Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Work From The Past

When we went back east last year, we stayed a week at Steve's sister's house.  We stayed in the room at the top of the staircase, and in that room, there was a bed with a series of blankets and quilts on it.  There was this one quilt that felt quite delicate and beautiful.  One night as we were lying there, I examined it in more detail.

It was hand made.  Just gorgeous work.  These small tiny stitches.  Steve and I talked about the quilt, and I later asked Wendy where she had gotten the quilt.  She told me that Steve's Grandmother had made the quilt.  From then on, I just loved that quilt, and we were the lucky recipient of the quilt when we left the Midwest.  It's now on our bed.  I look at the detailed work on the quilt from time to time and it's served as my inspiration for the quilt work that I'm doing now.  Isn't it lovely.

Scenes From My Craft Room

I would like to say that I always keep my craft room neat and tidy. And I'd be lying. Neat and tidy is a wishful dream. Suffice to say that when I enter my craft room, I'm anxious to get on with the current project, and not so anxious to put away items. This is an issue that I will work on this year, but for now, I thought I would show you what I mean.

Tools and supplies all of jumble, a small workspace that I try to keep more tidy.  Plastic shoe boxes filled with thread, punches, yarn, ribbon; all types of scissors and beading tools, magazines, books and binders.  Part of the issue is that a selection of mismatched containers keep the space from looking well organized.  Also a problem is that I don't rotate my stock of handily available supplies with the season.  This spring, I'm doing a lot more sewing, so I should put my yarn supplies away.

I created a craft room out of a smaller spare bedroom that is 10 by 12 feet square.  I found 2 pieces of sturdy 4 by 8 feet of 7/8" mdf board for $10 bucks a piece at Home Depot.  This sturdy workspace sits on top of old 4 old file cabinets I picked off of Craig's List for $5 bucks a piece, that I have strategically spaced around one corner of the room.

I also attached to the wall 2 by 4 pine boards to help brace the mdf and the combination of file cabinets and 2 by 4 bracing allows me to place any type of weight on the workspace.  I can even stand on it if necessary to reach the wire shelving that I've placed about 18 inches from the ceiling.  This is wire shelving that I have collected over the years and have been slowly removing from my closets in the new house.  Not that wire shelving doesn't have it's place.  It just doesn't make the best use of space as does other storage options.  Of course, in my craft room, the file cabinets combined with wire shelving provide great storage opportunities, which I try to organize with by craft type.

My craft room is equipped with my ipad and laptops, a 32" television and cutting mat. Bins of fabric stacked on wire shelving. Rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon.

And for moments of serious tv watching while knitting, or doing embroidery, I have a comfortable couch with a little stand to hold drinks and supplies.

Of course, I wish I had twice the amount of space.  I dream of IKEA like storage and workspace.  But my craft room is my haven, my area to escape from work, loads of laundry, dirty dishes and guys crowding the living room watching boxing and baseball games.  It's my woman cave, my craft room.  Now, I just need to tidy it up and maybe paint the room a different color.  I'm thinking pink or coral?.

Tracing Problem – Embroider Little Birds

I've recently taken up embroidery as a way to get my quick fix for crafting.  You can sit down with a piece of fabric or a dish towel and finish a project in under a hour, so this is perfect for the gal who doesn't have much time to get a project done, but wants to introduce a little creativity into her life.  I've gotten into embroidering dish towels because I can draw my design onto the cloth, and for the most part you can stick with one color.  However, doing an adequate trace can be quite the challenge.  I tend to favor using graphite paper to trace my design.  Graphite is great, but as you can see below, the traced pattern can be a little too light to stay the course of the project, particularly if it takes longer that a single sitting to finish your project.

Look, you can barely see the pattern of the little bird on the dish cloth.  So what I learned to do is after I finish the initial trace, I take a washable tracing pencil and outline the original trace in a bolder color.  You may have to go over the trace several times to keep the line from fading.  Over time, you may even need to renew the tracing.

Then just pop it into your hoop and you're ready to go.  I prefer working with smaller hoops.  They're easier to store in my handbag, and I find it easier to work on one little section at a time.

In no time, you'll have decorated a plain white dish towel with your favorite pattern.  I've started getting into red work, but I find that there is just the slightest bleed from the red thread onto my fabric.  Given that this is just a dish towel, I don't mind.  It's going to get stained anyway.

