Friday, 24 February 2012

Blocks 2 & 3

I'm making steady progress on Sheila's Mystery Quilt

This is the second block.  There were no tricky bits, so it went together quickly.  I should have posted this last Friday.  Oh, well.

The third block, on the other hand, was nothing but tricky bits.  Frankly, I'm astounded that I finished it at all.  This mirror image, back-to-front business is harder than it looks.  Still and all, the last quadrant went together much more easily than did the first, so I must have been getting the hang of it (although, I must confess that I probably could have been more frugal when adding each layer of fabric). 

Since one of the reasons that I decided to make this sampler quilt was to build my skills, I guess that I shouldn't moan when I'm called on to learn something new!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Block 1

I've started to work on Sheila's Mystery Quilt Along.  Though it's more in the nature of a not-so-mysterious-quilt-after-the-fact.  All of the beautiful photos posted in the flickr group mean it's no longer a mystery, and I'm not sure how many are still quilting along.  No matter.  I love the quilt, and I'm going to learn a lot completing each of the blocks.  I've finished the first one already.

Monday, 6 February 2012

New hats

We had a cold snap at the end of January, so I decided to knit the girls new hats to match their red winter coats. As soon as I'd finished, the cold snap ended, and now we're enjoying a beautiful February.  But, February is February and it is followed by equally chilly March, so they'll still likely see some use. 

Both hats are knit from Spud & Chloe's superwash wool/silk blend (following Mandie Harrington's Swirl Hat pattern with a few modifications.

I added flowers with button centres to the smaller of the two and beads to the bigger one--the sparklier the better.  They can be thrown in the washing machine with no worries, and the  smaller one would be fine in the dryer as well, but I'm not entirely sure about the (sparkly!!) beads on the other one.  I can just see all 250 of them melting and turning the hat into a ball of red sludge. 

Friday, 3 February 2012

Starting as I mean to go on

I'm starting the year off by recording a completed project.  An inconsistently spun skein of oatmeal coloured yarn--how exciting.  Okay, the finished product isn't exactly scintillating, but did I ever learn a lot while getting to this point.  First, I learned that Cormo is a very delicate fibre.  I had assumed that it would need careful processing, much like Merino.  I was wrong--compared to Cormo, Merino  is indestructible. 

I began by carefully washing a small amount of raw fleece.  Obviously, I wasn't careful enough.  Even with no agitation and meticulous temperature control, the locks tangled and matted. I tried hand teasing and gently carding with very unsatisfactory results.  I tried putting some of them through the picker--even worse.  Then I tried my mini combs, and met with a bit of success.   At least it was spinnable.  The next step was to try spinning directly from the combs without first drawing off the combed fibre into a top.  This was how I finally managed to salvage the fibre--or at least about half of it.  Even so, it's neppy and very inconsistent.  Not at all the smooth, fine handspun I'm used to producing.  On the other hand, it definitely looks handspun.  And, it's incredibly elastic.  You'd think that it contained lycra.  I don't know if this skein will ever be used for anything, but I'm looking forward to applying all that I've learned to the next batch I process. 

As for the waste fibre, it turns out not to have been wasted after all.  I've been meaning to make some felted balls to use as cores when winding the spun thread off a handspindle.  Starting those balls without using a core or some sort has become much more difficult as my hands get older.  This should solve that problem.