Squeezing in fiber

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot, but there has been a real gap in my fiber time lately.  I haven’t touched the sewing machine in nearly a month, or the spinning wheel, and the knitting has been pretty sparse as well.

The time just seems to be racing by and there are too many tasks.  We’re making a big change in our lives – really, our location – and it is exciting but also a major time suck.

We bought a new house!

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We are moving back to Washington state.  Just a 30 minute shift north, but it will make a big difference in our commutes and put me a lot closer to my mom and sister.  So, very much looking forward to it, but also overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.

First a lot of spare time was taken up with house hunting, particularly weekends which were prime crafting time before.  Then all the mortgage paperwork gathering ate up most of our evenings.  And now we are getting the current house ready for renters while getting the new one ready to move in.  Walls are getting painted, fuse boxes replaced, decks fixed up.  We’ve had a tile floor redone, and popcorn is getting scraped from ceilings.  During all of this, some unexpected problems have erupted.  Plumbers have been here at the current house often enough that we’ve got a frequent flyer discount on Tuesday’s visit.

But it is coming together slowly and we plan to move at the end of June when the boys and I are done with our school years.

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The new living room, without the grungy graying popcorn ceilings. So much better!

This all means, on the crafting side of things, that after weeks of blog silence the only thing I’ve finished is a brioche stitch cowl.  I’m just relieved I have one accomplishment I can point to!

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The cowl is long wide enough to wrap around twice.  I paired two commercial yarns, one a multicolor sock yarn and one a single ply that I kettle dyed blue.  The edging is a simple stockinette roll, and the whole pattern was easy peasy.  Increasing the number of stitches cast on was the only real change I made to the pattern.

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My first brioche stitch project but definitely not the last.  I really like how the two sides have different dominate colors, and it is a very squishy, stretchy result.  The actual brioche stitch turns out to be just as easy as slip stitch, another of my favorite stitches, so this one is definitely going to happen again.

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In the meantime, with everything else going on, I needed another very simple project to putter with in odd moments, so I’m finally making my brother the hooded scarf he asked for, using baby alpaca yarn that a friend brought me back after a trip to Peru.  Absolutely yummy soft.  And while it is rather odd to be making such a warm project as we head into summer, it will be perfect for a bitter East Coast winter next year.

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Spinning with friends

I spent a lot of time on my spinning wheels over the past days, starting with the weekend.  My friends from Seattle were back in town and four of us went to the Aurora Handspinning Guild’s spin-in day.

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There were a lot of people, most industriously spinning, some more focused on the fiber shopping possibilities.  It made me excited to rejoin a spinning guild.  I used to belong to the Snohomish guild before we moved to Oregon, and now that we are moving again I hope to join a guild near the new house.  I spin so much more when I’m with other people – on my own I tend to turn to sewing instead.

The next day we got together at Leslie 2’s house.  You couldn’t ask for a more relaxing spinning setting.

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The weather was PNW spring crazy, sunny on one side of the house and hailing on the other.

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The Leslies spent much of the day organizing fiber.  Leslie 2 hauled out every bin and bag of raw and processed fiber she had, and she and Leslie 1 went through every bit of it. There were piles to take to the processor, to donate, to process herself, and to dye.

They also washed some of the fleece to see whether it was going to be worth keeping.  The sun came out long enough to put some out to dry at least a bit.

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The bins were sorted logically and repacked and we were all very impressed with both her progress and the size of her stash!  She loves to buy fleeces, some of which she cleans and cards on her own, and some of which she sends to small mills to be made into spin ready fiber.

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I had my finish for the week, this bobbin of a very spring green merino.  I’m not sure what I will ply it with – something will come along.

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I’m now working on some subdued rainbow humbug BFL fiber I dyed in January.  Its plying partner is also up in the air.

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I don’t know why I don’t spin more on my own.  I used to do it constantly.  Somehow I need to get back to the regular habit if I’m going to meet my six pounds goal in 2017.

 

 

A little more progress

I’m slowly adding the borders/sashing to join the Ocean quilt blocks together.  I was able to pick up the additional blue batik fabrics earlier in the week.  The idea is to have deep blues at the bottom for the depths of the sea and then get lighter as the “water” gets shallower up near the beach blocks.

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I’m planning on quilting this in pieces so I can really maneuver around the creatures to highlight their details.  So the shark is now one big block with its borders, for example, and the manta ray and angel fish are another rectangular piece.  There will be seven separate rectangles to quilt – much easier than wrestling the whole thing at once.  I’ll add pieces of batting, quilt them, and then seam them together into one big top.

I would be further along if the puppy would stop racing in, grabbing scraps, and racing back out again to chew them to bits in the living room. Puppy sitting and sewing don’t go together well, especially with a not entirely housetrained puppy.

IMG_8254We also took some frisbee tossing breaks.  Every rare moment without rain is cherished by dog and human alike!

 

 

Cityscape

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In an effort to actually finish one of the languishing WIPs in my closet, yesterday I pulled out a wall hanging I started quite a while ago and ordered myself to complete it.

The inspiration was a picture of a painted door that I came across on Pinterest, and followed to this  Flickr account.  I don’t have a lot of my own creativity, so you’ll see that mine is very similar to the inspiration, but in cloth rather than paint.

