Sunday, December 30, 2012

the tee-shirts strike back.

just when you thought it was safe to open the closet... something jumps out at you. I found a wagamama* tee shirt at the Goodwill on the Southside - and I was going to trade the Ruby Slipper tee with wagamama, until I realized I had lost the whole quilt somewhere in my apartment. Alas. Somewhere in the madness of Christmas, I discovered the quilt again and what appears to be enough stabilized tee-shirts to accommodate another row for the quilt. Haven't figured out the particulars though. 

*wagamama is a Japanese/pan asian restaurant from Europe beginning to make inroads in America; there is a location in New York City, and there should be one now in Washington D.C. We ate at one in a London suburb our first night abroad. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

sarah's gypsy throw, deux

Not enough time over the holiday break to get anything accomplished, not nearly enough time. Ugh.

I was down in the Strip District buying a few last minute things before Christmas and I popped into Loom, having had a gander at their website. Lo and behold, this Phillip Jacobs material called "Summer Tree" was on sale for $4 a yard [!!!!] so I got half a yard of each in the teal and yellow colorways - and picked up half a hard of the orange and red poppy fabric as well.

Mom and I were going to hit up some of the fabric shops in Erie, Bradford and Cambridge Springs, but alas, they shut down for the entire week I was here, so I settled for spending my Christmas money at a big box store instead. LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I LOVE SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS, but I can't do it if they aren't open. The big box was excruciatingly disappointing in the way of batiks, which comes as no incredible surprise, but I was working with the time and materials I had, not really wanting to put this off for 15 weeks - it's is so close to being done!

Because of the extra yardage I bought at the big box, I ended up with a multitude extra squares. The instructions in the book indicate that the finished size of the throw should be 69" square, if the half triangle squares are cut to finish at 7" when sewn. My thought was that I could add an additional round of half blocks before the final border, just to finish off all the leftover blocks. This would take it out of the throw category and put it's diameter at 83" square, which is more fitting a double bed. If I widened the exterior border, I could make it 90" square, and it would qualify as a double.

If there aren't enough half squares to make it all the way around, I would just do one side, which wouldn't make it square, oh tragedy, and the left overs could be used in the backing.

None of this is not a bad thing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

grandpa's daisy

Got this from my Grandpa for Christmas… he made four different quilt blocks from scrap exotic wood, and I got to pick first this year. He started out making pictures of regional wild flowers; last year we brought home a Black-eyed Susan, a pink Lady Slipper and a White Trout Lily. They aren't marquetry, which is the process of cutting a recessed space for a thin layer of another wood to occupy; he lays the scrap on top of a base and glues them down.

Starting at the 1:30 position is a piece of Purple Heart, at 3 is Black Walnut, 4:30 is Red Heart, 7:30 is White Cedar, 9 is Eastern Red Cedar, 10:30 is Sumac. The center is a piece of maple from one of the wood projects I did as an undergraduate - probably my bedside table, which was unusually pink. The background is Red Oak; the frame is Black Birch.

Grandpa also made a Dresden Plate and a Log Cabin, and a five pointed star of his own design.  I picked this one to go with the daisy quilt I've been working on. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

it's finished!

put the final stitches in Ordinary Time at 6:20ish PM on Christmas Eve.

The recipients were well pleased.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

home stretch

Really bringing it down to the wire on the Ordinary Time. Quilted for an hour and a half at a friend's house last Thursday, quilted while watching four of the five 55 minute episodes of the 1980 Pride and Prejudice miniseries -  subjective research for a friend concerning my opinion on who the best Darcy was, Firth, Macfayden or Rintoul - and half of season six of Bones, and now part of season seven.

I'm so close to being done; it's this side of 1730 hours. A few more episodes of something, or a movie, and I think the quilting will be in the bag, I can sew the binding on.

That is, if I can find the binding... oh well...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I didn't tell you

Today is the day that my grandmother died. We haven't talked about her in 8 years. Here and there, yes, briefly. We handled everything according to my grandfather's wishes. And he wished there to be no acknowledgement of her passing. There was no wake, no memorial service with friends. Nothing to celebrate her life. It was what he wanted, to bear his grief quietly, and while I respect that these were his wishes, her passing left a hole that I did not know how to deal with. My family seemed to be as bereft and adrift as I; the cultural traditions that accompany death might have helped. Might.  I seem to mark each passing year with some small token of grief, as though saying goodbye in this marginal way is somehow less painful.

