Friday, October 31, 2014

A New Bag Idea

Has anyone else noticed a disturbing scramble-to-make-a-gift-at-the-last-minute trend on this blog this year?  Or, probably more likely, every single year?  I swear that I DO make things ahead of time, but it seems like they're never quite right for the person or the occasion or whatever.  So, the other day I got an idea for a bag that would still be cute without having to be personalized at the last minute.  After making the fall ribbon table runner,

I wanted to play around with ribbons more and luckily--prepare yourselves for a shock--already have a decent stash of ribbon.  Astounding, I know.  I struggled a bit with the table runner because I was trying to attach ribbon to a cotton fabric with batting and backing, and it was a challenge to keep it straight.  So I decided to try a heavier fabric, so in my trip to the Ontario Joann fabrics I picked up some bottom-weight fabric. Color selection in the nonstretch ones was rather limited, so white works.  Using transparent thread and a zigzag stitch, I stitched ribbons across the bag pieces,
and lesson number 1 is that even bottom-weight fabric probably needs interfacing for this.  You can see the slight puckering on the fabric.  At first I drew lines across the fabric with chalk and a ruler, but managed to get off a couple times anyway, so then I just kept adding ribbons where I felt like it:
Last year I purchased a set of bias-tape makers,  
and this is the largest one.  It can be used on fabric NOT cut on the bias as well, provided it doesn't need to stretch, so I cut straight fabric strips to turn into 2-inch strips,
with the fabric folded in to the center.  To cover the edges,
I used a 7/8-inch grosgrain ribbon and stitched it down the center of the strip.  I'm thrilled with how the straps turned out,
even if I did decide that the straps didn't really work with this bag.  Instead,
I'll keep the ribbon straps for another project and made plain white handles for this one instead. I have fabric cut out for 3 more bags, so maybe I'll find one to use those ribbon straps after all.  In the meantime, I'm very pleased with this one, lack of interfacing and all.  I wish they would have had black fabric as well--that would have been fun.  Maybe next time...........

Monday, October 27, 2014

Well, Where Did THAT Week Go?

Wow.  It's Monday again.  I swear that was not a full week.  Or maybe it was a bit too full--depending on how one wants to look at it.

A few weeks ago I had twisted wrong and popped my hip out of place.  The probable good news is that because I work the muscles quite a bit, it took a fair bit to get my hip out of place this time.  The definite bad news is that I still managed it AND it hurt like crazy.  I was able to get it back in, but that hurt as well, and in spite of getting back on the medications for inflammation and pain, I still managed to wind up some of the problem muscle spots again.  I had several really bad days, started to get better, and then had physical therapy on Thursday.  The good news is that while the bad spots had gotten tight, they hadn't truly knotted again, which is terrific progress.  The bad news is that it still really hurts whether the muscles are "just tight" or "knotted,"  and physical therapy left me flattened for several days.  I should be back to 4-mile walks by the end of the week, so definitely faster recovery time, but it's been a long couple of weeks.  Which explains
why there has been a fair bit of knitting happening.  The finished chemo cap and socks bring me to 95 finished projects for the year,  The second pair of socks is because stockinette is just about the only thing I can do on medication, and the lace edging is potentially for Christmas decorating.  I was originally thinking garland, but I've only got 150 yards of the heavier crochet thread, so now I'm thinking mantle scarf.  I'm also sort of thinking 2015 as well, because I had forgotten how much cotton can hurt the hands.  If only I could knit lace while on pain meds..........

Monday, October 20, 2014

Something Old, Some Things New......

It might surprise you to learn that I have a rather large number of projects in progress.  Of course, only if you haven't seen my sewing room or followed this blog for more than a day or ever MET me, but still there IS a remote chance you could be surprised.

Sometimes a project gets set aside because I have found something more interesting to work on. Sometimes one gets set aside because I am about to send it through the food processor if I have to be around it for even another second.  And sometimes it's because I have reached a part of the project which intimidates me. Which is where our story begins today.

Back in 2010, I started working on a mitten garland for winter/Christmas.  It's actually been a fun project because craft felt is wildly inexpensive, so it was the perfect time to play around with techniques and ideas.  I learned to gimp, tried using decorative thread in the bobbin, played with decorative stitching, and have pretty much just had a great time with them:
Some worked better than others, but I'm up to 27 finished mittens.  The stopping point, however, was how to string them together.

