Friday, December 27, 2013

Knitting finishes...two gifts given, three to go...

It has been so nice to spend this week with family.  I got to celebrate my Christmas birthday TWICE which is just about unheard birthday normally gets absorbed into the holiday season.

AND...I've been knitting up a storm!  Most of my December was spent working on knitted gifts once I realized that my Dad was in need of a warm scarf.  I already had an ambitious project underway for my sister so that meant "much knitting" for me. 

The Leftie scarf by Martina Behm was for my sister.  I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this project (I'm normally not a fan of garter stitch), but don't attempt it unless you're ready to weave in LOTS of yarn tails!
 I wove the tails in as I went.  It helped keep me motivated.

Dad got the much more masculine Cinder by Jared Flood.  This was a total treat to knit...I used Ella Rae superwash chunky and the project flew off the needles (and thank goodness for that!)

 The Ptarmigan Cowl (also by Jared Flood--I am absolutely in LOVE with all his patterns!) has yet to be given away...but it is so lovely that I snagged yarn for three more next year when MissBabs put Sojourn on sale.  It's an amazing yarn...cashmere and soft that no one would dare call it  "itchy."
 More photos to come of this one with its new owner...I still have three or four hand-knit gifts that need to meet their new owners post-Dec. 25.

Next up will be much sewing and quilting.  I'll have to share the haul from my favorite SC fabric store a little's already packed for the trip home.  But I picked up some great patterns for knitting needle cases :)

The last crafty stop of the trip will be Quilting Adventures in Richmond, VA on the trip plan is to match a few of my new prints with some solid shot cottons for a new circular needle case...yay!

I'm off to knit some while reading a's my newest crafty trick.  eBook plus knitting equals doubly-productive downtime.  Happy crafting y'all!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Two blocks, One hour

Ooops!  I meant to post this two weeks ago!...

It was SUCH a pleasure seeing my friends at the DC MQG meeting yesterday (October 19th).  The meeting was nearby, at the Rose Hill Library--so I also got to share some of my favorite spots to eat.  I love sharing good food with great people.  Fredrick and I walked to my favorite Indian restaurant--as soon as I walked in I saw our friend Eric...and he was there because my husband was there too!  It was so funny...we must have arrived within ten minutes of each other too.

In preparation for the meeting, I made a couple of Wonky Star Blocks following a great tutorial at Silly Boo Dilly.  They only took about an hour and were very fun to whip up.

Linda was the grand winner at the meeting--winning both the drawing for the blocks and Katie's drawing as well.  I'm sure she'll make something beautiful!

Katie at Swim, Bike, Quilt came to share the publishing process with our guild.  Huge thanks to her!  I'm super excited about the new book Vintage Quilt Revival, especially after getting a sneak peak of some proof pages and quilts :)

If you have a hobby, I highly recommend finding a group to share that passion.  We had the best time yesterday--everyone should have the chance to be inspired by such an amazing group.  Thanks DCMQG for a wonderful afternoon!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Quilting AND Knitting Again!

Oh my goodness...I've moved many, many times in my life.  But our short, local move that started one week before school started and extended three weeks into the start of school was TOUGH!  And, totally worth it.

I spent the week after we closed on our first home painting rooms and installing shelving.  Five fully painted rooms later, we started building IKEA wardrobes, then shortly thereafter the furniture was moved in.  We did everything except for major furniture ourselves--and in short, my husband is my hero...he did so much of the heavy lifting while I was packing, unpacking, or painting.

Meanwhile, I started my second year teaching at the Sci and Tech Governor's School where I teach Biology.  I may have set myself up with too ambitious a plan for the year--I've decided to "flip" the classroom by creating online lessons that are annotated with voice recordings so that we can do more Q&A, activities, and review in class.  Our pace is ridiculous since I basically am teaching AP Bio and Research/Stats to high school freshmen!...and they are awesome...and we all work really, really hard--which generally leads to AMAZING results.

All that is to say that I haven't really been generating a whole lot of crafty things lately.

During the first few weeks of school I did try to finish up my "Entropy" sign for my desk.  I picked it up one morning before work--and boy, did I show how LONG it had been since I quilted.  I needed to add a few inches to the binding, so I cut and ironed one more bias strip and sewed it on--at a 90 degree angle.  I didn't even rip the stitches...just cut off the seam and tried again to remember how to attach strips together so that they form a straight line.   I should've stopped there.

I started decorative stitches along the seams to attach the binding and reached the point where the binding needed to be joined.  And I joined it twisted!

That was it for me for the day, although I'm happy to report I did finish it later that week.  My students love it--nerds that we all are, they love to knock one corner down so that it hangs crooked (entropy is the law that says the world descends into random chaos, after all).

The whole episode also gave my mom and I something to laugh hysterically at over the phone since I used FaceTime to show her my sad, twisted binding.

After a few really LONG, hard weeks I've reached some sort of equilibrium.  During their first test I knit to my heart's content (I can look up while knitting in the round--allowing both test monitoring and sock/sweater knitting!)  I got most of the foot of this sock done and reached a point on what felt like an ENDLESS sweater where I could put the stitches on scrap yarn for the sleeves.  I'm almost ready for waist decreases because I can also knit and read technical articles on my Kindle app.  Life for me is GOOD when I can both knit and read :)

Yesterday was my first "free" day in a long time.  So I pulled out the charm packs of Aspen Frost by Moda and started setting up for the Lil Twister tool by sewing squares together.  Have you used the Twister tool line?  So much shrinkage!  But so cute.

