Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Next Project : Swing Type Wool Picker

I just bought the plans to build this swing-type wool picker from Debbie at Willow Dell Fibers.

I know-- It looks like a medieval torture device, but -- if you do it right, no blood will be shed.  It's used for one of the earlier stages of processing wool for spinning.  This would be the stage BEFORE carding.   After you wash raw wool, the fibers can sort of stick together.   This tool can help OPEN the fibers, dislodge hay and vegetable matter, making it easier to do the carding in the next step.

This is something DH is willing to make for me.  I can do the drilling and work with the nails.    He'll do the rest--safety features included.  These are usually simple projects where he can flex his woodworking and engineering muscles after working his computer programming day job.   It's just so satisfying to be able to make these fiber tools for minimal cost.    And it's something we can do together.  ;-)

The Patrick Green version sells for over $600--and I know it will be good and solid, and last a lifetime.  I also think we can DIY with scrap wood.  I also saw this model which gave me that idea :

There are other models and designs that use a box method with a sliding top, but it seems to me that would be very inefficient.  Too much friction.   I'd much rather have gravity work in my favor -- hence my preference for the swing model above.

Here's how it works (Pat Green example)This one is also useful for some of the extra tools and equipment that would be useful :

Here's another video of how it works:

It's fun to see the open fiber fly off the back end.  Also good to see and hear the safety precautions, too. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Orange is for October : Little Things

I needed a new Kindle cover, as my old one was getting tired and shabby.  I still love that Klimt-inspired fabric, but it was time to retire it ...  No button this time, as it kept getting caught on things in my bag.  Though I have to say, that pretty little button was durable through the years. 

So instead, I worked up the Kindle cover above with the last of that orange and green fabric.  Makes me smile!

And this ... more orange and black!

Second, I added some color to the cuffs of a pair of jeans.

At Quilt Camp, one of the ladies, was wearing jeans leg cuffs embellished with embroidery.  I could have done that with the fancy stitches on my sewing machine -- when I got around to it. 
Instead, I spotted a roll of trim at St. Vinny's for $1.  Yes!  I thought : I have an easy way to add color to my jeans!  And cheaper than the gorgeous trim at La Droguerie in Toulouse, France.

[I know -- You young people don't like my baggy jeans, but hey-- You don't get to say what clothes I feel comfortable in.   And frankly, I like to see you cringe and squirm at the sight of it.  ;-)  That's the beauty of getting older--Not caring what other people think.  I hope you grow into that joy some day sooner than later.  It makes life so much easier! ]

And just because it's so orange, I am hearkening back to this image that I worked up in 2014 of a wonderful old walnut tree in my neighborhood (no longer here) and a Citrasolved National Geographic background. 

 Don't forget this Harvest Moon, also from 2014, though the branches of that same walnut tree.

Monday, October 15, 2018

New Spinning Wheel : Schacht-Reeves Saxony Wheel in Cherry

The new spinning wheel is here!  It's a beauty!  
I think I'll call her Claire. 

This video was very helpful in getting things all set up.

I started with that new creamy alpaca.  But it was like I was a brand new and learning to spin again.  It's always that way getting to know a new piece of equipment.

I was having trouble with the double drive-band staying in the grooves of the big wheel  It must not have been lined up properly.  Finally, I gave up on that, and just doubled it up, with both strands on the whorl, and went with the Scotch tension on the bobbin instead.  I got that to work better, but I could feel a lot of extra drag with that method --  It was harder to treadle, too --  I was almost considering up-grading to the double treadle as the other foot would pick up where the wheel gets slow and wants to go backwards. I never had that trouble with the Louet S90.    Felt like I was fighting it--which tells me it needed some more adjustments.

Then I tried some black alpaca and sheep's wool mix that had been beautifully carded.  It was light and airy, very easy to work with, and things got to much easier.

My husband did the math, and figured out which whorl I should be using that would be roughly equivalent to the one I usually use on the Louet -- which is the middle one.    For the Schacht, it's the larger whorl with the biggest setting.   Things were getting even easier to work!

