Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blue-beary's new collar

Went to the library and checked out a couple of books. It took a bit but I finally figured it out and Blue-beary now has a new collar. I used the baby cable ruffle pattern from Nicky Epstein's book " Knitting Over the Edge". It didn't take much to figure out how many stitches I needed to cast on either. I simply used my WPI (wraps per inch) tool to figure out the weight of my yarn (I used a dk wt yarn spun from North Ronaldsay wool). Then I looked up the weight of my yarn on a small chart. This gave me the needle size and how many stitches per inch. Measured the neck of Blue-beary....which was 10". Multiplied this by the number of stitches per inch.....made sure it was a multiple of 4 (per the ruffle pattern) and then added 2 stitches. This gave me a grand total of 114 stitches needed for cast on. After that, the rest was easy. All I had to do was follow the pattern. Came out perfect!!! Sewed a little faux pearl button on the one side and made a small loop on the other (to go over the button)....and the collar was done. The finished collar was blocked with steam....which finished it up very nicely.

OC Update: Still working on step 2....even though step 3 has already been posted. Boy! Some of the participants sure sew fast!! It's amazing to see the posts coming through hours after the new step has been posted....."finished!. Oh well. At least I'm enjoying this even though I seem to always be one step behind. I've got about half of the step 2 units done. I will post a picture when I have them all finished up.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Introducing "Blue-beary"....my latest felted creation. I used the Marigold Bear pattern by Fiber Trends for Blue-beary. My finished bear is approximately 14" tall....and very huggable. The yarn used was a mohair/jacob wool blend that I dyed blue. The yarn didn't dye evenly so there are various shades of blue in it. I think this is what gives Blue-beary the texture it has. The mohair is what makes it fuzzy. Not sure if the picture shows this or not, but the bear itself has a very nice halo to it. The nose and mouth are needle-felted using a brownish-black Shetland wool (Shetland black as it is called). The eyes are the purchased lock-washer type.

I would love to knit a lace collar for Blue-beary but haven't quite figured out how to do that yet. I have never worked without a pattern before. So I will visit the library and look at a few books to see if I can figure out what I need to do. I'm also toying with the idea of making a felted hat with a felted flower on it. I do have a pattern for the felted hat (came with the Marigold Bear pattern).....and have patterns for a few different felted flowers. It's just a matter of deciding whether this is what Blue-beary wants or not. Right now it is definitely telling me a knitted lace collar is needed. Thankfully I already have the yarn for it. It's a natural colored (cream) dk weight yarn that I spun up a while back using North Ronaldsay wool. Very pretty yarn actually. It will be perfect for Blue-beary's collar.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Arrivals

They are here!!! The new lambs have finally arrived!! One set of lambs was born on Friday in the afternoon. I was privileged enough to be there when the first one arrived. A beautiful little black ewe......Storm. After spending the entire day in a rather chilly barn, I went inside to warm up and to share the news of the arrival with family. When I went back out to check on mama and the new baby.....to my very pleasant surprise.....there was now a second lamb. Boogie had decided to make a surprise arrival shortly after his sister was born. He is a beautiful katmoget ram.....meaning his underside and legs are a darker color than the top of his body. And he has beautiful markings on his face. Boogie and Storm are pictured above with their mama, Raven (she is the dark ewe).

Saturday morning started out with me seeing lambs in the barnyard and trying to figure out how they managed to get out of the pen inside the barn. After all, that's where I had left Raven and the lambs the night before. So out I go thinking mama is just going nuts trying to get to her babies only to discover that the lambs didn't belong to Raven. They were Sophie's! Sophie's lambs made their appearance somewhere around 6 am Saturday morning. It was a very cold and windy morning.....and they were both born outside. She, too, had twins. A beautifully marked little ewe (who could pass as being katmoget with lighter colored markings) named April. And a jet black little ram which is named Jack. Jack has a bit of white on the top of his head as well as on his upper lip. The inside of his ears are also white. He will most likely end up being a wonderful shade of gray when he gets older. Lambs don't always stay the color they are born. It all depends on their coloration and their genetics. I don't quite understand it all and won't pretend to. All I know is I now have two sets of lovely twin lambs.

