31 January 2012

Sampler WIP: Band 10 Grapes

I've been in a cross-stitching mood this past week, and tore through band 10 on my ongoing sampler-in-progress.  Son says he really likes this one, and hubby concurs.
Grapes and leaves cross stitch band/border
It looks busy but stitches up rather quickly.  The colors are a smidge off in the pic as I had to play with the levels to get it to show up properly.  It is also the first band past the halfway fold on the cloth!  Here's all ten bands.
Sampler bands 1-10
I've picked out a floral band for #11, in (of course) shades of pink.

26 January 2012

First pineapple doily crocheted and blocked

I'm pretty excited - this past weekend when my sinuses went haywire, I sat on the couch and crocheted up my first pineapple doily!  Actually, it's my first full-sized doily I've completed after pulling out the first two attempts midway.  I've heard that with pineapple doilies, it's either love or hate ... so tally me in the "love" category.  This was so cool to hook up, and here it is blocked and pinned out:
First pineapple doily blocked and pinned
The book says it's supposed to be 15 inches across, but mine only comes out to 13 inches.  I guess it's official: I crochet "tightly".

MOM, this one will be yours ... as soon as you mail me that hat buckram you bought me after I posted about not finding any locally (that post is dated August 28th!).  I need it now, Mom.  The pretty linen sun hat did not weather the rainstorms we hit on our way down to Florida.  Getting a coat and a pair of leather gloves tossed on it after the rains didn't help, either.  Zip down to the post office, Mom, because you know you want to hold this - my first full sized pineapple doily - in your hands to see for yourself how my crochet is coming along decades after you gave me a blue plastic hook.  Do it soon - before I put it "someplace safe" because I do indeed take after you in that.

While waiting, there is another pineapple doily pattern in that book, and I scored another book of just pineapple doily patterns in the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby, so there will be one for this house at some point.

25 January 2012

It LOOKS like pot pie this time

I've been perusing my reprint of the 1896 Fanny Farmer Cookbook in an effort to do more cooking from scratch (due to dissatisfaction with the quality of stuff in the grocery store recently) and tonight I got brave enough to try a pot pie again.  That, and the leftover ham soup wasn't going to eat itself, and my son in particular prefers a pot pie over a soup.

I tried my rolling pin out at a pot pie a few weeks ago with a beef pot roast that didn't cook up tender enough, and the crust ... well ... there's a learning curve.  It tasted great, but it looked ... not pie-ish.  I had skipped the washing-the-butter step, thinking maybe it didn't apply to modern-made butter.  Once I finally scraped the dough off the rolling pin, pastry mat, and most of my hands, it just didn't look like a pie crust should.  Hubby said he wanted another one anyway, because the more I practice the more he has the opportunity to eat.

The Fanny Farmer cookbook has three different pie crust recipes (called "paste" and in the pastry chapter) so I tried the one without butter tonight, and this time it looks like a pot pie!
Ham pot pie
There was no holding hubby back when it came out of the oven, so this is what's left.  It turned out a bit dry, as I had enough pie dough to put a layer on the bottom which soaked up a good portion of the broth, but it does indeed taste like a pie crust.  Next time, more gravy/broth when using a bottom crust ... but it still has a LOT more flavor than the stuff in the freezer aisle at the grocery (that includes all the brand names - we love pot pies here).

This kind of cooking is the only change I've made to my diet since June ... oh, and in addition to using real butter instead of margarine I have even bought real lard to make my pie crusts.  And yes, I am still losing weight, although not as quickly as I did over the summer.

24 January 2012

ChatRoom Gift Exchange received

About a month ago, Val (of the corset challenge fame) proposed us chatroom degenerates should do a handmade gift exchange.  Gloria volunteered to coordinate who was making a gift for whom as she didn't think she would have time to participate, and no one else knew who was making the gift they would be receiving.  Personally, I hate suspense, surprise, and waiting ... but the rules were secrecy until a gift shows up in the mail.  My box arrived Saturday, from Val, but it's been too dark and cloudy to get decent pics (we all know about my lack of skill with the digicam).  The clouds broke yesterday afternoon, and this morning the dining room has frosty sunlight streaming in ... so here it is!
gift from Val - BDU bag
Yes, that used to be a pair of summer BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform - better looking army uniform than the current ACUs) that has been cleverly repurposed into a purse/bag!  Both back pockets and both cargo pockets are intact and functional, too, complete with belt loops to hang the keychain clip!  Val pulled out ALL the stops with this and went all-out.
functional cargo pockets on each side of BDU bag
Check this out ... I used to live out of all my pockets on my BDUs when I was still in, so having this many makes me smile.  Now, for the reason this will stay MY bag ... and not hubby's bag:
inside PINK pockets of BDU bag
Yes indeedy, that is very pink inside!  In fact, those (fully lined!) pockets are a pink camouflage fabric.
pink camouflage fabric - perfect!
Val mentioned in chat the pattern (? - give up the name/# or link, Val!) called for an unlined bag which she felt just would not do.  So, these pockets and the lining are 100% Val.

