Friday, December 28, 2007

Size Queen

I'm a size queen, what can I say? I started out making quilts of more humble size. But now I wanted something more substantial. Something that would actually cover my bed. Something I could really sleep under. Well, this quilt isn't even as big as I had originally planned... and thank God. Top 5 reasons why I shouldn't make quilts larger than throw/lap size:

1. No room to baste it. Open floor space in apartment isn't as big as a queen size.
2. Basting large quilt on hardwood floor leaves bumps and bruises on the knees. Yes, I need to ice them now.
3. Run out of safety pins. I swear I have thousand's. I could use that quiltak gun I wanted to try, but can't bear the thought on anymore time spent on basting or learning a new basting technique.
4. The quilt back has to be pieced. Unless you buy extra wide fabric, it's not big enough. That was annoying.
5. (TBD)

I'm just being proactive about #5 - I'm leaving it blank for the actual quilting part, which I haven't started yet.

Do you see this ridiculous basting job?!

I had to start out from one corner and move to the other because I couldn't lay the back flat. I had to start using LARGE safety pins because I ran out of the larger ones. And I'm totally going to have a batting-less corner since my quilt top moved along as I was flattening it out. And yes. Yes. I had to start basting on top of a rug because my knees were killing. I can't wait to see how totally f'ed up this back is going to look after I quilt this. It's going to have so many puckers and folds.

I feel driven to madness. I started telling myself to "LEAVE IT! LEAVE IT!" when I wanted to fix that last pucker in the batting.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Interweave Madness

I finished! I finished!! I shouldn't be so surprised, but let's not fool ourselves. There is always a high probability that when we start a project, it turns into a UFO. But, I finished the Tangled Yoke Cardigan and Cobblestone Pullover from Interweave Knits' Fall 2007 issue. Big thanks to Eunny and Jared for beautifully written patterns with no mistakes (that I could spy).

The Tangled Yoke Cardigan is for myself. It's a little on the baggy side, but it's comfortable and doesn't look too shabby if I do say so myself. It's a pretty big achievement for me. And it was a nice project to close out 2007. The pattern taught me a lot, and it kind of feels like a culmination of all the knitting I've learned since I picked up those needles for the first time a year and a half ago.

I'll eventually have to figure out how to do a little shaping myself as I'm kind of disproportionately busty. And no, it's nothing to be envious about. I've come to accept what I've been given, but it's been a long road that started with adolescent torment and now still dealing with fitting room debacles.

I loved picking out buttons for the sweater. I almost went with the basic shell button, but I found these great laser-cut floral motif shell buttons at M&J Trimming awhile back and they surprisingly matched very well!

The Cobblestone Pullover is for The Migglesworth. It was one of his Christmas presents so I was excited, and a little shocked I finished it on time. It was a little snug on him (around the chest), but I bought him the iPhone just in case I didn't finished or in this case too tight, so I wasn't too concerned.

But, I've blocked it out a little and it's hanging much better. I ran some hot steam over it, hung it up in the bathroom for a couple of days... tugged on it occasionally to loosen it up. I used Cascade 220 and it was soft while knitting, but the fabric it created was a little dense. In hindsight I should have used size 8's, instead of 7's. The design is simplistic beauty. It is such a blindingly clear pattern, with such cleverness, it reminded me of Elizabeth Zimmermann's designs.

The Migglesworth isn't one for modeling, so I'll have to sneak some shots of him in the sweater.

I've still got a few more days to eek out more 2007 things. Let's see if I can make this vacation truly productive - back to the Log Cabin Quilt!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Letting go... a little

Months ago, I started on a long-term project. A king-sized quilt that would have the same layout as the Log Cabin Quilt in the Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts book.

Well, I just realized I was making the blocks "wrong". The finished blocks were supposed to be square and mine were coming out rectangular. Not even worth explaining, but trust me - I'm stoopid.

So, I worked with the blocks I had pieced so far and reconfigured them. My second realization in this odyssey was that the fabric I was using was so light and whimsical and I was creating this very serious, very linear, very geometric log cabin quilt top. Theoretically, I thought it was going to be a nice juxtaposition. But, I was starting to lose sight of the big picture.

I laid out the blocks in a very symmetrical way, but wanted to let the "chips fall where they may". I put them out randomly only making sure it wasn't UGLY, and sewed them together as is.

