Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nine-Patch Tutorial, two blocks for the price of one!

It seems that lots of people are excited about nine-patches lately. I've always hated making them although they're alright to look at. Since both Crazy Mom Quilts and Twiddletails are doing nine-patch quilt-alongs and swaps, respectively, I thought I'd show you my favorite way to make them. Actually, it's the only way I can stand to make them. I'm not participating in either event, just making nine-patches when I feel like it until I have enough for a top.

This method uses two colors and makes two blocks in the time it would take to make one the traditional way. Intrigued? I thought so.

First, decide on the finished size of your block. I'm going to show you the calculations for a 9" block, a 12" block and a 10.5" block (which is the size I chose to make).

Step 1:
9" block: cut three strips of Fabric A 10.75"x3.5"
cut three strips of Fabric B 10.75"x3.5"

10.5" block: cut three strips of Fabric A 12.25"x4"
cut three strips of Fabric B 12.24"x4"

12" block: cut three strips of Fabric A 13.75"x4.5"
cut three strips of Fabric B 13.74"x4.5"

9 patch step 1

Step 2: lay out your strips like this and sew using a 1/4" seam:

9 patch step 2

Your strips should all look the same length...my orange fabric was already nearly the right size when I pulled it out of the bin so I didn't bother trimming it up first.

Step 3: cut your blocks into strips and arrange like so:

9 patch step 3

9" block: 3.5" strips
10.5" block: 4" strips
12: block: 4.5" strips

Step 4: sew and square up your blocks:

9 patch step 4

And that's it! Easy!

I like this method for a couple of reasons. First, I don't have to take the time to cut a bunch of squares. Second, a 9-patch block traditionally has 8 seams. My way uses 8 seams total for two blocks which also saves time.

If you want to go scrappy with these, you can use the same method but with all different fabric strips in step 1.

Is anyone here participating in the 9-patch quilt-along or the swap?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good to know.

In addition to my other projects, I did manage to do just a bit of sewing in orange this weekend. Just a sneak peek for now.

orange sneak peek

Sewing is so much fun! I’ve been quilting for just under three years and it’s taken me that long to become good at sewing straight lines. Can you believe it? Of course, no one’s perfect and my lines aren’t always that straight but sometimes they are. And that bit of improvement is what makes sewing fun.

I spent all of Sunday sewing in my studio. I was probably in there for ten hours throughout the day and I was really productive. I think the key was to have the tv and radio off which I’d never tried before. I was totally and completely focused on my project and hours would go by without my knowing!

As much as I love watching movies while sewing, I think I need to work in quiet more often. I thought it would be boring but I was too engrossed in the project to be bored. I thought I’d get distracted after a while but it turns out the tv is the reason my thoughts are often scattered while crafting, why my concentration is so easily broken. Good to know. I’m still going to watch movies but on the days I’m feeling uncreative and distracted, I’ll try it with the tv off and see what happens.

What do you guys do to get into a creative groove? How do you keep from getting distracted?

Here it is, as promised:

Crystal’s guide to a successful drive-in!

me at the drive in

1. Clean your car. Mostly I mean clean the windshield but if your car is filled with random junk like mine is, now is a good time to get rid of it. You’ll need all the space (and cup holders) you can get. If you prefer to sit outside your car, bring a comfy chair.

drive in screen from back seat

2. Dress appropriately. Since you’ll be outside (or in the car), at night, the temperature fluctuations can catch you off guard. I like to bring a blanket and a sweater. Also, dress comfortably since you’ll be sitting for a long time in a cramped space. I prefer to wear pajamas…don’t be shy, everyone else wears theirs. I also prefer to wear sandals so I can take my shoes off. But not sandals that make my feet stink because that would be bad.

