Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Completed Projects

I really couldn't remember any completed projects from this past year as I sat down to look through my pictures, besides the most recent socks of course.  I could only think of all the things that have kept me away from all the sewing and knitting that I would like to be getting done... the new full-time often overly demanding job, my youngest starting kindergarten and the demands of two girls in elementary school with homework and class parties and projects, the planning of a wedding and setting up of a new life with my dear hubbie, several bouts of various sicknesses running through the family the last couple of months... at first thought these events kept me away from my favorite past-times, but with a closer look at the pictures I realize that even when life is throwing crazy demands at you, you find time to work in the things that you love.

Socks were knit on the sly as the girls slept or we were out in Idaho, I fit in some less demanding projects on weekends like finishing a quilt that had been lingering for quite some time, whipping up easy skirts and dying yarn with my mom and aunt at a class.  And when my crafty endeavors were too big for the time I had available, close family and friends, and even internet friends, stepped in and helped me get everything completed. 

Those are now my favorite things... the wedding shawl my mom helped me finish and the ring pillows she helped me design and make.  The napkins that several people contributed to and the first quilt made mostly by my daughter but with lots of help from her proud mama.  It may not be all the things I wanted to do, but this collection represents a need to create and fitting that need in when possible.  I know 2010 will be no less crazy and possibly even more so, but I look forward to fitting this addiction into all the little cracks between living.  I hope all of you find the time to do something you love every chance you get too!  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Socks Really Did Get Done!

I'm still not quite sure how, but the socks for the youngest child which looked like this on December 19th:

were actually under the tree for her to discover Christmas morning.

It's all a blur of furious knitting.  Knitting while on work conference calls, knitting at holiday parties, knitting while watching movies until 3am several nights.  Somehow a flat of yarn became a pair of socks in just 6 days. 

I wish there had been someone to witness me doing the kitchener stitch on the toes in the wee hours of Christmas morning, but it was just me, the tree and the cat.  I know I'm not the only crafter that turns into a complete maniac right before a big gift giving event, I read many a blog of people in the same frenzy.  There is nothing like giving something you put your heart into and having your 8 year old tell you that gift made it the best Christmas ever, or having your five year old refuse to take her handknit socks off for two days.  The calloused fingertips and carpal tunnel were totally worth it!

Once again, the Ribbed Socks For Kids free pattern from Spud and Chloe.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Sure The Next Pair Will Go Much Faster

Alright, it's crunch time.  I finished big sister's socks and now it's time to crank out some for the little sister feet.  I am inspired by The Yarn Harlot's post yesterday where she cranked out a pair of socks for herself in a day basically because she was bored.  I have seven days to make some for little bitty feet, no problem right?  Don't worry, I work best under pressure.

This pattern is the Ribbed Socks for Kids free pattern from Spud and Chloe.  Just a basic sock pattern sized down for little feet.  I didn't want to do anything fancy since they will probably outgrow these by next year.

Time to get knitting!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

There Aren't Many People I Would Wait Four Hours to See For 30 Seconds

Who could possibly bring hundreds and hundreds of people out on a dreary cold Monday night in Atlanta to wait for hours to meet her? Apparently Pioneer Woman can! Ree Drummond stopped over in Atlanta yesterday while on her month long cookbook tour and I hauled the kiddos down to meet her.

Little did I know they had started selling wristbands the day before, or that we would have to wait four hours and the kids wouldn't get to bed until 11 on a school night, but I have to say it was worth it. Ree was as cute and sweet in person as you would believe her to be on her blog and she even had her sister Betsy and friend Hyacinth with her.

We were sitting right on the other side of the rope from them for many hours and I made several observations:

1) Ree drinks a lot of coffee.

2) Southern hospitality is alive and well if you could judge by the piles of cards and sweets and goody bags they had going.

3) Pioneer Woman has QUITE the fan base going a LONG way from the ranch.

4) She only went to the bathroom ONCE. Did I mention she drinks a lot of coffee? She must have been dying, talk about commitment!

5) No matter how crazy the fan or what the strange request might have been, these ladies were cheerful, smiling and gracious the entire time. They signed. They took pictures. They gave out free t-shirts. They chatted. They hugged babies. Really, after about 2 hours I would have been like man, I've had enough of you people.  That's a lie, I would last about 3.2 seconds.  But they were still smiling and laughing when we left with hundreds of people and hours still to go.

