Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crocheted Dishcloth

I recently whipped up this very quick and easy dishwashing cloth. The instructions came from Rachel over at Crochet Spot. (Thanks, Rachel!)

The pattern calls for medium weight cotton yarn (#4) and only takes about 50 yards for one cloth. I used Lily Sugar 'n Cream in Cornflower Blue. It's a free pattern at Rachel's lovely website. Check it out!

I'm really liking the hand-knitted (a present from someone else) and hand-crocheted dishcloths that I have. They feel good as I use them.

Although it is nicely laid out in the photo above, I know that usually it will look like the photo at the left--all scrunched up!

Between this post and the last post, you might think that I spend most of my time washing dishes! I'm happy to say that I don't. But when I do, at least I have some pretty things to use! And that can make all the difference, can't it.

Nice Little Presents

I've received a few nice little presents recently.
Which makes me very happy! :-)

First, SisterStitches sent me two lovely tea towels for my recent birthday. She added a decorative strip of fabric onto some colorful tea towels to jazz them up a little.

I don't know how SisterStitches found this photo of my friends and me at the beach, though!

@ @ @ @ @

And then my friend Janice, who I see at Giants games, gave me two dish washing scrubbers in orange, so that I can think of the Giants whenever I use them!

She crocheted them out of netting which she had bought by the yard and then cut into strips. Sounds a little labor intensive, but I may have to ask her for the pattern.

From the looks of them, I think they will probably wear quite well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tumbling Block Quilt

I guess it's been about five years since I started hand sewing diamonds together to make tumbling blocks. I know it wasn't long after I joined the Guild, and that was sometime in 2005.

I've been sewing and sewing on these little tumbling blocks, and I've made at least one previous post about them. And about "The Cutting Out Of The Diamonds." I've sewn a lot of them in the car, with MisterStitches driving, when we are on a straight road. (Not Highway #1 up the coast!) And I've taken them along to quilting get-togethers when I need some hand work to do. Also great for watching movies at home.

"The Sewing Of The Blocks" has been very enjoyable. It's kind of therapeutic, I think, just stitching and stitching, not having to think a lot about what I'm doing. (That's because I got them all arranged in sets of three [light, medium, and dark] before I started out traveling/sewing.)
I recently decided that I probably have enough blocks to make into a quilt. I have counted and re-counted them so many times, that I've forgotten how many I have all together.

Yesterday was "The Ironing Of The Tumbling Blocks" to make sure all the seams are going the right direction. And today I began laying them out on the floor, arranging them all so I don't have too many pink ones together, for example. This is not a true charm quilt, where no fabric is used twice. I did not have the patience to find that many different fabrics! But it is a scrap quilt, i.e., made from leftovers.

The above photo shows the start of "The Laying Out Of The Tumbling Blocks." I pushed aside the dining room table and proceeded to use the wooden floor in our "great room" which is where the kitchen and dining room and living room all blend together.
I just love how the three-dimensionality of the blocks shows up!
I started in the middle and kept adding circles around the center as I built up the squares. There is still a good amount of room around the outside, so I can maneuver easily.

Last night I did "The Sorting and Stacking Of The Blocks." I sorted all the blocks into stacks of green blocks, brown blocks, pink blocks, purple blocks, blue blocks, etc. You can see that I've put all these different stacks onto a cookie sheet, which is resting on a towel, so that I could easily drag/push the full cookie tray as I scooted around the perimeter of the quilt, adding blocks and adding blocks and adding blocks...

And here I have finished, I think. There's not much room left to maneuver in the dining room. (I have to grab hold of the counter [out of sight at the left] so I can walk around that side of the "arrangement" without stepping on it.)

Right now it's all lain out measuring 95" x 120." Of course, those measurements are not adjusted for the seam allowances, so it will be somewhat smaller than that.

OK, now that they are all lain out, I've counted them and there are a total of 425 blocks. I have been doing a lot of math today, and I think I've used every little math cell in my brain! I'm trying to figure out what the final dimensions will be! (I need MisterStitches for this. Or should I say, "MisterMath" in this case.) Maybe it will be easier to just "sew and let sew."

