Posted in knitting, painting

A Hunker-Down kind of day

The wind howled all night and by 8 am this morning, the temperatures were in the lower 30s. I’m told that this is today’s high. The temperature is still dropping and the wind continues to blow. It’s a good thing that I have plenty of fiber objects and other creative endeavors on hand. No need to change out of my comfy yoga pants.

Yesterday I began to learn watercolor painting on paper. It’s been a long-time goal of mine to study this art form. I signed up for Lindsay Weirich’s introductory course Hand-painted Holiday, which can be found at https://lindsayweirich.teachable.com/p/hand-painted-holiday

During an overly-optimistic moment several years ago I had purchased a water color set. I dug it out of a drawer and retrieved several tubes of paint. It took some muttering and a dull yarn needle to pierce some of the foil seals, but eventually I had small quantities of paint laid down onto a cheap plastic palette.

First the tags. Lindsey called these a warm-up exercise. After a few hours I had completed six or so gift tags. Here are some of my favorites:

Next came the cards. I worked the first of the series, stopping when I realized that the afternoon had flown the coop, it was 5 pm and time to cook dinner.

Taking a break from painting, I moved on to knitting. At this point, all of the holiday gifts that I wanted to make were finished and ready to be wrapped. (Mmm maybe I will attach some of those gift tags!) I suddenly remembered that daughter had requested a pair of mittens for her son. She specifically wanted stranded knitting, so the mittens would be extra warm. I found the perfect pattern on Ravelry. It will only require a few adjustments, including the insertion of a thumb gusset for better fit.

Here is my progress so far.

With the weather so brutal outside, there is a chance I can finish these mittens and another watercolor card before the sun comes up tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized

And now for something completely different

The craft of felting has got to be one of the oldest uses of wool. Pretty soon after (or maybe even before) early humans had begun to keep animals for meat and milk, they discovered the warmth of fleece. Early blankets required no manipulation to create – they were just matted, shed hairs of sheep, goats and what-have-you.

We can use of the propensity of wool to felt and make whatever we want. Today I want to make some felt balls to give to my granddaughter for Christmas. She is now walking and very interested in chasing objects across the floor. I read about felting balls in a library book – sorry I don’t remember which one, or I would reference it. The designer started with a jingle bell. I went to the dollar store and bought a bag of cat toys for a dollar. I had some fleece left over from teaching fiber arts.

The tools for this project are readily available in most homes: a plastic placemat, some bubble wrap, a large bowl with a fitted lid and a squeeze of dish soap. Merino wool bats are available from craft stores for a few dollars each. I used four colors of fleece for my balls.

First, separate the fleece into thin strips, then pull the strips apart gently every four inches or so. You want to expose the loose ends of the fibers. Begin wrapping the fleece strips around the ball, overlapping and pressing the fibers down on each other. Continue until the ball is covered with about a one inch layer. Gently roll the covered ball around in your palms, loosely, until the fibers seem to be clinging. When the wool has begun to matt, it will look something like this:

The beginning stage of felting.

Make a few more balls to this point before moving on to the next step.

Add about an inch of soapy water to the bowl. Dip the felt balls into the water, then pick up each and roll it on the bubble wrap until all the fibers are pretty well mashed together. They will look something like this:

Okay, here is the fun part. Put on some lively music. Place balls in bowl with a little soapy water, snap on the lid, pick up bowl and start shaking it around like crazy. The goal is to bounce them together and keep them rolling. This process is called fulling the wool. It will take ten to fifteen minutes.

These balls are pretty well fulled.

The next step is called shocking. The soapy water is rinsed off, then balls are immersed under hot water for about a minute. After the hot water is squeezed out, the balls are immersed in cold water. A few repetitions of this step will shrink and harden the wool. Set balls aside to dry.

You can also put them in the dryer for 15 minutes on medium heat.

Here are my felt balls, ready to be wrapped up for giving:

I was delighted that the felting worked just fine over the plastic cat toys. These balls are now child-safe and ready to roll.

Posted in quilting

Practical Fiber Fun

To those of you who are still following my blog, thank you! November has arrived and I am back on track with fiber and a plan to make some holiday gifts. This is the first year that I have had plenty of time. It’s gratifying to apply some of the skills I have developed since beginning Daily Fiber! Today I am going to share with you a sweet gift for all the creative types on your giving list. I learned to make this little journal cover in a class at Bluprint.com taught by Christina Cameli. Her craft is quilting, and she excels at working her stitch magic in free motion.

