Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Here it is.......a completed sock! And you can actually tell that it's supposed to be a sock! This was a rough class but I would recommend that even beginning knitters give this a shot. I couldn't do it by following directions in a book, but having a teacher at my side, made it possible. We lost several students along the way, but it was just because they didn't break it up into smaller learning packages and they let it overwhelm them. Just look at my previous posts when I never thought I'd reach the end of this sock. Step by step, inch by inch, is the way to learn to knit socks. Of course, now I need to make this one a mate. I will need to start on it fairly soon before I forget how to do this. I did treat myself to some beautiful yarn today for my next pair, which I hope will give me the incentive to finish this one's mate. I truly am excited to have learned how to knit socks. There are many variations but I'll stick with this design, which is probably the simplest, and work my way up to other patterns. So.....the sock knitting saga ends and I'm really happy to complete what I thought was next to impossible!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

There was a demonstration at one of our local sewing shops yesterday showing a simple, folded fabric pine cone using a 2" Styrofoam egg for the base. After she gave the demonstration, I won a kit with the supplies to make one of my own. (I suspect everyone may have won a kit.) This is the kit. An egg and 2" fabric strips. The other supplies that you will need are small head straight pins. Plus, of course, a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat.

This is the kit unfolded. In addition to the fabric strips, there is a 2 1/2" square that will be used on the bottom of the pine cone.

Cut your strips into 2" segments. You will need 49 of these 2" x 2" squares, although you could cut more if you wanted to make your pine cone segments closer together. I thought the 49 pieces were spaced just about right.

Take one of your squares and fold it in half twice. Just finger press this and all of the other pieces. Unfold and center this square on the top of your egg...the narrow end of the egg. Pin in place. This is just your beginning reference and the pin will be removed later.

Now you will begin to make your pine cone "needles". Fold a square in half (wrong sides together) and finger press.

Then fold each corner to the center and finger press. This is a completed pine cone needle. Finger press.

Use the folds on the base square to place your first row of needles. They should just follow the fold lines of the base square. Pin the raw edge corners of your triangles to the egg. These pins will remain in the egg.

There will be four needles on each row. After you place the first four needles around the base square, you will begin adding row after row of needles by centering each row between the preceding row. I dropped each row down about 1/4" while centering it between the two needles in the row above it. Continue adding rows of needles.

I'm about half way down the egg and my Quality Control Supervisor was called in to check my work. She approved and I continued adding needles, row by row, until I had come to the end of my squares and near the bottom of the egg. You should have about 2" of the bottom of the egg exposed.

This is the 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" square that you cut at the beginning. Do not fold this one, but finger press all of the raw edges toward the center. Use about 1/4" fold. This square will cover the bottom of the egg and give the egg a finished look. In the demonstration, she put a sequin on each of the four pins to finish it off instead of leaving a plain pin head.

This is the finished egg. Oliver has relieved Gracie as as my Quality Control Supervisor, but seems to be taking another break. (It's really hard to find a cat that doesn't take a lot of breaks.) You could use this pine cone as an ornament or just put several of them in a bowl. Different fabrics for different seasons. It took less than an hour to make this so you could turn out several pine cones pretty quickly. This same technique could also be used to cover a Styrofoam cone and make a Christmas tree. Simple and easy.....why not make a few?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is a fun craft to try......melting records! You can use these as snack bowls and they can hold smaller items if you fill in the hole. You can buy a resin kit at most craft stores and use this to fill in the hole. I've used them for chips and candy, as is. They also make great gift baskets to hold your actual gift. I love looking for a specific record that I know my friend will like or you can look for the date that a record was produced or the movie hit the screen. Anything to make it meaningful to the recipient. Goodwill sells these for $.75, so your investment is small.
Just use your regular oven to melt these. They will begin to melt at around 250 degrees, but this can vary. Just watch the record. It only takes a few minutes to get soft. There are different ways to do this, but I like to melt mine centered over a large glass mixing bowl, open side up, and when it softens, push it into the bowl. Wear oven gloves or dish washing gloves. I like dish washing gloves because they are less bulky and give me better flexibility. The record will be hot (obviously) but not very hot. You only have a few seconds to work because the record will begin to cool and stiffen immediately after it's removed from the oven. The other way to form these is to slump them over an upside down glass bowl, then quickly remove them from the bowl, turn the bowl over, and push the record into the bowl. Although this may let you control the record a little better, I'm just too slow to get the record off and pushed into the bowl before it becomes too hard to shape. Another tip that helped me control the record was to place a large bolt in the center of the record to use as a handle. There is no easy way to grip and slide the softened record and the bolt gives me a way to move it towards the center if I haven't lined it up right. This won't make a lot of sense until you actually try to make one of these. I would start with a test record, not the one that you would like to use for your bowl or gift. As simple as these are to make, it's also easy to mess up and get your record stuck to itself. You can reheat and try again, but I haven't had much success with this. Making it work the first time around is the way to go. Have fun with these. Maybe you could put your Halloween candy in one of these! I forgot to add that if you are going to put food items in them that might be greasy or wet, spray the record bowl or just the label area with Krylon Clear, or similar. This will make your record label waterproof instead of soaking up the potato chip grease. ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

