Thursday, June 28, 2007


One woman's trash...

Is another woman's stash!
A coworker of Hellahelen was destashing a *lot* of fabric, and I was the lucky recipient of a huge bag full. There's quite a variety. Some pretty calicos:

Some funkier florals - this one has little woodland creatures:

Sally approves:

There was just so much fabric, and large pieces too, a lot of yard and half yard cuts. There's at least a yard & half of a solid dark blue, and I was thinking of making myself some shorts out of it. Some of the fabric has a distinctly mid-80s look to it, big florals in pastels & teal, some stripes, some ginghams and a few geometric patterns. It's an even mix of dark & light colors. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to use most if not all of it eventually. I'm washing it all right now because it smells like, for lack of a better word, basement. The fabric is not dirty, and doesn't show any signs of water damage or mold or anything like that... it just smells like basement. I'm hoping that a laundry cycle or two will freshen it up.

Yay for free fabric!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I know better than this.

Can you spot the problem?
*hint - check out the red rug
I decided to do some house laundry the other day, you know some of the rugs & dish towels and stuff like that (well, and a pair of socks that I took off while in the living room and thus ended up in the house laundry basket rather than in my clothes basket).

* white sock & washcloth for comparison. That's some serious pink!

It looks like the Cat in the Hat did my laundry! Oh well, it was just house laundry, not work clothes or anything - and you all know how much I love pink. =) On to crafts!

I've been working on my patriotic quilt. It's fun to work on something that's small in overall size, but has larger blocks. I also made a design decision to include different sized blocks for the stripes. I did this solely because I'm tired of my blocks not lining up when I stitch in the ditch! Yes I'm cheating - call the quilting police. But it goes soooooo much faster this way!

Now I'm trying to make some decisions about the tone of the quilt. I had originally planned it to be a sincere tribute to my homeland, but then thought of maybe adding a little humor to it. But I don't think so now. I think I'm going to stick with my original tone, and I'm going to try to finish it by Independence day.

Rebel's Book Club - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

So I finished reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Hmmm. I enjoyed it. It was a nice story, the writing is good, and I enjoyed the imagery. But there really wasn't much to it. Am I missing something? So many people told me this was a great book, and while I would recommend it as a nice easy summer read, I'm not sure where the glowing reviews come from.

Have you read it? Did you love it? Do you think it's over-rated?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Craft ADD

On the way to & from Black sheep, I was able to make quilte a bit of progress on Montego Bay. However, I take issue with Amy for calling it a 'mindless' project. Easy yes, mindless no. For me a mindless project involves knitting essentially the same thing each row, or even better, knitting the same thing over & over in the round like the body of a stockinette sweater, or a 2x2 ribbed scarf. The pattern only has four lines, and two of them are purl every stitch, but the other two start with different numbers of border stitches before going into the lace pattern, and end with different numbers of border stitches. I kept losing track of which line I was on, and I kept ending up with the wrong number of stitches (forgetting to do the last YO before the border stitches). Making mistakes in a so called 'mindless' pattern can really give a girl a complex!! Anyway, I frogged back what little work I'd done and started over in the car. I made the same mistake at least once, and had to make up the lost stitch later in the pattern, but I don't think it's that noticeable.

Note to self, if Amy ever puts out a lace pattern she calls 'begginer/intermediate', there's no way I'm qualified to try it!

In quilting news, I'm still slowly but surely ripping the seams & resewing the sashing strips on my flying geese quilt. One thing's certain though - I'm far less enthusiastic about working on it than I was when I started. I'm also having second thoughts about the fabric. Believe it or not, I'm wishing I had used *more* and that I'd taken time to really build up stash before starting. Oh well, nature of the beast I guess, quilts can take a while to make, so there's plenty of time to over-think everything.

So, while I was avoiding working on my quilt, I started cutting up fabric for my neice's flower-basket quilt. But then I had second thoughs about the design of it. It's going to have tons of triangles, and at first I thought just sew two squares together corner to corner & clip the excess. When I'd originally planned the quilt I was going to use 2" triangles, so that seemed reasonable. But then I redesigned the pattern for 3" triangles, and started cutting out the squares. After thinking about it though, I think it would be a bit too wasteful to use the square to triangle method with 3" squares. Soooo I'll either have to accept the waste, or change the design or scale of the quilt again. Which really isn't any more fun than fixing my mistakes on the first quilt.