The fabric scraps are also quite extensive.  Ideas for dealing with bias scraps anyone?

The pattern is Stocking Sweet Stocking by Bean Counter Quilts. I'm back to making a lesson on macromolecules.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIY Affordable Lazy Kate...Yep...I'm spinning yarn

So...on the trip to Alaska (still needs blogging...oops!) I found a beautiful yarn shop with some beautiful roving.  Which led to me digging out my long dormant spindle and spinning some singles.

I tried plying from a center pull ball and got this...

Then, I tried winding off onto toilet paper (a makeshift bobbin)--and it crushed.  So much for even tension.

Then I tried the knitting needle through a box trick...and got knots.  Blah.  I almost lost the urge to keep spinning.  But after fighting knotting for an hour or so, I did end up with some lovely two ply (and only a mild headache!), so I kept going.

Well, after a nice trip around the web...I ran into some good ideas linked on the Homespun Life blog.  After a few more links I ended up on a Ravelry thread that led me to this inspiring photo.

So, I worked up my own plan, knowing I already needed to go to Home Depot for more moving boxes.

DIY Lazy Kate (and bobbins)

3/4"x2" PVC Pipe (I got a 2' piece for $1.34)
1/4" dowel (about $0.75)
4 cabone rings (used for crochet) (~$3)
4 3/8 fender washers ($1)
5/16x3 carriage bolt ($0.32)
5/16 wing nut (you can change the type of bolt and wing nut, as long as they match) ($1.18)
Twine or string
Box with holes in it (try one of those big box stores...mine was from Big Lots)

Coping saw (or other handsaw)
Wood glue
Super glue
Emory board

First, I estimated (guessed) the dowel length...make it longer than the width of your box.

Then, make the bobbins.
I cut the PVC about 2" shorter than the box width.  Sand the edges with an emory board (or a metal file if you're lucky enough to have a well stocked tool box.)

Use wood glue to attach two cabone rings together.  Weight with cans (or clamps).

Use super glue to attach the washers to the PVC pipe.  Then, more super glue to add the washers to the cabone rings (bigger washers could've been helpful in this step).  Weight again.

Now, put it all together!  I wound the twine around the cabone rings and estimated where the knot around the bolt should be.  Then you can put the bolt through another hole, add the wing nut, and thighten things up until the tension is right for plying.

There it is, my rigged, affordable Lazy Kate.

I had no idea if this would actually work...but when I'm desperate and highly motivated, things come easier.  Big thanks to Mandy for helping steady the pipe while I cut it!  And big thanks to Mandy's hubby Tom for calling me the MacGyver of Crafts.

Now I just need more singles for plying!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WIP Wednesday--Progress happening!

I thought I'd be able to be more diligent about my blogging once summer started...but I'm too distracted by sewing and quilting!

First thing I attacked at the end of last week was the Lined Drawstring Bag from InColorOrder.  I selected fabrics according to the mosaic.

Came up with a improv-y pattern:

Added some FMQ (it was so good to be quilting again!)

And then brought the project together.  I love it!  (And I hope my swap buddy loves it too.)  Now I just need to figure out what to enclose.  We're doing $10 worth of sewing/quilting notions.  What would you want in a quilty treat bag?

The weekend was a special treat.  A dying workshop with Malka Dubrasky at A Stitch in Dye.  She blogged about the amazing workshop space here.

I'll just share photos and was AWESOME!  And it just gives me another reason to look forward to having a yard once we find a home...I'm totally inviting friends over to dye fabric!

Speaking of friends...Mandy has been coming over to sew with me.  Today I teach her to FMQ!  But yesterday we went to The Quilter's Studio at 9600 Main Street (next to FedEx) in Fairfax's Fair City Mall.  The shop was amazing!  I told my hubby I want to live there.

They helped me take these inherited fabrics:

And pair with these fabrics: (and they did it with such support and kindness--and showed so much joy as they helped us pick out fabrics)

Love the elephants! new favorite.

I love how old Kaffe prints look with the shimmer print.
So now I'm ready to cut pieces for Tula Pink's City Sampler blocks! (slowly chipping away at my list of WIP's from last week)

My t-shirt quilt is basted...I NEED more room... spray basting a twin size quilt really is no fun.  (I bought fusible batting at The Quilter's Studio for my next one.)
Sorry for the incredibly poor quality photo.

Me...exhausted after finishing.
Also on my list from last week...the silly sign for my classroom...inspired by Anjeanette...(her word is should check it out!)

 Entropy is a principle of energy that basically says things in the natural world tend toward chaos...It will hang on my desk...

I got ALMOST finished...but the binding was an inch is set aside in frustration :/
So...for next week I can work on:
FMQ on T-shirt quilt and/or Owl Quilt
City Sampler blocks
Finish binding the silly sign
Finish this name yet...but my mom picked the beautiful batiks

Thanks to Lee at Freshly Pieced for hosting WIP Wednesday.  I LOVE seeing what others are working on and getting support from commenters here.  Thanks for visiting!