Monday, August 31, 2015

A Little More Quilting

I've managed to make some progress in the last couple of days.

I finished a couple of steps on Block 9 of the Bear's Paw sampler BOM.  I also cut out all the pieces I need for the next 3 blocks.  Those will be ready for the sewing steps next time I sit down at a sewing machine.

I also did some applique prep.  I prepped six blocks for backbasting.  One is already basted; for the other five, I drew the design on the back side of the background fabric, and set it up with the fabric that will create the design.  I used a fabric glue pen to attach the applique fabric to the background.  I will now have to do the backbasting on the next five blocks.

These are all papercut-type patterns, and part of the "It's a Baltimore Christmas" series from Apple Blossom Quilts.  The blocks are supposed to finish at 16" or so, and I plan to do a total of 12.  I may or may not leave them a bit bigger when they're done.  I've cut all the background fabrics at 18" (squaring off white-on-white fat quarters) to leave myself options.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chickens & quilts

I picked up some new chicks this week to make up for the hens we lost to the fox(es) this summer.  The broody hen managed to kick all her eggs out of the nest, unhatched, but did adopt our new chicks!

I've been working away on some quilt pieces, too.  I managed to get the sashing on all the blocks in the Susan's Folly quilt, and sewed all the blocks together into their (diagonal) rows.  I cut the next pieces, the triangle setting pieces, as directed and ran into a roadblock.  The instructions appear to be incorrect.  The quilt shop assures me that they are not, just that the setting triangles won't be sewn on in the way I expect.  In that case, the instructions are clearly insufficient.  Someone will be getting back to me in the next week or two - I'm in no rush, they have already sat around for two years.

With that one on hiatus, I pulled out some other unfinished projects to work on.  Right now it's the Bear's Paw BOM from D&D Sewing in Plaistow.  I had apparently finished 8 of the 12 blocks before this one got put away.

I also pulled out the Plain & Fancy BOM from the Sewing Diva in Derry.  I think I had only done two of those blocks (out of 9).  I have not yet pulled all the parts out of the bag to check, but I could certainly work on that one next.

There are plenty of others.  I pulled the box with the pieces and fabric for Sue Garman's Afternoon Delight, as I may decide to do some applique.  That one also has some tiny double-nine-patch blocks for alternate blocks.  I had started Month One, then just collected the rest.

There are more, of course - there always are.  I have the patterns for the Sarah's Revival quilt - all papercut-type applique, and a gorgeous quilt! 

Hubby and I took a drive out to the Bits 'n Pieces quilt shop in Pelham today, where I found some awesome batiks for this!  The colors are terrible in this picture - such a shame, because the fabrics are so beautiful.  The batiks are dark purple & blue, with multicolored brights for the designs.

I also picked up a couple of yards of boy prints.  I have two quilt tops for the grandson that are ready to be sandwiched and quilted, as soon as I finish the quilt that is currently on the machine.  That can't happen until the boy is spending time with his mom, as the crib is very near the machine.  Can't work on it while he sleeps (or naps), can't work on it while he's awake because he's so busy!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Updates - new FO, new roosters, new (old) treadle machine, project progress

Several updates here.  I have actually managed to be a bit busy!  The baby went to visit his mom for a few days (including for his 2nd birthday!) and I tried to fit in as much as I could.

First of all, here is a photo collage of goats.  My beautiful baby buckling is there, along with my two milkers, Snowball and Dory.  I'm still milking twice a day, and making cheese several times a week.  I've been making great progress in the consistency of my mozzarella - and as soon as I say that, I come up with a batch (like today) that disproves my statement!  Fortunately, we just eat the mistakes.

I also managed to construct the zippered bag pattern I mentioned in a previous post.  I didn't end up making it with the rooster fabric; I'll make a tote bag out of that at a later date.  I did, however, use one of my favorite fabrics, a denim with purple flowers.  I think it came out nice, but I wish it had a little more stiffness to its shape.  It's kind of floppy, and because of the shaping present with the zipper, I'd like it more stiff.  It did come out nice just the same, even though I had to put that LONG zipper in twice.

We went to Laconia one of those days to pick up this vintage treadle machine.  The brand is New Home (originally produced in Orange, MA).  It is a vibrating shuttle machine with leaf tension (my favorite).  It came with several shuttles and needles in the drawers, not all of which belong to this machine.  That's a mystery for another day.  It cleaned up nice, though, and sews well!  The decals are not pristine, but they are nice, and even the bobbin winder works well.  I had one extra leather treadle belt available and it went on this machine easily.

And more recently, I've been working on a little bit of everything.  The Perimetera shawl by Gina House is progressing, and has just moved up to a longer circular needle.  It would have been farther along if I hadn't had to pull out a dozen rows last week to fix some mistakes.  I now have the center 25 stitches in each quadrant segregated with stitch markers, and I'm up to 14 or 15 stitches on either side of the stitch marker.  The pattern is relatively simple until you reach the point where 125 stitches are in each quadrant, between the main stitch markers (the little Wee Ones sheep & chickens in a previous photo).

