Hufflepuff! Hufflepuff! Hufflepuff!

K and I have been taking the dogs to obedience class the last month or so. Hermione hasn’t had any training that we know of, and Coraline (and we) could use a refresher.

It’s going quite well! Hermione is learning to sit (she’s so stubborn about it!) and stay like a champ (a relatively slow-moving champ, but she’s making progress). Coraline totally remembers her training from before and we’ve been challenging her to more difficult “leave it”s and other tasks that require more focus. Both the girls are very food-motivated, so we generally make them earn their dinner at class and when we do practice at home. We started out loading up a ziplock bag with each of their kibbles (of course our very special Bostons require special food – Coraline is allergic/sensitive to a bunch of stuff and can only eat a specific type of limited ingredient food that we’ve determined doesn’t cause her to break out in hives, and Hermione is actually on an rx kibble that is super neutral and doesn’t upset her delicate constitution). But we found that the ziplock-in-pocket system wasn’t working out very well so we asked awesome seamstress and embroiderer Susan to make us some treat pouches. She really came through! They are awesome!

I forgot to take a pic of K’s, but it has Godzilla on it and is awesome. Mine is, naturally, Hufflepuff. Eff yeah Hufflepuff!

Awesome Hufflepuff treat bag by Susan of AnneArchy

How incredibly cool is that?! I just heart it so hard.

Awesome Hufflepuff treat bag by Susan of AnneArchy

Here you can see how awesomely it works – it fits right on my belt and is SO HANDY for doing training. Susan has a lot of experience with this type of thing so of course it’s perfectly designed and functional as well as looking cool as hell. I am in serious danger of asking Susan to embroider everything I own with this Hufflepuff crest.

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pupple pants

So it was my birthday earlier this week, and my awesome sistrah gifted me two new pairs of jimjams!

The first is made with some adorbs BT fabric. I had seen someone post a pic of this fabric on one of the MWBTR groups on fb awhile ago, and when I sent that pic to Susan, she said, “pretend you never saw that!” I was happy to do so because I knew it meant something cute was coming my way.

Awesome jimjams made by Susan

I had also found an amazing Bowie Frenchie fabric, from which she awesomely made me a second pair of jimjams. SO CUTE. Also, look at how great she is – the waistband uses the two accent colors

Awesome jimjams made by Susan

as does the top stitching

Awesome jimjams made by Susan

and the piping.

Awesome jimjams made by Susan

Coordinated af.

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Alpaca Fun Day and quilt update

Last weekend my pal Sam invited me to go to an Alpaca Fun Day event at a local alpaca farm. I didn’t even know that there WAS a local alpaca farm! It’s called Isabella Alpacas (no web presence that I could find). I was pretty excited to see what it was like.

The alpacas were SUPER CUTE, of course. They had some who were young and had just been sheared for the first time this year, and others who were older.

Alpaca Fun Day

One of the folks there handed Sam a bowl and the nearby alpaca was VERY enthusiastic about eating the kibble. He also made some really cute snorting noises that reminded me of Coraline.

This weekend I also made a beeline for CraftyTown and worked on my current quilt project. Hooray! I haven’t been making enough time for it lately so I was really happy to have several consecutive hours to give to it this weekend.

Day off means quilting and podcasts #joy

I’m working on the background of the quilt in quadrants which are six squares (each 3.25″ square) square. I find that I have a neater result when I do it this way, though in the case of an art quilt like this I’m not 100% upset if things aren’t perfect. I have my sketch drawn out on graph paper (you can see it on the left side of the photo above) and this helps me to know what fabric I want to put where.

Quilt in progress

Having the 36 squares laid out, I then match them up so I can do smaller sections and then attach them to each other to make the whole 6×6-square quadrant.

Quilt in progress

I’m using a non-traditional seam allowance on this quilt. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to do this – it’s been ages since I started this project – but when I picked it back up, it was obvious that’s the seam allowance I chose, I’m going with it.

Quilt in progress

Not too long ago, Susan hipped me to these Wonder Clips, which I now adore. They make piecing SO EASY! I love that they’re red on one side and clear on the other, so I can use that to remind me which was is up, if I happen to jumble my clipped squares. They’re also a lot easier to put on and take off than pins are – though I will often use pins along with the clips to designate the position of various sections so that I remember which way it goes throughout the transport from the cutting table to the sewing machine and back.

