MuddyFingersMeg

Eat, drink, (garden, knit, quilt, think, fix, read) & be merry

Happenin’

Hey friends.

The business and busyness of school has started.  But that’s boring.  So let’s talk about something else.  Here’s a little photo catchup.

Scores of bees have been visiting the gardens.  This photo was taken on P’s birthday when we took our birthday breakfast out to the patio and welcomed the day with the bees merrily collecting the nectar and pollen.  This striking flower is the Diablo Cosmos from See*d Savers.  They were planted in a sandy, barren patch of sand and they’ve put forth weeks of prolific blooms.  They’d look a lot nicer if I cared enough to deadhead them, but I don’t have time for fussing.  I’ll grow these again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of the patio/pergola, here it is, ready for a dinner with some friends.  Lovely, isn’t it?  Next year it will be covered with hop vines.  

 

The garlic was harvested late.  And then it sat curing in the garage for months.  I finally got around to cleaning it a few weeks ago.  Disease damaged many of the heads (not sure what it was yet), but they’re still edible.   Last year we grew enough to last us the entire year.  This year we’ll probably fall short.  So it goes.

 

Here’s the seed garlic, all ready to go back into the ground in about a month.  I do think I got enough seed garlic.  Thank goodness!

 

I made another pillowcase for a birthday present.  Isn’t it cheerful?

 

Well, that’s enough procrastinating for now.  Back to the homework!

 

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Stitchin’ from Stash Fabrics

Hi Friends!

My first round of summer classes ended last week, giving me a little hiatus on Thursday and Friday.  It was wonderful (despite the days of 100+ degree heat!).  I spent a few hours in the basement honing my sewing skills and here’s what I came up with:

A new pillowcase!  I used this tutorial and it came together like a dream.

It’s a little big for my pillows, so next time I might shrink the length measurements by 2-3″ and the width by 1″ and it would be about perfect.  Still, I love it.  Even though the white clearly shows my kitty’s hair.  Ew.

You aren’t able to see the tidy french seams on the inside, but trust me, they’re there.  And they’re so tidy!

This tote has been on my sewing queue for an awfully long time.  To tell the truth, I was a little intimidated.  I needn’t have been.  The tutorial is clearly illustrated and very detailed.  This also came together wonderfully.  If I were to make it again, I might make the bag slightly narrower and I’d use heavy-weight interfacing for the main bag construction.  Other than the slight floppiness, I love this little tote and it’s great for knitting supplies.

Unfortunately, the camera really didn’t pick up the lovely greens in the batik, so they look much more muddied than they really are.

I also made a cute little wallet a few weeks ago.  I haven’t been able to finish the closure because I’ve misplaced part of my snap press, but it’s still getting a lot of use.

It came out a little too big for my tastes.  I think that’s partly because I didn’t use wide enough seam allowances.  Also, the cards don’t fit very snugly, but that also may be because of the seam allowance problem.  It’s still cute, though, and it was fun to sew.

And, last but not least, I whipped up a little soft case cover for my new Mac*Book A*ir!

It’s quilted on the inside and makes a snug little home for the traveling computer.  The little green pouch is a cable-carrier.

It also needs a few snaps and is awaiting recovery of the missing part, but that hasn’t stopped me from toting it around.

I love that black and white fabric.  Wish I would have bought a little more.

Seems like I always buy too little of the good fabric and too much of the stuff I quickly grow tired of.  Does that happen to you, too?

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And now for something a little different

It’s no surprise a lot of knitting goes on around here.  I love knitting because it’s so portable – a few stitches on the bus, before class, while waiting for a doctor – and soon something beautiful arises from those stolen moments.  It took me several years before I was good enough that I actually liked what I made.  Most of my early projects were “frogged” over and over because, in my opinion, they weren’t worthy of existing.

But during break I have time at home which means it’s time to set aside the knitting and pursue the crafts that aren’t as portable.  I love sewing because it’s faster and the possibilities are limitless.  Unfortunately, because I’m less practiced and almost entirely self-taught, I’m not often pleased with the results.  And unlike knitting I can’t just “rip-it, rip-it” and start over.  No sir – once the fabric is cut it’s a done deal, which makes sewing even more intimidating.  But only practice is going to improve my skills, so I’ve spent some hours in front of the machine and here’s what I’ve come up with:

I’ve made two pairs of mittens using this fabulous tutorial.

Here’s P’s pair, made from his favorite sweater that finally got too hole-y to wear.

