Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Green is the new blue

At least in my world it is. Blue used to be my go-to color and, while I still love it, green has been appearing regularly in the things I make lately.

I just finished knitting this scarf for my daughter's friend. The pattern is called Baktus and I'm absolutely in love with it. First it uses one skein of yarn, so it's perfect for justifying the purchase of a single, hand-painted skein. Also, this pattern is ingenious in how it uses the yarn. You weigh your skein and, based on the weight, determine when you'll switch from increases to decreases. That means no leftover little bits to nag at you and make you feel like you should come up with something useful to do with 5 3/4 yards of extra yarn. Add to that the pattern is simple enough to be meditative. How much more ideal can a knitting pattern be? I'd be making a second one for myself right this minute if it wasn't for the fact that I'm half a sleeve away from finishing a sweater I promised my eldest would be done before the end of 2009 (note calendar date).
I'm just saying, expect more Baktuses(Bakti?)in my future, maybe even adapting this shape to create a sewn version. Who knows?

A year ago I don't think I would have made this dress in green, but I must be growing up.
I have been thinking about making this dress for way too long. It's not that the pattern is especially complicated, but I guess I just needed the right green fabric. I bought this yardage from Bolt 44, one of my favorite online fabric retailers and the pattern is Simplicity 2846. This is an easy, straightforward pattern and I'm especially fond of the way the sleeves are added to the body. I think it's a standard raglan-like construction, but there's something so logical about it that the process made me smile. The only modification I made was sewing down the darts along the collar. They just seemed to poof out a bit much for me. Being that this is Texas, I made my version in cotton, but I could see this working well in wool should you live in a geographic region where people don't scamper and hide whenever the mercury falls below 50 degrees.
Part of the joy of sewing this dress had to do with a new, green addition to my studio.

After almost 20 years of sewing I have a "real" sewing table. By real I mean not some leftover table that was destined for Goodwill or rejected by one of my kids, but a genuine meant-only-for-sewing table. This table includes a feature to set the sewing machine below the table surface so the entire table functions as an extended machine bed. The insert that matches my machine brand and model is on order so for the next few weeks I'll be using it much like I did my previous table, but my table and I are very happy together.

And ready for more green crafting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Year End Favorites:: Quilts

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the published lists of favorites from the past year. Whether it's favorite books, music, or people or events, I love reading through these lists and comparing them with my internal rankings of stuff.
Even though it came out a couple weeks ago, I still have this year's New York Times Book Review list of top 100 books by my bedside. I'm always curious to see what they selected as the best books of the year, though, truth be told, I really only pay attention to the fiction 50 because I'm not much of a non-fiction reader. Also, I should add that if one of my favorite books is missing from the list I find myself getting pretty irate at the powers-that-be at the NY Times. I'm not usually satisfied with consulting a single list though. I peruse the NPR books list as well. It's particularly fabulous because it divides the fiction favorites into additional sub-categories like mystery and youth fiction. That allows me more opportunities to either wonder whether I'm in agreement with the choices or, if I haven't read the book, contemplate adding that title to my to-read list.
That's essentially what's so great about the end of one year and the anticipation of another, so many possibilities and opportunities. Realistically, this demarcation we call New Year is pretty arbitrary, but I'm so glad it's there because I enjoy cataloging the previous year into what's thrilled and inspired me as well as planning for the coming year.
This year I've decided that the fun should not be limited to large media outlets. I want in on the favorites list making. I've decided to make several lists pertaining to stuff I'm interested in. I'm starting with quilts and, because I've never done this before, I granted myself a special dispensation and allowed myself to choose ten favorites from more than just 2009. My selections came from my many "faves" on flickr, all 67 pages of them. I've put them together in one online gallery, titled, "Love these Quilts!".
Taking on this task did make me empathize with the mass media "selectors". I had so many amazing quilts in my favorites that I did find my head spinning a bit. The spinning was only exacerbated when I thought about all the quilts on flickr I probably had never or will never see. After some deep breaths though I persevered and assembled my wee little gallery. I hope you enjoy it, but if you don't agree with my choices, try not to get too mad at me.

Also, if you haven't entered the Lark Books quilt contest, it's not too late. The holidays are a perfect time to sneak away from the family for a bit of self-indulgent, but let's face it, sanity-preserving, crafting. The deadline is January 5, 2010. Go ahead and follow the link in the right-hand sidebar to find out everything you need to know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Slow Going

You know what they say about best laid plans. Especially mine.
Anyway, I had planned to have most of my book projects added to my store, but there must be some big holiday coming up because I've been seeing a lot of a activity in my wee little shop and that's been keeping me busy.
So, rather than a big deluge, I've added a few things everyday.
Yesterday I uploaded images of a some new fabric offerings.

What does this have to do with the projects in my book? Nothing, but I get distracted easily.

I've apparently regained my focus because today's additions do relate to my book.

Both of these quilts are minis made out of hand dyed and patterned stripes.

Really, the biggest difference in patterning the fabrics for these quilts is that I used a small calligraphy brush for one and a wide, house painting brush for the other.

There are a lot of design possibilities though in the humble line. I'm convinced that the simplest shapes offer the most inspiration. Oftentimes the more I try to impress myself and others with complex designs, the more I'm reminded that keeping it simple is really the best way to go. The funny thing about using a simple shape or motif is that it's open to so much manipulation that it can become complex. Maybe those two ideas are actually intertwined to some degree rather than being polar opposites?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Studio Sale

I'm finally done with the largest part of the project I've been working on for the past few months. I'll be posting about that later, but I'll just say that I'm incredibly proud of the work I did for this project and super excited to show it off.
Now that I've got a few minutes, I've stepped back and viewed the state of my studio and it ain't pretty. When I was knee deep in work, I kept saying that, once I was done, I'd straighten things up. Well, I guess I have to stand by my statement.
As part of that, I'm putting together an online studio sale. I'm planning on selling all the quilts, pillows, coasters, etc. that I've made this past year or so for various books and magazines, including most of the projects I made for my book. I"ll be uploading things to my store a little at a time. I originally had grand plans of adding everything in one sitting, but it's too big a project for that. I've already added a few items, many of which I've featured here, but there are a couple you may not have seen in this space.
Like this:

Or this:

They're both mini pillows, with one measuring about 10"x 12" and the other being 12" square.

I'm pretty sure all the other items have been mentioned here before, with the exception of most of the book projects. Since it's going to take me a couple days to add all these items, I'll be back tomorrow with images and information about those.