This year I spent a small part of yesterday saying goodbye to someone vibrantly among the land of the living, a parting which was painful in it's own way. I look at the blocks of the gypsy quilt, somehow I'm not sure why, they remind me of her.

I came home today, and I sat for a long time, without words, with the measure of these two hurts.

Know me then.
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket.
Very small, and woven of dry grass,
Smelling as sweet in December as the day I smelled it first.
Only one other ever was that to me;
Sweet birch, from a far river. 
You would not know, you did not smell the birch.
You would not know, you did not smell the grass.
You. You did not know me then.
Know me then. 
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket.
"Basket," Thomas Hornsby Ferril

Monday, December 17, 2012

it is finished...?

It's pushing 9 EST, I haven't heard anything from my paper partner. It was raining today, and with our house being on a north easterly side of a hill, it got dark, faster than usual, so I lit the not-so-Adventy colored candles on the wreath, plugged in the tree, lit my festive pine scented candles, and turned on every light in the apartment. Even the festive bush is having a hard time burning against the darkness tonight. I must say, I am more appreciative of the warm incandescence of the filament bulbs outside than the cool glow of the white LED bulbs that grace my indoor tree. But I was rather hoping I wouldn't have to bother replacing bulbs - question: if we are capable of producing LEDs in almost every color of the spectrum, why is it so hard to get a bulb that isn't a cool white?

but I digress.  this is the world's worst photo ever, so bear with me. I have a friend with a[n even bigger] fabric problem [than I have], and she invited me over to go shopping in her stash. So I did, before student teaching happened and my life became a giant question mark. I've been sitting on a borrowed Kaffe Fassett book from the library, featuring projects from the V&A Museum in London, England. Featured on the first page of the Utility Quilt set was a brilliant red and black affair based on a homey pink and brown quilt which caught my eye, made according to the book, by - or more likely for- one Sarah Wyatt in 1801 [though the V&A website does not corroborate this detail].

I had to make it. Now I have the fabric to do it.

So out of the king sized pillowcase stuffed full of fabric, I carefully sorted the shades of cherry, cayenne, magenta and purple would I thought would work best for this project, as well as large scale florals. That lovely swath of purple is going to be the inner border you can see in the picture on the left page.

This doesn't do it justice, but you can see the strip piecework 

I also started cutting out this project, and then found to my dismay that I didn't have nearly enough fabric for this (I suspected as much) so I sewed some of the blocks together and I trimmed some of the scraps to make squares, which made for interesting patches themselves. The rest of the squares are hanging out until I purchase the rest of the material, so it doesn't look as obvious that I'm adding new fabric mid project. I did throw caution to the wind and just make the middle though.

As irritating as it is to have to sit on it and wait for the funds to buy some more red and magenta tones and large scale floral... no, it's plain irritating. It's an incredibly simple project, though the color combination is by no means staid. If I felt like it, the top could be done before Friday, but it won't be. 

It's not something I would have thought to make; at least, not with these colors, which make me think I've broken jars of saffron, chilli powder, curry and paprika; it reminds me of a feast, of a broken open pomegranate, with it's glossy, garnet seeds. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

finals are cramping my style

ten days 'til Christmas. Clearly, you can discern my religious convictions and affiliations from that statement. You know what's not done? My Christmas present quilt isn't done, that's what. 3 squares out of 12 are done. I'm not going to quilt the corner blocks at this rate, which will make the question of where to affix a label easier.

The two in the middle, I think, are done, plus one on the side. I have a project in mind for the excess Kaffe Fassett Ikat Streak cherry red fabric that's on the back. Of course, all I want to do is work on it - this and the new red project, but there are several constraints keeping me from both. Grumblemumble.....

As the bulk of my work has been turned in, I am suffering from a major case of procrastination and writer's block. So I'm writing, and hoping that somehow, this will get things unblocked. Forgive me if you feel the need to whip out a thesaurus; I do have to write for a graduate class... there's a word I'm looking for... it's not vernacular or dichotomy... discourse! The paper is about language. Thus I am assembling the adult, academic vocabulary for this discourse. Ahem.

