Saturday, July 28, 2012

quilt fit for a baby!

All of my quilts are really only fit for babies - they haven't quite developed any critical skills yet and can't tisk-tisk at my uneven stitches!  Even so - i'm kind of pleased with this one.  I started it before I knew whether my next niece was going to be a niece or nephew and I thought the colors would work for either.  (and you may recall, it was something I felt bad I hadn't finished yet!)  This block is called a bento box.  Um, now that I looked at other bento box quilts to make sure I was remembering the right name, I might have kinda done it wrong.  I mean it's not wrong - it just may not quite be a bento box!  oh well!  oh, you can't really gauge how big this thing is from the picture - it's only about 36x36, I think.  

I used a tiny red gingham for the binding!  

I did a pretty piss poor job of the actual quilting.  Some of the stitches are too long because I just couldn't seem to keep an even speed on my free motion action - I've got to get better at this!  It's kind of terrifying - so much to maneuver and so little to grip onto!

I made this back snazzy too - it was partially out of necessity because I didn't have enough of the green kona!  


I'm not usually super into the summer olympics, but I do LOVE the parade of nations for some reason! I know it's just hours of people walking and waving, but I love seeing so many countries and their parade of nations outfits, and even the little pop ups that tell you that country's population!  I especially loved the placard bearers with their giant back brace country names!

 I felt sorry for ones who only got to carry short country names, for some reason - I thought if it was me, I'd want a giant one that really took up some space!  I also liked their odd dresses with the volunteer's faces on them, and their shoes, which I still can't seem to get a good picture of!

 I felt bad because I fell asleep while we were only in the "N's" or something - I just couldn't make it!

I also love this website from NBC - it shows all the sports with tons of info!  Like, if I wanted to know how exactly the judges score something like "trampoline" (which is did not realize was an olympic sport!) then I can find it right here!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Victorio victorious!

When my grandpa moved into a nursing home years ago and we were cleaning out his house, I picked up a Victorio Food Strainer from his pantry and took it.  It was all still in the box and it remained there until this morning when I decided maybe I'd try to process some tomatoes and make marinara. It looked like he'd only used it once maybe because nearly everything was still sealed up!  I picked yet another big bowl of tomatoes this morning so I needed to make something delicious with them!

After doing this, I have a newfound respect for jarred sauces - I felt like it took a LOT of tomatoes to get this amount of juice!  It was about 40 oz when I was done, and it was very watery so I knew it'd need to simmer down quite a bit.  At first I felt like there was a lot going into the waste bowl, but it actually did a great job of just separating the skins.  (My yellow gooseberry Pyrex bowls helped out too! :)

I used the biggest strainer - I suppose a smaller one would have removed the tomato seeds, but then I'd just have had juice.  There are 3 other sized strainers that come with it - berry, pumpkin, and something else.  I put it on the stove with some sauted onions and garlic, a little balsamic vinegar, a little sugar, a couple bay leaves, and some dried basil and oregano.  I let it simmer for probably a hour and a half and I think it's great!  It's cooling and I haven't transferred it to anything to see just how much I got out of it - but regardless, I think it was a good use of tomatoes!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

why paying $5 s/h is worth it!

I started making what I think is going to be a super cute teddy bear for my niece.  It's this pattern, which is first saw on Craftsy - it's called huggable bear, and I think it will be!  I found some of that Lion Brand Luxe Fur at JoAnn's - I'd seen it in their ads, but never at a shop, AND it was 40% off, which is good because I'm not too keen on paying $8+ for some fancy fun fur yarn! And just for the record, I like it, but I don't love it - i think it knits up to resemble carpet, and the thread that holds it all together needs to be nylon or something tougher than whatever it is - it's very easy to break, like when you're threading it back through stitches at the end of a piece.

 I got 3 skeins which was pretty close to what the pattern called for, but even the pattern is a little sketchy about how much you need - it seems to be based just on the yarns she's used (and I believe she's from the UK, so i couldn't get my hands on any she used, plus I was wanting to try the Luxe Fur.)  Turns out that 3 skeins only got me through the body, head, and part of one arm!  Billy suggested that he could be a disabled bear.  I decided to buy more yarn.  Shipping was $5 on Joann's website unless I spent $50 so i was like "no way".  I went today and, of course, spent more than $50!  I did get a remanant of some black fur fabric because my uncle gave me some vintage teddy bear book a while back, and I thought maybe this bear would like a bear friend of its own!  There were three skeins left of this color, so I got all of them!  i'm not going to risk this again! I also got two of these packs, not because I needed more fabric, but because I hadn't seen these before and it seemed like a neat little packaging idea (geez, i'm such a sucker for merchandising!)  It's a Denise Schmidt fat quarter pack, but it's all one piece of fabric with cut lines.  Anyone else seen these yet?

