In Progress…

It has been a while since I just wrote something unplanned for this blog.  Actually, both my blogs seem to be perpetually on the farthest back burner.  Even writing weekly is too much for me, but I want to do more than once per month.  Sigh.  I am happy to not stress over it and let whatever blog posts that do happen, happen.

Over the summer, I was too busy socializing to have spent much time crafting.  I did knit a few dishcloths.  But I was too busy to take the time to take pictures and write about it.  Part of it is that I don’t see the value of writing all the details of what I am doing unless I can see some benefit to you, the reader.  Mostly, it is time.  It is time consuming to write a decent tutorial.  I love the process of doing that, but it does eat time.  So does photography.  As I am a novice with the camera, I am probably going about things inefficiently, too.

Speaking of inefficiency, my latest quilting experiment’s basting was the most tedious of processes.  I ended up basting 2 quilts a total of 5 times.  How did this happen?  Well, as the experiment involves 2 quilts made at the same time, things get complicated.  Quilt number 1 is a giant double nine-patch on the front, with a giant snail’s trail for the back.

This one was basted 3 times.  The first time was my usual method.  When I was all finished, I noticed the back was wrinkly – too wrinkly to be able to leave it.  Argh.  I fixed the issue by starting in the center and slowly working outward, removing a section of pins and smoothing out the wrinkles and repinning on the backside.  Then, when I had completely gotten all the pins on the back, I did the same thing to get the pins on the front of the quilt, since I intend to quilt from  the double nine patch side.  But I am thinking I really want to rebast it again to get the pins back on the back to quilt from that side.  The person who is getting the quilt reacted so favorably to the back that I think it would be best to make it the front.

Which I did for the second quilt.  Originally, I intended this be the front side of the quilt.  I am very pleased with how it came together and like it mucho.  I decided to do another giant snail’s trail for this backside.  It came out so well, I decided I had to quilt it from this side. I learned a lot from doing the first one and applied it to this one, but even so, there are plenty of errors.

The most important thing I learned is that it is absolutely critical to heavily starch the fabric for a giant snail’s trail.  I didn’t do that on the first and I am sure that is why it wrinkled so badly.  On the second, I starched both fabrics with undiluted Sta-Flo and had zero wrinkling issues, plus, it was a ton easier to work the fabric during the sewing process.

I also learned the limits of what I can cut size wise.  I can cut up to a 28 inch square with my 15 inch square ruler.  Larger than that would be a pain to cut.  On the first quilt, I got to that point and discovered I did not have enough of the white fabric to cut the next size square anyway, and just finished it to size with the dark paisley.  On the second quilt, which I think looks much better, I was still 28 inches shy of what I wanted as the finished size, so I sewed strips on, continuing the illusion of a spiral.

I really like the way this came out and am seriously debating making this the standard backside of my quilts.  I am going to do this as the backside at least once more, posting my notes from that, with pictures of some of the pitfalls.

Of course, this brings up the quilting part of finishing these quilts.  I think I am going to try all white on the double nine patch on both the front and back.  I am curious to see how keeping to the traditional white thread will look on all of it.  For the second quilt I am thinking I will use white on the white part of the spiral and a brown on the dark spiral.  I am trying to decide if I want to use those colors for the other side or use a blue and green.  I do have a pretty blue green, so I may try to work that in for the patchwork side.  I am going to stick with a plain simple meander for both because i think that will make both sides look good at once.

Doing 2 quilts at once has taken all my crafting time since I started them in the beginning of November.  I am aiming to get them done by the end of December, but they are not even quilted yet and here it is the middle of the month.  I am also trying to knit my roommate a hat and this has been very slow going.  I am just not watching enough tv to get any appreciable knitting done.

I hope all of you are having a good winter so far.  Keep on crafting!

Crafter’s Block Is Over!

Well, I am finally making stuff again.  My room mate doesn’t have a hat, so I have started another one of these.  I also have a couple of quilting projects going.  The main focus is a quilt for my friend Jason.  He is moving to Chicago, so I need to get his done ASAP.  I am also thinking about trying my hand with appliqué.  I feel good to be at it again, although I did make several dishcloths over the summer.

I will post pictures of the quilt as soon as I have some.  I made a gaggle of 12 inch nine patch blocks.  I paid special attention to getting the 1/4 inch seam consistently and matching the corners without pinning.  I discovered I can sew 2 blocks together without pinning, but must resort to the pins after that.  I want my workmanship to be as good as I am capable of doing.

A friend is coming over Tuesday to learn about piecing and quilting.  She is going to try her hand at it.  She already has a Kenmore not wholly unlike mine, so once she knows the basics, she can go wild with it.  I think she will need to buy a darning foot, but that is only about 25$.

