Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Craft Room: Studio Shot

I forget sometimes to count my home improvement projects as craft. But I hand-crafted these shelves this summer, and I'm darned proud of them.


I made them myself out of straight pine lumber: 1 x 12 for the shelf itself, 1 x 8 for the support backing along the wall, and 1 x 4 cut into triangles (using my clear quilting ruler!) for the brackets. I cut everything myself, gave everything 3 coats of clear acrylic varnish, sanding after the first two coats. I planned it all myself, and even remembered to plan in lots of details, like two slightly smaller brackets where the coat closet door opens, and a bigger bracket where the stretch of unsupported shelf makes it over the closet door opening.

My big help came on the last day - my husband held things in place while I assembled, and my neighbor joined us in holding them up on the wall while I attached them to the wall. (Thanks, J & J!) I already found and marked the studs (again with a quilting tool, my chalk pencil - washes off the wall) and made a very messy but reliable diagram of where to place the brackets so that they didn't end up over the studs. We have metal studs in our apartment and they're a total nightmare for putting things in/hanging things from, so I didn't want to miss a single point of attachment. Also due for thanks is my friend who took time out of a very busy Saturday to drive me to Lowe's for the lumber and dropped it off at my place.

For the record, no, I don't have the luxury of this whole room to myself, I share it with my husband and filing cabinets and our computer. Which sits on a monstrously large desk that I refinished. Still, pretty luxurious to have a separate room for all that, and now even more dee-luxe with custom shelving.

They're all loaded up now, though I still want them cleaner and emptier!

Shelves Loaded Up.JPG

What's that in the corner? The Rainbow of Zipping Flavors! Ebay auction came with a few jeans zippers still in the jeans flies, and I had a zillion safety pins from the dollar store and I've always loved a rainbow.

Zipping Rainbow.JPG

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Blanket: March of the Miters

Spiral Miter:

Spiral Miter Un-Wound:

I graphed this out on a basis of units, 12 stitches each. Some units were sides of a corner, some units were straight.

Mini-Miters make Mini-Blanket:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You put your stuff in it


I've ogled the really cute/pretty/awesome/zippy pouches all over the web and the stores for a long time, but never bought one because whatcha gonna do with that? I don't own any cosmetics. I have a pencil pocket. "What's the point?," I thought.

Everything. As it turns out, everything is the freaking point. Zippy Pouch = Magic. I finally decided to make one, based on this tutorial at Craftster ,just to do a zipper, just because I could. And they're so cute, and what nice gifts they'll make, I thought. I put one together out of upholstery scraps and a muslin lining and I was terrifically pleased with it and with myself, and put it proudly on my sewing table. I showed it to a friend (look what I can do! zipper!). Then I helped her make one. I cranked out a couple of them as quickie Christmas gifts for two little girls we know, then for a friend's birthday, then for another friends birthday. All very last minute and all very pre-digital camera, so no pictures. "So clever," I thought, "Me, with the pouch gifts! Everyone seems to like them, isn't that nice?"

The first one sat on my sewing table for probably 8 months, looking cute and reminding me that I make things sometimes. Finally, I noticed that there were too many little things floating in my new bag that has no inner pockets, and thought, "Sheesh! Well, maybe I could put them all in that little pouch, just for now." The girl scout in me always wants to be prepared, the stage manager in me always wants to have a band-aid, small tube of ibuprofen, chapstick, safety pin on me, though I very rarely get these things out and use them. But now they're always there, in the pouch. Handy. And I can move them from one bag to another just like that. And I can find them all very quickly, because they're right there, in one easily accessible, contained location. I'll say it again: Zippy Pouch = Magic.

Also, since I'm still clever with the gifts, I made this one recently for a friend who was moving. I couldn't help her pack, but I figure her move will be a cinch now that she's got this. I told her, "It's for your stuff. You put your stuff in it." She looked back at me with the crazed face of someone who's been having a showdown with everything she's ever owned, a showdown that's lasted for days already and there's no end in sight. But when she realized that the thing in my hand was for her, really, that I made it for her, she seemed very happy and forgot about the showdown, at least for 90 seconds. I hope she found a place to pack it.

The bottom, because I'm proud of my skillz here:
Pouch bottom seam

The inside shot, because I'm proud of using the remains of one of my husband's dead workshirts as lining fabric and remembering to put the chest pocket of the shirt in for an inside pocket:
Pouch inside

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Circle of Co-Workers Baby Blankets

2 Blankets

I work at an architectural firm and there were two babies due to two different co-workers this summer. This spring, someone took some knitting lessons at Purl and that brought some more experienced knitters out of the woodwork, which led to more would-be newbies. I thought it would be a great project to make collaborative baby blankets for both of the co-workers. When I floated the idea, everyone was crazy for the design in Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

Nothing comes without complications, even things that are "Last Minute" and even things that are all garter stitch. We wanted a somewhat washable cotton (I usually translate cotton labels that say "hand-wash" to "machine-wash gentle"), and we had to get enough of the right colors. Each blanket needs seven colors, and we needed two totally different color schemes. One couple is using "white" as their decorating/clothing color of choice for the baby, and one couple was waiting to find out the gender of the baby most specifically to avoid the deluge of pink or blue gender-themed stuff, but they're generally very colorful folks. And did I mention I work with architects? These are design minded sophisticates, not happy to just throw together any old thing, these colors had to be right.

Then people figured we had to do individual squares, not the strips the book calls for (too complicated with color switching, we had more than seven knitters for the seven strips, everyone wanted to do some on each blanket), so that left us with 49 squares to sew up for each blanket. Yeah, that's 168 seams total. Don't ask me how many ends we sewed in. Many new knitters learned casting on, binding off, and the tediousness of seaming and sewing in.

But finally, finally, I threw a single crochet border on them. And finally, finally, they are done, and they are gorgeous.

Sunny Colors Blanket

Earth Tones Blanket

Friday, August 04, 2006

Things to do in a New York summer

-Start blog.
-Post a little.
-Get a houseguest.
-Get houseguest's brother plus wife to round out the houseguest roster.
-Spend the next few days running around with them like mad and melting your brain in the heat wave.
-Feel guilty that you're housing them in an apartment without air conditioning. In the room with the computer (and not a lot of wiggle room when you fill it with an air mattress and three people's stuff). So you can't upload photos from your computer to flickr and from flickr to finish the blog posts that otherwise ready to roll.
-Flick(r) the sweat from your brow, prow, and everywhere else, because girl, you are DRIPPING.
-Vow to self that you will clean house this weekend and get those crazy pictures in/up/on.
-Borrow office camera in a desperate attempt to put some sort of picture in a post: your favorite SoHo graffiti! Discover it's been shifted just today after being there for over a year, and post it anyway.

Because the world should know that in SoHo, even the graffiti taggers want you to