Friday, August 31, 2012

A new rabbit hole.

Well, not so new really . . .

During my crafting hiatus, I somehow got quilt fever.  I spent a lot of time daydreaming about quilts, and a little bit of time pinning inspiring images of quilts.  I even enrolled in a Craftsy quilting course.

Way back in the late '90s and early 2000s I also had quilting fever, and I made a few which I gave away as gifts.  The few I made were tied, as I discovered that I wasn't crazy about doing either hand or machine quilting.  But I sure did love piecing!

At one point, I was a member of a "Fat Quarter Bundle of the Month" club; each month a quilting shop in Oregon sent me a pack of 7 fat quarters in reproduction 1930s prints.  I never really used any of them though.  The other day when I was digging in my stash boxes, I took them out, along with 2 "scrap packs" - 25 pieces each of all different fabrics.

I've decided to start with the scrap packs.  Today I cut them all into 5" x 5" squares.  I'm planning on trying this "Disappearing Nine-Patch" technique.

I've always loved the look of modern, random-pieced quilts, but have had a hard time actually designing any.   So I'm really loving the Craftsy course.  I'm about half way through it, and I've learned so much already.  Elizabeth Hartman is a really good teacher, and I actually really like the two projects she's shown so far.  I'm planning on using some of my fat quarter bundles to try them out.  If you're interested in quilting, but not sure sure how to start, I'd really recommend this class, although I think she only addresses piecing and not the actual quilting.

Honestly, these aren't colors or fabrics I'm very drawn to any more, but I figure it's a free way to try out some of these new techniques.  I'm also planning on trying out hand and machine quilting again. The problem I've had in the past is that I like to make BIG quilts!  We have a king size bed, so you can imagine that the sheer volume of fabric gets unwieldy.

There are so many amazing quilting fabrics and resources out there these days.  Are any of you into quilting?  Have you ever tried it?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Never say never.


All our guests left on Tuesday, and I've been slowly putting my house back together and catching up on emails and such.  Thanks to all who left comments while I was away - I did read them, although  I didn't always have time to answer.

A month or so ago, I declared to Alicia that No One ever hand-winds hanks of yarn into balls, and she skipped off and bought herself a swift and ball-winder.

So guess what I just did?!

Hee hee hee. 

This morning I was digging through one of my stash boxes looking for something, and I came across this old hank of handspun.  I thought it might work for a Miranda hat, so I put it aside.  I made this so long ago, I can't really remember what the fiber is, except that I do remember it's superwash.  I also remember that I have a whole lot more of it - I think I bought something like 3 pounds, and only made this one hank!

When I found a little time to wind it this afternoon, I decided that rather than get out my own swift and ball-winder, I'd use the lovely nostepinne my father made me years and years ago.  Dad was a great woodworker, and this beautiful tool is just one of many cherished items he made for me.

It felt so nice and relaxing and organic to hand-wind this ball.  The wood on the nostepinne is smooth and silky from the oils of my hands and the wools I've wound on it; the shape fits perfectly into my hand, and the heft is just right.  This tool lives in the knitting basket right next to my chair, and although I don't use it often any more, I do get it out and just hold it.

Have any of you ever wound a ball of yarn using a nostepinne?  Somehow, I find it less tedious than hand-winding.  I guess that's because I love mine so much.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Copper Clouds

A few days ago, I rediscovered CND Copper Chrome in my polish stash, and decided I wanted to use it for a stamping.  I looked around to see what color and image would go well with it, and settled on Essie Who Is the Boss and this stylized cloud pattern:

After I finished, I felt that the CND wasn't as great a stamping polish as I'd thought it would be, but couldn't remember if I'd used it before.  So I did a little search on the blog, and it turns out I have used it before - with this very same blue polish!  (Although not with a stamp.)  So I guess these two colors are made for each other!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Case for Blocking

I'm about half way done with my second Kalajoki sock, and I though this would be a good time to show the difference between my first sock, which I've washed already, and the one in progress.  I think the photo below really demonstrates how much blocking can "fix" tension issues:

The first sock looked almost as bad before I washed it, although the second one is worse because I'm using yarn that had been knit and then frogged.  The finished sock has been through the washer and dryer once.

Most of the time, when I show knits in progress on this blog, they've been steam blocked before I photograph them.  I do this partly because I think knits photograph better when blocked, but also because it helps me see how the finished fabric will look.  So don't get the idea that I knit with perfect tension all the time!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Holy Holographics, Batman!

Enchanted Polish Austin Powers, along wth Nfu Oh Aqua Base

I resisted for a long time, but the Aqua Base really does make a big difference, both in the application of the holographic polish and in the amount of holographic effect achieved.  Totally worth the money and trouble of ordering it.

