Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole

Jen3 invited me to attend her rug hooking guild's meeting this month. It was their Christmas potluck as they won't be meeting in December and it would give me more information about rug hooking - which I am considering.

While there, I bought a punch needle I'd been looking for, a puffin rug canvas, and a rug hooking frame. The frame is an old one but is in perfect working order. It also came with a pink cover. But I can see making quilted covers for the sides which can be used during hooking narrower things and to protect my arm/hand from getting scratched.
The top and right side bars tighten to keep the canvas taut.
Jennifer tells me that some hookers add pieces to their smaller. canvas to go beyond the confines of the frame so all 4 sides can be anchored.

I had purchased a couple of kits years ago and got one out, started, and completed it last night. It's a 3.5" x 3.5" coaster. The back is kinda messy so I'm not showing that. I was glad to have this little piece to practice on. Now I need to finish/bind it.
I have another kit with 4 coasters that is hooked with wool yarn.  I'll see how I do with those.

Now I have another thing to look for when I go to fibre festivals. For now, I'm happy working on kits with the wool already included.

Cuddle Quilt

We are expecting a new baby in my extended family and will be seeing the expectant parents on the weekend.

I made another cuddle quilt - this time using dimple fabric and a cute flannel print.
Once again, I used the self-mitering quilt idea. I also stitched in the ditch along the miters and a big 'x' in the middle to keep the layers from shifting.
I ripped along the weft to make sure the flannel was square before pre-washing it.  I then stitched a 1/4" hem (straight stitches) before doing the miters. After getting everything tucked in and anchored with pins, I used a decorative twig stitch to finish the edge of the flannel and anchor the dimple fabric.
So there's flannel on one side and soft, dimple fabric on the other with a flannel frame.
 Easy peasy.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Needleroll and More...

I am trying not to buy any more magazines unless I can get them in digital format. However, I found 2 projects in the current A Needle Pulling Thread (Issue 45)  that intrigued me.

The first was Christine Baker's coneflower appliquéd quilt on the cover. It looks like something I could certainly do and features batik fabrics.
The other intriguing project was Kim Beamish's 'Leaves Needle Roll'.

It took no time to stitch up. I used 32count linen and substituted a couple of colours for ones I didn't have. I also noted that the leaves (centre) part of the chart is rotated 90 degrees from the needleroll in the photo. I made my own adjustments.
What a quick and satisfying little project! I liked that there were some pulled threads and buttonhole stitching with perle cotton. I whip-stitched the piece into a tube.
After weaving the ribbon through the open threads, I packed it tightly with fibrefill. It's SO cute!!!
I will be looking for more fun and easy projects like this to take south with me.

I also started another punch needle project. I'm using No. 12 perle cotton that I happened to have on hand and discovered I could thread my needle and stitch right from the ball. This made the punching so much faster since I didn't have to stop and re-thread frequently.
Once again, I traced a pattern onto the fabric with a permanent fine point pen. I got a lot more than this done last night before I went to bed. I suspect I'll get it finished today and then pop it into a frame.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Punch Needle Poinsettia

Last night I started a small punch needle project - a poinsettia pin. It's a free pattern from the Plant June website.

The finished project is 2.5" wide. When I first printed it on my printer, it was 4" wide. I divided 2.5 by 4 to get approx. 65% and shrunk the image on my printer to print out the right size (top image).
I then fed the paper in the other way to print it again so I could put the DMC floss colour numbers right on that image.

I dug some Monaco cloth out of my stash, I used my iPhone like a light box and traced the pattern onto the fabric with a pencil, then over the pencil with a fine point permanent marker.  The image is reversed as the needle punching is done from the back. I then found appropriate colour floss, substituting 815 for the 3777. It really stitched up quickly and I got it all done last night.

I then covered the back in white glue and sandwiched it face down between two pieces of waxed paper and covered it with a couple of books to hopefully have it dry flat.

This morning, I removed the books and peeled the waxed paper off the back to let it finish drying. This evening, I snipped away the fabric (now set with the glue) and will back it with black felt before putting a pin on it for wearing.

A white edging was suggested by the designer and I would definitely try that next time as it would make the snipped fabric edge disappear. With the black edging, I'm thinking of making it disappear by painting it black.

