Flannel pants and rug progress

I’m trying hard to complete long languishing projects to clear out some space in my craft storage.

I had two lengths of flannel, bought on sale for something minimal like $2 a yard, that I prewashed and folded away and forgot about.  Time for lounging pants!

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These are about the world’s simplest sewing project.  I spread out  a pair of knit pants I wear to the gym and cut around one leg, adding in a half inch seam allowance and a little extra fabric because the flannel doesn’t have the stretch of the knit pants.  I cut the front down a little lower as fronts don’t need as much fabric as backsides.

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Then it is just a matter of sewing up the legs, attaching them to each other, and adding an elastic waist band.

I do my waist elastic a little differently than most patterns would call for.  It drives me crazy when elastic twists or rolls or folds, and it always seems to.  So I sew the elastic band together in my waist size, stretch it out and pin it around the flannel waist and sew the elastic down in a rollercoaster of curves to keep it in place.  Then I fold under the raw edge at the top of the pants a quarter inch and fold the whole thing over and top stitch the edge down.  The extra elastic stitching is hidden inside the pants – it is a little messy but hey, these are $5 homemade pants to sit on the couch in.  No one is going to be judging my inside waist band.  And the elastic doesn’t roll!

I’m not going to hem them until they’ve been washed a couple times, in case they shrink a bit more.  If my new gym membership pays off, I may add a drawstring later as well.  All in all, each pair took about 20 minutes to sew, and the fabric is gone from the stash, so I’m pleased.  Plus they are comfy!

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My rug knitting project is also progressing rapidly.  Ten big skeins almost gone from the stash!  I have about ten inches to go, which won’t take long on these size 15 needles.  The steek where the tube will be cut open is really obvious now.  And the true joy of steeks is that the color changes happen there, so no ends have to be sewn in.

I’m wondering now why I didn’t put a checkerboard on the ends as well.  Though I suppose most of it will be cut away anyway.

It really is using up this yarn.  Here’s all that was left of one color at the end of the last color change.52A12280-F921-4995-B7F8-8DE74C08F8EA

 

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Two finishes and a fail

Despite all the remodeling construction and Thanksgiving, I did manage to finish a couple of projects recently.

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The first is a cowl I made from a yarn kit ordered from Craftsy, using the Toolbox Cowl pattern.   The yarn kit came with five colors, so I added a few extra rows to make each stripe wider, as the original pattern called for six colors. However, I didn’t calculate that extra rows in the garter/slip stitch section wasn’t going to really add much height.  So before I got to the mustard yellow, I dug out some cream yarn and added that in as well. I’m really pleased with the way it ended up. It’s a very comfortable, soft cowl.  And there should be enough yarn left to make the matching hat!

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The next finish was my Noro scarf-turned-cowl.  This is the one that I ripped back four or five times and changed my mind repeatedly about how to knit it.  Then I had to graft together ribbing, which isn’t a smooth process when you are connecting top to bottom.  The stitches end up off by a half stitch which really complicates grafting even without adding in knits and purls.  There was more ripping out, and I learned not to graft on a light color row as every wonky bit shows more, but it is a circle now, and when it is doubled up around a neck the grafting isn’t going to show unless someone really looks for it.

If I’d had the yarn I would have immediately started another one, I was so happy with the results after all that ripping and indecision.  I think it would have been too short as a scarf, but it is perfect as a double wrapped cowl.

After that came a really quick fun knit that I can’t show yet as it is a Christmas present.  My mom sometimes reads this blog. . .

Then the fail.  More of a mechanical problem than anything I did, but it still meant I didn’t get the finish I was hoping for.  Sewing has really been on the back burner as we worked on the house, so I was really excited to start working on a quilt again.  And it is a simple brick pattern, already pinned in a sandwich, so I thought I could get it fully quilted and maybe even bound in one day.

I should have known it wasn’t going to go smoothly when it took 40 minutes of intense searching to find my walking foot in the one craft related box that somehow didn’t get unpacked and was hidden away in the rec room closet.

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And then my sewing machine came apart!  I had stopped in mid-line to change a bobbin, and it wouldn’t start back up.  When I checked, the power cord had fallen out of the machine.  When I put it back in, it just fell right back out.  Further investigation showed that there was nothing to plug into – the internal prongs were gone.

I unscrewed the panel and found that the plastic housing for the plug had broken in two, dropping the prongs into the casing.

