January 27, 2012

Pendleton scrap blanket (and matching pillow)!

Awhile back, Susan blogged about a blanket she made with scraps from the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, I thought it was fabulous, and Pete completely fell in love with it.  He’s been a bit Pendleton obsessed since he started getting really into men’s fashion a couple years ago… So we started taking trips over to the store and grabbing good looking scraps whenever we found them.  And then when the holiday season started, I took a couple secret trips by myself and gathered enough material for a giant blanket gift!

Pendleton blanket

I never scored like Susan did, with the super cheap precut sample cards, but I got mostly the thick, blanket quality wool pieces, so our double layered wool blanket is thick and heavy and WARM!  My blanket ended up costing more like $40-50, with all the by-the-pound thick scraps (as opposed to Susan’s amazing $12 creation, which is more what I was hoping for when I decided to go ahead with the project), and it took several days of work, with my limited sewing experience, but it was so super worth it all!  Once of my favorite things I’ve ever made!

Of course, most of you don’t have access to Pendleton wool scraps, but this same basic project can be done with recycled wool clothing (like plaid shirts and skirts) from thrift stores, or with felted sweaters!  So, I’ll tell you how I made mine…

Pendleton blanket

I started by cutting all the pieces in blocks to make strips of all different widths.  I cleared my living room floor to spread the project out and plan out the blocks as I cut.  After I took the above photo, I decided to make it a bit bigger, so I added more blocks to each strip.  Then I stacked each strip in order, and lined them up so I’d know how they were meant to be sewn together:

Pendleton blanket Pendleton blanket

I sewed each pile together into the strips, just as I’d laid them all out before, with a basic straight stitch, right sides facing.  As I finished sewing each one, I laid it back out on the floor, to keep everything in order:

Pendleton blanket

Then I ironed all those seams open on the back of each strip:

Pendleton blanket

I used the wool setting, with maximum steam…  Here are the seams before and after ironing:

Pendleton blanket Pendleton blanket

The strips after ironing:

Pendleton blanket

So then I sewed all the strips to each other.  Starting at one end, the first to the second, then the second to the third, and so on, until the whole thing was one big piece.  Careful to keep the ironed seams flat when sewing over them:

Pendleton blanket Pendleton blanket

Here’s the whole thing after that step:

Pendleton blanket

The next step, of course, was to iron all those seams, completing the top layer of my blanket:

Pendleton blanket

Then I made my lining layer.  I didn’t have any one piece large enough for the lining, but I did set aside a few of the largest scraps to piece together for the back side.  Once the top layer was complete and I measured it, I figured out exactly how to put the large pieces together to make a block of exactly the same size…  There’s a screenshot of my iPad app where I worked out the measurements, just for fun:

blanket planning Pendleton blanket

(All those numbers are inches; after it was finished, the final blanket measurements ended up being a bit over 6 feet by a bit over 5 feet.)  I sewed those together and ironed the seams, and then I had my lining:

Pendleton blanket

I laid out the lining with the top layer on top, right sides facing…

Pendleton blanket

…got the layers all smoothed out the best I could, and pinned the edges together:

Pendleton blanket

Then I sewed all around the edges, leaving about a foot open to turn it back right-side out.

Pendleton blanket

After sewing, I trimmed some parts where the edges didn’t line up perfectly, and clipped the corners to minimize bulk.  Then I turned it right-side out, ironed the edges well, and hand-sewed the part that was left open.

Pendleton blanket

Lastly, I sewed around the whole thing, about 1 1/2 inches in from the edge:

Pendleton blanket

I thought about different options for connecting the layers – tying or quilting or something – but with my lack of experience with this kind of crafting, and with how much I loved the blanket as it was, I didn’t want to risk messing it up.  It functions perfectly as is, so I don’t see any reason why the layers need to be attached…

Pendleton blanket

So there it is!  Pete’s giant Pendleton blanket!  I made it for him, but it happens to be huge enough to keep both of us warm at the same time – I’m sneaky like that!

