Monday, September 28, 2009

Stitching Away

I'm almost done with my stitching project - the first one on real linen. I've really enjoyed this project! The last little bit should be finished up in no time.
I had put this to the side to work on knitting and quilting projects. It's been hard to resist. Do you ever hear a project call out to you? Mine do. Thankfully they don't seem to talk to me at the same time. I'm really enjoying stitching blogs. It's a great way to learn & find inspiration.
And my quilt? It didn't fall apart in the wash! Whoot!!!
I attended QuiltFest this weekend.  I have a couple QuiltFest pictures I'll post in the next few weeks. It was so nice to see all the quilts and mingle with the crowds. I love the quilts from the young quilters. Not only for their talent but also because I see them carrying on the love of the craft into their generation. I can hardly wait until my nieces are old enough to start work on a project with their Aunt Jackie!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quilt Finished and Yarn Dyeing

Last night I finished the binding on the kid size lap quilt I've been working on. I didn't have very much to finish so it went quickly. I'm donating this quilt as the friend who gave me the main fabric knits for charity very regularly. I think she'd be pleased that I'm doing so. This is only the 2nd quilting project I have finished. The first was a table runner for my mom made from the scraps of the first quilt top I finished. I'm pleased that there are some finished projects coming out of my quilting even if I am giving them all away!

When binding, do you stitch up into the mitered corned or just take a stitch or 2 at where the fabric meets? I've heard about both methods. I did 2 each way. The 2 where I just took a stitch or 2 in the corner where the fabric meets seem to look more pleasing. I ran out of fabric for the binding so I used the little bits I'd cut off from my strips for the main body of the quilt.
As I type, it's in the washer. I was a bit hesitant to wash it. Let's hope it doesn't fall apart!
The color is more accurate in this photo.
Last weekend there was a Midnight Knit In at my LYS, KnitWitz. There was a special learning opportunity - yarn dyeing! Jane was the instructor and did a fantastic job! It's a different method that what I've learned but there is no one method in dyeing yarn. You really can't do it wrong. There was a lot of interest and since I'd dyed before, I just watched and took some pictures. Everything was set up outside and thankfully it was not one of those humid days when it's miserable to be outside after dark.
This method was to take loosely balled yarn and dip it into dye. Then you squeeze out the excess, turn your ball, and dip it in another color. Fun!
Rinse and spin out the excess! Isn't it pretty?
Hang up to dry!
I've seen several of the dried yarn skeins and they're beautiful. I can't wait to see what everyone does with them!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Stitches

My first stitches with my new Bernina 440QE have been made. The first thing I did when I unpacked the box was to figure out how to thread it and load the bobbin. I thought I was set so off I went. Something wasn't quite right and I managed to bend the needle and jam it.

I didn't take a picture of that.

I couldn't figure out how to get the needle out. I was just beyond myself at that point. And then I realized that Google was my friend. Google helped me figure it out and get going. As I needed to quilt my Go Green Shopper Bag I was working on, I went immediately to the BSR and hooked it up. I really like the BSR mode 1. So my first real sewing with my new machine was stippling with the BSR!
Next I had to sew on cotton belting for the bag handles. Even though I had several layers to sew through it was no problem with the patchwork foot. I was worried about this as I've never sewn through this many layers. No worries!
I trimmed everything up and this is where I'm at now. I have to sew the sides and bottom on which should be easy, it's one continuous piece. Then I'll have to cut and sew the binding on. I don't think I'll get that done before QuiltFest this weekend. I was going to use the bag to hold my quilting purchases before sending it on to my mom. With my schedule, I just don't think it is going to get done. One thing I hope to purchase is a good thimble. My fingers just can't handle sewing on binding without some protection. Any ideas on thimbles?
I wanted to post an updated photo of the progress on my black lace shawl but it was too dark by the time I got home and had dinner. I've knit about 25,000 stitches on it and it's about 25 - 35% complete. Not a quick knit but fun!

