Saturday, February 26, 2011

Visiting other Blogs

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating... I am blown away by the generous, loving spirit that is evident by just touring around the various blogs on this site. Not to mention YouTube and other sites. If there is anything you want to learn, by golly a few minutes with a search engine will get you going.

I've spent the morning, separate from a dental appointment and a trip to the other side of the county for nothing :-\ (but that is a story for another time), perusing blogs. There are several I've chosen to follow, which I always check up on, but today I decided to let my fancy go where it may by following links or searching phrases.

My goodness was that fun! I discovered a couple of blogs that may become regulars for me. I've learned a lot! And compiled a whole list of things I want to try! It's really fun and interesting to see not only the differences in the look of the blogs, but also the postings. Even though several I visited were sewing/crafting in nature, the projects and posts were so different. Entertaining, interesting, informative, visually stimulating, creatively stimulating, comforting... Amazing!


in the picture is Clink, who came to us a stray, bedraggled, half starved kitten. all black, save for a few white hairs on her chest, she believes she is in charge. she embodies the quote "Dogs have owners. Cats have staff." she often causes raised voices because she is forever laying under feet or on the darkest part of the rug. however, quirky aggravating behavior aside, she is loved and so belongs in a post.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Project #14 Scarves

Couple of guy birthdays coming soon and I found this scarf at Lion Brand Yarn. I'm including the LBYarn photo as no matter how many ways I tried, I could not photograph these scarves and do justice to the pattern.

It's a fun knit and I used two strands held together. The pattern creates this deep, wide ribbing effect that feels great and looks manly! The one on the right is wool-ease variegated. The other is one strand black, one strand camouflage.

I am a relatively new knitter and am in awe when something I knit looks just like the picture. Okay, you'll just have to take my word for it - they do look like the picture!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project #13 Shoulder Warmer

Using the Half Moon Shawl Pattern from Lion Brand Yarn and LBY Suede, which has been discontinued I think, I made this. I only had 3 skeins, so it became a capelet or as I like to call it... A Shoulder Warmer.

I love this pattern! I've used it before to make shawls for a prayer shawl ministry. It is easy and the finished project is flirty and feminine, but the best part about it is that you can adapt it to any length you want and it looks beautiful. Second best... use whatever yarn you want! Thin yarn: add more rows, thick: fewer rows.

I only had three skeins of yarn to work with and I didn't know how much of a shawl I would end up with... It would have been easy to say I won't even try. But try I did and glad I am. (are you picturing yoda, too?)

Take the first step in faith You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project #12 Puffy Heart Pins

Recognize this heart? This is just one of the many ways the heart pattern, from this entry can be used. These sweet little pins were gifts for friends on Valentine's Day, and were made with #10 crochet thread.

Notice the bright glare on the upper right corner? Believe it or not, it's sunshine. Actual bright sunshine making a glare on the picture. I simply could not take another to fix that problem as there will be days before Spring truly arrives that seeing the promise of the sunshine to come will be oh so good.

Forgotten Pictures and Perspective

Arrrghhh. I've forgotten to take pictures of gifts given away recently. Which, as I'm on this 30 projects challenge I find even more frustrating than usual.

That being said, I'm letting the frustration go. How amazing is it to be able to make gifts for people, which brings happiness to both giver and receiver? How great is it to be so caught up in the giving of the gift that you forget about documenting it? I have an amazing life and being frustrated about this is just plain silly.

I have a friend with a young son. She said a few days ago that her son was very put out that his favorite after school snack was not in the house. Very put out. She felt he was ungrateful for all that he has and was put out herself. But as I listened to her story, all I thought was both she and her son are very, very blessed. How wonderful is the life of her son when the absence of a favorite snack is the worst thing that happened to him? How blessed are they that this little boy does not have hunger or violence or some other darkness to measure his daily routine against.

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. Groucho Marx

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Project #11 Angels

I love this pattern, called Robbie's Angel. I've made it dozens of times over the years. I fiddle with the pattern a little, as you will see if you compare my angels to the original. Mostly I fiddle to make the angels individual, so siblings aren't receiving the same angel. I also prefer to use Luster Sheen or it's equivelent weight. Because I use the larger thread, I eliminate one round on the granny square as it looks right to me, which is the beauty of creating your own art isn't it?

This closeup is to show the more masculine and the more feminine angels. I thought the un-ruffled edging, on the blue angel, would seem less girly... What do you think? I may add some ribbon bows at the neck, I'm undecided. It's another way I mix up the look of the angels. Perhaps a bow tie for the boy angels...

