Monday, January 28, 2008

...finishing The Bunny

After about a week of fiddling with my folders and pictures, and all of that, plus some help from my hubby, I was able to reinstall iPhoto, and everything seems to be back to normal. I think I understand a bit more what I did, and how not to do it again - or at least how to fix it if it does happen again!

I have also finished all but one of my knitting UFO's! I sent off the ruffles scarf to Donna today, - I did forget to take a finished picture of it - I'm getting worse at that, so a partial will have to do.

I also finished the sweater for my niece, and it is on it's way! Hopefully it will fit - at least for a little while. It looked so small as I packed it up. I rearranged the buttons, so the small green one is on the inside of the right collar. That way you can leave both sides down and see the cute button, and I don't think it'll ever be buttoned all the way up.

I've found another great pattern I want to knit for her - some cute Ugg-style boots, and I'm going to try to get them done before my brother comes into town for a wedding in Feb.

The new job seems to be going well. I like the people I'm working with, it's a pretty relaxed atmosphere, and although it's not what I thought I'd be doing, it has potential. So, for now, I'm learning as much as I can and I'll see where it takes me. Sometimes I think you just have to take what you're handed and make the best of it. Plus it's going to leave me some time to do other things that I've been thinking a lot about. I've been wanting to 'give back' and 'share my talents' and was trying to figure out the best way. I think I've found an organization that I'd like to connect with to hopefully volunteer to teach knitting or crocheting lessons, or something of the like. I don't have all the details yet, but first comes the idea, then it's just a matter of putting it into motion eh?

Last week, I got to talk to my friends in Chicago via skype. It's so cool. It's a live video chat over the computer. I used it before to talk to Mike when he was here and I was in Charleston, and to my friends in NZ. My Chicago pals didn't have a camera, but since I did, they put me up on a chair and all gathered around for a picture - it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! I was able to show them what I was working on and we visited some great sites and talked - it was almost like being there!

And now, back to the saga of The Bunny...

~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~

When I finished writing about my dilemma, I started packing up all the pieces of fabric that I had pieced together so far, and all the other things I might need if I was going to attempt to do anything with this mess that I had. As I did, I tried to sort out what exactly I had, and what more I would need to do.

I had one 12" X 12" square that was big enough for a small baby quilt.

I had a handful of strips that fit about 1/2 of the pattern pieces for the bunny, if put together ...just so.

I had two templates, one bunny and one bear pre-cut and marked.

I came up with a third option. If I took the body parts of the bear, and re-scaled the bunny, I would only need 2 more 'strips' of fabric (about 2 x 8 squares long) to have enough to make the animal! I went to be completely exhausted, but feeling much better about the project.

In Louisville, my MIL was sick so she was only able to offer her wise advice (make the quilt instead) and the use of her sewing machine. I took only half of what she offered, and set up camp in her sewing room. I even used the floor to feel more at home.

I found that it really helps to have the right tools. Once I sat down at her machine - everything went so much quicker! With a push of a button, the machine backstitched on itself! I could zig-zag any edge that was coming unraveled, and the material just flowed through almost by itself. I almost cried with relief.

I used my dad's old shirt for the inside of the ears, even managing to catch the logo on the tip:

For the pads of the feet and hands, I used an old cloth napkin that was just the right color.

Here are all the pieces before they were stuffed. In these shots, it really looks more like a bear than a bunny. I ended up having to do some modifications by hand on the body to make it look right, and Mike helped me scale down the head.

I embroidered the nose, and added some whiskers and safety eyes. Here's the head all put together. I love the way the ears tilt out just a bit.

I finished all the machine sewing the day before I left for San Francisco, stuffed as much as I could and packed a needle and some thread.

When I got to San Fran, I had a couple of days before Carlo and his family showed up, and I sewed my little fingers to the bone sewing up the openings for stuffing. It wasn't the best hand-sewing job ever, but I got better every limb.

