Friday, 23 June 2017

Taking a 'Stab' at Crewel Work

Earlier this year, I decided to try some crewel work and purchased a commercial kit for starters. It is the Dimensions Handmade Embroidery kit #72-73729. The kit was complete with the printed fabric, wool yarn, a needle, and the printed instructions.

It stitched up pretty quickly and finally yesterday, I blocked it in preparation to turn it into a pillow.
The design itself is 9" x 9" but I will add a border/sashing to bring it out to 14 or 15 inches to fit a regular pillow form. It was fun to do and now I'm inspired to dig up the needlepoint piece that I did and blocked years ago and make it into a pillow, too.

The search is on to find an appropriate fabric for the border, piping and back.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Guild Project - Armchair Caddy

This year I actually completed the Trillium Embroidery Guild's stitch along project - a stitcher's armchair caddy. Each month we received instructions and charts and a demo of how to accomplish the task. I was away for several meetings but was able to keep up with help from Jen1 and other guild members who emailed me information and photos as required.

At our May meeting, Carol went through the steps to assemble and finish our caddy. I finished the last of the stitching the other night and today decided to finish it. I raided my fabric stash for two fabrics that I thought would go with the colours I had picked and each other.

I cut out the padding and two fabrics for the main piece. I decided to quilt them so used the lines on my cutting mat as a guide for the 30 degree angle.
I quilted parallel lines 2" apart, aligning sticky notes with the ruler.
Then stitched each line beside the sticky notes. It saved me having to mark on the fabric.
The easy way I used to put the first line through the centre was making sure the piece was square on the mat, putting a pin through the centre of the piece then making sure it was somewhere on the 30 degree line.
I decided to press the cross-stitched piece before cutting them out forgetting that the cutting lines were drawn on the fabric with heat erasable pen. Oops! No problem, I just put the embroidery on a cookie tin and threw it in the freezer for a few minutes and the cutting lines reappeared. Phew! Lesson learned, don't use erasable pen on anything that might show in the cold. It's fine for cutting lines though.

I worked through the various steps lining each pocket piece, making binding for both pockets from strips of fabric, making binding for the periphery of the entire piece from strips of fabric I sewed together.

Carol's instructions were pretty clear but I was glad I had seen her demonstrate the assembly first.

I sewed, then stuffed the needle roll tightly. I probably should have heeded her suggestion to add extra width to the needle roll. Instead, I just trimmed away about 1/8" on each side of the main piece so the raw edges of the needle roll would comfortably reach the outer edges.
I also lined the scissor pocket and top-stitched it. I forgot to change the bobbin thread when I sewed it onto the main piece below the needle row so there's a bit of a contrast on the back. Oh well.  We were given a piece of tubing to fill the binding for the thread-catcher pocket so it would stay open. I trimmed the tubing a bit so I wouldn't be stitching right on it.
I then sewed the binding all around the piece, anchoring all the pockets and needle roll. Then brought the binding around to the back and hand-stitched it down, neatly finishing the back. (You can barely see the white thread I had in the bobbin when I stitched down the scissor pocket.)

The scissor pocket is just the right size. I like how its butterfly colour matches the binding fabric. I added little black beads at the end of its antennae.
 Those of us who cross-stitched our projects (an embroidered version was also an option) were given a chart for our initial. I changed my mind several times about what colour to do the flowers and finally picked a caramel shade. I used yellow French knots for the centres of the flowers.
It will be a very useful item for my stitching, making it easy to grab the scissors, park my needles, and toss in my thread bits.
I have to admit, it took the better part of my day, but I'm very pleased with the result.
I'm looking forward to showing it off at Wednesday's meeting.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Variegated Crescent Swallowtail

I started another crescent Swallowtail shawl. This time I used Yarn Indulgences 'Indulgent Fingering' 100% Superwash Merino wool in the 'Swamp Thing' colourway.

It knit up really quickly.
Once again, the 34 row garter stitch tab prevented that strange peak in the middle of the neck.
I knit the budding lace with 4mm needles and went up to 4.5 for the rest.
Although the yarn was tonal, there was enough contrast to visually detract slightly from the impact of the lace.
It will need to be worn over a white or black shirt for the full effect. I didn't modify it except for the knitted picot bindoff where I casted on 2 and bound off 5, making sure a picot was at the bottom of a knit stitch 'column' in the border.
I could have done at least one more repeat of the budding lace before starting the Lily of the Valley chart. There were 27g of yarn left. I used slightly under 300yd of the 428 yd.  I almost ripped it back to end of the budding lace to add at least one other repeat but decided to move forward and finish it off.
Next time, I'll use a more solid yarn or at least one with less contrast.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Pyramidal Project Bag

Last weekend at the CNYFF, I saw several project bags that were shaped like a pyramid.

I studied one close up and realized it was simply a zipped bag with one of the raw edges sewn differently.
The end of the zipper is centred on one side and that seam is sewn. The person also sewed tabs onto the zipper ends.
I raided my stash and found this cute hedgehog fabric.
As I wanted the bag to be as tall as it was wide, I simply made the width double the height - in this case, 20cm x 40cm (8" x 16"). I cut a piece that size from both fabrics and a slightly smaller piece of fusible batting. I quilted the three layers together.

