Thursday, December 26, 2013

Short Term Visitor

We had a short visit from a weeble-wobble type friend before school let out.  My 5th grader said to me at four in the afternoon, "And, Mom, my last bit of homework is a gift for the exchange at school tomorrow."


I did a few quick calculations and decided that if I worked quickly and figured driving time as "free time", then I could probably needle felt a gift within the price range of the class gift exchange.

So I got to work.  First I consulted with the 5th grader.  We talked ideas.  We made plans.  Then I set to work.  There are details--like the blue eyes and very red (cherry red, mom!) nose that were definitely beyond my liberty to change--but overall I thought he was cute.  And the felted friends in the cupboard enjoyed their visit from Santa very much!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Art in Icing

These are a couple of scoops of buttercream frosting with gel dyes in them (we were getting ready for decorating Christmas cookies! :)
Blue and red for purple:

Blue and yellow for green:

Yellow and red for orange:
I used a lot of dye this year and the colors blended beautifully!  They look streaky here, which I love, but they did mix well and made great cookie icing!  Hooray for beautiful colors in life!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finished Christmas Quilt #1

The quilt is done!  Those are the new owner's toes at the top of the quilt.  She has used it two mornings now as we have read from our Christmas story book.  Each morning she has carefully folded it so a different block was visible.  

I love it when a gift is loved!

Here is a photo of the back.  I ended up purchasing wide flannel from  I tried to find flannel that worked at some more local places, but those that had flannel didn't have the right color or prints.  This cream flannel is nice and shows enough of the quilting to be pretty!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Christmas Quilt

Remember how I made all those quilt blocks in 2012?  The first group has been made into a quilt top and is now on the quilting frame!  Whee!  Mom came over to help with the quilting.  The quilting frame we are using is one that Mom picked up at auction years ago.  It's old, but it works great for this job!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Projects--a collection

Blocking lace.  I love the effect of blocking pieces of knit lace.  The yarn over holes open up and the stockingette stitch areas become smooth...  I love it!
 Fixing mistakes.  Sooner or later I usually fix my mistakes.  It wasn't until I began to weave that I finally understood that if I could see a mistake then I would always be able to see the mistake.  More often then not, there is no effective cover-up for a mistake.  This one was a denting error, ten threads in from the edge on a warp that had already given me fits.  I tried to brush it off..."It will never show with the thick weft..."  It showed.  So, I stopped weaving, pulled out the weft, fixed the denting error and began to weave again.  It looks much better without the error!

Sewing.  My daughter decided that she needed a new dress.  She did some shopping and came home empty handed.  She went through my pattern books and found a dress design she liked.  I slowly began to work on it.  This pattern is from a collection by "The Golden Rule".  Each pattern is printed in miniature and the seamstress enlarges it based on the measurements of the wearer.  So I measured.  I drafted.  I made a muslin (I knew I would need it!  The pattern was older and I was sure the fit would be different from my daughter's preferred style....) I modified the pattern and finally made the dress.  I had to promise to not put her head in the final picture, but here it is.  The collar is gathered at the neck and comes down to a point at the center front and back.  The purple is amazing with her reddish-blond hair!

Knitting, frogging, and knitting again.  I would like to knit shawls.  I have a little "shawlette" that is wonderful to wear around the house.  It's just enough to warm my back and shoulders, but not enough to get in the way of doing things.  I have a new shawl book, so I found a pattern I liked and cast on.  Of course I modified it...and in the end, I didn't like it.  This is a traditional triangle shawl with a point at the center back.  I'm not fond of the style (why did I cast on?) and I didn't like how stiff the finished fabric felt.  I kept going, hoping that things would get better, but they didn't.  In this photo, the shawl is off the needles and on a string so I could wrap it around me and see how it worked.  It didn't.  It got to sit on the table for a few hours while I did some research and chose a new shawl design.  Then it got frogged.