3. Bring excellent snacks and beverages. Seriously, one of the best things about the drive-in is that you can take in anything you want (except alcohol, which makes sense). Pack a cooler with water or pop or juice or whatever you want. If you’re a meal sort of person, you could pick up a pizza on your way or fast food or take-out. If you’re more of a picnic person, bring cold foods in travel containers. Or bread and cheese, or fruit.

ian made bread for the drive in

If you’re a snack food junkie like me, you might be interested in reading my snackfood guidelines. First, there are the taste categories: salty, fruity and chocolaty. Next are the texture categories: crispy, gummy, chewy. If you make sure to have all of the above in any combination, you’ll satisfy every craving. For example, for this trip we had taco chips (salty/crispy), gummi bears (fruity/gummy), 100 Grand Fun Size candy bars (chocolaty/chewy), KitKat bars (chocolaty/crispy), Swedish fish (fruity/chewy) and cookies (chocolaty/crispy). I could have used another salty snack to balance it out…maybe something cheese flavored, but all in all, it was quite a successful array of goodies. We only ate a little bit of everything and most of it will go into the drive-in bag for next time. Also in the drive-in bag: paper towels and utensils if necessary.


Crystal’s guide to drive-in etiquette:

1. Many people like to park their minivans/station wagons/SUV’s backwards and open the hatch to sit inside the back. This is fine. However, if you do this, please arrive early to set up your spot, making sure you don’t park directly in front of someone else. Put up your hatch right away so some unsuspecting person doesn’t park behind you, only to have their view blocked by your hatch the moment the movie starts. This rule is also important if you or your kids will be sitting on the roof of the vehicle. Climb up right away so people know you’ll be up there during the movie.

If you get to the drive-in on the late side, park behind people, not in front of them. They were there first and they don’t want your stupid big van or hatch in their way when you decide to show up right before the movie starts. This is my biggest drive-in pet peeve.

2. Turn off your engine. I don’t care if your battery’s bad or your car has trouble starting, I don’t want to smell your exhaust all night. (This is a real rule at our drive-in, not just me being crabby.) If your battery won’t make it through 4 hours then don’t go to the drive-in. *edit* An open eye suggests a portable radio to fix this problem.*

3. Keep your headlights off. I have no idea why this is such a problem for people just sitting in their cars but apparently it is. Keep your hand off the switch or whatever you have to do. Also, keep your foot off the brake. I’ve stared at my share of flashing red brake lights and it’s annoying. And if you’re driving, use your parking lights until you’re clear of the main parking area. (Also a real drive-in rule.) Also, drive slowly because there are people walking around in the dark.

4. If you’re going to engage in, ahem, adult behaviors, maybe you could wait until it’s actually dark out and there aren’t kids running around right outside your car? Or maybe you could park near the back or to the side or the lot or at least not right next to a car full of people?

5. On the other hand, don’t stare into other people’s cars. It’s rude and, well, you get what you deserve.

our car neighbors

These guys were laughing at us for taking pictures in our car. I waved at them and they stopped. If they had been minding their own business, they wouldn’t have ended up on my blog for everyone to know their etiquette faux pas.

6. Most importantly: be considerate of other people. I realize that the drive-in gives you more freedom than a movie theater. On the other hand, you’re not alone in your house. Sometimes people don’t want your cigarette smoke wafting from your car into theirs. Sometimes people don’t want to hear your loud conversations during the movie. So just be considerate, ok? I know you don’t have to but you should anyway.

And that’s it! Hopefully I didn’t sound like a jerk but I’m serious about drive-in etiquette. Almost as serious as I am about drive-in snacks. So, you know, I’m very serious.

What are your favorite drive-in tips or rules of etiquette?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drive-in, 1966

So, if any of you guessed that Ian and I were going to the drive-in this weekend, you were right!


I can’t express how wonderful a night at the drive-in can be. I love to pack the car full of blankets and snacks and pull into the dusty lot as the sun sinks lower in the sky.

drive in

I love getting out of the car and walking around before the movies start. There are children playing catch and Frisbee and tag. They roll down the grassy hill and crash into each other at the bottom.

the cool kids hang out here

The cool kids mill about by the concession stand. This used to be my favorite place to walk by repeatedly when I was in high school.

I love walking up the hill to look at the screen.

drive in screen

And I love looking at the ghosts of drive-ins past. The original screen supports are in the brush behind the new screen.

old drive in screen supports

I love watching people get ready for the movie.

fellow drive in lovers

And I love crawling into the backseat of my car, curling up in a blanket and digging into the snacks. My favorite is gummi bears:

gummi bears, very serious

It’s very serious business, these gummies. Without them, the entire night would be ruined!

