Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sew Lovely

I've been sewing for much longer than I've been knitting. My mother is an excellent seamstress and so in High School I got fairly interested in it, and even helped (helped being the key word there) make one of my prom dresses, a beautiful "Audrey Hepburn" type dress, very elegant. After that I think I made some popcorn heat packs and maybe a skirt or something, but with college, things got busy and I lost interest.

After college, I started knitting, and got back into sewing again, but this time it was costumes and dresses. I wouldn't call myself an expert, that's my mom. I usually had her around to help me put in a zipper, or fix a problem seam or what not. When I moved back down to Utah, she gave me her old machine and I started doing more. I tried some bigger projects like a Regency gown, and my pirate costume and I also did some quick and easy projects, like purses, bags and skirts. I learned a lot from the big project (turned disaster) that was the Regency gown, like it's a good idea to make a mock-up before using your nice expensive fabric to make sure it actually fits, but really I think I learned to trust my sewing skills after that project. It had some more advanced techniques. I even got so adventurous that I made a messenger bag from scratch which I'm quite proud of.

Now, with my new machine, I think it's becoming an addiction. Discovering new crafts, like quilting is aiding this addiction, which is understandable since it's just "one more little seam" which suddenly turns into a huge piece of fabric. It's like a bag of chips, you can't eat (or in this case, sew) just one chip (seam).

And so, when I heard about the new Sew-Along for Knitters "Sew? I Knit!" I said, what the heck? I'm a sewer and a knitter!

I do have a lot on my plate already (what with the Knitting Olympics and all), but I have until March 20th! That's plenty of time, for me, the master sewer, to make a skirt! And once again, it may be the kick in the pants I need to actually do it. I've had some suiting and lightweight denim fabric in my stash for forever waiting to be made into a skirt, I even have the patterns already, just waiting for me to cut them out. Or there's also the jersey fabric and asymmetrical hem skirt pattern I was planning (are those still in style?). I have options people, and I'm going to use this as an excuse to exercise some of them! It's going to be fun! It's going to be fast! It's going to be easy. Or at least that's what I say now. I'd like to do something new, like make up my own pattern or something cool like that, but really, who am I kidding? I'll just stick to what I have already and maybe it'll actually get done. Come join if you want!

All this talk of sewing reminds me that I still need to make a Duct Tape Dummy, which of course comes in handy for knitting too. I am going to get around to doing this one of these days. My sister wants one too, so we'll have to have a taping party! Then I can start draping my own patterns! Wouldn't that be exciting.

Well, progress on the quilt: I was able to finish the top last night! I put the large border on and then of course had to make up a little pillow to match with the left over fabric, since it's going to be big enough to put on my bed. I'm already envisioning decor changes for my room. I just love pink, brown and green together! I'll post pictures of them either when my computer stops acting up or when I actually get them put together.

Monday, January 30, 2006

"Charmed, I'm sure"

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I love the weekend. I look forward to it all week long and make plans of how I'll spend it. Sometime it goes according to plan, sometimes it doesn't. This week was a mix of both, but nice none-the-less. I was actually productive! I cleaned and did laundry as well as crafting! Friday night I did something that wasn't on my list and went down to Provo and stayed at my sisters. We had fun watching "The Office" and then talking quilting in the morning.

Saturday morning before heading back up to Salt Lake to be productive, I stopped at the great used book store "Pioneer Book" on Center Street. I was looking for some used copies of the Chronicles of Narnia, but of course with the recent release of the movie, they're all sold out. While browsing I came across a fun book of "Etiquette" from the 1930's. I didn't buy it, but reading through different chapters was enlightening. I now know how to behave at the Opera and when no Chaperone is available. Isn't it funny how society has changed so much just in the last 50 years?

A lunch date with some good girlfriends broke up the afternoon craft time, not unhappily. I was able to finish all the quilt blocks and piece them together. Then it was time for a date, which included some Swing Dancing, which was too much fun! It has been way too long since I've been dancing! I will definitely be going back, especially since I won a free pass in a drawing. I may even enter the "non-professional" competition that will be starting in March, if I can coerce a partner to join me.

Here's a look at the progress on the quilt. I put the first border on last night. I also bound my graph paper journal last night, check it out. Here are my original sketches for the quilt, as you can see, I was a little confused at first, as to how log cabin squares were assembled. But I figured it out, and hopefully the finished dimensions will be around 60"x72" as seen in the second sketch.
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Here it is, pieced and sewn, just waiting for the last wide border in the brown stripe.