Then I got brave and decided to try the double drive band again.  It worked so much easier this time.  Much less drag, and the treadling was also easier.  Still not sure I understand how to adjust the tension properly, but I'll figure it out.

So far I have about 1/2-a bobbin full already. Some really bad yarn, and some pretty decent yarn on top.

I think we have a good understanding of each other now.  I think she'll be very happy here.  ;-)

Fiber basket  -- currently filled with a mix of black alpaca and black sheep's wool carded into a large-ish cloud-like batt.  Very soft and easy to spin on the new wheel.    Silk scarf from St. Vinny's.  They didn't have much for baskets lately, so I picked up the basket at Hobby Lobby in a pinch.  I'll be on the lookout for a better one -- like the one my mom has.  Maybe she'll give me that one for Christmas?  [Hint Hint.]

Tiny Tools Basket
A little welcome gift for the new wheel.  I made one of these little fabric boxes from 2 12-inch squares of fabric quilted with a layer of batting.  Instructions are here.     We made them one time at Quilt Camp at Silver Birch Ranch.  The Louet has one, too.  Perfect for a small bottle of oil, big ol' coconut button diz, threading hook, and any other little sundries that might be needed.   

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Missives from Quilt Camp October 2018 at Lake Lucerne, WI

Look Ma ---  What I got done at Quilt Camp last wkd :
This was such a wonderful, relaxing, and productive quilt retreat.  I feel fortunate to be included in this group of quilting friends.   Also neat to see what everyone else is working on, too.

Enveloping a quilt with a wool batt. [I wrote about this process a few years ago ...]
At quilt camp, I have room to spread out on long tables, and work with the quilt layers laid out flat.  It makes it so much easier!  

I think I gained some "street cred" with the ladies for bringing a wool batt to sandwich into a quilt.  ;-)      My friend Karla S. had given me the batt because she knew I'd actually use it.  I was having a hard time deciding how to free-motion quilt this one, and finally settled on tie-ing it with a wool batt.  It will be toasty and warm this winter.     Someone suggested I might have had the batt re-carded before I used it.  I hadn't thought of that ...  I also did not want to delay the process any longer.

In this picture above, the quilt is already turned right-side-out.  The batting is now encased, and I am pinning the edges for the  faux binding.

Here's the back-side.  You can see why I say faux binding.  It naturally folds itself over just like a regular binding. 

Here it is back home in my sewing studio where I've just finished going around the borders 3x to secure the batting at the edges of the quilt.  Otherwise it may have a tendency to scoot inwards, leaving some sections with no batting.   You can also see my wonderful quilt suspension system, that saves so much stress on my neck, shoulders, and back.  The next step is to start tying the flower blocks and the blue/pink blocks.  At present, they are pinned with safety pins to hold them in place.

2 more turned flower appliques for the Morningstar Quilt.
Just 1 more large flower to go, 7 small ones, 3 finials, and all the vines.

Winter Trees Landscape Quilt

A simple little landscape quilt.  I got the tree trunks and branches cut out and fused on.  This was a kit purchased at the old Quilt Shop in Antigo, WI.  

One of the ladies at Quilt Camp said that there was a special exhibit for Nancy Zeiman's landscape quilts at Quilt Expo in Madison in September.  She died earlier in the year.

Batik Blocks
This is another UFO (unfinished object) that I probably started 10 years ago.  It started out as a batik jelly roll (2-1/2 inch strips).  I was delighted to discover that I had already matched up and sewn the strips light + dark.  So I felt like I had a jump start on this one.   After pressing everything flat, all I had to do was cut them into bite-sized pieces, and sew them into 2x2 blocks.  I had the stacks of each flavor, and just matched them up systematically.  Then add the black "leading."  It was a great mindless sewing project for the end of camp, when you are getting tired, and just want to do some production sewing that will pay off, but doesn't make you think or design too much.

 Here's the stack all nicely pressed, and ready for the design wall.

The ladies always have lots of ideas and inspiration.

