Thursday, May 12, 2016

FO: Cloth Napkin Hem Repair

 We use cloth napkins at our house because it reduces waste and I don't have to keep buying them. Some of them are starting to get a little worn as you saw from the last FO post and I've been putting off repairing them, but since they're just squares, the repairs are pretty straightforward.

The one on the top had been frayed on the edges, so I trimmed it up and added a new hem.The one on the bottom is what it originally looked like. The repaired napkin is a little smaller than the original, but that's no big deal.
Here's a closeup of the new hem on top of the old hem and not a bad little job of mitering the corner, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

FO: Darning on a cloth napkin

Not a bad bit of mending, if I do say so myself. The hems might need a little mending later on, but the holes darned up very nicely. I used a single strand of plain cotton embroidery floss in a plain ol' woven darn. 

The back doesn't look too shabby, either, and it should hold up in the wash alright.

It's not very obvious at arm's length, which is a sign of a darn good mend. (Eh? Eh? See what I did there?)

FO: Starstepper Fitbit bracelet

 My Fitbit bracelet broke this morning, so I needed a replacement. I grabbed a scrap of fabric and some wide grosgrain ribbon, stitched them together, and turned the whole thing right side out. There's a slit in the side so I can take the sensor out to charge and one little pearly button. Embroidery keeps the sensor from shifting around. It's simple, comfy, and functional.

Me Made May: Stuff Around the House

I've been absent a couple of weeks, as you may have noticed, and for little other reason than because I'm having a bit of trouble getting my act together. The blocks I started when I left off are still sitting on my ironing board, waiting to be assembled. There's nothing for it but to start again as best as I can and see if I can't get back into the swing of things. I've also started an online teaching certification program, which has been taking a good chunk of my time and attention, but it's worth it.

So, officially, Me Made May is a challenge to wear the things you've made every day in May. I am, in fact, wearing a shirt that I'll talk about another week. Here at Lace Maze, I'm totally using it as an excuse to catch up with some of the things I started at the beginning of the year.

This week, I want to show you some of the household things  that get a lot of use around here. To the left is an action shot of Mr. Rippley, my coffee friend. Everyone loves a cuddle on, under, or near this one, and it was totally worth the time and effort. I chose the colors to match the couch and we picked the couch to match the art, which all seems to have worked out very well.

An older, funkier afghan was done up in scraps of Red Heart and lives on the rocking chair. It gets less use, not being on the couch most of the time, but it does lend a bit of homey cheerfulness to the living room.

We also have a large assortment of pot holders, washrags, and towels for kitchen use, as well as a fancypants cozy for my French press. There's a lot of crochet, but there's some knitting, weaving, and quilting in there, too. About half of what you see here was made by someone dear to me, which delights me to no end. There's more than what's pictured here because a lot of it is in the wash. Again, these get daily use and a lot are stained, worn, and/or faded from use-- which is not a bad thing! I'm not going to save these for a special occasion. Washing my dishes or scrubbing my counter is sufficiently special.

There are a few similar items in the bathroom, including a linen hand towel that I love, and one of my goals is to work up some more delicate towels and washcloths in finer cottons and linens. In fact, I've got a collection of such yarns for that purpose. The linen hand towel has gone dingy and has developed holes, but I still love it.

Some may eschew knitting/crochet/etc. for the home, but I like making things that everyone can share and I like seeing handmade things all around the house. It feels more like home when the house is dressed in things we made.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Piecing April: Quarter Square Triangles

So, our dryer broke. We have a clothesline, which is great! And I really enjoy hanging laundry up on the line because I get to be in the sunshine and feel productive at the same time. I like folding and putting away laundry somewhat less than I enjoy hanging it, but it's not a terrible thing. Unfortunately, because Husband is generally the one who takes care of the majority of the laundry duties and those have now fallen to me, that means a serious cut into my blogging and crafting time so that I can make sure everyone has clean shirts.