I can't wait to get the thread for my next stitching project. Of course, I haven't finished my first project but I'm not that far from being finished. I'm almost afraid to go ahead and finish it off without something in the wings to start immediately. Once I get my stash built up a little bit, I shouldn't have that problem anymore! Won't that be fun?!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Bad Week Ends Well!

It has been a crazy stressful week at work this week. I ended up working 24 hours between Thursday and Friday. I was so fried that I could not knit or stitch a single stitch. Not one. Those of you who know me well know that is unusual as these things are my stress relief. It was just too much towards the end of the week. All I could do was crawl into bed and do some mindless surfing on the computer. This is simply the nature of the mortgage business and while I'm used to it, it still can be exhausting. On the other side of the coin, I hate it when it's slow!

But the week was not a total loss. Look what I brought home with me yesterday!
When the dealer brought the box out of the back room, my mouth just opened. I had no idea they'd have it in inventory and was prepared to wait a couple of weeks. I know I had not completed all my research but a good deal was too much to resist. I had been to the dealer several times and G went with me Thursday night. He said for me to go ahead and get the 820 as "you'll never need to buy another machine again". I couldn't justify the expense for my current skill level and I'd still need another machine to take to classes. So I went back yesterday and finalized my decision to purchase a Bernina 440QE. Oddly enough, it was the machine I fell in love with last year when I first started quilting and began reading blogs.

Honestly, I was a little scared to open the box!
When I got to this point, I knew I made the right decision. A good machine for me that will give me more capabilities but isn't too much for me (like the 820 would be).

Here she is right out of the box with the accessory case attached to the back.
The little accessory case is cute but I'm sure I'll soon outgrow it.
All plugged in and ready to go!
Time for me to go play!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Drooling and Itching

I had a very busy weekend and somehow managed to not take photos! I was just so busy!

Saturday I spent the morning playing around with sewing machines at the Bernina dealer. I was very happy with the Bernina's. The stitch quality is just amazing. I spent the afternoon knitting with friends. That is always a nice way to spend a couple of hours!

Today I spent the day as a guest of my friend Melody at her Sampler Guild gathering. What a GREAT group of ladies! The gathering took place at a bed and breakfast that is just gorgeous, the ladies were so very friendly (and talented) and I obviously had a great time. I came away even more enthused about stitching. Six of us stopped and ate dinner. The food was just delicious. Real hush puppies and delicious fried shrimp. I consider myself very honored to have been invited today. Thank you Melody! It was the highlight of my weekend!

Jill, the B&B owner, is a very talented stitcher and her home was filled with wonderful and inspiring samplers. She also has a shop in the bed and breakfast and I spent some time drooling over charts. It was very hard to limit myself to purchasing just two. I want to do it all!
I thought Quakers and Quilts would be a great one as I also love to quilt. It would be wonderful hanging in my quilting/knitting/stitching room when I get one. The thread is being ordered but will take a couple of weeks. I'm just itching to get started! I hope I can wait!
Providence Sampler by Brenda Keyes. Isn't it just lovely?!
My Dragon Melody Shawl is slowly coming along. Here is the latest picture showing how the bind off is going. I'm now working perpendicular to the rest of the project. One stitch is bound off every other row so it will be slow going as there are 569 stitches. This is a poor picture and does not show well the color changes in the yarn.

G had a busy weekend too. Today he had a 56 mile bike ride with the bike group he just joined. He's just gotten started with biking and this is the longest ride he's done so far. In a few months, he'll be ready for longer rides. It's nice to see him get involved in a hobby. Mine have brought me such joy and unexpected friendships that I treasure.

Another weekend is ending and I'm getting ready for the work week ahead. I think I'll do that by stitching a bit more and a doing a couple rows of knitting! Happy Stitches!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Loving This!

I'm totally loving cross stitching! Here is where I'm on on my Petites Lettres Rouges. I'm already looking ahead to a potential next project. I hope to learn more, including other stitches. I'm fascinated by some of the samplers I've been seeing!