As the heel turns...............my new soap opera. Yes, I turned the heel! This was no easy feat (feet, hee-hee) for me and I'm really happy that the worst part of making the sock is over. I'm now knitting the foot part which is a simple knit stitch, round and round, round and round, for 7" to 8" or so. Mindless knitting......the kind that lets your fingers go on automatic pilot and you can actually watch TV and pay attention to the plot. No stitch counting. I'm hoping to have the foot part completed by next Tuesday, the last class, and then learn how to close the toe. I'm just thrilled to have made it this far, as it looked like I might not make it to the home stretch when the class started. I'll post a final picture next week of what I hope will be a recognizable sock!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My first Psalms block. This one is Psalm 16:7, which reads "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me".

I chose the darkest fabric to represent night, the red to represent my heart, and the gold to represent God.

This quilt will be made with fabric on hand except for the gold fabric, which will be the connecting fabric. Hopefully, I'll be able to use the gold fabric in each block if I can make it blend appropriately. I bought 5 yards of the gold fabric, which I hope will be enough. I may use it for borders or sashing as well, but I won't know until the blocks are finished and I plan the layout.

If you have an interest in this quilt series, "Quilting the Psalms", I also belong to two other quilting series that are Bible based. One is "Women of the Bible" (WOB) and the other is "The Names of Jesus". These are online Yahoo groups and are open to anyone. You will need to join each group with a short statement telling the leader why you wish to join. Then, on a weekly basis, you are given the week's lesson and pattern. Along the way, the participants post their blocks, their feelings while making the blocks, and how these studies have changed their lives, etc. It's a very rewarding study method that combines quilting with Bible study. There is no pressure to participate. In the WOB series, I've only made one block and we are on Week #35 out of 54 weeks. I just continue to read and print off the weekly lessons and will keep them for future use. You may join anytime and many women are on their second time through.

These links will have further information for you;




Monday, September 22, 2008

This project was found in the August 2008, Issue 93 of American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine. Page 52, to be exact. A simple purse made with two dish towels. When I first saw this pattern, I thought it looked like a cute little purse/tote and would be a quick and easy project. It was.These are my supplies......two dish towels and a pair of purse handles. This was another 1-hour project, from start to finish. My dish towels were not the size recommended in the pattern, but this doesn't really matter. Obviously, it changes the finished size, but that's OK. Wider or longer is not an issue. As I was looking at dish towels in the store, they were all different dimensions and I didn't find any that were the recommended size. BTW, this project was about $6.50 (plus thread that I already had). The dish towels were $1.50 each and the handles were half price at Jo-Ann's for $3.50.
This is the finished purse. My dish towel choice wasn't the best because the rose pattern on the towels is almost hidden. On the inside towel, the roses are crimped up in the handle and on the outside towel, the roses are on the bottom of the purse. Now that I have made one, I'll know what kind of pattern will show the best. I finished all of the raw edges on the inside with a simple zig zag stitch, just to keep the threads under control. This was not in the instructions, but it gives the purse a more finished look. Overall, I was pleased with the project and plan to make more. I think that this is more of a tote than a purse because the outside pockets are not that usable. They are loose and open so you wouldn't carry anything in them that was of much value. Good for tissues, comb and brush, water bottle, that type of thing. Things that wouldn't be sorely missed if they fell out of your purse. A decorative snap or button closure on each pocket section could solve this problem and even enhance the purse. Maybe later............

