project bag-2

Made: Knitting Project Bag

I’ve been knitting so much lately that my hand/wrist has been bothering me. I’m sure that my recent obsession with my gym’s fitness classes haven’t helped. My grip strength needs some work, and my forearms are just super sore all the time it seems.

ANYWAY, the other night I felt like I needed a break. I probably should have spent that time making Christmas gifts. But I’m not that nice. In fact, I’ve been a pretty selfish crafter these days. Instead of knitting, I made a project bag. FOR ME!

project bag-2

At first, I intended to make a smaller bag, for smaller knitting projects – looking at youJapanese knot bag. But then I found this free pattern posted by Shannon, coincidentally the same talented designer that published Antrorse, the work in progress red sweater stuffed in the bag right here.

Super simple. The bag has 8 pieces, including pocket AND interfacing. The tricky parts for me included attaching the interfacing to the lining fabric. Tricky because it is NOT fusible interfacing, and I did NOT want to sew it in. So I used some Heat-n-Bond. The other tricky part was attaching the lining and outer bag together at the curved top seam. The instructions called for pressing a 1/4″ hem and then butting those together and top stitching. I skipped the pressing part and just folded the pieced together as I stitched.

The other modification I made to the published pattern was to omit the exterior pocket. I don’t intend to reverse the bag, so I kept the pocket on the lining.

The fabrics all came from my stash; a Bella solid and an Ikea print. See the two deer? I did that on purpose.

What an improvement from the Lululemon shopping bag, which was just a smidge too small.

project bag

I like this type of open top bag for large knitting projects. There’s not zipper or clasp for the yarn to tangle up on, and the open top means keeping the yarn ball in the bag while knitting.

project bag-4

And it’s pretty.

project bag-3

My next sewing project really will be Christmas gifts. I mean it!

weekender bag-2

Made: Weekender Bag

weekender bag

I love this bag. LOVE IT. And i use it everyday as my work bag, so it gets TONS of use.

I’m a bit behind in documenting my crafty – this bag has been finished since September! Yikes. Well, here we go!

Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag has been on my sewing list for a few years now. I had bought the pattern ages ago, but couldn’t muster up the courage/desire/willpower to actually make it.  It wasn’t until my friend Heather mentioned a sewalong of sorts at a Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild sew in. We needed moral support.

I loved the look of this bag, made by Jennie at Porch Swing Quilts. I used 2 charm packs of Kate Spain’s Good Fortune for the patchwork panels, a Cotton + Steel basic for the handles and piping and a solid turquoise for the zipper panel. Modifications I made to the pattern was to lengthen the handles by about 5″ and I added an interior zip pocket on one side.

I worked on it pretty steadily over a few weeks, finishing up the day before I hopped on a plane back East. Work in Baltimore, then hanging out with friends in DC for the weekend. And the bag came with! It’s large enough for my work laptop and a whole bunch of other stuff. I used it as my carry-on AND my be-bop around the National Mall bag.

weekender bag-2

OH, and here’s a story. I was in the National Galleries, looking at a Van Gogh, when a woman came up to me and asked if I had made my bag. She said it looked great, and that she was only asking because she has the same fabric back at home!

 

WIP: The Great Divide Shawl

WIP The Great Divide Shaw

Knitting Knitting Knitting… I cast on for the Great Divide Shawl last night. And after knitting a few rows, I ripped it out and cast on again.

Anyone do a yarn over while purling? I completely jacked it up the first go-around. I watched a few YouTube videos, which helped. However, if these stitches were called ‘purl overs’ I might not have needed the video instruction. Just throwing that out to the universe…

Wow. I forgot how much I love the feel of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. I don’t exactly love the price tag of a single hank ($22 for 220 yards)… but I do understand that I get what I pay for. Anyway, I’m really not thinking of the cost – knitting this is an absolute dream. The stitch pattern is fun, and I’m now in a groove where the ‘s1, k1, yo, psso both sts’ is (not quite, but close) flying off my needles.

I’m using the Farmhouse White as my main color with the Jasper for the contrast. I waffled between a few accent colors – more blue? more gray? – but the helpful employee at Fancy Tiger choose Jasper. Which was my #1 choice too.

