Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Rounds 7 & 8

I'm continuing to work on my JS doily, but it's getting sllooowww.  Rounds 6, 7, 8 and 9 are plain chains so they are easy going, just booorrriinnngg.  My attention span is short sometimes . . .

Jan Stawasz Doily XI
Working on Round 7
Jan Stawasz Doily XI
Working on Round 8
But it's getting there. My goal is to finish by mid-July, so I'm right on track for now.  We've been enjoying the evenings OUTSIDE when we have some nice weather - it doesn't seem to last long around here :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Children, the Dogs

Well, that last post certainly didn’t show off any photography skills with my new camera, did it?  Oopsie.  I guess I was anxious to get the Scarf to Clutch project documented and done, and wasn’t worried about photographic quality.

I tend to love very close-up shots, but I’m not combining the adjustable lens and the auto-focusing capability of this camera quite right yet.  It’s wonderful to control the zoom on the lens, yet difficult to just allow the auto-macro/focus to work.   Hhhhmmm.  Control freak?  Still learning.

My greatest camera practice opportunities are on my dogs, as they are always close to me.  [I’m pretty sure they think I’m their mother.]  

Ruby, the brindle boxer, doesn’t always like the camera much.  She sometimes gets disgusted with me and looks the other way.  When I can capture her, I think she is beautiful.  Maybe I do it too often for her taste – she is a little bit of a spoiled fuss-pot.

Seriously?  You are pointing that thing at me AGAIN?
Taffy, the white Pug-Poodle, has always loved being a star.  I honestly think she used to pose every year on the kids’ first day of school.  The girls would be all ready for the annual photo before they trotted off to school, and Taffy would magically appear and promptly sit by their feet at full attention. I'm going to have to dig in old photos and see  how many of those I can find.

This is Taffy - now 14-1/2 years old: 

Do you like my new haircut?
She doesn’t see much other than a shadow here and there, and doesn’t hear a thing.  She’s still as happy as can be, sometimes bouncing around like a puppy, but most of the time she runs into things before she realizes there’s something there.  It amazes me how she gets around by memory though – if you didn’t know her, you might not realize how blind she is.

It’s quite the comedy to let her in and out of the house.  I let Taffy outside from upstairs on the deck, and she doesn’t reappear to come back in.  So, I run downstairs to the patio door where she is waiting [ever-so-patiently] to be let back in.  By the time I get to the door, she’s on her way back to the deck stairs.  Mind you, she can’t hear me holler at her to come back, and doesn’t see me waving my arms to get her attention.  At this point, I race back upstairs to let her in up there.  Most of the time I get there fast enough, but once in awhile she’s on her way back downstairs again.  Who needs a gym?!  We nearly trip on her daily, and we’ve noticed many little changes in her as she seems to be aging very quickly.  
She wants to be in the same room as someone in the house now – she never used to care as long as she had the most comfortable chair in the house!  This is probably due to being shut in the laundry room by accident.  We startle her easily because she doesn’t see or hear anything, but in her younger days she was aware of absolutely everything that came within 50 feet of the entire house.  [Annoyingly aware when the yard was full of fluttering leaves. . . ]  She would retrieve a Frisbee for us to throw again and again as many times as we would throw it.  In fact, we had to teach her to “take a break” or she’d keep going until we thought she’d collapse. 

Now we just love her up and keep an eye on her so she doesn’t get lost. Or shut in a closet somewhere. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scarf to Clutch Project

The request:  Can you turn this scarf into a clutch purse?
The answer:  I will try!

And so it went.  The request was from my friend whose son is getting married in July.  She ordered fly plaids for the groomsmen, and wanted something to match as the mother of the groom.  She ended up getting a scarf to wear with her dress, but then it didn't quite work draping it over the dress.  So, a clutch purse was suggested.  I was the seamstress.  Then a suggestion to leave the fringe on the flap.  Then to leave the tag on the flap as well.  