I did make time for a couple of blocks last week and worked on using the quarter square triangle. Like the HST, you do have to be aware of bias distortion and a walking foot would be very, very useful for avoiding it (alas, I still haven't one). Unlike the HST, the bias is on the right angle and not on the hypotenuse. Confused? Here's a diagram:

I hope that clears up the geometry a bit. This means that the triangles will be right triangles like the HST, but that they will also behave a little differently when you're sewing them.

This week, I did some Ohio Stars:

I'm hoping to do some Isosceles triangles this week, if I don't get buried under the laundry again.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Piecing April: Half Square Triangles

Aaaah, the good ol' HST. It's easy to put together into a variety of patterns either by itself or with other shapes. It's a quilting standby and rightly so, being that the right triangle is fine upstanding citizen of the Pythagorean realm. 

I'm doing a quilt for Miss Bu, since her elder sister's is closer to completion and if I don't get started, I won't finish hers before she goes off to college. 

Sure, it seems like I have a lot of time now, but I thought that about Iris' quilt, too. Best get busy on it. 
She's a shining star.
For Iris, I decided on a rainbow quilt. Iris means rainbow, hence rainbow quilt. For Phoebe, which means "bright and shining," I'm doing stars. There's a lot of potential for using different techniques using star-themed blocks and one of the simplest is the HST.

The simplest HST block is the pinwheel, which to me looks like the rays of a sun. It can also be used as a component in other blocks, so I thought I'd get a little practice in on this.

Before I show you the other ones, I feel it's necessary to pause for a public service announcement:

Bias distortion is real. If you or a friend has experienced bias distortion, don't despair. There is a solution. 

When you are cutting HSTs, the sides that form the right angle are often on the grain and the cross-grain. That is to say that those cuts run more or less parallel to the vertical and horizontal threads that compose the fabric. Therefore, the long side will be on the bias. The bias is stretchy and goes all wonky (that's a technical term) when you stitch it, meaning that your squares will go off-square.

What I want to have to solve this problem is a walking foot. I do not have a walking foot. I do, however, have junk mail. A bit of paper under the seam keeps the feed dogs from stretching the fabric out and tears away easily. It's not an ideal solution, but it's better than nothing. Tear-away stabilizer would work fine too, I imagine, but I didn't have any of that, either.

This is the friendship star, which is just a 9-patch using HSTs and plain ol' squares. It has a satisfying star shape and is easy to assemble. The whole square is mean to be 9", finished, so 9 1/2" unfinished. Each of the smaller squares, then, is 3" finished and 3 1/2" unfinished. For the HSTs, make a square that's the desired finished width plus 7/8, and cut it corner to corner to make a triangle the correct size.

You can fancy it up with fabric choice and by changing up what you're doing with the smaller squares. 
I'm fond of the wee little mini-9-patches. This brown one was a practice piece and will become something that is yet to be determined. They might be large potholders or a table runner or something else. The fabrics were a recent gift from a friend (Thanks, Robbie!) and I'm super tickled to start using them with some of my old stash. 

The last one (below) is my favorite of the whole batch and I'm infinitely pleased with how it turned out. 

There are more HST blocks to be had, but for next week, I'm going to do some more difficult geometry. There might even be trapezoids; you don't know what could happen!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Embroidery March: Bonus Wrap-up Post!

March has an extra Thursday in it, so I thought I'd look back on this month and see how some of my attitudes and perceptions have changed about embroidery in general and to show you some progress I've made on the various projects for the month.

Freestyle will be my first love as far as embroidery goes. I'm getting better at satin stitch, which I previously hadn't made much use of, and at doing more with fewer colors and stitches, such as with the snowdrops hanky from earlier this month.

I love the freedom of it and the ability to have all the tools of embroidery at my disposal. A++, would go again.

Blackwork is limiting, not only because it's entirely black, but also because it's a counted-stitch method. It's the opposite of my preferred freestyle embroidery, but limiting my toolbox, as it were, allows me to focus on how the weight of the thread and the density of the pattern affects the look of the design. Where freestyle is more like painting, this is pen and ink.

As an extra added bonus, I get to play with repeating geometric designs, for which I have an unnatural fondness.

A++, would go again.