After taking this picture I realized my count was off in the triangle shaped band. You can probably see it. It was an easy fix and I'm on my way!
My bag is now ready for quilting! It should be easy peasy....a front and a back plus a piece that is both sides and the bottom. I'd like to have this finished in the next couple of weekends. It will depend on how busy things are at work and on the weekend. I have some things scheduled already. I'm planning on giving this one to Mom and making another one for myself.
Happy Stitches!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wonderful Weekend!

I had a fantastic weekend! There weren't any special plans but the extra day for Labor Day really gave me an opportunity to play! Saturday I had a class at my LQS to learn how to make a Go Green Shopper. The designer of the pattern, Jan Vaine, was the instructor. Here is what I started with. My least favorite part of quilting is cutting out the fabric. I used a turnover as I thought the cutting would be more accurate than my own. In the future, I'll cut my own! I wasn't impressed with the precision of the cutting.
The project involves lots of triangles! Jan was really patient and gave me tips for getting my points to match up. This is something that as a fairly inexperienced quilter I needed help with.

I also learned how to use the Bias Square template you can see peeking at the bottom of the picture above to properly square up my triangle blocks. It's a handy tool that I know I'll get a lot of use out of.
Here is Jan with some of the class members projects. This will be one side of the Go Green Shopper. You'll see mine in a later post. As you can tell, the look of the bags varied widely.
After I pieced the one side of my bag, I shared with Jan how frustrated I was with my points in the larger piece. She took some time and went over a pinning technique that I tried out Sunday at home on the other side of the bag and the bottom. It's still not perfect but I've been able to HUGELY improve! I was so excited I had to stop what I was doing and contact her via her website. I love to learn new things - especially when they really do work!!!

I spent Sunday just piddling around. I sewed for a bit. Cleaned the kitchen. Went to the gym. Read blogs for a bit and then knit a few rows. Did a bit of stitching and then went back to sewing. Read a bit of my book. Chatted with Greg and the kids as they came and went. Cooked the sides for dinner while Greg grilled. Did a bit more knitting, stitching, blog reading, book reading, etc. You get the idea. I felt like I had time for everything and it was fantastic!

Today I met my friend Teresa at Panera's and we sat and stitched while chatting for a couple of hours. She worked on a special project and I worked on my first official cross stitch on real linen. It was fun and I'm enjoying stitching just as much as I enjoy my other fiber interests. I can't wait to learn more!

Happy Stitching! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Want to be a Lace Knitter!

I truly do want to be a lace knitter! Have you seen the beautiful lace projects out there? Just beautiful! Have you seen this one? And I want to knit from this book and this one!

The thing is that I don't ease into lace patterns very easily. And then I try and fix it. And make it worse. Here is the start of my first real lace project on lace weight yarn. I'm determined to get it. It's just as determined to get me back. But I plan on kicking it's rear. Just watch me!
I only hope it does not kill me!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ideas for My Future Space

During my search for a new sewing machine, I've been looking at furniture for what will be my little sewing room when C moves out. This probably won't happen until next year. But in the mean time I'm doing a little dreaming. I love this chest from Horn of America because the drawers are shallow. I don't know about you but deep drawers just mean a big ole mess for me.

The price tag, however, is hefty. It's $495 at the LQS. I was finding it hard to justify spending that much for one storage cabinet. I could do a lot of other things with $500. We can afford it but that does not mean I want to spend it. And plastic storage is so cheap. I like the furniture look of this though. So it's been back and forth in my mind.
Last month while visiting my brother, I found this at Ikea. We don't have an Ikea locally so whenever I visit a city that has one, I just have to go. This cabinet isn't exactly the same. It's a bit shorter and there aren't drawer pulls. But it is similiar in that it's on wheels so I can easily move it around and the drawers are shallow so I can find things. I thought this would be a good place to store notions, tools and supplies.
The biggest difference is a good one. The price!!!
Now this is a price I can accept!!! Sometimes substitutions are a good thing. If I go this route with my sewing furniture I know that I can purchase this without a mental struggle!

I'd love to hear how you made decisions of what to put or not put in your crafting spaces! How did you lay things out? How did you make it comfortable for you? Right now, I'm using the dining room table and the idea of my own space is exciting and a bit overwhelming!