Feb 28, 2011

A little bit of art on the sewing table

My little sewing table is in use again as something other than a photography surface (which it has served as admirably, being the only flat white surface in the house before I finally got my jewelry-making cutting boards out of storage): Today I worked on some ATCs. That's artist trading cards, for anyone who didn't know — now you do. Hopefully I'll be making more of them in the coming months so no one will be able to forget. ;)

The ATCs in question are actually for a fiber arts art group, so it seemed natural to make them on the sewing table. Plus, I have a chair that's the right height for the sewing table, and if I'd tried to use the crafting table I mentioned in the last post as having been cleaned off, I'd have had to stand. We can't have that! Well, maybe when the area under it is organized enough to be interesting instead of tiresome. For today, the sewing desk was happy to be used again for actual craft work.

Sewing table in use!

The theme for this ATC swap is "lost and found," which translates to: Use found objects on your cards. I ended up using old yarn scraps, old fabric scraps, and a piece of ribbon saved from some gift packaging. Originally I wanted to make three ATCs, but making art degenerated into fighting with the sewing machine, which is still not quite up to snuff even after I cleaned all the accumulated sewing dust out of it (was that last year?) — so I ended up just making one. I ... need to make more ATCs. I am sadly out of practice. But here's the one that came out fibery enough for me to feel comfortable using it in the swap:

Lost & Found ATC
Incidentally, no, I have not yet figured out the correct white balance setting for this particular lighting situation. ;)

The first mate says it looks like a decorated jeans pocket, which I think is appropriate for a fiber-arts-ish ATC. And did you see that I made a tiny little loomy square and wove my green yarn scrap into it? If you want to be nice, that's three fiber arts techniques in one spot: I sewed the gold loom warp threads onto the card (I don't want to call it warping, since I did it with a needle ;)), plied the leftover green cotton thread, and then needle-wove it into the warp. There's also some machine stitching on the rest of the card, which was where I got sadly derailed into fighting with the machine.

Alas, my poor machine. I do love it, and I need to take it in to the shop — maybe the arts and crafts fairies will leave money in my shoe tonight so I can take it to be looked at.

Anyway, I did end up finishing the other two ATCS as non-fibery-themed ones. Someday I may feel brave enough to offer them up for trade. Anyone else out there do mail art? :D

Feb 27, 2011

A craft room clean for spring seems like a wondrous thing

So. I have not been crafting up a storm since my last update, but I have been decluttering the crap out of the craft room. I've never noticed that I have much of an internal clock for spring cleaning, but I guess it was time, and goshdarn if it doesn't feel something like spring here, so maybe my internal clock just took a really, really long time to set itself properly. Or maybe this is a coincidence.

And ha — "it was time," I say. Considering that I tried to tackle the Craft Room Rescue project in May of last year, maybe it's long past time.

See, I shared a teeny weeny photo of a shelf last year. That was all I was brave enough to share — the secret horrors of the rest of the craft room will remain known only to those of us who lived through it. ;)

About a day after my last blog post (or maybe that same day; I can't remember now), I got it into my head to crochet something. I can't remember what now, because instead, I ended up literally cleaning and reorganizing that entire bookcase.

Perversely, it looks just as cluttered now as it did last year. See?

Kind of ridiculous yarn shelves

Though this shelf doesn't look so bad — and all the pretty colors lined up so neatly inspired me to keep organizing:

Organized yarn

The important difference between this bookcase last year and this bookcase Right Now is that it (and a small space on the floor in front of it) now holds all of my non-handspun yarn, and it is sorted by fiber type and weight, with an entire shelf just for projects in progress. There are no longer stray irons, knitting looms, or arbitrary plastic bags haunting said shelf. Last year there were just a bunch of disorganized bags full of assorted bits and scraps of projects and balls of yarn and notions and who knows what shoved onto all the shelves just to keep stuff off the floor. Then the floor got taken over by boxes and piles of fabric and such anyway.

Now, I can see the floor.

And that's only the beginning. In the past week and a half or so, I've also pretty much organized all my fiber tools, cleaned off my craft table so there's actual space on it (...a little...), and done a pretty thorough inventory of the slightly horrifying amount of raw fleece and random wool I have sitting and waiting for me to spin it.

