Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Distraction Therapy

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Papercraft,Sewing,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:52 pm on Monday, April 30, 2007

I’m just so tired and crappy feeling these days. Is it the stress of wondering if Gryphon will find a part-time job soon enough to count? Have we had some low-level bug pass through us? (Our bathroom habits this weekend would suggest that’s a possibility!) Is there a general malaise in Southern NH in the wake of floods, college shootings, and other miserable events dominating the news?

I’ve somehow managed to continue being productive, in spite of it all. Crafting helps to distract me from the aches and pains. The sad thing is that I have to lift my consciousness out of the creative process now and then, if only to eat and sleep. It’s at those moments that my brain has time to notice that I feel like hell.

Truthfully, I’m not too worried about it. I know that whatever it is, it will pass. And with good progress on a number of crafts, it’s hard to feel impaired by anything.

For instance, since Friday I have:

  • Cut out all the pieces for another 8 to 9 inch tall Maneki Neko papercraft model. The new one will be a different pose than the one pictured at that link, with a medallion focusing on wishing for money.
  • Stitched the stems of the vines along the sides of a path on the miniature knotted rug.NIP - Mini Knotted Rug, First Vines
  • Worked several inches of foot, the short-row heel, and a couple inches of leg on Gryphon’s Socks, Pair Two, Sock Two.
    WIP - Gryphon's Socks, Pair 2, Sock 2, Into the Leg
  • Knit the Nearly Endless Edging as far as the center of my Carnival Glass Shawl. I put it down at this point because the next step involves changing which rows attach to the live stitches for a few repeats.
    WIP - Carnival Glass Shawl, Edging to Center Point
  • Sewed a complete dogbone pillow for Gryphon. He was so taken with mine, and went shopping in my fabric stash to see if anything appealed to him. What he came up with was a discontinued Egyptian print fabric from Jo-Ann’s. Being my second dogbone, this one stitched up in no time, and Gryphon got a better made pillow than I did. (Pictures later – he’s taking a nap before work, and the pillow is in use!)
  • And I have officially turned over the rest of my portion of the PixelHobby craft to Gryphon. He’s just enjoying it too darned much, and he has precious few crafts that appeal to him the way this does. It’s not like I don’t have other things I can be working on, after all!PIP - PixelHobby, 5 done, 7 to go

You see? It’s hard to find time to feel crappy when you’re doing all this. At least the time spent feeling achy and tired is far outweighed by the time I spend successfully distracting myself from it! So, I’m planning to continue this course of distraction therapy. One day soon, I’m sure I’ll be surprised at how much better my body feels when I get up from my crafting.

Quilting, Sewing – Same Skills Apply!

Filed under: Holidays,Sewing — folkcat at 11:54 am on Thursday, April 26, 2007

Did a little sewing yesterday, on Quilting Day. I’m really pleased with it, because this time, I made something very practical that replaced something old and worn that I’ve been using for over ten years.

Dogbone Neck Pillow

The original dogbone pillow had been purchased at a drugstore a long, long time ago. It’s been in continuous use ever since, and frankly, was getting a little funky – and not in a good way. I decided I could make my own new one.

Saturday, I began the disassembly process on the old pillow. The goal was to get one of the three identical body pieces out intact. Seam ripper in hand, I attacked.

Turned out the entire thing had been sewn very cheaply – monofilament, and not a thin one at that. With much fuss, especially at the ends where all three pieces came together, I worked the stitches out and separated the desired section.

No pictures of the process. It was at this point, I discovered just how gross the thing had gotten over the years. Skin oils had worked their way into the polyfill stuffing, even. I threw that out, and set up a dishpan with hot, soapy water to wash the fabric piece.

My plan was to make a pattern by tracing the fabric. Would have worked, if I could have found a piece of cardboard good enough to make a template from. What I did find, however, made the job even easier – inkjet printer acetate transparencies! I ironed and folded the clean piece, placed it on my scanner bed, and ran a copy on the acetate.

The printer side of the acetate is a little tacky, and the ink takes a long time to set up. I didn’t want it smearing on whatever fabric I chose to make the pillow from, so I got out my Xyron laminating machine, and laminated the acetate with clear plastic on both sides. This covered the smudgy ink, and added a little extra thickness.

