Friday, March 28, 2008

Sewing Room Friday

Since the spinning wheel didn't arrive as planned on Wednesday (my friend was out of town and didn't get back in time to pack it up and send it to work with her hubby), I ended up deciding to spend some time making some new spring clothes.

Sadly, I gained a few pounds over the winter and most of my spring/summer clothing doesn't fit right now. So I'm taking some of the sewing mojo I recovered doing costume work for Beauty and the Beast and am making myself a new spring wardrobe. So far, I've altered one pattern (nothing fits me right out of the package - grrr) and started on a couple a-line skirts. I've also picked up a couple 99 cent Simplicity patterns at Joann Fabrics for tops and shorts and will be making more tops and bottoms. I plan on assembly line sewing multiple pieces, just for efficiency sake.

Stay tuned for some more FO's in the near future. I'm on a roll!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Squeeee, part deux

It's been a busy week at Chez Squeee! this week.
To begin the week, a very close friend who also happens to be my hairstylist informed me that she was back to work at a local salon. Now, because she had been on hiatus from hair cutting for awhile, I'd been on hiatus from getting a hair cut and coloring for far too long. To say that I looked like a hippy-ish rag mop would be an understatement. My hair was long, jagged and very washed-out looking. I was very close to stopping in at the local chain shop just to have them hack the mess off when she called. WHEW! So Monday afternoon was spent cutting, coloring, waxing and generally beautifying.

I feel so pretty!

Besides being spring break this week, it is also Bubba's (she's DD#2) 9th birthday this week. So we've taken a few day trips around the area, including to the local mall for a movie and a birthday spending spree. While at the mall, I managed to sneak a little shoe shopping in for myself. As a result, I picked up the long-desired new clogs which will show off the Sweetheart Socks to perfection. These are new Dansko clogs. I am a very frugal person by nature, but I don't skimp on shoes. Having knee and back problems, I've learned that good, supportive shoes are a must and these fit the bill perfectly. So perfectly that I bought the same clogs in black, too.

I feel really pretty!

Now, if the spinning wheel gets delivered tonight, as originally planned, there'll be some wild hair flipping and happy dancing in new clogs goin' on around here.


Friday, March 21, 2008


This is what we woke up to this holy Good Friday morning. That's 8 inches of snow as of 8 a.m. and more to come.

Since the local school is closed anyway for the holiday, the kids will undoubtedly be reveling in this end of winter snowfall. I know my kids will be outside today.

I guess blessings come in many shapes and forms.

May God bless everyone in the world this Easter weekend.

In Christ's love - Lorraine

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Squeeee! Maybe . . .

Guess what I'm getting! Go ahead, guess!

Ah, come on, give it a try.

Oh, all right, I'll tell you. I am getting one of these! That is, maybe.

Here's the scoop - I have been wanting a spinning wheel for 3 years now. Being a homeschooling family with four children to educate, our budget hasn't been too cooperative with this desire of mine, spinning wheels being something of a non-necessity and a luxury. But my hubby, knowing my long-term desire for one, as well as acknowledging my patience in waiting for one, has been on the hunt for a used wheel of some sort for quite awhile.

Now, hubby has worked for several years with a gentleman who also raises llama's, who just happens to have a wife who is an avid spinner. While conversing with said gentleman farmer recently, he mentioned my longing for a wheel. The GF spoke with his wife, who made a suggestion, which was communicated to my hubby, who in turn forwarded it to me.

GF's wife happens to have several wheels and offered to let me borrow her portable wheel to try out. Being less active in her spinning guild now and this wheel, having been bought primarily for classes and festivals, is no longer being used very often. So, she is considering parting with it and is generously offering it to me for a "test drive." GF is going to bring it to work next week for my hubby to pick up and bring home.

SO - if I like it and if the price is right and if she finds she can live without it, the wheel may be my permanent property.

Okay, okay, I know that's lots of "ifs" but I was just so excited about the possibility that I couldn't wait to share a bit of my joy. And regardless, I'll have a wheel during Shepherd's Harvest, so I can take the beginning spinning class. If this baby becomes my very own, wonderful. If not, I'll be armed with more knowledge and understanding so that shopping for another wheel will be much easier. It's a win-win, no matter how you look at it.


