Tuesday, December 31, 2013

La Flor de la Nochebuena

I just put the final stitches into this oooold UFO. She's the sister my Fall Madonna, and here and here are some of the process photos, jeez, from 2010.

I got stuck with this piece because I felt like the Madonna looked like she was floating in space.  Easy fix: I extended the poinsettia swag under her.

This piece is built on a vintage napkin, and features, broiderie perse, silk ribbon embroidery, and lots of beads.   The embellished lace circle represents the new moon.

I had to add a bird.

 The Virgin's beaded skirt references the Mexican national costume, and the poinsettia is native to Mexico, and a flower associated with winter.  La Flor de la Nochebuena, the title of this quilt, comes from one of the Spanish names for this flower, which literally means Christmas Eve Flower.

I have been saving this backing and binding fabric of gold poinsettias for a long time.  The quilt is labelled, like lots of my other quilts, with a vintage doily.

Many blessings in 2014 to all.  I'm relieved to begin the new year with one less unfinished project.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Using My Powers for Good

 A student of mine in an intern at a center for youth, and she's asked for outerwear for the kids she's working with.  I decided to make up some hats, the first batch is made of bulky yarn from the Rockstar pattern.


I got a little bored and so switched to Keiyla's Basic Beanie and broke out some scraps.   This runs a bit big if you want to knit for someone with a bigger head.  Both patterns are free on line.

 Continuing the children's clothes-making for Debra's project, I sewed up this size 6 dress.

Contrasting facing makes for a fun deail.

 Instead of gathering the fabric for a ruffle, I stitched on some eyelet, so the finishing was super fast.

After this my Janome had a bit of a meltdown, and I had to take it to the repair shop.  This gave me the chance to dust off one of my old Singers, the 301 and to oil it up to sew a couple of pairs of shorts I'd cut out.  Boy the stitch on these old machines is a thing of beauty.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


We're doing what we can here to stay toasty.  The temperatures have been very cold all week: down to the mid-20s overnight, and barely scratching 40 degrees during the day.  I  wanted some long fingerless gloves to keep my wrists warm, so I knit these up from a partial ball of worsted weight wool

The pattern Toasty, is free on line.  I added ribbing to make it fit more snugly, and I'm thinking of adding some crewel embroidery.

I finished the scarf/shawl I was weaving from self-striping sock yarns on my rigid heddle loom.  Here you see it before I twisted the fringes and wet blocked it.

I also used a fine yarn with tiny sequins, which you can see in this photo.  Note to self:  in the future save any yarns that might snag in the heddles for the weft only.  I like how it looks, but it was slow going easing those sequins out of the heddles.

It's too cold to do much in the way of outdoor activities, so I'll warp up  another shawl.  I'm learning a lot about what yarns do best in the warp, so this next one should be smooth sailing.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sewing for Kiddies

I'm on a sewing roll, and was inspired to participate in Debra's effort to make dresses to donate to a children's home in her area.

I trolled through my stash: gosh I've got lots of pink, how perfect is that?  I cut out a dress and this size 4 shorts set.  It really takes me back to sew kids' clothes.  I used to do this for my two when they were little.

The shorts are really quick to make, and I think I'm going to use my plaid shirt stash to make some unisex shorts.

Here's the pattern I used:  it meets my criteria of not having too many pieces.

I used an old Sewing With Nancy trick:  the pattern includes sizes 4-6, so I copied sizes 4 & 5 onto waxed paper, and cut out the size 6, so I have all three sizes.

All the pieces fit nicely into this re-purposed zippered bag.

I also bought this pattern.  The tiered top can use up some smaller pieces of yardage, and be lengthened into a dress.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stitching Away

My university closes for the whole Thanksgiving week, so I've had some much-needed downtime to sit and do some sewing.  My daughter wanted a new apron.  I've made her half aprons for work (she's a restaurant cook) in the past, but this time she wanted a full apron.  I used a "heirloom" apron my son made in middle school (about 10 years ago).  I still wear it when I cook.  Allie wanted hers to be a little wider, so I allowed for a few more inches at the sides, and made it longer, but otherwise used Alex's apron as a pattern.

I cut the fun faux-1950s kitchen fabric and the lining at the same time with the rotary cutter.

I rotary cut long strips for the ties, pressed to the middle, and top-stitched.

Allie asked for a pen holder...

...a big pocket, and a loop.

Success!  Even Louie the cat is impressed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ridgid Heddle Weaving With Self-Striping Sock Yarns

I've had a craving to weave for awhile, so I warped my loom with some self-striping sock yarns and  pretty quickly had this lovely shawl.

