Getting Back in the Swing of Things

So, my amazing bestie got me a FABULOUS gift for Xmas–a new embroidery machine!  My old Brother was out of commission since I took it into the shop and it was never returned.54737_10151190433806859_1470794036_o Long story short I gave them my machine to fix and they never called, and when I finally called to say, hey, where’s my machine, they told me I took too long to call them and it was gone.

And then they got yelped.

Anywho, it’s taken me a couple months to get used to this machine, the Brother PE770.  It has a larger 5×7 field so I can embroider bigger stuff, and it’s got a much easier file transfer system since it used a USB stick.  I just haul my laptop down to my studio and I can work with Embird or just my massive amount of embroidery files, put it on the USB and stick it in the machine.  The is a DEFINITE perk as I no longer have to work with the clumsy cards.

44736_10151221680066859_733380896_n I’ve stitched out some stockings, and a few custom order inhaler pouches and some teacher gifts for the end of the year.  And a few baby onesies.  In fact it was the baby onesies that made me KEENLY aware of the tension465926_10151479711006859_1351292858_o issues, and changed the way I approached all embroidery projects.  I SWORE my machine was broken.  Until I tested a burp that stitched out perfect and I knew it was user error and not the machine.IMG_20130408_101814

Because that’s the thing.  This machine is FUSSY.  FU. SSY.  It’s taken me quite a while to get used to this machine, and I’m still figuring out its perks.

The main issue is tension.  My old 4×4 machine was just a workhorse and I could just plop anything in the hoop and away it worked.  But this one… I gotta test, I gotta adjust, and then I gotta test again.  I finally just had to change my mindset and realize that every new project is a new tension setting, and that it may not work.  I started keeping a notebook on my computer with notes for each project so that I can remember what worked and what didn’t.

20130606_110410 But I am happy to say that everything seems to be working well AT THE MOMENT.  I had to test an adorable design from Urban Threads because a client wanted it on a tote bag.    I will say, the benefit of testing is that, if it works, you have something with a cute design on it!  (meet my new knitting bag!)

20130630_121756 Today I stitched it out without a hitch.  The bag is a heavy canvas bag purchased from Jones T-Shirts and I used a simple craft felt for the otters, with Metro embroidery thread.  The wording on here was a custom order, with a back story here.  Turns out the recipient LOVED it, which makes me happy as well.

While the past couple of designs have been successful, I will admit using the machine still makes me jumpy. I keep waiting for SOMETHING to happen.  Which, if you think about it, is a little silly.  I mean, if it chews something up, I just start over again, right?  See?  It’s about changing the mindset.  And possibly the bobbins.  No really.  I just ordered some prewound ones from Amazon which supposedly END ALL THE PROBLEMS.  But I ain’t holdin my breath.

I am determined, however to embrace my new crafting motto: 577685_10151473874121859_178196059_n

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Waste Not…

Ages ago, I got into quilting.  What actually happened is that I got kicked out of school because of eejitry and ignorance and was forced to take a year off.  In that time I was working and whatnot, but I had some more time on my hands than usual, not to mention some bone-crushing depression, so I picked up a new hobby.  I had the brains to bring my Sewing machine up to Humboldt with me, so I had machine, material and mad skills.  Ok, maybe not the skills, but that’s when I started.

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Quilt Numero Uno.

I made a sampler quilt to try some skills, and a Little Red Schoolhouse quilt.  Both using scraps.  All scraps–since I didn’t really have any funds to buy more material at the time.  and I made it work. And I quilted them both both by hand, because I knew no other way.  Long, LONG hours quilting and contemplating and realizing the direction I need my life to move toward. A Lot of love and energy went into those quilts, and I loved them.  I loved them hard.

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these schoolhouses ROCKED! oh, i miss you puffy quilt!

Oddly enough, I don’t have either of them anymore.  I have NO IDEA what happened to that first one, and the second one got left at the hospital where I delivered Benji.  Losing that second one was a heartbreak, but I know some family somewhere is benefiting, so I don’t mind.

IMG_20120306_101631 Anywhoozles, I started piecing quilt tops again a few years ago, honing the skills, learning a few new things, and using up those scraps.  Because here’s the thing–I LOVE using up the scraps.

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these worried me…

now, some of those most stunning quilts I have seen have been made with particular color schemes and bundles and amazing stuff.  And I’ve even purchased material to perhaps match or contrast a particularly large set of scraps I might have.  But the quilt top I just finished?  ALL SCRAPS.

