Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Here's hoping that no maniacal, murdering spiders sneak into your home and try to kill you while you're minding your own business.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter Blues in Fall

I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of October already. I greatly dislike the speed at which the days zoom by when one is no longer a child (when five minutes seemed like a year!). I was able to scratch a thing or two off the list in the past week - always a good thing!

A bit ago a girl I work with asked me to make her a bag for her mother-in-law. She told me she was thinking blue and green. After going through different combinations and shades, we narrowed it down to pretty much basic blue and basic green (as opposed to varying shades of aquas and limes). The print that we settled upon was Amy Butler's Trailing Orchids from her Soul Blossoms line.

These are not colors that I am typically drawn to, personally speaking, and I thought that finding matching fabrics might be a bit of a problem. A few recent hunks of fabric that were given to me fit the bill so exactly it was almost as if the giver knew I was going to need those exact shades in the near future. I used one of my favorite patterns that I've made a ton of times before, slightly modified from the original. 

I stared and stared at the blues, talking myself into and out of how well they matched. But as I got going I thought that any other shade of blue would have blended in TOO much and that the slight contrast would really make everything on this pop. This fabric looks like regular quilting cotton, but is part of Amy's fashion corduroy collection. OH. MY. HEAVENS. I wanted to touch and pat and fold this fabric forever, it is so beautifully soft and cozy. It doesn't fray out the wazoo when you cut it and it stitches up wonderfully. I did use woven interfacing as it is a pinwale corduroy and not a thick and sturdy one, but it kept its drape and was a joy to work with from start to finish.

I put a zippered pocket on the inside, as well as a slip-in pocket. It may be the finest zip pocket I've ever done, but it was also the worst photograph I've ever taken so there's no photo (I didn't realize this until a little while ago and the bag is out of my hands so you'll just have to humor me and picture it). I also did a recessed zipper. I forgot about buying zippers before I started this, so I'm glad I have a bit of a stash problem when it comes to them and had a few blues and greens to choose from.

Here's a photo of the back--the green didn't photograph well, but it is almost the exact same shade as the lining you see peeking out:

This is one of my favorite patterns - it's comfy to carry, and it's roomy without being obnoxiously large. I really should make one for myself. One day.

In other news, it SNOWED yesterday! It was an icy, freezing snow, and didn't add much beauty in the way a soft blanket of the white stuff does, but the occurrence of a snowstorm before Halloween here in Philadelphia made me silly happy. And I don't need much more than a coating to declare it a snow day. I wore comfy pants all day, sister Rachel came over and we played all manner of old-school board games (Mall Madness, Mystery Mansion, Rummikub), ate breakfast for dinner, and curled up on separate sofas for late night TV (she under 3 different blankets, me with my knitting needles to finish a dishcloth that has been hanging there for weeks). Sister Alicia had plans related to her friend's wedding, but afterwards she was home and it was just like old times, all of us up late together, watching TV and chatting. Fun stuff. A perfect Saturday.

I've got quite a thinker of a project up next, but I'm hoping it'll end up being one of those projects that takes more thinking than doing. I'm planning on a broken needle or two, however....wish me luck!

Linking up here this week:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ramblings and a quilt block

How quickly can you eat a Dannon Light 'n Fit yogurt? I can do it in about twenty seconds. Wanna know how I know? I just did it. We're having our annual health fair at work tomorrow, and I have to fast for twelve hours for the blood work-up they offer. I like to eat something about twelve hours and five minutes before my appointment so I don't feel too hungry before bed, but I almost forgot. I had 30 seconds to get it in, so it was the fastest yogurt eating ever. With ten seconds to spare, thank you very much.

Last year at the health fair I walked in feeling great. In the first five minutes I was told my body mass index was too high (by 1 number). I don't put much faith in that number anyway, so I wasn't too perturbed, especially since my clothes fit exactly the same as they did when my number was just fine. Then I had my blood drawn. She didn't do something right and it didn't stop bleeding and other people freaked out and everyone was looking at me and I had a huge bruise for a week and it wasn't a lot of blood but it was more than it should have been and I just wasn't pleased about it. Then I did the bone density thing where they measure your foot (and I've always had oddly delicate feet, but the rest of my bones are big and sturdy) and the girl doing the test told me it looked like I have osteoporosis (which I didn't - I followed up with my family doctor). I walked out of there and ran into one of the coordinators who was all happy-skippy and she says  "Well??!?!?!? How was it?!?!?!?! Wasn't it great?!?!?!?!?!" I looked at her with my mostest seriousest of faces and told her "When I came in here I felt fabulous. Now I'm fat, bleeding, and I have osteoporosis." But all my blood numbers fell dead center in the normal range, so there. I feel good and happy and healthy, so I'm not going to worry that someone thinks my butt could be smaller or trust a machine that looks like a toy my nephew used to have to decide if I have weak bones.

