Saturday, August 31, 2013

My first loaf: Whole Wheat Bread

Well, I don't know how many of you have ever baked your own sandwich bread, but I have way more respect for bakers now.  This loaf of bread took three days to make... mostly because I started too late at night twice in a row.

The most difficult part was making the most efficient time of the process, but the recipe from Cook's Illustrated March-April 2011 Issue is really enjoyable to follow.

Here's the ingredients list, but what really makes it is the process...
2 Cs bread flour
1 Cs warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

3 Cs (16 1/2 ounces) whole-whet flour plus extra kneading
1/2 C wheat germ
2 Cs (16 ounces ) whole milk

1/4 C honey
4 tsps table salt
6 tblsps unsalted butter, softened
2 tblsps vegetable oil

It's too long to explain here (and you can find the whole process online here), but in short there are independent rising times, dough flattening, folding, rolling, more rising time, pizza stones, and finally water in the oven so the crust browns, but doesn't burn.  The bread is delicious.  For me, it was absolutely worth the trouble, and I'm enjoying every bite!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Autumn Colors

Today, I'm showing a double wedding ring quilt I made for a friend who was married earlier in August.  I was stumped as to what to make for this sewing buddy and when the double wedding ring quilt challenge came along I thought it was kismet.  I rolled with it.

the pieced top, not yet quilted
She tends to like colors found in fall leaves: coppers, golds, and rich, warm reds, so I dug into my stash and came up with silk fabric I had been holding onto until a special project came along.  I have to admit I was daunted by the curved piecing and the multiple seams.  And the plaid silk, while being lovely to touch, feels like paper to sew, and it shows every mistake you make.  I tried to match the plaid too!  That was a fun challenge since I was using leftover fabric, but I think it worked reasonably well considering!

I am not actually sure how I completed the piecing for this quilt, but somehow I did it.  I should read up on how others have completed the task so I can get a bit better at it for next time.  ((This is really the year of the wedding in my world!! Six weddings?!  And I'm just counting the ones I'm attending.))

I was really proud of  how nice the binding came out!  Hurray! For successful research and applying skills learned from YouTube!

Pattern (free!): Double Wedding Ring From the Girlfriends collection by Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom for FreeSpirit
Fabric: silks from stash, quilting cotton from stash, orange bias binding from Stoff & Co.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Columbina Camisole, knitted top pattern

Here's a new pattern out for August, my birthday month!

The Columbina Camisole was named for the delicate two-colored flower, and this simple two-colored camisole with lace edges is perfect for summer picnics. It’s also a nice travel project as it is worked flat from the bottom up. Lace is added from a provisional cast-on down to the bottom edge, and upward from open stitches. The lace edging is easy to memorize and can be blocked as rounded scallops or soft waves.

Skills required to complete the project:

  • provisional cast-on
  • knitting
  • decreasing/increasing
  • picking up stitches

The pattern does contain links to resources on how to do the provisional cast-on among other techniques.  And, if you'd like to know more about it, or purchase the pattern to make it yourself, it's here on Ravelry, and soon to be on Craftsy and Patternfish too.

The main knitting is very machine knit friendly, and lends itself to a very quick machine knit, and then the finishing lace can be completed by hand.

Happy Summer!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sewing: Pastille Dress

I made the Pastille dress from Colette's Sewing Handbook a few weeks back.  Originally, I started it for a wedding back in May, but didn't finish it in time to re-do the sleeve facings.  In the end, I still paired it with a silver satin sash/ribbon to break up the blue.  It's a bit plain, but perfect for the second wedding which was blue themed!

Here's the top...

And, I had to take full-dress shots afterward because I couldn't find any photos of the dress in its entirety in the preliminary wedding photos.  Also, Mom, if you read this post, know that I swear I ironed the dress for the wedding.  I just didn't feel like ironing it for the blog photo.  And, it's the same stubborn fabric crease that I starched, steamed, and pressed... and still it came back weeks after the original event!!

Pattern: Pastille dress, Colette patterns (from the Colette Sewing Handbook)
Fabric: blue cotton chambray, super lightweight and comfy, but wrinkles like the dickens
Notions: zipper, hook/eye closure, silver satin ribbon at front
Accessories: silver satin sash at waist
First Worn: August wedding, 2013
Wear Again?  Yeah, probably for picnicking... just need a more casual belt.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Colors!

For about the last 15 years or so, I've had the same travel watercolor set.  I had taken it with me on trips here and there and all over.  Then, without even noticing, it was gone!  I looked for it to take with me on the last couple of trips, and thought it was just misplaced.  But, after a pretty comprehensive search through the earlier part of this week, and no gold, well, I gave up the old set for lost.

