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This Yarn Is Delicious!

Closeup rambo/suri blend laceweight handspun yarn

I spun this 2 ply out of rambouillet blended with baby suri alpaca on hand cards. It turned out so soft it doesn’t even feel like wool!

Baby suri alpaca

Rambouillet Fleece

suri/rambo blended on hand cards

Also the colour is lovely – chocolate and tan with a bit of a shine! It has a really rich look and I love it.

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I’m working on a pair of gloves for winter…I’ll keep you updated πŸ™‚

Have a great day!

If you might be interested in purchasing my handspun yarn, please visit handspunyarn.wordpress.com

It’s Fleece Season!!

Oh yes, happy day!

It may still be snowing outside but I still love spring – I usually stock up on my fleeces and this year I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to find πŸ™‚ (lol, to be honest, I have always been pleased – I just love fleece)

There is the Romney fleece – purchased from a seller on Ravelry.

Romney fleece

It was very clean to begin with, hardly any vm.

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I separated the locks and laid them in a basket.

I really like taking the extra time to do this – the results are excellent and the fleece cleans very easily. I place these locks in a wire waste basket from the dollar store and then this basket is placed in a large pot of simmering water on the stove. I keep an eye on water temperature with a candy thermometer. I do the same with the rinse water and I have a second basket so I can keep one washing at all times. The going is a little slow because I don’t overcrowd my baskets but it’s easy and the results are excellent!

Romney all washed up

And this is the whole fleece, after washing.

Romney fleece/washed

The next fleece is a shetland lamb fleece – really nice!

Shetland lamb

Charlie really loves fleece!
(our dog really loves this fleece!)

I purchased this from a little etsy shop.

It is a beautiful fleece with minimal vm, well skirted and soft. Count me as a happy spinner πŸ™‚

Shetland, ready to wash

Washed shetland lamb fleece

I found some lovely suri alpaca – baby suri, just a little so I could try it…lol, I fell in love…

Baby suri alpaca

I ended up blending the suri with a little of the shetland lamb and have not yet plied the singles.

Happy spring πŸ™‚

A Fantastic New Craft – My Freeform Crocheted Carpet Project

Freeform Carpet

It all started when I was sorting my wool the other day. I love how a bunch of wool can create a whole chain of thought and inspiration!

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I’ve got tons of textured yarns which I’ve accumulated over the years and lots of basic acrylics that I use for blankets and toys. I had the idea to create an area rug for my son with various textured yarns held double with a strand of the base acrylics (worsted weight) in all the shades of beige that I had in my stash. The flat/untufted areas are base acrylic held with a strand of cone cotton and strand of cone rayon with a golden sparkle to it – each about fingering weight or less. It compliments the sparkle in the main ‘bling bling’ yarn I’ve used for texture. It’s the multicolour found in all the circles – pictures just don’t do it justice.

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I had so much fun with this I’m planning to invest in some rug yarns to try to make a more durable/long lasting rug. This one is tightly crocheted and seems strong but it is just blanket strength acrylic I’ve used so I can’t wait to see what I can create with real rug wool and my tufted texture yarns! It will take away the machine wash option though if I decide to go with wool rug yarn (and I’m leaning to that option – seeing a guy with a factory full of partial cones which he needs to clear out later on today and there are a few different materials to choose from).

We all knew I needed a new hobby, seeing as I have nothing to do lol πŸ™‚

Oh wow, almost forgot to post this pic…

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It’s my new Polonaise! Yes, finally, I have been blessed with the one wheel I’ve wanted forever-since-I-thought-of-spinning!! A totally excellent early Christmas present πŸ™‚

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She spins like a dream and is just beautiful. The lady I purchased her from was excellent and her husband was even kind enough to deliver the wheel.

And a very cute grandson pic…he loves to jump!

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An Adorable Knitted Doll And A Few New Books…

I recently purchased a few new books. I really LOVE books!

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The one that got me started was ‘Knitted Dolls’ by Arne & Carlos. Then I found ‘Babes In The Wool’ by Fiona McDonald and also ‘Crochet Master Class’ by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss.

