Sunday, April 29, 2007

Still not knitting

Too much fun in one evening can throw an entire weekend off balance. Case in point: Friday night after work I met up with two of my closest friends from high school, Chip and Annie (Chip is the one on the right). We had joy, we had fun, we (I) had too much beer. I spent half of the day yesterday recovering. Bwah! Not how I had planned on spending the day.

To make up for my slothfulness, and to prove to myself that I am not a drunk total slacker, I managed to crank up enough ambition to make this cute little top. The pattern is New Look #6677 (view E). It may not look like it, but I was freezing while Mr. Strange snapped this photo! It's not summer yet folks! The color looks kind of pale in the photo, but it's very delicate. Heck, I look very pale! Pretend it's 80 degrees out and I have a tan...

I spent over an hour at Jo-Ann's trying to find the right fabric and gave up while waiting at the cutting counter with a bolt of fabric that was just "feh". Thankfully, I remembered a co-worker telling me about a new shop in town, Z Fabrics. It's a teeny, tiny brand new store, with just a few artfully placed bolts, but I like the owner's style, and found the print fabric for the top there.

While I was making this, I had a very difficult time with the neckline and front facing: lots of curved piecing and clipped curves. I cursed so much that it's a wonder that the walls of my sewing room didn't turn blue! At one point, I thought "This is so STUPID! Why am I spending all of this time making this thing when I could buy one at Old Navy for $13.99? Later it occurred to me that I have spent far more time and money on hand knit socks and that it's all a matter of perspective. This took about 5 hours, start to finish. Some of my trouble may have had something to do with my state of fatigue and dehydration. Perhaps it wasn't all that bad. I think I'd like to make another one, maybe with ties added. See side view and more info here.

On another topic, do you have yarn or fabric in your stash that you just can't use because you like it too much? You look at it, smile, and then put it away. Every once in a while you considering using it to make something, but then worry that it won't look as good or that it's not the "right" use for the yarn/fabric. Well, the daisy print that I used for my banner graphic is one of those fabrics for me. I've had this for over a year and have been unable to use it for anything. Now that I get to look at it every time I view my blog, I don't feel like it's so sacred. Today I took a giant leap and actually cut some of it!!!

Behold, a belt!

It's reversible!

Want to make one of your own? Here's the free pattern!!

Speaking of sacred fabric and patterns. The fabric I bought last weekend for the Cabo Halter, and didn't use, was on it's way to become precious. Mostly because I bought so much more than I needed for the pattern and wanted to find a way to use it that wouldn't be wasteful. Thankfully, I found this pattern at Z fabrics: Prairie Girl by Favorite Things ( - for some reason I can't access the site). The top takes 2 yards, leaving me a half yard to use for something else.

As you may have guessed from all of this talk about sewing future projects, I have not knit a single stitch in over 2 weeks. I'm even trying to corrupt others! Unbelievable! I'll get back to it eventually, maybe even tonight. In the meantime, check out this blog I stumbled on (go on, I dare you) if anything just to look at her beautiful fabric.... {sigh}.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Fun

Having a dull day at work? Try this on for fun!

Credit is due to Dr. Girlfriend Knits for this one!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Welcome to the Gun Show

Dear Readers, the regularly scheduled post "Tarilyn natters about sewing and knitting" has been temporarily interrupted to bring you this special presentation : "Tarilyn natters about working out". The usual program will return when the author has something crafty to say.

If you have been reading for a while, you may know that I am not an outdoorsy, physically active sort of gal. This is not a recent development. As a child, I always preferred making things, playing pretend games (I had lots of Barbies), or reading. My mother and Nana were constantly nagging me to "go outside and play". Mom was a tomboy and thought I should be climbing trees! The truth is that I was never confident about my physical abilities. I felt fat and clumsy and fell down a lot. I hated gym class more than anything. In junior high, we were forced to run timed laps around the parking lot and the times were posted for the whole school to see. I was usually the next to last to finish. In my mind exercise = humiliation. Up until recently, the most exercise I've done, other than that involving knitting needles or a sewing machine, are the 2 Pilates classes I take each week. I'm proud of that because I've been doing it for 3 years now, which is far longer than other fitness routine I've ever done. This is mostly because I feel confident about my abilities, and because I've seen definite improvement in my posture and body shape. I didn't grow taller as a result, but I do feel strong and flexible. That is, until recently.

