Thursday, January 31, 2013

Liebster Award

Well, I've been nominated for the Liebster Award twice this week (thanks Aoife and Kim!), so I figure it's about time that I actually take a few minutes to address it.  First of all, if you don't know what a Liebster Award is (I definitely did not), it's to recognize new and/or small blogs and spread a little love throughout the crafting community.

Nominated blogs must:
1) Be less than six months old and/or
2) Have fewer than 200 followers.

If they choose to participate, nominees must:
1) Provide 11 random pieces of information about themselves
2) Answer 11 questions posed by their nominator (is that a word?), and
3) Nominate 11 other blogs and pose their own questions.

Essentially, it's a chain letter for bloggers, but one that's kind of fun and doesn't waste time with a stupid, fake prize to lure participates (Mom, please stop sending me these. xoxo).

So, on to my 11 random titbits:
1) I was on the rowing team my freshman year of college. Everyone assumes I was the coxswain since I'm only 5'3", but I was bow.
2) I HATE buttons with a passion. They gross me out. So do small, balled up pieces of paper and dirty crumpled napkins.  And gum, chewed or unchewed.
3) I was terribly allergic to cats as a kid, but now I have two and couldn't imagine life without them.
4) I love the word "displeased."  And adverbs.
5) I volunteer with my local humane society every week.  It provides my dog-fix since I can't have one in my apartment.  Plus it's good for the dogs.
6) I am and forever will be a devoted Michigan Wolverine (GO BLUE!)
7) My mom wanted to name me Robin. Robin Roach... Thankfully, she was outvoted.
8) I really want to be the type of person who goes camping and hiking and other outdoorsy stuff, but I have yet to do any of it (at least since I stopped going to summer camp when I was 14).
9) I love tulips.
10) I wish I could speak at least one foreign language. I used to speak French, but I don't anymore (for the most part), which makes me sad.
11) I've always wanted to learn how to play the piano, and plan on taking lessons when I'm old and retired.

Since I was nominated twice, I'm just going to answer both sets of questions, and then nominate 11 blogs, not 22.

The first set is from Aoife:
1) If you could try out any craft other than stitch-y things, what would you do?
Woodworking.  I used to play around with the hammer, nails, and old plywood when I was younger (probably too young), but sawing through a 2 by 4 with a hand saw when you're 10 takes too long.  I needed a circular!
2) What's the reasoning behind your blog's title?
A friend came up with it.  I'm crafty, and my last name is Roach (yes, I was teased as a child, and sometimes I still get looks and/or comments from salespeople, which is beyond unprofessional).  Another friend designed my logo (well, altered), and I love him (the logo.  Well, and the friend).

3) What was the first music album you bought?
The Proclaimers on cassette tape.  I still have it at Mom's house .

4) What would be your dream job and how is that different to when you were a kid?
Hmm, I'm not sure. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid, until I realized my allergy to animals would make that highly uncomfortable.  Though now that I seem to have grown out of that, maybe I'll take that one up again...

5) If you had time and money, where in the world would you choose to go visit?
India, without a doubt.  And Prague.

6) Do you have a new sewing  technique you want to try out and learn this year?
Pretty much all sewing techniques are still new too me, though I'd like to be able to sew wearable garments by the end of the year.

7) What is your all time favourite movie?

8) If you could get rid of one chore from your life, what would it be?
Folding laundry. I don't mind doing it. I just hate folding it.

9) What is the greatest source of creativity for you?
Probably reading blogs.  I'm still new to this sewing thing, so I'm not yet comfortable with coming up with fresh ideas.  For now I'm happy practicing using inspiration from other people.

10) What are you most proud of in your life?
I think the fact that I'm actually an adult.  It's something that I have to remind myself all the time.  It's still so weird to me that I get up every morning for work, that I pay my own bills and live in my own apartment and manage to feed myself every day (or, Mr. T feeds me.  He's the cook).  And it's not like this just happened yesterday.  I'm in my late 20's, so I've been doing this for a few years.

11) What thread-related project are you working on right now!?

