Project Remnant Redo’s Muse

room

office, oasis, studio, space, with cat

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is “Muse.” My muse is most often Grayzie the cat, sleeping there in the chair. I take more pictures of him than anything else, mostly because he’s so darn a-muse-ing. But hey, as far as muses go, this recent redo to my sewing room/home office has provided lots of creative inspiration.

I don’t have a “before” pic to show you, and if I did I might not post it because I don’t want to see it later as a Hoarder’s Worst Nightmare …

But it is a remnant redo project, too. My old desk, which was attached to the armoire there on the right, stretched to the corner then right-angled in an L shape along the back wall. That window on the right wall was almost completely blocked by the back of the desk, which had a shelf unit for CD’s, storage of all sorts. On top of the desk shelf were stacks of books, and baskets on top, which went almost all the way to the top of the window.

Proponents of feng shui might say that you should never have your desk facing the back of the room, you should have it situated so that when you are seated at your desk, you can see the door when someone comes in. But notice, there is a sunburst mirror on the wall, so that when I’m seated at the desk I can check the mirror and see if someone is sneaking up on me through the doorway. Plus, I can open the blinds and see the beautiful neighborhood while I’m working, which gives me a new sense of expansion, as if I’m part of the outside world as well as operating inside my cave of creativity. The best of both worlds…

The desk had a nice faux-granite top that was hard and sturdy. But the rest of it was particle-board with a paper-thin veneer on top, and when I moved it here, it didn’t survive the trip very well. Many of the bolts that held it together got jostled and ripped out chunks of particle board, so DH had to rig it with many shims and clamps and such. I actually worked at the desk for over a year, with a big pipe-clamp stretched across my keyboard from the window to the end of the armoire. If I ever had to open the armoire to retrieve something, my keyboard tray would fall to the floor with a loud, agonizing crash.

What I added:

3 filing cabinets

shelf even with top of armoire, moved plastic file boxes to this shelf

a new store-bought keyboard tray (hasn’t been installed yet)

new plastic chair mat

new ink for printer that has been spewing out documents in shades of pink lately

3 shelves and brackets on back wall (some of the brackets we already had)

white spray-painted cans on lower back shelf (cans were former Christmas gifts of popcorn or cookies or butter-rum life-savers)

corner shelf DH put together from desk remnants and spray-painted white

a new Clear Sounds phone DH got me from FTRI

 

In some ways it’s like a kindergarten classroom*, with “stations” for each activity: sewing, cutting, serging, embroidery, quilting, drawing, painting, photography, jewelry-making, knitting, other crafts, writing, the volunteer work that I do, genealogy, processing mail.

*This thought is distilled from my memories of a couple of organizational books by Julie Morganstern.

There’s a bookcase over to the right of the armoire, now filled about half and half with fabric and books. Why have books stacked up all over when they could be in the bookcase where they belong?

Grayzie loves the new redo. He has plenty of serene new surfaces to lie down on, and when he gets bored he can jump up to the serger table and mangle all the thread paths for a fun activity. And how quick can my hand travel across the room to his furry neck? J/K, he’s my muse.

More Totes than Ol’ Man River Remnant Project

Sewing and knitting come together.
In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, I stole a few hours of so-called free time and finished, finally finished, two projects. Two tote bags.

lined Fair-Isle tote

Cotton remnant-lined Fair-Isle Tote #1

Both of these have been featured on the Knitting Blog (see link to it on the side bar), but they needed a remnant sewing component to finish them off.

cut thumb

Sliced thumb made it difficult to knot the thread

I sliced my left thumb with a serrated knife at lunch the other day. It wasn’t so bad until I tried to finish the hand-sewing on these projects: I just couldn’t roll a knot in the end of the thread with a band-aid on my thumb. So I took off the band-aid and yuck, that’s an ugly brut (bruise-cut).

The pattern for the Sari-ribbon tote called for a store-bought leather bottom, which I didn’t have, so I made one out of a fabric remnant. And my knitted tote-bag body turned out to be a very different size than the one in the pattern, so I had to do some improvising on the lining, and then make the bottom.

purse bottom

improvising the purse bottom

Wonder where the word “tote” came from? “Tote that barge, lift that bale…” ❤

Sari-ribbon Tote bag

Sari-ribbon Tote bag

I used a remnant of .89 yard of outdoor canvas fabric for the tote bag bottom and lining that was a perfect color match to the Louisa Harding sari-ribbon yarn and leather handles. And it sewed like a dream come true! I used a Kwik-Sew shopping bag pattern bottom and altered it to fit, and after three tries and a lot of ripping and tearing, I got it together. Next stop: shopping? Beach? Picnic?

At the Crossroads of Blogging

It finally happened: my blog has sustained over 10,000 hits. I have waited for this day and pondered; should I stop at 10,000? Should I change anything? Should I start thinking of blogging any differently?