Saturday, September 20, 2008

(This is the "before" picture, which was added 12/26/2008)

Do you love a bargain? We all do, don't we? It makes our heart race and we just can't believe our luck. This past summer, a friend and I found this chair (and 6 more of the same) outside of one of our Meijer stores, sitting on the curb area. They were originally from the food court, but that has been gone for several years in our store, so I suspect these chairs made their way into a storage area or a break room. Anyway, we went inside to find out what the deal was and they sold them for $1.80 each! I took two of the chairs and he took the other five chairs. These are commercial strength chairs and they must weigh 25 pounds each. Heavy duty steel frames and fiberglass seats. Once you get yourself situated in them, you can't just scooch in or away from the table without standing up, picking them up, and moving them forward or backward. They were originally black and red (black frames with red seats), but I cleaned them up and spray painted them white and tan. I'll try and get a before picture, as my friend has left them in their original condition. The seats could be removed and made into upholstered cushions but that's a project for later down the road. I just wanted to get them into my kitchen and put to good use. They look just great in my kitchen and are probably the sturdiest items in the house! They will be here long after I'm gone......Even Oliver approves! (Truth be told......if he can get his picture taken, he'll approve of anything!) This does give you a little idea of the scale of this chair. As heavy as it is, it's on the small side, similar to an ice cream chair. Perfect for my small kitchen.

My sock now has a heel flap. I had hoped to get over to the knitting shop and get some one on one instructions so that I could continue knitting. It just didn't happen this week and they are closed on Sunday and Monday .....which brings me back to the regular Tuesday class. Hopefully, I'll be able to stop in following that class and keep on top of things. I really want to complete this sock!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Six of my girlfriends got together today to do some sewing/quilting/crafting. When I got to Kathy's doorstep, this sign was on the door....come on in!
We didn't get much sewing done as we got sidetracked with catching up on the latest news from each other and then we started planning a group project. We are going to make a quilt that will be donated for a charity auction. The blocks will be representing the Psalms and we will each make contributing blocks, as well as make blocks for our own personal quilt. There will be 12, 12" blocks, set on point, some will be applique, some will be pieced. I'll be making pieced blocks, as applique is just not my cup of tea. As always.....I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On Wednesday mornings, you will find me at the most amazing Bible study class. It's called Bible Study Fellowship, BSF for short. You can find out more detailed information at;


I wouldn't be promoting my Bible study class, except for the fact that they have classes all over the world and are adding more and more. There may very well be a class near you, no matter where you live. BSF has a seven year course of study and I have just started my fifth year. It's interdenominational and has a very unique and effective way of studying the Bible. They've been at this for 50 years, so they have a very proven method of study. I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box and I have learned more in four years at BSF than I have in a lifetime of church going. Again, details can be found on their website.

I personally recommend this class. I have met some amazing ladies, forming friendships that will last a lifetime. Please check out BSF and see if there is a time and a place that will fit into your schedule. You'll be so glad that you did!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm back from my knitting class. Out of 6 of us, 5 had done the knitting backwards. I'm not even going to try and explain what this means, but it throws the pattern out of whack. I'm also not sure how this error was overlooked at the first class, but it was. The good part is that all we had to do to correct the problem was to turn the sock cuff inside out. The bad part was getting used to another rhythm with the needles, after finally getting a rhythm established the old (wrong) way.

This sort of stalled the class as we had to regroup and get back on track. Because of this, we are now behind in our lessons. It was supposed to be a three week class, but they've extended it another week and told us to stop by anytime for further instructions. I live nice and close to the shop so it will be easy for me to get some personal instruction. I've started the heel flap, which was fairly easy, and after that's done, I'll get my next orders!
Well, I'm ready for my sock knitting class this afternoon. Maybe "ready" is not the word, but I've made the cuff long enough to start turning the heel. It has taken many hours to reach this point. This picture does not show all of the errors that I've made along the way. I've decided that if I'm unable to learn how to finish this sock, at least I could make leg warmers.......arm warmers......maybe even tube tops for my cats!
My little Australian bear sits on my coffee table and has been watching me struggle with knitting my sock. He never even laughed at my clumsy knitting. I thought he deserved to have his portrait sketched.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My new sewing machine cover is working out quite well. In fact, it has the double duty of being a cat pillow/sewing machine cover. My sewing machine is right next to my computer and Oliver always has to assist me with my computer work. At least this makes his job more comfortable. I don't want the Cat Union Local 2620 to come after me!
I'm knitting away on those socks and have no other projects to post today. I'm really having a rough time with them and wonder why they don't start newbies off with a thicker yarn and larger needles. These socks will definitely not be worn, as they have many, many errors in them. IF (and that's a BIG "if") I can just get through the class and make one lone sock, I'll then go off on my own and try to knit a usable set. Without a time table and my choice of supplies, maybe I'll be able to conquer the mysterious sock!

