes of stuffing are NOT a permanent part of the sewing room decor.

I have a couple boxes of trims that are loosely sorted into home deco stuff and other, and as you can see,
 "other" was getting a bit wild.  I've tamed quite a bit of it so far,
 but still have some work to do there. 

Andy found me some shelves to fit under the cutting table, which this year will hold my ornament project,
which makes me want to pick a theme for next year's crafting as well as it is easier to sort by themes.  This one is nice as it uses up so many stashes--buttons, trims, specialty threads, fiberfill--though maybe I should pick something for next year that uses up sheer VOLUME of stash.  Things needing fiberfill perhaps....?

The scrap fabric bin has finally come back in from the hallway,
though I have decided to put together some shelves to go underneath it to lift it slightly and give me a bit more space.  But in the interest of not overdoing it just yet, I might leave off for the rest of the day and go back to:
actual ornaments!  As you can see, Frosty the Bowling-Pin got a new scarf and a cool snowflake button.  I like him much better now, but I think the next version will get a hat.  I wish the felt stash had included more than one tiny square of black felt, but I think blue or red hats could be quite stylish.  Or I'll be thinking that until after November 1, at any rate.

 As you can see,
I got a bit exuberant over the weekend with the framed red-work ornament idea.  I think it's a good time to stop to see if this actually works before I keep going.  Maybe that can be my afternoon project if I can clear enough space on my work table..............

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Swear I Did Stuff Today

...but I'm not sure what.  I know I can chalk a big chunk of the day up to physical therapy.  I'm trying to do the exercises to strengthen my hip without irritating my back, and tried adding back in a couple exercises today.  Just in case, I rested on the heating pad between them, so I'm hoping I won't be paying for that tomorrow, though the thing most likely to make the current pain worse is for my hip to move and have to be moved back into place, so if the trade off is small pain versus large pain, it's a pretty easy choice.  There was a bit of knitting today,
and the back for the "March Madness" sweater is almost done.  Apparently I didn't specify March of which year.  But I am loving this sweater.

I had a new idea for ornaments today,
which involves embroidering squares of felt, then sewing them onto larger squares of fabric as sort of a frame.  So I spent some time finding designs and loading them on the card, then doing a few squares, but it hurt too much to sit to continue much further.  I'll use felt for the first ones, but I could also see doing some more interesting things with the backing fabric.  The lovely thing about the insane ornament goal is that it is finally pushing me to experiment and try new things, because I can always give the ornaments I'm less pleased with to the relatives who never thank us for any gifts anyway.................:)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finishing Friday and I'm Mobile!

My back is finally starting to feel better, so I was able to visit OTHER rooms in the house today, including the sewing room.  I can't sit for very long, but I did manage to make two more trees using darker green felt
After that, it was a bit too painful to sit, so I switched to projects that could be done while standing.  I tried a conical tree idea,
and I'm pretty sure I made it in the most complicated way possible.  I got the bright idea to start at the bottom so I had the edges lined up exactly, which made it really hard to stitch as I made my way to the top.  Pinning the rickrack in place didn't help much, but I did finally manage to get it tacked down,
then to top off the fun I added individual sequins using the glue gun.........then spent another 30 minutes cleaning the hot glue threads off of absolutely everything.  I usually have to bring the glue gun out once a year to remember why I never use it.  I'm generally pleased with the ornament, but I need to make some changes before trying another one.  Or increase the drugs...........

After having spent most of the week in bed, being in the sewing room was exciting enough to attempt something completely new, so
 I dragged out the green organza I bought on clearance last year.  I thought it would make great Christmas ornaments.  The only problem, of course, is that I haven't been able to figure out what to do with it.  My original idea was to turn the stocking so the seam was on the inside, but that didn't look very good, so I decided to pink the edges.  I'm thinking it could still turn out well if I add a nice cuff to the top, but was out of ideas and needing to rest by this point.

Which was a good time to try a new ornament idea,
which looks slightly more like a festive bowling pin than a snowman.  I think he needs a scarf of some sort--I mean, how often does one find a bowling pin sporting neck wear?  I'm also thinking of maybe redoing the initial pattern to make his head sit a bit lower and maybe have the bottom be bigger.   One of the lovely things about craft felt is it's so inexpensive that one doesn't feel bad playing around with it, so if it takes me a few tries to get the ornament I want, I'm not bothered.  Maybe the next one can even score a hat of some sort............?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And We're Back to the Mittens...........

