Monday, March 31, 2008

knowing when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em

Even though Leah and I missed the Feb. quilt club meeting because we were away, we got the supplies and were back on track for the meeting on Friday.
Leah's blocks are to the left, with the green-background polka dots. Mine are to the right, with the purple batik. As expected, her blocks are turning out better than mine because we bumble through on mine first, learn from those mistakes, and then do better on hers. That's fine with me. We're being gentle on ourselves with this project because we don't want to get bogged down in the details, just want to keep it moving, knowing we can refine our techniques as we gain experience. We're laughing a lot about how, hopefully, someday we'll look back on this and laugh at how clueless we were and how we went about things, similar to how I cut my first linen threads for a hardanger project using an exacto knife and a cutting board, because I didn't know any better and wouldn't have had the right tools at hand anyway. I can only hope that Leah's love for sewing grows like my love for hardanger did (and still does)!

Anyway, quilt club is fun. There are probably 40 people in the group and we get to see everybody's block for the month, plus ooh and ahh over all the other projects people bring in, as well as all the enticing goodies in the store. It's amazing how different the blocks look. Even though they're all the same pattern, different fabric combinations and borders (which we're not doing yet, but some people are) have a completely different effect.

Last week I also tried my first laceweight knitting with Claudia Hand Painted Yarns' silk laceweight. I was using the Gust pattern from Knitspot. I blocked what I had, so I could get a feel for what it would really be like, because this knitting pre-blocking was a teensy crumpled bit of nothingness. I knew it would behave much better once it was blocked, but I didn't know if that would be improvement enough to forge ahead with it.

You'll notice that the above is all in past tense, because I ended up tearing it out. I wasn't enjoying the laceweight knitting, didn't think the handpainted yarn was working well with this pattern, and decided I wouldn't wear it anyway because I like my scarves to have some heft and really keep my neck warm when I wear them. But the pattern is well-written and the yarn is gorgeous (even though it may not appear so in the above pic), and I did indeed knit lace with laceweight yarn, if only a little bit!

Maybe I'll try this yarn again at another time, maybe another pattern, or maybe I'll try this pattern with the laceweight yarn paired with a strand of some solid yarn.

Someday, but not now, because now we're moving on to some other things.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

springtime stitching

It was a whopping 49ยบ here yesterday afternoon, but it was SUNNY. I had my office window open for some of that fresh air and saw more than one person in shorts. My family examined our front slope for young daffodil leaves poking up through the soil, and celebrated when they found some. Although this wasn't a difficult winter, it's clear that everybody's ready for spring.

A few days before Easter, Leah and I did some real life math to calculate how big her piece of evenweave fabric should be for her next project. We pulled a fabric thread to mark the cut line and that was all she needed from me for this project. She grabbed the bead boxes, the floss boxes, the bag of handpainted threads, and a good audiobook from the library basket, and headed for her room.

A few days later, she plopped the finished needlework on my desk, along with a frame from our attic stash, and asked me to help her with the framing process. We had a bit of a crisis when we washed and began to iron the work, only to discover, to our horror, that the handpainted thread was bleeding dye onto the crisp white fabric! After much agonizing over our very limited options, we finally decided the marks weren't too bad and to just let it be as part of the learning process. In the end, she had a very pretty piece of framed needlework that's perfectly suited for this time of year and none too shabby for a 9-year-old needlework enthusiast.

And as I was composing this blog entry, she popped into my office and grabbed the floss boxes out of their storage drawer again, then returned to her room, without a word. Hmmm...
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

happy hippety hoppity

(this is a free xs pattern that I stitched many years ago)

mmm...jelly beans before breakfast. :-)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

guess who!

There is a budding weaver in my house and -- surprise! -- it's Scott! He has done most of the leg work in figuring out how these looms function and, along the way, seems to have become fascinated by their potential. After a practice run a week or two ago and armed with some reference books from the library, he dressed the jack loom earlier this week. The kids and I arrived home from roller skating last night to find the tunes cranking and the Dad having a blast with his new toy!
There was no particular plan for this project, so he did what I suspect a lot of newbie weavers do -- try many drafts to see what happens.

Yeah, it makes me dizzy too. ;-)

He wants to try out a few more supercool drafts on this just-for-fun sampler, but in the meantime, he did some rummaging around in the yarn stash this morning while toying with ideas for upcoming projects. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

hey, I knoes 'dem toes!

During a work break today, I clicked over to Ravelry and, to my surprise, recognized the two sets of tootsies (or at least their handknitted covers) on the front page!

There's Leah's Twinkletoes and my blog-buddy Lori's sweetheart socks. You might especially want to click on that last link to see the beautiful quilt Lori has in progress.

