Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fibre Fun!

The start of July marked the start of Tour de Fleece - on online spin-along that happens every year during Tour de France. This was my fourth year participating and the time of the year when I get most of my yarn spun.

The before picture of my cleaned and oiled wheel, plus the fibre all ready to start.

This is the finished result - 18 skeins (plus a couple of little leftover skeins), 1.5kg (3.3lbs) of fibre spun, over 3km (over 3,000yds) of yarn! I did 2 sweater spins this year, as well as some sock yarn, and lace weight yarn for a cowl, plus a few extra skeins.

I usually don't start any knitting during the spin-along, but I did finish knitting a couple of projects, both with hand spun yarn -

The first is the Ribwarmer Vest by Elizabeth Zimmermann. This is the second project I have knit with this yarn - I didn't wear the other piece and liked the yarn too much to let is go to waste. This should be more practical. Like all Elizabeth Zimmermann's patterns this was really interesting to knit.

The second is a pair of socks. I find spinning for socks the most challenging, but this pair came out really nice. They were knit toe-up, two-at-a-time on a long circular needle, I tried out a different toe, and a regular flap and gusset heel.

Before the Tour de Fleece started I tried out some needle felting for the first time.

This sleeping mouse was made after watching a great YouTube tutorial - Needle Felted Sleepy Mice by Sara Renzulli. Everything was so well explained, and the mouse was easy to make (the only change I made was that I added some front paws). I nestled the mouse in a mug (a pottery one that I made a long time ago) with some little leftover balls of hand spun yarn.

Since the first one was so much fun, I made another mouse on a wire frame so that it could stand. I knitted this one a little scarf using hand spun yarn.

They are so cute, and fun to make, I know I will be making more

After the Tour de Fleece it is always exciting to get back to knitting. I started a Close to You shawl by Justyna Lorkowska (a free pattern on Ravelry), using a skein of cashmere and silk yarn, that I had blended, spun and then dyed earlier in the year. I love garter stitch scarves - they are reversible, and so squishy, and this yarn is incredibly soft. The pattern is very simple and easy to memorize.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!♥︎

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Celebrating Canada's 150th Birthday!

In honour of Canada's 150th Birthday this year I designed a mug rug pattern to share.

The finished piece is about 9"x14". It uses appliqué and piecing techniques.

I think what really makes this mug rug is the Delectable Mountain quilt blocks used on the sides - they are similar to Maple Leaves on their own.

I used Bali/batik fabric in red and an off-white print (white would be great, but as it is a mug rug I knew stains would happen and this fabric already looked like coffee stains). I am sure two fat quarters would be enough - I just used scraps I had at home.

The piece starts with the Delectable Mountain quilt blocks -

You will need four each in red and white fabric - 4+1/4" squares.

Make Half Square Triangles with a red and white square (this is where lay the two squares right sides together, draw a diagonal line on the back of the light square and stitch 1/4" on both sides of the line. Cut on the line and press the seam to the dark - If you need more detailed instructions here is a link to my tutorial for Easy Half Square Triangles). You will make 8 blocks.

Trim the Half Square Triangle blocks to 3+3/4".

Place 2 squares right sides together, with opposite colours together,

the seams kind of 'lock' together.

Cut the block into three pieces 1+1/4" wide-

This creates 6 pieces that are opposite colours.

Do this will all the blocks (there are 24 pieces, 12 for each border).

The strips are laid out as in the above photo and sewn together to form the two borders.

Sew the two borders to a 8" x 9+1/2" square of white fabric (the 9+1/2" should be the width of the finished borders, I cut the fabric out 10" and trimmed it after adding the borders). The fabric is now ready for the appliqué!

I don't have a PDF, but you can just save the above image and paste it in app/program that you use to create documents - enlarge the image to fit a regular piece of paper (there is a 1" guide on the image). (There are also online 'Image to PDF' convertors that you can use - save the image and upload it to the site you choose - search 'Image to PDF). (If you really can't create your own pattern email me and I can send it as a PDF - the link for my email in in my profile, linked on the side bar).

I used my favourite Invisible Machine Appliqué for the appliqué - here is a link to one of my tutorials and another one. Any appliqué method would work. For the '0' I opted to add the centre as a separate piece using the white background fabric on top of the red just to make it easier to get the freezer paper pieces ready. You can see that the appliqué pieces overlap onto the borders.

