Saturday, September 6, 2014

I LOVE easy peasy microwave fabric bowls

Yes, I said I love these. They're easy to make, easy to use, and easy to clean. Does anything kitchen related get any better than that?

How often are we disappointed by kitchen gadgets that seem awesome? More often than we'd care to admit, I'd wager.

I've not been this excited about a kitchen item since Crock Pot Liners were introduced. They will always be the #1 of kitchen sexy...

Tired of burning your hands and dipping hot pads into the contents of microwaved bowls? Make an easy peasy microwave fabric bowl!

These lovely little quilted fabric bowls are made with 100% cotton fabric and sewn with 100% cotton thread, quilted with 100% cotton batting. (No poly or metallic anything, please. They'll burn or arc, or both.)

Fill your bowl with whatever you're reheating/cooking/eating, put the bowl of food into the fabric bowl. Toss it all in the microwave or eat - voila! No burnt hands, ma!




I just have to share the love... Link to one of many tutorials to make these great little gadgets below:

http://tamarackshack.blogspot.com/2012/11/microwaveable-fabric-bowl-tutorial.html

I'll quote one of my favorite comics, Bill Engvall: Yes ma'am, you are welcome.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Biomechanics + Wedding Prep + Technology = Life caught me by the short hairs

It's been a little over two months now since I checked in with y'all. Here goes:

To Count or Not to Count Update

I did resolve my inability to count beyond two, however I haven't got much knitting done.  A carpal tunnel diagnosis pretty much put the kibosh on knitting until I can have surgery to fix it. After the wedding, that is.

%$!* Wrist

Which lead to not only no knitting these past two months, but little to no typing. A splinted wrist can only do so much, and no more.  I can type right now because a cortisone injection in my wrist has finally kicked in enough to remove the splint for a very little while. But I did sew a great deal during the blog interregnum for myself, the holidays, my daughter and her wedding, because it's one of the few things I could do with my good hand in a wrist splint. 

Gift for a Friend
First of two Christmas gifts











45" x 45" 9 Patch for grandbaby

45" x 60" Simple Strips quilt for my daughter

Wedding Prep

I never assume others think like I do, but I do assume the world would be a better and more financially solvent place if more people thought like me. But, for the moment, lets assume you do think like me and have no problems with a DIY wedding.

Dear Daughter chose burlap and lace for her decorating scheme. Being an odd combination of Depression Era "If you can make it cheaper than you can buy it, always make it," and a recovering southern belle of the Emily Post variety, nonplussed is a polite way to describe my opinion of burlap at a wedding. That said, it's not my wedding and we all know what is said about opinions. As much as I hate to admit it, I am not exempt from the opinion rule. Mine stink too. But I will give her selection a substantial plus: burlap and lace can be reused in the newlywed's home as part of a shabby chic decor.

Anyway, in discussions of "burlap this," "burlap that, " and "burlap the other," I realized there were substantial pecuniary savings to be had in making some of the burlap decorations for the wedding and reception instead of purchasing everything. Neither Emily Post nor my Depression Era grandparents were opposed to saving money. Nor am I. 

Rule number 1: Preferentially buy everything but the food on clearance where you can. Shop around to do this, and start early.You may love a particular item or look, but if you can get something really close to it on clearance, do it. For fellow cheapskates this is preaching to the choir. For you newbies to getting the best bang for your buck, it works if and only if you do it.

Rule number 2: If it's cheaper to make it than it is to buy it, always make it. Yes, factor in your time to make it against the cost, and start early. Your time matters. For instance, I was going to make the favor bags, until I found a lower cost supplier at which to buy them. The time I'm saving will go towards cooking the food for the reception and making other decorations.

Many bemoan the early Christmas store layouts, but not I. We crafter cheapskates know the number one rule of crafting for Christmas: Start early.  A crafter cannot start early if there is no seasonal merchandise to be had. Enough said.

And there are other benefits to early seasonal displays. In the Christmas section of a national hobby and craft store, I saw adorable burlap bows edged with cheapie lace, perfect for the wedding & reception decorations, save for the cost. $10 each, for cheap lace & burlap, of all things? Cheeky little retailers! 

With a little thought (I made my own bow pattern) and prescient purchasing decisions (yards of burlap bought on sale, yards & yards of lace bought on clearance), my dear daughter now has beautiful bows with nice lace at a material cost of $1 each.   Good for the wedding, reception, Christmas, Thanksgiving...  useful in the future and a gift to carry forward for the new couple. I could make more like this in the same manner, add my time and sell them on etsy for half of what the retailers charge and still make bank.  (Future enterprise for me! )
Burlap Bow (The first of many)

24" x 60" Burlap and Lace Table Runner
(to have a 12" diameter centerpiece)





















Burlap and organza wired ribbon floral arrangements for the reception tables can be reused in the home as desired. They're much less expensive than real flowers. See parenthetical ending of previous paragraph.
Guestbook Table arrangement


Consider fancying up the food service at the reception with carefully purchased pieces of white serving plate. The newlyweds can have it for their new home. Give it to them after the honeymoon of course! No pics yet, still in the pick up as I find it stage.

