Saturday, June 30, 2012


Dear readers,

I was in Jacksonville teaching while Tropical Storm Debby approached and passed us this week.  I was in a hotel during the deluge of precipitation when an idea struck and I braved the rains to shop at Michael for knitting and knitting related supplies!

So, I bought the book Simple Knitting: A Complete How To Workshop with 20 Projects, some Japanese wooden needles and with the help of Video Jug and   - I learned to knit.

My creations so far are ridiculously offensive. I've learned the knit stitch, purl stitch, most combinations thereof, cast-on (two methods),  bind off.  I still have to learn increasing, decreasing, yarn off, and kitchenette.  But, good progress in a week.  I'm using wooden needles so far, feel free to add comments or suggestions.

I've been inspired by seamsters and fabric artists Kristin and Katie.

But, I've got a project on the horizon - a endless scarf or cowl.

Here's some great tutorials, I'm not sure which one to go to yet (thanks Ravelry.)

1.  Cashmere Cowl Pattern by Purl Bee

2.  Burberry Inspired Cowl by Garter Girl

I still plan to take at least a two-three week sew-cation.  But, am trying some knitting while I am traveling quite a bit; and hopefully this will help me cut down on my nail-biting habit.

P.S.  Inspiration for the day:  These jellies are too much!  Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Original Design vs. Patterns?

Dear readers,

Final modern quilt square challenge, second try.

A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild.  When I asked why I joined -  I replied that I wanted to be excited and enthusiastic about quilting.  If you remember, I felt that while doing the actual quilting - rather than piecing - I literally felt that I was working in a sweatshop.  I discussed my concerns of my previous quilting experiences with the group.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Historical Society, Link Here.
(they don't exactly looked thrilled, do they?)

A few members thoughtfully offered that my issue with boredom is hat I was using a pattern, rather than my own design.  And, they shared that they felt the same issues with quilting patterns.

But then I began to reflect on the experience.  Perhaps this is true as well with making commercial patterns.  I did very much enjoy making my own designs from my slopers (or basic blocks).  Of course with commercial patterns, we do tend to move a bit more up and down from sewing as well - pressing, cutting, recutting, etc.  And, the design for garments are much more three dimensional.

We did a challenge block - which I sketched out; surprisingly (or perhaps not so) - I actually found it easy (except for the execution - I have never attempted applique).
 Satin Stitch Fail
Original sketch

We were asked to make a modern block for the challenge, with something borrowed (which we exchanged - the wonderful striped fabric), something old (the red circles), something new (the background and green), and something blue (blue circle).  I like to experiment with space.  I made two - one with the machine applique stitch and one with an absolutely horrible satin stitch.

Better execution of a applique machine stitch:
Horrible execution of a satin stitch, below - obviously I need some improvement of my technique:

Any thoughts from readers, do you prefer your own designs, or do you, like me, struggle to adapt commercial patterns?

P.S.  Visual inspiration:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A little visit to Pendleton Woolen Mills in Portland

Dear readers,

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this - but I visited (on a work trip) Portland for a week.  I took my Brompton and rode around the city after hours.  I learned the quadrants, met with a custom bike builder (I'm planning on buying a custom or semi-custom bike) and went to several bike shops.

The one fabric shop I was completely swooning over was a little more than 5 miles SSE of downtown  - Portland Woolen Mills  -  Here's a sampling of the fabrics I bought seriously on sale:

 Riding back from the Woolen Mills (a side trip down Sweetwater trail) loaded up with fabric:
It is worth it - I highly recommend it.  I didn't get to go to those other Portland sewing institutions, like Fabric Depot, Bolt or Scrap.  Next trip.

Here is what I plan to make with the fabric draped on the dress form - this vest below was offered as part of the Pendleton Winter line this year (for an outrageous amount (I think $278?) - I purchased the fabric above for $40.00:

Conclusion:  Portland -  a "Must See" location and visit for sewing and biking fanatics:)

Side notes:
At the Rose Garden with my Brompton: