Thursday, February 21, 2013

Very sew motivated

I cannot say enough great things about the Craftsy bag-making mini-classes.  I am also very grateful that the classes are free.  If not, I would probably not enrolled, thinking I could learn like I learned to knit (reading books and patterns).  The videos have been enormously effective in getting me feel comfortable with these basic projects.

So I dived into the tote bag and zipper pouch mini-class last week.  Not really in need of another tote bag, I skipped that project and moved on to make a zipper pouch with fabrics matching my bucket bag:


I can't say I have mastered the whole process yet.  So it is a great thing that Kristin has posted dimensions for 3 more sizes on her blog.  I would probably make an iPad-size one as skill consolidating exercise.

While messing around with my fabrics stash, I discovered something I left lying around for quite some time.  I have some wonderful friends who know that I started learning to sew, and they would bought me fabrics and books when they went travelling in Japan.  So I had promised to make them book cover.  The said project was half finished when I went into hiatus.

Here it is ... a crazy quilted fabric book cover:


I must have followed a pattern somewhere, just that now I have no idea what it is.  But I am really happy with how it comes out.  Most book cover patterns are customized to fit a specific size.  But since I am making this for my friends, I aim to make it more flexible in size:


Instead of stitching both ends, I used a ribbon for one ... this way it can fit books of various widths.  By the way, don't you like that colorful psychedelia pattern?  Every time I look at it, I think of the 70s, flower power, San Francisco, LSD ...

A full view of the top:


Can you tell that I am much more comfortable with my sewing machine now?  I am, indeed.  So comfortable that I moved on to whip up another bag using this adorable linen/cotton fabric, also from my friends:


The pattern is from a book called Everyday Handmade (which carries a lot of lovely projects):


Perhaps it is the way I feel myself to be ... normal outside, crazy inside, I always like to use the louder print as the lining:

I know the zipper doesn't really match too well ... a bit too white and bright.  But I wanted to capitalized on my motivation instead of waiting to get the matching zipper.  The bag was made in an evening's time.

One great thing I learned from this pattern - how to conceal the raw edges:


Sewing is fun.  And I already have a long queue of projects lined up.  :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

First SKA of 2013 - Little Pumpkins Socks

Joining KAL is actually fun.  You get to work on the same project or a theme with other fellow knitters.  The problem is if you are not exercising proper self-control, it would become stressful too.  But since I would be constantly knitting socks, I was really excited to get back into the SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) KAL on Ravelry.

The January 2013 theme is Flora and Fauna ... anything to do with plants and animals.  When I saw the theme, I immediately knew what I wanted to make.  Through blogging, I came to know some wonderful knitters and their dogs and cats.  One kitty is particularly dear to me -


Don't you just love that face?  This is Pumpkin of FluffyKnitterDeb. Sadly, P-Man passed away in February 2012.  Both Debi and I had kind of drifted away from blogging for some time then, so the news was quite a shock to me.

So, what better time to make a pair of Little Pumpkins Socks using the yarn I bought because it reminded me of this beautiful boy in the first place?  Confused?  Never mind ... just look at this:


I love the little detail in the ribbing that makes it so interesting ... just a single row of purling and the ribbing feels so different.  And of course the little pumpkin patterns are really cute too.

The socks have been finished for a while (quite a while actually) ... and I only have time to show it now:

Really nice, don't you think?  The yarn is so so so soft.  The yarn is superwash but I think I would hand wash the socks ... they don't feel as hard wearing as Trekking or Opal.  A closer shot to show you the little pumpkins:




Details:
Pattern: Little Pumpkins Socks designed by Sabine Ruppert
Yarn: Liza Souza Hand Dyed Sock Merino Yarn (100% Superfine Superwash Merino) in Goldilock (I bought the yarn in Stitches West and didn't see this colorway on the website's color card.)
Needles: Grafton Fibers Darn Pretty dpn 2.5mm (leg) and 2.25mm  (foot)
Cast On: 01-01-2013
Cast Off: 01-28-2013

The SKA February challenge has started and I still have no idea what to make.  The themes are Unappreciated patterns (15 projects or less on Ravelry), Beverage themed, Wendy Johnson or Claire Ellen designs. Any suggestion?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

FO Alert!

