Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Piece of Cake

Well, this is me starting new projects--regardless of any previous promises to finish things before I start new things.  (Seriously: do I even listen to myself when I make promises like that?)

It's fall: Monday Knit Football season.  So I started a knitting project.  You know, a cowl, because the weather's gonna get chilly my sister gave me the pattern!

provisional cast on with waste yarn
The pattern is called Pi Cowl, by Emily Williams.  It is a simple tube, knit in the round on circular needles, no increases, decreases (or even purl stitches!), then joined at the end into a bit of a donut shape.  The color changes represent the digits of Pi: three (point) one four one five nine, etc...

Yay for nerdy projects!

So naturally, being such a basic pattern, I figured there would be no new skills to learn.  Wrong!  But no worries: I love learning new things.

First new skill: provisional cast on.  Not too difficult, since I already knew how to wield a crochet hook.  Brilliant additional idea from the YouTube video that I watched to learn this: mark every 10 stitches, so you don't have to keep counting as the cast on progresses toward the requisite 94 stitches.

Second new skill: changing colors in the round in a way that looks almost seamless.  Thank goodness for YouTube videos!  The name for this technique is "jogless stripes" and it is not difficult at all.

These are cakes of yarn; now you know

My yarn colors.  Fun, no?  They remind me of sporty clothing from the 1970's, especially when knit into all those stripes.

Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash

Not being well-versed in all things knitting, I didn't realize you can't knit straight from the skein as it comes from the yarn store.  That is a no-no.

Action shot: unwinding a skein

But, that doesn't mean you need to wind your yarn into balls by hand.  The well-equipped knitter (my awesome Sister) has a fancy contraption that winds it all with a few turns of a hand crank. 

I was mesmerized watching it.

And the end result is not a ball of yarn, but a cake.  Yummy.

This project will probably last me well into football season.  Just a-knittin' away.

Do you have "football season" projects?  What makes a good candidate for working on while watching (or listening to) sports on tv?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fear of FMQ

I've been following the stashbusting sew-along all year, without really participating in the "sew along" part of things. But August's theme really grabbed me: face your fears.

I realized that fear had been holding me back. No garment sewing had taken place because of fear of cutting into those special fabrics. You know, the stashed fabrics that I have held onto for so long, just waiting for perfect to happen: perfect pattern, perfect fit, perfect execution of some tricky sewing detail (like welt pockets, or an invisible zipper, or a curved dart, etc.)
But the stashbusting community was behind me this month. We were all gonna face our fears together! A garment was finally gonna come together in 2015.
Only thing is, I told myself I had to finish the quilting on a little ol' wallhanging before I could start something new (like a garment). And guess what? Fear had been holding me back from finishing that, too!

I didn't even realize... Didn't acknowledge to myself that I was procrastinating on the quilting--I just knew it wasn't getting done in a timely manner.

Followed the mantra

Practice session: ewww
Dived into a bit of FMQ (Free Motion Quilting--last seen publicly in this post from 2012).

Does it look like bubbles? Or sea foam?
And the quilting is DONE. Fear faced.

Not afraid of a close-up: perfect in its imperfections
Not perfect by any means, but it beats the heck outta hiding in a paper sack for another year or more. Win!

Now, can some elves come over and whip up a binding for this one so I can count the stash that was used? So very close to done done.

Thank you to all the Stashbusting Sewalong followers on The Facebook!  Seeing your work has really encouraged me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tote-ing my License Plates

Part of a winning quilt in Redding, CA
Have you been Row-by-Row-ing this summer? I had a 2000-mile road trip in July, which took me near more quilt shops than I could possibly visit (given that I was traveling with non-quilting family members).

Totally enjoyed collecting row patterns, seeing the quilts completed (most shops already had a winner--less than 1 month into the challenge!), and buying license plates.  

Yikes!  After only a moderate amount of shop-hopping, I am awash in license plates.  What to do with them all...?

Well, it just so happens that the friendly folk at Row by Row Headquarters provided a free handy tote bag pattern--and I think it will be the perfect canvas for displaying my license plates.

When last I blogged about bag-sewing, I showed the fabrics I was considering for this tote.  Fortunately, Sweetie talked me into the less is more camp; I maybe have a tendency to overdo it on the funky fabric mixing.

Fabric audition!!

Finished: basic tote bag

I am delighted with the handles--which I lined with a polka dot grosgrain ribbon (leftover from my wedding last summer). The license plate fabric was used for the outside pocket: cute & packs a graphic punch.

