Endings. Projects and the year 2011

 It's December 30th and after a quick trip to a fabric store to stock up on thread at 50% off I headed off to the sewing room to finish projects.
This cute table runner is made from all of my assorted Christmas scraps. It ended up nicer than I imagined. I thought it would be a bit too busy, but it works and I will set it aside as a gift for someone next year. It is one of the designs from a pattern I used earlier call Little Charmers II (Anka's Treasures designs) . I didn't use charm squares, obviously.Went together in a flash and is as straight forward as can be.

 I also finished a purse. I've already stuffed it with my wallet and phone. Awesome purse pattern. The pattern is from Four Corners Designs and is called The X bag. Neat construction with pockets created from the bag pieces overlapping each other and sew together on the sides.
I fused decor bond interfacing to my fabric which I won't do again as it made it too stiff, although it is nice, but makes it difficult to sew through the thickness of the side and bottom seams. I will make this using quilted fabric next time.
I am in love with this fabric from Marcus fabrics.

By the way. I bought 40 spools of thread. I'm ready for 2012!


Post Holiday Rush

I'm in only one rush....to get as many projects finished and started in one week as possible and loving every minute of it. The pre-holiday craziness is exactly that for a music teacher/musician. Evenings and weekends are tumultuous between concerts and rehearsals. The kids are more than excited at school which makes for exhausting days. Once Christmas Day is over I feel a little like Gollum from Lord of the Rings as I gaze at my week long break and start reciting, "My Precious". I have made some very cool things in all the haze of December. And I will post these projects as they become finished projects.
Our Christmas tree this year was cut from our hill. This is our 5th Christmas in our new home and every year we have put up a tree that was found on the property. We love it's little imperfections, in fact it makes it perfect in our eyes.

The presents started going under the tree and I realized that I had insufficient wrapping materials this year. I am a huge blog follower and bookmarked a blog a little while ago that was about making homemade bows out of fabric. Well, it was fun and easy once I got the hang of it.

 Look at the cool fabric bows I made. I now have a use for the strips of fabric that I keep throwing in my fabric bin. I had only time to make a few of these, but I think I will make several and set them aside of future gift giving. 

A gift certificate for my mother presented me with a "how do I wrap this" challenge. It was simply a sheet of paper with information from the website that I gave her a gift certificate. In fact I had to cleverly make it look nice and print it out. I did not want to slip it into a regular business envelope so I used the same idea as the bow and made an over sized envelope out of fused fabric (like the bows). I used a yellow business envelope, gently took it apart and used it as a template. Voila! My mom loved the envelope and she is going to store things in it as it is useful and sturdy.  Perhaps old Christmas cards or pictures or it can be re-gifted for someone else.

 Well off to the races. I have mittens and quilting and sewing projects, "my precious"!


Carve out some time and the turkey.

Have you ever had someone professionally carve your Thanksgiving turkey? Well it happened this thanksgiving at our house. My sister's boyfriend offered to carve the beautifully roasted turkey and after we agreed he immediately left the house to his car and when he returned he was armed with his professional carving knives. The real deal.
Well, in the time that it took for me to make the gravy...say 15 minutes.... the turkey was completely carved and carefully laid out on the platter like none I have ever seen before. Not a speck of meat left on the bones and better yet, no post turkey clean up. It was awesome! (and the leftovers are wonderful.)

Haven't tired of using my yarn stash for dreaming up hats. Even with busy Thanksgiving preparations I was able to carve out the time to make a couple more. I'm not a Black Friday person at all. I stay home and stay mellow and ignore all the nonsense. I'm not completely innocent, however.  I did check out online quilt and yarn shops.
 Lisa's Hat by Green Mountain Spinnery. Pattern purchased on Patternfish. Made from Organik (ecru)yarn and Elann Peruvian Highland (green).

Trifurcate Hat by Hunter Hammerson. Also purchased from Patternfish. Made from the leftover yarn from The Quince and Co. Solstice cardigan.