Per Pam's suggestion, I applied one coat of Aqua Base, one coat of holo polish, another coat of Aqua Base and another coat of holo polish, topped off with a coat of Seche Vite.  This was the first time I didn't have to struggle with patchiness when using a holographic polish!  Love!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Allegheny Test

I spent about a half hour yesterday working on my Allegheny dress.  I needed a little down time - I'd pretty much spent the previous two days cleaning the house top to bottom, because the rest of Niecey-poo's family is joining us today!

Anyway, it occurred to me that maybe I should try the thing on, now that I've started on the skirt portion.

Don'tcha just love bathroom mirror shots?  No matter how clean you think you've gotten it, some spots always show up!  (upper right!)

Anyhow, I'm mostly happy with the fit so far.  I did add a little length to the torso (about a half inch) before the ribbing at the waist, and I wish I'd added even more, but it's not too bad.  The bulge just under the turtleneck bothers me a little, but I'm hoping that won't show as much once I've got a big scarf wound around my neck inside the collar, as in the pattern photo.  And I will need to do that for more than just style - this wool is definitely not "neck soft."  And I happen to be a delicate flower.

I'll likely do a few extra increases at the skirt side seams, to take the bottom measurement up a size.  And I'll definitely be lengthening it quite a bit - I'm thinking 2 - 3" above the knee will be just right.  I haven't decided yet on how long to make the sleeves (although I'm leaning toward three quarters) and whether to do ribbing or a folded hem at the bottom.  I've seen so many lovely versions with all these variations, it makes it really hard to choose!

Posting is likely to become sporadic starting tomorrow, as I'll have a house full of people for the next two weeks - people who have never been to Chicago!  So much to do and see!  Niecey-poo and I made a chart of activities the other day; I love it that she shares my love of organization!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Positively in Love

That's the name of this polish, but it also describes how I feel about it:

This one is from the new magnetic collection by China Glaze, Magnetix II.  I also used China Glaze's new magnet.

It took me quite a while to jump on the magnetic polish bandwagon, but now I'm kind of obsessed with them!  So far I've only used the China Glaze ones though. 

I really am in love with this color - it's the most gorgeous black cherry shade.  All the magnetic polishes I've used so far display a fascinating chatoyancy in various lights; I think that's what I love most about them.  Another thing to love:  most of the time, I can get away with one coat of polish!  But if I don't get a good magnetic impression, there seems to be no harm done in layering on another coat for a do-over.  Topcoat adds even more depth to the effect.

How about you guys?  Magnetic polishes, yay or nay?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Starmore Update

It's been not quite a month since I last posted on my Starmore sweater, and I've managed to finish the second repeat of the chart!  Now it's really starting to shape up and show the overall pattern:

Total length is now 16", and width is about 40".  I haven't mentioned it before, but I'm doing a "custom size" on this sweater.  The pattern only offers 2 sizes:  finished chest measurements of 46" or 52".  When the book was published in 1996, very oversized sweaters were in vogue; now, not so much.  The chart is a 44-stitch repeat, so I took out one repeat to get my finished size down to 40".

Only 6 more rows, and then I get to start the armhole steeks.  So exciting!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Subtle Stamping

Here's a recent stamping I really like.  I love how the copper mesh pattern adds subtle texture to the pale pink polish:

We're having a nice respite of cooler weather here the last few days, and it's making my mind turn toward fall polishes.  But I'm pretty sure this isn't the end of summer yet!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Better Late than Never!

Remember back in June when Alicia and I went to Vogue and ended up each getting a remnant of the same border print?  We promised a co-blog project, each of us making a different project with our fabric.  We've both finally finished, and yesterday we had a nice outing to a yarn shop and then lunch, and we both wore our new garments.  Niecey-poo was kind enough to snap a couple of pictures for us.

We were laughing because we'd had a couple of funny outtakes before we got this picture!

I love Alicia's skirt so much, and I'm not the only one - when we were in the yarn shop, a girl actually came up to her and asked her how she made it!  So flattering.

I ended up making the Lisette Portfolio top, and I must say, I'm kind of in love with it!  Much more than I was expecting to be.  I had hoped to make the tunic length, but the fabric wasn't wide enough to make the print work, so I had to go with the top.  I was worried that it would be too cropped, but with a narrow hem, I think it came out just right.  I wore it with my red Clover pants, but I also like it with jeans.

I made this over 2 days right before Niecey-poo came, and took a bunch of great in-progress shots.  But somehow, they all got lost in the demise of my old computer.  I tried to take a few shots of the blouse itself yesterday morning, but it was very cloudy so they're not great.



I spent a long time on this top, and was very careful with all my details.  Consequently, I think it's one of the best things I've ever made.  I finished all the seams except the center back by serging both layers together.  But I'm most proud of my stitch-in-the-ditch around the neck.  That's a technique I find really difficult, so I did it very slowly, sometimes even hand-cranking at the curves, and got a result I'm very pleased with.  I decided to go with a machine-stitched hem because my thread was a good match, and I didn't think it would detract from the overall look.

finished seam and hem

front inset

This fabric was so nice to work with.  It's very lightweight - I'd call it a lawn.  The label just said cotton, but Alicia thinks there might be a little silk in it, and I agree with her.  It has a very nice drape that's almost floaty, and it doesn't press as crisply as a cotton would.  I love it so much, when I found three more remnants of it at another location of Vogue, I bought them!

