Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kids Quilting Report

After several more hours of diligent cutting, Peeps' fabric is cut and ready for her to begin sewing.

Although her bedroom is bubblegum pink, and all her bedding and accessories are pink and Bubba's fabrics for the quilt were decidedly pink, Shannon opted to go against the flow and select blues and yellows for her project.

When questioned as to why she was so adamant about her unusual fabric selection, she replied, "This is like my special blankie, which is lost."

You can't argue with a child who is building a memorial to a precious lovey that is no more.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Welcome to Quilting, Bubba and Peeps

Being a homeschooler and a fiber artist necessitates the occasional infliction of craft/hobby education upon my children. It's a given. When you have a gift, you just have to share it, even if the recipients are less than willing to accept the fabulous wealth of information you have to impart. On the plus side, your children are a captive audience and you have the force of familial discipline behind you to force them to comply.

Now, you must understand that my first born is a boy. He watched with fascination the operation of the sewing machine. What an awesome piece of machinery! He frequently played with the rotary cutter and rulers, chopping perfectly good fabric into shreds, in the interest of scientific discovery and the sheer joy of handling a razor sharp, dangerous tools.

However, being the doting mom and avid quilter, of course I misinterpreted this attention as a desire to learn to quilt. Accordingly, Hockeyboy was enrolled in a quilting class at the local quilt shop and introduced to the wonderful world of quilt making. He dutifully picked his fabric, followed the directions given to cut, sew, tie and bind a small quilt. He even attempted to make a pair of shorts shortly thereafter. . .

He has not looked at the sewing machine or any of my sewing tools since.

Along comes the Dancing Diva. She shows great interest (and jealousy) during HB's foray into quilting. Immediately after the completion of HB's quilt, DD insists on taking a quilting class, too. Accordingly, enrollment occurs, fabric is selected and a quilt is completed.

After completing her first project, she immediately wants to make another. Woohoo, I've got a quilter kid! This time, Mom takes over as instructor and DD completes a twin-sized quilt that ends up winning a Grand Champion ribbon at the County Fair.

She has not made another quilt since.

Fast forward 4 years. Bubba and Peeps are now at the age where sewing machines hold endless fascination, the rotary cutter and ruler become favorite playthings and my fabric stash is a treasure chest of fabulous beauty and value. Yes, it's time for Mommy to introduce these fresh-faced novices into the intricacies of quilt making.

Thus, the three of us visited our local fabric store last weekend and each of the girls selected flannel fabric for a Rag Time quilt. Flannel was on sale for $2 a yard, so it was an opportune time to purchase the 22 yards of fabric required for the two quilts.

Each girl was instructed to select an "inspiration" fabric - one fabric that they absolutely loved with multiple colors. Then, they were told to start pulling fabrics that would coordinate with the main fabric. I did not give any input, beyond pointing out fabrics I thought might work, which, more often than not, were rejected by the girls. They each had a vision and stayed true to it, while I allowed them perfect freedom to choose whatever spoke to their hearts.

The photo shows the fabrics that Bubba selected, which we cut into blocks this morning. The fabric in the top row, center was her inspiration fabric. I think you will agree with me on several points: 1) these are such "girly" fabrics and patterns and are just too cute for words; and 2) Bubba did a great job selecting a wide range of colors, textures and prints for her quilt. This girl has an eye for color and pattern, even if it is still a predictably pinkish at the moment.

Peeps' fabric is prepped and waiting to be cut as well. With luck, her fabric will be ready tomorrow and we will start putting things together soon.

Any bets on whether one of them will actually become a quilter?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Warped but wonderful

These photos are the only thing I had that was blog worthy this week. Fair warning - I goofed, so these photos are NOT really an accurate picture of the proper weaving technique. I have worked diligently on quite a few different knitting and sewing projects but they're all at (yawn) boring, non-picture-worthy stages. So you're going to settle for some "This is what NOT to do" photos.