OK, THAT little bit is over. I didn't even intend to write it but once it was coming out I figured I'd go with it. So onto this week's quilt block (quite a leap in topics, eh?) This week was an official paper-pieced block. I haven't paper-pieced before where the pattern is drawn on the paper and you sew over it. While I'm not exactly a proponent of wasting paper like that, I did really like the accuracy and stability while sewing. And it was kind of fun, too. This is the part that was paper-pieced:

Not a wiggle or a squiggle at all. Everything came together nice and neat. And it went so quickly!! Maybe it was because I didn't pin or because I didn't have to be precise with fabric cutting until I trimmed it to size at the end. But it was much less stressful than other blocks. Here's the whole bit:

This isn't what it's supposed to look like but it's not messed up. When I laid out the rows I liked this arrangement better. Besides, what it's "supposed" to be is similar to a block I've made already. I also reversed my lights and darks, just because and why not and it's my block and I can do what I want with it, right?

I'm looking forward to a cozy weekend of sewing. The temperature is going to drop and they even mentioned snow, which is unlikely but would be oodles of fun. Because me likes snow. I have a few small orders to pump out, and one fairly large order. Plus a quilt to finish, and a few other things listed on a piece of paper rattling around in my handbag. I feel optimistic...but I never know when the lazies will sneak up on me. I best get to it and keep to it if I'm going to finish by Thanksgiving. She had hiiigggghhh hopes...she had hiiigggghhhh hopes... I'm delirious from hunger right now! Not really. It's just an excuse. OK, I'm going to bed. This could go on for a while. I'm in a silly mood right now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quoth the Raven

We're super-fortunate to have Z-man come over a few times each week. Normally the time is filled with "What do you wanna do?" "I dunno, what do you feel like doing?" This week was a bit different. I walked in from work on Thursday and was informed that a sparsely-detailed instruction sheet was given for his class to make a family crest or coat of arms (which are apparently different - thanks, Google!). His family situation being what it is (he shuttles between his mom's and my brother's) it worked out best that he make this on his dad's shift. We pootled around online for ideas and information, and then headed to the craft store, where I was soundly informed "This is the only section in this store we're going to, and then we're leaving." The boy knows me well :)

I had a marathon sewing session on Saturday night, entirely forgetting about this crafting adventure. I had a nice sleep-in planned and in progress, when a loud voice woke me up saying "YOU!! Downstairs in 5 minutes! It's family crest day!" You may think I would have sprung right out of bed at the prospect of such an endeavor, but I whined and carried on and finally made it to the kitchen (yes, I know - HE's the kid and I'm the alleged adult. I'm quite shameful sometimes). Space was cleared, supplies gathered, and we set to work. I helped him a bit with this (I drew the crest and cut out the lion), but the ideas were all his.

The last name Rapp is of German heritage, and comes from the word for 'raven.' Hence, the raven at the top. In the German consideration of the word raven, the meaning is quite negative and ominous. So he made sure to throw in that some cultures consider the raven a trickster or a prankster, and he thinks our family is more in line with that meaning. Agreed, little man. He had to select symbols for his crest, so he wrote down the four qualities he thinks our family possesses--bravery/courage, love/caring, honesty/trustworthiness, and loyalty. The lion is fairly obvious, as is the heart. But we had to research the others. Interlocking gold rings are a symbol of loyalty, as are doves and dogs. And the pound sign? It also signifies weight. When someone is honest/trustworthy, they are said to carry weight. So there you go. He insisted (I swear - I had absolutely no input on this part though I would understand if you thought I did) that we buy pom-poms for this. He wanted yellow as well to complete the German flag colors, but you can't buy a whole bag of yellow (only black, white, and red), so we went with the yellow banner at the bottom. When deciding poster board colors he told me that there are only a handful of acceptable colors (which he listed and I forget) for the background, and he wanted green (which also symbolizes prosperity--not that we're prosperous but we're by no means wanting in any aspect of life).

