Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Albuquerque snowstorm

We might have a very rare chance at a white Christmas this year, thanks to El Nino. Considering it's not sticking, though, I'm not so sure.

I loved this dandelion



Oh, well. We don't know how to drive in snow anyway.

(And in case you might think we NEVER get "real" snow, check out this doozy a few years ago, 12/29/06 -- happened just AFTER Christmas)


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally finished

In October, a friend at work commissioned me to make a shawl for his mom for Christmas. He offered to pay, but really, it took so many hours that it would have cost $700. Or $1,000. I started it Oct. 31 and finished it Dec. 15, working on it about two hours a day almost every day. Seriously. I'm not a slow knitter, but it sure takes me a while to finish projects. And I get very impatient and bored with things. And let me say for the record, I will not be doing any more requests for anyone.

Adagio shawl,knitting

I had motivation, though, because I had a deadline. I did it, and I think it came out beautiful.

Adagio shawl,knitting

The pattern is a vintage pattern called the Adagio shawl. If you're on Ravelry, you can see my link here, and find your way to the pattern.

Adagio shawl,knitting

I used Knit Picks City Tweed dk yarn, about 9.5 balls of it. It's a beautiful, soft tweed. I used the colorway Orca.

Adagio shawl,knitting

I used size 7 needles, but found it to be too tight despite having knit a swatch. It stretched nicely upon blocking, though. I did initially have trouble with the k3tog at the beginning, because it was too tight to get the needle into three stitches at once. I panicked, but nobody else seemed to mention this problem on Ravelry. I found a substitute stitch that makes the same effect (SSK, then pass that stitch to left needle, pass third stitch over it and off, then pass stitch back to right needle.), though it was much more time consuming. After a few rows, however, the fabric loosened up and I was easily able to k3tog.

knitting projects

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Funky elf stockings

This week, my post on Warehouse Fabrics Inc.'s blog is about these funky, super-cute elf stockings in fun fabrics that give your Christmas decor a little edge.


I also included a few notes on applique, in case you're intimidated.
(Don't be :) )

Another jersey top

I loved my first gray jersey top made from Burda 7866 so much that I decided to make another one in a more interesting print. For some reason, I got most of the way done weeks ago and then stopped. I finally finished it up today. I definitely seemed to have a day of bad luck with this, which may be why I set it aside. While snipping thread ends, I accidentally snipped a small hole right in the middle of the fabric. And at one point, while top stitching the neck edge, the machine tried to suck in the fabric and tore it when I pulled it out. There were other mistakes I made, too, that slowed down the process, but it's cute and wearable. And most of all, it's finished.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blocking mats and my love of all things dry

I ordered these blocking mats from knitpicks recently and am using them for the first time. Unfortunately, they are not as big as I expected. I hope to get another set for Christmas.

Adiago shawl,knitting

I am blocking the Adagio shawl I'm making for a friend, and I will have to do it in two sections because I ran out of mat. But my shawl is almost finished -- I just have to complete the collar and sew it on.


I had wanted to talk about the blocking mats a little bit when I posted this before, but at the moment, I really wanted to take a nap, so I seemed to forget about half of the intended post.

Anyway, these blocking mats are awesome. They are each 12 inches square and fit together like puzzle pieces so you can make whatever size and shape you need. They are made of foam so you can pin easily to them.

I also bought the blocking pins at the same site, which are easier to use than straight pins, in my opinion. You dampen your knitting project with a spray bottle on one side, put that side face down and start pinning to your desired measurements (we're talking about wool here, not synthetics. Wool has a memory that allows you to shape it while it's wet). Then, after it's pinned, spray down the exposed side really well and let it dry. If you live in the desert southwest, like I do, it dries in about five minutes and you're on your merry way. I sort of wonder how people deal with humidity, to tell you the truth!

I am fully adapted to low humidity, so even dry skin rarely gets ahold of me. You don't get as much mold and mildew, and you never see rust around here. The summers are hot ... "but it's a dry heat," so it doesn't bother you. And in the winters, HARDLY ANY SNOW! Yay! You never get those days where the air is so heavy and wet that you can't breathe. That's my plug for arid climates. I know it has nothing much to do with knitting, but tangents are my thing.