Hats off to Autumn

 I made it little wall hanging for the season. I may eventually give this as a gift, but for now I'll let it decorate my wall for the next week or so.
It has squares and rectangles displaying many  autumnal elements. I'm not a huge Debbie Mumm fan, but these are fun & relatively quick to make. You have to be a fusible web fan. I made a winter one of these kind of patterns last year. They do make fun and unique gifts. The directions are crystal clear in the book. For a link to the book, here it is:

I'm in a hat craze. I like wearing hats. I am up to my neck in scrap yarn so I am on a quest to make as many hats as I can for the time being. This urge may wear out after my very next hat, which I've already started, but it's what feels right, right about now.
This hat pattern is from the new issue of Love Of Knitting, Holiday 2011. Picked it up at a newstand. I was pleasantly surprised at the nice patterns in it. I am an Interweave Knits magazine girl, but I can't resist the Holiday issues of some of the other knitting and quilting publications. This is call the Double Diamond Hat and Scarf. It's shown being worn by a handsome young gentleman, but I think I'm keeping this hat for myself.

This was made out of leftover yarn..a Brunswick Worsted weight that I'm sure has been out of circulation for a long time. A barn red color.
Well...off to knitting more hats.


Encore performance & UFO completed

The first one was so fun, I decided to make another Cardi-vest for Claire. Made using Paton's Shetland Chunky yarn in Tangerine. Hope there is an "orange" day at her Kindergarten! This sweater has "October" written all over it. This is such a wonderful pattern. I could make dozens of these. An easy weekend project.
 Husband's sweater is done. It was posted as a beginning project last year. A beautiful sweater and he looks great in it. This project took time, but it wasn't an unpleasant or burdensome job....just a lot of stitches!

Finally, had a distress message from the grandaughter the other day. She was traumatized to find out that she had a loose tooth. A harsh reality for one who has never gone through it before. Well, I immediately set out to make a Tooth Fairy Pillow. It will conveniently hang on her door handle or the bed headboard. Used a embroidery download and designed my own little pattern. The grandaughter called last night to tell me how much she loves it. For her, It took the sting out of the idea and her phone call made my evening.


New cardigan in time for fall....just in time!

My new cardigan. I knit this sweater in 1 month, thanks to some long plane flights and some rainy August days thanks to a couple of East Coast hurricanes. Great sweater and great yarn. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury tweed and the pattern is Pure and Simple V-Neck Cardigan. Knitted from the top down.....fitting is a breeze. http://knittingpureandsimple.com/

It's a good thing I finished it....it's only in the 50's today. Perfect sweater weather!


Summer memories

 Well, the summer is coming to an end. A great summer. Took a trip to Maine to see our children and granddaughter and two weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to the west coast to visit San Francisco and the wine country. I could write an entire blog on just that! We did visit the Napa region and some of the Sonoma country and we do know it is going to be a place we will revisit again, no doubt!  We stayed at some great places and we acquired some great wine. Upon suggestion of our B & B host, we brought our treasured wine home as checked luggage on the plane. It is safer and faster. She suggested this very cool wine carrier especially designed for the job.
It got our wine home safe and sound from California to Central New York State. When filled with wine it weighed 43 lbs. so it stayed under the 50 lb. weight limit. The beauty is that it has rollers on the bottom and it folds down flat so we can bring it out with us back to the wine country. The unit is called Wine Check.  It cost us $54.00, but it would have cost more to mail it and certainly it might have been exposed to more treacherous conditions to the wine. It was the first thing off the plane and at the baggage pick-up! 

After getting back from California it was back to work. Thinking of school and balancing my fun in my sewing room.  Made a grocery bag from some upholstery type material. Added an embroidery to the front pocket that reflected my kitchen task this week. I made and canned homemade salsa from the abundance of tomatoes this year. I'm bringing the bag to the store today as I am out of tortilla chips! And I'll take some wine with that.


Knitting Pure and Simple - Child's Cardi Vest

Finished the cardi vest. Very fast and cute and easy pattern. Made for my granddaughter who is modeling it with her new Kindergarten wardrobe. She loves it! The cotton yarn I used is very heavy and takes forever to dry. I will use a more practical yarn next time with some acrylic or fiber of that sort to make it more wearable and washable. This yarn has some heft to it. It would be more useful as a nice baby blanket. It is also hard to knit. Soft though.....

  I am starting a cardigan for myself made our of Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed. Expensive yarn! Hard to find a good buy on it, but when I bought one skein of it to swatch and sample as a possible contender for this sweater, I was sold! Soooo lovely. Perfect cardigan sweater weight and color.

I am beginning this sweater now and it is going to go with me on my trip to San Francisco and the California wine country next week. These top down sweaters are great for travel as you knit in one piece. No seams! 