I really like how the top turned out. Traditional blocks and layout design. Untraditional fabric and color placement. Yay.

Now for the quilt back, and quilting. Hm.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Distractions

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend away. The Migglesworth and I planned a quick getaway to Audrey's Farmhouse, a dog-friendly bed & breakfast near New Paltz, NY. Not only was it the absolute friendliest place I had ever been, but it was breathtakingly scenic. I suppose that's one of the greatest things about living in a city: you really appreciate landscape, nature and space. So, on top of the homemade brownies, cookies and 5-course breakfasts I gluttonized, we awoke Sunday morning to the first snow of the season. My absolute favorite season of the year is Winter. Call me crazy, but there's nothing more intricately beautiful than bare trees... and with snow sprinkled on them? It just doesn't get any better.

Brigitte was joined by Dozer a French Bulldog from Brooklyn who was just the sweetest little guy ever. She enjoyed all the attention, the romp in the snow and best of all - warming up in front of the fireplace.

I thought I'd be able to get a lot of knitting done on my cardigan at this country getaway, but with some poor lighting and distractingly good conversation not only did I didn't get much done, but I kinda screwed up one of my cables.

But, I chalked it up to my first time cabling without that cable needle, which by the way is the best thing ever. If you use a cable needle? Throw it away! It's very freeing and makes the whole experience fun and uncumbersome.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Corny Crafting

I was procrastinating. I didn't feel like picking up the Cardigan last night, but I wanted to make something. So, I just started pulling out these fat quarters I bought on sale at Joann's. I didn't plan any of it. Just wanted it to be spontaneous.

Well, I liked the spontaneity of it. But, the finished product is just a wee bit too... I don't know... Xmas-y? Corny? Basically, it's just not very me.

But, it was fun. It was fun not planning it all out and just randomly using whatever I had around. And now, I've got some holiday stuff. And really, isn't all holiday stuff kinda corny?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Keep on keeping on...

I didn't plan to knit this cardigan just yet. Almost out the door, on the way to the airport, I had to start something... anything. And, all I could think to grab was yarn that was already wound into balls. So I grabbed my Rowan Felted Tweed and my Interweave Fall 2007 issue and started the Tangled Yoke Cardigan at Gate 65 at JFK Airport.

It is definitely a project that fits my still very novice criteria of containing something I've never done before. I've never done a yoke sweater from bottom to top, so the attaching of sleeves was new and different. And, I decided to take those training wheels off and not use a cable needle. It's really so much faster and easier, even though I have to talk (out loud) myself through the steps.

So far, so good. I just know the process will slow now that I'm home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

kinderful tote

I've been drawn to old-fashioned european-style trinkets lately. I've bought a few of those wooden i-cord makers and have even pulled out a few of my Sigikid Moonshine Gang members from back in the day. Love those cuddly guys! So when I decided to make the all-day tote from Lotta Jansdotter's simple sewing book, I wanted it to be quaint and bavarian-esque. It could also be Lotta's scandinavian aesthetic rubbing off on me.

So, I chose a natural white cotton canvas for the exterior and grabbed some fabric I had in my stash. Voila! An all-day tote is born.

I decided not to include the front pocket as I don't read newspapers and I don't like folding magazines.

And I added a little decorative top-stitching around the top edge to remove the starkness of the solid natural canvas. I liked that stitch as it was simple and reminded me of those simple leaf and vine textile prints.

I think in the future I'd like to do more to the exterior before putting it together. Maybe some hand embroidery or applique.

And I like the little key ring and interior pocket detail she included in the pattern. Very useful.

Personally, my favorite part is the exterior side pocket. It's perfect for my MetroCard and my work id. It's important to have easy access when traveling about NYC. I think next time I'll add pockets to both sides.

Lastly, I f'ing love my sewing machine. It stitched through six layers of canvas like a hot knife through butter.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hand pieced blocks

I started my Quiltmaking By Hand class at Purl Patchwork last week. After an exceptionally grueling day at the office, it was nice to sit in a cozy store, surrounded by beautiful fabric, learning a new craft. The construction of hand pieced blocks is quite different from machine pieced blocks. I was happy to learn that precision was not necessary when cutting out the fabric, so long as it was outside of the drawn sewing line. That seems to be my achilles heel in machine piecing. The evil combination of that rotary cutter, rotary ruler and layers of fabric make every block of mine more than slightly imperfect. I always get those hills and valleys in my long strips... but I digress.