Oh yeah, it came with a card inside, and a little coin purse/billfold thing that I totally forgot to snap pics of ... and even a new project for me.  Makes me so glad I haven't gotten out to the post office to mail mine, because putting together cute gifts isn't my strong suit ... lately I have been trying to avoid even wrapping presents.  Must make a little card.  I have parchment paper and calligraphy pens that I hope have not dried out yet.

Now, for the truly important part: isn't this just the most clever and customized gift?  And - even more importantly - shouldn't Val start posting on the blog we talked her through setting up???

17 January 2012

Band Sampler cross-stitch

Yesterday and so far this morning I've been in a crochet and cross-stitch mood.  Since I still can't post pics of the crochet (they are gifts and recipients are allegedly subscribed here) I thought I'd post a cross-stitch pic for Gloria.  She's said in chat that my cross-stitches look "proper" - that is, all the crosses go the same direction.  I've even had a lady say the same locally, as she held it in her hands.  I'll say again - for the record - my crosses are not "proper" because to do so would use more floss than the haphazard method I do.
Elizabethan band sampler WIP - improper stitches proof
Along with showing my multi-directional stitching ... this also serves as an update on the band sampler.  Since I now have my own copy of the book and no longer need to worry about potential library fines, I haven't been working on it as diligently.  Plus, this band is a bit more intricate than most of the others!  I'm almost past the halfway fold on this band though, and repetition helps speed things up.

At some point, I should post a pic that includes the lefthand side of this sampler ... where all the mistakes are.  Not today though.

13 January 2012

The wool blanket and the cold front

First, my son is "celebrating" his first snow day of the winter by sleeping in.  What started as rain on Monday turned to snow yesterday in the space of only a couple hours as a nasty cold front blew in, including a twenty-degree drop (Fahrenheit) in temperature over lunchtime.  I know it was this sudden because my dear thin-coated doggie wanted out before the drop, then again two hours later to play in the snow (until the wind blew directly on his butt).

It's a good thing I actually flat-felled the wool I bought for hubby last week!  Okay, a true flat-fell seam is a bit of a pain to sew - especially on 60 inch wide wool - but it does look great ... hubby even said so.  Here he is holding it up folded in half ... I probably should have let him have at least one cup of coffee before snapping the pic.  Bad me.
Hubby holding his new wool blanket
He's holding it sideways, as the brown/burnt sienna panels are at the top and bottom of the blanket, each half a yard long.  The pretty plaid is in the middle of the blanket and is one yard uncut.  I have each raw edge of the brown straight-stitched one inch in, and our next step is to pull the cross-yarns to fringe it, then I'll find some embroidery floss to match or complement and make mini-tassels outside the straight-stitching and try my needle at some pulled/drawn embroidery just inside of the stitching.  I'm also debating whether I want to embroider a decorative band over the straight stitch line as well, as the yarns in the wool are just big enough to see.
Flat-fell seam closeup - and wool yarn big enough to see
The focus is a bit fuzzy, but so is the wool after a bit of air-fluffing in the dryer with some damp uniforms.  After I snapped the third pic (the first one he was really making a face) hubby said he could feel the warmth just holding it up like that ... which means the Terrorist Kitty WILL find her way onto his lap at every opportunity as she may possibly love wool more than I do.  Just for the record, she also sheds more than I do.

So hubby has a pretty two-wool blanket of nice warm FabricMart Shetland wool, and because I bought it on sale the whole 72"x60" blanket cost only $19 plus a little of my time ... so very superior to the plain piece of probably-poorly-serged 72x56 inch piece of wool he was about to spend $25-30 for before shipping ... and I still have a little over two yards of each color to make him a matching wool coat.  Too bad I can't just wiggle my nose and have the coat sew itself ...

07 January 2012

Wools for hubby

So hubby has been wanting to get back into camping, and on a couple of sites he's been reading they offer up wool blankets for sale: the one he was really looking at is about 72 inches by 56 inches ... and they want either $25 or $30 for it!  He showed it to me first before clicking "add to cart" (thankfully!) at which point I explained to him that is a standard two yard piece of wool with some kind of hem to keep it from raveling.  Then I mentioned my wool stash ...

I know some of y'all recall my huge wool-buying spree last January, and the morning it hit an overnight low of 17F here, of course FabricMart sent me an email regarding a wool sale ...

The box arrived yesterday afternoon, and hubby brought it in for me.  After I opened it, I carried the two wools I bought for him to him "to fondle".
Top two wools are for hubby

He did just that!  Then, he asked just what my plans for these two lovely wools are.  I told him I bought enough of each (3 yards per wool) to make him both a wool blanket that will be 72x58 inches, and have enough to color-block a coat for him.  Right now, with the dearth of men's coat pattern out there, he is leaning heavily towards the Burda 7419 pattern for it.

As for the blanket idea, I plan to use one yard of each, with the solid burnt sienna piece cut into half and flat-felled onto the plaid before hemming.  Y'all didn't think I'd make a plain blanket, did you?