We put lights up outside the house a few days ago. No robotic reindeer, no chase or icicle lights hung from the dormers. Simple white lights, carefully entwined around the lamp posts, and the trunk of a bush of unknown species growing on the edge of my patio. It is now amusing to watch the birds and squirrels attempt to interpret the addition of the these things to the bush where the feeder is located. While I have best wishes for the birds, I was rather hoping the squirrel would electrocute itself when it began gnawing on that one bulb a few seconds ago... the bush is lovely in the dark, if a bit overly luminescent. There is neither a timer or a light sensor on the plug or the lights, and even with the blinds down, covering the window in my room, the glow from the this bush pervades the darkness of the apartment.

My two foot faux tree is upright, lit and decorated. The advent wreath, devoid of purple and pink candles this year for lack of time (I think God will forgive me), replaced by white and a red candles, is also up.

Later. Much, much later...

I did mostly unblock my writer's block; however, it's taken ten hours to do so, coupled with a three hour run down to the public library to cram in some last minute research, and the remembrance that I still have half the project to wrap up tomorrow, along with a three and an half hour mathematics final, and a separate three page mathematics assignment, both due by 11pm tomorrow. I have recollections of feeling this way at the end of summer term, the most notable differences being that I am not dehydrated and suffering from a week long migraine.

Discretion may be the better part of valour at this hour; I'll work on the mathematics tomorrow morning when I am fresh rather than try to ponder theory after having wrung out my brain.

stars in the window - a tutorial

I love this project, thought it does take a bit of patience to string the beads and wrap the wire around. Its great for using up all those little bits of beads laying about that seem to keep replicating overnight despite your best efforts. They're nice additions to gifts with the traditional tag. I've made hearts and moons as well, but stars are by far easier to freehand and wire wrap the ends.

Helpful, but not necessary, is a jig for forming the star. I used the side of an old drawer to drive some nails into to wrap the wire around, 3/8" plywood or thicker would likely do the trick if you've got a bit laying around. As long as it's thick enough that the nails are driven in about halfway; you do not want the nails pulling out as you are wrapping your wire around them. The piece of wood that I used measured 15" by 10" or so, and was heavy enough that I was able to manipulate the wire around the nails without the whole thing flopping around. If you are worried about such things,  a C clamp or a Quick-grik clamp or something similar would help keep the jig anchored while you wrapped the wire with both hands, if you found it necessary.


for the jig (optional)*
piece of plywood or a board at least 3/8" thick, at least 10" square-ish.
qty [10] 1 1/2" finishing nail or smililar.

for the stars
16 gague galvanized steel wire, or another firm, non-rusting hobby wire. (I used OOK brand)
beading wire, ~ 20 gague, finer (a smaller number, like 18, or 16) to accomodate some seed beads.
assortment of beads and buttons in a variety of colors and sizes
needlenose pliers
wire cutters (a combo of the pliers/cutter is helpful, but not necessary)
a ruler

instructions - this star ended up being about 4", not counting the loop at the top [pictured above and below]
Start by creating a star form using either the jig*[using a jig? really, see this section] or make one free form. Have about 6" total of wire reserved for the end of the star, 4" of wire for the hook, and about 2" on the opposite end for the wrap. A curly-cue is a nice place to start for the hook of the star; if you really want to get fancy, you can branch out to things like G clefs later, after you've perfected your wire wrap technique. Bend the points of the star, until the other end of the wire is back at the beginning, and wrap the end around the middle of the stem below the hook. It's okay if the star's top isn't quite as pointy as the rest of it. Wrap the end once or twice around, and then trim the excess wire off with the wire cutters as close to the stem as you can.

now for the fun part! [if you are doing this project with a bunch of small children or impatient people, have the stars made ahead of time. i don't say this from experience at all...]

one you have your star form secure, take your beading wire and cut a a generous 24"; this gives you enough to wrap a small amount securely as a starting point, have enough to string your beads on, and enough to wrap off at the end.  Take one end of the wire, wrap it around the top part of the star a few times to secure it in place, and start stringing beads. Or buttons. Wrap the wire around an arm of the star, and start stringing more beads, weave around other strands of beads, and keep going until you have about two inches of wire left near an arm of the star. Wrap the end off, tightly [you don't have to use all of it] and trim off any excess as closely to the edge of the star as you can. Viola! Done!

the jig

why 10 nails and not 5? you need a nail for each of the points that the wire has to bend at, so not only the acute points the of the star, the pointy- points, but the obtuse angles, the interior parts where the star comes in at.
Remember, when using the jig to form the star, the wire goes on the INSIDE of the nails that aren't the points and around the OUTSIDE of the points.
If you're not comfortable free hand drawing a star, find a picture of a star you like on line, print it out, and use it as a guide for where to drive your nails for the jig. The good news is that it's paper, so when you're done hammering, you can rip the paper off, no harm, no foul. As you can see, I use the side of an old drawer as the base for my star jig; if I wanted to, I could make a second, smaller star jig on this board, and get a two-fer out of the deal.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

oh, my stars!

