Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sheep Pincushion

I collect sheep things and thought it would be fun to have a sheep pincushion that I could use while quilting. Never could find one so I thought I would try to make one myself. Above is pictures of the end result. I used a sheep toy pattern I had found on the internet (Woolie the Ewe from Gritty Knits) and then put it through the washer to felt it down a bit. I also used smaller sized needles than what the pattern called for. The finished pincushion measures 4" high and 5" long. It didn't felt quite as much as I was hoping for. As you can see, it still has stitch definition.....and this was after running it through twice. It probably would have felted better if I had put something in there (like a pair of jeans) for a bit more agitation....and didn't have it in a lingerie bag. The pieces were so small that I didn't think it would be safe to not have it in a lingerie bag during felting. Didn't want the machine accidently eating something. :)

My pincushion is knit from hand-spun, hand-dyed (face and feet) Shetland wool. The same yarn I used for my felted Charlie lamb. It is stuffed with washed Ile De France wool. This still had quite a bit of lanolin in it so I thought it would be perfect for using in a pincushion. It has button eyes and a bit of needle-sculpting on the face to give the appearance of a nose and mouth. I untwisted some of the yarn, fluffed it up, and then needle-felted it to the top of the head to give it a nice fluffy appearance. This was a really fun project and I just may be making another one (or two) sometime in the near future.

Carolina Crossroads Update: I started machine quilting on my Carolina Crossroads quilt. I'm using a variegated blue thread for the top and a matching red thread in my bobbin. The backing is a lovely red fabric. I have the quilt marked in a 1" grid and am using a serpentine stitch for the grid. This breaks up the straight lines of the quilt a bit while keeping the quilting simple, yet interesting. Or at least I think so anyway. :) It's been very enjoyable to work on this quilt. I will be a bit sad when it is finally finished. Hey, at least there will be another mystery starting up on April I will have yet another fun project to look forward to. :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Small Fair Isle Bag

Here is a "before" and "after" of my small Fair Isle bag. The picture on the left is the bag before it was felted. I used perle cotton around the top of the bag to keep it from stretching out of shape while in the wash. The handle was made by casting on a pre-determined number of stitches (I used 150 because I knew about how long this would make my handle), then doing a row of garter stitch, and then binding off. Once I had bound off I noticed that my handle wanted to roll, so I took advantage of this and loosely stitched the sides together. Gave me a very nice round handle when it was felted.

The finished bag measures approximately 5 1/2" square. No, the sides aren't perfectly straight. Shows that my tension wasn't kept even through out the piece. Something more practice will help improve upon. The bag is lined and has a magnetic closure. I really prefer lining the bags I make. I think it gives the bag a bit more stability and seems to hinder the natural tendency for it to stretch from use. Plus it makes the inside look pretty and finished. Always a nice thing! :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Charlie the felted lamb

This is "Charlie" my felted lamb. He's my latest felted project. He is made from Shetland wool (from my own sweet sheep) that was hand-spun. The yarn used for the face, ears, and hooves was hand-dyed to match the coloring of the real Charlie.....the sweet sheep from whom the wool for this project came from. This "Charlie" is approximately 8" high......9" long.....and 14 1/2" around (he's a tubby little thing!!). He has button eyes and a velvet bow/collar.....and a small bit of needle-sculpting for his nose and mouth (which is hard to see in the picture, but looks real cute).

Here is a picture of the real Charlie. His wool is a lovely oatmeal color and very soft to the touch. Charlie's horns never did grow in like they should have. He's still a sweet thing and loves being loved on.

Intarsia bag finished

Here is it!! The intarsia bag (or tote as I've been calling it) is finally finished. It started out with good intentions of closely following the pattern. But, I only managed to get through a quarter of it before I found it just too fiddly. So off I went in my own direction........and above is the end result. The bag is approximately 9" high (excluding the handles), 10" or so wide, and about 2" deep. It is made from hand-spun, hand-dyed polypay x yarn. Yes, it does tend to flare out a bit at the top. Don't quite understand that, but it does give the bag charm. A piece of acid-free foam core board was used in the bottom of the bag to give it a nice solid bottom (reason it can stand on its own). The bag is lined with the same fabric that is used for the handles and has a velcro closure. I think it will make a wonderful little spindle bag. It's just the right size for carrying a spindle with a bit of fiber. Will I tackle intarsia knitting again?? Probably, but not anytime soon. This was a wonderful learning experience though.