Today I made:
mostly due to needing to rest but being drugged.  Today was not a day for new patterns. 

It's been sort of a long week.  Sunday I aggravated my muscles when I had to move my hip back into place, so Sunday and Monday were sore and drugged--which is how I got this done:
Yesterday started out better, but either because of the extra exercises I did Monday when I started feeling better OR just because my back/hip is very perverse, it got aggravated again when I bent down to pet Calisto.  So yesterday was sore as well--which is how I got this:
Today I feel better but thought I should rest and give the muscles one more day to get over their aggravation.  I found that works for the rest of me usually, so I guess I can understand when my back has "moods."   I will just be glad when my back's mood swings no longer involve drugs for the rest of me...........

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 103

Today is the 103rd day of 2013, and with a new family of terrorized gingerbread men,

and 3 new plum pudding ornaments finished this morning

(with some help from Calisto),
I now have 113 ornaments done for the year, which means I'm actually ahead of schedule right now.   Luckily, the shock has not done me in just yet.  Being caught up in April and being caught up in December are very different things.................

Thursday, April 11, 2013


is what a bribe looks like.  I am doing our taxes this week, and when I finish them, I get to play with this.  It was a new lace scarf or chocolate, and at least the scarf will lead to a decrease in my stash, and is probably much healthier.

I thought I wasn't going to need it, because I managed to get our federal taxes done with only lace icicles as a bribe,
but Tuesday night I slept badly and my back ended up in enough pain that yesterday was mostly drugged, so my maturity level has had a corresponding set-back.  I keep telling myself that if I just get the taxes done then I have all weekend to play, and I think it will get me back to my desk, but a little alpaca lace yarn doesn't hurt anything.......................

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm In Love!

Isn't he just the cutest thing ever?  The tan one worked out much better than the dark brown,
though I think the dark slightly-burned look would be more accurate for my attempt to make cookies.  Aren't they just adorable?  And it's a free pattern--win, win! I love it when brilliant people share things.

Not that I still don't love the icicles,
but Jeeves can make these while I make adorably-frightened gingerbread men. Maybe this 365-ornament thing might really happen after all...................

Monday, April 8, 2013

On a Rainy Sunday

Mother Nature was a week off, because we got our usual Easter weather (cold, rain, wind) yesterday.  While Theo chose to spend the day snoozing in a pillow fort,
I spent most of the day in the sewing room.  I was inspired by the idea of a Victorian Christmas, so
more pink ornaments!  And even more:
As you can see,
there was a problem with one of the icicles.  Some of you might recognize this as the sort of thing that lead to the long battle with the jerks at Holland's Sew Shoppe.  To anyone who ISN'T a complete jackass of a repair guy who blames everything on user error, this was a mid-design jump, which means the embroidery card is going bad.  I think my machine is one of the last to use these:
which is how I transfer designs from the computer to the machine.  So far, it's just one design, so it might mean there's a defect where it wrote this design--in this case, number 11.  So I can still use it, but just won't embroider anything on that number.  I'm hoping this is not the new card I bought 2 years ago, but I can't be sure.  I know it isn't the one that had problems before.  I don't know what they are now, as Husqvarna is discontinuing all stuff like this to force their customers to buy new machines (which will work in my case, but it sure as heck isn't going to be a Husqvarna/Viking next time), but they used to be $159 according to the sticker on the case.  The accessories used to be a pretty good source of income for the company, so it seems silly to discontinue it all, but I've ceased to wonder about the things Husqvarna does.  I've had Jeeves 7 years now, have had to buy 2 replacement cards so far, and if I can get 2-3 years out of new cards, I think I can get him through another 5 years.  At that point, we'll be done paying child support (and all the accompanying legal fees) and our personal allowances can go up, so I will probably look for a replacement machine then.  For the amount I paid, I had really expected better, but at least I didn't buy one of their current machines, which are FAR more than what I paid and have even more problems.  Maybe I can even get another 7 years out of Jeeves with the new dealer?  We'll see.