Once I had all the pieces sewn up, I realized that the bear body had a weird shape for the little bunny head. It looked a little, well, how to say this... hunchbacked - and hunched-fronted. So I ended up having to do some 're-constructive surgery' on the body and sew it up again. All was well, and it was finished and packed for Christmas morning:

That's me, Gabriella's dad (aka my brother Carlo) and The Bunny.

Now, only 2 more to go for Alex and Stefan ... hmm.. maybe I should just knit them something instead eh?

~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~

Saturday, January 19, 2008

...making The Bunny

I've noticed that some of the pictures on the other pages weren't showing up right. I don't know if my iPhoto issues have anything to do with it, so I just re-uploaded some of them. I still haven't re-installed iPhoto because I'm a little scared, but I do have a backup now, so the plan is to do that tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here are some pictures and a bit of my process in making The Bunny.

First, the basic background: it all started with the grand idea - making a stuffed animal for my new niece out of my mom and dad's old clothes. I sorted through the clothes and put them together in different color combos, and then did some testing of my sewing skills on some scrap fabrics just to get the hang of things. This was going pretty well, and I wasn't too worried, so the project got put aside for other things such as, the sewing machine breaking, family visits, work on the giraffe, and of course moving. But I figured I still had plenty of time. That was in September.

Fast forward to two weeks before Christmas. I had finally decided on the pink fabrics, and that I wanted to make a bunny instead of a bear. I had practiced using the bear pattern, and although I had already cut out all of the template for it, I had found a really cute bunny pattern and figured it wouldn't be much different. So I cut out all the bunny templates too. Now I've done all the prep, all I have to do is put it together right? That's when I began to figure out that I needed to prioritize.

The machine was working, but things were taking longer than I thought. I was struggling with simple things like not having a very large cutting mat, or thread tension (maybe it wasn't completely fixed) and making sure the ends weren't going to unravel - which meant turning every square around to double back on what I had just sewn. Working on the floor wasn't helping - but I did manage to be innovative and turn the weight bench into a ironing board! I actually liked that it was closer to the floor, that way I didn't have to stand up every time I needed to press a seam open - which when working with 2.5" x 2.5" squares can be quite a bit.

My first plans were to make one large piece of patchwork fabric out of squares and then cut all the bunny template pieces out of that. Heres a picture of the largest piece of fabric I finished that took me at least 3 or 4 days before I got a little smarter:
For all you non-quilters out there - that's about a 12" by 12" piece of fabric. Yup. That's right. One foot of fabric for 3-4 days of work. Hrmmm. Maybe I needed to re think this.

I realized that I didn't need to keep making one big piece of fabric, but I could just sew enough squares and strips together to be big enough for each pattern piece! So a 2X5 strip for each arm, a couple of 4X7 strips for the body...and so on. I was super excited, and started piecing them all together.

I'm not sure what really takes longer, piecing together a lot of small squares, one and two at a time, or trying to create one big piece of fabric by making a long strip and then another, and then placing them around the square you already have. Like I've mentioned before - not a quilter. so I'm not really sure - to this day - what the most economical practices are.

But I decided on the strips and went from there. At this point, I don't have a lot of time to try new things. We was leaving on the 16th to drive to KY to see Mike's parents. Then we were flying out on the 18th to San Francisco to see all my brothers. I knew I had to get as much done as I could before I left. Here's where things started to fall apart a bit. This is a post I wrote the night before we left SC that I didn't have time to post. I was spending every minute I could on the machine.

Dec. 15th

I think I may have to admit defeat on the patchwork bunny. I really thought I was going along pretty well. Then I sat back and evaluated. Not anywhere near where I thought I was. Part of it was I just didn’t start in time, which was in part due to my indecision on how to go about doing it. I was so worried about messing up and using up all the fabric that I didn’t want to start, in case I figured out a better way to do things. Then there was finding the right bunny pattern. It turns out that the bunny pattern is much much bigger than the bear pattern - which means I need more fabric.. Now I think I’ve just plain run out of time. This took much longer than I expected. I’m going to pack it all up and take it to my MIL’s and see if she can help me. Hopefully she can, or can at least tell me if it’s a lost cause.

