A scaled back OFFF

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A plan to spend the weekend at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby was reduced to just Saturday afternoon.  One friend was ill, one on her way to illness and one was sent out of town on a business trip.

So it was just a couple hours with my friend Paige, but enjoyable still. We’ve been enough times that we pretty much have memorized the booth offerings from return vendors, but nothing makes fondling yarn and fiber and petting sheep get old.

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So much color everywhere!  And yet I managed to buy the plainest yarn and fiber I saw.

But, what it lacks in pigment it makes up in content – the yarn is yak and merino and silk, and the fiber has enough angora that it is going to get a wonderful halo when it is made into yarn.

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The barn where the sheep and goats wait to be judged is, as always, a highlight.

The wildly varying pelts always intrigue me.  So much variation in what are basically close cousins.

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All of those are sheep fleece, except the bunny in the middle of the top row.  It is hard to tell, but the brown tipped locks on the lower left were brown on the ends and then went through cream to become gray where it is newly growing out.  My sister pays huge amounts of money to get that many colors into her hair!

The colors llamas come in are also impressive.

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The angora rabbits are another favorite. Dust bunnies come to life.

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When we weren’t shopping or petting we watched the llama obstacle course trials – very dignified – and then the goats at their course as well – defiant and needing to be carried.

And then OFFF was done for another year.

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A finish and a start

I finished the socks I started on our beach and eclipse week.

The yarn had about the simplest way of creating matching striped socks I’ve ever knit.  I just needed to divide the skein into two balls, and they marked the half way point with a segment of bright yellow. While it isn’t very soft, the dying was very accurate and the stripes turned out great.

There are some changes I’d make next time – and since I have another skein of this yarn, there will be a next time.  First, I need to go down a needle size from the size twos I used.  I had to restart and knit much tighter on the first sock leg, unable to find a yarn store on the coast to buy smaller needles.  But it is still a little more open than I like.

Next, I’d go up a few stitches in the legs to fit my calves better, and then back down to the pattern’s 54 for the foot.  Also, I got distracted during a faculty meeting last week and didn’t notice I was making the foot a tad bit too long.

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I’m making it sound like the socks were a disaster, but they really aren’t.  They turned out OK, just not great.  Next time!

My favorite way to knit socks is to have both of them going at the same time.  That way I never suffer from Second Sock Syndrome.  I do the cuffs for both, the legs, then both heels, etc.  It also helps to keep me from forgetting exactly what I did for each part if I make any modifications.

As soon as I finished that pair I cast on another pair using this simple pattern (and smaller needles). The yarn is a skein I dyed in jars during our last dyeing day.  The colors are pooling a bit but the colors aren’t wildly different from each other in value so I don’t think it is going to bother me.  And the Knit Picks Bare is a much softer yarn than the Regia.

Hurricane sewing

The local fabric store is collecting blankets for Hurricane Harvey victims.  My sister gathered up fabric from a friend and we spent a day making two quilt tops.

Kathie did the cutting, I sewed, and my son wandered in and took over the ironing.  Theo guarded the work in progress.

We got two tops done, using simple brick pattern with 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ bricks.  The plan is for me to piece the backs this week, and then we’ll pin and quilt them by the end of September in time to turn them in.

I will donate money as well, since I’m sure the aid groups need that more than quilts, but it feels good to be sending something concrete to people who lost so much.

 

 

Coast and eclipse

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Summer vacation is ending and we are all in denial about it, except my husband who thinks it will be nice when other people in the house have to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up early. Mornings are a little lonely for him in the summer.

We are squeezing a few adventures in at the end.  My friend Paige invited us to the coast for a couple days (well, one day but then we just didn’t leave).  Beach walks and whale watching, ice cream and sea lions, knitting and puzzles – an excellent couple of days.

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I finished the I-cord binding on my Volt wrap at long last and cast on a simple pair of socks.  Simple once I got a handle on the tension.  The first attempt was way too loosely knit and made a floppy open fabric.  A failed attempt at finding a knitting store on the coast to buy smaller needles led to ripping it all out and cranking up the tightness on the same needles.  Not ideal but it worked out.