Dogs need warmth, too

Some friends of Mark's like to hunt and have three beautiful hunting dogs. Me, I'm not very outdoorsy, and I'm more of a cat person.

But they needed a hunting vest whipped up for their dog. It wasn't an easy project, and it didn't fit the way I wanted it to, but it felt sort of "Project Runway"-ish.

dog vest

The man wanted it made out of "tin cloth," which is a densely woven canvas treated with wax (not so good for a sewing machine, really. Especially one that I just spent $60 to have serviced a week before). He wanted it lined with wool, but not too thick. It's purpose is both warmth and to repel stickers, so it needed to fit snugly around her front legs.

dog vest

Thankfully, he had a little vest made of some sort of foam material that fit her like a glove, so I was able to work from that to make a pattern. The tin cloth he provided was actually in the form of human chaps, so I had to cut it up and "make it work." I could totally hear Tim Gunn sending inspiration my way.

dog vest

One of the chaps was brand new, but the others were really dirty and used. So I got most of my pattern pieces from the clean one, but had to use some of the dirty. I turned the dirty part to the inside, so it looks pretty good.

dog vest

The wool lining I got at Joann's on sale for $9.99. I wanted to make a skirt out of it for ME.

dog vest

Hope it keeps you warm, Alley! Sorry I didn't get photos on the pup.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Luxe, 2-tier Christmas tree skirt

I know, nobody probably reads this blog anymore. I have been so busy and not feeling particularly great, either. My lack of posting is pathetic.

But I do have this fancy-pants Christmas tree skirt to show you. I made it for the Warehouse Fabrics Inc. blog.


It's made from two satiny, flocked, wine-colored fabrics that are very pretty together, and it's fully reversible, so if your cat barfs on it, just flip it over! Go check it out, and leave me a comment when you stop by.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Go green (jacket)

I recently made this jacket for the Warehouse Fabrics Inc. blog. Check it out for more information. It was time-consuming, but not necessarily difficult. It's lined with a white, satiny lining and has buttons I covered out of the same fabric.

McCalls 5060

Friday, November 20, 2009

The long-suffering eucalyptus

This poor eucalyptus. It's always forced to wear something or another, like this towel that my husband could not carry up the stairs but had to throw.


You all recall the undies, don't you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Place and Yours: Through the Front Door

Meet me at Mike's had this blogger's theme for this week.

What are you greeted by when you return home? I'm greeted by warm colors and a cozy home. My entry way is important to me. I have the little bird table from Pier One that I wanted badly, topped with a plant. I have two of our favorite wedding pictures on the wall, and a sloppy basket of newspapers ready for weekly recycling.

home repair

To the immediate right is the door to the garage. The door next to that is the coat closet. Just past that is the stairs. Straight ahead is a decorative wall that blocks the kitchen table. If you turn right, you're in the den, if you turn left, you're in the kitchen. The door up ahead to the left is the half-bath and the opening directly to the left in the picture is the living room. Wow! That little entry way has a lot of doorways to other places.

If you look straight up from just inside the front door, where I'm standing, it goes up to the second floor, and there's a sunny window up there. I love that feature.

My entry way, looking up

The plant to the left hangs waaaaay down -- I hit my head on it all the time, but all the leaves are at the bottom, so I hate to trim it or it will be rather bald.

One thing about this meme that surprised me is how many people said they never use their front door, only their back doors. I've actually never been to a house where people use their back doors instead (at least, not that I know of). Maybe it's a regional thing and we just don't do much of that in New Mexico? Most every house around here has a sliding glass door that can't be unlocked from the outside.

Adagio shawl

A friend of mine at work asked me to make a shawl for his mom for Christmas. He's paying for supplies, I offered to give my time. Only I didn't realize it would be two hours of work a day to finish it in time. Phew! It's fun to make, though. Just, nobody else ask me to knit something for them. Ever.

knitting projects

It's from a vintage pattern called the Adiago Shawl, and I'm using City Tweed DK yarn from Knit Picks in Orca. It's wonderful to work with.

