Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Well, it has clearly been a busy month here, as I haven't blogged at all! I feel like I am just coming up for air around here, as it has taken me a while to figure out how to insert 20 hours of work into my full time parenting role. I have ended up taking a night away from home to work for four or five hours from a coffee shop (my workplace doesn't have an office) which makes it so that I'm not always trying to either work at midnight or work around the corners of family life. There are lots of things you can do in those little pockets of time, and I manage about 3 or 4 hours of stuff during those, but some things take sustained concentration, and I can't do those in tiny intervals.

In any case, around the other corners I have been trying to knit again. I thought a simple cowl would be a good, easy project. This cowl is in seed stitch, but it has an uneven number of stitches per row, so you really don't have to concentrate at all - just check what your last stitch was and do the opposite. I have found that if I leave the yarn at the front, I tend to make extra stitches when I come back to work on it again, but as long as I leave the yarn at the back when I walk away, it is perfectly fine.

This yarn is a chunky yarn - Cascade 128 - and its supposed to make a 15" cowl in about a skien and a little bit of yarn. I guess my knitting is tighter than I thought, because I'm almost finished my first skein and I only have 5 or 6" dones. I don't know if its my fault or the yarn's fault, but I'm definitely NOT buying a third skein of yarn - when I'm done two, I'm going to be done.
Sigh. One day I'll figure out knitting. It just doesn't seem to be as intuitive to me as sewing - maybe I just forget what it used to be like when I started sewing.

In other news, I've been working away on my windmill quilt, too. I have all the rows sewn together. I finally decided to just sew them together and add a border.
The border is going to be mostly rail fence blocks, but I don't quite have enough fabric leftover, so I'm going to add a few squares of other prints. I think its fun to have a border where I mix up the fabrics and explore the colour relationships between them, after having blocks that are all single colour blocks.

I love the crazy colour explosion of this border. I think this is going to be a great winter quilt, when everything is white outside it will provide lots of happy colour inside.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hello, everyone! Well, I've been rather busy since the wedding, and blogging has not been able to be part of my list of priorities. Do you like the ceiling at the Winnipeg airport? Its one of the only photos I remembered to take while I was there. Trekking around with a baby and trying to figure out rides, etc, everywhere was busy - so busy that I didn't end up taking many photos. One of my neices took some photos of my siblings and I, but I haven't seen then yet.

I started a job as a youth co-ordinator at my church at the beginning of September, so I've been scrambling to get everything sorted out there and figure out how to keep everything going at home as well. Between that and the disruption of my trip to Winnipeg and then (Canadian) Thanksgiving (although my American friends tell me its much more low key than American Thanksgiving), I have been running around trying to catch up with everything.

In any case, before I went to Winnipeg I thought I needed one more cute, comfortable blouse. So I pulled out some linen/cotton that I had laying around and Pattern 2 from Simple Modern Sewing, and I whipped up this blouse:
I could put this together in two nights because a) its really simple and b) I bought the bias binding from Fabricville last fall just because it was cute. Fabricville occasionally has these cute bias bindings for sale by the metre, and whenever I see them I always pick up two or three for occasions such as this.
 I lengthened the pattern a few inches, and did not gather it as much as instructed so that I had a wider neckline. I love this shirt and wear it at least once a week. It is linen, so I can pretend it is wrinkly on purpose, and I feel cute and snappily dressed in it with skinny jeans and just about anything else.
And it covers the pernicious post-baby / approaching middle age tummy. So what is there not to love? I think I might actually make another one in a mini dress length with pockets to wear with leggings. I have navy blue plaid binding, I just have to figure out what to pair it with . . . stay tuned. Or perhaps instead I will find some drawers for Owen's clothes instead of the change table and declutter my bedroom.

In other news,we rescued a lost / abandoned kitten that had hidden under our shed a few weeks ago. It is very patient and tolerant of the kids during the day . . .
 and much, much, much loved . ..
 and often reminds me of that book Olivia, because it looks like and gets carried like the cat in that picture book . . .
 and it gets is revenge every night, by attacking the children's feet while they are sleeping. He he he.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ruby Dress Finished!

Its done in time! Whew.

 This is the Ruby Dress I stitched up for my nephew's wedding. It is a casual outdoor wedding, so I think this dress with heels and a sweater will be just fine. I don't know if I can swing the blue tights for the wedding, or if I should get a less dramatic / casual colour. Hmmm . . .
 I lined my entire dress - the top was a little see through, and the bottom was sheer, so it was pretty necessary. Rae made a great tutorial about how to line the dress, and it all worked out fine. The dress fabric was a little fussy, so the largest amount of time with this dress was taken just to get that fabric reasonably even.