I think I have 2 options at this point.

Option 1 is just to take the quilted material I have now, back it and bind it and just give her a quilt. It’s not a bad option, and actually what I had originally planned. And then I could always finish the bunny later (if I had the energy).

Option 2 is to make this an ‘Easter Bunny’ rather than a ‘Christmas Bunny’. But part of this gift was I really wanted all my brothers to see the finished object, and we won’t all be getting together for another 2 years as far as I know, and my other brother may have a child by that point!

I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided a stuffed animal would be easier than a quilt. Um.. You have to pretty much make a quilt first to have the fabric to make the animal... shows how little I knew when I started the project. Live and learn I guess. And I do have 4 more batches of clothing to do better the next time. Ha. Next time. Right Alex, Stefan, if you have kids -they just might not get one at this point.

~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~

I Probably should also mention that I've been working on knitting a pair of fetchings for my SIL and wanted to make a pair of dashings for my brother in my "down time". Down time being when it got too dark or my eyes/hands/back hurt too much from working on the sewing machine. but, it seems I was having some problems with these too...

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As far as the fetchings go... I started with the teal Lambs Pride – fine. Nice detail, I love how soft and smooshy they are. The color is beautiful and I think Amy will really like them.

Nope.Ran out of yarn just as I finished the first one!

Ok. Not a problem, I’ll trim this one and do the second one in this lime green, which I'm pretty sure is Lambs Pride.

Working on this a day later, using the same needles and ...yup... realize I've run out of yarn again.

I only have enough for one - which wouldn't be a problem except for the
other slight problem – waaay different gauge! yet same yarn? How does that happen?

So scrapped that idea.

OK. Go buy the right amount of yarn.

Start with two balls of this yarn in a dark blue – love this stuff. I've worked with it before and with two balls I know I have enough.

Work with it for cable or two and decide it’s too dark - you won’t be able to see the cables and I scrap again.

Okay. Something doesn’t want me working on this right now so... refocus on making a pair of dashings for Alex instead. I have some nice yarn in a dark gray. Thinking - let’s be smart and swatch first! Swatched 3-4 different times, including trying with the yarn doubled, because I wasn’t liking how thin they were. Not sure I liked the thickness if I doubled them. *sigh* forget it. Too much trouble, and I just didn't have the time.

Finally, I decided to suck it up and buy the actual yarn designated for the project and see where it lead me. I bought a beautiful ball in an olive green, and I’m really going to try to get it right this time. Or maybe I just need to make a hat. Yeah, a hat sounds good.

Off to bed to rest my weary legs and back from crouching at the sewing machine for so long. This is a labor of love Christmas for sure.

~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~

The next morning, I packed everything up and drove to KY, and I did manage to finish one of the fetchings on the drive there. At least one project was going well.

The rest of the tale will have to wait. I've had enough of looking at a computer today. Tomorrow - 'sewing in Kentucky' and other adventures of The Bunny!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

writing another resolution or 2

Ok, as I was typing out and editing my last post, I came up with some more resolutions goals for the new year. I heard someone else speak of them as goals, and I really liked that idea. So here are a couple more:

My goal for 2008 is ... to have the 1st sentence of every post work with 'find katerina...'

If part of my goal of this blog is to help others 'find' me and find out what I'm doing, this will help me focus the info on here. It reminds me of a facilitator 'trick', where you tell your group, or specific people in the group that they have to use "I need" statements whenever they talked to someone else. It's harder than you think. Try it sometime. "I need to make sure I'm not going off on a tangent. I need you to bear with me if I do."

My goal for 2008 is... to be more crafty. Try some new things, and share some with others.

