Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just one

A single, yellow flower, holding on into the fall.


Wouldn't it be nice if my camera were the kind where I could choose to focus on something? But I can't.

The world is pretty in the mornings

Too bad I miss most of the morning every day. This week I'm filling in on a day shift, so I've been getting up at the horrible hour of 8 a.m. The plus side of getting up early is that the light is pretty and different than I'm used to.

Today, I thought I heard terrible winds, so I peeked outside. The trees were all still. Then I looked up and saw a bunch of balloons. (The sound was the balloons doing their hot air thing. I don't know the proper words for it.)

Balloons go out in the cold, early morning, so if you're a late sleeper, like I am, sometimes you don't get to see any. And, well, even if you grew up here, it's still a beautiful sight.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Why, yes, New Mexico does have the most amazing skies in the entire universe.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta starts this weekend, and you know what that means: Ungodly, early, freezing mornings, bad traffic on Alameda, which I take to work, and freaked-out dogs barking at the sky. Incidentally, my cats took no notice when they went outside. "Giant floating orbs in the sky. Nothing strange about that."

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

I haven't been to the fiesta since I was a kid, and I hated the cold and the earliness. My mom was smart enough not to go, and my dad would try his best to put my hair in even ponytails.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Anyway, people from all over the world come here for the balloons, and they are a sight to see. Albuquerque apparently has some perfect "box" effect that helps the balloons fly just right. My terminology today is awful; I told you that it's too early for me to be up!

By the way, if you're in town for this event, you can take the new Rail Runner Express from the Journal Center area to Santa Fe and spend a day enjoying the amazing cultural activities and dining up there. See Sunday's Albuquerque Journal for more information, or visit the Rail Runner Web site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Argyle Lace hat

I'll always feel weird in hats, but I knit them anyway. This one is from "Boutique Knits" and I used Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport yarn in gray heather.

It was a pleasurable knit, had some interesting parts, but didn't require full concentration. The buttons are from an antique store.

boutique knits,knitting projects,hats

boutique knits,knitting projects,hats

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kind of iffy on this one

handbags, totes,embroidery

Mark was telling some men about the handbags I make/made. I no longer have a business doing that, but a couple of guys thought about getting something for their girlfriends/wives.

One of them had no idea what he wanted, so I just made something up as I went. Mark asked if I'd be willing to just give it to the guy, because he's done a lot for Mark in the past. I had no problem with that at all.

But I'm not so sure I did a worthwhile job on this one. Maybe I should make something else. For one thing, the embroidery should have gone up higher. Second, I just don't really like how the interior looks, and also the straps. Maybe the part between the rings and the bag should have been shorter?

embroidery,handbags, totes

For the embroidery, I sort of just did it freehand using a couple of shades that are similar. They are ever-so-slightly different, enough to give it a bit of depth and texture.

embroidery,handbags, totes

The interior is entirely in the red fabric.

embroidery,handbags, totes

As if I don't have enough picture-taking challenges, it was windy and the sun was setting.

Grab yer needles

See this?


All wooly and red and thick and thin (MY FAVORITE)?


All eight-plus skeins?!!

It was free! Free, I tell you! Can you believe someone gave it to me? I did a swap in exchange for the knitting bags I wrote about before. But, I really feel like the winner here.

Now that it's fall, I've really been in the mood to start knitting. I got into a bit of a lull over the summer. I'm nearly done with a beautiful hat that I will show you soon.

I was wondering what to do with this wonderful gift. I started flipping through my knitting books, looking for something that takes big, bulky yarn but not a whole lot of it. Eight skeins really doesn't go far when it's this big.

I found this pattern in "Fitted Knits" that I had marked a while ago. I have yet to make anything from this book, and that bugs me all the time. I feel like I wasted my money on it because I have yet to use it. (Receipt inside book shows I bought it Sept. 5, 2008).

knitting projects,knitting projects, sweater

The Carie Cropped Flared-Sleeve Cardigan. I think that may be it, peeps!

But, wait! That's not all!

I came across this pattern for a capelet and was forced to buy it. I tried to remind myself that I sewed this cape recently and feel really weird wearing it.

Somehow, I'm sure this will be different.

knitting projects

I ordered Knit Picks City Tweed in Lemon Curd.

Knit Picks City Tweed

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Knitting project bags and tutorial for lined box bag with no raw seams

I made some cute knitting bags, and if you make it through this whole post, there's information on how to do it.


