Saturday, December 22, 2012

Simplicity, McCall's, & Advance Patterns

 They arrived this morning.  One step closer.

"Simple to Make"

This piece reminds me of my great grandmother when she was dressed for town.

Fabric is a Necessity

Fabric is a necessity for Christmas morning when you have a sewing machine waiting under the tree (metaphorically).  So, I needed "stuff."  All the stuff that sewers need. I knew the only way to accomplish this was to shop for my own stocking stuffers.  Needless to say, my stocking is stuffed with fabric and notions and patterns. (I won't say "Oh, My!" because it's become quite trite.)  

I am learning about fabrics, obviously, so this was more of a challenge than I initially anticipated.  Where to go? I am a Hobby Lobby patron, so that is naturally where I began my Fabric Quest. I wanted everything, so I'm sure that I'm likely to burn in Hell for my avarice.  (Damn you, Hobby Lobby!)  I resigned myself to mostly cotton broadcloth and one knit in black.  I almost purchased fleece, for some pj patterns that are on the way.  Though I decided to keep it as simple as possible, instead opting for a cool crisp clean white cotton for that pattern.

I didn't want complete fabric crap, but I knew better than to go for gingham and all of the other super divine and wickedly attractive printed knits and more expensive fabrics.  Actually, gingham may be easy to sew, but I admittedly have no point of reference. 

 (On a side note, the Fabric Quest occurred during the last ten years of the Crusades, shortly after the quest for the Holy Grail lost its momentum.)

I didn't have any thread either, so I had more trouble than is surely necessary picking that out, as well.  Why on Earth had I never known that there about fifty different types of thread? My head was "bobbing" from all of the choices. . . Get it?

I went with heavy duty, because I'm pretty hard-core, in case you can't tell.  

I really am excited about this new era in my life, which I believe I have quite-aptly named Joyful Notions.  I think it's fairly clear that every minor part of this endeavor has me getting pretty psyched about beginning my venture into places unknown.  

Merry Christmas, indeed, Hobby Lobby Fabric-Cutting Person!

Do You Hear What I Hear???

So, I was supposed to wrap my gift and put it under the tree...
It seems that I have, instead, decorated it like the tree.
It was just too difficult to cover the beautiful box with paper.  What kind of monster would be able to do such a thing?  Certainly not someone as in-love with the machine as I am! 

This is the gift that I have wanted for years.  I'm not at all exaggerating that estimation either.  I can remember being twelve years old and asking for a sewing machine.  It didn't happen.  It's probably just as well, because distractions abounded thereafter and I'm sure I would be doing a "come back to sewing" blog, like so many others out there.  Maybe it's God's will that I come to the craft as a fresh-eyed thirty-two year old beginner.  

I researched a bit before asking for this specific machine.  I wanted one of the classic Singers to begin with.  I looked at a totally electrically rewired Singer from 1955 (a stunning machine), but lost out on eBay.  I thought, at the time, that I needed nothing more out of my machine than a woman in the 1950s got out of hers.  I still, more or less, believe that.  Simplicity from your machine is key in the beginning, I've been told.

After being an eBay loser--which, I might add, isn't the worst kind of loser to be--I decided to expand my horizons.  I continued to look at the vintage and then, one day, I remembered this 160th anniversary machine that I once saw on Amazon.  I had thought it was beautiful and remembered thinking that it was superbly designed with a seemingly-simple sleekness.  

I slowly began thinking that maybe 160th was the machine for me.  One problem:  It was way past the introduction of the machine and it is a limited edition machine. The price has skyrocketed since it's birthing.  I was remembering a $220.00 price tag from a year before and was slightly surprised to see it going for anywhere between $600-$1,500.  Needless to say, I'm not willing to pretend that I'm wealthy enough to throw out that kind of money for a first-timer machine.  

I won't say it was that easy, but I found a price much more like my memory price and found a new machine that was made for me (I'm convinced).  And,  here it is on my 1950s couch.  Serendipity.  

By the way, I kept the manual and dvd out for bedtime storybook reading.  Everything else is in the box and safely stowed not-away for Christmas morning.  

Now, the waiting...  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'm a Stitchin' Kitten (Phrase coined by star student, Vanna! She's a Knittin' Kitten.)

I feel totally triumphant since finishing the monster wrap in this picture.  This is my first creation and I'm so loving it, imperfections and all.  

 I must confess that I started off with the desire to make a scarf.  It is a scarf, of sorts, I suppose.  It's just big.  It wears like a wrap, more or less.  I could easily see myself wearing it that way, perhaps pinning it.  

I really couldn't be happier with the color, which fades from a deep to a light color throughout the length of the piece.  It gives it a subtly wavy look, which wasn't expected.  The fiber is homespun wool, Lion Brand.  I went for this large skein mainly for the color and because it was labeled Thick & Quick.  I knew that I needed to do something easy and fairly quick for my first project, to keep my momentum up.  

I used my US 19 Lantern Moons for this (  I have completely fallen for the Lantern Moon brand.  Their needles are more than beautiful.  They are exquisite!  They make yarn sing.  I honestly can say that they are making my projects more rewarding to make.  

 Now that I'm finished knitting my first piece, I wonder where to go next.  I may attempt to block this wrap, since the stitching is so loose and large.  It doesn't have a strict form to it. Not sure if it should.  I really haven't pursued trying to find out how to do blocking, though I have been offered some ideas about techniques.  I invite suggestions for this.