Friday, September 12, 2008

This is another great pincushion swap that I participated in. This one was a wrist pincushion swap. The yellow and purple set is what I received from Tracey. I love her fabric choices. The other item with the pincushion is a thread bucket to corral your thread snippets. It's just so cute and really useful. I love it's small size and it can be folded flat to fit in my mini sewing box, which makes it really handy. I use it all of the time for my hand sewing! This is the wrist pincushion that I made for Tracey. It started with the idea of using a tape measure for the wrist area and grew from there. The pincushion is all done with recycled felt and I was really pleased with the way it turned out. The wrist strap is removable. I'm not much for using a pattern, so I'm never quite sure how things will develop from my mind to the actual item. This idea came close to what I had envisioned.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just a little announcement to tell you that.....
.......ta da........

I'm listed in the big list of sewing blogs. Right now, I'm #422, but this will change periodically.

I'm hoping that being listed will get more people to visit which will, in turn, make me more accountable to get things done! Procrastination can really take hold of you and it's hard to shake it off. Hopefully, I won't disappoint everyone and will keep up with regular posts. With winter on it's way, I'll be able to spend more time at various crafts and will be happy to share them with you.

Thanks for visiting and please feel free to contact me, leave comments, and subscribe to my blog!

OK, what is this contraption? Experienced knitters will know the answer. For the rest of us, these are going to be socks. (At least that's the plan!) I started a sock making class yesterday and this is what I accomplished in an hour and a half. I had NO idea how to make socks and NO idea how fumbly and difficult they would be. Linda, my instructor, tells me that it will get easier and easier. They are made on 4 needles. Three needles hold the majority of the sock in progress and one is the working needle. You knit in the round, working from one needle to the next, making a tubular shape.

The sock yarn is very thin, almost like a thick thread, which complicates matters. It's kind of hard to see where you are going and it's hard to control the 2 needles that aren't "doing" anything while you work with the other 2 needles. Practice, practice, practice. My assignment is to get the cuff part finished by our next class. It will need to be something like 4" to 6", depending on my preference. It's about 1/4" long right now, so for me, that will mean many, many hours. You can begin to see the ribbing shape taking place. I was thinking that these would make great presents, but gee.......they are considerably more work than I ever expected. I'll still make some for gifts, (provided I can learn how to finish them), but I won't be turning them out as quickly as I had hoped. I'll post weekly progress reports!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This is the September Thangles Block of the Month. This is block #10 (I think.....it might be #11) out of 12, so the series is winding down. I'm getting excited about setting the blocks and making my table runner out of them.
And this is the September block and block #1 in a brand new block of the month series. There were two colorways that were offered, but I signed up too late to get both of them. I'm pleased with the blue colorway and hope that the fabrics that will be offered throughout the upcoming year will be as pleasing as these. When you sign up for these block of the month series, you are taking a chance because you don't know what you will be making each month but that's part of the charm, the unknown.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My friend Penny and I went to the local Southside Farmers Market yesterday. Here's a picture of my bounty! As summer comes to an end, so does the produce at these wonderful markets. I live on a fixed income and I'm not able to buy as much produce as I would like. It's just too expensive for my budget. This HUGE bowlful ( onions and green peppers are hidden on the bottom) and another large bag of okra was only $7.00! It's better quality and certainly fresher than the store produce, yet it's less than half the price. They had lots of fresh herbs that they had picked the very same day. You don't find that kind of freshness in the stores! It's not too late in many areas to visit your local markets. Ours will be open for a few more weeks, but the produce amounts are showing reductions every week. If you have markets in your area, please support them and reap the benefits too!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Today's project was a sewing machine cover. It's actually the red one that is shown later in the post. These pictures seem to have a mind of their own when you load them, so I'm just leaving them the way they came up.

This first picture is of a sewing mat/scrap catcher that you put under your machine. It protects the surface that your machine is on, and the pockets hold supplies, scrap fabric, and threads. I take this with me when I go to classes, as sometimes there is only one wastebasket and it's across the room. You know how messy it can get when you have threads and snippets all over the place. You should always cut your threads as you sew, keeping things neat, and this makes it easy and convenient. This mat was very easy to make. I used pre-quilted fabric, a bias edge, and clear plastic table cloth material for the outermost pocket. All of the materials came in a kit, but are a snap to gather yourself. You can't really see it in this shot, but the there is a center seam down the pockets, making two clear pockets and two cloth pockets, both edged with bias seam binding. If you click on these pictures, you will get an enlarged shot which shows the details much better.
This shows the mat in place, under the machine. Notice the matching sewing machine cover. :) This machine is my class machine, as it only weighs 11 pounds and it usually finds itself sitting on my dining room table for quick use and set up. Because it's out in the open most of the time, I wanted to use a conservative fabric that fits my decor a little bit. (There's really no good way to hide a sewing machine in your living room/dining room!)

