Sunday, November 17, 2019

Cranes Quilt Top for Vicki

I finished the quilt top for Vicki's Cranes, in anticipation of her arrival back in WI next week.
It still needs to be sandwiched and quilted and otherwise finished, but finishing the top is half the battle!

Here's a detail shot of one of the moons, appliqued down. 

This is the pattern.  I bought a kit a few years ago, and finally got it together for her.  

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Teal Blue Socks

 I finished that pair of teal blue socks I started back in September with that Chic Sheep merino yarn that I dyed myself.  I am very pleased with the way they turned out!

I used the Knitted Knocker Loom from CinDWood Looms.
The pattern was based on one of Hypnotic Hysteria's videos.  Unfortunately, her You Tube account was hacked, and she lost over 700 videos.   Heartbreaking and so demoralizing. I guess she didn't have any backups at home.  I wish I could help her recover those videos.

I had a few notes from watching the old sock-making videos, so I was able to do it this time without consulting the videos, which are no longer available.    [So sad!]

From my notes (to fit my foot):
     Kitchener Cast-on (I like this because it feels like weaving, and leaved a seamless join)
     Work the toe box with with 9 decreases / increases
     Then start working in the round for  65 rows

     Work the heel with 9 decreases / increases on the opposite half of the toe
     Work in the round 45 rows for leg

     For Cuff: 20 rows of 2 Knit and 2 Purl
     Super Stretchy Bind off.

Here's the yarn I was using, dyed back in May.  The link includes a video on the dyeing method--which has become my all-time favorite for dyeing yarn.

This time, I had a second circular knitting loom, so I could work each step at roughly the same time, so avoid the second sock syndrome (where you finish the first sock, but don't have the heart to start the second one).   That worked out very well.

On to the next pair of socks for my husband in leaf green and deep navy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Eureka! It's Working: Weaving the Red and Black Circle Scarf on the Loom

It's working!  The set-up for the Circle Scarf Pattern is working!
This is 2 pattern repeats of the circles

On Sunday, I was almost ready to begin weaving on this new project.  I spent last weekend threading and tying on the warp.  I had forgotten that getting ready to weave (preparations) takes as much time as weaving itself.  But it's worth it!

This wkd, it was fixing broken warp strings and crossed threads and other necessary tasks.  This yarn (merino and cashmere) is much finer than anything I've used previously.  I am finding that the old glass Penzy's spice jars I use to hang repair warps off the back beam are too heavy for this yarn.    Lighter alternatives are an old film canister, 1 plastic Penzy's spice jar, and 2 plastic canisters designed for bead storage.  This way, I can wrap the extra warp yardage around the body of the jar, add a few pennies for weight, and secure the available length with the cap.  Best of all worlds!  No more broken warp strings!  They seem to be working well for what I need on this project. 

The next step it so set up the treadle sequences with beads, so I can keep track of there I am in the pattern.  There are 36 picks to the pattern repeat, plus a black tabby pick between every row. I wonder if I'll have enough beads or room to track it all!

Here I had the beads all  laid out on a baking tray with a washcloth to keep the beads from rolling away.   The numbered beads correspond to the chart on the legal pad above.   While I was working on this, my kid asked, "What's Mumma doing?"  My husband said,"Shhh!  She's programming."  Why yes-- essentially that is what I was doing.  CL's grandfather was the guy who programmed the looms in the woolen mills in France where they lived.  And today CL is a programmer.  He explains it as breaking a job down into the smallest tasks and writing code to complete all the steps one at a time.

Here are the beads installed on the beater.  This is by far the most complicated weave structure I've ever attempted with 36 picks per pattern repeat.  There's not a lot of room on the left side to push the "done" beads over.   But I'm learning to work with it ...

You might ask, "Why bother with beads, if you have the iWeaveIt program on your iPad?"  Good question.  I find that the action of swiping beads is much more akin to the act of throwing a shuttle.  It would be a completely different action to stop and touch a screen.  The beads work for me--and they are low tech.

The Red beads correspond to throwing the shuttle towards A treadle with the notation A<  and the brown beads to B>.  It helps me keep track of the tabby picks, and which direction I should be going with them. 

