Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair"

Whew, the past three weeks have been crazy! The first week we spent entertaining one of our former college professors who was in town for work, the next week I flew to Texas to visit my family, and this week we've spent several days helping a college friend move into town so she could start her internship. Thankfully everything seems to have settled down now and I can get to work on my next sewing project (once I figure out what it will be...).

In the meantime, I'd like to recommend a book I stumbled across in my local supermarket. It's called Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split (see it at Amazon). The author is Laurie Perry, aka Crazy Aunt Purl. I was so surprised to see her screen name on the front of a book - I've visited her website a few times to view knitting patterns but I had no idea that she had written a book!

As you can probably tell from the title, the book isn't really about knitting. Instead knitting is a common theme throughout the chapters as Laurie discovers that learning to knit helps her recover from her divorce. Divorce self-help books aren't something I would normally find myself reading (especially considering what kind of message that might send to my husband) but her funny stories and humorous writing style really kept me entertained. She also has 14 "Knitting Recipes" at the back of the book, including the pattern for the first hat I ever knitted (her Easy Roll-Brim Hat). You can view an excerpt from Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair at Amazon by using their Search Inside feature, so give it a look!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fleece Bag with Goldfish Applique

Here's my first attempt at a full-sized bag (see my Elephant Fleece Applique Pillow post for the technique I used to attach the applique). I started it months ago but my old Singer couldn't handle the multiple thicknesses of fleece and interfacing so I had to quit. I tried again when I got my new Viking and it couldn't handle it either! So I talked my dad into letting me "permanently borrow" his 1936 direct drive Singer. He had been using it to repair flags and the guy he bought it from had used it to sew leather so it seemed like it would be able to handle a few thinknesses of fleece! I finally got around to trying it out this week and I was able to finish the bag, but there were still a few extra-thick areas that I ended up having to sew by hand. Oh well, at least it's done!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Elephant Fleece Applique Pillow

Happy New Year! Here's an applique pillow I made as a Christmas gift for a friend. She's recently joined a sorority (Delta Sigma Theta) and their unofficial symbol is an elephant. Since I'm just learning how to use my new sewing machine this project was probably a little over-ambitious (and I think it shows!). I did all right designing and cutting out the applique shapes but when it came time to sew them down with the satin stitch, things ended up getting a bit messy. Hence the wavy outlines and wobbly letters! Hopefully with more practice I'll get better at the stitching. Here's some close-ups:

Here's how I did the applique:

First I traced my design on to paper-backed transfer webbing. The final shape will be the opposite of what is drawn on the transfer webbing, so the image must be reversed. I forgot to do this while I was taking the photos so that elephant ended up being for practice!

Next I trimmed the transfer webbing, leaving about an inch around the design. I ironed the sticky side of the transfer webbing to the wrong side of the white fleece.

Then I trimmed the fleece to the edge of the transfer webbing. Next I put the design in my sewing machine, paper side up, and sewed along the outline of the design:

This transferred the design to the right side of the fleece:

Next I removed the paper from inside the outline on the back of the applique, leaving the transfer webbing. Then I trimmed as close to the outline as possible (without cutting the thread in the outline). Note: On my first try, I trimmed close to the outline and then removed the paper. This did not work so well since the thread was less secure and tended to rip out when I pulled on the paper. So it's better to remove the paper first, then trim.

I then placed the applique piece on the background, covered it with a damp towel, and ironed it into place.

Last I went over the outline stitch with the satin stitch. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be because of all the tight turns in the elephant. I did two practice elephants before I did the final one and I still made quite a few mistakes!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"Eight Bells" - Montague Dawson

I found this great framed print over the holidays in an antique shop in Fredericksburg, Texas. It's a huge print (the frame is about 30"x40") of the painting "Eight Bells" by the nautical artist Montague Dawson. While I'm always on the lookout for prints or paintings of ships, this is the first time I found one that I liked enough to buy.

Before I purchased it, I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting ripped off by buying something that could be found online for a lot less so we ran back to the hotel and jumped on the computer to look it up. While several online shops had prints of Montague Dawson's more famous works, we found only vague mentions of this particular print in a few places (and they were mostly from people wanting to buy it!). I decided that it was worth it so we ran back to the store, bought it, and somehow managed to bring it safely back to Arizona.

Another interesting thing I found on our trip was in a book I purchased a at used book store in Llano, Texas. It's an Agatha Christie paperback printed in the 1970's. The odd thing is, there are pages of full-color ads scattered throughout the book!

I have two other Christie books from the same publisher and time period and neither of them have ads like this. However, those books originally cost $1.50 and $1.95 while the book with ads was only $0.95. I guess they were experimenting to see if people would go for cheaper books if they contained advertising. Thank goodness that didn't catch on!

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