I have two. A baby quilt for a mom-to-be (any day now!) whom I've known for 15 years and an iPad case a friend ordered for her mom.

Okay, now from Kim.  And no repeats.  I think this is the most I've ever shared about myself on the blog!

1. Do you have a book you reread over and over? If so, which one?

I read a lot, but rarely re-read.  I think the last one I read more than once was Harry Potter. My copy of the first one is well worn.

2. In an alternate universe where you are endowed super powers, but only one, which would yours be?

Flight. No question.

3. If only allowed one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ah, that's a hard one. Probably nachos, but only the one's my boyfriend makes.  

4. What is your favorite part about blogging?

Being able to easily share my crafts with friends and family.  So much better than spamming everyone's inboxes.  Also, I like writing for fun. When I was a kid I loved writing stories, so it's nice to go back to writing for enjoyment instead of a deadline, even if it isn't exactly award-winning prose.

5. Where would be your ideal place to live?

India.  (Can you tell I'm slightly obsessed with India even though I've never been.  Mr. T (my bf) is Indian, though he has yet to take me.  He hasn't even been back in close to 10 years).

6. What is your favorite season of the year and why?

Fall. The weather. The colors. And my birthday.

7. When you laugh out loud, do you have a weird snort or chortle or nuance that you do? What is it?

I personally think I have an annoying laugh, but I don't let that stop me from laughing.  Sometimes if I get going really hard, I start sort of choking so it turns into mostly silence with long, high-pitched squeals while I suck in air.  If Mom and I get going at the same time, it's even worse (better?).  She once set off the burglar alarm when we were playing Cranium - apparently the system thought her laughter sounded very much like a window being shattered.

8. Your favorite type of crafting?

It varies depending on my mood.  I've been crocheting the longest, so that will always have a special place in my heart, but right now knitting is at the top of the list.  That's why my sewing and quilting projects are taking so long to complete.  I've been spending the one hour I have each night knitting, and neglecting everything else.

9. Do you workout? What is your favorite type of cardio if you do?
Yes, at least 6 days a week.  Biking is my favorite, especially now that Mr. T has a bike so I have a riding buddy.  But in the winter I run, elliptical, and do yoga.

10. Have you ever dialed Jenny at 867-5309? SPOILER: I have!
No, but I've always wanted to!

11. What is your attention span when it comes to how-to craft videos or tutorials for a new technique on the web?

Depends on the video and the technique.  I watched the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month and Creative Quilt Backs videos start to finish, but I often fast forward on YouTube.

Wow, that was probably way more about me than you ever wanted to know about me.  Now, for the blogs I nominate:
Made with Moxie (Jill has 201 followers, but I'm still counting it because she's hilarious)

My questions for them:

1) What is your favorite non-crafting related hobby?
2) If you could have a coffee date with one person, famous or not, living or dead, who would it be?
3) What is your favorite sewing (or crafting) notion?
4) Do you have a nickname? If so, what is the story behind it?
5) What is the best gift you've ever given? Received?
6) If you were reincarnated, what would you want to come back as?
7) If you got a tattoo, what would you get? (If you already have a tattoo, what is it, or what is your favorite if you have multiple, or what would your next one be if you want to get another?)
8) What food did you love as a kid but now can't stand. Or vice versa? (Mine is beets and Brussels sprouts, respectively).
9) What is your favorite thing you've ever made?
10) If you were to update Wikipedia, what would your entry be?
11) Do you have an odd skill or talent? (For example, I have an uncanny ability  to determine which celebrity a person resembles [this is a fun bar activity]).

This was a super long, wordy post, so here are cute pictures of my cats sleeping (I may or may not be turning into a crazy cat lady...).


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Frogging...and first snow!

So last night around 9pm my Spectrum Socks looked like this:

By 10pm, they looked like this:

That's right.  With only the toes left to go, I frogged them.  They just weren't right.  The leg was great, but the foot was way too big.  I also didn't like how the yarn looked so nice and striped at the top, but was more confetti-like along the foot.  So, I'm going to start over.  I figure if I'm going to spend this much time making something, it might as well be good.  No point wasting time on something I know I'm never going to wear.

