Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wherein I Gain a New Appreciation for the Length of 47 Inches...

I don't want to get to the end of my life
and find that I have just lived the length of it.  
I want to have lived the width of it as well.  
~ Diane Ackerman

There are 36 inches in a yard of fabric.  (Okay, there are actually 36 inches in a yard of anything, but work with me here...)  

A yard and a half of fabric is 54 inches long.

I order 2 and 3 yard cuts of fabric all the time.  

I never think twice about it.

It doesn't seem like much at all.  

So, setting a goal of weaving four panels, each 47 inches long, didn't seem like much of a challenge at all.  

Heck, 47 inches isn't even a full 1.5 yards!  

And then I started weaving...

... and weaving ...

... and weaving ...

And it turns out that 47 inches, when you are weaving, is very, very, long.  

In fact, it is about THIS long:  

Yes, that is right - I have finally finished the first of the four bands that I plan to weave!  

Can I get a "Hallelujah!" ?   ;)

Just three more to go!   ;)

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Next Generation of Weaving Seamstresses

Once there was a seamstress who could weave fabric from feeling.  
She sewed gowns of delight: sheer, sparkling, sleek.  
She cut cloth out of ambition and ardor, idyll and industry.
~ Marie Rutkoski

Two months ago, give or take, Mariana decided that she wanted to make a potholder purse.  We sketched a plan and calculated that she would first need to weave 10 potholders on her little loom.

The following weekend, I inquired into her progress and she had only done one.

The following weekend, no more...

And so, after asking for a time, I figured she had let the project slip by the wayside (to join many of mine!) and we would not be making a potholder purse together...

Then, on Saturday, she surprised me by announcing that she had completed ALL TEN potholders!

And so we sewed.  :)

Here is the front view, with the flap raised up:

Here is the back view:

When it came to lining her purse, she couldn't decide between Perry the Platypus and Minnie Mouse - a dilemma that I think all of us have struggled with at one time or another in our lives! - and so we used one panel of each.  ;)

You can judge for yourself, but I think you'll agree that it was a success:

Man, I SO want to buy her a sewing machine for Christmas...  

I hope you are feeling ready for, and looking forward to, your holidays!  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sewing from "Blueprints"

Our choicest plans have fallen through,
our airiest castles tumbled over,
because of lines we neatly drew,
and later neatly stumbled over.
~ Piet Hein

Sewing patterns.  

I own lots of sewing patterns.  

I use sewing patterns all the time.  

I know sewing patterns.  

My ergonomic weaving bench is supposed to have a cushion.  As such, the blueprints for building the bench came with...  well, blueprints for sewing the cushion cover.  

Here's an early page:  

It gives the dimensions of the piece of fabric and has you make a single, 1 inch fold along each edge.  

Next, it has you add hook and eye tape along the two short edges, such that the length can be folded over and the two edges connected.  

Once the main fabric has been prepared, the blueprints show you how to prepare the straps with D-rings:  

These straps get attached to the fabric like this:  

Here are a couple of shots with my fabric: 

Here you can see it folded over, hooked with the hook and eye tape - all four straps on the bottom of the cushion cover.  

Finally, the blueprints have you stitch the two open edges of the cushion cover closed: 

Here I have stitched up those two edges:  

Here you can see the opening - with hook and eye tape - where you insert the cushion:  

...and with the cushion (you're still looking at the bottom):  

Finally, on the bench!  

I have never sewn from blueprints before, and it felt kind of odd...  

But, while I'm not sure it would work for a blouse, for this home dec project, they worked out quite well!   :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Comes Early!

So how was Christmas for you guys?
Did you all get lots of nice black t-shirts?
~ Gerard Way

Well, no black t-shirts for me yet, but I did get my ergonomic weaving bench!  This was one of those gifts from my husband where I decided that I wanted it and found someone to build it and made all the arrangements and put the 50% deposit check in the mail...  And in exchange for letting me spend the money, he gets credit for giving me the best Christmas gift in the world!  ;)

You can adjust the height and the distance between the bench and the foot rest to suit your body.  

Notice that the front edge is slightly curved, because you need to lean forward when you are weaving.  

Here you can see the cats, checking it out - this gives you a sense of scale.  

It's not as big or heavy as I had expected.  I can carry it myself (it splits into 2 pieces) and it fits in the back seat of my car.  :)

I can't wait to start weaving on it - but first, I need to get a cushion covered and added - more on that soon!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Photo

If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor,
a cat will find it and soak it up.  
~ J. A. McIntosh

My husband caught this brilliant picture of Popeye soaking up the sun over the weekend...  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

I think holidays create so much pressure because
people feel they should be having a good time.
But you shouldn't.
~ Craig Ferguson

The stress of the holiday season is starting to get to Popeye...  


Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Official: The Holiday Season Begins!

Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare.  
They are consumed in 12 minutes.
Half-time takes 12 minutes.
This is not coincidence.  
~ Erma Bombeck

I'm sorry I didn't post much last week.  It was a very busy week - with our Holiday Party in my ESL class...

...and Thanksgiving dinner at our house!  

I managed to keep the kids out of my hair for a good solid hour by having them decorate a gingerbread house and a gingerbread train:  

Then, of course, was the 12 minutes we devoted to eating turkey, homemade bread, cranberry fruit & nut salad, sausage, apple & walnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes, a green bean & walnut salad and the pies (1 pumpkin & 1 pecan).  

Aaaaahhhh....  My favorite meal of the year!  

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with people you love and many, many things to be thankful for!  And I hope you are looking forward to the next month of holiday craziness!  ;)

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Advent of Sewing

This is where it all begins.
Everything starts here, today.
~ David Nicholls

Last weekend, I prepared the body of the Advent Calendar.  This weekend, I ironed and my friend Mariana sewed, and together we finished it!  :)

Mariana is just 10 years old, but already she is showing both interest and skill in sewing.  

I figured she could probably do the outer edges of the pockets (and she did - easily!) - but I was a bit worried about the inner seams that were needed to split the larger piece of fabric into separate pockets...  

I pinned them back for her, and...  

... she did an amazing job!  

I was so impressed with how patient and careful she was!  :)

I think she's happy with her Advent Calendar!  

And I know that I am very happy with the thought that this may be the beginning of her love of sewing!  :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Rainbow Saga Continues...

There is nothing an author today has to guard himself
more carefully against than the Saga Habit.
The least slackening of vigilance and
the thing has gripped him.
~ P. G. Wodehouse

I started weaving the first of four, seven inch wide, fabric bands - which I will eventually stitch together to cover a cushion for my weaving bench.  

As I explained before (here), I'm using this project to try a new technique - horizontal stripes:  

I have mixed feelings about this project - it has brought more grief into my life in one short week than any weaving project should be able to do...

But, I think we can all agree that the colors are very bright!  ;)

Oliver has been overseeing my weaving progress...

...while holding down a pile of dangerous papers that could pose a threat to his household at any moment, should he not remain vigilant!  

Thank goodness for Oliver!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Special: Gratuitous Kitten VIDEO!!

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.  
~ Leonardo da Vinci

A slow motion video of Sophie making a jump.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sandwiching in Some Sewing

I gave him my best cryptic smile.  
He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, 
and promise me the world.  
I must be getting rusty.
~ Ilona Andrews

I took a break from my weaving to pop into the sewing room for a quick project - a fabric advent calendar.  :)

I used a fabric panel that I picked up in Wales a couple of years ago, when we were hiking along the coast:  

The fabric panel included this beautiful, train-themed background...

...and a set of pockets to be cut out and stitched to the background.  

The fabric panel is thin, so I decided to make a quilt-sandwich, with batting in the middle.  I raided my stash and found this pink flannel with kittens wearing Santa Claus hats for the back:  

"What?," you're thinking, "that doesn't match at all with the train theme!"  

Not to worry.  

It turns out that my quilt-sandwich-making skills are a little rusty and that cute pink flannel...

... is now snugly sandwiched between the advent calendar and the batting!  ;)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

The Internet, aka the electronic cat database...
~ John Oliver includes this photo of Popeye, our snooze-y baby.   

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Rainbow

Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
~ Maya Angelou

Well, I finally finished my little black band...

... and was able to start on my rainbow fabric!  

Remember that I am trying to get alternating purple and yellow bands and so I have to reorganize the large section on the right...

...such that all of the purple yarn goes over the back cross stick and all of the yellow yarn goes over the front cross stick - like this:  

And here is one half of this warp rearranged appropriately:  

Then I measured and prepared the second half of the warp and had to combine the two halves on my backstrap loom:  

Here it is all combined:  

Now all I have to do is add the string heddles, and I can begin weaving!  

Weaving my rainbow...  :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Pictures

The Most Interesting Cat in The World.

"I don't always sleep on the hoods of trucks.
But when I do, I prefer Toyota."  


"Stay lazy, my friends."  

Credit to my husband for the captions.