I wanted to learn this form of piecing and quilting so I had something more portable. Of course, I find all this incredibly ironic since I just upgraded my sewing machine to some superduper sewing machine that could probably fly a jet plane, but I haven't had time to figure it all out yet... but I digress again.

Anyway, those are the first four blocks I've hand pieced. Six inch blocks. Various fabric from Yuwa, Lecien, Joel Dewberry and Quilt Gate.

To be covered in the next class: triangles.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good Times

It seems I'm fitting a lot into my weeks these past few months, but it's also making me feel like a certified nut job. Working seven days a week between Corporate America and the sweetest knitting store on the Upper West Side, Knitty City, I'm feeling like a Type-A when in fact I'm really like a Type-Z. My Corporate America job allows me to do the things I love, and Knitty City is actually doing the things I love. I can't complain. However, I can pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow these nights.

So instead of myself looking back at this post wondering what all those things were, skipping all the extraneous words, I'll simply list some highlights:

1) Met Eunny Jang at her appearance at Knitty City. What an impressive individual. Yes, even more so in person.

2) Got my first professional knitwear job. I was asked, and paid (woo-hoo!) to knit a custom fit sweater for a teacup poodle, Emma. What a great time. She still hasn't come into the store to model it for me. So, here's a pic of the pouch I made for the sweater, but no pic of Emma actually in it yet.

3) Another friend of mine is pregnant and I jumped on the opportunity to knit baby a little itty bitty sweater.

I used a pattern from Knitting For Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas. And I used Mission Falls merino wool as it's superwash.

4) I finally finished the knitting of the Shibui Half Circle Cardigan, but am still finishing it. There's lots of finishing.

5) Will be starting my Quiltmaking by Hand class at Purl Patchwork tomorrow! I am SO excited I can hardly contain myself.

6) One of my best friends just got a brand new Baby Lock sewing machine, and another just started taking a quilting class. (Love converting those closest.) Since I stopped socializing and only sit around crafting these days, it's important to get friends in on it. Am I right?!

7) And one of my biggest accomplishments: RESISTED buying a Baby Lock Imagine Wave Serger. Yes, that's right. It was on sale and I walked away from dropping a load of cash for it. For those that know me, know this - that is a big big deal. I'm terribly compulsive.

As soon as I finish the Shibui, I'll get some pics up. Damn that finishing. I don't mind it - there's just a lot.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Miles and miles...

It feels like I've been knitting for miles and miles. Alright, I'm being a little dramatic. But, I am making some headway. I'm not quite halfway through my "knit 168 rows straight" which makes up the back of the garment, but I'm getting there.

And, I've learned a few things too. I've never had to provisionally cast-on in the middle of my work, which I did by using the crochet chain method and knitting into the butts of the chain and putting those stitches back onto the needle. I've learned to rethink any sweater knit up in sportweight/sock yarn. AND (this is a big "and"), I'm finally more comfortable knitting continentally than english. This is a milestone for me. My left hand is so "dumb" that it's taken many many stitches to feel comfortable actually controlling the yarn in my left hand.

Finally, the last thing I've learned is that you just never ever know what will happen with variegated yarn. Check this out:

I heart argyle.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Slow goin'

I'm making some headway on my log cabin quilt, however it seems like it's taking forever. I'm not even halfway done with the piecing of the blocks. And while I didn't let the idea of quilting a king-size blanket deter me in the beginning, I'm starting to regret... no no, not regret... rethink my sanity? No no, regret my king-size decision.

I'm having fun piecing the blocks as I get to play and get used to my new Bernina. But, I'm no pro, by any means, and my log cabins are getting smaller and smaller as I end up squaring them further and further in because they're so crooked. I've invested in a precision piecing book, and I think my first problem is my cutting. I'll just have to address that with my next set of blocks.

And as for knitting (I'm really not doing the blog title justice these days), I'm not making very much headway on my Shibui Half Circle Cardigan, nor on my Jo Sharp Latte Sweater, nor on my Habu scarf. Nothing even worth photographing. The Half Circle Cardigan has my attention at the moment, and I'm at the point in the directions where I'm knitting a thousand gazillion rows straight. It's feeling tedious with sock weight yarn in a 2x2 rib. But, I'm trying to keep my eye on the finished product. A neat-o cardigan... that I probably won't wear as I'm also realizing the 2x2 rib is really not a good look for the well-endowed chesty ladies as I am, unfortunately.

