There are some people out there who don't buy into the whole celebrating birthdays bit. I do not understand you people. That being said, my birthday celebration this year is going great! I spent half the day in the car driving back from Richmond, VA today, but since I slept for most of it...it was a clear win.
I had a great time at MDSW by the way, I didn't buy much to be honest, it was fun to just be there (and meet blog readers!).
You are probably wondering what I am giving away today. Oh, I am so glad you were wondering! Today I am giving away a stitchie kit. A while ago, I made two patterns based on the Littles, and I think they are pretty cute (I am biased, obviously). The beautiful thing is this: you can alter the pattern as you see fit. Making this for someone with blonde hair and blue eyes? I am sure there is floss for that...and I probably have it! in any case, stitchie kit. Today's winner will get a sizable square of Kona cotton upon which to stitch your little heart out, embroidery floss, a needle and a pattern. Either Flying or Floating, you pick.
To get this prize of utter cuteness (again, bias...and maybe a little self-promotion, but whatever) please tell me: what is the best birthday gift you have ever gifted to another person?
I will take comments for this post, and all Novakkah posts, until 11:59 EST (or2359, should you prefer that), Saturday, May 12th. Please leave your responses on the appropriate post. One entry per post/person. I will show you what I have to gift each day and let you know what you need to tell me to try to get it. Giftees will be selected on the 13th and gifts sent out shortly thereafter.
Well, as great as Washington DC was, we ended up fleeing the scene at two this morning afterLittle Mister started exhibiting signs of a stomach bug. We are pretty sure it was food poisoning suffered at the same time as catching a fresh cold; but, at the time (of which, I am thinking very little in the way of rational thought happens at two in the morning) it seemed like a good idea to start heading home. The healthy kid decided his time would be better spent at school, so away he went. He brought flowers home with him though (thoughtful, no?).
The sick one basically took up space in different parts of the house all day. But he is so cute, one can't be bothered by it, really.
Coming home early did give me a chance to get some quilting done and enjoy all my new birthday fabric.
If it weren't my birthday, I suspect an intervention of some sort would be happening, but since it IS my birthday, well, it's just a jolly show of capitalism (just go with me on this). Any way, today's gift...scraps! Of fabric! Get excited!
I have recently finished quilting three quilts (and sewing a pillow) of the vintage fabric variety (don't get too excited, all the quilts need binding). I have a bag of scraps left, it needs a new home. I think I have a three quilt limit with fabric, I can't look at the stuff any more. In addition to the vintage-scraps--you should read this as upcyled bed linens, because that is what they are (which came from fat quarters purchased from Whimsie Dots on etsy), I am also going to give you a fair amount of scrap-age of quilt store quality cotton fabrics as well (some of it will just get cut from fresh yardage as I tend to find ways to encorporate my scraps into new projects which leaves very little in the way of fab-scraps in my stash). You'll get a lot of solids as well as some fun prints, a good selection of scraps of all sizes to add to your stash. If you are wondering what one can possibly accomplish with scraps, you are obviously not familiar with the genius of my friend Chawne. Get thee aquainted.
At the moment, all my quilting energies (and general productivity, actually) are going into finishing a quilt for the birthday (or really, birth day--as in day of birth) of Little Mister's teacher (I have decided to quilt more lines...a thing worth doing is worth doing well, after all). The woman has been pregnant for the last nine months, it's not like the impending birth is a surprise, I just waited to the last minute to design, plan, and make the quilt, as one does. If you are interested in getting this very fine collection of scraps to work with (of course it's very fine, people, I do nothing half way), please tell me the most meaningful gift (birthday or otherwise) you pulled together in a hurry (we could also say procrastinated, but that would suggest laziness--and if you are not willing to own your laziness as I am, you might be offended, so let's just say "pulled together in a hurry")... if you are a crafter (which I assume you are because you are reading this blog), this should be an easy one--but it doesn't have to be a gift you made, after yesterday's post and the comments I am curious to see how thoughtful and meaningful gifts given are remembered. In case you haven't figured it out, I take gift-giving very seriously.