Oh, that third wool in the stack?  It was a "Sue's Pick" at FM about two or three weaknesses ago ... I swear it jumped up and down on my screen screaming "Buy me! Buy me! Buy me!" and when it arrived and I opened up the box, it started screaming for the 1975 Simplicity 7123 unisex coat pattern that followed me home from Mom's over the summer.  Seriously, this is the perfect houndstooth for a mid-70s coat.  It easily outshouted the light blue mini-houndstooth wool I got last January.

We are going to need to clear off the table before WE (emphasis on the plural!) start cutting the wool today, as last night I felt obligated to show hubby what my old Girl Scout troop used as firestarters back in the day.  While hubby acknowledges the simple brilliance of the cardboard egg carton with wood shavings and paraffin as a really effective way to get a fire going ... he thinks it is somehow cheating that we had three wooden matches to get the fire going.  Either way, it still needs to be packed up if we are even going to have room for eating breakfast ... and he was all about helping me to cut this wool yesterday before we started indulging our pyromania.

Blanket first ... and I am wondering over coffee if he'll like the idea of fringing the hem.

04 January 2012

Variegated washcloth pattern and variations

I did up a bunch of crochet stuff to give as gifts this season, and looking back at my first post about "my pattern" for the washcloths I realize somewhere along the line I changed it.  I have finally achieved my goal of making mostly-square washcloths in the past couple weeks (I did have a 600 miles each way road trip to practice on!) and now feel a lot more comfortable with the general idea to repost and offer some variations on the theme.  First, my almost square efforts, one of which I finished this morning while still drinking my 2nd cup of coffee:
variegated yarn washcloths
Now, for the (updated) pattern for this:
Ch 33
row 1: sk 1 st, sc into the other ch (32 sc total)
row 2-10: ch 1, turn, sc into first sc, *ch 1 sk 1 sc* until end, then sc into last sc
row 11: ch 1, turn, hdc into each sc and each ch-sp
row 12-16: repeat sc-ch1-sk1-sc like rows 2-10
row 17: repeat row 11
row 18-22: repeat 12-16
row 23: repeat row 11
row 24-32: repeat row 2-10
row 33: sc all across (32 sc total)

And that's the body to it.  The stitches part is really simple ... the trick (for me, at least!) is to keep it nice, even, and square.

Now, for the variations: You can tie it off and weave in your ends at this point.  Or, you can slip stitch around the edges to give it a little more strength (the right-side and bottom ones are slipstitched in the pic).  Or, you can go around it with sc's or hdc's or even dc's if you want a variegated border, in which case you ch 1 (or 2 if using all dc), then put 2 in the first corner, 3 in the other corners and slst into the start after putting the 3rd st in the original corner ... I have discovered on the sides it comes out less ripply if you do a st-ch1-sk1-st instead of stitching into the middle of each row.  Your mileage (and gauge/tension!) may vary, of course.

Oh, I have been using worsted weight cotton yard and an H (5.00mm) hook for these.

I've been using my early ones in the shower as a washcloth and also in the kitchen to clean my counters, stovetop, and sink - and am quite pleased with them.  If someone hooks this up, please post in the comments how you like it (and I hope I've had the right amount of coffee for all this to make sense).

03 January 2012

First fitting muslin B5662 corset

I actually sewed this up and had hubby snap these pics before we road-tripped to Florida, but I needed time to review the pics and persuade my last two working brain cells to think on them.  One thing I did not need those brain cells for was to appreciate how much it helps to use striped fabric for a fitting muslin!  This is especially true when fitting corsets.

Quick review: I cut the Butterick 5662 fitting muslin out of lightweight striped cotton (more on this in a minute) and out of the eight panels, four were sized.  I cut a size 14 for the front panel, and used size 12 for the other three ... remember the measurement chart says to cut either a size 18 or 20.  Here are the results, with just the fitting muslin, a zipper, and lacing panels cannibalized off an old attempt at a corset.
B5662 first fitting muslin - front
LOVELY shaping to this pattern!  Since I didn't bother even taping cable ties to it, I am indeed holding the top up.
B5662 first fitting muslin - back
 Oops ... that is definitely not an even lacing gap.  Pattern alteration time ...
B5662 fitting muslin - side
Here is another challenge: the side seam should be vertical, but pulls forward.  The whole side seam is too forward, but it's particularly noticeable at the top ... so like most patterns I will need to "FBA" this pattern.  There's also a pull-forward at the waist, although the hips section below the waist doesn't look as bad.  I think I will try sizing the front one of the side panels up to a 14, but leave the back one and back-center at size 12, then add to the top of the two front-middle panels that are not sized on the pattern.

Okay, just a little note on this: hubby pulled it way too tight when he laced me up in back, and if you look at the front pic closely you can see where the fabric at the seams is starting to pull apart.  I guess he got used to me doing fitting muslins in canvas.  No big deal, since I need to make another, but I may dig up a striped home dec fabric for the next round of fitting this corset pattern.

My goals for the next round in the fitting stage are to get an evenly spaced lacing gap in back while moving the side seam to where it belongs.