Oh, and I signed up for a "quilt making by hand" class at Purl Patchwork. I feel so clumsy and all-thumbs around a needle and thread that I just had to torture myself with a proper 4-week long class. Excellent.

Monday, October 01, 2007

No happy medium

I can't seem to find a knitting project that is both interesting to knit and something I'll eventually wear. It would be exciting to sit around and knit lace or fair isle, but that's just not my style. I reached a point in Shibui's Half Circle Cardigan where I had to provisionally cast-on in the middle of the work. A little tedious, so my mind wandered and I started on a Jo Sharp sweater. Now, I know I'll wear it when I'm done. But it's garter stitch. I can't get more than 4 rows out before getting sleepy.

I wouldn't even be able to find something more boring. Back to Shibui.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sick day

Today was a sick day. I've been dancing around the sore-throat-bush for quite some time and it finally took hold of me and whacked me over the head with its thorny branches Sunday night. I had to go to work Monday morning, but took leave as soon as I could. And this morning, it was worse. Anyway, enough woo-is-me. I had slept a total of 17 hours yesterday and even though I feel like I'm under water, I couldn't just lay in bed staring at the imperfections in my ceiling paint. No no, I had to do something. Anything.

Boredom + Restlessness + BIG order

+ Betsy Ross Pattern = One For All Shoulder Bag.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some days...

are just better than others. For me, birthdays usually pass without much hoopla. I'm not a fan of celebrating myself. When we're little, they're just short of a national holiday. It progresses to an excuse to go out and celebrate HARD. But now... in my mid-30's? Not so much.

But this year's birthday was special. I guess it's this time in your life when there's very little drama, and the friends you have are the friends you'll keep. I felt blessed with every birthday wish, every celebratory birthday meal and every generous gift. The stars were definitely aligned as I received two "gifts" that I was not expecting (and both pertinent here.)

First, I finally got my ravelry invite! YES!!! Finally. I can start keeping track of my stash proactively, as opposed to reactively when the plastic bags fall onto my head everytime I open the closet door and think, "Oh... I forgot about this yarn. Must make mental note."

Secondly, I have NO qualms about spoiling myself every once in awhile. Life's short, and we work hard, don't we? So for my birthday this year I upgraded my sewing machine. I haven't been sewing long, but am loving patchwork and quilting more and more every day. I traded in my great little Bernina 230PE for the Bernina 640E. It's a little out of my league and I'm a wee bit intimidated by the touchscreen and its beeping, which I'm sure I can turn off, but I'm excited by its possibilities. I had ordered it weeks ago, and with some delays I was finally able to pick it up on my birthday. Now, that's a great little surprise.

(More pics to come of mine in its newly organized Atelier de mishi2x, hee hee... just one last Container Store visit!)

This birthday was just better than others.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gifts to give

Completed the sets of Quilted Coasters I set out to make out of the fabric I had leftover from the Pinwheel Quilt.

I'll keep a set for myself even though my Target coffee table doesn't really need much protection. It's pretty beat up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quilted Coasters

Like a child on Xmas morning, I ran over to Purl Patchwork on Monday after staying up all night (exaggeration) waiting for Santa to deliver the latest book from Joelle, Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. Although the weather was warm and sticky, I grabbed my pug Brigitte and headed down to Purl Patchwork. I was so single-minded, that I walked right by Joelle outside her store and announced that I was here for the "New Book".

After paying for the book, Joelle was kind enough to sign it for me and mentioned how sweet Brigitte was. Aw.

I ran (exaggeration) home, not stopping at the dog run in Washington Square Park despite Brigitte's pleading looks (not an exaggeration).

I flipped through the book, completely UNdisappointed at its beauty and charm and started mentally making a list of what I was going to make. Although these coasters were not on the original mental list, I wanted something quick and easy and also something to use my Heather Bailey Freshcut fabric that I had leftover from my mother's Pinwheel Quilt. I've sent the quilt off to her, and I miss seeing the fabric laying around. So, here are the first two. Twenty (slight exaggeration?) to come!

