Friday, December 25, 2015

A very fibery Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Hubby outdid himself this year.  Granted, some of this was known to me in advance, but that's okay.  For instance, I ordered the Spin This Box, but did not know what was actually in it until I opened it on Christmas eve.  It was neon colors for the month of December, and contained quite a few very yummy creations!



I love the way these are all packaged differently, and I love how the colors match or work together in the different offerings.  There were six different packages of fiber in the box, and an ornament.  Love it!  These are my two favorites, based solely on first impressions:



The braid is 19 micron merino (and I do so love fine fibers!) and the other is four mini-rolags.  I have found myself very fond of the mini-rolag presentation.  I had several months of a small fiber subscription from Phoenix Fiber Co. in a mini-rolag format and really liked her colors and presentation.  This one has the added distinction of clever packaging as well.

I also got two fiber-related books.  The first is The Big Book of Flax.  I have been interested in this one for a couple of years.  The second is In the Footsteps of Sheep.  This one "details the completion of a mission the author, a Welsh-born Scot, set for herself: to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking (or waiting for ferries), and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed".  That sounds awesome!  Can't wait to have time to read these!



Last but certainly not least (most spectacular, actually) there was a card in the tree, directing me to order the Hansen Mini-Spinner bundle I had been discussing with hubby!  The Hansen webpage says they will be closed from the 24th to the 27th, but I was able to place my order via the website, and I'm sure it will be shipped out soon after the shop re-opens next week.  I will be waiting with great anticipation for my maple mini-spinner, with both Wooly Winder and lace flyer!



The second set of I Spy quilts were delivered today, and suitably received.  I was happy to see the enjoyment displayed by the recipients.  I still have several finished tops that need quilting, but I've been enjoying some knitting time for the last couple of days.  I am up to 18 stitches (of 25 needed) between corner markers on the Perimetera shawl.  Once I hit 25 stitches I will be ready to begin the lace section!  I am also enjoying seeing those adorable Wee Ones markers as I work my way around!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Quilt #4 is done!

I finished Christmas quilt #4 and took it off the frame yesterday!  I also sewed the binding onto quilt #3.  Quilts 3 & 4 will be given as gifts on Saturday, when I'm having a family get-together at my house.  I'm sure it's something I will regret later (the family gathering, not the giving of the quilts).



Today I put together a backing for the Goose in the Pond quilt top.  That may get done for Christmas for my grandson at this point.  It's about half the size of the I Spy quilts, and should be fairly quick.

I was hoping to get another bunny groomed again, but the weather has been a little cool.  It's supposed to be warmer again next week (unbelievable, for Christmas in New England!), so hopefully I can finish grooming the last two bunnies, and do some barn cleaning before winter descends in earnest.

I have also been working on the Gina House shawl (Perimetera).  I am up to 15 stitches on each side of the (four) markers.  I have to get to 25 before I can start the next step - the lace edging.   It's coming along nicely!  I am also getting itchy to start some spinning, but I'm sure that will wait until after Christmas.  Every time I see some of the small baggies of fine fiber I have lying around (including that recently harvested angora!) I want to spin some of it!  Soon, soon...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quilt #3 & Bunny #2 done

Finished quilt #3 and took it off the frame today!



I will get the last Christmas quilt on the frame tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday.  I will need to change the thread and bobbin colors for that one.  I'll be using black because the backing is black (with colored guitars).

Yesterday I quilted in the morning and sheared a bunny in the afternoon.  All four were in need of haircuts, and the weather for the next week or so will be relatively warm.  Gus got a haircut a few days ago.  Yesterday I sheared Fester.  He's the chestnut agouti boy, born in April of this year.  Before picture:



After picture:



This was only his second haircut, and he was very good.  I got a few scratches, but that was just a reminder to take it slow with him.

I also got a package in the mail yesterday that I was quite happy about.  I purchased some fleece from a shepherd on Facebook (Genopalette Humble Hills) that is absolutely amazing!  It is just small amounts from two sheep - one is just under a pound, one is 10 ounces.  Both are in the 16/17 micron range.  Nice lock length, amazing crimp!  I am looking forward to spinning these as a superfine lace weight.  I may even try washing these by the lock.  They have such nice lock formation now.








Friday, December 11, 2015

More Christmas update!

The second Christmas quilt is off the frame!  Two down, two to go.  I have the binding cut for these two as well, from the leftover backing fabrics.



Quilt #3, which is for a nephew, is already on the frame and in progress. I managed to get to about the 1/3 finished point this morning.



If all goes well, I'll have these second two finished and bound by next Saturday, when I'm hoping to have a family get-together and hand these out.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

One down, three to go!

First Christmas quilt is done and off the frame!  It's completely finished, except for the binding and a wash.



The second one is on the frame, and has a good start.



