Taking a quick break out of the finals madness to do something "fun", aside from watching a silly [Simon's] cat video on YouTube.
Go. Watch. Simon's. Cat. [End plug.]

Silently off task 90% of the time over here was paying a little more attention to the origami stars a class mate was producing out of tootsie roll wrappers than the class discussion, and wondering a] how they were made and b] what they were called. They weren't even shiny, and my mind was wandering to the plaited Starburst wrapper chain I had at home, begging to be turned into stars instead. Starburst Stars, because that's completely awesome, and had everything to do with class, because we were talking about tangible rewards in the form of candy. A total no-no now a days. And we're back on task...

Typing in "four pointed star" into a search engine wasn't getting me anywhere, but surprise, "ninja star" garnered some results. From papercrafty are the instructions on how to make a shruiken like the one pictured above, which is a modular type of origami, requiring more than one piece of paper - two, in this case, and the length of the paper has to be twice the width for this to work, so it helps to fold down one of the long sides of the Starburst wrapper and then fold it in half. Let's not talk about how many packets of consumed Starburst are represented here. Suffice to say that it's a lot for one adult to eat alone, and it's a fair representation of the three varieties that they currently make; Original, Tropical and Sweet Fiesta, all of which feature a slightly different wrapper color depending on the flavor of the candy

I have a totally tiny tree, 2 foot max, and this garland so festively draped over my keyboard was almost long enough to make it from top to bottom, but I'm not going to lie, while I've always really liked the star garlands from Ten Thousand Villages... I just never liked the colors. The end game for all the stars I make will be to purpose them into a star garland. I will be sure to post some pictures of the star garland when I've located some green perle cotton to string them up with.

Monday, December 3, 2012

the magic 13

there's quilt lore concerning a trousseau and 13 quilts; I'm not getting married any time soon, but I just read an article and two books that mentioned the 13 bridal quilts, and now my hands are prickling. The lore in question is that a bride brought 13 quilts with her to her marriage; they were supposed to showcase her skills as a seamstress; this is the lore at it's most basic, of course, as there were supposed to be some indications of the last one being a pièce de résistance of some kind or another, since it was, after all, the last one of 13, she'd better be some kind of wonderful at that point. 

I'm not interested in making 11 more quilts for the sake of banging out quilts; I do have the small luxury of not being a woman under time duress; of course, I'm also not above making something completely uncomplicated that still looks  completely fabulous. 

Ah, I can hear you say, wait a second woman, you said 13, and you're talking about 11. The deal is I would likely count the hexie daisy quilt towards the final number, and I also have this monster here, which has actually been finished for some time now, and I don't have a final picture for, and fits a California King. I need to find somewhere big enough to get a picture... or to hang it... The Daisy isn't big enough for a full size bed, but whatever. 

That said, I can't undertake this project until I have a job. And I can pay for this junket. So I'm looking at starting this hopefully by next fall. 

So, I have an Ocean Waves, and a Hexie Daisy, that leaves 11 other slots to fill. 