Of course not all the ewes have lambed yet. Carrie is still due to lamb. Maybe sometime in the next week. Am I anxious to see what she will have? Yes!!!! Last year Carrie had the two most beautiful moorit (reddish brown) twin lambs I have ever seen......Gracie and Stryder. Both are such sweeties and have such lovely, lovely wool.....like their mama. So I am real curious to see what she will have this year.

Of course the biggest surprise of all this weekend was the snow. Yes, it actually snowed.......in April.....when the flowers are supposed to be making their appearance and the temperatures are warmer. We had snow on Saturday (which didn't stay) and then more snow on Sunday (some stuck). It snowed overnight and we awoke this morning to several inches covering everything. As to the lambs.....well, they seem to be really enjoying the snow. When I looked out this morning they were running and jumping all over the barnyard. So the snow and cooler temperatures isn't bothering them at all. Rather impressive considering they are days old.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Applique Sampler

After days of cutting, sewing, more cutting, and more sewing here it is. A picture of my completed Applique Sampler top. Yea!! Wish I could have gotten a better picture of it, but the quilt is rather large (90" x 110") and it was difficult finding a place inside where the quilt would even fit. So this will have to do. All the blocks are done using needle-turn applique and measure approximately 16" finished. I played around with setting ideas in EQ6 and this was the one that really caught my eye. Looks really pretty on the bed.

I have been playing around with quilting ideas...although I'm not quite sure exactly when this will be sandwiched and quilted. Right now I am toying with the idea of machine quilting the cornerstones, sashing, and border. Then hand quilting the blocks themselves. I was thinking of hand quilting diagonal lines with each row going the opposite direction from that of the row before. Nothing is set in stone though. So there is plenty of time to ponder the multitude of quilting options for this particular top.

Knitting Update: I'm really making progress on my felted teddy bear. The body is now done and I'm working on the back of the head. It's really starting to take shape and I'm getting excited about seeing it done. I'm thinking I will make a felted hat for it. And possibly even a felted flower to go on its felted hat. I have also been seeing it with a knitted lace collar of some sort (in my mind's eye, of course). Looks like I even have the perfect yarn for the lace collar. Guess I better focus on getting the bear finished first before I start accessorizing!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I purchased a dvd on two fabric applique quilts and was so fascinated by it that I just had to give it a try. The dvd was hosted by Nancy Lee Chong of Pacific Rim Quilt Company (http://www.prqc.com ). Pictured is my first attempt at this wondefully fun and easy applique technique. The quilt will be hand quilted, framed, and given to my mother for Mother's Day. She will simply adore it!

I learned quite a bit from the dvd. This is a wonderful way to practice your applique stitch Some of the tips and hints given are simply amazing....and ones that I will be using in other applique projects. Plus I really enjoyed being able to use some of those batik fat quarters that I love buying but just never know what to do with. They are so pretty that you really don't want to be cutting them into little pieces. Will I be doing another two fabric applique quilt?? Definitely YES!!! I found it to be a very relaxing project and was so pleased at how my applique stitch improved over the duration of the project.

Knitting Update: I have been working on my felted bear the last couple of nights. I did end up going back and fixing the mistake I had made on both arms. It was actually easier than I thought it would be and only took a few minutes. I now have both foot/leg units done and attached to the body. Plus half of the body is knitted up. I'm almost to the point to where the arms will be attached. It's actually getting rather exciting now. You can start to see the bear emerging and it is all starting to make sense. There is no more wondering how this works into that......or what this piece is that you've just finished knitting up. I've also learned that you just have to trust the instructions. They are well written and things will turn out as they should as long as you follow the instructions and quit second guessing them. Something I tend to do from time to time.....especially when I can't seem to see how things fit together.

Orange Crush Update: Step #2 has just been posted. Yea!! Of course I won't get to start on it for a day or so. I want to finish up the UFO that I pulled out and started working on. I have all the sashing and cornerstone units done and am starting to put it all together. So far it's looking really pretty. Lots of sewing, but I think it will all be worth it in the end.

Final thoughts for now: It dawned on me last night that I haven't spun in quite some time. Over a week, if not longer. I've been so busy with quilting and other things that I have totally squeezed spinning time out of my daily schedule. It's definitely time to change that. Starting today I will make sure that I have at least half an hour of spinning time each day. It's a shame to see my wheels just sitting and collecting dust. Besides spinning was my "zen" time and I'm actually missing it. It was that part of the day where things would come to a stop and I could breathe. Something everyone should do every day.....stop and breathe......find that inner peace that makes everything okay.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Orange Crush - Step #1

Here it is....step #1 of the mystery quilt. All 150 units. And it's even done in time!! Yea!! These went surprisingly quick once I got going. Love how all the colors and fabrics are working together, too. I opted to not go scrappy and keep the colors more controlled. Everything plays very nicely together. I hope this is a sign of how the rest of the quilt will go. Now to wait for step #2.....which should be available real soon.

