Thursday, February 7, 2013

Itty Bitty Quilt

Waaayyyy back in January of 2010 when my current obsession was modern quilting (I still love it), I participated in a quilt block swap called the Modern Siggy Swap. 100 people created 101 blocks, signed them and wrote their location, then sent them off to a person who created a package for each participant. What we got back was a neat little package all ready to be made into a beautiful little quilt, a modern take on the historic signature quilt except even cooler because there were blocks from people all over the country, and even a few international ones.

A by-product of all that block making, though, were 202 teeny tiny little squares made from two triangles, one a print, one white fabric. Some quilter may have thrown them out, but I thought they would make a perfect doll quilt. And with the worst part of the work done, all I had to do was sew the squares together and add a border. Easy. No time at all.

Three years later, I finally sewed the binding on.

Maybe I didn't do it quickly, but the finished product was worth the wait. I hope my niece likes it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Aran Cable Obsession

My Aran Aidez Sweater Pre-Blocking
You're going to quickly realize, reading this blog, that I am a person who gets really enthralled with something and basically eats, sleeps and breathes it until I've assimilated everything there is to be found about it into my being. (Yes, that was a Star Trek reference. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool sci-fi geek.) Well, the obsession of the month is Aran cables.

It happened innocently enough. I was on Ravelry browsing through the "hot right now" patterns. Aidez has been on there forever. It's a beautiful sweater, but the lattice cables didn't grab me, and the pattern was knit in pieces. I thought that maybe I would get around to converting it to seamless one day, and perhaps plopping in a cable pattern that I liked better. Then I was perusing the finished projects and fell upon a LOVELY one that had done all the changes for me. And the user even did a write-up on her blog for how she did it.

I had to cast-on. Right. Then. Luckily I had some knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky Bare from my learning to dye days lying around in the studio. As I sat and knit, I felt connected to my Scottish and Irish ancestors in a very profound way. I felt like I was back in my Gram's living room all those years ago when she taught me how to knit. I felt peace. Normally I am a product knitter but with this I slowed down. I savored every stitch, and I took incredible joy from watching the main cable pattern develop as the rows grew.

I'm not going to lie. Cabling requires some attention. But truly, once you get the feel for the cables and how often the smaller ones have to be crossed, the only part of this sweater that requires any real concentration is the right side of the large cable at the center back.

It also helps that I learned to cable without a cable needle. I think if I had tried to knit this sweater using a cable needle it might have ended up stabbed in my eye. Or someone else's. Unless I am doing some ridiculously large cable, I will never go back. I have done 4/4 cables with this method with no problems.

I learned from the video below. There are different methods out there, but this is the one that works for me.

After I had my son take some photos, I soaked my new fav sweater in some eucalan, spun it out in my spin dryer, then put it into the dryer for about 8 minutes on extra low heat to full/felt the yarn very gently. It is now drying on a sweater rack. I am one very, very happy knitter today. I think my ancestors would be proud.

Now I'm learning everything I can about designing with cables because I'm that in love with them. I want to make all the cable things. More on that in another post.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Taking Making to a Whole New Level

I'm one of those people who just isn't happy unless she's learning something new, preferably in the crafts field. Fortunately for me the time I live in-- AKA the Technology Age, is really making it easy for me.

A Sample Hat in Progress
I had heard people mention Craftsy a time or two in passing but had never really given it much thought. Then a few weeks ago I saw something on Ravelry about a free short-row class taught by Carol Feller. Short-rows have always mystified me, and I have always greatly admired Carol's designs, so I thought it was worth checking out.

That one free class was such an amazing experience (I now not only know how to execute three different versions of short-rows but also how to apply them to shoulder slope shaping and top-down set-in sleeve construction) I had a look to see what else was available in the paid classes.

What I found was pretty mind-blowing. I have always been interested in knitwear design but thought there was no way for my math-challenged brain to ever figure the process out without going to an expensive class. This is where the modern miracle of technology really shines. Craftsy has a class specifically about pattern writing, and another about grading patterns. They cost me far less than they would have if I had traveled to an in-person class, and I can access them over and over again, whenever I want.

All of this has given me the boost I needed to finally start sketching my ideas, knowing that I do have a chance of getting them out in a way that will make sense to other knitters.