So, my sudden fascination with knitting some dolls is completely unexplainable but they are SO CUTE! One just leads you to wondering how the next one will turn out, lol.

In progress…

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The eyes make all the difference…

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Also, because the crochet book demanded I not ignore it….I started a couple of ‘squares’ for a future crocheted quilt I have in mind. The colours are awesome and the technique makes them really POP. This is a pillow cover project from the book….

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Have an excellent day! I have a doll dress to finish πŸ™‚

Final thought for today? I KNEW the acrylic was good for something!

Our New Shihtzu Puppy!

Good morning! Β I have the CUTEST little guy to introduce today – his name is Charlie and he is a nine week old shih tzu puppy.

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He’s from a local family and is so well adjusted and has settled in with barely a squeak. Β Yes – he squeaks instead of making more likely ‘dog’ noises at this point. Β I’m sure he’s going to have lots to say once his voice comes in!

For a little bit of perspective on his size…

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His toys are mostly cat, lol – a small beanie stuffed with catnip, a few of those balls with the bells inside and a bunny rattle which the bunny never liked but Charlie thinks is awesome lol.

He even managed the steps up to the deck. Β Next? Β Learning how to go down stairs….

Have an excellent day πŸ™‚

Sidetracked, Again (or is that always?)

Ok, I admit it, I just might have a BIT of an issue with sticking to one thing, lol. It’s like some kind of ‘ooooooh shiny, soooooo pretty’ disease. I have so many projects on the go that it’s truly ridiculous.

There is the sweater I am knitting out of handspun light fingering weight yarns, in stripes. The white is cormo/merino hand combed and blended with very fine alpaca, two ply. The coloured yarn is a hand carded silk/wool blend, 2 ply.

the yarn

close up

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The yarn I really did finish (yay, one for me, save the part where there are half a bobbin of singles waiting to be plied into yarn, should I get around to finishing the other ply), created from hand processed, hand combed cormo/fdt fleece from mmfwool….

'dilbert' cormo/fdt 2 ply lace weight

'dilbert' wool cormo/fdt 2 ply lace

So far I have two skeins of this, around 700 metres, I’d guess. And I would be guessing, lol, since I have yet to count the strands πŸ™‚

The ‘ooh shiny’ which I just started yesterday. Days off work are fantastic!

silk,wool,camel

Hand dyed silk, cormo/merino fleece and super-soft-camel fluff…it is divine….

blending for 'moss'

And, certainly not last, simply last for today – some super soft gloves I’m working on, created with handspun angora bunny/hand dyed silk blended yarn.

glove project

the pink bunny wool (angora/silk)

Thankfully winter is a few months away!

The ‘RED’ Has Turned Out Very Well!

I’d love to say ‘good morning’ but it’s afternoon, evening really… so happy day, my friends πŸ™‚

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I’ve been keeping busy with work and fabulous fiber. I managed to ply the red yarn and it came out to 380 meters of lovely lace or light weight fingering, I’d say. I like my socks on the thin side, comfy and perfect for normal wear in normal shoes. I’ll most likely put it in my shop but perhaps not for long, depending on how long I can resist it…

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I’ve also spent some time working with the beautiful cormo/fdt cross fleece purchased from mmfwool on ebay…

soft! cormo/fdt

It’s taking two washes to get the lanolin out, or mostly out, as the case may be. Really lovely fleece with a variety of greys in it starting with the lightest pearl gray and going to almost black in places! It combs as nicely as I suspected it would, too. Take a peek at this bit of hand pulled roving…

cormo/fdt roving - hand combed

It’s SO very satisfying, turning a raw fleece into clouds of fiber-y goodness.

Have a fantastic night πŸ™‚

Something Red

Hello!

I barely made it through my day at work, lol – could not wait to get home and get back to the gray fleece again, as I’m quite sure you all understand πŸ™‚

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

What a beauty it is.

All dry and perfect!

Check out that little washed bit, all separated into locks and dried now…it may well be worth washing this baby slowly because the locks couldn’t have come out more perfect, in my opinion….

