Tuesday, March 03, 2009


It's been a while since I've blogged, so I thought a good start would be to show you something I put together that is inspired by  Nikol. She posted a while ago about Lou, who recycles plastic bags into awesome, fun stuff, and how she was going to start saving her plastic bags to send to Lou.  One problem with washing plastic bags is how to dry them, and Nikol came up with a cute, inexpensive alternative to purchasing a bag dryer.

Not having any tinker toys, or wanting to spend any money, I started looking around my house to see what I could find to make my own dryer. This is what I came up with:

Bag dryer 

It's a perforated metal bowl that I usually keep fruit in  and metal skewers. I put a towel underneath to catch any drips and to also keep the skewers from sliding around. It easily disassembles so I don't have to find a place to store it when not in use. Also, I can reposition the skewers to hold bigger bags open.

Here's the type of skewer I used. You could  also use chopsticks or anything else that would fit in the holes. Or use a colander instead of the perforated bowl. 

Bag dryer

Hooray for recycling!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Honkin Update

#40 on my Uberlist is to update this blog monthly. Umm, I'll have to do better for the rest of the year! Somehow I missed April, so what was I doing? Why so busy that I missed a blog entry?

I spent a lot of the month preparing for my third session of Yarn School. I have a large fiber stash full of things I dyed last time I was at Yarn School, which I wanted to spin up at least one bit before I left. I started this yarn ages ago, and put it away because I didn't like how the singles were striping. Then, one Saturday I went to a spinning group that meets once a month, and realized I hadn't thought about what I would bring to spin and as I was running out the door (why am I always late?) I grabbed the rest of this fiber. I'm fairly happy with it, but it's a bit on the bright side. It might do well as an accent on solid color sweater.

230 yards, 6 ounces, wool.

I also practiced some novelty techniques. It takes some practice, the hardest part for me is getting enough twist into the singles so that I can actually do the coils without them sliding around looking ugly. The multi colored part of the yarn is from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club "Lantern Festival." The pinkish is some wool I dyed.

Coils, Beehives and Boucle

I finally finished the Adult Surprise Jacket for my aunt. I used about 14 balls of Noro Kuryeon in color 165. I still haven't mailed it to her, there is a fiber festival the end of this month and I want to enter it into one of the competitions. I think it would be fun to send her the jacket along with a prize ribbon! It turned out so awesome, I'm in love! I think I'm going to make one for myself now using handspun. I have some that I made when I was first starting to spin that's kind of hard and crappy, but would probably work well for the jacket!

Adult Surprise Jacket

Don models the jacket

Vintage Button

The next knitting project I worked on was the Cloud Bolero. I thought it would be a quick and easy knit, but I was wrong! I think I started it at least 4 times. I've never worked a lace pattern before, so I was totally not paying attention to which side of the stitch markers my yarn overs were when I knit the next row. Oops! As soon as I figured out what I was doing wrong I stopped knitting while watching movies and payed attention to what I was doing. I finished it with no problem, and it's so cute! I used about 2.5 skeins of Noro Iro in color 66. I still need to block it and add a couple of buttons.

Cloud Bolero Front

Cloud Bolero Back

Yarn School was fun and as fantastic as I could have hoped. I made a few yarns and dyed a ton of fiber. All my pictures can be found here, and there is also a Flickr Group. On to the yarns and fiber!
Wool, Mohair and Sparkle two-ply

Wool, Locks, and Sari Silk singles

Wool, Sari Silk, Sparkle and Bamboo - Thread plied with paillettes

Batt Out of Hell - Thread plied

So much dying!
This time when I went I really tried to think about colors I love and what would be good combinations. I also tried to take into consideration the fibers I was dying and how I might want to spin them. My first thoughts were to copy nature, but it's harder than I thought it would be! Here is a little of the inspiration I started with:

Forsythia and Quince
I love seeing these two flower at the same time in the spring.

Sky, Spring Greens, Dogwood

Black Tulip

Towards the end of the dying session I was getting weary, and just started throwing colors together. I like some of the results, but others I will have to wait and see how they spin up.

After I got home I spent a few days spinning one of the superwash fibers I dyed. Don was totally into the bright colors, and has asked for a hat.