I will take comments for this post, and all Novakkah posts, until 11:59 EST (or2359, should you prefer that), Thursday, May 12th. Please leave your responses on the appropriate post. One entry per post/person. I will show you what I have to gift each day and let you know what you need to tell me to try to get it. Giftees will be selected on the 13th and gifts sent out shortly thereafter.
Hip hip hooray! x 5. We are really into the hip hips in our household, but I am not typing that out five times. I am too lazy, and some of you would likely find it obnoxious. I have had a good deal to write about, I just haven't done it--that behavior is going to stop immediately. In the mean time, let me tell you about something big in the novamade household. Today is my five year anniversary of motherhood! Or, if you'd rather (and probably more appropriate, Little Sir is five today! As you can imagine he is very excited about it. So was his brother.
Until he learned that birthdays are more fun when they are your own. There has been, as is our way, much celebration over the last week. But the celebration is extending into Saturday because that's when we will celebrate with friends while bowling (I don't understand this, to be honest, but I guess kids really like the whole bowling thing). Also, the fact that I have class tonight has pushed cake consumption (and, well, cake baking) to tomorrow (which it's nothing exciting, it's the same cake I always make for birthdays because it's a favorite--the strawberry shortcake one from the Barefoot Contessa)--but who is going to complain about an additional two days of celebration and presents? Certainly none of my offspring. Maybe you are wondering what any of this has to do with crafting. Well, let me tell you. See, I do the, "hey, it's a gift-giving occasion, I think I will make you something" thing for my kids. And I was thinking of something simple like, I don't know, a pillow (I said simple, not fabulous). On a return trip home from Vermont, we were passing right by Webs, so obviously we had to stop there. Let's be honest here, I don't need more yarn. I don't need anything really (but I am rather want-y over quite a bit these days, if we are being honest). But it never hurts to look, right? Little Sir decided to go in with me. Whilst there, he decided that I really needed to knit him a sweater for his birthday. I thought it was rather generous of him to give me two weeks notice. What did I get from Webs? Nothing. What did Little Sir get from Webs? A sweater's worth of yarn. The sweater is not done (I know, you are probably as surprised as, well, no one). I am hoping to finish it this weekend. It's certainly still cold enough for wool-wear here in New England, after all.
If there is one thing a contest or giveaway is good for, it's learning that you are not alone in your insanity. Some of you have some crazy long lists; and, I totally respect that. My plans for fall seemed ready, and then a friend gave me a request that might push a ton of my fall projects into winter (as opposed to the few projects I was previously expecting).
So I think this is all of the fall knitting that I have planned. The grey (back left) is some Beaverslide Dy Goods McTaggert Tweed destined to be a sweater. I have no idea which one since I have changed my mind about the pattern no less than 6 times between taking it out of the cabinet and winding the cakes. The orange yarn next to the grey is going to be a shawl, very fall, no? The taupe/brown yarn next to the orange is going to be a Wallaby, I think it's time that Little Sir had one that was easy care and cotton. Below that is some dyed Perrendale wool that is going to be spun up and knit into a sweater for Little Mister. Next to the blue roving and underneath the orange yarn is a sweater that has been in progress since last fall--it needs sleeves, that's doable. A skein of Cherry Tree Supersock in birches for socks. Some Louet sport...maybe another sweater for Little Mister, clearly one who gets so happy about fall needs fall sweaters? And then the single sock with the remainder of sock yarn for a sock that has been mateless for two years. So sad.
I was all set with the knitting plans; and, then a friend who bought a house in Costa Rica last year asked if I would make two afghans for her new piece of paradise to brighten things up. Um, how could I say no? I could not. So I am going to be crocheting two afghan throws; but, I need to finish them so she can take them along to her new place in November. So that is likely going to be where my efforts get concentrated first. I haven't gotten the yarn yet (and can I just freely admit how giddy I am to be ordering new yarn? It's so exciting to looks at the colors and imagine what the yarn can be turned into! I wish I could be a personal shopper for yarn types, I would be so good at that. Really.).
And then there are the quilts. I wants to make tons, but I have to finish the log cabin quilt. Little Sir is very interested in helping me. I think the hold up for this quilt is the fact that I decided to quilt it myself, when the sensible solution would be to send it out to a professional quilter with a longarm machine. But deep down, there is some part of me that wants to be able to say, "oh, quilt a queen-sized quilt, I've done that, it's not so bad." That is also the part me that I refer to as my naive and stupid side, so there you are.)