Technology

Other sewing & quilting or wedding projects are either completed or underway, but until I figure out how to get the pics from the new phone to the 'puter they're photos non grata. It'll wait. Not like I don't have anything else to do. 

Are you the make it yourself, if it's cheaper type too? Chime in a comment and let me know...

Back to bow making...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

First down & 10

The first of my comfortable summer blouses is complete. After the pattern pieces fiasco, I wrote the pattern maker to let them know about the missing pieces, and they graciously offered to replace the pattern. Thank you Simplicity!!! But not wanting to wait for it to arrive by mail to make my blouse, I bought another copy and made the blouse. I love it so much that I'll use the replacement to make the dress!

The blouse from Simplicity 2660 is one of those that you wouldn't look at once, much less twice on the hanger. But as soon as you put it on and see how flattering the fit is, it becomes your new favorite and a keeper!

It's a hawaiian shirt that I made for a party, but I'll be making more of these!

 Next quilt top: Simple Strips, a free pattern from AllPeopleQuilt.com

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One of THOSE Months

Knit one, frog two, leads to a knitting hiatus

When you knit, frogging is inevitable. The beast took 4 rows forward, and 10 rows back. I can't stand to look at her right now because she is my penultimate reminder that I CAN'T COUNT my knitting past 2, by two's. Really, it is that bad.

Because I can't seem to count beyond 2, all knitting is on hold. My knitting confidence is so shaken that I can't even care right now that Lolly is nekkid.  'Tis bad, which means it's time for a break.

Measure twice, cut once 

My grandmother taught me to sew, and as a child I wrought stitched havoc for her on 2 of her 3 of her sewing machines. Well I was young, probably too young to be trusted to use such machinery, even under her bird-dog eye.  

Happily, after successfully using an inexpensive portable sewing machine of my own over the years, I no longer wrought stitched havoc on anyone. I could and did sew, rather well, if I don't say so myself.  That made my grandmother so happy that I inherited her third sewing machine. 

So having nothing to do but practice my housework avoidance skills, I'm revisiting sewing. Finding comfort and busy hands again in making patchwork baby quilts, something I've never done before, is a boon to my bruised confidence. Pictures to come...

Comfortable summer clothing for myself is also on my sewing to do list, perhaps a hawaiian shirt or two for Husband ( they're his new fancy, and he rarely takes a fancy to anything ) once I learn how to use my buttonhole foot. Don't know if I can still turn nice buttonholes by hand like I used to.

Anyway...

I have insufficient quilt batting to start another baby quilt. So I started trimming up the pattern pieces for a blouse and pants set, only to learn that a whole sheet of pattern pieces that I need for my outfit is missing. This is the first time I've ever had this happen, and I've been buying patterns since 1983.

Anyone who has pulled a new set of bed linens out of their little plastic zippered bag has some idea of what unfolding a pattern is like. You remove the sheets and start unrolling, not knowing if the pillowcases are really in there until you finish unrolling the neat little cake of sheets and shake them.  And no matter how hard you try, you can't refold the sheets small enough to put back in their neat little zippered plastic bag. Fun times, eh?

It's pretty much the same with clothes patterns. Only the pattern pieces are printed on half twin sheet sized pieces of super thin tissue paper, that are folded in on themselves more tightly than a katana and if you shake them out like sheets  to see if all are there you'll tear them to shreds. BUT, just like the sheets, you can't refold the patterns afterwards. So I typically write up a list of the pieces I need and cut as I unpeel the individual sheets of tissue from each other. 

Where this is going is that I can't just refold the pattern and return it. I have to buy another. 

Sigh, no clothes making for a little while.  Not confidence boosting but neither is it enough to shake what little I've gained from the quilts in the past few days. Now I have to go get another pattern... yes, it's been one of THOSE months...





Monday, May 19, 2014

Lolly waits for clothes


I wanted to share her before now, but burning my fingertips while cooking put the kibosh on both typing and knitting.

Lolly now has 2 arms, 2 legs, and a tail. All stuffed and sewed where they belong. There's not much odder looking than an elephant in panties and Mary Janes, but she did come out cute.


Her dress is now in progress, when that's done I can scratch off the first completed knitted WIP from my list.

More WIP elimination updates


And the Beast is up to 105 rows of 228, I think it is.

Having only an inch-ish knitted up, I'm thinking about frogging the Japanese Waves shawl.  I'm considering casting on Grace Akhrem's Crashing Waves shawl as replacement for Japanese Waves in the queue. A beautiful, simple knit and I don't need a pattern until the lace edging. It doesn't get much more simple than that.

