30 August 2011

Block party crochet style

Not that kind of block party - the crochet kind, where I've hooked up 6 lace things and need to block (shape) them.  I'm only going to post pics of two of these items, as the remaining four are intended as gifts for a family member who is subscribed via email.  Whether or not those emails get read, I am not taking chances.

OK, item number one: a doily coaster for my desk that does NOT contain a counting error!  I have one already for my coffee cup that has a counting oopsie, but wanted a correct one for my water glass.  Here it is, pinned out after a short hot water bath.
Lace doily coaster blocked and pinned
It looks a whole heap better now that it's pinned out.  For the record, I did adjust a couple pins after gimping the pic.

Now for a little fun item: a crochet lace snowflake.  This one turned out right with six points ... I already pulled out the counting oops with seven points.  It's a little difficult to see since the foam board is white, so I'll probably snap another pic with a dark background after it dries and gets a starching.
White crochet lace snowflake pinned out
Hubby suggested putting a hang loop on it and use it as a tree ornament.  I told him I left the loop off since I wasn't sure how it would turn out!  LOL - this is definitely my preferred version of a snowflake, since the real kind is accompanied by COLD.

I'm working on multiple items for use in the kitchen, so that will get its own post soon.

28 August 2011

Hats and buckram

Wearing my grey linen sunhat around has garnered compliments and a sense of accomplishment ... and has prompted a new sewing request from hubby.  He wants me to make him an "Indiana Jones style" hat from the leftover brown canvas to match his coat.

One problem: I am out of buckram.  Hancock says they will no longer carry it, and the buckram at Hobby Lobby is way too thin and light.  I had bought what I had at WalMart ... before they shut down the fabric sections.  There is still one local WalMart that never had its fabric and sewing section shut down, but it's across town and a royal pain in the (*donkey*) to visit, but I am left with no choice but to brave their hosed-up parking lot and screaming howling (*children*) as a last local resort before springing for buckram through online sources.  Can you tell I consider a trip to WalMart to be an ordeal nowadays?  (Insert cranky Mom rant about how I would have been backhanded in public for even the milder half of behavior I see in EVERY WM visit ...)  (Insert car-owner rant about how all but one dent in my vehicle has come from the WM parking lot ...)

I guess for some things, a woman just has to grab her ovaries and do it, ordeal or not - to quote one of my better Sergeant Majors from my army days.  Bleh.

It's either brave WM, or a minimum order of 5 yards of 60" wide heavy millinery buckram for white ... which would probably last me more than a decade.  I'll need lunch first.

UPDATE: Online order it is.  What's left of that store's fabric and craft section isn't worth the drive anymore.

23 August 2011

Lace doily coaster!

I did it!  I just finished up a lace doily coaster from a free online pattern.  The instructions seemed about as clear as mud to me, but I just reread them however many times it took until I thought I grasped the idea ... and while it may not be perfect - and might not even be as the pattern is trying to call for - I am still quite pleased with the result.  Before I steamed it:
Lace doily coaster before steaming
And after a round of coercive steam ironing:
Crochet lace doily coaster after steaming
I realized I needed some scale (after being reminded in PR chat that my last set of lace trim pics lacked a quarter for scale) and I just happened to have a one dollar bill in my back pocket.  I was too excited to notice I forgot to tuck the tails in ... while that is now done, the coaster is already in hubby's glass display case with a leather-wrapped metal beer mug sitting on it from the set I bought him at Ren Faire last year for his birthday.  It is just the right size for his mug, too.

Even with the vague instructions, this took less than 48 hours to crochet ... so I am thinking of knocking out a set of four as gifts.  I have some blue-purple variegated crochet thread that I am just itching to break out and play with ...

22 August 2011

Crocheted hatband on V8405 sunhat

Snapped a pic of my new crocheted lace hatband on the sunhat, and have a couple ideas for more (since I planned for them all to be interchangeable anyway).
V8405 sunhat with crochet lace hatband
My thinnest satin ribbon was too wide to weave through the band part at 3/8 inch wide ... so I will probably make the "bars" taller on the next one since I am still wanting a peekaboo ribbon.  I'm not sure the shade of lavender really matches the linen, though ... but I still have white, blue, and of course pink crochet thread to play with more.