I'm working on some spinning here and there - the superfine stuff on my lightest lightweight spindle, and the rest of the "Lobstah" red on my Matchless wheel, as well as some rather blah light blue on the Minstrel wheel.  The blue was part of a monthly "surprise box" - it convinced me not to resubscribe.  The color is just slightly off a bland dishwater color.

I also picked up a languishing Block of the Month project - Susan's Folly.  I have some chain piecing to do here - sashes and cornerstones, which will then be attached to the finished blocks in preparation for the next steps.  All of the small blocks are done for this quilt; next are finishing steps, and then setting triangles and block assembly, then borders.

I discovered this past week that having a lot of instructions to follow is fairly intimidating to me.  I can do okay if I don't keep all of them in mind as I start.  I can read through all the instructions so I don't miss something along the way, but having a bunch of stuff to do can create UFOs on my part.  It's far easier for me to sew together 150 square-and-rectangle sashings and cornerstones than to follow the step-by-steps to create a zipper bag.  (The intimidation factor of the zippers may have played a part there.)

Oh, and the new roosters - we lost several chickens to foxes again this week.  I need to figure out what to do about that.  In the meantime the chickens are confined to their coop (which has an indoor and an outdoor section).  One of the chickens we lost to a fox was my rooster.  We find having a rooster to be quite valuable - they watch and warn of predators, fertilize eggs should I want to hatch any, and let us know (by crowing) when things around the barn are not as they should be.  When I realized my rooster had given himself to protect his girls, I immediately went to Craigslist to find some new ones.  I know from raising chickens for more than a few years that there are always too many boys.  I found two young cockerels, not even crowing yet, not very far away.  They are Black Copper Marans.  (Coincidentally, our last rooster was a Marans.)  They are integrating into the coop and should work out fine.  I hope they turn out to have as nice a temperament as our last rooster.  He was smart enough to never challenge people.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

World Quilt Show

I finally did something with the photos from the World Quilt Show.  I saw a slideshow on someone else's blog, and decided it was time for me to figure out how to do that!  I managed to make my own, with my Mac's "Photos" program no less.  I believe I have managed to create it without music.  I always hate it when music plays unexpectedly, whether I like the music or not.   I'm hoping I did this right!

Friday, August 14, 2015

A quick FO

Hubby and I went to a quilt show today - the World Quilt Show, held at the Radisson hotel and convention center in Manchester (NH, USA).  This one is usually pretty good, but this time it was fantastic!  There were more than a few really amazing quilts!  The post on that show is forthcoming. In the meantime, I came home very inspired and ready to work on something!

In the process of picking up the pieces and instructions for a long-neglected block of the month, I came across a cloth book panel that I believe I bought about a year ago.  It only took me a little over an hour - okay, maybe an hour and a half - to turn this into a cloth book.  This will be given to my grandson next week for his 2nd birthday.

I'm thinking I may have to go back into the stash to find the pattern (and fusible stuff) and fabric to make a zippered tote bag.  Those supplies were also purchased about a year ago.  I do remember that the fabric for that bag was a heavy-ish upholstery type fabric with roosters on it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

TWO fiber events in two days!

Today hubby, grandson and I took a quick trip to Riverslea Farm in Epping, NH to check out their Seacoast Fiber Festival after church.  The information I had said it ran from 9 am to 1 pm, but when we arrived the sign at the venue said 10 am to 2 pm.  It was small, but almost as interesting as the Fiber Revival yesterday.

There were maybe 6 or 8 vendors, a large tent with chairs for a sit-and-spin, and more.  The grandson (two years old in just over a week) loved it!

We watched a sheep being sheared - always interesting!  This time the shearer was a woman, a fairly uncommon sight!

We watched a couple of ladies spinning from angora bunnies in their laps.  This is one of them.  This is a lovely fawn (or maybe chestnut) bunny.  The other bunny was white.  Both ladies were very friendly, and invited the two year old to pet the bunnies.

Seeing these people spinning from their bunnies reminds me that I need to get busy shearing my own bunnies!  They are all due to have their coats removed!

We watched a lady leading her two shetland sheep around the grounds.  One was a wether and the other was a young (4 months old) ram who was learning to walk on a lead.  We saw a bunch of already-shorn sheep, and several more angora bunnies.  We saw some alpacas, and heard them humming.  Grandson did a great job imitating their hum!  He also got to pat some other bunnies and some of the sheep.  

I saw this fabulous spinning wheel at the Solidago Farm booth.  She said it's an antique Swedish wheel, and was painted when she bought it.  Among the designs painted is the date '1861' on the treadle.

I ran into one person who may have a Hansen Mini Spinner coming up for sale!  She is planning to get one of Abby Franquemont's devices - the electric spinner that Abby and her husband were demonstrating at the Fiber Revival yesterday!  She's supposed to contact me with more information on her Hansen in the near future.

