Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Irritation Solved

At the Twisted Sisters Swap I received back a cute little tote bag with a snap closure.

I intended to use if for toting small knitting projects.

There was a problem though...I really, really, hated the closure.

There was something irritating about the clunky sounding snapping of the closure.

I decided to figure out what made the closure and, by carefullly opening a seam in the casing, discovered these:


The annoying closure was made from a metal tape measure.

Truly a clever technique and instructions for one style of bag are here.  I can see this technique applied to many different types of simple totes and hand bags.

Discovering this meant I was now left with a wimpy topped bag.  I knew I didn't want to put back the measuring tape but I did need a new closure.

I ended up putting a drawstring in the same casing.

Now the bag can be used for my purposes (knitting storage) and I can still show off my friend's excellent sewing.

Now if I can only figure out how to make the lining, which is about two inches shorter that the exterior of the bag, longer, I would be in hog heaven......I wonder if I should open up the interior...shortern the exterior, make a new bottom.....never mind.  If I wanted a whole new bag I should just start from scratch.

Let me know if you try this type of closure and whether you were pleased with the results.

Sick Day Crocheting

As noted before, I have discovered that I cannot do complex tasks when I am ill.  It just doesn't work.  I have discovered that simple knitting is possible... especially when the product is to be felted in the washing machine.

I have also discovered that I can do simple crochet if it is also going to be machine felted.  During a swap of excess materials with the Kingwood Yarn it, Darn it group I came home with all the rejects.

Most of it went to a local group that makes items for the local charity hospital however  I kept back almost two whole balls of Bernet felting wool.  It just didn't seem smart to make some lovely thing that could not be washed without changing its size.

As my cold deepened I decided to use this yarn in a project as my felted knitting projet worked out pretty well.

On the band for the yarn there was a pattern for a felted clutch and it is available on their website as well.  It called for three balls of yarn but thought I could get a result with all that I had.

Here's how it turned out:

I added a magnetic snap and a button to cover it up.  I like the slightly geometric texture, caused by the crochet stitches.

I have even tried it out and, although it doesn't hold a lot, I think it will be a great bit to have around for a quick run to the library or lunch with friends.  In the end it may go to the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild fish pond/garage sale next year if I don't use it more than once or twice between now and then.

I hope your week is going well.  Hurricane Alex will be causing trouble here as Houston is on the 'dirty' side of the storm.  Torrential rans, flooding and high winds are all expected between now and the end of the week if the storm doesn't shift more to the south.  On the other hand, Alex, the dog, will love the opportunity to dig into a wet garden and the Girls are looking forward to extra loving as I dry them off with big fluffy towels.

That's what I love about dogs, they always see the positive side of any situation.

Me...I'm adding some easily prepared food to the larder and cleaning out the ice chest.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sick Day Knitting

I have discovered over the past week of being Typhoid Alice, that there is one thing I can do with my hands and not screw up too badly.

From the previous post you know that knitting socks is not one of them BUT knitting up projects for washing machine felting seems to be something I can do.

Knitting with 100% wool, with somewhat larger needles than normal, in simple patterns, are ideal when you are not sure if you can even see straight because the felting process corrects/hides so many mistakes.

I had a kit from Pick Up Sticks purchased at Sew Crafty a while ago and the other day I knitted it up, felted it, added a zipper and here is my new miscellaneous card case:

Not exactly as the pattern intended but it will hold a zillion cards I seem to be collecting but don't need everyday... like my Threads magazine Fabric Shopper's Companion, Drug Benefit Card, Health Benefit Card, loyalty credit cards, blood donor card, loyalty card for quilt store and on and on and on.

Even if your knitting is truly off kilter and off gaurge/tension and if you are working with pure wool it will probaly felt up into another project like this little card case.  My case turned out to be about 3 1/2" by 5 1/2"... a lot smaller that the pattern's 5" by 7" size but it works.

I hope your weekend went well and that the coming week is new beginning... or at least a new month!

Have a good one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lost Socks

I like to knit socks.


Me...A sock knitter.

Those of you who have not been following this blog will be surprised to hear that but the rest of you know that I enjoy knitting socks.

Of course, I don't get to wear them a lot in the 100F heat and 100% humidity we get aorund here these days but I do enjoy them for the ease of the knitting, the paucity of materials and the portabilty of the projects.

Then I began the June installment of the Twisted Yarns 2010 sock club.