Adagio shawl

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Space it out, peeps

I seem to have always been stuck in an all-or-nothing mind-set. If I can't clean the whole house at once, I'm not going to clean any of it, for example. Or I must finish an entire sewing project at once. I must paint this whole room and have it put back together in one day.

You see what I mean. It makes life really stressful.

I've really been working on "a little here, a little there." Especially with cleaning. It really works. Sweep the kitchen floor today: 3 minutes. Clean a bathroom tomorrow: 10 minutes. And everything looks decently clean. There's also still time for workouts and sewing and e-mails and blogging before work (well, I don't go to work till 3 p.m.). There's time for knitting and TV after work (I'm telling you, swing shift is the way to go if you want more hours in your day).

It's so much more relaxing and easy on me. We all need a little more peace in our lives, so I urge you to space ... things ... out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Comfort? What's that?

Once upon a time, I bought some nice, soft, gray jersey fabric at the thrift store. I didn't know what to do with it, until I saw this Burda 7866 pattern. It's sorta '80s, I guess, but I'm starting to loosen up with my aversion to that era. You know, I lived through the horror once, already. And those "skinny jeans" ... not the look on me anymore unless I want my arse to look about 20 times bigger than it already is.


It's really comfy and soft. It has lots of room on top, with just enough fit on the bottom. And it has a tie that wraps around and around for no real reason, but it definitely adds something.


Why, what a natural looking pose.

A few things I did wrong differently: I was supposed to cut the front and back on the fold. I seemed to know this, but for some reason I got confused and convinced myself I was wrong. This was my first Burda pattern, and some of the markings and instructions are different. So, oops, I had a seam down the center front and back.

I figured I could just use it to lounge around the house if worse came to worse, so I sewed those seams. But they just looked crummy. Then I thought that maybe it's time to learn to use some of the functions of my serger. I got out the manual and changed some settings and did this decorative stitch, instead.


It's kind of like a ladder stitch from the front and serged looking from the back. It's cool because when you first sew, it looks like nothing, but then you have to grip the fabric from each side and pull, and as it pulls, this cool seam emerges. I'll probably post more about this at some point on the Warehouse Fabrics Inc. blog.

Anyway, I applied this seam style to the hems of the top and the sleeves, too. Except in some places I did not do such a good job. It seems to work best on a fold and not on a fold paired with a raw edge, because I kept missing the raw edge.

Also, for the tie, instead of just sewing and then turning the whole darn mile-long thing right-side out, I simply serged either side. I thought it gave it texture and interest.

Burda 7866

My husband saw it and wanted one for him, which I'm a bit puzzled over. Such a thing cannot be allowed.

From the pattern:

Friday, November 13, 2009

A new blog, all about sewing. Yippee!

Oh, gosh. Have I been busy. I really haven't been posting much. Well, one reason for that is because I'm posting somewhere else.

I have taken on the task of blogging for a fabric company. I can hardly consider it work, even when it takes longer hours than I expected. It's incredibly fun. I get to make stuff, which I do anyway and write about it, which I do anyway. And earn a few bucks, so what could be better? Only catch is that I use fabric from Warehouse Fabrics Inc., and that's no problem since there is so much fabulous fabric to choose from. Remember when I had Burst of Happiness, my handbag/accessory business? A lot of the cutest fabrics that I used were from Warehouse Fabrics Inc. So imagine my excitement when this opportunity came into my life.

The blog is here, so please check it out. I'm still working on formatting and prettifying, and have only done a couple of posts so far. I do new posts on Sundays.

There will be everything from sewn items with fabric and pattern information to complete tutorials for making the items yourself. There will also be sewing tips. I'll be exiting my comfort zone and expanding my skills, and sharing the process with readers. I think this will be really good for me.

I won't have as many personal projects to post on this blog, but I'll still have some. And I may link over with tantalizing teasers to the other blog.