Pendleton blanket

Some more beauty shots…

Pendleton blanket Pendleton blanket

It’s hard to tell the thickness and weight of it by the photos, so just trust me, it’s big and heavy!  I love it so much!

Pendleton blanket

And then, there’s more!  With some of the extra scraps, I made a pillow to match, before I started sewing the blanket, to kind of practice.  I wanted to make sure I knew the best way to sew and iron the seams before starting the blanket, so I cut these extra scraps, to fit a cheap Ikea pillow…

Pendleton pillow

…sewed them together…

Pendleton pillow

…ironed the seams…

Pendleton pillow

…and sewed on the two overlapping pieces for the back:

Pendleton pillow

And tah dah!  Pillowcase!  This project took about a half hour, so I definitely plan on making more of these!

Pendleton pillow

On the pillow:

Pendleton pillow


Pendleton pillow

And the back side:

Pendleton pillow

So that’s everything, except for one last note.  Throughout all the steps…

Pendleton blanket

…Banzo had to claim the wool as her new spot.  And now, of course, it’s her blanket.  I may have made it for Pete, but we all know who it really belongs to!

Pendleton blanket Pendleton blanket

I’d love to see if anyone uses my process to make a blanket from recycled clothing fabrics!  Just be careful if you make one with sweater pieces – the stretchiness will make the seams buckle if you don’t figure out how to best sew them (I know from experience as a self-taught sewer, and have never really figured out the best way to avoid buckling).  Sewing with the woven wool was still tricky, as the different scraps had varying amounts of stretchiness.  I had to figure out how to hold the 2 pieces with different tensions to make the seams even… But I made it work in the end.  Yay!

And just so you know, I’m writing this post curled up on the couch with the blanket over my legs, and the kitty curled up at my feet.  We are both very snuggly and warm!

Filed under: general crafts,gifts,home stuff,portland stuff,tutorials — leethal @ 12:46 am

January 20, 2012

California games, burritos, kitties, and more…

I spent about 3 weeks in late December / early January hanging with my family in California, meaning to get lots of knitting done, but that didn’t really happen.  What did happen was lots of game playing, movie watching, eating, and exploring different parts of southern California…  Here are highlights from the trip in photos (mostly taken with my phone or iPad)…

We had a couple massive game marathon days with my whole family – on one of those days we even made our own personalized version of Apples to Apples (that pile of paper scraps is our “card” stack… the poker chips were from earlier).  For xmas eve dinner, we had our traditional appetizer trays (crackers, cheeses, meats for the meat eaters, veggies, etc) and I made my homemade pickles!

family game times xmas eve dinner

And then for xmas morning breakfast, I made these sticky buns!  So good!

xmas morning sticky buns! xmas morning sticky buns!

My mom and I did some wandering around different parts of Orange and LA counties, including a day spent in Long Beach, where I used to live for a couple years before Portland.  My old favorite record store, Fingerprints, moved to a new neighborhood (from beach-y Belmont Shore, where we’d only ever go to go record shopping, to the downtown arts district, much closer to our old ‘hood), into an awesome space, so that was cool!  California record prices, however, not so cool… I am so spoiled by Portland!


My mom and I also played lots of games, and took walks around my parents’ new neighborhood, which has great character (and parrots!)…

farkle Floral Park tree

One excellent highlight for me was discovering that Santa Ana has flavors (colors!) of Kool-Aid that I can’t find in Portland – most importantly, mango!  My local Food-4-Less used to have this one, and it was my favorite color for yarn dyeing!  The golden orangey yellow shade was perfect for mixing with other colors to tone them down and make new shades.  Anyway, they stopped carrying it a couple years ago and I’d never been able to track it down, until now!  I bought up a ton of it, plus piña (which I’ve never had before, so I’m excited to see how it dyes!) and jamaica (which I’ve also never used, but it just looks like yet another shade of red); now when I run out, my parents can ship me more!  Yay!

kool-aid Holé Molé

The other photo up there is our old Long Beach neighborhood taqueria, Holé Molé, where I got to grab a burrito on my last day, before flying out of the Long Beach airport.  A huge highlight of spending time in California – food I can’t get in Portland!  I got to have In-n-Out a couple times, Wahoo’s (blackened mushrooms, yummmm!), my favorite pizza in the world – Pizza Bakery (where I worked in high school)… nomnomnom!

