How to be multi-craftual

So I finished another embroidery:
Oh hai cross stitch
Pattern: Mr X-Stitch (not currently up in his shop, but I’m sure you could message him if you want it!)

Fabric: 28 count laguna in white

Thread: Blue silk (I’ve lost the card, but I got it at the local needlepoint shop.)  

Technic R2-D2 is a fan!

The internet may be over the lolcats, but I am not yet ready to let them go, thus these lions.   This piece is my first foray into blackwork, a kind of embroidery that involves stitching in a single color (outlines only) on an evenweave fabric.  Traditionally blackwork uses double running stitch, but I’m lazy so I just used back stitch over the entire piece.  In traditional blackwork you plan your path and fill in every other stitch one way before returning the other direction and finishing.

I framed it in a plain hoop using this method, which avoids using any glue (I try to never use glue or tape on my projects!)  I used a machine basting stitch, but a hand stitch would have worked just as well.

Completing this piece (my second in a month) made me consider the fact that while I love needlework I rarely do it.  Same with knitting and crochet (these days at least!)  I think that many of us in the crafting community like to identify with one craft to the exclusion of all others .  I know that I myself am a bit obsessive, and I find it very hard to divide my time.

I have several more needlework projects planned this year – we will see if I manage to get to them!

Finished stitching: Garden of Eerie (and a coat update!)

Design: Garden of Eerie by Plum Street Samplers

Fabric: 32 ct Belfast linen in natural

Threads: DMC (conversions were provided with the pattern.)

Just in time for Halloween!  I loved this sampler because it looks like a traditional Adam and Eve sampler until you get up close.  I’m going to frame it, and then leave it up for the whole year (I have a themed collection of monsters/skeletons on one wall.)

It’s easy to stitch, as it has no fractional stitches at all and just a tiny bit of backstitching at the end.  I left off the leaves on the trees because it would have taken ages – and besides, I like the way it looks with the bare trees better.

I’m very proud of the back:

 

It’s much neater than my backs used to be!

I stitched this while watching the first season of the Vampire Diaries on Netflix (I am vaguely ashamed of this, but whatever… I’m out of shows to watch, and I like this one!)  My right hand was fine with the stitching, but my left thumb is a little sore from holding the hoop – I think if I want to do more embroidery (and I do!) then I need to get a lap stand so I don’t have to hold it up.

I’ve been hibernating and working on my coat all weekend.  I’m caught up with the sew-a-long.  I made bound buttonholes for the first time, and they aren’t perfect but I’m pretty proud!

 

The collar is interfaced.  I bought actual nice interfacing and I am truly shocked at how much nicer it is!  I generally use sew-ins on everything because all I can buy locally is pellon, and I think it’s awful.  This stuff (bought from fashion sewing supply) is amazing!  I think I will turn over a new leaf of using fusibles after this.

Bits and pieces

I’ve had a bit of a disappointing month (other than the new job, which I love!) which might account in part for my recent silence.  I had an audition for a grad school program, which went fine, but then I was interviewed by 7 people at once, which did not go as fine, leading to me being rejected (luckily I wasn’t attached to this school – I’ll be happier elsewhere I suspect!)  Then I had a job interview for a part time gig, which I thought went really well, but again – they did not go with me, and I didn’t even get to the audition bit this time.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m a terrible interview.  I’m rather introverted – at least with new people – and I really don’t do well with large committees interviewing me all at once (both had 7 people asking me questions).  Heck, I don’t even like to go to dinner with 7 people at once, because it’s overwhelming, much less have to answer questions about myself and pretend to be extroverted!

It’s frustrating because I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with being introverted, but I feel as though I’m at a disadvantage in any sort of quick judgement/first impression sort of situation.  I’m reading the book Quiet, (recommended by Robyn!) which I highly recommend to my fellow introverts – unlike other books I’ve read, it doesn’t try to make me feel like I have a disease that needs to be cured.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing to make myself feel better.  I’m got several projects nearly completed, so here are some previews!
Tie top curtains

My tie-top curtains are nearly complete – they’re just awaiting a hem and curtain tiebacks.  I love the little horses!
Jelly roll floor pillow - top

My jelly-roll floor pillow is almost done as well.  You can see the top above – it wasn’t super hard, but it was a little boring.  I sewed it to the backing and made piping.  Unfortunately, I ran out of stuffing and had to order more.  I’m using a shredded foam mix that I found on Amazon – it arrives vacuum packed and expands a ton, so I couldn’t predict the amount I needed.   The cats don’t seem to care that it’s unfinished:
Floor pillow or cat bed?

It took less than ten seconds for two cats to claim, and it’s not even fully stuffed yet.  I think it’s a hit!

I’m about to make living room curtains, and I’m also working on this:

Garden of Eerie

(not mine – I’m still waiting on my fabric!)  I haven’t done any needlework in ages.  I love this sampler -it’s called “The Garden of Eerie” and is designed by Plum Street Samplers.  Love the little Frankenstein Adam and Eve and the “This Work Rot by” text at the bottom.  This is technically Halloween themed, but I’ll keep it up all year – I have a little collection of macabre/day of the dead items in my dining room.