My friend, Shirley [in yellow] was back this year.  She missed last year due to a myriad of health problems.  She's been working hard in PT, and with her health care team, and was able to come back this year.  She's doing much better than I've seen her before.     The first time I came to this Quilt Retreat about 10 years ago, I was seated in the far corner with the other newbies.  Apparently, the light was not good there, and no one else wanted to sit there.  Shirley, me and Liz Lahm had a wonderful time getting to know each other. Later we "graduated," and moved to the opposite corner where we get to sit by Laura R.     This year, Laura was across the table from me, and Shirley was beside me at the next table. 

Shirley was working on a kit she picked up at Hancock's of Paducah this summer.  I was in love with the colors and kept teasing her ...  "How are you coming on MY quilt?  Purple and turquoise are my colors, you know."

Here's the whole thing.  [Laura is holding it up, while Shirley (in the yellow shirt) talks about it.]
Shirley was saying that she mistakenly turned one of the blocks in the top row the wrong way.  She was going to change it, but everyone there unanimously told her to leave it as it is, because it looks more like a spiral.    Sometimes the best ideas come from unintentional mistakes!  From mistake to design choice!

Me and Laura Ramseier
October 2018 at Lake Lucerne, WI.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Slow Work : Turned Under Applique Flowers for the Morningstar Quilt

This should really pop on a black background!

I've been trying to think of an easier way to do the applique for the Morningstar Quilt.  I decided against the technique of raw edge fusible applique (my usual method).  This is going to be more of an heirloom piece, will be washed more than a wall hanging, and would need more stability -- hence I am biting the bullet and investing the time to build these flowers with a technique I learned from WendyButler-Berns in a workshop many years ago.

She taught us to use freezer paper templates and a glue stick to build the pieces.  It works!  I've put together a kit with scratch paper to use as a blotter (1 per flower), the glue sticks, baby wipes, scissors, the freezer paper templates, the fabrics, a model to follow ...

I have to make 8 small flowers and 4 large ones.  Then I can start working on the filigree in between.
1 step at a time ...

Maybe I  can work on these in the evenings before supper?  I hate to take precious weekend time.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Haul from Sheep & Wool Festival 2018

My main mission this year was to get an Alpaca quilt batting.   I'd tried to find them online earlier in the summer, but every place seemed to be out of stock.  When I got this one, the vender / farmer said that was the last one he had, and that another alpaca farmer said Pacafil was no longer making these batts for quilting.   Hmmmh ---  I wonder if there's a production problem, or what?

Of course there was lots else to see too.  I had to get another alpaca fleece in preparation for the new Schacht-Reeves spinning wheel coming in October!  I've been working at carding the older fleece I have (from last fall), but it's slow and seasonal work -- and it's not a clean fleece.  Alpaca doesn't have the lanolin in it that sheep fleece has, but there's something in this one ...    Since I started spinning alpaca, most of the sheep's wool --even merino--feels course and rough to the touch.  This 2.4-pound fleece is clean and already carded.  With a little dizzing, it will be easy to spin on the new wheel in a few weeks.  This came from Sharoza Ranch Alpacas by Zach and Sharon Allen in Pine River, WI.  It sounds like they a have a carding mill and offer the service. 

The Weaver's Loft had a few more Jim Hockett shuttles at a really reasonable price.  $35 for this double shuttle in bubinga wood.  Beautiful!   I think Lynda bought one in a dark color, lighter weight wood -- walnut maybe?    She also had some Jim Hockett end-feed shuttles.  You see them for sale online, and they are always so much more expensive than other shuttles -- they are smaller, slimmer -- which makes sense, if you have a tight end of the warp you're trying to wring every last bit out you can, and can't raise the shed much anymore, you want a thin shuttle to squeak through there ...  I didn't get one, but I probably should have!

I always like to buy something at Mielke's Fiber stand, too.  This year, they had 1 cherry Schacht boat shuttle left.  If they'd have had more sizes in cherry, I'd have gotten them, too.  I've decided this is my favorite shape (that kayak shape) and the finish is what I like to touch.  Of course, you need a variety of shuttles for different jobs, but the Schacht cherry is one of my favorites!

