Crochet

Sweet and Simple, Simple and Sweet

My rock-star sister-in-law is pregnant and will be delivering her fourth little angel in November.  To that wee one destined to be the precocious little sister of three other incredibly precocious little girls, I dedicate this ensemble.  Possibly the only item she will own for many years that is not a hand-me-down.

It’s my opinion that babies are precious, and innocent and deserve to have adults jump through hoops for them.  Hence, this baby sweater.  It’s my first crochet garment, and it’s a little awesome, if I do say so myself.  But then, baby things are always pretty awesome.

This project is the result of yet another Craftsy.com class called “Beyond Rectangles” by Linda Permann.  Depending on your skill level, some of the instruction was a little basic, but I learned quite a bit and find that I just like guided projects. It’s reassuring to have a reference point for those little details in a pattern that confuse or befuddle. The base pattern for the sweater is simple. Which made it perfect because I like simple.

The cap was not a part of the class.  I made one based on a Bernat pattern, didn’t like it, and ended up just winging it and adding the same edging that I used on the sweater.  I like it much better.  It’s simple.  Simple and Sweet.

Sweet and Simple.  Simple and Sweet.  I like this sweater.  I think that it’s neat…:)

General · Sewing

Progress Realized

I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m in the middle of a “Sewing Do Over”.  And as I’m sure you all know, you can’t have a “do over” without having first attempted something and failed.  I also may have mentioned a few times that I have a tendency to “go big” and over extend myself when I’m excited about something.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, well… I do that.  I don’t just select one project and follow it to completion, I envision hundreds of projects and accumulate everything needed to accomplish them eons in advance of their likely coming to fruition.

With my first attempt at sewing, I started a few things that were never finished.  So great was my ultimate frustration level with sewing that I popped them in storage boxes and walked away.  That was roughly four years ago.  Maybe more.   A couple of weeks ago, I happened across one of these unloved, unfinished projects, and on a whim, I decided to finish it.

It was a bag designed to utilize the pre-quilted fabric you can buy at the fabric store, and inadvertently, it’s got that Vera Bradley thing going on.  I’m not necessarily in love with it, but I still think it’s cute.

As I laid out the pattern pieces that I’d cut out four years earlier, I was actually a little pleased with myself.  They were pretty terrible.  On one hand, it’s never fun to confirm that you suck at something.  On the other hand, it actually let me see that I’ve gotten a little better.  I could actually see the mistakes I made and even distinguish what I would do differently now to eliminate those mistakes.

I still had to rip out and re-do three times to get it finished.  (Sewing is an incredibly  humbling process for me.)  The lining has four pretty deep pockets-but I won’t be photographing them. The final result was not pretty…

But the bag itself is kind of pretty…pretty cute….not bad….and I learned doing it.  Which is always a good thing.

I'm loving this! · Sewing

The Right Tool for the Right Job

I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s the philosophy that led to the purchase of my Chi flat iron, and instigated my quest for a Dyson.  It’s more than marketing, it’s an irrefutable reality.  The right tool for the right job really does make a tremendous difference.

As I’ve stated previously, I’m in the middle of a Sewing “Do Over”.  I’ve been dedicated in my pursuit of basic sewing competency.  And truthfully, it’s been incredibly frustrating.  It’s like I’ve taken the whole concept of “do over” literally.  I’ve had to do the same tasks over and over.

Several years ago when I began my sewing quest, I purchased the best machine I felt I could afford.  I researched a little, and one Sunday night at 9pm, I went to Walmart and purchased a Singer Fashion Mate 7256.  It was packed with features and I paid $199.00 for it.

It seemed fine.  I’ve been so challenged as a seamstress that the equipment seemed like a superfluous concern.  Then one day, it broke.  I took it to the local sewing machine repairman and he fixed it quickly and cheaply.  He was a very nice man and explained the repair he had made on the machine.  As it turned out,  he had worked for Singer for thirty years and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Singer product history. He explained to me that the machines now have plastic internal components and that both their durability and functionality are not what they once were.  He had repaired my machine by replacing one of these plastic components-one with a track record of breaking with routine use.  Bummer.  My nearly new machine broke because I used it. From that day forward, the blush was off the rose.

Suddenly, I noticed that my machine would not cleanly back stitch.  Every seam would begin and end in a bit of a snarl. And sewing through multiple thicknesses?  Forget it. It would sputter and stall.  I began to wonder, what if I’m not the only problematic variable in this sewing equation?   What if the machine is making sewing harder than it has to be?