My next step, of course, is "The Sewing Together Of The Blocks." I'm going to pick them all up, being sure to keep them in stacks of rows, so that I will be sewing the blocks together in the order I have them now.

I know of a plastic fabricating shop, so I am going to take a drawing of the final size of a block there and have them make me a plastic template so that I can have a "Squaring Up Of The Blocks" before I sew them together.
You know, I almost feel like this is cheating. My grandmother couldn't have done this! But I am not as good of a seamstress/quilter as my grandmother/mother/sister, and I think squaring up the blocks will really help me in the end.
This gives me a chance of my quilt lying somewhat flat when I get it all sewn together!

I imagine that it will take me quite a while to get all these blocks sewn together. After all, I didn't sew together 425 blocks overnight! But I am excited to be onto the next step of this quilt.

I'll keep you posted.

Has anyone sewn together a quilt like this before? Any input would be appreciated.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sewing Machine Repair

I had the greatest experience today, getting my sewing machine repaired! I know what you're thinking: "It doesn't take much to please some people."

But really, this was so great that I just have to write about it. I'm using my smaller, older machine right now, and it started giving me all sorts of loose loopy threads on the back of my sewing. That is SO not good, right? So I googled Pfaff sewing machine repair, and found several places listed. One that I looked at wasn't too hard to get to, and I read a couple reviews about how good it was. One of the reviews suggested that it's a good idea to make an appointment to take your machine in.

I called this morning and made an appointment for the afternoon. I drove over to find the store, and had to drive quite a bit to find a parking place. That was the only downside: the parking is always difficult to come by. I don't know why, but I had envisioned myself driving up and finding a parking space right in front of the store. Somehow that didn't happen.

So I had to schlep my heavy machine for a little over a block to get to the store. When I went in, it turned out to be a little hole in the wall place, run by two Asian men. There were several machines sitting around, some industrial-looking machines, and a lot of stuff piled up. One of the men took my machine and set it up, telling his brother (as it turned out to be) to get me a chair so I could sit beside him. I have to say that the language barrier made things a little, shall we say, interesting...

Brother Number One starts looking at my machine, opening up some spaces so he can see inside. And I kid you not, he was like a doctor examining the machine! He felt all around the bobbin while running the needle up and down, he used his fingers so perfectly. It really was like a doctor palpating someone's abdomen! After several minutes of feeling and prodding, he sewed a little bit and it worked just fine. Hallelujah!!!

Then, as I was packing the machine up he picked up my spool of thread and asked me if that is what I usually use, to which I answered "yes." He said, "But it doesn't last very long. You should use this kind of thread," and he held up a cone of thread. He said how good the thread was and how long it would last. And then he gave me a brand new cone of white thread! I was astounded!

When I was all ready to go, Brother Number Two insisted on carrying my machine to the car for me. I tried to take it away from him, but he wouldn't let me. [Secretly, I was very happy not to have to carry that heavy thing any more today, but I'm supposed to act like a tough girl, right?]

And the name of this great place? Bay City Sewing Machine Co. They are in San Francisco and can be reached at 415-863-9283.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Little Project

Here's a little project that I did recently. The jeans in the photo above are my flannel-lined jeans. These are necessary to have when attending a Giants game in San Francisco at night-time. Those night games are can be really frigid. (I should show you the heavy-duty parka that I also wear to night games!)

These nice warm jeans have been washed many times, and as a result have gotten shorter and shorter. (It was embarrassing!) But I didn't just want to buy a new pair. They're not worn out; I only wear them to baseball games, sit and shiver in them for three hours, then go home.
So I decided to lengthen them by adding a fake cuff. I had this plaid flannel left over from the large pillow I made for SonStitches when he went off to college. Perfect, I thought! But the flannel was a lot thinner fabric than the denim, so I layered the flannel with a heavy fabric that was leftover from the curtains in our house. I sort of treated the two fabrics as one, but without using any fusing.

Now I won't have to be ashamed of my "high water pants!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Infinity Scarf

Now that Mother's Day is over, I can post this about the gift I made
for my mother. I gave you a sneak peak of it here.

I found the instructions to make an infinity scarf at Homemade Mamas. They have a super-duper tutorial there, so I won't
bother to repeat it, but I'll tell you the basics of what I did. It's wonderfully easy to make.