After reading a few posts (primarily this one from Hey Porkchop!), I checked out Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up from the library, and consulted Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  I really like the step-by-step directions she gives.  Much more thorough than anything I've been able to find elsewhere, including books and online.  I'm going to use her method to get comfortable with plain socks, and then branch out to some more exciting designs.

In other news, we got our first snow last night!  I snapped a photo on my early morning walk to yoga.

I love snow! It's so pretty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inauguration, in photos (mostly)

Disclaimer: I usually try to stick to crafting-related events, but I'm straying away today.

So, this weekend was quite busy, and very little of it involved crafting.  I had about an hour on Saturday during which time I caught up on Downton Abbey (and then quickly fell behind again on Sunday) and worked on my socks (almost ready to shape the toes!).  The primary event was the 57th Presidential Inauguration.  I went four years ago when I first moved to DC, so I wasn't actually planning on going this year.  But friends generously gave me and Mr. T tickets to both the inauguration and the parade, so I figured why not.  Might as well soak up the experiences while I'm here.  As expected, I found the inauguration ceremony a bit lackluster compared to 2009.  Four years ago there was such a feeling of hope and rejuvenation, not to mention the historic act of swearing in our first black president.  Anyway, it was still cool to go. And it was fun to be there with Mr. T since he wasn't able to attend the first time.

The parade, on the other hand, was amazing!  We had to wait in the cold for awhile, but thankfully since we had tickets, we also had seats.  And the sun was out warming us for some time.  We only stayed until the Vice President passed (which is barely any of the parade), but all the waiting and cold was worth it because we were about 10 feet from the President of the United States!  I'm not actually that political, and I didn't expect to be as excited as I was, but it was quite thrilling. I kept hopping up and down squealing!  I mean, when am I ever going to be that close to the President again?!?

Okay, now for some photos:

White House, South Lawn

MLK Memorial. It was packed because it was his bday.
Washington Monument
Our view of the inauguration.  I was just excited this year that I could see the Capitol, even though we still had to watch the speeches on the jumbo-tron.  In 2009 I was a mile down the Mall.

Zoomed in view of the Capitol
I rarely post photos of me and Mr. T, so here we are in a glorious self-portrait with the Capitol behind us. (Not sure why he's making that clenched-face smile. Probably annoyed with me for making him take a self-portrait).

Love these flautists.  Their colonial outfits were awesome.
And they even had white wigs on under their hats! You can see all the matching pony tails!
Joe! He was running back and forth, interacting with the crowd. His security detail was chasing around after him, probably very displeased with Joe's enthusiasm.
BO and MO.  She's so stylish!  I have no idea how she's walking so much in those heels!
Best shot of the day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I just got Instagram. I know, kind of late to the party.  Find me: @thecraftyroach.  I also had twitter, but deactivated it after about 5 minutes.  I can only handle so much social networking.

Disclaimer: I'm keeping my Instagram private for now, just because I don't want to end up with a lot of spammy followers (I already got one and I haven't even had it a day!), but if all your photos are crafty related, I'll be sure to accept!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Knitting Needle Case

I am beyond excited to finally be posting this!  I've been trying to wait until I'm able to get better pictures with my camera, but it's already been a week and I haven't had the chance and I can't wait any longer, so crappy, just-finished-making-this-and-had-to-show-it-to-Mom-immediately cell phone pictures it is.

My friend Sabrina, whom I've mentioned here several times, is awesome.  She's one of my closest friends and lives right around the corner so we get to hang out all the time.  She's also one of the biggest supporters of my crafting habit and was my first customer.  Her birthday was Christmas Eve, which I think can be difficult because birthday excitement gets lost in the holiday (as a Jew with a September bday, I'm just speculating here).  Anywho, I wanted to do something super special for her. I definitely wanted to make something, but there's already a quilt in the works for her (or, almost in the works...), I've made her a pillow, and she doesn't need an iPad case.  After some major brainstorming, I had a stroke of genius - a knitting needle case!!!  Sab and I learned how to knit together almost two years ago, so I thought this would be a great way to tie in our mutual interest while giving her something useful and handmade.
The decorative touch of the twill tape is one of my favorite parts.  I think it adds a little something special to the outside.
This is by far one of my favorite handmade items.  First, it's awesome and practical for a knitter.  Second, it's my own original design!  My first one!  And I really like how it turned out, which makes it that much better. Before I gifted this to her, I told Sab that if she didn't like it I was going to keep it.

