Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yarn Bombing - Update

It is with profound sadness that I need to report that my Yarn Bomb is no more.  

It barely lasted 48 hours before someone took it down!

I don't know if it was someone in officialdom who thought my little bomb was an eyesore, someone else who thought it was an eye sore or someone who wanted it for themselves.

Whomever it was, I'm pissed.

Rest assured I will try again...this time closer to the official date.

Maybe I should try crazy glue next time?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yarn Bombing

Yarn Bombing in a form of graffiti that uses yarn to decorate public spaces.  Magda Sayeg, in Houston, actually started this craziness in 2005 and it has now grown into to an international  source of silliness.  Check out this article from Seattle to get more background and this book for kick starting your own yarn bombing adventures.

International Yarn Bombing Day has been designated by a crafty Canadian as Saturday June 11, 2011 and I am gearing up to do some yarn loving in my neighborhood.   

But I decided I needed some practice first.

First decision - What to yarn bomb?   I looked around my neighborhood and decided that I needed to do something that was public, on public property and visible to many folk.  My front yard provides many opportunities... the mailbox, many trees, yard art.... but that seemed too easy.  I ended up choosing the light pole across the street from my house.

Second decision - How to yarn bomb?  I decided to keep it simple and knit up some old wool into a horizontal striped light pole cozy.

Third decision - When to install it?  Too keep in the spirit I decided I needed to install my piece after the sun went down so that it would just magically appear the next morning.  My first attempt to install my piece was thwarted when I encountered police cars silently patrolling my street.  The idea is not to get caught and I thought being arrested for wrapping  knitting around a light pole was not a good idea.

Last night turned out to be perfect.. little traffic, no rain and the dogs were fast asleep in their bed so they couldn't lend a hand, er, a paw, in the process or cheer me on with lots of barking and dancing at my feet.

This morning I took a picture of my first yarn bomb,,,,,

Okay, so it's not that dramatic and the horizontal stripes ended up being installed vertically due to a gauge miscalculation but its done!  I've already spied some early morning dog walkers checking it out.  And yes, I put it high enough up that most boy dogs will not have a chance to leave their mark on it.

For the official day, some friends and I intend to yarn bomb the local Starbucks where we meet on Fridays.  Little garlands of crocheted and knitted loveliness are already in the works and a friend just completed a wonderful scarf, in Starbucks green no less, for the garbage bin outside the store.

I have lots of scrap yarn so I busy in this stash busting activity to have something ready in time.

I wonder if the other light poles on my street could use some yarn loving?


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Picnic Time

I don't like picnicking all that much because of my experiences as a child.  It seemed that every time we had a picnic the sandwiches were stale, the drinks warm, the bugs numerous and the bathrooms (if any) disgusting.

As I have aged I reconciled that sometimes picnics are necessary... like on long road trips or while enjoying visits to parks and such.  Many years ago I got a real picnic basket to carry all the stuff needed on a picnic and have been using it off and on over the years.

The past couple of years I have been using this basket to carry things for our snack attacks and lunches at the various quilting groups I attend at the Emlgrove Community Room.  These days my basket is packed and ready to go all the time with a table cloth, napkins, plastic utensils, paper plates and disposable cups.

I noticed the basket was getting a little tired looking and decided it could use some sprucing up.

Here's the original basket:

Not very pretty and can you believe that I originally got this basket from L'eggs as part of a summer weight pantyhose promotion?  How long ago was that?  Do they even make L'eggs anymore?

Anyway, the first step was to remove the contents and the plastic liner then hose the whole thing down to try to remove any dirt.  Then I stained it with some dark mahogany Minwax left over from when I restained the front door a few years ago.

It took a couple of days for the basket to dry enough for me to remeasure it for a new liner.  The old liner hand been stapled into the basket between the basket and a strip of lathe.  I used some wonderful spotted fabric from my stash and just tacked it back in with some staples.

Then I began to work on the contents.

I had a place mat kit, for four place mats, that I won somewhere and decided to make them up and use them in place of the old tablecloth I used in the past.  

Then the real action stared.

I dug in the old silverware stash and pulled out about enough for eight place settings plus a bunch of serving pieces.  They should be enough to handle most of our pot luck snacks and lunches.  To carry them I used the leftover fabric from the place mat kit to make a silver ware roll to hold the clean pieces. 

 The leftover fabric from the lining became nine napkins, about 14" x 14" that I serged to finish the edges.  

Then I stopped at Target and found some inexpensive dishwasher and microwave safe plastic plates and glasses. I'll pack a plastic container of some sort to transport the dirty ones home.

