Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Fling 2011

A highly selective sampling of the Dachshund Rescue of Houston Spring Fling 2011 fundraiser:
Kelis getting ready for getting her nails clipped.

.  Thanks to the Westside Veterinary clinic techs for this service!

Mommy, Mommy!
For more Dachshund cuteness see the DROH web site here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rocker Girl!

After a few months or so the walking harnesses of Alex and the Girls really need refreshing.  Since they are tough to wash and dry in the machines (metal bits do not like laundry machines and visa versa) I have begun to make their harnesses.

I purchased them once and have been recycling the clips and rings into new harnesses for them.

Kelis's was getting pretty ratty so last night I made her a brand new one.

Check out my Rocker Girl:

Although I took about 15 shots of her on our walk this was the only one that turned out without Alex horning in on the action, Kemora blocking the view or Kelis shaking about.

This time I actually made a pattern and kept notes on what I needed to make her a harness so I will not have to remember how I did it.  As she uses this style of harness everyday, I see myself making at least a couple a year.

Why this style of harness?  Dachshunds are known for having extremely tender spines and leading them about from their collar only exacerbates the problem.  This style of harness actually puts any stress on their whole chest area and is extremely effective is keeping Alex and the Girls under control when needed.  One other benefit is that they cannot slip out of their harness like they can from their collars.  Even if the velcro belly band comes undone, the neck band has velcro and is also held together by standard dog collar hardware.  Even Alex cannot get out of it! 

Interested in making a walking harness for your favorite pooch?  Here are a couple of notes on lessons I have learned:

  • Measuring accurately is essential.  Around the neck, around the chest, width at the shoulders and from the neck to where you want the harness to stop.  Several on-line resources are available as well as commercial patterns and books can also help guide you.
  • Be prepared to make up a couple of test harnesses before you get the desired fit.  Use oak tag (for durability) for your final pattern while swedish tracing paper makes a great sample garment with little cost.
  • Seam allowances are not needed if you bind the edges of your harness as I do.
  • Do not leave a lot of excess space at the neck, as you would for a collar, as this style is only used for walking and not for all day wear.
  • Consider using a dark color for the lining to hide dirt.
  • Only a light weight interfacing is necessary to reinforce the cotton fabric. 
  • Velcro for the neck and belly straps should be at least four inches long, or even longer at the belly, for security.
  • Dog collar and leash making supplies are available from Creative Design Works .
Next up...a new harness for Kemora.

Special Needs Patterns

As you may know, I belong to a group within the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild that is devoted to making things for those in need in our community.  We, generally, don't do quilts but we do lots and lots of other things.....chemotherapy caps, baby hats, baby blankets, wheel chair bags, ditty  bags, Christmas stockings, and many other items.

Many of our projects are for those who cannot provide these items for themselves due to the expense and/or the unavailability of these items in regular stores.

For instance, caps for those suffering from hair loss can cost well over $20.00 a piece, which can be quite an expense as you need many to always have a clean one on hand.

The patterns we have obtained or developed meet some of the needs in our community but are very basic.  I came across several patterns lately, developed by Simplicity, that can be used to make wonderful accessories for the special needs community.

For example, Simplicity patterns 2382 and 2822 are a wonderful assortment of wheelchair, walker and scooter bags.  They are definitely fancier than the generic ones we make and would be great to customize for that family member who has such mobility devices.  If you are looking for even more interesting bags for walkers, pattern 2300 has a lot of bags for different styles of walkers.

One of the things I didn't get a chance to make for my dad when he was in rehab was a bib to save some of his clothes.  Pattern 2687 has great bibs, customizable for male or female users and definitely useful for those of us who tend to eat in our cars.

My absolutely favorite pattern is Simplicity 2623.  Although the packaging does not mention it, these patterns are wonderful for Alzheimer patients.  Each item has multiple functional buttons, zippers and pockets that allow the wearer to practice fine muscle control and help keep busy hands occupied.  Similar aprons cost cost around $50.00 at a store but can be made from your stash for a lot less.

For chemotherapy caps, Simplicity 2494 is the only simple hat pattern I can see in the current catalog.  These are designed for fleece but could be easily adapted to other fabrics.  McCall's Pattern Company's M4116 is a wonderful pattern for using knits and the styles included are quite exotic.  For other hat patterns, Nancy's Notions, has many free, simple patterns and other companies sell or give away many others.  The only rules about chemotherapy caps is that the fabric must be soft, washable and all seams or decorative bits cannot rub against the scalp.

