Crafting in small spaces

We have a bit of an unusual life, Wadly and I. We live on twelve south-facing acres backed up to forty square miles of Weyerhaeuser on a dead end road off a dead end road mere minutes from the freeway. As locations go, it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s quiet and private here. From the top of our property we can look out over Shoestring Valley and see Mount St. Helens in the distance.

4×6 cutting/crafting table

Once our mortgage was paid off we decided living small was better than bigger fancier accommodations with its accompanying debt. Because our living space is small, engaging in crafts like quilting takes some innovating and good organizational skills. Having a table that will fold up out of the way when not needed is a crafty thing indeed. When it comes to crafting in a small space, it’s all about maximizing use of space!

Unless you have a family whose members require personal space, bedrooms are a waste. They’re one-use rooms not used for most of the day. I’ve always though Murphy beds were a really smart idea. They allow the bedroom to be more than one thing.

Table tilted up out of the way

Our bed is not a Murphy bed. It’s a metal frame that sits up high enough that storage bins can be placed beneath. To further maximize the space, I’ve mounted a 4×6 layout/cutting table on the footboard. The plywood base is covered by an Omnigrid mat I purchased from the factory on a Guild field trip. The mat is held to the table by tiny brass nails to keep it in place when the table is tilted up out of the way.

Color me crying

I’m had to update my theme and it makes me sad . . . very sad. I’d had the parchment/fall colors theme from my site’s beginning in 2008. The beautiful rich colors and feather-edged layout were perfect for what I like . . . but it had to go. The last time the theme was updated by it’s author was years ago. I been treating it tenderly and coaxed it along, but those days are over. I have to have more function and it can no longer rise to the task.

Color me crying.

Why I hate raglan

Fabric folds and bunches and point of shoulder pressure are raglan’s biggest sins.
Contiguous armscye crawl

I started knitting when I was very young. I made a sweater for my son when he was a toddler. It was raglan, but that’s not why I hate raglan. I hate raglan because it can never fit properly unless the body wearing it is very slope shouldered and the wearer keeps their arms out at a 45 degree angle to match the hang of the sleeves. Raglan is always loose at the neckline and tight at the shoulder with bunched fabric under the armscye. Sure it’s easy to knit/sew but it’s always a bad fit.

But here’s the thing. It is SO easy to knit it gets used all the time by knitwear pattern designers because they know people buying their pattern can mindlessly knit the result. Dolled up with attractive patterns or yarn and it has so much appeal people don’t notice the horrible fit or choose to ignore the horrible fit. Too many years of couture sewing has ruined me. I just can’t do it.

What brought on this rant? For the last two weeks I’ve been wearing good fitting sweaters in blissful comfort. Yesterday I washed them and while I’m waiting for them to dry I am wearing a poorly fitting commercial sweatshirt that bunches under my arms and is damned uncomfortable. Spending time trying to adjust my clothes to be more comfortable just pisses me off. It is wasted time. Ugh.

Contiguous is a great shoulder technique but to my eye it has two problems. Because the shoulder line on a top down contiguous garment cramps (effect of the series of increases in very close proximity), and the narrowness at the top of the sleeve causes the armscye to crawl onto the top of arm at the shoulder, it isn’t an appealing fit. It fits better than raglan but the aesthetics are still problematic.

No gaping, no pulling, no fabric folding, no discomfort.

The shoulder I like is a marriage between raglan and contiguous, separating out the increases between shoulder line and raglan. This solves the cramping caused by clustered increases, solves the problem of the raglan fit, and when paired with short rows on the sleeve cap completely eliminates any fabric folding under the armscye. The problem . . . it’s more complicated to knit. It’s more of a shoulder master class, unsuited to beginning or basic knitters. The technique has a lot going for it, it’s just not simple enough for everyone.

I ordered more yarn yesterday. I clearly don’t have enough sweaters if I have none to wear while they are being washed. Four sweaters is clearly not enough. Not nearly.

OMGosh stir fry

I’ve got a new super fast stir fry.