My First Baby Sweater for Little Omar

This is the first baby sweater that I've ever made, and I made it for little Omar, Omar and Rosa's first son. I used the Cabled Raglan Sweater pattern from the 7 free baby knitting patterns that I downloaded from knittingdaily. It's on it's way to little Omar.

Stitching Book Recommendations

I am an avid reader and collector of magazines and books related to my crafting hobby. I must say that I'm extremely lucky to have such a well stocked library system within the Pierce County. There are just a huge number of crafting books to select from. This week, I have a number of stitching books that I have read that I would like to recommend. Let's begin.

Sew, So Cute by Mary Engelbreit is a great sewing book for both the beginning and more experience sewer. My favorite projects in this book are the PotHolder and Mitt, Pocket Apron, Sewing Set and Travel Case.  I really love the needle case and could one.

Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross features two different types of sewing room arrangements.  My favorite projects are the Quick Garden Gloves, the Travel Bags and Travel Case.  I have dozens of quick garden gloves but could use a colorful pair like these.  The directions look really simple.

The Best of Sew Simple has 50 quick projects.  The Pencil Case, the Java Jacket, the Diva Dress Bottle Bag and Broomstick Skirt were my favorites.  You could make a ton of Java Jackets for quick Christmas presents.   And the Broomstick Skirt would be great to wear in the spring and summer.  I really love the leather tutorial because I have a lot of leather  scraps that I'd like to use up.

The Feisty Stitcher from Susan Wasinger was really interesting.  I absolutely loved the Fuzzy Slipper Boots, the Clever Jacket with Hoodie, and the Enlightened Messenger Bag.

Get the Most From Your Sewing Machine by Marion Elliot has some funky sewing ideas.  The whole basis of the book is based on reuse of existing materials.  For example, there is a great section on the use of fabric sample books.  I myself picked up several fabric sample books at a garage sale for a buck a piece.  With as many as I picked up, I have a lifetime supply available for craft projects.

But my alltime favorite this week is the Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing.  Kathy Cano-Murillo has it going on.  The ideas that she came up.  Sewing is what this blog is all about.  She had so many projects that I just fell in love with.  The Indian Tapestry Tote, the Mercado bag, the Collage Messenger bag, the Diamond Collage tank, the Frock, the Photo Album.  All the punchy color, and glitter, and reuse of existing materials.l  It's look odd and yet so well put together.  What unique ideas.  You've got to wonder what Kathy's house must look like.  This book I have got to get.

Another way to get your reading fix from the library is try to downloading their e-books.  My library has an arrangement with OverDrive.  You can download e-books in either the e-pub or adobe pdf format.  when you download in e-pub format, you can automatically load them into the ipad overdrive app.  If you check out an adobe pdf document, you have to download this file onto your computer, and then either move it into dropbox or through itunes into goodreader.  Then from goodreader, open with the bluefire app which you can use to manage drm files.  I've been using BlueFire to view ebooks I both checked out or purchased from the C&T Publishing which has a ton, absolute ton of electronic books available.  I'm telling you girlfriends, you don't have to wait till Amazon or I-book carries electronic books.  You can find a lot of resources on the web.  And then there is the online selection of magazines which is strangely limited at the moment.  The only options you have available, unless you only view through your pc, is Zinio, at the moment.  Kudos for Interweave, jumping on the electronic media bandwagon.

Getting Down With My Sewing Machine

I stopped by JoAnne's yesterday and was totally embarressed when the lady asked me what model of sewing machine I had, and I didn't know it.  I was looking for a teflon sewing foot, but in order to get the correct one, I needed to know the model number.  This weekend, I found out a lot about my sewing machine including getting a copy of my owner's manual.  I'll never be stumped by that question again.

Suggestions for Listening While Crafting

I"m the type of gal who loves listening to audio books while crafting, working, or cleaning.  I've started getting into listening to one of my favorite authors, Thomas Perry.  Thomas has two types of heroes, men and/or women.  Usually these heroes are good guys, but occasionally he throws in a bad guy as a hero.  Anyway, he tells a mean story, lots of detail, emotion, and thought goes into these plots.

I just downloaded his latest, The Informant.  It just came out, and coincidentally, I had just finished listening once again, to the Butcher's Boy and Sleeping Dogs.  The Informant is the third book in this sequel.  Can't wait to see what the Butcher's Boy has gotten into now.