Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gypsy pillow

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I really think this is the most photogenic pillow cover in the world.

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Right? You probably want to tell me about some other smashing pillow covers you’ve seen, and really, I would love to see them all because they will inspire me until I can’t sleep at night.

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Did I mention I LOVE this pillow cover? That I can’t stop staring at it? Indeed, that I have propped it up at the other side of the sofa so I can curl up and gaze upon it?

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Wait, it’s better in the rocker. That way nobody will sit on it…no, don’t sit on it! Don’t lean against it! Don’t smush it! Just…look at it.

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Happy, happy sigh.

You may recall that I started making these squares back in the spring, without any idea what they would become, and I toyed with the notion of making a (what else?) blanket, but when I laid them all out yesterday, they suddenly shouted “pillow cover!” and that was it.

I have used the Solid Square (#149) pattern from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks book (if you think you may be inclined to fall happily down a potholder-making rabbit hole, I do most heartily recommend this book) and an assortment of KnitPicks Shine and Comfy in sport weight, on a 3.5mm hook. I made 32 squares to cover a 20” down pillow.

This was one of those projects that made me happy every step of the way, you know?

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Slipcover

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I bought an ugly vinyl footstool at the Goodwill, and a delicious chenille bedspread at a garage sale. I think they were made for each other! Here’s what it looked like before:

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I did kind of like that pea green color, but it wasn’t doing the chair any favors.

I’m always a little bit reluctant to use a fantastic bit of vintage something or other, because then it’s gone, you know? It’s used up. I’ve had that bedspread for about seven years, and have been nurturing a fantasy of a seaside cottage, and an upstairs bedroom with dormers facing the water, and two metal twin beds, maybe with faux wood grain, and shiny plank floors, a mirror edged with shells, and mismatched chenille bedspreads. The curtains are blowing gently.

Goodness, when I put it that way…

Well, I guess this is nice too.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Speed crafting

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I always carry a little notebook with me, otherwise my whole life is filled with scraps of paper that will definitely get lost, especially the really important ones, and I hate it when everything in my purse is adorable except that one ugly thing, and I need my notebook to be spiral-bound, because even though those fancy bound leather books from Barnes and Noble look really awesome, they just drive me crazy because they don’t lie open.

So I made this today, in about two minutes flat.

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Here’s everything I used. I just traced the front cover of the notebook onto the back of the fancy paper, cut it out, ModPodged it to the notebook (if “modpodged” isn’t a word, it should be) and then painted more Mod Podge on top. I sort of wish I’d had a piece of scrap paper that matched the industrial gray in the original notebook cover—memo for next time. I’ll bet yours turns out cute, too!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yet another blanket

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Inspired, again, by the magnificent Tif at dottieangel, I am making yet another blanket. I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering just exactly how many blankets one little family needs, right?

I ask myself the same question, and when I figure out the answer, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, Tif has invented a fantastic way to join these as you go, which is my favorite thing ever. Check it out:

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Just a few strategically placed slip stitches, but the result is that cute eyelet pattern, and and AND you don’t have to sew a bunch of squares together later. Love it!

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I bought this fancy hook especially for this blanket—I am that kind of girl, if you recall.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wedding Quilt

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A few years ago, my lovely friend Lucy sent me a big envelope in the mail, and inside were thirty of these hand-embroidered quilt squares. Well, there were twenty-nine completed squares, and the thirtieth was half finished. Someone in her family had made them, completed all but the last one, and then either became uninspired or passed away before she could finish the project.

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They seem to have come as part of a kit (the pattern is pre-printed on the fabric) and so I have no idea what the original finished project was supposed to have looked like. There are hundreds of hours of handwork in these blocks. I loved them, love them, but did not know what to make with them, so they waited, neatly folded, in my fabric collection.

I pondered it. I took them out from time to time, laid them out on the worktable, considered the possibilities: there were so many squares, and they are 15” square, maybe a tablecloth? Two twin quilts? Curtains?

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Then, last week, came the news that my dearest girlfriend is getting married, and that she wanted a quilt. I knew, then, finally, what the embroidered squares wanted me to do, and that I could still do it with patchwork.

