Sunday, June 26, 2011

What do you do with an itchy sweater?

I finished this sweater for Wild Thing awhile back, but he can't wear it. Even though summer only started a week ago and there may have been a chance before Fall. But no...."itchy, itchy, ITCHY!"  He wouldn't even put it on long enough for me to get a photo. I could tell it would look really great on him though.  I gave it a wash in Woolite, but I don't think it helped much. (sigh)  I was thinking about lining the collar and cuffs in jersey or fleece, but haven't been able to get around to even figuring out the best way to do that.
I'm pretty sad.  I didn't think Wild Thing was sensitive, so even though I am and I thought the wool seemed a bit itchy when I started the sweater, I thought it was just me and my sensitive skin.

Now I feel pretty dumb!

I read online that you can soak a wool garment in hair conditioner to soften it up.  Anyone out there hear of that?  It's definitely worth a try because even if I line the collar and cuffs, the wool can still irritate through a shirt if it is really that scratchy. sheesh!  I may try a vinegar soak first. It's an 85% NZ wool/15% Polyester blend. Any suggestions for softening scratchy itchy wool are very welcome!

I used "Naturally Tussock 14 ply" - I couldn't find anything on Ravelry about itchiness, so who knows.  The pattern is called "Langstroth" - I really like it and it was a pretty easy knit up. I will have to make antoher one in a different yarn (and somewhat bigger) if Wild Thing really won't wear it.

Kind of a downer post. But I'm feeling a little down anyway. I'm in the airport heading to Germany for business for a few days and I feel oddly out of balance about it. I guess with summer activities for the kids, planning for Teen Wonder to visit colleges (or not as it is turning out so far), and not having that "completed project" feeling in awhile, plus countless other factors - well, I'd just rather be staying home.

I hope it doesn't rain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When you just can't put the iron board away looking like that...

Yikes!  I didn't even hang onto my old stained cover long enough to take a photo. I'm ashamed of how trashy and stained it looked with the cord all untucked and hanging to the floor. No padding left to speak of. yuck!

We had to tidy up because our house cleaner comes every 2 weeks and she was coming Monday morning (yes we have a house cleaner and yes we actually clean the house before said house cleaner comes.  It works for us, so what can you say?)  My board sits out near my craft corner much of the time since that is where I use it the most. My sewing machine is there, the TV is over on that side, and most importantly I don't have to unplug things to plug it in there.  I try to put everything more or less away except on my table proper which can be a crazy mess - even worse these evenings as I'm pulling bits of projects off the ironing board, the floor, the coffee table, the chairs, and trying to get it "out of the way" so our terrific cleaner can actually vacuum the basement.  Often I'll vacuum more frequently upstairs, but I'm sad to admit that in the basement it looks pretty bad - crumbs on the play/TV/kids side, kitty litter in the kitty box nook area, lint in the laundry area, and a bazillion little thread bits and trimmings (more or less depending on how busy I've been.)

There's usually a knitting disaster area in the living room that is supposed to be contained in my basket, but normally is only contained there once every two weeks...yes, when we are cleaning up for the house cleaner.
(It really sounds ridiculous, but I swear there is a logic to it)

SOOOOO... This old disgusting cover on my ironing board.  We hang the board like a little work of art in the laundry area, and the old cover was really embarrassing enough that my OCD took over and I removed the cover, pulled out some Marimekko that I'd gotten a couple of years ago at the C&B Outlet store (still have enough to back a medium size quilt) and got to work.  I toyed with the idea of a tutorial. Or rather some photos on how I used someone else's tutorial,  but as I've just explained it was a OCD moment with a sense of urgency (and lateness of the hour).  But I'll tell you in words then I encourage you to find a real tutorial somewhere if you need more instructions.  I had looked at 2 or 3 in the past and had a vague idea what to do.
The final product! looks like a pretty normal ironing board...
First I removed the elastic twine from the old cover to reuse on this one. There was a little toggle clasp thingy to adjust the tightness so I clipped the knot off the end, slipped that toggle thingy off and then worked the elastic string out. Set that aside.

I flattened out the cover as much as possible and pinned to my new fabric as a template.  I squeezed this cover out of about 2/3 yard of 58" fabric (incl selvedges which I trimmed only a little and which I figured would be tucked underneath). With a normal fabric, you'd need something like 60 inches - I think that is 1 and 2/3 yards (but check you board size and adjust accordingly).

I looked at the construction of the existing cover and more or less copied it to make this- it had a sort of opaque fabric binding encasing the raw edges of the cover and the elastic drawstring, It looked like a woven sew-in interfacing type of material. I don't have anything like that and I thought it looked cheap and ugly anyway. For this project I broke out a FQ of green, sort of coordinating fabric and made a continuous bias strip (using a tutorial that I'd printed out ages ago to make the tube and cut it into a long strip.)  What I'd never done before was to use a double fold bias tape maker. I'd only ever made bias tape to make quilt binding and not by making a double fold tape.  Now I normally I don't bother doing it on the bias for quilts - just straight strips. But an ironing board has curves so I figured I'd better be biased (hehe).  OOh, that was fun, being a little double fold tape factory! I will definitely be making colorful double fold bias tapes to use for bags or ?? whatever (but not quilts because I still think it's unnecessary in that case and a lot more work.)