It has room for 10 pairs of straight needles or DPNs on the right, and three pockets for circular needles on the left.  I also included a velcro pocket for small notions such as stitch markers and darning needles (this was the toughest part.  I sewed it closed at least once while joining the inside and outside).  All of the pockets are stabilized with SF-101 and I added batting between the inside and outside covers for extra protection and softness.  It closes in half and ties with twill tape.

I'd been hoarding this Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley for a while, waiting for the perfect project.  I think it works great for this case.  It's a bit busy, but I think once it's full of needles that will tone down a bit.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finish-A-Long 2013: Quarter 1

she can quiltWith my work schedule, I don't actually have too much sewing time, so I'm pretty good a not having unfinished projects (UFOs) [my list is more things that I want to make and have the materials for, but don't have time to start], but I do have a few so I thought I'd participate in the 2013 Finish-A-Long hosted by Leanne at she can quilt anyway.

After reading through the rules, I'm not sure that all of the below count towards the FAL, but since this list is for my own accountability as well, I'm adding them anyway.

1) Stanford iPad case

Originally posted here. The friend I'm making this for is coming to visit next week, so I need to get moving.  Once I find the time and get motivated, it shouldn't take too long to complete.

2) Index Blocks

I made these blocks in October as a pattern tester and they've been sitting around since then.  I'm still having trouble deciding what to do with them.  I'm leaning towards a pillow as a birthday gift, but that requires some rearranging and possibly a couple more blocks, so no progress.

3) Baby Quilt


This one is a gift so I can't show too much, but I really need to get it done.  The recipient is due in two weeks...

4) Schoolhouse Tunic

AH! This tunic! I made this in November as part of a sew along.  The fit is beyond off and as one new to garment sewing I'm not sure how to fix it.  I spoke to Mom's neighbor, who is an expert seamstress, so now I just need to get the appropriate foot for my machine and attempt to make the alterations she suggested.  Also cursing myself for trying to be fancy and doing french seams.  Not wise, especially for my first piece of clothing.

I don't think these last three count towards the FAL, but I wanted to document them anyway.

5) Snowballs in Helsinki quilt


I really need to start cutting this.  That's my Q1 goal - just to start cutting.  Maybe even sew a few blocks, but at the very least cut the fabric. It's just so many pieces that I'm a bit daunted.  And I'm not 100% sure if I have enough fabric to actually make it this large, so I need to be careful with how I'm cutting to make my fabric go as far as I can, and to make sure it's all spaced evenly between the three rings of each block.

6) Boyfriend Sweater

This one is almost done!  It's been a year in the making, but I'm so close.  All I need to do is block it and sew on the buttons. Odd thing about me for which my friends mock me relentlessly - I hate buttons (but I love cardigans) so this last step is the one I'm dreading most.  But the sweater is amazing so I need to do it so that I can actually wear it!

7) Spectrum Socks

I completed the legs a few months ago, but was a bit overwhelmed by turning the heels so I put these aside to focus on my sweater.  Now that the sweater is done - at least the knitting part - I'm determined to finish these before casting on any new projects.  Also, this post from Hey Porkchop was really motivating. (If anyone has any suggestions as to how to keep my yarn from getting so messy and tangled, I'd appreciate it.  I wound the skeins as center pull balls, but clearly I didn't do a very good job...).

So that's it.  Aside from my Lucky Stars BOM, which is obviously a year long project, those are the only UFOs/WIPs I currently have.  Granted, my list of things I want to make is about 5 times as long and ever growing, so I need to clean these out so I can move right along.  I think this is a pretty reasonable list and I'm excited to have this motivation to actually complete some of these projects that I've been neglecting and originally planned to continue to neglect (ahem. index blocks and schoolhouse tunic).