Pretty hand dyed yarn from South America and a wonderful dimensional pattern called Maelstrom Socks by Cookie A seemed like a surefire combination.

Aren't they lovely?

Some of you may not notice but one sock is about two inches longer than the other and the wonderful swirly pattern falls apart ... both problems in the sock for my left foot.

Trust me... even my very first sock is not as misshapen as the sock on the right of each of the pictures (which is for my left foot).  Okay, maybe not as bad as my eyeglass case sock but certainly up there with sock disasters I thought I would never have been able to accomplish.

Lessons learned in knitting these socks:
  • NEVER work on a pattern that requires some concentration when knitting, nose blowing, coughing and three little nursemaids (Alex and the Girls) are all competing for your attention. 
  • DO NOT RELY ON MEMORY.  Just because I have knit the toes of many socks does not mean I know how the toe on this sock will turn out.  If I was that good one toe would not be 1" longer than the other.
  • Sock one does not equal sock two.  Even if I finished the sock for the right foot only two days before starting the sock for the left foot does not mean I will remember how I achieved the pefection of the first sock ... especially when the pattern reverses itself from on sock to the other.  Read the instructions.. again and again and again.
  • DOCUMENT.  It's my pattern and I can write on it if I want to but I didn't!  Every other sock pattern I have, from cheap photo copies to full color books have my copious notes.  Not this one.  It looks as pristine as when I got it.
At least they are done and that is better than never having tried. 

I have not lost them.. yet.  But I think they may end up a secret drawer someplace under all the other failed projects that I cannot bear to throw away.

I will try this pattern again and have already cast-on stitches for it in a lovely tweedy navy.  So far so good but I will let you know how they turn out... maybe it isn't me, maybe the pattern by the world famous sock designer is incorrect???  It could happen :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

String Quilts

Strings are not something I think of when I think of quilts.  Quilts are wonderul pieces of fabric created from other pieces of fabric to make a harmonious whole.

String quilts revel in their mismtaches and only combine into a harmonious whole because of the large border that is usually put around the blocks to keep them in check.

The Once Upon a Time Bee got together last Friday and made blocks for several string quilts that will be used to make wheelchair quilts for the local VA hospital.

Here is how a couple of them turned out:
 The first photo is of some individual blocks while the other one shows another set sewn into a  quilt top.  The borders will be added later.

Of course some people like to work with a more controlled color palette:

Making a string quilt block couldn't be easier.  First you need a base of either paper or scrap fabric.  Each of these quilt blocks started with a base of one husband's old dress shirts.  The bases were cut at 10" square.  The strips of fabric are leftovers from other quilting projects and are sewn on the base, one at a time using quarter inch seam allowances , starting from the center of the base and working to the edges.   Accuracy is not a big factor as our 10" foundations were trimmed down to 6 1/2" blocks before being joined into quilt tops More detailed instructions can be found here

This can be a pretty messy processs but think of all the scraps you can get rid of in a guilt free manner?

I hope your week is going well.  I have a cold... an incredibly snotty cold, to be perfectly frank....and I'm being miserble to the dogs by refusing to go on walks with them when I can't go more than a couple of paces before I need to stop and blow my nose or other such disgusting sickness related stuff.  I hope this calms down soon or I will be up on animal abuse charges! 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Etsy Houston Party

Last night was the first party for Etsy sellers who work out of Houston.  Esty is this great marketplace where small makers can sell their products on-line without a huge investment in a stand alone store front.  In addition, sellers can find you by searching for products without your wares getting buried by big stores in standard google searches.

The party was a chance for Etsy sellers here to meet each other, try new crafty techniques and for poeple like me, to bask in their creativity.

One of the makers I met was Sharon who makes small art quilts for sale on Etsy.  Her blog is here and I love her little creations.  They are delightful, slices-of-life that would brighten any empty corner of my home.

Check out Sharon and her store and while you are in Etsy, check out some of the other makers I enjoy visiting like b*bags, Craft Leftovers and heather fish. 

I don't think you will be disappointed.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Run Little Animals, Run!


Do not be taken in by the sweet look on this Dachshund’s face. Kimora is not a quiet, gentle puppy but a stone hearted killer.

Her kills this year include a dove, a squirrel, a rat and a turtle….and these are only the ones I know about.