And then there is this autumnal stack for a kid's quilt.
And don't even get me started on my weaving plans. I don't know what they are, but I know I have plans to weave...
In case you were wondering, I wasn't as successful on the summer finishing front, the red scarf is done (needs wet blocking); and, I am super close to finishing the lacey shawl...I should be able to get things from the summer list done this week though (with the exception of the sweater vest, never have I felt so plagued by such a simple project). I don't feel so bad about it, I had a nice and restful weekend with my boys, and that was where my priorities were for the holiday.
And as for the contest/giveaway, I used a random number generator to "pick" a winner, and that would be Ali who blogs at Skeins Her Way. Thanks for playing everyone, good luck with finishing your summer projects and getting through your fall knitting list!
There are a ton of gorgeous designer fabrics available for the quilter (or crafter in general) these days. I am a fan of pretty much anything that Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry come up with. I like Alexander Henry's prints as well as Michael Miller's, too. It's fair to say that I have a pretty good handle of the slew of modern fabric print designers out there. And as you know, I am a stasher. So I nab bits and pieces of things here and there for consumption later. But I will share a secret with you, I hoard the designer fabrics in they same way a newbie handspinner will hoard and hold onto his or her first independent dyer's handpainted roving. You know, afraid to spin it because it's the "good stuff".
For a while, I was afraid to dig into my fabric stash because it was all "the good stuff" and I have never really been that sure of my quilting abilities. But it recently occurred to be that I have been quilting for ten years, so I actually know more about quilting than I do about anything else I do. And if I have been quilting for ten years and haven't been using "the good stuff" what have I been using? Well, I am glad you asked. Let me tell you...
I have been using fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft.* Some of you out there, I am sure, are shaking your heads. But hear (read) me out. My mother has never met a piece of fabric she didn't like. She is a sewer. My aunt is a professional seamstress and tailor and my mom insists that she taught her everything she knows, I would like to think that my aunt's schooling did that; but, there you are. In any case, when my mother discovered JoAnn's for the first time, it was a little insane. I was 5 or 6 at the time and a friend told her she should go see it, so she did...she almost passed out because of the selection. My mother is a sewer of clothes. She always has been, she only sews aprons now (why one woman needs 30 aprons, I will never know), but back in the day, my mother was a sewing machine, or rather, an extension of her Singer.
So when I started quilting ten years ago, JoAnn's was pretty much all I knew about fabric. I never really wanted to sew clothes as a kid, my mom sewed them for me all the time and I didn't care for them (my mom has a thing for ruffles, bows, etc.), she leaned towards sewing dresses and I was a tomboy (does that shock anyone?). My mom never made quilts, even today, it would never occur to her to make a quilt. In any case, I started buying fabric from JoAnn's for quilts. And then one day, I got a Hancock's of Paducah catalog from a friend... I wish I could say it changed my whole crafting world; but, my first thought, at the time, was "why is this stuff so expensive?"
I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, so I figured there was something about the fabric one purchased from Hancock's or from a quilt shop that made it remarkably different from the fabric one bought at a JoAnn's. So I ordered a half yard of a print that I liked just to compare (it was the cute fish fabric, I still like it--too bad I can't find anymore of it).
There, obviously, was a difference...but not a huge one in regard to quality. You know how sometimes you pay for a name or a logo or the brand? I think that is the case with a lot of the fabric on the market today. I have seen fabric at quilt shops that surely was not worth$10 a yard... and I make that statement on the weave structure of the fabric, not the print design (which really, is another kettle of fish(!) entirely).
At a quilt show I went to recently, there were these two women, let's call them Linda and Holly (because that's what they called each other, I am going to go out on limb here and guess that they are probably not novamade blog readers). This was their conversation:
Linda: Holly, did you see that quilt with the browns and reds in the corner?
Holly: I did, Linda, but it's too bad she used JoAnn's fabrics. You can tell that the fabrics just aren't up to snuff.
Linda: Yes, it's too bad.
