Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quilted Cushion Cover

My Mom starts chemo on Monday, Aug. 27. I will be going there this weekend to take her and I'll stay with her for a couple of days afterwards. I spent most of this week, when not looking for work, working on this cushion cover.

Last time I was home, Mom was using a cushion to prop herself up to help ease her breathing. I had been wanting to make her something using Dad's clothing for a while now, and this idea seemed to design itself. I love how it turned out.

cushion cover - front

I seem to always make projects more difficult and labor intensive than is necessary. I machine pieced this cushion cover, using scraps from my Dad's shirts and pants. I started out to machine quilt it, but was very frustrated with my machine. I need to get a walking foot! I ended up hand quilting it, and I love the results although it was a bit more complex than was necessary.

I used a heart block (from Bella Online) and a churndash square (from Quiltville. So many free scrappy quilt patterns!!) to make up the top.

cushion cover - back

The back of the cushion is the front of one of Dad's snap shirts. I left the pockets on, and I love how it looks.

Cushion cover - back open

The snaps are functional. I decided to use them so that the cushion inside can be inserted/removed.

cushion cover - mine?

If there wasn't such a good reason for giving this away, it would be staying with me... I'm hoping I have enough scraps left over to make one for myself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to Look for a Job

I thought I'd lay out the process of looking for work, as a resource for any other crafty sorts out there.

Step by step:
1. Get up bright and early. Seriously. If you don't get up bright and early you won't have time to fit everything in.
2. Make coffee. Do not skip this step. (well, unless you absolutely do not or can not drink coffee, in which case, why am I friends with you again?)(I'm kidding)(seriously, make the coffee)
3. Find and update your resume. This could take anywhere from 2 minutes to a good day and a half, depending on how well you organize your life.
4. Search for job postings online. Depending on your area of the world, this may not be the best option, in which case find job postings where ever they may be listed.
5. Drink some coffee. (again, unless you absolutely do not/can not... yada yada yada...)
6. Think about sewing/knitting/spinning something.
7. No! Focus. Find a job.
8. Plan/Chart a hat for your "friend" who has been asking for a specific hat for a long time. Attempt to keep this secret.
9. Make an appointment to meet with a headhunter/recruiter.
10. Realize you have no clothing suitable for working in a "downtown" type office due to working in construction related industry for the past 3 years.
11. Shower, dress.
12. go to the mall.
13. Drive around the mall parking lot for 20 minutes looking for parking. Swear a little as you try to figure out why the mall parking lot would be full at 2 pm on a Monday in August. Realize you are seeing a LOT of kids with their moms. Realize it's Back-To-School shopping time. Swear a little more.
14. Try to find SOMETHING that you can wear that is comfortable and doesn't make you look like you're trying to look like a 14 year old or a skank.
15. Get frustrated. Buy ONE pair of pants. Escape with your life.
16. Go to the yarn store. (Shut up. You would too if you had just barely survived Back-To-School crowds at the mall).
17. Start a wrap/throw/shawl for your Mom

18. Start on the "secret" hat for your "friend".

19. Go to meeting with recruiter. Leave feeling encouraged. Still not employed, but encouraged.
20. Work on a quilting project for your Mom.
I'm using scraps of my Dad's clothing to make a quilted cushion cover for my Mom. She has been using a cushion to prop up her side to help ease her breathing, and I thought maybe this would be like she has my Dad with her.

21. Make a new bag.*
I used a linen panel I got on sale at Ikea. I came up with the design for this style when I was on vacation. I"m not totally excited about the way I've got it closed at the moment, so I'm trying to come up with an alternative.

22. Repeat steps 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 11 as needed.
23. Make a pair of shorts using stashed fabric just because you want to see if you can.
Pattern: Ruby, available free from (pattern #6005 can be downloaded free on the site.)

24. Continue working on various projects while continuing repeating steps 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 11 as needed.

I hope this helps me the general crafting publlic in my their search for employment. Good Luck to me one and all!

