Back from the Mitten State

I'm back from vacation... had a nice week with my family (and a great lunch with Sophie), and now it's back to the grind :-( I was hoping to be in Michigan today, too, but George the cat had to be rescued from the kennel today. He's happy to be home, and I'm frankly pretty darned OK with it too! I've got some chores and errands tomorrow, but I'm planning to dedicate a nice chunk of time to our QuiltPink efforts. My sister helped me sort the bevy of blocks made by the gals at quilting.about.com, and it's looking right now like 4 quilts... maybe 3, just depending on how things work as I start assembly.

Hope you all had nice Christmases. Not to put the focus on the gifts I received, but I am rather excited to be writing this post completely WIRELESSLY. Before my sister and her husband gave me a wireless router for Christmas, I could only be online from the desk in the dining room or the chair in the living room... I couldn't even reach the couch with a 9' cable. Now I can talk to you from anywhere -- aren't you the lucky ducks?! Definitely a good gift from my list :-)

Now, I'm debating between reading a book and reading some of the 274 posts in my feed reader... Since the book is The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini, I think it might win out.


December Birthday Block

9" Star Block for Diane

Here's my block for Miss December, aka Diane, in the quilting.about.com year-long birthday block swap. She asked for 6", 9" or 12" stars in purple and cream batik.

I had drafted a ton of blocks into EQ about a year ago, including about a hundred Judy Martin originals from an old book I picked up at a guild show. This one captured my fancy this morning... I wanted to make a 6" or 9" block that only needed one or two purple batiks... I decided 9" was the best size, and off I went, without looking at how this block would have to be sewn. A friendship star on top of an Ohio star -- piece of cake, right?

Not! Templates, partial seams, inset seams... ugh, ugh, ugh. Luckily, I only had to rip one seam where I sewed two pieces together on the wrong edge, and unpick a few stitches from seam allowances where I hadn't realized I was going to have to inset another patch.

It's not perfect, but it's done and it's acceptable. It's also already in an addressed envelope so it can be mailed to the birthday girl!


Not so much with the getting it...

(aka Beginner's Luck?)

OK, I figured out that when I added stitches to the first mitt, I think they're on the wrist end, rather than the finger end. Not a huge problem, since that means if I followed the directions, it should fit fairly well and not have the long cuff.

But, I've cast on twice now for the second mitt, gotten to the same point and become completely directionally impaired. I either futzed something last time without knowing it (and it worked), or I'm unable to count past, say, one. Somehow, the thumb just isn't working. I thought I had it turned around -- counting from the wrong end -- but when I tried to do it again, I had the same problem. Either it WASN'T turned around, or I keep making the same mistake...

Maybe if I actually followed the directions?

Got it!

Whew! I found the instructions I was looking for, where she shows keeping the grafting loose for a couple of inches, then tightening it by hand to match the tension in the knitting. Mine's definitely not perfect, but I was (mostly) able to keep track of the sewing strand this way and make it work.

The wrist is way too long for my taste, and I added a few too many stitches when I lengthened the finger end, but all in all, it *is* functional and it really wasn't hard to make. I think I'll go ahead and knit a matching one, and just cuff the wrists. If the length on the fingers ends up bothering me, I guess I could make another pair ;-) [And maybe figure out how to make the thumbs have a little length, too, since it seems like they would get cold...]
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Oh, the weather outside...

is frightful. Last night was almost funny, as I flipped from one weather "forecast" to another... it was entertaining, since one guy said 6-14" and the next said 8-20". Call me crazy, but I think that's a pretty wide margin of error. Why bother at that point?

Anyway, I wish I had thought like Dorothy and put a yardstick out to measure the actual snow. We got 4-5" overnight, and now they're saying another 5-9" this afternoon... They've lowered the snow totals because we're getting sleet/freezing rain this morning instead. I hate that sound against the windows -- it just gives me the creeps. A good day to stay inside, do some laundry and try to finish off that knitting.

Knitting? Who, Me?

It's true... I've crossed over to the dark side ;) I have perpetually cold hands, and would love to have some fingerless gloves or mitts or something that was relatively work-appropriate. That basically means that I could wear them at my desk and still be able to type and use the trackpad on my desktop keyboard. While I've considered just white cotton gloves with no fingertips (worn by marching band members everywhere), they a) will show dirt immediately and always look grungy and 2) probably not be that warm anyway. And there's that whole Mickey Mouse thing...

Basically, I learned to knit as a kid and was not very good at it, so I gave it up as other things captured my attention. I picked up some knit sticks and a ball of ticker tape last winter, just to mess around, and basically knitted the skein and then unraveled it, learning to purl, make ribbing, seeds, etc. I got bored with that, and haven't really knitted since.

