Monday, July 31, 2006

stuck in a color groove

after finishing those jaywalker socks i wanted to quickly cast on another sock to keep in my purse. I've realized that i can knit socks in record time if i have one with me at all times. If i have free time at lunch with no one to talk to - work on the sock. waiting at the doc, gas station, grocery store - knit. (yeah, yeah, i know i am not the first person in the world to think of this. but i'm still excited about it.) Also, i learned that i can knit in the movie theater! I have knit in fron the the tv for years, but have always been in utter awe of people who knit at the movies, but didn't think i could do it. So i tried it out on friday while we watched Clerks II, and i fnished the whole ankle of the sock. it was just stockinette so i was able to knit completely by feel. i am stupidly excited about this.

So yeah, went to the stash of sock yarns. Its not an overly huge stash, but its adequate. just about every color you can think of. For some reason, i grabbed 2 skeins of my handpainted blue/green superwash. That means that everything i've knit in the past year has been either blue or orange. a quick refresher: blue olympic sweater (unfinished), blue/green aran (unfinished), B. Orange sweater, blue Starsky (in progress), red/orange jaywalkers, just to name a few. I've got no problems dyeing other exciting colors, but when it comes to knitting for myself i seem to be stuck.

Ooooh, but i conned Woolarina Kate out of the loveliest purple/gray/black handspun this weekend. I am itching to make something awesome from that. I do love purple. I wear purple all the time. (my eyeglasses are purple!) I frequently buy purple yarn, but it always seems 'too pretty' to knit with and sits in my stash forever-and-ever. i will try to work on this!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

next up on the quilting block

While the quilt bug is still fresh and i'm on a roll i decided to move right along to the next To Do project. Actually, it's an old To Do project, but i was waiting for the muse to strike. You know how Emily Post (or whoever is in charge of deciding these things) says that you have a year from the date of the wedding to give someone their gift? Well we have some friends (E & A) who got married last year. Oh, about 51 weeks ago to be exact. Right, so we have one week left to be within the realm of "polite". And I really, really like to give people something handmade for wedding gifts. In fact, i'm "owe" 4 wedding presents to good friends who've gotten hitched in the past year. I should've bought gifts, but i've committed myself to making something for each of them. So right now there are 2 quilts and 2 stained glass panels on my "open projects" file. I have plans for the others, but this one i just didn't have the creative spark until last week!

At the recent wedding in wyoming, we stayed at someone's house. The guest bed had a really gorgeous quilt on it. Using only 2 colors. In fact, it was all the same half-square triangle arranged in an interesting chevron pattern. i loved it. i wanted to copy that pattern for E & A's quilt. While i was buying the pink backing fabric for the baby quilt i found the 2 fabrics that would be perfect for them. The dark fabric is a blue-green is the teeniest random lime green dots. The light fabric is light lime green with blue and green leaves/buds on it. I really love these fabrics!

Then, i realized that making approximately 200 of the same half square triangle would be ridiculously tedious and boring. i would NEVER finish that! So i went hunting through quilting websites and my own books and found another pattern that would look great in two colors, but have enough variation to keep me interested. BUT also not so hard that its beyond my capabilities. (if its not rotary cut, i just won't do it. applique and paper piecing = yucka to me!)

Voila! Quilter's Cache calls it Friendly Hand. One of my rotary quilting books calls it Milky Way. I call it "not Gross-Country-Quilty looking". Somehow, I managed to have a whole saturday afternoon to myself last weekend and i was able to get a really good jump on the quilt top. i have no illusions that it will be finished by their first anniversary, but at least my guilt is slightly appeased now that the project is really underway.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Adventures in ShowBiz

Sarah (3 Cat Nite), Dayna (Crafty Scientist) and I are going to california in a few weeks to be on a tv craft show! Its a new show on the DIY network called Uncommon Threads. They just started airing season 1, but we are filming two eipsodes for season 2. Our episodes won't actually air for quite some time.

In the process leading up to this, we have learned all about the behind-the-scenes workings (secrets?) of television filming. You know when you are watching a show and they say "now sew the seam and it will look like this..." and they magically have it already done to the next step? Those are called "step-outs". We make those ahead of time and bring them to the studio with us. The finished piece that they show is called "the Hero". There are all kinds of little things we are learning that you wouldn't think about just watching crafts on tv. Its pretty fascinating (and a little daunting/stressful too).