When using the Invisible Machine Appliqué technique with freezer paper remember to press all the points down first.

I layered the the finished piece on to two layers of batting (the bottom one cotton and the top wool) because I find that two layers of batting work well for mug rugs (absorbs heat and spilled mugs).
A mug rug should be heavily quilted to make it lay flat, and so that mugs aren't tippy on it, but I did decide to leave the red parts of the appliqué un-quilted so they would puff  up a bit (I think I will be thankful that I used fabric that already looked stained!).
I free motion quilted in the ditch around all the appliqué and the red of the border, quilted parallel straight lines in the red border, and sort of radiating lines from the centre in the white.


Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.♥︎

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Seems To Be A Theme

I have finished a few things recently and they are all red - it just happens to be my favourite colour.

I made a few pillows to go on my bed along with my new quilt, and the whole cloth anniversary quilt I made a few years ago. The two pillow shams are just sewn out of rectangles of fabric, with a layer of batting for support, and a little flange stitched around the edge.

The little cushion is a piece of cross stitch on linen, with a fabric border and matching binding.

The larger pillow is a piece of fabric with free motion quilted feathers - 

I started by marking and stitching the feather 'stems', plus the tips of the feathers,

and then stitching in all the 'lobes' freehand. These are 'Bump-Bump' feathers. I used a layer of cotton batting with a full layer of wool batting on top.

I added parallel lines for the background - you can see a few of the lines that I marked with a Hera marker as a guide for the angle. Super quick and easy to make!

Here is how they all look on my bed. When I made my anniversary quilt the plan was to have it as a backdrop for other quilts, and I love this more formal look.

I also finished knitting a red vest using some hand dyed, hand spun merino and silk. It is light weight and perfect for this time of the year (more details on my Ravelry page if you are on Ravelry).

For a change I started a scarf using some green/blue hand dyed, hand spun yarn. This is a free pattern on Ravelry called Waves of the Atlantic by Deborah Wilson. It is an easy knit, and all the magic is in the blocking.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!♥︎

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Power Quilting!

I never seem to follow quilt patterns exactly, so I decided it would be nice for a change! The quilting book Simple Comforts by Kim Diehl  was one of my first quilt books (and still one of my favourites), and I have always loved the quilt Twilight Hopscotch (if you click on the book link you can see all the quilts in the book). I ordered some fabric that was on sale and it came last Thursday.

It was lovely to know exactly what to cut out with out figuring it out by myself.

I started piecing last Sunday, and because cold weather was in the forecast for the week I decided to challenge myself to make a quilt in a week (I have done it once before, a long time ago - probably the last time I followed a quilt pattern too!).

By Wednesday it was all pieced and ready for quilting. I tried a 'new-to-me' batting - Tuscany Cotton Wool blend by Hobbs (80/20 blend). It was nice to quilt on my sewing machine, but I don't think I would quilt a full size bed quilt with it - it is heavier than just wool or silk. It will be interesting to see how it washes - it is supposed to get softer with repeated washings.

sewing the last few stitches for the binding
Finished the machine quilting today.

The quilt is 61" square, with 12" blocks and 2" sashing and outer border. I am really pleased with how it came out and it was a fun experience.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!♥︎

Sunday, April 9, 2017

BOM Blocks

I am participating in two block of the months this year.

These are the blocks so far for the Yankee Diary BOM from Barbara Brackman's blog Civil War Quilts. This month's blocks are the 5 Double Tie blocks. They are 6" blocks. Some of my blocks so far are just the correct size of background fabric since I haven't decided what I will appliqué yet (I'll decide when more of the blocks are finished).

These blocks are for the Welcome Home Mystery quilt from Kathleen Tracy (A Sentimental Quilter) - she posts the instructions on her Small Quilt Group on Facebook and Yahoo. The latest are twelve 3" Nine Patch blocks. I also added the border to the house block - the block is now about 15".

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!♥︎

Monday, April 3, 2017

Some Recent Finishes

A quick post to share some recent projects -

I finished up the table mat from my last post (I pieced the blocks on International Quilting Day). The mat is 12"x28", with 4" Courthouse Steps blocks. I went with this layout, although I preferred (as well other commenters from the las post) a different layout, but I realized it would be the same as the quilt on the couch -

I free motion quilted an all over meander design.