Before I knew it, I was casting surreptitious glances at other machines.  I would linger after my daughter’s sewing camp, asking questions of the staff at my local sewing machine dealer. I began to haunt craigslist and ebay, researching machines all the while. I decided that I had made a key error with my initial purchase.  I had gone for maximum “features” rather than maximum “function”.  I began to focus exclusively on the big three (Bernina, Pfaff, Viking Husquvarna) and exclusively on mechanical machines. By the time I was finished, I almost had myself convinced to go “new” and purchase a new mechanical sewing machine outright.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.  Until this sewing “do over” results in some sewing skills, paying retail is just not an option. So I returned to ebay, and with a little time and a little patience, successfully bid for and won a Pfaff in my cheap-o price range.

Ta-da! The Pfaff Hobby 1042.  The current generation equivalent is an 1142, but here’s the deal, I don’t care.  I purchased this machine, had it serviced, and bought half a dozen additional, special-function presser feet for about the same price I paid for my Singer.

Back stitching?…Fabulous, no problem….Multiple thicknesses of fabric?…Super.

Suddenly, sewing is a little a easier.  My “do over” is a little more do-able.

Seventy stitches?  Nope.  Not even close.

But it has a good assortment, including stretch stitches and a one-step buttonhole.  So let me sum up by re-stating…The Right Tool for the Right Job.  Sweet!

Crochet · I'm loving this!

Nothing Short of Miraculous!

I’ve been crocheting for about four years now, and I’ve been fairly prolific.  I’ve started and finished a lot of projects, and if you do the math, that nets out to lots and lots of ends that I’ve woven to complete those projects

I’ve also been a student of the craft.  I’ve read voraciously, and studied all of the information I could assimilate with a single-minded focus.  So when I say that there’s not really a lot of information out there on how to weave ends, I feel pretty comfortable with that statement.

People may tell you to leave an “ample” end to weave.  They might even give some direction on methodology, but never once have I seen or read anything that recommended a “tool” as superior to others in the end-weaving game.

You can just imagine my surprise, when lo and behold, I found one! And this find is truly…yes, truly….wait for it…Nothing Less Than Miraculous!  And simple..it’s so freaking simple!  And maybe everyone in the world knows it, but I didn’t!

It’s the composition of the needle!  For four years I’ve been using these

That’s right, the good old $1.99 a pack plastic yarn needles.  I’ve gone through packs of them.  I lose them like you lose pens.  They’re functional, sometimes come in cute colors, and that’s about all you can say about them.

Then last week, out of the blue, I bought these

They’re steel! Cold, smooth steel! The now forever sub-standard plastic needles utz their way through the yarn.  (Utz is a non-scientific term for sallying forth in a manner that is not awesome)  These chrome beauties, however, slice through the yarn, rendering the act of end-weaving mere child’s play.

Why didn’t anyone tell me?  They’re phenomenal! And they’ve been here all long! Behold….Awesomeness!

General

Awards are Nifty!

I’m always thankful and moderately amazed to get feedback on my ramblings. I’m still fairly new to blogging, and I’m not sure when you become cavalier about being “read” or “followed”, but I do know that I’m not there yet. I am completely susceptible to flattery.  It’s just how I roll.

I’ve been passed two very thoughtful awards this week.

Seasonsgirl forwarded the Sunshine award.  Her blog  is lovely and certainly brings sunshine to my day!

Marsha Lee at Streaming Thoughts bestowed the One Lovely Blog Award. Her blog is a wonderful blending of her thoughts on blogging and life in general.

The rules for these two awards vary, so I’d like to give both of them to a handful of blogs that are lovely and bring sunshine.

The Giraffe’s Hat-whimsical and colorful

House of 34-stylish and funny

Stir and Stitch-talented and tasty

By Number 19-crochet wizardry

Oh Sew Tempting-amazing patchwork

Chic Envelopements-radical refashioning

They’re all fabulous! Take a moment and check them out.

Now, I’m supposed to tell you guys 5 or 7 or 11 or 600 things about myself.  So hard.  I think I’ll aim for three.  I’m all about setting achievable goals 🙂

1.  I listen to NPR whenever I’m in my car.  I don’t know when it happened.  One day I listened to a wide variety of music.  The next day, I had crossed over to all talk radio all the time.  I can’t tell you what songs are top 40 and I don’t know who most of the new artists are.  This morning I busted out of my rut and listened to Def Leperd, the Pretenders and 50 Cent.

