Friday, 29 June 2007

Busy week of sewing

Every night this week (except last night) I have been working on this, for the Quilts Down Under Blankets of Love competition. I have spent so much time trying to line the seams up and they still don't match up so I'm not happy and am putting it down for a day or two as it isn't enjoyable to sew when it doesn't work out how I want things. I know it's not got a chance in the comp as it's only my second/third quilt ever (not counting the handpieced and hand quilted thing I made for Nanna's wall that she'd love to destroy and use as a practice piece!). The first quilt was Austy's star quilt (to puke all over and roll about on the floor on before he knew what arms and legs were for) which nearly didn't get finished for the same reasaons I'm hating my BOL attempt. Why is it, that no matter how much effort I put in, it still comes out mis-shapen and skewiff???? Austy's big boy quilt was started second but will be finished third as I wanted to learn some things from this BOL quilt first. What have I learned? Probably that three quilts will be all I will ever make. Okay no, seriously. I have learned that I am opening up the seam allowances and pressing when they should be pressed closed and to the lighter fabric so they nestle into each other. Also that I have done things the hard way (surprise, surprise) and should have started with all my pieces as squares not cut the triangles out individually until AFTER they were stitched together. And finally that when I do Austy's quilt, and am sewing the triangles to the squares, I should use the square's edge as the guide because the triangle edge is on the bias and all set to wreak havoc and be mean to me. Trust the squares!
Rant over. Not thinking about quilts until another day. I'm obviously not meant to be a quilter and in much envy of those that can pull it off!!!

On the knitting side, I haven't done much at all - I was locking myself in the study/sewing room all night battling with pins and triangles. BUT I did make a start on the ITE IV tote last night. I was going to work on it some more this afternoon but Austin had other ideas. Obviously we wore him out TOO much and he turned into the hyper monster and refused to go to sleep. Please come quickly grobag order! He is still in his 6-18m sized sleeping bags and unzipped his bag and proceeded to nudey up about three times this afternoon while I persisted with trying to get him to have a nap. I gave up after the nappy came off and declared it an "early to bed" night instead. The new bags will supposedly fix the problem as they have a snap stud flap over the zip tag so it's harder to open. Oooh I hope so. We were going to just get him to sleep under blankets instead of buying big bags but we tried a couple of times and decided that the middle of winter is not the time to wean him off bags and under covers. The last time I tried it, I went in every half hour and had to move him to get him covered. Then I ended up putting him in a bag when he woke up cold and coughing.
Off to do some CLOTHING cutting out (and maybe sewing) - I can actually do that so it might make me feel better.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Colourful days

I broke my self made promise of a scrap or sew night Friday last night as the knitting needles called me to finish off Austy's little cable earflap hat that I've been wanting to make for a long while. I bought the varigated wool for a soaker or pair of longies from the knittery, as I love the colours even more than the purpley one I bought from them at the same time. But as the purple longies are no good (they are either too thin or the merino is too fine to keep him dry) this ball has been sitting unloved for a while, waiting to be made into something gorgeous. And the hat is the perfect project for it. Super soft and low pilling wool, to be shown off on a daily basis and keep my boy's head snuggly and warm. The earflaps are terrific as Austy doesn't like beanies over his ears so pulls them off but with this the flaps arent tight around his ears as they would be on a beanie and the ties keep it on his precious head. It wasn't hard to make, and the varigated wool made it lots of fun to knit. I think the cables would show up better on a plain though so have bought some wool to try again for a hat for Elizabeth as I have another hat set (with scarf and mitts) on the needles for Austy to match his snowsuit for our trip in August to Falls Creek.

What I SHOULD have been doing last night was working on this:

Austy's big boy bed quilt. It's coming along very slowly - triangles scare me but I love them all the same. I have been putting it off in favour of curling up on the couch with my knitting, but I think next week I will warm up the study during dinner so that by the time the boy is in bed it's a very inviting place to be. I just love all the boyish prints and last night saw a biplane bookshelf being made on Better Homes and Gardens, so am all set to grab the magazine next time I'm out and tell Austy's Dad he has a project!! It would go perfectly with his "planes, trains and automobiles" quilt (with a few trucks as well...)

And on a sader but very special project - I have committed myself to the Blankets of Love project. It is a quilting competition for a new fandangle sewing machine but also a charity. I'm not in it for the machine (anyone would know I have no chance as a beginner quilter) but the charity side as it touched my heart and reminded me of how special my nephew Aden's quilt became when he died of SIDS at 7 months old. He was wrapped in it when we all said our goodbyes as we waited for the police to come and take him, and then was draped over his baby blue coffin at the funeral, and now is a special reminder of him. The blankets of love quilts will be given to hospitals around Australia to be given to parents who have to go home without a baby, having lost their babies during birth or soon after. A very worthy project indeed.

