Monday, June 28, 2010

June "FO"s

June is almost over. I finished several crafty items in June. First to be finished was my awesome bff Jen's birthday gift which I posted about earlier this month. Actually I think that was done late in May, but I gave it to her the first weekend of June, so I'm going to count it!

The next thing  I finished was my girly ghan, which I started in March or April, and which I donated to the Linus Connection of Central Texas. Super bff Jen donated a couple of quilted wall hangings to my old boss' JDRF auction a couple of years ago, and I had promised a blanket to Linus Connection, a charity very close to her heart, as a little extra "thank you". The pattern for the grannyghan is from Lion Brand Yarn's Birds' Nest Throw, but with a different sequence of colors and # of colors and different border.

Finally, this morning I wove the ends in on another crocheted blanket I started a few weeks ago. My friend and long-time co-worker (14 years working together!) Doreen lost her dad to a heart attack late in May, and when I went to his funeral her mom just looked lost and so very shrunken up and sad. She had a stroke a few years ago and is in a wheelchair much of the time, and on the side that did not suffer from the stroke, she has been hit with Parkinson's disease. She's lucid, coherent, but has pretty much shut down since his death. It was hard to see her this way, it seems like not that long ago she was quilting up a storm and competing on the Senior Olympics basketball team, but the last few years have really taken a toll. I asked Doreen what her mom's favorite color was, and was told blue, "country colors" she said. I found a few places online telling how to make a granny a rectangle instead of square, but I didn't like how it was coming out so I modified the corners until I liked how they looked. Then it seemed to still be coming out fairly square, so I added about 5-6 inches to opposite ends before adding the border so that it was the rectangle I wanted. I looked through my stash and found the perfect two complimentary skeins (they were GIANT skeins), one of a dark country blue (Caron One Pounder - colonial blue I think?) and one that is variegated in country shades of pink/blue/lavender (Bernat Bulky Super). After one time around in the blue with just single crochet, I bordered it with the multi, single crochet through the back loops. It's now washed, dried (it came out so soft from the dryer!), and gifted, and Doreen thinks her mom will really love it. It's a bit skewed hanging there, but actually came out a  perfect rectangle. You would be able to see it if I had something to hang the hanger onto a little farther away from the other hanger.

So that's June's finished objects.

As for my self-imposed "yarn embargo", the only yarn I have bought since April was to send to other people. Also, after the fright of finding an infestation in some wool, and throwing out an entire bucket of wool and alpaca and mohair, I checked all my other wool/natural fiber yarns and they were not showing signs of anything wrong. Since i knew a charity was coming around last Friday, I bagged them and donated them. All of them. Kind of like ripping off a bandaid. They will perhaps make some poor knitter's day who is on a budget and shopping at the thrift store. I feel the better for it, and no longer feel like my yarn is controlling me. I have about a half a big bucket of cotton, and quite of bit of acrylic and novelty yarns left, but about half my stash is now gone. And I'm ok, really. I'm still stashbusting and am now working to finish the Crocheted Amish Afghan I started months ago when I first learned to crochet. After that, I'm not sure what I'll tackle next... but it will likely be from stash. I still have a ways to go before I'm down to what I feel comfortable keeping "on hand". My "stash-building" days are over, and it's a good feeling.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thank you Patons!

For giving me something to post about for the third time this week! Paton's current newsletter has an interesting free pattern for crocheted socks:

I've used this yarn to knit socks and while I did have to be careful not to stretch it too tightly while knitting, I really liked the finished result. And though I can only judge by the pattern photo, this crochet version looks like it would be more comfortable to wear in shoes than other corcheted socks I've seen. I just happen to have some of this yarn in my stash (and it's been separate from the horrible-infested-yarn-that-will-not-be-named) so I might just have to give this a try... I have some small crochet hooks lying around and bought one of those spongy handle covers to help them be more comfy to use.

I also like that it's a yarncraft that might not be too bad to do in the summer. They carry a decent selecton of Patons stretch at the HL near me, so they might have it at yours, too. When it's not on sale it's 4.99 per skein, and it takes at least 2 skeins for the pattern, but if you alter the pattern by making the leg much shorter (for ankle socks) you could maybe get by with 1 skein, although with crochet it might take 2 skeins anyway.

I'm in no way advising this pattern to anyone, just throwing it out there, as I haven't tried it myself.... but it's free, so if you crochet, why not give it a try?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BFF to the rescue!

On her sewhooked blog my awesome bff Jen posted some terrific pics (way better than I could ever have taken, I assure you) of the perpetual calendar I made her for her birthday.

Here's the complete set I made her:

And here's the link to her blog where you'll find many pics of all the individual items involved.

This all started when I stumbled upon the flyer at Joann's early in March:
Perpetual Fabric Calendar : earth day : holidays: spring : Shop

I took the flyer and starting looking it over, and decided I didn't want to do it as instructed for Jen since she is the "fabric master" as far as I'm concerned, but I really liked the idea of the perpetual calendar... it's more eco-friendly than buying kitchen or living room calendars every year, and you could really customize it for the person. And it's a gift that can be used for a really long time... well, perpetually!