I Can Run Faster Than I Think

running feet again

What a surprise the other morning. My training plan called for a 5 mile tempo run, at at 9:35 per mile pace. However, I’ve been running at a quicker pace than what’s been laid out in my plan. Because of that, I had mentally set a per mile pace of 9:15 as I started the run.

Yet every time I looked down at my Garmin and saw 8-something in the Pace field, I was surprised. My rate of perceived exertion did not indicate a sub 9:00 per mile pace. And so I just kept running. I slowed down when it got hard and then sped up when it got easy.

All in all, I covered the 5 miles in 43:15, which averages to an 8:39 minute per mile pace. One of the benefits of using a Garmin for the past 6 years is having historical data to compare where I am now to where I used to be. And just looking back to the past few years, this most recent effort really is the quickest 5 miler I’ve put out.

All those track workouts and tempo runs have been paying off.

Who doesn’t love seeing progress? Between pregnancy, injury shortly after having Miles, more injury and then just committing to the work – I feel like I’ve got it. I am in a really good spot concerning my running. I feel strong. I feel fast. And I don’t hurt (much).

 

Hexagon iPad Sleeve

Made: iPad Sleeve (with hexagons!)

Hexagon iPad Sleeve

This might have been the quickest project I’ve made. Ever.

Oh, and I’m kind of excited about the hexagons. (Hey, don’t make fun of me, I am celebrating the small things!) I’ve been hand stitching these things for, like, ever.

I mostly followed a tutorial I found on Sew Mama Sew. I used batting instead of the heavy interfacing that the pattern calls for, so my case is probably a lot softer then theirs. I also omitted the D-ring handle.

I machine appliqued the hexagon panel right on top of the linen, then echo quilted around it. I really like it!

The pocket holds my charging brick and cord with no problem. It is big enough to comfortably fit the bluetooth keyboard/protective cover thingie I keep with my iPad most of the time.

iPad Sleeve Pocket

It stays closed with the help of a little Velcro.

iPad Sleeve Closed

Completing this little project was so satisfying. I didn’t obsess over the fabric, and I wanted to keep it simple. I like the combo of linen + prints. I have so many other projects in varying stages of in-completeness. I just did not feel like working on any of them. I wanted something quick and useful – and it’s pretty.

Yay!

 

(Unofficial) End of Summer Camping Trip

Camping

JJ returned from a month-long Army training exercise, and what better way to celebrate his return to civilization than to go camping! Because really, after sleeping in a tent on a cot for an entire month in the Mojave Desert, coming home to a real bed is just not the same. Why not pack everything back up and sleep in another tent. For fun!

JJ is a really good sport. We’ve talked about camping for months now, and just hadn’t done it. We even bought a family-friendlier ATV to tear up the trails. I chose a campground (Iron City Campground in the San Isabel National Forest near Buena Vista, CO for those that are wondering) that was near a bunch of ATV trails and it was perfect!

Miles was still hanging out with my parents in Ohio, and truthfully, we wanted to test our own camping skills before dragging a child with us.

We rode up Tincup Pass, cooked burgers and hotdogs, heated water for noodles and coffee and oatmeal. Slept in a (rented) tent. Rode the ATV some more. Ate more noodles. Hid from a hail storm (ok, ok, we napped during it). I started and finished a book, JJ caught up on magazines… in summary it was a really great weekend for the two of us.

And so the (unofficial) start of fall is here, now being September and Miles is back and in preschool. We’re waking up to cooler mornings, and still trying to squeeze in some fun in the evenings before it gets dark.

Paramount Theater in Denver, CO

It Was A Midnight Bike Ride After A Great Show

Paramount Theater in Denver, CO

Great night. Great show.

Not such a great bike ride.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, riding our bikes downtown to see the David Gray perform at the Paramount Theater, just off the 16th Street Mall. I live a mile or two from my sister, and she lives another mile or two from the Paramount Theater.  It was a lovely evening, and parking can be a real bitch downtown, so we decided to ride our bikes.

