Buttons, Brooches, and Pillowcases

I received a lovely package in the mail yesterday from Jo. Take a look!

Two handmade Flower Brooches
One handmade Button Bracelet
One Fat Quarter of fabric with small navy blue flowers
One shimmery card

Many months ago, I had won a prize on Jo’s blog: Blissed Out. The prize was to be 2 flower brooches. Unfortunately, they were lost in the mail. Since I am an avid blog reader of hers, I knew her wedding was coming up on top of juggling a million other things. I was determined not to say a word. Well, as my luck would have it, the silence gave me away. Jo sent me a note asking why she hadn’t heard from me about the brooches she sent. So I confessed that I never received them. Then, I made a pitiful attempt to assure her that she didn’t need to send me any more brooches. The thought was sweet and I enjoyed participating in the contest. Jo wouldn’t hear of such nonsense. She was determined that I would receive my very own flower brooch and that I would like them.

And like them, I do! Thank you, Jo!

Ooh, I almost forgot to show you the best part of the package.

Buttons!

Of course, receiving such pretty sewing notions in the mail, I was inspired to sew this morning.

Just yesterday, I had seen a sewing machine cover on Alli’s blog during the 10 cent tour of her craft room.  It was made from an old pillowcase. I just happened to have an old pillowcase laying in the pile for Goodwill. (Actually, it’s the pile for Purple Heart, but old habits die hard).

The pillowcase was made by me from an old nightgown, but it never really fit my pillow. It was too short. I had just purchased a new pillowcase and decided it was finally time to get rid of the nightgown-pillowcase.

Or was it?

You may notice that it doesn’t fit exactly, since it is a bit too narrow for the bottom edge of my sewing machine. Maybe one day, I’ll make a cover that fits perfectly. Until then, it will work fine for my purposes, saving me from dusting.

Box Cutters and Corn, but not together

I’ve made cards from old encyclopedias, photos, cardboard boxes and fancy wrapping paper. None are as much fun as buying a trinket from the dollar store and using a box cutter to hack it up into little pieces.

My latest dollar store find was a stack of party-themed paper plates.

I cut out the balloons with my trusty box cutter.

I suppose you could use very sharp scissors, but that would ruin half the fun. It’s like using your food processor to mash up some graham crackers for a cheesecake crust; it’s much more fun to smash them with your fists or a meat tenderizer.

I then just used some glue to adhere the balloons to cards purchased from Michael’s.

Speaking of food, the local farmers are finally harvesting their crop of corn. Oh, how I love corn on the cob. I always buy way too much and freeze what we don’t use.

Growing up, we always ate corn from the local farm nearby. I still remember how every year in late summer, my father would drive up with the entire back of the station wagon filled to the ceiling with corn on the cob. My sister and I were tasked with the job of shucking all the corn. It was an all day job.

Because I’ve been spoiled my entire life, I won’t eat corn from the can. It’s not the same.

Christmas Came and Went

It was a whirlwind of a Christmas. The tree went up and came down all in 1 day.

It was a bit of a ho-hum Christmas, since there were no presents to unwrap. Poor Jake wasn’t even allowed to supervise the photo taking, since he had tried to help with the show-and-tell of the skirt by walking over the outside sections to sit in the center.

Despite the minor complaints which include the suffocating heat of the attic where the tree is kept, it was a great day. I just wanted to shout from the rooftop that I had finished the tree skirt before the real Christmas will arrive.

Alas, I miss the tree already. It made me sad to have to fold the skirt up and store it away in the cedar closet. I just love Christmas.

For those interested, the pattern for the tree skirt is in the hands of a tech editor. It will be self-published in late September.

