25 March 2014

Binding Teaser

Gratuitous binding shot. There will be a finished quilt this week.

2.5 in x 270 in of continuous cross grain binding.

There will be a finished quilt this week.

21 March 2014

Fleece-sanity

A sheep's fleece has taken over my front studio space this week. It was quite accidental and surprising as I've had this fleece for years. I can't even remember where this fleece came from. A family run farm either in Ontario or here in Quebec. After a number of offers through friends of friends, my brother finally gave me this bag full of fleece to play with some time after I got my wheel.

I've never quite worked up to digging into this fleece until now. Since this came from a farm where sheep are raised for food instead of wool, it's not the cleanest of fleeces. Combined with my understanding that fleeces from "meat sheep" are considered "garbage", I figured it wouldn't be worth the considerable effort it would take to clean this. Also, I don't have any proper wool scour. All these are reasons that this fleece became a "never never" project and it got put into a fibre bin for a few years.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I heard mention of PLY Magazine by some indie dyers/spinners on Twitter. I decided to try out an issue. Reading through, the Winter Woolen issue popped out at me. I've been trying to teach myself longdraw for the past few years, since I started playing with cotton.

Longdraw is supposed to be faster, but somehow my spinning hasn't really increased in speed much in the past few years. My spinning posture has been pretty awkward too. I'm not convinced that I've really gotten the hang of longdraw just yet. So I was quite excited to see that there was an entire issue devoted to the subject and ordered a copy to see how the magazine was.

After sitting around on my coffee table for a while, I finally took a look inside. I was quickly hooked and read this issue straight through cover to cover. My friends will know how rare this is for me to do with any kind of magazine. I will often buy some magazine, flip through, read some of it and then rant about how none of the articles are in-depth enough. This usually leads to someone suggesting that I stick to books.

But this issue was completely satisfying to me. So much good information! Lots of articles! New ideas! Knowledge from people who know more than me! After finishing reading through the issue, I feel much more confident in continuing my efforts to learn woolen drafting methods.

I was immediately inspired to drag out this fleece I've been storing for years based on the article about down breeds of sheep by Beth Smith. Basically the article refutes the idea that these are "garbage" fleeces not worth processing and suggests that the wool is well suited to making socks. Dense, warm, and even somehow "felt resistant".

So I dragged out this bundle of fibre, dumped it on my floor, and got to work preparing it to scour. I started by picking out vegetable matter and lightly fluffing the locks before scouring.

After scouring a few bundles, it's become apparent how fibre needs to be REALLY clean before getting wet. All the caked on mud bits stayed pretty much as they were after an overnight soak, scour and multiple rinses.

So my pre-scour preparations are now more thorough. I'm using my flick carder to open up each lock. So the fleece taking over my floor is slowly getting prepped for the next step.

It's unbelievable how soft and fluffy the washed fibre is. It's going to be so fun to play with!

18 March 2014

Mitten Repair Shop

I've found myself repairing some knitwear recently. The last few days have been spent working on repairing some wonderful fair isle gloves friends of mine brought back from a trip to Iceland last year. While these gloves are really well knit, they're a bit delicate for the inescapable winter chore of shovelling snow. Well inescapable for most Canadians.

While fixing these gloves, I found myself returning to the long avoided task of fixing my father's fair isle mittens which succumbed to a similar fate. I knit these mittens as a Christmas present back over the '11-'12 holiday break. My dad loved these mittens and I quickly heard back about how wonderfully warm they were, perfect for an Edmonton winter (which is a true test for hand knit accessories).

The downside to knitting these "ultimate" mittens was that my dad wore them for all of his outdoor winter activities, including shovelling the driveway. After 1.5 winters, the exceedingly soft alpaca that they are made from was worn through on many parts and I had to figure out how to fix them.

While I found it wonderful that my dad loved his mittens so much that he was wearing them all the time, it was heart wrenching to see how roughly these mittens had been used. I decided the best way to fix them was to reknit the tops of the mittens & thumbs, not a problem as there was plenty of yarn left over from the first time around.

But there was a bigger problem that was causing me to delay this repair. Sure, I could fix them, but in another year or so, I'll be fixing them again. I could be set for Christmas presents for life, re-knitting mittens for my dad every year. As much of a hard time as gift shopping can be, I'd rather not knit the same thing year after year.

So the real fix is a bit more that perpetually re-knitting some mittens, it's the creation of a mitten system. Yes, I am fixing this pair of already beloved mittens, but I'm also going to knit a second pair of "work" mittens out of a more hard wearing yarn. Alpaca is quite soft and warm, but the average Canadian snow shoveller requires fibre that is a bit tougher. Some sturdy wool mittens that will felt rather than fray with the reality of everyday winter chores.

1 March 2014

So...what exactly happened in 2013?

Clearly last year's efforts to try and post projects from 2012 bogged down any kind of posting about more current projects from 2013. So I'm going to do one mega post in point form of what the heck I made last year. Some of these projects have more pictures, feel free to click through to Flickr and have a look around.