*I just now realized I didn't ever post the pics of the bags I made on my vacation.
#1. IMG_0198
This one is sort of a slouch shape, lined with broadcloth. The outer fabric is heavy cotton from Ikea.

The closure.

There are 2 patch pockets inside and a strip to hang my keys.

#2. P8020002
Not the best picture, sorry. This bag was made from a panel of cotton fabric I found at Value Village. It is quilted, with the quilt backing acting as a lining. The inside has 2 patch pockets and the straps go all the way under the bag.

The inside seams are bound like the edges of a quilt.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Much better

Thank you for the commiseration! I've been feeling much better as the days have gone by. This morning I sent my resume to a recruiting agency and they called about 5 minutes later! The job I had applied for is as good as filled already, but the recruiter I spoke with liked my resume and asked me to come in for an "interview" with her tomorrow. It's not a job yet, but it helps me feel less freaked out.

I talked with my friend, who also works at my now former workplace, and he was very supportive of me. He told me that one of the other salesmen was really angry about my being "let go". They want to talk to the management and the new president (who comes on board there this week). I'm not sure that anything would come of it, but it feels good to know that people appreciated me there.

On to happier things... I haven't posted much knitting lately, but I have been knitting. So, I present, a WIP parade.

1. (not so) Beaded Cami
beaded cami closeup
Pattern: Beaded Cami from Black Dog Designs.
Yarn: Paton's Grace in Azure
I'm not adding beads and I am knitting in the round, but other than that, I've been following the pattern so far. I'm almost at the point where I would bind off stitches to do the top portion.

2. Dollar and a Half Cardigan
dollar and a half cardi pieces
Pattern: Dollar and a Half Cardigan from Interweave Knits, Spring 2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Taupe
I'm halfway through the second front piece but I've been completely sidetracked sort of stalled out at the moment.

3. Mystery Top
mystery knit closeup
Pattern: "Mystery" mostly because I'm making it up as I go.
Yarn: Recycled from a thrift store sweater. I think it was a blend of linen and cotton, but I don't have the tags anymore.
I'm about 4 inches into the project and I'm trying to decide what to do at this point.

And, a finished object!
Lace chemo hat.
chemo hat
Pattern: accidentally adapted from the Lace Edged Women's Hat at Head Huggers.
Yarn: Rowan Calmer in a yellow-green
I accidentally modified the pattern when I knit 4 extra repeats of the lace pattern due to not really reading the pattern thoroughly.... I like how it turned out though.

I knit this for my mom. It started out as a Shedir (from Knitty) but I discovered that, while I love the Shedir pattern, I HATE cabling with a stretchy yarn. So, rather than be frustrated with the project I decided to frog and do a lace hat. I'm not sure if Mom will want to use it, but I've been feeling a bit helpless about her condition and making things for her is at least a tangible way I can deal with it.

I have a few sewing pictures to share with you tomorrow. Thanks again for the long-distance support everyone!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Be careful what you wish for

grumpy old man face
My niece, Preslee. She made this face all the time when I was visiting her! Grumpy old man!

Thank you all for the encouraging comments on all the sewing! I've been away from my sewing machine since Thursday morning (I did a little sewing before I left for my Mom's house) and it feels sort of strange! While I was away I knit on a couple of WIPs and did a bunch of the handsewing for my niece's blanket. It felt good to get some progress on those things away from the lure of the sewing machine.

I've been trying to sort out in my head why I went on such a bender last week and I think I've figured it out. Most days, while I sit at work, a portion of my brain is working on craft projects. I seem to be constantly turning ideas over in my head and suddenly one will emerge fully formed from the mix. I would love to be in a situation where I could have that freedom all the time...


The paragraphs above were written the afternoon of August 7 when I was back at work after my vacation. I have to say: Be very careful what you wish for. Why, WHY did I not wish for a million dollars?

You see, I suddenly find myself with a LOT of free time to do whatever I want! Yay! I mean, it comes at the cost of being let go from my job, which sucks, but still...

