Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Want This

I saw this somewhere today and know that I will start looking for it as soon as it is on the market. What a great way to carry all your knitting essentials!

He's Home

Alex made it home today from the vet's after two days of morphine, many different drugs and lots of IV fluids. We are still not sure why he started vomitng and pooping blood but all the tests did not show any permanent problem so I am left with his eating of the Wizard of Oz toy from McDanalds. Unfortunatey one of the tests showed that he was carrying Giardia parasites, so now, on top of his three sets of pills for his initial problem he, and the girls, are now on another drug. Since he is now on soft canned food, everybody is on it until I can get him back on solid food. If they weren't all on the yucky canned stuff I know that at meal times I would be playing cop trying to prevent him from eating the girls's food. Such a small problem in the grand scheme of things!

Now I can get back to sorting things for the quilt show Fish Pond (Garage Sale) without any guilt.

Have a good evening!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'd kill him if.....

... he didn't feel so rotten. Alex apparently spent most of the night vomiting and pooping blood in the bathroom. He has either contracted plain old pancreatitis (aka the 'French Fry' disease) or has eaten something that has scratched/cut-up his intestinal tract. I'm voting for the latter as yesterday he destroyed a little Wizard of Oz figure fom McDonalds. I thought I had found all the little hard bits of plastic but its difficult to determine if I did since most of the pieces were chewed beyond recognition.

He has spent the day at the vet's being treated with lots of pain killers, IV fluids, IV anti-biotics and stuff to coat his stomach. They took two different sets of x-rays but even the one they took with his belly distended by air did not show anything stuck in his gut. That's the good news. The bad news is that they are going to keep him all night and most of tomorrow. They will try a little soft food tomorrow at about noon and if he handles it well he may come home tomorrow evening.

Our regular vet is out on maternity leave so he had to be seen by the older male vet that Alex hates. His first real reaction to anything today was when the vet entered the exam room and Alex growled at him. The vet took this as a good sign and I must admit that I was happy to see him being his old self. Just a little while ago most of the sedation had worn off and he tried to snap at a vet tech who was taking his temperature. He did lick her hand when she was done so all is right with the world. They haven't had to muzzle him to get their work done which is good as he hates being restrained like that. They may sedate him this evening to keep his stress levels down ... I wonder it they have any for anxious owners?

Just to cap off a truly crappy day I put my cell phone in the washing machine today and now its not working. One of the web sites suggested drying it out slowly under a light bulb. The moisture under the screen seems to be getting smaller but it still might not work. Oh well, I really don't need it when I am spending all my time cleaning up Alex's fluids from the bathroom and one of my closets.

I hope your week has started out better than mine.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

And a good time was had by all

Yesterday I played hooky and joined 12 others in a bus trip to San Antonio to attend the Sewing and Creative Inspiration show. This is a small show with about 15 vendors as well as several national teachers. I was glad to see Kathy Ruddy, Linda McGehee, Patty Dunn and Barbara Crawford all offerng great little seminars/trunk shows.

I did a hands-on workshop with Barbara Crawford on hand needle felting. Although I didn't stay for the full workshop (little bits of wool flying through air does not help the allergies) I did learn how to hand needle felt which was a new-to-me technique. Patty Dunn's trunk show on creative trims was very, very enjoyable. What that girl can do with a bit of yarn or ribbon was a little mind-blowing. One of my friends saw a very neat trick from Linda McGehee. Linda pieces fabric together with the seams on the outside and joined by her serger in a rolled hem stitch. In her serger she puts two peices of metallic wooly nylon in the upper looper and regular thread in the lower looper and right hand needle. Its a great effect and I will have to try it out.

This was a very inexpensive day for me as the bus was free, admission to the show was only $6.00 (group rate) and there wasn't all that musch I wanted to buy. I picked up some Rizi zippers (the kind used for zipper based necklaces) and a wonderful purse handle. The mall that hosted the show was pretty empty but with both JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby in close proximity I did manage to fill up my tote bag with some glorious yarn. Stein Mart was also in the same mall but I resisted the temptation to shop there. Stein Mart always seems to pick my pocket when I shop there because of their great selection of shoes and accessories, not to mention great clothes... all at discounted pricing.

