Friday, June 14, 2013

A girly gift

Pinterest wins again. It has been so useful to save pictures of projects I want to make "eventually" to my boards on Pinterest. I had come upon some cute travel jewelry bags a while back, and the time came this week to try one out. 

I picked out four fabrics from my stash that I thought were fun together but not too "matchy" and I think it turned out looking quite cute! I really like that curio print on the inside of the pouch, it adds a little something girly. As if the pink wasn't girly enough... 

The construction is essentially two discs of fabric sewn together to form pockets around the inside for small items like rings and earrings, and the drawstring closure creates a larger pouch to hold necklaces and bracelets. I referred to the tutorials here and here but improvised my own circles based on the size plate I had handy in my cupboard. A bit of ribbon cinches the whole thing up and makes me happy I decided to line it with polka dots. How happy looking is that?

At first I thought it was going to be HUGE based on the measurements in the patterns and the pieces I cut out, but as it turns out, of course once you sew seams and get everything together and cinched it isn't overly big at all. My inner circles were 11" in diameter, smaller than either of the two tutorials, and I wouldn't go much smaller than that. 

This was really fun and quick to make, and I liked getting to play with my fabrics to find a suitably quirky combination. I will be gifting this one (shhh!!!) but I would love to make myself one of these and a matching laundry bag like I made for Dave to take along when I am traveling. This might be a good project to play around with some decorative stitching and trims, too to make it even more snazzy. Should be fun experimenting. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Riding through the desert on a {shawl} with no name

I have gone back and forth on names for my current knitting project. I keep circling back around to "Miami" because of the combination of colors, but I think I can do better than that. This is a Color Affection shawl designed by Veera Valimaki of 100% Rain. I have enjoyed every stitch since March.

I really wanted a simple project and I'm not a big fan of stockinette stitch, mostly because of the purls. Purling hurts my hands more for some reason. Garter stitch is just the answer for that woe. And an edgy garter stitch wrap? Yes, please and thank you.  I'm unsure if my carrying the yarn up the sides for the striping is going to lead to tension issues at the top edge as I've read about from others... now that I'm more than halfway done. I have been mindful to try keeping it as loose as I can switching, so I've got my fingers crossed it will be ok.

I put it down for a while but picked it up again last weekend and made a lot of progress on our three-day camping trip. I am actually within 8 rows of finishing the stripes! That's progress, people. Of course since it's top-down the rows are getting longer and longer. I have managed to increase my knitting speed after all these stitches, so the rows actually go by pretty quick. I was hoping to have this done for the beginning of summer, but it looks like that isn't going to happen. Perhaps for Fourth of July? The colors are in the red, white, and blue sprit after all. 

The thing about this shawl that makes it so awesome (besides the narrow striping, which I LOVE) is the asymmetry of the finished piece. This is accomplished by using short rows, a new skill for me. Turns out they are easier than most directions would make them sound. Just look at those pretty V's of gray! I really can't wait to see the whole thing draped across my shoulders. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

testing, testing

Back March I had decided what pattern I was going to use for a 'me quilt' with my precious stash of Indie fabrics. Needless to say, despite my plans, I haven't started it yet. Besides the Crazy Spring of 2013 that I've just experienced, I have to say I've been putting it off because I'm feeling intimidated. It's my favorite fabric and a pretty complicated block - paper pieced even! Maybe I've been waiting for that elusive large chunk of time to appear so I can start. Regardless. Intimidated.

So I decided to test it. Sara requested paper pieced stars to add to her quilt-in-progress in the Bee Sew Modern bee this month. I perused her current blocks to check that no one has already made a Schoenrock Cross for her and decided that surely ONE block can't be that bad to make. Now that it's finished, I agree with myself. It wasn't really all that bad. Yay!

Sara requested a black background and a rainbow of colors. Yep, back to the scrap jars! I'm continually amazed at the things I can come up with out of those jars. I printed out four of the foundation paper piecing templates from Where the Orchids Grow, my original inspiration for this quilting adventure. After some cursing and ripping out of several seams I finished all the paper pieced sections. I may try using the freezer paper piecing method for my quilt -- I might go batty if I did a whole quilt using foundation paper piecing. 

