I Made a Project Bag!

IMG_3660I made a functional sewn item! Yes, I did! Me! The one who wasn’t allowed to sew costumes at my childrens’ school!

When I over-knitted this summer at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat, I decided that I needed to take some time to rest my left arm. I decided that I would make a project bag, following (loosely) the project in my Making Magazine. Initially I thought I would make it exactly according to the pattern … until I had to figure out how to “trace” the pattern for the embroidery onto a piece of linen fabric. That was way too much to expect from me.

I decided to “wing it” with the pattern. No tracing. I went to my LYS (where I work) and bought some linen fabric, some embroidery floss and needles, too. I worked the stitches to make flowers on the linen. It wasn’t knitting but it was making something with my hands.

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Once I was satisfied with the look of the embroidered flowers, I put the bag together.

 

Lucky for me, I have a pretty decent stash of fabric, too. I went (obviously) for some bee fabrics for the lining and the little bit that makes the space for the draw string. I chose a very light color for the lining because I hate a “black hole” in my purse or my knitting bag. I needed this to be super simple this first time. Next time, I’ll probably put a pocket in the lining. I love pockets!

I only had a bright yellow grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring. I have since found a ribbon (again, at my LYS) that is the same color as the lines on the fabric on top of my bag. I like it much better. I also made a small change to this part of the bag. I made it a little bit wider and stitched 1/4 inch along the top to make a more finished edge.

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Ta-da! I’m very pleased and will proudly carry this project bag … filled with knitting … for a bunch of years!

Gone (not) knitting!

“Its fantastic!! Absolutely love it!”

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The “Terror Towel Throw” is delivered and I am delighted to report that my friend, the owner, is thrilled with it! Yay! I’m so glad that he loves it.

What a process! (I have already written about it here.)

I worried about it while finishing a bunch of things that had to come first. Picked brains. And worried some more. (I don’t really worry, more like obsessive thinking.) The good news is that I figured it out, and got the top assembled and I really liked the result. Then the choice of batting and backing … and I chose flannel. A plain white flannel in the middle in place of thick bulky batting and a medium gray flannel for the backing. With a flanged border. The border worked out really well and frames the towels perfectly!

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I used a simple stitch in the ditch for quilting because I didn’t want to “mess up” the printing on the towels with stitching over it. I thought that simpler was better. I like it. The border was the last and most difficult decision. I happened to see a tutorial on Facebook (of all places) and thought it would be a perfect frame for the quilt top. I was happy with the tutorial and I really love the way it went together.

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I am thrilled to have gotten the enthusiastic reaction to the throw and I am thrilled to have completed my first quilt “design”. It’s simple and I am so pleased with it. And proud of myself. I know it’s not knitting but it’s part of my creative development and so it’s all good. (And this is MY blog after all!)

I’ve got so many projects, both yarn and fabric, and I’m working at the yarn shop quite a bit for the next month. My boss has left on her annual holiday in Hawaii. I hope she has a wonderful and relaxing vacation.

We’re binge watching Mad Men … just a little bit behind!

Gone knitting.

“Terror Towel” Quilted Throw

 

Delivery ... and first thoughts

Delivery … and first thoughts

Several months ago a high school classmate asked me if I would be willing to make a quilted throw for him. He and his wife had collected “terror towels” from various sports events that he and his wife had attended.

I am a new but eager maker of quilts but this didn’t sound impossible to me but for months I’ve been “worrying” about this quilt. The terry cloth fabric is a different entity than the traditional cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the towels when I cut them to size.

So I picked peoples’ brains. I was advised that I should use a stabilizer on the backs of the towels. I was also advised that I should not use cotton fabric as a frame between the towels. The thought was that the two weight of fabrics would cause uneven wear. This made sense. Stabilizer, not so much.

As you can see from the picture above, that’s one funky shaped quilt. I had to somehow figure out how to make it square or rectangular … which meant making all the towels the same size.

Deciding on the design and directionality

Deciding on the design and directionality

What I ended up doing was using little paper “towels” to lay out my plan. If I could make the towels to a size of 14.5 x 16.5 inches I could piece them together and make a throw. After many hours of thinking and measuring, I had a plan. A few of the towels were not going to work in the size that I had chosen – three were too small (way too small) and one was printed in such a way as to make cutting it to any size difficult. But the rest of the towels, 16 in all, were going to work!