Monday, March 17, 2008


It was a dark and stormy long and frustrating weekend. Last week, I THOUGHT my quilt was ready to be layered and basted, in preparation for quilting. However, as soon as I tried to smooth the top over the stretched backing and batting, it became abundantly clear that the borders were cut too small. In my efforts to prevent a wavy border (a far too frequent problem I encounter), I over-compensated - grrrr - and made the borders far shorter than they should have been.

Of course, this meant that the interior of the quilt pooched out. While it is possible to ease a little bit of excess fabric in the machine quilting process, the amount of bulge I had was far too much to safely quilt out.

Needless to say, there were copious tears shed, a few expletives uttered, temporary denial expressed, more than a little stomping and door slamming and finally the onset of a monster migraine as a result. While I was disgusted with the mistake I had made and irritated by the fact that I didn't have enough fabric left to re-do the border, what was most disheartening was the reality that I had at least 8 hours of ripping and re-sewing ahead of me.

After some migraine medications and a little cooling off period, I launched into a marathon ripping session, which included quite a bit of time spent picking loose threads from ripped seams and vacuuming up the resulting mess. Unsewing is a very untidy process, especially when you have 12 long seams to be taken back out. Ugggh.

Then I headed out to the local quilt shop to find a new border fabric. The first shop I visited had a few things that might have worked but I wasn't 100% satisfied with any of them. So I headed over to another local quilt shop. I have to say that the customer service at this shop was superb. I had three sales people converge on me as I entered, spread out the quilt on the cutting table and then scatter to search for fabric. Within 5 minutes, we had found the perfect fabric for the border.

To say that this fabric is better than the original border would be an understatement of epic proportions. I LOVE the new border. A better color match couldn't have been found without dying the fabric myself. I bought a little extra to use for pillow shams and may have to go back for more for pillow cases and/or a bed skirt. I am so thrilled with the new border that I'm actually a little glad that I messed up the original borders.

It just goes to show you that every cloud has a silver lining. And trust me, this cloud was a big, black, stormy one that managed to produce one glorious silver lining.

Now I call that Serendipity - with a big "S"!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One FO and a Major Milestone

I managed to finally finish my February socks for A Year in Socks. It was a challenge because of the intricate cabling on such fine yarn and size 0 needles but I totally love these socks and will be clog shopping in the very near future. The March socks are already in progress and knitting up much faster. There should be little reason why the March installment shouldn't be done by the deadline.

I am tickled pink to announce that the log cabin blocks are already assembled into a quilt top. I have gone ahead and added the first border because the edges of the quilt need to be stabilized before the paper-removal begins.

As you can see, the paper removal process is going to take time and be a bit messy. However, it is a great t.v. project, as well as a good thing to putz along on when the kids are doing their bookwork for school.

Once the paper is all removed, I'll toss the whole thing in the dryer with a damp wash cloth to freshen and remove any accumulated dust and paper debris before pressing and adding the final borders.

Then I'll schedule some time at my church to use their tables to spread out and pin-baste this behemoth, in preparation for quilting. I haven't quite settled on a quilting pattern yet. I may have to do some experimenting on a couple spare blocks before settling on a pattern.

Keep on nagging encouraging me. I'm feelin' the love and am rarin' to keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Q & A

Since my last post generated a couple questions, I figured I'd do a follow-up post on the LNP quilt.

Carrie asked if I'd thought to send out my quilt to be quilted. The answer is yes, I thought of it. I did have one quilt professionally quilted. While I loved the results, the hit on my pocketbook was less popular. Ten years ago, I spent over $100 to have a twin quilt done and I'm not sure I have the budget available to pay to have a queen-sized quilt done at today's prices.

I have quilted queen-sized quilts on my domestic machine before and am certain I can do it again. I just need to start working out in advance and build up some upper body strength and endurance before tackling it. Or not . . . There is something to be said for the sewing machine as a piece of fitness equipment.