I also need more coffee this morning to achieve actual coherence.

21 August 2011

Kitchen hot mitt: Return of the sewing mojo!

For a few weeks now, I have been saying I need to replace my hot mitt and hot pads since they come out of the wash looking bedraggled ... I am sure hubby was beginning to think I was just talking, but the sewing mojo has returned this morning alongside that proverbial wild hair!  I'm classifying this as a knockoff like my pillowcases since I literally grabbed the old hot mitt, set it on some wrap-paper from Hobby Lobby (they wrapped my glass candle in it), and traced around it with an ink pen.
Hot mitt pattern
I suppose it might be possible to achieve "easier" another way, but for me this was the most convenient.  I added about a 1/4 inch seam allowance around all but the wrist area since I intend to simply use binding to cover that up.

For those who find my handwriting difficult to read: I cut two for the outside fabric, two for the inside fabric, 4 layers of cotton batting, and four layers of thin cheapy cotton muslin to keep the batting out of my feed dogs.  I even cut it out immediately:
Hot mitt layers cut
Now ... which machine to pull out and stitch the fabric and batting layer sandwiches?  I did think of having hubby or son man-handle the Anchor onto the table for me, since Anchor had no problem ripping through linen and buckram ... but I still have black thread in the bobbin and really prefer a drop-in bobbin over wrestling with getting a metal vertical in properly.  Same issue with Timex - vertical bobbin.  So I'll probably grab another low-priced workhorse of mine: my Brother CE5500-PRW computerized that has gone through 8 layers of canvas (and is another one where I don't sew delicate fabrics with).  I've reviewed it over at PatternReview, but haven't posted a pic here on the blog.  I'll try to remember to snap a pic while quilting together the layers before assembly.

Speaking of quilting ... this batting ain't cheap!  And I even waited for the 50% off sale to buy mine.  Then again, neither is the quilting cotton section fabric.  It is also a pain in the (*donkey*) to lay out - the crib sheet sized piece I bought wasn't folded perfectly straight before packaging.  I'm saving every last scrap of it in a zippy baggie to stuff stuff, like maybe a cat toy or a bumroll.

Finally, my inside fabric came out of my scrap bag, which holds more canvas and duck pieces so it will most likely contribute more to the hot mitt/hot pad project as inspiration strikes.

19 August 2011

Hatband pattern to be crocheted!

I found it!  The pattern in the Crochet Edgings & Trims book to make a hatband for my grey linen sunhat!  Here is my test of it in the craft cord:
Romanesque arch crochet pattern - future hatband!
It even looks like the pic in the book ... and best of all, the "windows" below the arches are just wide enough to thread a 1/4 inch satin ribbon through.  I'm excited, if you can't tell. LOL  I'll need the excitement to carry me through crocheting 22 inches of these arches, then adding buttonholes.

Oh, it's upside-down in the pic ... I'll have the arches going upwards on the hat.  I'm doing it up in size 10 lavender crochet thread using my 2.75mm/size1 steel hook.  The crochet thread is a smidge thinner than the craft cord, but mainly because it is spun tighter, but I used the same hook on the test piece.

I think I've discovered where the problem is on the curling - my start chain curls and I am not certain why.  Gloria asked if I was crocheting too tightly in chat the other night, and that is possible although I keep seeing about a quarter of free crochet patterns online having a note about the person writing it saying s/he crochets tightly.

I have more pictures of other designs, but right now am in a "drop everything else and do this project" mood, so hatband it is.  I really want to dump the black satin blanket binding test band.  I also need to give the blocking/shaping/starching idea a go soon.

17 August 2011

First efforts at crocheting lace

While I don't think I'll be mistaken for a lace crocheting prodigy, I will say I am pleased with my first efforts:
First efforts at crocheting lace
The top pink one was my first-and-a-half effort - I pulled out the first version of it when I realized where I was making mistakes.  The pink is craft cord meant for friendship bracelets, and is a bit too big for the hook.  After running to Hobby Lobby to hit a crochet hook sale, I also picked up real crochet thread (in size 10, which is the largest crochet thread? I think) and the lavender middle one is the result of that.  The thread seems to fit the hook, and isn't as fuzzy as the craft cord.

