My (new) sewing space

I just re-organized quite a bit so that all my crafting materials are in one room, and my desk and schoolwork are in another: having the sewing machine next to my computer was too good for procrastination.

I pulled a table and an old TV cart out of the basement, and now one wall of my bedroom looks like this:

(I haven’t found a chair yet. The step-stool works okay for now.)

If you turn to your left while sitting at the table, you see this:

All of my fabric, fiber and yarn in one place. There was some serious tetris-like packing going on while I organized this, and I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to be like packing a suitcase for a trip: on day one, everything fits, but by day three, you can’t shove it all back in no matter how hard you try. So far, though, it’s been great incentive to use what I have and work from stash, because I simply don’t have enough space for more fabric to join me.

The bookshelf below actually holds a lot of books that ought to be in my study, but they fit here, so I have to get up and go get them, if I suddenly need something on Troilus and Criseyde, or on how to date manuscripts, or late medieval literacy rates. The top right shelf is history/biography that’s not related to school: I call it the “shelf of depressing” because it’s all things like Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and a biography of Ernest Shackleton, and 1491, and so on. Interesting stuff, but a lot of lying, betrayal and death, none of which is fictional.

But back to crafting. Here’s a closer view of just the supplies, not the books:

The basic layout is: top row fiber, second row mostly fabric (but some fiber on the right), bottom row mostly knitting stuff (but fabric & books on the left).

There’s very little on those racks that isn’t yarn, fiber or fabric, so I’m using an old TV cart to hold tools & supplies. When I’m not using it, it fits snugly under the table like so:

The cart’s organization is still something of a work-in-progress itself, but it’s working well so far. The top left is a box that holds my rotary cutters and scissors and sewing machine feet, as well as any small random things that I don’t want to have to get up to put away right away. The top left is my sewing kit, with chalk pencils, velcro, binding tape, needles, pins, a pincushion, etc. Behind them is a work-in-progress: my second Mabel bag, which is waiting on the arrival of more fusible interfacing.

On the bottom left, there’s a box that holds my bags of scrap fabric. On the right, there’s a little Lane cedar box. When it opens up, you see:

Some of these are spools I’ve had for years (from well before I knew how to pick thread) and I’m planning on gradually replacing my thread with better quality as it runs out, but for now, I’m using what I have.

The top of the tv cart is where I lay out works-in-progress. The tabletop I’m using as my bench is only about 18″x36″, so the extra space is handy.

Speaking of the tabletop, here’s what it looks like close up. The left side has pieces for my Kitchen Window quilt:

The center is where the rotary cutting mat lives! It has pieces of the Hot Pink Quilts baby quilt I’m making for our downstairs neighbors, who just had a baby boy:

The right is where the sewing machine lives. I move it to the back when I’m cutting, or line it up along the edge of the table. It’s not perfect, but it works!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it: it makes a distinct space where I can sew and quilt, which doesn’t overlap with my desk at all.

I do have to be careful, though — if I leave the tv cart out, I can’t get into my closet! Gotta love living in NYC.

PS: I’m still de-stashing fabric and a little bit of spinning fiber.

WIP Wednesday

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and to the Small Blog meet-up at Lily’s Quilts. If you’re stopping by for the first time, you might be interested in learning more about me, or in looking at my finished quilts. If you’re interested in any particular kind of project, check out the tags in the lower right sidebar.

This is a remarkably picture-poor post, largely because it’s a to-do-list of the various projects I have in progress right now. Never let it be said that I’m a monogamous crafter? Projects are arranged in (sort of) order of least-work-to-be-finished.

General To-Do List:
-Tape a large piece of batting up on the tops of my two really tall bookcases and pin things to it, in an attempt to create something that sort of resembles a design wall
-Clean crafting stuff off my desk so it’s actually usable for schoolwork.
-Likewise clear books out of crafting space so I can actually sew w/out moving piles of stuff.

Test-Drive Mabel Bag To-Do List:
-Be proud of inside pockets and the fact that the lining actually (mostly) fits inside the exterior of the bag.
-Attach strap and strap extender once bag hardware arrives in the mail
-Sew around the opening, matching lining to bag outsides
-Turn it inside out to end up rightside out & sew up lining bottom
-Iron (and maybe topstitch?) for a finished, professional look

Mini Dresden To-Do List:
-Back of mini Dresden quilt: alternating tumblers in a variety of fabrics across a brown background: figure out the right size of tumbler
-Finish the corner fans of the mini-Dresden quilt, and arrange so that they will look all right after binding
-Binding of mini Dresden quilt: probably in a darker brown, but possibly in a scrappy series of colors. I’m torn between wanting to make it more cheerful and wanting the focus really to snap to the middle medallions
-Quilt & appliqué!

