Saturday, December 29, 2012

Long Time, No See!

You know how the holiday season is: a whirlwind! Despite the slow season for business, work picks up for managers during this time of year (which you know if you've ever worked in a restaurant!) That means less time quilting and sewing, and more time going home and sleeping.

But there has been progress on a lot of fronts! I've been trying to whittle down some WIP's so that there's a little less clutter in the house.

Outfoxed blocks are all sewn! This one was particularly difficult because while the blocks are easy, the repetitive motions are sometimes difficult for me to concentrate on. Read: I get bored easily. But I've done it! I picked up some white fabric last week, and hopefully sometime soon there'll be time to piece the blocks together. The pattern is from Oh! Fransson's "Clothesline Quilts", the tutorial for which I can't find anymore.

I finally got tired of waiting to use all those selvedges. They were just taking up room! I started my selvedge spiderweb a few weeks ago, and so far I'm loving the rainbow craziness of it. Personally, I like my rainbows to go in - well - rainbow order, so it's difficult to let loose and sew randomly. But so far, it's been nice!

After tea-dyeing fabric after fabric and scouring Hobby Lobby and Joann's for all their white-on-white, I began not one, but two tea-dyed quilts! So far, they've been simple in construction and I'm enamored with them both! I'l have a separate post on those later!

Dessert of the Month Club sampler FINISHED! My first ever sampler, completely done. I'm so proud! In other embroidery news, I'm still trucking along on the Fruit of the Month sampler and the Kawaii Winter Sampler. And I already signed up for the Kawaii Woodland Sampler, because I am insane and love having too many projects...

We watched the Hobbit. And then we decided, let's watch it again! So we did. And then on Christmas I thought: why not go watch the Hobbit? So away I went, on the coldest night so far, to Middle Earth. In high school I was a giant LoTR geek, and this film has taken me right back into that! How could I have forgotten all those wonderful stories? Peter Jackson, the cast and crew did a tremendous job with this time-honored and treasured story. When I realized that the third film was a year away I nearly cried! But it'll be well worth the wait.

This little lady finished her Petsmart obedience training! Her classmate left, so she and I had one-on-one time with the trainer, who was excellent all-round. My family was so impressed by all her tricks and know-how - and honestly, I never imagined I'd have a dog that could be that well-trained! (I'm a bit lacking in training myself). She had her spaying surgery the next day, but luckily all went well and she's back to her usual self now. With any luck - and we'll need it, I'm sure! - she'll have a sibling in a month or so! 

I'll be back later in the week with some tea-dyed goodness and some new year's resolutions!

Later Days,


Thursday, November 8, 2012

on Tea Dyeing.

Something I've wanted to do for a long time is dye fabric. I've bought some dyes - some RIT dyes, some iDyes - and hoarded them for a few months while waiting for the perfect opportunity to try them out. I also live in an apartment, so I have to be extra careful not to dye anything that isn't mine (particularly the carpet, which is off-white).

A few months ago, I picked up the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's "Dessert of the Month Club". Reading the directions, I immediately went out and purchased the darkest, 14 count Aida I could find - which also happened to be sparkly. I thought it would be just dark enough.

Alas! This was not the case. Maybe the filter makes it look darker here, but on some of the desserts - especially that truffle at top - it made it difficult to see. So, I decided, I'd get a darker version next time. 

When I bought the fruit of the month club, I went a different route - one I'd read about before, recommended in the directions. Tea-Dyeing! It seemed simple enough, so I thought I'd give it a try.

What I didn't realize is how much I'd love it. After using a black tea - namely Earl Grey - on an oatmeal colored Aida, my fabric came out darker. The colors were more vibrant! 

It definitely helped. I recently purchased the Kawaii Winter sampler and double-dyed the fabric for this one (as you read about in the last few posts). I'm happy to say I've started on my sampler - although I've no pictures yet! - and I love the result.

So here's some quick instructions on tea-dyeing and a few pointers that might help you out if you decide to go the same route!

First, decide what kind of color you're looking for as a result. If you want something brown, you need to find a black tea. Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast work great for this. 