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a knitting spool, which makes a lovely i-cord and I thought it would make the perfect garland.  And it probably would if I were going to live that long.  4 years later, I have 5 inches done.  Yep, fabulous idea for a 25-foot garland.  Then I had the idea of putting two ribbons together and sewing them together using one of my decorative stitches and a wing needle.  I lined up two colors of grosgrain ribbon.....and lost my nerve.

Finally a couple weeks ago, I decided enough was enough, tracked down a wing needle, and decided to either get the darn garland made or destroy some ribbon trying.

If you've never seen a wing needle, the following picture isn't going to help much:
It's a needle with blades on either side to actually cut a hole in the fabric.  ON PURPOSE.  One of the decorative stitches on my machine is specifically designed to work with this needle, and it stitches a little star with a hole in the center.  It's apparently wonderful if you want to tat or crochet an edge onto a fabric project because it gives you a hole to pass the thread through, or if you just like the novelty of punching holes in fabric on purpose.  My idea was that this hole would work for hanging mittens.

After a few false starts (such as trying it on just one ribbon, which destroyed the ribbon AS WELL AS shoving it down into the bobbin area), I finally got things going:
As you'll notice, it makes the ribbon a bit ruffly, which I don't really know how to solve.  We're calling it a "festive" look around here.  And in case you were wondering,
 it takes quite a while to sew 25 feet of ribbon.  I tried ironing one end to see if it would flatten out, but it looked worse, so the "festive" twisting stays and,
I have finally started to assemble the garland!  I have 27 mittens done, but a lot more cut out, so we'll see how far this takes me.  I hope to have it all put together by January when I put up the winter decorations.  So, it could be finished just over 4 years after starting.  That's not bad, right?

Which is what I'm using to make this:
seem a bit less idiotic.  When at the Oregon Jo-Anns, I might have been viciously assaulted by some self-patterning sock yarn................which travels in packs,
as you know.   Yes, there was sock yarn on its way to my house even at that time--in fact, it was being delivered THAT DAY--but it's self-patterning.  I like self-striping yarns as well, but I prefer the ones that don't look like random patterns, and I'm seeing less and less of them, and as I generally prefer nicer yarns than Jo-Ann's carries, I was not on my guard.  I'm probably lucky that I didn't end up with any MORE of them.  And my credit card and I will be spending some time apart for a while..........

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Once Upon A Time........

.....(otherwise known as 2009), there was a crafter who thought up a lovely project while on pain pills--not the pain pills for her back which make her nauseous and cause stomach ulcers, but the heavy-duty pain pills the medical community gives one after surgery because making a patient sick, groggy, stupid, and incredibly sleepy reduces the chances of the patient ripping out stitches.  This crafter started a pieced tablecloth that would require 180 quilt blocks without checking to make sure that she had enough fabric for all 180 quilt blocks.  This cannot be blamed on the pain pills because she would have made that mistake without any drugs, but perhaps the idea of 180 blocks might have given her pause.  However, stupid ideas do not even slow our heroine down at the best of times.  While on medication, they seem positively wonderful.  And that is how our heroine ended up with
a well-aged set of quilt blocks waiting to be something other than a magnet for cat hair. 

Deep within the heroine's land lies an evil empire known as Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores which is now ruled by the Demon King known as "Superstore" where hopeful crafters go to die a slow, heartbreaking death at the eternal bog known as the "cutting counter" where two employees slowly taunt them by calling out numbers of crafters who have long-since perished from starvation while waiting for the previous 400 numbers to be served.  There was a brief glimmer of hope in the land known as Hancock Fabrics, which, while run-down and having less selection and employing only those lacking the ability to cut straight lines, at least provided crafters with a refuge from the Superstore.  However, a terrible virus known as "upselling" struck Hancock Fabric, and crafters were mercilessly driven from the store by clerks pushing one product after another at them in an attempt to make the crafters sorry they ever set foot in the place.  Used car salesman watched in awe at the tenacity of the clerks and carefully took notes for future reference.

This left our crafter in a quandary.  Risk the deadly slowness of the cutting counter at the Jo-Ann Fabric Superstore or face the onslaught of product pushing at Hancock Fabrics?  Fate, however, smiled on our heroine this week.  She had to journey to another land known as Ontario, Oregon, and in this foreign land lived a Jo-Ann Fabrics which was not yet under the rule of the demonic Superstore, and where the lines didn't yet contain the populations of small countries.  And while the staff still suffered from the obligatory technology problems, they were actually helpful and quick, so it is quite possible that the store has been hidden under a magic cloaking spell to protect it from the curse of "cost-cutting decisions" that brought evil Superstore to power.  As in all fairy tales, treasure lurks in magical places if one just looks hard enough, and
our heroine has emerged triumphant with TWO yards of the missing fabric after abandoning all hope of ever seeing it again, and will be tackling the tablecloth once she gets her project table cleared off, which is another story entirely................