And on a personal note: Dan was in a fender bender on Friday. He’s fine. No bumps or bruises. He was a bit shaken up a few hours after the accident when reality sunk in, but he was in better spirits by Saturday. The car, however, is in the body shop. The bumper was almost completely torn off. To relay the entire story, Dan was pulling out from the side of the street where he had parked his car and into the lane of traffic. He looked both ways and didn’t see anybody within range, so he pulled out. Next thing he knew, he had hit a car. A gentleman who had seen the whole thing unfold ran over to Dan to inform him that the other car had run the stop sign, which accounted for why he came out of nowhere.

Great Ending to Summer of Love and an Heirloom

I received my 3rd and final package for the Summer of Love swap.

Details:
100 More Afghan Squares to Knit book
Vogue Knitting magazine
Honey Bee pouch
Earrings
Birthday cake measuring tape (Isn’t it the cutest?)
Silkroad Aran Tweed by Jo Sharp
Evolution by Chameleon Colorworks

Close up pics of the yarn:


 
The best part about this package isn’t the yarn or the cute measuring tape. The best part is that the package didn’t come in the mail. It was hand delivered by my swap partner – to be known henceforth as Tamsie. Isn’t Tamsie a better name than Piney? I think so too even though I am partial to trees.

Tamsie was in town for the Philadelphia Folk Festival, so we had lunch together at the Brick House on High Street. It was wonderful to finally meet the person behind all the lovely packages. She was even nice enough to haul my package back to my house, since there was no way it was all going to fit in my little bike pouch. So, even Jake got to meet Tamsie. He wasn’t even the slightest bit disappointed that she didn’t have a bone to give him. You see, he has all the delivery men trained in town from the mailmen to the UPS guy. They all know to bring Jake a little bone when they stop by.

Thank you, Tamsie!

The very next day after meeting Tamsie, my neighbor bestowed one of her family heirlooms to me. Let me back up and tell you the whole story. About a week ago, I found a thread rack in Walmart of all places. I was ecstatic. I bought it immediately. I had coveted a thread rack ever since I saw it on Flossie Teacake’s blog. Well, of course, I had to dash over and tell my neighbor about it. Imagine my surprise when she announced that her husband had made her a thread rack many years ago. It was downstairs in her basement. So, we trekked down into her basement. It wasn’t a thread rack. It was a complete sewing cabinet. She asked me to take it. I politely refused. Her husband had made it. It should go to one of her daughters or her grandchildren. She insisted her daughters didn’t want it and her grandchildren were all boys. It wasn’t being used except by the house spiders. She wanted it to go to somebody who would appreciate it. We agreed to think about it for a few days.

A few days later, I took cookies over to her. She asked me again to take the cabinet. I willingly agreed.

The lid does fold open to provide a longer working surface. However, the sewing machine as well as the mechanism to support the machine was removed leaving a gaping hole. So for now, it will remain folded up.

The thread rack which started the whole journey:

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

I love a white Christmas as much as anybody, but it’s the middle of August. So, a green Christmas it will be.

Which is to say – in one of my favorite Southern sayings – I am spitting distance from being done.

I finished sewing on the last of the buttons this morning. There are only a few more embellishments left to attach to the Christmas tree skirt.

The back side of the tree skirt:

Left to do:
Finish knitting the last i-cord.

Sew the i-cord in place.
Sew 8 felted stars inside of the i-cord bow.
Sew 6 star beads in place. (OK, so I cheated in the first picture. Those gold stars are just resting on the tree skirt. Sue me.)

If you’re in town next week, stop by. I’ll be decking a Christmas tree. I think Dan is more excited than I am.

A Birthday amongst the Olympics

I don’t know about you, but I have been spending a lot of time in front of the TV watching the Olympics. From basketball to soccer to volleyball to swimming, it’s been thrilling to watch! Of course, more TV time means more dedicated spinning time. So much so that I made my wrist sore from all the spinning.

I finally got the wool off of my spindle.

This wool came from the brown Shetland pencil roving I purchased on Etsy from Serentity Sheep Woolens. I spun it on my Jenkins Turkish spindle. It’s about a fingering-weight yarn. After the Olympics, I plan to ply the two balls together and create a DK-weight, 2-ply yarn.