The final step to turn this into a traceable template was merely to cut out around the outlines of the photocopy, including the notches that indicated the center of the end (the point where all three seams come together on the ends). Et voila! I had a durable, traceable template that I could even see through to place it precisely on the fabric.

Next up was to pick the fabric. I dug into the stash, and came up with the funky cat fabric I’d bought on clearance – the stuff with the adorable, wacky cats in a large, directional print that I didn’t know what I’d ever use it for, but had to have?

Placing the template on the print, I discovered that the line of cats climbing on their branches would fit perfectly across each side! With a chalk pencil, I traced three pieces, then carefully cut them out with scissors. A quick run of the seams on the sewing machine; turn it right side out; stuff it to within an inch of its life with polyfill; hand stitch the last opening closed.

In a matter of a couple of hours, I had my new dogbone neck pillow!

FO - Dogbone Pillow

The right hand end looks larger because it’s closer to the camera. In real life, both ends are about the same size. I may have stuffed it a little on the firm side, but it works well. And I love how the cats line up so perfectly along each side.

Hey! Today’s a Day, Too!

Okay, here’s an easy one to celebrate – it’s National Pretzel Day! So pick up a bag of your favorite pretzel form – I like the mini’s myself – and have a nosh.

A Quilting FO – Already?

Filed under: Daily Life,Sewing — folkcat at 3:33 pm on Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bumper sticker spotted in the parking lot at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics:

REPUBLICANS FOR VOLDEMORT

Yeah, that sounds about right…

FO Me!

Just to prove that nothing goes to waste here, those quilt squares that I made last week where my seam allowances were sloppy and more than a quarter inch? They’ve become a nice pillow!

FO - Patchwork Pillow
Bento Box Pillow
Pattern: Bento Box, by Tracey Brookshier

I started by squaring up my pieces. The inside corners (the small squares in the center) were all good, it was the side where the last rectangle was sewn on that was a little wonky. So, using the center point as my start, I squared everything to seven and three quarters inches.

I used these squares to practice getting my quarter inch seams right, and boy, did I nail it! After sewing the four pieces together, my larger, finished square was exactly fifteen inches.

After cutting the fat quarters to make these four squares, there was enough left to use as the back of the pillow. I did the two overlapping halves thing – I think it’s called an envelope pillow.

Each piece got cut long enough to allow a half inch seam with the pieced top, and a finished overlap of about three and a half inches. I added another inch to do a double folded half inch hem for the opening edges.

FO - Patchwork Pillow - Back
Pillow Back

You may notice the stitching along the hem of the opening. I made a decision not to go digging around for purple thread to match, so it’s sewn with the same white thread as the rest of the patchwork. Besides, I probably don’t have any purple thread yet, and I wanted to get this done without waiting for a trip to the fabric store. And it’s on the back, so who’s going to see it, anyhow?

When I stitched the top and back together, I decided to be a tiny bit paranoid about the fit for a fourteen inch pillow form. So instead of a half inch seam, I did a three eighths inch.

Got a Jo-Ann’s coupon in the mail yesterday, and stopped in today to buy the form to stuff inside. Et voila! a very nice, decorative pillow for my bed, to go with the wall quilt that will eventually hang over the headboard.

While at Jo-Ann’s today, I found their quilting notions were all on sale, too. I was very pleased when I stumbled upon this item:

Dritz Seam Gauge

Looks like the accuracy of my seams will be in good hands from now on!

I can’t tell you how good it feels to look at this pillow. It’s far nicer than anything I could have bought, I love the colors – and I made it all myself! This is exactly why I craft – so I can make nicer, better quality things that I will like more than what I see in the stores.

I can’t wait now to get that wall quilt done…

Weekend Wrap Up

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Sewing,Shopping Adventures,Stitchery — folkcat at 12:11 pm on Monday, April 16, 2007

My productive streak continued through the weekend. Let’s see if I can remember everything!

First off, a friend and I went out to visit a Local Quilt Shop on Friday for their Friday the 13th sale. The big draw is bundles of 13 fat quarters for $13.