Day 1: I “ripped” out the stitching around the edges of the towels to make them a little bit larger and then I cut the towels to size. Even cutting the towels is a challenge. They really aren’t square nor are they printed with the designs exactly in the middle. But I used my 12″ square template to center the design and then worked around it to cut the two lengths thus making a 14.5 x 16.5 inch rectangle of each towel.

Day 2: I zigzagged the four sides of the towels to keep them from fraying. Terry cloth is a messy, messy (did I say MESSY?) fabric. Yuck! My studio is a horrible mess and I’m not even done yet!

Day 3: This is the moment … all the towels are laid out on the floor and I decided on the design placement. There are four towels with a different directionality. I chose to have them all facing the same (but different from the other 12 towels) direction. Here is the design that I liked best … the four towels with different directionality are not diagonally down the middle but one in each row and “randomly” placed.

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My final design … I’m ready to make strips!

So, today I started sewing together the rectangles. I decided that because terry cloth is so bulky that I had to sew the pieces together and then “tack” down the extra fabric on the wrong size by sewing them down. I sewed a 3/8 seam and then positioned my needle to the left and ran another line down each side of the seam tacking the bulk to the pieces. So far, I am really pleased with the strips. Tomorrow I will sew the strips together and then it will be time to find a backing. I am thinking that I would like to use two layers of cotton flannel. One white in the middle and a sports-themed print as the backing fabric. I will sandwich them all together but I haven’t decided whether I will simply stitch in the ditch or if I will stitch diagonally across the rectangles, too. I want them to be stable so that the towels wear well.

I’ll let you know how it progresses! I am thrilled to be working on this rather than “worrying” about it. Gone … sewing? (Actually my book club is coming and I’d best go get ready to greet them!)

It’s a Wonderful Life!

The View From Our Woodshed

The View From Our Woodshed

By now I hope you’ve realized (because I hope I’ve told you) that we’ve moved from Florida to Maine. We have torn down our beloved “camp” here to make way for a new house that honors the history and the old house but will afford us the luxury of living here full time … with heat!

When we arrived here in late April, I went to my regular Wednesday night knitting group and was asked to fill in while two of the “girls” who work there were off babysitting for their new grandchildren in June and July. So, I’ve been working 2 or 3 days a week at my LYS, the Yardgoods Center in Waterville.

The Pattern

The Pattern

I’ve been knitting there for eight summers and now that I’m a local, I’m working there. And I’ve been having a blast! “Like” Yardgoods- Yarns on Facebook and you’ll see why! Better yet, plan a visit to Maine, stay in the area and come visit me at work. We’re having a wonderful July Yarn Sale (until August 22) and all regular-price hand-knitting yarn is 20% off. I came home Friday with a full bag and a couple of balls of yarn for a Christmas gift for my nieces. More on that later.

 

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N, the boyfriend, proposed to me a few weeks ago and then, because his daughter insisted, he went to Walmart to buy me a ring. My real ring is being made in Portland and won’t be ready to wear until mid-August so this one is an adorable fill-in for the time being. And the sentiment is adorable. We are not even thinking about a wedding until our house is finished and we’re all moved in. We hope to be all moved in before the first snow!

I’ve been sewing with my buddy, Beverly, and have taken a quilting class in Bangor that was really fun. It was a flag throw quilt that I had hoped to complete before July 4th. Seeing as today is July 5th, I’ve failed miserably but I will be taking my machine out today to repair two head-lights for N and I’ll get some sewing in, too. I also am making a Christmas quilt which I’d love to have done before this Christmas. I’m told it’s a quick project. I guess I’m not spending “enough” time focused on sewing … but I have to make some progress before my wallet class on July 18 and then a beginning quilting series of classes in November.

I have plans to be at a class in Maine in November!!! We get to live here!!!

Driftwood Sweater … the green's a sleeve

Driftwood Sweater … the green’s a sleeve

I have been knitting, too. Lots of projects on the needles and not too much progress on any one project. But it’s all good … my Driftwood sweater is getting closer and closer. This yarn has been in my stash for years and I’m finally making a sweater that I think I’ll like. I’m knitting away on it in the oddest order. Shoulders, body, sleeve 1 to the cuff, body … you get my drift? I am a bit worried that I won’t have enough yarn to complete the sweater so I’m spit-joining the yarn so I can use every inch.