What I learned from spinning this wool:
I love to spin!
I really enjoy the drafting process.
I like the spindle to turn slowly, allowing me more drafting time.
I should not try to spin anything over .75 ounces on my spindle. It makes my wrist throb.

Thanks to my wrist hurting on Sunday, I didn’t spin a lot. But, I couldn’t resist playing with the Sunshine fleece I have to spin for the Ravelympics Fleece to Fencing event. The rules behind the event state that I have to spin yarn from a fleece and then knit something from the newly created yarn.

I am using the alpaca fleece that I purchased from North Star Alpacas. Though Maple did recommend washing the fleece first, I read from other spinners that the washing step could be postponed until after the locks were spun. Guess which option my lazy self chose?

Yep, I just grabbed a few locks and slowly drafted them into something resembling a pencil roving. Then, I threw it onto my spindle. I was nervous at first, treating the alpaca like it was fine china. Once I got over my silly fears, it went fine. The ends of the locks tended to be wispy. I spent some time just pulling the locks back apart and redrafting/rejoining them together. Next time, I plan to try a little bit of greasy lotion on my hands and see if that doesn’t help tame the fly-aways.

I won’t lie to you. My hands were dirty after spinning for just a short time, but I am washable. I’ll wash the small sample of yarn later today to remove any remaining dirt. Hopefully, the washing will help the yarn to bloom as well, making it softer and more lofty.

I mentioned a birthday in today’s title. It would be mine.

Dan surprised me with an Irish tin whistle this morning for my birthday.

Recently, I have been trying to learn how to play the recorder again. Though I was pretty good at it during my middle school years, I apparently forgot everything. I explained to Dan that my ultimate goal was to learn my favorite instrument in Irish music: the tin whistle. Isn’t he the best?

Phillies Stitch and Pitch Night plus a Tag

Tuesday night was Phillies Stitch and Pitch night.

 

I went with Dan who was unfazed by the knitters uot numbering the casual fans. He was just happy to see a Phillies game from the Citizens Bank stadium.

We grabbed food and Victory Hop Devil (local beer) first. Then, we grabbed the Stitch and Pitch goody bags.

Yes, that is Cascade yarn. The color is from their ‘Heather’ line and is #9459. I was going to get a solid color of lime green, but Janet, the knitter sitting to the left of me, wanted it since it was her daughter’s favorite color. I didn’t really have a preference. As far as I could tell, there were no ugly colors in Cascade’s line.

Most knitters consider Cascade a fundamental wool yarn. Yet, I’ve never worked with it. My fundamental wool yarn is Briggs and Little, mainly because my MIL lives in Maine near the Canadian border. She tries to visit Briggs and Little’s mill at least once a year to stock back up.

During the game, I worked on my 5th i-cord for the Christmas Tree Skirt. It was the most idiot-proof project I could come up with. It allowed me to watch the game and clap for any great plays and/or players without being worried about losing my place.

I finished it.

The only downside to the night was the fact that we lost 2-8 to the Marlins. We should have lost 1-8 because Vicky’s (Shane Victorino) home run wasn’t really a home run. It was a foul ball. Soon instant replay will resolve such issues.

It stayed a close game till the last two innings. The most exciting moment of the game came in the 3rd inning. Moyer, our pitcher, was struggling a bit and had loaded the bases. He struck out Amezaga to get the 2nd out. Then, he struck out Johnson to close the inning. Back to back strikeouts from Moyer is a rare sight. He is known as a contact-pitcher, so it was fascinating and just good fun to watch him mow two boys down.

This week, I was tagged by two of my favorite bloggers: Jo of Blissed Out and Nancy of Nancy’s Arts, Crafts & Favorites. The tag rules are as follows:

1. Link to the person who “tagged” you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know your entry is up.

I’m no good at writing random things about myself. Last time I received a tag of this nature, I refused to answer it just because I couldn’t think of anything to write. This time, I figured I would make a half-hearted attempt. So, here goes.