I’d been to a previous Friday the 13th sale entirely by accident, and picked up this stack of retro print fat quarters then:

Fabric - 13 Retro Prints

I’ve taken a notion that I want to make a hexagon quilt, some variation on Grandmother’s Flower Garden, and these fabrics would be perfect. So I went up to the sale Friday hoping to find another stack of the retro prints.

As luck would have it, there was exactly one left on the sale table by the time I got there. I pounced, and it was mine!

Fabric - More Retro Prints

Best of all, there are only three fabrics in the new stack that duplicate fabrics from the old stack. So I have 23 different fabrics here. What fun!

Anya and I kept going after that shop, and visited another quilt shop where I found these friendly-looking cats in the clearance corner:

Goofy Cat Fabric
Psycho Kitties?

Of course, they had to come home with me. No idea what they’ll wind up in, but how could I resist those faces? I bought a yard on Friday, and then when I went into the same shop again Saturday, I bought another yard. (I’ll probably do that every time I visit there, so long as the fabric is still present in the clearance corner.)

Here’s the info about the fabric as found on the selvedge, if you want to try to track it down yourself. Click the picture for a larger image if you need it.

Goofy Cat Fabric, Selvedge Info

While out at quilt shops, I had a chance to show my first quilt squares from last week to an expert or two. Turns out that what I thought was a cutting error that made one piece of each square a little too long, was actually a sewing error. I’m still practicing, folks, and apparently I haven’t nailed the art of the quarter-inch seam yet. All my seams came out just a hair larger than the magic quarter-inch, and though there weren’t that many seams in any given square, the cumulative effect was enough to make that last piece appear too long.

Not to worry – the squares I made will get trimmed, and sewn into a pillow. That sounded like a better idea than picking apart the seams and trying again! When I went back to the quilt shop on Saturday, I bought quarters of the same fabrics again so I can start fresh for the wall hanging I’m working on. And I’ll have a pillow to match!

Enough About the Shopping – How About the Crafting?

Managed to do pretty well there, too. Both Gryphon and I put in a lot of work on the PixelHobby tiles. Four baseplates are now complete, with two more well over halfway done. The entire picture contains twelve baseplates, so we’re approaching the halfway point on the project as a whole.

Having decided that the weekend might offer better, focusable time for needlework, I put in the latest Netflix disc (Veronica Mars, Season 1, Disc 4), and pulled out the miniature knotted rug. At last, the border on that central medallion with the mice is complete!

Needlework In Progress (NIP) Kitty Corner Knotted Rug, Medallion Complete

The next step is to stitch the vines that border the stone pathways radiating out from the center.

I’m beginning to think that there are “Bad Thread Days” in needlework. The previous two times I’d tried to work on this stitching, the thread seemed to misbehave badly, snagging, popping the French knots through the fabric when it shouldn’t, etc. This time, everything was smooth and easy. Humidity? Stitching Goddess? Who knows?

Later Sunday, after my fingers were worn out from tiny embroidery needles and pixelating, I picked up Gryphon’s latest sock and got back to work. The heel was finished in good time, and I began working up the leg. Home stretch, folks, and then I get to do it again!

WIP - Gryphon's Socks, P2, S1, Into the Leg

Into Today

Monday is Spinning Day, and I think the yarn I plied last Monday has sat on the bobbin long enough. I’ll be skeining that up and giving it a wash today. Then I think, rather than start a new project on the wheel, I’ll put some time in on one of the several unfinished yarns I’ve got on spindles.

I hope you all stayed warm and dry yesterday. Gryphon and I planned well, and were able to stay inside crafting and relaxing. Of course, the Weather Channel is predicting various combinations of rain and snow for nearly every day this week. Yuck! Did we use up all of spring in January, do you think, or is it going to wait until it’s officially summer to make an appearance?

Ich Bin Ein Quilter

Filed under: Daily Life,Sewing — folkcat at 11:50 am on Thursday, April 12, 2007

The mojo seems to be working, but I don’t want to dwell on that too much – mojo is easily scared away. But yesterday, I continued my productive streak.

