Monday, March 30, 2009

Got Gauge?

Is gauge really that important? I've never been one to let myself get all caught up in measurements and numbers and the math associated with a lot of crafts. That might be why I suck at so many. But ok. I started the LA 63 Squares Crochet Afghan:

63 Easy-To-Crochet Pattern Stitches Heirloom Afghan By Leisure Arts - Crochet

Or rather I should say I restarted it. I've started it on three different occaisons and my colors were never what I expected. You think they look good and in your mind they do but when you crochet a couple of squares, lay them out together they look sick and not in the cool, hip definition of the word "sick" but in the these colors make me want to hurl definition of the word "sick". The oldest son told me what colors he wanted and I played around with several shades of green, blue and yellow before settling on Red Heart Spring Green, Bright Yellow and Royal, with a splash of Bananaberry thrown in for good measure.

The picture above shows the first five of seven squares for Row 1. I decided to crochet it row by row instead of 1-63. Don't look too closely to the square on the end. I crocheted five different times and never got gauge. I had trouble with the E hook, it was too small for the worsted weight, or maybe it was just me not liking that small hook, but this was crocheted with the F hook and it's still bigger than the other squares. I'm hoping I can block the others out a little bigger because I'm really sick of that block. Actually looking at the picture right now, I want to vomit. That's how sick I am of the Bushy Stitch. I liked crocheting it, it was a fun block, but the whole gauge thing is a pain in the ass.

So let's just look at the squares in a pile. They all look to be around the same size in this picture.
See I feel better already.

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the Menu Today

The Quilt Sandwich

This morning I will be putting together the quilt sandwich for my son's quilt. He pointed out that I started that quilt when he six or seven, he's now thirteen and that, well, the fabrics might not be appropriate any more. My response, I made this for you with love, it will keep you warm until I get around to making a more teenage appropriate quilt and hey, doesn't everyone still love Pikachu?

I've been laying the backing fabric out and I have discovered why I'm probably never going to go down in the history books as one of America's master quilters. I don't have a lot of patience. I can cross 100,000 stitches to turn blank fabric into a piece of art but I can't take five seconds to straighten out my fabric, make sure the batting is lined up and then make sure that the quilt top and the edges are all straight. It's not easy work and while the finished product is something to be excited about there's a reason handmade quilts cost $800, it's to reimburse the quilter for her chiropractic bills.

I love hand piecing a quilt top. There is something so very peaceful about sewing little pieces of fabric into a much larger block. I love that aspect of quilting. I also love collecting different fabrics because I am a fabric whore. I can't help myself. I dream of quilts, I love planning them, I don't mind the cutting out and I'm not a rotary cutter kind of chick, I prefer tracing the pieces and cutting with scissors which can add days or even weeks to the time it takes to piece a quilt, but it's ok, like my cross stitching I readily accept that quilting is a slow, time consuming process, but then it comes to wrapping it up, making the quilt sandwich and I want to fudge, I want rush along, I don't care about doing it right it's just DO IT already.

So it's probably save to say that my quilts will never be in the Houston Quilt show except as examples of what not to do....

Stay tuned for pics of the finished quilt...

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Cross stitching is my passion. I can cross stitch my ass off. I just love those wonderful little Xs that create a picture. I can't help it. If heroin is Nikki Sixx's true love then cross stitch is mine.

Every year my friends
Sharon, Siobhan and I stitch ornaments for each other. This is the ornament I stitched for Sharon this year:

It's a Prairie Schooler Santa and I know she loves cardinals but what I couldn't remember was if she had already stitched this for herself if she recieved it in a swap from another person, but I loved this and decided to just risk her having duplicates. The backing fabric is plaid homespun in the background. I cut them out and sewed them together, when I went to put the ornament right side out, this is what I saw:

Whoops! How did I do that? I was sure that the ribbon for the hanger was away from the edges.
Apparently not.

This is not exactly the look I was going for.
I take out my seam ripper and rip the seams near the ribbon and somehow I end up with this:

Major, big time mistake. That seam ripper was not messing around. I had no idea it was that sharp.
I thought about ripping the seams one more time but I had already snipped away the excess fabric and my linen was raveling like you would not believe. No way was I going to risk ruining the stitching because so far that's the best part. What could I do?

THIS! How cool is that, I sewed the ribbon together, hid my error behind a cute Christmas tree and no one is the wiser. Ok well I'm sure Sharon will notice but hopefully she will know all the love and friendship I put into this ornament and forgive me my lack of skilz.

The whip stitching at the bottom always gives me fits. How does anyone manage to do this and make it nice? Mine looks like a freakin' mess. I tried sewing this closed three different times. This was the best of the attempts.

This is Santa and the Cardinals all finished. The wind was blowing pretty hard when I was trying to take this picture but the flaws aren't that obvious are they? I hope Sharon likes it.
See, anyone can make an rectangle. My friend Linette told me once that any moron could sew a straight line. She obviously had never run across my kind of moron in her sewing adventures.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wannabe, Poser

A few years ago I hand pieced a quilt for my youngest son. As you can see from the picture, it's still a quilt top because I am terrified of attempting to turn it into a quilt. There is something so intimidating about the whole concept of the quilt sandwich. His quilt was intended to be an I Spy quilt but if one finds the process of making a quilt sandwich intimidating they sure as hell are going to find a quilt pieced of hexes and triangles a bit over the top. I thought about all the novelty fabrics I had been purchasing and decided that a 9 Patch might be a fun and easy way to create an I Spy quilt. So I call this top my Maybe I Spy quilt top. I mean 9 Patch is so common, I had to hip up it's name a little.

