Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camp Loopy again

 The deadline for finishing my first Camp Loopy project is fast approaching. It needs to be done and posted on The Loopy Ewe's website before the end of the month.

Gracie, the wonder dog, stands guard over the drying yarn. I learned a lot while spinning this yarn. While the gradations are not nearly as gradual as I wanted them to be, the yarn turned out to be fairly consistent in size and soft. It was a joy to knit.

It's a modular knit, meaning each little fan was built on the earlier fans. It was a lot harder than it should have been, mostly because I seem to be incapable of counting rows.

My "hiking buddies" and I were assigned to Mt. Tinknomore. Tink is knit backwards, or to unknit. I did a whole lot of tinking on this project. Not that it was at all hard, I am just still waiting for the return of my brain.

All in all, I'm pretty impressed with myself. I spun enough yarn to knit up this pretty shawl, and knit it up, all in just about a month. Stand back lest my cape snap you in the eye!

I'd like to knit this shawl again, with a solid color, perhaps a pale pink or peach. It has the potential to be quite elegant.

And hot of the heels of Project One, Project Two is about to start. This month's challenge is to knit something that has been very popular on Ravelry. (If you knit or crochet or spin or weave, you HAVE to get on Ravelry. It's simply awesome.)

 I'll be making a sweet little cardigan with cotton yarn, and hanging out in treehouse #4.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yellow or no yellow, that is the question

Moving forward again on the On a Summer's Day project, finally! Almost everything is pinned to the background. I seem to be a larkspur short of a quilt (no surprise there). I'm hoping it will magically appear while I'm making other choices. After looking for several days for the leaves, I found them exactly where I had put them: in my project bag for my last teaching trip of the year.

All the dots are the heads of the flat flowerhead pins. Those babies are sharp. There was a whole lot of ouching going on as I pinned more and more pieces. I'm just glad that I didn't bleed on the thing.

Clearly I still need to add in the stems, but I have to decide which will be fabric bias stems and which will be embroidered in.The butterflies have been left off as well. I had planned for one in the upper left and the middle right. The missing larkspur should be right at the top. I'm not at all sure that it needs to be replaced.

Now the little yellow flowers have been added in. I fancy them to be little coreopsis zagreb, named for a small town in Croatia, where my grandparents are from. Along with them, feathery ferny leaves would be embroidered. I moved the top larkspur over just a smidge, and now I don't think the a.w.o.l. flower is missed at all.

Yellow or no yellow, what do you think? I'm tending towards the yellow, and I think it also needs a few more. Just a couple up top, and maybe in the lower left. Yes? No?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beth quilts!

At last! All of my deadlines are met. (I did do a super secret project that you will be able to see this fall.) And I can finally get back to my own applique project. The project went into hibernation when my crazy travel schedule started, but more importantly, when I couldn't decide on a background. I really, really, really loved the one on the left, but it does overpower the applique, sigh. And the one on the right is too close in color to the larkspurs.

One of the nice things about travel is the opportunity to visit new quilt shops. If only I could remember which city this was in! I came home with several candidates for the background, and this one won. It's a little more vibrant than this shows, it's mostly a robin's egg blue with hints of a purple undertone.

So, with that, I could get back to the embellishing. My mind is just too literal sometimes, and I just couldn't get past the idea that veins are usually indented, not elevated. Embroidered lines are elevated. Luckily I hadn't gotten very far (I think I knew I wasn't going to like it in my heart of hearts), so it wasn't hard to pick out.

I did want to add more dimension to the roses, so I pulled out the heat n sta fleece from Floriani.  It's what I used on the basket rim and base.

Using my trusty light box and a sharpie pen, I traced the shapes I wanted to emphasize, and then cut them out. After the first one I realized that there was no need to trace each shape if I was going to cut it out as a unit.

There were also places that I wanted to really push forward, so additional little bits were cut. My original plan was to layer the fleece with the smallest parts pressed in place first, and then secured with the larger, overlapping piece. But in the end I decided to do just the opposite, adding the smaller bits on top of the larger, hoping that would reduce any lines or sharp drop offs.

My next thought was that I needed to add free motion veins in my emphasized areas before I put the motifs on the background, which would allow those areas to retain their puff.

From the back side you can see how the fleece was layered and then stitched through. Every one of this steps are a bit of an experiment for me. I'll only know if they were effective when the quilt is done. It's so very lovely to have the time to hash this out. A project without a deadline is just way more fun.

The remaining embellishment will have to wait until the motifs are stitched to the background. The roses and basket are in place, the little yellow flowers are awaiting their placement. Now, if only I could remember where I put the leaves and larkspurs. Well, where ever they are, I'm sure they're safe.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

It's Camp Loopy Time!

I love Camp Loopy. Yes, I realize it's just a ploy to get me to buy wool yarn in the summer, but it's a fun ploy and there are prizes. Our first project kicks off on June 1st.

Because knitting something in a month is not hard enough, I decided to up the ante this month by spinning the wool for the yarn. The Loopy Ewe now sells wool roving, so using it spin will qualify me in the challenge.

This is the Purple Mustang colorway of Lorna's Laces wool roving top. Top means that the fibers have been combed out nicely for spinning, ready to go. This one wasn't. It was kind of matted.

I've been wanting to do a shawl with color gradations, so I knew that I would be combing it out anyway, so on I went.

 The first step was to tear the roving apart to separate the different values. Working light to dark, the hunks of roving were sorted into individual stacks of shades of purple.

From there, each hank was combed, using nearly lethal wool combs. The tines are very, very sharp, and it took just a couple of pokes for me to come to respect the tools.

The roving includes both red purple and blue purple, making it a bit of a challenge to sort out the values. The blue purples just looked darker. To solve the problem, I used my camera, set to black & white, to rearrange the combed blobs in value order. See how the colorless photo helps to block out the confusing color. I use this trick with my applique as well, when a subtle value shift is important.

I want to make a lace weight, or light fingering weight yarn. This is pretty fine yarn, used for knitting shawls and socks. Ultimately the yarn will be two ply, so I separated the value gradations in two.

Finally ready for spinning, the fluffs of wool have been stacked up in a basket, near at hand for spinning.

I've finished spinning the first run of fiber, and am about half way on the second. I'm still undecided on whether I will spin the whole lot as a two ply for a shawl, or go for a three ply and make a pair of socks. We shall see.

Knitting for the first project starts on June 1st. The Loopy Ewe gave me permission to start early on the spinning, since it's neither casting on or knitting. So hopefully, by the time you are reading this, I will be done with the spinning and ready to knit.