As anyone who knows me knows, I'm addicted to podcasts. And I've just found a few more video podcasts that I really enjoy and that make me want to make great stuff! So I'm going to try to be more creative and try things. I'd also like to pass that craftiness along to some other people, so I'm working on some places to volunteer to teach the things that I do know to some other people.

Ok, to share some info with you guys, here are some of those video and podcast that I really like and why:

A more recent one that I'm now addicted to is Threadbangers. It's a DIY sewing videocast with ideas that are great and pretty feasible. Every time I see a new episode I get inspired and want to try it out. Unfortunately, as I've learned from making the bunny, some things are going to have to wait, as my old singer won't be able to handle the job. But that's ok for now. It'll keep me from biting off more than I can chew.

Another videocast I just found is Knittterati - it's super cute and has some good links and ideas, and is well done. She has 3 episodes up, but I'm looking forward to more.

My old school favorite, and first video-cast is Let's Knit2ogether. Cat is the host and her husband does the video editing, and it's really professionally done. She gives tutorials and tips and tricks and shows you what her experience is, which is great for the visual learner.

For crafty podcasts we have:

The podcast that got me started on my addiction: Cast-On with Brenda Dayne. It's a philosophy/philosophical knitting podcast, and she does a nice job of pulling the two together. It's the type of podcast you can go back and listen to again and again.

One of my all time favorites, Craftlit. She talks a bit about what's going on in her wold and then reviews the chapters of a book that you then listen to. She's a former English professor and has some great insight on the stories. She only does books in the public domain so she can use Librivox for the chapters. Oh, and did I mention I also love her voice- shhh!.

Craftcast with Allison Lee. She's really uplifting and motivating and interviews all sorts of wonderful people in the crafting world.

I'm pretty entertained by the new CRL one from Vickie Howell too. I was a little nervous, thinking it would be too.. commercial or something, but it's very ... organic and laid back. Good info and great interviews there too.

Now, honestly, I listen to and enjoy quite a few more, but I think this will do for now, and I'll put some of my other faves under my "i like to listen to" or my "they entertain me" lists. Give a listen to one or two and let me know what you think!

Friday, January 11, 2008

find ... me an umbrella

because when it rains it pours!

The good luck fairies have sprinkled their fairy dust on me or maybe mom and dad have put in a good word for me, because I've definitely been counting my blessings lately.

Why? You might ask? well...

I just got a job!!!! Whoo-hoo! Well, a temp-to-hire job, but it's a job nonetheless. I start on Monday with a company not to far away (Mt. Pleasant). It’s such a relief to have something. Now I know this might not be it, but at least it can get me on my way. Work begets work in my mind. And if it doesn’t work out, then it’s one more thing I can cross off my list of things I thought I wanted to do.

A few hours after I got the message about this position, I got a call about another one - this one just a temp job for a couple of weeks. And the next day, guess what happend? You got it - another offer for a third job! Yeah for me! Now the other two weren't really what I was looking for, but still. it feels nice to be wanted sometimes.

The thing was, earlier this week, I had just talked to my friend Rachel who always is so supportive, and she said – "I just know something is going to come along for you." And she was right. Sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else.

On another note, I just have to say, I married a nerd. In a good way. Mike got his grades, and found out he got a 4.0 for his first semester at school. I guess all the toiling and work while I was in Chicago paid off. I hope now that I'm here I won't be a distraction for him.

Lately, I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of friends and it’s been really nice. Some of these folks I haven't talked with in a few years, and others just since I left Chicago. While talking to two different friends, the topic of "if I could start my own company, it would be..." came up. Now this is an idea I talk with Mike about every now and then, and he always says go for it, but it never really seems feasible. While talking to my friend Abby, she gave me an assignment - to write out a mission statement - just one page, of what the company would be like. I like that idea. Putting it down on paper makes it more real and possible. Now isn’t the time to start a new company, but there's no harm in putting ideas down. So I'm going to try to get that out to her this week.

