Monday, January 31, 2011

Spicing up the Kitchen preparations

I've been working on my SUtK swap offerings, but I've hit a bit of a wall. Sometimes, it's best to walk away and think about things before continuing, so that's what I'm doing now. Here's a sample of the fabrics I'm using:

Partner, how do you feel about this?

I've added a bit to this stack, but I think it suits my partner pretty well.

I'm planning three parts for this swap, and the first one is complete.

Part one for SUTK: complete

The second part is where I've hit the wall. I've made two versions of the item, and it's just not quite perfect.

Do any of you have the same feeling of inadequacy when you know the item is for someone else? Anytime I'm making a gift, I'm ten times harder on myself about it.

I'm working on the dimensions of the third item, in the meantime. I've got one month left before I have to mail my package to my partner, so I've got a lot left to do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FO: Fetching part trois

Chicken Julie and I decided to do a swap a month or so back. She doesn't knit and she wanted a pair of fingerless gloves. She's an amazing quilter (you should see her in progress selvage quilt!), so I asked her for a mug rug and a baby tee for Oliver in return. I should be receiving her package any day this week, and here's the mitts I made for her.

FO: Fetching part trois

I of course, went with Fetching for the pattern, and used a skein of Wool of the Andes in Persimmon Heather. You can see a picture of her wearing them here. This rusty orange is definitely a good color for Julie.

I can't wait for my package, and I'll share pictures later this week.

Thanks, Julie!

In other swap news, I did a fabric scrap swap with Brooke, aka Apriltwo eighty, and I definitely made out like a bandit. I promised her some yellow scraps, but realized I had actually used most of my yellow on the back of my quilt. I included some other colors too, but she really outdid herself with the package I got. Check out the beautiful scraps I received:

Amazing scraps from Apriltwoeighty

Brooke, I definitely owe you one. Thank you so much! I have already used a few pieces in the Spicing up the Kitchen swap, and have plans for some of the other pieces.

If you're not already familiar with Brooke handiwork, check out her photostream, where I find constant inspiration. I'm especially loving her in progress Heather Ross Ticker Tape quilt.

Up next, I've got part one of my Spicing up the Kitchen swap complete.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How about a Food Friday?

It's been awhile. I was just thinking about my lack of food pictures lately. My kitchen light is sometimes depressing, especially on winter evenings, but I'm trying to make an effort to take food photos when I get a chance.

Breaking in my new Le Creuset

The other night, I made these yummy roasted vegetables (the photo is pre-oven). Roasting vegetables is so easy, and the flavor you get as they slowly caramelize, well, it's amazing (especially carrots and bell pepper. yum!). I roast them with just olive oil, kosher salt and pepper at a low temperature first (350 degress for about 20 minutes). After stirring (and adding some cremini mushrooms), I turn the heat up to 375 degrees for another twnety-five minutes or so.

I love my new Le Creuset casserole dish. It's so cheery!

Another favorite is chopped broccoli in the toaster oven, sprinkled with lemon juice and parmesan after roasting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So close, I can taste it

Finishing the quilt back

Sewing the last seam on the quilt back

Baste, baste, baste

So many freaking pins

Progress: Grellow + Pink Quilt

The Grellow + Pink quilt is nearly done. The majority of the quilting is finished, and I've just got five to seven lines left before I can cut the edge and bind.

I'm so thrilled with how it's turning out, and I feel so excited for the finish line of this lovely quilt, my first.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quilt blocks

Earlier this week, I finished the first quilt blocks for the do.Good Stitches bee. Jenn of all trades is the quilter for January, and she requested crazy nine-patch blocks in muted greens/browns.

"Comfort" January blocks

I'll be sending them to Jenn this week.

I also started a fun new project of my own. Using Oh Frannson's Spiderweb tutorial and some scraps, I'm making these squares:

New project: Scrappy Spiderwebs

I have two squares finished, and I've cute the scraps for many more. I think I can make at least four, possibly six. I'm still not sure if I'll make a pillow or a wall hanging, but I love the way they're coming together. It's fun to try new techniques!

Up next, I've got first quilt progress to show you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Goals

In working on setting goals for myself, I tend to set them a little out of reach.
On that note, here's what I've come up with for 2011:
1)  No yarn purchases in 2011, with the following exceptions:
-yarn needed for a gift, when no stash yarn will work
-yarn for Beatnik (I so want to make this before the end of the year)
-if I knit ten skeins from the stash, I can buy one skein
-I can trade/sell stash in exchange for yarn
2)  Finish the Gray + Pink + Yellow quilt and make two additional quilts

3)  Complete the swaps I've joined
4)  Complete the two pairs of socks I've started, and two additional pairs
5)  Finish the colorwork hat I've started, and one additional colorwork project (I've got to get better at this!)
6)  Finish both my CPH and the Gray Skies Cardigan
7)  Knit Beatnik
8)  Sew three garments for myself
9)  Clean out and donate from closets, cabinets
10)Blog more often
11)Take more pictures
12)Attend the Sewing Summit (!) in October
13)Use fabric and yarn stash on projects I can enjoy
14)Exercise at least once a week
15)Finish Jill's house items
So, that's my list as of now.
Here's hoping I can accomplish many things this year, and I wish the same for you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

FO: Sewing Machine Cover

FO: Sewing Machine Cover

My lovely new machine finally has a jacket. I rounded up some of my favorite fabrics, including Riley Blake's My Mind's Eye and Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelet, as well as a bold Kona Cotton, Cerise, for this project.