The boy has at least half a dozen nationalities in his heritage, but he had to focus on his last name for this project. He wanted to do the English part so he could include something about soccer and red buses. He told me "I'm really glad we're not Russian." This puzzled me, and I couldn't imagine what bias he could have at such a young age. After a minute of thinking I said "Why? What's so bad about that?" And he said "Because you'd make me put never-ending tatertots on this and I don't want to." Yeah, another thinker. "Never-ending tatertots? WHAT are those?" And this is why I love kid-brain. Because in their unpainted form, Russian nesting dolls resemble tatertots to my nephew:

Good times, bud. Good times.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

That 70's Scarf

I came home from work Friday and didn't feel like doing a thing besides putting on pants that have a stretchy waistband and vegging out on the couch. I didn't want to think about setting up the ironing board and the cutting mat and getting to it. I decided the best thing for my laziness was to sit on the couch and hook a bit. I had a bit of yarn left over from my cushion, and I wanted to try my hand at a ripple pattern, so I whipped up a quick little scarf. It's a little too early in the season, I know - but I want to wear it already. It's waaaaaaay retro looking, with the colors and ripples, and it's super soft and cozy as well. I dig :)

I've made one ripple project before, and it was a wee bit of a mess. It ended up being ok after some creative weaving in of ends to hide some messy edges, but it put me off for a bit. I had so much fun making this one - it was quick, easy, and the ripple is just how I wanted it to look. I used Lucy's tutorial, found here. I have had such fun poking around in her archives - everything is so bright and cheery and cozy. If you've got a minute or several, I think her blog is a place definitely worth a visit.

The last ripple blanket I attempted was a single crochet pattern. The resulting blanket was so stiff it stood up by itself and only relented to cuddliness after a wash and dry. This is a double crochet that works up nice and neat and soft (even if you've got a bit of a tight hand like me). I washed it anyway just to see if my woven-in ends would stay woven in. I forced myself to weave them in properly this time. Weaving in ends is the part of any yarn project I detest more than anything else, but I yelled at myself to do a proper job of it and finish it off properly. I'm happy to say they stayed woven in. Little victories, eh?

I do wish I hadn't placed my blue and green next to each other - they flow into each other a little too closely, but it won't keep me up at night. I thought my sister might want this, but she said it's too much of a rainbow for her, and that she is looking for a new winter coat so I can make her a matching scarf then. Gladly! Since the weather cooled all I want to do is curl up on the sofa with Charlie on my feet and hook away. My sewing machine hasn't been calling to me as much as I've been yelling at myself to get to work at it. I have to have my sewing finished by Thanksgiving. I sew in the dining room, and when Christmas comes and vomits on every surface in our home (and I say that lovingly and excitedly) I pack up my sewing gear for all but the smallest/quickest of projects. Time is so scarce in December for sewing that it's a nice break, but I do have some small hand-sewing projects planned for myself.... Anyway, it all must be finished by Thanksgiving, so I must be a bit more disciplined with things.

I'm almost finished a special-order handbag. I just have to put the shoulder straps on. That was my plan for today, but there was a family crest emergency. Next post, folks. I need bed.

Linking up here this week:

Skip to My Lou *** Sumo's Sweet Stuff *** Pinkapotamus *** Ask Anna *** Sew Can Do *** Craftomaniac *** Homemaker on a Dime *** C.R.A.F.T. *** Running With  Glitter *** Sarahndipities *** Sugar Bee Crafts *** All Thingz Related *** Creative Itch Boutique *** Funky Polkadot Giraffe *** Chef in Training *** Tip Junkie *** My Girlish Whims *** Sew Much Ado *** Blue Cricket Design *** Free Pretty Things for You *** Tea Rose Home *** Someday Crafts *** Somewhat Simple *** Fireflies and Jellybeans *** Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom *** Today's Creative Blog *** Between U and Me *** Creation Corner *** The Shabby Nest *** While He Was Napping *** Tatertots and Jello *** Be Different Act Normal *** To Sew With Love

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gettin' CRAZY up in this joint

Before I show you my quilt block I'm going to show you a picture of the spider that ruthlessly tried to kill us last night. Brace yourselves.