So, I really regarded this as an honor to make something special for my friend, and the mother of the groom.  I made a sample first, and then this is how I made the clutch:

Based on the sample I made, I had to (gulp) CUT the scarf to the length I needed to be able to make a "tube".  The length was double that of what I needed to fold into thirds for a clutch.  Knowing that I only had one shot at this was a little nerve wracking.  Of course, any other fabric would have worked perfectly, but I was terrified of making any small error.

I'm cutting into a 100% silk scarf.  I've never cut or sewn on silk before, so I'm a little concerned it will ravel.  Or slide all over the place.  I didn't know what to expect!

The cutting went fine.  I then cut a piece of Pellon Craft Fuse - a fusible stabilizer - half the length of my total piece.  (I will fold the whole length in half, so I don't need the stabilizer to be double-thick.)  I ironed the stabilizer onto one half of my length of scarf, and left 1/4" of raw edge to stitch/hem down over the stabilizer.  This will become a needed finished edge - something I realized when making the sample.  (The scarf didn't melt!  I was terrified to iron on the scarf, so I used a dishtowel on top of it.  I found out that I didn't really need the towel, but thank heavens I didn't BURN or melt the fabric!)  


Next, I folded the length in half, right-sides together and stitched up each side to make a tube.

And then I turned that tube right-side out . . .

And pressed it flat.  The fringe edge is just 1" longer than the raw edge (that I hemmed earlier) of the scarf when folded in half.

Next, I positioned the tube to fold it into thirds to make the clutch.  That hemmed edge is at the top edge, just short of the fringe.  I adjusted the length of the bottom third that I folded upward a little longer than the flap that will fold down to accommodate for boxing the bottom just a little bit.

I only sewed one side of the clutch to get it lined up and non-moveable so that I could get the magnetic closures stitched into place.  The stitching on the sides is not done inside out - it's done on the right side of the fabric.  I figured it had to be done this way to avoid a lot of fitting and stitching that flap to fit a finished body that would end up narrower than the flap (if that makes any sense)!  

What a great invention, this sew-on magnetic closure.  It's a very strong magnet.

I got those magnets lined up and stitched on.  That edge that was open to turn the entire piece right-side-out was conveniently open to stitch the magnet into the flap so that the stitching would be hidden.

Once the magnets were sewn into place, I stitched that open end of the "tube" closed.  This is where the already-hemmed edge was a nice finish to sew closed without fumbling with a raw edge.  Another benefit of making a sample first.

After stitching the open end closed, I stitched the remaining side of the clutch closed.  I "boxed" the bottom by turning the clutch inside out, and stitching a diagonal seam 1/2" across each corner of the bottom of each side.  I forgot to take pictures of that part, but there are plenty of instructions on the web to do that.  It's really quite easy, and it gave the clutch just a small amount of depth so that it isn't flat like an envelope.

And voila!  A clutch to match the family Fly-Plaids of the groomsmen. I didn't really intend for this to be a tutorial, but I don't know how else to explain what the heck I did from start to finish :)

She loved it.  And I am SO happy to do this for her!  It's really an honor to be asked to make something like this for a special day in someone's life.  

OK, so I'm kinda proud of myself for doing it too.  Yikes!  Silk to cut and iron AND plaid to line up.  Sure. I can do that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Love for Taking Photos

I went and did it.  I probably shouldn't have, but I did it anyway since we have a summer full of short trips to areas full of wildlife and flowers ahead of us.  I got a new toy.

Nikon 1 J1

Digital cameras are nothing new - we've had a few.  And they have been good!  But I wanted something just a little more than a small point and shoot. Some frustrations with my camera's focusing ability pushed me into something new.

My high school graduation present from my parents was a super nice 35mm camera - the latest and greatest Minolta that I picked out myself.  I really wanted to go into advertising/magazine photography.  That didn't quite happen, but my love of taking photos has never stopped.  Everything I see would be a "great photo!" My photos don't always come out the way I see them in my head, but I try. [Sometimes a hundred times or more to the dismay of my ever-so-patient family.]

We switched to a digital camera in about 2004.  We took a trip to the Black Hills, South Dakota, and I brought both the 35mm and the digital cameras.  I didn't quite trust that digital camera yet, so I took pictures with both.  I was really disappointed in my 35mm when I had the film developed, and that was the end of that.  Digital was unbelievable!  [Especially for someone who takes a million-and-a-half photos to get that one shot . . .]

