Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let's Get Cozy

I was in the bookstore yesterday, and of course I couldn't resist this book:
I have never read a book by this author, but putting quilts on the cover was a surefire way to grab my attention.  (and the sweet little corgi dog was a nice touch.)  As I looked at some more of the new paperbacks, I couldn't help but notice lots of other needlecraft themed mysteries.

There was knitting,

and even Button collecting.
I felt silly taking photos of book covers on my camera phone.  In fact, I think the employees at the store were starting to wonder about me,  but as a dedicated blogger,  I just had to have a record of all these titles.

There was Gardening,


and Wine tasting.

There was also a mystery for the furniture refinisher,
as well as the Ballroom Dance enthusiast,
the gals at the salon,
and their fashionista pals.
The fans of the Psychic Friends Network even had their own mystery,
and since nothing is spared from the latest Vampire trend, there was even a mystery for the "Vampire Chefs".

It seems that all these mystery books fall into the catagory of "Cozy" mysteries.  The main difference between a cozy mystery and your average mystery is that the cozies do not include graphic violence,  profanity or explicit sex.  The protagonist is generally an amateur sleuth who happens to encounter a murder, and is drawn into solving it, taking the reader along for the ride.  Oh, and they all have to have a catchy title involving word play that easily suggests what hobby/activity will be involved.

Quite honestly, I think these mysteries are aimed at women.  Nothing wrong with that, but I couldn't help but notice that there were no football, golf, car racing  or beer enthusiast mysteries in this genre.

Time to grab a cup of tea, put on my Snuggie and cozy up to a good read.  Won't you join me?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Knitting again

The unexpected sweater for my son  project has been sitting there mocking me for a couple of months now.  I first set it aside because I was having trouble with my shoulder, but I admit that it has been hard to go back to because I am at the point where I need to make it FIT.

A second reason for not rushing back to the project is that I have to pull out and reknit about 8 inches of the front due to an error in the cable.

Now it seems, I have yet another problem to contend with...the sleeves!

This is the store bought sweater that I have been using for a size comparison as I knit the new sweater. Let's call this the "control" sweater.

Here is the front of the knit sweater compared to the control sweater.  You can see that the curve of the armhole is a pretty good match.  The same is true for the back.

After knitting the first sleeve, I wanted to compare it to the sleeve on the control sweater, so I made a tissue paper pattern. 

I unfolded the tissue paper pattern, and laid the sleeve over it, expecting them to be somewhat similiarly shaped.  They were not.

The blue line indicates where the paper pattern measures up underneath the sleeve.  Now, I know that there is a lot of stretch and some room for adjustment in a knitted fabric, but I just don't see how this sleeve is going to fit into the armhole.

Look at it this way.  When I lay the sleeve against the control sweater, it extends well above the shoulder seam, and it appears that it will pull across the chest.


What now?

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

I KNEW I should have stuck with afghans.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Applique, the gluestick way

Today I learned a new method to applique a circle. 

I started out by making a template from 2 stiffened pieces of freezer paper.

Then I ironed the template onto the wrong side of the background fabric.

Next, I cut out the center of the circle, leaving about a 3/4" seam allowance, clipped the curves and lightly tacked them with fabric glue onto the freezer paper.

Then more glue was applied over the turned seam allowances, and I layered the focus fabric over that.

The next step was to remove the freezer paper template. (verrrrrry carefully!) You can see in the next photo that the result is to have the clipped seam allowances lightly adhered to the focus fabric.

Finally, a good pressing to set the crease and it was time to sew.  I followed the fold line created by the iron and stitched in the ditch.

When I made my way all the way around, it looked like this:

The last step was to trim away the seam allowance.

After a quick touch with iron, the block was done. 

As far as the finished product goes, I would call it a success.  Technically, it is not an appliqued block.  It is really a pieced block.  The technique did allow me to construct the block fairly quickly compared to traditional applique, but I must admit it felt more like a craft project than a sewing project.

This method was new to me, but it has been around for at least a few years.  There was an episode of Simply Quilts where Dale Fleming demonstrated this exact technique.  You can view that here if you want to get more information, or if you just want to revisit Alex Anderson in the HGTV wayback machine.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Pin cushions

Pin cushions have become all the rage it seems.  I think it might have something to do with  not wanting to have magnetized pin catchers around the new computerized sewing machines.  But perhaps its also due to the fact they they are fun to make and are great little gifts for quilter friends.

At our quilt guild banquet last week, we all got a little pin cushion to take home with us.

As you can tell, they were made from small canning jars, and inside they held a sweet surprise:

While I had the camera out, I also took a picture of  a pin cushion that my daughter made for me when she was in elementary school.  I think the pattern was something she found in a Highlights magazine.
It's made from a little tupperware cup,  some yellow felt and a bit of black corduroy, and it puts a smile on my face every time I use it.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

In under the wire...

I managed to find some time in my sewing room this afternoon and I finished making my first block for my Saturday Sampler BOM.

Working with these fun, bright colors is such a pleasure.  The challenge to this block was using a new ruler that we were issued as part of the Saturday Sampler.  It's a neat way to make Flying Geese units.  I'll show how it works in another post.

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Almost but not quite.