Ian prefers to be classier. He ate homemade bread with brie and chipotle blueberry sauce and drank organic, low-fat chocolate milk. (And he ate pretty much all of the gummi bears so who's classy now?)

ian and chocolate milk

I especially love the intermission film from the 1970's. I can't even describe it here, it's too awesome. I can tell you that one of the highlights is a closeup of a burger being fried on a griddle...and then they mash out the grease with a spatula. Delicious!

intermission video, deep fried

Here's a terrible picture of them about to drop a basket of what I think are egg rolls into a boiling vat of grease. I can't promise they're really egg rolls...no one really knows what they are and that's my best guess.

As you can tell, I have such an innocent view of the drive-in, normally a place with a bad reputation. I love nothing more than to sit in my car with the sunroof open, watch two movies I wouldn’t pay to see in the theater, listen to crickets chirping and people in nearby cars laughing, see a falling star out of the corner of my eye, have some snacks and feel incredibly lucky to experience it all one more time. I never know if the drive-in will be open one year to the next. Each fall they say it’s the last and then spring comes around and it’s open again.

vines at drive in

It’s an unexplainable feeling, this experience only a handful of people have had or will have. Old melds with new and those who appreciate such things feel at home.

sunset

I have more to say about drive-ins but this post is already long enough. Tomorrow I'll share my rules for a successful drive-in and also some drive-in etiquette. If you want to see more pictures, click the first for a picassa slideshow or any of the others to check them out at flickr.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Green and orange days

It's finally spring in Minnesota. You wouldn't know it just by looking around, things are still pretty brown. But the air! It smells so good! Like green things, like growing things, like dirt and wood chips and water.

Just the thought of stepping outside makes me feel like sewing in green.

And the sunshine makes me want to sew some orange.

Or how about both green AND orange!

Don't get your hopes up for any green and orange project updates anytime soon though. Tonight Laura is coming over and we're working on table runners for her wedding. Plum and magenta. Not bad, just not orange and green.

We'll also be going to our favorite fancy pizza place, Punch Neapolitan Pizza. The name says it all: authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in a real wood fire oven. It's exactly like the pizza we had in Italy last summer.

And, if all works out as planned, Ian and I are going someplace really fun tomorrow and the best part is: I'm taking all of you with me! Well, taking you with me in the way that I'm bringing my camera and I'll post about it on Monday. But it'll feel like you're there, I promise.

Anyway, that's it for now. Goodbye until Monday, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I crochet

Do you know the best part about having a craft blog? Getting to show off the things I make, of course!

Do you know the worst part about having a craft blog? Not being able to show off things I make because they're gifts for people who read my blog. For instance, remember that fabric I ordered the other day? It's for one project that won't be revealed for a few weeks and then for another which I can't talk about for over a month. Oh no! How frustrating.

So, to take my mind off how badly I want to share a minor accomplishment from last night, I'll post about my ripple blanket.

First, I'm using Cascade 220 wool yarn which comes in so many beautiful colors! It's not quite as soft as I'd hoped but it's not itchy so I'm going to give it a thumbs up.

ripple blanket yarn

I'm using the "Soft Waves" pattern from 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns although I don't own the book. Scandalous!

So far I'm loving it! The waves are so fun to make and the hardest part is choosing which color to use next.

ripple blanket

I'll be the first to admit, the sort of crochet I like to do (rectangles and more rectangles) is really repetitive. It's also not very creative nor is it challenging. I'd even go so far as to say that sometimes after crocheting for a few hours, I sort of feel like I've wasted those hours. I certainly can't compare a crochet scarf to a painting in terms of "worthy of my artistic talents", you know? I hope I don't sound like a snob because I'm not and I'm sure people who crochet can attest to the fact that a single crochet rectangle is not challenging at all.

But, there is something to be said for a craft so simple, so basic as crochet. My great grandma taught my mom to crochet when she was a little girl. One day she spent hours crocheting a chain that went around her entire house. My great grandma came outside, looked at my mom's accomplishment and said "I want you to crochet the second row and don't come back in until you're done." Harsh, yes, but my mom got really good at working that dreaded second row.

When I was little, my mom taught me to crochet. Nothing complicated, nothing challenging but it was fun. And, to my surprise, crochet made me feel sort of powerful.

ripple blanket

I had a hook, I had some yarn, I had my two hands and I could use these basic tools to make something out of virtually nothing. A needle and thread aren't much good without fabric. Paint and a brush have no purpose without a surface to paint. But a hook and yarn? That's all that's needed to make something real, something useful, something beautiful.