Quilt in progress

I’ve also started to use chain piecing, which for a project like this is saving me all kinds of time. Thanks to the Wonder Clips and my pin “labeling” system, I can sew a bunch of bits together in one go and not worry about forgetting which piece goes which way.

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Happy Scrabble-versary!

My lovely sister and her husband recently celebrated their wedding anniversary. My lovely husband and I had an idea for a neat gift for them, which turned out even better than we anticipated.

Anniversary Scrabble gift

Both of them are big fans of Scrabble and are among the most aggressive/skilled Scrabble players you’re likely to meet, so we felt that a Scrabble themed gift would be perfect! I acquired a basic Scrabble game online and picked up a shadowbox frame at Joann. A little E-6000 and drying time later, it was done! K gets the credit for doing almost all the work on this project. He’s just so good at precise layout projects like this one.

Anniversary Scrabble gift

I’m so pleased with it! I think it will be a lovely thing to be displayed in their home and will hopefully bring good thoughts and memories with it. Happy Anniversary, Susan and David!

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FO Friday: Star Trek Macbook Air Gadget Guard

I end up taking my laptop to work with me on a fairly regular basis and I wanted a sleeve for it that would fit into my purse and protect it a little bit. I looked around online and didn’t see any ready-made sleeves that were cool, so I looked for patterns instead and came up with Dog Under My Desk’s Gadget Guard. Susan has often recommended DUMD and assured me that her patterns are super-detailed and really work. The pattern was even on sale!

I picked out some fabric from my stash, made a trip to Joann for some zippers and interfacing, and placed an order online for Soft & Stable batting alternative (sadly Joann doesn’t carry it in our local store and I wasn’t able to reach anyone at the local quilt shop to find out if they had any in stock). I debated on fudging the batting with something I could buy that day or had in my stash, but it seemed important to get something with some shape, and I’m glad I did. The case is fitted exactly to the shape of my laptop and I can see that if the sleeve was squishier/had less structure, the lappy wouldn’t slide in and out as easily as it does.

MacBook Air Gadget Guard - pattern by Dog Under My Desk

As you can see, it turned out really nicely! The front pocket has a double-pull zipper and a pleat, so there’s room for something a little more than flat to fit into it if desired. And the top zipper is also double-pull, which I just find really handy.

MacBook Air Gadget Guard - pattern by Dog Under My Desk

I used a geometric design for the lining and I think it is a nice contrast to how busy the exterior fabric is.

Gadget Guard in purse

As you can see, it fits! It’s snug and sticks out the top a bit, but that is fine with me. I like that it’s a snug fit – the laptop sleeve isn’t going to slide out by accident – and I sort of like that it shows off the fun fabric a little. If I’m going somewhere that I need to have “invisible” devices hidden in my purse, I can go without the sleeve or just take my tablet instead.

Gadget Guard in purse

OH! And the best thing is that this pattern uses a formula, so it’s easy to make cases for any gadgets you have. I will likely make one for my iPad as well, since it travels with me quite often. The pattern was, as promised, VERY detailed and really nice to use. There are step-by-step instructions and photos all along! I haven’t ever used a pattern with such clear instructions, actually! I highly recommend Dog Under My Desk.

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Farm to Fiber Show

The weekend before last I attended the Farm to Fiber Show at the Anderson and Girls Orchards about a half an hour from here.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

They had advertised sheep-shearing and fiber demonstrations, but I was not expecting to find an exotic animal petting zoo. Weird! The first thing we noticed were these Prairie Dogs. They were quite obviously trained to expect to be fed (there was one of those food pellet dispenser machines attached to the outside of their pen), but they didn’t seem grossly overweight, so I suppose that’s good.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

We headed right over to see the sheep-shearing. These sheep were really good about being still/wrangle-able while being shorn, but those who were running around were definitely rambunctious. They had two sets of horns each, which means that they were like Jacob Sheep. Did you know that the state of having multiple horns is termed polycerate? I did not, either. I actually thought these looked like goats at first, but they are in fact sheep. While they were running around I thought of Susan‘s dog Wixer, who I’m sure would have loved to have herded them.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014After the shearing, some kids transported the wool over to these women, who were cleaning and preparing the wool to be sold.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

This woman was using an old-fashioned wool table, threaded with twine, to tie each fleece into a square bale. Here it is folded up, as she pulls the twine from each side and fastens it.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

The wool table then unfolds and you have a twine-fastened bale of fleece! Pretty neat.

