Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And the bathroom remodel begins

After much hemming and hawing, the work on our bathroom finally started. I have to say that I am quite proud of David(hubby) and I, as we were able to plan the entire bathroom and only have one fight with any real heat. That is a successful project in my book. Now I only hope that the sharing the one remaining bathroom between four people (one of whom is a teenager) goes as smoothly.

It is such a relief to have our old bathroom gone. It may have been the worlds ugliest bathroom, but now it only exists in photographs. And here is the photographic evidence.

Ahhh, brown bathtub, I can't say that I will miss you. Nope can't say that at all.

Nor will I miss your best friend ugly, leaky, brown bidet. Also at the top of the picture you can see a bit of one of the best parts of the bathroom the plastic, oh yes, I did say plastic window.

And this is the real reason that the bathroom took priority over all other house projects... the hole in the bathroom floor. Yes, it did go all the way to the crawl space under the house and David was convinced that he was going to walk into the bathroom and fall right through the floor. Unfortunately the bathroom remodel will do nothing to prevent piles of dirty clothes that get left on the bathroom floor, like the ones in this picture.

Here is what the bathroom looked like at the end of the day today everything was gutted except for my lovely plastic window. And they had repaired the floor joists.
See all new floor joists and subfloor. I also liked seeing the steps to nowhere under our bathroom floor. Makes me feel a bit Winchester Mystery House.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Calming Waves Cowl Pattern

I created this pattern as a birthday gift for a friend who lives by the sea and has been hit by and unusual number of waves in the last year. I just wanted her to remember that waves can also be gentle and soothing too.
From a technical stand-point almost all of the cowls that I have seen are knit in the round, so that the knitting goes up the neck, but I wanted my knitting to wrap around the neck. So, I started with a provisional cast-on and then knit until it was 24 inches, then used the Kitchener stitch to to close them up.
I am very pleased with how it turned out. Both edges at the top and bottom curl under just a bit in a way that I think is flattering, but does not eat up too much of the knitting. So, here is my first knitting pattern published on my blog. If you have any questions or corrections please let me know.

Calming Waves Cowl

Finished Size: 9 inches x 12 inches (this is a folded size after doing the Kitchener stitch)

Gauge: 20 stitches = 4inches in the wave pattern

Needle Size: 9 (US) or 5.5mm, cable needle and one other needle.

Yarn used: Blue Sky Worsted, Hand Dyes 50% Alpaca/50% Merino, in color 2007

Wave Pattern:
Row 1--- Knit all the way across
Row 2---Purl all the way across
Row 3---* Knit 2, place 2 stitches on the cable needle to the back of your knitting, knit 2, knit stitches from cable needle* repeat these six stitches until the end of the row
Row 4---Purl all the way across
Row 5---Knit all the way across
Row 6---Purl all the way across
Row 7---*Place 2 stitches on cable needle to the front of the knitting, knit 2, knit stitches from the cable needle, knit 2* repeat these six stitches until the end of the row
Row 8-- Purl all the way across

Repeat these 8 rows.


Cast on 50 stitches using a provisional cast on. (I will be posting a tutorial on doing a provisional cast on in my next blog post)

Begin working in the wave pattern pattern until your piece measures about 23 inches (less it you want it to be a snugger fit).

At this point you will want to knit rows 1-7 of the wave pattern, leaving your live stitches on the needle.

Now carefully remove the waste yarn and place the cast on stitches on a second needle.

At this point you should have live stitches on both the top and bottom of your knitting. Lay your knitting right-side-down in front of you and fold both ends up so that they line up.

Use the Kitchener stitch to attach the two sets of live stitches and weave in the loose ends and you are done.

Here is a link to the pattern on Ravelry if you are a member of that group.

Copyright Suzette Silberman, May 2009.

Editied 9/6/09 to correct a mistake in row 7

Friday, June 19, 2009

other people's messes

After dinner today I happily made my way around the house putting things away. I put away with such uncharacteristic joy that I shocked myself. Why? Because the children have left the house for the weekend and I can happily put away their flip-flops, comic books, and scraps of paper knowing that they won't be back out again until the youngest returns from soccer camp on Monday. Don't get me wrong, in theory, I love the creative messes that my two daughters make. It is the cleaning up I don't like or the nagging to get them to do it. I hate nagging. I am already enjoying my nag-free weekend.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cold Coffee

We have been using a French Press to make coffee around here and the only problem is that the coffee can get cold fast is its little glass pot. To solve this problem I stitched up a cozy for the pot. I used two layers of quilt batting to make it nice and thick and velcro to close it with. The whole project took no more than 30 minutes. The cozy is actually reversible, but I forgot to take a picture of the other side. Maybe next time I make coffee I'll snap a photo of the other side of the cozy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The hard part for me about designing something is all the decisions. I love the creative part where you just come up with ideas, but them you actually have to decide how to proceed. I always worry that I will make the wrong choice. For the last two week I have been spending a lot of time on two design projects. The first one is pretty simple I am writing up a pretty simple knitting pattern to post to my blog. Below is a photo of the work in progress. I am pretty excited because I am pretty close to finishing it and being able to share my pattern.

