Monday, April 28, 2014

WIP Update

First, a Frog Project Update. Froggy number one is completed and Froggy number two is starting to make his presence known.

Next, been working on Jack's cloak. Yes, I know this should be done by now but hey, I've got the main pieces together.

Very nefarious, is it not?

And finally, meet my new robin.

He has decided to build a nest right above my porch light.

Every time anyone steps near the porch he flies out of the nest and over to the Japanese maple next to my neighbors driveway and chirps loudly. I have named him Rhi Bran ah Hud. I will allow him to stay this summer but I think I will have to figure out a bird deterrent before next spring. I do not want him or the baby birds to accidentally fly into the house when I open the front door. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Ragnarok Garbing Plans

I know I'm supposed to be settling down into constant garbing but part of the problem is that I still am not sure how to make the skirts/ranger dress that I want.

So I'm getting around that by making a few other items that we want to have along for the trip this year. Last weekend, I made a pair of pants for Jack. I use duckcloth for these, because it is durable. These were a breeze to throw together with my new and awesome serger. One project down! He'll still need at least one more pair to get him through Rag this year but I'd like to make two to be safe. For some reason, we can't locate either pair of black pants, so I'm wondering if they are worn out and trashed.

I'm going to make a shirt like this one, only out of black linen that I found on Ebay for a reasonable price. If he likes it, I will order more linen.

I dug out the pattern tonight, so I just need to get it cut out to get this project rolling.

Also, I have a bolt of black Blizzard fleece, that I will be turning into a cape for Jack. Last year I made myself one out of the brown Blizzard fleece and I was so happy that I did. It rained pretty much all week and the cape wicked away the majority of water, keeping me relatively dry.

So the plan is one of these in black, with a very wide buckle that will pull against the shoulders instead of the neck. I will add trim if I have time.

I also have a stash of broadcloth from last year, which I will be using to experiment with my Period Patterns no 16: Tunic Pattern.

I picked this up last year after struggling with making adequate T-tunics. Yes, I know they are supposed to be the simplest throw-together garb in the book. I've made three attempts at it and each have failed in their own unique ways. The first was way too large, the second much too short, and the third would make a better roman tunic. I managed to turn the third into a decent heraldric tunic that fits me, but that still leaves Jack with no short-sleeved shirts for this summer.

If these fail, they join the other two failures as medieval-ish sleep shirts. Stay tuned to your local news for this developing story, as amateur seamstresses struggle to garb their families for Medieval events!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I Quilt

Allow me to wax philosophical for a moment or two. I've been thinking a lot lately about the whole crafting scene. Why do this? Why spend all of my spare time creating? What is the drive that makes me want to cut up little pieces of cloth into smaller pieces and stitch them back together?

Or spend an evening cross-stitching in front of the TV?

Or crocheting an edge on a fleece blanket?

The fact that most people now engaging in rampant craftyness are no longer doing so to survive or out of necessity is something that I currently find amazing. We are sewing quilts and clothes and cross-stitching and crocheting and rubber stamping and so on because it amuses us. We spend money (and lots of it, as evidenced by the several major chain stores and countless independents that cater to our needs) on hobbies that alternatively makes us curse and cry or jump for joy. Many of us have several projects going at a time some of which will never get finished,

stashes of fabric and supplies that we don't have a prayer of ever using up in our lifetimes,

and we obsess, oh boy do we obsess, over the next project, the latest design, and hey check out that awesome new fabric line.

In addition, the crafting community seems to be a society of givers. We sweat and bleed over our projects for countless hours and then just poof! give them away to people who may or may not care for them or even like them. Project Linus, Quilts of Valor, and the many nursing home charities are perfect examples.

I personally can barely tolerate having a finished blanket hanging unused in my closet. Its like an itch that I can't scratch. There must be someone who can use it. After all, I put all that time and work into completion of said blanket and I think it would be a gosh-darn shame if it wasted away in my closet. And yes, if I give away a blanket I expect it to get used, which means it will get worn and stained but at least someone is getting some comfort out of it, right?