I couldn’t help but spin a small sample; it’s virtually irresistible fiber. Β I tried spinning from the lock and from hand carded rolags – from the lock wins hands down because the fiber is so fine. Β Combing would be perfection, something I have to try and will certainly show once I do πŸ™‚

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

I’ve been working through some bits of interesting fiber and have spun another skein of laceweight yarn. Β This one is “Something Red”, created by blending the lovely white cormo/merino with hand dyed blue/violet silk and a wine red shade of predyed superwash merino. Β I blend by sight and handcard my rolags.

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

Pictures coming soon of the actual plied yarn…I’ve got to skein and wash it first and we all know I’m probably lost in the land of grey fleece tonight πŸ™‚ Β Have an excellent day!

What Could Be More Fun Than A Fresh New Fleece?!

I’m a little behind, here, and haven’t shown what I’ve been up to lately! Β My apologies, my friends! Β Work and family and (lets face it!) spinning have been getting in the way…

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This is a beautiful fleece I purchased from mmfwool. It’s a cormo/merino cross and just awesome to work with – lovey crimp and length and so very, very soft.

Here’s how it looks cleaned up…(it only took one wash, two rinses);

The clean white cormo/merino cross - mmfwool

And how it came out after combing…

combed cormo/merino cross - mmfwool

cormo/merino cross/mmfwool

I’ve also been blending – I treated myself to some excellent bits of fiber recently…

luxury fibers - yak,camel, camel, cashmere, llama/cashmere, bombyx silk

I’ve made some really soft yarns in all shades of natural…

luxury blends - cashmere/wool, camel/woo/silk/cashmere, camel/wool, camel/wool/llama/silk,

luxury blends continued - camel/yak/wool, llama/cashmere/silk/wool/yak

I’ve just received another beautiful fleece, a grey cormo cross which is actually even MORE beautiful and super fine.

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cormo cross -  mmfwool - soft and fine!

I’m washing this more carefully than I’ve ever washed a fleece — by the handfull almost, in a wire basket in a LOT of water, simmering on the stove for 20 minutes then two rinses in super hot tap water with some boiling water mixed in. Absolutely NO agitation.

The first batch came out excellently!

A little clean wool

A dilbert lock - mmfwool - cormo cross

I’m surrounded in fleecy goodness! If you are interested, please visit my little handspun yarn shop. Β Have an excellent day!

Aram! I’m So Glad You’re Here :)

She love to spin

Isn’t she lovely? I think so!

Please welcome my newest wheel – another little piece of Canadian fibre art history. She is marked “Aram Paradis” and was made in Quebec in the latter half of the 1800’s. To make her even more special, we purchased her from her original family. A lovely woman sold her to us, after refusing to sell her to someone the seller suspected was an antique dealer, because we would love her enough!

Bless her. She was right though, you know – I really will love her enough πŸ™‚

The wheel belonged to the seller’s great grandmother, who used to spin on her often – I was even given a small amount of cotton sliver which was, according to the seller, her great grandmother’s and what she would commonly spin on the wheel. This same seller has another wheel (her grandmother’s) which is a Canadian Production Wheel, in perfect pristine condition. If she ever decides to sell it, she’s going to call us. I’ll let you know πŸ™‚

It seems she has been modified to work with a spindle – somewhat like a great wheel. What remained of this modification when we got her was the whorl but no spindle piece. There was a second hole drilled (perfectly, might I add) in her mother of all for the front maiden, to facilitate the modification. She looked like this;

Just a little bit dry

the modification

First off, she needed a coat of blo/turpentine – the poor baby was parched.

What a differenc oil makes

I moved the maiden back to the original hole and made her some new leathers (made from an old full grain leather belt, bonded together for the front maiden to create a sturdy bearing)…

Making new leathers

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For the back leather, I used a single layer of the same belt leather but since it’s a bit on the stiff/thick side, soaked it in water for a couple hours and then clamped it to create a tight bearing…

Clamping the leather for the back maiden

My baby had no flyer/bobbin whatsoever so I had to look around the house for something suitable. Thankfully the other wheels LOVE to share. My first attempt was an old lithuanian flyer that I have. Quite sadly (since this is my only flyer without it’s own wheel), it was too short and had some issues with spinning properly – sort of a dud. Second attempt was to try one of the cpw flyers (a Vezina, in fact). This was too long…

At this point it was very ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and, just like in the story, the third try fit just right πŸ™‚ I ended up fitting ‘Grandpa’s’ flyer to her – a very close to perfect fit. In order for it to be a PERFECT fit would mean finding a flyer with about the same length of arms/bobbin BUT with a longer tail end for the back bearing. Since I didn’t have such a flyer, I added a rabbit skin ‘sleeve’ inside the back bearing, to hold the shorter tail end. Grandpa says he’s happy to have helped πŸ™‚

Rabbit skin sleeve for back bearing

Did I mention her perfect hub?? Really awesome for her age…

No cracks in the hub

She’s stamped but this isn’t the clearest picture…

marked aram paradis

And in her glory – all glowing and spinning!!

Pretty!

We had a few issues as we began spinning together. I don’t blame her really since she’s not used to working after all these years πŸ™‚ Her treadle kept trying to fall out of the leg nearest the spinner on the wheel end – there was an old injury to that leg and a groove there so I used a bit of belt leather and made a split washer which I placed on the other end of the treadle bar, at the leg closest to the mother of all. This keeps the treadle from moving over as far as it wants and falling out on the wheel side. Also looks very appropriate, which I like πŸ™‚

The cross piece that the treadle sits on is so old and brittle with an old staple repair underneath. It did snap shortly into our spinning together BUT I didn’t want to replace it with a new piece of wood.

Cover your eyes now if you are particular about correct repairs! My solution was to fit the shattered old wood back together underneath and then bond the whole thing back together with some 5 minute epoxy. Yes, a woodworking sin. BUT! She looks original and that was what I wanted. If this doesn’t work in the long run I can always replace the cross bar. I wasn’t approaching the project in terms of resale value but from a working/original wheel perspective.

Finally…my little helper has been by πŸ™‚ I’ve convinced him that the winder is ‘his’ wheel…

The little spinner and 'his' wheel

He has, however, gotten older and now he has noticed that ‘his’ wheel doesn’t seem to do it right. LOL. He brought his bobbins over to my wheel to see what was going on last time…

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He really is the cutest little guy πŸ™‚ Plays piano when he’s not spinning….babies are awesome πŸ™‚

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Have a fantastic day!

You’ve Got To Love A Friday!

Yes, I know it’s not really friday.Β  For me, though, it is – so yay!Β  Not that I don’t enjoy my job because I actually do, it’sΒ just a matter of balance.Β  My crafts are exactly what balance me πŸ™‚

And now I get to spin πŸ™‚Β  For two whole glorious days πŸ™‚

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This is some of the very lovely cotton which I bought from an excellent seller I found on Ravelry, from Kentucky.Β  I bought two pounds to give it a try – it was raw…I love learning new things from the ground up!

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It came like the bit on the left – on the right is some of the cotton pulled off of the seed.

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I held the seed and pulled off the fluff…

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In the end I had a cloud of very clean fluff with just a bit of vm left.

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Just because I’m me (lol, of course!), I had to try spinning it both ways.Β  I carded some and rolled it off the card from side to side…

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I think both methods work well and don’t have a real preference yet πŸ™‚Β  I ended up all distracted and started spinning and knitting for a lovely thin knit alpaca cardigan – 2 ply just-a-little-more-than-lace-weight.

hanspun 2ply alpaca cardigan

I have more yarn to ply…I’m finding the weaving bobbin rack and winder sooooo useful!Β  Best thing ever.

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It’s an absolute star for storing the singles and plying from too!

Oh! And I must show you the baby boy!Β  He’s growing like a weed and getting cuter every day!

So cute!!

The spinning wheel is calling…Have a fantastic couple of days folks – I know I will πŸ™‚

The Little Summer Lace Socks And The Pattern

NOTE: In the pattern, where I say to disregard row 1, I mean row one (the ‘no stitch’ row) of the charted pattern – I made the chart one row too long. The written pattern is correct as written. Sorry for any confusion! πŸ™‚

Hello πŸ™‚

I’ve been working on a little personal challenge – my socks are wearing out (they’re handknit so they are all a few years old) and I needed some more.Β  The socks I like, however, are little.Β  Ankle socks.Β  With lace….lots of lace!Β  Of course, as it usually is when one has something definite in mind – I couldn’t really find a pattern I liked for it’s style and pattern.