Although the bus ride was long, three and a half hours each way, I got to spend some good time with a couple of ASG friends solving all the problems in the world. I had intended to spend a lot of time knitting on one of my sweater projects but, even though I brought all my yarns and needles, I forgot the pattern. I ended up knitting some more book mark for the kids and a cell phone cozy, our latest middle school project.

If you ever have a chance to go to San Antono when this show is on I think you would enjoy it. The local ASG chapter may do this bus trip again next year and I hope I will have the opportunity to go again just to see what these talented teachers can come up with to keep us all sewing.

I hope your weekend is going well. It is so gloomy here that I made a date with a friend to go out to lunch just to brighten the day with some good food and conversation. If only all problems good be solved that way!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Single Cord Braids

Yesterday was my first day at Yes Prep and I know had a lot of fun. I think the kids did too. I have 19 sixth and seventh graders and they were incredibly well-behaved and embraced what I was tyring to do. The interesting part was how young they still are... in language (three syallable words had to be defined), knowledge of the rest of the world (maps had to be drawn to show where Toronto is located) and what's funny to them. I took some art books with me to show typical 'art' and they did not surprise me when the nudes became the favorite pictures to giggle over. Our project was to twist embroidery floss into bracelets. All but one made an acceptable product though some of the color combinations were truly awful. There was one over acheiver who twisted three separate cords and produced a necklace with another cord to hang a pendant. Amazing!

Next week we are going to braid cord. I thought we would do multipe string braids.... from simple hair brading to a 16 cord Japanese style braid. This might be too much for 19 kids and one teacher to get through in one class. Today I had a brain flash. What if we used simpler materials?

First we could finger knit on two fingers... a llittle loose but when tightened up it made a nice loose round braid. This technique can tie off circulation to your fingers so I may skip this one.
Then I remembered that I had a Lucette I had purchaed many years agos from Lacis. It does not appear to still be in their catalog, which is a shame as the tool is definitely a work of art. They do have the book I have lost which I just may have to get to explore more ways to use it. I pulled it out this morning and produce this bit of square cord in just a few mintutes.

Then I remembered something I have had for a zillion years but never knew how to use it. It seemed like a perfect little round braid tool. I was right and make this dainty little piece of cord.
That brings me to a futuristic spool kitter I found the other day at the local big JoAnn's. It uses fingering or DK weight yarn. All you do is crank the thing and out comes beautiful cord. Its not as easy as that but as long as you pay attention you can get acceptable results. Here is some green cords I ended up with the other night. JoAnn's online has a similar thingy called a Cool Corder for sale. Also, Lacis has one (looks bigger for bigger yarn) for a much bigger price.
These cords can be used in a variety of ways.... as a substitute for knitted I-cord, as the basis for mecklaces and jewellry, you can braid them together to make belts and purse handles, sew them together into flowers for pins, and use them for lanyards for key chains. I am sure there are other uses but that's what I can come up with right now.
So there are four technques for braiding a single cord into something else. I think that might keep them busy next week. I can only hope!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Knit Bits

The middle school Knitting Club is still in full swing with variable attendence... some days about 15, other days about 6. These kids show lots of enthusiasm for finger knitting and one of the boys has already made about 20 feet of white wooly finger kniting. What s finger kntting you say? It is what you do when you have run out of needles and need something for the kids to do. The only other solution is to have them knit on chop sticks.

Yes, that's right, chop sticks. Chop sticks with narrow to sharp tips are a great thing to use when you run out of official knitting needles and are great for small projects. One project that we have been workng on for the last couple of weeks is book marks for the school library. Very simple knitting... cast on 18 stitches, knit 8 rows, bind off and then finish it off with the tails pulled to one end of the knitting and tied in a knot for a tail.

Here is a shot of the over 40 we have done:

Officially you are supposed to worsted weight yarn, size eight needles and eight inch tails but when you have limited supplies you use what you have.