The handmade loom was finally warped a couple of days ago. It took me about 4 hours to cut the yarn to length and warp it. A little time consuming and a bit arduous since I was sitting on the floor, with the board leaning against a wall, but bearable. According to Weaving Without a Loom, this hardboard "loom" works better standing on a easel but, since I don't own one, I'm laying this flat on top of a few stools to do the actual weaving process. It will probably become awkward to work this way, as I get closer to the middle of the board but the cost of an easel sturdy enough to hold this whooping 4' x 4' board just isn't in the budget right now.

I was so excited when I finished the warping, I started to weave a few strands. But before going any further, I double-checked the book and discovered I was not quite ready to weave yet. Turns out I should have doubled the diagonal yarn and and there is a knotting technique I need to do around the diagonal before weaving, to reinforce the bias edge. Oh, the temptation to leap into a project without verifying the steps has led me astray once again. I'm just thankful I hadn't gone any further before discovering my error.

Once I've corrected my errors, I will continue to release the left end of each strand (working from the top down) and weaving it down the entire length of the board. After the weaving is completed, the leftover ends will be knotted in small bundles and trimmed to make a fringe.

Do you think I can finish it before my 20th wedding anniversary in 3 weeks? I bought a new dress that needs a little added pizzazz and this shawl may be just the thing. Tick, tock, tick, tock . . .

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Goody basket - for moi?

Oh my word! Look what came in the mail for me yesterday! A few weeks ago, I sent a few of my quilt books to a deserving new home. And this was the thanks I got.

Wow! Now I want to move to Maine because every item in this basket was beyond delicious. So incredibly decadent and wonderful that the basket is already empty.

Oh, BTW, I didn't eat ALL of the treats by myself. Dancing Diva's Distant BFF, who is visiting from Texas this week, was over and the whole family + guest dined on the delicious desserts in this little basket from Cranberry Island Kitchen. All that's left is a jar of Wild Blueberry topping that I plan on using for my waffles and pancakes for the next few weeks. YUMMMMM!

Now, for a few comments on comments.

Guinifer asked, "So was it you?"

No I did not put the plug in the drain. I've been paranoid about something like this happening and have been scrupulous about checking for stuff in the sink before starting loads. But I admit I didn't check this time and I paid for it. I still don't know who did it but feel the guilty party was sufficiently punished by the consequences of their wicked deed. It was a hard day for all of us, cleaning up the mess. Ugggh!

Guinifer also asked, "Did HB have a good time at camp?"

Initially, I didn't think so because he was so subdued when he got home. But he actually had a blast and was just wiped out (and a little dehydrated) and needed to sleep for a few days. He definitely wants to go back to this camp again next year.

Rani posts, "I'm testing my first cable . . ."

Mwahahahah! Gotcha! No pictures on her blog yet but I can understand. She's battling the Dark Side of the Force that is hindering her attempts to finish a specific pair of socks. If you get a chance, stop by her blog and encourage her with "May the Force be with you," comments.

On a joyful note, BFF Jewels had a baby girl on Tuesday morning, who was completely healthy and normal. Her previous child has Downs Syndrome and had complications that required surgery, so we're all rejoicing that everything was so uneventful this time. Mom and baby are home with the whole, loving family and doing incredibly well. I'm waiting until after dance camp next week to schedule a trip down to see them and to present the gifts to this precious gift from above.

Regarding the status of the flood, I have a little more clean-up work to do in my studio. Then I'm going to work on the Master Bedroom Quilt tonight. I'm getting close to done on the piecing of the blocks and will be working on the layout soon. Then I'll be able to show some pictures than will convey what the quilt will look like. The unfinished blocks themselves just don't tell the whole story and aren't picture-worthy.

Oh, and I finished the fronts of the ribbon cardigan. I'm tempted to sew everything up and put the button band on and see if I like it as a vest (have I mentioned how frustrating knitting with ribbon yarn is?). Of course, if I do that, I'll have a bunch of leftover ribbon yarn in my stash and I'll still have to knit something with it. Ugggh! Well, slow and steady wins the race and this project will get done so I can put the wonderful buttons from Gastonbury Glassworks. I'm so in love with the buttons that I will get them on the cardi - soon.