I bought a skein of Reggia Arne & Carlos sock yarn and I’ve cast on and completed most of the first sock’s cuff. I love that the self-patterning yarn that makes me look like a competent fair isle knitter when I’m not really. One more pair to add to my sock drawer.

IMG_4915I have a Shadow Shawl in process with some beautiful Manos del Uruguay Serena. Super simple pattern and wonderfully soft yarn. I will get a lot of wear out of this shawl up here in the fall. I originally started this shawl with the other colorway as the primary color and there was a time or two when I couldn’t count to four … so I frogged it and started again and changed my colorway order so that the “plainer” colorway was the primary color. I like it in its second iteration better and the ridge in the pattern stands out and the colors of the second (CC) colorway are sitting back and will get the attention when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I have a cowl/infinity cowl on the needles, too. This will be my older daughter’s Christmas gift. I’m using a really pretty green alpaca yarn and a seed stitch pattern with a cable along one edge. Since I have to knit about 60 inches of this, I got bored and haven’t looked at it this week. I have about 52 inches to go before joining the ends … I will get there.

One little bootie … for one little niece

One little bootie … for one little niece

Yesterday I cast on a new project just for giggles. Little bootie socks for my baby niece. I’ll plan to take them with me on my trip out to California in early August. I’m planning a bigger pair for the big sister, too. They knit up in about an hour or two, maybe, and they’re super cute. Just perfect for chilly Lake Tahoe mornings. I also bought two book panels to bring with me … they’re another sewing project … one with no words so the big sister can read to her little sister. I hope they’ll love them.

I started (again) a square that is part of the Great American Aran Afghan pattern. I love Aran knitting and I really REALLY want to make this afghan. I’ve had 24 balls of ivory wool in my stash for several years and it’s time to start making progress. The only problem is that I really need to be alone in a quiet room in order to be able to concentrate on the pattern … and while we’re living in 300 square feet of cabin, that’s not happening too often. So, I’m going to call this my long-term project and not put any pressure on myself.

I have finished two pairs of socks, and a Loopy Mango throw since I’ve been here. And a pair of peds, and slipper socks. Gee, in retrospect, that’s not very much. I must be having too much fun with life in general … see what I mean about the title of this post?

Gone knitting (or sewing)!

 

Three Cheers (for the Red, White and Blue)

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day learning something new.

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

I took a Flag Quilt class at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine with a friend and we had a great time. It was my first ever quilt-making class and it was a positive experience for this  once-a-failure sewer!

I’ve made a few other quilts in my life. I made several Amish Tied Quilts back when my children were little. One for each of them and a few others interspersed. They are funny to look at today … my color choices “date” the quilts with the exception of the eldest daughter’s which is red, white and blue. My quilt already shows that I was into the black and yellow “bee colors”. I have all of them here in Maine and one day they’ll go to the kids homes … when they all have room for a quilt.

My Log Cabin Quilt …  finished and on our bed

My Log Cabin Quilt … finished and on our bed

The last two summers I worked on a Log Cabin quilt which I finished and had quilted at Quilt Divas in Rockland. I love it and it’s on our bed.

The quilt that I’m working on for this class is a throw quilt and it’s got several things going on. It’s straight piecing, some appliqué and some curved sewing. I’ve never sewn a curved seam in my life! I felt relatively adept at the cutting and straight sewing although one of my classmates gave me a couple of new tips that I really appreciated. The appliqué I had done once and that was alright. I have a lot more stars to appliqué so I’ll be a professional when they’re all done! The curved sewing will take me awhile … and is my biggest challenge.

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

When I was all done, I was sore and feeling successful … I had only screwed up one star square (and have to cut a few other pieces to be able to finish my quilt) because I hadn’t been warned about making sure the squares were not all facing the same way. Fortunately I have extra fabric!

I will keep plugging along at it and I will show the pictures of the final project …. whenever I get it done (and quilted.) Since it’s a throw, I’ll plan to quilt it myself.

Gone knitting!