The designing project is a bit more complex. I am designing our bathroom remodel. I have found making all the decisions for this kind of project a bit overwhelming, but I am eager to share photos of the bathroom once work gets started.

Monday, June 8, 2009

All in Pinks and Green (and Yellows)

It seems lately that I have been making baby gifts for little boys. I have not had a chance to make very many girl items and as a mother with only daughters I have to confess that making things for little girls is special for me. It is fun to make little boy things too, but things for girls bring back the memories of when my own girls were young.
I was happy to find out that my sister-in-law is going to have a baby girl. What a great chance to break out my Amy Butler fabric and make quilt for the little one. I am so proud of this quilt because the whole thing is made from scraps just like the quilts my great-grandmother used to make. I even had a piece of batting the perfect size for the quilt and it is the first quilt that I have quilted on my sewing machine instead of by hand.

More Amy Butler fabrics on the back of the quilt.

And a close up of the quilt before it was washed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New socks for me

This week I finished the Van Dyke socks that I was making from the book Socks from the Toe Up. I think that they turned out well and am happy to report that the Sheep Shop yarn it really comfy to wear. I will definitely use this yarn again in the future.
While we were taking pictures of my socks we encountered this wild beast sunning herself on our deck. She looked so regal that we had to take a picture.
Not to be out done our cat Madeline posed for a picture in her jaunty beret. Cats in hats are just so funny to me.

Making felt the Mongolian way (sort of)

This week daughter Lena was doing a report on Mongolia and being the fiber oriented household that we are she chose how they make felt. Honestly, I did not influence her a bit. Well, maybe I did, but, it was just a little bit. Aside from the written report she wrote on the making of felt in Mongolia and it's uses, she and I decided to make felt the Mongolian way. She showed me this video that she found on felt making and we were off.

Since we had both made felt before we had a general idea how it was done and just tried to scale down the Mongolian process to fit in our kitchen. Using sheep's wool stuffing that was not carded, she arranged a thick rectangular bat of it the same size at the produce bag we would be using to roll up the wool in.

We cut open the produce bag and lay the bat on one half of it. We then sprinkled it with surprisingly little water and folded the plastic bag over the top. At this point the layer of wool will be in between the two layer of plastic.

She then rolled the whole thing up around a rolling pin (a heavy dowel would work too.)

She then rolled the whole thing up in a dish towel like this and we used masking tape to hold it closed. Rubber bands would have been a better choice in hind sight because as the masking tape got wet it started to come off.

Then she rolled until past the point that it was fun .

Here is the finished result. We really did make felt.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sewing Machine Review

It is sewing machine month over at Sew Mama Sew and one of the things they have done is ask bloggers to review their personal sewing machine on their blog by answering these questions. So here is mine.

What brand and model do you have?

Singer 15-91. My sewing machine is (much) older than I am!

How long have you had it?

About 3 years

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

I got mine locally of of Craigslist. I can't remember how much I paid, but I know that is was more than $150 and less than $259

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I have made a few quilt tops on it and machine quilted one baby quilt on it, I have made a number of skirts and several Halloween costume. I have also made a few bags and throw pillows with it.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I tend to sew in spurts, but I would say I average and hour or two a week.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I love her because with the proper needle she can sew through anything. I suspect that with the right needle I could sew through steel on this machine;)

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

Features? My machine does exactly two things, it sews forward and backwards. However, for the easily frustrated it's lack of feature could be considered a feature. I did purchase an old singer buttonholer for it, but I need to fiddle with is a bit to get it working.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

When first got my machine I used to have a lot of trouble with the tread breaking on me. I used it even with this problem for about six month until I notice in the manuel (amazingly enough the woman that sold it to me had a manuel for it) that I had been treading it wrong. I just assumed that the woman who sold it to me knew how to thread it. It turns out that she had it all wrong.

The only other thing that used to bug me it that it was horrible with knits, however last year my thought full hubby bought be a serger so now I am all set.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

When I went to the sewing machine shop last year to look at sergers the salesman asked me what kind of sewing machine that I used. He was shocked, aparently one does not serger that cost a bundle of money and a sewing machine that ones grandma could have used. He was even more shocked when I told him that was quite happy with my machine and felt no need to upgrade.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Yes, because it is extremely durable and hardworking. Oh... and it is cheap. Even it I had a brand new machine I would still keep this one.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

That it not be a new machine.

Do you have a dream machine?

I may break down and buy a Singer Featherweight some day because I can see the advantage of having portable machine.