Bobby the snarlfaced kitty

Another highlight was hanging with my old kitties!  Bobby, who will be turning 19 this year, is looking much different than she did in her younger years, but is super sweet, despite her snarly old-lady face and clumsiness.  Sybil is also getting old, 13 or 14 I think, and is more aloof than Bobby, but when she feels like attention, she is a crazy purr machine and is very sweet!  I have no new photos of Sybil, but a video of a silly habit she has, of cleaning her face by licking the wall then rubbing her cheek on it – weirdo!  I don’t know if this embedding is working, so you can watch it on flickr here if it’s not showing up.

The third little beast living there is Muffin the dog, with whom I didn’t get along well when she was younger (my family got her after I moved away to college, so we never had a chance to bond), but now that she’s getting older and calmer (and doesn’t terrorize the cats so much), she’s not so bad…  and her toothy underbite is darn charming:

muffin the dog

And then I got to spend lots of time with my brother Paul, which was great!!  He was in the middle of a move, so he was staying with our parents for a couple days, and then I helped him with the move a little, to this great old apartment building in LA.  During the time we were both at the house, he introduced me to some awful television and I introduced him to some bizarre film, we went grocery shopping, where somehow this unicorn ended up in my cart, we played a bunch of Scene It? comedy edition… fun times!

Paul's new place unicorn

And then I spent a few days here and there in LA, where all three of my brothers live (sort of… Santa Monica kind of doesn’t count as living in LA, since it takes Matt as long to drive from there to Hollywood as it does for him to drive to Orange County).  I’m so glad I never had to drive, holy crap you guys!  I grew up in that area, but after a few years in Portland, you couldn’t pay me to drive around in LA!

My mom and Paul and I got to take a tour of Ben’s new office in the downtown LA arts district – he works at Cornerstone Promotion, and the office totally reminds me of Entertainment 720, except it’s awesome and not a parody.  (Yes, that is a DJ station set up in front of that massive Sonic Youth poster.  More shots here.)

Ben's office

Below are the outside of his office building, which is owned by Crazy Gideon (who once came into their office trying to sell them a refrigerator), and part of the wall of ghetto blasters.  Awesome!  On the night of that LA day, I got to hang with my bros and I talked them into a karaoke bar, where I sang 4 Non-Blondes to a cramped and intimidating LA crowd, and none of them sang, but it was still fun… no photos of that though…

Ben's office Ben's office

And on another LA day, my parents and Paul and I went to the LA Zoo!  Fun!!  So now, to finish off this rambly post, I’ll even things out with a few of my favorite zoo photos.  There are many more on flickr, here here and the bottom half of here

LA Zoo

Pensive gorilla.

LA Zoo

Dramatic chimp show.

LA Zoo

Obese beast.

LA Zoo

The cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  (I highly encourage you to check out more tiger kitten playing photos.)

LA Zoo

So that was some of what I was up to during my leethal absence.  Not much work got done (here’s a glimpse at the only thing I completed) but I missed my family, so I’m glad I got to spend that time with them.  When I got home, Pete had a surprise for me:


Green bathroom!  So that’s all about my trip… Now that I’m slowly getting back on track, you can look forward to a big tutorial post next week!  Woo!