The pattern was great - easy to follow and it went together flawlessly. I did add an inch on either side of the side seam to acccomodate my beefy arms and hide my post-baby (even though he's now a toddler) waistline.
I'm pretty happy with it (and will pretend the hem is not wonky - that's me being speedy with fussy fabric, not the pattern) and I think it will be a fun little dress for wearing around town, as well as working out fine for the wedding. There may be more of these in my future.

Also, as a side note - check out my new boots! They are a present to myself for my birthday / congrats on the new job. Dave got them about half price on ebay, and now that I've finally got them on my feet, I have to wear them all day to break in the leather. Thus the photos and the reason why I am still wearing blue tights under my pants to pick Emma up from preschool . . .

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Should I perservere, or make someting else?

So, my nephew is getting married in two weeks, and I decided about a month ago that I was going to make a dress. Then I got a 20-hours a week job where half of the hours are on my own time .  . . so that would be my sewing time gone.

I'm determined to make myself some clothes anyway, since clothes sewing is not as slow as quilting, and so I've started a dress from the Stylish Dress Book. Well, I've traced pattern pieces and started a muslin. But the muslin of the bodice is WAY too short - think 2 - 3 inches too short - and I've heard the bottom is box-y and will probably need adjusting, too. This is what happens when you are 5'7" and none too slender and you try to make a pattern meant for someone Japanese.

So now I'm trying to decide whether to just make the alterations (I am experienced enough of a garment sewer to make them, its just fussy and time consuming) or to bail before I run out of time and make something quick and simple instead. Like maybe the ruby dress that I just bought the pattern for, with a cardigan and blue tights, or this blouse lengthened with a belt (or just blouse-y?). Hmm.

I think the Ruby Dress might show off the fabric nicely, and the brown voile would make a nice contrast (or possibly a brown corduroy? Would that be going too far in my corduroy obsession?) or some white linen. But then I wonder if it would be dressy enough for a wedding. Since its an afternoon in the park with a potluck reception wedding, I think it might be.

So I have between now and bedtime to think about this, as I'd like to start cutting then. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There will be time, there will be time . . .

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.  - TS Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Ironic, is it not, that this quilt was inspired by that quilt.
Since it seems like every step of the way I am plagued by indecision.
To sash? Not to sash? Cram them together? Keep them apart?
Seriously, I love picking crazy colour combinations and relationships and backgrounds when I'm making my blocks. And then I drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to fit the blocks together in a way that doesn't make you squint.

Or maybe I just like squinting. Haven't decided yet. There will be time, there will be time.

In the meantime, I'm dreaming of another loud combination that screams summer in the city (coffee, water parks, hot concrete, brown eyed susans and echinacia flowers, bricks, mud, rain, humidity, candy, ice cream, popsicles, playground equipment . . . )
The nice things about hobbies is that it doesn't really matter. No one will ever riot in the streets because of my colour choices. Except maybe my kids when they have to figure out what to do with my pile of crazy quilts when I die.

Tea, anyone?

School's In!

After a summer full of a little of this (that would be us getting off the Metro):

And  a lot of this:
An possibly even more of this:
And a bit of:
And a lot of:
And even more:
And quite a few batches of:
And a little bit of:
And more than enough of this for my taste:
And plenty of:

. . . . we have finally made it to the first day of school. Summer with four busy children. What a ride that was.

After this touching scene of "quick, run on the bus before Mom hugs us in front of people or can take photos for her blog"

I returned to the relatively quiet world of the two littlest ones.
Oh, don't worry mom. We'll be sure to keep you busy for the next ten months . . .

Friday, August 23, 2013

Windmills and Assorted Novelties

Well, they're finally done!
These blocks are all put together. Now I feel like they're too bright and disconnected. If you look closely, you can see the relationships between the colours in the Kaffe dots and the other windmill blocks, but from far away they don't look cohesive at all.
So now the question is, how do I either make those associations clearer or, alternatively, how do I seperate the blocks so that they are considered individually? I have been playing with different kinds and ways of sashing the blocks.

As individual blocks with white (the top):
In vertical columns with white:

In vertical columns with colour strips (I'm rather fond of this layout, but I don't want to cut up my HTF fabric until I'm sure)
Or maybe it just needs a colourful boarder to pull the colour relationships together?
And yes, I realize that my dark blue blocks are sewn together wrong - I will rip them apart when I get a chance to sew again.