I made more progress on the jacket, and will probably get it finished this week.  I might have finished it yesterday, but I got distracted by this: 
He's an adorable little felt ornament which is a free pattern you can find here.  The things we can add to the ever-growing list of things I don't have on hand are small white rickrack and black embroidery floss.  Instead of the floss I used some leftover black lace yarn, but I can't decide whether to use the small red rickrack or go with white ribbon.  What do you think?  I think the rickrack looks more frosting-like, but I wish it were in white.  AFTER starting this in the dark brown, I did find some tan felt
leftover from the puppet kits, which I think will help a great deal--especially since you can't see his mouth on the dark one.  Originally, I didn't think I had brown felt at all, but I had forgotten about the puppets.  Is anyone else surprised by the number of things I'm finding out that I don't have?  Really, I didn't even think to do an inventory or list or anything before starting on the one-year buying ban because I was sure that I owned just about everything anyone could think of.  I'm not sure I'm happy to be proved wrong, because I still have a lot of stuff--just not always the right stuff.  Insanely, I'm even thinking about doing another year on a spending ban after this one.  Of course, I'm saying this with more than 6 and a half months left to go, but there have been SO many times already when I found myself wanting to purchase anything just to buy something new, and this forces me to limit my purchasing automatically to things I want for an entire year, which eliminates impulse spending.  Of course, by November 1, I might think all of this is completely daft and be thankful the whole ridiculous experiment is over, but the way the "to be purchased" list is growing, I won't have any allowance left on November 2 anyway.............

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chasing Ornaments

 In spite of the fact that I have fallen drastically behind in my ornament-making plans, for the record, these
weren't just an attempt to make fast, quick ornaments in a desperate push to catch up.  Or at least, not entirely.  These exist because of this:
Sulky embroidery spools like this hold 850 yards of thread.  Which is fine, except that every thread manufacturer uses a different type of spool.  I don't know if this one has a thick or thin center, so while I'm pretty sure there isn't enough thread left on the spool to make a snowflake, I don't actually know how much IS left.  Lace ornaments like this have to have matching thread in the bobbin as well, so I'm making the small ornaments with this so I can use it up without running out of thread in the middle of anything.  I do love the embroidered lace ornaments, but they are thread pigs.  So, there is a point to this BESIDES desperation. 

I got the red ornaments blocked, and since they curl when drying, this time I tried sandwiching them between baking racks, which seems to have helped,
The icicles still curled just a bit, so I might try adding freezer paper or wax paper to this set up next time.  But, it worked for the egg ornament, so yesterday I tried assembling the first half:
and after many different versions, I found a size 1 knitting needle and tweezers to be the appropriate tools for such an adventure.  The directions call for a hanger involving Styrofoam balls and tiny screw eyes, which of course I don't have, so I'm going to see if I can do something involving large clear buttons, which I think I have.  They buying ban is certainly testing my creativity, if not yet making a visible dent in the sewing room.

Having decided that Andy's ornament patterns didn't have to only be done in white, 
I rewarded my new open-mindedness with 3 white icicles.  I love these ornaments.  There were six different designs in the package I bought, and if they ever release a second set, I'll be snapping those babies up, after the buying ban ends.........

While Jeeves cranked away on ornaments,
 I made great progress on the jacket.  Now I remember why the first jacket took so long to make. Home decorating fabric, while looking fabulous, is rather slippery and frustrating, so the top-stitching (which is everywhere) leaves a lot to be desired.  But once it's done, I know I won't notice.  For one, there have been a lot of drugs in my life this year.  For another, I've come to realize that even the worst projects I have made still have better construction than the clothes one can purchase, and I've rarely noticed that sort of thing on commercial clothes.  One sleeve is attached, the other ready to be pinned, then there's top stitching, facing, and buttonholes, and it will be done!!!!!!!!!!  And my next sewing project will be fuss-free cotton.  Or more felt ornaments......

Speaking of which, while I've been updating the blog,
Jeeves has been hard at work making ornament number 89.  I have branched out so far that there are about to be 3 icicle ornaments in
 a dark rose thread.  I love doing theme trees, and wouldn't this look just wonderful on a Victorian tree?  And I swear I don't just think that so I can make more icicles.  Really............