2.  I can’t tolerate reality TV.  Because of this I’m hopelessly out of the loop at the water cooler.  I didn’t even watch Dancing with the stars this season. I have, however, tuned into A&E’s Duck Dynasty twice in the last week.  Not sure what’s happening there…it’s kind of like watching a wreck.

3.  I have three favorite drinks currently:  1) Latte made at home with Cafe Bustelo, fat free milk, lightly sweetened with agave syrup 2) Dripping Springs Vodka with Fresca 3) Diet Dr. Pepper from the Sonic

What’s your favorite drink this summer?

 

 

 

Crochet

Tunisian…Ta Da!

I completed the first panel of Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian Multi-Garment!

It was fun.  Learning Tunisian has been very gratifying. These pictures  were taken after my first quick run at blocking.  I still have some perfecting to do with the structure.

I have a sneaky suspicion that I would have been happier with a slightly larger size.  I won’t know for certain until I’ve completed the second panel.  The sizes were based on bust circumference and I think I would prefer a little more length on what will inevitably be the “torso”.  Maybe I’m long-waisted….or maybe my tummy is a little more of an issue than my bust….

The color work is fascinating.  Let it be known, however, that it leaves a gazillion ends to be woven.  Hence the probable delay in starting the second panel for the garment.  I need a little time to forget what a pain those ends were.

All in all, however, I’m extremely pleased!  The Craftsy class on Tunisian was a great experience.  I’ve signed on for three additional classes since beginning the Tunisian.  I’m not sure that the instruction I’m seeing is the same quality that Jennifer Hansen provided in the Tunisian class, but I love the platform and  recommend it for anyone who struggles to find classes available in your location or that work with your schedule.

Crochet

Playing the Field..

I’ve been multi-tasking….burning both ends of the candle, if you will.  On the one hand, I am full steam ahead with my Tunisian Crochet class and the Multi Garment.

Simultaneously, I am “go” for my sewing “Do Over”.

It’s like dating two guys when you’re single.  You usually spend one date wishing you were on another.  Then you feel guilty when you’re on a date with a guy you really like, because  the other dude is more responsible and more stable.  Usually things fall apart with both of them at about the same time and you wind up with no date…but I digress…

Apparently the sewing “do over” is Mr. Stability.  The Tunisian multi-garment is the hotter Mr. Smooth. (This is a bizarre analogy, but let’s go with it.)

The stitch patterns are gorgeous.

Even though I’m using cotton instead of silk, the stitching still promises attractive drape. With the Tunisian, despite being in learning mode, everything is easier.

Sewing, not so much.  I’ve finished my first set of pillow covers.  I haven’t worked up the enthusiasm to photograph them yet.  They’re cute….that’s it.  Just cute.  I wanted spectacular…wow! But nope, they’re cute. Like I said, the craft equivalent to Mr. Stability.  I think I’ll wait and post them when I can add a few more for a grouping.

Until then, back to Mr. Smooth…

 

 

 

 

Sewing

A Sewing Do-Over

Sewing and I have a love/hate relationship.  I’ve always been fascinated by it in theory.  But it’s always fallen apart in practice.  As a kid, my mom put in a good faith effort to teach me to sew.  The poor woman finished every item I ever started.  Unfailingly, the projects were miserable experiences.  The detail…The jargon…The need for constant focus…all of it worked to my weaknesses.  Even then, I was a big picture girl-conceptual and broad in my focus.  Attention to detail has always been an “opportunity” for me.

After I began crocheting, however, my craft blog obsession led me to all that sewing can produce.  The adorable, the beautiful, the intricate, the awesome projects on the web beckoned….and I began to covet.  I began to covet the ability to sew.  Per my usual mode of operation, I made the decision to learn and immediately began collecting all the accoutrements needed.  Especially fabric….stacks of it.  That’s what I do-I collect…

Over the last three years, I’ve completed the following:

  • One apron
  • A handful of cup cozies
  • One skirt
  • Approximately 25 pair of pajama pants
  • Curtains
  • Monday’s  pillowcase

I enjoyed the curtains and the monkey pillowcase.  The others? Not so much.  I make so many stupid mistakes!  So I’m regrouping.  I can do this!

I’m starting over….that’s right, a sewing do-over.  First, the basics….pillows! I’m more than tired of the throw pillows in the living room.  I’m going to use some of this freaking fabric if it’s the last thing I do!

I’m thinking some combination of these…They make me happy.

I’m also going to look for a class.  I won’t let my past define me.  That’s right, I call “do over”.