Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quilted Tote

I learned a new technique and was wondering what to do with the block that I had just created, when it dawned on me......make a tote!! I don't make totes very often as I really don't have the need for them (have way too many), but thought that this might make a nice surprise gift for a friend. So a tote was created. :.)

The design on this tote was created using the embroidery unit on my sewing machine. Some other amazingly creative person digitized the design. All I had to do was learn how to stitch it out correctly.....which took a bit of doing. I had never done applique with the embroidery unit before. I did manage to get the block stitched out and really love the way it turned out. The design in the center is colored with colored pencil....and heat set. The very center of that is beaded with tiny purple beads and a bird charm was then stitched to the center of that.
The front of the bag was quilted using a neutral colored quilting thread....outlining the applique design and stipple quilting around the stitched design inside of that. The background of the applique was quilted using a decorative stitch and the neutral colored thread in one direction. The same decorative stitch was used only with a clear metallic thread for the other direction. The entire bag was lined with the same fabric that was used for the applique on front. The bag was done with a box bottom and I put buttons made from recycled plastic on the bag bottom to act as "feet". This is suppose to give the bag something to sit on so the bottom doesn't get dirty.
There is no pattern, per se, for this bag. This is my own design....for the most part (applique not included). I'm sure that there are probably patterns similiar out there on the market somewhere. I have never seen them....nor have I looked for them. This is just something I will make from time to time....improving upon it each time. I hope to get it to where I can make any size bag needed without a bunch of trial and error. As for the recipient of this quilted tote......she was totally surprised and totally thrilled with it. I was informed that it will be her constant companion when she goes out. How wonderful is that!! :.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The day after.......

......a creative day is always hard for me. Things just don't seem to "flow" as well. It's not that the creative ideas don't keep coming. Because they do. It's just that things don't go as smoothly. I had finished up a pair of socks (that I had been working on for way too long) the night before last and it was time to choose a new knitting project. It was a no-brainer that I was going to start another sock project. After all, I had discovered how portable of a project it makes......and how calming it can be knitting on a pair of socks when the stress levels are a bit high (I had a procedure done about a week ago and knit on my socks the entire time........made things a bit easier to endure). Anyway, while looking for that perfect sock pattern (couldn't remember exactly where I saw it)......I came across a pattern for thrummed mittens. Perfect!! It was something I had been wanting to make and I even had the perfect yarn for it. Problem was I didn't have the needles needed. So I pulled things out for the thrummed mittens knowing that I couldn't start on the project until I got into town to buy the needles needed.

Well, after getting sidetracked with the mittens for quite some time (even pulled out the fiber for the llama) I finally got back to looking for that perfect sock pattern. Once I found it, I photo copied it and then settled down to cast on. Did my swatch and my gauge was off by a stitch. Went up a needle size and my gauge was still half a stitch. Any larger and the fabric would be way too loose looking.....the yarn just wasn't heavy enough for larger needles. So I thought I would cast on and see what happens. Turns out it wouldn't work. If I had continued knitting the sock it would have ended up fitting a child. So everything was undone and the search for a new pattern began. I did find one pattern that I really liked and cast on for it. The gauge and needle size was a good match. The ribbing even turned out really nice. The problem was with the stitch pattern itself. Did nothing for me. Luckily I had only knit two out they came. Found another pattern that was okay. Wasn't real crazy about it, but it did fit what I had done already. It calls for 1 1/2" of ribbing instead of the inch I had already knit. So I knit a couple more rows of ribbing.....and that was pretty much it. Not real crazy about the stitch pattern. So I think I may spend a bit of time seeing if I can't find something that works with what I have knit already. I really don't want to knit a "plain vanilla" sock. The yarn calls for something more. Just not quite sure what yet.

As for the picture above......well, that is a picture of the socks that I finally completed. Actually it is the only picture that turned out fairly decent. Turns out the socks don't photograph very well. Or maybe it was me. Anyway, I hope to have a better picture of the socks soon. Maybe yesterday just wasn't a very good photograph day either........