I never wanted to go back to carrying around a great big camera bag and various lenses, but when I saw this little camera with interchangeable lenses . . . well, that was it.  This is kind of an in-between camera - not a P&S, but not a professional DSLR either.  A good in-between (both size- and functionality-wise) for me, and my second Nikon. 

I will now apologize for the various photos I may or may not post in the future :)

Yep, it was a hot, humid day on Saturday.
I believe the brown one was posing just for me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 6

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 6
I'm getting through the 4 rounds of mostly chains on this doily now, making this doily a more reasonable size to me than many patterns I see.  After years of crocheting doilies, it seems that the tatted doily patterns I come across are either very small or GINORMOUS!

I haven't made a doily with rounds of chains like this before - it seems difficult to keep the chains looking nice and even.  What's the trick?  Keeping the tension tighter seems to help - or maybe it's just because I'm paying more attention to it because it seems so much more visible.
Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 6
 I started Round 5 with the plain ecru thread, and was a little concerned that it was too light with the Latte Foam.  Now that I've done a bit more, it seems to blend just fine.  I'm leaning toward using ecru until the final two rounds and then going back to the Latte Foam, as they are a repeat of the center (3rd & 4th) rounds.

As I continue on with Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of my doily, the weather is continuing on with some rounds of its own. 
I'm pretty sure the sun will be back out on Monday.  Just when I have to go back to work.
No laying in the sun today . . .

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 5 in the NORTH WOODS

Good thing Round 4 5 was simple rings and chains - that made it easy to tat sitting outside in beautiful, sunny, 75F degree weather!  Finally some nice weather.  Spring has been extremely slow, cold and rainy here, so this weekend was absolutely perfect weather.

It doesn't look so great UN-blocked, but hopefully I can coax this doily into a decent round shape.

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 5

That was definitely all I was getting done while staying in the northern woods in one of our beautiful Minnesota State Parks.   With such beautiful weather and some new trails to explore, the weekend flew by with us just wandering around and exploring.  During the past few years, we have discovered we like these camper cabins in the parks.  There are usually 3 or 4 or them, and you have to reserve them waaaaaay ahead of time.  Sometimes a year in advance.  But, it's so worth it!  Neither of us cares to go back to a tent or invest in a camper.  The cabins are basic with bunks, a table, electricity, a screen porch and a campfire/picnic table yard.  The cabins are identical in each park, and are pretty secluded from one another.  This one was a four hour drive north from home.

Hiking looked like this:

I was in search of flowers like these in a boggy area:

Yellow Unknown, Dragons Mouth Orchid and Labrador Tea

White Unknown, Tiny Violet, Starflower

And this orchid especially:  
Actually, not really this one.  This is a Stemless Ladyslipper, one of several varieties.  The pink and white ladyslipper is the Minnesota State flower, and I think it's much prettier.  These were the only ladyslippers blooming so far.

And these two are insect eating plants - I didn't realize we had such plants here, but sure enough!

 The teeny, tiny Sundew 
(nothing like laying on the boardwalk through the bog to get a photo . . . )

And the Pitcher Plant - kind of weird, but interesting!

Of course, we got some enjoyment out of the beautiful lake too: 

And home again, home again, jiggety-jig.  
THAT went by WAY too fast.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stawasz Doily XI - Round 4

Jan Stawasz Doily XI - Round 4
Lizbeth Latte Foam, Size 20

I like how this center portion of the doily looks!  Now it's on with a boring round of ring/chain/ring/chain, and I'm switching to a plain ecru thread.  And then, I'm afraid, it's going to start taking longer and longer to get all the way around just once . . .

We are heading to northern Minnesota to stay in a state park for the weekend.  If the weather is nice, I will be in search of wild orchids and other native flowers to take photos of.  Here's hoping for sunny weather so we can do some hiking! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stawasz Doily XI - Round 3

Round 3 was pretty simple - and I paid attention so I did NOT have to cut off and start over :)  This doily is coming along nicely - I'm really pleased with how it's turning out.

