Sunday, July 25, 2010

The 16th and 17th Sock Creatures AND pouches

I decided to try a few pouches after coming upon the 3 Bears  tutorial for a "boxy pouch."  These are my first ones, and I will admit they need some work.  However, they are usable. I do apologize for the pictures.  They need some work as well.  The new camera is proving to be a challenge.

This pouch should have been rectangular.  I didn't have a zipper long enough, though.  I did, however, have five shorter zippers so this boxy pouch really is boxy. 

For the second one, I resorted to my usual habit of changing the rules.  I tried to keep the rectangular shape by sewing the zipper in the center and sewing the corners at 1- 1/2 inches rather than the three inches used by 3 Bears.

Lessons learned:  First, I need to use a heavier fabric or use a stiffer interfacing to make it sturdier.  The first one had some light  iron-on interfacing and the second was a mid-weight cotton.  Neither one is really heavy enough, though.  Second, I really need to try this with the longer zippers that were suggested.  I'm just going to have to get to Joann's this week!

On the sock creature front,  here is the first one.

It came about because I wanted to use up some of the scraps, and I do like those little red button eyes.  (I really do need to figure out the new camera.  These pictures suck.) I have named her Skye Bleu Pynk.

The second one is a combination of ideas I found in Stray Sock Sewing:  Making One of a Kind Creatures from Socks by Daniel.

Is she not adorable?  I really should name her after Daniel, so, continuing in the new style of mutilating names and the spelling of names, this is Dan'E-ella.

Friday, July 23, 2010

PVC Piping for Drawer Clutter

I hate messy drawers and shelves.  I also hate spending money on expensive storage solutions.  More often than not, these store-bought dividers don't fit my drawers anyway.  I saw a post somewhere long ago about using PVC piping for the catch-all drawer.  Everyone has one of those--or two or three.  I really work hard on keeping that down to one drawer, and I've kept it in check for the most part.  My mess was the in the clothing area.  Socks and, well, other things that just don't fold well or stay in place.  We had some leftover PCV pipe from house projects that fit the "well, other things," so I started there.  We tried a few pieces to make sure the pipe diameter would work.  Then we cut pieces to a height that would fit in the drawer.  Between small baskets that have accumulated over the years for belts and the piping for "well, other things," I've been able to keep this drawer in check for a couple of years now.  Sometimes I fold "the things" nicely and slide them in.  Sometimes I just stuff them in the pipe.  Either way, the drawer always looks great.  Here's the proof.

I did sand the edges a little to make sure they wouldn't catch on the fabric, but the need was really minimal.  I intended to use them for a while to see what arrangement would work, and then glue them together.  The drawer is full enough, however, that they stay in place.  Should I miraculously have so much drawer space in the future that these fall over, I'll get the glue out.  I might even hit them some spray paint for plastic!  Yeah, right!  That's only going to happen if I use that ugly purple stuff plumbers use for gluing. 

I'm still waiting to find some larger piping for the socks.  I am hoping that posting this will encourage me to get to the Habitat ReStore to find some.  If you have not visited a Habitat ReStore, do try to find one.  They are usually worth a trip especially for those who are able to think outside the box. 

While I'm on the subject, see that little bit of orange in the right-hand corner?  Scissors for cutting off tags on all the stuff that comes home.  I spent years running downstairs for the scissors before I smartened up and kept a pair in the room.  Then it took a while longer to realize that the scissors needed to have a narrow, pointed end to fit in tight spaces such as the bulky bits of thread used to sew labels on the waist of pants.  (Why do manufacturers do that, anyway?)  Martha Stewart has probably written about this in one of her many books already.  Just in case, though, I'm going to say it:  Put some scissors in the bedroom especially if you sew.  The sewing room/area is usually closer than that junk drawer where you keep the crappy scissors.  In a rush to get dressed, you WILL have a POWERFUL  urge to break that rule about never using the good scissors on anything but fabric.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend Sewing Complete and Then Some!!

My house may need some cleaning, but I did finish the weekend sewing projects.  First, I finally got around to replacing the too-short handles on the slouch bag.  It is now perfect!

This bag fits around the body perfectly.  It's from Akiko Mano's book "Linen, Wool, and Cotton."  As I mentioned in my previous post on this bag, the only problem with the book is that does not come with an errata sheet.  That is an easy fix, however, if you know where to look online for the necessary changes.  My original post about this bag has the online source.  I love the book.  I love the projects.  I don't love having to find out the hard way that there are errors in it.  'Nuf said.