I had every intention of working on my split nine-patch in between steps....but whimm took over and I ended up pulling out a ufo instead. I participated in a block of the month with a local quilt shop last year. Kept up with having all my blocks completed on time....and I was one that had started late. We are talking a few month's late. Anyway, I had all the blocks done on time.....even bought fabric to finish it all up. And drew up a setting for the blocks....and then never got any farther. Well, last night I pulled it all out and started on the sewing for putting it all together. I have all the nine-patches made and am working on the sashing pieces. Just about have them done for the quilt center. Still need to do them for the first border. That really shouldn't take all that long. There really isn't that many left to make. The blocks are being set using a nine-patch cornerstones and sashing setting. I really don't know how to explain it, so I guess I better get it finished so I can share a picture. I will have spare nine-patches and have decided to put these into another quilt. Something small like a throw size.

Knitting Update: Worked on the teddy bear last night. Took me two tries to get the second arm done. Forgot a row or something silly like that. Once I got it done I noticed that I had made a mistake. Instead of having 22 live stitches on my stitch holder (like the pattern says you should have), I only have 21. Then I looked at the first arm I had made and noticed that I did the same thing with it. Only have 21 live stitches instead of the 22 needed. So now I have to decide whether I want to leave both arms as is and continue on with the pattern......Or do I go back and fix my mistake? It should be relatively easy to go back and correct. So it's pretty much just a matter of whether I want to bother with it or not. In the meantime I have started on a foot/leg piece. Figured I might as well keep moving forward while I decide how I want to handle the mistake I made.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Felted Peguins

Here they are.....both of the felted penguins that I was working on. Both are finished and heading off to their new homes. You can definitely tell that different wools felt up differently just by looking at them. The black penguin is made from Shetland wool, with polypay wool used for the bill and feet......and a merino/silk blend used for his tummy. The blue penguin is made using a mohair/jacob blend for the body.....polypay wool for feet and bill........and a Columbia/Dorset wool blend for his tummy. The mohair/jacob blend felted so much more than the Columbia/Dorset blend giving him a big, round tummy. He also came out a bit smaller than the black penguin. I think he ended up being about 8-9" tall.....while the black penguin is somewhere between 10-11" tall. Both are very round and huggable though. Just wish I could have found different eyes for the black penguin. The solid black eyes I did find (and used) are so difficult to see. Oh well. Something to file away for next time.....and there will most likely be a next time. These were so much fun to knit up and went rather quickly.

Orange Crush Update: I finally got a start on my Orange Crush mystery quilt (although I don't know how well that name will match my quilt.....especially since I don't have any orange in it whatsoever!!). I have 50 of the 4-patches done. Just need to finish sewing up the other 100 units and I will be ready for step #2. I have decided to work on my split 9-patch in between steps. With any luck I can finish up two quilts.

Knitting Update: Since I had so much of the mohair/jacob blend yarn left....and it was surprisingly fun to work with (didn't shed near as much as I thought it would), I have decided that it would make a lovely felted teddy bear. I cast on for one a couple of nights ago. Have one arm done already. I'm using the Marigold Bear pattern by Fiber Trends (www.FiberTrends.com) . I'm doing mine so it is all one color and may even make a felted hat for it once the bear itself is done.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Puppy Love

It's finally done!! I finally finished the quilting on this and it is now ready for binding. Yea!!! A little history on the quilt. The fabric for it was purchased at a quilt show last fall. I simply fell in love with the puppy print and ended up buying a few pieces to go with it. The pattern used is by Gizmo & Co. Designs. It's called "Simply Quick and Easy"....designed by Karen Faison. I saw a quilt made from this pattern using a lovely koi print fabric at a smaller quilt show earlier in the year. So when I saw the puppy print I just knew it was perfect for this pattern. The quilt top itself was made shortly after the fabric was purchased. Then it sat waiting its turn to be finished.

