Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Crazy Random Crafting

So, I got on a roll this weekend and decided to dig out some Mary Engelbreit fabric I've been hoarding collecting for awhile now - about 5 years or so. Not only have I managed to pick up miscellaneous yardage here and there, but one of my mom's friends gave me a bit of her stash as well. This entire tub is ME fabric. (Messy after digging through it - there's probably enough fabric left for four more large quilts.)

My Resolutions for 2009 included finishing projects already started, and not purchasing more fabric until I did. I've only cheated carefully chosen minor amounts of fabric to purchase.

This fabric doesn't match ANYTHING or ANY room in my house, but it's cute. I'm not sure what I thought I'd use it for, but as I was digging around in my sewing room Saturday morning, I just had to do something with some of it. So I dug out my Yellow Brick Road pattern - the perfect pattern for making a simple, scrappy, random quilt - and started sewing blocks. All day long! Forget cleaning, laundry and cooking. Ted asked me late in the day if my sewing room had become my "woman-cave".

The more I sewed, the less "cute" this fabric was becoming. Makes for an incredibly busy quilt - certainly not fabric that I would typically choose to make a quilt from, but who cares on a cold, snowy, Minnesota winter evening?! This crazy, busy fabric sort of matches my crazy, random crafting habits anyway. I decided to make it big enough to fit on a twin bed - might as well make good use of the fabric. This would really be cute in a white room.

I guess I would call my sewing room the "woman-cave" after all. Whatever craft I'm doing relaxes me, and I do a lot of thinking and planning and creating (in my head, if nowhere else). I thought of all kinds of other things I could do with this over-abundance of fabric while I was stitching away. Little drawstring bags (for what?) or potholders or maybe doll quilts to donate. So many ideas, so little time.

The photo of the whole quilt doesn't show the fabric very well, but this is the product of my weekend. Now I should probably go clean my sewing room so I can start finish something else!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Tatting Design

Me? A Designer? Yes! I've accomplished my first tatted design. OK, so it's not marketable. Definitely simple, but it arrives with much pondering and a few lessons learned. This is Lesson 4 of the Design-Tat course I have been participating in.

The homework was to tat this central motif:

and then add a row of rings and chains, joining only to the chain picots and deliberately adding negative space. Since there is only a picot on every other chain, I had to think about this! Hmmmmm. Add negative space, and at the same time consider a previous lesson discussion about what was liked and not liked about some sample doilies. I chose to do this without peeking at other classmate's designs and comments in order to hopefully soak up some designing thoughts. There are some very experienced tatters in the class, so I'm sure there will be some very creative designs.

I started by tatting an edge to test the stitch count and see if it would a) reach from one picot to the next, and b) create the negative space I wanted. This was my first thought:

I tried to frill up the plain motif with some picots, but ended up with too many on that clover leaf. I also decided this would create 'points' rather than some negative space between the rounds, so I wondered what it might look like if I placed the edging the other direction and take out some of those picots - like this:

I like both ideas, but I'm learning that I would choose one over the other based on various things -what shape I want to end up with; will there be additional rounds; etc.

Since I understand the lesson is to design something to go 'out' to get to the next available join, and create negative space, both work. If I were going to continue with another round, I would probably choose the "pointy" round to add to. Since I am only doing this one round for the lesson, I decided to go with the more rounded style to finish the lesson. Here's the rounded style:

LOL. It's square. I'm not sure how I thought it would be round when there are only 4 joining picots! The other thing I learned is that I didn't plan ahead very well considering I have no picots to join another round to. (If I wanted to, that is!)

This designing stuff is definitely helping me learn a little more about tatting in general. I can see where I need some (OK, a lot of) practice, and I'm starting to see how the different elements work together. Now if I could just learn to think far enough ahead to hide the thread ends properly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Breast Cancer 3-Day and Music Love

Ever prevalent in my thoughts is breast cancer. I have many instances of this in my family. Two aunts, both at age 56, and a cousin at age 49, are survivors, and a cousin's son is going through treatment at about age 30 right now.


All of us are touched in one way or another. The Breast Cancer 3-Day walk started today, and I am honored to sponsor a walker. The walk is 60 miles over 3 days. I wish her, and ALL walkers for this cause, strong legs and happy hearts knowing how much their dedication to the education, treatment and prevention of breast cancer means to my daughters, myself, and women everywhere. You rock. And thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And, speaking of hearts, I LOVE music. Particularly LIVE music. I like a lot of different types of music, but I especially enjoy live music. Not only that, but I really love music that has a positive, uplifting attitude and a jive-y beat. (Well, at least lyrics that I can figure out, anyway, else I make up my own uplifting words!) Last night, I went to the Jason Mraz concert in St. Paul, MN with my daughter and one of my best high school friends and her daughter. (That was fun in and of itself, since this particular friend and I spent every cent we had going to concerts back in the late 70's.) The opening bands were a little bit too much rap - not quite my thing, but had a beat nevertheless - but I really love Jason Mraz and his individual style. His current popular song is "I'm Yours" . (I love the part about 'checking my tongue in the mirror and bending over backward just to try to see it clearer' - makes me chuckle to envision this literally, and I hope it isn't insinuating anything I am not getting!)