I also got an Ipad this week – one of my friends wasn’t using his, and was happy to pass it along.
Ipad

I was reluctant to get an Ipad – I didn’t see myself using it, but it turns out that it works for me.  First, since I work 2 places now, it’s nice to carry with me rather than a heavy laptop.  It’s also pretty amazing for sewing – I used it when working on the floor pillow, and it was so much easier to keep the instructions that way (and I didn’t have to print anything!)  I know, I’m behind on this, but I’m pretty excited about it.  I want to make a case:

e-reader sleeve

(pattern here: by SewCrafty Jess)  It’s for a kindle, but I can adjust the size.

That’s my update for the day.  I am starting to think about my fall wardrobe, but right now I can’t actually access my closet very easily to assess what I need.  Hopefully soon!

 

Multi-craftedness

I find myself lately with a lot of spare time.  This is mostly because of my job situation change – I’ve gone from working 1 full time and 1 part time job to working 1 full time job (that really has part time hours, and is in my house anyway, so I don’t have to travel.)  I also have 3 day weekends most of the time, the result of not teaching on Fridays (because in my experience, Friday lesson people cancel all the time.)  I love having all this free time – I am so much less stressed, and definitely a nicer person!  (Part of the niceness may be the result of not having to get up super early 1-2 days a week, resulting in a constant sort of jet lagged state, since I have never been able to adjust to early waking.)  What am I doing with my free time?  Well, I’m not knitting more, because honestly my hands would fall off, but I have been giving a great deal of thought to my other crafty interests.

I do have them, you know – it’s just I love knitting so much, and before I didn’t have time for any other crafts.  But now?  I finally get to try new things!  To that end, I have a sewing machine!

It’s a Viking/Husqvarna 219.  It’s in basically new condition, minus the manual (which is on the way) and the needle clamp screw (which I have ordered through my local sewing shop, and should be in soon.)   I actually bought this machine new, years and years ago when I lived in Indiana.  I think I sewed one thing with it, and then it sat in the original box for about 8 years until this week.  I no longer remember how to use it, so I will be taking the introductory class at my sewing shop (which is also the local viking dealer, glad we have one!)  In the meantime, I got this book awhile back, on recommendations from this blog.

SEW: Sewing Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp.  It’s excellent for a near beginner – it really takes you through every step, and the patterns are really cute!  All the “learn to sew” books I had before were so old fashioned that they drove me nuts, but this is excellent.  Of course, I can only practice measuring and cutting things right now, and familiarize myself with the machine and how to wind bobbins etc, but I can already tell it’s going to be good.

I’ve also been stalking my local bookstore (and Amazon) for inspirational books, and I love these:

My mom used to quilt, and I love patchwork.  I also love the adorable plushie patterns that I see lately, and would love to make some!  And of course I always need skirts (and have a hard time finding skirts that I like in stores!)

My other current crafty interest is a renewed interest in embroidery and cross stitch.  I have done both since my freshman year in college, but lately I haven’t done much.  I pulled some of my WIPs out of the closet this week, and was happy to find that I have several nearly completed pieces!

This is called “Deco Spirits,” and has 4 panels representing the 4 elements.  I’ve finished 3 panels and have started on the last one.  I’m hoping to try DIY framing on this, as my framer isn’t here anymore and I don’t trust many people with needlework.

Here are my other nearly completed pieces:

Click to make them bigger.  The first is by Mirabilia “The Petal fairy” and is done except for beading.  The 2nd is a mandala garden by Chatelaine from France.  It needs beading and some metallic stitching.  It’s also really enormous, I don’t know if you can tell – I can’t believe I put it away for 2 years with only this little bit to do!  The last is by Monsterbubbles.  The tree needs to be filled in, and I think there is some backstitching.  I may give this one to my Mom, I think she would like the quote.

Actually, one of the hard things about this type of craft has been trying to find non cutesy, religious,  or country patterns.  Even now, with all types of stitching showing a resurgance, designs that suit my style are rare.  I don’t do a lot of embroidery, and while I can find designs that are more modern there they are rather simple.  I’m thinking of trying my hand at some designing for myself.  I do like the european style samplers that seem popular now, and some of the reproduction antique ones.  Since I own a Victorian home, they seem to fit.

I also ordered this series and fabric:

I love Day of the Dead images, and there’s a cute little skeleton dog (and a picture of a skele-cat!)  These are new from Praire Moon designs.

Whew… that’s a lot of stuff.  What other crafts do you participate in (or dream about!)