What the heck - spending a few hours at Joann is more fun that ordering a couple skeins of yarn online!

Friday, July 20, 2012

the downside of queues

I used to think the idea of a queue was fantastic - specifically when Ravelry came about (doesn't if feel like its always been about?)  It gave me a way of remembering all the stuff I want to make so that when I get around to it, I won't have forgotten anything.  Sometimes, like lately, I'm thinking that forgetting is probably bliss.  I feel like I have a queue of everything - whether it's a documented knitting queue, or yarns I want to try weaving up instead of knitting, or things to sew, or books to read!  It's all snowballing and I for some reason I can't just tell myself I've got a lifetime to get around to it, because it feels like I'm constantly behind!  just look at the lists!  it's obvious that I'm behind!  aaaaak!

I have so many sewing patterns that I've bought and intended to make that I've got doubles of some - I've looked at the pattern books so often I can't remember what I liked enough to buy the last time and which ones i didn't but should have!  Granted, I buy them when they're 99 cents usually, so I'm not going to go to the poorhouse over it, but still!  I have this quilt top that I made a year and a half ago - it's  still not a quilt.  I have this one that I made for someone - maybe it was intended for my next niece?  or my manager's new baby?  I can't even remember - but this is where it is now, pinned but not quilted.  does it look like it's next in line?  no, it's getting buried by other stuff in the queue!

Oh, and then I bought this whole design pack of mother goose embroidery patterns and started making them, think they'd make cool quilt blocks for a baby blanket.  and they will.  but add it to the list!

I bought 7 Norwegian crime novels on my Kindle and I'm on #2 - I read it for as many minutes as I can before I fall asleep at night.  On my Kindle Fire I have Taft, another Ann Patchette novel - because I've decided I need to read her entire backlist now.  I know words like "backlist" because I listen to the NY Times book review podcast while I'm sewing - you know, so I can add more books to the queue!  In addition to the electronic versions, I've got 3 books I borrowed from my uncle in a pile by the bed - one I'm halfway through, but three books got to be a bit much!  And then there's the bookshelf with all my other used book finds, and the co-worker who reads like a banshee and passes good ones on to me in a never ending stream - oh geez, I have one of hers in the pile by the bed too!  

Here's the thing, reading this post, I feel like I'm so busy, but I'm really just frantic - i'm pretty lazy and I think my eyes are nearly always bigger than my crafting stomach most of the time!  I have time after work, but I find myself playing Words With Friends and watching yesterday's episodes of Project Runway (did you know the new season started?) instead of doing something in one of my many queues!  i'm my own worst enemy.  The only thing that has made me feel better is rolling back through my blog to find posts for old quilts and whatnot and realizing that I've made a damn lot of stuff!  I need to take a deep breath and remember that this is all supposed to be fun!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

another fake Purl Bee project

I say this is a fake Purl Bee project because I got the idea from them, but not the suggested $22/yard sheer linen!  I just can't justify that.  I did, however, find some sheer linen at JoAnn Fabrics, and while it was still a bit of a splurge, it was not anywhere near $22/yard!  It's hard to tell in the picture how sheer it is, but it really is lovely and thin.  It's slightly off white, and the pom poms are white so there's a little contrast, but it's still going to be super versatile!  I love it!  I should have taken a picture of it worn long too - it's doubled in the picture.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Despite the drought

I've been picking tomatoes like crazy this past week!  It feels early to me, but I'm no good at keeping track of things like that!  (Unlike my grandpa who kept super detailed logs of when everything was planted, when it was picked, how many quarts or pints were canned, etc.  How did he find time to do all that?)  I have so many I'm going to make gazpacho today!  I got a nice french baguette at the farmers market this morning.  I also got a couple cukes and a red pepper.  I'm assuming the cucumbers were homegrown - they looked like it, but when I asked about the pepper he said he bought them.  i'd already given him the money so I couldn't back out, but I find myself getting more and more disillusioned with the farmers market.  If I wanted to buy a non-homegrown pepper, I could just go to Kroger and pay way less.  I suppose it's my job to ask the questions, so it's my own fault.  The 2nd street market does require the vendors to list where their produce was grown now, but not all of them post signs.  Sometimes I feel like the vendors are just laughing and saying "those dupes will buy anything if it's at a farmer's market!" as they're buying boxes of lettuce from the same distributors that pull up to the big grocery stores!