I lined them with horse print flannel because his name means “lover of horses” which gives us no end of amusement around here.  As a side note – I took scrap pieces of the sweater and needle felted them on the wrong side of the hole-y bits and you’d never know there had been holes if you weren’t looking for them.

I put these in his Christmas stocking and he said that it was one of the best presents he’s ever received – on par with the quilt from his mom and grandma.  🙂

Here’s my pair, made from a thick, felted, thrifted sweater and lined with fabric from XL wool/cashmere pants I once found in a garage sale free pile (score!!)

I needled felted on some fall-colored leaves with green yarn for a stem.  I’m not thrilled with the needle felting job – but every little bit of practice helps, right?

You’d never know from looking at them how many times I ripped sections out to sew them again.  sigh.

I’ve been dabbling a bit in making stuffed animals.  Again, the photo hides it well, but my skills are seriously lacking.  It’s cute, but it’s not what I wanted it to be.  Alas – practice, practice.

I do love this little infant-friendly felted wool tail!

I made this little wristlet using this fantastic tutorial.  It came out so cute!  It’s the first time I’ve inserted a zipper, and I’m very pleased with the results.  This cute little bag will be going with me on vacation next week!

It even has three little pockets on the inside.  If I were to make it again, I’d probably make a pocket on the opposite side to hold my phone.

P and I bought new curtains for our front room to replace the old-lady lacy ones that came with the house.  We ended up with linen I*KEA curtains that you cut to your desired length and then use iron-on fusible web to “hem” them.  As a result we ended up with lots of long, narrow scraps of linen.  I used a few of those scraps to make… napkins!

It’s my first time doing fusible applique so I was just playing around a bit.  I cut the flower and leaves freehand and used cookie cutters to outline the rest.

You can tell from the “Minnesota” napkin that there is a reason the instructions tell you to cut out your images in reverse!  Ooops!

I used this tutorial to make this adorable little fabric basket (how did people learn to craft before the internet and people’s generous tutorials??).

I found one slight error in the tutorial – when you cut the fabric for the lining it says to cut a piece 9 1/4″ x 12″.  That was too small for my basket and I had better luck with a lining that was 10 1/4″ x 12″.  Fold along the 12″ side so the 10 1/4″ sides make the opening.

I think this will live on my nightstand to catch all the little bits that land there – earrings, hairbands, etc.

I’ve still got more knitting to show you, so I’ll be back soon!

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A Few Stitches

December was a whirlwind of knitting and crafting.  I entirely lost track of all the projects, and unfortunately, many of them slipped through my fingers without being photographed.  But they all were finished, blocked, boxed, and gifted.  Most were received with heaps of enthusiasm, which is always both gratifying and surprising.  I’m embarassed to say this, but homemade gifts were… looked down upon when I was little.  But, both times and people change and I’m happy for the opportunity to make things for people who love and use them.

P’s Sweater.  It’s an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern (Saddle-shouldered) with Kn*itpicks Tweed (70% merino wool, 20% alpaca, 10% acrylic).  If the sleeves hadn’t been too long for me, I may very well have kept it.  It’s so soft and cozy.

P’s hat.  This fall, when I asked him if he wanted a new hat, he said yes.  I was pleasantly surprised when he asked for a hat that was red and cabled!  He typically asks for things that are plain and grey (or black).  It’s a lovely splash of excitement to his wardrobe!  It’s this hat knit up in a merino wool.

This cute little bunny is knit up in a merino wool for a friend’s baby, due in early January.  It’ll soon be gifted with the blanket below.

I do love this baby blanket.  So simple yet so beautiful.

And here is where I’ll sheepishly admit I didn’t get photos of the two mohawk hats I knit for my nephews, the two princess hats (and wands) I made for my nieces, the cute little bear hat for another niece…  I do have a few more items around the house I can still photograph, so I’ll be back for another round soon.

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Stitchin’

Winter break gave me a little time to spend at the sewing machine.  I was really hoping to make some curtains and learn to insert zippers, but that’s not what actually got done.  Here’s what did:

Borris the bear.  Isn’t he adorable?  He’s made from corduroy and bits of cotton from my stash.  The pattern is from One Yard Wonders.

I forgot to sew the eyes (buttons) on before I stuffed him and stitched up the opening.  Turns out you can’t sew buttons on when the inside of the fabric is inaccessible.  Believe me, I tried.  But I actually like him this way.  What do you think?  Is it weird that he has no eyes?

He makes the perfect pillow, especially for airplane rides.