It was a quick and easy project. Now to find some more patterns.

I've been scouring Pinterest and other pages for ideas and techniques. As the punching is done with three plies of floss, it is easy to blend colours. I can also use #12 perle cotton in the needle I have.

I haven't tried 6 plies in my needle yet. There are sets that can be obtained commercially but I'm going to wait until I'm in the US to order one as the shipping is much cheaper domestically.

On another website, a stitcher dipped her floss skeins part way into walnut dye to darken them a bit, set them to dry, and created tonal floss. What a fast and easy way to customize one's flosses!

I'm also intrigued with rug punching as it's basically a bigger needle punching into monk's cloth with yarn. However, the punch I've been looking at is about $50 so it's not quite on my docket yet.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Punch Needle

I purchased this punch needle kit a few years ago and did most of it then set it aside. I finished it today.
It's a punch needle embroidery kit from Dimension - Cup of Java.

The kit came with the floss, directions, and the fabric with the design printed on the back but not the punch needle. I purchased it separately with two threaders.

It was pretty fun and easy. I'm not sure why I abandoned it as over half of it was done. I'm glad to have another UFO finished. I plan to stretch it and frame it in a 4" x 6" frame.

Now I'm in search of weaver's cloth which is a blend of cotton and polyester and some designs to make some more cute punch needle pieces. I can see how this is a stepping stone to punch rug projects, then full out hooked rug projects. Down the rabbit hole I go.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Placemats and Napkins

On one of my previous visits to JoAnn's in the US, I bought some fabric with placemats and napkins in mind.

Last night I used that fabric to make reversible placemats.

This afternoon I made the napkins. This video outlined an easy way to miter the corners.

Trillium Embroidery Guild November Meeting

Last week our embroidery guild met. We had a pretty good turnout for our 'make and take' program where we created a Christmas card using paper with perforations and embroidery floss.

I picked the one with the Christmas trees. It had 6 small adhesive pearls, and a gold seal. We stamped a Christmas greeting on the white card that was then affixed to the gold seal, then with puffy stickers, attached to the front of the card. We then attached the trees by backstitching them and then folding up the sides.
Inside, we covered the embroidery ends with a piece of paper and stamped a greeting inside the card.
A graphic insert was put into the envelope and voilà! it was done. If I sent Christmas cards, I would have picked up a couple more kits.
There was lots for show and tell this month.

A sampler with charms
Jeanette finished stitching this at the Elim retreat, then finished it at the Toronto Embroidery Guild meeting. She said it only took a few minutes to do the finish.
Sue started this a few years back and finally got it finished and framed. I like all the leaves around the border.
Sue also finished this stamped cross-stitch wolf piece.
Laura embroidered this beaver using a backstitch and several patterns.
Shelley created a beautiful music-themed quilt for her daughter's university graduation.

It was machine quilted with musical notes.

Hardanger table cloth
Beaded and stitched Christmas ornament
Laura also created this adorable bat needle keep.

Jeanette got to display her cabinet with the drawers adorned with her embroidery. We got to witness the drawer pulls being attached at the retreat.
Next month we will meet a week early for our potluck Christmas celebration with finger foods.

Next Sunday, Kim is having a bunch of us over for a free Zentangle session and the week after  a few stitchers are coming over to finish some Christmas ornaments.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Lost and Found

On the trip, I lost the little ball of yarn for the cuffs, heels, and toes of these striped socks. I bought the yarn (The Cozy Knitter Bliss sock yarn in the 'Celebrate the Night' colourway) at the Knitters Frolic and threw it in my bag to knit on the trip. I remember knitting it whilst relaxing in bed one evening in Stockholm and I think the little ball of blue yarn must have rolled under the bed. I didn't notice it missing until I was on the high speed train to Oslo.
I couldn't find the entire project after I returned home and assumed I lost what I had knit, my lovely Karbonz needles, and the carefully space-dyed yarn. The other day I was doing a more-thorough-than-usual vacuuming the other day and I found the project. Yay!