Which is why I started a completely different quilt - can you tell the theme yet? I'd like to get a few more red fabrics, but so far so good.

I think I've developed a really bad habit of jumping to a new project every time I mess something up on my current project. If I stuck with one project longer I might actually finish things once in a while! Well, I guess there's a reason this blog is called Work in Progress... not Finished Objects!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!

Ok, I didn't buy three full bags but I did get three different yarns at the Black Sheep Gathering. It's really more of a well, gathering for sheep and the people who care for them. There was plenty of fleece and roving a plenty, but not as much yarn as I would have thought. But what there was was amazing!

A silk merino blend. It's a really rich beautiful purple color, much nice than what my camera captures.

Baby alpaca in a colorway called "October" I didn't even notice that at first, but I love it because not only is my birthday in October, it's my favorite month.

And some more alpaca, it's soooo soft, and the alpaca were so cute, and seemed to be quite a bit cleaner than the sheep.

I met up with Melody, Missamite and Mr. Missamite for breakfast before driving down. Mr. Missamite is a model for all men on how to support the knitting lifestyle, he drove the whole way so we could knit, very nice! Then we met up with several other knittyheads, Applepieisyum, Babbling Stacie, Chameleon, Greymalk, Indigomouse & Cinnamontree. We went over to the Saturday Market for lunch. Now the Eugene Saturday Market is a trip in and of itself. But we had fun just chatting & knitting and putting names to faces.

I think a fun day was had by all. See you all at Oregon Flock & Fiber?

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Have you any wool?

I'll report back later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Meyers Briggs meme

You Are An ISFJ

The Nurturer

You have a strong need to belong, and you very loyal.
A good listener, you excel at helping others in practical ways.
In your spare time, you enjoy engaging your senses through art, cooking, and music.
You find it easy to be devoted to one person, who you do special things for.

In love, you express your emotions through actions.
Taking care of someone is how you love them. And you do it well!

At work, you do well in a structured environment. You complete tasks well and on time.
You would make a good interior designer, chef, or child psychologist.

How you see yourself: Competent, dependable, and detail oriented

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, dominant, and stuck in a rut

Monday, June 18, 2007

Montego Bay

Is that... no it can't be... but it kinda looks like... knitting?

Yes, yes indeed, I have in fact started knitting something. Knitty's very own Amy Singer has a scarf pattern published in this season's Interweave Knits. When I saw the scarf I knew it would be a perfect project for the Artyarns Regal Silk I picked up at the Cozy-Ewe sale a while back. It's lace (because you know two lace projects weren't enough), but it's an easy lace pattern. Which means I can enjoy a tropical beverage* while knitting.

Have I mentioned how much I love Amy?

In other knitting-news, I'm excited to be going down to the Black Sheep Gathering fiber festival with some of the Portland knitty-heads this Saturday (the Montego Bay scarf should make good car-ride knitting). I actually earmarked part of my tax-refund this year to spend at Black Sheep, so all that I need to do now is find a few patterns I'd like to make so I'll know what kind of yardage I'll need. Of course if I were really organized, I'd already have all the details of every project I've ever thought of making, and a complete inventory of my current stash of yarn & needles programmed into a PDA - like some knitters I know (not to name names - cough - Missamite - cough cough) =P . But I'm not nearly that organized. Last year it was all I could do to remember to put my copy of Stitch & Bitch in my backpack before going to the Oregon Fiber Festival, which was a good thing because that's where I found a great deal on the yarn for my Girly-man sweater. But now I have the Ann Budd Sweater book, so I feel a little better about my ability to estimate yardage for a sweater. Of course, I really like several of the tops Missamite has made, so maybe I'll just steal her PDA while she's looking at the sock yarn. ;)

*aka a Bartles & James Pina Colada wine cooler ... can you say 'malt-ternative' ;)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Flying geese & roasted duck.

First a problem, not a serious problem... but a problem nonetheless. I'd made a fair amount of progress on my quilt but as I sewed up my sashing strips, I noticed something a bit unsettling. The long columns just weren't matching up lengthwise. Actually they matched up even less than what shows here. I assumed it had to do with the seam allowance adding up - there are about twice as many geese blocks as triangles and even I can figure out that lots of seam allowances are going to take up more space than just a few seam allowances.