Now, If I could only get them to learn purl stitches we would be making good progress!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sublime Stitching

Many of you know that my first love is counted thread embroidery. I don't do a lot of it these days as my eyes and hands just can't take long periods of such close work any more, however I still enjoy an hour or so a month working on a stitch sampler that has been on the 'to do' pile for a couple of years now. At this rate, it probably won't be done until the next century and then by someone else. Here is a link to the actual pattern I have been working ... my progress is at the letter J.

For a while now I have been intrigued by a company called 'Sublime Sttching' that has been promoting hand embroidery of a more free-form style than I usually enjoy. For one thing they promote the use of a hoop to hold your cloth while I prefer holding my fabric in my hand. The owner also likes embroidering along lines.. many of us grew up knowing this style as Crewel Work, others as Redwork. This style does not meet my need for more precision in my work. The best part of Sublime Stitching are their great designs that are a little funky, a little wierd and definitely stylish.

They have a contest going right now for people to create miniature monograms on teeny tiny pillows. I thought it was a little nuts but then I remembered that I still have examples my own work done on 40 count silk. That means the base fabric was worked at the rate of 40 stitches per square inch. I used one ply of silk embroidery floss to create this brooch quite a few years ago.
The whole design is smaller than a penny! I can't believe I used to love doing this kind of work. I even have some more blank fabric like this just waiting for me to take up my needle and thread again on another intricate design. I have one other piece done on this scale but I can't lay my hand on it right now.
I think I will load this picture onto the contest page understanding that it does not meet the requirements but just to show a different approach to embroidery.
I hope you have warm plans for this weekend. It is a three day weekend for us here in the U.S. and I intend to get a lot of sewing done... and maybe some vaccuming as well. One can hope!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


At the meeting, last Saturday, of the ASG Houston downtown nieghborhood group, someone brought in a sleeve board to give away. A sleeve board is a wierd little two sided ironing board for pressing the seam allowances of skinny things... like sleeves. I have always wanted one and even picked up one at a garage sale that some one had converted into a shelf. I never got a cover for it and it has sat in the garage through two moves. The best part about this board is that it is made out of wood with a thin cover. Wood is great for ironing as the steam from your iron is held in the wood making for a crip press. Here is the one I picked up for free:
As you can see the cover has seen better days. Frankly it was a little gross and the layer of batting under the cover was even worse. Today I replaced the batting and made new covers for each side of the board. Here is how it came out:
I still need to do a little tweaking of the fit but I love this fabric that I used previously to recover a secretary's chair. Now that I have recovered this little gem I now will need to recover the small wooden ironing board I use on top of my big cuting board when I am too lazy to move the cutting board off the big ironing board. That may use up all of my stash of this yardage and I will miss it. If I still have some left I intend to make a tote for my travel iron.

The next few days should be pretty mellow around here so I may actually get something done. Here's hoping!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gainful Employment

I have been officially retired for two and a half years now and, alhough I am enjoying myself immensely, I really am too young to join the ranks of the retired. Since I am my sole provider I really need to get off my butt, stop living off my savings and find another job.... but I am having way too much fun. With the quilt guild bees and the sewing guild groups plus the knitting club at the Humble Middle School, I just don't think I can squeeze in a 'real' job. Time for Plan B ... that is to make my hobbies my job.

My first foray into the crafty job market was when the owner of Quilter's Quarters in Conroe asked me to do the bog coat workshop as a class for them. Instead of just going over the steps in construction, the class and I will make real live bog coats. I even have one that can be made for a baby from a fat quarter. I don't see the classes on their calendar yet but one will be on February 6 and another on March 28, both in the afternoon. The income will be very small compared to the pleasure I have in bringing this great jacket to other sewers and it is a beginning. Now, if only enough people sign up for the class that will make the minimum required. I have my fingers crossed on this one! If it works I'll try it out with Sew Crafty Houston.