I'm going to have to substitute another yarn for the toe of this sock and the cuff, heel, and toe of the next one. Possibly one close to one of the other stripe colours.  I used a FLK heel - I remembered to toss into my knitting bag the salient pages of that document as well. This type of short row heel allows for uninterruption of the striped pattern on the instep of the sock. It's not my favourite heel but it's excellent for this purpose.
I finished the second Zigzagular sock knit with the Fabel yarn I purchased in Gol, Norway.  I wish they'd had more colourways because the two balls of yarn only cost me $7.47 Canadian including VAT!
It's a lovely, soft yarn with lots of nylon for strength.
The repeats are very long in this design line so there's no point trying to knit identical twins. They should be very cozy this winter.
One of the gals from our knitting retreat told us she wears her many pairs of knitted socks on a rotation, making sure to wear each pair at least once in the winter. She then washes them and puts them away in her sock drawer for the next time. When I wash my socks, I just put them in a lingerie bag to minimize agitation and hang them on a clothes rack to dry. The only ones I have to stretch out a bit are the ones with a lot of alpaca content.

I've knit a couple more squares on my sock yarn blanket but decided instead to start the first sleeve of my Starry Night Cardigan. I only have a couple more inches to do until I can start the second sleeve. I'm really itching to start the body of the sweater and all that lovely colourwork.
I think I'm going to go with only an inch or two of positive ease so it's not too big and let a good wet blocking finish it to the exact size I want.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Needler's Retreat 2017

Barb, Jen1, and I headed off again this weekend on another road trip - this time to the Needler's Retreat at a lovely resort on the Ivy Lea Parkway in the Thousand Islands area at the east end of Lake Ontario.

En route we stopped at Cozy Quilts in Port Hope, Andjareena's Place in Trenton, Fun with Stitches in Belleville, and Kraft Village in Belleville. We bought a few stitching supplies and a little bit of fabric. After lunch of shawarma at Cedar Nights in Belleville, we popped into the Magnotta wine store near Quinte Mall then drove the rest of the way to the retreat.

We arrived at about 4 - having taken 7 hours to make the 2.5 hour trip. It's really true when they say, "half the fun is getting there".

After checking in, we went down to the bar area to sign up for our class groups. The three of us plus Mary Pat, Jen2, and her daughter Mackenzie signed up together. After a delicious prime rib dinner, we congregated upstairs for the 'fashion show' where people showcased some of their favourite projects. I showed off Skip's two sweaters:

Dale of Norway St. Moritz
I also took notes which I distributed to the others in my group so we could later look up the patterns on Ravelry and plan for future projects.

After breakfast the next morning, the 60 of us split into two groups. Our first class was Steeking with Janine Bajus. For homework we prepared a swatch with 3 steek columns - two with vertical colums and one with a checkerboard steek.

We learned how to properly execute a crocheted steek to secure the stitches before cutting the tube of fabric open. Janine explained it very well and provided a good handout on the subject.
Vertical column of steeks
I used contrasting (green) yarn so I could really see where to cut. It looks like knitting but is actually crocheted through half of the centre stitch and half of the stitch beside it. This technique firmly locks the two stitches together making horizontal unraveling next to impossible.

Ever the overachiever, I picked up the stitches and added a ribbed band, picking up 3 stitches and skipping the 4th. I think in this case, I could have picked up all the stitches as the ribbing looks like it is too gathered. Blocking could solve the problem, too.

Janine showed us a lot of the sweaters she has knit and many which appear in her book, "The Joy of Color: Fair Isle Knitting Your Way", including the Yellow Island Jacket on the cover.
After lunch, Josée Labrie showed us how to make thrummed mittens. Our homework was to knit the ribbed cuff so we could jump right in and start thrumming. I picked yarn thicker than worsted and decided to stagger my thrums. I got several rows of thrums done in the class and knit obsessively back in the room after the rafflles.

I finished the first mitten the other night and have cast on the second.
It is very big and puffy but will be perfect on a cold wintery day if I have to go outside.

After supper was the vendor marketplace and raffles. I didn't win anything but Jen1 and Barb did. I donated one of my zipped bags. Enough money was raised to fund scholarships for 3 people for next year's retreat.

At the Sheeps Ahoy table, I bought a Janine Bajus kit for the Starry Night Cardigan with Spindrift yarn.
My goal is to have it knit by next year's retreat so I can purchase the kit for the Yellow Island Jacket. I bought the pattern for Starry Night online when I got home. It has some lovely details including a double i-cord edging with gaps for buttons between the two i-cords on the right front. I look forward to swatching so I can get this project started. I have to decide how much positive ease I want to knit it with to accommodate a long-sleeved t-shirt or blouse underneath.