Filed under: personal,photos — leethal @ 12:00 pm

January 19, 2012

Happy 2012! Here’s what’s up in leethal land…

How’s your 2012 going so far?  Mine is off to a slooooow start, but I feel like it’s just about to start taking off!  I wanted to jump in here after my long delay with kind of a catch-up post, with some stuff I’ve been up to so far this year, and random bits and news and things I wanted to share with you.

no-sew tee projects

First, Portlanders: I’ll be teaching a couple of free Library classes on making my no-sew recycled t-shirt bags, plus other things with the t-shirt leftover scraps (like the cuffs above), which you can see some more photos of over here.  The first class is this Saturday (the 21st) at the Capitol Hill branch, and the next one will be on February 18th at the Albina branch – check out my info page here for details and library links.

black sheep black sheep

And then a bit of leethal news – I wanted to let you know how much I ended up raising for Heifer… $110!!  Thanks to all who bought stuff in December, you are awesome!

Heifer thank you

And now moving on to what I’ve been up to… One thing I did on an impulse a few days ago, a kind of mixing things up for the new year new project-ish thing…. I started a tumblr!  I figure, I’ve always been terrible at little posts here on do stuff! – I’ve gone through phases of trying to regularly post small things like recipes, thrifty scores, mixes, etc… but it never sticks and I always go back to my long posts.

my new tumblr

So, I thought, how about I break it up?  Keep this blog as it is, but really try to do more tutorials and valuable content, and stick all that little content over on the tumblr.  I’m thinking of it as a halfway point between this blog and twitter – the posts will be more permanent than tweets, but much less of a big deal than the leethal blog.  My plan is to rarely even mention knit design over there, or even crafts in general – all valuable crafty content will be for here on do stuff! (so if that’s all you care about, you don’t need to follow both) – and to just use tumblr for silly personal stuff, assorted photos of things I’m doing, movies, books, music, food… we’ll just see where it goes, I don’t even know what to expect!

new (used) DVD stack amazing bow!

And now speaking of movies and music… I have a couple long term project updates.  Remember a year ago, when I decided to try to watch 365 movies in 2011?  Well, I did it!  JUST!  I watched my 364th and 365th movies on New Year’s Eve and just barely succeeded.  The list is a little embarrassing, but remember, I watch most movies while working, so I can’t give 100% attention to the screen, meaning I make silly choices a lot of the time, especially if I know I’m working on a pattern that needs some focus.  The questionable movies on the list weren’t really watched, they were just kind of background noise.  You understand, hehe.  Anyway, it was a fun project, but I’m happy to not have to count movies anymore and be more free to get sucked into TV shows whenever I want.  (So much TV to catch up with!  First up, probably Downton Abbey!  Not that I didn’t watch TV shows in 2011, but I just had to space them out and couldn’t keep up with everything.)

our record collection!

And my other project… well, you probably remember back in the summer when I went through that massive record organization project.  Chronological order!  Damn, it was a ton of work, and it was nerdy fun to do, but it was so not practical.  Cataloging and sorting our collection like that made Pete and I much more active about collecting records, like too much so, but hey, Portland has amazing shops that need our support, right?

our record collection!

So, once they were all organized, the collection started rapidly growing larger, and it became overwhelming, the thought of adding all the new LPs in their chronological spots.  So they just accumulated, and at the beginning of this year, the motivation kicked us and we spent a couple days immersed in re-organizing once again.

our record collection!

This time, alphabetical!  Sigh of relief!  So much easier to add new stacks where they belong and keep it all in order!  And, if you compare the photos of our collection from July and the current shots, you’ll notice how vinyl has almost completely taken over our shelving unit.  Love it!

our records! our record collection!

Another random fun thing I wanted to mention is that Pete has gotten suuuuper into Pinterest since joining a couple days ago.  If you have any interest in men’s fashion, or neat nature/science photos, you may want to follow his boards.

Pinterest screenshot

And then the last thing I wanted to mention… even though it annoys me that there’s no iPad app or functioning website and everything is through the iPhone app, I still like the idea of instagram and I’ve started using it a bit more.  I’m _leethal_ over there if you’re an instagrammer (instagrammar?)…

snow in portland! snow in portland!

Okay I think those are all the things I wanted to mention.  Happy 2012 all!

Filed under: home stuff,movies,music,personal,photos,portland stuff,random stuff — leethal @ 7:00 am
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