In other news, I have finally finalized the palatte for Emma's quilt. I have cut out about a million white / cream background novelty fabric squares, and now I'm going to start on this pile:

I am probably adding the blues and greens on the top left as well, though in smaller proportions.

I am considering this layout, which I tried out in fabrics left over from Aaron's i-spy quilt (which was made a whole different lifetime ago). The scrappy plusses is copied inspired by this quilt.

I have been watching Portlandia while cutting out squares, which is pretty fun, but I think they need a little closer editing - sometimes they could do with stopping while they're ahead (ie - still funny). All in all I love that show, though. I'm all done the episodes on Netflix, and I've started watching 24. Its okay, but not really my thing. I'm thinking of starting into the new Dr Who series, as I have 7 series to watch and I'm an old fan of the old series. I'm just trying to find an economical way to watch it in Canada.

In any case, that's neither here nor there. We have 6 days left until school around here, and I must confess I am ready for the routine. The thought of cutting another watermelon or packing another picnic lunch seems like more than I can bear at this point. Ah, routines and schedules! Here we come!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reversible Linen Bag!

I had to take a break from my windmill quilt blocks, as my bag was falling apart. I am not one of those people who has a ton of bags - I like to have one large bag for dragging all the stuff I need to amuse the whole crew at church or soccer (diapers, clothes, sticker books, drawing books, pencils, small toys, etc) and a smaller bag for when its just me or a few of the kids.

My smaller bag was finally giving up the ghost after 10 years. I have used it on and off when my kids were of ages where I didn't need to bring a hundred diapers and two changes of clothes just to walk to the store and back. But finally one of the straps disintegrated, so I had to make something new.

I combed the web for a pattern that I liked, but in the end I decided that I would make my own pattern - one the same size as my old bag and including some of my favorite features from a bag I made up a few years back (so long ago that I don't have a digital photo of it). Those of you who knew me in real life in Saskatchewan will probably remember my awesome green corduroy bag that this is based on.

This bag is super sturdy, as the outside is basically made of two pieces - one rectangle for the body of the bag and a second long rectangle that makes up the straps and the sides of the bag. The grey fabric is a new Parson's Grey linen, and the contrast pocket is from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush line.
The strap is super long, so I can wear it across my body. I don't have great bag carrying shoulders and I tend to have children tugging on my arms and clothes while I walk, so this is really the only practical way for me to wear a bag.
The back has a deep pocket with a little rim of the bright pink peeking out. This pocket lines up with the body of the bag, and makes an easy to access but hard to steal from pocket for my phone, wallet, etc. I like it because it seperates these things from the main section of the bag, which is usually full of kid stuff now, and will later be full of books, note pads and crumpled receipts.
The strap is lined with this re-coloured print from AMH's new Hand Drawing line. I think I had this print  in all the origial Garden Party colours - I love it that much. I discovered that it is a perfect bridge between the grey linen and the hot pink pocket fabric, and it adds a flash of interest to the bag, too.
It wasn't until I went to show this bag off to my friends at playgroup on Tuesday that they pointed out that it is actually reversible! I don't know how often I would use the hot pink side, but you can see it here, with a pocket just right for a notebook, lip balm and keys, with a slim pocket next to it just for pens.

I'm pretty happy with this bag. It came together in just a couple of nights, and I think it should be pretty durable. I might whip up a few more for my etsy shop in the fall or write up a pattern for it. What do you think?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Turtle-Like Progress

I've been working a bit more on this quilt these days - these Half Square Triangles are not trimmed yet, nor are the blocks sewn together, but they are getting there.

Part of the reason for the slowness is that my sewing is slowly spreading all over the house, since Dave's recliner is right in front of my sewing area. Now I'm taking over the kitchen table at night, and stashing my supplies all over the house during the day, since climbing toddlers + irons and rotary cutters is not a smart combination.
As you can see, just about everything else in our house is migrating upwards these days, too.

I have been slowly stitching and cutting and pressing these block units, a little chain here, another chain there. A little trimming and pressing at night when all the tiny fingers are tucked into bed. My goal is to have all the blocks done by the end of the month.

Its funny, because I want to make some floor pillows next, and I've been agonizing over what type to make. I have a giant bean bag chair in the shed that we took out of the boys' room, as it was eating the entire floor. I was thinking of using the beads in it to make three or four of these:
The funny thing is that I was reading through the pattern, and thinking, "Wow, there are 30 separate pieces to stitch together in each pouf. If I made four, that would be 120 seams. I don't know if I can sew that many seams.

And then I went off to chain piece some more quilt units. And realized that I had way more than 120 seams in the 8 quilt blocks I was working on. And then I felt a little silly.