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Archive for the ‘Quilting’ Category

First, let me wish you all a much belated Happy New Year. Yeah, I know I’m over a month late, but the wishes are still genuine. Hope your 2008 got off to a grand start and has continued on whatever path you’ve set for it. Mine started in an all too familiar and unwelcome way. For the third year in a row, I started the new year off by getting sick. I had a nasty head cold that hung around for nearly two weeks and made me miserable and cranky. Needless to say, this is not a tradition that I wish to continue. The good news is that I’m over it and have spent the last couple of weeks making up for lost crafting time.

Now, where should I start… Oh, I know! How about a look at my new sewing machine? I was in Target one day and came across several sewing machines that were marked down for clearance. I’d been wanting an electronic machine for some time, and they had this one marked down 50% from $300.00 to $150.00. It had most of the features that made me want an electronic machine to start with: needle up/down button, multiple needle positions, mirror image function, one-step buttonholes, and 400 stitch patterns including 3 styles of lettering. I had heard the Shark/Euro-Pro name before, but had no clue about it’s reputation, so I decided to wait until I’d done some investigating. I spent the next few days thinking about it and looking up reviews on-line. As expected, the reviews were mixed and didn’t really help all that much in my decision. On the fourth day, I made up my mind to go back to the store and if the machine was still there, I would buy it. I checked with customer service on Target’s return policy on clearance items without the original packaging (they told me they don’t keep the packaging on demo items) and was reassured that I had 90 days to return the machine if I wasn’t satisfied. That was enough to squash any lingering doubts, so I bought the machine and brought her home.

Shark Euro-Pro 9110 electronic sewing machine   Knitting project bags    

I just have to say that this is one of the most satisfying purchases I’ve ever made. The machine runs great and I’ve already put some of the above mentioned features to good use. I also love the fact that I don’t even have to use the foot pedal if I don’t want to, because it has a start/stop button. It also has a variable speed slide that lets me go as fast or as slow as I prefer and the ability to program multiple stitch patterns into memory. I’ve made a couple of fabric bags for small knitting projects from the instructions found here, as well as satisfied an itch to do some patchwork.

Russet 'Album' quilt block   Russt 'Chrun Dash' quilt block

These two blocks were made from some fat quarters I picked up last time I was at JoAnn’s. My ability to choose coordinating/complementary colors is marginal at best (and that’s being VERY generous), so I usually agonize and stress over it to the point that most of the time I walk out of the store without buying anything at all. This last time, I made up my mind that I was not even going to think about it; I was just going to grab four different prints that I really liked in a similar color family and take them home with me. So that’s what I did, and boy am I pleased with how they turned out! I couldn’t have done a better job of choosing a mix of light, medium and dark fabrics, not to mention the color harmony, if I’d spent hours browsing the fabric aisles. The piecing is not perfect and the photography is horrible as usual (the ‘Album’ block on top is much truer to the real colors), but I’m proud as punch anyway. I have to go back to JoAnn’s and pick up another fat quarter of each of these three fabrics to make two more matching blocks. I plan on setting them into an alternating four-block wall quilt using the fourth fabric I grabbed as sashing strips. I’ll post of photo of the mini-quilt as soon as I finish it.

7 inch garter stitch blanket squares   Seed stitch washcloth in Bernat Handicrafter cotton   Hidden In My Shoe socklets from SSK

Wool bed socks for hubby   Cables watchcap for DIL   Cables Tee

Lest you think that I’ve abandoned knitting for the sewing machine, here are some pictures of a few things I’ve been working on. After seeing some knitted blankets/throws/afghans on several blogs, I decided it would be a good way to use up some of the various skeins of acrylic yarn I have hanging around the house. I’m knitting 7” squares in garter stitch out of whatever worsted weight yarn strikes my fancy, which I will then attempt to arrange into a pleasing color pattern. There’s no rush to this stash busting project and it will probably not be completed for several months. I’m also working on some cotton washcloths using a beautiful variegated brown shade of Bernat’s Handicrafter Cotton. The color makes me think of both chocolate and coffee; I think they would make wonderful gifts when paired with chocolate and/or coffee scented handmade soaps. Very manly gifts for the gentlemen on my gift list next Christmas.

The brown ‘socklets’ are the Dec./Jan. pattern from the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo! group. The pattern is called Hidden In My Shoe and they were knit from some vintage Columbia-Minerva Featherweight 100% wool. They would have worked up super quick had not the aforementioned head cold sidetracked me. As is was, I finished the first sock in less than 2 days and completed the second sock a week later. This is the first time I have ever knit socks toe-up and I had a little trouble grasping the instructions (some of it I’m sure was due to being ill), but I just trusted that the pattern designer knew what she was doing and I came out the other side with these cute little socks! This pattern is a definite keeper for those quick last minute gifts. The gray sock is #1 of a pair of bed socks for my hubby; he wore out the last pair I made him. These are made from some wool I recycled from a thrift store sweater and worked up very quickly on size 4 DPNs, which is a good thing seeing we only have a few more weeks of cold weather this season. Finally, the little cable project is a hat for my daughter-in-law Kim. I made one of my sons a cabled hat for Christmas 2006; she really liked it and let me know that she would love one like it. I’m just now getting around to making her one. Oh well, better late than never.

The final picture is a mid-assembly photo of a project that I began in 2004! I used to be a member of the now-defunct Ample Knitters list and this Cabled Tee was their final knitalong project. I finished knitting the pieces in a couple of months, but was so inexperienced in assembling knitted garments that I succumbed to my very bad habit of procrastination and put it in a drawer where I promptly forgot about it. I’ve thought about it over the last few years, but not enough to make me pull it out. Last week I decided that it had languished long enough. After several less than satisfactory attempts to sew in the sleeve, I finally managed to complete the job with a barely passable seam. The garment was knit from a medium weight cotton/acrylic blend yarn and is very heavy, i.e. bulky seams. It’s also very baggy as I have lost some weight since it was originally knit. I’m hoping that a nice warm wash and a turn in the dryer will help to shape it up. If not, I’ll chalk it up to experience and donate it to a local charity.

There’s lots of other stuff going on in my life that has kept me from blogging, but I am going to try to make time to update at least weekly from now on. I can’t always promise you that there will be something new on the needles or an exciting sewing/quilting project to share, but I hope you will continue to stop by and see what I’ve been up to. There’s just no telling what might capture my imagination next. Till next time, God bless you and yours.

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