After the show – which was amazing. I’ve probably seen David Gray live a half dozen times, and he never disappoints – we walked outside. It was damp. It had rained. Bike seat = wet butt = uncomfortably gross ride home. And my back tire was flat. Slap Slap Slap. Its what we heard riding along 16th Street turning in to 16th Avenue.

It was a warm, damp evening.
Riding through puddles makes a pleasant sound.
Squick squick of the pedals.

The sky was a deep inky indigo color.
Huge drops of water plop on my shoulders, my arms, my thighs, my head as I ride down the street.
I give the parked cars along the (haunted) park a wide wide berth. Afraid of the nothing – no people, no light – afraid of what isn’t there, but what I think is there.

But more embarrassed of the slap slap slap of my (flat) back tire as I ride past Shells and Sauce. And again when another bike goes right past me.

I fear I ruined my wheel by riding so far on such a flat tire.

By pedaling through the streets at midnight, I saw a completely different city filled with interesting characters – the guy with the fun music coming out of his speakers on his neon light trimmed bicycle I saw riding through the park, the guy walking his dog, the girl pedaling home, the couple leaving the restaurant, the dark windows in the big and small bungalows I passed.

Even though the ride was at times uncomfortable and embarrassing, being able to ride my bike is a joy. Living where we live is a joy. There really is no better way to witness the subtleties of a city than by rolling through the streets. Day or night.

Made: Sew Together Bag

sew together bag interior sew together bag

I have been hearing about the Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented for awhile now. A few of my guild members made them together at one of our retreats. My friend Heather showed me hers at a guild sew-in. And after seeing them in person, and looking at just how much stuff they can keep in this bag, I wanted to make one too.

I used fabrics entirely from my stash and scrap bin – I even had enough interfacing and the right size zippers to put it all together. I like being able to shop my supplies. I don’t have enough of a fabric stash to make full sized quilt, but I do have enough for other sewing projects.

The bag comes together so smartly! I really liked sewing this bag. Listening to my guild friends, I used the The Quilt Barn’s Sew Together Bag Sew Along for reference as I was putting this bag together. The pattern doesn’t have many photos, but the blog series does.

For the exterior, I used a ‘quilt-as-you-go’ method it turned out great. I used Craft Fuse for the interfacing – it’s what I had and I like the stiffness it adds to the pockets and side panels. I thought it was a pretty easy bag to sew, but I’m not afraid to sew zippers. I’ve heard some quilters comment that they are intimidated by this bag because of the zippers. If you are one of those quilters, I just want to encourage you to try and learn new skills. Zippers are not as bad as we make them out to be!

And it is so useful, not just for sewing supplies, but I can see using this as a travel toiletry bag or cosmetic bag or school supply bag.

track workout

I’ve Been Running

track workout

This shouldn’t really be a surprise, but I’ve been running. And its been really good so far this summer. If you follow me on Instagram I really only post photos of my sewing and my feet. Really fun IG feed, huh?

But really, my running has been really good and I want you all to know that. Just kidding! Truthfully, I want to remember how good it is right now. And how grateful that I’m healthy and able to run. This time last year, I was slowly working my way back to running.

I am working towards the Denver Half Marathon on October 19th; I even have a very structured training plan that I’m following. I borrowed Run Less, Run Faster from the library and put together a training plan, complete with target paces. I won’t go too much into the meat of the book, but essentially I’m only running 3 times a week. One track workout, one tempo workout and a long run. Some cross training thrown in there rounds out my week. It really is a good schedule for me and my body right now. I’m not too tired and I’m not too sore.

I’m finding, however, that I’ve been able to run faster than the paces laid out in the plan. I’m 4 weeks into training, and I’m really surprised. I used my time from this year’s Cherry Creek Sneak, and I’m thinking that I need to run a fast 5k to recalibrate. The tempo runs are most surprising for me; I typically do not have the discipline to push myself outside of ‘easy’.

All that speedwork is working though. Lap after lap around the track on Tuesdays. Faster, longer runs on Thursdays. Long runs on Sundays. The running is getting easier. I’m moving quicker. Best of all? I’m having fun.

 

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