I exercised. I worked on book stuff. And I made four – yes, four – quilt squares.

QIP - Bento Box, Squares 1-4
Quilt In Progress (QIP) – Bento Box, Squares One – Four

The cutting and sewing instructions for this pattern are very fat quarter friendly. They guide you through cutting strips, sewing some of them together, cutting the sewn strips down, and then tell you exactly what order to sew the resulting pieces in and which way to press the seams.

Follow the instructions with a pair of fat quarters, and you get the four squares you see above. Plus, you have enough fabric left over to do it again, so you can actually get two sets of these from each pair of fat quarters.

Before I do that, though, next Wednesday I’ll move on to a different pair of fat quarters. I could assemble the quilt with sets of four matching squares arranged like in the photo, but the best ones I’ve seen mix the fabrics up a lot more. I look forward to having all my combinations made up. Then I can play with layouts to see where I want to put all the squares.

Having actually sat down and pieced four quilt squares was a threshold event for me. Before, I didn’t consider myself a quilter. Now, I do. I actually experienced a near panic attack Wednesday afternoon as I faced the concept of getting out the ironing board and iron, setting up the cutting mat, and prepping the sewing machine.

I was preparing to try something very new, and was afraid of complete and utter failure. And taking up quilting signifies a major change in my self-image. I’ve always defined myself as a crafter who would do just about anything except quilting.

Thankfully, I powered through the panic and did it anyway. And I’m pleased with the results. Guess I blew that old self image out of the water, huh?

I think my cutting skills need a little work, and perhaps I need some enhancements to my meager collection of rotary cutting rulers. One set of pieces came out just a skoosh longer than they should have, but they’re easily within the range of a small cutting error, or inaccurate use of the rulers. All the rest of the parts fit together just as they should, and the tiny excess in the one piece will be easily trimmed away.

So now, I am a quilter. What else don’t I know about myself?

Tonight

The weather is confusing today. So far, just rain, but they keep saying we’re going to get mixed rain and snow accumulating up to a few inches. It’s Panera night, and I’ve been trying to figure out if I’m going to brave the weather and have to drive home on sloppy, slippery roads, or stay home and watch as it does nothing but rain more.

I think we’re going to err on the side of going out, and just taking it very slowly and carefully if it turns sloppy. Keep your fingers crossed, and send good, warm thoughts our way!

Tuesday is Needlework Day – Unless It Isn’t

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Sewing,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:25 pm on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Because, you know…it just doesn’t seem to be working out.

I thought that needlework would be doable for Tuesdays, but in reality, I just can’t seem to get there. When I sit down to do embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, it takes a certain amount of time to set up, and you want to be able to work uninterrupted for a good while before having to set things aside.

Tuesdays are Craft Goddess day. My friends come into my home to sit and craft for a few hours in the evening. In fact, I go out to pick one up and bring her back. Which means that there’s always a change of activity to anticipate within an hour or so of starting anything on a Tuesday.

I’m going to shift things around, then. The way things are currently set up, Monday and Wednesday are already filled with crafts that require the same sort of attention as the needlework – spinning and quilting. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all involve outings or gatherings of some sort, and aren’t conducive to needlework. Weekends have been considered “Anything Goes,” but there’s no reason I can’t put a Needlework Day on either Saturday or Sunday.

The new concept, then, is to have Tuesday as an Anything Goes day. I can pick up whatever craft is easy to do while chatting with friends. On the weekends, when it’s just Gryphon and me, I can work in needlework activities among the other things we do quite easily.

The failure of yesterday as a Needlework Day means I have nothing to show you today. I did a fair bit of work on book stuff, but it looks a lot like the last photo of that which I shared.

Wednesday is Quilting Day

I actually got enough cleaning and organizing done on Monday that I think I’ll be able to do this, too. The card table is ready for the cutting mat to be laid out, the sewing machine is up and loaded with the correct needle. Wish me luck!

Gray Wednesday

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Daily Life,Knitting,Sewing — folkcat at 3:23 pm on Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Both inside and out. I’m having one of those emotionally stormy days, it seems. So while I’ll try to get some real crafting done, I’m not going to beat myself up if I only manage a comforting, mental health day.