Livnletlrn asked why I chose paper-piecing for this log cabin quilt. While she is correct that paper-piecing is often used for odd shaped patterns and blocks and is especially good for blocks that require sewing many bias edges, I find that I like the stability and accuracy that paper-piecing gives me. Since fabric is such a flexible medium to work in, with a certain amount of stretch and give, I get quickly frustrated with blocks that don't match up properly and develop wavy edges. Paper is not stretchy and insures that the edges of the blocks are all exactly the same length, making it easy to get perfectly joined and matching corners. I am sure most of you know by now that I can be a bit obsessive/compulsive about perfection and paper-piecing gives me additional control over the fabric.

There is a down side, of course. While super accurate fabric cutting is not necessary initially, paper piecing does require trimming and pressing after each piece is added to the block. This is why sewing the log cabin blocks was so time consuming. So the time I saved by rough cutting the fabric is lost in the construction process. There is also a significant amount of fabric waste involved. Because I bought many different fabrics and extra yardage because I didn't have a pattern picked out in advance, this wasn't an issue for me on this quilt.

I also had a question about Dancing Diva's costume. Rani asked if it was for competition or for the annual recital that our studio puts on. It is for both. She will be performing her competition piece in the recital, along with all the other competitive dancers.

I also wanted to take the time to thank everyone for their compliments on Dancing Diva's costume and all the other projects I post about. Everyone is so nice about my work and I do want you to know I appreciate every sweet compliment I receive.

Koda has spent a lot of time in this position of late. I'm not sure if she is watching some wildlife out there or just waiting for signs of spring. I know I am longing for a peek at my spring bulbs and flowers. Since today's temperature is going to be significantly above freezing, maybe there is hope that this layer of snow will disappear and we can get some COLOR around here. I have that gardening spring fever - bad!

All together now, COLOR, COLOR, COLOR . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Another Sewing Project

Cleaning a sewing room can cause a chain reaction response. As I sorted, decluttered, organized and otherwise sanitized my studio, I uncovered a long-neglected project (okay, a bunch of long-neglected projects or LNP's) that just inspired me to keep the sewing machine humming for a little longer.

The fabrics for this quilt were purchased while we were on vacation in Colorado 4 years ago, with a master bedroom quilt in mind. Being that I share that MBR with a pretty special fella, he helped select the fabrics and pattern for this particular quilt. With characteristic enthusiasm and energy, I managed to design the quilt in my Electric Quilt software, print the paper-piecing patterns (106 of them) and cut the strips in the first week home from vacation.

Once I started the sewing process, though, my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened. Being an assembly line seamstress, my plan was to do one step to all the blocks before proceeding to the next step. If you are familiar with the log cabin block construction, you know that you start in the center and work your way out. The red center is sewn to the first strip, pressed open and trimmed. Then you rotate the block 90 degrees and add another strip, then another, working around and around until you've added all the "logs" to the block.

Thus, when I started step one and worked my way through all the blocks, it took nearly 3 hours to finish the 100+ blocks. To add ONE STRIP to all the blocks took three hours! Hmmmm, well, maybe I'd streamline the process and find shortcuts.

Well, I did and I managed to pare the time down to just over 2 hours per step. However, being the somewhat flighty and fickle crafter that I am, I eventually drifted away from the quilt. Occasionally, (usually when I'd done some cleaning and rediscovered the LNP) I'd get a burst of energy and start working on it again. Then my interest would flag and the inspiration would fizzle and it would disappear into the LNP pile again.

Well, this time when I rediscovered the LNP, I realized I had only three strips or "logs" left to add. That was under 8 hours of work left (allowing time for me to stumble along until I remembered all the short cuts and streamlining stuff from before).

Anyhow, thus the frenzy was upon me again and I spent all this past weekend plugging away on LNP and I finished all the blocks on Sunday. I spent a few hours laying them out, making sure that no two blocks had matching fabrics touching and managed to get half of the quilt assembled this morning. Another couple of hours will see the main body of the quilt together, then a few more hours to design and add some borders and I'll have a complete quilt top.