As for my gajillion other WIP's and UFO's, I'll get there - eventually. After all, it's only June . . . what the ??? The 23rd!?! Okay, just where did June go? Really - tell me!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Imagine if you will, an idyllic scene - Lorraine blissfully sewing away in the early dawn hours in her lovely studio. Outside, the sun has risen in glorious splendor and the birds are heralding the start of another wonderful summer day. Inside, the sewing machine and the quilter are humming away in perfect harmony.

One of the lovely daughters of the quilter extraordinaire comes wandering in, rubbing sleep from her cherubic eyes and looks up at the ceiling. "Mommy," says the little angel, "Why is the light fixture crying?"

"AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH! NO! NO! Nonononononono!" screams Mommy.

It's a flood. With shrieks for help, Mommy starts dumping fabric out of plastic tubs and placing them in strategic places to catch the flood of water that's starting to pour from the light fixtures and door jamb of the closet.

After a quick survey to be sure the drips were being caught in buckets, the Lorraine dashes up the stairs, overturning another of the cherubs in her haste to find the source of all the water flowing into her studio. Toilet overflowing? No, it's fine but there is an inch of water in the bathroom and back entryway.

What the ???? Where is it coming from? Open the laundry room door . . . OH MY WORD! The sink, into which the washer has been draining since the regular drainpipe sprung a leak, is filled and overflowing onto the floor.

A quick investigation uncovers the source of the problem - someone put the plug in the drain in the sink!!! WHY would someone do something that stupid?

There was no time to figure out who did this dastardly deed. Marshaling her troops, she set kids to work mopping up water, emptying the closet where water was dripping down the walls and moving all items in danger from the deluge out of the studio and into the family room.

The final result - a disastrous mess that's going to take days to clear up, leaving less sewing and knitting time. :-(

The silver lining - an opportunity to reorganize the craft closet. And perhaps find more UFO's and Wanna-do's for the summer to do list. (Wait a minute is that part a silver lining or another potential disaster? Hmmmm?!)

The guilty party who plugged the drain - who knows. If someone in this household did it, they're not confessing to it. However, they are probably heartily regretting their criminal action.

The evil-doer's punishment - spending a lovely summer morning mopping and cleaning up water. And they can look forward to spending all day tomorrow (and the next) putting the studio and family room back together.

The fate of the innocent bystanders - er, uh, oh, whatever. This job will take everyone working together to finish anyway so suck it up and get busy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Baby day?!?

My BFF (Jewels) is being induced today, so I can finally show a photo of the stealth project.

Three burp cloths and three bibs (still minus buttons - got to get to fabric store).

Jewels is having her third daughter (5th kid) and admitted she's sick of pastels and pink, so I went tropical bright for the gift.

Well, off to - you guessed it - hockey.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Frantic crafting

It has been a somewhat frenetic week here. I've been so restless and discontent in the fiber arts department. I start one project, then drop it and pick something else up. I can't focus long enough to finish anything but just keep flitting from WIP to starting a new project to UFO and back again. I've literally been all over the map of the crafting realm.

I sat down and tried to figure out why I'm so schizophrenic. Then I realized - without Hockeyboy here, the house is so quiet, it's driving me crazy. Ordinarily, I'd say that the energy and noise HB generates drives me to distraction but the truth of the matter is, its absence is four times as distracting. Go figure!

Anyway, HB is due home tonight and it will be a relief to have him here, safe and sound. You can bet I won't be complaining about his noisy, zany antics for quite awhile. Oh, and maybe I'll be able to concentrate and actually finish something.

Here is a list projects that I've worked on this week:
  • Second pair of socks for hubby.
  • Sizzling Socks for me.
  • Sock knitting project bag (the only FO of the week).
  • Wine Country MBR quilt.
  • Afghan for parents (brand new project).
  • Finishing Stealth project for BFF's baby (nope - not done yet and she's being induced Monday - yikes).
  • Mitered squares.
  • Ribbon Cardigan.
  • Cleaning and organizing the studio (found more sock leftovers - yeah, baby!).
Lots of hours of work but no new FO's to photograph. Maybe next week?

BTW, a couple of comments on the mitered squares: Tonyia asked, "What'cha think you'll do with them?"