The magazine running it had a few rules, one of them being that you use the fat quarter they send you for free as the main colour on the front. I got green (see top fabric below) and felt very uninspired, but after a trip to the big uilt shop today I am in love with the colours I have and now need to think up the perfect (but simple) design. I have some ideas but have to play with them a bit to suit the fabrics I chose. Here is my draft plan (the colours are way off because I was limited to Excel colours) and fabrics.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Fabulously fun felting!

Here are Austy's uggies before swooshing around in the washing machine (yes on MY feet - that's Austy's boot in the background).

And here they are in true Austy size drying on a couple of towels on the kitchen table (stuffed with shopping bags to shape them).

So the fun can now begin on designing a tote for the International tote exchange...

This is my swatch - I heard that white doesn't felt so wanted to test it prior to knitting. I think it should be okay as I'm only doing thin stripes and it DOES felt, just not as much as the pink and green. Using the swatch I can now work out how many stitches to use as I measured it before and after felting so can estimate the shrinkage allowance. I told you that blogging would help me learn new techniques - now I can cable AND felt!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Scrap retreat!

I had the most relaxing weekend (although came home rather tired as my sleeping bag didn't keep me warm enough in minus 3 degree weather overnight!!), and while I missed my boys I scrapped away and got 20 pages done. I almost finished Austy's first year album, and began work on the wedding album that has been waiting in the wings a while. Be warned, my scrapping is flat as I don't like bumps denting my photoys, so they aren't the fanciest of pages, but the idea is to get the photos down and tell the story. Hmmm... I still have some journalling to do as I didn't have the pens until now, and prefer to do my journalling at home where it's quiet and I can think. Most of Austy's journalling is on the computer so I won't forget what he was doing at each stage, I just have to look at his blog or look at the notes I made at the time I took his monthly photo shoot to jog my memory. The wedding album, on tghe otherhand, might be difficult! Might have to browse the old wedding forum archives for stuff to write in there. We were married in 2004.
Here is the title page for the wedding album, and a photo of my ring cushion that took me some hours to make and embroider, with metallic thread for our names and wedding date and with tiny little beads for the hearts (Kylie might recognise the lavender beads as I bought a few packs too many for the wedding stuff and had a full packet left over to send her in our first EB knitterholics swap).

And a double page spread ...

And some of Austy's album - 6 months & 10 months

There, I did it.... was a bit scary as it's not the full on artsy ones you normally see but quick and easy "creative memories" albums (my own layouts though).

Now I'm off to do the trim on Austy's uggies and throw them in the machine to felt. Wish me luck! First time felting - EVER!!!!

Oh my! I almost forgot... How beautiful is our furry visitor? Lulu is staying with us for a few months. She's very cuddly and loves Austy to bits, but is in a bit of trouble as she dug up DH's nicely manicured lawn out the back. This pic was taken BEFORE the guilty dirt streaks appeared all over her face. I think she might be having a bath on the weekend! Can't help but to keep cuddling her though. She misses her boys (Jackson, Sam and Harry) who normally play with her lots more than we manage to, but I'm sure the time will fly and they will have a new house soon so she can move in with them where she belongs. In the meantime, I get to cuddle!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Snuggle Bubble!

Here he is, my little blue snuggle bubble in his brand new jacket. It looks adorable with the pants I made (the ones DH calls FUNKY PANTS) and kind of average with these daggy ones, but it was the end of a long day and the striped pants were in the wash (same fabric as the lining). Of course, I couldn't wait until a day when I could put them both on together, and had to post the snuggliness while it's still brand new. I can tell already he will get lots of wear out of this one. It's nice and long and with the fold up sleeves it should last a while, plus it's super soft and warm. Perfect for a chilly Adelaide winter.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Heads down, needles up!

Well that's what I wish I could say has been happening around here for the last week or so, but unfortunately that is not the case. Poor Austy. Lately, just as he gets over one illness, he comes down with the next. So instead of knitting, I have been sitting with a sad little toddler curled up on my lap, or tending to him hourly through the night. Finally the antibiotics got rid of his chest infection, and whilst his nose is still a bit runny, he's much, much happier! He also cut his two bottom 2y old molars yesterday and today which could have been part of the problem. So hopefully the knitting needles can come out and get to full utilisation soon! But hey, that's what I'm here for, right? To cuddle him when he's sick and play with him when he's not? He's just too cute, so resistance is useless anyway!

Talking about cute, the other day I was trying to cheer him up, so put his "Tigger Ick" on (that's Austy language for his Tigger movie soundtrack - Ick = music). He promptly reached out to me saying "Hand! Hand!", and took my hand and started dancing (imagine a toddler running as fast as he can on the spot and that's Austy dancing). He twirled and whirled and we danced in circles around the toys on the floor, then when the song finished he pulled my hand to his lips and gave it a sweet litttle kiss. Hows that for charming?! I can tell already, he will be a real ladies' man when he grows up.