This was one of the reasons I frogged the shawl.  I knit a sample with an extra ball of the same batch of yarn on bigger needles.  It was so much softer and had much better drape.  I tried one more needle size after this picture.  Swatching is really helpful!
In my research to save my shawl, I discovered a new webpage:  Laylock Knitwear Design.  The shawls are fun, but scroll down and look on the right hand side for the "Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet".  Wow!  It's a single page pdf with instructions for make five different shapes of shawls all from the same three stitch cast-on!  I've decided to make a "heart-shaped" or crescent shawl because it will have longer ends for tying.  And, I made some swatches:
Neither of these have been blocked, but they are here anyway!  On the right is the pattern as written by Laylock Knitwear.  On the left is my modified version--no yarn-over holes and a three stitch garter edge.  The knitting is progressing.  I hope there will be another shawlette in my drawer soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fabric Crayon Tests

 One of the things I inherited from my grandmother was this package of fabric crayons.  They mostly hang out in one of the drawers in my craft room.  Every now and then, they come out to play!    (The first time I ever used them was to color on a white t-shirt that we picked up at a garage sale.  The colors washed right out!  It was terrible, especially with a young child looking over my shoulder!  Then I re-read the instructions, re-colored the shirt, and set the color with an iron.  The shirt is still colorful today!)
Recently, the crayons got to come out and play with some dark fabric.  First I had to do  burn test to identify the fiber content.  Interpreting burn tests (hold small bit of fabric in tweezers or tongs over the flame of a candle.  How does it burn?  What does it smell like?  How does the ash behave?--Do a google search if you need more details.) is not my strong suit, but I learned enough to trust that there is some synthetic component to this dark fabric.  Whew!  The crayons need 50% or more polyester in the fabric to adhere well.    Time for a coloring test.  

I had two tests to run.  Test #1 was determining what color the crayons would be on the dark fabric.  Orange on white is definitely orange, but on a dark color it's harder to know how it will look.  So I drew letters with each crayon and colored them in.  Orange was "o", yellow was "y", etc.  "bs" is burnt sienna and "?" is a color that had no wrapper/label.  Test #2 was a color transfer test.  The instructions for the crayons indicate that you can color on paper, turn the paper colored side to the fabric, and iron it onto the fabric.  So I tried it--and it worked!  Go figure!  The transferred images are not as dark as the ones where I colored directly on the fabric, but they weren't bad at all!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feedback on my Handspinning Skills

Some time ago I purchased the handbook for the "Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning" from the Handweavers' Guild of America.  The first time I read through it, I set it aside on a shelf.  It was way too much work for me at the time.  A few years later, my youngest child went to school, and I pulled the handbook off the shelf again.  This time, I was familiar with spinning almost all of the fiber types required, and was much more comfortable with my spinning abilities.  So, I decided to go through the work.

The work consists of 40  one ounce skeins of yarn, spun from specified fiber types and spun to specified parameters, as well as written work.  There was a group of wool fibers--starting from the dirty fleece, doing the prep work, and then spinning the yarn; a group of cotton, silk, flax...Forty skeins!  I was amazed at how quickly the thick skeins spun and how long (forever for some!) it took to spin some of the extra fine fibers.

Eventually, I got to the point where I had to decide once and for all if I was going to submit my work for evaluation.  I did a lot of hemming and hawing.  Some of the arguments included "but it's expensive!" and "what if they tell me I'm terrible!", but finally it came down to the value of having someone else critique my work so that I would know how to improve.  And so, I finished the written work and sent off my skeins.

And I thought that I didn't care whether or not I passed the evaluation and received the certificate.  But I was wrong.  I didn't pass--I was in the 82nd percentile and needed to be in the 85th to pass--and I was depressed about that.  I think the hardest aspect was that three of my skeins failed to meet criteria and received zero points.  Those failures are still very frustrating!  My hope had been to have no zeroes, but to earn at least some points in every category and that didn't happen.

The positive side of those failed skeins is that dealing with failure, pushed me to read the comments of the reviewers over and over again.  I don't think I would have looked so closely at the comments if I had succeeded in earning the certificate.  I was very pleased with the feedback and evaluations I received on my spinning.  Most of the skeins were scored out of 54 points.  If I earned anything less that 52 points the examiners made sure to provide comments so that I could know where the problems were and what could make the yarn better.  That was worth every penny of the cost of the evaluation.