There's a particular forum post I have been drawn to a few times over the past year. I guess this is a part II, actually (link here if you're on Ravelry).

It's a way for people to get rid of yarn they no longer want (perhaps you had an extra skein leftover after a project and never want to see that yarn again) and get a little package of goodies in return. You work out a direct exchange. It's fun!

I'm going to get some of this thick/thin merino wool

Rowan biggy print merino yarn

In exchange, I offered to make the other woman a sock knitting bag, meaning a small bag for sock projects. I have lots of fabric and I loves me some bags!


The pyramid bag is pretty cool, but a bit big for a sock project bag. I got the tutorial from Nicole Mallalieu, who makes great bags. I just increased the size of my pattern pieces to 11" x 22", but maybe should have gone a little smaller.



The square bag came from two tutorials, mainly this one on Drago[knit]fly, but I also borrowed some modifications from this one on 20 Acres and No Sheep. Mainly, the modification was the cut out corners, which I think are easier to work with than the first tutorial's way.


The thing is, all the box bag tutorials I found end up sewing the outer fabric and lining as one piece, and therefore have raw seams inside. I can't allow raw seams, so I had to modify the bag. I'm going to do a really rough tutorial on how to make a box bag without raw seams. It might help to check out the original tutorials above for more detail, and then apply my changes.

And, this will probably be hard for me to explain. As always, I welcome emails if you have any questions. My email link is up there on the top right of my blog.

Cut one piece of outer fabric, one piece of lining fabric and one piece of interfacing (I use Craft Fuse) 16"x12". Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the outer bag piece. I used a 1/2" seam allowance all the way through, except on the zipper. There I just sewed as close as I could.

Next, place a 12" zipper along one of the short sides of the outer fabric, right sides together (zipper pull is facing the fabric). Sew. I am lazy and just use a regular zigzag presser foot, with the needle to the left.

I recommend you start and stop half an inch from each end. You'll see why later.


Next, take the lining piece and place it on the other side of the zipper, so the right sides of the fabrics are together and the zipper is sandwiched between them. Sew as you did above.


Open it up and turn it so wrong sides of fabric are together, and press away from zipper.



Top stitch next to zipper (I forgot to do this).

Here, it gets momentarily weird. OK, it gets even weirder later. But stay with me.

Fold your right sides of each fabric piece to the opposite sides of the zipper and pin. They should meet the way they did with the other side of the zipper, but now you've got this funky thing going on:



Sew along zipper, then turn right side out. Your two side edges are still open.


Press this side and top stitch, as before. Only it will be sort of hard. You can do it; just open the zipper and move the fabric out of the way. (Again, I forgot this step.)

Here's where you'll be glad you stopped a little before the end when sewing the zipper. I didn't, and I had to rip a few stitches out to make this work. OK, turn your bag inside out again and separate your lining from the outer bag.

Grab your outer piece and line it up so that the zipper is in the center. Move the lining out of the way as best you can and sew all the way from end to end. Do the same on the other end. I think that it was around this point that I just went ahead and opened the zipper up. Later, you'll be very glad you did.


Next, grab the lining in the same manner. On the side with the zipper pull, sew all the way across.
On the other side, without the zipper pull, sew most of the way across, but leave maybe 2 or 2.5 inches for a turning hole, as shown. I am going to call this "Corner A" below.


Next, we're going to cut squares out of the corners. This is going to help us make the boxy shape. I cut 1.5 inch squares out of each corner, but I started measuring at the seam, not the raw edge. Draw the lines right on there with a pencil or fabric pen.


Cut all of your corners out. I'm not really worried that I'm cutting across a seam because I'm going to sew back over it in just a second.


Now, for the side of the outer piece WITHOUT the zipper pull, pinch the open square so that the seam is now in the center, like so:


And sew.


Do the same on the other side, only you need to insert the strap here.

What? I never mentioned the strap before. Oops. You can get an explanation on the other blog, but basically you'll cut a piece of fabric 10"x8". Fold in half, right sides together. Then turn right-side out and press. Fold in half again lengthwise and sew open end and top stitch folded end.

Now you've got your strap, so you want to insert it into the bag so that the ends of the strap are poking out of the cut-out corners of your outer piece, on the zipper end side. Then pinch the corners and sew as you did on the other end, but this time you'll have the strap sandwiched in there, too.

box bag

Now do the same all of the lining corners EXCEPT the corner with where you stopped sewing early (Corner A, remember him?). This will be your turning hole.

Your bag should look like a hot mess.