So then, I decided to go back and sew using a 1/2" seam rather than a 1/4" seam normally used in quilting. And the result was the difference above. Not a satisfactory solution! At that point I started getting irritated. I'd have to use a 5/8" seam or more to get it to match up. And I thought to myself... if I need to use a 5/8" allowance why the heck didn't they say to in the directions?!?!
Ummm... yeah... it then occured to me that I hadn't actually *read* the directions, I'd just taken the measurements of the blocks and charted out a pattern for myself. =( So I went back and read the directions and saw that when sewing the triangles for the sashing, one is supposed to off-set them by 1/4 inch. So that when they are sewn together they look like this:
Not like this:
Off-setting the triangle takes up about a 1/2" on each triangle, then the 1/4" seam allowance is all I need. Then when you sew the columns together you cover up that 1/4" of off-set, which gives the triangles nice sharp points that look like this:
Not flattened out like this:
So I had to seam rip the entire column, off-set the triangles and sew them back together again. This actually made them line up nicely. Amazing how directions work! The problem is, I'd already sewn together (incorrectly) 5 of the 7 strips that would be used for sashing. I've gone back and fixed one. But I'm going to be busy ripping back seams & resewing. And you thought 'frogging' was just in knitting! Oh well. Perhaps this quilt won't be done this year after all!
In other - completely nonproblematic news, my aunt and uncle from Chicago were in town today. In a classic 'small world' coincidence (which is *not* ironic btw), my aunt who is my father's sister is married to a man who grew up just outside of Portland. So my uncle comes back to see his family about every year, and tries to meet up with me while he's here. I actually get to see him a bit more often than I see my family - who live in Tennessee. Anyway... don't tell the rest of my family, but these are seriously my favorite relatives. My uncle has traveled all over the world, and my aunt is one classy lady. They took me out to dinner, and she ordered the roast duck as though, you know, one orders roast duck all the time. I ordered the almond-crusted tuna salad (with fresh strawberries!). It was reallly good! We talked about my tutoring, my uncle actually taught English in ok... either China or Pakastan (it's not that I don't know the difference between the two countries... it's just that he's traveled in both and I was drinking wine when he was telling me the stories ;) ). Anyway he said he used the model-sentence technique with great results. So I'll have to look that up and see if it's something I could use. It was really a nice visit, and I may have to plan a long stop-over in Chicago next time I visit my family.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Owl Post!

When I got home tonight there was a tawny owl sitting on my mailbox holding a large orange envelope.

The postmark is from Hogsmead Village. That's promising!

First up - some homework, Charms (crossword), Potions (coloring page) and History of Magic (word search). But after that, Sweets!

And my favorite, a little something from Flourish & Blotts to keep my place in the next book. With my all-time favorite Harry Potter scene - conjuring the patronus!

THANK YOU SEIDLING! You're Order of Merlin - first class! =)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Secret Project: Little Boy Blue

Ok - I couldn't wait. I'm pretty sure the recipients don't even know I have a blog, and I'm not sure when the shower will be so I figured I'd just post this now. I finished the quilt last week, and here is the story of how I made it.

One day when I was tired of working on my pink quilt (probably because my old sewing machine was acting up), I decided to start trimming down some of my fabric scraps into 2 1/2" by 2 1/2" squares. There are several fabrics left over from my first quilt, a few from bags I've made, a lot left over from covering my chairs (I'd originally planned on covering 4 chairs, but only did 2), and some from the "quilt" I'd made for Sally. The bright lime green in the corner was a fabric I'd seen on sale and just had to have - even though lime green is *not* my color. I figured it could be used in a future quilt.... little did I know....

About two days after I'd done that - the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, my friends M & S told me they were finally going to get to adopt a little boy! I then knew exactly what I would do with all those scraps. I also cut up some of the fabrics I'd originally chosen for the quilt I'm planning for my nephew - some batik fabrics & the funky blue & green lightningy ones. In fact some of that fabric I'd purchased at the Fabric Depot outdoor sale for 50% off - a great deal but I had to buy full yard cuts, much more than I really needed for my nephew's quilt. Which ended up being a good thing because I had enough for this quilt as well. After cutting up lots and lots (380+) 2 1/2" squares, I went to work sewing them back together again. Quilting is a bit illogical that way.
So here are all the squares sewn together into the quilt top. The inner border is fabric from Sally's "quilt", and the outer border was one of the 1 yard pieces stashed for my nephew's quilt.
So far, so good! I started quilting 'in-the-ditch' between the rows & columns of blocks. Thanks to Fraulein Peggy, I was able to race right through the quilting, and finish it in one night. Unfortunately, not all of my blocks lined up nice & neat, so the quilting is a bit wonky in places.