Materials are cheap and readily available: fabric, quilt batting, some foldover elastic and a paper bound journal that you can get at craft, big box, or office supply stores.

Here are the strips I will be using today:

After cutting out all the pieces, the first step is to stitch together enough strips to cover the journal. In this case, I needed a piece that was 9 1/4 in. tall by 13 in. wide. Make it a little bigger than required. Then put together a quilt sandwich with batting and backing (muslin will do.) Using the free-motion technique you like (or one you want to practice) quilt away! I chose to use my walking foot this time.

Pick a lining fabric to go with your theme. It will need to be about eight inches wider than the cover and the same height.

Here’s the lining and journal insert I chose.

Cut to dimension and sew the lining to the cover, right sides together, per the class instructions. The wrap over elastic will be sewn to the back panel with right side down. Trim the corners, turn the piece right side out and press. After you checked that the journal fits inside, top stitch the cover very, very close to the edge. (Be careful to keep the elastic free of top stitching, or it will be too tight.) You’re done.

And here is my finished gift.

Really fun. I’ll be making more of these , and plan to try out some interesting free-motion designs.

Here is Christina’s class. https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

The class also provides instructions for a small basket and zip pouch. Happy quilting!

Posted in drawing

Inktober2019 Wrap up

#inktober2019 challenge ended yesterday. I made it to the end! In the waning days I tried out a few other techniques and subjects, including sports figures. Enjoy!

Who doesn’t love lemurs?
The photograph of this Chinese high jumper really inspired me.
What can I say? It was the World Series baseball playoff week.
Inspired by French Impressionism.

Now I am pondering ways to incorporate some of my favorite drawings into new projects. At the least, I hope to print a few greeting cards for friends and family.

Posted in knitting

Finally using the Black Yarn

A few months ago, I blogged about working with black yarn. https://dailyfiberfun.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/black-yarn/

After months of fiddling around with the luxury blend, coal colored yarn my daughter gave me, I finally settled into a shawl design. Fellow blogger Deb Gemmell has unvented an improvement to the basic triangle shawl which she calls Wedges Shawl. Her goal is to increase the length of the shawl ends without making the body section excessively long. You can read about it on her blog: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/135503248/posts/1913

I thought I would give this concept a try. I started out normally, with a garter tab cast on. After increasing four stitches every other row for awhile, I began to insert wedge-shaped sections. These are created with short rows. To make a nice contrast with the black yarn, I chose a beige singles yarn and used the classic eyelet pattern of k2tog, yo. I also tossed in a couple sections of garter lace pattern with the black yarn.

After I worked up about 290 stitches, I switched back to the black yarn for one more eyelet row and bound off. Here is a blocked shawl.

I couldn’t quite fit the whole shawl into one photograph.
So I folded it up and took another picture.

It came out rather well. With such neutral colors, it should be a versatile addition to my winter wardrobe. Thank you, Deb, for your improvement!

Her patterns can be found on Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wedges-shawl

Posted in drawing

#inktober 2019 Week 4

Here are my drawings from the Inktober prompts for Days 21 through 26. This week I wanted to work on improving my technique.

The prompt was Treasure. I thought about the great treasures of our material culture, specifically art and the artists that created it. My portrait comes from Georgia O’Keeffe’s autobiography. In this scene she is blind and over 90 years old. The techniques I worked on here were ink washes, shadows and stippling. Also, this image allowed me to practice drawing faces and hands – both are considered challenging subjects for artists of all kinds.

After working on the O’Keeffe, my mind was lingering on Santa Fe. For the next prompt, I drew a ghost in the Loretto Chapel. Lots of line work here, as I focus on rendering architectural detail and dim lighting.

More artwork: sculptures from ancient times. I practiced stippling and the night sky.

The prompt was dizzy. As one who suffers occasional episodes of acrophobia, I chose to face my fear and draw from the dizzying perspective of a high overlook. It was a challenge to get the perspectives right on the suspension bridges.

I was keen to draw some more birds. So I took advantage of the prompt Tasty and drew a momma bird feeding her chicks.

That’s all for now. Only a few days left in Inktober. I am looking forward to getting back to fiber arts, especially sewing. I have many ideas for quilted gifts.

Posted in drawing

More Inktober: More Experiments

Since I am basically a beginner at this, I consider all of my drawing experiments. But this week, I decided to adopt a more playful approach.

Overgrown: Playing around with ink wash.

Legend: Nessie show herself.

The paper is seriously rippled. I learned that I must use a stronger paper for ink wash.

Wild: Drawing the young jaguar that I appliqued earlier this year.