And, to top it all off, Bakerella had come through the line and left a whole box of cake balls (they were so cute and I didn't even get a picture!) and Betsy offered my obviously famished and droopy children some. Sam actually didn't want hers (I don't think she was expecting cake to be in the middle) so I got to have one of Bakerella's creations, yum! They had little miniature cookbooks on top of them!

I really don't know what magical fairy dust was sprinkled on my children to make them behave and entertain themselves so well, but even with the long wait it was quite an enjoyable evening (the fact that Borders ran the whole event really well definitely contributed to this).

One good thing about the four hour wait, I got started and made quite the progress on hubbie's Christmas scarf, about time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Alpaca Love

Life has been crazy around these parts without much stitching going on (still working on socks for the little people), but I wanted to post about our most recent adventure out to Idaho. I have posted before about my Aunt and Uncle's house there and a couple of weeks ago Jay and I went out to join them and my mom on the ranch.

They have some wonderful neighbors, and knowing what fiber enthusiasts we are, they set up a visit to a nearby alpaca farm for us. My mom keeps talking about wanting alpacas and I keep trying to shove her in that direction, so we were total geeky knitters going to visit this herd. They have 15 alpacas that we got to meet and try to entice with apples, then they showed us how they spin the fiber and make yarn, which OF COURSE we had to buy some of.

This little guy is an outcast from the herd (apparently alpacas can be a bit uppity), doesn't he look like he needs to come live in Georgia? We named him Snowball. I wish he would have fit in my luggage!

The horses were VERY jealous of all the alpaca attention.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quilt Gift - Finally Posted!

In all the craziness preceding our recent vacation out to Idaho I was unable to find any time to post about a wonderful gift I recently received. Now we are back (I miss you Idaho!) and everything is still crazy, but I have to show you all this quilt that my very best quilt buddy made me for a wedding gift. (Jay keeps correcting me that she made it for US, but I have been under it pretty much non-stop since it arrived at our house a couple weeks ago). Melissa has blogged about it here, so I will just show some pictures and say again thank you Mel, you're the best and we love it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Frustrated But Triumphant!

The socks I'm knitting for my first born are proving to be quite the challenge. First there was the issue with knitting the beginning of the heel inside out. That was last weekend and I ripped back several rows and fixed it and moved on, even though I ended up with some twisted stitches from my "fixing".

Oh well, I thought, if that's the worst that happens then they are still awesome socks. Well, today I managed to really screw them up. I worked on them all morning and afternoon and was thrilled to get the heel turned. Then things began to go bad. Very bad. First of all, the pattern wanted me to pick up 15 stitches along the gusset, but there just weren't 15 to grab. I forced 13 and moved on. Then, the pattern tells you to knit round one of two rounds from then on. Well, like most simple sock patterns the part on top of your foot is ribbed and if you are knitting a whole round every other round then you are ruining the ribbing that IS there in the second round. Does that make sense? Well, I've only been knitting for about a year, so I trusted in the pattern, plus I was already feeling queasy about not following the number of gusset stitches to pick up. I should have followed my instinct, the pattern is wrong (or at least wrong for how I want my socks to look, who am I to judge wonky ribbing?).

To top it all off, somewhere along the way I managed to get a hole. Yes, an f-ing hole.

By this point these socks had my original twisted stitches, messed up ribbing and an f-ing hole. I was ready to scrap the whole thing. My fingers were twitching to start ripping out rows, but I put it down and walked away for a while. After completely snapping at Jay when he walked by the sock lying on the table and had the nerve to say "the sock is looking great" (sorry honey, was a very bad knitting moment), I eventually calmed down and started to think about the problems.

I remembered my very first sock knitting class when I had done some stitches backwards and one of the shop ladies, Jenna (a knitting saint really), took my knitting and fixed the stitches in about 30 seconds without unknitting anything. I was awed and in no way understood what she had done, I just continued happily with fixed knitting. However, it had made quite an impression. On a whim I searched for "fixing mistakes" and actually came across just the video I needed to do exactly what Jenna had done that day. After watching the video about eight times and taking a very deep breath, I dropped stitches down to the first wrong one and wove them back in correctly. Then I did it six more times. By the last one I was feeling like the smartest knitter in the universe. And apparently, the hole was a dropped stitch that I fixed in just the same way, thanks to another video that identified the problem. Look, NO HOLE!!!

Now I am back to having socks that only have a few twisted stitches, and THAT I can still live with. I really want to go hunt down the ladies and hug each and every one of them. That site has saved my knitting ass on numerous occasions. On with the socks, hopefully the knitting gods will cut me a bit of slack now that I have taken the time to actually learn how to fix some common knitting mistakes!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Let the Holiday Knitting Begin!