She will be using my 70s era Bernina 830.  I just set it up today.  My sister was in town from Chicago, and had a favorite jacket on which the sleeves were fraying.  They were plenty long enough to turn under and seam, and that is what I did.  The Bernina handled the super bulky bit beautifully, and the stitches all look really good.  I had had the machine in its case.  But I took one of my Kenmores over to Amber’s house.  She is now willing to give me 75$ for it and the darning foot (I too, will have to get a new one).  She sort of got used to the machine and having two available, so getting it back is not an option.

Which is ok.  I got a cam operated one from Value Village Thrift for like 5$.  It didn’t work will, and is now at the shop where it will hopefully be fixed for 60$, which is a lot of money to me right now.  It will be worth it, for then I can have a total of 3 machines working and available to me.  And my total sewing machine investment is still well under 500 dollars.

That is it for now on the crafting front.  Pictures will come in another post.

Crafter’s Block Continues

I am still not doing anything crafty.  I have been busy with friends and other things.  I did go camping this weekend. I brought my knitting/crochet stuff, in case there was opportunity.  There was, and I made 2 dishclothes.  I am trying to use up all my bits of cotton yarn, so dishclothes are what I make with it.  Generally, I stick to the seed stitch for them, because it creates a nice nubbly texture that cleans dishes well.  Seed stitch is great practice for both knitting and purling.  Basically, I crochet cast on an odd number of stitches and K,P,K every row till about square and then crochet cast off, making a hanging loop big enough to fit on the sink. It is challenging at first to do the seed stitch, but one does improve with practice.

So, do 2 dishclothes count as doing something crafty?  Oh, I did get another low shank 70s era Kenmore sewing machine for 5 dollars.  This one does embroidery with cams, which I have.  But it isn’t working and needs professional attention.  I am broke right now, so it is gonna have to wait.  And I also finally went to my first official Upcycle Exchange meeting.  I came home with a totebag of cotton fabric.  Yay!  That’s crafty, kinda.

I still have not even started quilting the waterwheel quilt.  So I say that my crafter’s block ends when I start that.  I am gonna force myself to do a row on a dishcloth every day – maybe that will get me in the mood to quilt.

I will eventually do another post with pictures of the new sewing machine, once it is fixed.  If it isn’t fixable, my friend will get it as a spare for parts as hers is a cam machine.

Summer really isn’t a good time for me to be crafty.  If nothing else, I am confident that I will feel the urge to quilt come winter, and I am trapped indoors.  Until then, I will have fun doing other things.

Still Not Crafting

I haven’t done anything crafty lately.  I have helped 3 friends move and one do a thorough cleaning of her house, so I have been busy.  I did get a sturdy, plain, solid oak quilt rack for 3 dollars and yet another old sewing machine for 5 bucks.  I will do a post about them with pix and stuff when I find the time.

I hope all ya’ll are having a great summer so far and I feel certain I will be in a crafting mood when we hit July and August as it will be too hot for me to be outside.

My friend, Amber, moved back here from Cape Cod.  She and I haven’t seen each other in 6-7 years.  In that time, we both have gotten interested in quilting.  My other friend, Kate, is also crafty.  I think I wanna start a little group that once a month gets together and makes something.  I actually have the room to have 3 sewing machines running at once, so I could host something.

I joined the Upcycle Exchange, but have not yet gotten to a meeting.  I am also thinking of joining a Hacker Space – more on that in another post.

I still haven’t quilted the waterwheel quilt.  I think it will have to be put off till the hot weather gets here.  I just don’t have the time, nor inclination to do it.  I think, maybe I will force myself to knit a few dishclothes.  We need some more and that is minimal craftiness.

It may be awhile till I post again, but in the meantime, keep crafting!

Still Not Crafting

I have sorted my internet access and all is working fine.  AT&T made it difficult, but not impossible, for this Linux user.  So now I am online, YAY!  I have not been crafting this week, because I have been preparing for a new housemate.

I have been getting rid of stuff via freecycling.  It is a way of giving stuff you don’t want away to people in your area that want the stuff.  I have gotten rid of a headboard, and some moving boxes.  I am in the process of giving away a broken sewing machine and some glass jars.  I could also try to get stuff this way – there are lots of listings for various things.  I am in purge mode, so I haven’t been looking for anything.  But, after I am finished getting rid of stuff, I will look closer at what is being offered.

The way about which I got online disrupted my ability to quilt, but I admit to not feeling crafty anyway.  I have given away some crafting supplies lately, and that is as crafty as I have gotten.  It is a bit of a mood thing for me to want to quilt or knit or craft anything.  I just haven’t lately been in the mood to craft.  The computer has taken up my normal craft time, and I am actively trying to focus what I do on the computer and reduce my time on it.

