Friday, December 30, 2016

Oliver's RBW String Quilt is Complete!

Oliver's RBW String Quilt is complete, and given for Christmas 2016.

Happy Boy finally has his quilt!

Detail of the quilting pattern mapped out on quilt tracing paper, so that I can stitch through it, and know where to go.  The wuilt paper can then be pulled off, leaving only the stitching.  I love this no-mark method because it yields such great results for intricate designs.

Detail of the quilting from the backside.

 We were trying to get the sun to show off the stitching from the back, but didn't quite work out as planned ...  Still, it's an unusual smiling picture of OKL!

These are the quilting patterns I chose for the blocks.  
These were all used multiple times.

Batting : Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly Batting.  
I love this stuff, as it gives this antique-y crinkle look after it's washed.

For the haf-square triangles, I used this design. 

And for the corners, a quarter section of a full design worked well.

 I wasn[t sure what to do with the borders for the longest time.  Finally, I took inspiration from the wooden trim edging doorways in our old house.  Simple.

A simple hand-written label, as I didn't want to wrestle with the printer and the special fabric.  

Another finished quilt for 2016!
That's 3 quilts finished, and all 3 given away this year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Free Taste : Baby Quilt for France

Free taste of a baby quilt-in-progress.  

We discovered that our Cousin Delphine in France had another baby in October, so a new quilt is in the works for Bebe Anatole -- to be delivered next spring / summer.

This is how far I got at Quilt Camp in November with a pack of 40 2-1/2 inch Island Batik strips.  If I used some short-cuts, and didn't follow the directions as given in the pattern, it came together rather quickly.  

Even I'm looking forward to seeing how this one develops!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Shade Tree Quilt is Done Tied with a Fat Wool Batt

 Show and Share at Quilt Camp, Silver Birch Ranch, November 2016

Here I am explaining the Shade Tree comes from the green blocks, a batik with a curly leaf pattern on it.  This fabric reminds me of the curly willow outside our living room windows that lends such nice cool shade in summer.  
At Quilt Camp a few weeks ago, I sandwiched and enveloped this Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt with a fat woolen batting that had been taking up space in my closet.  I thought it was about time to give it a final home and put it to good use--on our bed!

I had acquired the woolen batting for  a mere $24 at a rummage sale at my local quilt guild several years ago.  That's a pretty good deal for a wool batting, even 10 years ago.   It was carded by The Courtney Woolen Mill in Appleton -- I think (hope?) they are still in business.  It turned out to be the perfect fit for this particular quilt.

For info on how to envelope and tie a quilt, see my previous post on it.  It was very helpful for me, too, as I used it as a reference when I needed to do this one. 

After the first night of Quilt Camp, I had the edges sewn, and turned the inside out, re-pinned it for temporary basting, and brought it back to the cabin to keep me warm that night.  I was grateful to have it as it was cold enough to snow that night.  Chilly!  It kept me toasty and war -- such a treat!

I've been going back and forth about whether to quilt it or tie it.  In the end, I quilted the borders, but tied the middle part after I got home.  Quilting something this thick just makes it stiff, so I opted to tie it.  It was difficult to find a matching green yarn in wool.  The green I wound up with is as close as I could get, and it's not wool.  We'll see how it wears.

Lessons learned :
The wool batting seemed easier to work with than the poly batting I used last time, as it was easier to push the tying needle through -- or maybe it was the needle itself?  This time, I purchased a long needle for making dolls--the packaging said it was great for tying quilts, so I took a chance.  It does work well!

The ties are in the cream-colored crosses and where the little back squares meet. I used a matching wool yarn so as not to take away from the quilt blocks. I did also quilt the border and edge blocks to add some stability.

Tied quilting from the back.  Nice puckers! 

Warm Winter Woolens

Up-cycled wool sweater slippers with Pear wood buttons.  

These have been on my to-do list for a couple of years.  That big bulky sweater has been taking up a lot of space in my closet / sewing room.  These days, the priority crafts seem to be using stuff up, or moving it out.  Now I have some cozy warm winter slippers, and a little more space in the closet.