The sewing machine cover was a fun and original project. I knew I wanted a combination of strips and smaller pieces, to highlight different parts of the fabrics.

Sewing machine cover

It's so nice to see this sitting on my desk instead of the sheet I used to cover my machine with.

Extra patchwork

Cerise is a difficult color to photograph, at least in combination with the aqua and gray shades, but this picture of some extra patchwork shows off the magenta shade very well. In estimating the amount of patchwork I would need, I was generous, and ended up with this extra piece, which I've attached to a piece of corkboard above my sewing desk.

New fabric organization

In other sewing news, I purchased a storage unit (under $40 from Target) and worked to organize my stash. This isn't all the fabric I own, but it's progress. You can click through to flickr to see a description. I've generally organized by yardage. Someday, I'd love to do what apriltwoeighty did with her stash. In the meantime, I'm happy to have my fabric visible and somewhat organized.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011: The Year of the Swap

I've joined three swaps for the new year. Perhaps that's a bit ambitious, seeing as I've never done one before. I'm very excited, though, and I feel confident I can complete these three commitments.

The first swap is Pillow Talk. This group is just completing their fourth round, and the projects are amazing. You can see some of the incredible past contributions here. I will get to make a pillow for another group member, and one will be made for me.

do. Good Stitches

The second group is do. Good Stitches, created by Stitched in Color. This isn't really a swap, but a charity quilting bee. It's a six month commitment, and each month, I make two quilt blocks for a quilt planner, who then completes a quilt top from the group's squares. The finished quilts are given to the charity of the quilter's choice. I'm excited, and am currently finishing up my first two quilt squares, which I'll share here when I'm finished. You can view the group's page here.

The final group I joined is the Spicing up the Kitchen swap. This is a brand new group and the swapping is just about to begin. I have until March 1st to complete my swap goodies.

Spice up your kitchen inspiration

I created this mosaic to give my secret partner some ideas and inspiration. (Please click through to the picture for image credits)

I think these three group will be a fun addition to my 2011 crafting. If all goes well, I plan to continue with them all, and maybe even join more groups as the year goes on.

I still have not finished thinking about my 2011 goals, but I'll be posting on that topic soon, as well as sharing another sewing FO.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

FO: Orange + Aqua Table Runner

When I started the quilt, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. As I described here, I thought quilting qould be a breeze. In reality, it's not, at least not at first. I started this table runner to practice the quilting skills before messing up my beloved quilt squares. My quilting still isn't perfect, but I have learned a lot.

With this table runner, I started on the wrong foot by not using enough safety pins to fasten my quilt sandwich. Because of this, my fabric puckered at some intersections. I also wasn't really sure where to begin, so my quilting at the beginning was really random, and I was dissatisfied with the process.

FO: Orange + Aqua Table Runner

After setting the table runner in time out for, I think it was at least a month, I came back to it with a better understand of the quilting process (thanks to my little holiday potholders). I finished the remaining quilting, as well as the binding process in just one afternoon.

The binding (which I love doing, by the way!) is Kona Cotton in Emerald. It's a great compliment to the aqua and orange fabrics I chose. The back (not shown) is just strips of the same fabrics sewn together (including some of the solid Kona Stone strips).

I like how the table runner turned out.
Again, it's not perfect, but I made it.
On to the quilt!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

FO: Birdie Apron

It's embarrassing how long I've had this item on my to-do list. Several months ago, my sister Jill picked out several fabrics for her new home. I finished her kitchen curtain about a month after, but since then, nothing else has been finished. It's been so long now that I've misplaced the dimensions for her other curtain requirements, but we're getting together soon to remedy that.

Please excuse the mess

In the meantime though, I was able to produce her new half-apron. It took no time at all, probably only an hour or two. We picked out the cute birdie fabric and I added the red solid. I improvised the pattern, and the only thing I would do differently with my method is add a reinforcing waistband. I think making the sash extend across the apron body would do the trick. The pocket turned out especially cute.

I really enjoyed the sewing time I had over this past week. I've got two more sewing FOs to share, and I also want to assemble my 2011 crafting goals. See you soon!

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