The angels will be Christmas 2011 gifts. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Think what you will. It's another bonus of this 30 projects challenge... By the way, my husband said the other day "I thought you were done. I've seen much more than 30 items come out of the room (my studio)." Which was really interesting. I've been counting projects, as in different sessions or kinds of things I've been working on, not multiples of the same item. Hmmmm... perspective is an interesting thing isn't it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thoughts about this blog...

Have you noticed I've been hiding a little? Though I've been writing posts to the blog, I've kind of been hiding behind projects. I'm a pretty private person. I also don't think everything is newsworthy. Plus, I feel a little uncomfortable and exposed sometimes... Even knowing that I'm probably the only person who reads this.

I realized as I re-read the oldest posts that I let that uncomfortableness (or fear, which is what it really is) keep me away for long periods of time and/or use to blog to dryly document projects. They only bright spot in the past few months were the Thankfully posts.

I also discovered I've just passed my two year anniversary with this blog, which is astounding to me. I think I'll keep it for at least a little while longer, but something has got to change because I'm bored with it. So... it's time for it to get more interesting, lively, and unexpected.

I love words. Quotes, lyrics, poems, literature, comics, advertisiing... you never never know when or where you will find insight or wisdom or comfort. Yesterday I saw the new Chrysler/Eminem commercial and all I can say is WOW. That is quality advertising. Simple, direct, powerful, uplifting, courageous, hopeful...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all...
~Emily Dickinson

I am hoping for Spring. It's been a long white winter and I'd dearly love some green, hence the picture above. As I'm writing this, the sun is shining... now that's a welcome sight.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pattern Alterations

Patterns that come straight out of the package may fit you the way you would like, but more often than not, a little tweaking can turn a generic fit into a great fit. I'm not talking about the super close form fit that you see on television or in movies, though you could do that if you wanted to. I'm really talking about altering patterns to most flatter your figure. For instance, the vest I finished yesterday, the main reason it didn't fit well enough is that I have a large bust. To accomodate the bust, often means my waistline is swimming in the generic patterns. One of the main reasons I make my own clothes is because I often experience the same problem with off the rack clothing. The size that fits my waist causes gapping or puckering in the bust or the size that fits my bust is too voluminous in the waist creating the oh so attractive block shape.

There are two books I highly recommend. First is this one by Palmer and Alto. It's filled with great drawings and pictures, and I find them easy to read and understand. Don't let the outdated clothing styles on the cover put you off! There are two companion books called "Pants for Real People" and "Jackets for Real People" - also great. But for general fitting of all garments, this book is a winner.

The other book is this one by Nancy Zieman. I know, you're probably thinking these books must offer duplicate information... Well some of it is the same, however there is plenty in here that is unique. Nancy has several easier to accomplish techniques that work really well for small alterations and her explanations of the process offer more insight and understanding of what it takes to alter patterns. Her confidence makes me feel confident!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Project #10 Fleece Vest.

It's been a busy day, filled with completed projects. Many were started on another day, like this vest. I started it a week ago, but when I tried it on and it was too large (and the side seams and armhole facings were already finished) I had some thinking to do before continuing. For the first couple of days I was just a little ticked. I know better than to wait to try on when the garment is mostly finished. And the really aggravating part is it's a pattern I've used before and remembered how big it ran, so took in all the pieces before cutting. But not enough! Arrrrrghhhh. Okay maybe more than a little ticked.

Then, which option to pursue... I could rip out all the finished work and take in along the sides or I could put in darts or I could run some elastic along the back, creating a gather.

So I tried pin fitting each option and it turns out I liked the elastic along the back best, but doing a small strip in the middle of the back wasn't going to be enough. So instead, I made a small belt, using 1 1/2 inches of the fleece and 1/2 elastic. I sewed the belt to the side seam and it creates a soft gather along the back, which makes an otherwise gender neutral shape a little more feminine. 'Course the fabric helps with that too ;)

You might notice that the facing is a combination of the floral and a solid pink. This is because this fleece is a remnant bin treasure. There was just a smidge over 1 yard and it wasn't quite enough for the facings, so I used a lovely pink for the armhole facings and the lower portion of the front facings.

I'm pleased with the day and the vest. This is project #10 and I'm 1/3 to my goal. * 10 projects in 17 days * While not at the pace I'd originally set, it's darn good! Oh and this vest turned out so well that I'm going to make another with (can you guess?) another remnant treasure!!! You're excited aren't you!?

Project #9 Hearts a plenty

I love this project. It's one I invented years ago and periodically revisit around Valentine's. Some time ago, I discoved this bookmark pattern at JPF Crochet Club. After making several bookmarks, inspiration hit... Two hearts could be turned into a puffy heart.