The quilting frame is in my bedroom, right next to my grandson's crib (I really need to move that soon) so I am limited to being able to quilt when he's visiting his mom or when someone (usually hubby) is watching him.  If I can move the crib soon I might be able to get away with quilting during his naps as well.  The sooner I get the Christmas quilts done, the sooner I can work on other quilts that need finishing.  We've had custody of the grandson for a little over a year, and I'm just now starting to feel like I can be a little more productive - or maybe that's the busy, busy Christmas season pushing me on.

I've been working on something else on the Bernina at the kitchen table as well.  I can work there when he's watching videos on my iPad, usually when he's eating.  (He likes Thomas the train, and Blue's Clues, on Amazon Prime.)  I finished the borders, including the "piano key" border", for the Bear's Paw Sampler quilt.  This one has been in progress since late 2012.  It's now ready for sandwich  (backing and batting) and quilting, after the Christmas quilts are finished.



In the meantime, I'll be working on trying to finish Susan's Folly at the kitchen table.  This one needs four separate borders, including one made up of 624 (!) 1-1/2" squares.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas plans progressing

I have been working on Christmas gifts (as much as one can work on anything with a very busy 2 year old in residence!) and I've actually made some progress!  It feels like these gifts just might get done before the big day!

I am making I-Spy quilts for four children in two families - 2 girls and 2 boys.  I also made pillowcases to go with the quilts.

I requested in formation on the kids' favorite interests.  The girls are dinosaurs and Hello Kitty.  The boys are guitars and trains.

Pillowcases - no train pillowcase.  Instead that one has alphabets.  I love the dinosaur fossils!  I might have to look for more of that for myself!



This is the first quilt.  This one will have dinosaur backing fabric.



This is the second girl's quilt.  This will have Hello Kitty border and backing.



These are the two quilts for the boys.  About half of the squares are the same fabrics, about half are different.



The first quilt has borders and backing, and is on the quilt frame.  After several issues with bunching thread, breaking thread, etc, the machine is finally co-operating and the quilt is about half done.  (It's just being started in this picture.)



One of the issues I've had with the location of this machine is that we have no ceiling light in this room, just one small bedside lamp.  Hubby and the teenager helped me figure out some lighting that will let me work on the quilt past dusk (4 PM, this time of year!).  It works well.  I'd like it better if I had some hooks to keep the cord suspended above the closet doors; maybe I'll try some Command hooks this weekend.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weekend sewing

I've been a little busy this weekend.  I did some cutting for border pieces, for finished tops.  I still have lots of that to do - one border for Susan's Folly needs 624 1.5-inch squares!  I was definitely easily distracted as I tried to clean off the kitchen table.  Our table frequently ends up being the biggest clutter spot in the house.

In the process of trying to clear the kitchen table, I finished two small projects.  The first was replacing the zipper in a bag for a friend.  The bag was a souvenir of a trip to Hawaii.  Two weeks ago I went to Joann Fabrics with the bag and found thread and a zipper in colors that were very close to the original.  I couldn't match the zipper pull or the thicker teeth of the original zipper, but I think the repair looks good anyway.





I also finished a small project that's kind of been hanging around for a few years.  Last week, when I was raiding the fabric stash looking for something else entirely, I came across some fabric with (what I believe to be) Japanese kanji.  I had purchased that piece of fabric years ago to make a pillowcase for my daughter.  I have recently come across several good pillowcase tutorials, and used this tutorial to make the pillowcase.  And now my daughter can finally have her pillowcase!


I told hubby that the tutorial made it so simple, I may have to make a few for us - Star Trek pillowcases, perhaps, and Star Wars, and Border collies, and maybe kitties!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lots of sewing, some knitting

I've been very busy since the fair.  I decided to make 4 I-Spy quilts, for 2 families, for Christmas.  2 are for girls, 2 are for boys.  I ordered 2 sets of "I Spy" 10-inch fabric packs from 2 different shops (Missouri Star Quilt Company, and Keepsake Quilting).  One had 40 pieces, one had 20.  I cut those in quarters, for 5" squares.  I also ordered a 100-piece set of 5" I Spy fabrics from an Etsy seller, and the rest of the fabrics came from my stash.  The two girls' quilts have different colors for sashing and cornerstones, as well as borders and backings; the boys' quilts will have matching sashes and cornerstones, but different border fabric and backings.

I have two of the tops pieced.  The other two have the rows pieced, and I'm still working on sashings. After those are done I will iron the rows and sashings, attach sashings, and then hubby will help me arrange the rows before sewing rows together.  While I finish that, we are waiting for fabrics to arrive for borders and backings.  I have ordered border and backing fabrics for the girls' quilts, and border fabric for one of the boy's quilts.  I still need one border fabric (something with trains) and two backing fabrics (one trains, one guitar-related).