I started bewing ideas, then decided I would never make up my mind, so I just went to my local quilt store, but didn't like the black and white fabric I saw there. I wandered around the store, overwhelmed by all the choices, when the coffeebean fabric jumped out at me. The whole line was there, called "espresso yourself". I saw the fabric with the colored squares and coffee cups and decided that was perfect! So I bought that and the cream colored fabric with words like "french roast" and " latte" and "columbian" as well as the awesome coffeebean fabric. Thankfully, I had the forethought to buy more than the instructions called for, because I totally changed it all up again after getting it home, lol. I didn't like the instructions for the seasonal fabric and iron-on letters for each month, so I decided I would "figure that part out later".

I had issues finding buttons to cover that would work with the coffeecup fabric, and finding enough of them here in town, so I evetually ordered them from a terrific website I found called, which I totally recommend if you ever want to, well... cover buttons. ;) They also sell pin backs and stuff to make ponytails, keychains, etc. The best part was that they gave you the choice of flat backs or actual button backs and a choice of buying them individually or in various increasing amounts. I ordered the flat backs so that it would be easier to apply the velcro dots. I had so much fun making the buttons, I think I may order more in various sizes and some flat backs pin backs and things, do make some fun buttons and pins and magnets out of fun fabric scraps I have lying around. Once I finally had all my buttons I covered them using the coffee cup fabric and stamped them with number stamps (they came with the months of the year stamp set I bought from Hobby Lobby) using Tulip Soft fabric paint in either "linen" or "chocolate" depending on the color of the coffee cup on that button.

I did the piecing as instructed but starting with 3" or 3.5" wide strips of fabric instead of the 2" called for in the pattern. I changed the pattern around a little bit as well, and used some high-thread-count natural unbleached muslin for the border. I made a freezer paper stencil for the Days of the week at the top, and painted that onto the muslin with Tulip Soft fabric paint in "chocolate". I used some coffee-themed fabric that I already had in my stash for the back, added batting, and then using the "quick-turn method" (where you lay the backing face-up on top of the batting, then lay the quilt-top face-down on the backing so that top and back are "right-sides together", pinning, sewing along all four sides with a half-inch seam allowance, leaving several inches open to turn). I, however, left the entire top open, for adding the "tabtops" later (see next paragraph). Then I turned the open edge in and pressed. I "stitched-in-the-ditch" along all the pieced "calendar grid" and in-between the days of the week and around all of that to area to quilt it, with a thread whose color was actually called "espresso" (catching on to some sort of theme? lol). Then I pinned the top including the tabs that I made for hanging (basically just a tube of fabric turned inside out, sewn up the side, and then turned rightside out and pressed with the seam in the middle of the back so it's not seen, and folded in half with raw ends together at the base) topstitched around the edge of the border, sewing an additional row at the top to make sure I secured the tabs and all of the open top so that it was all closed up.

The tab top for hanging was a change I made from the original pattern, in addition to the rectangles with the months. I stamped the months onto some of the same muslin I used for the border (using the "chocolate" fabric paint again) which I had ironed onto some stiff fusible interfacing to make it sturdier and cut into rectangles. When I got to December I realized that my stamp set was defective... the stamp that was labelled December was actually another November. :O So I had to take that back and exchange it for another set (which I made the people at HL open and check every stamp before accepting the exchange).

To finish the months, I found seasonal fabric-ribbon in the scrapbooking section of Joanns, so I picked one for each month, using cakes for April since that's Jen's birthday month . I peeled off one side of a couple of sheets of double-sided steam-a-seam and lay each "muslin month rectangle" on the sheets leaving about a ½ inch space all the way around each rectangle. I then cut those out making sure to leave an even ¼ " border of steam-a-seam all the way around each rectangle. I then cut even larger rectangles out of ecofelt. I then peeled the back side of the steam-a-seam and stuck each "muslin month rectangle" face up onto each felt rectangle, centering it as much as possible and leaving the border of steam-a-seam showing. Cutting the ribbon into 4 pieces to fit slightly longer than around the edge of the muslin rectangle, I then layered the ribbon pieces on top of the steam-a-seam borders, basically framing each month, covering the raw edge of muslin and leaving a small felt border. I made sure to stick additional scraps of  steam-a-seam between ribbon pieces at the corners to help it all adhere together. Then using a press cloth so as not to melt the ribbon or the felt (which is recycled from plastic bottles) I ironed (using the cotton setting) on both sides, fusing the whole thing together!

Lastly, and integral to the calendar actually functioning as a calendar, I put a circle of E-6000 glue on each sqaure on the calendar, and while that was setting up and getting tacky I scuffed the backs of the fabric buttons and then put a circle of E-6000 on those. I then stuck the self-adhesive backs of the "fuzzy" part of the velcro dots onto the E-6000 circles on the calendar, and the "scrubby" part of the velcro dots to the E-6000 circles on the button-backs, and after a few days of drying (and airing out, whew!) it was a permanent bond (in fact, the calendar itself is machine-washable!) and the buttons could stick right to the different squares!