On with Round 4 . . .

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stawasz Doily XI - Round 2

Round 2 complete - after starting over twice.  For some reason, Jan Stawasz diagrams confuse me.  What looks easy becomes sort of tricky to me, but I've found I'm once again doing it to myself.  I'm always making it harder than it really needs to be.

After thinking about it, I'm thinking it must be due to the front side/back side tatting method that Jan uses.  Even though I'm tatting fs/bs (or trying to, anyway) I found myself trying to start this round with Ring A as indicated, but  insisting that the ring is made in the usual direction.  A ring is always made in a clockwise direction, is it not?  Well, not if you are doing it from the backside, if I'm understanding myself :)  

This is where it's SO good to have a tatting friend to tat with in person.  When I asked about starting this round for the 2nd time, I pointed out that if I look at the diagram I should be making the ring in a clockwise fashion - which makes for a somewhat contorted pose.  Michelle is such a good teacher.  She asked me "why?" I needed to do it that way.  Sheesh.  I get so hung up on the "correct" procedure that I forget to look at other ways to accomplish the goal.     I think the best teachers encourage us to figure it out ourselves :) So, it worked like a charm to tat the ring backside, go the other direction and not do acrobatics to accomplish this round.  I'm not even sure that makes any sense, but it worked for me!  Now if I can just remember that when it happens again as I work on Jan's beautiful patterns.

And speaking of tatting in person, our June Twin Cities Tatters gathering last Friday entertained 6 of us.  Tatting, chatting and looking at pattern books.  Before we knew it, it was time to be done - AFTER we finished one last ring/look/conversation.  It really is great to have that in person connection with other tatters!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stawasz Doily XI - Round 1

Doily XI - Round I
Jan Stawasz' Tatted Treasures
Size 20 Lizbeth, Latte Foam #168
I've been wanting to get started on a doily and FINALLY chose one that I thought I could handle.  Sometimes it seems like the pattern decision takes longer that actually tatting the project!  I chose this Jan Stawasz doily because it doesn't look like it has difficult elements, and it is worked in rounds.  I much prefer working in rounds to making oodles of motifs and joining them together.

So, feeling smug [once again] I started and ended the first round using loopers so I didn't have to sew in the ends.  It was beautiful and I was proud.  Oops.  When I started Round II, it came apart.  I forgot to pull the threads in opposite directions and secure them, so I sat my smug self down and did it again, sewing in the ends this time to be SURE it wouldn't come apart.  It's safer that way :)

I like my doilies to be neutral in color, and I usually prefer an ecru or cream color over white.  I thought the Latte Foam would be a good choice for the center and maybe the outer ring, with a solid ecru for the middle rounds.  I'm still deciding on whether or not to add a round of brown or a darker shade.  Any thoughts?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Road Trip to Wisconsin

My daughter and I took a little road-trip last Wednesday to visit my folks in Wisconsin.  It's a little over 2 hours away, so we had a great day full of chatting!  

We stopped for a minute in the town of Siren, Wisconsin on the way home to snap a couple of pictures.  First, I chuckle every time I see the fire station.  Siren Fire Department has just always been funny to me.

We also remembered the tornado that hit this small town hard in 2001.  Siren is a small town of about 800 people, and 240 buildings were destroyed.  That pretty much devastated the whole town. 

This boat was found wrapped around this bird house pole, and stays as a monument to that storm.  Crazy to see this every time we go through town.

It is tornado season here - always a bit scarier when one sees the damage first-hand, even though we see it on TV.  It's incredible how violent nature can be, as we know from the recent tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma.  Typically, we have pretty good warning when a tornado is possible or even spotted.  This particular tornado hit the town of Siren when it's only warning siren was out of commission due to a lightning strike, so the police drove around warning everyone.

I'm not even sure where this boat came from, but it's a pretty good distance from the lake.  The town has been rebuilt and looks great again, but this memorial remains a sight right on the way into town. 

My heart goes out to the people of the Oklahoma towns that were hit so hard by recent tornadoes.  I hope the devastation they are facing now is only a memory very soon.