I was hoping to get more done last night during the Friday Night Sew In, but it was 9:15 by the time I got to my sewing room.  I didn't get to start the actual sewing, but at least I got all the pieces cut for the first block of the BOM.  If I hadn't signed up for the Friday Night Sew In, I probably wouldn't have gotten even that much done.

Aren't these luscious colors?   I can't wait to get them sewn together. Hopefully that will get done today.
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Saturday Sampler begins

Heidi over at   Handmade by Heidi   hosts a monthly Friday Night Sew In.  A virtual sew-in where everyone who participates sets a goal for sewing and shares their progress over on Heidi's blog.  This will be my first time actually committing to do it.

My project for tonight is to get started on a Block of the Month that just began at my nearby quilt shop.  It's called the Saturday Sampler.  Each month you get instructions and fabric for one block.  If you finish the block by the next month's meeting, you get the pattern and fabric for the next month for free. 

I've heard about these type of BOM programs, but I've never done one before.  This one is pushing me a little bit out of my comfort zone because we don't know what the final quilt will look like.  It's a mystery.   Thankfully, my quilting buddy Linda is also signed up for the BOM so we can encourage each other to keep going.

We had our choice of 3 colorways: Black and White, Batiks, or Bubblegum

I chose batiks, and Linda chose black and white.  It will be really fun to compare both quilts when we are done and see how different they are just by using different fabrics.

This is a picture of the sample block that I will be making tonight:

Hope I'll have an identical block of my own to show by tomorrow.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Knitting in Public

Today is World Wide Knitting in Public Day!

Here is some background about WWKIP day from their website:
World Wide Knit in Public Day was started in 2005 by Danielle Landes. It began as a way for knitters to come together and enjoy each other's company. Knitting is such a solitary act that it's easy to knit alone somewhere and sink into your work without thinking about all the other knitters out there. Neighbors could spend all their lives never knowing that the other knits. This a specific day to get out of your house and go to a local event (with your knitting in tow) just for you and people like you. Who knows you might even bump into your neighbor! Consider this a spark, to ignite a fire; getting all of the closeted knitters out into fresh air.
There are organized events for WWKIP, but I think it would be nice even to just take up your knitting and go outside.

I took a break from my latest project because of bursitis in my shoulder, but this past week I have started back (in short doses), and have been doing fine.  I've already started thinking about my next project.

Hope you get a chance to work with needles and yarn, (or needle and thread) and enjoy a little creative bliss today.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away

Early in the morning, in the middle of a downpour, 45 quilters boarded a bus and headed off for an unknown destination.  It was the day for our quilt guild's Mystery trip.  Sitting on the bus, in pairs of two, it felt more like we had boarded Noah's Ark, but we did not turn back.

When we sign up for the mystery trip, all we know in advance is that we will have an entire day of quilty fun.  This was my first time on the trip, and I had no idea what to expect.

Our first stop was a quilt shop about an hour's drive away. The shop was expecting us and had plenty of staff to help cut fabric.  I picked up a few Civil War repros to go into a pink and brown quilt that I am planning.
A 1930's print of scottie dogs, and a pretty Autumn leaf fabric may have also followed me home, but only my closest quilt buddies will ever know for sure.

The next stop was a botanical garden exhibit at a nearby college.  A sunny day would have been nicer to view the greenhouses, but we still enjoyed it.

The biggest surprise of the day was our next stop.  A painting workshop!  We entered a place called the Paintbox where they are in the business of making painting fun! Check out this wall of student work:

The staff  set us up with easels and brushes,

and  showed us a  special sewing themed picture they had created for us to paint.   This was the class sample:

The instructor took us step by step into making each shape to complete the painting.  See that little cutie-pie in the top right corner of the picture?  She was a great teacher, and was very encouraging.

Unlike your average "paint your own" art studio, this one came complete with a beverage bar.

No kidding!  You could order wine and beer as well as soft drinks to sip while you painted.  Maybe that's why there were so many laughs during our lesson! Before we knew it, we were done!  Here is my finished painting:
I like the spools of thread, but I think  my pin cushion looks more like an under-filled water bottle slowly sliding off the table.  Here is the trio of paintings made by my friends Linda, Rosemary and myself:

After the painting lesson, we all got back on the bus with our still-slightly-wet paintings and tried to keep them from tumbling about. 

One last stop on our tour....another quilt shop!  As we got off the bus, we made the driver promise not to run off with our valuable art collection.  He was amazingly agreeable on that point.

We entered the shop, and the first thing we saw was this gorgeous collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics:
A visual treat for sure, but next thing I saw was truly a delight.   A very good quilter friend of mine who  just happened to be shopping in the store!  (Hello Gwen!)  Gwen told us that the shop manager had told her that she might want to get to the cutting table quickly because he was expecting a busload of quilters to arrive any minute.

There were so many fabrics to choose from, it was almost overwhelming, but there was one fabulous fabric that called to me above the rest.  Could you have walked out without a bit of this?

The shop actually stayed open late in order to accomodate us.  Of course, what wise shop owner would pick the time clock over a bunch of quilters ready to buy fabric?

Soon it was back on the bus for the trip home, and the only mystery left was "when is the next trip planned?"

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