So that's it... a newly refurbished picnic basket full of color coordinated reusable goodies.  

Take that Martha Stewart!  ;=)  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Doggie Accessories

Over the past couple of years I have been making leashes for the dogs from some inch-wide heavy weight webbing.  They worked well but were pretty heavy for such light weight dogs.

Dachshund Rescue of Houston (DROH) had friends who made walking harnesses for the dogs and all the proceeds went to DROH.  Unfortunately it appears that relationship has ended so I used the original harnesses as patterns for making custom harnesses for my guys.  See Kelis's most recent harness here.

Last night I finally completed the ultimate dog accessory.  I made both Alex and Kelis new collars.   More on these later.

The biggest obstacle to making custom accessories for your own dogs is obtaining the materials   Webbing is rarely available in a multitude of weights at reasonable prices.  The closures and D-rings for collars are unavailable in our local sewing stores.  And then sourcing the right size webbing with the right size of closures simultaneously is almost a miracle.

BUT there is one source for the notions needed and that is old leashes and harnesses.  That is why I have been able to make the harnesses and leashes I have in the past.  Collar closures and D-rings have eluded me until I found Creative Designworks.

This company has almost every size and weight of webbing that you could possibly imagine AND the collar parts even come in colors!

If you ever wanted t make your own dog accessories, try this company... great shipping, no shipping charges and their prices on bulk purchases are extremely reasonable... especially if you want to start your own business.

Back to my adventures in collar making....

Alex just had his annual physical and, as is custom here, a new collar was in the works.  I took him to the local pet store and found lots of cute collars but they all had the same problems.

The problems were that they are pretty heavy duty and the prices seemed ridiculous.

Alex doesn't need a heavy weight collar because I do not attach his leash to his collar,  His collar is primarily used to hold his tags so it is really a fashion accessory rather than a way to control his behavior.

For him I used a 5/8" light weight black webbing and a comparable size of black buckle and D-ring. I then added black and orange striped ribbon for a touch of color.  I am unable to get a good shot of his new collar but I love that its nice and soft and will not dig into his neck if he gains a little bit of weight.
Alex won't let me get close to photograph his new collar.  He would rather stand on guard against unruly squirrels and passing cars.

Kelis's collar, on the other hand, was made using parts from the mini-dog size kit for 3/8" webbing.  I didn't use webbing but substituted fabric that matched her newest harness.  Quite a sharp dresser on our walks!
Kelis would let me hold her steady for a photo.
It takes very simple sewing to make collars but you need to be able to see in four dimensions to figure out when to add each piece of buckle and D-ring.  It took me at least two tries for each collar to get the placement right.  One hint that is not in the instructions is that you should really melt the ends of the webbing, with a candle or lighter, to prevent raveling.

I now have enough parts to keep making collars, harnesses and leashes for them for many years.  With multiple sizes, weights and colors now available for the webbing my choices are virtually endless.  The company that supplied my parts has reasonably priced guides to running a business making these items.  I don't think I would ever go that far but I can see other, more entrepreneurial people, having a nice little side business.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fat Quarter Club - May 2011

My house might be in chaos but I am getting projects done and out the door... out the door and into the trunk of my car to be delivered.

The May challenge for the Fat Quarter Club at the Quilt Room in Huffman was to take a lovely cream fabric with brown and blue hearts on it and make something masculine.

Hearts?  Masculine?  What were they thinking?

I had already decided that I would make something that took more than a fat quarter this month as I have lots of little projects around here and really don't need any more.

Without any agonizing this time I decided that I would make a wheel chair quilt for the local VA hospital.

I added about five more fat quarters, some Kona brown and a brown zippered pocket to come up with this:

Not how I thought it would turn out but I think its a nice little quilt.  At 36" x 42" its just the right size to cover a lap and not get caught in the wheels and the little zippered pocket adds some extra utility to it....but maybe I should have put the pocket on the back or in not so sharp a contrast fabric??? 

I used about three yards of fabric and, although it is more unisex than masculine, I think it will fit the challenge this month.

As I write this it is a cloudy, muggy day in Kingwood Texas.  We haven't had more than a quarter inch of rain in one day since January this year so all of us are crossing our fingers that these clouds will bring some rain.  Heck, I even performed my personal rain dance yesterday and had the car washed!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Another Mother's Day

Mother's Day and I have a love/hate relationship.

As a child, I loved giving my Mom little things that I thought she would love... toilet water, handkerchiefs, hand made cards and weed bouquets were all accepted by her with much fuss and sloppy kisses.