I even excavated (and that is a technical term! ;)) my long-suffering serger from the double-decker fabric sandwich in which it has been waiting patiently (in its original box) all these ... mumblemumble — let's just say it's been a while since I tried to watch the video and it got stuck in the VCR, leaving me clueless about exactly where to start with this tiny-seeming sewing-machine-type-thing with teeth and multiple spools of thread. Lest you think it's been in hiding for even longer than it has, though, I'll say this much: The VHS format was absolutely not in vogue when I got the serger. I would have much preferred a DVD ... not least because it wouldn't have gotten stuck in the crappy VHS/TV combo I tried to watch it on, and then I might have actually used the thing right away. ;)

Anyway, being able to actually see the serger box suddenly made me want to peek at it. Upon opening the box, these thoughts passed rapidly through my mind: 1) Wow. It's a lot smaller than I thought it was. 2) Holy crap this thing is much heavier than it looks. 3) Why does the inside of this box smell like wool?

Bearing item #1 in mind, after wiping off the strange thin layer of woolly-smelling dust from the serger, I installed it happily on my vintage Singer sewing machine/table.

Serger, excavated

It seems to make more sense to have it taking up less space in a vaguely usable position than to have it inside a space-hogging box between a stack of thrift store fabric and a pile of clothing that needs various modifications. I haven't dared to plug it in or turn it on yet, much less applied foot to pedal, but maybe when no one is looking, I'll sneak in there and see whether it'll stitch for me. As long as no one watches me too closely — a watched crafter never serges, or something like that.

Besides, now there's fabric on the floor and — again, if nobody looks at me too hard or expects too much ;) — having the serger and the sewing machine both patiently waiting for me in plain sight may prompt me to spontaneously sit down and turn fabric into objects shaped like things that would be useful outside of a pile. There are tons of things in this little condo that would improve with judicious application of textiles ... and I've just realized that the massive amounts of questionable-for-spinning wool I have might make good pillow stuffing. Which means I need to make some pillow forms to stuff.

Just go ahead and have a cup of tea and read a book and pretend you're not watching me for a moment, will you? Of course I'll take pictures of any sneaky craft attacks that happen, I promise. I just don't want to frighten away my delicate, re-budding seamstress self, so I have to go quietly and carefully for a little bit. ;)

Feb 17, 2011

A fancy shawl, a simple headband, a wee heart and some epic socks

Time for another crafty photo update, me hearties. ;D

Finished: Hairpin Lace Shawl
Pattern: Woman's Hairpin Lace Shawl from Coats & Clark

So I finally! Finished! My first hairpin lace shawl! As UFOs go, this one wasn't too bad — less than a year old when I finished it off. Ha. ;D And it also conveniently illustrates the fact that with a camera that I can actually change stuff on (you know, like the aperture! And the shutter speed!), I can finally take photos of my projects draped on random other stuff. (I can also fail to remember to take the cluttery porch crap out of the first few photos I take, and then end up liking one of the early photos.)

Hairpin lace shawl

Finishing this shawl made me want to go crochet other stuff — but most of the hairpin lace projects out there that I want to make involve paying for patterns, and right now I don't have any spare pattern money ... sniffle. I may be forced to design my own hairpin lace something-or-other just to get a fix.

Hairpin lace shawl

Finished: Three-String Headband
Pattern: Simple Crochet Headband from Creativeyarn

If I want to design my own hairpin lace, though, it'd probably be useful to actually kind of know how to crochet. (Since hairpin lace is a kind of crochet and all. Yeah, yeah. You know it already, right? ;)) So I'm sloooooowly re-teaching myself to crochet by doing easy things, instead of jumping straight to hard things I don't understand that will confuse me and turn into UFOs sitting on the mountainous pile of temporarily abandoned projects. Here's one of the easy things in question (and look! I can take pictures of my own head with the new camera! ::hugs camera::).

Three-string headband

Finished: Heart Coaster
Pattern: Heart Sachet from Lily/Sugar'n Cream

One of the things I loved about crochet when I first started doing it is that it's fast. And it's pretty easy to make cute shapes if you actually understand what you're doing (which I didn't then and kinda-sorta do now — a few years of knitting seems to have helped out with my understanding of things like increases and decreases ;)). So having no money + needing a Valentine's Day gift for B = crochet to the rescue! Voila, crocheted heart coaster!

Crocheted heart coaster

In Progress: Epic Socks
Pattern: "Bling (Arkansas)" by Adrienne Fong, originally published in 50 Socks (50 States & More)

And I finally cast on the second pair of socks I'm knitting as a trade for yarn — officially the pattern is called "Bling," but I'm calling them the Epic Socks because of a comment someone made about how they sound. ;) They're lace and beaded, and can I tell you a secret? Shh — I've never beaded lace before. In fact, I can't remember beading my knitting before ... at least not successfully. Unsuccessfully, sure; I have a bunch of yarn and beads sitting in a basket in the craft room that were meant to turn into a beaded shawl. But both the lace and the beading on these socks are turning out to be way easier than I expected. Is my knitting mojo high this month, or was that just a contrast to the fact that it took me almost three hours to knit the hemmed beaded cuff? Yeah, that's the thing in the photo right here. Three hours, 'cause it's folded in half and knitted to itself with multiple sets of double-pointy objects that had to interact with each other in friendly ways.