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Pieced together with sashing strips of lots of different fabrics, this quilt measures 102” x 112”, so big it would not lie flat in any of the rooms of my little house, so I basted it in sections. (Which explains the way the back turned out, and I hope she never looks at the back.)

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It took a whole day to piece the top, and then I began quilting…well, you remember what happened next.

So I knit, and freaked out a little. You can’t just leave a quilt in that state! It cries out to be finished! Besides, my workroom was in a quilt-frenzy shambles, and I can’t live like that.

Enter Linda at the Bernina repair shop, who gave me a loaner machine to use , and when the loaner machine wasn’t compatible with my walking foot, also loaned me her OWN walking foot—I’ll let that sink in for a second—so I could finish this quilt. That is huge. Heroic.

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So I worked like mad and got it done, and by the time you see this I will have given it to her. She is marrying the guy we all had a crush on in high school, and I hope their life together is blessed with health, happiness, and many cozy years.

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Lucy’s gift to me came with only one rule: that when I made something beautiful with the squares, to show her a picture. Here you go, Ma:

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zip bags

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I never run out of reasons to need another zip bag. Aren’t these cute? The little bird one says “tweet”—the floss I used is too close in value to the linen—must fix that.

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These little bags are fully lined with calico and then I made the cutest little zipper pulls—they are stuffed balls of fabric on string. Love them! (Jeepers, is that my foot in that photo? Yes, it is. Sigh. I can’t take me anywhere.)

I confess, making these was nothing more than an excuse to use this:

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I know! That is a Black and Decker Classic. Swoon! I am so totally the kind of girl who will buy an iron based on it’s vintage look. I bought this at our local hardware store, where they stock all manner of lovely old things like this iron, and canning supplies and washing soda and clotheslines. I love my little town.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quilt, interrupted

This past weekend, my oldest and dearest friend announced she’s getting married, and she asked me if I would make her a quilt. Well, yes! Yes, I will. (Do I like to make quilts? Do fish swim?)

I worked on it in a happy fever, and was quilting away, nearing the finish line, when this happened:

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That’s right, that’s the innards of my Bernina sewing machine. There is something so wrong with this machine that my husband, who is an Electrical Engineer and a PhD candidate in Microsystems Engineering, cannot fix it. So the Bernina is back in the hospital for it’s second major mechanical repair in the past year, and I was forced to think of something else to do.

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When in doubt, sit on the porch and knit. Ahhh, that’s better.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cozy pillowcases

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Almost as all-consuming as my love of quilts and blankets is my love of beautiful pillowcases. These are all made from vintage sheets, and crocheted in cotton for a deliciously girly edging.

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I think they look so fantastic with that quilt! Just the right mix of fancy and homespun.

How about these?

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These are quieter—they remind me of the beautiful, soft linoleum block art of Gwen Frostic (who was from my home state of Michigan, so I feel like I knew her—I didn’t—love you, Gwen!)

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One more pair:

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These look like something Anne would have had in her bedroom at Green Gables.

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Sweet dreams.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Barnyard Story

This is Lucius.

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Lucius is a Speckled Sussex, and is my favorite chicken.

I remember when Lu was nothing but a tuft of downy fluff, asleep inside my sweater, just ten weeks ago. How quickly they grow!

Last week, it became apparent that Lu is not who we supposed her to be.

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Lu is a rooster.

Here’s what roosters do: they crow. They also chase you. They also peck your toes. Here’s what roosters do not do: they do not lay eggs.

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Thus, Lucius will be leaving our flock on Wednesday, when he will go back to the farm (though how I will transport a discombobulated rooster across the county is a problem I have not yet solved—I doubt he will ride along peacefully on my lap) and I am sad to see him go. He is sweet, and his tail feathers are beautiful, iridescent green and luscious, and getting more vibrant by the day. He’s always the first to greet me in the morning—because he’s a rooster, and that’s what they do. (I feel rather dumb for being so slow to figure it out—I kept thinking, aw, lookit her, she’s the prettiest one! Her tail feathers are sooooo long! She’s developing so early! Duh.)

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Au revoir, Lu. You’re the man.