Would I do this again?  Maybe.  Maybe in a few years I'll decide to see if my skills have improved and repeat the process.  I think I would start fresh, rather than resubmit these skeins. I think it would be nice if I could do well enough to earn the certificate at that time.  Until then, I'll keep spinning.  There's merino wool on one wheel; a bit of a horned dorset fleece to wash up and spin; some Cormo for the Russian spindles...I may be busy for a while just spinning the things I want to spin!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Coptic Bound Book

Check it out!  I bound a book!  It's not the first one I've ever done, but it is definitely the best!  I followed an on-line tutorial for a double needle coptic binding, used signatures that I folded at the Athens Art brown bag lunch lecture on book binding, and felted my own cover decoration (the cardboard covers were first covered with a cream, linen-like fabric, then the felted decoration was sewn to the cream cover).  After all was said and done, I discovered that the book was so nice, I was hesitant to write in it!  So I gave it to a friend.  She was thrilled to get a new journal book!

Just so I remember, the decorations on the felt are all crocheted.  Anita Mayer in her DVD "Creative Cloth" describes using crochet chains as embroidered embellishments as well as yarn wound rings.  My rings are 100% yarn--no plastic inside.  I started with a sliding loop and crocheted over that.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Prizes, Yarn Uses, Finished Scarf

Robin's multi-colored cotton boucle on the loom

I follow Robin Edmunson's blog "Rurification".  She lives within a couple hours of my home and posts wonderful suggestions of ways to use the local harvest.  My favorite food thing she suggested was making chive flower vinegar.  My youngest loved our chives and was thrilled when we put the chive flowers into the vinegar and it turned the vinegar pink, her favorite color!

This summer Robin had several give-aways on her blog.  One of them was some hand-dyed cotton boucle yarn and the pattern to crochet it into a shawl.  I entered....and won the yarn!  I was excited!  I tried crocheting the shawl pattern.  It didn't make my socks go up and down.  So, I found an alternate use for the yarn.  I wove it in a deflected doubleweave piece and turned it into a scarf.  Tee-hee!  Deflected double weave gives great dimensionality to a woven piece!

This weave structure is referred to as "Marshmallows" Madeline van der Hoogt and "Cloudy Day" by the designer, Lynn Tedder.  The draft is available in Handwoven magazine, Jan/Feb 2001,p.62-67.  The squares of cotton on the scarf puff out and push in....I love it!

The concept of deflected double weave is still a bit mind boggling.  Essentially two layers of cloth are woven at the same time on the loom (that's the double weave part) and the two layers are next to each other.  Upon removal from the loom, the threads shift or deflect so they are on top of each other which creates the multi-dimensionality of the piece.   Additional interest can be created if the two layers are woven with felting vs. non-felting fibers.  A felting wool will not only deflect, but also shrink and can create amazing textures in the final pieces.

So far I've only woven two deflected doubleweave pieces, but I'm hoping to do more soon!

Just so I remember--I wound the dark purple warp threads on a fake second back beam.  I used the raddle for my Mighty Wolf to keep the purple threads separate from the variegated cotton ones.  The purple threads had a rod placed in the end loop of the warp, the rod was held next to a larger wooden stick, the the warp was rolled with paper as a separator.  I hung the sticks with the purple warp off the back beam and then added two cords with live weights (two 15oz cans of veggies vs. one smaller, perhaps 8oz, can of tomato paste for each cord).  It worked well!  Also, the dark purple threads are a recycled wool blend yarn.  It originally came to my house as a sweater dress.  I like it much better as a weaving yarn (even if I do have to ply it to give it enough strength for a warp!).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dog Sweaters

 A fellow I know from church needed a new sweater for his little dog.  He knows I am a fiber artist and spoke to me at one point last year, but nothing came of the idea of making a dog sweater.  This year, however, we connected and I have made two sweaters.
The green sweater is an old one that the dog has worn for years.  The special part is the sleeves for both the front and back legs.  The replacement is the blue one.  The yarns are 100% acrylic (blue) and an acrylic/wool blend (grey). The sweater was knit in 6 parts--4 legs, the back, and the chest--sewn together and stitches picked up to knit the ribbing for the neck.

If I were to redo the sweater, I would change the sleeves.  I used stockinette stitch for them and they have a tendency to curl.  I used a broken rib stitch for the body and it doesn't curl.  The broken rib stitch would have been better for the sleeves.