Here's a quick "tip". (Nothing you wouldn't already know.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Quilt for Mom

I'm so happy to be done with this quilt. Not only am I pretty satisfied with it, but the damn freemotion quilting was giving me quite the workout. I'm still a newbie at this quilting business, not to mention this freemotion business, so it was trying at times. I know it's not supposed to be that difficult, but I don't really have adequate space (I've covered this territory, I know) and without the quilt's ability to lay flat, I struggled with keeping it where I wanted under the needle. And, since my piecing technique for the pinwheels was not textbook, the centerpoint of all the pinwheels were stacked high with fabric and I broke about 4 needles trying to quilt over those stacks. Not too bright. Took me 4 needles to stop fighting it. Duh.

In any case, it's ready to be sent off to mom as a little get well present. And now, I'm a huge fan of freemotion quilting as you really feel like you're drawing with the needle and thread onto the fabric.

(More pics off the link on the right under Completed.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Atelier de mishi2x

I've been obsessively browsing through Flickr and blogs for pictures of studios, workspaces, crafting areas... any space people were using to create. It was becoming a bad habit, like searching the NY Times Real Estate section for multi-million dollar apartments I would never live in. Or filling up imaginary shopping carts on the Bergdorf Goodman site only to cancel when I was to submit my order. Passively clicking away at these random photos of how people were setting up their goodies was starting to fill up all of my spare time. I didn't really know why or how I had developed this new compulsion until I decided that I should take some photos of my "workspace", I use that term lightly, and snapped these photos.

More here.

Mr. Migglesworth and I are always referring to our "east wing", or ponder whether we should have lunch on our "terrace". Of course, we have neither of these things. (The "east wing" is our bathroom, and our "terrace" is the fire escape.) We have a one room studio. So what you see is the kitchen, my office, the corner of our king-size bed (which takes up 25% of the square footage) and part of Mr. Migglesworth's office (that my sewing machine has commandeered.) So, I need to reorganize, and thus the compulsion. Desperately. Mr. Migglesworth and I are venturing to the Container Store this Sunday for their Elfa shelving sale. 30% off. I need it. He needs it. The apartment needs it. It's going to collapse onto itself and create some sort of crafting black hole.

(I'm not even showing you the bad half of the apartment.)

Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Milestone

I finally completed my first adult sweater!

Pattern: Rowan's Tapestry Collection - Marsh Sweater
Yarn: Rowan's Tapestry; Color - Country
Time to complete: Random hours during 4 weeks time.

Both yarn and pattern purchased from Purl Soho, both were on sale!

Many more pictures on my Flickr site - click the link under Completed to the right.

I'm happy with this sweater! I'm actually going to wear it!! It actually fits!!! That was definitely my biggest concern, but I kept holding it up to me during the whole process. I kept hearing these nightmare stories of swatching, and knitting, and measuring and the sweater coming out way too big or small. So PHEW. I'm glad.

I made a funky choice though... I decided (with absolutely no reason or from any previous experience) that I was going to do the decreases around the armhole and on the sleeves, three stitches in from the ends. So there's a very visible ridge/hump. It's not HORRIBLE, but remind me of this the next time I try to just throw in some design detail I've never done. It's such a nice simple design, and I kind of f'ed it up with that. To quote Mr. Migglesworth, "What the hell are wrong with the sleeves?"

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Surprising myself

I don't often surprise myself. I'm pretty realistic about my abilities and my likes and dislikes. I really thought I would hate finishing my very first adult-sized sweater. But, I gotta say... it ain't so bad. I had fun sewing up the shoulders and neck. I still have a long way to go, but it was very meditative. And most of all, very satisfying. After knitting all those stitches, and having these rolled up pieces that amounted to nothing, I was more than unsatisfied. So I decided to start sewing it up.

Not such a bad job, if I do say so myself! I think my foray into quilting and sewing warmed up my fingers and calmed my mind to this meticulous task. I used Nancie Wiseman's book to help me. Her instructions and illustrations really do help.

I've also done a little exploration on the quilting side. I tried free-motion (I kept saying freeform at first - always a knitter at heart) quilting for the first time. First of all, what a workout. My arms got really tired, really quickly. So I've only finished about half of the quilt. And I think I'll end up using more than a spool of thread. But, it's fun! Surprised again. And, I tried spray basting this quilt instead of hand basting with safety pins or basting stitches. It's so fast and easy, I felt like I was cheating. I feel like it's one of those hidden secrets - no one ever really talks about. Or maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe it's one of those things "real" quilters don't do. *Shrug*

And yes, I started from an outside corner. A big no-no. But I was nervous about the spray basting at first, not thinking it was going to be secure enough and didn't want to fiddle with rolling it up under the machine's arm, and scrunching it all up just to start in the middle. Surprised again - spray basting stayed very intact!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boot Boot Booties!