I came home without any fleeces or new fiber.  I looked at several of the newly shorn fleeces, but all were  more coarse wool than I prefer to work with.  I liked the colors, but I still have several fleeces from my own sheep, this year's shearings, to work with.

I picked up a flyer with details of the Northeast Handspinners Association's "Open House", a one-day event being held this year on Nov. 7 in Newburyport, MA.  Newburyport is indeed close enough to make this feasible, and I am very much looking forward to attending.  After a lapse of many years, I believe I'm going to renew my membership this year.

And while preparing to leave, I spotted the rear window of this vehicle in the parking area.  As computer geeks ourselves, I found this delightful!

Fiber Revival, and spinning fine

Yesterday I spent a delightful day at the Fiber Revival, a small fiber festival in Newbury, MA.  (These three photos were taken by my friend Tameson.)

I had the great fortune to be able to take a class with Abby Franquemont of Abby's Yarns, and author of the book "Respect the Spindle".  (I also have her video of the same name.)   My class was "Spinning Fine."  I can already spin quite fine, but I took the class because a) it was an opportunity to meet Abby! and b) regardless of how much you know, there is always something new to be learned.

It was a very good class.  Abby interacts a great deal with the students, and we all learn from not only Abby herself but each other.  I really enjoyed this class format.

One student in class had a portable Carson Cooper wheel!


There were actually two Carson Cooper travel wheels at the Revival (that I saw) along with a Pocket wheel, and several Hansen Mini Spinners.  (I want one!)  Wheel spotting is just one of the fun things to do at a gathering of spinners!

I brought my Schacht Matchless to work with in the class.  This wheel is capable of much finer work than the Kromski Minstrel or the Hitchhiker wheel.  We started out with some light gray BFL (blue faced leicester) that was actually a little on the coarse side for my taste.  The next fiber was an organic merino in the colorway Lobstah (from Spunky Eclectic) that was much finer.  We had a couple other fiber samples to work with, and we also discussed wheel adjustments and other changes that can make a difference in how fine you can spin.

I still have a small hank of the Lobstah hanging on my wheel.  I plan to finish that up soon, then ply the singles, and weigh and measure the final product.

We left class with a small piece of another fiber - a merino/silk blend, I believe - with the challenge to see how much yardage we can get from this.  I had to pull out my jeweler's scale to weigh this - 1.61 grams.

I have my featherweight spindles at the ready.  Most of these are around 10-12 grams in weight.  The lacy one in the middle weighs 7.7 grams.

I bought this spindle on Etsy, but I'm not sure if the seller is still doing business.  The page is there but there's nothing currently for sale.

Here's another picture for scale - the little fluff of fiber, the jeweler's scale, the ultralight spindle, and a six-inch ruler.  I'm looking forward to seeing how much yardage I can make from 1.6 grams of this fiber!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Playing with vintage machines

No grandson today, he is with his mom.  When he's gone I always have a hundred things I want to get accomplished, and I'm lucky to even touch on a small percentage of them.  Last week I stopped in at D&D Sewing in Plaistow, and that reminded me of my vintage "portable" machines in the basement.  I knew one of them needed a professional touch (it skips stitches) but I didn't remember which one.  This morning I pulled them out and spent a little time dusting them off and sewing a bit with each one.

This is a National machine.  It has a vibrating shuttle (my favorite!) and a beautiful case.  This is very similar to my Reliance treadle, one of the few I have kept.  I have collected, repaired, and sold off probably a dozen other treadles.  I have kept the Reliance treadle, a White Family Rotary, and a 1904 Singer "Sphynx" model.

It's a beautiful machine, with lovely decals.  And look at that foot pedal!  Adorable!

Sews very well too!  I did adjust the tension a bit when I started sewing with this one (top line of stitching, dark) and sewed a couple more lines, ending with the third line of stitching, which looks white.   Nice bentwood case top, too. I am looking for a key.  This case (below) and the drawers to my Reliance treadle use the same triangle shaped key.

This one is a Singer 128 vibrating shuttle machine, with La Vencedora decals.  I have converted this one to a hand crank machine (mostly because I couldn't find an affordable hand crank).  You can purchase newly-made hand crank mechanisms and use them on vintage machines.  Not sure if they work on machines other than Singers, but it works with this one.

The disadvantage to adding a hand crank is that the cover no longer fits properly.  It can't be closed and locked with the hand crank attached.  It's a lovely case, too.  Oh, well - it at least keeps the dust off the machine (mostly).

This is a Singer 99K.  Lovely machine, uses standard needles and easy to find Class 66 bobbins.  And it sews fast!  As it turns out, this is the machine with the problem.  It skips stitches.  I think it may be a timing problem.   With this one, the case is broken at the top near the handle, so this is another one with a non-functional top.  Like the previous machine, though, it does function to keep most of the dust off.