Previously, I thought cross-stitch to be one of the, er... lower forms of embroidery. I sort of have a bias against the creepy large-eyed children and schmoopy sayings that tend to be done up in cross-stitch. Those and the Thomas Kinkade style pictures have never really been the sort of thing I like to do.

My own design based on illustrations from old books? That I can do. I will admit to liking the design process better than the actual stitching, but I like the stitching much more when it's a design that doesn't make me want to barf.
B+, won't ever be my favorite, but I'm enjoying what I'm doing.

Whitework is seriously hard to photograph, but looks pretty bitchin' in person. There's just something about white-on-white that gives me heart palpitations. Because, like blackwork, my embroidery toolbox is much more limited, I can focus on a different element of the whole embroidery picture. In this case, it's the way texture is affected by the structure of the stitch. I suppose this would be more like relief sculpture than anything else because whitework makes use of light and shadow playing off of the three-dimensional stitches. I've opted to go for something more like Mountmellick embroidery first because cutwork makes me feel woozy. When I can manage it without fainting, I'll be able to make use of negative space, too. I'm not there yet, though.
A++, would go again.

I like seed stitch. You could do a whole piece in seeding and it would be like some kind of embroidery version of pointillism.

This piece is giving me fits, though. These shapes between the flower petals and the petals themselves are very uneven. I still haven't decided if I'm just going to roll with it or take it out in a fit of pique. It's having a cool-off period for now.

And so we have come to the end of the first quarter. I'm going to keep working on these (except for the blue thing, which is in time out), but we're going to look at some new stuff in the second quarter as I continue to try to get the da Vinci Disorder under control.

April will be for Quilt Piecing  and I wish it were more alliterative and clever, but hey, whaddya gonna do? We're going to make some quilt blocks is what. I have quilt-based aspirations that need a good swift kick in the pants.

After that, we'll be participating in Me-Made-May, sort of. Not officially. You can do that here. Mostly, I want to do a retrospective to see what I'm actually using of the things I make. It's also an excellent excuse to get caught up on some of the projects I've started in the first quarter. May also tends to be a little wackadoo for us, so I'll need a breather for sure.

Following Me-Made-May in June is the Outfit-a-long, hosted over here by Ms Lladybird. Again, I won't be officially alonging, but I'm going to sew something to wear that I'm actually going to wear, then I'm going to knit something to go with the something I sewed.

See you at Stitches!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FO: A bit of this, a bit of that

To be honest, I'm not sure what all went into this skein. There are bits of cashmere, a fair bit of unknown wool, some llama, a bit of merino, and probably a smidge of silk up in there. Beyond that, there could be unicorn fuzz for all I know. These batts had a bit of everything.

I've been reading up on the mechanics of spinning (of which there are many) and trying some different things with my wheel, so I wanted to use some fiber that wouldn't make me cry too much if I messed it up. Turns out I prefer double drive to Scotch tension, but my bobbins were backwards. I think I've got it sorted now.

So here's 3.6 ounces of about sport weight: A bit of this, a bit of that. I'm not sure of the yardage yet, but it's probably somewhere on the order of 250ish yards. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Embroidery March: Whitework

This is all of the whitework I have ever done in the world, so this is going to be a short post.

Using the very most basic definition, whitework is any embroidery where only white thread is used and usually on a white ground fabric. Generally, though not always, it's a surface embroidery rather than a counted thread technique. As it turns out, whitework could mean any number of techniques, many of which involve cutwork, which is just fancy-pants holes you put there on purpose. I'm not quite ready for cutwork, so I'm working this next hanky in what might be called Mountmellick embroidery, which generally doesn't have holes, but might have a knit edging. That I can do.

Since it's white-on-white, the key thing that I'm going to have to remember is texture. As a fine artist, I'm a painter and not a sculptor, so it's easier for me to think in terms of the relationships between colors than in the ways three dimensional shapes  or textures come together. I can do it, but it's not my strength. One of the reasons I've likely waited until now to try whitework is because it's monochromatic. My favorite color is all of them, so working with subtlety will be a little bit of a challenge.

But I have life goals and those life goals include a whitework tablecloth.