For the slippers, I used this basic pattern/method.  I liked the simplicity of the crossover strip.

Lessons learned : Although the sweater had been washed and somewhat felted, it still had a lot of stretch to it.  I had traced my feet for the general pattern, but once I wrestled with sewing on the stip for the upper part, the soles became quite stretched out.  Next time, I think I would fix it to a stabilizer foot -- maybe an actually felt foot liner, or something to keep it from stretching as it did.  Or I would wash it again in really hot and agitated soapy water to get it to felt more.

As it is, they stretched enough to slip in a pair of flip flops for some extra comfort (not necessarily support).  The foam also adds a layer of insulation to keep cold floors at bay.   I used 2 layers of wool sweater for each foot.  It seemed thick as I was working with it, but it matted down, and I could have used a few more layers. 

I added some patches of shelf liner to the soles to make them non-slip.  That works really well -- Easy to cut and sew, and shelf liner is cheap at the dollar store.

I also added a little elastic around the foot openings, to mitigate some gap-o-sis and to help keep them on my feet. 

The sweater still had a lot of good and usable parts left to it, so I gave it to a crafter/quilter who can turn them into mittens.  She was happy to have it! 

The buttons are from the Sweet Leaf Wooden Stick buttons I was making last spring.  Glad to finally have a project where I can show them off!  These are the pear (fruit) wood. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Lizard Afternoon

My friend Dottie recently took a trip to the Caribbean, and sent back a picture of a lizard climbing up on a deck.  They are as common as squirrels there.

I asked her if I could play with it, work it up into something artsy.    So I cropped it down, and ran it through Topaz Impression with one of the painterly filters, and this was the one I liked.  ;-)

Thanks, Dottie!

Brilliant Bead Markers Hold your Place in a Pattern Repeat

Someone on the 4-Shaft Weaving FaceBook Group came up with this brilliant idea. 
Use number beads to map out the treadling for each row of weaving.  The numbers tell me which shafts I need to raise (or which treadles to push) for each row of weaving.  Rows are separated by a different, smaller non-number bead.  You just work your way across, filling lines of weaving on your cloth, and marking it done by pushing over the next section of beads.  When you're done with a pattern repeat, you just flip all the beads back to one side and start over.

Makes me feel like I'm using an abacus -- which is cool -- even though I never learned how to use an abacus (I'm not that old) as calculators came about in my generation of schooling.

At present, I have the beads strung on a string atop the reed / beater.    This seems to be working well for me.  Though a wire might be easier to thread (those wooden beads are kind of "hairy" inside and the string catches on the rougher wood inside. 

I tried it this afternoon ---  It is such a great help to keep me on track in a pattern repeat.  Less chance of messing up the pattern, but repeating or skipping a line.  And it's so easy to throw the shuttle, and flip the next round of beads to mark your place.  Much easier than trying to follow the index cards, and keep track of where I am on paper.   Although, I'd argue they work together -- Index card for planning and record keeping; Beads for the doing/execution.

It also holds your place if you get interrupted, or have to refill your shuttle, or have to go and eat supper, or see what the dogs are barking at ...  You know exactly where you left off because the beads tell you what's next.   Brilliant!

This is Draft Pattern #14 from my Craftsy Class for Floor Loom Weaving.  
It's called 2/2 Dornick.  
As you can see from the beads above, there are 6 lines to this pattern repeat, and with the bead markers, I don't think I made any mistakes in my sample runs.  Hurray!
And it makes the weaving go fast because I'm not hunting for what I need to do in the next line of weaving.  It's right there on top of the beater bar.  ;-)

I couldn't find number beads at my local craft store, so I bought some generic wooden beads and wrote the numbers on them, as needed.  It's actually much more versatile to work this way.  I'm using a green separator bead (that's what I had in my stash) in between lines. 

