Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas presents

Now that Christmas has come and gone and my cousin has brought the kid's presents to their home I can post s couple pictures.

This summer when I learned of the coming family member and found out it would be a boy I started making an afghan and a sweater. The afghan for a "Welcome to the family" present and the sweater for Christmas. Well, as it turned out we haven't had a chance to meet the new little one so both presents were sent for Christmas.

For some reason I didn't get a picture of the afghan. It is turquoise blue with a bit a mohair halo and knit with a bit of a lace pattern. I knit it in the round and hope its nice a cuddly for our new little Jayden.

The sweater is off white cables. I designed it needed a bit of color but didn't want too much color so I added pale blue buttons.

Meanwhile for Layla I made a quilt she can sleep under or use on the floor to play on with her dolls. It's bright  and filled with as much excitement as Layla is. In the plain areas I designed a flower quilt pattern and this was the first time I tried designing and stitching with the embroidery unit of my sewing machine.

Again, I managed to not take a icture of the finished quilt. My new year's resolution is to be better at taking finished project pictures!

Chief has just crawled on my lap and typing has become impossible. Guess this post is over for now!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sometimes Knitting isn't Easy

Today's a great day to knit. The weather is bleak and not inviting to be outside. There's an NCIS marathon going on. Perfect for knitting. Unfortunately, I have 2 problems....

I love that the boys love me but sometimes you just want a little knitting time with an empty lap!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Public Service Announcement

My announcement has to do with washing cloths napkins but - we'll get there in a minute.

I'm in the beginning of "Christmas at my house this year" count down and one of this weekend's projects was cloth napkins. For my birthday this year I bought the embroidery unit for my sewing machine. I say it was for my birthday but; really, I decided I wanted it and I got it. I don't have parents buying my presents anymore so I get to play the game of saying something is a birthday present for myself. I think most of us do this, or maybe I'm just crazy but- My life - my rules.

I have my great aunt's china.

It's beautiful and busy. Kind of old fashioned pink with a floral design on ivory background. Because it's busy I stay simple in my tablecloths. I have an ivory and a pale rose cloth depending on if I need 2 tables or not for larger groups. In all the years I've used these cloths I've never had cloth napkins that weren't Mom's leftovers or used seasonal paper napkins. This year I'm having family Christmas and, as I said before I now have an embroidery unit. So, I thought, wouldn't it be fun to make some napkins for Christmas.

I'm your basically cheap person. I like nice things but don't want to spend a lot of money on something that will only be used once a year so I headed to Walmart after doing some Internet searching. Walmart has cloth napkins for 2/$1.98, a wonderful price. They had a maroon that was kind of a brick toned maroon. I bought 16 of them and found a collection of small snowflakes to embroider on them. After getting them all done (ended up with 2 having snowmen on them for the kids) they needed to be soaked to get the wash-a-way stabilizer out. Here's where the public service announcement comes in.


Be warned. I put 8 of them into a small tub of warm water to soak. After 10 minutes I went back to rinse, and hang them to dry and discovered the water is the color of cherry kool-aid. When I took one out and squeezed it, the water that I squeezed out was very red. I'm guessing I'll have to wash these 2-3 times to get the dye out. So far I don't notice the white thread on the snowflakes looking like it picked up any dye but, time will tell.

If all works out well, I'll have 14 snowflake napkins (5 different flake designs) and 2 snowman napkins for when there happens to be a couple little kids joining us, which won't be this year unfortunately. Once they're all washed and finished I'll post a picture.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It Makes me Happy

A little bit ago we got a new TV channel - Antenna TV. Checking it's website, it looks like this channel is available in several areas. What makes me happy about it is - I get to go back in time and relive some happy childhood memories by watching old TV shows I haven't seen for a very long time.

Tonight "It Takes a Thief" has been on.

The first time I saw this show I was in junior high and my older brother was watching it with his friends. I pretty much acted like a bratty little sister and pushed my way into the room to see what they were doing. In the process I fell in love. Robert Wagner was one of my first crushes (him and Davy Jones and Lee Majors and, well there were several crushes back then). One of the later seasons when Fred Astaire joined the show, my best friend got all excited. She was all over Fred Astaire at the time and for a show to have someone for both of us was great. The episode with Fred tonight made me a bit sad cause my BFF is no longer alive but, for an hour we were young again and watching "It Takes a Thief" together.

This made me think about other childhood memories. Sometime around my birthday (early November) the Sears and JC Penney Christmas catalogs would come out.

 I would spend hours and hours studying them to decide what would be on my Christmas wish list that year. I remember lists including Barbie doll stuff; games like Mouse Trap, FeelyMeely, Clue; books of all sorts; skis one year; of course, there was the year of the transistor radio.

This year my Christmas list would have different things on it. I'm more grown up. My list would have grown up things on it. (Hardly). My list would still have toys on it only my toys now are for knitting or quilting or the latest electronic gadget. Yup, this year's list would have bobbins for my Pfaff Creative 4.0; Free Motion Echo Quilting foot;  KnitPicks interchangeable needle cables; cotton blend batting; fat quarters; a new Windows Surface tablet; and so much more. Guess the kids get older but we'll always want our toys.