I probably should have stopped working and taken it in for repair, but I didn’t want to give up, so I grabbed the gorilla glue and some pins to poke things with and dropped glue in to put the pieces back together.  After it dried overnight, it seems to be holding, so I will use it very carefully until I can find a period of time where I am willing to live without it and take it in to have the part repaired.

But the quilt didn’t get finished as the next day I had to clear out the dining room because we were having company.  Sigh.  It has been a long time since I finished a quilt and I really thought it was going to happen this time.  The list of sewing WIPs is not getting any shorter.

At least I’m having more success with the knitting.  A new start with some handspun is coming along really quickly.

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Yak and silk – yum!

 

 

 

Patchwork foot stool

I finished knitting the Thanksgiving scarf, and while I ponder the terrors of trying to graft 1×1 ribbing to turn it into a cowl, I moved on to a small sewing project that was less intimidating.

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I recently bought a small square foot stool to go with my new bedroom chair.  It didn’t match, but it was inexpensive, which was my main criteria.  I need to be able to put my feet up as I sit reading and knitting.

I rummaged through the box of upholstery scraps I used to make the family room pouf and made a simple patchwork slipcover.

I then ransacked the garage in a futile search for my staple gun before giving up and buying a new one.  Maybe it was left behind in the move?  Did I lend it to my sister?

My corner folding and stapling could use some work, but overall it was a success.  I just need to get some dark brown spray paint for the legs.

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It is kid and dog approved anyway.

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Thanksgiving knitting

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While making the Thanksgiving meal and enjoying visiting relatives, I tried to sneak in some simple knitting.  It did not go well.

I had two colors of Noro silk garden yarn and planned to make a simple striped scarf.

Step 1 – Cast on 45 stitches.  In between stuffing a turkey and ricing potatoes for lefse, knit about six inches of the two row stripe pattern.

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Step 2 – Decide the edges are too ragged.  Rip it all out and start over, slipping the edge stitches at the start of each row.

Step 3 – Start worrying that the yarn is a little rough.  Will it be too inchy?  And since I added some stitches to the cast on, will I run out of yarn?

Step 4 – Rip back half the rows, then have second thoughts and decide that it will soften over time as other Noro projects have, and that I can always order more yarn if it is too short.  Pick up the stitches and start reknitting the rows I just ripped back.

Step 5 – During a board game of Would You Rather with the extended family, ask self if I would rather have a cowl.  Decide yes and rip all rows back to zero.

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Step 6 – Eat way too much really good food.  Wash way too many dishes.  Tear apart the craft closet looking for another size 7 needle so I can cast on a spiral knit cowl.

Step 7 – Knit seven or eight rows of a long cowl, but dislike the single row look. Rip it all out.

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Step 8 – Look up directions for jogless two row stripes and start again, on one needle.  Decide that I won’t like the thin strips in a multi-wrapped cowl.  Rip it all out.

Step 9 – Cast on 45 Stitches and restart the simple two row scarf.

Step 10 – Eat pie to forget.

Pouf

We have a marvelous store in Portland named Scrap.  People donate all sorts of left overs and recyclables and art supplies and random weirdness like barrels of bottle caps, and then other people like me come and buy them.

I tend to stick to the more fibery sections – fabric, yarn, thread.  I get lots of zippers there for almost nothing.  My sister, who does a lot with collage, finds all sorts of cards and frames and things to glue together.

On a couple of trips I’ve done some deep diving into the upholstery samples carts.  Seriously, giant carts piled high with squares and rectangles and whole sample books of sturdy, gorgeous fabric.  I brought home bags of it.

And then stared at it, because what was it going to be?  Why did I buy so much of it?  Where was all this supposed to be stored?!

I haven’t fully answered the last question, but I at some point I started sewing pieces together without a clear goal in mind.

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While I was playing with it, the situation got worse because my sister gave me a big box of the stuff.

And then we moved, and our enormous sectional couch didn’t fit in the new family room, and the smaller furniture didn’t give us quite enough sprawled seating, so I sewed a lot of the segments I’d made together and created an ottoman sized pouf.

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I stuffed it with everything I could find.  Bags of sewing waste, old pillows, ratty t-shirts and sweaters we were throwing away, the remnants of stuffed animals that our dog eviscerated.  It actually sat in the corner of the family room for a couple months, and every time we had something soft to throw away, we stuffed it in.  The dog on occasion dived in and pulled stuffing out, and then we’d gather up all the fluff and back in it went.

