Rounding up in small bites: 2014 September

Well, I fell off the wagon on the concept of the monthly roundup. I’m not too surprised… I tend to put too much in something like that, and the more detail I want to put in, the longer it takes, and the more likely I am to put it off. So I’m going to try again, with an alternate approach. Instead of a list of questions to answer every month, I’ll answer one question at a time in a post, and not necessarily every month. So this post, I’ll address the question:

What crafts did I work on this month (not what I finished, but what did I work on)?
And instead of saying this month, I’ll address it for the summer of 2014.
So what did I work on? Well, I’ve been sewing. A while ago, I signed up for the Sewing with knits class with Craftsy, as well as The Couture Dress class last year. Both of these things have been inspiring me to focus on sewing a bit. So I’ve tried to make the yoga shorts from the class, a couple of t-shirts, started on the couture dress, stalled out, and recently re-started. In the meantime, I’ve gotten more material to do two knit dresses (one from the class, one from Colette Patterns), one woven (the Cambie dress by Sewaholic), and have also done three Hollyburn skirts (by Sewaholic) in increasingly nice fabric. The third one is not quite finished, as I had to stop and buy a zipper, but the zipper is now pinned in and waiting to be sewn.
Quilting-wise, I haven’t been doing much until recently, but I did just this past week buy some cotton flannel to make some baby quilts, one by request, one as the gift for a first baby at church. I’m going to do pinwheels on point for these two baby quilts, one in blues and yellows, the other in greens and yellows. Plus, I’ve finally found a couple of quilting patterns that appeal to me for the quilt top I finished last year and intend to give to my nephew and his wife. Since it has so much squareness in it, I’d like to try some curviness in the quilting.

Follow your dreams quilt

Two patterns have appealed to me: the Trapped Ripples pattern that Leah Day showed recently and the Paisley Feather by Angela Walters. The Trapped Ripples pattern has triangles and curves, and the Paisley Feather has just curves, but that all contrasts nicely with the squares within squares of the piecing. I always want the quilting and the piecing to work to enhance each other, and in this case I want to use curves to contrast because I think there are hidden curves created by the square patterns. They show most clearly in the border, and I want to bring them out without making things too difficult — it’s a large quilt, larger than anything I’ve quilted before, and stuffing it under the sewing machine will be a challenge.

In knitting, I was slowed down by right elbow pain in April. After some research online, I concluded I probably had a form of tennis elbow, triggered by knitting with too much tension and mouse usage that left my elbow unsupported. I had to take a break from knitting for a while, but have slowly been getting back into it. (Solutions found: brace that helps keep the elbow muscle from tightening up, stretching exercises, not overdoing it, and changing the trackball to one I can use with my right AND left hand, which is properly supported under the elbow)

But I have got things done in knitting! I finished a pair of gift socks,

Gift socks in progress

 which will be given this week, working on orange cardigan for myself and purple pullover for my brother, and now ongoing socks for myself. I am not knitting as much as I was, but I am still plugging along, as I have too many things I want to make.

OK, what else have I been doing? Well, I finally finished spinning the grey Shetland top that was one of my first major purchases. With the last 8+ ounces of it, I spun a three-ply. I made a point of spinning it almost to the point of over-spinning so that I could ply tightly without losing too much softness. It’s drying in the bathroom right now, so we’ll see how it came out. I’ve also continued with the spinning study at the guild, although I’m behind, as always.

Weaving? The loom looks at me accusingly. All wound up and no movement happening.

Embroidery? The wool-felt applique gets and occasional bit of attention.

And I think that’s all for now…

Craft goals for 2014

  1. Finish the Shelter sweater
  2. Quilt, bind, and label the big Follow your dreams quilt
  3. Sew knit clothing – go into more detail with that one.
  4. Couture dress to be finished
  5. Do old dress muslin
  6. Baby quilt or two
  7. Weave more dishcloths and handtowels. Weave regularly.
    1. After the kitchen, do some stuff for the bathroom .
  8. Knit brother sweater
  9. Knit handspun sweater
  10. Spinning study maintenance
  11. Spinning more fall colors to go with orange yarn
  12. Knit a batch of hats, for me and to sell.

Doesn’t include scrapbooking, but that’s not a fiber craft. Maintenance there will be satisfactory.

Hmm, no embroidery included. I think that means that this year it will continue to take a back seat.


Well, it finally happened…the government shut down, and since I work for the government, I am now not working. It’s an unplanned, unpaid staycation. I’ve always dreamed of a staycation – though not one that was unpaid – but never had the leave time to take it without giving up something else. So there has been a positive aspect to it. What? Well, I have enjoyed some time off, with lots of reading and relaxing. And, well, finally getting the chance to confirm what I’ve always suspected: I wouldn’t be able to enjoy unending leisure time for much more than a week. I’m starting to get busy.