  1. A string quilt. Or even if I fussy cut Ikat Streaks into squares to look like string blocks. Or both.  
  2. 'Round Robin - I realize part of the point is to have someone else do the borders but I don't know anyone whom I could coerce into this task... meh. Also, it's not something I've ever done, and this is an exercise in stretching one's abilities. And it would likely involve appliqué... Update: 12/7/12 What about a Round Robin Baltimore Album? Could there be such a thing? I could combine elements of both in one, right? Right?
  3. ... a Jane Austin medallion? I do want one anyway.
    The challenge here will be finding the period fabric, as all the repro stuff I have easy access to is civil war [40 years too late, using 1812 as a timestamp] or 1930's [120 years too late]
  4. ...Update: 12/7/12 A matchy-matchy quilt; rather one that isn't mostly scraps. Not that there is anything wrong with scraps, but that's my preferred method of quilting. Because I just can't pick one fabric; must have them all.  This will be a personal stretch, buying a massive amount of fabric all at once.
  5. ...Update: 12/7/12 Something with a decidedly more modern feel. I don't know what this means. Will have to investigate some more; likely my definition means abstract. 
  6. ...Update: 12/7/12  Something blue; Prussian, China, Kingfisher etc. Because blue would never be my first choice, and I already have a stash of assorted blue Asian prints that are in the same color family that I could live with. 
  7. ...Update: 12/7/12 A Hawaiian quilt. But I still hate appliqué. Will have to find a way to reconcile this. Hmm...
  8. ...Update: 12/7/12 an Irish chain. 
  9. ...Update: 12/7/12  a wool quilt, from blanket header from the Pendleton Wool Mill. Mmm, toasty. ... I'd better not be relocating south. 
  10. ...
  11. ...
well, that knocks it down  from 7. Or 6, depending on how you look at it, to 3 or 2. I think a Baltimore Album would be interesting to attempt, but I still hate appliqué. 

Happy Hanukkah, folks, and the beginning of Advent.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

pretty cunning, don'tcha think?

well, look at that! scheduled posting, what is the world coming to?

remember the little felted bag and clutch? and that darned ponytail hat that I felted?

that blessed sweater had some sleeves that sort of matched the hat, so I did some decorative stitch work and tacked them on, sort of in the spirit of a cunning little red, orange and yellow flap hat from a certain, INCREDIBLY AWESOME television series cancelled by a VERY STUPID NETWORK.

Jayne: “How’s it sit? Pretty cunning, don’tchya think?”
Kaylee: “I think it’s the sweetest hat ever.”
Wash: “A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.”
Jayne: “Damn straight.”
The Message, Firefly

I'm not afraid of anything. Okay, not true.

never mind that the flaps were not cunningly knit by my own two hands, but I did put some fine fancy stitchery on them, then tossed them into the wash for some further felting before attaching them to the hat. And yes, that's a gourd modelling the hat. The white spots are pins; I still need to pick out some new buttons since I've now lost the originals 
now do I want a pom-pom, and chin ties, or not?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

mission fix-a-hat

well hi there friends. I discovered that, in the last two years on Blogger, I filled up my photo quota (oops), so I was trying to find a way around that tinsey problem before posting again. Because it's a little hard to post pictures of things you've made with out... the pictures. Am I right?

 so the one on the right is a little blurry, sorry about that. My grandma bought me a mitten and matching knit beret lo these many moons ago, with some begging and pleading involved on my part. The mittens have always fit, but the beret? Not a snowball's chance of staying on my head. Even after trying to felt it. Which makes me wonder exactly what the fibre content is, because the woman who made it owned the sheep, sheared, carded, washed, dyed, spun, and knit the stuff herself. In any event, this was back in the days before I was possessed of knitting skills myself, of course, so I never wore the hat. It lived with all the other winter accessories, and I ignored it. Until this earlier this fall, when I discovered, after the just keep knitting fiasco with the red pony tail hat, and found a hole at the top and thought to self, "Self, we know how to knit now, we can fix this thing so that it actually fits." Which is precisely what I proceeded to do.

I used size US 8 10" round needles, since this is sort of a bouclé yarn. The beret (which I don't have a picture of) had the diameter of a 12" pie pan, so when I frogged it apart, I knew that even if I wasn't conservative with my height, I'd still have something left over. Because of the hole at the top, there were  some bits and pieces of yarn that ended up having to be scrapped, which I turned into a tassel for the top, which you can sort of see in the picture. I did not bother trying to trim the ends of the tassel to anything uniform, just letting it fall where it may. I used a basic, free hat pattern from Ravelry, with a cast on that gave me a decrease divisible by 6; and I had to frog it twice before getting close to an accurate size for my head with a bouclé.   

Now I have a hat that fits that I will actually wear, and a small amount of yarn left over. I'm of a mind to find something brown and tweedy that matches the cuffs on the mittens and hat to make a matching scarf, since there isn't enough left over from the hat to make a full scarf. I do have some gorgeous variegated alpaca that I could use to stretch the left over, but I would still like to find something tweedy. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Going Dark

I have four papers to write in about the next four weeks, and doubtless I will do some sort of crafting between now and then (I made a pair of fingerless gloves in the last week alone!) I should really focus on the school work. At least until December 12th; hence the "going dark" warning for the title. Which is really an arbitrary date; I may pop up before then. 