(yes. that was sarcasm. sorry)

Out of the blue on Friday, the wife of the owner of the company I was working for came in to the office to see me. She is in charge of HR matters, albeit from an absentee position. She said she needed to talk to me and told me they were letting me go. I really don't have a clear understanding of what happened. I'm still in shock, frankly.

I had previously had a few "run-ins" with a co-worker, but those issues had been worked through and somewhat resolved (and, by the way, the HR/owner's wife absolved me of any responsibility in those run-ins). Apparently, while I was on vacation, another coworker (a close friend of the aforementioned one) apparently complained about me, was lobbying to have his friend hired in my position and on Friday threatened to quit if I wasn't fired. I honestly have no idea what his problem was. He and I had never had any arguments or anything, I went out of my way to help him, I was friendly and courteous to him. Looking back now, I can see that in the past couple of months (the timing coincides with the "run-ins" with the other coworker) he had started to treat me differently, being somewhat dismissive or outright ignoring my requests of him as regarded my areas of responsibility.

Anyway, all that said, the HR lady/owner's wife apologized and basically said they were in a spot where they had to let me go b/c they couldn't afford to lose him. She again praised my work with the company, assured me that they were going to write me a glowing letter of recommendation and gave me my check. Then she kept asking me if I was okay. It took pretty much every last ounce of self-control I had to not yell at her. Of course I'm not okay. Three days ago you gave me a raise and today you're "letting me go"?

So anyway, if you're still with me, sorry for blurting this all out here on the internets. But, on the upside (see, I can be a positive person) I'll have time to get some stuff made to put on Etsy, I'll get some stuff done that I've been putting off, and I'll hopefully be able to be with my mom for her first Chemo treatment. Once I get up the nerve to tell her about my job that is.

I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures to make it all better. For now, I'm trying not to think. Ask me how that's going...

Here's a picture of one of the sundresses being modelled. This is the only non-blurry pic I was able to get of her in it. Squirmy kid + crappy camera=blurry childhood photos.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Baby sundresses

Thanks everyone!

My first thought when I had my "accident", after I realized what I was looking at, was "I have to take a picture, someone has to see this." Okay, actually, the first thought was "I have to post this", then I realized how dorky that was and how I was setting myself up for mockery if/when I posted it. So, yeah. :D

As for the blanket, thanks! It's easy going, just a bit mind numbing. I kept getting distracted. I did try a couple of different methods by machine, but found it far more frustrating (plus, see description of Lori & the Zig Zag stitch and the finger pain... ). My sewing area is on the cramped side and my machine doesn't have a big enough opening to easily do machine quilting. I just need to sit down and actually do it. I'll be at my Mom's for the next few days and over the weekend, so the blanket is coming with me. I won't have the sewing machine/fabric stash to distract me so I should hopefully get a lot done on it.

I'll get to see my sister and her kids for the first time since Christmas! I'm excited. The only time I've seen my niece, Preslee, she slept the whole time. Granted, she was 1 month old, so I'll let it go. The blanket is for her, and I'm a little disappointed in myself that it's not done yet, but she doesn't know about it so she'll probably let it go. Plus she's not all that verbal yet...

But I did do a bunch of sewing for her (part of the distracting-me-from-the-blanket):

sundress 1

sundress 2

Are these cute or what? I used a pattern (gasp): New Look 6578 and some cotton prints I got at W*lm*rt. Really quick to make, I plan to do a couple for my other baby niece.

shirred sundress

A shirred sundress made using the tutorial from House on Hill Road.

This one took a couple of tries. Initially I wound the elastic thread onto the bobbin by hand, as suggested in the tutorial, but the first try left it too loose and the elastic just sort of lay there on the material. So I wound it with my bobbin winder and it worked perfectly. I think it depends on your machine.

Now that I have it sorted out, I plan to make a few more of these. My friend wanted a couple for her daughter too (the patchwork skirt girl).