From the coast we headed inland to Salem, OR, for the eclipse.  We got there a couple of days early to hang out with my friend Cathy – friends since junior high! – and the other people who had also called her to request a bed in the path of totality.

Cathy and her husband are excellent hosts.  I may never need to eat again.  As an example, one of the nights we had five desserts to choose from.

And the eclipse!  Words are inadequate!  It was beyond amazing.  We all settled in on their deck up in the hills above the city and watched the very first sliver of moon crossing onto the sun’s face.  It gradually got colder, and the light weirder, and the sun beams through the leaf shadows all turned to crescents. So did the little points of light shining through my straw sun hat.  The sun through our eclipse glasses was a molten orange, but the totality itself, when we could look without the filters, was drained of color – a white flaring ring around a black featureless hole in a black sky.  The diamond ring effect as the sun reemerged was spectacular.

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Those aren’t my eclipse photos in these pics – the boys and hat crescents are mine – but they look exactly like what we saw.  Nothing like anything else I’ve ever experienced.  It was truly a thrill to see.

Worth every minute of the five hours it took to get home afterwards on what is normally a one and a half hour drive.  Eclipse traffic also lived up to its hype.

And I made good progress on the beach/eclipse socks:

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This needs work

My sewing set up since we moved is not ideal.  I’ve gone from having a dedicated room – small but with lots of shelves and several table spaces – to a corner of the family room.

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I swing the gate-leg table leaf up when I want to cut or iron, sliding the boards back against the wall by the desk when I’m done.  It is a tight space, and looks messy when even a few supplies are out.

The storage space is also problematic.

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I’ve got a hall closet nearby, with more stuffed in the coat closet, a couple of shelves in the office, and more still packed up in the garage.  There is no hope of a full quilt sized design wall that I’ve been able to figure out yet.

It will improve.  A few more shelves can go in the main closet, and I can definitely pare down as well.  Some shelves above the sewing area will help as well.

But nothing is going to turn it back into a separate sewing room, until a kid goes off to college.  And that is a good seven years away.

Still, I can sew, even if I can’t find all my notions yet.  (Maybe the good scissors are still in the garage boxes?) And I have a couple of finishes to share.

In July my cousin and I made small fused fabric quilt tops,  and this week I finished the two fish I made then.

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The top one is about half the size of the lower one.  I added top stitching details on the bodies and fins and tried to make creek bottom pebbles and water lines with varying degrees of success.  The small one is going to my nephew who is crazy for fishing, and my Mom got the other one because she’s my mom and has to appreciate my sewing projects.  Also, her condo walls are still quite bare a year after she moved in, so she can’t claim she has nowhere to put the things I give her.

The first one I did I didn’t think through well enough and I had a multitude of thread ends to bury.  The second one I wised up and did the stitching with just the top and the batting so I just had to pull the thread through to the back but didn’t have to knot them all and bury them between the layers.

You can see what I mean in the pics below.  In the first I had all those ends to knot.  In the lower one, I just left them loose and tangled and covered them up when I added the backing.

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The area works OK for these small projects but it is going to be interesting to see if I can wrestle with larger projects in that small area.  I may need to move to the dining room table for real quilting.

Much better!

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The focus  in recent days has been continuing to unpack boxes – the china cabinet is now full – and bathroom improvements.

The bathroom in the master bedroom was clearly designed for someone who  didn’t share the room. While there was a door walling off the tub and toilet area, the sink area was open through an archway to the bedroom, as well as having an open space high in the wall, probably to let in some natural light.

The effect, however, was less light and airy, and more “Oh, let’s wake up the spouse trying to sleep in while the other one gets ready for work.”   I happen to be on summer vacation, so I don’t need to wake up very early most days. My husband on the other hand gets up around four in order to get to work on time.  The lights shining into the bedroom, not to mention the sound of the water running as he got ready . . . things had to change.