For now, I have just pinned a couple of the license plates in place.  I mean, I don't know how many more plates I might need to make room for, right?

This is me, tote-ing like a boss.

Happy to have another finished project.  Eagle eyes will note that this is not one of the UFO/WIPs I listed on my goal check-in--because it was done when I made the list.

Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, being hosted this week on Quilt Matters.

Stash accounting:  used 1 1/4 yards of fabric

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Month 8 already!

Way back when the New Year was young, I set 15 goals for 2015.  July done, August well underway: this year is more than half over (how did that happen?!)  'Bout time to check in and see how those goals are progressing.  (Well, at least the most measurable of them...)

1.  Use up, donate or dispose of 100 yards of fabric.
...about 2 yards of fabric a week...  all the fabric I haul around keeps me bound to the past...
I will have to count up and post an update soon, but I know I'm nowhere near halfway a quarter of the way toward meeting this goal.  However, I am cultivating a different relationship with my fabric stash.

I have willingly cut into several long-stashed fabrics (examples here and here).  At this point (some decades after many of these were purchased), letting go of the original purpose of the fabric has finally freed me.

2.  Get my UFO pile down to single digits.
...it sounds reasonable...
Keep reading below:

3.  Track my progress.
...record-keeping required...
Well!  Since I didn't bother to count or post my UFO's at the beginning of the year, I don't even know if I've really made progress toward Goal #2.  Need to recommit to Tracking my Progress, definitely.

UFO/WIP list - What IS, August 2015

* = projects shown above
Quilts or big projects:
(1) Grandma's bedspread  (2) Drama t-shirt quilt*  (3) Relaxing Robin*  (4) Barnyard Play Quilt*  (5) Love in my Heart  (6) Wordy Wallhanging*  (7) Red/pink/black baby quilt*  (8) Ocean Waves wallhanging*  (9) Cuppa Joe wallhanging*  (10) Scrappy 1930s checkerboard*  (11) 2013 buck-a-block monochrome*

Smaller projects:
(12) Striped placemats  (13) Hurry Up Pizza Man  (14) mystery cube puzzle  (15) paper-pieced daisy pillow cushions

(16) jersey pj dress  (17) red linen dress  (18) wool cape/coat

(19) coin purses  (20) rag rug*  (21) headwarmer  (22) neck ruff

Alrighty, I've got my work cut out for me.  Twenty-plus UFO's doesn't seem like an insurmountable pile.  My only problem is that I keep getting excited and starting new projects.  This list lets me know that I should
Finish AT LEAST TWO projects for each ONE that I begin
 --for the rest of 2015

Anyone with me?  Or just willing to chime in and help keep me honest?  I promise to come to your blog and cheer you on, too!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Annotated Bookmarks

ADD post.  Apologies to those who are easily distracted--this is a dump from my very own distracted brain.

I was having trouble with slowness on my computer, and battery life on my phone.  Umm, yeah. Apparently, having a dozen webpages open at a time will do that.  So here is my list: Bookmarks that are currently open on my phone and my computer

Saw these awesome shoes on a customer in line at the store; asked him about them, and he proceeded to sing their praises.

Lifestyle blog that I occasionally peruse.  Can't I just set a bookmark for that?  Or better yet, put it in my own feed of blog posts that regularly come before my eyes? 

The Momentum Optimization Project List (They're rules, not guidelines)
Another blog.  I want to go and read all her posts on "Momentum Optimization", since I seem to be battling the same motivation/get-going-already issues she talks about in this post.  Also, I think some of her ideas, maybe not from this particular post, but on this theme, have gone viral.
The blog is narrowbackslacker.com

White America's racial illiteracy: Why our national conversation is poisoned from the start
april 10, 2015 post by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, the good men project

Not even sure how useful this is...

A design blog about "living a stylish life and transforming the so-so".  Again, how useful is this link?  (And why do I collect useless information?  Oh wait: new & shiny.)

vintagerevivals.com Tagline: "fearless DIY"
I think this was me trying to get our large blank walls filled inexpensively and yet stylishly.  A post on upcycling thrift store art looks useful.



google search: house hunting quilt pattern
Every now and then I get the itch to make this quilt; BOTM from 2010 maybe?

A progressive exercise regime from Redbook Magazine
21 days to "Get in the Best Shape of Your Life"  I just love promises like that one!

