Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cutting Corners

It is so COLD out there.  Mr. Responsibly kept saying we should get the yard stuff done last week "before the cold comes" all Little-House-On-The-Prairie style and I nodded and went back to my e-mail, because how cold was it realistically going to get?  Cold. Like, lonely playground cold.  Where do the toddlers go when they don't go to the park? This is my big question.  Do other people have children that are content to stay home when you explain what a 45 degree diaper change is going to feel like?

I know, I know, this is the season I was asking for.  I got that mailer from Trader Joe's with 62 different pumpkin-flavored products you could buy, so you can probably guess what I did.  I liked the pumpkin yogurt, pasta, ice cream, and poptarts (well, I would have liked the poptarts, if they were in stock), but this is what I was most excited to try:

I'm not one for mixes usually, but I'd heard people rave about it - warm, yummy bread, with just a flick of of the whisk.  I baked this from-scratch version too, for comparison:

They're similar, but with TJ's I stop after one slice.  With the other stuff, it's two to three slices before I'm done (advantage/disadvantage, haven't decided yet), and it's apple sauce instead of oil.

On a craftier note, I've been trying to practice my FMQ (free motion quilting) but am always scared to do it on something that's already taken me hours to sew up.  I remember Malini, a skilled FMQer from the BMQG suggesting you practice on a panel fabric instead of a quilt top that you've painstakingly pieced - and then you end up with a quilt but it's not that big a deal if you mess up.  The quilters version of using a box-mix cake to try out your homemade icing recipe.

I picked up this 1940s table cloth at Brimfield last year.  Very pretty but it' s for a square card table, which I don't have and don't plan on getting.  As Alidiza pointed out (it's Guild shout out day!), Bridge is much harder to learn than FMQ anyway.  This also had lots of curvy lines for practicing feathers, and flowers I could outline - the tablecloth was totally asking for it.

I used red minky for the back, which is so soft and wonderful, but I really should have used white. It pulled right through the batting and loose weave of the tablecloth, highlighting every mistake in pink (I was going for some nice, subtle white lines!).

In the end though, if you don't look too closely at the details and just take it as a whole, I think it came out pretty well.

It's going into J's crib, because whatever doesn't fit a real bed ends up there eventually.  I've struggled with satin binding all year because she likes satin so much, and I hate working with it.  This time I made 10" wide double binding and it came out the way it should, except for the corners, which I mitered.  A mistake.  If I ever have to do satin again, I'll need to learn a different method for corners.  Luckily the recipient maintains standards as low as her mother's.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spa Week

September and October are always productive months for me - I think it's that residual back-to-school effect. It's like I'm still trying to impress imaginary teachers who haven't figured out that I'm a slacker yet. So I was particularly disappointed this month when my sewing machine demanded a week at the spa for cleaning and oiling, interrupting all my big plans.

I turned to some no-sew activities like Halloween decorating - this was easy, since I went crazy last year (by "crazy" I mean I bought my own jigsaw and hand-painted my own tombstones and sewed wings for my handmade golden snitches that I'm too tired to even put up this year).  I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, so that's the theme:

And because I hoped if I claimed the acronym first, J would always think it too lame for a tattoo:

My only new additions this year were the perishables:

And this Smash replica that had even HIM confused:

And of course J's costume.  She'll be my little witch and has totally embraced the role:

I was relaxing into no-sew week very nicely and then, on a date with my baby/mama group, my friend Zita showed up in this:

And I was like, "Is that the Hourglass Sweater that's only supposed to take 8 hours to knit, but actually takes 18?  Did you MAKE that?," and sure enough she had.

A little history here: I have attempted only one adult-size sweater in my life, and this was it.  I got sooo close to finishing it three years ago.  But then I had to tear out some rows (apparently "boat neck" in this pattern meant the neck would be as wide as a real boat), twisted the stitches by accident when trying to modify it, and threw the whole thing in a corner in defeat.  After seeing Zita's I dug it out, and this is what it looked like.  Decidedly not as cute as hers:

Part of the problem was that it was totally shapeless and way too short.  Some might even call it 'cropped' ("you can pull it long when you block it," encouraged Zita).  The other problem was the twisted row that had made me cry, back in 2010:

Luckily I have significantly lowered my standards in the last three years and now I can't remember what all the fuss was about.  After some dunking, pulling and blocking, I even got the thing to grow a few inches.  And now I have officially knit a grown-up sweater:

Here we are living the dream: a couple of for-real knitters, hanging out in our hand-knit sweaters.

Ah well, apparently my machine isn't one for long holidays and relaxing because Daley by the Yard got her all cleaned up in less than a week.  Back to the sewing table.