I thought pictures were going to have to wait again because my iPhoto is acting up and won’t load any pictures on my computer. It'll open, but it sits loading for hours and won't do anything else. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m going to try rebuilding it as soon as Mike shows me how to backup the pictures I have. They’re there. They're on my computer, iPhoto just won’t read them. But I was able to find and upload them so here's a few pictures of my FO's of late, and I'll do another post all about the whole bunny process later.

Here's the Hannah hat I was working on. Although I thought I had gage, it came out a bit shorter than the picture looked, so I added some extra rows around the opening. The color matches more of what's on my head than the other picture.

The lone fetching is on it's way, and the foliage hat is going to be bound off and it's done. It's nice to be finishing things up and clearing the way for new projects.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

find... my resolutions

I just wanted to say...

Happy Birthday to Mike!!

He's 33, a "record" year as my friend Kristin told him. Hee hee. Record year. It took me a minute to get that. :) Happy birthday honey!

This week I got my new SC license. I think this is the first time my picture hasn't looked the same since .. since the first time I got a license! I don't know if it's the short hair or if I'm finally beginning to look my age. It was nice not to look 16 though.

New Year Reso-ideas

Lately, I've been debating on whether or not to put down my new years resolutions on the blog. Part of it stems from there being so many ideas in my head, it's hard to sort them out into individual resolutions. Hard to define. The other part is that I feel like resolutions are something a bit more personal than I want to put out into the stratosphere. Yet, it's nice to have some backing from others to help you keep your resolutions, and they say that when you put something down on paper, you're more likely to accomplish it. So here are just a couple that are top on my list:

I resolve to take care of my UFO's.

Now this mainly concerns my knitting/crocheting projects, but I mean all the little projects I've started, with the best intentions, and haven't gotten to or haven't finished. And by saying I'm going to 'take care of them', that doesn't always mean they have to be completely finished, just followed through on. Sometimes it is a finishing up of things.( i.e. my SIL's 2nd fetching. It's done. Now I just need to mail it off to her.) Oh yeah - pictures:
Some other knitting UFO's:

* Gabriella's sweater - I'm determined to finish it tonight - otherwise it won't fit her by the time it gets there.
* The bonnet - all I have left is to seam this up, and since Mike got me this book for Christmas, I now have no excuse.
* The Hannah hat - needs buttons, I'm going to look tomorrow.
* The Foliage hat - decide what to do with it or rip it. It's supposed to look like this and really looks like this. Waay to big.
* The ruffles scarf - get the yarn and get on it!

Some non knitting UFO's which goes with my next resolution:

* My job search papers/notes/magazines etc.
* My craft projects in general - the room, the materials etc.

I resolve to put things away when I'm done, and keep them in their place as much as possible. In other words - get organized.

This is a bit more difficult, as I don't have a place for a lot of things I use on a regular basis. Most of our furniture, including all of our tables and my desk are still in Chicago, so I don't have a proper place to put things. I was using a laundry basket to organize my paperwork, but yesterday M and I bought a filing tub that should make things a bit more organized. As I've said before, I'll be so happy when the house sells for more than just financial reasons.

I resolve to drink more water and to get out of the house more.

I know this is just going to make me feel better and get me more motivated. I know it's pretty generic, but I'm spending most of my time in front of the computer with the job search, and I need to get out more. I feel so much better when I get some sort of physical movement in my day, working out, or whatever. I also know that once a get a job this will be much easier.

I resolve to keep up on my blogging more.

I started this blog as a way to put down some notes and words on my experiences and as a way for all the great people I've met as we've moved, to have a chance to keep up with me and what's going on. As nice as it is to have a place to put down my thoughts (however censored they may be) there are times I don't blog because I feel I can't put down my words as eloquently as I would like. Or I miss an opportunity to say what I wanted to say because things change so quickly. I'm going to try to keep that from holding me back.

I resolve to get a job.