The End

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You Sitting Down?????

There is a finished cross stitch project!
Okay, it's stamped rather than counted, but still, how often do "finished" and "cross stitch" end up in the same sentence if "therapy" isn't also mentioned?  It still needs to be washed and ironed, but I'm so giddy with excitement that I'm waiting a bit to double-check everything before washing it.

the purple chemo cap is also done!  This is a much better picture of the color, which I just find completely cheerful.  The additional chemo cap yarn will arrive today, so I have a blue cap on the needles now, and while 3 doesn't really make a spacial dent in the chemo cap yarn stash, it does make me feel a bit less like a yarn-hoarder--more like a Fiber Protection Specialist...........

And Project 93,
is finished as well.  For the past year, 6 of us have been having monthly "New Recipe Dinners."  When I proposed it, I had actually suggested 4 times a year, but we've had such great luck and such fun that it morphed into monthly.  In one of the planning emails, "Dinner Gang" was mistyped as "Dinger Gang" and the name was such fun that it stuck.  So, I thought these would be fun host gifts for when the other 2 couples host.

Theo doesn't really enjoy embroidery very much,
and he's right that I have other projects I need to get back to.  I'm still slowly working on leaves for the fall table runner, but as I get each new piece of fabric ready, I have been cutting about half a yard of each one into 2.5-inch strips:
I love the idea of the jelly roll bundles of strips and have come close to buying them a few times, but I've had some real difficulties with fat quarters being cut horribly wonky, and don't trust fabric companies to be better with strips.  Besides, I already have fabric that needs to be used.  I want to try French braid and bargello quilting (for table runners to start), so this way I'll be ready.  Since I'm now ahead on finished projects, maybe later this fall would be a good time to tackle a major WIP like a quilt or a sweater........?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Almost 91!

I was really hoping to be showing you a finished object right now, but

at least I'm very, very close.  This is one of the colors I got with my credits, and I love it.  It's a bit brighter in real life, and I think will be quite cheerful--considering it's a chemo cap.  And it might be making me feel good to finish another one while more of this yarn is now making its way to my door.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two Things.............

IF you had been on a strict yarn diet for almost two years, what would your breaking point be?  I think I've been pretty good--I used my $50 credit to get yarn for a white shawl for me (reward yarn) and the rest I used for yarn for chemo caps.  Then the odd little things I didn't have--the white acrylic, the mens' scarf, the crochet thread, and the one ruffle scarf.  I have to say, I surprised myself.  I have held out against 1/2-off sock yarn, and had even resisted an angora blend worsted at a fabulous price, but this morning I finally broke.  For one day only (of course) the place with the fabulous angora yarn and the sock yarn was giving away 10 balls of chemo cap yarn with purchases over a certain amount--that amount being enough to get the angora yarn and a bit of sock yarn, conveniently enough.  So......................there might be some yarn on its way to my house at this point..........In my defense, it did take $35 of free yarn for my favorite project to push me over the edge and it's STILL one of my smallest purchases ever from this particular company.  So, maybe I have learned something.  And maybe I'll hide my credit card until January.......

And just on an interesting follow up from yesterday, TODAY in Idaho we learned that none of us really understand how the Supreme Court works.  Even though same-sex marriage is a pretty divisive issue, in some ways the last few days have been relatively unifying here.  No one on either side has any idea how anyone's marriage can cause anyone else to work longer hours, have affairs, drink more, or take up hobbies.  And NOW none of us fully understand why Idaho was granted a temporary emergency stay this morning to halt same-sex marriages, which were set to start today at 8:00 AM, when they were ordered to start in other states.  Even though we all studied government in one of our high school years, anything involving attorneys is much more complicated than the rest of us could ever dream.  Think of the most confusing knitting pattern you have ever attempted.  Now, replace every commonly-used word in it with obscure Latinate words with a minimum of 3 syllables, take out the actual measurements and replace them with footnotes to other patterns--the older, the better--and then, for good measure, throw in 20 pages detailing in great but purposely obtuse detailed jargon adescription of what knitting actually IS.  This is what the legal documents look like.  I've read the rulings thus far, and since I minored in political science until my last year of college, I did know several of the precedents being cited and looked up others, and I almost barely understood what was happening, but was finally saved tonight by The Atlantic, which at least sort of clarified the confusion.  Historically, one could usually pretty easily classify the Supreme Court as "liberal" or "conservative," but this particular court has managed to alienate pretty much the entire country at one point or another, so it can't be called either one.  Again, this isn't turning into a political blog, but it just isn't very often that an entire state is scrambling to understand legal technicalities, and it is possible that the Idaho case could be the one the Supreme Court finally has to hear.  I believe we'll find out more tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So Tonight In Idaho.......