Damn it, these are cute.

Thanks for the free pattern, Saartje!

Less than one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in Black Purl.
Size 2 needles.
4 shirt buttons.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Quickie

Quick update.

Progress on the quilt for my mom. Finished the quilt top:

Am onto the sleeves of the Tapestry Marsh Sweater. Finished the front and back while my mom was in the hospital. Great mindless project as it's straight stockinette.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We're a quirky bunch

Uh. My. Gawd.

A knitted, crocheted and embroidered FERRARI made in England. LOLOL!!!

Knitted Ferrari

I just had to share if y'all haven't seen it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Long Summer

A few weeks ago it seemed my biggest problem was what to make next and why wasn't I finishing projects I started. I learned my mother has ovarian cancer, and that cancer had spread to my brother's lungs, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last fall. It's hard to cope with things you don't normally have to deal with. I guess writing here will make me feel a little better. Sharing always makes me feel better. But, I've broken my personal rule of avoiding personal topics (which I've already done) on my blog that's dedicated to the handmade, so I apologize.

On the plane rides to see my mom, I've been able to wile away the hours with some knitting. I completed my Presto Chango Baby Sweater. I'm missing two buttons at the bottom, but figured I'd post the pics now otherwise it may never happen. I used 4 skeins of Lion Brand Organic Cotton in color Almond. And I made it in the largest size for a 2 year old. I'm going to bring it to Knitty City to display. I picked up the buttons, and the yarn, at Knitty City so it'll be nice to show it off to the customers.

So, I decided to make a quilt for my mom. She's not a huge fan of the "americana" style. And I'm not an expert quilter to make something appliqued with creative shapes, so I'm sticking to muted colors and simple shapes. I hope she'll like it. Here's the first block:

I'm using Heather Bailey's Fresh Cut fabrics. I'm really excited for it. It's so sweet and charming. I just hope it's not too pastel-y for my mom. I'm almost done putting the top together, and am trying to decide whether to border it or not. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finding my center

I'm feeling a bit erratic and split-personality about the crafting lately. I haven't knit in a long while. I've been crocheting, but only those silly blocks. And now that I've taken up sewing, the patchwork and quilting have come into play along with my dreams of making clothes that actually fit me right. Well, I was thrown back into the world of yarn a few weeks ago. I went to the TNNA Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio.

It was a grand 'ol time and I have NEVER seen so much yarn. So many different fibers, so many different dye-jobs and techniques used. And, I met some knitting/crafting celebrities... well celebrities in my book - Nicky Epstein, Lily Chin, Melanie Falick, Jenny Hart, Candi Jensen, Teva Durham, Jane Sowerby, Annie Modesitt, Takako from Habu and more. The best part - I got some free loot!

Autographed books by some of the above names:

Free yarn (not too much of that going around - understandable):

Yarn Place's lace weight yarn at the top, Malabrigo lace weight yarn in the middle and then some samples from O-Wool and Punta del Este (thanks Sharyn!)

Other goodies from embroiderers (Jenny Hart is SOOO sweet):

And lots of other random stuff... new Clover Takumi Velvet straights, some very strange teeny tiny needles from Unicorn books, a ton of totes. Great fun.

So all of this came at an incredibly pivotal point in my life. I've had to make some very hard decisions over the past months, regarding my future, and my future with yarn in particular. And all of this exposure to an incredibly welcoming industry and positive energy has reinvigorated me. And, I was at the TNNA show because I've been blessed to have crossed paths with Pearl Chin, the owner of Knitty City. She has been more than kind enough to have given me a weekend gig at Knitty City and to have let me tag along to the TNNA Show. I couldn't feel more blessed than I do now.

The only downer was that both flights, to and fro, were very much delayed. The bright side? I got some more crochet blocks for my afghan out of the way. I've got around 42 now.

Running low on the yarn, so I've got to get more. I've also got to start thinking about the color I'm going to use to attach and connect them all. I'm thinking of an additional color - totally separate from the blocks. But thank the heavens for the crochet I brought along. The 3 hour delay there and 2 hour delay back would have driven me mad if I didn't have that to do.

