Posts Tagged ‘gift’

01
Mar

New Month, New Projects

Posted under Life, Sewing and Quilting, Spinning No Comments

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It’s officially the first of the month, though I’ve got to say as I’ve not slept yet it’s feeling a lot like February still. I am taking advantage of the time I need to stay up to make sure the laundry gets done so I’ve got work shirts tomorrow. The Craft Yarn Council just changed up my class offerings in a big way, so I’ll be doing a demonstration tomorrow looking for class signups and working on some of the new samples. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be pom pom rug making day.

I started spinning a wonderful single of natural colored BFL wool which will become a 2-ply light fingering weigh yarn for my mom to knit into a scarf for my grandmother. I’d spun some yarn before, but as a DK weight yarn, I’m afraid it’ll be too thick and warm for her to wear in Southern California. Thanks to my new electric spinner, I’m almost done with the first ply, about 45 grams of wool if I recall correctly. Not too bad for a quick evening spin!

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When I needed to get up to change the laundry, the yarn kept coming undone when I wrapped it around my flyer like normal. It’s not the most wonderful way to hold the yarn when you have to get up, but sometimes it works. Then I thought about the package of new clamps I’d just ordered sitting right beside my wheel. Perfect. They’re just easy enough to open without sacrificing clamping power for me to be in love with them. Then as an added bonus? I find out the reinforced nylon handles weigh just enough to keep the very high twist yarn from untwisting under the weight of the clamp on the platform. I clipped the yarn into the clamp and then just set the clamp down. You can’t get an easier and more foolproof way of setting your spinning aside! I’ll definitely be keeping one of these guys in my spinning supply box from now on. I’ll post a full review of the new clamps too once I get to try them on my woodworking, but I figured you guys would love to see my new spinning solution!

Then, since I just tossed my work clothes into the dryer, I figured I’d get some fabric I bought last week into the wash so I can cut it up and get sewing. My physical therapist has a small pillow which we use every week under my shoulder because I can’t lay flat on my back on a hard surface without something under my right shoulder. The pillow in question here is an airline pillow that was stolen ages ago and is starting to really show it’s age in the fragile from the start blue cover. It’s just falling to shreds. So I’m going to make a pair of washable covers for his extra positioning pillow!

Here’s the fabric I picked out for him.

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The black with glow-in-the-dark skeleton fabric will be for the body of the pillow. Then, for the border along the open edge, I found this wonderful black and white grid which to me looks a lot like graph paper. I think it’s the perfect combination. We’ve got the anatomical organic shapes from the human body and it’s infinite complexity mixed with the rather stark, mathematical grid of the relatively nonsensical numerical grades and measurements for everything to keep insurance companies happy. Sure, it’s a little deep for a pillowcase, but I’m thrilled with it so far. It can only get better from here. Plus, it looks like I should have enough fabric leftover to make a cover for my equivalent little pillow at home and maybe a couple ice pack covers for me too! Sometimes little treats like a goofy ice pack cover can make all the difference on a high pain day.

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24
Oct

Finished Blanket…Finally!

Posted under Knitting, Product Reviews No Comments

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In February, I started knitting a baby blanket for my step-dad’s brother’s child who was born later in July. Of course with how hellish things have been for me lately, and a passionate hatred for the yarn mom bought for the project, I didn’t finish until October. Oh well, it’s been mailed off to Japan where it can be enjoyed properly by a sweet looking little girl!

I spent quite a while deciding on the pattern to use for this. I wanted something that felt both American and a bit Japanese, as dad is American and mom is Japanese. I settled on the pattern Feathered Baby Blanket by Kaye Smith, but of course I had to make a few modifications. First off, why feather and fan? When I think knit afghans, I think of a feather and fan pink blanket my grandmother made me when my parent’s got divorced. That blanket just screams comfort to me, even if I’m not a ‘pink’ sort of person. Feather and Fan is a pretty basic traditional afghan pattern in the USA, and when I think of Japan, I think of the beautiful fans I ogled as a kid. Then, knowing how important numbers are in many of the Asian cultures, I used the number 7 everywhere I could throughout the pattern. Each band of feathers and fans have seven repeats. There are also seven repeats across the width of the blanket and seven garter stitch bands going up the blanket.