The next morning, we had a class with Francine Hébert on knitting a sock yarn blanket. Her pattern used 2.5mm needles and an even number of stitches. I preferred my 41 stitch pattern with 3.25mm needles as I prefer larger squares and 'drapier' fabric. She had good ideas on starting the blanket. I got about 3 squares done during the class and have been working on my blanket since I got home. I now have 20 squares done.
When I got home, I wound all my sock yarns neatly and put them in a bin. It's handy to just reach in and grab a new colour.

We drove home on Sunday in pouring rain, dropping Jen2 off in Kingston en route. We all had a great time but it was nice to get home.

That's it for my major knitting/stitching events for this year. I now have several projects I want to do.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Sewing Blitz

When I was at Rhinebeck a couple of weeks ago, I purchased this little zippered bag at That Clever Clementine's booth at the Friday night indie marketplace. I figured I'd be able to deconstruct it and make some of my own.
It has a continuous zipper.
At the stitching retreat, Amy figured out that it was a modified half-square triangle bag.

I made the first one as per the instructions, using two half squares then quilting them. I then boxed the corners. The bottom one was the prototype. I decided to add a pull tab on the other one and left it without boxing the corners.

I then decided to use only one fabric which cut down piecing time. Again, I boxed the corners of one of them and left the other as a square.
This is a great stash buster.

When you do the zipper this way, You can use each side for each bag. However, you do need to cannibalize a second zipper for the slider tab. Hints are given in the instructions to make it easier to slide the tab onto the zipper ends.
I then got inspired to make a couple with my treasured Peanuts fabric. First I quilted the square, going around each element.

I used a white zipper pull for one and a black one for the other.
I then photographed them artfully...
Only a 12" square is required from each fabric plus an 11" square of fusible batting. An 18" zipper gives you lots to work with and the tab from any other zipper is good for the second zip.

I then was inspired to make a couple of project bags from two fat quarters. These are the easiest thing to make and there are lots of videos and tutorials on the subject.
I cut the 18" x 22" fat quarters (outer and lining) into four 9" x 11" pieces. If the fabric is directional, keep the top at the zipper when sewing the sandwich of the outer fabric (face up), zipper (face down), and lining (face down) .

I just happened to have a grey zipper in my stash. Longer zippers are not a problem as they can be cut to any length.

I also had a pink zipper in my stash so didn't have to make any trips to the fabric store.
 These were made from identical sized pieces of fabric.
The size differential is created by a deeper or shallower boxing of the corners.

On the left, I made 2" boxes and only 1.5" boxes on the right.
The top opening is the same width in both.
At the stitching retreat, Jen showed us the covers she uses for her q-snap frames. Some call them 'grime guards'.

I improvised a pattern based on the measurements of her frames.
They whipped up in no time. I did have to go to the fabric store to buy the 1/4" elastic, though.
A smaller print is best to use so it can be seen.
After I made these, I found a tutorial.

I recently saw a video on making a zip bag from candy packages. I had saved a couple of the outer packages of bricks of coffee that we like to stockpile when we're down in the States.

I cut the pieces and attached zip and linings like I did for the project bags.
I didn't box the corners, although if I planned ahead, I could have cut the packaging wider to do this.
 I also didn't add vinyl as these 'bricks' have very durable packaging.
I added a neutral, fabric lining. And the zipper? I just happened to have a matching one in my stash.
I'm not sure what Skip will use it for but it slides in and out of his 'travel accessory bag' (man purse) very nicely.

After all that, I picked up my Bryggen stitching again and started some of the backstitching. There's still lots of that to do before I'll be done. I may stitch 'Bryggen'  'Bergen, Norway' and my name and date on the bottom. It will fit nicely into an 8"x 10" frame.
I'd love to be able to find stitchery pieces from all my favourite holiday places but for now, I'm happy with this one.

Tomorrow Jen1, Barb, and I are off on another road trip - this time to the Needler's Retreat at a resort near Gananoque. We're taking 3 workshops: steeking, knitting a thrummed mitten, and creating a sock yarn blanket. I need to pack...