As I arrived home - dragging my 2-ton bag behind me - I had some packages waiting for me. "Oh crap, what the hell did I order now?!" My order arrived:

The obvious stand-out item is the Setsuko Torii, Habu's designer, pattern book. It's absolutely riveting. I think my first piece from the book will be the Chinese Pullover:

Fortunately, a few days ago - I received an email from Takako at Habu regarding some workshops they're planning for the Fall. One is on japanese pattern reading. So, I signed up for it right away. I think you can figure it out, but with all the different numbers, I figured I'd play it safe and learn from the pros. The class is in September and it seems like years away!!

And... how could I have forgotten... my package from eBay had arrived too. I "bought it now" some 4" squares of Liberty's Tana Lawn fabric. Ha... some. I bought around 300 of them.

I want to do something REAL nice with them. For now, they're stored away in my ziploc's.

So now officially drowning in not only yarn, but in fabric and sewing notions, I decided I had GOT TO finish my baby quilt for my friend. I'm kind of sad about it all. I love everything about this quilt except the quilting. Love the fabric, love the patchwork, love the binding, love the size and shape... HATE what I did with the quilting. I decided to use fuchsia thread to quilt with. I thought it would bring out more of the pink since the brown and oranges really dominated the fabric colors. I tried out the alphabet setting on my sewing machine. Super-goofy:

And then, I basically made straight lines following the diagonal blocks. I ended up with three diamonds. I think it looks so stupid. I tried some other quilting motifs - I even tried a dog pawprint in the middle and figured I could do smaller dog pawprints around the rest of the quilt. After completing the big dog pawprint in the middle. I realized it barely looked like a pawprint, but instead like five random puddles. So, I ripped that out. And figured I would just stop there.

Then, when it came to the binding - I was excited to try a new binder attachment I bought for my Bernina. The Bias Binding Attachment is for "easy " application of a strip of fabric onto your piece as binding. Not so easy. I realized that my quilt edges, not being basted down right to the edge, were a bit too thick for this attachment. I tried it about 5 times all the while cursing, sweating and seam ripping. I gave up. I put on the binding the old-fashioned way.

And here it is:

I'll probably just rip the embroidered signage out too. *deep sigh* Maybe I'll make a different one for my friend. I think I'm a little embarrassed to give this to her as her baby shower gift. I'm starting on a baby sweater that I've been eyeing, so that'll be my backup gift. The sweater is from Jimmy Beans Wool - the April 2007 Pattern Contest Winner. It's the Presto Chango Baby Sweater. It is the cutest darn thing I've seen in awhile. And very practical too!

I'm using Lion Brand's Organic Cotton instead. We'll see how it turns out as it doesn't have as much oomph as Blue Sky Alpaca's Organic Cotton.

It feels good to be knitting.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Simply inspiring

Something came over me when I stepped into the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Rockefeller Center. I was entranced, bewitched. I was in the neighborhood, and innocently thought I'd just check out their selection on crafts. Well, let me just say it's the closest thing to a black hole I will ever encounter. What was my lunch hour, turned into almost 3 hours of perusing, pondering, putting in basket, taking out of basket and settling on a shameful amount of books and periodicals.

Oh, that doesn't look like a shameful amount, does it? Well, I'm deceiving to you. This is only a mere portion of the books and periodicals I bought. I'm kind of ashamed. Not enough to change my ways, mind you. This also excludes the shipment that should be arriving any day now (which I forgot about it. bad bad sign.) Barnes & Noble was bad enough. Now, I've got Kinokuniya in my clutches, and ladies (and gents)... it's going to get ugly.

Like many of you, I find the japanese crafting books to be so inspiring. The layout of the books reminded me of flipping through graphic novels at the Forbidden Planet. It's the simplicity, and the lightness of touch. Lightness of touch is something that's always escaped me. All of my drawings and paintings are deep and bold. I go through charcoal like I'm feeding newsprint. Nothing inferred. I prefer to write in Sharpies as opposed to fine tip pens. Playing the piano - always allegro, never andante. When I run, it's like the earth shakes beneath my moose-like steps. I'm pretty much built like a Mack truck. But, enough about my hang-up's. These pages have me wistful and dreamy.

My favorite out of this last bunch is the 156 Original Patchwork Designs by Yoko Saito. Filled with patchwork blocks, I'm salivating at the thought of what I can make! The designs are whimsical, but not goofy. I love this little sewing machine block:

(ISBN# 4-529-04188-3)