I should have put a quarter in the pic for scale.  I will try to remember that for the new pics.

Although all three pieces spent the night in a book, the bottom super-simple piece does not want to lay flat.  None of these have been "blocked" which seems to involve handwashing, then pinning onto a cloth surface to dry completely for the purpose of shaping.

OK, some linkage for this new project:
Some excellent beginner crochet video tutorials  I used these to learn the stitches I needed.
Pattern directions for pink and lavender lace  A note on the "multiples of 5 plus 3" ... this seems to be crochet-speak for (5x + 3) in algebraic expression.  I am seeing it in several other sources, including a nice book from the library titled Crochet Edgings & Trim: 150 Stitches which is where the little one on the bottom comes from (and I have at least half a dozen more to try), ranging from the simple chain-loop I did in a few minutes, up to complex patterns with 9 or 10 rows with stitches I still need to look up tutorials for.

The small simple loop lace will be perfect to put on a cross stitched hatband, once I figure out how to make it lay flat.

Now, the coffeemaker is finished and calling to me ...

16 August 2011

Band sampler WIP band 7

While I was working on band 7, hubby came in and saw me putting the "finishing touch" on it, and remarked how much he thought said finishing touch added to the design and made it "Wow".  So I grabbed the digicam to snap a pic to share, and am glad I did:
Adding blackwork style detail to band 7
The book mentions backstitching the dark green curlie-cues on, but other sources say a double-running stitch, also called a Holbein stitch, would be used because so many also did blackwork embroidery (which is supposed to look the same front and back).

Hubby's praise for this floral band makes me think I should use this one to stitch up a hatband for my grey linen sunhat ... although I do have another I am also considering, I need to stitch it out to check the scale first.  I don't want it too wide.

Speaking of the sunhat, I wore it yesterday to the library to return/renew/check out more books.  One of the books I returned was titled Hats Made Easy! and when I handed it to one of the ladies behind the desk, she asked if I had made my hat.  I told her yes, but from a Vogue pattern .... the book is actually a good one but mostly focused on drafting your own hat patterns.  Given my stash of hat patterns, this one - while good - is not useful for me at this point.

I'll wait and make a separate post for my lace-making efforts ... and I started band 9 last night on the sampler. It's a little past lunch time, and I feel productive already today ... here's hoping the energy level stays up!

14 August 2011

Torn table runner

This is from my grandma, given to me by my sister who ended up with it even though she had no idea what to do with it.  It's an old table runner, and not in the best of shape (large pic alert):
Grandma's old table runner
Here's the mystery: This grandmother was not the packrat - that's the other side of the family.  Along with the table runner were cloth napkins, and a couple are "orphans" without matches, so she didn't keep things just because.  So why did she hold onto this damaged, torn, and fraying table runner?  Was it made especially for her?  Was it a special occasion gift?  Did someone special give it to her?  I need to email my aunt and ask ...

So why am I so thrilled to have a torn and unraveling table runner?  At one point in time, this was a very beautiful thing!  It has cutwork embroidery all through the cloth section and is bound by what I now recognize as crocheted lace.  I'm not sure if it's linen or not (duh, have NOT done a burn test) but it feels possible.  I'm not sure if the cutwork embroidery is done by machine or by hand, but here is a closeup of it:
Cutwork embroidery closeup
If this was done by hand, the work was very meticulous.  The back side looks very similar to the front, although I can tell a difference between the two.  Now, for a closeup of the damage:
Damage to fabric and lace
I don't think I can repair the damage to this ... but I am wanting to make a replica of it!  I'll need to get a lot better with surface embroidery, practice cutwork satin stitches ... and figure out how to crochet lace.  Here's the funny part - last night I was watching YouTube videos for beginners how-to-crochet, and can't help but feel I have done several of the demonstrated stitches.  I know my mom crocheted, as well as knitted ... in fact there aren't too many textile crafts that Mom hasn't at least learned how to do.  While all the crochet tutorials feel familiar, I cannot for my life remember any object I crocheted.  I do know it was never lace ... I might have kept at it if I had learned to do lace.