I made a second sweater for the dog.  This one is the one I really wanted to do!  It has a woven back piece with knit sleeves, neck and chest.  I was surprised that it took just as long to make this one as it did to make the knitted one.  
I crocheted around the top edge of the woven piece.  The piece has been felted so I don't think it would have frayed, but the crochet gave it a much more finished edge.  I sewed the underside of the piece rather than crochet on both sides of the edge.

I am hoping to get photos of the sweaters on the dog when the weather is cooler.  I'll post them here if I get them!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Crochet and Cat Repair

A friend recently moved and I finally made it over to see her new place.  While we sat and talked she started telling stories about her 6-toed cat.  He's a young thing, maybe five months old.  Because of his extra toes (6 on all 4 paws) he can do fun things like walk the rim of a cardboard box.  But, he's also gotten into some trouble.  He attacked the crocheted window hanging.  It came down with a crash in the middle of the night.  Apparently he attacked the crochet work, as well as brought it down from the window.

This piece was crocheted by my friend's mother and it has hung in her window for nearly 10 years.  I wasn't sure how well it would take to repairs, but I managed to reconnect most of the clawed crochet and reconnect it to it's wire rim.  The hardest part was choosing a green to replace the leaf.  
The photo shows the original.  It was really a brown/olive color.  The more I looked at it though, the more I realized that it was severely faded.  The broken threads showed a much brighter green that the surface of the piece.  I opted for a crochet thread that was similar to the inner color of the old thread.  It's acrylic, not cotton...a fact that I didn't realized until after I made the replacement leaf.  But, I like the color and it works well in the finished crocheted piece.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Needle Felted Friends

Look!  Inch-worm is visiting LadyBug and has brought her a picture. 

All three "friends" are needle felted wool.  The ladybug and the picture are mostly two-dimensional pieces.  The inch-worm is a three dimensional piece.  I asked my children what I should make next and my son piped up, "a green caterpillar with red spots".  I hope an inch-worm is close enough!

Monday, August 12, 2013

HGA "Shuttle, Spindle, Dyepot"

The current issue of HGA's "Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot" arrived this week.  I must admit, that I am not a big fan of the magazine.  I used to flip through them in the library, but never check them out.  This issue however surprised me!  

There is an article on photography.  I'm learning that I need to learn more about photography. Between this article and my class with Stephanie Metz, I know I need to get a tripod!

There is an article on effective guild presentations.  The author starts with the reality that most fiber guilds have members with a wide background in weaving and in order to create an effective presentation you have to "hold their hands" or "connect the dots" for them otherwise the presentation goes over their heads.  I have seen some of these issues over the years and was thrilled thought behind the ideas presented.

Waffle weave on rigid heddle loom.
And, there was an article on weaving waffle weave on a rigid heddle loom.  I've had my rigid heddle loom warped for months now and haven't woven a bit on it.  A plain weave scarf was a great demo item for school children, but wasn't exciting me!  So, I'm weaving the scarf in waffle weave.  At this point I have no idea how it will turn out--the piece is still on the loom--, but I'm weaving it!  And that makes me happy.

So, hooray for a great collection of articles in SSD!  They helped make my day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Needle Felting with Stephanie Metz

Needle felted sample pieces using additive techniques. 
I was able to take a week long needle felting course with Stephanie Metz last month.  The course was at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  The school was amazing!  There were lectures every night, there were opportunities to view the art happening in other classes, and the library was wonderful!  I didn't like the location of the school--it's in downtown Gatlinburg, TN.  Gatlinburg was a weird sort of blend of Las Vegas Strip and Frankemouth, MI touristy town.  It was awfully strange to me!

While at school, I finally caught the cold my family has passed around this summer.  (It probably didn't help my perspective on Gatlinburg any!)  I lost my voice on Wed. and spent Thursday and Friday going between classroom and the back seat of my van where I could rest.  It was not ideal.