If you're looking for a pinkish/purple, go for an herbal tea with berry flavors. True Blueberry from Bigelow will give you a great purple-ish pink, as will Red Raspberry. (The Orange Blossom Hibiscus pictured below gave off a lighter color than the two mentioned previously, but it was still a pinkish-brown).

Green teas tend to give off a yellowish-green tint; I've used a plain Green Tea, a Chamomile, and others, and usually the result is a slightly darker, yellowish tint that ages your fabric.

I read about this process before I began it myself, and what I saw recommended here on was that you use 4 cups of water for every yard of fabric. I used mostly scraps and long pieces of different fabric, so I never measured any as a straight yard. What I did do, however, is use about six cups of water in the end; this gave me enough water to cover my fabric. 

I used 14 tea bags in each batch; since the purpose is for dyeing, I wanted to make sure I had a good, strong color as a result. You could use more or less if you wanted!

Bringing the water to a boil, I threw the tea-bags in.

I steeped my tea for about thirty minutes; this way I really reaped all the color from the bags.

In the meantime, I rinsed all of my fabric with cold water and let it sit. IMPORTANT: polyesters and non-natural fabrics will not dye. It'll run right out! Make sure you're using 100% cotton. I used a variety of fabrics, even some doilies. For me, the goal was both to experiment and use fabrics I hadn't thought of using in other projects.

 If you're looking for a patterned fabric, they have white-on-white fabrics at Hobby Lobby and Joann's that make for a beautiful result! Polka dots, stripes, and even some smaller prints. 

When you've steeped your tea, remove the tea-bags. I like to press the remaining tea out of the tea-bags; I do the same thing when I drink tea, but you don't necessarily have to. I poured all of my tea into a bowl:

(These were from the Lipton Herbal Tea. The tea bags were like plastic!)

Squeezing all of the remaining water from your fabric, submerge it in the tea. I made the mistake this last time of leaving the fabric in a stationary position, folded over, and the result was an uneven finish. It's better to move it around occasionally so that the finished product is a smooth dye.

How long to leave it in? I've left it in for an hour to two hours and still achieved a good, dyed result. For my Aida cloth, I wanted it to be darker, so I left it for nearly 11 hours, and the color was richer. Ultimately, it's up to you! 

When you're done dyeing, pour the tea out and rinse the fabric with cool water. Yes, this will make the result lighter; so will drying it. If I wasn't pleased with the richness of the dye, I dyed it again. You can alternately leave the tea in your bowl until you see how deeply your fabric has dyed.

I tumble dry mine on high heat; the result has always been beautiful! On the RedDawn page, it also offers the alternative of nearly drying it and then ironing it on a high setting. Ultimately what you're doing is setting the dye, so it's a step you don't want to skip.

Voila! The finished product. On the left is the fabric dyed with Lipton's Orange Hibiscus Herbal Tea; a light, red-pink color. On the right is the tea dyed with Morning Thunder by Celestial! In the middle are the fabrics I dyed from for comparison.

Great things about this process:

1. Naturally dyeing a product you may have on hand for little cost!

2. There may be a few tea splashes here and there, but there's little to no mess!

3. Your house will smell AWESOME.

Things that maybe aren't so great?:

1. These dyes don't come in "rainbow", so no rich greens, or blues.

2. Kind of time consuming? (But not any more so than dyeing with RIT dye.)

I'm currently making a quilt out of these fabrics, pairing them with shirtings and plaids I have in my stash. I'll post the result when I'm done. That said, I haven't washed these fabrics multiple times and don't know how well those colors hold up after multiple washings! Perhaps if I end up washing it a bunch I'll add on to this post :) 

You can e-mail me here with any questions, or post on this page!

My next experiment? After the RIT Dye, I want to dye with plants!

Later Days!

- Kait

Thursday, November 1, 2012

my vacation: come and gone!

When I say "vacation," I typically mean a day or two that I take off work and sit and home. I usually also pretend like I'm somewhere else so I won't be asked to do anything.

Yes, I'm that lazy.