I think my fabric was about two yards long, and I cut one long strip about 18" or 20" wide. You need to cut the fabric twice as wide as you want your finished scarf.

Simply sew right sides together all along the long edge. Press and turn right-side-out
and admire your big long tube!

Iron under about an inch of the fabric on one end of the tube to the
inside. I put the raw-edge end inside the folded-edge end and pinned it all nice and straight. Then sewed across this "join" through all the layers.

Homemade Mamas used cotton for their scarf, and I was using silk, so I thought I would try hand-sewing the ends of the tube together, so it would feel a little lighter and more drape-y.

However, after I did that (which was very tricky to do, by the way) and wore the scarf for a little bit, I found that the stitching was beginning to pull loose. You can kind of see this in the above photo. It is natural that there is a certain amount of tugging on this scarf, as it is arranged around the neck. I assume that's what made the hand stitches pull loose. So I went back to the original plan of machine-stitching across the opening.

Now, the really good thing about this project is that there is quite enough fabric to make three scarves! So far, I have one and MamaStitches (my mom) has one. Not sure if I'll make another scarf, or use the fabric for something else.

I absolutely love wearing this scarf. It is fun to wrap around my neck in different configurations (one loop, two equal or unequal loops, three loops) and the great thing is that it will not fall off your shoulders or blow off in the wind!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bowling Ball Beach

I had a great time last week. Near where I live there is a place called Bowling Ball Beach. I've often seen photos of it, but I've never been there. I tried to find it once, but failed and just had a nice walk on the beach!

I somehow knew that my friend Harmony would know about this beach. The best time to visit it is an extreme low tide, otherwise the rocks are covered by the water.

So we found a day when a low tide came at a convenient time (i.e., daylight) and set off for the beach. After walking down a path, we continued on a path which was marked "Trail Closed." Quite the rogues, aren't we!

The trail led to a sort of rope ladder down to the beach, which was a little tricky, and, since it's spring time, another tricky part was crossing the "little" stream by climbing on rocks, and over huge downed logs.

A little more walking on the beach, and we were there!

Many, many, many large rounded rocks. I'd say that most of them are about three feet in diameter.

Such weird geological formations on this beach. The photo at right shows the layers of rocky sediment, and how it was pushed up to almost vertical. You can see that the lines of rock continue down into the sand.

At left are the "English muffin" rocks. They look just like muffin tops, sticking out of the rocky cliff!

And then we came across this lone rock surrounded by dried sea kelp. I think it looks like an egg in a nest.

See the beautiful swirls in this piece of rock! I kept discovering new beautiful and weird formations at every step!

And here you see a happy MissesStitches, happy because
she's finally seen the bowling balls. That, and the fact that she hadn't yet slipped on a rock and put one foot in the water!

Here is a link to some more information about Bowling Ball Beach.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Love My "Tom's Shoes!"

Aren't these shoes great!!! I do have to admit that the awesome socks help adorn the photo somewhat.

When DaughterStitches (et al) was visiting last weekend, she and I had a very nice shopping day, just the two of us. We spent most of our time at Nordstrom, one of my favorite stores. DaughterStitches needed a pair of shoes, and pretty soon we both were in our stocking feet surrounded by stacks of shoe boxes.

* * * * *
They had a lot of Tom's Shoes on display, and eventually I tried on a pair. Very comfortable! They are very thin-soled, though, which made me think they would be perfect for "house shoes," which I wear instead of slippers when I'm at home.

Tom's Shoes are cool because they are made from recycled materials, and for every pair they sell, they give a pair to a needy child. Apparently this company is doing very well, even with such a "creative" business model.

Check out their interesting web site.

* * * * *
The shoes are somewhat unconventional in their style and design; maybe it's a style that one needs to get used to. It took me a few minutes.
As a bonus, the day were at Nordstrom, Tom's Shoes sent some artists to custom decorate the shoes just as we specified. So I got some pretty little daisies and leaves and vines. (The shoes started out as solid green.) Even my initials appear on my shoes, though it may be hard for you to find them!

* * * * *
My shopping expedition also brought me a few pairs of needed socks (see top photo), and some blue jeans. We had a delicious lunch at Nordstrom, too!