If you like the projects we make for the local community but need something for your own or someone else's use, check out these great patterns.  They are simple to make, easy to customize and can be real stash busters! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One and Done

When I tried to knit socks for the first time I only made one of a pair because it was so misshapen.  I ended up making it into an eye glass case.  It worked out so successfully that I have done something similar for another friend when she also ended up with a first sock without a mate.

Since then all my socks have mates and I am proud of that achievement.

Then came along the December installment of the Twisted Yarns Twisted Toes Sock Club.  This was the final installment of the 2010 club and the pattern was a gorgeous pair of holiday socks that used two colors (white and a variegated) of yarn from Crystal Palace with a custom pattern called 'To Every Season' by Ann Manchester.

I was excited by the challenge of working with two yarns throughout most of the pattern and ending up with a pair of socks that said Faith, Hope, Joy and Love around the top of the sock.

I was excited for about the first thirty rows when I realized that I really hate working with two yarns at the same time, did not like the fuzzy yarn that was provided and realized that this sock was going to be too short and too wide to wear comfortably.

When almost done with the first sock last night a revelation came to me...I did not need to make  a complete pair of socks.  I could make only one, line it and use it as a smallish Christmas stocking to add to the decorations for Sweet Sadie's.

Here are a couple of shots of the has not been blocked yet but it will be before I measure it for a lining.

      So, for the first time in a long time I will be abandoning a sock project before there is a pair.  
One and done... now on to figuring out to use up the left over hats?  baby booties?  lacy scraf?  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fat Quarter Challenge

I've mentioned before that I am participating in a monthly challenge to create something with a pre-selected fat quarter of fabric and a designated theme.

The meeting was this past Saturday but as i had the Quilt Show commitment I got a dispensation to submit my entry today without fear of reprisal.

That is all well and good but when the creativity juices have run dry this challenge was...... challenging.

Here is a shot of the fabric...

Nice design, interesting color and very elegant looking.

The challenge was to make something juvenile. 


From a fabric that could been on my Mother's sofa in another color!

My thought process went something like this:

  • Juvenile
  • rustic
  • not sophisticated
  • simple
  • easy
  • sturdy
Did I mention that it needed to be done in one evening while I was clearing out the TiVo?

Here is what I came up with:

A little drawstring backpack suitable for a toddler to take in the car loaded with little treasures.

It is about ten inches tall and about nine inches wide.  The cord is some old drapery trim and the side tabs are the same fabric as the lining.  The whole thing is interfaced with a light weight fusible and is not quilted.  My grand plan included making a couple of little stuffed toys but by the time I got it done the well had run dry.

The best part of this challenge is that I do not have to have it languish in the bottom of a drawer waiting for a toddler to show up.  Instead i can use as a knitting project bag.

Another month done done.  I wonder what the next challenge will be?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Better Than a Ribbon

One thing that happens at almost every Quilt Show that I have attended is that some items submitted get judged.  Judging has two purposes.  One is too acknowledge exceptional skill and ability demonstrated in the items submitted.  The other is for the makers to get a critique of their work.

Most people entering items to be judged have made their quilts specifically to be judged.  They have not been used, run through the washing machine several times, dragged around the house by Alex or, in the case of wearables, worn to several events.

When I make something it is usually for my own enjoyment or as a gift to a willing recipient.  Some how I got talked into submitting two items for judging this year.  One was the Origami Jacket ( which I have worn many, many times)

 and the other was a purse I made a couple of years ago.  

I also submitted one purse just to be displayed.

I didn't need a critique of my work as I am more than well aware of my skills and abilities and the critiques only reinforced that knowledge.  The thought of winning a ribbon for my work fed my ego and I was disappointed that I did not get how unexceptional my work.

Notice, I knew I did not deserve a ribbon but I really wanted one.    

Today, however, I got something better than a ribbon.

I took the purse I had entered for the judging to a doctor's appointment.  I used it because it was still on the kitchen table where it landed when I brought it home from the Quilt Show and I needed a purse to carry my book and knitting.

While waiting to be called back to see the doctor, another woman in the waiting room noticed my purse.  She told me how much she admired the shape, the choice of fabrics and generally made me feel pretty good about it.

We were both called back within moments of each other and, as I sat in the examining room glowing with her praise, I realized that her admiration of my work meant more than any judge's comments or ribbons. 

I contacted one of the nurses and had her deliver the purse to the other patient.  I hear she was most grateful and I hope she gets many years wear out of it.

After all, she had made my day with her kind comments when all I was going to do with it was store with my other purses.

Yup, definitely better than a ribbon.

Now I need to get my inflated ego back in check and try to create something for the next quilt show that is worthy not only of being judged but of actually winning a ribbon..... or maybe not!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Quilt Show Garage Sale

The Kingwood Area Quilt Show and Auction is over for another two years and I am suffering from post show let down.