As a girl I liked to think of the things I would make with my hook and yarn if I were ever orphaned like the Boxcar Children. I could make clothes or a blanket or a scarf or a dishcloth, a pillow and a bed, a tent if I wasn't lucky enough to find a boxcar. I don't know why I thought I'd be orphaned while in possession of a large stash of yarn but that's not the point.

These childhood memories have stayed with me throughout my life and I still marvel at the things a person can do with a simple hook and some yarn. I've also come to realize that there's power in creating something, no matter how simple or complex, how frivolous or useful. Creating, making, doing...these things matter, these things count for something in life.

So, that's it. That's why I love to crochet and that's why I'm excited to spend countless hours repetitively rippling my little heart out. Dark blue is next so stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Par Avion

Oh my goodness! I'm just, well, kind of speechless.

I received a package from Elaine last night containing the magical and fantastic yarn ball winder she so generously offered to give me. Just look at these perfect yarn balls:

wool yarn for ripple blanket

The little contraption winds the yarn around a cone-thingy so the center is hollow which allows you to pull from the center instead of the outside of the ball. Now my yarn won't be rolling all over the house!

But! That's not all! In addition to the winder, she sent me a beautiful butterfly barrette:

butterfly barrette

a tiny notebook and buttons:

tiny notebook and buttons

embroidery floss and a bracelet:

embroidery floss and bracelet

and the most beautiful bag (which I assume she knit herself) and a gorgeous skein of hand painted yarn (which I know she painted).

knitted bag and hand painted yarn

Of course I promptly wound the yarn into a ball:

handpainted yarn from elaine

Can you believe the generosity? I don't know what I did to deserve it, Elaine, but thank you so much! I absolutely love everything! I can't wait to put everything to good use!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good and bad

Some things that were good about the weekend:

1) I ordered fabric on Friday on a whim. I'd been thinking long and hard about buying new fabric since I was so good about cutting up my Freshcut fabric a few weeks ago. I was close to buying some Mendocino fabric and also some Good Folks. Then I went and bought totally random fabric that was neither Mendocino nor Good Folks. Well, actually, I did manage to get a few Good Folks prints but not many. I can't even actually remember all the fabrics I bought so I guess we'll all have to wait until they show up in the mail.

2) My boyfriend came over on Saturday to help me bring some furniture out to my front yard. We put a big "free" sign on the pile and drove away. Sunday morning it was all gone! I hate getting rid of stuff but there comes a time when a person just has too much stuff.

3) I assembled some Ikea furniture. Nothing too special but it felt good to get it done.

4) My boyfriend and I made excellent pizza and strawberry sorbet. He made the pizza dough from scratch. The sorbet came from the ice cream maker he bought me a few weeks back.

5) The drive-in is open! We didn't go but I'm planning to go the first weekend they play something I want to see.

Some things that were bad about the weekend:

1) I got a terrible headache on Sunday that could not be stopped by modern medicine which resulted in me:

2) not working on the studio at all and

3) not working on any projects and

4) not reading any books and

5) forgetting to get photos off my camera so I could show you my ripple blanket.

I'm feeling mostly better today but the headache is there, waiting to come back. Tonight Ian and I are going to see Rear Window at the dollar theater by my house. Tomorrow I hope to feel 100% better so I can get in the studio and finish it up. I'm so close and yet I still feel like I have so much to do.

Anyway, I hope your weekend had lots of good and very little bad!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Online festival of quilts!

I'm sure my quilty friends have seen this already but Amy at Park City Girl has organized a fantastic online quilt festival. I think this is such a wonderful idea and I'm really excited to be able to join in on the fun.

My faithful readers will recognize this quilt:

pink green and orange log cabin

I made it for a co-worker who had a baby girl, the first girl born to his family in five generations! It was quite a shock to everyone!