Please, dear readers, if you sew, will you bookmark the blog and check in each week? As an incentive, there will sometimes be giveaways of the items I make. And you like free stuff, right? I'm not above bribing, people.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Time To Play "Drunk or Crazy?"

I work for a newspaper. Phone rings last night at 11 p.m.:

Me: Journal City Desk (purposely leave name off, since anyone calling at this time of night is probably not legit.)

Caller: Hello?

Me: Yes, hello. Can I help you?

Caller: Um, there was a guy who died.

Me: (thinking she's reporting a news story)

Caller: He died of a squid. He was in the wild.

Me: A squid? Where did this happen?

Caller: He was catching alligators or something and the pointy squid got him.

Me: And where did this happen?

Caller: I don't know (talking to someone in background)

Me: You don't know where in the world or the U.S. this happened?

Caller: It was in the wild.

Me: When did this happen?

Caller: It was a long time ago. What was his name? He was like Crocodile Dundee or something, and then the squid got him.

Me: I'm sorry, I can't help you. I haven no idea. Why don't you search the Internet?

Caller: (Sounding disappointed) OK.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nine Pillowcase Quilt

AKA Clothesline Quilt from Oh, Fransson.


Remember this project? Probably not, because as gung-ho as I was about it in March, once I finally got started on it, it turned out to be tons of work. I have made progress, but I often feel overwhelmed by it.

Part of the problem is that I'm not making it according to the pattern. I want it to fit a queen sized bed, so I'm sort of winging it.

Another problem is that my squares are sort of wonky. I figure this is for many reasons:

1. My cutting
2. My sewing
3. My pressing
4. Most of all, the fact that these are old sheets and some are very worn, and all have different textures. Some are thick and crisp, some are soft and worn.

I'm just going with it. It's OK if it's not perfect, and I know that once it's quilted, many of the imperfections will be unnoticeable.

And, just for fun, my mom pulled out my first sewing project, which I have no recollection of. I didn't "really" start sewing until six years ago.

First sewing project

It's got a zipper on back to insert a pillow, though I'm sure I didn't sew that zipper in.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The project that traveled 'round the world

I wrote recently about a project that is special to me. It's a piece of partially finished embroidery sent to me from South Africa to complete. I have finished it, and made it into a little pillow.


I finished the embroidery ...


And found a perfect fabric with birds and leaves and lots of colors to accompany it.


I just measured and pieced it as I went, mixed in some solid brown and added blue piping for fun.


I probably could have done a more even job stuffing it, but it'll work. For the back I wanted to add a little interest, so I used scraps of the bird fabric and pieced it with the brown. I like how it came out.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin time

My favorite: Porterhouse Pumpkin Bundt Cake from "Pie in the Sky," a high-altitude baking book.


With "snow white icing," a term I don't get since it involves honey and that immediately tints the icing. I have never figured out how they get white icing (it is in the photo in the book) using honey. But, darn, the cake is good!

Uptown coat, bargain style -- and help with linings and coats

Remember my first Uptown Coat by Favorite Things? It was sort of ... loud? Weird? I don't know, but I still like it. I made the short version the first time around, and I never did get around to photographing it on a person like I promised. Have you felt betrayed?

Well, one day I was hunting for fabulous finds at Savers thrift store and did I ever find one. It was well over three yards of gray, pin-striped wool. Wool. As in, hard to find locally. Wool, as in $25 a yard. I paid a whopping $7.99 total for my 3+ yards.

Favorite Things

I decided to make another Uptown Coat, and I even had enough for the long version. I lined it with a red/burgundy lining and made my own fabric-covered buttons, which is very easy to do, by the way.

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

This time around, I did a few things differently. The first time, I was thrown off by the fact that the pattern didn't really give good instructions on how to finish the bottom front corners of the jacket.

What I did is this: I turned over about a quarter-inch on the jacket hem and sewed. Then I turned that up about another inch and used a blind hem stitch to secure it. I did not sew all the way to either end, but left a few inches -- you'll see why.

Next, I hemmed the lining, about 1.5 inches. As it turns out, this was too much and my lining doesn't fully cover the hem of the jacket.