Here's the yarn - Superwash Merino, 7 oz and 415 yards. I had a little left over on the bobbin after plying, so I tried Navajo plying for the first time. I was happy enough with the result that I immediately started spinning more fiber specifically to Navajo ply. I'm almost done with it, but it takes so long!
My first Navajo Ply

I have been doing a bit of sewing, but the dress I was working on is so hideous, I think I may take it apart and make it into a skirt. I used a thrift store sheet for the fabric, so I'm really only out a few hours of time and about $2. I think my next sewing project is going to be either a few skirts, or some napkins. I have tons of cottons that would be perfect of either project!

I planned on posting a bunch of pictures of flowers from my yard, but I think this entry is long enough!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring is Here!

I live in the South, and winter is never very harsh, but I still get so excited when it's finally spring. I love all the flowers and blooming trees (not so much the allergies that accompany the blooming!) the warm breezes, the quality of light that is softer, more yellow.

When we moved into the house a couple of years ago I bought one of those huge mixed bags of daffodil bulbs. We have a pretty large yard, and I have a goal over the next few years to fill it completely with daffodils so in the spring it will be magical. My favorite daffodil of the mix, and there was only one of them, is this guy:
You can't tell from the picture, but these flowers are tiny - only an inch and a half across. Their scent, however, is huge! One sprig will scent an entire room and the aroma is sooo good - kind of reminiscent of a hyacinth, one of my other all-time favorite flowers. This one blooms later than the others, and I'm always a little anxious that it's not going to come back. I'm ordering another few bags of bulbs for next fall, I hope I get more of these little dudes!

I finally set up an Etsy shop. I've been meaning to for ages, I love the idea of so many crafters and artist having a marketplace and community. So far I'm selling vintage patterns. I have tons and I'll never be able to use them all, so hopefully someone will fall in love with them as much as I have. I'm starting with children's patterns, since I don't have kids and I know I won't be using them at all. They are easier to part with than those dress patterns I've been wanting to make for years! At some point I'll also be adding vintage clothing. I have some real gems that don't fit me anymore, and I also need to make room for new stuff in my closets. So be on the lookout!

Here's the shop link: Nashville Fiber

Now go buy lots of stuff!

Monday, March 03, 2008

March already!!

The daffodils in my yard are blooming. Spring is on the way and I've barely posted all winter! I was pretty busy sewing costumes all January. We went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, which was fabulous as always! Our Krewe's theme this year was Woo - Hoo Goes to the Circus. Our costumes were poodles and trainer - I think we turned out pretty cute!

Here we are in our best formation:

Check out the tails: mardigras08 043

More Mardi Gras fun can be found here.

In knitting news, I made an Urchin hat and a Fidget neckwarmer out of my handspun. It's modeled by my new mannequin head that I LOVE!
Urchin and Fidget

I've also started an Adult Surprise Jacket in Noro Kureyon for my aunt. I'm dying of the colors. It will be hard to give this one away, I hope she loves it!
Adult Surprise Jacket

A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon making terrariums. I want to make so many more and cover every surface in my house. Not only are they extremely cool to look at, the cats can't eat the plants inside! Bonus! Check out my set on Flickr.

Other than the costumes, I haven't been sewing much. I did get to check one item off the Uberlist when I made a circular knitting needle holder. I used vintage fabric that I've had for a while. It was only a tiny bit, and this was a perfect project!
Storage for circular needles I used vinyl stick-on letters and they seem to be holding up pretty well. One day I'll get the embroidery software for my sewing machine, but for now this works pretty well.

Spinning has been at a standstill the past two months. I really need to get back into it. However, I have been making some progress with opening the shop. I have an appointment to talk to a small business counselor in a couple of weeks, and I'm working on my business plan now. In the meantime, I'm working on an Etsy store. I'll post as soon as I have anything listed to sell!

Friday, January 18, 2008

November Sewing

I made this dress for the Sew Retro October - January challenge.

This did not start as my 'No More Buts' project. I have a vintage muumuu pattern (the kind with a draped/train back) that I don't have quite enough fabric for and will have to redraft the pattern for using a different fabric in the pleat that I wanted to be my project. But I digress.

There were several factors leading to this becoming the October - January project.

When I started to pull the pattern out of the envelope, it was crumbling before my eyes. The previous seamstress totally just shoved the pattern back into the envelope all wadded up, not even folded! What I believed would be a fairly straightforward project taking a couple afternoons soon turned into several hours of tracing a disintegrating pattern before I could even start.