If you ever plan on working with plastic or other sticky type materials, you really need a Teflon foot. Instructions often tell you to cover the plastic with tissue paper, but I find it this awkward and you can't see through the tissue paper, making it hard to stitch accurately. There are other ways around this, but the easiest way is to just buy the foot! You can get Teflon feet at sewing stores or on EBay. I got mine on EBay for around $5 and using it once, pays for itself. Now to the sewing machine cover that I made today. This machine stays in my sewing/office room and the pre-quilted red fabric works quite well. I had 1/2 yard of this fabric and I used every scrap. Here it is on my flannel board after cutting out the pieces. I wanted to show you this picture because my flannel board was also homemade. I used a tri-fold, student science project foam core board as a base. My house is apartment sized, so space is at a premium. This unfolds to a nice size (36" H x 48" L) to plan small projects and quilt blocks, then folds up. It can be stored in the space between a washer and dryer....between the wall and the fridge......you get the idea. To make the flannel board, I used double sided fusible web and just ironed it between the felt and the board, then trimmed the edges with a rotary cutter. It was pretty cheap to make and very useful. My machine cover does have a specific front and a back, as my machine is asymmetrical. I wanted a tighter fit than a symmetrical, universal cover would provide. This little kitty tells me which side is the front. I'll have to embellish it a bit more at a later date. For now, it does the trick. And here's the final cover. Simple and easy. I think it took about an hour from planning to putting it on the machine.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I belong to a pincushion group that occasionally has swaps. It's optional and it can be lots of fun. You never know what you're going to get! This first picture shows the items that I received from my swap partner, Mariah. She made a cute cross stitch pincushion/sewing kit, a lavender sachet, and a tissue holder that also has a mirror. On the side of the tissue holder that you don't see, there are two credit card size pockets. It's really cute. I love having my tissues and mirror in the same place instead of trying to dig my mirror out of the bottom of my purse.

This is a picture of the cross stitched tin, when open. I believe it's an Altoids tin, or at least that's the size. She also made the stickpin (the largest green one) and enclosed the other pins and tiny scissors. There is a magnetic surface attached to the underside of the lid.

This is the pincushion set that I made for my part of the swap. The pincushion and needle book are made from 2" quilt blocks, all using Civil War reproduction fabrics. I used foundation paper to make the tiny blocks. Once you catch on to using foundation papers, it's pretty quick and easy. There is no way I would attempt to make blocks this small and intricate without using these papers. Once you are done, you peel the paper off the back. The pincushion is fairly large and should do it's duty well. The needle book has felt pages on the inside for her needles.
The stickpin was made with my own lampwork beads. In addition to sewing, I love to work at the torch and melt glass. These were some left over beads that didn't make their way into a piece of jewelry and they seemed to go well with the Civil War colors.

Sorry about the way these pictures are lining up. I've played around with editing them long enough!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fall apple baking time! I threw (you throw a pot, so is this the right word for past tense?) this apple baker in a pottery class a few years ago and just love to use it. It makes a simple apple turn into a "fancy" dessert. I wasn't sure how big to make the center post, but this seems to be OK. If I were to throw another, I believe I would make the post a little thinner because I have to remove a pretty large core area to fit over it. Of course, you don't have to make your own apple baker! You can find them in most stores that carry housewares and cooking supplies.

I really don't have a recipe and I don't think you can really do this wrong. First, core the apple. As you can see, I pretty well butchered this apple by using a short, stubby knife. Not to worry....it will be fine. If you want, you may peel the apple. I like the extra chewiness from the peel.

Mix up a equal parts of sugar and cinnamon (maybe half a teaspoon to a tablespoon of each) and a tablespoon of butter. I've never used margarine, but I think it would be just fine. If you have raisins or nuts on hand, these are great additions. Put the apple on the baker and stuff it with your mixture. You don't need to be neat and the exact amounts do not really matter.

Microwave the apple for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the size of the apple. It's done when it's tender. You can also bake it in an oven (what's that, you say?) for 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so......again, until tender.

Here it is plated. It's not very pretty but it sure tastes good! Cut it up and dip it in the sweet sauce. It's really yummy, quick, and easy enough to make.
Enjoy your fall apples!