I made the bag the same way for a regular zipped bag, sewing the edge closed with the zipper tab on the edge.

For the opposite side,  I made a little tab with the stripey lining fabric. I opened the zipper and centred the zipper and sewed that side closed aligning the raw ends of the folded tab between the two layers about 2.5cm from the zipper. I then zigzagged both raw edges.

I turned it right side out. Although it turned out very well, my hedgehogs are upside down! Next time I need to remember that the open end of the zipper is the top.
The inside isn't really that visible so I would probably not waste cute fabric on that and just use a light-coloured solid.
One could make the tab longer so it could go over the hand and wrist.
It's still really cute.

Next time I'll definitely use tabs on the zipper, particularly on the open end as it will make a much neater top point. This size would fit a ball of sock yarn or lace weight quite amply. The strand can just come out the top point and keep everything nice and neat.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Vinyl Zipper Bag

Skip wanted a slimmer bag for his electronic accessories - similar to a smallish ziplock bag. I decided to make him one with a vinyl front so he could see the items.

It's 18cm x 18cm (7" x 7"). The binding is the same fabric as the interior fabric.
I used the companion fabric for the back, quilting around the cell phones through both fabrics with the fusible batting in between.

I rounded the bottom corners so it would slide more easily into the pocket of Skip's backpack.

From a 7.5cm (3") strip the width of the bag, I created a binding for the lower edge of the zipper so it would neatly sew onto the vinyl. After using clips to hold everything together on the top and  sides, I trimmed the vinyl flush with the bottom.
Then I sewed the binding all around to hold everything together. Bias binding would probably have worked better on the curves. I knotted a piece of nylon cord through the zipper tab to make it easier to unzip.
Now that I've made one, I can see making more of these.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Central New York Fiber Festival

Skip and I have a tradition of taking a little trip in June. It used to be to celebrate the end of school and our wedding anniversary. This year, I learned of the Central New York Fiber Festival in Bouckville NY that was to take place on June 10 and 11. We planned our trip to coincide with that. This year's festival theme focused on the art of spinning.

There is no admission fee to the Festival at the Butternut Hill Campgrounds just on the east side of town on Rte. 20.

The first thing I saw when I walked in was a sheep shearing.
At the long tent used for demos and instruction. Garry Aney from Mohawk NY demonstrated the drop spindle with a bottom whorl spindle.
He also gave us a top whorl demo.
 There was a big tented area for childrens' activities. These were cashmere goat kids.
There were colouring tables,
and a barn to play with.
I remember making these potholders when I was a kid.
There were 5 large tents for vendors.

Predictably, there were several vendors of spinning wheels and accessories.
There were several needle felters there. I was intrigued by this vest that had needle felted dots
with embroidered stitches around each one. This would also make a great pillow cover.
There were lots of angora bunnies for sale. This one had a short coat.
These 'babydoll' sheep are very small.  It would be fun to have one in my back yard. I'm not sure how good their fleeces are for spinning though.
Another vendor sold finger puppets. This was my favourite one.
One could even purchase an Icelandic sheep.
Another gifted needle felter created pieces on wool tweed backgrounds and many bird species.
Here she is crafting a blue jay using a birding guide as a reference.

One of my favourite fibres to spin is that of the Blue-faced Leicester sheep. This one has several months to go before it will be shorn.

The food trucks were excellent. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Artichoke French truck. And NO LINEUP!!!  At Rhinebeck I could never get close to them at lunch time and there was a significant wait for service at last year's MDSWF.
I ordered the Arti - a combo of Artichoke French and deep fried-artichoke hearts. They're served with a garlicky mayo dressing with a shot of hot sauce. YUM!!!
Next to them was a vendor selling Philadelphia-style, home-made ice-cream and sorbet. I had to try the mango sorbet. It was nice and mango-y and not too sweet.
While I was at the Festival, Skip was driving golf balls at a nearby driving range. He didn't have too much trouble finding me back at the Festival. He ate a brisket 'sundae' where cole slaw and brisket are layered in a big Solo cup. Once can also get a pulled pork sundae and also find layers of beans and pickles but Skip declined those options.

On the way to the CNYFF, we happened upon a historic little town, Peterboro NY, 'one of the most historic towns in NY state that you're never heard of'.

This weekend is their annual Civil War Weekend.
This was on our route to Bouckville.

We decided to stop and check it out when we heard the blast of a cannon. We quickly parked the car around the corner and walked back to the park where the event was taking place. These gorgeous peonies were in full bloom. I'd love to get some of these for my garden.
Across the street from the church was the Smithville Community Center that was saved from demolition about 30 years ago by a local family.
The admission fee to the Civil War event is used to maintain the community centre.
This is what we could see from the sidewalk. The participants live and sleep here for the whole weekend, rain or shine. Fortunately this year there was lots of sunshine.

The participants dress in costume.

At one o'clock there was going to be a skirmish. But we couldn't hang around for that - we had a fiber festival to get to. Maybe next year.