The day after I finished the quilting, I found out the little boy's name. I'd thought about stitching something really sweet like "Made with love for ..." but that's like way too much embroidery for me. So I settled on the little boy's name and a heart.

Then I started attaching the binding. Now, this is a bit funny, I had all the fabric I needed for the quilt top & back at home, but I didn't have quite enough batting. So after finishing the top, I had to race over to the fabric store after work to pick up the batting. But then after quilting, I realized I forgot the binding... so I had to go back to the store the next day too. It wouldn't be so bad except that every time I walk into the fabric store I end up buying even more fabric!

Sally, of course, gave her seal of approval to the project.
Here's the finished quilt, it all it's glory.

On the bottom of the quilt I embroidered another heart and the year.

I love the spirally fabric backing.
Once it was finished, as per tradition I slept under it (just napped on the couch really) before giving it away. But the problem with that little tradition, is that once you've cuddled up under a quilt you've made, it ceases to be just bits of fabric and becomes a snuggley, cuddly, warm & cozy Quilt... and now I don't want to give it away!!!! But of course I will (after washing it of course). I just hope it gives the little boy endless amounts of comfort and warmth and coziness for years to come.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Yarn Harlot vs. Craft Whore

On Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting up with some knittyheads (Melody, Babbling Stacy, Hellahelen, Chameleon, and Missamite) and going to Powels to see Stephanie Pearl McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot. Her talk was hilarious as usual and I felt very good about myself and the power of knitters to do good in the world. I also really appreciated her fighting back against the current trend of “Not your grandmother’s knitting” advertising. The Yarn Harlot countered that her grandmother was an excellent knitter. Which reminds me that so was mine. Even though I never met her, my father’s mother was an accomplished knitter and tatter (lace maker) even though she lost the sight in one of her eyes, she kept making beautiful things. Anyway I digress. She also brought up gender-stereotypes in knitting. How a woman knitting an intricate lace shawl is ‘cute’ and ‘quaint’, whereas a man knitting a fun-fur garter stitch scarf is a ‘bold innovator’. Grrr.

One thing I disagreed with her about though, was that Knitters identify themselves as such above other distinctions. That while those of us in the room were of a variety of religions, races, political leanings (somewhat unlikely in Portland… but her point was well taken), and generations, but we identified ourselves as Knitters above and beyond the other designations. Now, I’ll agree that when I pick up my needles & go hang out with my knitterly friends I am a Knitter. But I much more strongly identify myself as a Woman, and after that, a Portlander…and I’m sure I could come up with a number of other identities that are important to me, but I don’t think being a Knitter would rank any higher than Baker, Quilter, Museum Goer, PBS Watcher or Volunteer. Knitting is just one of the many things I really like to do with my free time. It’s not my primary identity. And as you can tell by my blog, there are times when certain crafts get much more of my attention than knitting does.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee calls herself the Yarn Harlot because she can’t be faithful to any one yarn… in contrast I’d have to call myself a Craft Whore because I really like to try different crafts, and I enjoy learning new ways to express my creative side. One problem with being a Craft Whore (or maybe I should say Jill of all Crafts), is that as long as I have a full time job, I’ll never really master any of them (the other problem is storage!).

I’ll never turn out complex cabled sweaters month after month interrupting myself to crank out a Victorian shawl here or there. It seems equally unlikely that I’ll ever be able to hand quilt a queen sized quilt at the level of those I saw at the quilt show. And that makes me a little bit sad, and occasionally insecure in the face of certain knit-blogs. But at the same time, I like knowing how to do a lot of different things, I like being able to switch between crafts depending on my mood or needs at the moment. Plus it gives me the option of combining some of these skills into one project. Given unlimited resources, I’d love to learn even more crafts, pottery, carpentry, weaving… anything. Someday maybe. ;-)

Anyway I love the Yarn Harlot, and she really made me feel good about all of my crafts. I think Knitters, and all Crafters deserve more respect than we often get. So in honor of her, I'm going to start showing off some of my other stashes.