OK, so next I needed to attach the lining to the coat, so I put right sides together (with collar sandwiched in between, already basted onto the coat) and sewed along one front and across the collar and down the other front. Here's the key: for the bottom corner of the coat, before you sew the lining, turn the hem the other way, so the wrong side is showing and right sides are together. Pin it this way when you sew your lining on. When you're done, clip the corners and flip them around. Now you'll have a nice front, bottom corner.

I'm sure that didn't make much sense without photos. I'll probably do a tutorial on this at some point.

Another problem is that the fabric was really wrinkled, and you can only do so much ironing on wool. I'm hoping the wrinkles relax as the jacket hangs.

After I cut the fabric, I did find a couple of tiny, tiny holes, I suppose from moths. I figured there was no point in throwing away the whole project over a couple of not-even-visible holes, so I took tiny scraps of the wool and used quilt basting spray to patch it on the back side. Then I used a dab of Fray Check. Hopefully, I won't have any problems, or at least not for a while.

And, finally, the jacket would look much better if it were more fitted, or just plain smaller around the top. I did make it according to my measurements, but I think because it's long it just looks quite big and loose on me. It's definitely wearable, though.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Traveling project

Long story short: I was on Flickr, visiting an embroidery group, and found this piece of embroidery that the owner just didn't feel like finishing. She wondered if anyone would be willing to take it off her hands and give it a new life.

She lives in South Africa, and when she first tried to get it in the mail to me, there was some upheaval going on. Strikes and such, and she didn't trust those who took over temporarily to get the mail out. It's strange to imagine living in a place like that. I think we take our stability for granted. I get mad when the Post Office is closed for a wimpy holiday like Columbus Day.

She had to wait awhile, and I forgot all about it. Yesterday, I got a package in the mail, and it was such a joy!


She sent me a little, hand-beaded brooch made by Africans as a means of supporting themselves. The beads all have a meaning.

She also sent me the sweetest, most adorable note:


It says, in part:

"I'm sure you must get this ALOT, but I can't believe you are from Albuquerque (whew) -- like in the song! It's such a cool sounding place that I did a little reading up on it. I had no idea that the Rio Grand River went through the city. It looks like an awesome place!"

I love, love, love that note. First, nobody ever is impressed that I live in Albuquerque. Pretty much, if you are somewhere else and you tell people you're from here, the standard response is "Hmmm. I drove through there once, but didn't stop."

I am not sure what song she's referring to, and the Rio Grande is not very impressive, but I'm glad someone thinks my hometown is special. I am going to post this note on my bulletin board!

After I finish the embroidery, I think I'll make a pillow out of it. I found this really cute fabric at the store today, with leaves and birdies and such.


A bit of soup

Fresh veggies.


Homemade chicken broth.

And, of course, a good dose of green chile.

My husband and I are both feeling a bit crappy. I made from-scratch chicken soup today.

I've not been a proper New Mexican lately, and haven't eaten much chile, so my tolerance is poor. I took a tiny sip of just the broth and almost had to get a fire extinguisher for my mouth!


My brother came to town last weekend, from Maine. He doesn't get out here very often. He brought along a chicken named BokBok, which, like the famed gnome, had his photo taken everywhere and was emailed home, much to the delight of his children.

(I'm sneaking up on him)

One day, my mom, my brother and I went to Tinkertown in the East Mountains area near Albuquerque. Tinkertown is a "museum" of little scenes a man carved and created over the years.


(my mom and brother)


There are lots of random characters stuck here and there, like Wonder Woman and nuns and these racist-looking little Aunt Jemima-y people.


Another day, Ryan and I went to Whitewash, in the foothills of Albuquerque, part of the Sandia Mountains. Ryan used to climb up Whitewash when he was a kid. It's really easy to get to, and right at the edge of the city.


I wasn't very prepared for the activity and was wearing clogs, so I got stuck halfway there and couldn't go any further since my shoes kept falling off. Ryan climbed all the way up. He's at the top of the white rock area, but you can't see him.


Here's BokBok making an appearance.


A view of Albuquerque from up there


And, finally, a random picture of my Grandma being silly.