This year I have adopted a different strategy.  Since it is during the weekends that I would have a larger chunk of time to work on my projects, I set myself bite-size targets for each weekend.  For example, the weekend 2 weeks ago my target was to make preemie hats, and the weekend before to finish the bag making class on Craftsy.  So far, it is working for me.  During the week, I pick up knitting projects whenever I have the time. Then during the weekend, I focus on my smaller goals and manage to have something done.

Last week, I finished watching the second part of the bag making class on Friday, and made a bucket bag during the weekend:

It was really a lot of fun making this bag ... from the selection of matching fabrics to searching for ways to customize the pattern to make a unique bag of my own.

Do you like the fabrics?  I bought the light blue one from Daiso.  It was originally a Japanese style fabric room divider.  The fabric itself was made in India.  The cotton is thicker than quilting cotton and has a finish like linen ... very lovely.  The darker fabric was something I picked up from Joanne's remnant bin (I love doing that ... it is like treasure hunt and there is always something surprising to discover).  It is some beautiful tie-dye in various shades of blue/purple.  How about some close-up?


To add some fun to the bag, I used 2 different stitches to sew the pocket divisions as well as the top stitching of the bag:


Really really proud of myself for this one ... :-)

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's all in the blocking

Unable to resist the sampler block temptation, I joined the YearLong KAL on Google+ and we are using this pattern collection for the knitalong.  However, since I already have a normal size afghan in progress, I really don't have space to accommodate another big block huge project.  So I have this idea of making much smaller squares (half the size intended ... 4" x 4"):


If I have to say one most important thing I learned from knitting the Great American Afghans, I would say ... blocking is everything!


I think it is pretty self-explanatory, right?

Usually, the blocking would be done when the squares are thoroughly dried.  But for cable stitches, I would leave them stretched with blocking wires for as long as 3 - 4 days just to make sure the squares wouldn't bounce back easily.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baby Sunday

A while ago I got a new follower on Twitter called @PreciousPreemie.  I started reading about them on their website and thought maybe I could help a little.

Digging into my stash and leftovers, I found quite a lot suitable yarns for baby hats.  They prefer cotton and acrylic yarns.  But I think bamboo blend would be good too.

So I started with the patterns they linked to on their site and made this little one, literally:


Not having babies or kids in the family, I seldom do baby knitting ... and always thought I was not really interested.  It was a strange feeling holding this tiny little hat ... just imagine those little beings who need them. A little leftover yarns and some time from me can help them.

So all day yesterday was devoted to making little hats:


And I am really loving this basket weave pattern:


This heart shape is another cute one from the Precious Preemies website:


However, the most interesting fun pattern has to be Aviatrix:


It's a helmet-shaped hat knitted on straight needles with short-rows.  I am going to make more of Aviatrix.

The hats have yet to be washed and blocked before they can be sent away.  But baby knitting is definitely feel-good knitting ... fun and fast.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sew Weekend

In order to achieve my New Year resolution to start sewing garment this year, I am taking sewing classes from Craftsy.  I am starting with the free mini-classes first.  Once I am more comfortable with my sewing machine, I would then venture into the more advanced ones.

I've made lined drawstring bags before, but the tutorial I followed was not there anymore.  And to be honest, I had no understanding of the whole construction at all.  So I took the class and it was great ... really really great.  You have the downloadable pattern as well as the videos.  Kristin broke down the process into easy-to-understand segments.  Besides, you can go with your comfortable pace and watch as many times as you need.