Itchy fingers..but not itchy yarn

I woke up yesterday morning with a yearning. I need to get some knitting projects started for the upcoming season. Getting a knitting project started is a day long activity that requires my full attention. I used to be so impatient during this process.  Once I decide on the project and the yarn it takes me all day to swatch the yarn and get the gauge correct along with deciphering the pattern.  In this case it is a yarn I acquired a couple years ago at a "going our of business' yarn shop.  The yarn is the most beautiful shade of ethereal pink. When I saw it I immediately thought of my granddaughter, Claire. At the time I thought it would make the most cuddly blanket...and it would! However, she is almost 5 years old and I imagined a cute little sweater for the fall to wear to Kindergarten. I found a great pattern from Pure and Simple. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these patterns and the company. There is no second guessing, no trying to interpret. Thank you for making my life easier!  The sweater I am making is a girls cap sleeve cardi-vest. 

The yarn is discontinued, but it is wonderful and a bulky and oh so soft cotton yarn called Punta Del Este Yarns-Baby Pink # 572. The sweater is knitted from the top down which is great for fitting purposes.  I also am planning on making a cardigan for myself. I'm just looking for the perfect yarn. 
 So get out your knitting needles, despite the heat and feel the fiber!
 By the way, you can buy Pure and Simple patterns at many stores and online, but for those of you who need it NOW, there is a e-store called Patternfish and it can be bought and downloaded instantly. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that too!


Bread 'n Butter

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day....gorgeous!
Three weeks ago I ventured into more homemade bread baking. I really wanted to try to emulate some good airy "custardy" type of artisan bread. I bought the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day"....which is a misnomer, but true in some respects. I haven't stopped making homemade bread since. I bought my first store bread today only because we were away on vacation and I came home to an empty breadbox.  I'll be back to making this again tomorrow. Easy and delicious. Look at those nice airy holes and tender texture! I also made boule' breads and it is so fun to make the size you want. As a point, I didn't go out and buy all of the gadgets they say in the book. I made due with what I have. I do have an oven stone and a 5 quart plastic container, which held the dough just fine. I don't have a pizza paddle or peel so I just put the dough on a piece of parchment and 'floated' it onto the hot oven stone when the time was right. I am going to get myself a nice baker's blade or lame to slice the tops. I also own the Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day 

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
In a bowl, beat together the zucchini, sugar, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; stir in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from heat, and cool about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Now I can't possibly post something that doesn't pertain to my sewing. I acquired an amazing tool. Old tool. It's a pair of Florian Pinking Shears. Never have I cut with anything so unique and incredibly solid. It makes THE most wonderful pinking. It cuts curves like a breeze and the atypical pinking shears have nothing on this tool. I can't believe they don't make them anymore. I can imagine if someone has weak or arthritic hands it would be awkward and tiresome. I saw that this goes for amazing high prices on ebay and I received it free from a family friend who passed away. I can't wait to edge all of my crafts edging with this tool. It cuts like butter.  If you ever see one of these at an antique store or flea market. Try it out just to experience it's operation. So neat!


Summer break begins with an ipad case.

 My ipad is one year old this week. I can easily say it's probably the most enjoyable technology item I have ever owned. Recently, I've noticed all of the rage with fancy covers and so forth. I thought for sure I wanted to design one on my own, but when I got this particular pattern for sale at half price at Joann Fabrics, I grabbed it and decided to give it a review.  I started sewing this at 8:30 last night and had it finished by 11:15. (Another reason I love summer vacation, I can stay up as long as I want!)
"Two thumbs up". It takes 2 fat quarters and the measurements are very precise. The author does say at the onset, "be sure to read through the pattern first". I'm glad I did; it helped make the directions very clear. (I'm not always so obedient). But when it comes to my ipad, I want to do right by it. Because this was a trial run of a pattern, I chose two of my more uninteresting fabrics. Well, if the darn little thing just didn't come out perfect. It doesn't look too bad in these fabrics and I will use this for the time being.
Now, my plastic case I got with my ipad has a feature that helps it to prop up. I don't use that feature at all, yet my husband uses his all the time so this wouldn't work for him. I love the soft case, the feel of fabric (instead of hard black plastic and fake suede) and the fun look. I'm heading up to my sewing room to make another with some funky fun fabric. The pattern alone is a great reason to buy or use two coordinating fat quarters that you love and a fancy/fun button or two to decorate. (One note: All I had on hand was white elastic for the inside. Obviously black would disguise the elastic better. Since there is plenty of white in the fabric, it doesn't look bad at all. )
The pattern also comes with a pattern for a soft shoulder case for the iPad. I located the pattern on Clotilde for another view of this product.