The closest I've come to resolving this internal quandary about WHY (and I'm really not sure why this is so important to me) is that I believe in God, and that we are made in the image of God, and He is described first as the Creator. The drive to create new things and the wonderment and pride we feel when a project is finished, I believe are reflections of our origins as created beings ourselves. And if that isn't enough of a reason for you to craft to your heart's content, then this picture will sum it all up.

This is Irene. She lives in Nana's nursing home. Her brother just passed away and she doesn't have anyone else in this world. She is depressed and the staff at the nursing home say she hasn't gotten out of bed in a while. I had asked my mother-in-law to find a suitable home for the quilt and she picked Irene. And now, Nana has a new friend to visit in the nursing home and Irene has someone who will check on her once in a while.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Why I Quilt.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Week of Not Sewing

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I can either run errands and cook dinner after work, or I can come home and get some sewing done after work. Can't do all three. It just isn't happening.

Tonight, Jack is bringing home dinner and I hope to utilize the extra time to get a little sewing done. On the other hand, we've been eating pretty well around here this week - broiled tilapia on Monday and steak and potatoes on Tuesday. It was so tasty, I almost signed up for instagram.

But check out my little frog that I've been working on during my lunch break!

He is almost completely finished, just needs one more set of toesies and some backstitching.

I have my serger set up and so I hope to get a couple pairs of garb pants put together tonight. And I've been promised an archery lesson.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tropical Storm Ragnarok XXVIII

Last year at Ragnarok we were hit by a huge thunderstorm with tropical storm winds and drenching rains. It was hilarious in retrospect but a bit of a nightmare at the time. We had one canopy bend in half and catch a power line. Tents flooded, collapsed, and down the hill some people had tents floating away. The remaining canopies we had to physically hold down during the storm to keep them from blowing away. The destruction was widespread across the entire campground and fortunately, (to the best of my knowledge) no one was seriously injured.

The next day was spent cleaning up. It took just about all day. Oh, and it rained again. And again the next day. And at least once a day thereafter until the end of the week. I don't think we dried out completely for the remainder of the trip. To be honest, by the time we were done cleaning up, I was ready to pack everything back in the car and go home where it was dry and warm, with electricity and hot showers and TV.

We did learn a lot about surviving wild thunderstorms while camped at the top of a large hill. Rule number one is use the guy-lines and heavy duty stakes (We upgraded all of our stakes after this). Rule number two is when a storm is going to hit, collapse those canopies to the shortest height possible and extend those guy lines. Rule number three - build a gigantic bonfire before the storm hits and it will still be burning when all is said and done.

Several of us thought that those attending Ragnarok in the Kingdom of Akron earned a merit badge for surviving the tropical storm. I started designing it yesterday during our group work session.

Since I'm now designing my own patterns, there are a couple of lessons regarding this that I'd like to pass on.

1. Keep a notebook and GOOD notes. Write down every step you do. Edit as needed, because your design WILL evolve. Pay attention to dimensions and in what order the steps need to be sewn. For example, I learned that the bias tape would have to be applied first.

2. Make a rough approximation of the pattern. Try different things to get the effect or design you want but only invest enough time to figure out a plan. The applique above is the second technique I attempted and the one we decided to go with. Additionally, the belt flag is the second size we tried. Rather than reapplique from the beginning, I cut up the first design one to make the second.

3. Make one good final product before mass production.

One down, seventeen to go!

Here's hoping that this year will have calmer weather.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Frogs and Apple Trees

Look! Baby thyme plants!

They are the first of my herbs to sprout. I don't like the little containers I have them in though, the soil seems to dry out very quickly.

Still haven't been getting much sewing done, spending my time cleaning the house and then cross-stitching when I need wind-down time.

Progress as of Monday
Progress as of today

I even ended up picking up one to keep at work. I get an hour long lunch and usually end up just browsing online during that hour. This week I decided not to waste my time anymore and I picked up this little project.