The quilting stash (part of it anyway =P ) ... (yeah I was trying to knit some fabric... didn't work though... that particular project has been abandoned)Decade old cross-stitch WIPs. But look at all my embroidery floss!
Christmas angels from ... back in the day, and santa flannel for uh... I can't even remember. :-P
A purse that will be sewn up.... eventually.
Anyway, I'm coming out of the closet so to speak, about my promiscuous crafting. I knit, but I'm not a Knitter, and that's okay.

Caturdays are for napping.

Well, I guess everyday is for napping if you're Sally.

Check out the super snuggly belly chub.

Too precious!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Book Report: Eat Pray Love by Elizabet Gilbert

This book is a log of the geographical and spiritual journey of the author. She travels from a failing marriage in the suburbs of New York, followed soon after by a frantic love affair, into a solo voyage around Italy, India and Indonesia.

In the beginning of the book the author travels to Bali for a magazine story. While there she meets a medicine man who reads her palm, conveniently foreshadowing the rest of the book. Importantly, he predicts that she will come back to Bali to live with him and help him with his English. She then returns to New York to finalize her divorce and begin getting on with her life.

Italy is the first stop on the author's journey. She is drawn there by her love of the Italian language, and her desire to explore pleasure in a culture that understands it so thoroughly. She feasts on pasta (much of this section is lost on me, having no love for Italian food, but I can relate if I pretend she's talking about France) and on the language.

After fully indulging in the pleasures of Italy, the author goes to an ashram in India to devote herself to prayer and spiritual growth. While here she experiences various levels of spiritual enlightenment and works on the spiritual scars of her divorce & failed love affair.

The author then travels to Bali and revisits the medicine man who read her palm some years earlier. In perhaps one of my favorite scenes in the book, he doesn't actually remember her. But alas, eventually he does remember her and they become friends. He becomes yet another spirit-guide in her journey, and is my favorite character of the book. His modesty is a nice contrast from the author's own arrogance & self-centeredness.

Which brings me to my overall opinion of the book. It's a nice travel-log, there are really nice descriptions of the places she visits and the book poses interesting questions about spirituality. But I found the author excessively self-centered, even for an autobiography of sorts. Every experience she has is described as though it is the most significant thing anyone has ever experienced. After supposedly reaching enlightenment at the ashram in India 'sitting in the palm of God's hand', she reads a friend's email describing the adventures of the Explorer's Club - people who had traversed mountains, canyons, volcanoes, dealt with sharks, frostbite, floods etc. and thinks to herself "you ain't seen nothing'. "

She does acknowledge her faults, and has a sense of humor about herself, which balances some of the ego. In the book's favor, it's short, a lot happens, and it's well edited, and I'd recommend it for light summer reading.

So that's my book report. I like the idea of book-reports. I don't like the idea of 5-page-single-spaced-book-reports-due-on-Monday -with-an-oral-report-in-front-of-the-class, but I like the idea of a short little highly opinionated book report (review, critique... whatever you want to call it). I like it so much that I think I'm going to start my own book-club ala Oprah (you know how much I love Oprah!) So the next book in Rebel's Book Club is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. If you've read it, or you want to read it, or you hate the very idea of it and can't believe anyone would ever read it... just keep an eye out and I'll be posting a book report about it as soon as I'm done reading it, and you can all make as many opinionated comments as you'd like.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

99% Perspiration, 1% Inspiration

I’ve been working hard, at work and at home. My secret project is rockin’ awesome (if I do say so myself). But more on that when it’s all finished.

My tutoring is going well. Today we did a lot more than we did last week. I introduced shapes so I could help her form certain letters. How can you tell someone how to make a B if they don’t know the words line or curve? We also did colors, I could tell she’d heard them before, but she didn’t know all of them. Then I read to her a book about Oregon. It’s the perfect kind of book for this situation, lots of pictures, only two or three sentances per page, but very topical and not necessarily geared towards children. The book even talked about the Rose Festival… which is good because that’s going on right now. We went through the pictures, and I read the book twice, she repeated several of the things I said, even if she didn’t totally understand them. Anyway I call today a success. I even got to give her homework. I’m loving this!

I’ve also been getting a lot of inspiration for a future quilt… third or fourth down the line of course.