...the entire state is trying to figure out how time-consuming hobbies amongst heterosexual couples have been caused by gay people, or at least by gay marriage.  Because that, as it turns out, is one of the arguments our governor tried to use in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to persuade them to allow Idaho's same-sex marriage ban to stand.  I don't think one is allowed to call someone an idiot in a legal ruling, but they came pretty close in a (for attorneys) rather humorous ruling striking down Idaho's ban today:

lso sta
s, in c
shion, tha
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llowing sa
x m
d opposite
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s to a
ohol a
nd drugs, e
in e
irs, ta
on de
ing work sc
s, a
d pa
in tim
s. W
doubt tha
t a
llowing c
x c
s to se
down in le
d m
s will drive
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"[Governor Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will
lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital
affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming
hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle
down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs,and rock-and-roll."

This is not a political blog, nor do I want to turn this into a place to debate anything political, but I did think my fellow crafters would appreciate the humor--especially since it comes from a man who spent much of HIS free time out at bars drinking and racked up a DUI while Lieutenant Governor, which seems to have been the catalyst for his first wife to ask for an annulment.  And as Idahoans, we are no strangers to providing the nation with political humor.  Remember Larry Craig?  Not only is he from Idaho, he's from my home town.  There would have been a "home of" sign, but the town only has 150 people and doesn't have an actual public men's room anywhere, so we didn't have anywhere to hang it.  So, we're sort of used to the ridiculous, but apparently we can still be shocked.  With hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, ski resorts, wilderness, golf courses, trails, bike paths, wineries, and horses on any lots bigger than half an acre, everyone in the entire state has a time-consuming hobby.  Except, apparently, our governor.  And not a single one of us knew it was because of same-sex marriage, which wasn't legal until today.  But I guess we really, really, REALLY know how to plan ahead here. Guess I need to go turn on the music, grab a glass of wine, and hit the knitting!

When One Door Rots, Another One is Filled With Fabric.......

You might have noticed a sudden upturn in my crafting productivity lately.  Sadly, there isn't an accompanying big new amount of free space in the sewing room--it's probably not even really any less frightening--but I am up to 89 finished projects so far this year.  Why this sudden upturn in creativity?  Because the garden was a dismal, dismal failure this year, so at this time of year when I would normally be canning I have nothing to can.

One of my beds of tomatoes got hit by a fungus, but new extreme heat patterns did the rest.  People can debate global warming all they want, but the lovely thing about science is that it doesn't need one to believe in it--it just is.  And my garden really just isn't this year.  I had such an overabundance of tomatoes last year that there's nothing we really needed this year, but some soups would have been nice.  However, pulling weeds is something my back can't do this year, my allergies have gone completely crazy, and so the garden and I have been taking time apart.  Normally, this week the garden would freeze, though we had such a late, hot summer that it isn't going to be doing that here any time soon, so we might actually get some tomatoes after all, but it does mean that I'm not trotting downstairs every morning to fire up the canner.  So, I have free time this year.  So,

It needs to be ironed, but this is the latest chalkboard table runner. The idea is good and I think they will be very handy, but besides the fact that they are really hard to make, the fabric-trimmed ones aren't very practical because these really shouldn't be washed. Now I want to use them for entertaining, which means food is GOING to end up on them and, because this is the way things like this work, it is going to end up ON THE FABRIC PART. What then? So, while this is not nearly as decorative, it's going to be a much better gift, and the fact that it was easier to do is just a nice little perk..............

Monday, October 6, 2014

Knitting on a Knitting Blog????

Probably quite a shock around here, huh?

So, since I have taken a break from Cold Sheeping, I have been thinking about what I would buy before climbing back onto the sheep for 2015.  I want some new wool colors for the color work ornaments,
especially some greens and metallics if I can find them.  Then, of course, I started browsing lace yarn--of which I need nothing and have room for even less--then started checking out sock yarn.  Some plain colors in sock yarn and maybe some self-patterning is a possibility, but of course I started moving from "some" to a whole bunch--rationalizing that it would be my next project for gifts.