BUT ... turn it through that little hole so that it's right-side out. Go slow, so you don't tear the seam any farther. When it's turned around, stick your fingers through the hole and poke out all the corners in the outer bag.


If it all looks good, pull that open corner of the lining back out and pinch it together and sew from the outside.



Sure, it's not perfect, but I prefer one slightly icky seam to a bunch of raw edges, myself. If you're that picky, just slip stitch it by hand for an invisible look.

Press and steam a bit, and you'll have this!


And a nicely finished interior!


Yippee! Now got start knitting some socks. Carry them around. Go in public. Look all cute.

Friday, September 18, 2009

If I knew how dirty my carpet was ...

... I'd have been wearing galoshes through my house at all times.

I'd like to thank whoever it was who gave me this carpet steam cleaner for my wedding in 2005. I am kicking myself for not using it sooner. Now that I think about it, I don't think the carpet in my house has ever been cleaned beyond regular vacuuming in the 10 years the house has existed.


I keep going over the same rooms again and again, only to dump out more murky, black water. I'm determined to keep doing it until the water is clean. I just can't believe I've been lying around on these carpets. Or even touching them with my feet.

Monday, September 14, 2009


My husband spent quite a bit of time the other night trying to get every last drop of lotion out of a glass bottle. He doesn't want to waste anything, you know? Just when he was almost done transferring it to a bigger tub of lotion, he knocked the whole thing to the floor and spilled it everywhere. I'm pretty sure as much lotion as he retrieved from the bottle was lost to the carpet. Still, every bit he worked out of the carpet was put to use on his skin, leaving him quite moisturized for the evening.

Mark mess


Just as I was about to slam down the cover to the hot tub, I noticed this dude right on the edge. Even though he's a bug, praying mantises are higher up on my bug-worthiness-to-live list than, say, a cockroach. A rescue mission ensued and all was well with the world.

Praying mantis

Fall is in the air my napkins.

I bought two brown napkins for $1.38 each at Pier One on the clearance rack. Then I spruced them up a little with some leaf embroidery.

leaf embroidery

Oh, no I di'in't!!!

I usually don't discuss work on my blog, but this one is sort of funny horrifying.

I'm a newspaper copy editor. At best, I should prevent errors from getting in the paper. At worst, errors may slip by me. Under no circumstances should I be inserting errors into the paper.


See, the calendar listing is infinitely long, and it takes way too long to read it all every day. Usually, only a small amount is used, so I usually read about 50 inches and then put a whole bunch of paragraph returns to mark where I stopped reading. I assume that if the designer ends up needing more, he or she will tell me and I can read more.

For some odd reason, last Thursday I felt compelled to not only put the paragraph returns, but also a note, in live type, to the designer. It was about a dozen paragraph returns, then a note in all caps, then a dozen more paragraph returns. I thought there would be no way to miss it. But somehow, she didn't see the note and took out all the returns. And there it is, in the paper. Dear God. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stitching along

I sent out my final two gifts from this post.

To Elaine, taker of fantastic photographs, I sent two hand-embroidered oven mitts. I used vintage transfer patterns included with the "The Kitchen Linens Book" by EllynAnne Geisel and for the binding and backing I used Amy Butler fabric. Inside, I used InsulBright heat-resistant batting.

embroidered pot holders

To Amy, my friend since college, I also sent two hand-embroidered oven mitts. Amy's were designs from "Sushi Bar" on Sublime Stitching. I used Amy Butler fabric for the backing and binding, and Insul-Bright for the batting. But at this point, I was having second thoughts about whether it would be heat-resistant enough, so I added another layer of cotton batting.


Unfortunately, I made a mistake and one is smaller than the other. I hope Amy will not mind too much. I cannot tell you how much I had to fight the urge to add blood to the chopped off end of that floating hand. But would Amy find the humor in that? I'm just not sure.

For Amy, I also threw in this towel I embroidered with vintage transfers from "The Kitchen Linens Book." She's pregnant and I figured she could use an extra perk-me-up.


Tiny celebrations

Sometimes, you're just eating your lunch/dinner at work. Nothing special. But maybe you can make it a tiny bit better situation by making it special with a nice napkin. I buy napkins (cotton or linen) at thrift and antique stores and then spruce them up in no time with a little embroidery.

Here, I used the Sushi transfers mentioned above.


On the first fish, I did the scales in satin stitch, which I have not yet mastered. I didn't like the end result.


So for the second napkin, I did the scales with fill stitches, and I think it looks nicer.