Turns out I need to get another round of wooden beads.  The next pattern I wanted to try required more beads than I had!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shuttles by HandyWoman

This is my birthday present from DH.  I've been looking at HandyWoman's beautiful work for a few month's now.  I decided these are the weaving shuttles I wanted, rather than a fancier and more expensive brand name ...  And I'm tickled that it's a woman doing the wood working.  ;-)

I put my order in on the weekend, and was greeted to these beauties a few days later.  Apparently, she makes the specialty wood shuttles to order.  In my case, I wanted the Brazillian Rosewood boat shuttle and a rigid heddle shuttle for narrower sheds.  On the website, she states these are made of scrap wood -- the one that came is definitely oak.  Very solid!

Kudos to Janet in Texas for making a fine product!

Here's a round of sample weaving with different yarns.
The brown at the bottom is a Lion Brand Homespun in plain weave and 2/2 Twill above that.
The middle yarn in browns and neutrals is a wonderful alpaca someone gave me ...  Same for the blues at the top.   Weaves up beautifully!

I'm learning that all the different shuttles have different uses.  You can only wind so much yarn onto the boat shuttle bobbins.  It may be that the stick shuttles will be the more appropriate tool for weaving yarns.

Here's a detail shot, a little closer in ...

I was also experimenting with using strips of cloth leftover from quilting for weaving rugs.  These strips were cut a variety of widths, and sewn end-to-end.  They compact when you beat the cloth.  They weave up fast -- It won't take long to make a rug when I get down to it.  We set this warp a little wider with rug weaving in mind.  As you can see from above, it seems to do just as well for finer yarns--especially the twills.

I signed up for an online class on Floor Loom Weaving at Craftsy.  The teacher is Janet Dawson.  In one of the first lessons, we're learning how to read weaving drafts, the pattern notation.  She gave us several very common drafts to start with.  I used the cheap white walmart yarn above to practice Half Basket (lower half of pic) and Basket Weave (upper half).    I'm amazed at the complete coverage of the half basket weave, and how it completely covers the warp strings.  By the names, and the pictures on the drafts, I would not have expected that.  

Here are a few other weave patterns
Playing with Pointed Twills 

Broken Twill (at the top)
Plain Weave at the bottom -- I'm using that as a seperator between the different weave patterns in this samplar.   Sorry for the blurry image.  The white was harder to photograph.

There are so many variations and possibilities with a 4-shaft loom!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Everyday Inspiration - Earthy Abstracts

Just to show I'm still interested in photography, and that that there's "Inspiration Everywhere," I submit these abstracts found on a Sunday morning from an otherwise mundane source.

These are pretty much straight-outta-the camera with no post production manipulation other than cropping and straightening.  These were NOT run through any filters or apps to create this effect.

Hmmmh ...  This could be a new weave pattern!

Any guesses as to where these might have come from?

Scroll down for the answer ...

A flower vase!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Kessenich Floor Loom is here!


It's here!  The Kessenich Floor Loom is here!  Sitting pretty in our guest room ...  Even unrolled the nice woven rugs for its feet. 

I have a mind to clear out everything else possible as THIS BEAUTY is the guest of honor.  That might mean getting a smaller bed for the space, and using this room less for storage.


Last weekend, Lynda and I finished warping the loom.   Here the warp strings are running through the heddles of 4 shafts in a very standard set-up.  A set of 4 strings, running through the first set of heddles in all 4 shafts.  We did that all the way across the loom ...   We warped from front to back, as this is what Lynda knows and seems to work well on this particular loom.

Warp tied on in bundles all across the warp beam apron at the back of the loom.

 Warp is secured to the breast beam (bottom of pic) so we don't pull it through while we're winding the warp, and loose all our good work.  The reed makes such lovely order of what looked like a tangled mess while where were working through the process.  Amazingly, all those tangles fell right out as we worked.  

Ta-dah!  All warped.  
We wound on about 8 yards.  Since I need the practice, I didn't want to put on too much.  This is set up for weaving rugs with a "looser" reed.  Since the supposed rags will be course, I didn't need such a fine reed as you'd need for weaving lace or towels.   