Ever had one of those moments when your rationalizations to do something sort of stupid sound a bit familiar?  Sort of deja dumb?  In 2011 in a self-pity-wallow yarn purchase, I had bought 8 or 9 balls of dk-weight mohair, planning to make mohair hats for all my friends for Christmas.  3 years later, there is one hat-like mohair monstrosity,
which I kept because I like my friends too much for this sort of thing, and I still have the rest of the yarn.  And, of course, the thought process isn't, "Well, obviously I don't need anymore yarn."  Being ME, it was, "Gosh, if I knit some of that mohair up, I wouldn't feel so stupid buying sock yarn."  I think before Cold Sheeping, there wouldn't have been any of this discussion at all, so I think this is progress.  And,
it did get a scarf finished.  So, maybe yarn for 1 ball of socks...........?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I Think Things Just Got Easier

One of the reasons for my scary fabric stash is the presence of local fabric stores.  Until Joann Fabrics closed two stores to open one "super" store here, it was my favorite.  The "super" store model is short for "super-long-waits" stores, and they actually knew they were going to be so understaffed and have such long lines at the cutting counter (in a FABRIC store) that they put in a ticket system with a loudspeaker prior to opening.  So, I had switched allegiance to the little, floundering Hancock Fabric store struggling along.  They have smaller selection in cotton, but more apparel fabrics.  So, all was good until Hancock put in a new "upselling" policy.  Now when you get fabric cut--which, you know, means you're buying something from them--you get treated to some product being relentlessly pushed on you.  Lately it's been quilt basting spray, but there's been a magnetic pin thing, scissors, and all sorts of stuff that one generally already has.  Last time, however, I was not only treated to the basting spray push but when I said "no," she moved on to some Nancy Zeiman tool, THEN there was some stupid club pushed on me at the check stand.  That was the last straw--I'm going online or back to Joanns.  Does anyone NOT find that sort of thing seriously annoying? 

So, aside from a few quilting shops that sell only cotton, the temptation of going fabric shopping has been pretty much eliminated around here.  It's either spectacularly long lines at Joanns or the used car sales push at Hancock Fabric.  I used to feel sorry for bricks-and-mortar stores that were put out of business by the online ones, but honestly, sometimes store policies are just so foolish that it's a wonder they weren't put out of business sooner.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Projects, Projects, Projects

Nothing like a looming deadline to make a crafter totally irrational.

This week I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend who just turned 60.  As she loves leaves, I thought this would be the perfect time to make the leaf table runner pattern that I bought in Canada:
because everything looks simple when you're an irrational person.  By the morning of the party,
I wasn't even close.  So, I scrounged out the last pre-made canvas bag in my stash and embroidered a bag with her name and a really nice tree on it, cutting it SO close to the deadline that I didn't even get a picture of it before dashing off to the party.  Good to see those old college study habits have stuck with me so long.

Last weekend I did get a Santa bag done,
which I'm pleased with.  I'll send it off early so Kellan's parents can use it for the Santa gifts.  So sometimes I'm on top of things.

I had run to the fabric store to pick up more fall fabric for the table runner a couple weeks ago, and grabbed some pretty brown yarn--largely because I could, but also because my stash of "gifts for men" was a bit thin, 

and didn't even get a picture of the yarn before I'd finished the scarf.  That was fast.  Did I mention how exciting New Yarn is at this point?

Buying new yarn DID, oddly enough, motivate me to reexamine my stash for other yarn I'd bought for gifts,
so there is a new scarf on the needles using yarn from 2011.  I've been scrambling to make a lot of last-minute gifts, so I'm trying to get a bit farther ahead before Christmas.  Theoretically, Andy is making the gifts this year, but this never really works out as we plan.  Even on off years, Andy will end up making a quick pen or I'll make someone socks.  We're disorganized flexible on these things.......

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Already?

Whew!  September was fun, busy, and FAST.  And oddly enough, included 20 finished projects!  I think the big change is that now--after 3 years--I can finally sit long enough to actually sew something.  And maybe a wee bit of desperation might be thrown in there as well.  At any rate, I even remembered to do my month-end tally:

Yards of fabric used: 9.867
Yards of yarn used (or given away):  3458
skeins of yarn used (or given away): 16
Projects finished:  20

Okay, giving away yarn helped a bit on that one, but oddly, so did buying yarn.  I have been cold sheeping for so long that I think it finally became a little de-motivating.  I didn't want to use up my yarn because I wasn't going to buy more.  Now I'm knitting like crazy, because while I'm trying not to buy yarn, I could.  So maybe a little vacation from my sheep wouldn't hurt.............