Friday, October 9, 2009

Creativity Abounds!!

Have you ever had one of those days when you have the impulse to create, but don't know what? Then something catches your eye......and it's just enough to get you off and running. Before you know it, the afternoon has passed and you've created something amazing.

Well, I'm having one of those days. Woke up with an amazing amount of creative energy. Thought, "okay, time to work on this month's block" and as I was reaching for the monthly kit something caught my eye. It was a stack of brightly colored blocks. While I was working on the first of two blocks for this month that stack of brightly colors kept calling me. Before I knew it, the block of the month was set aside and those brightly colored blocks were laying all over my sewing table. Wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them....until I started laying them out. Then it all just came together of its own accord. Once the blocks were laid out I started sewing. A couple of hours later I had a wonderful little quilt top. A few minutes later the perfect backing appeared.....the batting joined......and a quilt sandwich was born. :.) I call it "Little Chaos". I even know exactly how it will be quilted.

As I stood back admiring the morning's burst of creativity, it dawned on me how amazing it was to have everything I needed for this little quilt right at hand. The perfect border fabric....perfect colored backing in the right size.......and the perfect thread for machine quilting. Not a single thing was lacking or wanting. It's as if it was meant to be.....and this was the morning for it to be created. Gotta love days like this!! :.)
Of course I did have a very good night last night, too. Actually finished combing a lamb fleece. It was the very first fleece I have ever combed. I was simply amazed at how beautiful and clean the fiber is. And this is from a fleece that I thought for sure would be tossed. There was so much vm in it!! Definitely not a fleece that I would have even thought about picking and carding. It was that dirty. Of course now that it's all clean time to move onto the next step....blending it with some white baby camel top that I have. Just haven't quite decided whether I will be adding blending nylon to it or faux cashmere. It will all depend on how the nylon that I ordered looks. It's supposed to resemble silk. We'll see. I will be spinning sock yarn from it. I thought my hubby would enjoy a pair of shetland lamb/baby camel socks. :.)
On to fair spinning........ pictured below is the bobbin on my Ashford Country Spinner. On the bobbin is a Shetland lamb/kid mohair blend that I spun up at the fair. I used the Country Spinner to ply all the singles thatI had spun. The first skein (pictured below) ended up being about 500 yards (weighing about 13 ounces) of a nice worsted weight yarn (10 wpi). The second skein still needs to have the twist set, but it is also a worsted weight yarn.....with about 490 yards in the skein. Then there is a third smaller skein of about 78 yards. Haven't decided what I will do with all the finished yarn yet. Thought about a vest.....maybe thrummed mittens and a scarf......or maybe a felted teddy bear. The possibilities are endless. :.)
I also spun up some sock yarn at the fair this year. It was all spun on a drop spindle then plyed on a wheel. It's a polypay x/icicle top blend. There is actually a story of sorts behind this yarn. My youngst had died up all these short pieces of polypay x roving and then left it all in a large ziplock. I had asked her what she was going to do with it all. Her response "I think I will spin it up. Well, that was eons ago. She has since then graduated high school and moved out (college dorms). I was cleaning up the fiber room right before the fair and noticed this large ziplock filled with all these short pieces of dyed roving. Was a bit upset when I saw it......then thought "why not spin it up myself". The idea was to spin up the ugliest, gaudiest yarn I possibly could and then make her socks from it......which I would give to her for Christmas. (insert evil mom laugh here) Well, things didn't quite turn out as I thought. She saw the fiber as I was spinning it and absolutely LOVED it!! When I was spinning it, the fiber was in about six different batts and each one was a different color. I decided to "blend" the various singles together when plying in the hopes of creating a very colorful, very cohesive sock yarn. I think I actually accomplished that. :.) And I even found the perfect sock pattern for it. Oh, happy days!!!!