I am subscribed to about 100 blogs.  Not all of them post everyday, and some post more than once a day.  I spend about an hour and a half reading my rss feeds.  I also spend time on Facebook.  And a good hour on email.  I want to reduce the amount of time I am spending in rss feed reading.  It is difficult to get rid of any of them, but I feel I must.  I will rebookmark them and from time to time surf them. My favorite blogs are ones that don’t have a new post once per day, but that post once a week or so.  They are the ones I look forward to reading the most, and are usually the most thought provoking.

I’d like to be as habitual in crafting as I am in using the computer.  I need to set up my sewing area to be ready to go.  I frequently fill up my work table with stuff that has to be put away before I can craft on the table.  I am not good with regulating myself to doing something on a schedule; I tend to be obsessive about something for a time and then let it go for awhile.  I am gonna work on that by setting aside time each day to practice quilting.  Hopefully, I can achieve that with the stupid water wheel quilt I still haven’t quilted.  Happy crafting.

Fell into Facebook

I haven’t posted in awhile because I joined Facebook. It is a time sucking vortex at first. I had to learn a bunch of stuff – it is much different from blogland, but one’s wall is like a mini-blog. Joining Facebook reconnected me with a bunch of folks, which started a bunch of email conversations, which uses more time, but is so worth doing. But that means I haven’t been crafting and I sure haven’t.

I have, since last posting, helped a friend refurbish a Craigslist find of a sewing machine. I have 2 similar machines and a 3rd for parts. I thought we’d have to swap out the tension mechanism, but when we took hers apart, we found an odd extra bit that was causing the problem. We actually did have to harvest the presser foot pressure thingy for her machine. After that we cleaned and oiled it. It is working beautifully. I am jealous, as her’s is a cam’d machine and can do bunches of stitches. It is a really nice machine and worth more than what she paid.

Four days ago, due I think, to weather, I stopped being able to freely access the internet at home. The last time this happened was a Vista problem; this time suddenly where I was getting 3 bars, I could only sometimes barely get one. My reception of all the networks went down, so I attributed it to weather. Two days into not being able to get my mail had me at the nearest Starbucks, ordering AT&T’s Basic DSL, no contract, $20/month internet service. The $75 modem arrives Monday and hopefully I am geeky enough to install it myself. If not, my computer go to friend will stop by on his way home from work. I think this is the least expensive way to get online. I just hope the connection is as fast or faster than what I am used to using.

I have promised myself that BEFORE I start anything else, I will get that floral waterwheel quilt quilted. You may remember it from months ago – it was the test quilt for thread basting, and I still haven’t quilted it. So that is the next crafty thing. Part of why it has been put off is that I have no idea how I want to quilt it – I think I will just do basic meander to get it done – maybe something different in the borders.

I will post again after I get my home internet access sorted.

Someone’s Trash Is My Treasure

I live in Saint Louis, Missouri, where we have alleys and streets.  Alleys are where the dumpsters are for our trash.  People put all kinds of things in the trash.  I am as careful as I can be to only put real trash in the dumpsters.  If I can recycle it, I do.  I don’t put anything in the trash that still has functionality.  If I don’t want it, I usually donate it to a charitable thrift store, or give it to a friend, or simply hold on to it until I find something to do with it.

I have rescued many things from the trash.  Garden stepping stones, a purple sweater, a super soaker water gun, a swingset, electric scissors, a bright red nylon messenger bag, and a guitar case that fits my guitar perfectly are among the many things I have kept out of a landfill. Some of the objects I find are brand new, like the messenger bag or the electric shears.  Some, like my guitar case, are a little worn, but still totally functional.

The first quilt I found is this big blue thing.  It has 2 holes in it and is faded a bit.

My most recent found quilt is a brightly colored twin size.  It has a small ink stain on it, but otherwise is hardly used.

I found my favorite quilt several years ago in a dumpster in a swanky neighborhood.  Like the 2 above, it was made in China.

It is a 90 inch square, machine pieced, hand quilted beauty.  I love the colors, the pineapple pattern, and the flying geese border.

I found it before I had actually quilted anything.  I had made 2 quilts, which I tied, because I did not yet have a sewing machine that could  quilt.  I have never had an interest in hand quilting.  It would take me forever and I know I would find the work tedious.  But I do really appreciate the work and skill that goes into hand quilting.

None of these quilts are particularly well made.  More than likely, they were made in a crowded factory setting, by young girls being paid far too little.

I don’t love them for their quality.  My first tied quilt was made better than any of these.  I love them all because a quilt, in some measure, represents love itself.  These quilts were abandoned because the people who had them before me were too lazy to do right by them.  None of them are even now ready for the landfill.  They may be old, faded, ripped, and ugly, but they are still functioning as proper quilts.

The pineapple one has inspired and comforted me.  When I study it, I wonder if the person who quilted it thought about where it would end up.  I think she invested it with her dreams as she quilted.

It is sad that so many in America think so little of their possessions that they toss out what still has use.