Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yes, yes I can make a purse from this!!

I'm really jazzed with the way this turned out.  The sweater is a cotton-blend with the quilt motif done in intarsia.  I knit the sweater many years ago and wore it quite a bit.  But, I don't wear it any more.  So, how did I do it?  Well, I probably should have taken more pictures, but here's the basic order of events:
  1. Carefully take off the sleeves by undoing the seams.  This required excellent light and small sharp scissors.  Cutting any threads of the actual garment would result in an unraveled mess.
  2. Undo the side seams so you have flat fabric.
  3. I used one sleeve as the back of this bag.  That way I have another sleeve and the back of the sweater to make a second bag.  The sleeve limited the width of the bag but not too much.  The bag is plenty big.
  4. I used the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeve for one top edge so no serging was necessary.  But, for the front of the sweater, I'm cutting into actual knit fabric and need to secure the threads.  I carefully marked the horizontal line where the top edge would be and ran an overlock stitch several times along that line.  That way I can cut and it won't unravel.
  5. I pinned the sleeve to the front, right sides facing.  Then I sewed a basic trapezoid using an overlock stitch to catch all the threads.  Then I ran a second line of stitching just inside the first for extra insurance.
  6. Box the corners and overlock several times through.  Cut out the excess to avoid bulk.
  7. Only then did I wash the piece.  I ran it through my delicate cycle just to freshen up the yarn.
  8. Line the bag and add the handles.  Here's a shot of the lining:

Just for grins, here is a bag I made from half of a dated poncho, also hand-knit by me.  Both these bags will find happy homes with my son's teachers.  And, I still have half a sweater and half a poncho for additional bags.  I don't have a lot of cotton sweaters in my sweater cabinet.  But, there are a few in there that will be seeing new life in the coming years.  Buy less and make do!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, sis.

I was looking through some scanned slides from my childhood and found this great one of me, my sister, and my mom.  I'm on the left.  I printed a few to include in my sister's birthday card going out tomorrow.  I have many friends in my town that live close to their sisters and I am jealous.  Melanie lives in Boston and I would really love to see her more.  But, we talk on the phone and exchange snide e-mails about our brothers.  Happy Birthday, Melanie!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Quick peek at my chicken rug!

Here's the beginnings of my chicken rug.  Amazingly, this is all I got done in 4 days of camp.  I'm using a #8 cut.  The chickens are not difficult, but do require some planning to get the "feathers" to look right.  My teacher was Dianne Kelly.  She had a version of the rug there and I used her hooking as a guide to draw some lines on my pattern to help me.  So far, I love it.  But, I'm going to finish my fruit rug before I work on this.

Here's "Andrea," named after my blond son Andrew.  It's his chicken.  She's the lightest in the bunch just as Andrew is the only blond in several generations of my family, except for my cousin Celia.  The photos of the actual chickens were taken last fall so their combs are not as well developed as they are now. 

I think this one is "Natalie," my youngest son's (Nate) chicken.  Natalie has a beautiful russet head and her feathers range from auburn to charcoal and back again.  I love the pattern mix on this one.  Three different wools:  two plaids and a houndstooth.  The houndstooth was a royal pain.  I could tell by the feel of the fabric that it wasn't 100% wool.  It frayed and split and was a general nightmare.  However, it was the perfect combination of shades so on I went.  Dianne recommended a wider cut so I used an 8 1/2 and that helped.  I prefer the #8 though and probably won't do much with wider cuts.  Not enough definition and detail for me.

The final chicken in the rug is going to be beautiful.  It's our darkest girl and the wools I'm using are really great.  But, I haven't even begun that one!  The border will be large triangles in blue and red.  And the eggs are being done in an exact shade matching the actual eggs.  Pale, pale sage green hand-dyed.  Beautiful.

That's your first peek -- and your last until the fruit is done!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Almost done -- Fruit rug getting ripe!

Sorry for the pun.  My rug is getting very close to completion.  I figure I worked solid almost every night for about 4 weeks trying to finish up.  I didn't get it done before Rug Camp, but I'm almost there. 

I think the tulips came out great.  The little doo-dads at the top are not terribly realistic for an actual flower, but I don't care.  They look fun and I'm leaving them.  Besides, who ever saw such a crazy color combination on a tulip in nature before!  The tulips have a combination of plaid, pumpkin, and mustard on the outer leaves and dark red and green on the center thing (stamen?).  Plaid tulips.  Now there's a hybrid I'd like.
I am going to change the center rib for the lettuce leaf just to the left of the pineapple.  The rib is too thick.  So, I'll go down to a single line of hooking and then work the right leaf to match.  That will make the 4th time I've tried something on the lettuce leaf.  Ugh.  Happily rug hooking is forgiving and is not afraid to change.  I could learn something from that, couldn't I.
Next post will be about my chicken rug that I worked on at Rug Camp.  I was dismayed at the small percentage of the rug that is done after 4 whole days of nothing but hooking, but I will perservere.  I'm going to finish the fruit first, though.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Can I make a purse out of this?

Here's a sweater I knit that I haven't worn in about 5 years.  The yarn is a cotton base.  Lots of colors in it.  The design is, you guessed it, taken from my book of patchwork patterns.

But, I don't wear it and have no intention of pulling it out and starting over.

So...can I make a purse out of it? 

Check back to see...

Aren't you curious?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Quilt Rugs

I love American Craft.  Folk art, tramp art, fiber art, whatever.  I think American quilts are the most amazing things.  The art quilt movement is quite strong and those quilts are truly inspiring.  But, I still prefer an old-fashioned American quilt.