Not that it was not a wonderful experience but after living with it for the past year and a half I feel like there is nothing left to do...BUT I have lots to do like start cleaning all the spaces in my house I have not been able to clean since it started filling up with boxes, bins and bags of donations.

Here are some photos of what I had to offer...
Two tables of scrap fabrics.

Two tables of pre-priced items

Five tables of books, magazines and patterns

Four tables of larger pieces of fabric and tons of non-quilting fabric.

See all those bins and boxes under the tables?  They are full of even more stuff to sell and by the end of the first day most of the bins had been emptied out onto the floor in that search for the perfect fabric for a project.  

In the end almost everything was either sold or given away.  Anything left I considered worthless and is being recycled or trashed.

All in all we made over $2,500.00 for the Guild!

If you and your organization want to do something similar I would recommend the following:
  • Start early to gather your stuff to sell.  Six months before your sale is almost too late.
  • Do not limit yourself to just one type of goods.  Although this sale was part of a Quilt Show about 25% of what I had to sell was non-quilt related books, fabrics and supplies.
  • Simple pricing allows easy change making and allows buyers to easily figure out how much they are spending.
  • Don't worry about perfect accuracy in calculating yardage.  An extra $0.50 will not make or break your sales figures.
  • Be prepared to bargain!  Sometimes people did not want to pay $5.00 for something pre-priced so I would make a counter offer or, if they were already buying  a lot, throw it into the mix for free.
  • There are two goals to this kind of sale - make money for your organization AND to help members get their discards out of the their homes into someone else's home.  Be prepared to just give it away for free if that's the only way to get rid of the stuff.  I'd say about 20% of what I had was free for the taking.
  • Find out what people want to acquire and be prepared to offer it to them even before the sale happens.  About 20% of my sales were made before the show even opened.
Now I have at least a year before I start doing it all again.  I hope I will continue to have the energy and friends necessary to make it another successful sale!

Until then I will catch up on my sleep and puppy time.  

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    New York Star

    See me doing a happy dance?

    Okay, just imagine it.

    I am doing a happy dance because I was given a project to do on Wednesday and finished it Friday night.

    What took so little time and spurred me to a quick completion?

    A group of friends are making a quilt top using blocks from Carol Doak's book 50  Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars.

    Each of the stars is based one of the states and each of us has chosen a state star to complete. 

    The style of the stars unifies the overall design and we will each use two fabrics that are identical from block to block.  In this case the blocks will all have a black on gray background fabric and a yellow on yellow central motif. 

    I chose New York and here is how my came out:

    It really is square but my picture taking wasn't up to it this morning.  I really must learn about foreshortening!

    Anyway, I am so happy to have project in and out of the house in less than a week.

    See, I'm doing a happy dance all the way to the next project on the list... more baby hats!

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Knitting for Japan

    A couple of weeks ago the Knitting in Kingwood group decided to make knitted items to aid int he japan relief effort.

    It was a spur of the moment suggestion and today people turned in their efforts.

    About FIFTY items were donated including the cutest little pair of baby booties, a lovely periwinkle scarf with three columns of cables and ribbing, a set of fingerless gloves that matched a scarf and a hat, a hand spun wool watch cap and so much more of hand knit love.

    What do you think of our take?

    We even got stuff have people who are not part of the group but who wanted to contribute.  Now comes the final search of an appropriate delivery method...but that can wait until Monday.  Until then I will examine each piece carefully for future projects then pack it all up to be mailed off.

    Workshop Houston Update

    This afternoon Workshop Houston had their Spring pop-up shop event and I had a chance to spend a little bit of time wandering around seeing what damage i could do to my bank account.

    I was disappointed that I did not see any of the kids I have worked with but, then again, I wasn't there more than twenty minutes so that doesn't mean they weren't there at another time.

    I did get to see some of the board members and lust after some spectacular silent auction items.

    The best part of my brief visit wast that I got to buy one of the reversible tote bags that the kids made.  The construction is based on my easy reversible tote instructions changed to eliminate the bagged bottom.

    The best part is that the kids silk screened the fabric so that a logo is visible whichever way you use it.

    Isn't this a neat tote bag!

    Side one - green canvas with navy and purple silk screens.

    Side 2 - orange canvas with light blue and purple logo.

    I was busting with pride that I had taught this tote bag construction to the kids and the Style Shop coordinator and that they had done such an excellent job constructing the bags.

    I hope this program can keep going.  It is a huge undertaking and needs all our help.  For now I will keep showing up and helping these kids get excited about sewing.