As far as vacations go, this one was pretty sweet. Although my weekend started off with a wedding:

(Sorry for the blurry pic, my hands shake a lot!)

It was really nice and simple, but after about four hours of being outside in 50 degree weather, one gets a little cold! And it threw my sinuses all out of whack...

We traveled to Todd Mission, TX, the next day for the Renaissance Faire! Heading out early was best, and we got there plenty early. After a few hours of walking around, eating - CHEESECAKE ON A STICK, YA'LL - buying tiny pirate ships - and more eating - we headed home, happy and sated.

I wish I'd gotten more pictures than just those of my brothers and their swords!

And of us being (very) silly.

They had crossbows this year! If I had ANY use for one, I'd buy one. But I don't, so that idea was out...

We celebrated my youngest brother's 19th birthday! We normally don't eat cake (he's a bigger fan of pumpkin pie) but our neighbor was kind enough to bake him this cake as a surprise! What a lucky young adult :)

I spent my remaining two days doing the funnest things I know: playing with my puppy and SEWING.

(she's vicious, this one)

(but only until she wants to snuggle)
(she also got a new collar, and she likes it a lot better) (I think)

A morning trip to Joann's yielded some goodies: embroidery floss for my soon-to-be Kawaii Winter Sampler (we got the first patterns today! I AM SO PSYCHED YOU HAVE NO IDEA).

 and some yarn! After years of deeming it an activity I have no ability to do, I've decided to take up knitting. Mostly it's just been confusing for me, directions wise, but I'm sure if I give it another go I'll get it for sure! I've been seeing too many cowls and socks and awesome scarves NOT to try!

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. Have you guys seen the "Ron Weasley" blanket making the rounds on Pinterest? I thought about making one as-is, so I picked up these flannels and shirting fabrics...

But then I picked up some tea-dyed fabrics...

And now I'm thinking about a Weasley blanket with sawtooth stars! That fabric on top is a really nice fabric to dye, by the way - it's a solid stripe, but I think it would be really pretty with colored dye, so I've got a few yards stashed away. I picked it up at Hobby Lobby - I think they've got it at both Webster/Clear Lake area stores.

I also went by Target, and that's when I saw this beauty:

I couldn't NOT get it. I walked around the store, but ultimately I had to go back. It was calling me! As a Charlie Harper fan, it was a MUST. I can't wait to get started - I missed out on their paint by number they had earlier, so I jumped on this chance! 

That's all for now! I'm hoping to get a little further on that baby quilt this weekend - I might tea-dye a little fabric tonight, cut out some more Weasley squares! You never know. It's Biker Rally down here this weekend, so I'm staying inside - traffic's too bad!

I don't think this little doll will mind if I do :)

Later days!

- Kait

Friday, October 26, 2012

what a week, what a week

Just when you think the off season is going to give you a quieter time at work, in comes a slew of caterings and meetings to prove you wrong.

I began the week with a five hour meeting, followed by two four hour meetings the next two days, along with a few caterings - I just finished one this morning, and I've got two more tomorrow. I'm grateful for the work - so incredibly grateful - but my attention span is really meant for about TWO hours. After that, I get a headache. That's why I'm always moving from project to project! Reading book by book by book!

Where to start? Well, for one, the puppy went back to the vet. Some redness and loss of hair on her head and ears gave the vet cause to believe she had an infection; a week's worth of antibiotics didn't do much, so the final diagnosis was a mild case of Demodectic mange. Aside from the new antibiotics (which she eats because I bribe her with cheese) and the ointment (which I trick her into letting me put on), she also has to have two medicated baths a week. 

None of this has affected her ability to be adorable. 

She's even developed a new hobby of sitting behind the curtains. I often come home and find them all oddly jacked up; of course there can be only one culprit!

She also has a new habit of wanting to be in the tub! Sulli cries when I'm in the bathroom putting on makeup ...

(Forgive the terrible lighting in my bathroom; I've been too lazy to have them come by and add bulbs...)

In other news, I got to sew a bit! Yay! And my cross-stitching has continued as usual; it's an easier feat to attempt when there's a fussy puppy running around than sitting down at a sewing machine.