During the encore of last night's concert, there was a wedding proposal. Of course, sappy me got teary, which is always so funny to my kids. In any case, it was fun to be a part of this couple's romantic proposal. I wonder who this guy knew to be able to do this?

OK. Enough emotional blabbering. Back to reality. Much singing in my house today :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lessons in Design

I've been spending a lot of time doing HOMEWORK. (Yes, homework!) I've been participating in the Design-Tat class, and doing my lessons to learn about designing my own tatting patterns. Hopefully I am not getting ahead of myself before I really learn how to actually tat better, but I think it's helping to see how the number and placement of stitches makes a piece curve one way or the other, lay flat, and of course, be visually pleasing.

I really wish I had more time to just play and test out some thoughts, but I'll be thankful I have a job to hold my creativity back!

So far we've looked at how the length of chains changes the shape of an edge, and where joins are made also changes the direction of the lace. The number of picots in a piece can make the lace look full, but the same pattern without picots can be pleasing straight lines for another reason. Best of all, picots can add about anything you want based on how long, how graduated, how far apart, if they are joins, if they are cut, fringed, etc. It's very enlightening to read other students' thoughts and evaluations of each lesson. I know I'll never remember it all, so I'm trying to keep a good notebook of samples with text and findings for review.

I think I'll be getting to design something of my own in one of the next lessons. THAT should be interesting, if nothing else.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quilt Minnesota

The third annual Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop 2009 is on, and I just happened to grab a few fat quarters of this year's fabric last weekend. It's fun to see a fabric line made specifically with a Minnesota theme, and I thought it might be fun to make a few quick dishtowels for Christmas presents. Again. Last year, I went on a bus to "hop" to about 12 different shops, and picked up some of the 2008 fabric line, and then never got around to the dishtowels I was going to make. I always seem to do that. I have big ideas and grand plans that don't always come to fruition! I made an apron for my annual lefse making, and that was it.

Sooooo, I decided to give the tatting design portion of my brain a rest, and switch to making use of some fabric. I was able to whip up a few dishtowels and got a tablerunner almost done with this year's Minnesota fabric. I plan to bind the runner with the brown fabric.

Then I got to feeling guilty about what I had leftover of last year's fabric, and decided to use some of that too. I got another quick tablerunner top together, and have enough for one more towel. I'm not crazy about what I put together for this runner, but it's the fabric I had left. There were better fabric choices I could have used, but I think I put them in the apron. I'll bind this runner with the blue - my only choice, since it's the only fabric I have enough of!

I'm not sure if I'll use them for Christmas. I seem to have lots of ideas for Christmas gifts - tatted, quilted, sewn, etc. We'll see what I actually get done. More big ideas and grand plans . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Century Farm Reunion

This past Sunday we had a family reunion at the farm where my grandmother grew up. The farm is a century farm this year, owned now by a third generation. My grandmother came from a large farm family, and most of the kids had large families too. Which means this is a HUGE group of relatives. Huge enough that it feels funny to be at a family reunion and feel relieved to see a familiar face! They are warm and welcoming though - typical farmers.

The farm owners line the yard with their old restored tractors, and have a couple of great old cars too. It all looks so nice, and the kids love to climb on the tractors.


Hayrides through the wooded pasture, good food, beautiful sunny 80 degree weather and even live music! It was kind of funny to be listening to a band playing with a 1934 Ford and a cornfield for a backdrop.

This farm is in west central Wisconsin, where my parents both grew up on farms. On the way to the farm reunion, we pass through some very Swedish towns in Minnesota. There are about 4 cities in a row that have abundant Swedish heritage and have sister cities in Sweden. One of my grandfathers grew up in this small City of Shafer.

The route we take is through some very beautiful, hilly countryside on both sides of the St. Croix River, which is the Minnesota/Wisconsin border.

This is my favorite water tower in Lindstrom, Minnesota - how cute is that?

And there's a buffalo farm along the way too. We were lucky enough this time to see them close to the highway with their cute babies.

What an enjoyable way to spend a day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sidetracked Again

I am always starting another project that I didn't plan! I found I needed a little needle keeper to put in my tatting bag so I could keep track of my needles, needle threader and scissors instead of leaving them all on the end table. Of course it became somewhat of an adventure to figure out how to make one fit in the pockets of the tatting bag I made a couple of months ago.

So I spent the better part of a day making this little packet.

I think it works exactly how I meant it to. For once! Now I feel a little more organized with everything I need in my one bag.

Another sidetrack this week was that I also joined an online group (that I found on the InTatters site) with Sharon Briggs to learn how to design tatting patterns. Hopefully this isn't premature - I think maybe it will actually help my tatting if I learn how the patterns are designed. (More big ideas.) So, I've been reading the discussion on the first lesson, and now have some samples to tat for the 2nd lesson. I don't think I'll get much else done this upcoming week - I'll be thinking about designing. (And I'm lucky enough to be working long hours this week, so time will be short to boot.)

Needless to say, I didn't get any of the tatting practice I had intended to! But, I did see a pattern on another blog that I thought would be a good, small project for me to work on one evening. This is my one tatting accomplishment this week - a very small heart. I'm trying to think of what I can do with some of these hearts - notecards, maybe?