I have started on my first present! I feel so ahead of the game, for now anyway. This delicious yarn, that was the yarn-of-the-month at sock guild last month, is going to be socks for these feet:

Don't they look in serious need of hand knit socks? I am using the free pattern that was recently posted on the Spud and Chloe Yarn website. I thought it would be really easy to find a simple child sock pattern online, but not so much. Luckily they posted this one a couple weeks ago and it was just what I was looking for and saved me from having to do actual math to convert the simple adult pattern I already had. These are pretty much the exact same socks as the first and only socks I've ever knit, just child size. Seems like the smaller size should be a quick knit, but you never know with how easily distracted I am. And of course, another pair must be made for the little sister next.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Close-Up Machine Sewn Binding

I have had a few requests to show a close-up of the serpentine stitich I used to machine sew the binding on my butterfly quilt and am finally getting around to obliging. I will start from the back, since that is the side where you are sewing when you start the binding...

The stitch is just an elongated S. It is one of the basic stitches on my bernina and I just increase the stitch length and practice on scrap fabric until I get it how I want it. Then you just carefully sew along the edge...

If you did a good job of folding your binding over the edge in equal amounts, then when you flip it over you will have also sewn along the edge of the front side...

However, if you have a spot that you accidently pulled the binding fabric too tight or too loose, you will run away from the edge on the front (because you were following the wonky edge on the back). Now, I don't pin or clip my binding in any way, I just fold it and stitch (gasp!), so if you are a methodic pinner or clipper you probably won't run into this problem. This was the first time I ever used this method, and it is a pretty big quilt, so I have to assume it would be a lot easier with some practice and especially on much smaller baby quilts (where I think machine sewn binding makes the most sense). This was the wonkiest spot I had, and I can live with it. I'm not one for pointing out imperfections, but didn't want you all to think this was some magic perfect technique :). Please disregard the cat hair in the close ups.

If anyone has any other questions I will be happy to answer in the comments!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fun Way To Buy A Car

For the last few weeks we have been trying desparately to take advantage of the CARS credit from President Obama, but I was having major problems finding what I wanted. First I wanted an Altima Hybrid, but they aren't sold in Georgia or anywhere near. So, I decided on a Camry hybrid. By the time I started looking at them, they were completely sold out in Georgia. An Atlanta area dealer found one in North Carolina, but she was so rude about it that we decided we would buy any car except a car from her. So, I turned my sights towards a regular Camry, but no one in the area even had one with the features I wanted. Friday afternoon I was about to settle and buy one with most of the features I wanted, when a dealer that had also found a car for my aunt gave me a call and said they had one camry hybrid in stock and it was even the color I wanted. The only problem was that they were in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a fantastic price, but we just didn't think the clunker we were trading in would make it the six hour drive. Well get this, he said he would send someone to pick it up for us. Deal. Now that is customer service! We were off Saturday morning on a jaunt to Charleston, and I have to say it was tons of fun! We bought the car, had a decadent dinner with a celebratory bottle of champagne at a french bistro near out hotel, then got up this morning and ate brunch there again (yes, it was that tasty). We decided on a walk down to the market and endulged in one of out favorite ways to explore a city... with pictures. Lots of pictures of random stuff, like ourselves...

brick walls that would make great quilt patterns...

and lots of fleurs de lis. These are the symbol of St. Louis (Jay's hometown) so we always delight in finding them as ornamentation in other cities. Yes, I know the fleur de lis is a symbol widely used all over the place (it is pretty amazing how the French managed to work it in everywhere) for all different reasons, but it always reminds Jay of home and me of one of our favorite places.

Now my 90 mile work commute will be a little less painful (I averaged 35 mpg on the drive home) and we are quite convinced that we need to return to Charleston soon to play some more. It really was the most fun a person could have buying a car!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Think We Finally Agree!

I have been trying to come up with a quilt block that Jay and I both really like to use to make our wedding napkins into a quilt. Ok, that is a complete lie. I have been trying for quite some time to convince Jay that he likes a block that I like, but he just doesn't. After some sulking and pouting I started to keep an eye out for something we both like and I think I found it! Well, he says he really likes it, but he may just be afraid of setting me off on another two months of loud sighs and sewing avoidance. Yes, I admit it, I can be a big baby when I don't get my way. When I stumbled across a new-to-me blog this weekend, The Sometimes Crafter, and her paper piecing tutorial for this block (she has a sampler going on, looks like tons of fun), I had a feeling it would look really great out of our fabrics, and I have to say I was right! It's a little more labor intensive of a block than I originally wanted to do, but it is still a circle which I really wanted, and even better it's a pointy circle. Like marriage sometimes. It's a very traditional block, but it took seeing it made up in some modern fabrics to really make me consider it. Those are quickly becoming my favorite patterns, traditional with a nice modern update. Paper piecing can be a bit fiddly, I think the problem is that it really makes you think since you are basically sewing backwards, but it will be a good challenge and I can't wait to see it come together.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And They're Off!