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I really love how it's coming together. Now all I need to do is find some backing material and practice my machine quilting! There was some progress on the hat and a bit on Clapotis, hopefully I'll get some more work done on them tonight while watching 24.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Braided Cable Hat

Well, I did it. I frogged the Anthorpology Capelet and am going to do a matching hat a scarf instead. Since I was using doubled worsted weight yarn, I think I'll have plenty. No I didn't take a photo before I frogged the capelet, it wasn't that great anyway!

I originally started a 6 stitch right twist cabled hat, but found the pattern I was trying to locate in my big book 'o patterns. It's a 9 stitch braided cable and I love it! I cast on 88 stitches on a size US8 needle and I think it will be a perfect fit.

I'm using the method of cabeling without a cable needle for the first time and I really like it so far. I think my stitches are more even than when I use a cable needle, for whatever reason. This will also be the first time I will make a pompom! Although I reserve the right to veto putting it on if I don't like it. Sometimes I think pompoms on hats look goofy. But the effect in the picture is nice.

Hopefully I'll be able to finish the hat tonight during the knitting group and then start on the Irish Hiking Scarf to go along. I may decide to do a braided cable scarf to match the hat, but we shall see. I'm thinking of adding pompoms across the bottom of the scarf to match, what do you think?

I was also thinking of making a hat to match Clapotis when I finish her, becuase the yarn is just too pretty. I think Cross Hat-ch would look cool in the yarn, but don't think the style of it goes with the scarf. Maybe something like Grumperina's Sarit hat. The curving ribs remind me of the rows in Clappy. I think it'd be super cute!

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Good Intentions

Well, I had dreams of finishing my quilt, of working on Clapotis, of binding a graph paper book for myself, of finishing something this weekend and feeling somewhat productive. None of that happened. I had a productive social life, but not a lot of productivity otherwise.

Around Sunday night (after a nice nap) I started panicking. I wanted to finish something this weekend! Have something to show from my time off from work. I picked up the Anthorpologie capelet I had set down last month. Now there was a reason I stopped working on it, I messed up somehow, and then didn't feel like working on it for a while. But at this point I've forgotten what exactly that mistake was. So instead I just picked up where I left off and worked to the part of splitting the sleeves. I put it all on scrap yarn, and found that although it meets under my arms, the sleeves are going to be *really* "loose". I don't know why, maybe there's something about raglan increases that I forgot while working this patter pretty much from memory/scratch.
This got me discouraged again and now I don't know if I should rip it out and make something else (do I really need another shrug? really?) or just keep going in the hopes that everything will work itself out? It might be cute, but will I wear it? Will it be worth it? The cream yarn I'm using might just be cuter as a hat and scarf set.

I realized this weekend as I was getting ready to go up to Park City to hang out at the Sundance Film Festival*, that I could really use a cute cream hat. And also, that although I've made quite a few hats and scarves, I don't have one matching set! So maybe it's time to rip-it and start a-new. I'm thinking a cute cabled hat (having trouble re-locating the pattern I have at home) with a pom-pom on top, and an Irish Hiking scarf... Or maybe the cabled news-boy hat that I see everyone doing. I've always wanted a news-boy cap.

I did manage to squeeze in a few rows on Clapotis on Friday while watching "Mad Hot Ballroom" (such a great movie!) with some friends, and I also am over half done on a curly crochet scarf in some purple mohair I've had in my small stash for more than two years. It's good to finally have a project to use it in. So there was some productivity this weekend, even if it's impossible to tell with the naked eye.

This week I'm starting a knitting group with a bunch of girls from my church. I'll probably spend more time teaching people how to knit, than actually being able to knit myself, but it's all good. I love teaching people to knit. I taught my roomie last night how to purl and now she's making a hat to match her scarf. This trend is catching on!

*By the way, Park City was fun, although we didn't get a chance to venture into Main Street, we caught a concert at the Park City Resort. G-Love and the Special Sauce were playing. It was freezing, but fun. Hopefully I'll get to catch a movie sometime this week with my friend, and get up to main street next weekend to go "Star Gazing".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Charm School"

I've been thinking about what I want to name my quilt, since calling it "my first quilt" is not only getting old, but frankly annoying. The line of fabric is called Charm, so I was thinking something with a play on that would be appropriate. I think "Charm School" fits, since it's my first quilt (ok, enough already!) and I'm learning with it! Plus I think the colors and patterns of it remind me of a true girly-girl, who's trying to act all grown up.