I'm finished with February (Grapefruit) now, and have moved on to sweet, sweet March (Kiwi). I also bought the new sampler, the Kawaii Winter Countdown, and TOTALLY CAN'T WAIT for November 5th! I even dyed my cross-stitch fabric:

It's actually a few shades darker than the one I previously dyed for a sampler (above). I'll put together my next post on tea-dyeing and the methods I use, but it definitely works! (It helps that it's fun and quick!) I double-dyed this one to make it darker, using Earl Grey both times (but different brands; I just used what I had on hand), and using a higher concentration of tea bags the second time around. I might dye it again if I thought it would make it darker...

I'm in love with the "Pirate Stripe" from "Out to Sea" by Sarah Jane. It's perfect. When my best friend requested something nautical for her baby's nursery, this stripe was immediately what I thought of for binding!

With the top basted, I've also started quilting on it:

Using a darker, royal blue for the outside/inside of the stars and a matching shade for the stars themselves, the effect on the back is beautiful. The only problem with my progress is that my hands start to ache after awhile, and I have to set it aside for a little while. (Also, certain puppies like to chew on the edges, and that is no bueno).

That's all for today. I'll leave you with a picture of some legos and a poor pretzel vendor who never had a chance (in honor of Oktoberfest!)

Run, pretzel man, run! 

Later Days!

- Katie

Friday, October 12, 2012

oh, Harry Potter gets me right in the feels.

In all seriousness, I can't watch any Harry Potter movie without tearing up once or twice. I'm in a glass case of emotion! Every. Time.

(which is why I bought the movies I didn't have)
(and plan on having a marathon when I get the chance)
(...even if it takes me two days)

In other news, my puppy had her last baby shots this week! And just when I thought we were free to go - after discussing her scary anxiety attack last week, and the biting that commenced - the vet noticed her eye was red. So now we're on antibiotics.

But I'm lucky, because she doesn't mind all that much. In fact, she gets impatient when I don't get her medicine ready quick enough - thank you, better tasting meds! Why can't people have better tasting meds?

I bought some fabrics for a quilt for a friend, and laid them all out ... I can't wait to cut into them! :)

And I declared my rotary cutter MIA, so I had to buy a new one. Boo! But at least this one has a handle. We'll see how well I like it.

Somewhere in between, there was this clam poker party (because dog poker, as you know, is SO last century).

And some Hello Pilgrim blocks became bigger blocks.

Although these still need to be trimmed up ...

I also pulled out some old Quilt-As-You-Go blocks. This one, part of a series with Heather Ross prints as centers, is one of my favorite for it's mint/teal color scheme ...

But who can forget Sleeping Beauty?

Or the Frog Prince? (one of my favorite all-time prints, by the way)

I'd love to finish that quilt up. At the moment, I've got one baby quilt that HAS to be done ASAP - before my best friend/sister has her baby, Jace! I'm sewing the backing tonight and quilting it Sunday (hopefully). 

We also got our Renfest tickets! I LOVE, LOVE LOVE REN FEST. I can't wait to take a busload of pictures and upload them here! It's going to be the

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll be back later in the week with a finished baby quilt, a few finished blocks, and a birthday present for the best little brother ever.

Later Days!
- Kait

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Only Wednesday? Jeez.

This dog is killing me. I am worn. out.

Let no man tell you that raising a puppy is in any way, shape, or form, "a breeze". Nor is it "cheap". I knew that getting a dog would be a lifetime commitment - and when I picked a Chihuahua, I knew it would be a 15 year plus commitment. And truth be told, I've really enjoyed having a companion around the house.

But it's been six or seven years since the last time my parents had a puppy, and I'd forgotten how difficult it could be. Of course she was easy-going at first; she was only five weeks old! Now she's about four months, rambunctious, and very needy. If she doesn't have my immediate attention, she barks or whines. It's behavior I'm trying to correct, but it takes time. Lots of time...and patience.

On the other hand, look at how adorable she is. And she's actually very sweet and loving, and I'm sure once she grows and we get used to each other, she'll be a great dog. 