My own tootsies will be spending the remainder of the day propped on some pillows, since I stepped wrong this morning and sprained my left foot. Ugh for the resulting pain, but what a perfect reason to snuggle under a blanket on this cold and rainy evening, knitting my heart out and listening to a good audiobook with the kids.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Not a peep out of the Goob as she made super secret plans to hang with her Grammy on Sunday afternoon, but Grammy is an incredible quilter and the Goob is increasingly sewing-obsessed, so I figured there'd be fabric and thread in the equation. Also Grammy has a fantabulous sewing machine that's probably worth more than my car and, of course, that's like the holy grail for a 9-year-old seamstress wannabe. She was nearly bursting with pride when she came home later that afternoon and presented me with this beoooooootiful drawstring bag. Perfect for holding the sock-knitting project du jour and/or whatever else I fancy. It's lined and everything. We are especially tickled by the fancy swirly stitch added to the edge of the top cuff in coordinating variegated thread.
Much of the weekend was spent among my peeps -- crafty homeschooling moms. Works in progress included knitting, spinning, felting, quilting, cross stitching, scrapbooking, and one preparing her photographic prints for sale. Conversation meandered to include freeform crochet and hardanger, so I thought I'd post a pic of one of my past hardanger projects here, in case Gretchen follows up to see some of what I was talking about. This is yet another Emie Bishop design, mostly plain ol' cross stitch, but with a touch of hardanger and some drawn thread work and other stitch variations too. Since this one is mounted with muslin behind the linen, it's probably more difficult to see the hardanger and other cut thread work, but maybe clicking for the big pic will help.

And since I'm talking about peeps today, I just couldn't resist putting up the most recent I Can Has Cheezburger post. I cannot tell you how many times that goofy site has made me laugh until I cried, causing my family to rush into my office to join in on the fun.

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

a wee bit o' stitchin' o' the green

I knew Leah was working on a secret project. She came out of her room this morning and plunked this Sweetheart Tree acorn heart on my desk. She then informed me that her next needlework project will be a Sweetheart Tree springtime heart, either forget-me-not or violets, and she wanted to stitch that on an evenweave fabric instead of Aida, and would I please take her to Thistle Needleworks today? Sure thing, you Sure Thing!
I'm still working on the Estonian Garden Wrap, my green lace project. The "small flowers" section is an 8-row repeat, easily memorized, so it was perfect vacation knitting and I got a lot of it done on our trip. Only a few more repeats of that to go and I'll be ready to knit the other end section!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

crafty kids, airsoft style

Jesse loves the Airsoft club he's in, strategizing and running hard in the woods for hours with his buddies, cooling down afterwards as they catch their breath and make plans for the next gathering. As Jesse was digging around in my fabric stash recently, I was informed that a holster is needed for the pistol sidearm he carries during the games. It had been a busy workday for me and I really needed a breather, so I told him I'd get him started on the project and then he was on his own. Scott came to the rescue and said he could help. They were brave together, but I left the room and could hear them fumbling around, not even sure how to thread the sewing machine, so I gave them a quick overview of its operation and asked (begged!) to be excused to work on my own projects. A bit more fumbling and brainstorming, then the purr of the machine. A little while later, it was clear that they were on the right track, so I popped in to snap this picture.
Oh, the pride when he put the finishing touches on it the next morning and modeled for me before leaving for a game! Oh, the joy I felt to know that all members of my family would go away for Airsoft and leave me to work in glorious solitude for a few hours! ;-)
One nice fringe benefit of this Airsoft club is that Scott also loves to play and is welcomed by the young men in the club. However, Scott's ankles and thighs are not quite as enthusiastic about his efforts when the next day rolls around and he is painfully reminded that he is no longer an adolescent boy who can run in the woods for hours without repercussions.

Another winning aspect of this club is that the host family has been fantastic. They even have a daughter who meshes beautifully with Leah. The last time they got together, the friend's goal was to learn to knit. Leah helped her get started and a week later, she had a good-sized swatch underway!
The boys are planning an Airsoft group campout for this spring and the host mom wants to learn to make soap, so I'll probably teach her how during that weekend. Who would've thought that gatherings of a group of warrior boys would spur on sewing, knitting, and soapmaking?!
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Monday, March 10, 2008

just add color 2008

This weekend was a steady stream of visits and phone calls, color and fun. Seems a guaranteed cure for the winter blahs when I look out my window and see nothing but brown and beige and blech. I remember this feeling last year, with a similar solution. In the mix was...

a fiber artisans gathering at CT Yarn & Wool, complete with sunbeams, colorful yarns, tasty treats, and friendly company;

cardmaking festivities for Supersibs;

an entire day of paintball (I'll give you 1 guess which members of the family enjoyed that ;-);

and discovery of the very first blossom in our yard!
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Friday, March 07, 2008

my boy's a little warped

Nature's weaving in Hawaii

Jesse's weaving at our house

Weaving enablers' propaganda happily received in our mailbox

and of course a K'nex contraption devised to help with bobbin-winding.
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

island highlights

We've been home for a week and it's been surprisingly difficult to put together this album, like the whole trip to Hawaii is way too big to summarize in a neat little online slideshow and I didn't even know where to begin to pare it down. Even now, I've narrowed my own album down to 400 precious pictures and this public one to just over 100 pictures.

The only way to describe this trip is "huge." The whales, the rainforest vegetation, the avocados, the volcanic craters -- all physically huge -- but the experience? Also huge. And there's so much more that we didn't even snap photos of, like watching the whales spout beneath us as in the crystal blue water as we flew in a little plane, having just passed over Molokai's craters and heading into Maui; or snorkeling alongside a sea turtle; or flying into Honolulu at night and seeing that well-known coastline with Diamondhead off to the side.

I noticed, as I went through this album one more time before uploading it, how many captions include "huge" or "gigantic" or similar descriptors. And I realized that these aren't just referring to the kind of enormity you can measure with a ruler.

Hawaii 2008