SEWING 2013

I made 2 giant yellow tote bags.

Finally finished making a box bag from a thousand years ago.

Made a baby box bag out of the leftover yellow fabric and sent it to my Mom with the previously mentioned gianormous tote. She uses it to keep all her lipsticks together.

Made a set of 3 box bags as a birthday present for my friend Susie.

Started piecing a quilt. Finished the top, sandwiched it around Easter and slowly hand quilted most of it during the rest of the year. I have 4 blocks left to go.

Finally put button holes in 2 shirt dresses. I used the button hole attachment for my old Singer Featherweight. The resulting button holes are really nice.

Almost finished another shirt dress.
Made a 3rd version of Vogue 8728 for myself, with added side seam pockets and contrasting bias edging (didn't have quite enough yardage).
Made 2 versions of the Amy Butler mini dress for my Mom. Cut out and coached her to sew number 3.
Almost finished sewing DKNY Vogue V1160, again for my Mom. Got stymied on the last step, rolled hem in polyester chiffon. Still have to finish that.
I paused sewing here for a while. Too much sweatshop sewing this summer.
Worked on the ever-growing hand pieced hexagons here and there.

Then did some Hawaiian appliqué during Christmas holidays. I finished a block I'd begun last year, and made it halfway through another block.

SPINNING 2013

I finished spinning a batt I'd started in 2012 (I think). Aspen Grove Farm Batt purchased in Lunenburg during our 2012 summer trip to the Maritimes.
Then I started spinning another batt purchased from Lettuce Knit during a weekend trip to Toronto. It's still waiting on my wheel for me to finish it.

KNITTING 2013

This was the year of the striped baby blanket. I made 3, and have given away 2. I really like the colour combo on the 3rd one, but fear that most people might find it too ugly? And the 3rd baby's Dad is a big Montreal Canadians fan...



I started a Damson shawl, then put it away for bad behaviour (not enough yarn and too ugly).

I knit the 2nd Cladonia shawl for my Mom.

I made myself some "early Winter mittens" to wear from 0°C to -15°C, then it's time for stranded mittens to take over. I started these as cable on the side mittens, but didn't like them. So I switched to a knit from the top pattern.

I participated in the Westknits Color Craving Mystery Shawl, which ended up kind of giant.

I finally finished my Koigu Pomatomuses. These were going to be flip top, and I did make one of the tops. Then I decided I would find the tops more annoying than useful, so finished them as is.

I decided that after five Winters of wearing the same beret, it was time for a new Winter hat. After scouring all the slouchy cable patterns I could find, I finally settled on Rosebud. And then I knit 2.


I started some leg warmers over the holidays which are still in progress.
And I think that's everything. Phew.

28 February 2014

I made a shawl once.

Begun in the summer of 2012, finished early in 2013 and now eventually blogged in 2014.

Finished & blocked shawl

Left side of shawl

Shawl detail

Right curve of shawl

Pattern: Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur
Materials: Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit & Handmaiden Great Big Sea
Start Date: July 28, 2012
End Date: August 17, 2012
Blocked: February 8, 2013

I made this shawl for my Mom, out of yarn she selected during our trip to the Maritimes in 2012. There's another version of this shawl with nearly the same yarns in blues that I knit for her in 2013.

I had cast on a version for myself in some non-fluffy yarns, but it sat unfinished for long enough and I finally frogged it last week along with some other long-standing unfinished lace projects.

28 April 2013

10% Quilted

Mmmmm....sandwiches.
Sandwiched last weekend.

To hell with the back log. I've been enjoying some hand-quilting this morning. This stage always is super exciting, this is where the magic happens. From sandwich to quilt! It's happening! It starts getting all ripply and cosy.

First broken needle from hand quilting. CRAFTS.
Broke a needle yesterday. First time I broke a needle while hand-quilting.

I got the best compliments yesterday when I was hand-quilting in public. The best comment being: "It looks like I should be all curled up underneath it now." I know I've already said this but this is the magic step. All the cozy magic is being built into the quilt. I'm casting spells for infinite delightful naps.

Sunday Morning Hand-quilting

This morning I was hanging out in a sunbeam, quilting, drinking tea and listening to Rock 'n' roll. Delightful way to spend a Sunday morning.

10% Quilted

Yes, this is one of those quilts everyone was making that time. I started this last month sometime? Sewing the top was pretty fun/productive. And yes, I'm still enjoying hand-quilting. 1 day + 1 evening = 10% quilted. Not a bad ratio.

8 April 2013

One day, these Ceylons will have buttons

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added pocket Added cuff band

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: Heather Bailey, Nicey Jane Hop Dot Sky
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Modified sleeve (added cuff band) & added pocket.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added collar

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: I think it's a Moda dot?
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Added collar & modified/slightly de-puffed sleeve.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

The one down side to my awesome old sewing machines is that I can't easily make button holes. I also have a special desire to have a closet's worth of amazing shirt dresses. I should probably figure out a solution one of these days. In the meantime, here are some (mostly) finished dresses that keep hanging around patiently for me.