Anyway, back to the present: I found what looked to be like an easy-enough pattern for fingerless mitts online earlier in the week at ysolda. They're easy because they're not knit in the round, but rather with the rows running from wrist to fingertip. They're also just knit/garter stitch. What I didn't really consider was short rows, wrap and turn and now my serious challenge: kichener stitch. I get the concept (I even made a sample), but I can't quite figure out when and how to tighten the sewing part. Maybe a fresh brain in the morning will help! [For non- or novice-knitters, when done correctly, this kichener deal makes it impossible to see where the ends of knitting are stitched together -- from the front, it looks just like a regular row of your project. Very cool.]

I will say this: there are a HUGE number of knitting resources available online that include video clips and/or step by step photos showing how to do things. I certainly couldn't have gotten this far without:
The Knitting Fiend (working short rows with wrap and turn)
Knitting Help.com (videos of loose side stitches and kichener stitch or grafting)
Knitting at Noon (provisional cast on)
Wooly Wormhead (theory of kichener stitch, and detail on grafting garter stitch)

So, one mitt is completely knitted, and I think it will fit. There's some guessing involved on my part, so I'm anxious to get it off the needles to see if it really will work. Pictures then...


12 Days of Christmas -- and a Dreidel?!

OK, this is fantastic -- and hysterical. I know... 12 Days of Christmas can be a little overdone, but Straight No Chaser (an a capella group from IU) makes it totally fresh and fun. It's kind of a long clip, but SO worth it. (Via Pat Sloan's Corner.)


Project Runway - week #5 challenge

First, I seriously commend this week's models -- to lose significant amounts of weight and then put themselves in a designers hands... probably none of whom have ever made clothes in anything related to a real size.

Anyway: Your challenge this week is what I'll call "New Wine in Old Wineskins" -- take a finished or unfinished project, and refashion it. You could also take an old item of clothing and turn it into something fresh and wearable. If you collect "cutter quilts," now would be a great time to turn one into a teddy bear or pillow or something!

Hey, does my unfinished week #1 challenge project count?!

And now, George wants some attention (and to watch the yarn move onto the needles some more...)


Quilts meet Videogames

TV on the lawn
Originally uploaded by L. Marie

Do you love video games and quilts? Eight inspiring pieces -- including this one by Leonore at Evil Mad Scientist -- are featured in Miss Cellania's Files (at mental_floss).


I fixed the link to Christine Thresh's web site in the PJ Week #4 post -- if you were looking for her bra block pattern (or any of her other great patterns), the link is now correct.

Just some responses to comments:

@ Dorothy: thanks for the ladder idea (I wish I had thought of that!)... but I don't get the tutus... I ended up using some leftover flannel from another project, that happened to already have some strips sewn together. His quilt looks like Daffy's, except in Thimbleberry flannels from a few years back.

@ Nellie: I considered making a quilt for my sister's dog (who, despite not being allowed on the furniture, seems to spend a lot of time on the living room sofa!), but that was too much work for the time left. She's getting a butterfly softie to rip apart instead ;)

@Sheri: My previous cat would have done just what your Jingle did -- she preferred cold or glossy surfaces (like magazines or newspaper inserts), and probably wouldn't have much cared for a quilt either. I didn't hold it against her, though -- she was such a sweetie!

"Oh Joy" is right! (Week 4 challenge)

Sophie emailed me today (with that subject line) to say she had finished her Project Runway Week #4 challenge piece... so I ran right over to her blog to see it. You should too -- it's fantastic! She used neon, cutouts and fringe in a very fun, modern way.


A little bit of nothing...

OK, I know this is goofy... but I DID sew it tonight, so I might as well show it to you.

My George absolutely loves quilts (as do many cats, I know), so a while back, I made him a little quilt of his own. I mostly throw it on whatever piece of furniture is currently his favorite -- it collects the hair instead of the sofa or chair that way. Infinitely more washable, and it's cozy for him. His quilt is pretty darned ugly, though, and my mom makes fun of it regularly.

I decided I'd make little quiltlets for my mom and dad's cats for Christmas, since they're also huge quilt lovers. The quilt I made tonight is for the kitten (whom I've never met). She's a little tabby, and my mother, in a fit of complete insanity, named the poor thing "Daffy Dilly." (It was spring, and the daffodils were out...) This kitty deserves a special quilt, just for that, don't you think?!

