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.


Those awesome thrift store finds

In my post about Santa Fe, I forgot to mention that we stopped in at The Needle's Eye yarn shop to buy some crewel yarn, which is rather hard to find. I haven't discovered a place in Albuquerque to buy any.

Well, the other day, I was way across town and stopped in at a thrift store. And what did I find? A huge bag of crewel yarn, for $7.99. It was stuffed to the brim!

Unfortunately, much of it turned out to be synthetic, and I despise working with synthetic yarn. I'll wear a store-bought sweater of synthetic yarn, but I don't like working with it. Also, real crewel should be done with wool. I was happy to find that there was a fair amount of real wool in the bag, too, but I've got tons of this crappy kind and I'm not sure what to do with it. I guess I can lower my standards and use it if I need the colors.

Here is my mom's cat buried in it, a bad pic taken with my camera phone.


Speaking of thrift store finds, I have tried to stop buying vintage sheets, but I did come across this fun pillowcase.

Vintage sheet

Santa Fe

A few weeks ago, my friend Rivkela and I took a jaunt up to Santa Fe. I know, all you outsiders think Santa Fe is a hip, cool place to go. Having spent most of my life a mere hour away from it, I've never had a very high opinion of the place. I guess the people seem all artsy-fartsy and hoity-toity. Everything is old, but on purpose. Some of it looks neat and historical, some of it is just falling apart crummy. Santa Fe is the kind of place where you can be in Joann Fabrics and a lady wearing a glittery masquerade mask is just walking around like it's not weird, just part of her outfit. And yes, that happened to me once.

So why did I want to go there? Two words: Rail Runner. That's a fairly new commuter train set up between Belen and Santa Fe, hitting Los Lunas, Albuquerque, Bernalillo and the rez in between. I was dying to ride the train.

Santa Fe

Guess how much it cost, round-trip? Five bucks. That's right, $5. So we ride the train up and went on a museum adventure. Because if there's one thing Santa Fe has going for it, it's art and history. We started at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Georgia being my newest obsession. I don't even care about her art; I just am interested in her. This museum was small. And if I didn't get the half price N.M. discount, I might have been a bit miffed. But I got the chance to see some of her work in person, and watch two films about her. Georgia O'Keeffe spent many years living at Ghost Ranch, N.M. Incidentally, there is a new installment of Ghost Ranch photography by Craig Varjabedian currently showing at the Albuquerque Museum, and I checked that out recently with my friends Ren and Ken.

Ghost Ranch
Photo copyright Craig Varjabedian.

I don't have permission to post it, but I want to say that it's a wonderful collection of photography. Beautiful black and white, with amazing use of light.

OK, so back to Santa Fe, poor Rivkela had just had an allergic reaction to Penicillin and was absolutely covered in hives. She was miserable and trying to stay covered up despite the heat. The second place we visited was the New Mexico History Museum. We didn't spend a whole lot of time there, but there was a lot of really neat stuff. Too much to read and absorb if you're in a hurry, but there is a fashion through the ages exhibit that's really neato. Again, really glad to have the N.M. resident discount.

At this point, I was really hungry, so we went to Upper Crust Pizza, a little pizza joint where you can eat in Santa Fe and not go broke. It's delicious.

You can see that we forgot to take pictures for most of the day ...

After this, we went to a really interesting place called Kakawa Chocolate House. It serves chocolate elixirs made from really pure, high-quality chocolate from Europe. Some of the recipes date back to the Aztec era and are several thousand years old.

OK, well here is where things get fun. You see, we had planned to hoof it to the Indian Arts and Culture Museum, which was a few miles from downtown Santa Fe where everything else that we did was. Several people warned us not to attempt this, and one lady showed us a bus to take to Museum Hill, where this museum is located. Only, we missed the bus, and the last bus back was at 5:45 p.m., since it was a Saturday.

The chocolate guy urged us to walk. He said it's not that far at all and a really pleasant walk. I guess if you like walking windy streets with no sidewalks and many cars zooming by, maybe so. We walked and walked. And then I realized that I had read the map wrong and we had missed our turn what seemed like hours ago. So we walked and walked some more.

At this point, we're not even hoping to see the exhibit. We're just worried about getting there in time to catch the last bus back. We did make it, with about five minutes to see the Native Couture fashion exhibit (that museum was free that particular day, so we didn't have to pay admission).

We found the bus stop out front and could finally relax.

Santa Fe

Poor Rivkela and her itchy hives! I swear we walked 10 miles to the museum, but I guess it's only a mile and a half or so. I think google maps lies.

And so we headed home on the train, but not before enjoying some frozen yogurt at Yoberry.

Santa Fe
Santa Fe

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A crewel name

I told myself I wouldn't write a title like that. But I just had to. One time only, and never another crewel pun, I promise. But I hate that crewel sounds like cruel. And nobody knows what crewel is anymore, so when you talk about it, they think you're saying cruel. So you try to say "crew-waaaal."


Anyway. Crewel. You know how I needed another hobby? Because I'm not busy enough?

Crewel is a form of embroidery, but you do it on linen and with thin wool yarn. It's not necessarily easy to find these yarns, because hardly anyone does crewel anymore. I think it's going to be making a comeback, now that people are trying to modernize it.

Take the book "The New Crewel" by Katherine Shaughnessy.

Or "Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Woolly Embroidery" by ... well, I can't figure out who it's by. But it looks really cute.

I recently took a trip to Santa Fe and stopped in at The Needle's Eye, a small yarn shop, for some crewel wool.

crewel wool

I made a lavender-filled sachet from "The New Crewel."


The back is a sheer fabric my mom gave me. I think she may have bought it in Italy. The lavender is from Sunflower Market.


I messed up by putting a too-thick ribbon in one corner, which looked really sloppy. I also did a sloppy job of hand sewing the opening closed after filling it with lavender, but I conveniently cropped the pictures to minimize the ugliness. I am, though, happy with my first attempt at crewel work!

Oh, phooey!

A few posts ago, I showed you the red Rowan Biggy Print yarn I was given in a swap on Ravelry. Since I didn't have a lot, I made the Carie Cropped Flare-Sleeve Cardigan from "Fitted Knits."

knitting projects, sweater

It knitted up quickly, albeit not necessarily easily, since working with giant needles and fat yarn can be a little cumbersome.

knitting projects, sweater

The sleeves were definitely more "flared" than in the pattern photos. They are huge! I did rip out the first sleeve and redo it with four more stitches because it has seemed like it was going to be too tight when sewn closed. I think four stitches was too much, because then you add six more stitches toward the cuff, and get these giant bells.

knitting projects, sweater

I couldn't really put together an outfit I liked. I also found the sweater to be way too bulky and uncomfortable. It tried to slide off my shoulders all evening. It drove me nuts.

knitting projects, sweater

It looks so much better on my dress form. Maybe I'll give it to her.