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It's just laid out for now. I have 1 1/2 blocks left and then it's just sew them together and add the borders. I'm trying to decide what fabric to use for the back. I think I'll go check out Jo-Ann's too (even though they don't carry Amy Butler), since $9/yard for backing material could get pricey pretty quickly. I also haven't decided on how I want to quilt it. Just in the ditch? Squares on the log cabins? Or follow the pattern on the back material? I'm a big fan of the "random" swirly look, but don't know if I could achieve this on my machine by hand. Squares might just be the best bet, since then I could use the little quilting guide that fits onto my walking foot too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Battle Wounds

Well it was a long and crafty weekend here at Chez Lola. Unfortunately I'm going to have some scars from all the quilting fun. 'Tis but a flesh wound. Really, it's already healing. But how I could have been so stupid I don't know. Sometimes you just don't think some of your actions through. It all started as I was preparing to cut my lovely fabric for my first quilt at my sister's house. I brought my rotary cutter and a new blade, since I mostly used it in the past for paper cutting. Changing the blade went just fine, the mistake came when I realized there was some oil of some kind on the blade. I figured it's good for it, but didn't want it to get all over my beautiful new fabric, so I decided to wipe it off... with a paper towel... turning it while wiping, and well I think you can imagine what happened next. A slip of the finger and I've got a v-shaped gash on the tip of my index finger. I'm sure you don't want to know how much my finger can bleed, but really it's a lot. More than you would think a little cut on a little finger can bleed. But I'm ok, I've survived. And now I have battle wounds, that will probably turn into battle scars, and who doesn't want battle scars from crafting? It's like showing your manliness, only in this case, your craftiness. At least I didn't sew through my finger like some poor girls over at Craftster... Now that would hurt!

So I got 8 out of 10 log cabin squares all done this weekend, well Monday really. Only two more to do and then I'm ready to sew them together and into a quilt! I'm loving how it's turned out. Did I mention that it's my own pattern? Finished measurements will probably be around 60x72" including the border. Unfortunately I didn't have time to snap some progress pictures yesterday, since the light was fading by the time I called it quits for the day, but I'll definitely have to post some tomorrow. I'm using the strip method which is making it go so fast! If I wasn't piecing them randomly it would be even faster! In only two hours I got over 75% of the quilt top done! Ok, that's just sewing time, with cutting it takes a bit longer, but I still was very impressed with it. The new machine is working great too! No more fussing with tension and having to pick up scissors and cut the thread every time I stop sewing. It's great.

Stephanie, aka the Yarn Harlot, has officially declared the Knitting Olympics, which will start with the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. I've decided to join, just for the extra push it will give me to get something done and I've decided to complete my first sweater during that time. Do you think I can knit a sweater in 16 days? I'm going to do a top-down raglan with a scoop neck. Either the "Somewhat Cowl" pattern or my own design. I'm going to work really hard on finishing it. Since it's all stockinette I think that will make it easier, especially on circulars, and I'm planning on using worsted weight yarn on size US8's so that too will speed it up. Wish me luck! I'll be swatching soon, which is allowed before hand, as training.

Friday, January 13, 2006

"Cotton" Candy

I was so excited about the prospects of starting my first quilt that I had to run out last night and get fabric! It was on sale, so even more incentive to go quickly. Everything I got is Amy Butler, but I'm hoping to find some more small print to add in with it, since I'm thinking twin-size and they didn't have many fat quarters cut already, plus they only had one left of the brown/pink dot fabric. I really don't think I'll mind going back to spend another hour browsing for fabric.

Now that I look at the site, most of these are from the "Marmalade" color scheme, and from the new fall pallet. But I think they all mix well. It was a super tough decision trying to pick from all the colors, but I wanted to stick to a simple color scheme, since these are pretty busy prints to begin with. So there are about 4 colors: pink, green, orange/coral and brown.
The next question is what kind of design. There was a pattern done in the fall pallet there that I'm finding I like more and more, so I may have to get that as well. My sister has offered to teach me what she knows and since I just taught her how to knit, I find it's fitting that we're exploring each others "craft".
I also set my machine all up last night for the first time. Well, first I had to clean and organize the craft room. I got about half done but the machine was calling my name. Saying things like, "What if I don't work and you have to take me back? You should just check to make sure." Well instead of even getting to check with a swatch or something, I just set everything up and read through the user manual (a little bed-time reading - am I a dork or what?). Boy am I excited! So many stitches I don't know what I'm going to do with them all! Plus the feet! There are so many! And did you know you can sew a button on with a machine? I think I learned more last night about sewing than I ever have in the years I've been doing it. Of course my past sewing experiences have been following patterns, which, although complicated, were pretty straight forward. There hasn't been a lot of room for experimenting with a machine in the past. Plus, I haven't had all those fancy stitches either. Ooh, my other new favorite thing, the twin needle, so you can do a double stitch in one step! That's going to be great for bags! How come I never knew about these things before? Now I just wish I had Monday off too, so I could spend all day sewing...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Turning Japanese

