Friday, 22 August 2014

Pink and purple club ruffle blankie

I've been plugging away at this blankie for what feels like months! It is crochet, so easy and quick in reality, but it feels like I've been working on it forever! I don't know if it is the row after row of half double crochet stitches, or the tedious ruffles, but this hasn't been a joy to put together. In fact, I wrote a little Haiku about it. For those of you who don't remember high school English class, a Haiku is a little poem that has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the last. 

 Luckily, it is super cute, so it makes up for the seemingly epic assembly time. 

This is put together with 120 half double crochet stitches and 100 rows. This makes a blankie that is about square. Then at every 10th row, I used a single crochet stitch to attach the ruffle made from Sashay yarn from Red Heart Yarn. 

You have to use a bit of a special technique to crochet with this stuff. To start, using the same yarn you made the blanket with, make a slip knot and make a single crochet stitch into the front loop of the first stitch of the desired row. Fold the first inch back over the ruffle yarn and insert the hook through the yarn, then put the hook through the front loop of the next crochet stitch on the blanket. Then yarn over with the blanket yarn and pull that through the ruffle yarn and through the loop on your hook. This leaves you with a nice ruffle above and below a single crochet stitch. You can fluff the ruffle to make it more even or pull some back under the single crochet if there is a portion that is too loose. I liked the look of a tighter ruffle, so when I inserted my hook through the ruffle yarn, I made sure it was folded over in two layers. Experiment and see what style you like best!

I love the colours and the ruffles, it is just the perfect amount of girlyness, perfect for a sweet little baby or a feisty toddler. I think I may put this into my etsy shop (The Homemade Heart Shop) as my first completed ready-to-ship item! 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Charley Harper Resolution

I blogged about The Charley Harper Conundrum a few weeks ago.  I was having difficulty deciding what to do with the back of the quilt.  I ended up deciding to run with the interlocking design because I love how complimentary it is to the front.  Both do a great job featuring the fabrics with a nice, fresh white background, and both designs are pretty modern.  I have to laugh at myself, though.  This is only my second quilt, and I decide to attempt a pretty difficult pattern for the piecing.  That pretty much sums me up: I'll try something at a beginner level, then skip straight to expert!

The plan
I put together each section individually, then attached the smaller sections into larger blocks (ie: a1 and a2 attached, b1, b2, b3 attached).  Then I attached the larger blocks together, and sewed some long strips of white onto the sides and top to make it a more even frame all around.  It took a little fiddling to make sure everything lined up properly, and I definitely had to take apart and restitch some sections.  But the attention to detail paid off, because it all came together nicely.

Completed backing
My next step was to make a quilt sandwich of the front, batting, and back.  Only problem was that I didn't have a large enough single piece of batting to use.  I had a few large scraps left over from Briar Rose's quilt that would combine to make a big enough piece, so I decided to try to attach them together.  I used a wide zig-zag stitch and ran it through my machine, holding the edges right beside each other with no overlap.  It came together perfectly, and saved me a trip to the fabric store!  Waste not, want not!
Don't overlap at all, just press the edged close together
You can barely tell this is made from scraps!
I laid everything out on my dining room floor and basted with safety pins.

Then percolated with the decision of what kind of quilting design to use.  In the end, I did some free motion quilting of (relatively) straight lines with a variety of sizes of circles coming off the line at random spacing and intervals.   I used the super precise method of measuring with my four fingers to determine the spacing between the lines.  I wanted something that looked organic, and I am very happy with how it turned out.

After squaring off the quilt and trimming the excess back/batting fabric, I made a double fold binding with the brown fabric I had originally bought to do the backing.  The colour matches some of the leaves in the Charley Harper prints.  I like to hand stitch my binding, I think it looks nicer than a machine binding, and it went very quickly now that I have the hang of it.  Just two evenings instead of a week and half for the last quilt!  I finished it up last night and tested it out- it is very snuggly, perfect for getting cozy in front of a good movie.  This morning, I took advantage of a nice sunny day and headed into my backyard with the quilt to have a little photo shoot.  Please bear with me- I just couldn't get enough pictures of this one!  