I love a lot of these fabrics, some are too young, like the Bob the Builder block but most are ok even for a 13 yr old. Oh yeah, I'm going to sandwich this baby up and he's going to sleep under it at least once.

At the time I made this quilt he was big into fishing off the local pier with his dad and I found this neat fishing lure fabric. If anything this quilt will be a nice connection to his younger years. Younger years at 13.

Dear Red Heart:
Be afraid, be very afraid. Why?

Because once again the Clueless Crocheter is mixing colors and attempting a third try at making a 63 Squares afghan. The oldest son's favorite colors are blue, green and yellow. I figure it can either be a sharp looking afghan or a hideous monstrosity and for some reason I'm leaning heavily to the monstrosity description. All the squares will be edged in the yellow as that makes the most sense in my lack of color theory brain.
I will also be attempting two other 63 Squares afghans for the other two sons. One will be green, blue and white and the other will be red, black and gray. While right now I say I will be making two more 63 Squares afghans I may end up using patterns from the 200 Crochet Blocks book by Jan Eaton. Because it's possible those 63 squares will be getting old by the time I get to the third afghan.
Either way I'm sure before this afghan adventure is over Red Heart will have my crochet hooks confiscated and my yarn purchasing privledges discontinued if there is a huge drop in the sales of their yarn due to the hideousness of my WIP. Seriously it could happen!
Why crochet with Red Heart? I have friends that would die before they would knit or crochet with Red Heart. Well first of all the yarn is durable, it will be around when everyone and everything else on the planet is gone and not fade one teeny tiny bit. Second, my sons are never going to handwash anything. Making them a blanket from anything other than yarn or wool that can be machine washed would be a huge error and would end up being a felted dog or cat bed one day. Thirdly, and probably most importantly at the moment, Red Heart fits my budget.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Excerpts From My Personal Crochet History

Thought I would share a few pictures of crochet projects that didn't quite meet my expectations. I don't really have a sense of color and what works together which is kind of a hinderance to a crafter unless one wants to follow a pattern to the letter which for a cross stitcher like myself is usually my first choice but other crafts lend themselves to personalization and creativity beyond what the original designer intended. Below you see my failed attempt at creating a Trip Around the World afghan based on my love of Amish style quilts. I decided somewhere along the line that a Trip Around the World quilt might be a little bit of a pain in the butt to make since my quilting skills were lacking and in my defense this was the late 80s or early 90s and solid 100% cotton fabrics weren't so easy to come by and if I did find them they definitely weren't cheap, so I bought me some Red Heart yarn, a Leisure Arts Afghan leaflet and proceeded to make a faux Trip Around the World quilt, sorta. We refer to this afghan, which yes, does lay over the back of the couch in the living room as the Big Ugly or the Hideous Ugly. It is a constant reminder that I am a bit clueless about afghans, color, and faking a quilt.

A few years ago on the Crochetville BB there was a 63 Squares afghan crochet-a-long. Once again my lack of knowledge in the area of color shows it's ugly face. I love bright, tropical colors. I live in Florida so these colors are appropriate. But somehow my bright, cheerful afghan just had this horrendously not going to work on any level feel to it. I saved these squares, I have a lot of this bright yarn and who knows maybe one day I'll get back to it and make my Tropical 63 Squares afghan but baby, we'll be "wearing our sunglasses at night" for sure.

Here is a little garland I crocheted to put on my little tiny cross stitch ornament tree. I envisioned delicate snowflakes and a ribbony flowing kind of drape. Since I used Peaches & Creme kitchen cotton, I ended up with bulky, chunky, the complete opposite of delicate, snowflakes.

Also on the Crochetville BB, there was a Grandmother's Flower Garden afghan crochetalong. I pulled out my Rubbermaid bucket of Red Heart and got to work making crocheted hexes which would then be the flowers in my afghan. I could never find a center color that worked, this yellow is way too bright. I took the picture on a cloudy day or believe me that yellow would be blinding you, trust me. I also couldn't decide on a garden path color to run between the flowers, frosty green, dark green or a white to appear as though a stone path were wandering through the flowers. I don't feel comfortable choosing my own colors because my instincts are almost always wrong. And if you didn't believe me, look real close at these pictures and you will see, one absolutely clueless crocheter when she goes off the pattern.

Crimes against crochet, the evidence is here.....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yes, I'm a Craft Slut

I never met a craft I didn't like, except for punch needle. I'm not going there.

I cross stitch-I do it well.

I crochet-my skilz are moderate.
I knit-my skilz are beginner-but my dream is to knit the Magical Earth Shawl from A Gathering of Lace. Yes, I own the book, but do not in any way, shape or form have a clue about the knitting of lace.

I quilt-I took a class in 1987. My skill level is in the suck zone.

I'm learning how to sew clothes. I have no skilz and refuse to measure my ass so nothing fits.

This blog is where I will own up to all my mistakes, the process of figuring it out, and maybe if I'm lucky I'll have some successes to share.

I promise to be brutally honest about the whole process, my lack of skills, my sense of wanting things finished NOW, my absolute lack of knowledge of color and what works together.

Should be an interesting journey or a complete and utter disaster.