Really? Really, Holly? Because I saw that red and brown quilt too, and I thought it was lovely (sorry, the quilter didn't want photos taken, I like to follow rules). Folks, there was nothing wrong with that quilt. The quilter picked good solid cotton fabrics, and quite frankly, she was probably able to afford the long arm machine she used to quilt it because of the money she saved/s on fabric; but, what do I know?
I know, for a fact, that if you use common sense when selecting fabric from JoAnn's or other discount fabric stores, you are going to be able to put together a nice quilt (for less money). And that quilt will last for a long time. I made Special K's wedding quilt with fabric from JoAnn's, almost ten years ago.
It has been washed repeatedly (in the washing machine...and dried in the dryer). This quilt gets a lot of use, more so now because of Little Sir and his penchant for using it as a cape. Any irregularity in the quilt now probably has more to do with my quilting ability back then...it was only my second quilt, cut me some slack.
I went though my fabric stash recently and pulled out all of the leftover JoAnn's fabrics from projects I have done over the last 10 years. I ended up giving a ton of it away to some other crafty people I know. I ended up keeping the stuff most recently purchased for particular projects. I may not purchase as much fabric for quilting from JoAnn's in the future, mostly because it's not the greatest idea to mix JoAnn's fabric with the designer stuff, as they probably would degrade at different rates, but you have to be careful about that with fabrics from different design houses anyways, in my opinion.
I think, and again, this is just me, in this economy, or any economy really, you have to be able to balance your crafty pursuits and your other responsibilities, be they fiscal or otherwise. I recently bought "designer" quality fabric to make a a queen-sized quilt. While entering the receipts in our money management gizmo thingy I realized that the amount spent on that fabric and supplies could have fed my family for a month. I didn't feel guilty about this, as the money was used from money specifically budgeted for my crafting endeavors; but, it certainly puts things in perspective.
Before I start working on that pricey quilt (probably with the help of some friends), I still have to figure out how to finish my queen-sized JoAnn's fabric nightmare. It's a nightmare not because of the quality of the fabric, which is fine, I think some of the prints are cute too; but, seriously? Thirty-six log cabin blocks? Gah.
I went to JoAnn's yesterday because the Simplicity patterns were on sale over the weekend (Little Sir wants to be a pirate for Halloween, that's what he settled on after realizing his gnome costume doesn't fit him anymore). As I paid $1 for the pattern at the register, I concluded that sometimes, it's nice to pay for something on the cheap...because really, who doesn't like a good deal?
* Some of you may have also figured out that you can find a lot (and I mean A LOT) of Alexander Henry and Robert Kaufman prints mixed in with the calicoes at JoAnn's. Just saying. If you were not aware of this nugget of info before, Happy Christmas.
There are many knitters who pride themselves on the size of their yarn stash(es). Some people are proud of how much they have accumulated; while others are proud of how little they accumulate, instead making deliberate purchases for planned projects (admittedly, there are not that many of you). There is another camp of course, the one I am a part of, the stashers who have, basically, greedily hoarded, so much yarn and fiber that they are humbled, if not embarrassed, by the volume of stash accumulation.
I have a lot of yarn. Amount assessment is relative, to be sure. My definition of "a lot" may be minuscule to some; but, let's get real here, any sane person will agree with me, there is no shortage of yarn and fiber in Novaland.
This great epiphany of my yarn stash having a life of its own occurred to me last March. When I bought yarn that I pretty much already have to make a vest for Special K.
I wish I could say that my argument was: I didn't want to use part of a sweater's worth of yarn for a vest; but, that wasn't it, not completely any way, the fact of the matter is this: I forgot I had the yarn. Let me say that again: I forgot I had the yarn. In my defense, there was a time that I packed my stashes of yarn, fabric and fiber away in bins, boxes and bags; and, there was a good deal of "out of sight, out of mind" action going on. But here's the thing, if you have twenty-two (22) sweater's worth of yarn sitting in your stash, you (and by "you" I mean "I") should probably just make do with what you have and figure out a use for any surplus yarn meant for a sweater project.
After this purchase of yarn that I didn't need to buy because I already had it, I decided to go off of buying yarn for a while. I don't feel deprived at all. It's not a yarn diet, I am simply making do with what I have; or, if you'd rather, making use of what is in the stash. If I can't knit a project with yarn that I've already got, I probably shouldn't be thinking about knitting it right now. Seems so logical. Surely, it's the economical approach, wouldn't you say?