This is something I've resolved to do since Mike got into school, but it's always good to put it down on paper right? A new year brings about new opportunities that are to be embraced!

That's it for the resolutions, or it for what I'm going to broadcast. In other updates, Mike's mom was in and out of the ER again. Hopefully it's just a simple infection, but I'm keeping her in my prayers so that she might recover quickly. We're hoping when the house sells we'll get to stop by again. Keeping our fingers crossed in the meantime.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Continuing Holiday update

Good news! Mike's mom is home and doing well, and we're home and doing well! It really feels nice not to have any plans to do anything. I know I just got off of a 10+ day vacation, but between the driving, the running around, family plans, the parties, the illnesses, and just being with family for that long, we were a bit overwhelmed.

Here's a bit of the calendar of events we were participating in once we actually got to San Fransisco:

Dec. 18th Katerina and Mike arrive.
Dec. 19th Stefan arrives
Dec. 20th Compass Christmas Party
Dec. 21-22ish wine country trip
Dec. 22nd C,K,G arrive
Dec. 23rd am last chance shopping
pm Alex & Amy's Holiday Bash
Dec. 24th am 1/2 Moon Bay Trip
pm 7 fish feast
Dec. 25th am Xmas
pm Xmas Dinner
Dec. 26th am Gumps mission impossible
pm Shabu Shabu
Dec. 27th WCC
Dec. 28th Kat & Mike Depart, Stefan Departs
Dec. 29th Tomales Bay Trip if nice?
Dec. 30th C,K,G Depart

And it went something like that, with some added time for Mike to go 'sightseeing' and take some pictures of some really cool plaster ceilings (check out his website for more pictures and an idea of what he's doing), a drive to the coolest grocery store ever, a trip to my brother's kitchen and of course, many errands, car-switchings and pickups and drop offs. I forgot to mention, that's 8 people, 2 cars traveling daily between 3 different 'residences' for the week.

We did make it to wine country, and headed off to Dry Creek Valley, and hit 4-5 (or was it 6-7) different wineries. Mike and I restrained ourselves and only picked up 3 bottles of wine, one at each we really liked. My favorite was definitely the Mounts Family Winery, I really enjoyed all the wine I tried, and the owners and surroundings were wonderful. The other 2 we choose were also the most entertaining - the Teldeschi Winery where we met Dan Teldeschi and the Raymond Burr Vineyard for it's atmosphere and warm welcome. We're going to have to wait to drink our finds as we couldn't fit them into our suitcases after all the other Christmas booty, so we're having them shipped.

The 7 fish feast is a tradition in our family to have 7 different fish on Christmas Eve. We've adapted it a bit to include shellfish as well and ended up with a dinner of anchovies (in the Cesar salad), fresh crab, mussels, clams and oysters on the half shell - all picked up at 1/2 moon bay that morning, ahi tuna and shrimp. It was delicious.

In fact all the food was. We unknowingly did kind of an around the world eating fest while there - we started with Mexican as we got off the plane at midnight the first night, then had Italian lasagna the next night, then we had Thai, followed by Indian, 7 seafoods, Japanese, and by the end had some good ole roast beef and ham! We had a terrific tasting of wines, champagnes and cheeses (French then would you say?) including my new favorite, Humboldt Fog either with the ash stripe or the truffles - both delectable.

The Shabu-Shabu night was one of my favorite meals. It's basically the Japanese equivalent of fondue. There is a big pot of broth cooking in the middle of the table, and then a bunch of raw materials around the table, and some dipping sauces for each person. When you're ready, you just throw what you want to eat into the pot, and then pull it out once its cooked. Very messy, but lots of fun! We had carrots and mushrooms and beef and pork and a rather large bottle of sake. Alex was a terrific host, and always kept our glasses completely full.

Right now, I'm getting extremely hungry just thinking about all this food, so I'm off to scavenge what we have here at the house, I guess shopping is on the list of things to do today. *sigh* Even when you don't have a schedule you unfortunately still have the list.