I'm not sure yet. I'm just collecting them, like quilt blocks. When I get a good sized collection, I'll figure something out. Top of the list is - you guessed it - a handbag or purse.

Livnletlrn asked, "You're not knitting the new miters onto the old ones? That's going to be an awful lot of seaming someday. Maybe the fun now is worth all that yucky seaming later?"

Not yet. I don't have enough different yarns yet to start putting things together with any randomness, which is the design concept I have in my head. However, I figured that later I could pick up the edges along two squares and attach them with a new square and repeat that process to build bigger blocks. I'll still end up with a few seams but not nearly as many is if I'd sewn them all together individually.

And you're talking to a woman who occasionally does quilt piecing, applique and quilting by hand and enjoys it. I am fearless when it comes to seaming. The needle and I are one. When I'm in the zone, I'm a sewing machine. Mrrraow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sultry Summer Sewing

Summer-like heat has hit in full force here in Minnesota. With temperatures soaring into the high 80's and low 90's, I'm hiding out in the cool and comfortable atmosphere of my basement sewing studio quite a bit this week.

As a result, I've completed not only a bag for my Knitting Gnome Swap partner but I made a new bag for myself, as well.

However, I'm beginning to suspect that I have a problem. When I completed the Swap bag, it seemed quite reasonable to make another bag for myself. After all, I had all the equipment set up and several variations on the pattern designed and sketched out. I also have ample stash fabrics to choose from, making this bag yet another way to bust stash. A happy morning in the craft studio resulted in the bag you see. An ideal bag for sock projects. It's wide enough to allow two center-pull balls to set flat in bottom of the bag, is tall enough to tuck a pattern down inside without excessive folding and includes a nice pocket on the inside, divided into separate sections for dpns and circular needles.

However, my DH had another reaction. After revealing this latest creation to him, he rolled his eyes, heaved a huge sigh and asked, "And just why do you need yet another bag?"

Taken aback, I replied that this bag was for socks. Just socks. I didn't have a sock project bag yet.

He reiterated his question - "Why do you need another bag? You have dozens already."

He had me there. I do have dozens of bags. I also have 3 unfinished bags in my UFO pile as well. But, in my defence, none of them were sock project bags. I have big bags for sweater projects, middle-sized bags for scarves, hats and other less bulky projects and even a few small book bags that socks might squeeze into but aren't really ideal, for one reason or another.

Do I have a problem? Is it a serious issue if I continue to make new bags to suit specific needs or just because I am bored with the old ones? Am I addicted to bags?

For that matter, do I have a problem with socks, too? For you see, having two pairs of socks already on the needles wasn't enough to keep me from casting on yet another pair, this time with the hand-dyed yarn from the Shepherd's Harvest class I took in May.

These Sizzle Socks are a variation on the Widdershins toe-up pattern I adore. The stitch pattern are mini cables which twist in opposite directions on each sock, making them symmetrical. I am planning to use the cable pattern on the heel flap as well, so they look good in clogs.

Do I suffer from multiple addictions? Perhaps. Am I seeking treatment or help for these addictions? Uh, I don't think so. Admitting I have a problem may be the first step on the road to recovery but it is also the last step I plan on taking down that road. In fact, if you see a crazy 40-something mother of four running down the middle of the street with the most adorable new sock project bag dangling from her arm and knitting furiously on bright pink and orange socks, you can be sure it's just me running in the opposite direction, as fast as I can go.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Where'd my Baby Boy go? (Sniff)

Well, it's nearly time to take Hockeyboy to his first sleep-away camp and I'm feeling a bit misty. My DH and I have been very protective of our kids, so it was a tough decision to sign HB up for this hockey camp, knowing that he'd be out of our direct control for an entire week. But it's time for mommy to stretch the ol' apron strings a little and send the fledgling out for a test flight. (I know I mixed my metaphors - leave me alone, I'm grieving my baby's transformation into an over sized eating machine . . . I mean, independent teenager. Sheesh!)

