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Quilt in Make Modern Magazine!

Just a quick check in post today (I’m knee deep in packing!) to let everyone know that my quilt “Nye” will be in the next issue of Make Modern Magazine…and not only that, it’s going to be on the cover!

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I’m so excited about this, I can’t even tell you! This will be in Issue 2, out November 1st, which is available for download (or subscription) here. If you’re in to modern quilting, you should definitely check it out!

 

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No Carve Pumpkin Decorating

Once a month, a group of us get together for a crafting day. We all really look forward to a few hours of girl time, and, of course, making cool things. This month we decided to go with decorating pumpkins, for obvious reasons :P. We trekked out to a local pumpkin patch and got a nice assortment of small to medium sized ones, plus some extra goodies:

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We decided we didn’t want to mess around with carving, so we each brought stuff to decorate. There was glitter, paint, rhinestones, buttons, ribbon…all kinds of stuff! We used spray paint as a base for a few of them, which worked well as long as you weren’t messing around with them too much afterward (they spray paint didn’t adhere super well but definitely enough to work).

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Destiny did an awesome drip on one of hers:

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She eventually added some cobwebs and hot glue/glitter spiders (this is a genius idea and I may steal it to do a tutorial one of these days!):

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Meanwhile, I started rhinestoning my littlest pumpkin, which was super time consuming, so if you decide to try this…use a really small pumpkin! I actually didn’t end up finishing it that day, so I need to do the bottom half at some point this week.

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Britney decided to decorate a few of hers with buttons, and I think you’ll agree that they turned out so cute:

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That baby pumpkin with the pacifier is the best, seriously. The rest of hers (she was making some to give to family) were also pretty adorable:

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Like the rhinestones, the ribbon was pretty time consuming, so give plenty of time for that one too. I think it’s cute enough to be worth it, but if your time is limited, glitter is always a good option! I used painters tape to section one of mine and took the opportunity to put tons of orange glitter on it.

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D found this bigger green pumpkin at the patch and turned it into a grinning witch with a glittery hat:

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And for my last two, I went with glitter polka dots, bows, and flowers (affixed with a hot glue gun):

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And black with pink polka dots (painted with my Martha Stewart craft paint). The dots on both of these were made with the end of one of the glue sticks that goes in a hot glue gun.

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These were really fun and easy alternative to carving (and should last longer), and they look great on our porch!

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3

DIY Dryer Balls

Hello! Apologies for the absence of posts around here lately; I’ve been working on a top secret project that I can’t wait to share with all of you, so I’ve been deep in finishing and editing mode. I’m finally all done though (hopefully!), so I’m back with an easy laundry project.

A few months ago I started using dryer balls instead of fabric softener. I had been using one of those Bounce bar things, which I actually liked, but after reading a few things about the residue fabric softeners leave behind, I switched. I’m really happy with the change; things seem to dry faster, they’re nice and soft without feeling gummy, and you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to make your clothes smell good. I ordered these from Amazon, but it is super easy to make your own! And if you happen to have some wool yarn hanging around like I did, they’ll be free, which is always great :).

So! To make your own, you will need:

wool yarn

old pantyhose

scraps of synthetic (non-felting) yarn or string

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It’s really important that the yarn you use is all wool (it could have a little bit of some other natural fiber, like mohair or alpaca, but absolutely nothing synthetic or it won’t felt). This pile of yarn was given to me at some point or another, and I was probably never going to use it, so it was the perfect candidate. I wouldn’t use really expensive yarn for this – it’s going to sit in the dryer all the time, after all! Secondhand stores are a great place to find supplies for this project, but if you don’t have luck with that, just go with the cheapest you can find that’s all wool.

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Wind the yarn into balls, somewhere between the size of a baseball and a grapefruit. The larger the balls, the faster your clothes will dry, but they’ll also be louder banging around in the dryer, and might be harder to store, depending on your space. Also remember that the balls will shrink a bit after felting. I made mine about the size of a baseball and they came out to be just under tennis ball sized in the end. Make sure the end of the yarn is very secure – stuff the last 6 – 12 inches into the middle of the ball. I tried a crochet hook for this, but it was a lot of work, so I just used the sharp end of my scissors to push it in.