Oh, it's there all right. Under that cup. You just have to visualize it. He was very evil.So evil I couldn't risk getting close so I had to zoom in, which is why this is a tad fuzzy. Even though all my photos are fuzzy lately because Blogger is sometimes a bugger, eh?

Onward, folks. This week's quilt block was a crazy block. You basically just sew random stuff to a fabric foundation. I had some verrrrrry thin white sitting in my stash so I used some of it for the foundation. I used a lot of my scraps which are squares and strips already, so I didn't have to cut a ton. I didn't want to hack into my yardage just for curvy pieces, so this isn't all lunatic crazy, but a more controlled kind of crazy, like a kooky aunt kind of crazy.

It was harder than I thought because my color palette is quite limited. As I was going along I was thinking all sorts of petulant things: "I haaaaate this. This isn't comfortable! I'm not having fun!!" And at the end I thought "Hey, I rather like this block!" It's very random and super scrappy and makes no sense, but I guess that's the point.

The one part that was weird to get used to was that on some pieces you sew down one edge, but on the other you have to fold under the edge and topstitch. There's a bit of planning required to make the crazy work.

This is my favorite part. That big red patch was just too red and too bare, so I used one of my decorative stitches on it. I'm trying to think of what I can use this on for something Christmassy because it's such a pretty stitch.

I tried another decorative stitch but it doesn't stand out too well on the prints. I do like this photo, though.

This is where I got a little crazy--see that slight curve? Yeah...I'm out of control.

I was going to skip this block. I was feeling pretty crappy all week (finally feeling better!) and it just didn't intrigue me, but I'm glad I did it. Out of all of the improvisational blocks this one is probably my favorite. Which is funny, because I was quite dreading it.

I'm so glad it's almost the weekend. I felt so blah for the past week this is the only thing I got done. I hate being unproductive. Hopefully I can catch up a bit this weekend. Ta!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bethany Gave Bethany An Award

I'm not losing it and speaking of myself in the third person. AnOTHer Bethany gave me the Versatile Blogger award. I've "won" this before, but I like doing the sharing part of these so here we go.

The other Bethany blogs over at A Fish Who Likes Flowers. She has a slight wreath obsession, and a major Mason jar obsession. I love seeing the stuff she comes up with because it's usually fun and creative and makes me want to steal it. Give her a look see and tell her the other Bethany sent you :) So thank you not-me Bethany for this fun award!

Now I get to share seven things about myself. Try and hide your excitement.

1. Identical twins intrigue me in a "Hey! There are TWO of you!" kind of way (duh, right?). I tend to stare when I see them like they have feet growing out of their foreheads, but I just get stupid over the fact that I'm staring at two of the same person. This occurred to me as I was watching some commercial for I don't remember what that had twins in it.

2. I am wicked afraid of spiders. Tonight, I went to go into the dining room (a.k.a my sewing room) and saw a dark something where the baseboard meets the carpet. I quickly assessed the situation and ran from the room yelling for my mom to kill it. She emptied a can of bug spray onto it, while I helpfully stood in the hallway and screamed obscenities that embarrassed even me. Then, in case it decided to come back to life, we put a plastic cup over it until my dad came home and could remove the corpse. I kept a keen eye on that cup in case it started moving across the floor. This spider had murder on its mind, I tell you. My heart was doing little flippies for at least an hour. This was probably the largest spider I have ever seen in my life, and I'm probably going to have nightmares tonight.

3. I only spill things on myself when I wear white. That's probably true for a lot of people.

4. I am still completely freaked out by number two above. It was a really big spider!

5. Scary movies don't bother me. The only movie that bothers me in a scared sort of way is Silence of the Lambs. But all those other flicks? Bah. I laughed during The Exorcist while my sisters were holding onto each other (yeah, I sold them out like that).

6. My sisters tell me I remind them of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. I'm ok with that.

7. I feel sincerely unfulfilled when I leave a book store without having bought anything. It's like leaving the craft store empty-handed. It gives me a "Now what?" sort of feeling.

I'm supposed to name 15 other blogs to award this to, but I'm going to break that rule - I'm going to put it down if you want to pick it up, because if you've got a blog you're probably versatile. Blogger deciding not to let you post? Blurring your photos? Adding spaces when you keep removing them? No way to deal with those but to be versatile! So pick it up and post it, and let me know so I can come check you out!