There is something of the thrifty pioneer in me, I suppose.  I have a quilt my great grandmother made–also scrappy, because that’s how one made quilts back then.  and it is well loved.  I just love the idea that we (quilters) can take all these pickety bits and make something that will warm someone on a cold night.  And comfort them.  With very little waste.  It SINGS to my frugal soul.

I followed along with a Debbie Mumm Block of the month quilt because, while I am not a Mumm material fan, I really liked the blocks and look of this quilt.  And as I had a rather extravagant amount of blue and green scraps, I thought it would be a perfect choice.

And oddly enough, it really was.  The thing about BOMs (block of the month) is that when you do it scrappy, they don’t always work.  And I was pretty unsure of this one.  the small border blocks really weren’t reading well in my eye, and I thought, this is just going to be a muddy mess of color.

IMG_4696but it turned out that parts of it really popped.  and it has the folky feel that I like, without the “country” look that I don’t.  It reminds me of Northern CA, where I learned to quilt, with the tree and salmon blocks.  And I may hand quilt it just because it reminds me of those two quilts that I learned on–both piecing and quilting.

It’s very soothing to have a finished quilt top ready to quilt.  I’m looking forward to snuggling under this next winter…

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Practice makes Practical

So, I knit.  This is hardly a newsflash.  I’ve crocheted since I was a pre-teen, and I taught myself to knit maybe 10 years ago?  Well, I watched some You-Tube videos and figured out the rest

Anyway, I consider myself still pretty unskilled, knitting-wise.  I mean, I can make a hat like a mofo, and circular knitting is my BITCH, but some stuff still intimidates me.  My lace always looks like ass because I lose count, I’ve never even tried fair-aisle or any real color carrying other than rows, and cabling?  *shudder*

But this is why the Lord invented dishcloths.

I used to think knitting intricate dishcloths was the biggest, stupidest waste of wastefulness.  And then I remembered my own crafty family.

I come from a long line of crafty women.  And something my grandmother and mother taught me by example was the creation of the “practice” item.  Whether trying a new stitch, figuring out a sewing technique, or learning anything new, it’s always great to practice.  In fact, that is how proficiency is garnered.

When I was teaching, I noticed a great fear of practicing–my students always wanted to get it right  the first time.  And while sometimes that CAN happen, it usually doesn’t.  And there’s nothing wrong with practicing anything.  Hell, even wedding dress makers make a MUSLIN before they start sewing on the good stuff.  You feel me?  practice is good.  Dancers don’t hit the stage right after reading a choreography.  Singers rarely get on a mike without singing the song a few times before.  And crafters don’t get GOOD without making a few items that might look…well…like it was for practice.

Luckily, the knit dishcloth is perfect.  You get to practice a stitch and learn a few skills, and in the end you have a practical tool for your kitchen.  Because, honestly, who’s gonna look at your dishcloth?  Really?

Even if they look this good:

I was practicing my cabling there.  As a continental knitter, my purls are never at the same tension as my knits, and I always end up with a gap after my cable twists.  The only way to improve that?  PRACTICE.

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Over The Shoulder Penguin Holder?

So, I’m a gal with natural gifts…endowed with certain ATTRIBUTES, if you will.  I come from German peasant stock, and I can fill out a Dirndl with the best of them (and heft a pint or two, I might add

And childbirth did not…DIMINISH these attributes.  QUITE THE OPPOSITE.

(well, that and the weight gain, but, as Forrest says, “That’s all I have to say about THAT”)

Anywhatsers, finding a bra that legitimately FIT has never really happened for me.  Oh, there was a time pre-childbirth when I was able to find a good fitting bra from a very pink store filled with skinny bitches, because it turned out my size was actually a popular implant size, and living in LA, they always had my size.

But that’s when I was a DD.

*ahem*

Anyway, I haven’t had a good fitting bra for over 6 years now, so I finally put my SKEELS to work.  I had read an article in Threads about bra making, did some lookin around and decided to make one for myself.

I chose the Bravo Bella pattern #2, which included my supposed size. There are A LOT of cute bra patterns out there, but being big-bosomed still has its fashion (and engineering) limitations.

Anyway, I made the first incarnation of this bra with a kit I purchased from the website and based on their measurements.  It was white and plain and still really didn’t fit.