I was on a tv show before when i was very, very young. I was on a week's worth of Romper Room, filmed in San Francisco in the early 1980's. It was actually 5 episodes (5 different outfits) filmed all in one day. I remember my grandmother (an amazing seamstress) made me 5 new dresses just for that. I also remember crying when i found out that the Magic Mirror was nothing more than an empty frame and trick photography. (yes, I was always what they call "a sensitive child".) Hopefully i have grown up enough not to cry on set this time. ha!

Monday, July 24, 2006

FO: Globetrotter Jaywalkers

i generally resist knitting extremely popular patterns... but i am glad i gave in and knit these Jaywalker socks. I can totally see why everyone loves the pattern so much. Its simple, its gorgeous, it makes great socks. i love them.

Carol left a comment saying that she is knitting jaywalkers from the very same yarn right now, but has run out of yarn and will need another skein. oh no! I weighed mine on the lab scale and it seemed like i was going to be VERY close. Strangely, i had more yarn left over than i thought i would. After grafting up the toe and holding the socks up to each other, i realized that my fear of runnig out of yarn made me hastily start the decreases on the second toe... the second sock is about 1" shorter than the first! whoopsie. But they both fit, and that's all i care about.

on a related note, I'm sure some readers will note instantly that the stripes don't match up at all. that's because I Don't Care. I know there are many knitters out there who painstakingly match stripes, and that's fine. that's their thing. I am not one of them, because i find slightly mismatching socks charming. It reminds me of the hours of labor that was put into them. I do like things to be "done right", but i do not strive to have things "done perfect". that's my thing.

oh - Big thanks to Shelina and Cape Cod Mary who commented about the feed dogs on my sewing machine. Shelina suggested covering them with an index card, and Mary suggested buying a plastic thingy to cover them. I was thinking of fancier machines where you can lower the feed dogs and it didn't occur to me to just cover them. Then, the combination of comments reminded me to look in the box of accessories that came with my sewing machine... and behold - there is that exact plastic piece that covers the feed dogs! I never knew what it was for, so it didn't even occur to me that i already had that thing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

baby quilt approaching completion

i picked a backing fabric and sandwiched the batting (don't you love my highly correct and technical terminology?). I am proud of myself for using (mostly) fabrics that were already in my stash. i did have to buy the hot pink for the stips between blocks. but i squeezed the whole border out of one fat quarter i already had. Then i bought 1 yard for the backing. the quilt is exactly 36" wide, and i should have bought a little more than 1 yard. now i have to use a contrasting fabric for finishing it instead of folding up the backing (which would have been nice and simple).

As for quilting: i wanted to send it away to a really cool long arm quilter that Gina used for one of her quilts. but i am trying to save on ca$h, so i decided to do it on my machine. My sewing machine is 10 yrs old and doesn't lower the feed dogs, so i can't do free motion stitching. I am just doing stitch-in-the-ditch and various geometric (straight line) patterns. I don't love the pattern, but i think it will look cool in the end.

There are a multitide of things "less than perfect" (ok, really screwed up) with this quilt. I can see them all. Mainly, I started this 3+ years ago, and i definitely didn't think through what i was doing before just starting out. the fabrics don't really match each other either. now i've learned better than that. But i don't want to let all the little picky things i don't like about it keep me from finishing it and giving a really nice gift to a really good friend.

So i'm trying to find the balance between "just get the (#$*&%ing thing done" and "make something i am really happy with". Because the former is what my mother always does and i always hated the end product. and the latter is what i want to do, but actually breeds procrastination instead of me completing things. Somewhere in there i know there is a place where my inner perfectionist is happy and yet things Get Done.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mr Sock goes to Wyoming

This pair of jaywalkers will have traversed about 10 different states before they are done! The first sock was knit from Massachusetts to California, Oregon, and Washington and back (and airport layovers). The second sock was knit on the flights from MA to Salt Lake City and then in the car from there to Rock Springs, Wyoming.

This was my first trip to Utah and Wyoming. Its so beautiful! Everything you've read about it being wide, open and huge is true. The sky really does seem /higher/ than when you are in a city. Its also really in the middle of nowhere. Rock Springs, WY is a small city with a population of 20,000. It made my realize just what a city girl i really am. You can't even believe how excited i was to find a drive through espresso stand!!