Tieing up the Treadles
I used the pattern recommendations with 1 change.  The pattern recommended the tabby treadles both off to the left side.  I am more used to having those be treadle 1 and 6, at the edges of the treadle field.  They call this a walking pattern -- I guess with a little wider stance than it would be if they were right next to each other.   This also helps me keep track of where I'm going with the black tabby yarn.    I am always throwing the shuttle towards the tabby peddle that is down.  For example, if peddle A is down, I'd be starting on the right side, throwing the shuttle to the left.  I also have to be conscious of the floating selvedges.  The mantra for that is OVER the floater on the way in, and UNDER the floater on the way out of the shed.  This is working out much easier than I thought it would.

Then the 1-2-3-4 shafts for the pattern are all in between the tabby peddles like so:

A and B are the tabby treadles lifting shafts 1+3 and 2+4 respectively.
1-2-3-4 are set up for the Red Circle pattern weave structure.

2 colors: Red and Black, which means 2 shuttles.  I had planned to use my favorite Schacht cherry shuttles.  I have one big and one small, but since the scarf is only 7 inches wide, the larger Schacht shuttle seems like overkill, and otherwise inappropriate for this job.  My other smaller shuttles (the antique ones) are quite a bit lighter in weight than the Schacht cherry.  The Padauk one might work as it is the most similar in size and weight, though not the kayak shape I love so much.  Then again,   it might be a good excuse to purchase a second Schacht cherry 11-inch shuttle and a few more 4-inch bobbins.  I just got some birthday money in the mail! 

The Pattern
The weave structure on this project is more complicated, too.  A Shadow weave in a circle pattern.  So it's not the standard straight draw threading for the heddles.  I had to pay attention!     The pattern was a kit from Yarn Barn of Kansas.   I don't see it on their website anymore, or I would link you to it.

So last night, I wanted to run through the bead sequence that tells me what treadles to push, and what yarn (black or red) to push through the open shed.  Just a test run to make sure everything is on track.    The bead string is so long (36 picks of red, and 36 picks of black) that it runs almost the entire length of my beater bar.  I was a little afraid that I would lose track as there's not much space between the done beads and the to-do beads.  I'm learning to pull the beater bar where the beads open to make sure they don't shift inadvertently. 

I can see why they call it shadow weave.  The black threads are tabby, or common cloth.  They hang out in the background and give stability and structure to the cloth, while the red strings make the gorgeous circle pattern.  Every pick of the red gets a corresponding pick of the black to support it.

This time, I am also holding back on the overall tension of the warp, for fear of breaking more strings.  I'm learning to be gentle with this merino as warp.  I'm also being extra gentle with the reed, and not slamming the yarn into place -- just very gently pushing it in line.  And it's working!

Every step takes thought and time, and every issue takes time to solve.  But this isn't rocket science.  I can work through it step-by-step, and get the problems fixed.  Any setback is a problem to be solved and worked through, not a crisis that derails the whole project.

And when it works, and I get to see the pattern emerging like it should -- OMG, this could be addicting!  What a thrill!

If you've stayed with me this far, let me say there 1 mistake in the photo at the top of this post.  One line out of place.  Can you see it?  It doesn't look too bad, and I was far enough past it when I noticed, that I did not want to undo several rows in between.

I wanted a challenge, but I think I will be happy to go back to weaving rugs with a simple common cloth or twill pattern -- Then I can use up some of the Pendleton strips I dyed last summer.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Revisiting the Stained Glass Window Quilt

Stained Glass Quilt (Revisited)

I gave this one a new border treatment.  After living with it for a few weeks, I decided that the electric blue border print did not add anything to the rest of the batiks in the quilt.  My husband suggested keeping a thin strip of it, but going with a more subtle border.  So that's what I did.

Here's the before version.   From the photos, it doesn't look like much of a difference, but when you're in the same room with it, it's quite a dramatic (and pleasant) change.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Missives from Quilt Camp at Lake Lucerne

Folded Amish Star - Samhain ed.

Here are the projects I worked on at Quilt Camp this year.

Amish Quilted Star Hot Pads [See above.]
I worked up about 11 kits out of scraps and leftovers from other projects.  These actually comes together quite fast once all the pieces are in place (fabric cut to size, squares pressed into prairie points, foundation fabric marked etc.)  Several ladies said they'd done them in the distant past.  Some even framed them in embroidery hoops, rather than doing the hot pad thing.

Holly Table Runner made from a kit my mom had.  Another simple and quick project.  Still needs to be finished though with stitching down the applique, quilting and binding.

Blocks for Fuzzy Logic 2 Quilt, made from 2 jelly rolls in fall colors.  I still need to find a coordinating accent fabric that will work with all these colors.  Maybe something in burgundy or purple with a little gold?  It should be dark so that it makes the other colors pop ...