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Next, put the balls into an old pair of pantyhose (the older the better; do not use your nice nylons or tights for this! They won’t come out of this still useable, trust me on this). Tie off the top of the pantyhose, then fasten small pieces of acrylic yarn or string (rubber bands aren’t a good idea, as they may not take the heat of the dryer all that well) between each ball, like so:

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You want the balls to be fairly tightly packed so they don’t move around a whole bunch. Then, run them through the washer and dryer on the hottest cycle possible for both. I’d recommend doing this at least twice, but I did mine three times just to be sure. Then, just slice open the pantyhose and behold your new dryer balls!

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If you’d like them to smell nice, add a couple of drops of essential oil to each (I’d wait 15-20 minutes for the oil to dry before tossing them in – I got a few spots the first time I used them). The smell does tend to dissipate after a few cycles, so if you really like your clothes to have a strong scent, you’ll have to redo this step as needed.

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And one final warning…watch your furry friends, because they might try to steal your hard work!

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4

Wine Cork Bulletin Board

A while ago my friend Destiny gave me a bunch of wine corks, which she had been saving but didn’t have a reason to keep. I looked around for things to make from them, and we both really liked the idea of a bulletin board. You’ll see about a thousand of these if you type it into Pinterest; I didn’t use any particular tutorial as it’s easy enough to wing on your own, but if decide to do this and you want some concrete steps, that’s where I’d look!

I started out with some thrifted frames (there are two of them because I’m making another one for a different friend of ours, but ran out of corks, so you’ll only see one!), and some paint.

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Now, I’m going to recommend that if you do this step, you spray paint it. I used regular craft paint and a paint brush, and while they turned out okay in the end, it was a lot more work than I’d been intending and took forever to dry. They also turned out a bit brighter than I wanted, but I think it still works.

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Now, on to the corks! I knew starting out that I wanted to cut the them in half lengthwise, but it turns out that’s a lot more difficult to do than I had assumed. After some false starts and a round of Googling, I decided to steam them to soften them up, so I filled a pot with a few inches of boiling water and set a strainer on top, with the lid over it (the lid is off for the purposes of the picture, but you’ll need it, trust me).

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I found that about 5 minutes was long enough to soften them; you should be able to cut them with a regular old kitchen knife at this point. Be careful, though! They’ll be slippery after this step and you’ll want to watch where your fingers are in relation to the knife. This pile was just enough for one cork board.

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You’ll also want to try to weed out the corks that are too short or too tall, since they’ll make spacing more difficult. You can use the discarded ones to fill in any gaps at the end.

After all the corks were cut, I glued the back of the picture frame back on the front, arranged the corks in a pattern I liked, and glued them down with my hot glue gun. I’d advise arranging the pattern before you glue anything down, both for the sake of spacing and making sure you have enough corks. My pattern was really simple – I tried a bunch of fancier ones but they didn’t fit as well, so I ended up just doing single lines all the way across. They didn’t quite fit with whole corks all the way across, so I filled those gaps in with ones I’d cut in half (they should be very easy to cut with scissors after they’ve already been cut lengthwise). I think it turned out pretty well!

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I tried to make sure all the corks were facing the same direction, because it bothers me otherwise, but it doesn’t particularly matter. It will be seen from a distance most of the time, and hopefully will have things pinned to it anyway. I would watch the amount of glue you squeeze out though – too much and you’ll have a bunch of visible spots between the corks. This one will be going to it’s new home this weekend, but I think I might just have to make another one for me!

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1

Side Table Update

We have a very small living room. Like, can’t comfortably fit a couch small (we’ve tried). Our house is old, and the space we’re using for a living room was meant to be a sort of parlor, as far as we can tell. In any case, we decided a while ago to just have two chairs with a table in between, and I’ve been searching for the perfect side table since. Turns out, tables are crazy expensive, and none of them were exactly what I was looking for, so I decided I’d just have to redo an existing one. You can see where this is going, right? Off to Goodwill, where we found this lovely Ethan Allen table for $10:

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It was pretty dirty and kind of beat up, and those pulls are just icky, but I had plans! I shanghaied my lovely husband into taking off the handles and the hinges holding on the doors, and then got to painting.