I just can't believe it, but today the shrimp returned to school. Second grade for the oldest and kindergarten for the youngest. The youngest woke me up at three a.m., standing next to the bed tapping my shoulder. "hey mom, how much longer until morning?". She was slightly excited. I was the only one misty-eyed dropping her at class, she saw someone she knew in her class from pre-k and was off. Jay was there to hold my hand and remind me that they are supposed to grow up, but I just couldn't stop thinking about how little her hand was in mine as she went to take on the world and how by the end of the year she will be a different kid. Kindergarten is rough on the mommies!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Butterfly Skirts

Back when I bought the fabric for my Butterfly Quilt, I was so in love with the whole line that I bought A LOT of it, in lots of colorways, with no real purpose for it. After finishing the quilt I decided some quick skirts for the girls would help use up some of the fabric and the simpler the skirt the better to show off those big prints.
Skirts made with rows of elastic thread for the waistband have been popping up all over blogland, so I gave it a try too. If you want a quick and easy kid skirt, this is the way to go. I just cut the fabric the length I wanted, hemmed the top and bottom, sewed six rows of the elastic thread at the top and then put a seam down the side and tada a skirt! I was a little afraid of the whole hand winding the bobbin with the elastic process, but it really did work just fine. Upon presenting the skirts the youngest immediately reminded me that I promised a matching shirt with a butterfly applique, so I know what I will be doing this weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yarn Dyeing Class!

(My first dyed yarn... and it matches my begonias quite nicely)

I looked forward to today's sock guild all last week, we learned how to dye yarn! The Whole Nine Yarns mixed up huge amounts of dye and pre-soaked the skeins in vinegar water, then let us all go crazy with the colors. They were also very patient with showing us how to wrap the yarn in plastic for its rest in the steamer and the technique to rinsing it. I looked around online before class to get an idea of what I wanted to try (and fought the urge to buy truckloads of beautiful hand dyed yarns), and am very pleased that what I ended up with is just like something I drooled over online.

(My yarn in progress on the right, Aunt Jan's on the left. The colors definitely mellow during the steaming and rinsing)

(Mom planning her attack)

It's such a fun thing to do as a class because everyone comes up with something different. In these pics you can see mine along with my mom's and aunt's on the drying rack, and then a group picture below. As you can see, everyone had a different vision for their yarn that started off white.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mountains and Pillowcases

After returning from a lovely trip to St. Louis it has been a whirlwind of work and camp and getting ready for school to start... and a last minute jaunt up to a friend's mountain house last weekend. My return to full-time work last February has made it hard to stay as connected to two of my favorite ladies as I would like, and all of us being available to run away for a quick weekend of girl bonding was just too good to pass up.

My crazy friend Melissa was so excited at the prospect that she went completely over the top whipping up goody bags for us. They were so cute, little trinket necessities like a big drink cup and leis among other dollar store treats, and she somehow managed to print up some cute t-shirts and make pillowcases! If you watch The Office you will recognize the t-shirt quote, and all weekend you could hear melissa expounding "it isn't an event without SWAG!". I have to say I agree!

My pillowcase was made with squirrel fabric (because she is evil, but also knows I love that line) and some lovely Heather Bailey fabric. Christy's pillowcase was cupcakes with cute pink University of Georgia fabric on the edge.

We pretty much ate a huge breakfast, sat on the porch, read trashy magazines, ate snacks, sat on the porch, and gabbed. There may have been a few very large cups of sangria... mmmm.

Back to the pillowcases for a moment. I mentioned in my pillowcase tutorial what a great gift pillowcases are, but I just have to emphasize it again! All week I have gone to bed and smiled at my pillowcase from last weekend, and it will always remind me of good times with friends. Before putting the one Melissa made on my pillow, I had on one from the set that my friend Audrey made for a wedding gifty in our wedding colors. I can pull those out every anniversary as just another little reminder of that wonderful day. We also have ones that we put on pillows for birthdays and almost all major holidays. If you haven't made some I highly recommend it!

Audrey's wedding pillowcases