Paved with good intentions, or round washcloth mania

I got turned onto the Lacy Picot Swirl washcloth on the KnittingHelp forum, and it's as addictive as the Almost Lost Washcloth. As if I need another to go project...



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Living in a WIP wonderland

This Spring incited a cleaning frenzy in me, the likes of which I last experienced while nesting in preparation for the birth of my now 24 year old child. Yes, crazy cleaning... I can't help but wonder how much storage space, and ease of mind, I could free up if I finished my WIPs. They really need to go live somewhere else so that I can go on to new projects with a clean conscience and, more importantly, have space for new yarns. My best friend can stop snickering right now over the notion that I can have a clean conscience. Right. Now.

I have home-based projects, travel projects, and always an idiot project. Home based projects have the following in common: They are large, or complicated, or charted, or have beaucoup pieces and therefore can't travel well. Conversely, my travel projects are all small, uncomplicated, and either stockinette or an easily memorized & recalled pattern stitch. Idiot projects require very little attention, very little thinking, or very little of both.

WIP Mania Begins

I'm a compulsive list maker so here goes. Can't scratch off completed items without a list... The only one in the correct place order is #1. The order of importance of the rest is TBD:
  1. Daughter's wedding shawl a.k.a The Beast: Cobweb lace yarn and complicated pattern necessitates 2 & 3 on the list. Must complete by 10/14. This is non-negotiable as I want to keep my daughter on good terms with me. Undisputed #1. 
  2. Red afghan: large Beast relief project. 20% done.
  3. Lolly Fant : small Beast relief project.1 ⅞ arm, a tail, and a dress to go.
  4. my socks: oldest travel project I have. It's so old it dates back to when I couldn't knit without a pattern in front of me. Half a sock leg to go.
  5. husbands socks: youngest travel project. ⅞  a sock leg to go. Once I find it.
  6. heirloom baby sweater: My oldest knitting WIP, about 40% done. I'll tell you the story when I start work on it again.
  7. feather & fan scarf : old travel project. 30% done.
  8. blue dishcloth: needs a couple of rows frogged so I can correctly reestablish the pattern stitch. A DUH! mistake that needs fixin'. ⅔ done.
  9. japanese waves shawl: old lace project. barely started when DD announced her impending nuptials.
  10. big ol' sun & moon needlepoint: my dinosaur of WIPs. Older than dirt, and my go to for what I call idiot-work. It's what I do when I can't think & can't count but need something to do with my hands. It's paint by number with yarn. Do I really need to be in a hurry to finish this one? Yes, the canvas is so old (2008) that the design is starting to wear off. And you want a matted, framed FO out of it.
I think that's all, though I may find more when I go in search of husband's other sock. My idol and knitting goddess, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, would likely find my list of WIPs laughably short. But, in my itty bitty house, they and their materiel take up floor & storage space. Speaking of storage, it's time to put away the 4 bags of DK...

Working off a large collection of WIPs, is like working off large debt. You set a schedule, then as WIPs complete, you reallocate the knitting time until they're all done. The Beast will take until October to finish, unless the knitting gods take pity on me (unlikely). She gets at least 2 rows a day until completed, more as I and my fingers can stand it. Lolly is almost done, so she'll be first up as front for Beast relief. I've decided that my socks will be the first of the travel projects slated for completion ASAP (travel not included). And my poor needlepoint will be front from time to time.

Even better than the upcoming batch of FOs is that I get to stop cleaning to work on them. Really, can I please stop cleaning now??

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spuds is spuds

I'm such a spud today. Not that this is different from any other day. But I am more aware of my spud-dom than usual. Somehow I made progress on Lolly despite my resemblance to Ms. Potato Head. What should have taken 5 minutes took me all afternoon.

Why all of this self-recrimination? My spud self gave Lolly black shoes, and I sewed the little buggers up this afternoon.



Mattress stitching black worsted knit up on size 4 needles gets me nominated for queen knitting spud of the year. And a monumental case of eye strain. I fear the award for being crowned queen will be speedy and incapicitating blindness as soon as the winning vote is cast.

Grouse, whine, kvetch

Other than finding those hard to see bars in the shoe stitches (What WAS I thinking? Black shoes??) the gauge made my fingers ache unbelievably. In worsted, Lolly knit up at 5.25 sts/inch on those size 4s o'mine. For me that's a dense fabric. The given pattern gauge is 6 sts/inch so I don't know why I'm complaining. I got the look I want and a toy sized just right for a little one to love on, or to sit on the shelf and look absolutely adorable.

Do what you have to do, knit how you have to do it, to get the look you want or need. That's all that matters. How you go about knitting is such an "I say po-tay-toe, you say po-tah-toe" enterprise. But in the long run, spuds is spuds, y'all.

And as a friend of mine says, I like taters.