And some detail shots.

And because you can't leave a quilt unattended for even a minute....

Annyong loves quilted blankies
And last but not least, my favourite element of the quilt: I included a piece of the selvedge in my piecing, and I absolutely adore how it looks.  

This quilt has been a challenge, but reinforces for me that anything is possible if you just give it a try.  I was a little intimidated by my ambitions, but I figured it doesn't hurt to make the attempt.  I am so glad I aimed for the stars on this one, because I feel so fabulous that it was my hand that made this beauty.  Do you ever have a moment where you look at something you have made and think "I can't believe I did that!"?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What do you get the woman who has everything? Home makeover!

My mom celebrated a birthday a few months back, and I didn't have any ideas for a good birthday gift that wasn't just adding more clutter.  I wanted to give her something thoughtful and special, and the one thing that came to mind was redoing her laundry room.  Ever since she and my dad built and moved into their house 8(!) years ago, the laundry room has been a bit of a disaster.  The builder's beige walls needed some jazzing up, and the stock white wire shelving (which are so impractical for storage, and really, who wants to stare at their cleaning products?) needed replacing.  Their laundry room is also their entrance from the garage, so it is the first thing they see when they walk into their house; this needs to be a welcoming, clutter-free space so they aren't burdened with visual stress upon entering their home.
Before: Disaster shelf
Before: clutter breeds clutter
Lack of organized storage space = messy corners
The first thing that had to go was the shelf.  We went through every bottle, and tossed all of the almost-empty dregs of bottles that get pushed to the back and forgotten because the shelf is so inaccessible.  All cleaning supplies that were bought in the hopes they would be great and weren't got tossed as well.  Things that got dumped there "temporarily" and got lost in the shuffle got relocated to their proper place.  We found some baskets that made for great storage for small vacuum accessories and rags.  Then we got that shelf the heck out of there!  Good riddance to poor planning! (I have no idea why those stupid wire shelving are so popular in newly-built homes - I think they are so useless....I guess they are probably cheap, and that's why builders use them?)

After clearing out the room, and moving the laundry machines into the middle of the tight room, my sister and I set to work painting the walls a nice, peaceful sky blue.  Two coats in, and the change was amazing already!  The blue was so much fresher and more pleasing to the eye than the boring beige that used to be in there.  Mom was worried at first about the colour choice, but did warm up to it as things started settling into place.

The next day, with the help (aka: he led the show) of my dad, we hung some IKEA shelving on the walls.  We used the BESTA collection, complete with the coolest doors, a beautiful wavy white, that went well with the blue walls.  All the cleaning supplies and vacuum parts and rags found new homes in the cupboards.
After: cupboards are a huge improvement
We moved the washing machine and dryer closer together so that they no longer had a gap between them, and used the extra space on the side to make a broom wrangling station.  I picked up a broom caddy to mount to the wall that can hold all the brooms, mops, and dust pans.  We also wall-mounted the Dyson vacuum, so it no longer needs to be propped up in a corner.  More organization=less mess!
After: broom caddy
We also installed the IKEA Grundtal drying rack over the laundry tub.  This drying rack is great, because it can collapse against the wall when not in use, which means the area looks tidier.  I also tossed her old mismatched collection of hangers, and replaced them with matching white ones.
After: washtub area
 The last step was to put the finishing touches in place.  I picked up a blue sign that says "Home" hanging from a clothesline with clothespins (fitting!) from Walmart, and I found the most beautiful set of wall hooks at Winners that feature white roses.
After: wall decor
Then came the big reveal!  My mom loved the change, and the space is so much more welcoming and calm.  My goal was to reduce clutter, remove the eyesores, and just make the space more organized and clean looking.  I truly believe that clutter breeds clutter and neat breeds neat.  A tidy space makes you want to keep it tidy, whereas a pile of junk encourages you to just keep adding to it.  After completing this weekend project, my mom was much happier with the room, and that makes me happy.  I think this made a great birthday gift!