Simple Math To-Do List:
-Finish trimming all blocks from 6-and-almost-a-half-ish-inches to 6″ square
-Re-jigger design to figure out yardage needed to make a double-bed quilt out of slightly smaller blocks
-Pick out sashing & binding fabric (next week, with L, hopefully!)
-Cut sashing
-Piece a scrappy border, alternating white and blue
-Piece entire top (ugh!)
-Figure out backing for the quilt (!?!?!)
-Sandwich, quilt, bind
-Give to mom on October 18

Kitchen Window To-Do List:
-Cut the black 1 1/2″ strips for the “frames”
-Order more Kelly green and cut green strips for “borders”
-Cut about a dozen more organizing cards, number all 36 of them from 1-36
-Start laying out all 36 blocks, figuring out which ones need to be oriented vertically and which horizontally
-Piece blocks
-Arrange blocks on (hopefully!) “design wall”
-Piece top & figure out backing and binding
-Baste, quilt, bind

Knitting To-Do List:
-Subway socks (Malabrigo Monkeys)
-Red NaNo Sweater started in *cough* 2010: finish arms, finish torso. Yes, it’s fiddly cables: suck it up and knit it already.
-Modern Baby Blanket: finish while watching Olympics. Hope I have enough yarn.
-Finish the legs of those red socks already. Give them to mom on October 18.

Spinning To-Do List:
-Get cracking on that yarn for mom’s sweater. Finish it up by December, for a Christmas present.
-Spin exclusively from stash: maybe some merino/yak? Or the lovely greens from MA Sheep&Wool.

More spinning

I picked up a good bit of fiber at the Mass Sheep & Wool fair two weekends ago. The majority came from the Spunky Eclectic booth, where I sort of fell down on my credit card, and got four braids of beautifully dyed top. They had a merino/superwash merino/silk blend that was just beautiful to the touch, and a merino/yak that caught my eye. I picked up two of each, in reds and in greens.

But wait — that’s only three! Well, yes. I got impatient and spun up one braid before I even got home:

It was 4 oz. of the merino/superwash merino/silk and it practically spun itself: it was absolutely gorgeous, and such a joy to work with. I just spun on my “default” setting for yarn, which was easy and fun, and got a yarn that’s somewhere between a worsted and a DK.

I didn’t just fall over in the one booth, though. I also picked up some sock batts (10% nylon, hooray — otherwise I go through socks like they’re made of tissue paper) and some beautiful autumn-colored silk at A Touch of Twist. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the silk, but it just called my name so nicely, and it will be a lot of fun to spin up.

I’m already looking forward to Rhinebeck, in October. Hopefully by then I’ll have spun most of this, so I can justify picking up a little more.

Knitting stash mini-tour

I tend to acquire things and hang onto them. With books, okay, that’s fine. I just finished my MLS, I’m in graduate school in medieval history: books are easy to justify. With yarn and fiber, however… well, I’ve been knitting for about eight or nine years now, and spinning just a couple fewer. And in that time I’ve gone to Rhinebeck and a couple of local fiber fairs in Indiana and lived near lovely, wonderful, friendly LYSes that had great sales. Turns out, that all adds up. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

That’s all the yarn and fiber I own, all in one place. There was a time when I would have looked at a photograph like that and thought “Man, is she nuts, or what?” Now I look at it and think that, but I also sometimes think “but there’s nothing I want to work on!”

In case it’s hard to see what’s going on in that enormous set of wire racks, here’s a mini-tour of the yarn. (I’ll do fiber and fabric on another day.)

Today we’ll start with the lower half, which is all yarn.

In the lower-right-hand corner, there’s all the yarn that is destined to become sweaters. The brown will be the Indigo Playmate sweater from Wendy Bernard’s Custom Knits. The blue and purple will both be cabled cardigans, though I haven’t settled on a pattern or design for either of them. The red are balls that go with a cabled cardigan I’ve got on the shelf for now: it’s about halfway finished, and I’ll love it when it’s done, but right now it’s driving me crazy.
The other main collection of commercial yarn is my stash of sock yarn:

The purpley-grey in the top right does not want to be socks, so I’m planning on making it into some kind of wrap or scarf. The Lorna’s Laces below it (light blue and black) pools like crazy if I knit it into socks my size, so I’ll have to find someone with small feet whom I like enough to give hand-knit socks. (Sadly, this rules out absolutely every member of my immediate family. We all have huge feet.) The ones I’m looking forward to knitting with the most are the two greens. (Well, and the second skein of Claudia hand-painted, because it’s so sproingy!)

The majority of the rest of my yarn stash is handspun. There are the natural-colored yarns:

The lighter yarn is for a sweater: probably the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, if I got the yardage and weight of the yarn right. The darker is for colorwork with a lighter yarn that I haven’t finished yet.

There are the dyed yarns:

The enormous green skeins are enough for a sweater for someone else, but not for me — there is a downside to being 5’11” with long arms and a long torso, and it’s that spinning up for a sweater takes a little longer. The white-pink-green-yellow is probably going to be socks for a child: I dyed the fiber with easter egg dyes and it ended up a little too pastel for my taste. The rest mostly tend toward lace-weight, so I’ll be knitting a good number of light, lace pieces in the future.

Overall, I love spinning with color, but I find it hard to get enough fiber to make any particularly sizable project — and I only need so many hats and mittens, even in the Northeast.

If you happen to spin, what do you do with small quantities of handspun yarn? If you don’t spin, what would you like to do with it, if you had a couple hundred yards of handspun colorful yarn?