I managed to sew up the next quilt block after our home invader was removed, so I'll post that tomorrow. See ya!

Monday, October 17, 2011

This will probably earn me a wedgie....

You know who rarely makes it on here? My brother. My OLDer brother, I just want to note that. He gets to be Z-man's dad, so he's super-lucky. He's not quite two years older than me, and then there's a bit of a gap between me and the next sibling (five years). So when we were young it was me and him for a good long while. I was the annoying little sister who had to be all up in his business, playing with his toys and pretending his gifts were for me as well. Film processing must have been super cheap thirty years ago, because we have a literal butt-ton of photos sitting in old-school style albums. Since I love retro, and nostalgia, and sappiness, I'm going to roll all three into one post dedicated to my brother, in the sincere attempt to embarrass him.You're just going to need to ignore any "fashion statements" we were making in these pics, m'kay?

This is how he still reacts when he gets money. Please ignore the liquor in the background, but do check out those tomatoes - don't they look perfect?

 Look how into it he is. You should be happy photos don't have sound or else you'd probably hear some screechy version of Neil Diamond's 'America' (don't ask).

 One of us is the more serious gunslinger. It's not him. How's he going to have an accurate aim and prevent kick with his arm bent like that? Seriously.

OK, now we're talkin'. Once, when he was about three, we were going to my grandparents' for our usual Friday night visit. He got so angry at my dad for something and was carrying on loudly, and then he got very quiet. My dad turned around to see why--my brother was aiming an imaginary rifle at him and pulled the trigger, imaginary recoil and everything. I think it's the closest my dad ever came to wetting his pants. From laughing, not fear. Please note we are not a violence prone family and my brother had no issues. It was just kids being kids, as you were allowed to be back then.

You're probably thinking "Oh, he looks so sweet with his floppy blonde hair and his retro glasses." Let me tell you something--no. Not at all. This was the brother who used to invent games like "Lay on the floor. I'll run and jump over you until I get out of breath." It should have been called "Let me stomp on your face." Should I have been smarter? Yes. Clearly I was over-trusting when I was wee. There was the time he "helped me with a loose tooth" by spiking a Nerf volleyball into my face. It worked, my tooth came out. But not nice, bro, not nice. I swear he pushed me down the stairs once, but that could be a stretch. I know he definitely used to pinch money from my not-so-secret (apparently) hiding spot.

But then there were the good times. There was the time we made his friends all believe we couldn't have cable because my dad spent time in the clink for stealing cable and hooking everyone up in a one mile radius. In reality we couldn't have cable because my mom thought we'd watch MTV and never do our homework. And most definitely the time a few years ago when we worked very hard to convince one of my sisters that our house was haunted (and it worked for a bit, too). This was when I had way too much time on my hands, hahaha. Or the time last year where I opened the front door to a knock and had an ice cream cone thrust into my face. Soft vanilla with a hard chocolate shell. Because the ice cream man was driving by when he pulled up and he knew that was my favorite. See? Nice. He's the guy who will spend months planning a wiffle ball celebration, and snuggle with babies (even though not too long ago he'd be all "Babies?! Bah!!").

So that's that. I enjoy little glimpses into the not-so-crafty side of blogs, the things that have made us who we are and that we sit around a few beers laughing about (because seam allowances just aren't funny, no matter how you spin it), so I hope you enjoyed this little peek, even just a wee bit.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking through old photos and remembering memories, so my sissies should be very afraid that they'll be on here one day in the same way, mwahahahahahaha.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn Bloom Crochet Cushion

I saw a beautiful crochet cushion on the Attic 24 blog a few months ago, and my fingers have been wiggling to do it ever since. Feeling a bit blah this week was a perfect excuse to sit on the couch and stitch away. I chose eight different colors from the Vanna's Choice line of Lion Brand yarns. I've never used this yarn before, but it's nice to work with and comes in a huge range of colors. Our living room is in burgundy, olive, and tan with hints of a dusty blue, so I chose colors to blend well with that. I haven't worked in the round for a while, so it took me a wee bit to remember the hang of it, but after that I fairly flew through it (so much that I stitched another one up for my sister during a Saturday on the couch watching not-so-wonderful movies). Two cushions down and I still have enough yarn left for another project (I'm thinking a ripply striped scarf for the other sister...).