The company I work for has provided a free membership to a local gym (we have our pick of two in the area). Since it's free, I joined. Recently I attended 2 classes, back to back, where I had to do a lot of upper body work (mostly push-ups). I was able to do everything presented, and fairly well, but by the evening of the second class I couldn't even lift my arms. They hurt for days!!! It was a real wake-up call that I needed to work on my upper body strenght (OK, there's also those winter pounds I'm trying to shave off). So! Enter the personal trainer (a membership perk).

Last week I met with my trainer, a shy young fellow who blushed a lot. I talk and joke incessantly when I am nervous, so I nattered away the whole time, hoping that he wouldn't judge me by my physical (in)abilities. He started me out on an elliptical machine and I could only do it for 2.5 minutes because my legs were screaming (uh oh, humiliation creeping in). It only got worse. I was horrified at how puny and weak I was!! Bwah! Useless little arms! (I did great on the ab stuff though.)Well, tonight I met with him again, and I feel fantastic and strong. I could still only do 2.5 minutes on the elliptical (what is UP with that???) I may have short little legs, but I am a fast walker, right Lori? I felt much better about the workout this time. Tricep pushups? No problem. Easy peasy. Push-ups? No sweat. Squats on the Bosu Ball - spot on! I felt really pumped up. At the end of my session, I asked him to show me how to use the treadmill. At first it was just as hard as the elliptical until I realized that it was just going too slowly. I cranked up the speed to 4mph, increased the incline and watch out baby, I was smokin! It is a little boring, and weird to use a machine to do something I can do in my own neighborhood, but it felt more "real" exercise.

Bottom line: I feel good, I'm sleeping better, and I feel confident. I'd like to continue with the trainer, but now that my two free sessions are over, I'd have to pay a whopping sum nearly equal to my car payment (not going to happen, that's a lot of yarn and fabric!). I will continue to use the machines he showed me and we'll see. Maybe I'll do something amazing!

BTW: In case you were wondering, the title of this post is a reference to showing off one's well developed arms. As my friend Lori often demonstrates, you lift your arms as though to pump them up, kiss each bicep, and proclaim "Welcome to the gun show" like you are the announcer of a monster truck show. Try it and you'll feel like Ahhhhnold.

PS: I got my copy of It's A Wrap in the mail today. Ooooh! Lots of cool ideas!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Oh what a beautiful, warm, sunny weekend! We opened every window in the house to enjoy the fresh air. Ahhhhh! It's been such a long, dreary winter.

If you think that I spent the time hiking or raking the yard, you don't know me very well. Yesterday, my friend Lori came over for a little sewing lesson. She made a cute little drawstring skirt and it came out fantastic. Yay Lori! . I should have taken pics, but I know that she wouldn't have wanted me to post her white legs (like we all don't have them). Later in the afternoon, we were joined by our friend Aimee and her little poodle, Shaggy (why didn't I take any photos!?), for some S'n'B. I can't think of a better way to spend the day. I bought some Amy Butler fabric for the Cabo Halter at a new quilting shop, Sew Portland, but decided that I'd better try the pattern first to make sure that I like it before cutting up 2.5 yards of fabric. I found some inexpensive cotton on sale at JoAnn's to use as a test run.

I like it. We'll see if I actually wear it. Mr. Strange doesn't care for it. He thinks it's "not my best". Here's the back view (tattoo shot). I made the size small because it matched my bust measurement, and I'm glad I did. If I want to wear this without a bra (which I most likely will), I need it to be snug enough to hold up the girls. Speaking of which, I was not cold when the picture was taken, those are the bust darts.