Colored paper as a background.

Ornament: Comic book style.

Misfit: Who invited that bird into our flock?

Sling: The challenge of drawing a fishing net.

More fun next week.

Posted in knitting

A Knitter’s Reward

Fern Sweater on the Beach

If you are a knitter, you may have been asked if you sell your knitting. Or maybe a friend offered to pay you to knit her a sweater. This happens to me from time to time, and I’m never truly satisfied with the answer I give – which is always no.

First of all, there is the pain of telling someone no. Then there is the disappointment on the friend’s face. Then, in a effort to soften the “no,” my somewhat lengthy and awkward explanation: the high price of quality yarn, the large amount of time required to knit a sweater, the difficulty in setting a price. But the truth of the matter is this: the market value of a sweater is always much less than the value of time and materials that the knitter spends on creating it. Simple fact.

Truly I am in the knit-for-love camp. The photograph above is an example of my pay-off. When the image arrived from my son-in-law this morning, I felt my heart melt and tears begin to accumulate in my eyes. This is the ultimate reward.

Knitters, are you like this? You offer to knit a garment for a loved one. You take careful measurements. You ask her about favorite colors and what she likes to wear. Then, as you work your stitches, you think about the recipient. You wonder if the neckline will lay flat and if the sleeves will hit her wrist at the exact spot you had planned it to. You think about the moment your gift arrives. You imagine her wearing it. This piece of knitting has now become imprinted with all your intentions, your hope for your friend’s future and love you feel for her.

No amount of money can buy this feeling. And I never expected that it could.

Posted in crochet, drawing

A New Addiction

Alright. Almost no fiber objects were created this week. I will share the one thing I did make with yarn for my crochet in the round workshop. It is a teaching aid.

The six stages of starting a round crochet object

Instead I spent multiple hours on sketching from the Inktober prompts.

Day 7: Enchanted

Day 8: Frail

Day 9: Swing

Day 10: Pattern

Day 11: Snow

Day 12: Dragon (fly)

You may have noticed a few insects have shown up. I find them fun to draw.

And finally, this: why is the act of sketching on ink and paper so addictive?

Posted in knitting

Finished Object – Passages cardigan

Despite the long gestation period, this cardigan came out pretty well. I went with silver buttons to add a little bling to this teal blue sweater.

And now if you will indulge me, I would like to share some tips on how to make a sweater that fits. These nuggets of learning were revealed to me the hard way – through many years of experience and the making of several ill-fitted sweaters.

1. Start with the right measurements. For a sweater, these include hip, bust, cross-back, neck to wrist, armhole depth, upper arm width, and length (shoulder to garment hem.) TIP: If you own a coat or sweater that fits you well, you can take these measurements from it. If you don’t, get a friend to measure you.

2. Consider ease. Different body areas require different amounts of ease. Also different styles and yarn weights require more or less ease – thick yarns should have more ease, thin yarns can have no ease, or even negative ease. You may want a lot of room in your hip area, but a close fit at your bust – or vice versa! For an average fit, allow 2 inches at bust and hips and at least 1 inch at upper arm. Then use the schematic of your pattern to choose the right width to match your measurements and desired ease. TIP: Never add ease to the cross-back measurement. This is the distance across your back at the top of your armpits. If your sweater is too loose here it will slide off your shoulders.

Photo shows the cross-back area.

3. Make a swatch. Or two or three. While EZ says to swatch in stockinette stitch, I like to swatch in the same stitch that I will be using for the garment. Always wet-block your swatch. I know, this seems like an extra step. But it’s important because certain yarns (superwash) and quite a few stitch patterns open up a lot with blocking. If you take your gauge from an unblocked swatch, your sweater will invariably end up too long and too wide.

4. If you are curvy, incorporate waist shaping. Adding a decrease section and then an increase section between hips and ribs eliminates bulkiness while making room for your breasts. You can also use short rows under the bust area to add more fabric where it is needed in the sweater front.

5. Block the finished pieces before assembling. It makes the sewing up much easier. For this sweater, I wet-blocked the body and sleeves. I then sewed the shoulder seams with back-stitch and the sleeve seams with mattress stitch. Next I knit on the button band. To set in the sleeves use yarn and back-stitch up from the underarm to the shoulder seam. Tie off yarn and sew up the other side.

I hope that you have found something of value in my long discourse. For those who are wondering, the pattern is called Passages from Knit-Picks.com and the yarn is Camino Alpaca Premium 6-ply from Bremont. It is a wool, alpaca and nylon blend.