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.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Heart Wants What It Wants ... a New Spinning Wheel

Tonight I put in an order for a brand new spinning wheel : a Schacht-Reeves 24-inch single treadle Saxony wheel in cherry.     Here are the specs from the Schacht website.   I am taking a huge leap of faith here, ordering it site unseen, and untried.   I've heard good things about them.  They might be a little fiddly to begin with, but once you come to an understanding, it's a smooth spinner.     And a beautiful piece of furniture, too. 

I was trying to wait for the Sheep & Wool Festival in September, but there's no guarantee that any of the vendors will bring this particular wheel to demo ...   In the end, I found the best price through a family farm / fiber shop that happens to be in Wisconsin : Earthsong Fibers.   So that makes me feel even better that I bought "local."  They might very well be vending at the upcoming Sheep & Wool Festival, too.

If I don't like it, I don't think I will have any trouble selling it.

It has such a classic, beautiful look to it.   Truth be known, I would have loved the 30-inch wheel, but my house isn't quite big enough fr that size -- maybe some day?

Now, I wait 8-10 weeks for the Schacht Spindle Factory to make it for me and drop-ship to my home.

Did I mention it's cherry?  LOVE!

In the meantime, I'll give my old Louet S90 wheel some love ...  Still spinning the the silk and wool mix. ;-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

4-Patch Posey Square-within-a-Square Quilt Top Done!

This quilt top is finally done.  I'll plan on sandwiching it at Quit Camp in the fall, to be quilted later, one I figure out what to do.

Any idea on what to call this quilt?  It's  sized for a double / full-size bed.

I started these blocks probably 10 years ago, and just didn't like the original layout in the pattern. I finally had he bright idea to set them with the economy block, or square-within-a square.  I like this much better!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Looking at the Details - Labradorite Macros

 Labradorite Macro

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman who is an artist, and who'd been an Art Professor for 23 years.  She's in her 90s now, and I hope we can continue with regular chats.  She mentioned she'd seen a beautiful photograph of an extreme close-up (macro) of an opal.  This got me thinking, and wanting to try it with some of my own favorite gemstones--such as Labradorite.


When I travel, I don't really buy the usual touristy souvenirs.  Instead, I bring back rocks -- or I buy rocks.  That may sound really silly to some people, but it keeps me grounded to a placed in a way that a commemorative t-shirt just can't.   This Labradorite came from Banff in Alberta, Canada -- At least that's where I purchased it.  It is one of Canada's exports.

The beautiful colors and the way it catches the light reminds me of the Northern Lights.


Saturday, July 07, 2018

Rugs Rugs Rugs

 Nearly 10 yards of new rugs on the cloth beam, with plenty of room for more!
About 7 rugs in total. 

On that 10-yard warp from May, I was able to get 6-1/2 rugs out of it.  Some of them were experiments to see how much fiber made how much rug, hence my record-keeping and calculations below each rug.  One of the hardest questions before starting this odyssey was, How much fiber should I buy / prepare for a regular-sized rug?  By that I meant, the widest rug I could make on my loom Kessenich Floor Loom would be about 28 inches.   How long a rug can I make with x pounds of fiber?   Read on for my calculations ....   I hope this helps someone else.

Some of them were experiments to see how wide the strips should be ...
It kind of depends of the fiber.  Pendleton's premium merino wool strips are just about perfect!  Those rugs are soft and pliable -- something I want to have under foot!  Those come at about 1-1/2 inches wide.

This shows the Gray Skies Wooly Worms Rug

End of the line for this warp.  Not an inch more can pull through ...
I also learned why people get end warp shuttles.   They are thinner to accommodate the narrower shed made by the warp getting to the end.  It just isn't able to open as wide as it could earlier in it's life. 


Time for the big reveal!
Yes, I got brave and cut the new rugs off the loom.  Here they are stretched out ...
The adding machine tape helped me keep track of how long a rug I had woven.

Black Watch Pendleton Merino Strips Rug #1
[It's actually pretty square, though it looks wonky in the photo because of my angle to it.]

This is the rug that started it all, and the one for which the warp was designed in purple and blue.
I'd been looking at Tom Knisley's Weave a Good Rug book.  This is one of the Pendleton Premium Merino Strip Rugs.  When you order them, you can't really choose.  You just get what they happen to pull out of the bins and you get and don't complain.  I was lucky enough to get a pile of Black Watch strips (my all time favorite of the Scottish plaids!)  Gorgeous!  It wove up so nicely--it has a softness to it.  Just the very thing you want under foot when you get out of bed in the morning!

Now for the details :
     28 inches on the loom, under tension

     1 smallish ball of strips wove 13 inches on the loom (Sorry--didn't think to weigh that one)
     10.2 ounce ball wove 17 inches of fabric
     10 oz. ball wove  16 inches of fabric

     Final dimensions :
           28 x 46 inches on the loom
           27 x 42 inches off the loom

I wove a 2nd one of these Black Watch Pendleton Merino Strip Rugs because I had some more strips.