The strips for the center cross were quick and easy, and now the whole rainbow is complete. 

The pattern is for 10 inch blocks, and I needed a 12.5 inch block for the bee. I added on borders in black to make up the difference; they are much wider than they need to be because my brain went on vacation, but she can trim it up when adding it to her collection. Better too big than too small. 

During the making I kept thinking to myself "Self, pick a simpler block!" but now that I've finished this one I'm pretty convinced the payoff is worth the effort. Am I crazy? Maybe. 

Check out what others are up to at Finish it up Friday

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spring Showers

This is the week of the bee block. This pretty block was requested in the Bee Sew Modern bee by Anna. She posted a nice tutorial on her blog. I appreciated her thorough instructions for pieces to cut out, though my knees and back protested my doing so on the floor. Oooops. Cutting out all of the pieces ahead of time definitely saved time in the long run though -- chain piecing made assembly a breeze. 

I raided the scrap jars again for this block -- with the addition of the white from stash. Anna chose colors that reminded her of spring rain, and I must say I agree with her. I'm quite partial to these colors. Also spring rains. I enjoyed driving around with my dad when it rained in Chicago. Nothing says 'lazy Sunday' to me like a drive in a light drizzle. I don't get to do that much around here, but I love it when I get the chance. People think I'm a bit nuts when I revel in the rainy days. 

With the exception of the center on-point square, this block is just squares, HSTs, and flying geese. Pretty simple actually considering how complicated it looks! I'm looking forward to seeing how she puts everyone's blocks together. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Twinkle, twinkle

Jacey asked for yellow, purple, and/or gray star blocks of any kind in the do.Good Stitches Love circle. Her primary suggestion was wonky stars, which I've never tried. That's one of the things I like best about the idea of a quilting bee -- I get to try new things I may not have thought of making before.

Twinkle, twinkle little star was my oldest niece's favorite song when she was little. I hummed a few bars to myself when I finished these star blocks yesterday.

I have a lot of scraps right now, so I challenged myself to make these blocks only from my scrap jars. It was fun playing around with all the different bits and seeing how I could get them to fit the prompt.  To make some larger, scrappy pieces I stitched together 3 strings of fabric and cut 4 big squares. The friendship star block (at the right) came together after making HSTs and a lot of experimenting with layouts. Some of the arrangements I wasn't sure really qualified as 'star' so I kept coming back to this simple star.

My favorite of the two is this little wonky star. I think it's the background. And the combination of purples. And the jaunty attitude of the little star. I guess it's everything! The block itself was really a simple sew, and a great use for all those smallish odd shaped scraps that I wonder why I keep sometimes.

The star looks like someone is jumping for joy. Probably because I'm feeling caught up now! How's that for a Rorschach test?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fresh Sewing Day June

Well then! How quickly time flies and poof it's June already. Thank you, dear readers (and bee mates!), for bearing with me through what has been assuredly one of my busiest months in recent years. It was sort of a monochromatic month, with just a splash of color thrown in. Not my usual M.O. for sure!

I did not do anything craft related this month aside from complete some bee blocks. I especially like the black and white quarter-dresden block I improvised. I've got an inkling of an idea for another version of that one. For another time, though.

The cute little ball of fur is our remaining cat, Newton. We adopted him in January as a companion for Jack, but now he's my project. He is shy, just like Jack was in the beginning so I've been spending lots of time on the floor convincing him that pets are the best thing in the kitty universe. I think he's drinking the Kool Aid. He is only a year old, so he has a long time ahead of him for neck rubs and lap time. I'm sure it will come. He has definitely been a great help to me this last month. 

Though I don't usually write about work things in this space, this May was an especially important month for me because I defended my thesis! May 21st started out with nerves and ended in handshakes, happiness, and an impending PhD. I am participating in graduation this June and will turn in my final version of the written thesis by the end of August after which I'll officially be "Dr. Alia". I may even post a picture or two of me in the funny hat. 

Looking to June, I've got a bevy of bee blocks to make, and a baby blanket to quilt and bind. Looks like it will be the month of the letter B. It was so nice to get back behind the sewing machine at the end of May, and it feels good to wipe the slate clean from a messy, stressful Spring and look forward to the Summer.