The next bag is from "Simple Gifts to Stitch:  30 Elegant and Easy Projects" by Jocelyn Worrall. It's the bag on the cover.

Simple Gifts to Stitch: 30 Elegant and Easy Projects

The alternating stripes were more than I could resist.  I was worried that this bag wouldn't be big enough, but the size turned out to be great.

Look at the number of books, etc. this thing holds!   It makes a great library bag.  I know this because it had it's first trip there today.

I think I like it better in the fabric on the book cover.  While I love the pink fabric, the irregular stripes don't show the alternating stripe patterns as well.  I followed the pattern completely--a novel idea for me.  (Okay, okay, ALMOST completely.  The handle fabric is not going in the right direction.  I just didn't want to cut into the large piece fabric to make the handles, so I used a leftover piece going in the other direction.  I have another piece of matching floral fabric.  I want to make another bag using the stripes and floral.)

My last project for the weekend was to do another of the oh-so-late sock creatures.  I did TWO!  These two are numbers 14 and 15.  I am truly halfway there!  I used baby socks.  Instead of being easier as I thought it would be, it was harder working with smaller socks.  Here's the first one.

She's actually quite small except for the head.  That's why I've named her N'Se-Phyllis.  Things learned from this one:  I need to put the eyes farther forward and/or make them larger.  Or, maybe I could sew a line across under the eye area to push the snout down.  It's hard to see the eyes with that big snout.  She's much like one of my previous ones, just smaller.

As so often happens when I have housework to do, I decided to keep working with some of those little socks.  I wanted to try doing some antennae.  That word looks so weird, I looked it up to be sure it was right.  Yes, that is the plural for antenna.  I also wanted to try some octopus-like legs.  So, here's what was born of the venture:

I could only fit four legs on.  I am really happy with this guy.  He's definitely a true creature, a Cycloptopus.  He's named after the cyclops in the Odyssey, hence he is called Beta Polyphemus.

I'm enjoying the heat immensely!  If summers were about two months longer and always this hot, I might consider staying in New York when the hubster retires.......naaaahhhh.  The only time I've ever liked snow was when I was sitting in a ski lodge next to the roaring fire in front of a huge picture window waving to the children as they trudged past on their skis.

I'm hooking up to:

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sewing again!

Why is it that I can't find the time to sew but always find the time to buy fabric?  I've been picking up bits and pieces of fabric and have some great projects in mind for all of them.  Yesterday I washed and ironed all the new fabric!  I try not to put any fabric away until I've washed it.  Occasionally something sneaks, through, and there is nothing more annoying to me than thinking I'm about to start sewing and finding I haven't pre-washed the fabric.

Finally, last night I started the actual sewing part.  I took apart the slouch bag that ended up having handles that were too short.  That will be finished today.  I've got some beautiful striped fabric for a bag that has the stripes going in opposite directions for the pockets.  Hopefully, that will be finished today as well--if I can just stick to the pattern rather than trying to modify it.  I shall post the pictures tonight and include the pattern sources.

And last, I'm going to finish a sock creature (or two!).  I've also been collecting some fun socks and designing new sock creatures.  Actually I should say I'm redesigning ones that I find in books for the most part.  It's not that I'm more creative, but, rather, that I am continue to have problems with sticking to the original patterns.  I'm going to try to finish off one of those projects today as well. 

Now if I can just ignore the house and the family for the day, it should be a great day for sewing. 

With the new job settling down,  it is so nice to get back to both sewing and blogging.  I've gotten five volunteers signed on in the first month. I don't know who was more surprised and pleased--me or the nursing home.  Oh, no, scratch that.  It's a "residential health care facility."  I guess the term, "nursing home" has gone or is going the way of  "used car."   I'm surprised that nurses are still called that.  Soon I shall have to say I am going to the residential health care facility in my pre-owned car to talk to a residential health care practitioner :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Deep Creek, A Novel by Dan Hand

I should be finishing off the thirty sock creatures, but I found a book at the library that looked interesting.  I was browsing the shelves to find books for my 93-year old mother which is not an easy task.  Her interests have become more and more limited.  They're down to modern day romances set on ranches--only ranches.