I still have to finish up the Loon Lake quilt.  I knew I'd have to leave on Saturday evening this year, so I didn't want to haul lots of extra stuff for free-motion work -- the table, or the multiple thread boxes.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Auditioning Colors and Textures

Sometimes your first try doesn't quite make the grade.

I had just a little swatch left of this orange, black and green focus fabric.  I thought it would look cool in the middle of one of those Amish stars.  Until I saw it there ...

Unfortunately, the neat patterns and colors get lost when they are focused into the middle of that Folded Amish Star block.  The oranges are not balanced as they land in the middle.  So I picked it all apart and tried a new arrangement.

I auditioned several greens for that center star.  
This one also had a little too much going on to be center stage. 

The lime green was a whole different story in the middle.  I still didn't have enough of orange, green abd black fabric to make it one of the outer rings.  I only had 4 squares.

And then I realized I could place the 4 on half of the outer black triangles to highlight that level.  Bingo!  That was the winning ticket!  That worked!  I think this is my favorite color combination so far!

Yes! This is the one!
This one goes to my husband, the chief cook and bottle washer at our house.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Handmade Christmas : Amish Folded Star Quilted Hotpad / Potholder

At Quilt Camp this year, I made a series of these Amish Folded Stars.
These will probably be Christmas presents for people this year.

This is a really nicely-paced tutorial from Crouton Crafts explaining how to make these gorgeous stars step-by-step.  Also see his similar but slightly different blog post about it.  I love that he appears to be using an Singer Featherweight to do the stitching.

The technique is very similar to the Iris Folding I did years ago after a class at the Fox Valley Tech. 

There are some other variations to how you can set up the stars.  The Gentleman Crafter has another version here.

Here are some of the "fabric kits" I worked up to take to Quilt Camp.  All leftovers from past projects:

Some tips:
Work in batches.
1) Do all your cutting in one batch.
2) Get your foundations cut and marked.  Eventually, I figured out to make a template out of freezer paper with the markings on it.  Then I could easily trace the markings through the foundation fabric without having to think too hard about the correct markings on the ruler.
3) Fold and press all the pieces for one layer in half.  Then let them cool before you start folding the triangles/prairie points.
4) Starch is your friend.  Have a spray bottle of Quilter's Moonshine on hand.
5) Do 1 set of 4 triangles and place them on the foundation.  Stitch them down.  Then do the 2nd set, and sew them down.
6) Make some continuous binding strips.  I tried to use some leftover regular binding, and it just wouldn't give on the curves.  For instructions on how, see the Fons & Porter video below ...

I found this was a relaxing thing to do in the evenings after I got home from work.  Usually, I make mistakes if I quilt in the evenings, so I don't usually do it.  But this is more of a meditation, folding, pressing and stitching, as you watch the colors build around the star.

Very satisfying!

Here are the other ones I made:





Here's a video explaining how to make continuous bias binding from Fons & Porter:

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Spinning the Afternoon Away at Lindago Alpaca Farm

Spinning at Lindago Farms

I spent the afternoon spinning with these ladies next to a herd of alpacas at Lindago Farms in Neenah.  They had an open house today where people could come and see the animals (chickens, alpaca ...) and visit the fiber shop where they sell alpaca socks and other fiber goods.

Three wheels on display today:
In front is a Kromski (made in Poland).  In the middle is a Schacht Matchless (made in Colorodo).
I brought my Louet (made in Denmark).

The lady at the end is weaving on a pin loom.
A very contented Alpaca looks on approvingly. ;-)

My friend Linda was demonstrating how to wet felt alpaca fiber.

Deb has a great activity she does with kids that allows them to experience the wonders of spinning wool into yarn.  She has a hook that the kids turn manually, while she handles the yarn.  They make a "woolly worm" that the kids can take home with them to use as a bookmark or a bracelet or whatever.  She's a great and patient teacher.   And she spins some beautiful yarn!

I got a good deal on a beautiful white batt suitable for quilting.  Twin size.  I even have a few finished quilt tops in mind for it.  So soft -- Or I could just spin it outright.  Beautiful stuff!

Linda gave each of us a ball of alpaca yarn for our time this afternoon.  
Can you see the little glints of sparkle in it?  Very kind of her!

Carding Wool for the Season

Finally a nice, not-too-hot or humid or rainy day where I can be outside for carding fiber.  It's definitely a task for spring and fall.