       12.10 oz. ball of strips wove 20 inches
        9.9 oz ball wove 16 inches of fabric
        9.7 oz. ball wove 16 inches of fabric
This means I got a pretty good sized rug out of 2 pounds of Pendleton Premium Merino Strips.

     Final Dimensions :
            28 x 52 inches on the loom
            27 x 47-1/2 inches off the loom

 Here's a detail shot, so you can get a better look at the warp colors and how they interact with the merino wool Black Watch Strips.  I love it!  These are definitely Keepers!  And I will definitely be making more of these!

 Here's another one made from Pendleton Merino Strips.  I had 2 types of gray and red strips, so I put them together.  At this point, I still didn't quite have a good sense of how much I'd needof either color strips to make a complete rug -- otherwise, I probably would have spaced them out into a more pleasing pattern.

1 ball 9.25 oz wove 16 inches of fabric on the loom
1 ball 12.9 oz wove 23 inches on the loom
smaller ball wove 
[about 2  pounds of fiber]

Final Dimensions
     28 in x 47-1/2 on the loom
     27-1/2 in x 42-1/2 in off the loom

Note to self : The blue and purple warp disappears with these colors of wool strips, though.

Here's one of the rugs made with Pendleton's Wooly Worms, purchased by the pound.
It's been difficult to get photos where the colors are true for both of these rugs, but here it goes ...

The Wooly Worms are quite a bit thinner strips.  As I was working with them, I had my doubts as to whether or not it would be worth my time and effort.   It was--I was pleasantly pleased with the outcomes -- especially to see the order from chaos as they progressed line-by-line on the loom.

 Batch of Wooly Worms from Pendleton Woolen Mill, OR.

The woolly worms from Pendleton are clean, but a fair amount of fiber dust comes off them as you work with them.  

Some of the worms were disparate enough and boring gray enough that I dyed them first in batches of 1-1/4 pounds in an effort to unify the colors.  I knew some would absorb the dye differently, but they would all come out looking like a set--and they did.

 I dyed this batch Cerulean Blue to help unify the colors.  About 1-1/4 pounds.

 I dyed this batch Kelly Green, but as you can see, most of the color washed away -- It was very old dye, so I'm not surprised.  A bit of fuscia did stick, and created a nice dusty rose color, that also unified the batch as a whole.  Not Kelly Green, but I'm still happy with it.  Again -- about 1-1/4 pounds of fiber.

I did the first rug mostly laying in lines pulled randomly from my bin.  That took longer than it seemed it should have.  Too much diddling between lines,  so I eventually decided to sew the ends together -- again, just pulling them randomly from the bin dyed in the same vat (Kelly Green which came out more gray and pink (old dye) and Cerulean Blue which gave me some wonderful sea and shore colors.   The randomness brings in some nice texture and added interest.

The rugs made from woolly worms are thinner, but still wonderfully soft and pliable--things you'd love to have under your bare feet.

 This is the one dyed from the Cerulean Blue batch.  very nice earth and sea colors here.
Note -- It's been difficult to get photoes that are true to the actual colors.  They seem to change with the time of day, and the light on them -- which is fascinating!

 Detail of Earth & Sea Rug made with Pendleton's Woolly Worms.

1-1/4 pounds of fiber wove 28 in x 42 inches on the loom
          Final dimensions :  26 x 39 inches


 Again, this is a truer image of the colors in this rug, than the full pic above.

Here's the Gray Skies Rug made with Pendleton's Wooly Worms :

 [Photo is not quite true to the actual colors.]

  [Photo is not quite true to the actual colors.]

1-1/4 pounds of fiber wove into 28 in x 44 inches on the loom.
           Finished size : 27 in. 40 inches

This detail shot is truer to the actual colors in this rug than the full shots above.

On to Denim ...

I wanted to try a rug made with denim, or old jeans.  Although I had purchased some denim at Joann's when they were having a good sale on it, I didn't use it for this.  This rug is from a 2-pound ball of recycled jeans from Rugs in the Woods.  Her strips were cut to about 1-1/2 inches wide, and included a really nice variety of colors and textures, as you can see.  And I didn't have to do the prep work on the rag ball!   Also -- nice soft well-worn denim, not like my new stuff which seems to be more spandex than cotton these days! 

It's a very heavy and sturdy rug.  I've heard that the denim is do durable and tough in these rugs, that the warp strings wear out long before the denim does.

Not sure I need to do another denim rug, unless someone requests it.  I think I'd much rather have the soft and warm woollens underfoot.

The dimensions :
2 pound ball of denim strips from Rugs in the Woods

             28in x 39 in rug on the loom, under tension
             26-1/2in x 34-1/2in off the loom

Detail of the warp strings interacting with the blue jean weft.  Also showing the hem rolled under to the back side.  At Tom Kniesley's direction, I wove about 4-5 inches of a double strand of the cotton carpet warp in between each of the rugs.   This cab be cut and rolled under as hems, to protect and secure the warp strings.  I didn't want to mess around with fringe for these.