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I used Rustoleum 2x spray paint in color Satin Lagoon. It has the primer and paint all in one, so no sanding or separate primer required. This picture is after the first coat, so you can see it provides pretty good cover right off, but I did three coats just to be sure everything was even and bright. I would definitely recommend waiting 24 hours between each coat; I only waited a few hours in between and while it mostly turned out okay, I had some crackling on the back. It was easy enough to fix by sanding it down and repainting, but it was a pain. I also sprayed a layer of clear acrylic on top to protect the paint…it probably would have been totally fine without it, but I wanted something between the paint and all the things that could ruin it!

We couldn’t just stick those old handles back on my beautiful new paint job, so I found some adorable brass owls (at World Market) to use instead.

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Our house has closets in the living room that have brass pulls with different animals on them, so I was pretty thrilled to find some that matched the style almost exactly (this is the little bee; there’s also a turtle, a dragonfly, and a frog).

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We had to put wood putty in the holes for the old handles and drill new holes for the owls, but after painting you can barely tell.

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It turned out the perfect color (we have a large painting on the wall that is my loose inspiration for decorating), and fits in great with our chairs!

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I love that it has some storage in the bottom, as my crafting supplies inevitably make their way out to the living room, and this way I can hide them and pretend I’m not a total mess.

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It’s just the right size to hold drinks, my bowls of yet more supplies, and whatever else ends up on it. I’m quite happy with it, especially since all the supplies, including the table itself, ended up being less than $30!

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Now, on to fixing that chair…

 

1

Mermaid Play Skirt

One of my favorite fabric designers and illustrators is Sarah Jane (she designs for Michael Miller). I’m also a little bit obsessed with octopuses (or octopi, should you prefer), so when she released her Out to Sea line, I snapped up the Mermaid Play print as soon as I could. I mean, how was I supposed to resist this cuteness?

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The mermaids! The whales! The octopuses! I had to have an item of clothing from it right away. I finally settled on using this tutorial from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing (which you should definitely cruise around if you have any interest in clothes). I’m still learning to sew clothes and I’ll admit that I’m not great at following patterns…things inevitably wander off course when I decide to add or subtract things, so this suited me perfectly. I ended up with a really adorable skirt, if I do say so myself!

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I followed the tutorial directions pretty much to the letter, to my measurements, of course. I did thread some elastic through the waistband, since it ended up a bit more loose than I wanted, and I added pockets, because pockets rule.

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I love the wider hem, and I’m really proud of myself for installing an invisible zipper.

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There are a few puckers, but the skirt is full enough that it pretty much hides them. I also finished the seams, so it looks fairly decent on the inside too.

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I’ve worn it a lot this summer and have gotten tons of compliments. I think when I make another one (and I definitely will), I’ll use a bit more fabric and make it fuller, but overall I’m really happy with it!

 

6

The Kisses Quilt of Doom

Up until a few months ago, I had been fairly lucky in my quilting life. Some frustrating moments, but no huge failures.

Until the Kisses Quilt of Doom.

It didn’t start out as a quilt of doom. It started out as me consuming entirely too much modern art (I spend a lot of time on google images), combined with a new challenge from the Modern Quilt Guild and Michael Miller for the new Petal Pinwheels line of fabric. I’m a big fan of both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and have been wanting to try a pop art inspired quilt for a while, so I decided this was my opportunity. It started out well; I came up with a plan to cut one inch circles out of the fat quarters provided, after fusing them to some Heat ‘n Bond.

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I cut three lips outlines from some white fabric (again backed by Heat’n Bond) fused the little circles to those, then ironed the lips onto a larger piece of fabric. All was well, things were looking great!