The thing weighs a ton.  The next one is not going to be nearly as big!  It devoured stuffing and asked for more.  But we finally got enough in there, and I was able to sew the opening closed, and now we have this big, soft, slightly lumpy pouf to put our feet and our kids on, and I’m declaring it a success.  (At least until the seams fail.  I’ll use more than 1/4″ seams next time – I didn’t realize how much this thing was going to be dragged from room to room by the kids.)

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It is a rectangle about 25″ x 20″ and about 14″ high when no one is sitting on it.  The sides are a little bulgy, and it seems like it will pack down and have to have more stuffing added, but for a first try, it turned out well.  Next time I’ll use a zipper so that stuffing can go in more easily.

I have enough fabric to make 30 of these things, so I still need to come up with more plans for it all, but this made a useful start.

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This will, I hope, be one of the last pictures of projects on this awful carpet.  New floors go in next week!

 

 

DPN holders

I like to knit two socks at a time, to avoid second sock syndrome, the condition of getting one sock done and then wandering off and never finishing the second.  (There is a related syndrome for mittens and gloves.  I have a wonderful stranded mitten that has been without a partner for years.)

I use two sets of double pointed needles and knit each section on both before moving on to the next – first the both cuffs, then the legs, then heel flaps, etc.  This means that one unfinished sock is always stuffed in the sack on its five needles while I work on the other.  Needles get dislodged, or caught, and I found myself frequently having to thread them back into loops, trying to pick stitches back up before they run down the rows.

I bought some cardboard tubes that worked quite well for a while.  but they are starting to bend on the corners by the cutouts and catch on the yarn as I slide them.  Plus, they are fairly utilitarian – not much charm.

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Then I found a pattern by the Nome Knitter for cloth dpn holders.  I think I saw it on Pinterest first and then followed the link to the blog.  Plenty of room for charm because I could pick my own fabrics!

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I made two sets.  They are super simple.  Small amounts of fabric, some interfacing, some snaps.  A very quick project.

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My only real issue came when I discovered that the snap package came with only 7 snaps.  Why an odd number?!  I needed 8, and of course didn’t check the package carefully so I could only complete one of the sets.  I’ve already ordered some colorful plastic snaps online, so I will be making these again.  And lots of other things that need snaps – the bundle came with 100 of them.  I won’t go short again!

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I’m using the first set already, and it is working well.  No pulled out needles, and the holders stayed closed while tumbling in a bag in the bottom of my work tote.  I can see making them in lot of colors so I can match them to whatever yarn I’m using.

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(P.S. These are Village Socks, a free pattern by All Knit Up.  A simple, stretchy stitch pattern that is easily memorized.  The yarn is some Knit Picks Stroll bare sock yarn that I dyed in jars. A little splitty but springy yarn.)

 

This needs work

My sewing set up since we moved is not ideal.  I’ve gone from having a dedicated room – small but with lots of shelves and several table spaces – to a corner of the family room.

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I swing the gate-leg table leaf up when I want to cut or iron, sliding the boards back against the wall by the desk when I’m done.  It is a tight space, and looks messy when even a few supplies are out.

The storage space is also problematic.

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I’ve got a hall closet nearby, with more stuffed in the coat closet, a couple of shelves in the office, and more still packed up in the garage.  There is no hope of a full quilt sized design wall that I’ve been able to figure out yet.

It will improve.  A few more shelves can go in the main closet, and I can definitely pare down as well.  Some shelves above the sewing area will help as well.

But nothing is going to turn it back into a separate sewing room, until a kid goes off to college.  And that is a good seven years away.

Still, I can sew, even if I can’t find all my notions yet.  (Maybe the good scissors are still in the garage boxes?) And I have a couple of finishes to share.

In July my cousin and I made small fused fabric quilt tops,  and this week I finished the two fish I made then.

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The top one is about half the size of the lower one.  I added top stitching details on the bodies and fins and tried to make creek bottom pebbles and water lines with varying degrees of success.  The small one is going to my nephew who is crazy for fishing, and my Mom got the other one because she’s my mom and has to appreciate my sewing projects.  Also, her condo walls are still quite bare a year after she moved in, so she can’t claim she has nowhere to put the things I give her.

The first one I did I didn’t think through well enough and I had a multitude of thread ends to bury.  The second one I wised up and did the stitching with just the top and the batting so I just had to pull the thread through to the back but didn’t have to knot them all and bury them between the layers.

You can see what I mean in the pics below.  In the first I had all those ends to knot.  In the lower one, I just left them loose and tangled and covered them up when I added the backing.

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The area works OK for these small projects but it is going to be interesting to see if I can wrestle with larger projects in that small area.  I may need to move to the dining room table for real quilting.