I was at a loss as to why my Dad would give her sappy cards but chalked it up to some crazy parent thing.

After Paul came, I got to be the recipient of his largess.  One of my favorites was a teeny, tiny Dixie cup planted with a violet that his first grade class had planted at school. 

Another favorite, I rediscovered the other day.  I found a card from him in a pretty pink envelope.  Written on the front of it  was the message...MOM - DO NOT OPEN UNTIL SUNDAY unless you want to. My son and I both have a hard time waiting to the assigned time to open a present!

These memories and more make me love Mother's Day.

My hate relationship with Mother's Day began seven years ago when my own Mom collapsed at a special Mother's Day mass with a stroke that ended her life three weeks later.  Since then I have dreaded this day and its memories.

This year is particularly sad with the passing of my precious Kimora.  There is nothing that makes you feel more useless as a human being than when you cannot protect those in your care from random dangers whether its poisonous snakes from attacking your dog to protecting your child from a school yard bully.

So yes, I love and hate Mother's Day but it always reminds me that without those in our care, for however short a time, life would not be worth living.

And, in honor of Mother's Day, I have a chance to embarrass my child a little by sharing a picture of him at his first birthday celebration in Korea before he even entered my life.
Thank you Paul for being in my life this Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

R.I.P. Kimora

Today started off on a high note and suddenly, without warning, turned tragic.

The high note was set when I was able to scratch the sweet spot on all three dogs at the same time after our walk this morning.  The rear leg thumping by all three did not last long but my two hands and their three necks made it happen.

The low point cam a few hours later when our sweet, big girl Kimora died after an encounter with a coral snake in our back yard.  In the end,  it was a little over an hour from when she ingested the venom to when the veterinarian  declared her dead.

She was a sweet dog who would always hide between my feet when encountering new people and new situations but fearless when it came to keeping critters out of the back yard.  Squirrels, birds, worms, bugs and turtles all knew the wrath of Kimora.  Today her luck ran out and, as they could not find a bite mark, it appears that she ingested the venom from a coral snake and quickly went into shock.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of her and some of my favorite posts about her, here, here and here.

Rest in peace my good, big girl and say hello to Jane from all of us.  I know you are snuggled up to each other dreaming of catching those elusive squirrels.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easiest Pillowcase Ever

 I have participated in several sewing projects for charity that have involved making pillowcases for a variety of causes.  Not only are these a great charity project but pillowcases are a great present or an addition to a quilt and a great way to refresh your bed linens.

The Million Pillowcase Project at APQ has contributed over 270,000 pillowcases to the needy  through a variety of sewing outlets. 

I have made, or helped to make, well over 200 pillowcases, some for the project, some for the American Sewing Guild and some for for various quilting groups.

Over time I developed a swift, accurate and secure method for making them and I would like to share this here.

Why now?  I just made about ten for a local quilt guild and realized that the people who made the kits had probably no idea how to make a pillowcase.

Easiest Pillowcase Ever

27" (2/3 yd.) for body
9" (1/3 yd.) for hem
2" for accent
all cut selvage to selvage

Sewing machine with thread matching or contrasting with the body fabric
Serger with thread matching or contrasting with the body fabric. (Optional)

Press the accent and hem fabric, wrong sides together, lengthwise.

Layer the fabrics selvage to selvage with the body fabric right side up, then the accent fabric, then the hem fabric... raw edges together and serge or sew together.

Finger press the hem and accent away from the body fabric and top stitch the serged/sewn edge to the body fabric.
Inside after top stitching
Outside after top stitching

Wrong sides together, serge/sew the raw edges using an approx. 1/4 seam.

Turn the pillowcase wrong side out and re-sew around the pillowcase encasing the serged/sewn seam within the new seam.

Good seam
Turn right sides out, check to be sure your first joining seam is fully enclosed, fold nicely and use in good health.

Another way to enclose the seams, including the hem and accent edge, is the 'burrito' method and is explained here.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letting the Fabric do the talking

While deciding on which fabrics to use in the making of wheel chair bags this month I came across a piece of fabric that I have no idea where or how I acquired it.

It is a mystery fabric with no information on the selvedges about the manufacturer or fabric content.

It is very light weight with a lovely drape and I knew immediately what to make with it... another bog coat.

In less that an hour here is how it came out:

It needs a press and I may add a closure but it does work the way it is and it definitely honors the 4,000 year old bog coat tradition.

I have a lot of posts of bog coats but if you need a reminder, extensive instructions are here.

Also, check out the current Threads magazine for even more no waste projects.