Today she took on a turtle that was approximately ten inches wide. The only reason that the turtle has lived to tell the tale is that Kimora could not get it completely under the fence and into our yard.

She is now on antibiotics and pain killers for the next week or so.

So beware all you birds, squirrels, rats and turtles. Kimora is in the yard and it is hers.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Twisted Sisters Swap

Twisted Sisters is a quilting grop sponsored by the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild.  We are 'twisted' because we are always looking at differnt techniques to change our fabric creations. 

We recently held a swap where each member brought in a yard of fabric that they liked in a brown paper bag.

We then chose a bag and went off to create something.  We did not reveal which fabric we had so this was a blind swap.

Last week we revealed our creations and found out who we created for and who created for us.

Although this is a crappy photo I think it reveals the variety of projects created:

From the center bottom and going clockwise we created a precision wall quilt, a little bag, a christmas table runner, a signature quilt, a Twisted Sisters Valentines Days quilt, a calendar hanger, a large batiked bag and ad appliqued quilt.  

I made the signature quilt and, as I had to collect everyone's signature, it was not a surprise that this is what I created.

I received the little tourquise and brown bag.  This bag has a metal snap closure which will make it great as a knitting bag/yarn barn.

This was a fun project even if there was a monetary incentive to complete some project from the fabric.  If you didn't finish your project you had to pay $50.00 to the person whose fabric you had.

No-one paid the money and I think everyone was pleased with the results.

If you are part of any kind of crafty group I think this is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.  Have everyone trade a bag of fabrics, papers, yarns, Legos, fruit or what have you and see what comes out of working with items someone else has chosen for you.

Fashion Design I - Some Photos

Behind this door chaos reigns and creativity abounds.  Enter at your own risk!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fashion Design I

I know nothing about fashion design but I do know a little bit about sewing weird stuff. 

When someone from the Kingwood branch of the Lonestar Community College System called and asked me to teach a class on Fashion Design, I said that I couldn't do it as I knew nothing about Fashion Design.

They then sent me the syllabus and class outline, I still said no.  The class description had things in it like fashion sketching and reviewing jobs in the fashion industry.  Again, I said No.

They finally said that  I could teach anything I wanted as long as it had some sewing in it.  I finally said yes.

Then I found out that a dear friend, who I worked with at the middle school knitting club last year, had recommended me for the job so I knew someone knew how unfashionable I am.

BTW, all of this took place the Wednesday and Thursday the week before the class started.

Friday, before class, a dear friend and her grandson helped me shop for fabric and supplies, Saturday and Sunday I packed 25 reusable shopping bags with supplies for the week and on Monday I got up at 5:30 AM to get ready for class.

The class was offered twice a day, four hours each session for four days in a row.

Despite my extreme wariness of this whole experience, I had a blast last week and, I think, the kids did as well.

The morning session had 8 12 - 14 year-old grials and the afternoon session had 15 9 - 11 year-old girls.

My approach was to introduce them to the materials used in fashion and how to change them and sew them into something useful.

Our frst day project was to make a tag for their goody bags.  We started with each of them choosing a picture from Vogue magazine as an inspiration piece.  They then made a sketch of a tag inspired by the picture.  They used the sketch as the basis for making a tag using muslin, fusible fabrics, colord pencils, and hand embroidery to make a tag.

From there we went on to making phone/iPod cases, purses, tote bags and tried to get started on bog coats.  The girls had such creativity that they baically ran with any ideas I had and took them to a new level.  Some even ended up making fabric collages as quilt tops on the last day from fusible fabric scraps...amazing! 

By the end of the four days they had used up about 60 yards of fabric, 50 skiens of floss, 22 sewing machine needles, 10 yards of quilt batting, many yards of tulle and organza ( a whole story in and of itself), yarn, upholstery samples, vintage linens, Sharpies, fabric paint pens, glitter, beads, thread and many hand sewing needles.  They also brought in a lot of their own fabric, an old Jasmine costume and a pair of pink silk oriental style pajamas that all made their way into some wonderful creations.

My stash is now smaller, which is a good thing and the only casualties of the week were my old iron (looks like there is chewing gum on it) and my big ironing board (which is covered with glue and glitter).  These are a small price to pay for all the creativity that happened in a portable clasroom on the Kingwood College Campus last week.

I hope I get a chance to do this again.  

If you are on Facebook you can see photos at  http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=logo#!/photo.php?pid=4199103&id=191541494548.