Monday, January 31, 2011

Inspiration for My 13th Day

A Sweater Purse in the Making

Yesterday I found myself at the local bookstore and couldn't help but look to see if there were any books to give me ideas for new projects. In fact I found two! One of them, Sweater Surgery: How to Make New Things with Old Sweaters by Stefanie Girard was the inspiration for today. The book has many patterns to make everything from hats to stuffed animals, and it has several  purses in the mix. One of the purses, called "Gathering-Up-the-Goodies" Bag was what brought me to starting my purse. Though I like to have a pattern to start with, I end up almost always changing something. This is no different.

The beginnings of my purse:
Soft cocoa-brown sweater.

Here's the label:
94% Lambswool, 5% Nylon, 1% Spandex
It is soooo very soft.

Here was the hard part: making the first cut. I had to  hold my breath.
You can see the "incision" line--the white chalk marks.
This does feel like surgery!

Very hard to make that cut, but here it is. I succeeded.

Another cut. They say it gets easier, but not so far :-/

Removing the sleeve from the body of the sweater.

The sleeve cut into one long strip for the handle of the purse.

This is the experiment of the project. Since I didn't like the way the pattern indicated to put in the curtain grommets I am testing a slit reinforced with a bound-buttonhole using the ribbed portion of a pink felted sweater. This is the reverse side.

This is the front. Very classy I think.

Here I have stitched the bottom seam of the purse. (The section that I cut first.)
Now I'm using my sewing machine. Time to branch out from hand sewing.

I have spent several hours on this, and now I must put it to bed for the night. More to do tomorrow. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Twelve Days and Counting: 12/365

Morphing Again

Today marked a very good crafting day. The needle book that I was planning and which got too thick for it's own good magically transformed into something new. It now became the pincushion which I believe I had thought about at the end of yesterday's labors. The thoughts of what to do with my Too Fat Needle Book had been percolating in my mind since last night, and I guess that it proved fruitful because today when I began my project again it almost created itself. The brilliant (again, my word!) idea had edged itself into today's work while I slept. 

It did, in fact, become a pincushion. A design I had never thought of or seen before, but I love it and it was really quite easy to do. Just the idea part took the longest to determine.

Ingredients For This Project:

1 small section, red sweater
1 small section, white sweater
1 small section, gray sweater
Pink embroidery thread
Pink 1/8" wide ribbon
Ribbon Needle

All hearts gathered together.
(Pink heart is the paper pattern.)

Hearts sandwiched together.
Sorry about the fuzziness! (Picture quality, not sweater softness...sweater fuzziness is a good thing.)

Now the white hearts no longer have pills.
They wanted to pose with the "Lint Eater".

Stitching together the layers.

I was planning to stuff the pincushion rather than use the layers, but the extra hearts gave it the body it needed and that seemed just right. Also didn't want to enclose them, so the open-side design was born.

The finished product...just a few stitches to secure the hearts.  The long threads may need to be trimmed. I put the ribbon at the top with a loop to hang it when not in use. A pincushion art piece!


Here's the back. Why is that last gray heart flapping open?
Well, I couldn't help myself. I sneaked in a secret needle pocket.

Bottom view with last heart closed...

...but now I can put my needles and a few decorative pins inside.
I'm happy.

And here, the finished front with some "starter" pins.

I am happy to have completed this project!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 11: Starting Another Project

Some Organizing...and On To Cutting Out Some Hearts

Today I moved some more of my sweaters around so I could actually think about beginning another project. Last night I got hooked on the computer googling felted sweater projects. Even though I have more than enough ideas of my own, I couldn't help but get sucked into the tractor beam of just one more idea...then another...then another! It's what happens sometimes. Especially in the early hours of whatever the next day is. In my case it went on until 1:20 this morning. Tired when I woke up today, but soooooo happy that I had so much fun with one of my best friends: Google.

Getting back to the matter at hand...
I decided that I would make a needle book--one of those things designed to hold hand-stitching needles of various sizes so that when you want one you can find it! I have others that I love, but one made of felted sweater pieces seems like a great idea. I was even thinking of having each "page" of the needle book for a different size needle so they could ultimately be wonderfully categorized. So far I'm not sure how to label the pages for this, but perhaps something will come to me.

Here you have my pink paper pattern and the cut out heart from the fabric sweater piece:

First piece as a pattern to cut out the second...much easier than using the paper pattern.

This needs a little attention, as the sweater is full of pills. You can't really see them in this photo, but those dark shadowy dots are the pills. Now I will get a chance to try my new sweater shaver to make a nice, smooth heart.

I hate to tell you this, but I may have to fire my assistant. He is no longer helping, and he is being a big deterrent by grabbing and biting my hearts. But he is so cute! Maybe I can just give him a warning for now. Here is the action shot of him.