Lest you think me virtuous, let me say that my hoarding tendencies moved from yarn acquisition to increasing my stash of fiber since the yarn shelves were full. I burn through fiber pretty quickly; but, I ventured into fiber stashing in the least fiscally responsible way possible (basically, if Krista or Carrie did an update, I competed with other buyers to purchase the fiber--I can be a wee competitive). I am all about supporting independent crafters, but for my health and the health of my bank account, I need to bar myself from etsy sometimes, like now.
And really, it's called for when you start to accumulate fiber at an exponential rate.
And when that fiber starts encroaching on the fabric stash, well clearly, it's time to stop.
So I am in full "making do" mode. Which, for me, isn't such a bad thing. I have a ton of good quality yarn and fiber. Over the years, I have become something of a fiber elitist (for whatever reason, I like "elitist" better than "snob"), that is not to say that I don't recognize a good deal especially when it comes to utility and function. While I am not overly enthusiastic about acrylic. I recognize that this synthetic material makes caring for knits made for children more doable. I wish there was more Cotton Ease in my stash right now, because I would really like to make sweaters for the boys for Christmas in yarn that will actually facilitate utilizing the garment. I'll figure something out, I am nothing if not industrious.
Lately, I have noticed that yarn and fiber that was once coveted (by me anyways) is more easily attainable now. I am not sure if it's because I am not purchasing right now and the materials are beckoning to me with some sort of weird siren's call; or, perhaps, it's not just me. Maybe other knitters, and spinners are out there looking at what they have in their stashes and thinking, "I have a lot enough. Maybe I should just make do."
* alternatively: I'm a greedy hoarder and I need to stop
So you remember how I said there would be no dyeing studio in the vicinity of my residence anytime soon...or ever. I think I was well-intentioned when throwing that out there for the masses; but, the fact of the matter is this: when you have a little over two pounds of fiber to dye, and you have a full-time job, children and a husband all hoping for dinner that does not involve a box or microwave...you are probably going to dye that wool at home when everyone else is asleep (and then spend an eternity cleaning your kitchen. Sigh.).
And well, it just worked out better that way...because really, I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing at 2 a.m. on a Thursday morning--though I am starting to think that sleeping would be a good alternative too; but, there you are. I like it, there was a good bit of trialing. A got a lot of dye (I know, this is not shocking to anyone) to try out before settling on something suitable for me. I wear a lot of neutral colors, my wardrobe is not very exciting, I usually punch up my color options with accessories. As I write this I am wearing various shades of khaki, which really, is a little less than inspiring. But as you may remember, I have a fondness for purple (which, if we are being honest here, is kind of a lively version of black, really--color theorists back off! I am thinking fashion-wise here! Trust me, after all the dyeing I have done recently, I know a thing or two about the color wheel). So that's what I went with...purples...greys and the white of my canvas...I like that effect; I know it's not for everyone though.
All this fiber needs to be spun up (though I could make a statement by simply wearing it draped on my person, stylish, no?). I need to find a suitable sweater pattern so that my spinning can be informed--which will be new for me--spinning for a project, that is--usually, I just spin and what I get is what I get; but, in my defense, I think many people spin that way. So sweater patterns, thoughts? I mean, there is over 2 pounds of wool here, I won't need it all. I am leaning towards a cardigan, but I could be persuaded to knit a pullover too. It's going to be multi-colored, so let's not forget that
I celebrated my birthday this week. I was tempted to get myself a new wheel for my birthday; but, there isn't really much wrong with the old one except a few things that I find bothersome (oh, Lendrums, why must you rely on rubberbands to function?)...I might still get a new wheel at some point, but for now I will stick with the one I have--reliance on rubberbands and all. I was considering the wheel because I have been doing a crazy amount of spinning lately.
So yes, my birthday (was good, I got lots of crafty books and a pocket video camera, because who doesn't love a camera that fits into one's pocket?). There were others celebrating anniversaries of living this week as well. I remain convinced that May is *the* month to be born as some pretty incredible women I know celebrate their birthdays this month (Risa and Rangsiwan celebrate the same day as I do!). A very good friend of mine from college celebrates the day before I do. Let's call her Kathy, mostly because that is her name. Anyways, for Christmas last year, Kathy gave me a kilo of New Zealand Perrendale wool (that is like two pounds). It was gorgeous undyed fiber screaming for dye. And a local friend has a dyeing studio in her basement.
