Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just for Cheryl!

My friend Cheryl has been waiting to see this swatch so here you are Cheryl! It is my swatch of my first plied wool. It was amazingly easy to knit and so very soft! Not pretty (except the color) but a great learning experience.

My second plied wool was a lot different. I have been affectionately calling it my wooly mammoth yarn and it smelled like a wooly mammoth when I washed it to set the ply. Yuck! I managed to get 30 yards spun. It was tough to spin and not easy to draft but I did spin it a lot tighter and now I have a much better understanding of how things work.

And here is the swatch. The front is not too bad looking but the is awful. I won't show off that side!

And now for an update...I've been peeking through some of my UFO boxes and I stumbled upon this small mess. It is the leftovers from a block of the month I did 2 years ago. I always wanted to make a mini with it so I'm going to start cutting a pattern I had saved from an old Miniature Quilts magazine. Does anyone else miss that magazine? 

Happy Stitching!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quilt out of my box with 'The Quilt Show' Challenge - Episode #103

This challenge started with 'The Quilt Show' Episode 103. What a great show this time. Joen Wolfrom was quite inspiring. After watching all I wanted to do was go look through pictures and get color inspiration. And watching Ami Simms talk about her Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was inspiring as well. Quilters really are an amazing and giving group of people.

I decided with this challenge to combine both these and make a quilt where the colors are inspired from a photo and then donate it to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

Here is my inspiration for this challenge. It was taken this past October quite early in the morning. I love the colors in it. It was such a breathtaking morning. Snowy, cold and refreshing! These are not colors I would normally quilt with so I had no idea what was going to happen when I started.

From here I started playing with EQ6 and got a few ideas. As I played with the colors I realized I needed to add some more color. This is what I settled least until I hit the stash!

It already looks so different from the picture but  I remembered that the photo is a starting point. And really only the green was not in the photo. In the original photo there were taupes, dark brown, white, grey and blue - just not in the same proportions. Then I went to my stash and refined it a bit.

Here is my finished quilt. I actually made two of them because I loved the colors so much I couldn't bear to not have one of my own. It measures just 8-1/4" x 10-1/4" and I am very smitten with it!

I was thrilled with this challenge. These are not colors I would have ever put together myself. This project has opened up many possibilities in my quilting life! And I am very pleased to be able to donate this little quilt for a very worthy cause. As of right now I am just waiting for a confirmation email of my registration and then I'll be putting this in little quilt in the mail.

So will I use this method again? Yes! Yes! Yes! It got me right out of my color box. The only downside is that I will have to spend more time taking pictures! I hope that doesn't take away too much time from my other pursuits.

Now on to Episode #104! Happy stitching!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Learning to Spindle

Just before Christmas I started getting curious about learning to spin my own wool. I started collecting some hand dyed rovings at first not knowing whether or not I would ever do anything with them other than pet them! For Christmas my Dad ( an expert wood turner) made me a spindle to try out. So here are my results! I was pretty happy with them. Each day I did a little better.

Then it was time to make real wool with ply's. That is when I really started to learn. I learned why so many spindles have notches and I learned about how much twist is needed in the wool. My first plied wool is pretty loose and I had troubles with it slipping when I was spinning the singles. Finally I did read about what you could do about that but by then I decided to ask my Dad to add notches. He also made me a second spindle to try out. It is just a little heavier and I like that extra weight. It really spins!

See- just a little loose. I am going to knit a swatch with it though. It's only 33 yards so a swatch is all I have enough for! I'd like to see it from start to finish.
And here are my 2 spindles! They are both notched now. I am right now working on my second plied wool and it is turning out much better. I spun with more twist and it looks like real wool! Yeah! When I am done I'll put up a picture or two.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quilt out of my box with 'The Quilt Show' Challenge

I have always been a traditional quilter and I've been thinking that it's time to get out of my box a bit and try some new techniques. Thanks to my Mom and Dad I have all The Quilt Show DVD's so I will start at the beginning and do as many techniques and projects as I can.

Here are my guidelines I will *try* to follow!
  • If there is a technique I am really not interested in or I already use then I may not do it- this is supposed to be fun!
  • I'm going to use what I have whenever I can.
So let the creativity begin!

The first thing I will do is say sorry to Joe Cunningham from `The Quilt Show` Episode 101. I won't be trying the old fashioned quilt frame for basting. Where I live there are lots of these old fashioned frames around so I know how they work and I don't have room for one in this little house on the prairie. Sorry Joe!

I have been busy working on Episode 102 with Vikki Pignatelli the last couple of days.

I finally found a reason to use my flexible ruler and I wondered why I didn't do this sooner?

This was a very easy technique. One tip is to start cutting the freezer paper templates with a craft knife.

Here are all the pieces cut out and pinned in place and ready to sew. I used a transparent thread for the sewing and that worked well but I like the look of matched thread colors better.

Here is the finished piece front and back. Does it look like a prairie?

The second challenge is to try this piecing method by improvisation. I have learned that I am NOT a free spirit. (Ok I did know this already but this reminded me!) I like seeing how it is going to look on a pattern. For this I chose to cut and sew each piece at a time. I suppose I could have cut and pinned and sewn everything at the end but it seemed a little fussy to me.

Would I do this technique again? Yes to the 'pattern' technique and no to 'improvisation'!

The next challenge...The Quilt Show Episode 103

Oh...and did I say thank you to Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims for such a great show?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quilting for my Mom

My Mom had a couple of quilts that she needed quilted. She has had them pieced for quite a while and is unable to quilt right now. Although I really prefer handquilting I've been doing more machine quilting lately.

This one I decided to machine quilt and I used my 2 new best friends.
Friend #1- Water Soluble thread has made my life way nicer for basting but you need to be able to wash the quilt when you are done. No pins! It is a little slippery though and the different brands do make a difference.
Friend #2- My Mom had a pair of Fons and Porter's gloves for machine quilting that I decided to try. What a difference! I had quite a good grip on that quilt and it made everything move nicely. I had more control over the speed that I could move the quilt and a better quilting stitch. I'll be using those again!

And the finished quilt..we still aren't sure what we will do with it but maybe a loved one will end up with it! (So start guessing all our loved ones!)

And as for the second quilt, I am hand quilting it but with the big stitch. When I get a bit more done I'll show and tell. I am also hoping to learn to quilt upwards with my thumb on this one!
Happy Stitching!