Here are the pieces that I have cut. The problem is that the thickness of these is going to make it difficult to "bind" them together as a book. 

The four pieces are already an inch thick. And I wanted to have more pages. This may have to morph into something else. I'm thinking a pincushion instead. There will be more on this subject tomorrow. The saga continues!

Now I guess I don't have to worry about the labeling of the pages in the needle book!

One of my friends made a nice comment about my blog and I wanted to acknowledge it here. She said that my writing sounds like I am sitting down with a friend just having a cup of tea and having a happy conversation. Very sweet, thank you. You know who you are :-]

It looks like I am going to succeed in my latest goal (to start writing earlier in the evening), at least for today! I'm not racing with the clock this time. No Cinderella am I at the stroke of midnight standing in my rags with a pumpkin at my feet and little mice running around. A good thing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Day: This is 10/365!

Today I spent my Sweater Project time doing some organizing of my stuff. It is very important to have things in order so that one can see it, look at it, and ponder new ideas. My brain likes to pull things in and stir them around. That's why I am sharing with you my less-than-completely-organized space.

Some photos will be worth many thousand? I'm not sure. But they do help.

Sweaters waiting patiently.

The striped sweaters in this photo are neatly stacked on the shelf.
This is my goal--to have them out so I can see them.

My stack of solid colors.

If you look carefully you can see the yellow and pink plaid skirts from yesterday's blog snuggled into the mix of sweaters. They all get along quite nicely.

And more hanging, patient sweaters.

My able assistant getting ready to pounce on the white tie on the pillow!

I was able to get some organizing done today. About an hour and a half to clear some shelf space, fold some sweaters, and hang the rest on hangers to keep them neat and tidy. It's all part of the process.

Future projects are just lurking around in all this beautiful, knitted glory! 

Thanks for keeping up with me. I appreciate your support for my new adventure.

Note: Yesterday's blog ended up being date-stamped by Blogger as of 12:00 am January 28, 2011. I was racing with the clock to complete it, but didn't quite make it. Missed by only ONE MINUTE. It was really January 27, Thursday, just for the record. I wanted to let you know why there are 2 blogs for today's date. I must start earlier to write, it's one more goal I am imposing on myself :-/. I am a night owl, so this may be difficult for me.

I wish you a happy weekend. 
See you Saturday!

Day 9: Change in Plans!

I am finding that I need to change the "rules", if you want to call it that, of my project parameters. With the creations I have made so far I am happy, though I want to expand my skills. The time I have in a day of 24 hours is limited, as I have other parts of my life to attend to, and need to include that in my overall schedule. Originally I had wanted to limit the daily time frame to approximately one hour. An hour is not really enough for me to create a more complex item such as a stuffed animal, purse, or any number of things that are out there in my brain waiting for the right moment.

Because of this I have decided to revamp the way I will define my 365-Day Project Adventure. These are the New Rules:


1. Work at a project each and every day.
2. Make sure that it is significant enough to count for that day.
3. Include all the facets of the project, not just the "putting together" part.

It is important to me that you know what all the aspects are of making something from lovely felted sweaters. Thus I will now let you in on the behind-the-scenes of sweater lurking, foraging, finding, bringing home, recording, storing, and FINALLY, felting. All those details are so important. It's not just about the making!

Now, in fact, I will start you on this journey, as today I was foraging. (My word.) 

The first thing one must do to have something in hand to work with is to find sweaters that are of the quality and content to use. My small journey today was visiting one of the thrift stores that I frequent to find some supplies. I purchased several sweaters and 2 skirts...

Great light yellow skirt. Not a sweater, you are right, but this could become a nice lining for  a purse or pouch, or give some contrast to a little mouse or snake!

Close-up detail of the buttons and very neat blanket stitch on the flap side of this wrap skirt.  These areas may be used intact so as not to waste nice detailing.

A pink plaid skirt. Soft and nice feel. A complement to  a  felted item.

Detail of pocket and button.

A green sweater, 81% Merino wool. The label says "Fine Italian Merino".
It has a simple knit with ribbing at neck, cuffs, and waist.

This sweater had no label, so I'm not sure what I'm getting into here. For felting, a sweater needs to have at least 80% wool, mohair, lambswool, cashmere or angora...animal fibers.
I will take my chances and see what happens. Experimenting is part of the joy.

No label on this one either. My fingers tell me that it may have some cashmere in it, so I will  take my chances with this one, too. It is so very soft.

This is what I meant when I said "recording" in my above notes.  I write a description of each of the items I buy, with details about the color, texture, label, fabric content. I spend quite a bit of time so that I have a thorough record of my inventory.

This is what I spent my today doing. Way more than my designated hour, but definitely part of the whole package. I enjoy this aspect of it as well as the creating of a pattern and cutting out the pieces for stitching. It's all good!

