Monday, December 31, 2012

Hustling Wrap Up

Happy New Year (almost) everyone! I've taken a break from blogging while we are traveling for the holidays, but I did want to get this post in. Thanks to Kelsey for hosting the Hustle, it was great fun to challenge myself and get organized. In fact, some of the gifts I made for the holidays definitely would not have been made if not for this little exercise.

I will post full posts about my latest finishes (both on and off this list) in January, but for now here's how I did with my list (not bad!):

Kelsey Sews

Hand stitching:

Modern Medallion quilt - hand quilting, start -  purchased batting, basted, begun!

Yarn work:

Portland cowl - finish

Aidez sweater - knit enough to know if I want to keep going - yes! it looks like this yarn will work, no plans to finish the whole thing before the end of the year though

scrap yarn blanket for donation to animal shelter - start - will continue adding to this here and there over the next months

At the machine:

Covered bead necklace for me - start & finish

Stuffed animal for baby girl - start & finish

Riding boot bag - start & finish 

Amsterdam quilt top - start

Voile/flannel scarf - start & finish (Xmas)

Tote for Samara - start & finish (Xmas)

Garment bag - finish - purchased zipper and grommet, cut pieces out, got too confused to finish
Baby quilt for Anna - start, finish by February - purchased fabric, know what pattern it will be, will start cutting in the new year
Flannel pjs for me - start & finish

(there's a tank top, too but it hasn't been photographed)

Pencil roll up for Jasmine - start & finish (Xmas)

Fabric necklaces & gift bags (at least 5) - start & finish (Xmas)

For next year: 
Temair throw - finish already! (sew motifs together), Laminated cotton tote for barn, Apron, Embroidery kit - start

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cherry on top

Because I wanted to do something a little different one afternoon, I decided to pull out my jewelry making tools and make a few sets of earrings to go with my latest necklace projects. Here's what I came up with:

All of the beads were purchased at an expo in Chicago a couple years ago. It was amazing. McCormick center was full of accessories, jewelry, and jewelry supplies. My mom, sister-in-law, and I went and had a blast! I still have a small stash left, and it's always fun to bring them out and see what I can do. Mostly I really enjoy combining colors in interesting ways. My wire wrapping skills aren't 100% great yet, but good enough to do the simple wraps required for these connections.

I made the backing cards from some water color paper and some Moo business cards. The holes were punched using a dress maker's pin which makes a perfect sized opening to thread the earrings through. Presto! Cute looking earrings to give.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Oh my gosh, I basted my quilt from this summer -- finally! The top has been hanging up in my sewing room since late August. I originally thought I would have to piece a back, but I ended up settling on a print that was wide enough to use on its own. I just caught a wild hare the other night and really wanted to get the hand quilting on this started, so I spent the evening basting. Dave has been asking when this will be done, so he was pretty jazzed when he came home and saw me working on this. 

As it turns out, the card table is actually a great surface to baste on, much preferable to the floor. I had always thought I needed to spread out on the floor to do this, but gravity and the smooth table surface actually really helped the whole process. No puckers, no sore knees, and a nicely basted quilt in the end. No more floor basting for this girl!

I started a little bit of the hand quilting. I'm going to take my time with it and have fun. Jack is very excited about the prospect of me under a quilt on the couch in the evenings, so I have to keep stopping him from climbing on it. I'd like to try to keep it kitty hair free at least until I've finished it! Then he can sit on it and me all he wants. 

Linking up at Freshly Pieced

Monday, December 17, 2012

Baggins for beads

Woo! Three of the five beaded necklaces I finished will be going to aunts this Christmas, and I finished up all three bags last week. I am super pleased with them.

Each bag matches the necklace fabric and has a contrasting print used inside and for the drawstrings. I must say, these are surprisingly quick to make once you get the hang of it and I think they add a nice finish to the gift. I use fabric drawstring bags for a bunch of things: to carry my camera around, to pack jewelry for travel, to store computer cords in... 

Soon these little bagginses will be off on an adventure to their new homes. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hop along now

I am a gift-making ninja. That's the only way to describe the evening I had on Sunday when I focused my proverbial eye of Sauron on the list of things I still needed to get done. (We have been re-watching the LotR extended edition DVDs, I get some concessions). Top of the list? Jasmine's art pencil roll-up.

My very first post on this blog was about a project I made for my oldest niece to house some colored pencils in a fashion very similar to one of my favorite art supplies. I was told a few months ago that her younger sister 'really likes the pencil roll' and she had put in a special request for one. Well how can you say no to that? Auntie Alia aims to please. 