Using #10 thread and the basic heart pattern (without the edging), I made two of them, then single crocheted two together along the outside, filling with fiber fill just before closing. Sew a pin back on and wear it on a lapel or a magnet and put it on the fridge.

Well these turned out so great that I wanted to try out different kinds of thread, then different kinds of yarn... I've made them out of every kind of yarn (felted even) by now but these are definitely a favorite. They are made from cotton yarn, filled with poly fiber fill. The size is perfect for little hands and the cotton is machine washable and durable. You can fill it however you want, but fiber fill is my first choice because the hearts are made with double crochet, some fillings poke through.

Another favorite project from the heart pattern is to single crochet around just one, using two strands of eyelash yarn. It makes the most wonderful coaster for the Valentine's dinner table.

Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. Erica Jong

Project #8 Teethers

Here is a sweet little project I found through homemadebyjill. Homemade by Jill is one of my favorites. She's very talented and as you will see, her teethers are amazing. The pattern is from therubberpunkin and she has an amazing tutorial to walk you through the steps.

This is fussy work, the eyes, the ribbons on the side, trying to turn the project right side out. Needless to say I learned a lot during this first round. Next time I will make the eyes a little larger and I will probably only use two ribbons on the sides as I like the look better. I used Jill's idea of adding something crinkly inside and love the way it sounds. I used two layers of Warm and White to enclose the plastic, which were the same size as the outside. I stitched these three layers together to avoide shifting. Then I sewed all five layers, front, back, batting, plastic, batting. Pretty thick and difficult to turn. Next time I'm going to make the batting/plastic sandwich smaller, and insert it after the front and back are sewn and turned. I'll let you know how that goes.

Funny side note... Yesterday I just happened to go to Big Lots to replenish our gift bag and tissue paper supply. I bought a collection of bags in a large clear plastic bag. When I transfered the gift bags out of the plastic bag, I knew I'd found the perfect plastic for this project. It's a little stiff and very crinkly. A quick dip in vinegar to make it germ free and it was ready to use. I love how amazing life is. Oh, the best part... The bag is huge and will last through many many many projects. amazing ;)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts on gifts...

We have a lot of family and friend birthdays in the winter. A lot. Virtually every week from November through March, even doubling up here and there. A lot.

The picture is of my 'finished basket'. A place where completed creations rest until a birthday or other holiday comes along.

I often crochet and knit for relaxation. While watching TV or traveling or waiting for this child or that, I put yarn to hook or needles. A scarf, a baby afghan, a hat, a shawl - whatever strikes my fancy at the moment and I add it to the finished basket.

If I'm sewing an easy project, I'll often make more than one and put the extras in the basket. Easy projects are great 'assembly line' candidates.

I also occasionally get the beading bug. When that happens, I make at least two things so I can add to the basket.

Today I went 'shopping' in my finished basket and found a scarf for a friend from work who has a birthday this weekend. While I was perusing the scarf pile, I discovered a baked potato bag in the basket and decided to include it, too. Easy, stress free shopping.

All these extras become great gifts throughout the year, but especially during this time when the holidays take precedence on time and energy. I highly recommend it.

Another thing I recommend... step outside the box. I am a sucker for clearance yarn (think I might have mentioned that before). Mostly because I can try out all the different specialty yarns at much more affordable prices. Also because it get me outside the box of what I would typically purchase as far as color or texture. It's kind of a challenge too... unusual colors, maybe not enough to actually make a complete project out of one yarn so you must combine with another.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, some people when they create things their color pallete or material choices are so focused that all their finished projects have a certain look. Branded if you will. Shopping in the clearance section gets me out of that branded-ness. It helps me to expand beyond my natural tendancies. What's really cool about that is I can almost always find something in my 'finished basket' that suits the recipient. Instead of giving away a gift that looks like me, I give gifts that look like the recipient.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Update & Admission

Okay, I've been avoiding the blog. I admit it. I set a goal that is just not realistic and rather than admit it, I've been avoiding the blog.

All done with that now.

Here's what I've discovered... 30 projects is completely doable either of the following ways:

1. Making or completing simple projects only.
2. Doing nothing else except working on these projects. No work, no family time, no reading... Well you get the idea.

Turns out I'm not really interested in doing either. I like a flexible schedule and I like spending time with my family. While I enjoy simple projects I also enjoy the challenge of tailoring clothes, crocheting shawls, knitting sweaters, all of which take longer than the hours I have each day.

So, rather than hiding from the blog, I'm going to alter my goal. I'm still focussed on 30 projects, but now I'm willing to leave the end date open. That way I can make things I want to make, give them the time they deserve and will produce things out of my 'studio' that make me happy and proud.

And I have to say that is a much better goal!