Stephanie was a wonderful, supportive instructor.  There were fifteen students in her class and the range of experience was huge.  Some of the students had backgrounds in art, others (like me) had no formal training.  We spent the first two days felting and observing Stephanie's demos.  She would come around and discuss our work with us multiple times during the day.  I loved listening to some of her questions.  She would ask things like (I'm paraphrasing here) "Does it look like what you envisioned for the piece?",  "Are you comfortable with the way it looks?"  She would also provide direction and correction.  The most common correction was to use fewer needles.  As a class we had the tendency to use more needles than the size of our pieces merited!  Then Stephanie got sick (a stomach flu that her kids had been fighting and she had hoped to miss!) and was mostly out for a day and a bit.  The last day we spent the morning doing critiques as a group and the rest of the day discussing photographing our work.

I came home and was out for a solid week with this cold, and am still fighting the last little bit of it after yet another week  When I sit down to rest, I pull out my felting needles and work.  I've done some flat felting/adding dimension pieces, a few heads, and a "bowl" that looks a lot like an upsidedown tri-cornered hat.  I've been perusing web sites looking at photography set-ups and contemplating where I could set up a mini photo station here at home.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


My local art gallery, Athens Art, had a brown bag lunch series this summer.  Unfortunately, I missed all but the last one.  But the last one was good!  Marianne Ballenger did a "make and take" discussion on bookbinding.  As part of the discussion we each made a fan fold book.  That's my cute little book in the photo  The plaid cover is wallpaper.  The blue lining is just a flat, blue paper.  I don't know what the inside paper (that we folded) is.

The two best things from the presentation (aside from seeing some good friends there...That was probably the best part of it!) were 1)learning there is a paper store not terribly far from here--Twinrocker Handmade Paper!  and 2)learning Marianne's "if you can only have one reference book" book title--Cover to Cover by LaPlantz.

Of course, I am working on a project with a looming deadline.  So, my excursion to the paper store is going to be after my project is done!  There is nothing like a project with a deadline to make me want to start tons of unrelated projects!

So, while I didn't go to the store, I did fold some signatures from copy paper and followed an on-line tutorial for coptic binding and made this cute little book.  I'll need to make a few more of these for practice.  My stitches are a bit wobbly and the holes in my signatures are a bit misaligned....but, I made the book and I'm hoping to make more.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Check out the beautiful yarn that came to my home today!  Let me introduce you--blog readers, this is "Nepeta".  Nepeta, these are my blog friends.  :)  There.  Now we can all be friends!

Nepeta is a gift.  I follow Robin Edmunson's blog "Rurification".  She lives in southern Indiana.   Her posts are often about the process of becoming rural.  Every now and then we get a "guess who left the poo" post; there are often posts about plants (and things to do with them in season!); there are jams, dyeing, creating....Lots of wonderful things! I often try some of the things from her blog--things like making jelly from the berries on my field and throwing away the bitter seeds or putting chive flowers in white vinegar--that one sure made my little one smile (it turns the vinegar pink, her favorite color!).

This July she has been doing several give-aways from the blog--right now you can get a copy of her new jam book. I've seen the preview--it's a beautiful book!   I passed on some of her earlier give-aways, but I couldn't pass up the chance to win these yarns!  So, I entered the contest....

And am thrilled and floored that I won!

Thank you, Robin, for the gift of Nepeta and thank you for your wonderful blog posts!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Challenges with Finished Sewing Projects

Original pants with seams marked to make a pattern.
It all started with a pair of pants, a Craftsy class, and me.

I signed up for "Jean-ius" at and successfully copied my favorite pair of pants.  I was so excited!     My husband took some photos for me and I was going to post them to the blog.  That's when it hit.

"It" is the challenge of loving myself for who I am and appreciating the fact that I have a functional body.  The pants photos didn't do that for me.  I fell from the wonderful high of accomplishment down to a low of not fitting the runway
model mold.

A few days have passed.  I haven't worn my new jeans yet.  Maybe I'll break them in on Sunday after church.  After all, they are new--I don't want to wear them outside for weeding just yet!

Daryl Lancaster wrote a nice post about sewing with handwovens recently and referenced a weavezine column she wrote a few years ago.  Know Thyself is a good reminder that I am who I am.  I have a body with quirks...some of the quirks are new and I haven't gotten used to them yet.  Some of the quirks are as old as the rest of me.