In the meantime, my main issue has been sewing. I've lived alone for the last three years so I'm used to just doing whatever I want, whenever I want. But when I get on the sewing machine, and she wants my attention, she barks incessantly. I finally got the spray bottle out and got her and she quieted down, but it's a technique I'm sure I should use. I didn't want to, but I think crate training is going to be the route we have to go down. 

In less frustrating news, I ordered some new fabric for a friend's quilt - some The Birds and the Bees by Tula Pink, some old script from Nevermore, and some miscellaneous prints here and there. I think they'll make a nice, simple quilt (and I really owe this lady one!)

I thought about buying the pattern for a Weekender bag - I'd really like to have one, and I'd like to make my sister-in-law one. After seeing Oh! Fransson's pictures where she used Quilt-As-You-Go techniques in the place of some interfacing, I'd love to try my hand at it! I love QAYG. 

One good thing about having a puppy who likes to sleep on the couch next to you is that it has allowed me (forced me?) to work more on cross-stitch. I finished the last four months I was missing from my Dessert of the Month sampler, and I organized my embroidery thread while I was at it. Look at me GO.   I was super excited to read that they had another winter sampler coming out soon - I love their cute designs!

No sewing news at the moment (see the above paragraphs), but I'm hoping to get a little done on Friday. After I clean (which has been neglected) and sleep (because I've been feeling super icky the last few days. Damn achy teeth).

Later Days!

- Katie

Thursday, September 27, 2012

busy like a bee

This has been a pretty crazy week, altogether. There are some weeks where my job can be pretty sleepy, but we've been doing a lot of SEO and changing some things around and so one meeting a week can turn into three or four.

I feel especially dumb because we had one webinar scheduled for what we thought was 10 AM our time (and 11 AM PDT), but we got completely confused. My boss and I came back two hours later, realizing that it would be a later meeting, not earlier ... but got it wrong again, by an hour. So we got to work at 9:30 AM for a meeting that wasn't until 1:00 P.M. So much for genius.

Not all of the meetings were talk, talk, talk, though! We're secretly working on developing some pizzas to add to our menu, so we spent yesterday morning doing just that! Thinking of what we want, and making it! (Super fun)!

This one was pepperoni, mushroom, and mozzarella with Kalamata olives. And we cooked it with a really cool Lincoln Impinger, which basically takes a pizza and cooks it in about five minutes (think those machines at Quiznos!) We have the same exact machine in our kitchen and I'm super excited to work with it.

I've also been having some troubles with this little lady. She's taken to barking when she wants my attention, which is not a trait I'm excited she's picked up. She barks pretty loudly, too, and I live in an apartment building, so letting her bark it out isn't working well.

Not to mention that she's learned to jump on the couch. I came home last night to this mess and nearly cried:

Oh, the horror. She's lucky she's cute and I love her. 

There has been progress on my goals, however. But not much. I'm off tomorrow morning and I'm really looking forward to quilting a bit more. 

For now, I've been watching Sherlock - okay, make that watched, because I finished all six episodes - and I'm officially in love. This show is the BOMB. Definitely one of the best ones I've started watching! Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock is brilliant, and it makes me even more excited to see him Star Trek 2 and as "Smaug". Don't even get me started on Martin Freeman or Andrew Scott's performances. I'll gibber all day.

It goes especially well with a little handiwork, particularly when you're behind on said handiwork:

It's September. I'm on July. I know, I'm terrible. Isn't July a whopper, though? 

I also got in this "Mama Said Sew" that I ordered back in June .... I'm totally in love with these text prints, and the fact that they've got sewing terminology all over it just makes me swoon a little. Okay, a lot.


And Center City! So bright, so colorful, such bad photography on my part. (In my defense, I took it at night.) I've got the 'Uptown' palette to order, and then I'll be ready to go! I can't wait :)

Well, that's all she (I) wrote for now. Hopefully I'll get some more cross-stitching and/or sewing done tomorrow and then I'll really have something to show! Later days!

- Kait