I wanted something bright, busy and not classically "girly". It's no secret that I pretty much worship Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts. When I saw this quilt, I knew I'd found my inspiration! I started out with pinks and greens but I felt it was missing something. I have no idea why I thought orange was the answer but for some reason, it just was:

log cabin detail

I feel that this is when I became a real quilter. It was my first non-practice attempt at free-motion quilting and sewing binding by hand. I worked long and hard on those log cabins and felt confident throughout the entire process. I was very proud to give this as a gift, something that I hadn't felt when I gave a couple of quilts as gifts the year before.

log cabin detail

It finished at 40"x56" which I thought would be a good size for a few years at least. I didn't want her to outgrow it right away. Her family loved it and I hope she likes it once she's old enough to know what she likes.

If you're interested, definitely check out the rest of the quilt festival...there are already so many beautiful quilts on "exhibit". Thank you Amy and thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out my entry.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A tribute to my love.

I mentioned a while back that I wanted to make a necklace inspired by Edward (to wear when I wasn't wearing my Jasper necklace, of course.) I bought a stone online and planned to hire my brother to wrap it for me. When I got it in the mail, I liked the stone well enough but it wasn't quite perfect. Then my brother showed me this stone and I knew it would be the most perfect way to show my undying love for Edward:

labradorite pendant

The stone is dark and reminds me of a murky forest at twilight. But then, in the sun, it shines like Edward’s beautiful skin:

labradorite pendant

David and I agreed that the stone should be the focus so he kept the wire-wrapping to a minimum. He handled my bossiness with much patience and I think it’s absolutely perfect.

Oh Edward...how am I possibly going to make it until November to see the next movie? I can't wait to see Jasper get all "rawr!" and attack Bella. And then he'll feel terrible for losing control and I'll long to comfort him...my heart! It breaks!

And, because I thought you’d like to see them, check out the vintage hankies I found at the antique store this weekend:

vintage hankies

I just want to walk around dropping them and picking them up. Isn't that what you're supposed to do with hankies like these?

New artist Thursday!

Let me introduce you to my brother David and his fiancé Rachel:

me and rachel

The first thing I think you should know about David and Rachel is that they're real live fire performers! I wish I had a video to show you because they’re absolutely amazing. David designs and then makes all their fire props including but not limited to: fire poi, fire juggling balls, fire wands and fire staffs of all shapes and sizes. I’ve heard stories about a fire tornado machine but I don't think it's ready yet.

He also designs and makes his own costumes. You should see the pants he made to fit over his stilts!

When he’s not lighting his body and other things on fire, he spends a lot of time working with glass (melting it) and metal (bending it). He's something of a chainmail expert specializing in jewelry, clothing and fire poi ropes.

chainmail bracelet

His most recent endeavor is wire wrapped pendants. He scours stores to find quality stones, minerals and fossils which he turns into works of art:

orthoserus fossil pendant

I’m constantly amazed at the things he can do with wire, a pair of pliers and his two hands. In case it's not already obvious...I'm just so incredibly proud of my little brother.

wire wrapped brazilian agate pendant

If you're interested in seeing more of his work, click through to his flickr page. I demanded requested the honour of photographing his work so most of the pictures there were taken by me. Photographing jewelry is hard...I'm doing more research and I'll post any tips I find.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Too many topics!

I have so much to talk about this week! So much that I feel close to bursting! So much that I'm finding it a little hard to focus.

First things first, though. The lovely Elaine felt my social anxiety pain the other day and offered to send me her extra yarn ball winder! Can you believe it? She’s single-handedly saving me from having a panic attack in the yarn store next time. Like she said, I can be all “Ball my yarn? No thank you, I have a winder at home.” How sweet is that?

She says it’s in the mail and you’d better believe I’m going to have lots of yarn ball pictures posted here that day. I’m going to wind everything into balls!

And, in related news, apparently yarn stores are scary for lots of people. Who knew? Also, it appears that lots of people actually have a reason to be scared because they got yelled at or snubbed when they went inside to look around. What the heck yarn store employees? Shame on you!

It was also interesting to find out that many of my online crafting friends also suffer from social anxiety. I’m shocked because a lot of my real life acquaintances are fairly outgoing and love attention…I never seem to meet introverts. I suppose that only makes sense since most people suffering from social anxiety are either not at these gatherings or are sitting in some corner far away from my corner and we never meet.

While I don’t wish social anxiety on anyone, I’m happy to know that people in this online crafting world understand me and that I understand them. It makes it easier to stop second-guessing myself so I can just interact with people. People who understand why I might be awkward and weird at times. People who don’t need me to explain my freak-outs.