It didn’t help that my camera batteries died. Not just the set in the camera, but also the set that had recently been charged. They’re just not holding a charge for any length of time anymore. So all I’ve managed for photos to show you that I crafted yesterday is this:

p4040092_edited-copy.jpg
Mystery Beadwork

I also worked on the Mystery Knitting yesterday – finished it, in fact. Once the batteries charge up I’ll take the photos I can show you after the items have gone to their destination.

And since, under the new system, Tuesday is Needlework Day, I did some stitching on that miniature knotted rug project. I’d show you a photo but, well…

If I can pull together any motivation today, theoretically Wednesday is Quilting (and other sewing) Day. If not, then know that at least I tried.

Take care of yourselves today, and I’ll do the same. See you tomorrow!

The Circle of FOs and WIPs? QIPs? BIPs?

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Knitting,Sewing — folkcat at 1:18 pm on Monday, March 26, 2007

It’s the way of the crafter, the endless cycle of projects. When I started this blog, I began using the term WIP – Work In Progress – the way I saw so many knitbloggers do.

So then, if I quilt, is it a QIP? If I bead, is it a BIP? The knitting doesn’t seem to get called KIP – Knitting in Progress – if only because I know that term usually means Knitting In Public among us bloggers.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter, except to the degree that tossing the variant terms around tickles my fancy. Which, I must admit, it does!

FO

The socks, they are done!

FO: Gryphon's Beaded Rib Socks

Yes, Gryphon and I both have incredibly pale legs. Neither of us is an outdoors type. The socks, though, that’s what you’re supposed to be looking at! Aren’t they cool?

The Pattern: Beaded Rib Socks, from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. A toe-up pattern.
The Yarn: Special Blauband, gifted by Claudia, with plain black Scheepjeswolle at the toes and heels to extend the yardage.
The Needles: Brittany dpns, US size 1.5 (2.5mm)

Modifications: None. Well, one – Gryphon’s ankle is smaller than his foot circumference, so I decreased an inch worth of stitches after the heel before continuing as normal up the leg.

Issues: Just one. My gauge seemed to loosen up on the second sock a bit, and it doesn’t fit quite as well as the other. I think it’s a simple matter of me being more comfortable with the process by then, and so I knit faster, and when I knit faster, I knit looser. Knowing that, I’m sure I’ll be able to improve my consistency with more practice.

We already have another ball of yarn in the house for his next socks, and two more on order. So I guess this experiment was a success, since we’ve got plans to repeat it until Gryphon has a reasonably-sized sock wardrobe.

WIPs, BIPs, and QIPs

Let’s see…Mystery BIP didn’t progress over the weekend. See, it’s part of working on Judith’s book, which I am treating as a Monday to Friday job. So I get weekends off from that.

Mystery WIP, for which I showed the yarns on Friday, made good progress. I set out expecting to make a certain number of items from the pattern as written, just in different colors. But, true to form, I quickly saw easy modifications I could make that would differentiate these finished pieces even more. In the end, I think only two will be made as specified in the pattern, and at least four will be made with my mods. Tally thus far: 2 out of 6 completed, 4 to go.

Meanwhile, on the quilting front, I’ve been struggling with the Sawtooth Star pattern for the challenge up at my Most Local Quilt Shop – unsuccessfully. I made the second attempt, and still found things not lining up as they should, pieces coming out to not match the edges they have to be sewn to, etc. Very frustrating, and I’d really like to have gotten it right. But given all the other projects I am working on, and the fact that the Sawtooth Star project has a deadline of the end of the month, I have decided to cut my losses and abandon it. I may decide that the parts and pieces can come together in some other project some day. But I think the Sawtooth Star, with so little instruction given along with it (just the cutting list and a diagram showing which way to press seams, really), may not have been my best choice for a first project.

Still and all, yes, there is officially a QIP now. I had bought the pattern for the Bento Box quilt some time ago. (Okay, it was all of 20 days ago.) The design appeals to me visually, plus the instructions are straightforward and complete. And it’s all straight seams and 90 degree angles, so it should be much easier as a first project.