Another first for me.....fair isle knitting. I've always wanted to try my hand at fair isle knitting, but have found it to be so incredibly intimidating. I've got books on it (all of which I've read), plenty of patterns to choose from....even have yarn set aside for a couple of fair isle projects. It took a simple pattern offered by the Philosopher's Wool website to give me the push I needed to actually give it a try. Here is the end result. I was able to knit this little bag up in a few hours using the two-handed method of stranding. I found it incredibly easy to do once I got going. The yarn I used isn't hand-spun. It's yarn I had purchased from Knitpicks quite some time ago (most likely for a project that will never get made). I was real pleased to see that the little bag lay nice and flat after I had finished knitting. This means that I got the tension right on my stranding. Yea!! Now to get a handle made for it and then get it felted. Then it's off to tackle an even larger fair isle project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Carolina Crossroads - completed top

Here it is!!! My Carolina Crossroads completed top. Wish I could have gotten a picture of the whole top, but just don't have the room. The quilt measures 81" square.

The first border is 2 1/2" finished. The second one is 1 1/2" finished. I pieced together the rest of my 2" red strips so I would have a nice scrappy border. Plus I think it brings the red out from the quilt center. The final border is 3 1/2" finished. I think I may go with the blue border fabric for the binding. I was toying with the idea of putting a red binding on. Then toyed with the idea of using a scrappy red binding. With looking at the quilt, I'm thinking that a binding from the blue border fabric would be best. The blue seems to frame the quilt center very nicely.....and I think a red binding would just end up being too distracting. And this from a person who prefers a contrasting binding on her quilts. Go figure!! :)

I have a beautiful multi-tonal red fabric that I will be using for the backing. It will bring out all the reds used in the quilt front. I even bought two different shades of red thread so that my bobbin thread will match my backing. I will be using a variegated blue thread for the machine quilting. Right now I'm thinking I will quilt the entire quilt center with a 1" grid. At least that's what the quilt has been "telling" me it wants done. Not sure if I will extend it out into the border.....or if I will do something a bit different. I hope to start machine quilting it in the next day or two. Have another small project that I would like to finish up before I start on the machine quilting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Carolina Crossroads - quilt center

Here it is!! A picture of my completed quilt center for my Carolina Crossroads mystery quilt. Yea!!! Wasn't quite sure I would ever get this far. There are soooo many seams to match! But I did and now can't wait to put borders on it. The quilt center measures 65" square. Have an idea of what I would like to do for borders. It things come out right my completed quilt should measure somewhere around 80" square. I've also been toying with quilting ideas. It's best to let the quilt "talk" to you when it comes to machine least in my humble opinion anyway. This quilt has definitely been doing quite a bit of talking!!

The intarsia bag is finished. At least the outside of it anyway. I still need to line it and make handles for it. Wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do for handles, but am leaning towards fabric handles. I think if I make them from the same fabric used for the lining it should look really cute.

I've started on the third sheep from my sheep mobile.....Timmy's momma. She is looking really cute and has tons of personality already. I hope to finish her up this week. I also started on a felted lamb. This is being made from Shetland yarn......that I spun up myself......that is from one of my own sweet sheep. The felted lamb is coming along rather nicely. The knitting part should be finished up and ready for felting in a couple of days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Introducing Timmy!

Here is Timmy!! He is the second sheep from Shaun's the Sheep and Friends Mobile. He is approximately 4" tall....and is pretty round. I opted to give him a different color pom-pom for his hat instead of one that matches his hat brim. Makes things a bit more fun, I think. Timmy's mom is the next sheep in the set. I will start on her just as soon as I finish up the intarsia bag I'm working on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carolina Crossroads - preview

Here is a preview of my Carolina Crossroads mystery quilt. There wasn't room enough on my design wall to put all the blocks I printed out a picture of the completed center to help with block placement for those that didn't fit on the design wall. I really love the way it looks! My reds and blues are scrappy, but the background is the same fabric throughout. I did it that way so the variety of reds and blues would have a solid foundation (so to speak) to rest on.