Today, I put the finishing touches on my first knitting pattern. It's a hat with a unique cable pattern (at least I've never seen anything like it, and can't find anything similar in any of my stitch dictionaries) including a chart (that I created in StitchMastery) and graded in sizes from toddler to large adult. Truly, a week ago I never could have dreamed of putting together a pattern with this amount of technical work involved.

I have no idea where all of this new-found knowledge will take me, but I'm guaranteed to have a good time getting there.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Georgia Makes Advent Stockings

One year I got tired of buying the cardboard advent calendars available in department stores, and decided to see if I could come up with something nicer that I could re-use year after year.

I found the perfect mini-stocking template from Martha Stewart. Her instructions call for felt but since I already had quilting cotton in Christmas colors, I used that.

This was a really simple, fun project that has really brought a nice homemade touch to our holiday season. See how pretty they look in our living room!

The best part is we can put really yummy stuff like Lindt ornaments in the stockings. No more cheap waxy chocolates!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Georgia Makes Pumpkin Brew Soap

About a year ago, a good friend of mine taught me how to make cold process soap. It was something I had always wanted to learn, but the use of lye, a vary caustic chemical, had always scared me. Once I saw the process though, I realized that as long as things are handled appropriately, it's a safe process.

I'm not a patient person though, and I quickly got tired of having to wait 24 hours to take the soap out of the mold, and then yet another SIX WEEKS before the soap could be used. That's just not my style. Luckily for me, there's also hot process soap making, which cooks the soap after it's made, and you can use it the same day. But there is a trade-off: The soap isn't as smooth or glossy as it is if you stick with cold process.

The other day I was looking on youtube for ideas and I came across the CPOP (Cold Process Oven Process) method. This is done like cold process soap, but you put the molded soap into a 170 degree oven for two hours, then let it cool in the oven overnight. The soap finishes like a cold process, but is safe to use immediately and only needs to dry for two weeks. Could I really have my cp soap and use it too?

I was itching to make a test batch, so I made up a little two-pound mold. I had also been wanting to try a pumpkin soap using some of the pumpkin beer my husband brewed a few weeks ago. Another thing I was anxious to try-- making a color swirl with botanical ingredients. Yes, this is typical me. I am always anxious to try about three different new things at once. Luckily for me, I was able to get them all in one shot this time.

The soap looked and smelled great going into the mold, and it was hard to leave it alone. But the next morning I took it out and it was perfect! Beautiful color and it smelled like heaven! All from the pumpkin brew and pumpkin pie spice I used to color the swirl.

Soapers do something called a zap test to check if the soap is finished and the lye is completely reacted with the oils. It's just like it sounds- You touch your tongue to the soap and if it zaps like a battery it's not done. No zap from this, so it would seem that the claim of useable straight out of the mold holds true. It will still need some drying time though, or it will melt away too fast when used.

I would definitely call this a success. Now I just wish I had made a bigger batch!

Soap Making Resources:

Soap Queen TV has a great series of how-to videos on youtube.
Soap Nuts has directions for Hot Process Oven Method.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Georgia Makes Felted Soaps

Hand-felted soaps all ready for the holiday market.
Our local farmer's market is hosting a holiday craft fair this weekend and I've decided to sell some hand-felted soaps there. Since in my previous professional life I sold wool yarn and spinning fiber, and I am currently in love with making soap, I'm in a pretty good position to work with what I have on hand.

I melted down and re-molded some of my handmade cold-process soap into small squares to make these. It's a really simple process, and there's a great tutorial here.

These make neat teacher gifts too, and the kids can feel really proud presenting them before the holiday break.

Georgia Makes an Introduction

My name is Georgia, and I like to make things. What kinds of things I like to make depends on the season, my mood, and what I may have recently discovered and become obsessed with (I do that a lot). But usually I like to make pretty and/or useful things. I have owned a number of handmade businesses over the years, including jewelry, handbags, home goods, and, most recently, hand-dyed yarn.

Due to changes in my life, and more urgently, a very unhappy rotator cuff, I've had to give up my yarn business and take a "normal" job. Now I'm back to making things simply because it brings me joy, and that's really the best reason to make anything.

My husband and I are also in the process of renovating our little 1850's cape. From exposing the original sidelights around the front door, to installing wainscoting in the dining and bathrooms, we're doing everything we can to bring back its old time charm.

This blog is a place for me to share the simple joy of making.