I'd been putting this off because I could not find my notes from the last time I did it, but Sunday afternoon I finally found the page I had written on, and away I went. I'm trying to get better at using my stash and larger scraps of fabrics, even though it's always satisfying when you can use small scraps to get the job done. I actually started from the blue dot fabric and figured it went pretty well with the adorable frog seersucker print. That print is from a covered photo album I made for my oldest niece's very first birthday; how nice to remember that bit of history. Combine those two with some pezz and the ever-present green swirl Ikea fabric and I think this lily pad's starting to get somewhere! 

For some reason I fit less pencils in this version, by maybe 6 or so. I had in my notes that I spaced the lines one inch apart, but maybe those were scant inches whereas this time they might have been a bit larger than an inch. I guess this way she'll be able to fit some fat markers in it when the pencils run out? Still, I think it turned out very cute.

An important finish to fill an important special request!

Linking up with my favorite Friday reading, crazy mom quilts Finish It Up Friday

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I started this project when I started reading Anna Karenina last month. I'm done with the book, but still working on the knitting. The color of this red yarn is dramatic just like Tolstoy's work! 

This began as the solution to a simple knitting craving and has escalated. The simple part being a scarf based on a simple, repetitive yet striking pattern. However, as I was knitting this I kept thinking to myself: 'self, you have a lot of scarves already,' so I decided to stop this one short, quite literally, and make it into a buttoned cowl instead. I hope to find some nice buttons in my stash to make this look classy yet quirky. Oh, and also to figure out how to add button holes to the design. Maybe not necessary with those yarn-overs so nice and equally spaced.... this will depend upon the buttons.

To use up the rest of the yarn, I began a pair of mittens from the other end of the ball. I say other end because I haven't bound off the scarf portion yet. I'm waiting to see if I have enough yarn for both mittens first because the scarf/cowl can always get longer or shorter depending how much I have left. 

So now I have a mass of yarn that is as complex as the plot lines in Tolstoy's book but it should be sorted out soon. In contrast to the scarf, the mitten pattern I chose does not make for a simple project, so it's taking longer than anticipated. But at least they are easier than gloves. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holidays in progress

The holidays are fast approaching, and just like last year my workspace is a beautiful mess. 

I started these beaded necklaces last month because they are so quick to put together. This bunch is destined to be gifts for family and friends. I think the matching gift bags will be a fun touch! 

I'm sort of improvising them based on Jeni Baker's drawstring bag tutorial. The improvisation comes in at the sizing, not in any of the construction details. 

I used up the last of my wooden beads, both large and small, but just look at these beauties just waiting to be finished! 

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for Work in progress Wednesday. Check out what everyone else is up to for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Morning on the prairie

A good friend of ours had her birthday last week, and Saturday there was a party to celebrate. She is always so complementary of things that I make and wear or just have around our house, so I wanted to make her something of her own. I had a skein of a lovely silk/wool blend yarn that I bought 'to try' at Nine Rubies in San Mateo (Malabrigo Silky Merino) that was in just the right colors for her. The Pradera colorway is a beautiful light spring green coated in cobalt blue to give an interesting turquoise color. At first it looked like the sea to me but when I looked up what pradera meant (grassland) and saw the images from the search I understood. Google pradera and you'll find images of green fields under bright blue skies.

Sad to say the photos were taken the evening I gifted it (also the same evening I blocked it... ahem...) so the lighting is a little yellowish and is only somewhat fixable in Photoshop. 

This is a version of a 28 Row Scarf on Ravelry that I made using a few of the modifications from another Raveller's version. How great is it that there is a website where one can search a particular yarn, yardage, and type of project? Seriously awesome. 

My version of this ruffle scarf ends up being just enough to drape around the neck and twist for a nice flounce in the front. When I blocked it (steam blocking) it ended up being about one and a quarter full circles long. Using this yarn, the fabric has a lovely drape and weight to it, but so much so that I think a longer scarf would be too limp to look nice. 

This silky single ply yarn was really great to work with. I think I might save up and purchase enough to make myself a dressy sweater someday. But the best part? She loved it!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ripples in the Pacific

I bought some yarn from Nine Rubies in San Mateo a month and a half or so ago, and to justify the cost at the time (i.e. headed into the holidays) I had to promise Dave that I would use at least some of it for myself. What a sweetheart. He knows we crafters hardly ever keep anything for ourselves and has been a big encouragement to me in making for our home. But home vs. self is different, and an even higher hurdle to get over.