So, on Saturday I watched the drawstring bag portion of the class and made this:

All fabrics are from stash (I love the JoAnn's raments bin!). I love the blue one a lot and have wanted to make something with it for a long time.  Focusing on the construction of the bag, I skipped all the embellishing.  Besides, the fabrics are pretty enough.  ;-)

To make sure I really get it this time, on Sunday, without watching the video, I made another one:


I randomly chose some colorful pieces from the Color Wheel Quilt leftovers (and I have A LOT of leftovers!) to piece together the center panel.  Got a bit lazy with the drawstrings and used some ribbons from stash instead (the color may be a bit too dark ... perhaps replace them later if I find something more matching.)  I even added a trim and make it more roomy by sewing across the two bag corners.  I love this one because it just fits my current project need:


  The bag is big enough for a whole cone of Pony 2-ply (3500 yards!), with which I am making a sampler afghan using tiny (US 0) needles.  Instead of making 8" square blocks, mine would be 4" ones.  And they are pretty cute:


It's certainly an impulsive project since I already have another afghan on the needles:
Magical Mosaic Afghan
But I am such a sucker for sampler afghan ... simply can't control it when the Google+ knitting group decided to do a year-long knitalong with this.  What I discovered is that making small blocks using tiny needles is actually quite enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I think this is my first ever WIP Wednesday post ... something new for the new year ... :-)

When I completely dropped my knitting needles in 2011, I left a few unfinished projects lying around.  Now that the needles are up and running again, I need to go through them.

So far, I got one finished, one exiled to frogland, one ended prematurely due to loss of interest ... and I felt so much better.  Too many WIPs is always a source of stress to me.

Now, I only have three.

Loving the little pumpkins!
Still working on the first sock ... onto the heel flap.  I'm expecting this one to be fast.  The Sock! Merino is really really enjoyable to work with.


This is Palette Fair Isle Cardigan.  I am not really ready to pick it up yet ... it feels too complex for my brain now.  Besides, the colors seem darker than I would like.  But I have already done so much ... and I need another cardigan.


Last on the list is the Magical Mosaic Afghan, which was started in 2009 ... I kid you not!  I remember seeing the one Monika made for her daughter and I thought, "I want one!"  And I still want one ... I am now on the 9th block.  You can see the whole set I've done here (I will keep adding to it as I finish each block).  Besides the fact that it has become extremely immobile (I am working a whole column continuously), I am enjoying it.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Here we go, 2013!

New Year Resolutions always feel like setups to let myself down ... make me feel awful in not accomplishing.  But this shouldn't be stopping me ... right?  As Chuck Wendig (very inspirational article, BTW) said, "Face the Fear, Beat the Beast!"

So, here you are ... my 2013 Resolutions ... in no particular order.

1.  Plan more and better, waste less
Better meal planning not only means more efficient time management, but also minimizes over-buying food, which very often end up rotting somewhere in the kitchen.  I have yet to fully master the art of meal planning, but I am learning.

2.  Eat less, eat well
My husband always says I make too much food ... and my portions are big.  Maybe he is right. 

3.  Chill behind the wheel
In general, I am quite a mellow-tempered person.  But driving changes me ... I cursed and yelled; I was impatient; I thought I was the only person who knew how to drive ... It's time to chill.

4.  Park farther away from the shop entrance
I admire those of you who have resolution to work out at least 30 minutes every day.  I am still in the process of getting back my workout groove.  Maybe utilizing everyday opportunities to physically move a bit more is a better tangible goal for me.   Going shopping every (other) day sounds a great opportunity ...

5.  Read one non-fiction
Fiction is my thing.  To be more specific, mystery / thriller is my thing.  But I think maybe I've read enough pulp fiction in the last several years.  Why not challenge myself to read ONE non-fiction this year?  Nothing really catches my attention yet ... any suggestion?

6.  Take my daily vitamins
My doctor told me 2 annual check-ups in a roll that my level of vitamin D was low.  So, I got 2 big bottles from Costco ... took them for a few days ... and that was it.  Let's have a fresh start in 2013.

7.  Up my game
Knitting - try designing knitting patterns
Sewing - try making garments

8.  Try harder to fall in love with cleaning
Need further elaboration?

It would be neat to have a 10-item list ... but Chinese like the number 8 ... it brings good luck. 

Wish you all a wonderful and fulfilling 2013.