My next attempt has turned into working at Yes Prep in Houston once a week for a couple of hours running their Arts and Crafts Club. Ike ruined their ability to hold this club last semester so they are trying again. The original Fall instructor is hosting the Japanese club this time while I will take over Arts and Crafts. This is a real paying job and will take a lot of prep time including a real lesson plan and sourcing of materials we can use. The classes will go on for twelve weeks and end up with a student extravaganza.

This one has me a little nervous in that I hope I have come up with projects that will interest the kids without being too juvenile. I will try to get others to be guest speakers/demonstrators but I don't know if many will interested as these kids probably can't afford to buy many supplies from them... sales being the motive of many demonstrators. I'm off to do paper work today and the club starts next week. The wierd part of this employment is that I heard about in a Sew Crafty Houston post last year and it appears that I am the only person who wants to do it.......or maybe the crafty fairies spread some fairy dust so that my name made it to the top of the list.

I don't want to know!

I hope your week has started well. It's around freezing here this morning and Alex and the girls were having a hard time finding a cosy spot in the backyard. I can see the three of them right now all huddled down in a pine needle nest enjoying the sun. I wish I had a big telephoto lens for my camera to get a picture for you.... maybe later.


If this doesn't make you want to take care of your teeth nothing will!

Friday, January 9, 2009


I don't know why but this year I am have been hibernating this month. I can't seem to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time but neither can I sleep for more than a few hours at a time. I am assuming that the wacky weather has a lot to do with it - up to 80F one day then down to 40 the next day.

I seem to get the laundry done but I never seem to get into the closet or drawers. I have been workng on a knitted sweater for a couple of months now and can't seem to get to the knitting store to buy the extra yarn I need to complete the project. I started another sweater but I seem to have misplaced the circular needles I need to transfer the project to when I am done with the double pointed needle section. I quilted that chinese coins quilt the other night and ended up with a large number of unintended pleats in the back. I am working on things but none are actually completed.

Actually, I did get one thing done. My goal to complete a weekly collage did happen for last Sunday. Its not fabulous but it was fun to finish something. When I have a critical mass of them done I will post pictures.

I hope you are doing better than me this season and that your weekend will be fabulous... well, if not fabulous at least restful.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas Jacket

I know this is a little late but I realized the other day that I had not posted on the jacket I made for Christmas. I have one I have only worn once because it is too Christmasy to wear in public so I decided that this was the year I would go for something a bt more wearable.

Shirley Adams, of PBS fame, created this jacket in her series 17 shows. Quilter's Quarters in Conroe Texas even does a class on it though I don't see it on the current calendar. And Emma Seabrooke does a variaton for knits. The design originated in Japan, thus the name. The premise is that you take six equal squares of fabric and, with a little mind blowing manipulation, create a flattering bias cut jacket. Here is what I came up with:
The fat quarters I used were purchased as a set from some quilt shop locally. I used black cotton for the lining and binding. To make it a bit heftier that just two layers of cotton, I quilted every square with a thin layer of batting between the lining squares and the exterior squares. Here are some things I learned by making this jacket:
  1. quilting bias cut fabric means that you eliminate all the give of bias cut fabric.

  2. when the instructions say that 18" squares are your right size, cutting 17" squares is not a good idea.

  3. too tight jackets like this can be made wearable by wearing a tight bra and/or shirt underneath and then adding a zipper. It will fit snuggly but not be uncomfortable

  4. raw seams on the interior make a jacket like this un-reversable.

  5. when you are quilting squares like this together is probably better that the fabrics be cut a tad larger than needed so you can square it up before actually making the jacket.

  6. if your zipper is heavy duty and a tad long, your can still use it in this type of relaxed neckline... just don't zip it all the way to the top.

I got a lot of compliments on this jacket from sewers and non-sewers alike. I don't think they were just being kind as it did look rather good on me. Although I made it for Christmas I know I can wear it during any cool weather here. One other thing I did was to shorten the sleeves to about elbow length as the full length version was a bit tight at the wrist for me.

I hope your new year has begun on a positive note that will carry through the rest of the year. We can only hope!