Last week, I used my new wool picker (Still need to work up that post) to open the fibers on a really nice wool and silk mix.  The bottom of the bag had gotten mashed, and that layer was getting difficult to spin, even after dizzing it.  So today I did the next step in preparing the fiber for spinning: Carding it on my Patrick Green carding machine.

Here is the carder (on Gramma Pickles' little card table!), loaded up with fiber to be carded and combed in preparation for spinning.  2 or 3 loads like this was enough to make a good-sized batt. 

Carding can be hard work, so I don't always look forward to it.  But low-and-behold, having done the previous step of picking the fiber and opening it beforehand, things went a lot smoother this afternoon.

I carded that whole bag of wool and silk "cloud" into about a dozen batts.

I was sitting next to a giant stand of purple asters which are in full bloom.  At any given moment, there were a dozen butterflies on it, and countless bees diligently doing their work gathering nectar and pollen.  They didn't seem at all disturbed by the carding process.

They look a little funny because I've started rolling them into rolags, straight off the drum carder.  I can't remember where I learned that, or I would give that person credit!   Although I have learned to spin off of a batt (It's not hard), the rolags are a little more compact.  It's like the fiber knows what to do and almost spins itself out of the rolag.  Well -- not quite.

I am preparing for tomorrow afternoon.  I volunteered to spin at an open house for one of the local alpaca farms in Neenah.  There will be a few other spinners there, too.  I decided to stick with my old standard -- nothing fancy spinning-- because it's too easy to loose track of what you're doing when you're chatting with the other ladies.  

I really do want to start on that fancy art yarn with an art batt ... Soon, but I think that's best done at home where no one will be watching me!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Carding an Art Batt

Freshly carded art batt, looking very much like a cocoon!

Sometimes crafting is like "shaving yaks."  In order to do one thing, you need infrastructure to support it, which means you have to get other things ready before you can "do the thing."

Before I can spin an art batt, I have to have an art batt to start with.  Fortunately, I was able to order a few online to get me started.  So I can study how it comes out, the structure, the color and texture mixes, what fibers and in what proportion ...  Then comes collecting and gathering your fibers.

I ordered a couple finished art batts from Wild Thyme.

I ordered the ingredients from Big Sky Fiber Arts.  They send a bag of mixed fibers in different color ways.  I ordered purples and greens.

This is how they looked released and unwrapped from the bag.  It still needed to be carded together.    Really a nice combination!    Ah-- but how to do that without blending all the fibers into mud?

 One of the videos I watched recommends layering your chosen fibers into a sandwich, that you can then feed into your carding machine. 

Here's the first batt.
You can see this one rolled up into a rolag at the top of this post.  

Here's the second one.  This one is a little more blended -- like a landscape.
I kept trying to feed in the fiber that was sticking to the intake roller, and things got progressively more mixed.  I am looking forward to spinning these batts!

For my own reference, I am also adding some of the videos I watched to learn this technique:

Fortunately, there are some great how-to videos out there on YouTube.  I found this one by Ashley Martineau where she uses a sandwich technique that seemed to get good results.

Here's another one where she uses a "painterly technique" where she bypasses the intake roll, and just "paints" the fibers on the top roll.

Here's one from Blue Mountain Hand Crafts.  I am intrigued by the "fiber salad" she starts with and the beautiful batt that results!

Here's a tutorial from Staunch Fibers:
How to Give Forgotten Fibers a Bat-tacular Makeover.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Starting a New Pair of Socks with Blue Hand-Dyed Yarn

I am so happy with the way this yarn is knitting up!  This is from the teal blue batch way back in June.    Gorgeous!

I ordered a second knitting loom in the same size from CinDWood Looms, so that I can work both socks in stages.  This is supposed to alleviate "Second-Sock Syndrome" where you finish one sock, but can't bring yourself to start over with the 2nd sock (or can't remember how to start it) to finish the set.  This strategy also helps you to remember what you did at each stage (How many rows for each section of the sock,.)  This way, there's a better chance you'll have 2 socks the same size.   
I also got a 2nd row counter to keep track of the second sock.  

The sock on the left is farther ahead, with the kitchener seam all closed up under the toe box.  
The one on the right was just started this am, so you can still see the kitchener strings hanging loose, but orderly.  The toe box is just beginning to emerge.  It's like working in sculpture with these 3-D objects taking form!

View inside the newly forming socks.