On the fiber arts front, since a certain nameless (and as of yet, unforgiven) kitty had the unmitigated gall to awaken me at 4 a.m., I ended up pulling out the old sewing machine this morning and started putting together a little sock knitting bag for an upcoming swap. Unfortunately, I can't show you any pictures, since the fabric itself gives away who the recipient will be. But I'm so pleased with my design, I'm going to have to make one for myself next.

What made this morning so much more enjoyable (and drew me closer to forgiving THE CAT) was the delightful musicals that were showing on TCM this morning. I was able to sew along to Andy Hardy, Babes in Arms and Meet Me In St. Louis. I guess it was a Judy Garland morning and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I must say, I've missed playing around with fabric and my sewing machine. I've been mentally going through my quilting UFO's and trying to decide which one(s) I'm going to try and finish this summer. And while digging through the fabric stash, I ran across several patterns and kits that I'd forgotten I had. The possibility of developing quilter's startitis is looming now, too. Fair warning - this blog may become more quilterly over the summer.

Then again, I have two pairs of socks on the needles, the ribbon cardigan to finish and the stealth project to photograph. (My friend is due any minute - woohoo!) I'm also just itching to cast on with the hand dyed yarn from Shepherds Harvest and there are about 6 IK patterns I'm dreaming of starting, too. So there may be a few knitting related posts, too.

Oh, oh, oh, and don't forget the spindle and all the fiber I've got tucked away . . .

And the garden, don't forget the garden projects and woodworking plans for a new arbor and fence and bird feeder and bird houses, lots of bird houses.

Okay, I wasn't joking when I said I don't focus on one thing or another too long. Just call me Will 'o the Wisp. Or fickle, whichever you think fits better. The only guarantee I can give is that things will be wild and woolly around here.

Oh, and forgiving THE CAT will be entirely dependent upon her letting me take a nap without any kneading, purring, licking or attempting to suffocate me by plopping on my face.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Magical Miters (and Medical Mayhem)

More miters magically appear. Okay, not magically but I can see why these get kind of addicting. It is a very mindless type of knitting, once you get the pattern figured out.

The four center blocks are all Socks That Rock leftovers. I also managed to check my stash for other leftovers and have quite a few dribs and drabs to keep me busy for quite awhile. I figured I could even use smaller scraps and create striped miters, just to use up every usable bit of yarn. In the meantime, I'll keep working on more socks, just so I can supply more scraps for future miters. You know, to feed the addiction . . .

Besides miters, we've had a bit more medical mayhem around here. I finally surrendered and made a doctor appointment on Tuesday. It was obvious that my lame attempts at self-medicating were not bringing about the desired improvement in the ??? Pox (i.e. bronchitis). After doing a few odd jobs around the house Tuesday morning, I headed up to take a brief nap before my appointment. On my way up the stairs, I warned the DD#2 (Bubba) and DD#3 (Peeps) to stop sliding down the stairs on their sleeping bags. Mommy being sick meant little girls didn't get enough park playtime, I guess, so they provided their own playground equipment. After some argument, they acquiesced. Smugly, I headed off for my much needed rest, feeling that I had taught them the meaning of "Resistance is futile."

Not ten minutes later, a tremendous crash and piercing shrieks shattered my repose. Hockeyboy and Dancing Diva both screamed that Peeps was hurt. I come barreling out of my room to discover that since sliding down the stairs was not allowed, Bubba and Peeps decided that JUMPING from the top of the stairs to the landing would be even more fun. They had piled up all the pillows and blankets from their beds to cushion their landing. After a test run by Hockeyboy (who is 5'7" and SHOULD KNOW BETTER), Peeps took a running leap from the top of the stairs - only to find out that, being under 4' tall, she wouldn't make it to the safety of the piled pillows but would come crashing down one stair up from the padding.

Peeps was hysterical, her ankle was swelling and turning purple . . . and guess whose face was nearly the same shade.

So Peeps came to the same Dr. appointment with me. Fortunately, her ankle wasn't broken, only sprained. A few ibuprofen tablets, a wrap, ice and rest is all that she will need to be back to normal in a couple weeks. And Mom got her magic bullet (i.e. antibiotics) and is on the mend as well.