Because I still had fabric left, and because I felt there needed to be a place to store unneeded buttons and months, I made an envelope for the months, that closes with velcro and also fits, with the buttons, into a simple drawstring bag I made of the coffeebean fabric.

There were 5 "scrubby" sides to the velcro dots left (the calendar sqaures took more of the "fuzzy" parts than the buttons took of the "scrubby" parts), and those I glued using the E-6000 to the center of the long thin rectangle of coffeebean fabric above the days of the week. That is for the months, which, because they are backed with felt, don't need any velcro! (That was an idea I was particularly proud of, I might add, lol).

Whew! So there you have it. This is really long so I won't blame you if your eyes glaze over one paragraph in... but I'm proud to say it's done, gifted, appreciated, and hanging on Jen's wall on a cafe rod. It was my first "real" strip piecing, patchwork, and quilting, and I'm glad I did it. I think I might be able to handle a simple quilt now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

So, yeah, I'm still making stuff

So, yeah, I'm still making stuff, but I've been really horrible about posting here. I'm thinking of getting rid of the craft blog altogether. I don't know. I seem to have a hard time taking pictures of my projects and then posting here. I just haven't been making the time. I'm going to try to do better this summer. Maybe I'll set a goal of minimum postings per month.

So recent crafts are, sadly, unphotographed. I crocheted a girls' throw based on the free Lion Brand pattern "Birds' Nest Throw". It was using all the pink acrylics I had laying around. I gave that to my bestest friend Jen who volunteers for a blanket charity in Austin, Texas, Linus Connection of Central Texas.  It will go to a child/teen in crisis. It turned out cute, but I had misplaced my camera. If she takes a pic before donating it I will ask for permission to snag it and post it here along with a link to the Linus Connection website.

What else? For my bestest friend Jen's birthday I made a quilted perpetual calendar. The fabric line was called "Espresso Yourself" and I purchased that from Quiltworks here in Alb. I picked up the project sheet with the instructions from JoAnn's Fabrics in early March, then proceeded to change it all up, lol. No pics of that either, (see misplaced camera above). It was a mixture of quilting, gluing, freezer paper stencil and fabric paint, fabric-covered buttons, stamping fabric with fabric paint and months of the year and number stamps, etc. I should have chronicled the process. I'm thinking the next one I make will be metal with magnets, so I'm currently checking the local thrift stores for items I can repurpose for that.

My friend and coworker Doreen and I were going to work together on a baby quilt for another long-time coworker's impending grand daughter...sadly, Doreen's dad passed away a few weeks ago,  and our schedules never seemed to mesh enough for us to shop for supplies and actually get it done.

The baby shower was this weekend (it came way sooner than we thought it would since the baby isn't due until August!). I found several onesies with cute embroidery on them at the thrift store last week that looked brand new. I was going to turn them into bibs, but when the time came I just couldn't bring myself to cut them up, like I said they looked brand new. So Saturday I dug in my stash of cotton yarn and managed to find two different pinks, one variegated pink-lavender-white Bernat Cottontots (which are super soft) left from a tank top a knit a couple of years ago, maybe a third to a half a skein... and most of a skein of hot pink Sugar n' Cream. Using the Cottontots I knit a "Baby Bib of Love" from the book "Mason Dixon Knitting". I modified it a bit by using a slightly larger needle (since 100% cotton shrinks... a lot!) and instead of two straps I knit one long strap that buttons onto the corner of the bib. Sunday I used what was left of the cottontots and most of the other to crochet two more bibs, these circular instead of square. I alternated colors every now and then so each of those was unique as well.

They all matched, but were different. I like that kind of set. The young mom-to-be whipped through everything pretty quick, but stopped on mine to look at each bib and feel the softness (I washed and dried them before putting them in the gift bag). *beams* It was the only handmade gift she received, and I think she appeared to be drawn to them. Maybe she'll pick up a craft of her own, that would be great. She's in the Air Force stationed here, and the dad is in the Army, has served 3 tours in Iraq already, and sadly, I learned that a week before the baby is due he is being shipped out to Afghanistan. *sigh* guess I better learn how to knit those helmet-liner thingies... Afghanistan is supposed to be pretty darn cold at night I hear. Again, due to the misplaced camera, I have no pictures, but will ask my coworker if she happened to take any.

Of course, upon returning from the shower I sat down to watch the Tony Awards last night and I picked up the bag next to the couch that had the throw I'm crocheting for Doreen's mom, who has just shut down since her husband passed away a few weeks ago. When I stick my hand in what do I find? Yup, my camera. *smacks head*

About Me

My photo
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
This is my place to talk about crafting, what I make, and maybe even why I make it.