See, even as heavy as I am, my torso is narrow.  So even though my measurements claimed I should be a 42, really, I’m a 38 (band size)

Cup size, you ask?  Big enough to smuggle a penguin, apparently.

After the first one didn’t really fit, I contacted the owner of Bravo Bella–and she emailed me back answering all my questions and then some.  VERY helpful for a first time bra maker, but long time seamstress.

So, I copied a new pattern, based on our discussion (#2 is a multi-sized pattern) and also made a few minor adjustments. and Voila!

No Opus, this isn’t a cozy hiding place for you and your friend…

Yes, yes, you’re right.  When I fold it up, it DOES make a cozy seat.  but that was not it’s intent I’m afraid…

Anyway, this thing fits like a dream.  I feel all Joanie from Mad Men in this thing, and now feel confident of my true size (not the stupid chart size I’m always looped into) and now have grand plans to make a bikini top among other creations.  *starts digging through my stash*

Wait–Opus!  Get that off your head.  This is NOT a frat party!

If you are a full figured gal with some sewing skeels, I cannot endorse the pattern enough.  Having a good fitting bra is a game changer, folks.

and if it’s big enough, apparently it makes a good swing as well…

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Too Damn Hot

First–it’s been a while.  Sorry ’bout ‘dat.  I was all gung ho, woo hoo, let’s CRAFT muthafuckas, and then…nuthin.  Not only have I been in a slump here, I’ve been in a slump studio-wise as well.  I’ve gotten a few things done here and there, but frankly, as Cole Porter phrased…

And while my studio is generally 10 degrees cooler than the outside temp, that makes it 90 instead of 100.  Difficult to create in melty heat like that. I did create a thing or two when I had a chance.  Along with the usual quilting culprits, which I will post later, I made this pretty little box:

That pretty red/pink glass in there is the crushed glass from our wedding.  You know–when a Jewish couple gets married, and the guy stomps on it in an old superstitious rite, but still awesomely traditional, and everyone shouts “Mazel Tov!” and then he kisses her?  THAT glass. (although for clarification, the only Jew under that huppah was me.  Oh, and the officiant.  So it wasn’t a Jewish wedding, per se, but it was Jew-”ISH”) I also like to think of it as a symbol: what we’ve done–gettin hitched and all–cannot be “undone.”  That glass cannot be put back together.

The hearth is the center of the home, and the perfect place for our wedding memorabilia.

I’ve been sitting on this for 6 years now, wanting to do SOMETHING cute.  But during this heat wave,  I’ve also been transforming the fireplace/mantel area with some candlescaping and putting our wedding stuff over here, I thought NOW is the time.  It is certainly a work in progress, but it’s nice to center everything over here.  And when I actually light the candles at night, it’s very pretty.

when the candles are lit. This part is still a work in progress, but it’s still purty!

I got a cheapy shadowbox from Michael’s, painted and decoupaged–although I MUST learn to paint first and THEN decoupage. I get so excited about a project, I don’t always think it through.  In a sense, I scrapped the back panel with a picture from the wedding, an insert from our invitation, and some pretty stuff, with a layer of mod podge over it to protect, added the shattered glass and closed it up.

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P52 week 21: Favorites

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

You don’t have to tell me.  I know.  It’s so bad for you.  Fats, dyes, fakey-fake faker stuff.  I. KNOW.

But it is so. damn. good.

I don’t eat it anymore–except for the occasional spoonful when i make it for the squirt.  Because I am a grown-up with no sort of death wish.  Still.  SO. GOOD.

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P52 week 20: Mothers

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.comAs I am the only mother in this house, and had no desire to take a picture of myself, i had to get creative this week.  I was stumped until this morning, when i remembered Babs.  She is this HUGE spider next to our second floor door that is the second generation of spider in that spot.  My husband is more an expert on Babs and her family, as that light is the doorway to his man-cave, but I keep an eye on her from time to time.

I should state now that i have a healthy respect for spiders.  And since our house seems to be the Club Med destination for spiders, they’ve kinda forced my hand here.  They keep the flying bug population down, and me and my paper thin skin and delicious blood appreciate that.  As long as they stay out of my bedroom, they are allowed to live.

I took this picture AGES ago–this is how she hangs out at night:

but this one i took this morning.  She was not ready for her close-up, but I thought the details on her body were still pretty nifty…

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