I'd bought a battery-operated fringe twister, which I got to use for the first time.  It makes fast work of this neat finish.

I used some inexpensive Premier self-striping sock yarns, warping with just over one ball of the purple, and with a little of the pink and the sparkly yarn.  I find I get a beautiful result with these yarns, which produce a plaid-like fabric.  For the weft I randomly alternated the rest of the purple with some solid purple sock yarn.

The sparkly yarn had some slubs, which fit through the 12 dpi heddle with little tugging.  The yarn is a bit scratchy, so I think I'll use it more sparingly in the future.  This was a Tuesday Morning find.

I impressed myself so much with this project, I immediately warped the loom again, this time with blues and greys.  I figure I'll stockpile these shawls for gifts.

Here are some gratuitous pretty photos: the first, a fall scene taken at a rest stop when Michael and I returned from a weekend trip a couple of weeks ago.  That yellow tree called out to me.

Another beauty shot: this time of my cat Louie, who posed so nicely for me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby Quilts

Debra asked for baby quilt tops to donate to a program that allows incarcerated women to keep their infants with them.  I was very interested in supporting these women and their children, and the idea of making a few baby quilts appealed to me.

I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon whipping out these tops.  The pink and green one was from a set of blocks I had made with an eye toward a larger quilt.  What a relief to make one more pink block, put on a border and be done!

This quilt's center is a pre-printed panel left over from another  project.  I added two borders, the outside one being from The Fabric That Would Never Die.  Debra sent me a bunch of this blue tropical fabric years ago for some charity quilt project, and she sewed up a bunch of it too, and yes, there's still some in my stash.

The blue and yellow fabric in this quilt is flannel, and the novelty fabric is regular cotton.

Here I used another novelty panel, added a border, and voila.

This has been so satisfying, I think I'll make more until Debra tells me to stop.  I may also stash a few of these for gifts.  If I want to finish a big quilt, I'll trick myself by breaking it into baby quilt-sized units.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Sometimes I find patterns that I just want to knit over and over.  Right after I finished my last Ridge and Furrow Shawl, I cast on another one.  It's a perfectly mindless project.  Just grab two balls of yarn that go together, and keep knitting in the pattern until you run out of yarn.  This one is made of one ball of Berrocco Lustra, a blend of wool and tencel in solid brown, and one ball of Crystal Palace Yarns Taos, a variegated wool yarn.  Both were sale yarns I picked up with no project in mind.

I've already knit two more pairs of Basic Fingerless Mittens, this time with two colorways of Fibranatura Oak, a blend of superwash wool, silk and linen, that I got for cheap at Tuesday Morning.  This yarn is a light worsted, but I doubled the yarn by knitting from both ends of the ball simultaneously, and used a size 9 needle.  These gloves are a women's medium, while the ones I made from the superbulky yarn were a women's large.  Throw in an extra two rows after the cuff and they'll fit better. 

I like to stockpile projects like these for gifts.  Oh yes, that gift giving season will be upon us soon.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vintage Embroidery Patterns

I've long been a fan of the Flickr site Hoop Love, a treasure trove of vintage embroidery motifs.  Some of the designs can also be found on Pinterest.

I found a couple of designs I liked, enlarged them to 8 x 10, and traced one onto water soluble stabilizer. 

 I've done this before, but this time I used a gel pen, which took forever to dry and which transferred ink to the needle when I stitched.  Next time I'll use a Sharpie or Pigma pen and hope for better results.  I prefer to use this method over a transfer pencil, because I feel like I get a clearer image of the design.

You can see here where I machine stitched the stabilizer to the top of a cotton dish towel.  This work goes fast: big stitches with 6 strands of floss makes for a bold design. 

Next I'll rinse the stabilizer out, wash and iron the towel.   It will add some cheer to my kitchen.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Mitts and Apple Time

I've been very busy at work these days, so I don't have much creative work to show for myself.  I did, however, knit this pair of mitts in a chunky wool, an old ball of Noro Bonbori. I always love the color changes in Noro yarn. The free pattern Basic Fingerless Mitts,  is knit flat and seamed, and it's a quick project to make.  These went to a colleague who gave me some wool to unravel. 

I have an apple tree in my backyard, and it's Apple Time, so I had to do something with this year's harvest.

 I cooked up a couple of vats of applesauce...

...and got over a dozen pints.

I also made over a dozen small jars of apple chutney.  We eat a lot of chutney at my house.  This was a half day's work, but it was a team effort.  Michael was in charge of peeling the apples, and I have one of those little hand crank peelers that's fun to use. 

I still have apples, but I've done my canning for the year.  With the leftovers, they'll be some apple crisps, and maybe a few baked apples.

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...