I began Project Remnant Redo to chronicle my progress doing sewing projects with remnants, and also to indulge my little hobby of writing without trying too hard to solicit an audience. Am I happy with the results? If everyone kept a journal and recorded their thoughts and mundane events in their lives, then this is my two cents. Along with my local Book Club this past year, I read A Midwife’s Tale, the Life of Martha Ballard, a woman who lived in Maine in the late 1700’s. From sketchy notes recorded by Ballard in a journal, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich revealed a richly colored picture of life in early North America. I doubt that our era will have any lack of mementos for future generations to discover, but we don’t know what our future holds. Even now, the gap between have and have not is growing. A modern blog post features a little chunk of narrative; we are becoming more accustomed to tweets than novels. Our smart phones are ever in our hands; our virtual friends always available at our ring tones and our quest for answers right at the tip of our google-searching fingers.

The fabric stash beckons

The yarn stash calls out

I think I could get a lot more done in the way of projects if I cut back on blogging and other internet-searching pursuits. And, in the absence of keyboard-crunching, I could cut back on the tendency for graspiness (a word I made up because I wasn’t sure how to spell aparigraha :).) I’m always looking for new and different, more and better–sometimes it’s best to stop and slide back to less and inferior! It’s all good. I am that.

Thank you to The Sweaty Knitter for nominating me for The Beautiful Blogger Award. I love to read your blog.
Now I should tell you 7 things about myself, which you can probably glean from these words, and nominate 7 others, and write to them to notify them. I’ll just tell you 7 blogs that I love to read regularly, in addition to Sweaty, that should win all the beautiful awards you can think of.
1. Swell Sewing
2. Atomic Redhead
3. Pinko Knitter
4. Na Na’s Life
5. Peacefully Knitting
6. Glaser Crafts
7. Streets of Salem

Newest Recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award Up In Here

Woo hoo!

I read my email at 4 AM to discover I’ve been nominated for/won a Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you, Karine Berthine of The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts for this special honor! I love her blog, and am not sure mine belongs in the same class with it. She said I have “a great, eclectic blog!”

One of the rules and conditions for accepting the award is to also nominate 15 other blogs I’ve read and liked recently. That’s a lot of great blogs to read! Many of the blogs I read have already been gifted with this award, but I will try! I’ve found some great blogs through the “lists of 15” on these rules of compliance posts. So thanks again, Karine, for considering me as one of your picks.

1. Burda Style –this is the mothership of all sewing blogs.
2. Diary of a Sewing Fanatic –sewing leadership with so much charisma
3. Sew Fun! Blog –Lena Kantis from Husqvarna Viking presents sewing innovations
4. Ginger Unzueta Photography –a talented portrait artist
5. Paintspots and Splinters –Vicky Weaver’s beautiful, beautiful arts and crafts
6. The Crafty Cauldron –delightful Harry Potter projects
7. The Creative Addiction Blog –awe-inspiring projects and artist and event spotlights
8. Streets of Salem –Dana Segar’s phenomenal history blog, one of my most addictive indulgences
9. Wednesday Night Knitting –the life and times of a small, eclectic group of knitters 🙂
10. Dream, Quilt, Create! — fabulous eye candy and great information from Cynthia Horst
11. Swell Sewing — great projects and tutorials
12. He Sowed She Sewed –a family blog with useful and fun tutorials
13. Princess Pin Curls –delightful vintage fashion extravaganza from Australia
14. Maggie’s Onebutt Kitchen –mouth-watering recipes and photos
15. Ten Thousand Dancing Stars –Jocelyn’s marvelous knitting and fiber blog

The other rule/condition for accepting the Versatile Blogger Award is to tell the nominator –that is, The Sweaty Knitter and I guess any one else who wants to read about it– seven things about myself.

1. As of tomorrow, June 4, I will have 18 grandchildren. I don’t remember ever thinking about this when I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But that is what I do now, I grandmother.
2. I love Sweaty Knitter’s posts about arcane needlework processes and terms; don’t ever stop!
3. I once was a UAW shop steward and got to shake hands with Jesse Jackson at a labor rally in Miami
4. My aptitude test before entering college said my best jobs would be “occupational therapist” and “clown.”
5. I was named for my aunt, who died of acute leukemia the year before I was born.
6. You already know this, but I have 4 cats. That puts me at a high rating on the weirdiosity scale.
7. I think I accidentally ingested some Gorilla glue last night when I was trying to repair a broken tea cup.

So that’s it! Thank you, thank you!

Spring holiday hiatus

I just went through a week-long hiatus from doing anything crafty. No sewing, no knitting, no blogging.

What I did do instead, was spend time with people: looking into their eyes and appreciating their sparkle, giving them hugs, holding their hands as we walked together, talking to them and listening back, drawing with them, giving up my iPad and iPhone so they could use it to play a game and draw.

I found an 18-inch doll at the local H-E-B (a grocery store) that was on sale for only $10! I’m happy to think that because of this cool price reduction right before Easter, many girls in Texas got a Texas Girl! You could choose one in a cowboy outfit (that was my first choice, but they were sold out), a Quinceniera dress and tiara, a cheerleader suit with pom poms, a casual outfit, or this soccer gear with shin guards and all.

Texas Girl, in a soccer outfit

Texas girl may possibly have smaller feet than the Target doll I got to use as a model for my doll clothes.