Oh, and Mom has redefined the rules about playing on the stairs - in great detail and with no loopholes . . . and threats, mighty terroristic threats to wreak motherly vengeance on those who might attempt to get around my iron-clad legalese and misuse the stairs as playground equipment ever, EVER again.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Project updates and some kitty pr0n

The mark on my finger finally came out. It took a long soak in the whirlpool tub and a little extra scrubbing with soap.

But guess what! It's back already.

Yup, I'm hard at work on the other pair of socks for DH. They have a few more inches before the gusset shaping, so I'm not even going to try and remove the mark until the socks are done. As many of you have suggested, I am going to wear it proudly as a badge of honor.

Ribbon cardigan is also progressing, slowly but surely. I can only stand working with the ribbon yarn for so long before I cast it aside for more reasonably easy knitting. A little here and a little there should get it done eventually, though.

I also started a new project. I've been collecting wine red yarns of different types for a couple of years, with the idea of making a sweater. But after swatching with a few of the yarns, I decided the pattern I chose would not look flattering on me. So the wine collection has been marinating in my stash for quite awhile.

For my birthday last year, my DH made this weaving board for me, from the book Weaving Without A Loom. He cut little notches every quarter inch along two parallel sides of a 4' x 4' piece of 1/4" press board. Once it was done, I knew that the wine collection was the right yarn to use for my first project - a triangular shawl.

I'm threading the weaving board with 3 strands of each yarn, in a repeating pattern. Once the board is warped, a strong yarn is run diagonally from top right to bottom left and fastened securely. Then the top thread will be taken from the notch on the left side and woven down through the warp threads on the right hand side. Working from top to bottom and right to left, each thread will be woven through the warp until you have a triangle of woven fabric.

My hope is the repeating yarn pattern will result in a subtle plaid and the ends of the yarn will make a lovely tasseled fringe.

But first, I have to finish warping the board. Unfortunately, Koda thinks the tails make wonderful cat toys and is attacking my yarn ends. She is definitely slowing down the process.

Then again, she is such a sweetie. Who can resist her cattyliscious charms.

(Stay out of my sunshine - I'm basking)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Too much knitting?

What do you think? I've got a groove worn in my index finger where the yarn rests while I pick and there is embedded dye in it. Trust me, I've washed my hands multiple times today and the mark hasn't faded much.

But the result is . . .

Finished Stealth Pas De Deux Part 1, aka Charade socks made from Socks That Rock in Black Onyx. These are for my DH for Father's Day.

I know, I know, Father's Day is still 2 weeks away. But now that one pair is done, I don't need to keep it a stealth project. Even if DH peeks at the blog (he hasn't yet), one pair is done. Call me strange but if he knew about them in advance and I managed to NOT get them done in time, I'd feel like a total bum. Whew!

Now, I need to go soak the dye off my index finger. Think peroxide would help?


Well, it is migration season, after all. Hardy Minnesotans migrate to cabin retreats, Snowbirds return to their summer homes in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and summer colds migrate to the chest.

Yup, I'm fighting off a hearty case of bronchitis. Perhaps I should apply to Sheepish Annie for a more colorful name. Something evocative of the heaving coughs that bring up ooey, gooey green slime and the enervating fatigue that is sapping every impulse for movement out of me.

The only silver lining in this noxious cloud is extra knitting time. Stealth One is done, except for some finishing details (trip to fabric store required) and Stealth Pas De Deux Part 1 has turned the corner (or heel) and is progressing up the calf rapidly. I even resurrected Ribbon Cardigan and have added a few inches of progress to the fronts. Not enough to be photo worthy but it is progress, nonetheless.

As photo fodder, here are some color study pictures created from my flower photos. Inspired by January One, I started playing in Photosuite, with the idea of using the photos if I ever decide to begin dying my own yarn. The first is an altered photo of Ajuga in bloom and the second is of the Hydrangea. Cool, huh!

I don't know what to do with them, yet, but they are there for inspiration whenever I heal and get some gumption back. And I am in desperate need of some gumption right now . . .

Or Nyquil . . .