Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cheap Thrills

I found these goodies on a recent thrift store trip.  I spent all of $4, and I came away with some minor treasures.

I got a bag of the tiniest white buttons, some fine crewel embroidery wool, and this ceramic hand.

The hand rides that fine line between creepy and cool.  I keep thinking one day I'll find one of those hands that are meant to display and store jewelery, but so far no luck, but this one isn't a bad substitute.

I'll use this hand, which is life size (hence the creepy element) to hold beads and buttons.  Remember Thing, that hand in a box on The Addam's Family?  Like Thing, it can be my crafty helper.

As long as it doesn't move around the house on its own like Thing.

I also finished this Deirdre shawl, a free pattern  by Linden Heflin on Ravelry.  It's a fairly plain knit, in that androgynous style so popular these days. 

It has a very simple lace edging, which I'm not sure I did right, but I think it looks fine nonetheless.  I had to knit the lace section twice when I dropped a bunch of stitches in the last row and couldn't pick them up properly, so I ripped that part out and re-knit.  

It was that or toss the whole thing in the back of the closet, and I've run out of room back there.

The yarn is two skeins of Deborah Norville Serenity sock weight in "Teal Tease."  It's a great bargain for a wool, bamboo and nylon blend, and it comes in some nice self-stripping colors.   I'll put this one aside until the fall, or perhaps save it for a gift.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

147 Pyramids

My Pyramids quilt started enthusiastically when I went through my stack of 3 inch strips and pulled a bunch in purple and green to make a Thousand Pyramid quilt using Debra's amazing tutorial.

Once I had a bunch of these on my design wall, I stepped away and sighed.  Though I love the look of the Thousand Pyramid design, the thought of all that repetitive sewing gave me hives.  So I went back to my pile of 3" strips, and decided to to do a strippy version of the Thousand Pyramids quilt.

I also decided that instead of starting yet another big project, that's it's okay to stockpile a few baby quilt tops.  There are always babies coming along that need a quilt.

This is not quite a thousand pyramids, but I like the way the prints blend and contrast, and the way it's both geometric and floral.  For me 147 pyramids (more or less) were quite enough, thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bistro Apron and a Finshed Sweater

 It was Allie's birthday this week, and I decided to make her a couple of bistro aprons as part of her gift.  She cooks at a restaurant, and likes the long half aprons.  Since they're pretty casual at her job, I took out some fun fabrics I knew she'd like.

Fabric: Alexander Henry's "Las SeƱoritas"

These are a cinch to make, and you can easily get one from a yard of fabric.  The finished size is  29.5 inches wide and 34.5 inches long, so cut a rectangle a little bigger than this, fold narrow hems all the way around, and top stitch them down.  Also cut two 1.5 inch wide strips the length of the apron, fold in half along the length of the strips, and then fold and press the long raw edges toward the center and top stitch.  Attach a tie at each top corner, reinforcing each one by sewing an "x" over the spot where the tie meets the apron.   You can add an optional 9X9" pocket at the top.  Press nicely, and you're done.  I'm glad to get some of these fun fabrics out of the drawer and into the light of day.

Fabric: Alexander Henry, "Los novios"

I also finally finished my Top-Down Raglan Sweater, knit from a bag of Noro Kureyon that I treated myself to. 

I got a little carried away by the buttons for this project.  I had stashed a bunch of these bee buttons, and when I began this sweater, I decided to see how many I could use.  Because of all the buttons, the finishing, with the button band and buttonhole reinforcement, took a little while.

This yarn has long lovely color changes, but I cannibalized a few skeins to concentrate the light and dark colors in the most flattering places.  In our cool summer weather, this sweater is my new jacket substitute.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Bitter with the Sweet


My dear cat Fatty died over the weekend.  She was 15 or 16 years old, and came to live with us after the neighbors she'd lived with moved away and left her behind.  They'd adopted her from a shelter, so she had an uncertain early life, but she had great spirit and a big personality, that helped her maneuver in the world until she landed at my house.


The neighbors named her Cleo, but giving nicknames based on physical attributes is a Mexican sign of affection and familiarity, so she became Fatty to me.  Ironically, when she got sick over the last few months, she shrunk down to half her highest weight.

She was very photogenic, and she liked to "talk" and "sing."  Here's a favorite post I wrote in 2007 about Fatty, with one of my favorite photo sequences of her.

 She's in the Spirit World now, but I'll always remember her with great love.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wedding Bells and the Honeymoon Shawl

Michael and I were married May 20 at my house with my kids as witnesses.  We've been moving toward this step in our relationship for some time, but hadn't quite set a date.  Then in May we booked a vacation cruise to Mexico, and readied to leave town on the 21st.  Suddenly The Right Time had manifested itself, and our vacation turned into a honeymoon, with visits to my parents and to one of Michael's sons and his family as bookends.

The wedding itself was hastily arranged.  I only had a dress because I'd bought one for the trip.  We got the license that morning, and I called my kids at noon to tell them that the wedding would be at 2.  Troopers that they are, they showed up right on time (both on their way to work)  for the short ceremony performed by a local judge, a friend of Michael's, who also gamely agreed to perform the ceremony at my house on short notice.  We would've gone to his office, but he insisted that a less bureaucratic location would be much better.  

That night I put my tennis shoes back on and we went out to dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.   Though the arrangements were very casual, we were both very happy.

The cruise was wonderfully relaxing.  We stopped at Cabo San Lucas and at Puerto Vallarta, where we enjoyed the hot weather, shopping and the beach.  On the ship we spent time reading, getting sunburned, listening to music, and otherwise honeymooning.  It was very romantic.

Looking back on the photos Michael has noticed how happy I look.  Yes, definitely happy.

And there is a fiber-related angle here too.  I started knitting a simple shawl to take on the trip, a variation on the Kid Silk Haze Shawl pattern.  I used some anonymous thrifted mohair yarn on size 11 needles.  If I'd known I was going to get married I might have planned a more elaborate project, but as it is, I finished the shawl, not before the wedding, but on the long drive to Sacramento before our flight to southern California and the cruise ship.

So this is my Honeymoon Shawl, and it worked perfectly as a lightweight but warm shawl for the nights at sea.  It's very much a reflection of our whole wedding experience: it's plain, thrifty, yet cheerful and not without style. 

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...