We were there to attend the wedding of two of my friends, J & M. The ceremony was in a remote national forest overlooking a breathtaking gorge. wow.

we knit-freaks like to talk about knitting at any chance, but how often does one get to talk about knitting in a wedding toast?!? I was a bridesmaid because i introduced the couple to each other. Since knitting was actually involved in their first meeting, i just HAD to seize the opportunity.

The story: The Bride (J) and i met when i moved to Worcester MA and we became fast friends. I taught her to knit, and we started a weekly SnB with some other friends.
The Groom (M) worked with me in the lab. At some point, i decided they might like each other. They liked the idea and wanted to meet in some sort of informal gathering. We tried to meet up with him for drinks one night, but that didn't work out. A few days later, he stopped by the bookstore where we gathered for weekly knititng. He patiently sat and chatted while the crazy girls all blabbed about our current projects. He flipped through J's book/journal of finished knitting projects and didn't think she was insane. in fact, he thought she was cute and charming. Soon it was beyond "like each other" and progressed to "perfect for each other". and now they are married!

go figure.

<-- the sock lounging on a dinosaur at a rest stop on the way back to the airport. Who knew dino's were that little and cute? teehee.

Monday, July 10, 2006

finished sewing object: batwing shirt

This past weekend was the only weekend in two months that is not completely booked (with a wedding, family travel, craft show or otherwise). So i used it to spend some 'quality time' with my crafting. Also spent a good amount of time putzing around the house getting random stuff done, and cleaning, and relaxing. It was very nice.

One thing that felt great to finally do was puting together the top for this baby quilt. I started this at least 3 years ago when one of my friends announced her pregnancy. Well, as usual I made all the squares but never finished it. That girl is now a walking, talking darling (who doesn't need a baby quilt). However, another very good friend recently announced that she was going to have a girl, so i think its a perfect time to get this puppy off my UFO list. Gina helped me plan the layout and strips because i made all the squares without actually planning how it was going to be finished. The sewing / piecing took me all of 30 minutes. (i can't believe i put it off for so long!) Now its ready for the border, then finishing. yay!

The other thing i finished was a blouse for myself. i bought the pattern and fabric about 2 years ago, but never even cut it out. Again, after encouragement from Gina, I realized how easy it would actually be and finally did it. Its not anywhere near perfect quality, but i am happy with it and like it enough to wear it to school today. (even though its too dressy for the lab. its new clothes! i just had to wear it!) The pattern is Vogue 7827, which was VERY simple. The annoying part is the ton of hemming you have to do, before even assembling the shirt. But it was good to force me do it first, otherwise it probably would've remained another unhemmed UFO.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

lime slurpee

Got a chance to get back to the spinning wheel this week!

blue/yellow/green blue faced leicester. i love the invigorating summer colors.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

now that's weird!

did everyone get the new Webs (Valley Yarn) catalog in the mail? i'm very impressed with the array of their own yarns they've developed over the past few years. There are a couple new yarns i will keep in the back of my mind when i need something very affordable with good colors.

here's the interesting bit. They are featuring Monterey, a yarn they've produced for many years now. i flip past page 23, then pause, go back. I think i knit that sweater. no, not "i've knit a sweater like that" or "i've made that pattern before". No, i'm pretty sure the photograph is of a sweater that i knit for their store about 4 years ago. They used to trade store credit for fast knitters who would knit floor model sweaters. I did that a few times. I didn't take a picture of that finished item because i was in a rush to get it to the store by the deadline. I had completely forgotten about that sweater! i didn't really design it or anything, but i still feel kinda cool. It would be funny if it really is "my sweater" in the picture. hehe.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

productivity, project planning, and crafts?

I'm currently reading David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Its a very interesting book about personal productivity and project planning. There is quite a cult following of people that use his system to address every aspect of their life. Most of the book is written for office professionals who have meetings, projects, phone calls and the like on a daily basis. I don't need a system for organizing my lab work. The stress in my life comes from my "other" stuff... from unfinished craft projects, creative ideas i would like to try, friends that i don't spend enough time with.

So here's my question: Does anyone use a GTD system to organize their crafty life? Or, what tips and tricks do people have for battling the pile of unfinished projects around the house? i would love to hear about it.