Knitting a wool sweater in May. No I am knot knuts!

Happy Memorial Day. I love this quiet solemn day.
We have lived in our new house for 5 years now and finally I managed to get an American flag to place on the house. I can't tell you how many times a patriotic day would go by and I would wonder how come I didn't have one. Not any more.

Well, we are entering a hot streak of weather for New York State and it is supposed to break records tomorrow. What am I doing? Knitting a wool sweater of course. I have been trying to finish this sweater since the Spring of 2010. I posted it on an earlier blog post. Well. It's finished I'm finally proud to say. It won't be worn until next winter, but it's done.
After. Finished and blocking on May 30, 2011
It's a pattern from Garnstudio.com. Drops pattern 85-5. It's nice as these patterns are free and there are some beauties. I did purchase the yarn from Nordicmart.

The other thing I did today was GARDEN. Lots of it. Since we built our house I have been working every year to build beds and perennial gardens. Last year I invested in Irises. They are beginning their bloom and I am going to take a picture of each one so I can remember thier colors. I purchased them online (very reasonable) from The Iris Farm
I am looking forward to seeing the rest of them show off their fleeting beauty! 


MAY, may I please have more time to sew?

Concert season and Solo Festival season is upon the music teachers in our area. It's overwhelming, but then I don't have to proctor over the state tests that the kids are bombarded with at this time of year. Like the kids, I need an outlet for the busy times and I managed to sneak up to the sewing room to crank out a couple of new items. More stash buster patterns.
The First Pattern is a simple table runner for Spring. It is made with 5" charm squares. This went together in a couple of hours. Easy and variable. Anka's Treasures Little Charmers II pattern. Her patterns are lively and bright. A true rush of happiness. My fabrics are from a charm pack that was on clearance and I have plenty of charms left for another runner.

My free motion quilting was not my best on this work, however. Need more practice.

The next pattern was a hoot. I am making this for my daughter for her birthday. She'll like this tote bag as it fits her personality and lifestyle. I have had this Moda Santorini Olive Grove fabric for a while and I bought it to make an apron out of it, but then that seemed too predictable. Then I found this neat tote bag pattern called Tahoe Tote by Pink Sand Beach Designs that I purchased from Create For Less, one of my favorite shopping places! A great pattern. I will be making more of these.
The other fabric is from the Complements line from South Sea Imports and the green fabric is from a linen shirt that I was just about to give away to the Salvation Army. I recycled it and matches perfectly with the Moda Olive fabric. It's a nice size and the pattern calls for plenty of interfacing so it easily stands on it's own...a very nice feature.  Perfect for toting things around.

This photo is more true to color!


Spring Fever for handbags

Little pieces of scrap fabrics and some free motion quilting
I've absolutely gone crazy for making bags. This little gem is a reward for cleaning and organizing my stash the day before yesterday.  I've been pondering the next big quilt project. I am torn between inspirations so in the mean time I decided to make myself a spring kind of bag to replace my old ones (which I still use on a regular basis.) I didn't want to shock the world with my summer bag from the last blog post......especially when our central New York State weather can't seem to break into the high 50s.

Tell me you don't want one of these cuties!


Vacation summons up some project progress.

Managed to find a little time during the school break to complete some projects.
I made a new purse. I was color hungry. Such a long winter and part of me wanted to escape to warmer climes, but that wasn't possible. Instead I made a purse out of the hottest colors possible. It must have been my "inner summer" in me that was crying out when I selected the fabrics from my stash. 
The pattern is from the book Sew and Go Totes by Kristine Poor (A Leisure Arts publication). Fun pattern and I think I will be making the cover purse tote soon. Don't blind yourself looking at the purse....it's bright!

Since we took a quick trip to Maine to see our kids and granddaughter, I managed to whip off another Wheatfields cotton dishcloth on the 6 1/2 hour trip home. It's a favorite pattern of mine which I have knitted several times before and worth knitting and sharing over and over again. I love my homemade washcloths. I prefer them to terrycloth ones...they're softer on the face, dry faster and I can reuse them a couple of times unlike terrycloth washclothes. This was knitted out of good old Lily Brand "Sugar and Cream"...an inexpensive and practical "no-fuss" cotton yarn. However, if made out of a neutral/natural color, it looks especially nice. I have them posted on Ravelry.