Cute little tail

He’s a little wonky in the way amature homemade stuffed animals are, but that adds to his charm.

I also stitched up a new cloth shopping bag.  The pattern is based on an actual plastic shopping bag (yes, you make the pattern!).  It’s fully lined and very sturdy.  It’s gusseted and roomy.  I love it!  Although I cut the bamboo fabric wrong and it’s upside down.  You may not be able to tell, but as a plant geek it drives me crazy having the leaves point in the wrong direction.

The tutorial is here and is very easy to follow.

A few years ago, when P and I were dating, I scavenged an almost brand-new down comforter out of the dumpster behind P’s apartment.  It had a badly soiled corner, so I simply cut open the comforter and took out 3 garbage bags of clean down.  I’ve moved the down twice and finally did something with it!  With some down ticking (tightly woven fabric so the little pokey ends don’t come out) I sewed up a cylindrical pillow and then made a washable cover out of some stashed quilting cottons.

Here you can see the actual pillow under the cover.  I used the snap press to finish the cover.  It makes a wonderful reading pillow.  It’s long enough I can have my head on one side and use the other to prop up a book.  I stuffed it firmly so it’s very supportive.  Considering I totally made up the pattern, I am very happy with how it came out.  Don’t look too closely, though, I had to do some serious patchworking to make the cover fit!

That was fun, although it’s probably the last sewing I’ll do until summer.  Too bad, those curtains are just going to have to wait.

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Crafting and Cleaning

I do not know how we end up with so. many. plastic. bags.  I take reuseable shopping bags to the grocery store most of the time.  If I don’t take reuseables, I usually ask for paper since we use those for recycling.  But still, somehow, we end up with piles of plastic bags.  I finally had some time and whipped up this using this tutorial.


This was my first time sewing with elastic.  Overall, it was much easier than expected.  I did learn that I should tack down the elastic slightly in from the very edge of the casing.  Otherwise, 4 layers of fabric plus two layers of elastic gets tough to sew when sewing up the long tube.  

Cute, practical, love it.

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Patchwork

I finished this quilt a while ago, but it’s finally breaking in.  Sometimes it’s takes flannel a little while to warm up to it’s full snuggly potential.  

 

Flannel Quilt Side A

It’s a rag quilt.  But it’s not only a rag quilt…

Flannel Quilt Side B

It’s reversible.  

Now that the mercury is dropping this quilt is getting a lot of play.  It’s small enough and portable enough to go to campfires and sit outside, but it also sits on the bed most days, too.

Apple Detail

I wanted to get better with my quilting skills and thus made each of the 90 squares a different quilted pattern.

Leaf Detail

A leaf.

Quilt Detail

Vines

Beet detail

This is my personal favorite square – a beet.  Beets have slowly taken on great symbolic meaning in my life.  So much so, in fact, that the very word is engraved on the inside of my wedding band.  

 

Flower detail

A warm reminder of sunnier times.

Fiddle Detail

The inspiration for each block came from my everyday life.  I love looking at it and thinking of what each one means.  This, in particular, is a reminder to learn the play that fiddle in our basement.

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Getting in the Swing

I’m still figuring out this blog thing, figuring out what I want to share here, how it’s to be done.  Getting in the habit of taking pictures and posting them.  Considering most of what I wanted was to enter into the crafting/gardening/sustainable&creative living circles, I’m now taking a few more steps in that general direction.  Here is a little taste of what we’ve been up to lately:

First Spinach harvest 2009

It’s not even June 1st and we’re starting to eat more than little nibbles from the garden.  Here is our first spinach harvest.  

Baby Bok Choi Harvest 2009

Baby Bok Choi.  We had terrible germination rates, but it was free seed.  We did pull out this lovely little harvest which will be stir-fried up with some ginger and tofu.  Notice the flea beatle damage on the leaves.  Now the dino kale is less than three feet from these, and it’s still perfect.  This stuff might make an excellent trap crop to keep the little buggers from chewing my favorite kale to pieces.

Baby Shower Gift 2009

On the crafty side, I’ve all but given up knitting for the summer.  The easy baby booties that I started for a shower months ago… never got done.  In the meantime I sewed up this puzzle ball and elephant from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.   So sweet and pretty easy.  The puzzle ball is per specifications, but I embroidered the eyes on the elephant instead of sewing on felt.  I didn’t have any felt on hand and these can’t fall off.  

Elephant 2009

P said he wants one for himself, and I kind of do, too.

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