I think I’ve mentioned before that we are not handy people. I live in awe of my brother’s ability to remodel houses from the ground up. But we do want to improve our skills, and some things look doable even to us. So we decided that we could fill the upper wall hole ourselves, but that we probably needed a handyman to help install the door.

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Other than a fairly bad job taping the edges of the new wall board on one side so I have some extra sanding to do, it all went pretty well. We were even able to figure out how to solve the issue of two different thicknesses of wallboard being used in the original  construction.

I still need to do the sanding, and we need to put the trim on, but having the door on the other side of the sink is making all the difference! Eventually we are going to take away the wall that is now in the middle of our bathroom, but that will wait until we can get my brother into town to help.

Next up was completing the hall bathroom.  My younger son has claimed this one as his, so he got a lot of say in how it turned out. Originally this was a very metallic gold room. The wallpaper was really strange, torn into odd shapes and overlapped. When we stripped it all away, it was actually worse as we found dark turquoise paint and a black pink and turquoise border that screamed 1980s.

The left corner pic is from the house listing photos.  Not a hideous bathroom, but not the right style to make a 10-year-old boy happy.

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Who just papers over an electrical box?

Plus, this fixture had to go.

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Friends, who will probably no longer stop by to say hi, helped me strip off all the layers of wallpaper, and then my sister came and painted the room a nice blue that my son picked out. (Actually I had to talk him out of gray – not a good color choice in a windowless bathroom in the Pacific Northwest where we get enough gray six or seven months a year.)  He also picked out the more modern light fixture to go over the sink, and we put up the world map shower curtain he loves.  (We all now know the capital city of Mongolia.)

The last thing my son and I did was go towel hunting. This was more difficult than I had realized it would be. Forty-seven shades of blue, much pondering, and several stores later, we brought home a stack of bright white towels. Not sure white towels is smartest thing with the 10-year-old boy, but it stopped the apparently agonizing choice of which was the right blue.  Not great with decisions, that boy.

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Someday we want to change the vanity and the flooring, but for now I think it looks much better.

There was some sewing in between all the bathroom work.  I took down the practical but unattractive vertical blinds that covered most of one wall in the master bedroom and replaced them with purchased curtains. However, they were a little transparent, and that room gets some pretty intense sunshine in the afternoon. Since today it’s projected to be 103°,  more was needed. I got a three dollar cotton sheet at Goodwill and used it to line the curtains over the sliding glass door. Unfortunately Goodwill only had one white sheet, so the window curtains will wait until I get a chance to visit a different thrift store soon. But I can already feel the difference in keeping out the heat, and it looks much better than the vertical blinds did.

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We still don’t have any living room furniture, and there are more boxes waiting in the garage, but it is starting to feel like we are making real progress on the to-do list.

Sisters quilt festival

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I posted last week about our trip to Black Butte and some of the fused fiber wall hangings my cousin and I made, but I never wrote about our day at the Sisters quilt festival.

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I’ve heard about the festival for years but this was the first time I’ve ever been there on the day they put all the quilts up. It was spectacular!

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During the week many of the businesses put up quilts inside their stores, and we went in the town several times on errands and walked around the shops looking at the displays.

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Then, early in the morning on Saturday, quilts were put up everywhere outside around the main streets of town.   Crowds descended on the town to wander and admire. It was really rather overwhelming, and I know we didn’t see them all, but we did our best.

It was also extremely hot! But luckily there are a lot of places that sell ice cream and they had put up tents for some of the displays so there were shade opportunities.

Every possible style seemed to be represented.  Very traditional blocks, free form, collages, representationsal, abstract, hand and machine stitched, mixed media . . . they ranged in size from small wall hangings to king size bedspreads.

So inspiring!

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This is just a tiny sampling – someone told me that there were over 1500 quilts in the show.  So much concentrated talent and creativity.

I must get my sewing set up very soon!