Sunday, March 30, 2008

Curtains

My kitchen has 9' tall ceilings and 6' tall windows. Wonderful for a kitchen as I love the natural light, but I just had to dress them up somehow. So I have sewn some valances to perk up the kitchen with lots of happy, summery color.

I had been on the hunt for a white cotton fabric with lemons and lemon slices for months. I must have invented it in my head, because I could never find one in a fabric store or online. All I wanted was a bold, graphic print in yellow and orange. Images of cherries? All over the place. Allover realistic lemons? Sure. There were pears and apples and all kinds of other stuff, but no lemons. And most of them seemed to have a countrified gingham background or too much pink or blue. Bleh. I wanted something funkier.

Luckily, my mom was able to find a great graphic lemon print. While it wasn't exactly as I'd envisioned it, it met the requirements of orange and yellow on white, and stylized lemons.

Lemon fabric

Yum.

So after making some measurements and hunting down tension rods I threw together some curtains. Somehow tension rods have become really hard to find. There is a Restoration Hardware on my block, and when I went in and asked for them, the guy looked at me like I had grown a third arm. I have to keep reminding myself that Restoration Hardware should really be called the Almost-Martha Decorating Outpost or Overpriced Embellishments or More Crap You Don't Need to Decorate Your House With. They don't actually have hardware besides drawer pulls, and I find that really irritating. Okay, anyway. Curtains.

I didn't take a million photos of the curtain-making process, because I am a very, very lazy seamstress and I'd embarrass myself by my imprecise methodology in the face of all the perfectionism out there. But I can briefly describe the process.

Lazy, Lazy Curtains:

1. Buy a whole bunch of fabric, more than you think you'll need. Don't bother to wash it or iron it yet unless it's actually dirty or totally crumpled. You can use leftovers for fabric napkins, a bread-basket liner, small tablecloth, or throw back into your stash.

2. Measure the width of your window. In my case, this was about 30".

3. Get a tension rod that will fit in that width. I got mine from Linens 'n' Things after a helpful Freecycle tip.

4. Figure out how long you want your valance to be. In my case, I estimated 12-14".

5. To determine the size to cut your fabric for each curtain, multiply the width of your window by 2 or even 3, and add 6" or more to the length. If your fabric isn't wide enough, you'll have to seam it. I cut my fabric to a length of about 20". As the width was only 45", I had to cut three strips for two curtains and cut the last strip in half to piece onto the two longer sections. As the print didn't match up exactly, I had pieces left over. But now I had 2 pieces about 60" by 18". All the extra fabric is key to make it ruffle in the window and to give you nice heavy hems.

6. If you're lazy like me, leave the selvedges on so you don't have to make as many hems. I only had to sew down one edge; all the rest are just selvedges.

7. Fold over the top once at 1/4" and again at maybe 1 1/2" to make the rod pocket. Check to make sure your rod fits in it. Sew this down. An iron is your friend to make the folds, if you're lazy like me and don't like to pin anything.

8. Measure how long you want the curtain to be again and fold up the bottom and turn it under to make the hem. Sew this one down, too. Iron out any major nasty wrinkles as you do this.

9. Thread on the rod and stick it into the window. You'll never look that closely at them again, and Martha Stewart will probably never visit your house, so it doesn't matter if your seams are a little crooked or your pattern doesn't match exactly.

10. Dance in your kitchen because it looks awesome and only took you an hour.

11. Take a really crappy photo with light coming in from behind to show everybody how your curtains are nice and yellow in your nice white kitchen and how it really perks up the place, honest.

Valance!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zoom!

Well, believe it or not, I'm actually able to say I've achieved a springtime knitting goal already!

Today I finished and put in the mail the hats I've knit as samples. These ones I'm actually allowed to show you, so here they are!

"Threesome" hats

A little hat family in nice squishy springy Merino. Very sweet, and a fun knit.

I've also cleaned up the yarn mess in the living room (it's down to three baskets) and planted nasturtiums, sweet peas, spinach, potatoes, and broccoli raab. Spring has sprung here in northern Virginia and I can't wait to have more green growing things all around me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Goals

Happy Spring Everybody!

It's definitely been warming up around here. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, it rains every other day, we're surrounded by tourists looking for the cherry blossoms... you get the picture.

Through my pal Dove, I've heard about a little bit of a contest hitting the knitting blogs. Ali at Skeins Her Way announced the contest a few days ago - the idea is simply to list some short-term knitting goals. Thanks, Ali, for having a contest and a giveaway!

Okay, so two of these are really cleaning goals, but they are good for me all the same.

1. Finish sample knitting part 1 - hats (due March 30, yikes!).
2. Finish possible sample knitting part 2 - a blanket.
3. Finish a lingering WIP part 1 - the diamond lace scarf.
4. Finish a lingering WIP part 2 - the bedjacket.
5. Finish a new project part 1 - the lace blouse.
6. Finish a new project part 2 - the wave lace socks.
7. Work more on my quilt.
8. Get lots of things planted in containers for the patio.
9. Clean the kitchen every day.
10. Put away the giant yarn mess in the living room, so it doesn't drive the man in my life crazy!
11. Blog more often.
and then, maybe start some things... like:
12. Flutter Sleeve Cardigan
13. Tangled Yoke Cardigan
14. Swallowtail Shawl
15. Sophisticated Rustic Jacket
Okay, so all of those taken together will be impossible.
and finally...
16. Knit through some of my sock yarn stash.

Does that sound like a crazy list? I hope not, and I certainly hope to be able to show off more lovely knitting, quilting, sewing, and gardening soon. Maybe even some papercrafts, if I learn them.

Unfortunately now that I've listed these, I have to go clean the kitchen and consider either knitting on something or cleaning up the yarn mess, as it's too dark out to plant seeds outside and I'm not dragging the sewing machine out now.

Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Nor disappeared, either.

I completed the "super secret" sample knitting late last week (which nearly resulted in one sleepless night, but I'm a pretty fast finisher) and sent that off.

Right away I received yarn for my next sample knitting project in the mail! It's Zitron Ecco, a nice squishy DK merino. I'll be making three coordinated hats.

Zitron Ecco

Now that I feel like I have more time, without completing anything else for myself, I've cast on for two more projects: the Lace Blouse from Romantic Style and Mock Wave Cable Socks from Favorite Socks. The socks are for an ongoing Ravelry project with prizes... who wouldn't want to win yarn?

The lace blouse is specifically being made as a cover-up for a new dress I just bought for the summer - I'm starting to believe that dresses are a necessity when it gets hot here, but I'd rather be able to put on a little blouse to complete the outfit and keep me a little warmer in aggressive air-conditioning. Unfortunately the lace pattern is very slow-going and it's knit on #2 and #3 needles, but with a little perseverance I'll get it done in time for the heat to hit.

Romantic Style lace blouse

Once in a blue moon I actually use the yarn called for in the pattern; I've done it here with Rowan 4-ply Cotton. Nice stuff, not too cottony and harsh. But I have lots to knit - actually lots of all kinds of stuff to do on my day off - and should get back to it.