Grayzie and Bob

My cats missed me, but I got to hang out with some other felines. I resumed working on the diagonally knit scarf when I came home; it is knit out of “Flower” from the Plymouth Yarn Italian Collection, a little gift that Ethel got me when Yarnworkshad their big yard sale. Spring-y!

a ring-tailed varmint tried to butt into the pic

Hope you all had happy holidays!

A little sewing, a little knitting, a little whatsit

I was inspired for this week’s postaweek project to combine knitting with sewing after I was notified that I won this Burda FiberPlay contest . I have already gotten the Laura Zukaite knitting books in the mail, and they are thrilling! I can’t wait to read them more thoroughly and choose a design to work on. The instructions look to be logical, and thank goodness they are all rated as to level of difficulty.  Zukaite explores and explains the process of designing and experimenting with fibers. Excellent food for thought, and more depth than the average knitting book, more focus on high  fashion rather than DIYing. I love all the background info, history, and thought processes of people who feel compelled to work with threads.

This week’s project idea is not new, it’s similar to what I did with the Go Gators! felted wool purse. It is also a purse, but I knitted the purse and strap my very own self!
I started with a couple of skeins of Sensations Angel Hair 22% wool, 50% acrylic, 28% nylon yarn that I got on sale; I wanted to just knit something without a pattern and see where it led me. I tried doing about 5 rows of stockinette and then a row of purl. Somewhere the pattern got boogered up so technically it needed to be shipped to the Island of Misfit Toys, but I persisted.
I found a remnant for the lining, a white-silver lamee piece dated 2005.

Silver lamee remnant

And, never doubting, I found a zipper in my extensive stash that was a good fit, and with plastic teeth.

9" sturdy zipper

I sewed the zipper onto the lining, then seamed the edges, and sewed lining to knit at the edges of the zipper tapes. I had to finish the ends of the zipper with hand-quilting thread, as the machine balked at the angle of the plastic zipper teeth.

Sewing lining with attached zipper to purse opening

Did I mention that the cats love this purse? They can’t get enough of it. Normally I try to keep them out of the sewing room, but they seek out the woolly bully–usually whatever I’m knitting–and ecstatically try to knead it and sniff into digestion its animal essence.

Paulie, wanting a rendezvous with the woolly bully

I had another remnant, a scarf which is the first thing I made when I started knitting again a few months ago. Since it is rather short for a scarf, and not pretty, I did not hesitate to felt it for use as an embellishment.

Heather green wool scarf, before felting

It was felted in the washing machine and dryer once, and then cut and sewn onto the purse.

Knit purse with felted wool decorations

I learned how to make the felted roses from Felt It, Stitch It, Fabulous, an amazingly inspiring book of projects by Kathryn Tidwell Bieber. This red rose was once part of an old wool sweater that I bought at a yard sale. The strap is knitted in seed stitch. The zipper pull fob is a rhinestone ball button from my bead and button collection, applied with thin plastic-coated wire (if you click on the pic you can barely see it sparkling in the upper left of the same-color purse body). You can also see this project at My Studio on the Burdastyle site.

By the way, I finished the top that goes with the remnant Goth skirt from last week. That wonderful Nancy Zieman pattern McCall’s M6247 includes the skirt, this top, a sleeveless shell, pants, and a jacket with a sash. Which belt do you like best?

D-ring self-fabric belt

Bullet belt

Brass brad studded black waist cincher

UFO, Knitty Gritty, and Fun with Our Favorite Soldier

Finished a UFO (Unfinished Object) that has been languishing in the sewing room since almost a year ago—

mini-quilt for a romper

At least the baby girl it was intended for is not yet a high school graduate…Very cool (I think) Westminster fairies fabric!

Thinking of future projects and pondering the possibilities:

sketching, one more step toward making it real

My son was here on leave from Afghanistan this past week. We were able to spend some great moments together.  All too soon, he’ll be back over there and we’ll all be worried about how he’s doing, how we can communicate better, boost his morale, make him feel a part of the family and the country, while he’s away. If anyone who reads this and knows him, has some ideas or wants to contact him, let me know! He’d love to hear from somebody new.

He had some great stories to tell; some funny and some sad. One thing he noticed is that the Afghani people, who might make the equivalent of $1000 a year, are not wasteful with their goods like Americans are. He has seen them searching through the garbage on post, looking for discards that they can recycle into things to make and sell.

THE KNITTING GROUP on Wednesdays had a successful 2nd meeting! Everyone is either learning to knit for the first time, mastering the K or the P, or deciding on a project to begin! I’m not sure how they feel about being the subject of a blog, but we will broach that soon and know how much to write about…Me, I found that my purling was not purling and my knitting was through the wrong side of the loop. Once I got that straightened out, I was much less grumpy!

yaaaarrnn

I love the red yarn; it’s part bamboo and part wool, looks beautiful in stockinette, and feels good in my hands. I can’t say the same for the blue and white acrylic baby yarn I got on sale; I don’t like the feel of it on knitting needles. Maybe for a crocheted blanket…a mindless activity while watching Burn Notice or NCIS….

 

 

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