So, huzzah for challenges.  Huzzah for finished projects.  And, huzzah for taking the time to learn something new.
The finished, re-created pants.  They fit just like the originals!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


What have I been making?  These days I'm making a fair bit of yarn, but I haven't been taking photos.  I'm preparing skeins for evaluation by the Handweaving Guild of America's Certificate of Excellence program.  Everything is due in September.  I am close and getting closer, but every step requires work, self examination, and more yarn.

In the mean time, I've done a few other things.  I made some felted flowers after my husband's grandfather passed away. They are supposed to be forget-me-nots...I felted them on to ribbon to use as bookmarks.  I used two techniques and ended up with three distinct flowers.  The upper left flower with skinny petals started with five separate petals that I then connected to make a flower.  The other two both started with a felted circle where I made five cuts around the edge to form the petals.  The petals looked funny right after they were cut--very angular!--but the edges felted nicely into petals.
I also warpped and wove a baby blanket.  This is from 10/2 cotton sett at 24 ends per inch.  The weave structure is an eight harness huck lace.  It was fun testing the weft color/pattern position combinations to see what I liked best.  The blanket was woven at ~27" on-loom, then washed and seamed up the center.  I used the darker yarn and added a single crocheted edge.  I did learn that my beat is irregular.  The weft stripes didn't line up properly in the middle of the blanket. Next time I'll need to measure my stripes!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Carding, Crocheting, Lasting Shoes, and Sun bonnet Sewing

 A few of the things I have been doing lately:

Drum carding.  I call this particular blend the "how the leopard got his spots" blend.  It is two different types of wool.  The pale, grey longer wool and the dark brown, short & curly wool.  The goal with this blend was to get spots of color in the final yarn.  I made a sandwich with the grey wool as top and bottom layers and placed the bits of dark brown wool directly onto the large drum of the carder.  The top layer of grey was added via the licker-in drum and a streaky batt  was the result.  The yarn spun up nicely.  I am always amazed at how quickly I can spin two ounces of worsted weight yarn compared to the time it takes to spin two ounces of lace weight yarn!

Spots of brown on the bottom layer of grey wool
Top layer of grey shows some brown streaks,
Two ply yarn from the grey & dark brown wool sandwich.

Crochet Motifs.  I picked up a book by Edie Eckman  called Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs.  I've been using my stash of handspun sample yarns and trying out different motifs.  This is #99.  My first sample of this motif was crocheted in a multicolored yarn.  It's on the bottom in the photo.  It's cute, but it didn't make my socks go up and down (That phrase comes from one of my husband's programming professors at Purdue.  Apparently he would say, "If that doesn't make your socks go up and down..." referring to a particularly wonderful bit of coding.)  At any rate, I pulled some other yarns from my stash and before I knew it, I had four cute little flower motifs with grey centers.  Then I got to thinking that a dark accent at the center would look even better, so I made a few more!  Here they are put together into a headband with a dark, knit underlayer.

 Shoe lasts.  Some of you may remember that I have dabbled in making shoes.  I discovered that making shoes takes work and practice...and there are lots of things I have yet to learn in order to make good shoes! One of the helpful things for making good shoes is a pair of lasts or shoe forms.  I don't have any.  However, today I took a step towards making my own.  I placed a light weight plastic bag from my groceries into an old tennis shoe (it was laced at the time) and poured plaster of pairs into the bag.  After an hour or so, the plaster had set enough to remove it from the shoe.  Voila!  An attempt at a home-made shoe last.  Now to make some more shoes and test it!

Sun bonnets.  I was able to volunteer on the grounds at Conner Prairie recently and got to dress in costume.  From my corded petticoat to my bonnet I was costumed like I was from the 1830's.  It was fun!  I came home and discovered that my oldest daughter had been working on a sun bonnet with the girls at church that were preparing for a pioneer trek journey.  Only the sun bonnet was tiny.  It's little brim would have left my girl's face burnt to a crisp.  So, I went looking for a better pattern.  And found this one at a Mormon Pioneer Trek site (  The pattern is simple--it's just a rectangle with  one end trimmed to a curve.  The curved edge covers the back of the neck.  The rectangular edge gets stiffened with slats.  Add a set of ties to  the back to keep the neck cover from flapping and a set of ties on the inside to keep the bonnet on the head and it's done!  I must admit that I cheated and used modern materials for my slats.  The pattern calls for cardboard or wood slats.  I had neither.  Instead I used some needlepoint plastic that has been hanging around the house for years!  Hooray!  I didn't have to buy anything new, I used something that I had on hand, and I won't have to worry about ruining my bonnet in the rain!
My sunbonnet.  Now I know the pattern works, I'll help my daughter make her own.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Tortoise and the Hare

Needle felting is fun.  It's portable.  It's creative.  It's a bit like the story of the tortoise and the hare--speedy in some places, but slow and steady wins the race.