What officially turned it into a QIP, though, is the fact that this weekend I went to Yet Another Local Quilt Shop (we have more of them than yarn stores), and bought the fabrics to make the wall hanging size of the quilt.

QIP: Bento Box, Fabric Selections

That’s 12 fat quarters, six in darks, and six in lights to go with them. The pairings of light and dark you see here are the pairings I expect to use in the quilt. So far. I may still move them around and try different combinations before starting to cut and sew. We’ll see!

Wayback Wednesday Comes On Tuesday This Week

Filed under: Knitting,Rats!,Sewing,Wayback Wednesday — folkcat at 12:44 pm on Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oh-oh! That means that Jen’s got nothing to show for her Monday, right?

Practically nothing, anyway, and certainly nothing worth photographing. I worked a lot on some things I can’t talk about, I did four more repeats of the edging on the Carnival Glass Shawl (all those bloggers are right – knitted on edgings take forever!). I didn’t get a chance to pick up the socks to work on them.

Remember I was talking about making a quilt square – a sawtooth star for a drawing up at my local quilt shop? What I never reported on was that the first attempt was a disaster. I’m not very familiar with my sewing machine, but I made my best effort. Only it seems that the presser foot I was using for the first try, although I could swear I measured and was getting a 1/4″ out to the edge of the foot, was actually giving me a much smaller seam allowance.

So the entire block got sewn together with seams too small, I wound up trimming things to make them fit together, etc.

Wanda at the shop was nice enough to give me material for a second try, as well as some advice about working with the sewing machine. So yesterday, I gave it another go.

Seam allowances are good this time. But I’m still having an issue with things not matching in size. And I know I was accurate about my cutting, I measured both before and after.

So I’m at a loss on this for the moment. It may be that I shouldn’t have tried something with triangles in it for my first square, because those Flying Geese pieces on the sides of the Sawtooth Square block are what I’m having trouble with. I just can’t seem to get things aligned to make them work.

And I’m sure not going to take a photo of the latest attempt in progress – this is a crafting blog, not a horror one. Trust me, you really don’t want to see it.

Wayback Wednesday

I know, it hardly ever comes on Wednesday any more, does it? But you know how it is – lacking real content to show you, let’s take a trip back to one year ago, and see what was going on then:

Mar. 20, 2006: Unifinished Rat Cage

Obviously, we were getting ready to bring the Rattie Sisters home – which we did about ten days later. This is the cage we built, partly done – we have yet to add the shelves or the door.

Mar. 20, 2006: WIP: Gryphon's Burgundy Sweater Vest

And look at that – I’d begun knitting a second sweater vest for Gryphon. Guess what? This is still a WIP, though it’s much further along now.

Exciting, huh? Well, tune in tomorrow, I’ll try to have something current to show you. Meanwhile, Happy Crafting!

FOs, New Challenges, and Discoveries

Filed under: Gryphon,Knitting,Rats!,Sewing,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 4:27 pm on Monday, March 5, 2007

It was a weekend of adventure for Gryphon and me. We made some discoveries of local resources we didn’t know about. I took on some new crafting challenges (I’ve hinted at them before, but now it’s probably going to actually happen). And I finished a recent WIP, as well as start-to-finish completed two more that you haven’t even heard about!

FOs

First up, though, a touch of old business. You may remember that I knit a request for a friend – a dicky for her motorcycle-riding boyfriend, Ken? Said friend recently sent me a photo of Ken wearing the dicky, along with the crocheted hat she made from the leftover yarn.

Ken in his dicky

I’m pleased with how this looks! And Ken is a great model!

On to more recent business. I finished knitting the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs on Friday, then sewed up the seams in the soles on Saturday. So yesterday was felting day!

Here’s how they looked before:

FO: Gryphon's Felted Clogs, Before

Great big floppy clown shoes!

We sent these through the heavy-duty cycle of the washing machine about, oh…I lost count after six or seven times. I had noted before that the yarn was going to be difficult to felt, but that it would get where we needed it with effort. Well, effort was right.