I think I'm turning Japanese. Or at least becoming slightly obsessed... Lately I've discovered the wonderful world of Japanese crafting. I've never seen such creativity! Maybe I'm a little slow to hop on the bandwagon, but I'm ready to ride this thing... I'm really intrigued by their felt creations, purses and bags, and crochet patterns.
Some fun and helpful sites for finding Japanese craft books:
EBay: Great store
Crafting Japanese
Buzzville's collection of books (with ISBN #'s)

The one's I really want myself:
ISBN 4277171818

Such beautiful patterns, I've never been more motivated to try crochet...

ISBN 4893968491

Lots of fun and different patterns plus some super cute bags.


So elegant and different! Every bag in here is a masterpiece!

Wow, if I could ever be so crafty...

I keep finding all kinds of things to inspire my creativity, and have a million projects I want to do. On my list of new projects to try out:

I am absolutely in *love* with Amy Butler's new line of quilting fabric, "Charm". All the colors are great, but I'm thinking a quilt in these would be lovely:

And I found a store near me that's having a fat quarter sale! Yay! Her quilt design is great too, I might use that (although not with so many different colors/patterns, but highlighting my favorites) or, do something like Yarnstorm's New York Quilt. I like really simple designs, plus I think it will be better for a beginner like me.

Machine Embroidery-
More inspiration from Yarnstorm. I want to try some new things out with my machine and I just love the whimsical, patch-like-quality of her designs. We'll see if machine embroidery is even possible on my machine, but I might be able to do some line drawings with decorative stitches or something like that if nothing else...

Clapotis is coming along, I have four or five repeats in the main body done, just need to keeping working on it. I didn't work on it last night, but I'll explain why in a bit. I haven't picked the socks back up yet. Those small needles can be intimidating! Sometimes while I was knitting I felt like I was going to break them in half! Bamboo are pretty flexible anyway, but seriously I don't know if I was knitting too tight or what, but they just felt so delicate.

Yesterday I spent almost an hour standing out in the pouring rain (luckily I had an umbrella, but no socks and jeans is a recipe for frozen feet, let me tell you) so I didn't feel like doing much when I finally made it home (after having to walk five blocks in what had turned into falling "slush"). Note to self: next time, plan out late night bus trip home better, or wear some different shoes.

Monday, January 09, 2006


I'm such a slacker for letting last week slip by, but with no progress (really) on the knitting, I felt I didn't have anything to share.

The reason for no progress last week was because I was busy reading and then watching "Memoirs of a Geisha". I really enjoyed this book, so much in fact that I couldn't put it down! It's all I wanted to do. Seeing the movie on Sat. was a perfect windup to a week of reading. I highly recommend both the book and the movie. I've read some reviews from people that they didn't like the changes from book to movie, but I thought they did an excellent job of capturing the feel of the book. They were both gorgeous and now I find myself very inspired by all Japanese art and culture. Check out this great website for more about Geisha and their culture.

I've made a list of New Year's Resolutions and I'll share a few of them here. I find as I'm nearing turning 26 I've been re-evaluating many of the things in my life, where I'm going and what I'm doing. I'm not going to share some of the deeper things I've resolved to do this year, but here's a few of the things on my list. They include both crafting/knitting related goals and life goals:

1. Start exercising with an aerobics video at home (I love to dance, it's the only way I can enjoy "working out")
2. Branch out in my knitting. Finish my first sweater!
3. Finish projects I start (which means really thinking things through before starting) and perhaps think about designing something myself.
4. Keep craft room clean and organized (it gets messy fast and then affects my desire to be creative).
5. Find new uses for my sewing machine. And use it more (including the stash of fabric). Make a quilt (my first).
6. Keep moving forward in bookbinding. Try new styles, be more creative, enter more exhibits/shows, sell more books, take a workshop at the Book Arts Program, think about applying again for an MFA.
7. Start writing more and keep a journal.
8. Be more productive and self-motivated.
9. And of course, be better about blogging (more than once a week).

Well, that's a few of the things on the list. I think it will keep me busy this year, I just need to try not to tackle them all at once, which is usually what happens, with the result that I never keep any of them. Now it's time to get back to working more on Clapotis and my first socks!