 Here below, you can see how the bias tape was applied to the edge of the cover. Start at the back center and encase the elastic string as you go along being careful not to catch the string in your stitches. It was not as tricky as it sounds - just tuck the cord into the fold of the bias tape, fold it over the edge of the fabric and pin like crazy as you move around the edge.  Then stick close to the edges of the double fold tape when you stitch.  You can feel the string in the fold as you guide it into your machine. There were a couple of spots I had to go back and stitch over again to secure the fabric inside the tape - but I'm pretty inexperienced still.

I also cut a new piece of batting to put over the existing matted down piece. I didn't replace completely since I didn't have any batting with much loft and the old one could be salvaged and just overlayed with a new layer of cotton batting.  Then I put the cover over the board and worked the elastic string through the binding tube to tighten the cover.  Then secured with the adjustable toggle I'd set aside. I tucked the toggle and extra string into the underside of the board cover and that was it! Pretty slick, huh?

You know, a skanky ironing board cover is just one of those little things that quietly stress me out. Not all that important, but it is more relaxing to use something that doesn't scream at you every time "WHY DON'T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT ME?"

Sometimes a late night is totally worth it.

(next post I will share another recent FO - but one that is unfulfilled nonetheless...stay tuned)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

whoop whoop Friday - H2H Plus quilt top finished

(post linked to Sarah's party at Confessions of a Fabric Addict - check it out!)

I have been slowly plugging away at this quilt top for several fragmented hours...but Thursday late at night during a productive bout of insomnia, I finished it!  Then I stood back pleased with myself. Because I really like how the fabrics pulled together and there were so many times I wasn't sure. And many rearrangements on the floor layout...followed by a series of seam ripping corrections to get the balance and layout just right.

We are going to redo our garden with a clothesline, and I can't wait. But what my family doesn't know is that my primary motivation is to have a place to hang quilt tops and FOs to photograph outside in the natural light without fastening it to a fence or just draping it over a table...  Although it just occured to me that I haven't tried laying it out on the grass - that might be pretty.

Anyway, here is the top!!

I'm planning to back with a solid blue accented with a strip of scraps from the top fabrics. Not sure about the binding yet.

Have a great weekend and I wish you all time to do somethings that make you happy!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway loot - a belated thank you!

On May 23rd, it was one of the Sew Mama Sew! Giveaway days - this crazy day when bloggers all over the world give stuff away - handmade things, craft supplies, etc.  I only entered a small number of them from among blogs I already follow because the SMS lists of giveaways were just too overwhelming for me and I didn't want to spend my entire day entering (which one probably could have done quite easily especially since you see all these interesting new blogs in the process).

Anyway, I WON one of the best giveaways (IMHO) from Suzanne at Girl For All Seasons!!  She was so prompt shipping my prize that I've had it for well over a week (maybe nearly 2) and I haven't had a chance to share.

Suzanne actually has better photos in the original giveaway post here, in which you can see that all the fabric pieces and scraps are tucked inside the beautiful patchwork pouch.
Like this:

And here is the full pouch - isn't it awesome? I love the hand stitching detail! 

 She didn't show the inside of the pouch - a cheerful gingham -

Here are the stack of fabrics - photo from Suzanne's blog:

And a few more details of these cute bits - many are Japanese prints I've never seen before.

The Robots were a favorite with Wild Thing and Teen Wonder.  I may need to search some more out because Wild Thing wants a library book bag made out of this for the summer. I may need to entice him with something else from my stash and use this for a pocket accent...

So Thank you Suzanne!!  It's funny because I nominated her blog for the "Stylish Blogger Award" awhile ago - I love her blog and I'm so glad I've been following it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cool new blog banner - we have the technology

Okay, maybe I'm overly excited about my new banner - but I stumbled on this tutorial by Jennifer at "That Girl...that quilt" and tried it out and produced this more interesting, more polished looking banner for my blog. And it was easy enough that I can do it periodically to update the look.

With Blogger, I started this blog with a minimum of fuss using the standard template choices. Then later I tried putting a personalized photo in my blog banner - with some mixed success. Now I have some idea how to customize any photo in Flickr with their built in Picnik editing tools to add text, borders, and resize to use as a banner, BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!!  With Jennifer's tutorial, she walks you through how to use BigHugeLabs to make a photo mosaic and then edit it in Picnik on Flickr.  So much cooler even!

Only tricky piece for me as a total neophyte to the Flickr world (in spite of having an account there for a couple of years now) was locating the Picnik application for editing my mosaic. If any of you are in that boat, here's the deal - open the photo in your photostream and up in the left corner there you'll find a little "Actions" pull down menu. Toward the bottom of the list is "Edit with Picnik".

Everything else you need to know is in Jennifer's tutorial! Pretty cool, huh?