We’re starting the second week of this shut down, and I am finally establishing a bit more of a routine and working out how to achieve my goals, which is to use this time properly. So I have been getting busy. I’ve been slow to do this, I think, for two reasons: one, I did want some rest; and two, not having any sense of how long this thing is going to last makes it hard to plan my activities. To a certain extent, I have to plan day to day, while still balancing my enjoyment of time alone with the need for some social interaction. I may be an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also enjoy people.

Last week, I mostly rested and relaxed, with intervals of doing chores like cleaning and cooking. This week I have planned a bit more. I have a list of things I would like to get done. I want to:

  • do a good bit of scrapbooking
  • make a baby quilt for a baby shower at the end of October (piecing all done, quilt sandwiched and ready to go)
  • maybe work on purple leftovers quilt? or quilt on the big quilt that is ready to be quilted?
  • work on the couture dress
  • set up my loom for weaving with the warp that is currently wound
  • catch up on my spinning study
  • as well as spin some on the brown Romney
  • install the SSD in my old laptop, and get Linux Ubuntu installed
  • kill weeds, then pull weeds
  • scan a lot of old paperwork so I can get rid of it and/or organize it
  • get rid of some furniture and other items at the thrift store or via Craislist and/or Freecycle

And of course, enjoy myself with reading a lot. And maintaining my regular schedule of eating right, exercising regularly, Bible study, and reaching out to some friends for visits, especially some that I haven’t seen in a while.

I have a feeling I won’t get it all done, but I’ll give it my best try.

Project list, aka, ideas

I’ve got a lot of fiber projects going, and I suddenly realized that I am feeling slightly overwhelmed, so I need to re-establish my list so that I can see the priorities. So…

Items in progress

  1. Summerweight sweater, very close to being finished – take this to work
  2. Socks #29, just started, can be done leisurely, as they are not a high priority
  3. Pine & Ivy shawl, just need to plug along on it a little at a time
  4. Shelter sweater, need to focus a bit on numbers so that I can finish sleeves and put it together – take this to work
  5. Baby quilt, needed for end of October as baby gift
  6. Baby sweater, another kimono, to use up some yarn and have a gift ready
  7. Bedsize quilt, called Forgotten dreams, I think, which is ready to be quilted and then gifted. However, not a TOP priority
  8. Do next row on French braid quilt, which is meant eventually for my own twin bed.
  9. Purple leftovers quilt, which needs to be measure out a bit more precisely
  10. Blocking and/or washing of several knitted and handspun projects
  11. Need some knitted flowers to put on a baby hat for selling at Christmas craft fair
  12. Couture dress
  13. Dragged down old princess-seams dress
  14. Shorts in knit fabric
  15. Spinning Romney fleece, almost done
  16. Handspinning sampler project: finish Cheviot and move on to October sample
  17. Wool felt applique wall hanging

Bolded items are taking top priority.

Things I want to do that I haven’t really started yet

  1. Handweaving some more dishcloths, then some dishtowels: a warp wound but not on the loom
  2. Weaving a lacy stole on rigid heddle with some of my handspun, multiple skeins (gray wool, purple/gray bamboo/silk, beige camel/silk) – do a sample and/or get input from guild members
  3. Inkle loom weaving of shoe laces? playing with patterns, really
  4. Gray sweater with handspun
  5. Brown sweater with the Romney handspun mentioned above
  6. Purple Cascade yarn for cowl; hat from leftovers, I hope
  7. Leftover Shelter for hat? scarf?
  8. Creatively Dyed yarn for sweater
  9. Leicester longwool yarn for knitted stole
  10. Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarn for orange raglan cardigan (use the Knitter’s handy book of top-down sweaters)
  11. Enough heavy laceweight or light fingering weight yarn for four or more shawls
  12. Another large quilt. I enjoyed the last one I made, and small quilts, though nice in the visual sense, are less useful.
  13. Sewing some knit shirts, skirts, and shorts. Maybe pants? New Craftsy class that I just bought!
  14. I want to sew some skirts and dresses, especially re-creating some of my favored clothes that are showing signs of wear.

    Other things demanding my attention

  1. Money needed for Thanksgiving travel
  2. Visit friend travel
  3. Roof replacement
  4. Antenna for tv
  5. Scrapbook work
  6. Organizing for 16th birthday celebration
  7. Electrician work
  8. Underclothing purchase
  9. Contact teenager re: mowing and tree-cutting
  10. Air conditioner maintenance

Crafts progress 2011 to 2012

I’ve suddenly realized that I haven’t done any kind of real craft update on the blog for a while, other than as part of the roundup. I think it’s time to consider what I’ve done in the past year.