The four quilts will have about half the blocks in common - the ones I cut from the 10" squares.  Some of the blocks from my stash will be the same.  The rest of the blocks will be different.

I also had a class last weekend at the Portsmouth Fabric Company, to learn more about using my new Bernina sewing machine.  It was pretty much an all-day class - 10 am to 3 pm, with a break for lunch.  There were 8 students (including myself), plus the instructor, and it was very helpful, and a lot of fun.


On Sunday, hubby and I went up to Rochester for the Cocheco Quilt Guild show.  That was a fun couple of hours!  It was smaller than in previous years, but there were still a few really beautiful quilts that stood out.  These were my favorites.

This mystery quilt was made and quilted by Pamela Heller.


This is the quilt guild's raffle quilt for this year.  The colors are fabulous!  The pattern is Hunter's Star.


This is Star Fantasy, made and quilted by Elaine Vanier.  The pattern is by Judy Niemeyer.


This is a Lancaster Diamonds quilt, made by Beth Munson and quilted by Kate Fitzgerald.  The Lancaster Diamonds is a pattern by Ann Holte.  (I have this pattern, and intend to make this one someday.  I don't believe this quilt uses all of the Lancaster Diamonds patterns.)


This is called Tiny Dancer, and was made by Rhonda Souliere and quilted by Linda Bevins.  The tag reads: "I made this quilt for my youngest grandson, Logan.  When I asked him what he wanted on his quilt he replied "zombies, Grammy".  So with great difficulty, I found some zombie fabric and put some other "boy" prints into this hexagon quilt."


This is a close-up of one of the fabrics in the quilt.  Hubby fell in love with this one , and I'll be getting some to use for a future quilt backing!


I've gotten a little knitting done as well, but not nearly as much as I'd like.  I managed to get the second set of place markers on the Perimetera shawl.  I really need to put more work into that as well.  I'll have to see if the grandson will let me knit when we're in the living room.  I know I can't sew then; sometimes I manage a few hand stitches (backbasting some blocks) but I haven't tried that recently either.  He is certainly a very busy boy!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Deerfield Fair!

After missing my yearly spinning gig at the Deerfield Fair in 2014, I was very happy to work 3 days of the fair this year (it is open for 4 days).  I was able to spin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday I attended the fair with hubby, 18 year old DS and the grandson.

This is my antique skein winder (aka clock reel)


I chose this fleece to bring with me to spin.  This turned out to be a great selection.  It is a finewool fleece, has nice staple length, and was probably a coated fleece because there is very little VM (vegetable matter - hay, chaff, sticks, dirt particles, etc).  I wish I knew where I originally got it, because I love this fleece!  It was easy to hand card, and I love the subtle color variations.


Other items I included in my spinning basket.  My handcards (I hand card rolags as I go, to demonstrate that part of the process), hand combs (shown a few times but not used), two balls of handspun yarn, some rolags from an Etsy seller that I particularly like, and a couple of spindles.  I demonstrated with the spindles quite a few times.  I also had a hand-dyed roving, and a ball of seine cord, which I use for drive bands.


This was my car, all packed up to bring my stuff to the fair!


My setup at the fair.  My antique Canadian Production Wheel is shown, along with my boxes of demo/ you-can-touch-this fibers.  I have a cigar box full of 2-inch squares on that treadle sewing machine by the window on the right-hand side, as another demonstration.


Some of the gray wool in process, on the wheel.


I had a great time spinning and talking to people about spinning for three days.  I handed out a few contact cards to people who may want to learn to spin, or might want to contact me in the future about spinning matters (and once to a lady who is semi-local and wants to get her treadle sewing machine going).

Then we went back on Sunday to see the fair for ourselves!  We were there for over 3 hours, and it still wasn't long enough, but we were all tired (especially the baby, but hubby and DS as well, and my knee was starting to bother me).  I did manage to come home with a bunch of fun stuff, however.

I got two great new tie-dye t-shirts!  Love tie-dye!


I also got two posters (they are about 14x22).  I plan to put these together, side by side, in a poster frame.  What fun!


Top is a mini guitar for grandson.  He has a ukulele, but I sent it to his mother's house on a visit and she has never returned it.  Below that is a corn bag (Heet Wave bag) that can be used for either hot or cold.  You can heat it in the microwave for a minute or a minute and a half, and it is wonderful!


We also had several delicious snacks, and I came home with a small hand lotion from one of my favorite local producers.  Great time, all four days!  I am happy to be getting back to a somewhat normal routine now.  Over the next week or two I need to get the barn and the barn animals ready for winter - clean the stalls and chicken coop, move the bunnies out of the center stall (the goats are in there now, because the buckling insists on escaping and I can't figure out his escape hole), move the baby chicks (now almost half the size of grown chickens) into the chicken coop, etc.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quilt progress & a little knitting

Since unpacking my new Bernina, I've been very busy.  The first thing I needed to figure out was how to wind a bobbin.  I found a YouTube video for that, and wound a few bobbins.