My grandma learned to quilt in her 80's (she lived to 103) and she loved the fabric piecing.  I haven't tried piecing, but sewing is really not my thing.  It's a means to an end for me.  Sewing allows me to line purses and make pillows and create scarves.  Quilting is too much sewing, I think.  But I want the look of quilting.  So, back when I first started rug hooking (2005-6) I thought it would be cool to take a single quilt block pattern, blow it up, and make a rug out of it.  These four rugs are my first attempts at this.  The designs came from a wonderful book called 849 Traditional Patchwork Patterns by Susan Winter Mills.  Wow.  849 different patterns.  I think I might be making these rugs for a long, long time.

This rug was the first one I did.  The darkest color is a great plaid that came from a thrift shop skirt.  I learned quite a bit on this rug.  First, curves are hard for a beginner.  The pinwheel in the center and the corners were really difficult.  Especially since my frame at that time was a stationary frame that didn't rotate easily.  The other thing I learned was that running out of wool can actualy improve your rug.  I ran out of my initial yellow.  So, I took the closest thing I could find to finish up.  To blend the two, I pulled out single strands in the finished triangles and worked in the new yellow.  The result was more movement and more interesting color.  Lesson learned.  Now I never do an entire large area with a single, solid color.  I always blend at least two similar shades.

This rug was my second one.  Again, the inspiration wool was a plaid with mustard, red, and blue in it.  I also had this wonderful charcoal grey and the best red ever.  I think this rug is my favorite of the four that I've done.  Lots of red, touches of blue, etc.  The oatmeal wool was a batch I'd bought on Ebay.  I learned never to buy pre-cut wool unless I can see it.  The ivory was a pretty loose weave and wasn't cut on the straight of the grain with any consistency.  So, lots of fraying and splitting.  I ended up tea-staining the wool to get a little less brightness.  It worked out fine, but lots of waste.

This Tumbling Blocks quilt was the 3rd one.  Tumbling Blocks is one of my favorite quilt blocks.  I love the optical illusion.  Many years ago I attended a Kaffe Fassett knitting workshop (yes, it was fabulous!) and we spent the week working the tumbling blocks pattern in about 50 shades of tapestry wool yarn.  I felted my swatch and turned it into a pillow.  Another picture for another day.  Anyway, I love Tumbling Blocks.  I decided to have a blue/yellow theme mainly because I had lots of those colors in my stash.  You may remember my stair riser in the same colorway.  Both used the same series of wools.  This was a fun rug to work on.  I didn't plan out the whole rug ahead of time but just had set combinations of colors and then put them in appropriate places as I went along.  There were some combinations I had very limited stock so those were placed and worked first to make sure I could maximize their impact.  This was a good rug for using up small bits.  It didn't take a lot of wool to work a single little diamond.

And, here's the final one in the series to date.  I worked this rug when I had my ankle surgery.  I had all the wool cut and organized and set up next to this one chair.  I would crutch-walk over, plop myself down, and hook.  I could even work this rug with my ankle elevated on the couch!  Within a few weeks, I had this one done.  A great project to take my  mind off my confinement.  The blue in this rug is a favorite.  I'm planning to use this blue in our new addition.  The combination with the orange is terrific, I think.  And, naturally, I had a plaid that matched.

On all these rugs, I took the pattern and Kinko's blew it up for me.  They can do any size you want.  I aimed for about 17X17 square.  But, some are slightly larger or smaller.  I don't think it really matters.  Once I had the blown-up print, I would tape it to one of my windowed doors and then tape the linen over the top.  Then, it was simply a matter of tracing the lines with the Sharpie.  It's important to follow the lines of the linen so your borders are nice and straight.  But, with patience, it works out.

Rug hooking camp is next week!  I'm almost done with the fruit basket rug.  Only background and border left to go.  That rug is HEAVY!!!  My frame is protesting every time I put the rug on.  I'm amazed at how much I've accomplished in the last few weeks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Two quick updates -- A second recycled t-shirt bag and new buttons for the Clock Towers

You may remember a few weeks ago I tried my hand at working with recycled t-shirts.  I finished one bag and had nearly enough for a second bag.  So, back to my drawer I went and scrounged up two more t-shirts that had seen better days.  Here is the second bag from recycled shirts.  I've been seeing a lot of grey in the stores this spring so I decided to make the top of the bag in shades of grey.  This also enabled me to put the darker colors at the bottom where the bag is more likely to get dirty.  I kept the ends visible on the top of the bag but buried the ends (where I changed color) on the bottom.  Again, because the bottom of the bag sees more dirt.  I may string some beads on these tails but the bag is already pretty heavy and it may not work.  Maybe I'll look for some wood beads rather than glass.

The bag is lined in the same fabulous floral as the bag below.  The handles were my one expense and were a significant one at that.  These handles are distributed by Jimmy Beans Wools, a great online knitting source.  They're made by Grayson B.  I've used them on probably 10 different bags.  Very high quality but not cheap.  I think these were about $35.  But, when the bag wears out, you cut the handles off and re-use.

So what am I going to do with the first bag?  Well, I'm saving it for one of my son's teachers.  He has three different main teachers.  They got lace scarves for Christmas so I'm doing bags for the end of the year.  More on the remaining two bags another time.  I finished one of them yesterday and it's great but I have reaffirmed my dislike of wooden handles.  Another story for another time.

Here's a shot of the new buttons I found for my Clock Tower tape measures.  I think they make a huge difference in the finished product.

All 11 tape measures are ready to be sewn and finished up.  I bought 15 tape measures so I have 4 extra to embellish in another way.  I think I'm going to do a couple of them as basketballs.  I have a fair amount of orange wool and I thought I could do the lines around the ball in a black satin stitch on the machine.  Cute, yes?  And, I guess I'll need a baseball as well since all three of my boys play.  Stay tuned...