Speaking of going dark... this just keeps getting darker.
In the meanwhile, the vanilla is still brewing away, there's Thanksgiving shenanigans abounding (I forgot the eggs for the custard for the pie at the store today - thank God there is a store, and eggs to buy from it), I'm in charge of costuming upwards of 20 participants for the Christmas Eve drama - some of which are a vanguard of angels. Vanguard, yup, you read that right. And I'm finally quilting Ordinary Time.  And maybe I'll make it to the December meeting of the Pittsburgh Modern Quilt Guild the first weekend of the month? We'll see. Depends on how much work I get done. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Friends Friday, Or, In Which I Met the Cutest Pug Ever

Alas for me, the Ordinary time wasn't going together quite as I had hoped, and so I had to frog it apart to the foundations. There was a fair amount of grumbling and crying on my part, but it had to be done. 

I went on a field trip to Baltimore on Friday to hear a recital, and used some of the downtime time as an opportunity to baste Ordinary together. I had to nix using the stars in the sashing, which mean that I had to cut new sashing, and I ended up using the last of the last of the yellow fabric that I had purchased for this project. No margin of error available now, but I did keep the red points on the outside. Total mad scramble to finish the gutted top before Friday. And then we got to the farm before the recital, and there was Pudge the Pug, and ducks and chickens, and a lovely little garden, and not enough memory on the camera card, and I had to finish basting! [Or as Andy said, squirting hot liquid on it - why would you do such a thing? he said over the phone. Andy's portrait, with his bass, was hanging on the wall, which made me laugh.] 

Thank God this thing is a throw size. I should investigate a liquid basting. I think someone makes it, actually. 

ducks and chickens!!!

smoothing down the top to the batting
I had the use of a lovely little studio/office for my endeavours looking out onto the yard with the ducks and chickenses, and the help and company of a springy little pug named Pudge. Who was, possibly, the cutest little pug ever. Amen.

A little word on Ordinary Time. 

Ordinary time is a liturgical season of the Christian calendar; the English name "ordinary time" translates the Latin term Tempus per annum - literally "time through the year" - and begins roughly on Epiphany Sunday, the first Sunday in January, and pauses on Ash Wednesday [which this year, 2012, was on Feb 22 and for 2013 will be on Feb. 13 (figuring out Ash Wednesday and Easter - and Passover - has something to do with the phases of the moon)] through the Lent and Easter season, and resumes after Pentecost, until Advent and Christmas, when the cycle repeats itself. Roughly; I've left a lot of details out like Christ the King Sunday and Ascension Day, in any case, I'm not a seminarian or a theologian, or someone who is in charge of taking care of these things at church. But I am aware they exist. 

There are certain colors associated with certain times of the church calender [it also depends on whether you are Roman Catholic/Anglican, Byzantine or Russian] and green is associated with Ordinary time. Purple [or dark blue] is associated with Advent, the season before Christmas [different from Christmastide, which is white], as well as the 40 days before Easter. Pentecost and Palm Sunday are red, Good Friday is red as well. As mentioned before, Christmastide is liturgically white, as well as the Easter season [not Lent, which is before Easter] 

This is a little wrinkly, because I had it rolled up for the ride home, but you can see the colors a little better, and it's basted! Huzzah! Now to trim off the excess and get to quilting this puppy. If I'm lucky, I will have it part way done by Christmas. I feel that part way, ie half, is a reasonable goal. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Worsted Wednesday - a little felted clutch

To go with a little felted bag, there's a little felted clutch made out of the hood that used to be attached to the sweater. I initially thought this was calling out to be a Kindle or like device cover, but I took a good, hard  look at my almost ballistic commercial case, and decided to nix that idea - insufficient protection along the opening in the event of a drop - and you know if it fell, the least protected side would be the side it landed on, Murphy would make certain of that. I made the mistake of surging the left side, the little red bit in this first photo, closed before felting, so it looks a bit wonky, which some creative blocking took care of. Sort of. It was already mostly closed because it's a hood, there was just that little red it open from being attached to the neck of the sweater. I don't know why I serged before, it's not like it was going to unravel in the second felting.

if you have a too long zipper, run a couple of stitches over it to create a stop where you need one.
Instant custom length zipper.