I'm also eager to get suggestions, in general.  This is my first scarf/wrap, so I know there is much to be learned.  I'm interested in hearing what advice you might offer.


A Scarf for Someone Special

Walking down the yarn aisles at Hobby Lobby is a bit overwhelming--but, in a good way.  As I'm perusing the various yarns, I can't help but want to put my fingers on every skein. I want to touch them.  I want to feel the differences between cotton and wool.  I want to cradle my face in the alpaca.  I want to wrap my fingers with the homespun.  I don't know much about fibers yet.  (Remember, I am just a beginner at this.)  However, for better or worsted, I'm newly dedicated to learning. At present, I mostly gravitate to yarns that are a color, a size, and a texture that I like.  I'm guessing those criteria probably don't change too much, whether you're a novice or an expert.  Perhaps the knowledge of those basic points of yarn desirability simply expand.  Regardless, it's where I'm starting off as a consumer.  Boy, do I want to consume, by the way.  I'm a yarnie.  (Like a foodie, but different.)  

Not to digress too far away from my purpose here, but I do want to share something that only a knitter or crocheter (is that correct?) could understand. My dear friend has said to me in one of our mid-morning conversations that all she can think about is yarn.  She is my inspiration for starting this knitting adventure and she definitely hit the nail on the head with the honesty of that statement. I, too, seem to think only of yarn these days, Brittany.  

 My second project as a knitter is a gray scarf, adorned with sequins.  It is unfinished as of yet, though it will be complete before the end of the week.  

On Brittany's recommendation, I decided to try Yarn Bee for this piece.  So, that was decided upon. It did, nevertheless, take me a spell of buzzing around before I brought myself to choose a skein.  Again, the possibilities were distractingly enchanting. 

I must say that I have been very pleased with the quality and the durable feel of the yarn, in spite of the softness inherent to it. The sequins are threaded into the yarn itself, though everyone who sees the scarf believes that I have added them by hand post-knitting. 

The knitting needles I used are single points, US size 10.  Most importantly, however, they are Lantern Moon needles!  This is my first time using this particular pair of Lantern Moons and I'm completely enamored with them.  The way the yarn slides effortlessly on and then off of the tips of these palmetto wood needles is so utterly....satisfying.  I can think of no better word to describe it.  

And, they are beautiful!  No?

The suggested size for the needle is US 9, but I've never been one to do as I'm told.  

On a side note, I didn't think that I would be a fan of acrylics, being that I have a deep affinity for natural fibers, but the acrylic-ness of this yarn didn't bother me.  It "feels" natural, which surprised me.  I didn't expect that.  

This is only my second official piece, so--as you can clearly see--it is subject to intense scrutiny and review before it is deemed worthy of sharing.  

So far, it seems to be satisfactory.  

I do have questions for those of you out there who are knowledgeable knitters.  How long should this scarf be, considering that the recipient is a small little lady (in every way)?  She's 5'2" and about 91 lbs.  I feel like 70" will be too long.  Any suggestions for me?  

Thanks and wish me luck on the final stages of this endeavor.  I will post pictures of it finished soon.  Hopefully, I can get a pic of her wearing it, too.  


I Am New to Everything

I used to be so creative.  Even told so on occasion by random people who have paraded through my life.  But, you know what? That seems like so very long ago.  In my adult life, I have found that I have chosen responsibility over creativity, time and time again.  This is what we do.  We prioritize.  We compartmentalize.  We fail to recognize that by doing only those things we must do, we are distancing ourselves from who we really are inside. . . that identity we worked so diligently to develop as adolescents. (I'm using "we" because I'm sure there is someone else out there in the ethers that can relate in some way.)   I am utterly and disgustingly guilty of denying the creative part of myself.  I have recently started to wonder when exactly this happened...

Was it when I was college?  No, I believe I was a creator of sorts even then.  I was a communicator.  I was a writer.
Was it when I was in search of a place to make my mark as a teacher? No, I still made plans for classes I didn't yet have. 
Was it in the shower a few mornings ago?
Was it driving home from work Thursday evening?

It happens little by little obviously, like most changes in one's life.  I think this realization is the blessing that I've waited for all along (though not consciously).  So, now that I've realized that something is lacking from my life, I have to give myself permission to seek fulfillment in the realm of frivolous creative undertakings.  I have so much work to do, so many obligations to fill, too many "I need to dos."  For a while now, it has been my first instinct to push away the urges I've had to create simply because it serves no practical purpose and, after all, there are tests to be graded, essays to read, grades to enter, lessons to plan, students to monitor, floors to mop, animals to feed, meals to cook, young people to listen to and so on to infinity.  

So, I've now granted myself permission to create.  I recognize that it's more than just frivolity.  It's a need.  Maslow didn't know me (or us), or he would have included creating in the base level of his hierarchy of needs.  The only question that remains is the "what?" and the "how?" of the plan.  What shall I create and how will I learn how to achieve it.  I have to determine the best medium to fill that creative void. 

Here are my new medium interests:  (These are new only in pursuit, not in my desire to learn.)

Here are loves of my life that have slowly and sadly fallen to the wayside:
Creative Writing
Piano Playing

I hope that I get some direction, from within, without, or from beyond, as to what to pursue and what to revive.  I feel like I will.  I've opened the door and I await my muse's entrance.  I invite you inside, too. We can perhaps find that candle that has been outed and rekindle it together.  It just might be what was missing.  

My [Our] here and now is all that I [we] have and all that is promised to me [us].  
Be who you are inside.  Be happy!