ANYway, here's my delightfully autumnal blooming cushion:

Isn't that fun??!?!?!?! The blue is actually much more dusty blue and much less turquoise, by the way. I followed Lucy's directions exactly and they worked perfectly. I bought a circular pillow form at the craft store, and stitched until it looked like it would be the right size.

Here's the back. It ended up needing to be stretched out a little bit (the center was a little too puffy), so I made the back one round shorter than the front and stretched it to stitch it together. It flattened out just right. I still don't know how to make the round joins not so obvious, but I do love those retro-vintage colors. It looks like something my grandma would have made in the seventies.

Referencing the photo just above, the colors are (going from the lower left up towards the right): Cranberry (180), Chocolate (126), Mustard (158), Dusty Blue (108), Rust (135), Burgundy (148), Beige (123), and Olive (174). It then starts again with the Cranberry (I did two rounds for each color).

It feels nice and squishy and soft and fluffy, but it's not floppy or anything like that. It was wicked fun to make. I can't wait to try it in bright and cheery colors. More like these. My aunt stopped by today, and noted that it would also look really pretty all in off-white. Wouldn't it, though? I could have sat making this all weekend and I still don't think I'd be bored of it. It's such a kick to see those petals start to grow.

So if the cooler weather has you itching to make a fun little project that can have a big impact, do give this one a go. If you don't know how to crochet but would like to learn, the Lion Brand website has great instructions. Trust me - it's very cozy working on an afghan on a chilly night as it spreads across your legs, keeping you nice and warm in the process. Ta for now!

I'm linking up to these parties - if you're looking for fun crafty ideas check out a few!

Skip to My Lou *** Sumo's Sweet Stuff *** Pinkapotamus *** Ask Anna *** Sew Can Do *** Craftomaniac *** Homemaker on a Dime *** C.R.A.F.T. *** Running With  Glitter *** Sarahndipities *** Sugar Bee Crafts *** All Thingz Related *** Creative Itch Boutique *** Funky Polkadot Giraffe *** Chef in Training *** Tip Junkie *** My Girlish Whims *** Sew Much Ado *** Blue Cricket Design *** Free Pretty Things for You *** Tea Rose Home *** Someday Crafts *** Somewhat Simple *** Fireflies and Jellybeans *** Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom *** Today's Creative Blog *** Between U and Me *** Creation Corner *** The Shabby Nest *** While He Was Napping *** Tatertots and Jello *** Be Different Act Normal *** To Sew With Love

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fabric Giveaway Winner!!!

Happy Saturday! You should hear the wind blowing outside - it's perfectly sunny but crazy windy. I hope this means that fall weather will be here to stay. The warmer temperatures just seem to hang on. I want to wear boots and sweaters!!! Before I announce the winner I need to tell you that your comments were awesome - all that chatter about baking, apple picking, hayrides, quilting, knitting, campfires, and snuggling made me smile and nod along - yes! I want to do all those things! But if the weather doesn't literally chill out I'm going to feel a bit like a weirdo sitting around a campfire in a t-shirt.

Ok, so on to the winner of the fabric giveaway. We had 63 entries. Mr. Random Generator seemed to prefer this entry:

Which is this comment:

"Smelling fall." I know exactly what you mean :)

Esther, my darling, I'm off to email you about your win right now, but if you see this before you see that would you please email me your details for where you want your goodies shipped? I hope you have fun with these fabrics as well as the little surprise I'm tossing in.

Thank you all for participating! Enjoy your weekend! And check back tomorrow for my crochet project that I'm still madly in love with :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Red and White Strings

I'm just going to pop in real quick and then get back to doing nothing on the couch. I should have known something was brewing the other day when I sounded like Marge Simpson. I definitely should have known yesterday when I was freezing all day. And this morning I woke up to sore sinuses and a sore throat, and that general blah feeling that accompanies the onset of a cold.

I don't have much to say about this week's quilt block, except it's totally made of scrappy and I adore it. All we had to do was string piece a block. I've made an entire string quilt before, so this was pretty easy. Sewing onto a paper foundation was kind of neat. It's very counter-intuitive to rip the paper out of your stitches when you're done - I kept cringing thinking I was going to be left with a mess, but everything held fine. On my previous quilt I used fabric as my foundation, which greatly increases the weight of it. But this way you throw away a lot of paper...