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

They also had some cute angora rabbits for sale, for any enterprising folks who want to raise and harvest their own angora fiber. (I am sadly somewhat allergic to angora, so that will not be me. Also I think Coraline would rebel at the idea of having a bunny share her territory, probably in with horrific results.)

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

Another of the other types of creatures at the orchard were peacocks. It was, as you can see, a gorgeous clear day, though in the morning the wind made it slightly chilly. These peacocks were crowing like mad!

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014

Perhaps they were upset that so many people were wandering through their home? These two were perched above the wallaby enclosure. The wallabies were pretty cute, but there was one who was just laying on the ground looking either sleepy or sick. His fur seemed slightly different, so I thought it might have been the latter, which made me sad. All of these animals being kept in pens for entertainment was a little bit sad, actually. There was also a zebra, a dromedary, a camel, some emus, reindeer, and some other things I’m forgetting. I wonder if they have to spend all winter in a barn?

Fiber to Farm Show, Anderson & Girls Orchards, Stanton MI 5/10/2014The proprietors of the orchard had a bridge on which the goats might tromp, and tromp they did, though there were no trolls that I could see. It was a nice morning, and there were also a bunch of local fiber and supply vendors there (I need to find out if there’s a list available as I didn’t get cards from everyone). Overall, it was surprising, educational, and thought-provoking – who could ask for more from a morning out?

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FO Friday: Leg Warmer Wrap

Spring is finally starting to show its face and that inspired me to use some yarn with a light, fresh color palette. This colorway is called Leg Warmer, true to the popular colors of the 1980s.

Leg Warmer Scarf #knitting #scarf

I wanted to make a light wrap that would be something my lovely sister Susan can use when a summer evening just starts to get a little chilly, but you don’t really want anything heavy. The Desert Springtime pattern by Eric Plummer was a perfect fit! It was super easy to memorize the pattern and this piece was pretty easy and quick to knit up.

Leg Warmer Scarf #knitting #scarf

Susan and her husband have a pool and often entertain outside, so this seemed like it would be a useful piece to have in her wardrobe. She’s also a fan of the ’80s, so I thought she’d like the colorway.

Leg Warmer Scarf #knitting #scarf

I’m quite pleased with how this stitch pattern works with this yarn. I used a size 7 needle, which is pretty large for a fingering weight yarn, but I think it works really well to show off the zigzags. The colors wander in a non-systematic way, which makes a nice contrast with the very uniform lines of the stitch pattern.

Leg Warmer Scarf #knitting #scarf

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FO Friday: dishie washie

My sister’s birthday was earlier this spring. I decided that I wanted to make her something useful but attractive and settled on some dishcloths. They can really be used for almost anything around the house – doing dishes, dusting, as a washcloth, or whatever other cleaning-type task you have on hand. I use one under the bottle of laundry detergent to catch any errant drips! (Apologies for crummy phone photos of these – I didn’t bother to block the cloths and I was in a hurry when photographing them so the focus is pretty lame, too.)

Cloth

I made three cloths: the Twisted Columns Cloth, the Waves Cloth, and the Almost Lost Cloth.

Cloth

Susan’s favorite is the Almost Lost Cloth. It is a neat star shape, formed by short rows as you work your way around. I really like this one, too. It reminds me of a flower blossom.

ClothI think that my favorite is the Waves Dishcloth. This pattern is one that works really well with variegated yarns – it will turn out differently each time, and seeing the pattern reveal itself is really fun for me. This stitch pattern is also really useful for cleaning stuck-on food from dishes and cookware. The knobbles are just right for getting things to work loose. I have plans to make more of these for myself, too! We have a number of them already, but I have more Dishie burning a hole in my stash and you can never have too many dishcloths. What is your favorite pattern?

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