Also, I DID have some goals — I’ll have to go find them. I know I didn’t achieve some of them, so it’s time to re-evaluate for next year.

Knitting projects completed in 2011

  • Socks #22 (gift for Mom)
  • Baby kimono #3 (finished and gifted)
  • Wool Peddler’s shawl
  • baby kimono #2 (finished and gifted)
  • Socks #21 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Chemo hat for a girl at church (finished and gifted, although I’m not sure she likes it)
  • Socks #19 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Candleflames shawl
  • Bamboo skirt (I’m still weaving in the ends and have yet to line it, but all the knitting is done)
  • Now it’s to be felted (a piece of knitted fabric that I hope to use in a bag)
  • Always on hand baby sweater (finished and gifted)
  • Socks #18 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Baby blanket (2X) for charity (finished and gifted)

Huh, that’s thirteen knitting projects finished in 2011; I find that rather gratifying.

Items still in progress: Summerweight sweater, boiled wool jacket, Shelter sweater, Socks #20, Pine and Ivy shawl, and Socks #23. Already finished knitting Baby kimono #4 in stockinette version, just need to sew together and block.

Knitting goals? Finish sweaters in progress; knit sweater out of gray handspun; do more shawls, a cowl, a hat, and plenty of socks. Figure out one or two of Cat Bordhi’s new sock structures so that I can adapt them. Right now I’m just following a pattern, and I want a certain amount of mental independence from that for socks.

Weaving: did some inkle loom weaving and messed with the shawl on the loom, but actually did very little. I want to focus on this more.

Weaving goals? Do two projects on the big loom. I don’t care if they are new or old, just DO TWO. Maybe take a class?

Quilting: finished the denim quilt, but did little at home. Did work on the feathered star wall hanging, but I would like to FINISH it. Also worked on French braid quilt a bit.

Quilting goals? Do some machine quilting on finished sampler top. Also finish the feathered star. Finish French braid top. Get to the quilting of it if I can. Figure out a new hand project to do at work. (I’m thinking of wool felt applique, which will be a nice blend of quilting and embroidery.) Maybe take a class?

Spinning: worked on some stuff off and on, but nothing with much consistency. Did finish the bamboo/silk blend earlier in the year.

Spinning goals? Just keep working on something as steadily as possible. Right now it is the camel/sick blend. Eventual goal is to get to that lovely brown roving for a sweater.

Cross-stitch/Embroidery: Finished Dragon and castle cross-stitch of many years. Started Celtic cross blackwork embroidery.

Embroidery goals? Just work on the blackwork project. I have no specific goals with this, even though I may choose to play with Take a stitch Tuesday. But that will be PLAY, not commitment.

Sewing: messed around with some stuff, but didn’t really do any sewing.

Sewing goals? Finish two garments. Probably a skirt and a dress.

Summary of work

Summary of work that was finished back in October 2009. Why I hadn’t yet published this????

Have I finished anything? Well, actually yes!

  1. Weaving dishtowels — I finished two and got the warp off. My beginning status definitely showed clearly.
  2. Spinning silk — Finished! Looks good.

    Silk spinning finally done.

    Silk spinning finally done.

  3. Domovoi shawl — Done with that too!!!

    Domovoi shawl done and blocked

    Domovoi shawl done and blocked

  4. Socks — Having regained stitch covers, I have worked on several socks since then.
  5. Lochinvar sweater — still hibernating until I pick up the arms
  6. Top-down sweater — done!
  7. Scarf — Frogged and still contemplating. this one is turning out to be a problem. But I think I may have finally have the solution: double knitting. Now to find instructions.
  8. Baby kimono — Done!
  9. Dragon crossstitch — All stitching done, lots of backstitch done, but still need to work on the dragon backstitch.
  10. Quilting of denim quilt, done by hand, moving along slow but steady
  11. Sampler quilt for machine quilting — I need to baste it
  12. Crazy quilt — still piecing
  13. French braid quilt for bedroom — still piecing
  14. Bag for DNiece1 — holding
  15. Nightshirt for learning about sewing with knits — did one successfully, now I need to do some unsewing on the second one
  16. Muslin for dress in style I really like — still undone
  17. Baby hat, using up leftovers — did two
  18. Weaving done after February class.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I need to take a look around and see what I’ve done since then.

bag for my niece

I’m working on a bag for my niece with some fabric that she picked out. I want it to be a cross between a tote bag and a purse, so not too big. But with some nice quilting and pockets and lining, and some really interesting fabric that I would never have chosen.

bag body with quilting

bag body with quilting

This is filled with polka dots. I have an idea my niece would love it after I saw her bedroom redecoration last year. There was a definite tendency toward polka dots.