The quilting in the center is a simple 2" grid using a variegated green thread and a serpentine stitch. The blue border was done using stitch-in-the-ditch. The outer border was done using a sliding stencil. Of course it took me an entire afternoon and several tries just to get the border marked. I couldn't remember how to use the darn sliding stencil and, of course, couldn't find the directions that came with it. Then it took me another afternoon to figure out how to actually quilt it. Once I did, though, it went rather quickly. It was done using the same variegated green thread that was used in the quilt center.

The binding strips are cut and ready to be sewn together. I'm using a turquoise that matches the inner border. With any luck I will get the binding put on tonight. Then I can start on my Orange Crush mystery quilt. Yea!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Wooly Sheep

Here is a picture of my completed "Wooly Sheep" top. The design is by Rachel Pellman. It is a small wall hanging (approximately 13" x 15" finished). The applique is wool. I used matching thread and the applique stitch for all of the applique. If you look you can see the stitching, but it isn't real obvious like it would have been if I would have used a blanket stitch instead. The piece is sandwiched and ready for quilting. I'm going to hand quilt it. Not quite sure if I will do big stitch quilting on it or not....although I think it would really add to it.

Finally got the penguin in the wash and felted. Didn't have quite enough stuffing though. Had just enough to shape it. It's now drying. It is defnitely one of the larger felted critters I have done so far. And also a wonderful example of how the different wools felt. The white used was a merino/silk blend yarn. Felted very nicely. No stitch definition whatsoever. The yellow/orange was a polypay-cross wool yarn. This, too, felted rather nicely....although there is a touch of stitch definition if you look closely. Now the black that was used was Shetland (knitted with a strand of eyelash yarn). This felted with some stitch definition. It could have used a second run through the machine in order to have little to no stitch definition. There won't be a second run through the machine though. The other wool yarns felted so nicely the first time that I don't want to take the chance on them felting too much. Besides with the Shetland yarn having felted like it did, the finished penguin feels so incredibly soft and huggable. And since there is no polyfil wanting to peek out anywhere......why mess with it any further.

I did start on a second penguin. This one is being done using a blue mohair/jacob blend yarn (with a matching eyelash yarn). The white I'm using is a Columbia/Dorset blend....while the yellow/orange is a polypay-cross wool yarn. It will be interesting to see how the different yarns felt up.....once I get to that point, that is. Why did I start on another penguin? Well, my yarn basket is over-flowing and the first one was so much fun to do. So I figured "why not!"

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Update

It's been a pretty busy week around here. Got my ewes ready for lambing. This involved shearing the backside of them and part of their bellies (crotching as it is known). Shearing their backside makes for cleaner lambing.....and shearing part of their bellies makes it easier for the new lambs to find mama's teats. Don't want them trying to suckle on a wool lock instead. I also trimmed their hooves. Only made sense since I already had them up on the shearing stand. I was toying with the idea of shearing them completely. Glad I didn't. We actually had snow on the ground yesterday.

Orange Crush Mystery: Haven't started on my mystery quilt yet. I was hoping to get a lap quilt machine quilted before the first clue was posted. Well, the first clue was posted and I still have a quilt on the machine. With any luck I will get to finally start on my quilt in the next couple of days.

Other Quilting: The quilt that is currently keeping my machine busy is coming along rather nicely. I've just about finished the machine quilting in the center of the quilt. Once that is done the rest should go rather quickly. Love the way it's looking though. I will be sure to post a picture of it once it is done.

Knitting: My felted penguin is done. At least the knitting part anyway. It still needs to go through the wash so it can be felted. I wanted to make sure I had a color catcher sheet to put in with it.....just in case there is any extra dye in any of the yarn that was used for it. Took quite a few days to actually find a local store that carries the color catcher sheets. Yes, I did make sure to pick up a few boxes.

Spinning: Not much going on with my spinning. My wheel has been spending quite a bit of time by itself lately. Been too invovled in other things. I am still working my way through spinning up the rest of the North Ronaldsay. Hope to have that finished up by the end of the week......if there aren't a lot of disruptions. This is proving to be another one of those fibers that I'm just not real crazy about spinning. Lots of neps and vm that needs to be picked out while spinning. Oh well. At least I can say it was a learning experience.

That's pretty much all of the exciting news for today. My blog did get a new look. While I loved the "old" look, it was just a bit too narrow (and confining). The "new" look is more open....which I really like. I feel it makes it easier to find things, too.