Monday, May 30, 2016

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2016

Every year I try to go to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.
This year was no different. The mud was spectacular. So was the shopping.
This is how I feel as we approach the day. I can see the wool but I have to wait. This is one of the most dedicated sheep dogs I have ever seen work.
Every year I go to watch the dogs work. They never fail to put a smile on my face.
If you ever get a chance to go watch the dogs work I highly recommend it.
All the working dogs amaze me.
I came home with mad loot, too! I'll highlight each of the vendors in a separate post and let you know why I bought what I bought. So many great vendors and so little time. I could have bought twice as much, ten times as much, but I like to use the yarn before the next Sheep & Wool Festival.

Have you been to any fun local events? Quilt shows? Fiber shows?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poolside Tote Swap: Sneak Peek

I am a sucker for a swap. I try to avoid them, mostly because I will make myself crazy with them. A few times a year, I do join in, though. This time it was for a tote bag.
The only problem was that I couldn't find a pattern that I wanted to make. Ultimately, I had to design a bag. I'm not going to share the tote until the swap is finished. I can show you the fun fabrics and the quilting I did, though. My partner said she likes all the colors in the rainbow. I think these rainbow colored sea-turtles are perfect for a poolside tote.
Each of these fabrics is part of the outer tote bag. I quilted each section separately.
This one was the most fun because I took a cue from the fabric to come up with the motif.

I still have some other goodies planned. Because a swap is never a simple affair.

Do you swap that you've been hoping to join?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Another Knitting Project Bag

After I finished my last knitting project bag I decided I needed a little more room if I was going to keep knitting shawls like a crazy person. I wanted a deeper bag so there was more room at the top of the pouch for the work.
I pulled out one of my coveted pieces of Spoonflower fabric and a coordinating solid. I pieced the front and back panels to fit my fabric. The pattern is Noodle-head's Open Wide Pouch.
Using a piece of white muslin as the backing fabric, I loaded the long arm with a piece of leftover cotton batting, basted the panels and free-motion quilted these waves.
After quilting I trimmed them to my desired size.
I always forget how much fabric can be taken up with quilting. I should have the bottom panel a little deeper to compensate for this. Not a tragedy, just a bag about 1/2 inch shorter than I had planned.
I wanted to capture both sides.
I love the mermaid as much as the tall ship on the other side. I added a wrist strap to make it easily carried. This is one of my favorite hacks for this bag.
This time I remembered to put my mark on the bag. I keep forgetting. Silly, since I have loads of these labels. Loaded up with my yarn and pattern. Perfect!

Do you have a favorite project bag that you love every thing about?

Monday, May 23, 2016

In Love with Dyeing Yarn

So I've been fascinated with ombre yarns (and other long color stripe yarns) for a while. I like a self-striping yarn with long color changes. One of the best examples of this is the great yarn from Friea Fine Hand Paints. If you don't like wool, and want something just as awesome, I recommend you check out the colorful cotton from Jazz Handz Fusion Fiber. I did more than a little searching on the interwebz and watched hours of videos on YouTube. Some of my favorites are from ChemKnits. All that homework brought me to the conclusion that no one was going to hand me the secret to life, the universe, and everything. I was going to have to make it up as I went along.
Ultimately, I bought some tools and got to work. I decided I would try to figure out my technique by buying one of these. This is the Addi-Express Kingsize knitting machine.
I bought mine through Amazon. It arrived as quickly as the rest of the things that come from Amazon. I couldn't wait for the bare yarn I ordered but I did have some yarn that was a color I had no interest in using. Sounded like as good a place to start as any other. This yarn is a washable merino/nylon blend.
I knit all 150 grams of it into one long tube. This took about 45 minutes. At least 10 of those minutes were spent learning a few things about how the machine worked and coming to the conclusion that a dropped stitch is not a tragedy.
One of the hours and hours of YouTube I watched said I could use Wilton Icing Color as a dye for yarn. I am a super fan of non-toxic methods of dyeing yarn. Why? because I hate having to have two sets of tools when it comes to dyeing. If you use 100% food-safe dyeing you can still cook dinner with that pot and stir it with that spoon.
I covered my dining room table with a vinyl cover and laid out the plastic wrap. I would rather be doing this outside, but it was a yucky, rainy day.
I tried to split the tube into thirds, but I failed at marking them effectively. I dip-dyed the yarn with the black on one end and the teal on the other. It is more than 1/2 black, but nowhere near the 2/3 I was shooting for. I'll mark the next tube more carefully.
I pulled the tube to see how the color was distributed. I thought it looked pretty good. It turned out more green than teal. I'm not sure if that is because the yarn started out green, or if the vinegar I used to set the dye changed the chemistry of the color. Either is possible. Ultimately, I like this green much more than I liked the green I started with.
I rolled it all up in plastic wrap and heated it in the microwave to set the colors. A couple minutes (more than a couple) in the microwave and some time for it to sit and think about the colors it wanted to become.
Some time drying and it was ready to be unraveled and made back into a hank of yarn. Too bad my niddy noddy wasn't here when I got to this step. I set it all aside.