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And then…well, things went to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Turns out that all that Heat’n Bond made my fabric really, really thick, and I broke 4 needles just trying to get those things quilted. Not taking the hint, I decided to quilt diagonal lines a quarter inch apart…which halfway through I realized were bowing and turning more into half moons than straight lines.

This is where things really took a turn for the worse. I unpicked all those stitches and then, like a good quilter, marked my lines so I could sew them straight. Only, I failed to realize that I had grabbed my grease pencil meant for marking templates, and not my washable quilting pencil. So, see these nice black lines? Can you guess what didn’t happen when I washed it?

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Yep. They didn’t come out. At all. I tried everything I could think of, and everything the internet suggested, but I still had a beautiful quilt with ugly grease marks on it.

I still had a week until the challenge due date, so I cried a little, then sucked it up and started over (and I got my Letterpress dress out of the dismantling process, so it wasn’t all bad). This time I just appliquéd the lips, so the only part that had Heat’n Bond was the little dots. I marked the lines again, but this time with tailor’s chalk, which I had tested on the fabric and had washed out great. Quilting went quickly and smoothly, and I was so happy to get it done with a few days to spare.

Well. I don’t know what happened between the testing and finishing the quilting, but it happened again. The blue lines of the tailor’s chalk had somehow soaked in to the fabric, and it didn’t come off all the way when I washed it. I was left with another quilt, this one with faint blue lines. At this point I was really ready to just throw in the towel, but I can be just a little stubborn sometimes, and I was determined to finish this thing, somehow. I ended up using some light blue thread and a decorative stitch, and went back over the marks, to make it look like I did it on purpose. Once I started adding the blue, it didn’t look like the wall hanging I’d been intending, and more of a cute baby quilt, so I cut it down to just two lips. Here’s how it ended up:

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I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out, though I still get pretty frustrated when I look at it. I do think the blue adds an interesting texture and I still like my original idea, so I may try it again at some point (some point that is far, far in the future). I do love how cutting up the fabric made really interesting geometric patterns, and I like the bold colors.

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I outlined the lips with an orange zig zag stitch, and the back is really cute:

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I might like it more than the front, although I suspect that’s more my irritation talking than anything.

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So there you have it: my first total quilting failure. I didn’t win the contest, but I’m still proud of myself for finishing, and she’s heading to be shown at our guild’s exhibit at the Northwest Quilting Expo…where I hope no one will be able to tell how many mistakes are in this one!

 

5

Sewing Box Makeover

I scored several great finds on our last Goodwill trip, so you’ll be seeing makeover projects a lot around here in the next few weeks – hope you don’t mind! This week, a sewing box. We were cruising around the furniture section and this fantastic box was just hanging out above the sofas:

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I was drawn by those amazing hinges, and then I opened it up…

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…and saw the spool holders! I think you’ll agree that it had to be mine. I loved the wood, but it was really beat up and the wood was splintering a bit, so I decided it would need to be painted. Luckily, I just acquired a bunch of Martha Stewart craft paint, so I had lots of colors to choose from (these are just a few).

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I decided on blue and got to work. I have to tell you, this might be my new favorite crafting item. The paint is nice and thick, so it covers really well, and the coats dry quickly. One coat provided enough coverage that it probably would have been enough, but two gives it a really solid color. It doesn’t smell, and washes easily off of brushes and hands. It comes in a huge range of really nice colors, and the color on the label is pretty true to what’s in the bottle. I would highly recommend them – I’m now actively looking for things to paint :P.

Once I got the color on, though, I decided that it just wasn’t enough (not the paint’s fault at all, just me being picky), so I broke out the Modge Podge and covered it in some leftover Birch fabric. This is what I ended up with:

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The underside of the lid is painted white, and I ended up mixing red and blue to get a dark purple for the inside and the handle.

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The hinges definitely look old and a bit tarnished, but they’re so pretty that they had to stay.

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I left those spool holders (obviously!) and it is perfect for my current hexie project. I think I may add a little box or maybe a pocket at some point, to have a place to store extra needles and my thimble and other odds and ends, but I’m pretty happy with it for now!

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The final tally was $6 for the box, maybe $1 for the Modge Podge, and about $1.50 for the paint (the fabric was in my stash). Well worth it, in my opinion!