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Picture from Flickr: Ahrabella Heabe Lewis

I finished the majority of this quilt more than a year ago, but then got stuck on the finishing details.  After doing black-on-black embroidery for each window, I bogged down.  I wasn’t certain how I wanted to do the rest, didn’t want to screw it up, and just generally dithered until it got buried beneath other projects. This time I was determined to just get it accomplished and not worry about wrecking it with my not so smooth finishing skills.

I started with free motion stitching around the trees.

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I went around each one twice to make it more “sketchy” so that my wobbles would look purposeful rather than inept.

It was quickly apparent that the bobbin color mattered.  I did this tree twice, first with a light bobbin thread and after ripping it out, with a darker thread.

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I couldn’t bring myself to load a multitude of bobbins with the many thread colors that I needed, but I did use four different bobbins in the end to make the shade fit the top threads better.

My friend Paige very generously gave me a bag full of Gutermann 100 meter spools a while back which included a lot of greens and teals which were perfect for most of the trees.

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The city buildings and the clouds were next.  The straight edges of the Kona cotton fabric have frayed quite a lot with all the folding and unfolding over the course of this project, so I’ll have to clip and clean up.  The batik parts held up much better.

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I quilted the details without the backing on; I usually do this with wall hangings.  It looks tidier on the back that way when it is done.  I did wait to do the edge stitching on the hills until the backing was added so that it would be anchored in place.

This is what the messy back of the batting side looked like before the backing was added.  Is it weird that I really like it?

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I didn’t want the frame that binding would create, so I just sewed the backing on right-sides-together and then turned it right side out.  I’m mulling whether to add edge stitching – I usually do to further stabilize everything, but I like the really unobtrusive edge this has now without any.

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The finished cityscape reminds me of both Israel and Italy, the first two places my husband and I lived when we met and then were first married.  The trees make me think of the Italian cypresses, and the blocky city buildings and dry hills say Israel to me.  The blue sky works for either!

My sister was also a fan of the door design and had me help her make a wall quilt of her own at the same time I was making mine, but – as always – she put her own twist into hers.

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That poor city doesn’t know what is about to befall it.

 

 

Angel fish

I completed the last paper pieced block for my younger son’s Ocean quilt today.  It is a fairly simple double angelfish block from Silver Linings.

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I added a little more fabric to the top and bottom to elongate the block.  I went ahead and added some more of the sand fabric to the crab block from earlier to make it bigger as well.

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This isn’t a great picture – the lower section isn’t as dark as it looks.  I couldn’t get far enough away to squeeze it all into the picture without screwing up the lighting.

I’ve rearranged the blocks yet again since this picture to put all the beach blocks in the top row.  And there will likely be more adjustments as I pull it all together.

As you can see, I’ve started to add some of the sashing fabric – the plan is to have dark sashing at the bottom for the deep sea, medium blues in the middle and light blues at the top for the shallows. But this is going to mean a trip to the fabric store as I don’t have enough of the medium or light batiks.

Luckily spring break just started for me, so there will be lots of time for fabric stores and quilting projects!  My sewing goal for the week is to get this quilt top fully put together and get one of the pinned sandwiches in my WIP pile to a fully finished quilt.

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More progress on the Oceans quilt for my younger son!

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I got the dolphins block finished last week. I made some color choices that didn’t work out that well, making the dolphin on the right a little hard to see against the background, but I’m hoping quilting will help with that. And he liked it, which is the main thing.

Apparently I got so caught up in it that I forgot to take progress pics. Assume it looked pretty much like the pictures from the block I started next – cutting out the pattern pieces and then sewing various pieces of batik and marbled fabric to them:

This next block has sharp teeth!

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I’ve been using different blues for the watery background for each block.  I cut it too close this time and at the end had to piece together small scraps to make slightly larger scraps.  And even then I had to make one sliver of ocean from pieces that had the waves going in the wrong direction.  Frustrating, but I wasn’t about to start over at that point!

The pic on the right below is all I had left to put on the final small pieces.  I also snuck in a bit of another dark blue in small places where I didn’t think it would be noticeable.

The next to last step last step is trimming each piece to with a quarter inch seam allowance.  It takes a while with so many pieces.  As I trim I lay them out in the general arrangement in which they’ll be sewn to make it easier to find each piece as I need it.

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And the final result – a fierce denizen of the deep:

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This block was designed by the same person who did the Oceans block of the month quilt that the dolphins came from but it wasn’t part of that QAL.  But he really wanted a shark, so I added this one from her designs on Craftsy.

I think the quilt needs just one more block and then I can start putting them all together.

The arrangement so far, though it may change again:

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Clue 3 – Surrounded by Scraps

Today I worked on the third clue of Charlotte Hawkins mystery quilt-a-long, called Surrounded by Scraps.  She was delayed in posting the clue by a massive windstorm that knocked out her internet, along with a lot of trees and other people’s power lines.    They are recovering now from that storm, so it was on with the sewing.

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Clue 1 had us sewing little 4 and 9 patches.  In Clue 3 these joined together with some background rectangles to become larger squares.

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The other part of the clue finally used the larger squares we’d cut.

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My background fabrics are scrappy as well as the darker pattern fabric, and I’ve been a little worried that it dilutes the contrast between the two.  I’m still not sure after finishing this clue.  Maybe I should have stuck with a solid or near solid background?

Here are all the blocks so far.  It will be mid April before we get another clue.

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