Climbing Monkeys Winery
Want to take Sweetie there sometime; but you have to make a reservation because they don't have regular hours, just by appointment

Monday, July 13, 2015

Borrowed Design Wall

Had a "finish-it-up" sew-in at the shop, and I made use of their design wall to help me along.  Didn't finish (this is meant to be part of a larger project), but made good progress.

Me at the start of the afternoon.  I had put together 4-1/2" squares into a design based on a tutorial found on Freemotion by the River's blog.  That was as far as I got on this project while at quilt retreat camp in May, and I knew I needed space to lay out the next step...

Using the Twister Tool from CS Designs.  My mom had this tool; she was gonna use it to sew up some pinwheels at this year's retreat, so I decided this project would be done with her in my heart.


Me at the end of my sewing afternoon.  All rows are completed.  I was warned that the pinwheels should be cut and sewn one row at a time, to avoid utter confusion, so that's what I did.

And then I pinned each row, as it was completed, to the design wall.  So inspiring to see it coming together like that.  I know I can sew the rows together at home without the design wall's assistance.

Here's a close-up of the design wall, as seen from one of its edges: made from insulating boards, 4 ft x 8 ft, that have been screwed into the drywall.  Multiple boards butt up against each other to cover the entire wall.  Then you just use straight pins to attach your project.  Not the same as those flannel or fleece or padded design walls that don't require any outside assistance to hold up your project, but it so worked for me!

Next "finish-it-up Friday" is the last Friday of the month in Berkeley, California.  If you're in the Bay Area, you might consider dropping by to use some design wall for yourself.

Patchwork Times

Linking up with Design Wall Monday, hosted every week by Judy over at Patchwork Times.  Always fun to see how some folks use a resource that I merely covet... or borrow, in this case.

What do you use for a larger-scale design space?  Is it permanent, or fleeting?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Circling the Stash

Circles.  They have been going round in my head recently (pun intended)--but I reserve that blog post for another day.

"Boule" 2008 vintage

So, with the knowledge that I've been circle crazed lately, lookee what I found!  Gold bolt end tells you it's Alexander Henry.  Price told me it's an older fabric.  And a customer at the shop said, "When you find an Alexander Henry that you love, buy it!  Because you won't find it again."

Well, what could I do but start shopping for coordinating fabrics?  I do follow orders well (it's those 10 years in the Navy).  Here is the advantage of working in a quilt shop... auditions!

The teal group, left to right:
  • Clothworks, Hey Cupcake, Sky
  • Studio e, Just color, Slate
  • Felicity Miller, Charleston Farmhouse, Dahlia Leaf

The chartreuse group, left to right:
  • Timeless Treasures, Fun, Citron
  • In the Beginning, Painted Summer, Color 2
  • Joel Dewberry, Bungalow, Empress

The brown group, left to right:
  • RJR, Pomare, 0668
  • Kaufman, Quilter's Burlap, Cocoa
  • Free Spirit, Lilliput Fields, Ancient

The cream/tan/ecru group, left to right:

  • Timeless Treasures, Sand Wave, Cream
  • Kaufman, Doe, Natural
  • Quilting Treasures, Studio 8, Soho

Late addition: the only gray I liked was Quilter's Burlap, from Kaufman

WAIT!!!  What am I doing?  I see this ONE fabric that I adore (the circles, the circles!) and suddenly I'm ready to buy enough fabrics to make a whole quilt--with no pattern, no plan, no room in my already-stuffed UFO/WIP black hole for another project to come in and take over.  Aack: ADD = low impulse control (betcha didn't know that they were related, but they are).

The voice of reason prevailed.  I bought one yard of the Alexander Henry (instead of the 5 yards that I envisioned--go big or go home), and left the other fabrics safely on their bolts, in the shop, where they belong.

But I felt so guilty about where my inner hoarder was taking me, that I had to come home and de-stash in order to feel better about myself.

There: 5 1/2 yards of unloved fabrics  I could save them for bag linings, or muslins, or rag rugs... Or I could donate them to the children's charity quilt bin run by EBHQ, and they could be used.  And LOVED.  I really think the Universe wants them to be loved.

(Plus, my goal of using up or donating 100 yards of fabric in 2015.  There's that, too.)

Molli Sparkles

Following in the footsteps of Jen at A Quarter Inch from the Edge, I am linking up with Molli Sparkles over at Sunday Stash--to crow about both my acquisitions and my de-acquisitions.

I don't do enough quantity sewing to use up those 100 yards by myself.  How big is your stash?