Anyway, this will hopefully be my last non-picture update for a while. Tomorrow I’m going to post about my favorite artist (who is, coincidentally, my brother) and show you all the awesome things he makes. Later in the week I’ll post about my studio and vintage sheets and my ripple blanket and everything wonderful! Stay tuned!

Friday, April 10, 2009

So scary!

I just got back from Borealis Yarns, the independently owned yarn store I was talking about yesterday. It’s very close and conveniently located and I can’t believe I never saw it in all the years I’ve lived (and worked) in the neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, I almost chickened out as I approached the store. I almost kept driving. I just knew that the store was going to be all bright and pretty inside with friendly yarn loving staff just waiting to greet me with cheery hellos…how terrifying! Social anxiety is such a jerk!

Instead of driving past and regretting it, I pulled over, squared my shoulders and walked boldly into the shop. I even looked for the store employees so I would be ready with a “hello” when they spotted me. I was relieved when not one of the three women even noticed me walk into the store. They left me alone while I shopped for yarn and they were friendly when I was ready to check out. I couldn’t believe how well it was going!

Then a woman next to the counter asked me if I wanted her to wind my yarn into balls. OMG…start the freak out!

I got all flustered and asked if they really needed to be wound into balls. All three women turned to me with looks of horror on their faces and said “yes!” Then I mumbled something about being able to do it myself. That must have been a weird answer because the first woman asked if I wanted her to do just a couple so I could get started right away. I got even more flustered and said that I had to get back to work. Then one woman asked me what I was planning to make and another woman complimented my sweater and the third complimented my yarn color choices. I think I answered the way a normal person would but I can’t be sure. All I could think about was getting back to my car.

People with social anxiety will understand how this shopping trip was a complete success! I made it into the store, I bought some beautiful yarn and I probably didn’t actually make a fool out of myself. I know that it’ll be easier to shop there next time which is exciting because the women were all my age and really nice…not “annoying” nice, just “excited about yarn” nice. And I’m also excited about yarn…so they can’t be that scary, right?

I’m going up north this weekend to visit my parents so I won’t have much time to work on my ripple blanket. But, it looks like I have nine skeins of yarn to wind into balls so I’ll still be busy. How annoying.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More crochet, of course.

Coming back to work after a four day weekend is often more trouble than the mini-break was worth. I’ve been playing catch up all week which means that by the time I get home, all I want to do is pop in a movie, crochet and let my mind relax.

I think I’m about halfway finished with the ugly blanket although since I don’t know exactly when the yarn will run out, I can’t actually know how far along I am. Most of my skeins are getting pretty hollow which is awesome. Also, I found some gray and black yarn in my stash while cleaning so I can add that to the blanket. Maybe I’ll use it to crochet a border around the whole thing. Won’t that just be hideous?

All this crocheting has had two unexpected consequences. First, I get terrible tension headaches because of my crafty endeavors and crochet is usually one of the worst culprits. Even though I’ve decided that crafting is worth the pain in most cases, I’ve actually considered giving up crochet because the headaches I get the next day are really severe and often last for days. The interesting thing is that I’ve been crocheting so much lately that, for some unknown reason, I’m no longer getting crochet headaches…at least not headaches that can be, without a doubt, attributed to crocheting. Hopefully this headache-free crocheting will last but if it doesn’t, I just got a new prescription that works really well…so either way, I’m happy.

The second unexpected consequence of all this crocheting is that it makes me want to crochet more. Usually I get sick of a project by now but I really do love crochet and I’m not sure I’ll ever get sick of it.

I really want a new project that is not a scarf. As much as I loathe crochet blankets (the scratchy, ugly ones of my past haunt me to this day), there really are some beautiful blankets out there these days. As you can see, I’m really interested in ripple blankets and I’m not sure how long I can hold off making one. I’ve also done a bit of online yarn scouting and I might possibly have settled on Cascade 220. It’s wool and, I’m told by gardenymph that it’s nice to work with.

After a little searching, I just found an independently owned yarn store not far from here that carries it. I think I might stop by today to check it out. Perhaps a ripple quilt will be in my future sooner than I expected...

A question for you yarny types: do you have a favorite yarn? If you do, what is it and what sorts of things do you make with it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Four days worth of work.