The hare is designed to go on a single finger.  He is made from grey wool. That's how it is labeled  in my stash--"grey wool".  It's a cross between different breeds--maybe cotswold and romney and shetland--a gift from a family friend years ago.  The facial details are from random bits of fiber in my felting bag.  One thing I learned as I searched for pictures of rabbits (after I had made most of the puppet) is that rabbits don't usually show their front teeth.  A google search for images of rabbits had only one or two where their teeth were at all visible unless someone was holding their mouth to show the teeth!  Drawings of rabbits showed a lot of teeth, but the photographs did not.  I removed the teeth from my hare!

The tortoise is a three finger puppet.  His head goes on the middle finger and his legs on the ring finger and the pointer.  He's really cute!  He even has a little tail.  I was going to make him very green--until I did another google image search.  Most tortoises aren't green.  In fact most turtles aren't very green (some are--some are very green!).  I was surprised and put away my green fibers.  Out came the more desert colored browns and tans.

What shall I do with my pair of puppets?  Right now they are in my display case.  I'm not sure this pair is sturdy enough for children's toys.  The tortoise legs are alpaca fiber and it doesn't felt as firmly as wool, making the legs a little too flimsy for young children.  At some point, though, my display case is going to get too full.  What shall I do with all my "shrunken heads" and other odds and ends that I've created?  What do you do with your creations?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Dandelion Dyeing


The dandelions are growing at my house.  Rather than going out and digging them all up, I tried my hand at a dyeing experiment.  Four ounces of wool, mordanted with alum and cream of tartar, then dyed with the liquid from boiling 9 ounces of dandelion flowers.  I was thrilled with the results!

 I have tried dyeing with dandelion flowers before.  A few years ago some neighbor boys picked a bucket full of flowers for me and I used them.  Unfortunately, I didn't use any mordant, and I don't think I weighed either the fibers or the amount of flowers...the result was terribly disappointing...almost no color at all from the flowers.

This time, I made use of Wild Color by Jenny Dean. She provides "recipes" that gave amounts of mordant per fiber weight and amounts of fresh dye stuff per fiber weight.  What a difference that made!  Hooray for wonderful resources!  Thank you Jenny Dean, and thank you beautiful dandelions!

Happy Dandelion Days!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Band Weaving Blues

My oldest child needs a new belt.  As a weaver and a spinner I figured that I could make her a cool belt.  Ha!  Some things in life are more challenging than I think they should be!

Thing #1:  Hardware constraints.  The buckle for the belt was ~1 1/4" wide and was salvaged from a belt whose vinyl strap was coming apart.

Thing #2:  Yarn.  I have lots of yarn.  Unfortunately, I do not have lots of yarn in the black & silver color scheme desired by my daughter.  However, I did have some very fine yarn in the right color.  Out came the spinning wheel and I added twist and plied the available yarns so that I could work with something I felt was the right diameter.

Thing #3:  Structure.  Why, oh why did I think I would like double weave pickup on an inkle band?  I have done this before and have not liked it.  It looks so good when it is done well...and so sloppy with my beginning attempts!  (Even my photo of that section of the band didn't turn out well!  Argh!)

After a foot or two of double weave pick up exploration, I shifted to just weaving the band.  The piece was threaded on four shafts on my Mighty Wolf--two shafts of black threads, two shafts of silver.  As I wove, I used one shaft of black and one of silver to make the sheds.

And check out what I discovered:  The section on the left of the photo shows a uniform fabric with black and silver threads showing.  The section on the right shows alternating stripes of silver and then of black.   What happened here?
Different sections of one band.

I know that my tension on the piece varied during weaving and that the band is slightly more narrow in the striped sections (7/8" vs. 1 1/8").  I'll be looking into this.  Leave me a comment if you know what makes the band change!