Thursday, October 27, 2016

Happy Haunting Table Runner

A few months ago the lovely Charity sent me some happy mail in the form of a  Riley Blake 'Happy Haunting' jelly roll. It was a line I had always thought was adorable in its Halloween-ness, but never bought because of my constant efforts to decrease stash and buy what's needed. But as I didn't buy this I didn't break my own rule. I had an idea for what I wanted to do--my original vision was to make a brick wall of sorts. But when I was playing with the layout I kept hitting a...well...a brick wall, haha. It was difficult to keep the prints from running into each other at this smaller size. So I scrapped that idea and decided to go with a rail fence layout. As I sewed this together in an ardent attempt to be scrappy and random, I realized some of the fabrics were running into each other. So I could have gone with my original idea and been just fine.

I don't know where I acquired the skill of making straight things look crooked, but I'm thinking it's a resume builder. As Riley Blake jelly rolls are smaller than the Moda rolls, there are fewer prints in each one. I had to muster up some moxie to use the spider print, but I just kept telling myself "It's just fabric, Bee, it's just fabric" and I was able to get through it.

I had this great idea that I would quilt this in a stair-steppy way, but once I started I realized I hadn't thought it through (surprise surprise!) so I ended making simple straight-line quilting on either side of the seams very complicated. Then I decided it needed more quilting so I added some diagonals to it. I tried to do that thing where you start at one point and quilt the whole thing in one shot without having to cut threads and so on. As it turns out you have to plan that out. So my simple quilting probably took thrice (can I get extra points for saying thrice?) as long as it should have.

For the backing I used this bright orange polka dot that my grandma gave me.

I used some black and orange dots for the binding. I tried to be all fancy-pants and use one of my embroidery stitches for it, but forgot that black thread on black fabric doesn't exactly scream "Look at me!"

This was a fairly quick project that is going to go live with my sister Rachel. I have plenty of scraps left over, so it might get a half-sibling in the way of a quilted pillow. At some point. But not soon.

Because I have a super secret project I am starting as soon as I click 'publish' that is going to kill me not to share with you until it's finished, but is definitely up there as one of the weirder, more random things I've made. Ta for now!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 10

Hi gang! I find that I have no problem remembering to make my mystery quilt blocks, but I do have difficulty in remembering to post about them, so I'm tossing this one up while I'm thinking of it.

Quick side question: does anyone like those Matthew McConaughey commercials for Lincoln? I don't care for them, not one little bit. Not at all. Just curious...

Anyway--my quilt block. This one as all straight pieces (no applique) and was therefore a pretty quick thing to assemble. It connects with two other blocks as well. You might think this would help me figure out what's happening here, but it does not. I've submitted my guess for the killer, so figuring things out from reading the story isn't the problem. It's just this quilt that's kicking my tush.

As you can see, what I really like to do is make the block, press it nice and neat, then fold it up and put it away until it's picture time, and then snap a photo without ironing out the wrinkles. It's sort of a hobby of mine....

And here's the whole thing thus far:

I think this is going to be one of those things that I don't see the thing until someone points it out, and then it will be all that I can see.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 9

Guys. We're almost halfway through October. So it's like Halloween is right there, and then it's Thanksgiving, and then boom--it's like Christmas is in two weeks. How did that happen? I was downloading these pictures and it hit me that I have nine of these blocks already. That seems so fast! I remember joining this quilt along because I thought it would be kind of fun, and no it's almost done.

Anyway--this month's block was an applique block (again). I didn't use any stabilizer (as I'm out of it) but I didn't have an issues for the most part. It did take some squiggling to get the pieces to line up as we all know when it comes to quilt blocks I like to use the far-from-exact method.

So while this block is pretty ho-hum, it now fits into place with a few of the other blocks.

So there are five of them (the blocks with orange) that fit together, but I still have no idea with the others.

I'll be honest here--while I am curious about the outcome of the story, I'm not entirely in love with the quilt blocks. When the story began, I would get my instructions on the second Wednesday of the month, and hurry to make the block. Now I'm just getting it in by the skin of my teeth. I'm going to finish because my slight OCD will nag and nag at me that I left this unfinished, but I'm not having as much fun with it anymore. Plus it's my favorite time of the year--I have sweaters to wear, cocoa to drink, leaves to crunch, and holidays to think about making things for.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Going Out of Business Sale

I haven't got a make to share with you at the moment, but I did want to make a little announcement here. I'm closing down my little online shop. I've been thinking of doing this for a while now, and struggled with the thought of it. But I finally decided that it's had his time. This has nothing to do with my blog, so if you're so inclined you can still join me for my blatherings here in this space.

That being said, I have a good bit of stuff in the shop that I would like to be free of, so I'm offering every single thing at a fifty percent discount. That includes handmade items as well as the trims and bag hardware that have shelf-space as well. No coupon code is needed--everything has been marked down already. One note--due to the way the site calculates postage, sometimes the charges are too high. When the amount is over one dollar (USD) I always refund the difference.

I have a decent variety of stuff in there, so hopefully you can find something you can use (or gift). All money earned from the sale of these items will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Arne & Carlos: I Want a Norwegian Accent When I Grow Up

Warning: fan-girl gushing may pour forth. We'll see what happens.