FO: Lorelei

Pattern: Lorelei, from the book Yarnplay, 32″ size

Yarn: Cascade Pima Silk #1544 and Noro Silk Garden #205

Needles: US 6, size G crochet hook

Notes: I love this sweater!  I used the yarn I frogged from Sahara, and I’m so pleased that I can finally wear this lovely color.  I used the blue and green portions of two balls of Silk Garden – since I can’t really use it for big projects (it hurts my hands) I didn’t feel too guilty using up some stash yarn.  My only mod was to skip the round of slip stitch around the neck and hem, and just do single crochet instead.  I found it too difficult to crochet into the slipped stitches.  The hem and the armholes do have a slight tendency to roll, but it’s within tolerable limits.  The yarn makes a very comfortable and cool fabric.

I wore this sweater to work this afternoon and received compliments!  I think the garter lines being where they are is very flattering.

I’ve been swatching for several sweaters, trying to decide what I want to make next.  I’ve finally decided that I want to make the short sleeved lace cardigan in the current Vogue Knitting.  Unfortunately, I had no cotton yarn in the correct weight, so… I bought yarn.  Shocking I know.

That’s Debbie Bliss Stella, which is new for this Spring.  It’s a silk/rayon/cotton blend.  It feels very soft in the skein, I hope it knits well!

I also recently found this cute embroidery transfer set, and I’m going to make myself some towels!

I like the choir member cat on the bottom.

See? I do other crafts!

Well, make that I used to do other crafts, before knitting took over my life.  I am working on “Spring in my Garden”, although I will admit that it’s been a month since I worked on it.

I probably have 4 or 5 cross stitch WIPs, and lord only knows when I’ll finish them all.

This is Mouline Rogue, which is lovely but not even half finished.  What you see is easily two months work, and this is coming from someone who is a really fast sewer.  It’s stitched over one thread instead of two, so basically what would normally be 1 stitch becomes 4.

And finally… the crochet project that converted me to knitting… Ladylike lace gloves

I know it isn’t the best picture, but I think you can tell that it’s sort of floppy and loose, and the lace pattern isn’t clearly defined.  And I made the smallest size and got gague. (with Knitpicks palette in Bark… I have 7 balls of this stuff, any suggestions?)

Compare with the set of Voodoo armwarmers I just finished (hey, I have an obsession with fingerless gloves, ok?)

I love the way that the knitted fabric stretches to fit my (incredibly skinny) wrists.  I do still like crochet for some things, due to its sturdiness, but to be honest I’m now a total knitting convert.  I don’t have any crochet WIPs, and no plans for any.  Well, I might make an afghan… we have radiators for heat here, and I expect it to be chilly in the living room come december.   And knitting an afghan… no way.  Crocheting is so much faster.

I feel bad now, like I’m dissing my other hobbies.  I hope they understand – and I promise to eventually get around to finishing my lovely lady up there.  I have a goal of making the whole set (there is a pattern for every season) and hanging them all together.  And they aren’t too bad… I’ve finished designs that were much larger.

My crafting history

When I was a little girl I was in the Girl Scouts.  My Mom was our troop leader, and we were always crafting something or other – mostly weird things, like cats made of out bowling pins.  I can recall how badly I wanted to be good at making things – but somehow my crafts never turned out as well as anyone else’s.

In middle school I went through a period of wanting to be an artist, despite my total lack of drawing ability.  Since I was already a hopeless dweeb, drawing a portrait of the most popular girl in class wasn’t really helping my street cred.  Particularly when I made her resemble Hilary Clinton.  So I gave up, and comforted myself with the thought that I was at least good at music (and I was – I’m still a professional musician at age 27).

My freshman year in college I was saddled with a roommate from the tiniest town in Indiana, who liked to say things like “Wow, I’ve never seen a black person that wasn’t on TV before.”  So yeah, not my best friend, but she did teach me how to do counted cross stitch.  She was mostly into dorky samplers that included lots of duckies and teddy bears, so I wasn’t certain it was for me… but then I looked on the internet and found a world of gorgeous sophisticated designs.  I quickly surpassed my roommate in skill, much to my surprise.

A few years later, I was moving into a new apartment and I thought “I’d love to have some real paintings for the walls, but I can’t afford them.”  I love geometric type modern art.  And I thought “Well, why can’t I make some myself?”  And I did, and I was amazed at how easy it was.

Now I’ve made everything from chalkboards to the ubiquitous record bowls.  My home is like a giant testament to my crafting spirit.  I kept up the cross stitch too, learning lots of beading and specialty stitches.

I was getting bored with it though, so I decided to teach myself to crochet (I was scared of knitting due to an aborted attempt a few years ago.)  I bought “The Happy Hooker”, and made a scarf within days.  After that I was hooked.  I made around 5 projects from that book, and then started thinking about knitting again.  I bought Stitch n Bitch, and taught myself American style knitting, but I wasn’t happy with it.  I kept dropping stitches, and I felt like it took forever to do anything.  I nearly gave up, but then I tried Continental and it was like a light switch going off.  Now knitting is my primary hobby.  I’ve even started a stash (well, mostly knitpicks because I’m still scared of the price of yarn.)

So… yeah.  That’s my path to all my old lady hobbies.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There’s something so special about creating something yourself, that I have a very difficult time ever buying anything in a store.