The pattern itself was a quite easy knit, but the garter stitch rows don’t have any shaping in them and thus tend to pucker a bit as the feathers and fans pull them into waves. If I knit a similar blanket again, I’d write a new pattern that took this into account.

Mom had originally planned on knitting the blanket but became frustrated, so I offered to take over…after she’d already bought the yarn. I HATED this yarn. It’s Kraemer Yarns Tatamy Tweed DK. In general, I don’t like acrylic and just barely tolerate working in cotton. This yarn is an easy care acrylic/cotton blend…and I found it to be horrifically splitty. It seems the cotton and acrylic are made into separate strands and then plyed together rather than mixing up all the fibers before spinning. I think that’s part of what contributes to so much ply splitting while knitting. I even tried several types of knitting needles to combat the splitting and the poor sliding of the yarn on the needles. I used both ChiaoGoo Knit Red and Knitter’s Pride Dreamz circulars. I decided the Knitters Pride Dreamz worked best, but only if the wooden needles were kept freshly oiled.

Keep checking back for more updates on the service dog front and how Sketcher is doing. Things have been VERY crazy here, but we’re making great progress and are over 1/3 of the way there! I”m now hard at work getting thank you notes and donation reward from the GoGetFunding page put together to go out. I’ve been slowed down drastically by how sick Sketcher has been, but I’m starting to make some headway!

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25
Mar

Down to the wire, err, thread?

Posted under Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Holidays and Celebrations 1 Comment

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I’ve been very overwhelmed lately. Sadly, it doesn’t take much when you’re fighting with chronic pain and fatigue. I knew my brother’s birthday was approaching fast, but I didn’t have a clue what to do for him.

Last Thursday, I went to a lecture put on by Open Minded Skeptics and Pikes Peak Urban Gardens on organic gardening in the Pikes Peak region. I used to be quite active with the Bear Creek Community Gardens before I was disabled. I would really like to grow my own food again. Salad goes from blah to the tastiest lunch ever when it’s home grown, fresh, and full of flavor. I plan on having a large, accessible garden south of the gravel driveway where we’re building the cabin. A free refresher lecture seemed like a great way to get me out of this basement. I hate being stuck in the same little box of a space day in and day out. I envy even those who go from home to a cubical and back five days a week!

Anyhow, after the talk was over at 8:30 PM, I found myself at the library with a half hour until closing. I figured I might as well browse a bit. I always check to see if there’s anything I haven’t seen in the knitting section. There wasn’t this time, but I ended up checking through the neighboring embroidery section too since many embroidery charts are similar to knitting charts like I design. One book, Picture Your Pet in Cross Stitch by Claire Crompton jumped out at me. I flipped through it and saw a picture of two cockatiels that look almost exactly like my brother’s pair. I’m not a fan of cross stitch, but I brought it home with me anyhow.

On Saturday, I realized that my brother’s birthday was the very next day sometime in the late afternoon. Worried about what I could possibly do in that time frame on no budget, my mind wandered back to the cockatiels. I checked my meager box of embroidery floss to see what colors I had and what I needed from the store. I went to Hancock Fabrics first and saw a towel with a centerpiece of aida cloth woven in and decided that would be a much better idea than buying aida cloth and trying to get it framed and matted up in time. Since I had a 40% off coupon, it was certainly a cheaper option at only $5 after tax! Hancock Fabrics carries a terrible off-brand embroidery floss though. It doesn’t have the luster of DMC floss so I hopped in the car and drove on to the nearest Hobby Lobby to get real DMC floss.