So I have a long-term goal of learning enough to make a replica of this table runner.  This should make for an interesting adventure!

11 August 2011

Band sampler WIP

I finished up band 6 this afternoon, and even got a bit of sunlight to snap a pic of it!  This is actually a lot of fun doing all these different border designs, although I am having a bit of trouble starting the bands out because of color contrast, or rather lack thereof.  Some of these borders are shown on colored cloth, which makes them hard to see on white.  So the lefthand side of the sampler has different colors than the right ... I am only showing the right side for now.
band sampler, first 6 rows
Bands 3,4, and 5 use a thicker thread, similar to the more expensive cotton perle 5 I also have, which is matched to colored aida cloth.  I'm happy the white-on-white band 3 showed up in the pic ... it's hard to see even in person!  Those 3 borders are described as whitework, but after the difficulty seeing it in white I switched to colors.

Before I finished up the last few acorns in band 6, I snapped a pic because I wasn't sure the dark green and black for the acorn caps would show up:
color acorn cap detail - black and dark green
My son said he actually likes the colored acorn design (band 6) even more than the whitework style monocolor acorns (band 4) ... just not enough to have me stitch a band onto his new black backpack.

Now, to pick another border design for band 7!

10 August 2011

Summer sewing slump

Last summer I had about a month-long sewing slump during June and part of July.  This summer, it is August ... this month.  This past week has been especially low-energy, low-motivation, although I am have started on the border band sampler idea, which I will post a pic of after I finish the band I am currently working on (#6).  Days that I do have some energy and motivation have been spent on errands, at the library perusing both the sewing and embroidery shelves (and now woodworking for hubby), trying to organize things around the house, and cooking up a storm (like today).

The sewing mojo will return ... I'm just not sure when.  I do know it will probably be another burst of inspiration and activity (like my two-hat weekend?).  Part of my library browsing has been looking at various fitting books - and I will need to work on pants fitting as well as nailing down the fit for tops.  Right now I am still trying to figure where the fit problems are with pants, as I keep pulling my jeans up that I bought retail.

Oh, we're dogsitting for one of hubby's coworkers, and the feline faction in the house is definitely NOT happy.  Maybe I should whip up some more pillowcases just in case one of my furry monsters decides to show displeasure via a hairball on the pillow ...

01 August 2011

Why I am not buying fabric right now

A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say:
Hubby's project: oak bookcase(s)
Ever since he returned from his tour in Korea, hubby has been talking about wanting a small woodworking shop.  When he came back from Afghanistan, this picked up as he was one who helped build a new camp out of plywood and 2x4s.  On the way home from Indiana - without either of the two bookcases we intended to bring back - the subject came up again ... and over the past month of discussion we agreed on a big, fun project for hubby: custom oak bookcases for the living room.

This is the start of the first one.  We wanted to buy enough to do the frame of both, but Lowe's only had two sheets of the 3/4 inch thick oak in stock yesterday.  At the store, and on the way home, hubby was talking about how he'd put it together slowly to avoid mistakes ... that didn't last long and a couple hours later he was asking me to hold the side boards up so he could attach them to the already-put-together base.

This bookcase is 7 feet 8 inches tall and a smidge over 4 feet wide.  It still needs a back, and trim (oh yes, I can pick out pretty trim for it!), and hubby wants to build the second one before staining and finishing so they come out the same shade.  My original request was for "real" bookcases that would last a good twenty years, as I am tired of replacing them every other time I want to move them from one room to another (and that's if they are the good ones!).  Hubby's stated goal: "I want to make them last a century!"  That would be cool!

When both are done, and the books are moved onto it ... I will have two particleboard cheapie WalMart bookcases to store my fabric on in the soon (?)-to-be sewing lair, which will open up floor space that is now occupied by boxes (the wools and silks will still hide in tubs from both cats and insects!).

So right now, my fabric funds are instead buying wood, wood supplies, and of course woodworking tools.  I get oak furniture, and hubby gets his small woodshop.  Sounds like a win-win deal to me!