We tried a few "test" runs, and it works beautifully -- as Lynda said it would.  Only 2 threading errors, and they were pretty easy to fix.  
From the bottom :
Set 1) The initial runs just to space the strings out evenly for weaving.
Set 2) Common weave
Set 3) 1-3 Twill
Set 4) Common Weave
Set 5) 2-2 Twill

The common weave and the 2-2 Twill will be good for making rugs.

We changed the tie-ups for the treadles so they would make more sense for me, then she showed me 2 versions of Twill that I should be able to weave, along with a simple common weave (which I'm used to on my little loom).    Who-hooh!   

Folded and ready for transport, even with the warp intact.   Secured with a few bungees.

After we folded it up, it JUST FIT in CL's car (for future reference : 43 inches wide x 52 inches tall x 17 deep, folded)  Whew!   There was even room on top for the warping board.
It spent the night in CL's car.  We got back after dark, and didn't want to try and move it without good light.  Too many moving parts. And heavy.

I'm so excited! Now -- what to make first? 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spinning at Sabamba

On Saturday, Oct 1, Lynda and I went out to Sabamba Alpaca Farm in DePere, WI,  for their Day-on-the-Farm Open House.   They invited spinners to come and spin fiber into yarns for visitors to see what can be done with the alpaca fibers.  

There were 4 of us spinning under a tent just outside the barn, with the alpacas within site.  It was very Scottish weather yesterday, so we were grateful for the makeshift shelter.    Visitors stopped by to see what we were doing, and to ask questions about spinning, the fibers, etc.  We were happy to explain ...

The 2 ladies from the Fox Valley Spinning Guild who'd been there all day had these Woolee Winder fliers on their spinning wheels.  No hooks on the flier.  Instead the Wollee Winder loop moved up and down the arms of the flier and deposits the yarn onto the spool evenly, so you don't have to stop and move the yarn down the hooks when one section of the bobbin gets full.  Kind of a cool innovation! They sell for about $225 and can be fitted for many different spinning wheels -- including my beloved Louet S90.  I'm not quite convinced I need one yet ... but who knows?  It solved a problem I never knew I had!

Lynda was spinning a swanky "Tail Spin" yarn where she plied curly locks in with 2 strands of yarn.  The idea is that the resulting yarn can look like a swanky 1920s (or would that be 1940s?) collar with the kinky/crimpy locks falling out of the yarn.  Would be a great collar ...    [Sorry--I couldn't get the camera to focus on the locks.]

I was working on a simple yarn from an old bag of angora fiber that I won as a door prize when I first started getting interested in the Fiber Arts way back in 1999 (or so).  It's about time I did something with it!  Very soft creamy fiber to work with.  Maybe I'll even have enough for a hat this winter?

Clouds of angora fiber.  Ahhh!  
"Drift away on a fluffy cloud ..."


It was neat talking to Sally and Tom Schmidt, the owners.  Although they raise the alpacas, they don't do the "finishing" or crafting the fiber into finished products--although their shop is filled with mittens, hats, gloves, shawls, etc, they send that off to a mill to be made for them.  Lynda has a fleece from Abraham, a beautiful gray alpaca -- who just so happens to love having his picture taken with visitors.  She wanted to get more of his fleece, and was happy to meet the old fellow.   Tom and Sally were genuinely moved to see the gorgeous yarn Lynda had made from Abraham's fleece. 

I was looking for a black fleece to go along with Maggie (Newfie) fur.  Sally did not have any raw fleeces on display or for sale on Saturday, as most of these visitors were looking for finished products for Christmas presents.  Although she did introduce us to Abraham, and the couple of beautiful black alpacas in the herd.  She could easily rattle off their family lines.   Lynda and I will have to go back another day after Sally pulls those fleeces out of storage.  Another road trip!

I also got an invitation to join The Twist of Fate Fiber Arts Group that meets at Menasha Public Library on the 4th Wednesday of each month.   I'm hoping this might replace the whole in my heart when Conversations in Cloth died.  I think they meet in the very same room!