For details on Alicia's skirt, head on over to Iron-On Maiden!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who:What:Wear 4

Last week Niecey-poo and I spent an afternoon at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Navy Pier.  I wore two of my me-made items:

Believe it or not, this was the first time I actually wore my Madeleine skirt!  I ended up really liking the fit of this skirt, and found it to be very comfy.  This picture was taken later in the afternoon, so it's already pretty wrinkled.

I also wore my bird-print Renfrew for the first time.  No twisting issues on this one, but I think it's a tiny bit large, due to the extreme drape of this fabric.  We'll see how it fares in the wash.

I'm also wearing my trusty Keen ballet flats and a vintage Vera scarf to hold back my hair, which you may notice is now about 4" shorter than it was a week ago.

I liked this outfit OK, but I don't think this is the perfect pairing for either of these items.  I did buy some navy and white striped jersey a few weeks ago, and once I'm able to get back to sewing, I'll make a Renfrew out of that.  Then I can make a nice nautical outfit - just in time for summer to be over!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meh Leopard

Yesterday I put on China Glaze TMI, one of the few polishes from the much-coveted OMG Collection I own.  But after the holographic insanity that is Layla, it was leaving me feeling a little flat.

So this morning I decided to stamp it:

Just not crazy about this one.  The black I used, Sinful Colors* Black on Black, isn't as opaque as I want it to be.  I think I'll have to break down and buy the Konad black stamping polish.  I used a dotting tool to add silver highlights to some of the spots, but my execution wasn't fantastic since I was hurrying.

*I really didn't even want to use this, because of the whole Sinful Colors content-stealing debacle, but I hadn't realized it is the only black I have, so I was stuck with it.

So, meh.  Good thing I was planning on changing colors tonight anyway.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The maxi I haven't shared yet.

This is actually maxi dress #4, but I'm wearing it today for the first time, three weeks after wearing maxi #5.  Photo taken in Chinatown, courtesy of Niecy-poo!  I'm standing in front of the Dragon sculpture, which is the zodiac animal for my birth year.

If my tummy looks a little poofy, it's because of the crab rangoons we had just devoured :-)   Niecey-poo's first, and she gave them a thumbs up.

This is another piece of knit jersey from Girl Charlee, a magenta and orange hibiscus print.  I went over there to see if it's still in stock so I could link it up, but I think it's all gone.  However, there are LOTS of new prints that have appeared since I last visited the site.  Must. Stay. Strong.  Too much fabric around this place already!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A little something on the side.

A couple weeks ago (on the day Niecey-poo arrived, in fact) I started a pair of socks.  Socks are my "idiot knitting" - something small that I don't have to think about too much, and that I don't mind stretching out over many months as a side project.

I had some nice Cascade Heritage Solid from a pair of frogged legwarmers that I wanted to use, so I went exploring on Ravelry to find a pattern that would help me spice up the project without making it too "thinky."  I came up with Kalajoki.

This sock looks like a bunchy mess, until you put it on your foot.  Stretched over the instep, all the bunching goes away to reveal the lovely wave pattern.

I'm only nominally following the pattern.  I'm superimposing the chart onto my go-to sock recipe (memorized long ago from a leaflet that was my mom's, probably from the '60s) so that I have a little bit of interest, but don't have to pay too much attention overall. 

However, I would like to knit these socks again, following the pattern to the letter.  There is a lot of fantastic detail in there:  mirror image waves and "ergonomic" toe shaping for right and left feet,  and asymmetry on the waves themselves, which are kept crisp with twisted rib.  I have another hank of Cascade Heritage in charcoal grey that will be just right . . .

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sponging for Dummies

Here's another stamping from the new Bundle Monster set.  This one reminded me a lot of the sponging technique, which I still haven't been able to master.

I had a really hard time lining this one up at the bottom edge of my nails, so some of the dark areas are abruptly straight near my cuticles.  Also, clean-up was a bear with this very dark blue-violet polish.  Next time I'll prepare my skin with a little something slippery beforehand!

Here's what the image looks like on the plate, for comparison's sake:

I used the image at 3:00.  I guess you can tell I had a hard time getting it centered too!  I'm looking forward to trying this one with a metallic color over a creme.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spoke too soon.

Remember when I made my second Renfrew top and couldn't get the grain to lay straight, and concluded that it probably didn't matter?

It mattered.

This is how it looks after washing and drying on delicate.  I've worn this top a couple times now, and it does in fact twist slightly around my body when I wear it, and obviously the bindings are quite twisted too after washing.  So I'm ending up ironing this one before wearing.  I don't really mind, since I kind of like ironing.  But it does seem a little odd to iron one's t-shirts.

And maybe I can just wear it like this on days I feel like reliving the '90s?