I was bummed.  Really bummed.

Then, I went to the art store with a friend and she went to another part of the store while I asked a shop employee for recommendations on a suitable replacement.  The set nearest to the one I lost was a bit too compact and had a water reservoir attached to it which was cool, but it was so limited in pigment pan space, that it just wasn't right.  She then showed me the set she has herself.  It's a set with 12 pans, but with space for 24 and fits a brush of regular size, too!  I was sold.  I bought two additional pans from their Horadam line - Manganese violet and a Dark red.

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid and received a new box of crayons, I tested out each color... So that's what I did here.

Yay! New watercolor set!  

Schmencke Set 75412 AKADEMIE® Aquarell, Solid metal box
with 12 half pans and space for 12 additional half pans
And, in 15 years, watercolor pans have changed a lot!  These pans are so much smoother and less grainy than before.  The pigment cakes dry way faster, too, and the colors flow much more like ink.  I'm kind of glad the old set retired itself.  Otherwise, I might never have known!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weekend Update

Based on my last few posts, it might seem like I'm not knitting or sewing.
But I am! Really!  I just haven't been as diligent with taking photos and uploading them.

I was also recently commissioned to make twin baby blankets for a pair of recently born fraternal twins.  So, that was taking a bit of my spare time thinking how I was going to make it happen by October.  Enter the knitting machine manual, a garter bar, and I'm finally on my way.  I'll be using Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn thanks to a friend who wanted to de-stash and some local stores that are carrying it!  I still have to figure out what will happen with the border, but I get ahead of myself...

Here's the plan:
the plan of action

The new mom likes purples and pinks for the girl twin, and greens for the boy twin - check.

The swatch says it will work!

I had to figure out how much yarn was actually needed so after an initial gauge swatch to choose the best tension on the machine - I liked 6.25 - I did a test run.  The test blocks revealed that each 6" x 6.5" block takes circa 8g of yarn.  Which means when multiplying 8g x 48 blocks, 384 g total yarn is needed, and I have 400g of yarn (100g x 4 skeins).   In the plan, there's 12 pink blocks, 12 purple, and 24 white so it should be enough yarn!  Same with the greens: 12 dk green, 12 lt green, 24 grey blocks.  

yarn with previous plan of action
I'll probably add texture in the form of cables and random garter stitch just to change things up, but we have the main knitting settled.  Crossing my fingers it'll be enough yarn.

 lilac, pink, and white

greens and grey
If not, I'll reach into my stash and make it work...

I've also been working on a skirt which is eluding completion due to the fact that I somehow thought it would be a cool idea to have a side seam zipper as well as side seam pockets.  Yeah.  I'll see how that works out.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Illustration Friday, Jungle Theme

This week's Illustration Friday theme was "jungle" and I was back at the drawing board early in the week and then again mid-week.  I was back and forth on what to do, but then I saw this poster by A.M. Cassandre, the French illustrator, painter, and commercial artist.

I really like the airbrush texture in his work, and wanted to see if I could somehow capture a bit of the grittiness in my own digital work.  Some of what bugged me about the spring horse illustrations of last week was that I couldn't capture the right texture.

Another thing I wanted to address was the lack of variety in the spring horse illustration.  It felt a bit blocked.  Maybe it was too much time on the digital work from the get-go, and not enough sketching.  This time, I had a goal of illustrating 20 different elements in one illustration.  I got close... I illustrated 16 different elements.  Baby steps!  For subject matter, I picked my fave jungle creatures and rolled with it.  This sounds corny, but I tried not to try so hard.

Okay, that's all for now!

Here's my sketch in case you wanted to see how this started.
one of the sketches for "jungle"

Logo Summer

Here are a few logos I've designed this summer...

For a website called Knitting Rose Yarns.  The owner hand-dyes her own line of yarns, has a podcast, and is quite active in the fiber arts world.  Knitting Rose's owner, Lise, shows her yarns at conferences like Stitches Midwest, and fiber arts festivals in the southwest.
Adriprints for Knitting Rose Yarns, 2013

Knitting Rose Yarns website with new logo
Knitting Rose Yarns website with new logo, podcast with logo

Lise, the owner of Knitting Rose, and I were working with some very specific ideas inspired by the text of her company's name and the resulting logo is one I'm really happy with.

Another logo from this summer is for a sex coach.  We wanted the logo for CSC, to be friendly and approachable, but serious.  We wanted there to be an openness to the botanical elements, and a damask-like symmetry to the logo so it can work alone or as an all-over pattern.

This logo was a lot of fun to make because I hadn't made a repeating pattern in a while.  I love tinkering with the elements and seeing what happens in different repeat motifs.