I had posted a thing or two on Facebook about the fact that Arne and Carlos were coming to a knitting shop near me. If I had thought for two seconds and utilized Google I would have known they were at one even nearer to me that didn't require me to drive across bridges into the depths of the next state over, but let us not dwell (because are they really coming to this one shop in the area all the way from Norway? Likely not). I hemmed and hawed a bit--I had never been to a knitting workshop, I'm a little shy at first, I can learn color-work with the help of the internet, and so on and so forth. After some gentle prodding, I signed up. There was a morning and afternoon class, and I signed up for both, but they canceled the second due to low interest (what the what? I knoooow! Riiight?). So I got my supplies together, packed my book with me (in case I had the moxie to ask them to sign it), and headed off.

I had the best day I've had in a long time.

The class was for a pair of Selbu wrist-warmers. The afternoon class was for Christmas balls (their intention was for the word 'baubles' instead of balls, and were highly amused at the translation). Homework was to knit the ribbing of a cuff. I bought those marbleized acrylic needles for cuteness, but they're a bit 'stickier' than I'd like, so I felt a little slow in my knitting.

When the class started, they handed out the pattern and explained knitting charts to us. After a few tips, they set us off, and walked around the class checking work, offering advice, and engaging in banter.

Arne is in the front, Carlos in the back. Arne knits with those dpns so quickly you think he's twiddling his thumbs nervously, but he's just got that muscle-memory thing down wicked pat. They would circle the room, checking work and observing (like when your teacher used to circulate to see if you really understood long division or something), then take seats at various tables, switching sides, chatting about anything and everything and offering advice.

Before too long, I had this happening--

Arne came by and said "Oh, that is a very good job! ... They are very cute needles!" How could you not love him, haha? I forgot to take a picture of my floats at this point, but they were largely OK. Carlos said "OK, these are very good. Keep going." {Blushing cheeks, haha}.

I was very focused on the task at hand, so almost finished my first cuff by class-end. Then we packed it up, exchanged hugs (they're huggers!) and said good-bye. I was very smiley and shy and goofy, they were very charming. I am so glad I went. Not done yet, keep reading.

So they were on a five-week book tour across the United States. I of course bought their new book. The thing with their books is that they are absolutely beautiful. Even if you don't knit, the pictures and accompanying non-knitting text are stunning and pretty and lovely. But it doesn't hurt that the designs are great, and once you get going with color-work you feel like you really can make all the things.

So the two of them. Arne is playful, self-deprecating in a charming way, and whimsical. I imagine he is the dreamer of many of the designs. Carlos is more serious, and I picture him as handling more of the technical aspects of things. I can see how the two of them together make a spectacular team. Their stories of home and youth are fascinating, and have that great yesteryear thing about them (grandparents' farms, Norwegian traditions, learning to knit by the fireside).

As they sat and chatted with us, we talked mostly of politics but not politics, if that makes sense? There was no judgment, no calling out of politicians (they said "You probably don't see it here on your news, but we have crazy things as well. It's everywhere"). But then we discussed differences in our systems--health care, education, and so on. Economic and political things in countries like Norway are grossly over-simplified with a scary element added to them by our politicians here, but to get it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, is not so scary. They do their fair share of traveling, and have their fair share of stories of different countries, and friends around the world, so they have a nice overview of different aspects of things that I think are not as deeply understood here.

Anyway, they wrapped up our class with some tips for caring for woolens. First, as many knitters will tell you, wool is the superior fiber. But wool care scares some people (felting? Ahhhh!! I still remember when my mom washed and dried my sister's favorite sweater, unaware that it was wool). So here are a few things they said:
  • Steam is magical. They advised us that even though our wrist-warmers might look wonky, to put a wet cloth on top of the area that needs to chill out a bit, then hit it with a hot iron. The steam relaxes everything, and your work becomes smooth.
  • Steam is magical. So is wool. If your sweater needs to be freshened, do the same thing. Steam it out. The heat relaxes the fibers and releases any dirt. Then you can gently reshape your garment, and as the fibers cool, they stay that way (like wet-blocking without the whole process). This is how they clean their sweaters (unless there are stains on them or something that really needs to be removed, in which case they do the whole wash-block thing).
  • Cold air is also magical. If you wear wool, and it's still clean but maybe smells like perfume, you can hang it on the clothesline overnight in the cold, and it will be perfectly fresh in the morning. If that's not feasible, they recommend putting it into the freezer for the same effect. It sounds counter-intuitive, but they explained the natural properties of wool, and how if you care for it the same way nature does when it's on the sheep, your things will stay beautiful for a long time.
I had read somewhere before (when researching wool fabric) that wool does not need to be cleaned like your regular cottons or polys or other fibers. A light sponging, brushing, and occasional steam will release the microscopic dirt and leave it fresh as a daisy, with a normal laundering necessary only once in a while.

When I came home that day, I put my work on stitch holders (they were for practice) and made another pair for keeps. I switched up the colors this time, and am undecided as to which way I like better. I think I like the red cuffs pictured above better, but I like the below, too. Red and white speaks to my soul ardently, so I'm fine with both. I have plenty of yarn left, so I'm definitely making another pair, but with red cuffs.

After a few other ladies in the class asked them to sign their books, I worked up the courage to shyly hand them mine (as though they're not used to it, right?). Their books now have pride of place on my craft book shelf. I feel like I could easily become obsessed with this kind of knitting, and it's no wonder to me that these kinds of designs are prevalent in the globe's cold corners. Now we know what they do when people say "But what do you DO all the long winter?"


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