A couple of knitting finishes using yarn that I dyed and spun-

A sweater made with all kinds of fibre - linen, 2 breeds of wool, 2 types of silk, bamboo, alpaca and tencel. You can see more information and photos on the Ravelry page. This was my own pattern.

A simple cowl knit with silk and merino. The pattern is Botanical Cowl by Megan Goodacre, a free pattern on Ravelry.

I also finished weaving a piece of fabric that I plan on making a vest with - kind of scary cutting it up, but it should work! Technically not a finish yet. It is made with yarn that I dyed and spun also.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!♥︎

Saturday, March 18, 2017

World Quilting Day

Today is World Quilting Day (International Quilting Day) and I was happy to do some online sewing with a dear friend in New Zealand.  

I pieced 21 little Court House Steps blocks. They are 4" blocks that I had cut out earlier in the week. The strips are 1/2" (cut at 1"), with 1" (cut 1+1/2") centres.

Now I have to decide on which layout I like best -

I am making a little table mat.

Happy World Quilting Day! Thanks for stopping by!♥︎

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finished Westering Women Quilt

I finished machine quilting the Westering Women quilt last weekend.

Now it is all washed and soft.
The design is from the Civil War Quilts blog by Barbara Brackman. The quilt is 54"x67". It was a fun quilt to make, along with interesting stories to go with each block design.

I love sampler quilts, but seem to struggle on deciding what free motion designs to quilt. For this one I decided to keep it simple and only use three different quilting designs - Continuous Curves, Swirls and Hooked Feathers. I am really pleased with how it came out.

I used my favourite combination for a lap quilt of silk batting (Hobbs Tuscany Silk) with minky/plush backing (it comes 60" wide, that I why I made the quilt a bit smaller than the original pattern). It makes for a lovely, soft, squishy, warm on bare skin, lap quilt.

For the free motion quilting in the sashing, corner stones and blocks I used this brown thread - it was amazing how well it blended with all the different colours.

I used red Aurifil thread for the hooked feathers in the border.

I did stitch in the ditch around all the blocks before free motion quilting, and for that I tried using Bottom Line thread, but my machine really doesn't seem to like it these days, and somehow it kept cutting the thread (I even removed the blade from the built in cutter, but that didn't help). So I ended up switching to a thread from Connecting Threads called Essential Pro. It is a 70 weight thread that I had bought on sale and tried for the first time - it wasn't quite the right colour, but worked very well.

When I was picking out fabric from my stash for the binding I thought this fabric seemed appropriate since the quilt is designed by Barbara Brackman.

Barbara's quilt-along for this year is called Yankee Diary,

and this is my first block (invisible machine appliqué). It is 9"x12". The next two block patterns are out, and I knew going into this quilt along that it would be more 'American' than I would like (stars and US flags...), so I am still deciding if I will just make whatever appropriately sized appliqué blocks, or wait and see what appliqué will work when the other blocks are finished. The style for this quilt-along is one of my favourite - random sized blocks with a mix of appliqué and pieced blocks, so I knew that I wanted to join.

These blocks are for Kathleen Tracy's quilt-along for the Small Quilt Group.

I also decided to go back to working on my Pineapple quilt blocks this week. These are large, 14" blocks, and I had forgotten how long they take to piece. I have 18 out of the 49 blocks pieced now.

In the Knitting/Spinning department I have a couple of finishes -

This shawl is from the pattern Neato by Jumper Cables (a Canadian designer), that I made with hand spun yarn that I spun last year from fibre that I won during Tour de Fleece. It is a 50% Silk, 50% Merino blend that I spun into a lace weight gradient.

This little chicken I knit out of some leftover hand spun. The pattern is Bock Bock, I'm a Chicken by Patricia Grace Evans.

These next two are a couple of skeins that I finished spinning for the Spin the Bin Challenge 2017-

100% flax/linen.

100% Merino that I dyed and drum carded to blend. The grey is heathered and the coloured one is a gradient. This was spun to make a Leftie by Martina Behm.

I also did some dyeing -

100% Finn wool that is part of my Spin the Bin 2017 Challenge.

And for fun I dyed some Cashmerino sock yarn.

I love to have a pair of plain socks on my needles for simple knitting, and it is more interesting with fun yarn.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!♥︎
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