The next problem I encountered was with my fabric. It's a lovely piece I bought on sale last year from an online retailer. I laid it on the cutting table and started to put the pattern pieces down, and quickly realized it was a DIRECTIONAL PRINT! I was cutting it seriously close with the yardage, since the website did not say it was a directional print and I didn't buy extra fabric. My general rule is to buy 5 yards of fabric if I don't know what I'm making it with it, so I always have enough for a full skirt. For this pattern to work, especially since I wanted to make the longer sleeved version with full skirt I would need about 1/2 yard more fabric than I had. Oops! So there was some cunning layout work to do.

After getting everything cut out, I thought it would be smooth sewing. First, I've never made a notched collar, and when cutting out the pattern I just followed what had been cut by the previous sewer - the notch line. It wasn't until I got to that part of the sewing instructions that I realized I was supposed to cut that line after sewing around the notch. Ugh. After trying to make it work, I eventually had to cut a new collar from the scraps. At least I had enough fabric! Then, when trying to sew it all together the top and bottom would not match, no matter what I tried. I sewed it 3 times! Fearing I traced the pieces wrong, I got the crumbled bits back out and compared. I had done a perfect tracing job. ??? Then I noticed the very faded word 'Ease' that I had missed the first time. Whew! So I eased the right places and it fit together perfectly.

The final problem I encountered was with the back zipper. Despite meticulous basting it took two tries to get it in straight. Then, because I used an invisible zipper, the plastic-ness and the placement of it caused the fabric to bow out in the back. I looked like I had a weird tumor growing. My mom suggested I take it out and just sew up the back seam since there was plenty of room with the buttons in the front to pull it over my head. That worked brilliantly.

I also realized while sewing that this is only the second time I've had to set in a sleeve on a garment. The pattern had good instructions, so it was pretty easy peasy.

So here I am, in the finished dress!

I love the collar so much, and how huge it is in the back! I think it looks cute with a sweater, too. Always a plus when you pretty much only sew cotton dresses to wear year round.

A close-up of the vintage rhinestone buttons I used. I tend to wear day dresses in the evening, so a little sparkle makes it feel more special.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year Organization

It's the new year, and I've been thinking about the Uberlist. I'm mostly done, and a lot of it involves organizing the supplies for various crafts. This is a recurring theme in my lists, which is so perplexing.

There has to be a way for everything to be organized, and in a way that is easy to maintain. Every year I try to find the answer, since even the most thought-out and purchased-for plans seem to fall apart after a short time. I recently came across a photo of one of my first attempts to get my sewing crap together:

Susie is checking out my stash of the plastic zipper bags that bedding is packaged in. I was using them to containerize sewing stuff. In the background is a plastic box with more stuff.

This pretty much fell apart the minute I needed a few items. I'm pretty sure I'd work cleaner with small drawers rather than big boxes. The search is on for furniture! Suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

November and December: Busy Knitting!

I was so busy knitting I didn't even think about updating the blog with progress! This Christmas I had a goal to give everyone handmade gifts. I started knitting in November, and finished everything in time! Now, I did have some cheats. We bought gifts for my in-laws, because they really wouldn't appreciate hand-made items. The exception to this is my FIL, who has liked the hats I made him. I made two for him, but gave them before Christmas cause he is bald from chemo. I also gave the gift of money to my cousin who is a freshman in college. I remember how broke I always was, and thought he could probably use the cash more than a hat. :)

So, on with the projects. I started off November knitting at Blackberry Farm. Don and Marissa
It was a relaxing and beautiful start to the season.

I made the Anthropology Inspired Capelet twice, using my hand dyed yarns and commercial yarns. 11-16-07
Back of sweater

I made two more dishcloths
DW dishcloth
4 Corners dishcloth

I made hats for my FIL, niece and nephew using my own handspun yarn.
Hat for Bill
Handspun hat
Handspun hat

Here's a wimple I made for my mom.

I did a little spinning
Which I turned into three matching Calorimetries for me and my sisters.
A Trio of Calorimetries

I made the EZ Snail Hat for a friend:
EZ Snail hat

Another hat for Bill using very squishy alpaca.
Hat for Bill

I finally finished the hat for my granddad that I started last December.
Hat for Granddaddy

I also made a hat for my dad.
Hat for Daddy

My aunt requested a sewn purse which only took a couple of hours to make.
Purse for Auntie

I also made myself a dress, but haven't had a chance to photograph it yet. Plus, it's my November/December entry for Sew Retro, so I'll make a post devoted just to it.