Hopefully all of the working out I am doing will shave off some of that back and arm chub. Yuk.

I'm still going to hold off on using the Amy Butler fabric, shown below, to see if I really will wear this top. If not, I can always use it to make a skirt or something. Due to an error in the pattern, it called for 2.5 yards, but barely used 1.75. At $8.95 a yard, that makes me a bit peeved.

Today I did a little housecleaning, both literally and virtually. In a fit of weather optimism, I put away most of my winter sweaters, organized my closet and drawers, and purged some unused items (how many purses do I really need and how did I come to own so many black socks?). Many dust bunnies were killed in the process.

I also spent a fair bit of time blog organizing. Added 100 things (being a sneaky monkey, I back dated it) and all of the stuff in the sidebar I lost in the upgrade to the new layout. I also totally re-vamped my finished objects blog, formerly called "Tarilyn's Knitting Gallery", now known as "Tarilyn's Show'n Tell", using all of the new archiving and label features offered by the new blogger. I think it's much easier to navigate and finally looks the way I want it to. Take a visit and tell me what you think!

Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer than today. Happy joy joy!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Daisy Daisy...

Give me you answer do, I'm half crazy all for the love of you, *
I must admit that this is my favorite too!

Thanks for your input! For those interested in adding a graphic to the New Blogger Layout, see this post in Blogger Tips and Tricks.

(* Excerpt from "Daisy Bell" by Harry Dacre 1892)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On The Bright Side

As you may have heard, a torrential rain and wind storm hit the Northeast on Monday. Our little home survived just fine, with only one fallen tree branch, but others were not so fortunate. Many of my friends lost power for a day or more, and as I write this, the local news is reporting on the devastation of many coastal homes. In light of this, and the other tragedy that occurred that day, I feel a bit superficial nattering about my little sewing projects and blog tinkering. But, sometimes you just have to look on the bright side of things, count your blessings, mourn for others, and move forward. For my part, that means not feeding on the tragedy of others (finger in ears singing "Tra la la") and recognizing that nothing is certain in life. Not that I don't have feeling or opinions about current events. I just don't feel like there's anything I can do or say to add to the conversation. Now, onto brighter things:

Those little fabric squares I bought last Saturday were keeping me up at night, so I had to make use of them right away. Here's the "This and That Bag" designed by Sherri K. Falls (I can't find a link for the pattern anywhere).

The other side:

The bottom:

This inside:

When I finished, I sat back and looked at it and thought "Will I actually use this as a purse?". Gross though it may sound, I think it looks like a vomit of colors. Not bad, just....bright and busy. There's a part of me that really likes that (major eye candy), but I don't know that it's the part I want to advertise every day. My good friend Annie likes to say "Some things are private!!" whenever the topic of conversation turns to body functions. Does my predilection for color mess qualify?

Just for giggles, I pretended I was shopping at a book store with it....

The verdict: I think I'll use it for travel or small knitting projects.

Speaking of color...

I spent the last several evenings playing with my blogger layout. I'm not totally in love with it yet, but at least I have a graphic back in my banner. I want the look of this blog to express who I am, but that's complicated. I'm not always the same person. There's the outside me, which has been described by others as "exuberant" and "high energy". I must admit that I get a little excited over things and can be quite chatty in person. Ironically, I wish that I were calm and graceful. The inside me is much quieter and solemn. It took years for me to admit that I am an extrovert...

That said, I would love to have a blog that looks neat and serene like Cara's or Julia's, but I'm not sure that's "me", or at least how I feel today. Obviously I have spent way too much time thinking about this!