Of course, wrestling around half the quilt while assembling the rows of blocks has reminded me how physically grueling the task of machine quilting a queen-size quilt can be. However, I'm steeling myself to stay strong and not let a little worry or self-doubt cause this project to migrate back into the LNP pile.

Of course, I'm counting on all of you to periodically remind me of my promise to finish the quilt - you know, just for some encouragement.

Or nagging - whatever it takes to finish this baby.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sewing Room Friday

This is the little thief that has been stealing all of my sock knitting time. This is the outer part of Dancing Diva's Pointe Competition costume. I also had to make a custom leotard and bootie shorts to go under it.

While I sound like I'm complaining about the time drain, I've actually had a delightful time working with Dancing Diva on this project. She designed the original concept, selected the pattern, fabric and ribbon trims, and has been giving her input on the finishing details that have gone into the costume.

The swagged drapery/sleeves were added to the commercial pattern that DD selected. The swagged fabric is not attached but is fed through channels, so that they can be adjusted and tweaked into the perfect sleeves. I'm not satisfied with the back of the costume yet but it is awaiting a final fitting before deciding the final disposition of the tails.

All in all, I think it is a sweet little costume that will flow beautifully as she dances.

In other sewing news, I've spent some time with several friends putting together 36 quilting packets for the Keepers At Home club that my younger two daughters belong to. I will be teaching basic quilting to that group over the next month or so.

So, if I don't seem to be making much sock progress - well, so be it. At least the ol' sewing machine is getting a work out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday random-osity

I'm certain my little note on the blog about the sold out Interweave Knits Holiday 2007 Edition and the resulting PDF pattern sales didn't make any difference at all but the Sweetheart Sock pattern is now available at Knitting Daily, along with many others. I'll still be stalking stores for special publications but it's a relief to know that there is an alternative if I fail to score an issue in the future.

I have to admit that this sock is a challenge to knit. I am having some problems with splitting the yarn while doing the cable crossovers without a cable needle but I'm totally thrilled with the results. A couple more inches of cuff left and they are off the needles.

I did start my March socks but I'll wait to reveal more details when it's far enough along to photograph.

I've been spending a lot of time this week making a dance competition costume for Dancing Diva. It's been a lot of fun and I'm nearly finished. Hopefully, I can get it done and photographed this weekend. Stay tuned for updates.

Shepherd's Harvest update: Most of the class schedule is listed now, although descriptions are not complete. I'm so not sure what I'm going to take. Anyone else out there planning on going and what are you thinking of taking? If I could only score a spinning wheel before May - then it would be a no-brainer.

In Project Runway news, I am stunned but not surprised by the outcome of last nights season finale. All I can say is, "Jillian, you rock. A new life goal is to own a Jillian design someday! Oh, and you were ROBBED!"

Now, what am I going to obsess about until next season starts?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Job satisfaction

I've already posted about these socks over at A Year In Socks but I am so in love with the cabled heels, I can't help but crow a little bit more.

I can't photograph them very well, for some reason. Winter cloudiness or the deep color of the yarn - whatever it is, the pictures just don't do justice to the depth and texture that the cables impart to these socks. I'm definitely on the hunt for a new pair of clogs to show off these beauties. Woot!

In other fiber news, I finally started cleaning my studio this weekend. I managed to contain the fabric explosion that kept the closet doors from closing. I managed to fold and reorganize most of the fabric, so that part is done.

I also managed to clear the floor so that all the miscellaneous threads, fabric snippets and detritus could be vacuumed up. It was a Herculean task to just vacuum, since so much of the fiber was stubborn and resistant to the less-than-stellar suction of my vacuum. I finally took the filter out and spent 45 minutes cleaning it. But my carpet now looks like new and I'm no longer afraid of impaling my feet on loose needles and pins.

I still have to sort and reorganize the yarn stash and I have an overflowing basket of mending that needs to be attended to before everyone outgrows the items. Then the sewing room will be back to normal and I'll be ready to tackle some sewing projects. Double woot!!

There is nothing like a clean craft room to make you want to dig in and trash it again.