I have started sewing my rows together. It's going slowly simply because of all the seams to match up. That's okay though. I think the completed quilt will be well worth all the time put into it. This is definitely not something I would have tackled on my own. Doing it as a mystery was a wonderful idea!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Carolina Crossroads - Step #7

Finally finished step #7 of my Carolina Crossroads. Yea!!!!! Had to make 25 of the circle blocks for this step. Or at least for the first part of this step. The rest of step #7 consists of actually putting the center of the quilt together. I plan on putting up my "design wall" (flannel backed tablecloth which is clipped to my bookshelves using binder clips) later this afternoon. Then the blocks will start going up. It will give me a chance to play with all the blocks. I won't start sewing rows together until I'm happy with the block placement....especially since all the blocks are a bit different. I'm curious to see how all the blocks will look together.

Update on the intarsia bag: It's coming along very nicely. Love the way it's looking and should have the front side of it finished up tonight. Definitely a very colorful bag.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Intarsia bag

Have you ever started a new project with the anticipation of it being a really enjoyable project......only to get about half-way through and find yourself extremely frustrated? Well, that's how I feel with the intarsia bag. I have done half of one side following the pattern and chart very carefully only to find myself not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. So I have opted to change gears and stray away from the pattern. Not quite sure exactly how the finished bag will turn out, but the knitting is definitely more enjoyable. I'm really enjoying working with the different colors and with my new needles (Harmony 16" circulars). My yarn is stuff that I spun up myself using Polypay-cross wool.......that was dyed before being spun into yarn. It's actually very lovely yarn and a sheer joy to use.

Speaking of spinning, I started spinning up a Columbia/Dorset (?) blend yesterday. It's ecru in color. Not one of the most thrilling colors for me to spin up....but it is spinning up into what will be a very nice worsted weight yarn. I was able to spin up half a bobbin yesterday. Hope to finish up the bobbin today.

My order from Paradise Fibers arrived yesterday. I had ordered a pound of grey Norwegian top and a pound of light grey Suffolk roving. The Norwegian top feels a bit softer than the Suffolk. Both should spin up very nicely. Even though I have my own sheep, I still enjoy spinning wool from other breeds. I plan on making felted (or fulled) teddy bears from the fiber I got yesterday. Along with the fiber was also a small Yarntainer. I have a medium sized one and absolutely love it! Use it for just about everything.....especially when I'm plying my singles. Keeps my center pull ball in one place and I don't have to worry about it rolling around everywhere. The only time I run into a problem is when I am plying and knitting at the same time. Reason why I ordered another one. Thought I would try the smaller size and see how that works out.

Monday, February 4, 2008


It's finally done. The alien illusion scarf has been washed, blocked, left to dry, and given to its new owner....who simply adores it! This was a rather long project for me. The repitition of all those rows was a bit much at times. But I hung in there. I was going to edge the scarf with a crab stitch, but didn't like the way it felt....or looked on the scarf. Seemed a bit heavy and stiff. So I opted to do a simple single crochet all the way around. I think it finished up the edges very nicely and kept them from curling in.

It was definitely a week for finishing up things. I also finished up the embroidered denim pillows that I had started oh so long ago. I fell in love with the zebra embroidery the moment I saw it and knew that I just had to use it for a pair of pillows. I used cotton threads for the embroidery. Gave it a nice matte finish. I also reversed the design for the second pillow so that the zebras would be facing each other when the pillows are on the couch. A simple frame of darker denim seems to set the embroideries off very nicely. The backing is a simple four-patch using a light colored denim and a striped denim. Nothing fancy.....although fun. I think it carries the "stripe theme" to the back.

Quilting update: All of the signature split nine-patch blocks are finished. They look great!! There are 36 in all. I had purchased a couple of Christmas fat quarters for the other 36 split nine-patch blocks that still need to be made. Wasn't sure I would have enough light colored squares for them. I also purchased fabric for borders and binding. So I'm all set. Just need to finish up my mystery quilt.

Step #6 for the Carolina Crossroads mystery quilt is finally finished. Everything looks really good. I started on step #7 over the weekend. Got things all laid out. Even managed to get a whopping 8 blocks sewn up out of the 25 that I need. I hope to finish sewing up the blocks in the next day or two. Once that is done then I can start sewing the top together.

Knitting update: Started on a new project the other night. A felted intarsia bag. I've never done intarsia before so thought this would be a great way to learn a new technique. Especially since the project is a fairly small one. I'm using all hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns for it. All I can say right now is that it is definitely a learning experience. I had a third of the bag knitted up when I noticed things weren't coming together like they should. So I ended up taking it all out and starting over. I was using clothespins for yarn bobbins and I think that was causing some problems. They were just too heavy. I switched over to floss bobbins and things are going much better. Of course it's the second time through and I have a much better idea of what I'm doing.