The batting is probably over kill, but I am thinking of any devices that this bag may harbour  such as a mobile phone, mp3 player, camera, et cetera, which may be tossed into the bag with out a protective case. 

a zippy closed side, and a not zippy closed side.

Attaching the flap on the zipper side and...
viola! not bad for a $3 sweater and a pair of ripped bag sale pants.

Now all I need to do is figure out what I did with my magnetic snap closures... I wish I could say I had a pattern for this, but really, I made it up as I went. The lining was very dependent on the size of the felted exterior, as you can see from the pictures, I used the inside exterior as a guide and eye-balled 3/8ths of an inch for the lining. I serged the lining closed, rather than stitch it, so that took care of the 1/4" seam allowance, and since the exterior is a knit and retained a little bit of stretch, not cutting a stringent 1/4" seam allowance around the exterior gave the interior lining a little extra room inside, which the batting later helped fill in. With the addition of the batting, it's a very sturdy little bag. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

vanilla update

the picture on the left was taken on October 31st, the picture on the right was taken November 10th. It's just this side of slightly darker. If you don't look at it directly, you can tell there is a difference. Time to start rounding up empty vanilla bottle from friends... Unless you are my friend, and you're reading this, in which case, save your empties, please, if it's destined for the recycle bin anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

a little felted bag

Here, of course, is the sweater that started it all, the only 100% wool sweater at Goodwill this time of year. That was my own fault for looking for a wool sweater in November, when things have been picked over. 

The instructions were for a much bigger sweater [felting semi-instructions are at the end of this post]; they also wanted you to use the sleeves for the handles. Which is okay, I suppose. It just wasn't working for me. Also, I have to have an interior pocket, you know, for stuff. God knows when a bag is going to be pressed into service for purse duty, and I hate having everything rolling around loose. And this is an adult size small sweater, so it felted even smaller, so it's a smallish bag, so it needs an interior pocket. Enter a pair of pants from a bag sale that I completely missed had holes across the seat while I was at the store.

If I'd have known they were damaged then - daylight through both sides, right under the back pockets on these khakis - I would have left them on the rack to save room for something undamaged in my bag, but as kismet would have it, it turned out great that I brought them home; I used the rest of the pants in the accompanying felted hood project. 

I used the other pant leg to create the shoulder straps for this bag, which are about 18" in length, so it sits comfortably right under the arm. I made a long tab to attach the pocket to the bag, and sewed it into the seam with the zipper. The straps on that side are sewn in behind the hanging tab. The pocket is almost the width of the bag - about as wide as the set of the shoulder straps.

I used an undamaged portion of one of the legs to create the pocket, first attaching the zipper to one open end, then opening the zipper, flipping the pocket inside out and serging it closed. I almost lined the bag with the pant leg, but the leg was too small for the bag, and the felt stretches just enough that I wanted to retain that slight give. Aside from the serging across the bottom of the sweater to close off the bottom, that's the only finishing I did to the interior of the bag. I did reinforce the where the straps were attached, and did some decorative stitching on the straps themselves. All in all, this project could easily be completed in a weekend if one was organized about it, with the time it takes to felt and dry the sweater and stitch up the bag.  

$3 sweater from Goodwill [and my messy desk] complete with the felted sweater bits and the dread, busted-butt khakis...

The top is a little flopsy, so the only addition I would make to this bag is a button and a loop, and it's good then I'd say it's good to go!


here, for your viewing pleasure, is a picture of the felting process [we have an old washer]

it's best to toss your felting project in with whatever you are washing on hot normally; items recommended for hot wash are things like towels, bedsheets, socks and undergarments [not delicates like bras] although, you can wash a felting project in cold water and shock it with a tumble in a hot dryer with everything else, like a load of jeans - it's the agitation and friction and heat that are key to getting a good felting. 

I tossed the whole sweater into the wash, no cuts to it, to see what would happen, with a load of towels, and washed it on a regular cycle, in hot water, then tossed it in a hot dryer. Was mostly pleased with the body of the sweater, wanted the hood to felt more, so I repeated the felting process, waiting until I had another hot load - I'm not going to just turn on the hot water for crafting purposes - and tossed the hood in with the next load of hot wash. You can keep felting until you are pleased with the result. If you save any pieces, it's best to iron them and store them flat, rather than toss them into a bin or something. If you think I'm kidding, try to get the pleats out of a wool kilt. Yep. Sleeves, by the way, could be salvaged into fingerless, thumbless gloves at the very least.