Anyway, I knew I had some cute daffodil fabric, but when I actually pulled it out of the closet, there wasn't even half a fat quarter left. A little creative piecing did give me two strips approximately 18" wide. I grabbed some other yellows and florals, and just stitched-and-flipped this little kitty quilt, right on batting and a plain yellow backing from a curtain project gone terribly wrong. I thought I might satin stitch or applique her name onto one of the strips, but decided that was just overkill!

Now I have to make one for their male cat Jacob... wonder what he would like on his quilt?!
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Turkey, anyone?

A little fun today... thanks to Sophie:

You Are Thanksgiving

You are a bit of a homebody who enjoys being in the company of people you love.
It doesn't take a lot to make you happy. You're enjoying life as it is.
You have many blessings in your life, and you are grateful for each one.
You believe that life is about what you *do* have. You feel like you have enough of the good stuff.

What makes you celebrate: Family, friends, and the changing of the seasons.

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The host of the party

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Spend so much energy preparing that it's a full time job

BTW: I'm definitely NOT the hostess type...


Project Runway Challenge -- Week #4

Ooooohhhh... dated trends AND teams. "Now it gets a little more complicated" is right! How shall we make this work? The designers are working in teams of three, and have to create three pieces that work cohesively as a collection. I won't challenge you with that -- let's not be ridiculous :)

So, here's the deal: Choose at least TWO of these outdated fashion trends and make ONE piece that incorporates those ideas.
  • Neon
  • Cutouts
  • Pleather
  • Poodle Skirts
  • 70s Flare (a la John Travolta)
  • Overalls
  • Dancewear
  • Baggy Sweater
  • Underwear as Outerwear
  • Zoot Suit
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Fringe
A couple of thoughts immediately came to mind: Sonji Hunt's work speaks to the idea of cutouts, as does an article in the new Quiting Arts Magazine. Fringe could be a great edge treatment, or an eyelash-type yarn. Underwear -- there's Christine Thresh's Bra block pattern, or use lace in a starring role. Shoulder pads might be some extreme trapunto.

Oh -- in case you were wondering, my menswear piece is truly disgusting and I'm tossing it. I refuse to make your eyes bleed by showing a picture -- I just can't be responsible for the resulting medical bills and mental anguish!



... by Tammy (Ideagirl). Gee, thanks ;) Actually, I'm pretty slow at getting to this, but I'm trying... EIGHT things is a lot! This is the best I can do...

Eight Passions in My Life
  1. Family
  2. Quilting
  3. Reading
  4. Grammar (weird, I know)
  5. Learning (I should "practice" that more)
Eight Things to Do Before I Die
  1. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up
  2. Grow up (or choose not to)
  3. Get rid of the bats in the attic
  4. Have a quilt juried into some kind of show
  5. Be healthy (heck, healthIER would be acceptable!)
Eight Things I Often Say
  1. No (seriously)
  2. Um
  3. God Bless America (not in the patriotic way, but in the substitute-for-a-swear-word way)
  4. Whatever
  5. Dude
  6. Can I just say / Can I just tell you
  7. Hey
  8. Oy (hey, dude, can I just say that I got to eight on this one?!)
Eight Books I Have Read Recently
  1. Stone Cold - David Baldacci
  2. Two or three books by Iris Johanssen
  3. The new Dick Francis book
  4. Bread Alone - Judith Ryan Hendricks
  5. Next on the list: The Watchman by Robert Crais (I misplaced this -- it was a birthday present!)
  6. Sheesh... I'll read ALMOST anything, so why is it so hard to remember? Oh yeah, because I read everything!
Eight Songs That Mean Something to Me
  1. "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations
  2. Brown-Eyed Girl
  3. Remember (a sorority song)
  4. It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  5. The theme from I Dream of Jeannie
  6. Friends
  7. One Tin Soldier
Eight Qualities I Look For in a Friend
  1. Sense of humor
  2. Comfortable "give and take"
  3. Creativity
  4. Understanding
  5. "Interestingness"
  6. Makes me think, in a good way
Eight People to Pass This On To
  1. I started making a list, and then decided not to. Boring, I know.
  2. If you've read this far, consider playing along -- comment here with a link to your list!

Week #3 Challenge = U-G-L-Y

Ew. I should have gone with the idea I showed the other day for my week #3 challenge. I messed around with the strips of the tie, and added some decorative stitches, and it's just plain ugly. Binding is probably making it even worse. I feel like I've been visited by the same workroom gremlins that led Sweet P to this seriously troubled shirt. I haven't decided if I'll stitch on the other two binding strips and show it to you, or just toss it out. I'm leaning toward the latter, but I'll sleep on it first in case inspiration comes to me in a dream ;)