Finally, at The Wool Gatherer's stand, I bought a small bottle of "Hans' Own Spinning Wheel Oil."  Lynda asked if 3-in-1 machine oil, or regular old sewing machine oil would work just as well.  Hans said, "No--those oils are not heavy enough for spinning wheels.  That's 10-30 weight motor oil."  I know I can pick that up at Fleet Farm, but it was the bottle I really wanted, with that needle nose spout to help you get the oil right where you need it.

I did stop by Patty Reedy's Rainbow Fleece Farm stand  -- such nice fleece she raises there!  When I first started spinning, I remember her fleece really had me mesmerized because it sparkled.  It actually had a luster and a sheen you just don't see anywhere else.  Not sure how she does it ...  Like magic!

Lots' of gorgeous hanks of spun yarn ...  I would like to try something more artistic and adventuresome than just my straight run-of-the mill spinning.  Perhaps mixing 2 colors in the plying stage?  Or adding some bling?  I think I saw a video about how to add sequins ...  Someone was selling orphan calls of spun yarn with tiny seed beads incorporated into it.  Very nice -- I'd like to learn how to do that!

One stand was selling rugs as what seems to be more than reasonable prices for a buyer.  Might have been slave labor to her -- because I know what it takes to make one now.  Beautiful color combinations at her stand.

Another lady was selling felted scarves --  some looked like northern lights!  Neat!  I think she also had some nice shawl pins there made from cut off tree branches -- finished nicely.  There is always something I wish I would have purchased, but didn't.  I think if I'd have gone back on Sunday, I probably would have gotten one of those shawl pins.

Soap -- One stand was selling French soaps, so I got 2 bars of my favorite Miel (honey) soap.  I don't know what they do to it!  I know I can make soap, and I put honey in it, but it never comes out smelling so light and flowery as the French Miel soap does.  And so I keep buying it when I see it!

After we got tired of shopping, Lynda and I went to sit and spin in the park area -- same place we were last year.  Much cooler this year, with a breeze.  Last year we had company as other spinners came to work their magic alongside us.  This year, it was just the two of us.  Lynda brought a Turkish drop spindle this time -- more portable than her wheel.  I had my trusty Louet S90--plying some of that silk and wool mill end mix I got last year.

Another good day at The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Morningstar Quilt Comes Together

I got the star sewn together a few weeks ago.  I am amazed at how cool this looks!
It's so large, it hangs off the edges of my design wall, so I can't even show you the points right now.

The colors are just right -- kind of like a kaliedescope.

Now for the corners, and edging.  It's all black fabric, and the kit / patterns offers a design to be appliqued ...  I'm wondering if I can just free-motion stitch that design in a bright multi-colored thread.  It would be subtle, but visible close up.  I'll probably outline the applique that way.  I can't say I'm really looking forward to the putsy work of putting those blocks together, but maybe I'll be surprised, and it will go faster than I think?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Spinning into Infinity : Embellishments on my Old Spinning Wheel

With the new Schacht-Reeves Saxony spinning wheel coming in a few weeks, I wanted to show my old Louet S90 wheel some love.  I'm still using it regularly, and probably will even after the new wheel arrives just because it's portable and compact. The new wheel won't be so portable. 

I got this lovely vinyl wall decal via Etsy.  I wanted a non-permanent way of decorating my spinning wheel.    This option had some obvious reversible benefits over painting with a stencil. 

I choose the burgundy color with the idea of adding some gold or copper highlights with a sponge before installing the decal on my wheel.  I didn't wind up doing that after all, as I was afraid the added layer before installation would mess up the adhesive in the installation process.  As it was, the hardest part was peeling up the backing paper.  It was relatively quick and easy to apply the decal.  ;-)

This is the 18-inch version.  My wheel is just over 19 inches in diameter.
I laid it on the wheel, and pressed down as per the instructions.  Then I took an exacto knife and cut out the parts with the holes / no wood.   Though it occurred to me later that I might have been able to wrap some of those edges.  The hardest part was peeling off the backing paper, so take your time with that step.

Didn't have this brilliant idea in time to do it up for The Sheep and Wool Festival earlier in the month.