So I dyed it. All of it.
I was pretty pleased. There was one 4 ounce bit that came out with some unfortunate tinting, but I will make it work.
When Kathy came to town for a visit recently, I told her that I was giving her some of the fiber she gave me for Chistmas for her birthday--but dyed and spun (some would call that gauche, I call it industrious), she loved the dyed wool. So truly, it's the gift that keeps on giving (family, take note).
I hope she likes the handspun yarn. I told her I would try to spin it at worsted weight--that's what she asked for (which is a little bit of a challenge for me at the moment...everything I spin wants to be sport or dk). I think it was pretty; but, obviously, I am a wee bit biased. Oh look, novamade yarn (literally!) in Spring Dream.
Some of the other wool I dyed has a high degree of fabulosity as well. Novamade dyed perrendale in Autumn Day (ohai, I like to name things with seasons!).
I love dyeing wool and spinning it up. I did promise K that we would not have a dyeing studio in or near our house though. Apparently, the dyeing studio was the craft line he was just not willing to cross. Considering all of the crafty equipment that is taking up space in our house right now, I sort of don't blame him.
At Maryland Sheep and Wool, I bought almost 3 pounds of undyed superwash merino (I also met up with friends and readers, hi!). I am not even going to bother putting up a picture of the fiber...undyed white wool, ooh. It's a good thing my friend, NueroKnitter lives around the corner and told me that I could use her studio anytime!
Actually, spinning many yarns. Spinning, that's what I did for most of February. I spun some Ashland Bay merino...
A hank of English Garden (the blue), a hank of Sage (the green), two hanks of Mojave (the reds), and a hank of Sandalwood (the multi one on the bottom right).
I also finally got around to spinning some wool that my friend Amy gave me for Christmas...back in 2007, which seems like a long time ago. It's from the Enchanted Knoll Farm, a farm in Maine, there was no colorway listed...I am going to call it Red with Bits of Thread.
I was nervous about spinning it because it had all sorts of crazy stuff in it. Threads, vegetatation, what have you; but, I think it turned out pretty great. The blue and yellow (there's some green in there too, I think) threads in the fiber make for interesting visual contrast from the pretty red of the fiber. And then there's the fancy handpainted stuff I spun.
I think my favorite bit of spinning was this merino/tencel blend from the Sheep Shed at Mountain View Farm--this is the Spring colorway. I got this stuff from a sheep and wool festival a while ago, not sure which one (it's embarrassing to not know this stuff, really). I could kick myself for not spinning it sooner. I LOVE spinning tencel, it's a beautiful fiber to work with. And since I loved it so much, I am going to give you another shot of the yarn all hanked up (at least on my monitor, the shot below is pretty true to color).
I have no idea what I am going to knit with all of this fiber. I was thinking a Komb blanket like Kelp!'s (feel free to go and drool, I'll wait for you to come back); but, I think I like the effect she is getting with pretty painted fibers more than I would like the effect produced by knitting the more plain jane yarns I spun from the Ashland Bay merinos. I have no idea what to do with the Spring merino/tencel yarn, any thoughts?
Seven skeins/hanks/whatever worth of spinning, not too shabby, if you ask me.
All of this spinning was, of course, an effort to fend of steeking that Lopi sweater I was working on; but since I imposed that stupid strategy of not working on anything until I finished that sweater, I had to finish it so I could work on something fun (or anything, for that matter). So I bit the bullet and steeked the silly thing.
Now I don't see what all the fuss was about. This sweater is blocking now. It's probably going to take a few days to dry as the New England weather can best be described as frigid, at present. I am hoping to get some FO shots in before I go on a spring break adventure to what I'd like to think are warmer climes; but, since Alabama got snow on Sunday, I have no idea what to expect in Georgia and Florida. And also, it would be nice to feature some knitting on this here knitting blog.
I am pretty excited about some new projects to cast-on...and more fiber to spin, because really, how can I not spin when a rainbow presents itself?