After working on a lot of sewing projects at the card table through October, I was in the mood for simple knitting. Not even stockinette (purling somehow is not as fun...) but garter stitch. Oh yes. Simple. So I popped onto Ravelry looking for some garter stitch shawls that still had some visual interest. I found the Multnomah pattern and really liked the simplicity of the design which still has so much to say. 

I loved the way her finished product ended up with just a single color that had highlights and lowlights along the skein in a beautiful green. When I saw this pretty turquoise color, felt how squishy the yarn was, and read the colorway name (Asilomar) I knew this would be the perfect memento of my time spent here in California. Thus, Pacific was born.

One of my favorite things to do when I first moved out here eight years ago was to drive 92 out to Half Moon Bay to see the ocean. I did this with friends from grad school, friends from home, by myself, and at one point even took horseback riding lessons in an arena by the waves. The Pacific fascinates me and I could stare at it for hours (as I demonstrated on my birthday last year when Dave took me up to Mendocino County for a weekend). The edging is a subtle reminder of waves lapping up on the shore. 

The yarn, Shalimar Breathless, knit up beautifully and was a pleasure to work with. I would definitely use it again in another project. It seems like it will hold up to wear quite well, too, but still manages to have a drape to the fabric. This was a good project for travel since the pattern is pretty simple. I actually finished the last few rows of it in the late evenings in Boston last month. Blocking took longer, but I got that done this weekend.

I also got to break in my new interchangeable needles that I got for my birthday! It's so nice to have all the sizes handy so I don't have to worry if I have the right one when I see a project I like. I can't say how many times I've gotten excited to try something one evening and then realized I didn't have the right the needle size. Problem solved! Super excited about that.

I've already worn it and despite the fact that it's a weird in-between size (not big enough to wrap around, but too triangle-y to tie as a neckerchief) I found a good way to tie it and not have it look like a bandana. As it turns out, it will look very nice with my abalone shell pendant. How appropriate.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fresh Sewing Day December

Last month my goals were to get started on a baby quilt, work on some Christmas gifts on my list, and baste the Medallion quilt. One out of three isn't bad. I did get some work done on Christmas gifts for folks, but just nothing to take pictures of and call a finish for a mosaic. Gasp!

Honestly I'm not all that surprised considering how busy November was for us. We did manage to celebrate my birthday with the best surprise party ever -- friends popped out from behind the furniture and then we all went to see Skyfall on opening night (!!!), celebrate Thanksgiving with friends in The City, submit all of our faculty applications, and spend a week at a conference together in Boston (traveling for work is so much nicer with your spouse... we're lucky we are both in the same discipline). 

With all that activity, I was pretty much burned out by the end of the days. I ended up starting a bunch of kniting projects, instead. :o) Totally not on the 'must do before the holidays' list but isn't that just how it goes. 

Look! We're wearing hand-knits in Boston :)

So this month there will be gift finishes (and honestly, probably some more yarny non-gift-related finishes too) and a nice hiatus for the holidays. The goals are: necklaces need ribbon ties, Jasmine needs an artist roll up, and I'd like to finish my mittens. Avanti!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shoo fly don't bother me

Well that was fun. I started and finished my bee blocks (for November!) last night. They've still got a few days to fet there on time. It has been the first bit of sewing more complicated than a few fabric tubes that I've done in about a month. This fall has been completely full of travel so I've been doing knitting on the planes. Also I started and finished Anna Karenina. That's what a few trips to the east coast gets you from here -- loooots of reading time.

Jacey asked for shoo fly blocks in a variety of sizes/layouts using blues with grays in the background.  I have to admit, the free formishness of the prompt was probably what stalled me when I first read it, but the bigger issue really is that I don't have any gray solid. I kept thinking I would have the time to go get some (hah!) but in the end I just made do with cutting solid sections out of a print I had leftover from the back of Steve and Egle's quilt. It's a little heavier than quilting weight cotton, but not that different in texture and weight than linen so I think it's all right. I actually really dig the color.

Also it turns out that the freedom from a final finished block size worked in my favor since I could improv piece a few smaller shoo flys based on what squares I could get out of some smaller scraps of the gray I had. I didn't need to worry about what size they'd end up, just that I could join them up and make them into a larger block. Woo! I felt so resourceful.

Then I really wanted to use that Summerlove print from my stash, but to get the blue to dominate the pieces it really needed to be a single large block. So after doing the little fiddly bits in the first block I  got to go nice and big for the next. Boy that one went fast. 

So, what I originally thought was going to be a hard assignment actually turned out great. The blocks were way easier to piece than I thought from skimming the tutorial the first time around, and I'm all in all pleased with my color choices and the final products. And it felt so nice to sew again!