I would really like to try paper piecing with a more complicated block. You can definitely sense the difference in the stability of the fabrics with a piece of paper behind them. The seams are much more accurate, and the stretch is controlled.

I finished up my crochet project last night, and I'm in love with it! It's not in the usual bright colors that I'm drawn to, but in darker tones that go perfectly in the living room. I can't wait to show you! Here's hoping for some sunshine this weekend so I can get a decent photo or two.

OH! And my giveaway ends soon - get the details on this post to for a chance to win some yummers fabric!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Perfect Weekend

Friday afternoon we ladies all piled into the car and headed west for a relaxing weekend with my grandma. She had all the things grandmas are supposed to have - homemade jellies, cake, and tea. Good thing I did a stellar job with the diet last week because caloric debauchery is the best way to describe the weekend. I showed her my quilts, and she insisted on taking photographs to share with her quilting club friends. She yelled at me a little because I don't pre-wash my quilt fabrics. I told her I'll start. I yelled at her a little because she was showing me mistakes in something and I had to tell her that "we just don't do that, remember?" I snapped a few photos from her yard - the sunshine was so beautiful and the sky so blue I couldn't help it.

It hadn't rained - this was morning dew, still hanging around in the early afternoon. Grandma says these are called burning bushes. My mother and sister informed me that I insist on calling them bleeding bushes. I trust them. I probably do.

 Same bush in the late afternoon sun.

 Look at those huge drops of dew! You know what's fun? Walking through wet grass...that has been recently cut. It sticks to your shoes like you wouldn't believe. I would have taken a picture, but I need new shoes. Not because of the grass. I just do. And I didn't want you to see the sorry state of them.

 I've been informed this is goldenrod. There was one tiny patch of it hiding behind a tree.

 Some trees have started to change. Others are still stuck in summer mode.

 I looooooove this single red tree, gettin' down with its rebellious self. know how I love craft/fabric stores? Like a lot? Like an obscene amount of a lot? We were all just sitting there, probably eating, when Grandma slides into the conversation "Do you have Hobby Lobby over your way?" I told her no, the closest is up in Bethlehem, but from what I see online I reaaalllly want them to open one. She casually says "They just opened one over where Giant Eagle used to be." I got super-excited but I didn't want to guilt-trip anyone into going. But the next day sister Rachel was all "I'll go with you!" So off we went. What a nice store! Clean, neat, well-organized, bright, decently priced. I was jealous of people who live near a Hobby Lobby. I only bought a new seam ripper (the fabrics were adorable, but I'm trying hard not to buy what I don't need). My sister, on the other hand, made a few purchases for something she wanted to try - oil pastel...painting? drawing? I'm not sure what the technique is... I hope she doesn't kill me for posting her first attempts on here, but I warned her they would be going up - 


I was kind of jealous of that new art/craft thing she had going on - you know the feeling? The one where you don't know a ton of what you're doing so you just go with it, but you're still so excited to learn, and try, and grow with it that sometimes you dream about it? I am envious of other people when they've got that "just learning" thing going on - it's probably one of the most exciting bits of crafty endeavors. To me, anyway. But maybe not you - we've already covered extensively how weird I am :)

 I have got the most wonderful bit of crochet going right now. I'm fighting the urge to show you until it's finished (which should be this weekend). It's waaaaay better than my Halloween crochet mishaps...  I've also got my quilt block for the week done. I am just moving right along! And tomorrow is Wednesday already! Woot!!! Ok, must be off to the Land of Nod. Work tomorrow....still haven't got that gig where someone pays me large amounts of money to sew and create all day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Itty Bitty Change Purse

I do love making frame purses. At a certain point, the bad language commences because they can be fiddly, but at the end I always think "Ahhh, yes. How I love making these." They're one of those things that don't take much to make, but can have a big impact. I usually make them with a six-inch frame, or with the sunglasses frame. But the last time I placed my order I tossed in a few smaller change purse-sized frames (they're three inches wide). They've been sitting for a while, but this week I puttered about and figured out a good pattern.

