Sunday, March 21, 2010

This and That

I'm not too focused on any one crafting thing lately - I've been doing a little of this and a little of that.  And I'm really finding some cool blogs out there with a million patterns and instructions for things I really want to make.  Sewing, crocheting, tatting, even woodworking . . .  Problem is, there are more things that I want to do than there is time for me to do them.  I wish there were about 72 hours in each day! 

I have a start on a doily I've been wanting to tat . . .

. . . but just a start.  I am using my prize of Yarnplayer's Summer Trail HDT for the Starlight Doily from  the book The Tatters Treasure Chest.  I noticed that this book is one of the very first ones I bought - back in 1997!  I now (13 years later) feel confident enough to tackle one of the patterns.  This is my project for the evenings - only a couple more rounds, so hopefully I will get it done in the next week or two. 

Otherwise, I've been sewing like a madwoman again.  I seem to go in spurts.  Once I get a bug to make something, I go full-speed and cannot focus on anything else.  (Who wants to do laundry anyway?)  Last weekend and the previous week I made several sets of chenille potholders.  I gave a set to a coworker for her birthday, and had some requests for more.

The potholders/hotpads each end up to be 8 layers of fabric thick - 4 layers for each side.  After stitching diagonal lines through all four layers for each side, all you have to do is slash 3 of the 4 layers with either a slash cutter or a scissors, sew the two halves together with a loop in the corner, wash & dry and voila!  

I was experimenting with flannel (black on the left above) and homespun (on the right) and adding or not adding a binding.  The homespun plaids are so much brighter and have nice varieties of color, while the flannel I could find (without spending a fortune) was in limited prints.  The flannel makes a nicer, softer, thicker potholder, and I like the more finished look with the binding best.  I will make some more of these - they take some time, but they make a great gift.

Then LAST week, my coworker gave me her stash of fabric from a past purse-making business.  "Spring Cleaning" she said.  (I should probably be doing that too, but I really have a hard time getting rid of fabric!)  This fabric is a little different though, as it's more canvas and upholstery and not regular quilting cotton fabric.   I can now re-upholster my sewing room chair.  Well, when I figure out how to do that and have some spare time - LOL.  

Yesterday I decided to try & make a little wallet with some of that canvas.  The binding got a little too thick for my sewing machine, and I didn't cut it on the bias, so it isn't pretty.  Functional, but not my best work.

Upon inspection of the wallet, the English Major declared she could use a small travel/money/passport purse for her upcoming travels.  So, today I was hell-bent on that project.  Since I am a pattern hoarder collector, I just happened to have a perfect pattern for a little travel bag.  (BB Bags by Mickey Beebe)  

I got that completed today - it's just the right size to fit a passport in, and has a few pockets and two zipped pockets.  She thinks it will be just perfect!  That was kind of a fun one to make.

Now that I have spent the entire weekend playing, I should probably get the laundry done and get organized for the work week.  Ugh.  Back to reality!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet Harriet

I love watching all kinds of birds.  One of my favorites, of course, are the bluebirds.  I took my header picture in my backyard, and LOVE that picture.  We have a bluebird trail of 4 houses across a couple of acres, and the trail connects to more neighboring bluebird houses.  They are great fun to watch because they are such sweet, playful little birds, and are never aggressive to other birds except when protecting their babies.  They like to calmly perch on just about everything out in the yard, and when I see one perching nearby I always think it is my own personal little bluebird of happiness.  I wait for them to return every spring.

More symbolism.  I love all the different symbolism there is for various birds and animals. There seems to be both good and bad symbols for everything, but I prefer the good. (The power of positive thinking!)

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day here, so hubby and I and oldest daughter decided to take a drive down the Mississippi River in search of some eagles.  (Eagles symbolize so many things to so many different groups and cultures.)  Eagles are abundant in March on the Upper Mississippi River - though we do see an eagle or two all summer around home. We drove south from St. Paul along the river on the Wisconsin side, and then back north up the Minnesota side. It actually hit a record 64 degrees in Minneapolis in MARCH - crazy glorious spring sunshine!

Meet Harriet.

 Harriet lives in Wabasha, MN at the National Eagle Center. This staff member was outside with one of the 3 resident eagles - Harriet - isn't she pretty? (The eagle, I mean!) 

Edited to add:  Harriet was named after Harriet Tubman. See her biography here.  

We enjoyed the view of the river and the eagles soaring above, and just wandered around the town of Wabasha enjoying the sunshine.  We had lunch at this little pizzeria with the tin ceiling and fun nostalgic pop bottles.  I love old renovated buildings - they have so much character!

Lake Pepin is a 40 square mile lake smack in the middle of the Mississippi River, and is a popular area in the summer for boating, fishing, etc.  (Hard to believe a huge lake is in the middle of the Mississippi!)  This is what it looked like yesterday, with only a little ice left.  Certainly more beautiful with summer foliage, but being out in the sunshine after being cooped up all winter was just fabulous!

This is Lake Pepin from the Wisconsin side looking toward Minnesota:

Along our trek, there were a lot of eagles soaring up so high that you could barely see them.  And sometimes they would turn just right and become invisible in the sky - that was kind of weird - sort of like some alien spaceship.  Quite amazing to see the little speck flying up high and realize how large that bird really is.  Those little specks dashed my hopes of getting any beautiful pictures - they just look like specks :)

And this is Lake Pepin on the way back home looking toward Wisconsin from the Minnesota side:

Many people think Minnesota is all flat farmland.  I don't think they've ever visited these river bluff areas!

Can you tell I'm excited that SPRING has finally arrived? Woo hoo!  Vitamin D levels are rising.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Motif #14 of the 25-Motif Challenge is Sherry's Hope butterfly, pattern found here.  I tried this pattern a couple of times, and ended up finishing this one in size 20 metallic thread and white.  I thought that might be a pretty combination, but I seem to have trouble with metallic thread!  See the yellow wing with no metallic strand of thread?  This particular thread did not cause me any grief when I used it on a bookmark, so I thought it was good and strong compared to the softer Altin Basak thread that I had a heap of trouble with.  I think on this one I was just pulling too hard- I tend to crochet very tightly, and I think that habit is spilling over into my tatting as well.  An even worse problem while tatting this butterfly was weaving in the ends at the very end.  I don't know why that task causes me such grief, but the first one I did looked terrible at the very end, so I threw it away.  So frustrating!  In any case, I love this butterfly for many reasons, and my problems with it were definitely operator error, not the 'program'!  It just doesn't look as neat as I would like it to.

Sherry notes that she created this pattern to remind her fellow tatters of the 'threads that bind us together, and that we are not alone'.   Lately (and because I'm a sap) I have been noticing various types of symbolism, and felt not only some hope while tatting this one, but some other things came to mind as well.  Along with hope, a butterfly symbolizes endurance, change, life and resurrection.  For my own reasons, this is a gratifying little tatting accomplishment - thanks to Sherry!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Dance!

What a treat to come home to this in the mailbox last Friday evening after a looooong, exhausting week buried at work!

I entered Yarnplayer's Extremely Very Early Spring Giveaway drawing, and . . .   I won!  First time I've ever won any blogging giveaways I've entered, so I'm excited!  I continue to admire these beautiful HDT colors - Summer Trail and Tourmaline.  What a fun prize to win after admiring it from afar.   And generous she was, too, adding some free samples on top of the win.  HDT just may be another addiction.  (Do I need another?)

I have been scouring my patterns for just the right things to make.  More on that when I get started.  For now I just wanted show off, and say a big "Thank You" to Yarnplayer.  Woot!  Woot!  Still doing the Happy Dance :)