Sewing Box Before and After

 

3

Coral and Gray Granny Squares

I think I mentioned a while back that I’ve gotten into crochet again, and I’ve been wanting to do some granny squares for a while now. I tried a couple of times with different yarn combos, but I didn’t love any of them. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we were at Goodwill (I know I say this all the time, but treasure hunting at secondhand stores is one of my favorite activities…you can find such great stuff for so cheap) and I scored a couple skeins of a mystery coral colored yarn that I knew would go perfectly with some gray Cascade yarn I already had.

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I found a couple more skeins (after hunting around for a while) that still had a label, and it told me that this is Fleisher’s Win-Sport. I can’t find any information on it, but I’m guessing it’s from the 1970s, and I kind of love that the label advertises that it’s both “easy care” and “mothproof” – I’ve never actually seen that on yarn label but no moths seems like a good thing, right?

It was thinner than the gray yarn I wanted to use, so I doubled up and cast on for a sunburst granny square pattern. I was totally in love with how it looked from the very beginning, and I’m only loving it more as I make more squares:

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My pretty little stack is growing at a pretty nice rate, and I’m almost tempted to keep them that way…

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…but I already have about 14 made, so I figured I should probably start make something out of them. Right now I’m thinking I’ll aim for 36 or so to make a nice little baby blankie.

The question of how to join them has been giving me a bit of trouble, but I think I’ve nearly settled on the flat braid join.

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I tried a few other ones, and this is the only one that I really liked, but I do think I’ll size down one needle size when I join them permanently (I read something a while ago that recommended trying that for a cleaner finish). If anyone has any other joining suggestions or techniques they like, though, please send them my way!

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0

Lots of Little Things – And Meeting Debbie Bliss!

First, I must apologize for my longish absence; I was sick for a little while there. But, I’m on the mend and I have lots of little things to share! First up, I got a wild hair and decided to make a wallet for my mom:

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I was fairly happy with it, although there were a few things I’d change next time. It’s hard to tell, but I used iron-on vinyl on the outside, to make it more water and dirt proof. It made the fabric really thick and difficult to sew, which my poor little machine was not happy about. Because of that difficulty, the pockets on the inside did get slightly crooked.

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It basically flat out refused to sew the velcro, so that part took me a lot longer than I’d been expecting. This frustration led to deciding it was finally time to get a more heavy duty machine, which I’ve needed for quite a while (I have a little Brother machine that I love, but she just isn’t up to the amount of quilting I do). A trip to Goodwill later, and this beauty went home with me!

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She needs some cleaning and servicing, but runs great and is super heavy, so no more shuttering all over the table! Now she just needs a name…any suggestions?

I also finished this little guy, for a sweet brand new baby boy.

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He was an order from my Etsy store, and measured about 17 inches high. He was so cuddly and huggable, I kind of wanted to keep him, but I decided the baby probably needed him more :). The pattern is this one from Debbie Bliss, which I’ve made several times and continue to fall in love with.

And, speaking of Debbie Bliss, she was visiting Seattle recently, and guess who got to meet her!

photo 1Yes, that is yours truly, standing next to Debbie Bliss, and wearing one of the sweaters she brought with her, from the new fall designs. This one is knit from the new Roma yarn, and that and the sweater design should be available at the end of summer, from what I understand. This is another from the same collection:

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It was an awesome afternoon. There weren’t that many people there, so we were each able to talk to Debbie and try one a bunch of sweaters. She talked a lot about her design process, and how to knit for yourself. Interestingly, she recommends that you pick a sweater pattern based on your shoulder measurement rather than your bust measurement, especially if there’s a lot of ease in the pattern. In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense, since a lot of the time when I make a sweater in “my” measurements, I’m not happy with the fit. But I have a couple of sweaters that got made a size or two small, and they fit great. I went home incredibly inspired and ready to work…and she complimented my dress, which pretty much made my week!

Hope everyone is having a great summer (and beating the heat), and I should be back to regularly scheduled postings next week!