I’m back from my four day cleaning weekend. My arms are sore and I didn't get everything finished but I’m pretty satisfied with the work I accomplished. Remember how messy the studio was?

Well, after countless hours of moving stuff around, a planned trip to Best Buy and an unplanned trip to Ikea, I turned the studio back into a living room:

living room

The storage room is slated to be my new studio but as that room was the messier of the two, I still have a lot of work to do.

So, until I can get everything settled there, let’s talk more about the living room! Here’s my “couch” which is nice to have because I used to sit on my desk chair to watch movies. Very uncomfortable!

daybed

Across from the bed is my new tv and my new tv stand. I’ve been saving up for months to buy a nice tv and I had planned to set it on some low bookshelves I have. I got the bookshelves all set up, all my books put away, set the tv on top and found out pretty quickly that despite holding lots of heavy books, they weren’t strong enough to hold the not-very-heavy tv. Weird. Ian and I took an emergency trip to Ikea and found this monstrosity of a shelf. It’s huge and I love it! If you want to see a few pictures of stuff on my shelves, click through to my flickr page.

new tv stand

I have plans to reupholster the chair and the footstool once I decide which fabric to use. I also want to use the zig zag quilt on the bed once I finish it. I think it'll look great with the wall color. For now, the studio is pretty unusable so it’ll be a little while before I can get in there to do any sewing. I also broke my desk when I moved it from the studio to the storage room so I need to go back to Ikea. Oh darn. ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh the horror!

Ok guys, I'm about to reveal my horribly messy studio. I should probably be embarassed but for some reason, I'm just not. It's in my nature to be this way and I've been this way since I was a child. You see, I set things where they don't belong instead of putting them away and then before I know it, things are out of control!

Anyway, here's my studio as of this morning:

studio

It's messy now but I really do try to keep the studio clean. I dust often and sweep the floors and try to keep the clutter to a minimum. As you can see, I have the zig zag quilt going but I'm going to run out of room once I set out more of the blocks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Zig-zags again!

And now, for my second project update of the day…I spent the weekend working on this new quilt top:

Freshcut zig-zag quilt top

I’m so happy with how it’s turning out! Can you see it? I cut up my treasured Freshcut fabric and actually used it. As most of you could have guessed, when I said I would wait to make a zig zag quilt, I was lying to myself.

And aren’t you glad I was? Just look at these bright colors all working so well together. I also added a little Amy Butler fabric because the green was a perfect match. And speaking of perfect matches, check out the zig zag corners:

Freshcut zig-zag quilt top

They’re perfect because I’m not using triangles! I can never get triangle points to work out perfectly. I had to modify this tutorial a little bit because I wanted to make my zig-zags larger. They finish at 4” wide which makes each block a finished size of 8”. Also, I wanted to use a different fabric in every row so I had to figure out how many blocks of each fabric pair to make. I used six blocks of each.

Also, I thought about how I wanted to treat the directional fabrics and through careful cutting and then paying attention while I sewed, I managed to keep them going the same direction.

Freshcut zig-zag quilt top

Anyway, this new quilt actually figures into my grand studio plans. I’ll explain it when I post the “before” pictures of the studio, hopefully tomorrow.

My hand! It hurts me!

Do you remember the Friends episode where Phoebe buys Monica and Chandler a Ms. Pacman arcade game? Remember how Chandler played it all day and hours later his hand was like a claw? Well, that’s how my hand is right now but it’s not from playing video games.

It’s from crocheting the world’s ugliest blanket:

crochet blanket

Actually, it’s from crocheting only one third of the world’s ugliest blanket. Why am I crocheting the world’s ugliest blanket, you ask? Because I have a case of “use it or lose it” fever and the only prescription, besides more cowbell, is this blanket.

I bought this yarn a long time ago and I know I’ll never use it for another project so I’ve decided to follow our long family tradition of crocheting ugly afghans. In our family, ugly afghans end up in the car for winter emergencies so I think that is where this one will go.

crochet blanket

Right now it measures 56”x21” and I’m going to take a break until after my studio is clean. That should be enough time for my claws to relax back into normal hands. I’m still itching to use up all this yarn, though, so hopefully I’ll find the time to work on it a little every day after that. Plus, I really love to crochet so it’s hard to stay away.