Instead I found Deep Creek by Dan Hand.  What a great book!  I didn't want it to end.  It is historical fiction set in the Idaho-Oregon area from 1886 through 1892.  The story is built around an actual event, the murder of thirty Chinese miners.  Using the racism of the period, Indian land grabs, excessive power of publishers and land barons, along with the ensuing social intrigue, Hand develops a well-balanced and fascinating look at a period in our history that is too often overlooked.

The characters are solidly constructed and fascinating.  This alone would make it a great book club selection.  Nature vs. nurture theories of human development are tested throughout.  Yet, Hand also looks at how a single event can override all.  One wrong choice might leave damage capable of destroying one's life and affecting future generations. 

My one complaint is that in a few places (very few) the book does not move from one scene to the next well.  In some cases, I felt disoriented before realizing that this new paragraph had moved on to another subject.  These few changes within chapters felt like places where a new chapter should have begun.  Hand's chapters, however, move back and forth in time from the  murders in 1886 to the attempts to solve the crimes and bring the murderers to justice.  The places that I found problematic would not fit with that.

All in all, it was a great read that I heartily recommend.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Working is Hard!

I've been away from my blog and my sewing for too long!  Between the housework and the job, I've been a bit drained both physically and, surprisingly to me, emotionally.  While my job is to recruit volunteers, I've spent most of the week going through the facility's units meeting people, joining in activities, and pushing wheelchairs in order to get to know everyone and their needs.

The emotional impact of dealing with residents has been enormous. Nursing homes have changed!  There is a push to have people "age in place" preferably in their home.   The level of care needed by the vast majority of the residents in nursing homes today is exceptionally high.  Most have moved beyond the ability to have more than a short conversation if that.  Having to leave your home,  lose a great deal of your independence, and deal with the physical ailments of disease or aging has to be devastating.

The residence is very nice and the workers are caring, yet, I often feel a sense of despair. Smiles from residents are few.  It  may well be that I am misinterpreting the situation and creating the negative attitude myself.  I am continually thinking about how much I would want to be in my own home. I do realize, however, that the care needed by the residents would be impossible for most families to provide at home.

I am trying to stay positive and focus on how much I can enrich residents' lives by bringing the community to them.  My job is to increase volunteers and volunteer programs.  This seems to be a legitimate need.  There are programs for activities and entertainment.  The number, though, is really insufficient.  I am amazed at the isolation of the facility.  This place has been open for sixteen years and is within a quarter of a mile of where I shop all the time. I had never heard of it, nor had most of the people I've talked to about it.  How can the residents feel like a part of the community when they are unable to get out often and so few in the community even know they exist? Many do have family members visit, but family is and should be a part of our social life not all of it.  I love my family, but I need to be around others sometimes as well. 

I have one year to build this program.  I know it won't be easy.  I remember how difficult it was to get volunteers for activities at churches and schools.  I do sincerely hope I can make make this work.  Wish me luck..

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Steig Larsson's Newest Book, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"

Normally I don't read stories about spies and corporate greed. I'm also wary of foreign books because sometimes they don't translate well.  Larsson's trilogy managed to overcome my usual disinterest in the genre and translated exceptionally well.

I read the first book in this trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  after a member of my book club raved about it.  The story lines and characters were well developed and interesting.  I liked the second one,  The Girl Who Played with Fire, even more because it more fully fleshed out the characters as well as providing a fascinating and well written story.  This last in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, is a more than fitting end to the set.     

I'd read a negative review before getting this last book in the series that made me nervous about investing in the hardcover as soon as it came out.  I HATE it when a book doesn't measure up in a series like this, especially when I've paid a lot for it.  In some cases, it becomes blatantly obvious that an author has pushed to finish a commitment rather than create a good story.  In the end, however, I felt this book was the best of the three--and I liked the first two a lot. The reviewer's summation, as it turned out, was flawed rather than the book.  It contained information that was factually incorrect.

These books are not just episodic stories using the same characters.   Each one builds on the last.  The first two leave you wanting and needing additional information as should be expected of a trilogy.  More in-depth answers come with each book.  While the individual books certainly stand on their own, the second and third provide  information that make you more fully understand and appreciate the first.

I love the characters Larsson has created.  Throughout, Larsson uses these people to prove that sometimes what we might view as flaws in individuals are, in fact, more clearly defined as differences.  He creates an understanding that these "flaws" often have positive influences not only for the individual, but for friends, family, acquaintances, and society as a whole.

I'm glad I went ahead and purchased the book as soon as it came out.  It was well worth the price.