Now back onto the knitting.. Austy's Zoe Mellor star jumper is FINISHED! Well the knitting part is anyway - I stil have to stitch up the side seams. I know it took me ages, but just as I'd finished a piece of it I'd start something new so it sat idle in the bottom of my knitting bag for quite a bit of the time it was on my side bar as "on the needles". I love it, even though the neck had to be done three times over (thanks to silly me attempting to do it when tired and snotty - thanks for the cold Austy) as I stitched up both shoulders first by accident, then tried to knit it in the round before realising that didn't work and had to pull it all undone, along with the shoulder join and start afresh! Pic to come when it's all stitched up and on my little model.

I'm glad the star jumper is off the needles now, as it means I can get stuck into more woolly knits - in particular my lamb's pride meets Jo Sharp raglan jumper. Now that's what I want running through my fingers on these cold nights! I was a bit over working with cotton, and the Lamb's Pride is just perfect for this weather. I am 3/4 the way through the front but only knitting a few rows here and there. I tend to do 1 full pattern repeat then put it down, using it to keep me occupied when I know I won't have time to fully get stuck into something. The repeats make for great start and finish points so I can't just get carried away and forget the housework. I tell myself one repeat, then do the washing, one repeat then clean up the kitchen etc. It's making it a slow knit, but at least the house is staying somewhat organised.

I also just finished this pair of longies for a newborn, about to be born in a few weeks. I think these should keep his legs nice and warm in the cold winter air. Made with my hand dyed organic merino that I showed you a few posts ago. They are so tiny and made me seriously clucky knitting them!

And last but not least, my first shot at felting. I am making Austy a pair of felted uggies, after running around the shops looking for a pair in size 6 to no avail. They only have baby ones (not real wool anyway) up to size 4 or 5 and then they have kids boots (to fit a 4yr old +). Austy is in between. So instead he gets blue ugg boots made with love by Mum.
They WERE going to be brown (roasted coffee lambs pride as shown). I even knitted the sole (twice... I read the pattern wrong the first time!) before realising that I only had half the wool I needed. I madly searched the internet for retailers in Australia, finding only the one I bought it from and they had all sold out, bar a ball or two in vanilla, no longer stocking the stuff! So the brown will be put aside for a teddy bear or something... Luckily my Bendigo Woollen Mills order arrived the day I started the boots and in it was a couple of balls I'd picked out for ITE4 and a third ball of dusty blue I chose to make more longies for Austy, that also suited the ugg boot pattern perfectly.
Now I KNOW I should have knitted a swatch and felted it first but I am impatient remember, and wanted to knit the boots straight away. So I am crossing my fingers that the big bold "HANDWASH only" written on the label means it felts up nicely. It will be a test run before I make the tote bag for the exchange (with the same wool but different colours). It is a BIG needle knit (I took half the night getting my head around the concept of using DPN's as big as my thumb) so they take about 1 night each. So I figure if it doesn't work, all I lose is the bargain ball cost and two nights of knitting, plus I learn a bit on the way. I love the way they are shaping up though and adore the colours so HOPE they work. I will not be leaving the machine alone while they felt, and luckily our machine will still work with the lid open (it's an industrial model) so I can keep a close eye on them! I ran out of wool last night on the second boot (mucked up my yards to metres calculation!) so have to wait on the next Bendigo order top finish them. Luckily it's just the second sole (they have a thick double sole) of the second boot that needs doing and a bit of the cuff that will be hidden by the novelty yarn so it won't matter if the colour is slightly different. Here they are unfelted (and one still on the needles). Big enough to fit ME!!!!

After ignoring my Nanna's ravings about Bendigo wool for years now, I kind of wish I'd listened to her earlier. Nowhere else can you get huge 200g balls of good quality wool so cheaply. I did have them send out a colour card once before, but since I didn't order anything straight away they cut me from their mailing list, so subsequently I couldn't be bothered with them. Thank goodness they finally got up with the times and opened a webstore. They will be making LOADS of sales now. I already have my next order planned out ready to place when my pay comes in. One hat, mittens and scarf set for the boy, coming up!
And for the sewers? I got busy on Friday night scrap or sew night and started on an outfit for Austy's little cousin Zachary who, amazingly is 1 yr old next weekend! Man, did that fly!!!! And I thought Austy's first year zoomed by at warp speed. Now I won't add the pic straight up, but instead here's a link, just in case my little sister is looking on (Katy - stay AWAY from the link... you know you can do it - it looks way better in real life than the picture shows anyway, so just WAIT!) I made the top from the Ottobre 01/2007 issue (I was very lucky to get a subscription for Mothers Day!) and the pants are a very simple Simplicity pattern, I have made about 5 times before (for 6 different toddlers). The print comes from Austy's quilt fabric stash - my favourite of all of them, that I ordered online from equilter. And that quilt? It's coming along block by block.

Man, that was a mammoth post. Note to self: post more OFTEN! Time to get some knitting or sewing done! More on my ITE4 design next week.