In the end, Gryphon decided to stop the process with the clogs still fitting a little loosely, with a comment that this way he’s free to throw them in the washer now and then, and let them shrink more as they will. Here’s the finished picture:

FO: Gryphon's Felted Clogs, After

As I said, still a little large. In fact, the instant I took this photo, I realized that the clogs reminded me of nothing else but Goofy’s shoes. I couldn’t find a good clipart for the comparison, though.

Gryphon loves them, though, and has been wearing them all over the house since. So count this as another FO success!

After finishing the clogs, I picked up a big crochet hook*, took the same doubled yarn I’d used for the clogs, and whipped up a nesting bowl for the Rattie Sisters. They have a couple of such bowls that began life as travel water bowls for dogs, but which are perfect for Ratties to curl up in and sleep. They’re getting pretty chewed up, though, and will need replacing eventually.

Here’s the first one I made, being inspected by Sable. (Star helps by turning away to wash her tail.)

FO: Rat Nest Bowl

They haven’t quite taken to it as a substitute for the doggy water bowl yet, but they will. It took them a few days to adjust to the original bowls, after all, but they grew to love them.

Having tasted Fast FO with the bowl, I grabbed some odds and ends of Lamb’s Pride, and started in on another Rattie bowl. This time, I used multiple colors, did a little fancy stitchery around one or two rounds, and cinched in the top a bit to make a cozy, nestable shape.

When I showed the finished product to Gryphon, he jokingly put it on his head.

FO: Gryphon's Crochet Hat

And dang! if it didn’t look quite good on him! He was as surprised as I was – it’s not a style of hat he’d normally go for. But he likes it, and so what was intended as a Rattie Nest Bowl is now being called a Rasta Beanie.

New Challenges

A little bit ago, I mentioned that I was considering taking up quilting. This past week, I received the e-mail newsletter from the Bunkhouse Quilt Shop. One of the tidbits mentioned was a new project/contest. Each month, for $2, you can buy a kit with a pattern and the fabric needed to make one quilt block. You sew up your block, and bring it into the store to hang on the design wall, at which time you also add your name to the jar for the prize drawing.

At the end of the month, one name is chosen randomly. That lucky winner gets to keep all the blocks! All of them are the same, so if enough people participated, you could have a whole bed-sized quilt with almost every bit of piecing done for you!

I thought, “geez, one block is a nice, easy way to get started – depending on the block. And $2? Cheap enough! Let’s check this out!” So Gryphon and I ran up the hill (they’re only a couple miles up the hill from me), and took a look.

Here are the pieces for my block, all laid out. The pattern is the Sawtooth Star, and all the blocks will be this same combination of red and cream-colored prints.

Quilting WIP: Bunkhouse Quilt Shop March Block

Now I just have to get around to sewing it up!

The quilting plan, after this starter block, is to make a complete wall hanging. This way I’ll get to do all the parts of the process – piecing, border, backing – and figure out whether I want to try quilting on my old Kenmore machine, or have it done for me. Once I’ve done a wall hanging, I’ll move on to making the queen-size bed quilt I want (and the desire for which started this whole thing about wanting to quilt).

I’ve even picked out the pattern I’m going to work with, for both the wall hanging and the bed quilt. Found it at Bunkhouse when we were there yesterday, and since they only had one copy left, I decided to take no chances and lock it in.

Quilting Future: Bento Box Pattern

This looks like a good option for me as a beginner. The pieces are all squares and rectangles. All the seams are straight. The instructions are actually geared towards using fat quarters, making it easy for me to find multiple fabrics I like for the project. They even tell me that I need so many light fat quarters, so many dark ones, for each size of quilt you might want to make.

Discoveries

Whoa…you know, I just realized how long this post is getting. So I think maybe these will have to wait until tomorrow! I’ll just offer a teaser, perhaps…

Pink Cloud?

This is one of the items Gryphon and I found a source for, nearby, readymade, and easy to get to. They had a bunch of other things I’ve been wanting, too! I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow – promise!

*I know, I know – I haven’t ever really talked about crochet here. That’s because, though I’m proficient at crochet, I don’t do it all that often. That may change, though…Claudia has talked me into reading the Freeform Crochet Yahoo group…and there’s all this stash to play with…

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