Even though I am one of those people who asks for other's opinions and then does what they want to anyway, I am going to ask your opinion on something:

I may change the banner to something totally different. Which do you prefer?

a) the current banner

b) Old Background:
c) Violet Petals:

d) Daisies:

e) Psychedelic Petals:

f) Groovy Petals:

g) Hate them all (it's OK if you do)

I know that I have some lurkers out there and I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cha cha cha changes


Some well needed advice from Michal prompted me to stop being such a wuss and start taking advantage of the features offered by the new Blogger. It's still a work in progress, so don't be surprised if things look a little different the next time you visit. I still need to figure out how to get my old banner back, but so far I like how it looks. What do you think?

Stay tuned....

4/18/07: Edited to add: If things are missing, like almost every photo posted in the last few months, I didn't do it. I swear. It's a "temporary" Blogger thing. I found this out after spending most of the evening creating a new banner photo. Grrrr.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sew Busy!

Ohmigosh where did all that time go? The last week was a blur of working out, recovering from working out, sewing, knitting, visiting the dentist, recovering from visiting the dentist, birthday planning and playing with Mom. What do I have to show for all that running around?

A new Bow Tucks Tote for Mom, better known by my quilting pals as the "Botox Bag". This is a very well written pattern that sews up quickly once all of the pieces are cut.

It's quite a roomy tote, perfect for knitting or what have you, with lots of inside pockets and these neat little bows which magically transform the appearance of the bag from tote to large purse. The fabric is from JoAnn's and was chosen for its close resemblance to the Java Blue collection from Vera Bradley (one of Mom's favorite prints). Incidentally, the Vera print was designed by Michael Miller, and if you don't want to spend the money on one of her bags, you can make your own using fabric from the Metro Blue Collection from Marcus Brothers (also designed by Michael Miller) online or at your local quilt store ( Mariner's Compass in Bath, Maine and Portsmouth Fabric Company in Portsmouth, NH both carry it)

One of the things I love about this bag is that it's a great way to showcase a beautiful button. This one was also purchased at JoAnn's (40% off this week!). Can you tell that I live less than a mile from this store?

I can't wait to make one of my own. If only I could decide which of my stash fabrics to use....

The bag was a gift for Mom's birthday (which was Thursday). We spent the weekend together, doing the usual: shopping.

I made out like a bandit at Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop in Bath, finally finding this Amy Butler Cabo Halter Pattern. I resisted the urge to buy the fabric to make one, deciding to hold off when I saw some other little goodies, too good to pass up.

I found this 5 inch charm square pack of the Celebrate Spring collection by Sandy Gervais for Moda (44 squares for $10).

And this collection of Chez Moi by Sentimental Studios, also for Moda: 38 squares for only $8! Aren't they the most scrumptious colors? I just want to eat them!

To translate this into knitting terms, imagine getting 38 10 yard hanks of a new color palette from a yarn designer! OK, I know what you are thinking: that I am falling down the slippery slope of stash acquisition. Just what am I going to do with all those little squares?

Don't worry. I have a plan. More importantly, I have a pattern. This little bag will use 18 of the squares, leaving me 68 to use in a little charm quilt, which I also have patterns for in the More Nickel Quilts Book I won as a door prize at the Getaway.

I've wanted to make this bag for a long time, but it seemed a bit maman (we say it like "mehmeh") for my fashion taste. Don't get me wrong, I love that country primitive stuff in my home. I just don't want to wear it. Speaking of yummy, I also found these sherbet colored buttons at the Walbox store. Precious aren't they? I'd better watch it. If you could hear me talk about these, you'd start calling me Smeagol...

It seems that I just can't get enough time on my sewing machine these days! That's the one thing I prefer about knitting: it's so portable. Mom and I had a little sewing bee this weekend, and I had to haul my machine with me. I taught her how to make a coiled fabric basket, but had to leave early because of the stupid snowstorm. Yeah. More snow. I can't even talk about it anymore. I did get a chance to pre-cut some strips for a new basket in these colors reminiscent of summer days at Cape Cod.