When I got home, guy pal met me there to help me figure out how to work on my Maple Wool Farm logo in Photoshop. It’s a pain, but I’m making progress. I was finally able to sit down and start working on my brother’s birthday towel around 8PM on the 24th. My mom helped make sure the design was centered right on the canvas. I HATE starting out on a new cross stitch project because I hate trying to get the design centered. I worked until about 4AM with a break to make some boxed macaroni and cheese I found in the back of my cupboard. Finally, I was too tired to keep going. I was starting to make mistakes. I got to bed just after 5AM and was out of bed again by noon after a fitful sleep as usual. By 12:30PM, I’d checked my email and gotten back down to the stitching. Around 1PM, I finished all the cross stitching and by 2:30PM, I’d finished all the back stitching and was heading off to iron the piece. Near the end, I even decided that maybe cross stitching isn’t so bad. It uses a fair bit of shoulder movement, but didn’t irritate my shoulder pain. I’m actually thinking I should cross stitch more just to work my shoulder more. I’ll have to look into software to design my own cross stitch designs though so I can sell my finished work.

I decided to take pictures in my mom’s half bath upstairs because the yellow of the walls really punches up the towel. I also suggested to my brother that he pick up a yellow towel to put behind this one to frame it nicely on his towel rack.

Working with that many shades of grey so close together in value was a pain, but the lifelike result was really worth it!

Then I finally got to move on to wrapping. I consider wrapping to be an important part of a handmade gift. It’s like the packaging selling a product at a shop. I picked  out two bottoms of folding Christmas boxes to make one white box. I lined it with plain white tissue paper. To spice it up a bit, I used a couple scrapbooking stickers inside as the seal to hold the tissues closed, just like something fine from a very upscale shop. With the work I put into this towel, it would have to come from one hell of an upscale shop!

Then, since I don’t have any manly birthday wrapping paper, I used some faintly striped brown kraft paper and some curling ribbons. I added another sticker to the front of the package in place of a card since my brother was ringing the doorbell as I was finishing up the bow!

Not too shabby for a last minute gift, huh?

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27
Dec

Toy Society Holiday Drop

Posted under Charity, Models, Scroll Saw, Toys, Woodworking No Comments

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On Christmas Eve, I dropped a handmade toy for the Toy Society. I made this little tow truck and car set:

I used a free pattern from Steve Good. You can download the pattern here if you want to make your own car and truck set. The only addition I made was to glue a small strip of wood across the back of the truck bed to keep the car from rolling off too easily. I left off the smoke stacks and the little button lights. The smokestacks have not held up well when my friend’s kids play with the truck I keep at my house and I didn’t want to have bitty lights that a small child could chew off.

I cut the body of the two cars from a scrap of 2×4 leftover from another project. The truck bed is cut from a fence picket scrap. I ran it through my planer to clean it up and get it to size. I actually like the look of the redwood fence picket truck bed more than the pine truck bed I’ve done on previous tow trucks. The wheel well strips on either side of the cab are cut from pine as the redwood was a bit too brittle to hold up well to tight curves on an item meant for child’s play. The wheels are all pre-made oak wheels from a local specialty wood shop. I cut the body of the car and truck with a HUGE blade in the scroll saw. It’s a reverse tooth blade from Woodcraft that’s so big it doesn’t even have a number. I used size 7 blades to cut the wheel well covers, the truck bed, and the dowels for the axles.

The drop was made on Christmas Eve around lunchtime in Old Colorado City on a bench in front of an Italian restaurant, some souvenir shops and art galleries. There was a gaggle of kids visiting Santa just a block and a half away, so hopefully a lucky boy or girl found this set just in time for Christmas!

In general, if you’re into scrolling, check out Steve Good’s site. He’s got TONS of free patterns, and several of them toys for doing Toy Society drops! This was my first drop, and it was fun. There will certainly be more! I cut several tow truck and car sets for my Christmas Eve drop, but I ran out of wheels, none of the wood shops were open, AND I couldn’t find my hole cutter set to make my own wheels. Talk about failure!

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