I bought a new gadget. I got a Zoodle from Amazon for $11. OMGosh. Game changer.

New fav meal. Oriental(ish) pork stir fry. OMGosh.

Thin-slice pork. Marinate it in sesame oil, basalmic vinegar and ground candied ginger (not available commercially, you’ll have to make your own – dehydrate candied ginger and run it through a food processor to grind it up).

Use the Zoodle to noodlize zucchini and rutabaga (yeah, new fav veg). Thin slide onion and break up into “noodles”. Add thin-sliced green pepper and some bamboo shoots (comes in a can).

You’re gonna need two frying pans, one for the marinated pork and one for the veges.

Add butter and sesame oil to both pans. Stick the veges into one and the pork into the other. Once the pork is most of the way done add the pork pan to the veges pan. When the veges are al dente the cooking us done!

OMGosh!

Burger Bowl!

In my continual search for really good food I can eat, I’ve discovered . . . Hamburger Bowl!

I have two version (with or without avocado) and they’re both wonderful. Those of you who eat carbs and bread/buns/etc. won’t think it’s so great, but for me . . . few carbs and no grains . . . it’s awesome!

On medium low, cook diced mushrooms and diced bacon in a 6″ skillet with a teaspoon of butter.

While that’s cooking dice a roma tomato and a slice of onion (choose the one you like, I’m using the basic yellow). Add two heaping teaspoonfuls of Farman’s Dill Pickle Relish in a bowl, add the diced onion and tomato and warm it in the microwave. Don’t COOK it, just get it warm so it doesn’t chill the hot ingredients. For my puny little microwave I use 55 seconds on cook, stir, then back in for another 15 seconds.

When the bacon and ‘shrooms are done or nearly done add the raw hamburger. The shape isn’t important, it’s getting chopped up when it’s done cooking. (I buy hamburger in bulk and package it in snack bags in the freezer for easy use. I get the amount of hamburger I need when I need it at a lower cost.)

When the hamburger is nearly done, dice up the hamburger and add 3/4 cup of black beans (drained and rinsed). Stir the beans into the mix. once it’s all heated up lift out the goodies (leave all the fat in the pan) and add them to your bowl of warmed and diced goodness.

Stir it all together and eat it with a soup spoon. OMGosh good! Heads up, this is more than will fit in a regular soup bowl.

When doing the avocado version I wait until everything’s mixed together and add the diced avocado to the top. Yummy stuff!

Let there be stars . . .

Eva's Confetti Stars
Eva’s Confetti Stars, made for Rachel’s glitter girl

I’m flirting with making a confetti stars quilt for my bed.  I have the batiks, I love the two quilts I made (baby and lap) and I’d like one for sleeping under, something with a dark background and bright batiks.  I think I’m going to do a sew-along . . . it’s a really easy pattern but it does require batiks for the stars.  If you want in, ping me.

 

Back neck shaping with preknit collar join

My goal is to have a sweater I can knit without seams or picked up stitches.  I truly think I’m there with my latest iteration using an icord caston and icord edge to form the neck.  There’s a lot going on here, and there will probably never be a pattern for this, but regardless, here it is.

Contiguous/saddle with icord neck.

Here’s a video of one of the testing steps that got me to this result.

Continental knitting

I knit in a style that’s just a bit unique.  I knit continental style, which refers to how the yarn in held (opposite hand from the needle making the stitches).  I don’t “pick” the yarn to form stitches I throw, which is unusual for continental knitters.  I also knit so stitches to be knitted have the leading leg in back and stitches to be purled have the leading leg in front.  This is called combined knitting and refers to how the stitches are mounted on the needle.  And I don’t turn my work, which is called mirrored knitting.  So, to someone who knows about knitting style I can just say I knit thrown continental combined mirrored.   There’s a lot of extra stuff going on but for those of you who do not knit, you now know way more than you ever wanted to know about knitting . . . or you’re scratching your head and wondering what in the heck I just said.

So, here it is, thrown continental combined mirrored.