And made some serious progress on another project. This is just a sneak preview. It's a work in progress.

My mom, being the woman that she is, instantly recognized that a girl's gotta have tools and bought me this cute little screwdriver set at the hardware store. I will not apologize. It's cute and I adore it. Mr. Strange swears that he won't touch it either (I wonder why?). I had forgotten how much I love hardware stores. I've been visiting quite a few lately and have to tell you that they are such cool places! Almost as good as a stationary store, if you're one of those people, like I am. All those rows of gadgets and whoozits that do goodness knows what but look really cool. By the way, I'm talking about real hardware stores. Not those big box caverns where you can't even see the ceiling without getting a crick in your neck.

Don't worry though. I am still a knitter at heart. I've been plugging away at Ariann, having nearly completed all of the increase rows. Next up: sleeves!

Don't be surprised if next week isn't just as spotty, post wise. This weeks' schedule includes a Quilt guild meeting, a re-scheduled birthday party, 2 Pilates classes and appointment with a personal trainer (!!!). In the meantime, if you are feeling the sewing bug like I am, check out the free patterns on Amy Butler's website! I've already printed out the kitty (but of course). If that doesn't do it for you, P&B Textiles has a sheep fabric... There. Bet that got your attention ;)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What are tiskets and taskets anyway?

Would you believe that this fabric:

Became this basket?

Cool huh? I am totally hooked on making these. A woman in my quilting group, Carol, started making them last fall and I've wanted to make one ever since. She gave several demonstrations, but I thought it looked too complicated. Not so! Although it does take quite a bit of prep time, it's worth the effort.

In addition to running around the city looking for the "right" clothesline to make these, I've been rummaging through my fabric stash (and rescuing some from the donation bags) to make more. This is my second version, with handles added.

The stripes remind me of Native American baskets.

If you are interested in making one, there is a book, It's a Wrap, which uses a slightly different technique to wrap the fabric around the rope. This is just the coolest thing!

Oh! Who's that peeking out of the basket?

It must be the Easter Bunny!

I knit him today, from this free pattern from Heartstrings Fiber Arts, using leftover kid mohair held together with some Dolly Maxi on size 6 Brittany Birch needles. The only modification I made to the pattern was in the ear decreases. I followed the instructions for Barbara White's ears and substituted this:

4) K2tog, K3
5) K2tog, P1, K1
6) SSK, K1
7) P2tog

My bunny is a bit chubby and has no tail yet because I haven't decided which method I prefer. This is what he looked like before I stuffed and sewed him up. Bunny vivisection! It reminded me of high school science classes. Thankfully no guts and no formaldehyde smell. Mr. Strange doesn't like my bunny because he doesn't have any eyes, but he always says that when I make eyeless critters.

That's OK, I love him anyway. Look what he made for me! A design board for my sewing room! Ignore the outlet on the wall. I have to. What a dumb place to put an outlet! What can I say? The house came that way. Someday, maybe I'll have it moved. Someday far far in the future. I can't stand the idea of messing up my room.

The frame is made from old yardsticks (my idea), but look which one he chose to put at the top:

He also framed and hung this sweet vintage print for me, which I received as a gift from my friend Linda this past Christmas:

My sweetie! He's done some great things to help make this my favorite room ever!

OH! I mentioned that I had fabric to donate. To be exact, I have 2 large trash bags full of cotton fabric scraps, one bag of other fabrics, craft yarn, Styrofoam balls and other miscellaneous crafting items that I would like to donate to a school or crafting program for children in need. If you know of an organization in the greater Portland, Maine area that could use this sort of thing, please e-mail me (upper right sidebar under the "About Me" box). I was going to donate it to the Salvation Army craft sale coming up in May, but decided that I would rather it go to kids who need it rather than to the closet of another crafter who doesn't!

I hope you all had a great Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Haiku for a Spring Mourning

Powerless, I woke

to blanket of white, bending branches

Spring dammit!