Monday, July 9, 2012

crocheting like a tunisian!

Well, actually I learned that tunisian crochet isn't really from Tunisia, but whatever - I'm doing it!  I got 2 of the 3 hooks I ordered in the mail today so I started watching my Craftsy class taught by Jennifer Hansen.  She's a great instructor and somehow they get really  nice close camera shots when she's showing little things, like where to put your hook.  The first project is a spa cloth.  Because the hooks I got were the two bigger ones, I didn't go with the dk weight like the pattern is written for.  So hers is a beautiful silk dk weight spa cloth and mine is a big bulky weight cotton-from-a-cone rag!  That's ok though - it's pretty fun to do!  Here's what I've got so far:

Can you see the three different stitches?  The bottom part, and up the sides is simple tunisian crochet - it looks kind of woven, like little boxes.  Then there's a tunisian knit stitch - which looks just like a knit stitch!  Then there's a reverse tunisian crochet which looks like a purl stitch.  Those three stitches will make up the cloth - with concentric squares of each.  Tunisian crochet is really dense at normal gauge - like armor!  in fact, Jennifer Hansen designed a couple corsets for Vogue knitting that are tunisian crochet - I've seen the patterns but never noticed they were not knit!  I'm eager to get to the next lesson where we do multicolored things!  I think that's going to be similar to the stashbuster blanket that's on the Craftsy website!

Here are some great tunisian crochet garments for inspiration:  Anais (a cropped jacket), chain mail beret and cowl,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Things I'm loving

A few weeks ago I was driving home from the North Dayton Garden Center, where I impulse bought a barrel cactus and named it Jesus because I just thought a cactus should have a Mexican name - anyway, I heard a piece on NPR about a local writer who'd written and published a detective novel that's set in 1930's  Dayton.  I repeated the title "No Game for a Dame" all the way home and looked it up on my kindle when I got there.  It was available as a free download through their Prime library so I started reading it. It's great!  then I decided not to keep my Prime membership and it got sucked right back - and I wasn't finished!  aaak!  I remembered that it wasn't very expensive, but when I went back this time, it was free for the Kindle.  yep.  zero dollars.  That means you totally need to get it - especially if hearing about old Dayton landmarks is something you think is cool, or you enjoy getting to say "gumshoe detective" a lot when you're talking about it to friends and neighbors!  The main character is a spunky detective (that's the "dame" part!) and it's definitely worth reading.  Note - i just went back to Amazon to link to it and it's $2.99 for a Kindle version now - maybe I caught the very tail of my Prime membership?  who knows - it's still totally worth it!

Another thing I'm loving lately is Craftsy!  Anybody else tried any of the online classes they offer?  They have a couple that are free - like one called Block of the Month for quilting.  I tried that one to see if I'd like it, and it's pretty cool!  I bought another called Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine - I've learned so much and I haven't even finished watching it!  It's cool because  you can start and stop wherever you want.  You can post questions for the instructor or comments/questions for other folks taking the class and then get responses.  They have spots where you can upload pics of your finished projects for inspiration, and all of the patterns and class materials, etc. are downloadable.  It's a pretty cool platform for a class - I've always been a book learner - but the visual is pretty cool too.  They have sales on their classes pretty often - you can get on an email list so you know when they are.  Most recently I bought a class on Tunisian Crochet taught by Ann Hanson from Stitch Diva.  I haven't started watching it yet, but I did buy 3 tunisian crochet hooks (just assuming I'll love it!) Two projects are made during the class - a spa cloth just to get the hang of it, then a multi garment (that's what they call it - it's kind of in the vein of their wear-it-a-million-different-ways garments they have on their website.)  Oh, and once you've bought the class you can watch it as many times as you want - it's yours forever.  Or, as they say, as long as the internet exists.  They have a huge variety of classes too - not just knitting and quilting - crochet, sewing (like really impressive couture how-to's!), home decorating, holiday stuff, cooking (there's one on artisan cheese making!), cake decorating, paper crafting - everything you can think of!  check it out and tell me if you take anything!