What's on your Christmas wish list?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Good Weekend

What a great weekend! 4 days of family and fiber. I spent Thanksgiving with family enjoying wonderful food and company and then spent the next 3 days ignoring the shopping craze at home knitting and quilting.

First up - a picture of the lap afghan I finished on the knitting retreat weekend. I kept forgetting to get a pic of it up but finally decided to take one even if the colors aren't great. This is meant to be a cat free afghan so people who come to visit can use it.

It was on the bed for about 2 minutes and the cat-free thing lasted about 1 minute. Fortunately, Chief never got further than that corner and only for a minute so it's still mostly cat-free.
I'm making a few items for Christmas and this is all I can show of this weekends quilting. It's part of a bigger "thing" but this is all I can show till its given away. I'm liking how it is turning out considering it is a first time try at designing quilting with my new sewing machine.

Bad Sweater Pattern Writing
So, I started making this sweater a little while ago. I changed it so I was making both front and the back at the same time. I was well along the way when I realized the pattern was one of those that tell you how to do something and then says, "oh, by the way, you should have started doing another thing back several inches ago". So, I decided to rip out the last 3 inches to get back to the spot where I should have started the 2nd shaping thing. While ripping out I realized the sweater was going to be way too big for me and I ripping all6 inches and started over with 40 fewer stitches.

Then half way through the Celtic knot looking cable in the middle I discovered I had been making all the cables the same direction and that's not a good thing. Instead of being a Celtic knit looking thing it was kind of like ribs all leaning one direction. Yup- that 6 inches was ripped out and reknit.

In the process of all this I ended up writing up a spreadsheet that had all the shaping stuff for each row. Different cables have different timing as to when it happens plus buttonholes and side shaping. Once I got to the collar there were all sorts of things going on: collar increases, neckline decreases, cables moving around, armhole shaping. Busy, busy, busy.
I love setting up spreadsheet to make knitting basically brainless. Much better than going from page 1 to page 3 to page 2 and so on. So, now I'm finally done with armhole shaping and almost done with collar shaping. Only a couple cables are still being made and I even have a few rows where its just knit the knit-purl the purl. I think I may be back on track.

Between knitting and quilting and watching old TV shows there was a lot of resting. Chief and Bert seem to have this resting thing done to a fine honed science.

Hope your weekend was as good as mine was.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Houston Quilt Shw - part 4 Plants

So far we've looked and critters and the Hoffman challenge so this post let's look at some of the quilts with plants - flowers, trees and more.

Fiesta Mexico
Maywood Studio Master Award for Innovative Artistry

Back side of Fiesta Mexico
Again I have to apologise for being terrible at writing down the quilters names. I promise the next quilt show I go to I'll bring a notebook with me and take note!

I don't remember the name of the quilt but the lady with her back to the camera is the artist of this quilt.

by Ted Storm
Founders Award

The leaves and flowers are bits of fabric and held in place by tulle and a lot of quilting.

Next post - more quilts. Hope you're not bored yet.

Houston Quilt Festival - part 3 - Hoffman Challenge

Last night I was sitting watching TV and realized it was one week before that I had the best chimichanga in my life. Seriously, the absolute best. My friend laughed at me because the face I made at the first bite was one of total rapture.

Friday we had gone to NASA and then Galveston where the plan was to go to a seaside restaurant so she could have fresh seafood. I don't eat critters of the sea but knew any place we picked would have chicken of some sort. Anyway, the Galveston Motorcycle Rally and 500,000 motorcycles put an end to that idea - just too many people! So, we headed back toward Houston and I remembered the Kemah Broadwalk was supposed to have some good seafood places. Turns out there was a special military vehicles display at Kemah and it too was way too full of people to get a place to eat. Heading back to the freeway we saw a nice looking restaurant, Berryhill Baja Grill in League City. I got the pick 2 meal and the chimichanga was unlike any I've ever had. It wasn't a tortilla but instead a dough filled with fresh fajita beef. On top was shredded red cabbage and a sauce that was a bit like light cheese and thousand island dressing. I know, sounds strange but, it was incredible! I'm just glad I ate the spinach enchilada first because it was really good but after the chimi I don't think I would have enjoyed the enchilada. If you're ever in the Houston area do yourself a favor and RUN don't walk to the nearest Berryhill!

Back to quilt pictures. Every year Hoffman has a challenge fabric and many of the quilts and dolls are shown at Houston. This year's fabric was a purple floral print. Today's pictures are some of the items made for this challenge.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Houston Quilt Show - part 2 Critters

Time to show a few quilts. If I were to show all the pictures I took we would be here forever so you only get to see a few pictures. These aren't just the ribbon winners but more a cross section of all the quilts at the show. Some competition - some international - some part of special displays.

This post will be quilts with critters on them. Hope you enjoy!

My Gentle Giant - Ben
by Patt Blair
Pfaff Master Award for Machine Artistry- $5000

Ms McDonald Had a Farm
by Hanging by a Thread Group
1st place Group

Other people are incredibly good at taking down notes of who made the quilt and what awards it won. Not me, I'm so busy clicking pictures and having my mouth hanging open in awe of the craftsmanship that I always forget to take notes. Maybe next time I'll get better!