Here's a short video showing the mandala in action.  The maple on the solid wheel really does flash like that as the light hits the different facets in the wood.  It's really a neat effect! 

The music in the background is from Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen.  The song is called "Opus 53. " I was lucky enough to hear them at a house concert last night in our neighborhood -- a small gathering of less than a dozen people.    And yes, I did buy some of their music.  Check out Grey's The Orange Tree, and their Welcoming CD.   ;-)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mande's Orange and Blue Star Quilt is done!

Mande's Quilt is done!

This is the quilt my mom asked me to make for my sister, Mande.  Ma would have done it, but health problems prevent her from quilting anymore.   She gave me the color requirements, and then I was allowed to do as I chose ...  Ma and I had plenty of blue in our collective stashes, but I had to purchase the variety of oranges.  Then I used the Sonia's Windows pattern for the basic blocks -- a very simple, but satisfying strip piecing technique.  Then I chose a more classic log cabin star layout.

It was supposed to be quilted and finished in August when she was here so she could take it back to Japan with her.    Unfortunately, it was done the day after she left.   [I don't even want to think about what it would have cost to ship it to Japan!]  Mande wound up coming back this month for a funeral, so she was able to take it back with her. So things worked out ...

It seemed a lot bigger when we held up the naked quilt top [See above.]    I was thinking it might even be too big for her bed.  Now it looks like it might be too small.

The long-arm quilter used an all-over swirl pattern.

Ok-- I'm done making quilts for other people for  while.  
Time to work on some of my own projects!  
Quilt camp is coming up in 2 weeks,so I'll have to plan my to-do list!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Stars Are Out Tonight ... Or The Morning Star Quilt Comes Together

Here's the first layer of diamond blocks to form the center star.

I've been working on diamond blocks for a morning star (aka lone star) quilt.  This is to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next June 2019.  It might even be done by then.  ;-)

 Here is the 2nd layer of diamonds. Wow!
And it isn't even close to being done yet!

The pattern is by Jinny Beyer, The Lotus Quilt.  I bought a kit on sale for a really great price.
 This is what it should look like when it's all done :

Matching the seams can be a little fiddly.  I think that is the most time-consuming part of the whole process.  But I've worked out a method that seems reliable.  It involves marking 1/4-inch at the seam on both sides.  Then using a pin to hold and match the seams to meet, then securing that on either side before you sew.  This has given me good results, and makes the extra effort worth it.

Mark the edges at 1/4-inch.  My preferred marking tool is a tailor's chalk marker, because it brushes out and is not permanent.

Here are all my pieces marked and ready for pinning.

Take a pin and stick it through the 1/4-inch point at the first seam.

The goal is to find the equivalent point on the 2nd side, also marked by the 1/4-inch chalk line.

Use that pin to line up the pieces.  Hold it perpendicular to make sure things line up properly.  Then stick in 2 pins on either side to hold it stable. 

Then you can pull out the perpendicular pin.

Pinned and ready to stitch.

Ta-dah!  Pressed and ready for the world ...  The corners meet perfectly this way.

The seams match up on the right side, and I'm not spending time ripping out and re-doing it.  So it's worth the time investment to do it right.

Another tip : I'm also using DIY Linen Water to stabilize the blocks.  My recipe comes from Kay at Borderline Quilter who shared a great idea for making your own spray starch for pressing fabric.  It's so simple!  Just a little Vodka with tap water (or distilled water, if you prefer) in a spray bottle.  It works because vodka is made from potatoes.  Apparently, there's enough starch left in the distilled spirits to make it work in this distilled form.   Only Vodka will work.

DIY Linen Water
In a spray bottle, mix 2 capfuls of straight Vodka in 1-1/2 cups water (tap water works, but you could also used distilled).  [Sometimes I add a little green tea essential oil, which I have on hand for soap-making.]

For a heavier starch, mix 3-4 capfuls of straight Vodka with 1-1/2 cups water. Quilter's Moonshine (water with a little vodka).  

You could also look up recipes for Quilter's Moonshine.   This one actually includes starch.