Now, I had ordered a kit previously for this size, but put the directions aside and made an iPod holder. The frames I had now were (unintentionally) the same size, so I figured I'd use the pattern this time. That was promptly put aside again. I've never seen instructions for constructing a purse this way - the lining and outside are sewn together in the most difficult of ways, and I sat there muttering to myself the entire time. I kept going with it thinking there'd be some incredible revelation and purse magic would happen. I didn't even finish it, I was so displeased with it. Plus it was so tiny and weird I couldn't sew the gap in the lining shut - I wasn't wasting a frame on this one. Here you can see how tiny and shapeless it is:

I reworked the pattern a little bit, but ended up making it way too large for the frame - I tried to make it work, but it would have looked terrible forced into the frame.

Aren't those fabrics cute? But that piece that angles off the top is way too long. Back to the drawing board. And this time I met with enough success that I popped that baby into the frame. It needs to be a slight bit smaller on the side, which I'll do in the future, but for a sample it's still perfectly fine. It's essentially my own pattern now, which I should have just sketched out from the beginning and saved time and fabric.

Isn't that cute? Look how wee it is! And note that I have small hands, so it being the same size as my hand doesn't mean what it does for normal-sized handed people. I blame my lack of success at the piano on my short fingers, NOT on lack of practice, by the way.

I love this fabric combo, so if you're thinking that you've seen it before you're absolutely correct. I used it in my sew-in frame tutorial here.

Look how little it is compared to the larger ones I make (even though those are considered medium-sized):

I do love the shape it came out, so I'm glad I just went off on my own and didn't follow the pattern. And one can smuggle the other inside it - I don't know where one purse would be smuggling another into, but at least in theory it is now possible should such a thing need to occur:

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my day with Grandma and the girls (i.e. my mom and sisters) and then head home. I didn't get much knitting done, but some is better than none. Besides, I was talking and eating. How am I supposed to stitch when I've got cheese-filled cake in my hand? Seriously, guys. Think about it. See you soon!

Linking up here this week:

Skip to My Lou *** Sumo's Sweet Stuff *** Pinkapotamus *** Ask Anna *** Sew Can Do *** Craftomaniac *** Homemaker on a Dime *** C.R.A.F.T. *** Running With  Glitter *** Sarahndipities *** Sugar Bee Crafts *** All Thingz Related *** Creative Itch Boutique *** Funky Polkadot Giraffe *** Chef in Training *** Tip Junkie *** My Girlish Whims *** Sew Much Ado *** Blue Cricket Design *** Free Pretty Things for You *** Tea Rose Home *** Someday Crafts *** Somewhat Simple *** Fireflies and Jellybeans *** Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom *** Today's Creative Blog *** Between U and Me *** Creation Corner *** The Shabby Nest *** While He Was Napping *** Tatertots and Jello *** Be Different Act Normal *** To Sew With Love

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Green Mountain Star

Quick post today because I've got to finish packing for a girls' weekend at my grandma's! Very looking forward to sitting and knitting and reading and eating and chatting and....and...something that rhymes with chatting. This week's quilt block was a bonus. We didn't have to do it, but it was kinda like extra credit...the kind of extra credit that doesn't really count for anything. So I guess it's more 'enrichment' than 'extra credit.' I'm figuring that if I have a few blocks I am highly displeased with I'll have a few extra to play around with in my final layout by making the bonus blocks. Or maybe I'll make two quilts - one of the really good blocks, and one of the others that aren't so great. Anyway, I was pretty tired of doing the improv stuff, so I went with a traditional block called the Green Mountain Star. I don't know what I did because I tried to focus on what I was doing, but it's got a bit of the wonk going on. I do love these star-in-a-star quilt blocks. They look so much more intricate than they are.

OK, the wonk isn't crazy obvious and overall I'm quite pleased with it. There is one snafu--I trimmed some of the rows before I sewed them all together, and at the end it was too short in one direction. So I practiced my improv skills and just sewed a strip of the dots up one side:

I'm noticing a disturbing trend with these blocks - I'm getting WORSE as I go along. It's like I'm having my own skill demolition quilt along instead of a skill building QAL. Someone left me a comment months ago with a phrase their mother used to say: "If you want a perfect quilt, go buy one." I like imperfect. It's more human. It's more me. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Have a wonderful weekend! And in case you missed it, don't forget to enter my fabric giveaway!


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