I finished cutting all the pieces for the sashes and borders for the Bear's Paw sampler quilt.  I was also ruminating on a couple of possible Christmas gifts.  With that in mind, I contacted a niece and asked about favorite colors, favorite characters/ books/ movies, etc.  I had recently ordered an I Spy fabric pack from Missouri Star Quilt Company (it was on sale for a very good price!), followed by a package of 5" square pre-cuts from an Etsy seller.  With the information from my niece, I picked out sashing and corner square fabrics from stash and got busy cutting.

The quilts will look similar to this - in style, at least.  Colors will vary.



I now have four baggies with fabrics in them.  I cut the I Spy 10" packet into four sets of 5" squares.  Then I sorted the pre-cuts into four sets and added one of those to each bag.  I'm waiting on another set of I Spy fabrics from Keepsake Quilting to add to the total.  These will be simple squares, set off with sashes and cornerstones.  The borders and backings will be more personalized.  I have 3 sets of sashes and cornerstones cut already, and have the cornerstones cut for the 4th set.  I can't wait to get started!

While I wait for the rest of the I Spy fabrics to show up, I'm working on assembling the Bear's Paw top.  Yesterday hubby and I set the blocks out and worked on the block placement.  I took a picture with my phone, then picked them up in order.  I'm hoping to get the blocks assembled into a top today, and then that will be put aside while I work on Christmas quilts.  All the piano key fabrics are already cut as well, so it should be easy to pick up again later.



There is a little knitting progress as well.  I was working on the Gina House shawl last Friday while waiting for my car at the dealership.  I am so close to the second set of 25-stitch markers!  I'll be taking it with me to a doctor's appointment today.  Maybe I'll finally reach that milestone!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bernina videos, and spinning wheel book.

I have found that the instruction book included with the Bernina is adequate, but not exactly comprehensive.  As we are now in the digital age, I decided to look for videos online and see if I could find something more inclusive.

It wasn't hard to find!  Heirloom Creations has an entire video series with this machine on YouTube, covering every aspect!  I watched the Alphabets video first - that was what initially attracted me to this model.  (Other models have more alphabet features available, but were far less affordable for us.)  I will be going back and watching the rest of the videos soon.


In other news, I had at one point found out about a book called "New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers".  I located the author and asked about the book, but it had been a small publishing run and was no longer available. 


This morning I received an email from the author, informing me that the book is now available online, as downloadable PDF files, for free!  The website for the book files is at https://nzspinningwheels.wordpress.com/ and the original website is http://www.nzspinningwheels.info/.


I hope this is of interest to some of you.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Christmas in... September!

Hubby scored lots of points today, with an outstanding surprise!  We went to the Portsmouth Farmer's Market, picked up a few groceries, then went to the Portsmouth Fabric Company.  I was looking for the fabric panel that has a town & roads on it.  I wanted to use it as backing for a quilt for my grandson.  They did not have any.  I was talking to the clerk, however, about the Bernina machines (I have wanted one since I found out they have all-metal gears!) and hubby let me get one!  It's not the lower-end model, either - this one has an alphabet, and can store up to 30 characters.  I'm thinking quilt labels!  And it was on sale!



They also sold me a few extra bobbins, and a quarter-inch quilting foot, at a discount with the machine.   The feet for this one are expensive, but it came with half a dozen standard feet, and the Special Edition includes a walking foot and a free-motion quilting foot.

My other modern machine (not counting the vintage "portables" in bentwood cases, and the treadle machines that I adore) is an Elna 3007 that is probably 15 or 18 years old.  It is still a wonderful machine and I will hold onto that until some family member needs an actual good-working sewing machine (as opposed to the crap machines from the big box stores).  That one was $500 when we bought it all those years ago, and it has proven itself to be a workhorse.

I set out all the blocks for the Bear's Paw sampler on the floor to see them all together.  I have not yet done any arranging.  I will probably move a few blocks around before putting them all together.  I started cutting the fabrics for the sashings and borders, but have not yet finished that.  Can't wait to start sewing them together on my new machine!


AND I finished the Irish Chain quilt!  It is off the quilting machine, and bound, and has been washed and dried!  Some faint stains remain, but may come out in time.  They are not terribly noticeable at this point.


I have started putting another quilt on the machine.  It is made of a variety of green squares, all set on point, almost a trip-around-the-world design.  It was a Freecycle find at one point.  This one (and another I put together to try out a design) will be lap quilts for another family member.  Hopefully it will go rather quick, now that I'm finding time to quilt again.  Eventually the grandson's crib will be moved out of our bedroom and into another room, and I'll have a little more quilting time at the machine, but I'm not ready to leave him to sleep alone just yet.