I am not a polka dot person.

I also chose some related fabric from the same collection by Amy Butler to try out. It’s the Lotus collection, I think, from a year or so ago.

I did some basic quilting of circles and spirals, to emphasize the circle of the fabric.

I bought some silk, I think, if I remember correctly, to line it with. I may not choose this kind of fabric again, at least not for bags. It was a real hassle to work with, but I’m not entirely sure why. Its extreme flexibility? lightweightness? wrinkliness? The color is excellent, but the fabric is not precisely doing what I want it to do.

Anyway, I’m also planning on putting in a zipper top that can completely separate. I’ve got the zipper sandwiched in between the lining and some contrast fabric, the same as the side pockets that you can see up there.

Here’s what the zipper looks like right now, before I start sewing everything together.

At this point, I’m not sure what order to do things in next. I need to put some binding around the zipper edges on the ends, sign the sides of the lining together, sew the sides of the bag together, insert the lining into the bag and fold down the top edges, then sew the handles on to the bag. Interface them? Oh, and add the top as I sew down the top edges and hem them so that they are firmly caught and no raw edges show.

I think the bottom edges of the zipper top will get covered with bias binding first. I’ll contemplate what comes next after that.

Ideas for the future

Since this is not exclusively a blog about what I am doing, but also about what I’m thinking of doing, you now get to find out what I’d like to do next… eventually.

Sewing with a plan is the concept. Since currently i am working on a tote bag, a muslin for a dress, followed by the dress itself, this will have to wait a while, since I have a rule about starting a new project before finishing at least one on the floor. But I’d like to work out some ideas.

A popular idea in today’s sewing culture is sewing a group of garments that are all intended to work together in color and fit. Apparently Project Runway, which I’ve yet to actually watch once, has inspired a large increase in sewers who want to actually make their own clothes. And being inspired by individual patterns and fabrics doesn’t always lead to something to wear. So I would like to actually work out that idea for myself, since I find it a good one.

So what would I include in my plan? Well, let’s challenge ourselves with new things to learn: one dress, two skirts, one pair of pants, four or five tops, and a jacket, all intended for winter wear. One skirt and the pants will be in gray, probably tweedy, as will the dress. The other skirt would be a good brown. The tops would be jewel colors to match gray and brown, meaning green, red, purple, tan/gold, and blue. One or two of the tops might be a print, but I tend to go for subtler fabrics, so I would prefer brocade-type fabrics of at least medium-weight. The jacket would be the place to have a medium size print, which includes the grays and browns with jewel tone accents.

I would like worsted wool suiting for the skirts and pants fabrics; maybe for the dress as well, since I was thinking a lined jumper.

For the tops, maybe some jersey knits? I would like some long-sleeved knit tops that are not turtlenecks, though not low-necked. In the winter, my neck can get cold, although a decorative scarf might counter that problem.

The jacket would need to be a heavier-weight wool fabric, or perhaps a home dec fabric adapted to a person. Definitely lined, either way.

Man, I have so much I need to learn to achieve this.

I need to go browse fabric stores for fabric inspiration, too. The internet doesn’t quite cut it.


This weekend I suddenly gave in (?) to the sewing urge. I’ve been having competing craft urges this year that have been causing unsettled confusion about what to work on when. Partially, I think, it’s because so much of my mental energy has been taken up by home improvement projects that coming home isn’t really a refuge anymore, it’s a place of guilt for not working on the big projects. This is especially true for the bathroom work, since my friends are so generously donating their time, and if my lack of action delays the work, I feel guilty, and rightly so. (Reminder: Wood putty, drywall mud, and scraping the floor must occur soon.) It also means that my house is a mess — we won’t discuss the second bedroom, which is basically storage for the bathroom stuff right now. (Go buy ceiling fans and look at toilets.)

But sometimes you must pause and work on what you want to work on, regardless of timing and other pressures, because ultimately that is what feeds your soul. So Friday night I got the sudden urge to finally work on the bag I’ve been contemplating. It’s for my niece, and I actually had her pick the main fabric earlier this year. She didn’t ask for it, I just felt the urge to make a bag, and didn’t feel an especial need for one myself, so I remembered one of the Amy Butler pattern collections had a style that was very similar to what my niece had picked for her bedroom, sent her an email and said, basically, what would you like? I’m in the mood to make you a bag. Interestingly, this was way back in spring.