Additionally, my apple tree came in the mail! I need to get it planted tomorrow so that it doesn't dry out too much. Happy Weekend all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gardening Newbie in the House

I'm the first to admit that I know next to nothing about gardening. I'm winging it. But for the first time since I moved out of my parents home at the ripe old age of almost nineteen, I'm pretty sure I'm not moving again for at least a few years.

So I decided to start a garden this year. I plan to put in a raised garden area just outside my patio door and I ordered a honeycrisp apple tree root! It will take 2-3 years to start producing fruit but then we will have our own apples.

First steps were taken today when I started some herbs that I will eventually transplant to the outdoors.

They are living in the only window that gets a decent amount of sun (although of course there isn't really any today.) I planted chives, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil. Keep your fingers crossed. They aren't supposed to sprout for a couple of weeks.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday

There hasn't been a lot of sewing going on this week but I haven't been idle either. I've been cleaning and de-junking the house. Yesterday, I was able to put out eight boxes and bags for Purple Heart to pick up.

Yes, I was so geeked to get rid of these things that I had to take a picture of it. I was rather dismayed to see that it had snowed overnight, although fortunately it was just a dusting and it melted very quickly once the sun came up.

The terrible lighting I can blame on the fact that the pictures were taken at 7 am.

During the Great DeJunkng Process I discovered this project.

This cross-stitch project is possibly my oldest UFO ever. I don't know exactly when I started it, except that it was before I moved to Texas in eighth grade. A librarian at Oak Park Public Library had stumbled across a crafting store that was going out of business and acquired a couple boxes worth of cross-stitch projects which she passed along to my mom. This was one of them. That makes the project, at minimum, 16 years old. I think I had plans to finish it and gift it to my grandmother who taught me to cross-stitch. While that opportunity is long passed, I decided to finish it anyway and stuck it next to my TV chair. I've been working on it on and off during this week and am happy to say I've made some good progress. I finished the top flower and started filling in the middle flowers.

This project is kind of nice because it only has about 10 colors, making it a much simpler cross-stitch than the kind I usually find myself working with.

Linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday @ Kathy's Quilts

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March In Review

This post will count as my 30/30 review, ALoYF Review, and NewFO review so hang on, its going to be a long ride.

So once again, I failed to complete my ALoYF monthly goal. It may be entirely possible that I'm just picking the wrong goals. Last month I said that I would like to finish quilting this quilt:

And I worked on it for all of, oh say, 15-20 minutes. It just isn't holding my interest.

That isn't to say I accomplished nothing....

I completed THREE quilt tops

I finished a tied quilt that has been hanging around for four or five-ish years,

I started my March NewFO

I started quilting Anemone and got about 2/3 of the way through before it started knotting up and breaking the thread again. I wanted to replace the needle but discovered I was all out of the correct size. But that is okay, because I learned that I can order a box of 100 sewing machine needles on Amazon. Gosh I love the internet. I'll be set for at least a couple years.

For March I'm going to try to switch gears and work on garb. I need to finish my Craftsy class on Basic Serging (which is so far an excellent class) and get serious about learning to design patterns. I also signed up for some free mini-classes on Sewing Machine Basics and things like that. I've been sewing for years but everything is self-taught and the more I look into expanding my skills, the more I realize that I need some formal instruction. For example, my sewing machine has about a dozen different feet but I've used exactly three of them. I think I'm missing some details here.

For 30/30, there was just no way I could spend 30 minutes a day this month. I was sick twice, had to take care of taxes, etc. However, I think I made up for it on the weekends (seriously, I don't think I've ever done three quilts tops in a single month before and probably never will again.) However, I want to thank Sarah at Berry Barn Designs for hosting this fantastic month long event and I really enjoyed checking out all the projects people were working on. Of the four projects I had listed for goals, I worked on two and finished neither, but I still had a good time.

I think the rest of this year is going to be about developing my skills, because there are a lot of things I want to do that I don't know how to do. Because of this I'm making finishing my Crafsty Serger Class my March Goal. It comes with three sewing projects, so I'll be able to tie in ALoYF and NewFO. Then I'd really like to get these two garb items designed an put together.

Yep, its going to be another busy month!