Bling sock - sock 1 hemmed beaded cuff

So there it is. That's what I've been doing lately. Let's pretend this is a Craft or Bust update and you guys can tell me what you've been making now, too — right? Right??? Talk to me already! ;)

Feb 10, 2011

Pics: Crafty Projects I Have (Very Recently) Known

Because I keep sitting down to write blog posts and they keep turning into massively epic expositions on human nature and my experiences as a human being, and then I keep going back to edit them and turning them into almost completely different expository epics, and it has thus far been an endless cycle that's kept me from posting anything here, today I am Buckling Down and just posting some photos of crafts I've been doing. HA! You now have proof that I exist! Feel free to report the discovery to the local newspapers. ;)

So, ahem, to get to that crafty stuff...

Finished: ChiChi Tea Towel
Pattern from Yarnplay at Home by Lisa Shobhana Mason

I finally found the crochet hook that I needed to finish the edging on the ChiChi tea towel, so I went ahead and finished it. Yay!

ChiChi tea towel — finished!

And here's another photo of the full towel. Please excuse the fact that I kinda sorta made the photo obscenely bright when I was tinkering around with it in Photoshop, and also the fact that I am Too Lazy (or maybe Too Impatient) to go back and fix it right now. Or maybe ever. (I got a new camera for my birthday, and this was taken with the new camera in iffy lighting on a not-quite-white background. Too many variables = wonky photo adjustment. I'll get better, I promise. On future photos. ;))

ChiChi tea towel — finished!

Finished: Crocheted Organizer Basket
Pattern: Stash Baskets from Bernat (You need to have a free account to see the pattern, by the way.)

Apparently finishing the tea towel put me in a crocheting mood — and why not? I went through a crocheting period right before I started knitting regularly, even if I gave up crocheting for the most part because I couldn't figure out how it Really Worked. ;) I am also in dire need of storage solutions uniformly across the house. So I crocheted an easy little basket to help me organize the bathroom, and — wonder of wonders — to match the tea towel. (Matching bathroom decor may not be miraculous to you, but I don't think I've ever owned two towels that matched each other, much less owned bathroom accessories that match. It's, er, my eclectic style, right?)

Crocheted organizer box/basket

One ball of the cream-colored yarn didn't manage to be enough to finish the sides of the basket, so my basket has a racing stripe. (The bottom is also blue.)

Crocheted organizer box/basket

In Progress: Brigit Socks
Pattern: Brigit from Monkey Toes (Link leads to a Ravelry page where you can download the pattern.)

I've also made some amount of progress on the first Brigit sock, which happens to be the first full-fledged sock I've ever knit for myself. The other socks I've knit for me have been missing bits: One pair has no toes and the other pair has no toes and no heels (because they're yoga socks).

Brigit sock in progress

That's a good way to psych yourself into doing socks, by the way ... Or at least, knitting socks with the scary bits missing made me ridiculously aware that a sock is basically two tubes joined by a fiddly bit, with some decreases at the end of one tube. As the decreases aren't any scarier than the ones in a hat, the only scary bit remaining is the fiddly heel bit, and if you slavishly follow the heel directions in a good sock pattern, even the heel isn't very scary.

Brigit sock in progress

See, look! I knit this heel differently from the way the pattern said to and I wasn't scared at all! ;)

In Progress: Hairpin Lace Shawl
Pattern: Woman's Hairpin Lace Shawl from Coats & Clark

Finally, I've picked up this poor old abandoned hairpin lace shawl that I started with some recycled yarn last year for the first HPL-Along on my Ravelry hairpin lace group.

Hairpin lace shawl UFO

The crochet hook for the tea towel was hiding in the hairpin lace project bag (because hairpin lace is actually a form of crochet, even though I forgot that while I was puzzling over where the Size G hook had gone), and after I borrowed the hook to use for the tea towel, I couldn't just leave the poor shawl alone again. Only one more strip to go ... or maybe two. And then more joining. Uh ... I should stop thinking about that or the shawl might end up in the UFO mountain again. ;)

And ta-da! That's it for the stuff I've been doing that has to do with yarn. I do have about 4,000 photos of food I've made and/or consumed in the past couple of months, though. To post another photo-riffic post, or not ... That is the question. ;)
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