The moral of this story is that if you don't like the color of a yarn in your stash, either give it away or dye it a new color. It will be totally worth it.

This was an experiment and I learned so much. I will definitely be doing this again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Knitting Update: Shawls Everywhere

I think it is time to do a little review of some of my finished shawls.
First up is my fully blocked Udaberri. This is from the Udaberri MKAL. I enjoyed learning a new way to shape the knit. The knit edging was also a great new technique.
Next is my finished Nymphadilea.  
This was another great knit.
Finally is this wonderfully simple and wonderfully bright Wingspan.
This one was a quick knit. If you have never tried one, I highly recommend you check out the pattern.

Available on Ravelry:

Do you have a favorite shawl pattern?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sewing Up a Knitting Project Bag

Do you remember this fun fabric I picked up a while ago at a quilt show? Well, I decided it was time to do a little selfish sewing.
I used Noodle-head's Open Wide Pouch pattern for this one. (This is a free tutorial found on the site linked.)
I broke my three knitting projects rule with this project. I now have four projects on the go at a time. I'm not going to worry too much about it, though. This is just socks. Socks don't count, right?
And how awesome is this fabric! I can knit and show my Marvel fan status.

Monday, May 16, 2016

In the Mail Monday: Embroidered Love

After I returned from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I found the most wonderful package from a friend.
Inside were some cookies (none for you) and this delightful package. I love the hand written note almost as much as the beautiful hand embroidery.
Look at this beauty! The background fabric is re-purposed fabric from a hand-dyed skirt. That makes it even more awesome in my book! Thank you Melissa for this treasure! Now I just have to figure out how to finish it. Because she knows me. She gets my creative drive. I think this little darling will become a wall hanging. But I'm not going to rush it. She's hung on my design wall, to sing her siren song every time I glimpse her shiny scales.

Design is Aquarius - Mermaid by Urban Threads. The hand embroidery design is a very affordable $1.00.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Travel Knitting: Nymphalidea

I've been looking at shawl patterns to see what else is out there that I may like.
I picked a pattern and a couple skeins of yarn and got busy.
 Aren't these colors yummy! Yarn is Knit Picks Hawthorne.
All caked up and ready to knit.
I had to take a business trip and this seemed the perfect carry-along project. This is how far I got waiting at the first gate.
Great progress by the end of the first flight.
After checking in at the hotel.
On the flight back I continued to make progress, but it is terribly difficult to photograph once it gets shawl sized.
The night before the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival I finished it up and wove in the ends.
It is somewhat lumpy before blocking.
Sorry about the quality of this one. The light in the evening just isn't what it could be.
The blocking is a little more extreme than the pattern calls for, but I like being able to manipulate the knit when it is wet.

Do you have a favorite shawl pattern?

Pattern available on Ravelry from Melinda Vermeer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Quilt Show: Faithful Circle Quilters

I will go to any local quilt show. I will invariably buy things I do not need. That doesn't stop me from shopping. The Faithful Circle Quilters quilt show was an excellent show with room after room of quilts. I could have spent all day looking and shopping.
I couldn't resist this Marvel print and coordinating almost solid. The whale fabric... I might need it.
Shop: Prints Charming
I love the 30's reproduction prints and I couldn't leave this darling stack where it was.
Shop: Hoppin' Bobbin
I saw the sample for this cute wallet and wanted to give it a try. Maybe with some bright Kaffe Fasset or some Tula Pink. Ooh, what about some Ghastlies?
Shop: The Cloth Peddler
I'm a fool for tools. Since I'm all for makiong paper piecing easier I figured I would give this tool a try. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Shop: ARDO Templates at Cotton Stop

Support local shops and quilt guilds!