Well, I doodled some ideas, looked at some books, made a few more fabric purchases — a few other cuts from the same collection for things like binding and pockets, a soft wrinkly silk for lining, a separatable zipper for the top — and did nothing.

This weekend I felt that urge strengthen to the point of action. I had a good documentary on the tv, an extra bit of time for a holiday weekend, and an idea in my head of what to do first. It seems to be going quite well. I’ve got the bag quilted, all pieces cut out, the zipper sewn in to the top, and the different parts mostly ready to go together.

Then I got distracted by the cleaning and rearranging urge.

I’m just like that sometimes. Too many things to do, too many distractions… I contemplate for a long while, then I move on it. The rearranging was just waiting for me to act on it, and having moved on the sewing got me in the mood for moving on the rearranging. I think what I need to do next is stare at the different pieces and a sewing bags book, and figure out what order to do things in. I’m not precisely following a pattern, so it’s not perfectly clear. And unfortunately the time to do that in is fading away with the weekend. At least I hope to have this done by Christmas; I’m thinking it will make a decent Xmas present for my niece.

In the meantime, this holiday today will be a workday of sorts. Working on the bathroom, canning tomatoes, cooking meals for the rest of the week, then going out to eat for a friend’s birthday will fill the day nicely, though I’m not sure it will be quite as restful as I had wanted.

I’ll try to actually take some pictures of the purse, so I can describe what I did.

What have I been doing? (quilting and sewing)

Well, this front has been fairly quiet, overall. I have done a few things, but nothing quite as fruitful as the knitting.

potholders in progress

First off, I already showed you most of the quilt I did last winter, so I won’t return there. I did, however, finish some badly needed potholders. The old ones were just some that Mom had bought me, and were getting so worn some were actually getting holes in them. So instead I found some nice food fabric, layered it with some thin cotton batting and some thermal protective fabric that is just right for potholders, then did some simple crosshatch quilting. This picture doesn’t show the completed ones — those pictures are still sitting on my camera — but I did a decent black binding with yellow and red thread. They turned out rather nicely

quilting on denim quiltIn the meantime, I’ve been working away, slowly but steadily, on my denim quilt. I currently have five or six blocks done, which is maybe a third of the work. It’s a total of sixteen blocks, with fairly wide sashing. And remember, this is one that I am doing completely by hand, piecing and quilting, so it’s probably going to end up taking me another year! Especially since I really only work on it one hour a week, during lunch at work when I meet with a friend. She is doing the same, and is closer to the end, but I must say, she has a higher record than I, considering it’s going to be finished for her son’s first wedding anniversary (we hope!), but she started it somewhere around the time he was born.

I’m using a variegated thread for the quilting, and I rather like the effect. Each block is getting its own quilting design, but I’ll probably do some kind of Celtic braid for the sashings.

But I have been doing some things on the sewing front as well Christmas stockings Here we have one batch of Christmas stockings that I did for charity.
This will probably be ongoing, since the charity was just gearing up the first time I did this, and boy did they need a lot! Over 700 homemade stockings done to give out to children with no chance of a decent Xmas, and they did have a good, decent selection of toys for the children, not cheap, throwaway stuff. I’ll certainly be doing more this year, but fortunately it’s a quick job.

theater curtain in progress

In connection with the mission trip I did in August, I made some theater curtains to go on a puppet stage made out of PVC pipe. (I did not make the stage; that was the carpenter in our group.) The curtains were fairly simple, justl ots of straight seams, but the sheer size of them made it a challenge. And then of course I had to pack them in my luggage! Fabric is heavy.

skirt made for mission trip

I did make myself a simple circle skirt, the kind that gets lots of fabric, for going down there. Partly for the challenge, partly because I needed another skirt of breathable fabric. I did add pockets, and was very pleased with myself. However, I’m not sure it was a complete success, since I don’t know that I like the look of myself in it. But maybe if I could make it only a slightly gathered skirt? I’m not sure, but the idea is working in the back of my head.

Did I do anything else? Well, mainly just repair work. I replaced the extremely worn out elastic waistbands of some of my favorite lounge-around shorts, but that was fairly simple once I figured out the appropriate width of elastic.

Now, I’ve got to practice in order to machine quilt my quilt top that is waiting for me. There’s also a crazy quilt top that I want to put together — I did that last year as well, but I have no pictures because I just remembered it! — and I’d like to do some threadplay on it first. Did I do anything with that crazy quilt piece that I was doing by hand? I’ll have to go find it, I think. It’s probably going to be the front of a pocket on a tote bag. But that probably needs to go into the embroidery post, so it can wait. I need to go looking in my project boxes to see if I’m missing anything.

Next topic: what have I been doing? (spinning)