Hope you join me tomorrow for whatever that brings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Magic Mouse: Day 8

A New Project Once Again!

How about mice? They seem a good subject for today.
And since I am on a gray kick, it does appear to be appropriate and possibly necessary to keep up my addiction with this color.

Speaking of Magic Mouse, I am not referring to today's project, and was not trying to mislead you in any way, though in reality I am doing so. For Christmas my family, my 2 sons and my Daughter-In-Law, gave me a MOUSE.
It isn't gray.
 It isn't soft.
It isn't cute with sparkly eyes and a pink nose.
It isn't looking for cheese...
and I'm glad because it is my new Apple Computer Magic Mouse!
It is wireless.
It is sleek.
It is creamy white with the Apple logo.
It is very high-tech: that silvery matte finish on the underside.

I really needed it.
The last one, the non-wireless variety was on it's last legs, barely able to scroll down, let alone scroll right, left or whatever direction. The poor thing needed to be put down. So very sad.

But now I have the new one. I am working at getting to understand how to use it. Just opened the package today with time to read instructions...but not every word!! Those things are so difficult to understand. The best way is to play with it and see what happens...
just like doing these Sweater Projects. (I'm trying to get back to my focus here. Forgive me for going out on one of my tangents, but I am so happy to have Computer Mouse.)

Thank you Family :-]
I love you!

Happy Magic Mouse just out of it's box.

OK, OK I'll get back to the project at hand. I didn't really take you on a wild goose chase because my project for today was a Sweater Mouse.

Far Left: paper pattern piece.
Middle 3 Teardrops: cut sweater pieces.
Long Gray Piece: sweater seam to be used for tail.

Photo's a little fuzzy, but you can see the stuffing before I close the seam.
I think his ears are his most endearing part...I almost forgot to give them to him!

Computer Mouse and Sweater Mouse getting to know each other.

Thank you for indulging me today with my small bit of sidetracking. Happy computering, and I hope you have a fully functioning high-tech mouse to keep your keyboard warm and cozy.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 7: Another Day...thinking about another snake!


Just couldn't get the idea of another snake out of my mind, so I conjured up another one using a long rectangle for a pattern. The idea was to make a spiral snake, making a triangle fold at one end of the rectangle, then turning the fabric on itself and stitching it around to the upcoming edge. Hard to explain, but it did work. 

Before doing anything else I decided it was time to do some seed bead details and made a long line of black beads along the full length of the strip. A great start--looking good!

Then I proceeded to wind the fabric around on itself and make ladder stitches along the spiral. As I moved along, the "snake" kept getting bigger around and not as long as I had wanted. It ended up looking more like a prehistoric fish, and what a mouth on this fellow. (You will see in the photo what I mean.) Since the snake changed magically into the fish, it needed some eye detail, so more seed beads were the answer...some light blue opaque ones that gave the little guy some character and personality.

Here are the photos:

My kitten helping out. He loves sweaters, too!
The white strip is my pattern piece lying on the greeny-brown sweater that I used.

The final product. He makes me laugh every time I look at him.
You may agree with me that he looks very much like an Icthyosaurus.

I know this photo is dark, but look down that huge gullet...
it would have been too scary to have the full-sunlight view!

This project was fun, being that the idea started out as one thing and changed into another on it's own!
The joy of creating things is that they become what they are meant to be.

I am enjoying my little spurts of laughing when I look at FISH. We need more laughter in our lives :-]

This creation was one of fun and fancy.
I hope that more of my projects have surprises for me.

Happy Days to You.

More tomorrow, see you then.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Changing Gears: Day 6

A Happy Monday to All!

Sweater project for today has morphed into making a cute little snake.
I think stuffed snakes--the fabric variety--are most endearing. And what a great idea for my sixth project!

My snake is very short and diminutive, being 15" total length including his red tongue. He is made from a soft sweater piece, actually the same one from which heart #1 was created. (I love that gray!)

The pattern, if you want to call it that, is a long triangle that I then stitched with black embroidery floss to give him a little interest. He is not stuffed because he told me he was hungry and I wanted to give him some space for whatever he decided to munch.

His eyes are French knots, and in the photos they almost gleam. He is trying to look awesome and intimidating even with his small size, though he is not in any way a poisonous variety.  You can see if you think he accomplished his goal!

Ready to spring!
Oh, those beady eyes.

Stretched out after a good meal.

Whip-stitched underside.
He was a little embarrassed, so didn't want his face to show :-/

The great red tongue. 
Notebook paper as perspective.
He is just hanging out with me here, pretty relaxed!

I'm having such a good time with my 365 ! It is stretching my brain and helping me to really get out there and do something instead of just thinking about it.

I would highly recommend this to you, whether you are a writer, craftsperson, graphic artist, engineer...or just thinking about getting in touch with your creativity.