Getting Projects Finished! (And Sewing, too!)

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Well, my time in my happy place is coming quickly to an end. Last Wednesday I said, “good-bye for now” and “see you next summer” to my knitting friends. It’s always sad for me to say good-bye to my knitting friends both here and in Florida.

I had my last day sewing with my friends Beverly and Lorry yesterday. We finished a project for Lorry to take to her friend in France and I made another great bag (with a lot of help.) It’s fabulous and I love it. I love it because it’s a team effort and that my friends found three of the five fabrics for me when they were on a road trip to a quilting shop in New Hampshire. Four fabrics with bees and one with flowers and a lot of patience and I have a bag that I will carry in the winter months. Full of the love of my friends here in Maine.

My Wonderful Wallaby is almost done. I’m just knitting the hood which is simple  stockinette stitch all the way to the Kitchener stitch at the top. I took a break when I got to the neck to try it on and it fits perfectly. I’m so pleased that I have lost a little weight because now it’s perfect. Just the way I like it. Now my sweet man thinks he’d like to have one, too.

IMG_3465I finished the darling striped baby cardigan and the booties for my niece-to-be. I even bought the buttons. I’ll have to sew them on tonight so I can post a picture here. The booties are Sue’s Bootie’s and the pattern was begged for (by me) at my knitting class. They no longer had it at the shop and I couldn’t find it on the internet. They are adorable and super easy to knit. I loved the combination of colorways that my friends were using and I followed their lead using two different colors of Fixation. Fixation, if you don’t know, is slightly elastic and makes great baby booties and socks and it’s difficult for the baby to kick them off … well, relatively difficult anyway.

I’m ignoring the fingerless mitts that I dragged all the way from Florida to Maine … and will drag all the way back, too.

"Lobster On the Rocks" Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

“Lobster On the Rocks” Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

I’m slowly making progress on a lobster hat for my daughter. It was going to be for her birthday but it will be a late gift … thank heavens I have another couple of months until it gets cold in New York. I’m thinking that perhaps color work is not my thing. But I’ll keep trying.

I have a wonderful stash of yarn to take back to Florida with me and work with over the next ten months until I can be back here again. With any luck, my whole atelier will be coming with me then because we’re moving here permanently. This is where my heart lives.

Gone knitting.

 

Get ‘er Done!

I’m getting a lot of stuff done so why am I still beating myself up and saying that I’m unproductive? Why do I “worry” about being unproductive when I am getting work done? Because it’s not the work that I “need” to be doing? That others expect me to be doing? Because I’m not making “enough” money? I just need enough to pay the bills and can make do with less than most so what’s all the “anxiety” about?

My Boxy Cardigan is two thirds complete. Sleeves are all that is left to do. They should go pretty quickly and I hope that I love the sweater as much as I remember loving the one on display that I saw at the Maine fiber frolic.

The cotton tunic has kind of been set aside so that I can make a few new items to add to my Etsy shop … or new 3 B Street shop (more about this in a later post) … but the back is so close to being done – despite the inches and inches of 1×1 ribbing on US #1 needles!

I have knitted a new pair of fingerless mittens in a very simple 2×1 rib and just have to weave in the ends. I suspect that they will need a button or some embellishment because just by themselves they’re a bit flat – at least in my opinion – despite a variegated yarn.

And then there’s the Rasta Basket that I have knitted in a wonderful colorway called “Archangel” and while the knitting part is finished, the finishing part is a bit sticky for me! I am not really a sewer. (I can hear friends of mine in my head telling me that I am labeling myself and if I want to be a success I need to consider myself an adept sewer!) Yesterday I got out the old Singer and it took me a good part of the afternoon to assemble the lining only to discover that the handles that I chose are about two inches too big for the bag! Back I go to the store today to see if I can find some that are smaller!

I have pulled out the old Michael’s samples that I haven’t seen while I was away this summer. I am ready to make my board for knitting classes (did you see my calendar for classes?) and have to take some signs for the yarn aisle in the store. I also need to make copies of the calendar for the demo desk! I sure hope that the knitting classes will pick up since it’s fall …I hope!

My to-do list keeps growing but I am checking things off, too. Just for today, I am going to be pleased about what I have gotten done and what I will do today. Life is good.

Gone knitting!