1. I own three parasols. All of them were purchased at the PA Renaissance Faire. Though I just thought they were pretty when I purchased the first one six (?) years ago, I quickly came to realize that they were as functional as they were pretty. Two years ago, I visited Disney World with my sister’s family in the dead of summer. Hot and humid doesn’t begin to describe what the weather was. Suffocating and unforgiving would be a more accurate description. I carried my parasol with me everywhere.

By the end of the week, I was the only one who was not suffering from some degree of sunburn. Now I never leave the house without a parasol on a sunny day.

2. In the 7th grade, I received an award for reading the most Stephen King books. I was so proud.

3. William Stafford is my favorite poet. Jane Austin is my favorite author. I have read and reread all their books.

4. My favorite TV series is Murder She Wrote. I currently have them cued up on Netflix and am rewatching all 12 seasons.

5. I hate the beach. I don’t like the sand fleas, the salt in the water, or the sun. Yet, we try to visit the Jersey shore at least once every summer. We don’t go for the beach. We go for the boardwalk, the arcades and the good food.

5 out of 6 is good enough, right? Right.

Onto the tagging of blogs:
1. Ivana – an amazing designer
2. June– spinner extraordinaire
3. Susan – a fellow knitter in nearby NJ
4. Bellwether – who answered all my Turkish spindle questions
5. Tracie – a crochet designer, recently published
6. Sisters Anne and Martina – both knitters living many miles apart (Alaska and Georgia to be exact)

I tried to pick blogs that I recently found or have not tagged in many turns. I read about 90 blogs. It’s hard to pick just 6.

Grandpa’s Jacket

In my high school years, my Aunt gifted to me the jacket that Grandpa once wore.

There were a few holes in it, but otherwise it was in good condition. I wore it to death. A button fell off. The zipper became busted.  At least a dozen more holes sprouted on the sleeves and back. About five years ago, I packed it up with the rest of the winter clothes.

Though I can’t hold a candle to my Aunt’s pack-rat habits, I’ve never been able to get rid of this jacket. I know I will never wear it again. I kept telling myself that next year I would throw it out.

While working on my Christmas tree skirt, I quickly came to the conclusion that hand sewing 24 buttons onto each tie would land me in the nut house. There had to be a better way to decorate the white ties. Then, out of the blue, I remembered Grandpa’s jacket.

It was 100% wool. It would felt.

Why is it when you want to felt something, it won’t felt?

I tried washing the jacket by hand, moving it from hot water to cold. Nothing. It didn’t felt at all. It two cycles in the washer and two more in the dryer before it felted enough where the edges would no longer fray. I’ve never had such trouble before.

But, it worked. I have green stars with which to decorate my skirt with.

Dissecting and Reassembling a Skein of Yarn

I had purchased this yarn from an Etsy seller about a month ago. Almost immediately, I realized it would not work for what I had planned: a cozy. The yarn was thick and thin and wouldn’t completely hide the item it was wrapped around, i.e. cozy-ing.

Before I go any further, I want to stress that the fault does not lie with the artist. The fault is all mine. I am too picky. I prefer a yarn to have the following features: consistent thickness throughout the majority – occasional bumps and nubs are fine, minimal friction when sliding through my fingers, and balance – although some unbalance is fine and preferable for certain projects.

Because the yarn was over-plyed with a thread, it was very elastic. It’s a nice feature in certain projects (NO fault lies with the artist), but I found it to be annoying because the yarn would not glide through my fingers. It kept bunching up.

So, I un-plyed the thread from the yarn.
Then, I plyed the now-just-wool skein with Knit Pick’s Quarry.

Then, I folded the yarn back onto itself using the Andean method, creating a 4-ply yarn.
Lastly, I removed the orange and black ribbons, since they no longer complemented the yarn.

I’ve renamed it Royal Sunshine.

I think I’ll use it to knit myself a headband for the winter months. It should keep my ears toasty and warm.