So – I decided to design some.Β  These are the first and I’ve made the pattern available as a pdf;Β  The Little Summer Lace Socks

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They fit really nicely since the lace gives them stretch.Β  The edge sits just below the ankle.

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I designed the lace by modifying an existing pattern, “String of Beads” from the book “Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls” by Martha Waterman.

Enjoy, I know I am πŸ™‚

If you are interested in my handspun yarn for sale, please have a look at my HandSpunYarn site.

Β Have a fantastic day!

What A Beautiful Day!

Absolutely LOVING the gardens this year…(and they are loving me right back)
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Our veggies are planted and yesterday we added a strawberry garden too…
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I’ll have to get a picture of it since it’s tucked away in the corner there, by the grape vines πŸ™‚

The fruit trees are starting to blossom! We have pear and apple, I believe πŸ™‚ New houses are always fun when no-one leaves you a garden map. I feel like an explorer, finding new things every day in the garden.
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I’ve decided to take a chance that the frosts are done for the year and get everything in now – I may be sorry but I’m doubting that. LOL – my way is to plant it and give it to nature – I help nature out by using my fleece soak water as liquid fertilizer and by weeding a little πŸ™‚ If it works out it’s fabulous – if not we’ll plant a few more things in a couple weeks πŸ™‚ I have some pepper plants and some cherry tomatoes that I’ve started in the house which are yet to be placed in the garden. Other than that we’ve got parsnips, carrots, lettuce (leaf and romaine), brocolli, corn, turnip, tomaotes, parsley, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, radishes, peas. I’m thinking of adding a blueberry garden in the centre circle which currently houses some rose bushes. Roses are nice but blueberries are better πŸ™‚ I can always move the roses to a spot along the fence! I’ve also found some rosemarey (my favorite herb) and something that I’m SURE is an herb and smells like lemon – I assume herb because it’s in the garden itself and the prior owners of this house were dedicated gardeners!

After a week of rain, I’m so happy that the sun is out πŸ™‚ I managed to wash most of the mystery fleece that I was working on in the last post…it came out nice and clean!
drying the wool

There were parts of the fleece I gave up on and left too long in the soak water – they will now be going to live in the back of the yard, near the pine trees, as mulch. Since the fleeces were free and unskirted I feel just fine about that – the hardest part will be lugging it back there πŸ™‚ I still have about half of the total three bags to process and will take a bit more time to skirt these!

I’ve been spinning some icelandic that I washed last year. I thought it was felted but was pleasantly surprised to find it cards up just beautifully and wasn’t really felted at all!
felted icelandic?

icelandic singles - not felted after all :)

Today I really should get back to knitting the socks BUT I have a feeling I just may end up spinning on the deck… πŸ™‚
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Have a fabulous day!

What’s New? Spring Cleaning….Fleece!

Good morning!

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It’s been so long….

Spring is here and I’ve been busy πŸ™‚ Seems spring always makes one want to DO more – and some of us have a different take on spring cleaning! I’ve had several fleeces sitting for a while — some since last summer! I don’t know if I posted about it last fall but I have some absolutely beautiful long staple alpaca…dusty dusty stuff with some burr issues as well. It’s got a staple of about 8 inches as it was a long time between shearings and it is SUPER soft – lovely lovely lovely. Irreplaceable really. Fortunately, lol, I started out with about 14 pounds and there is no end in sight yet.

Unwashed…
alpaca - prewashing

Combed out for debris, but not yet washed…
raw alpaca lock 8 - 9 inches

Final product – rovings are clean and pulled from my combs…
alpaca -- combed

There is also the ‘meat’ sheep wool which I was given last year – in black and white – waiting to get a good soak and a wash. The wool comes out nice but the dirt is incredible – sometimes free looks like an excellent price. There is a large bin full of that waiting for me on the porch.

Oh yes, and a basset hound too…
Tired Basset

Mr. Man

My baby grandson has had his first birthday – still the cutest baby in the world with the BEST smile πŸ™‚

Happy Birthday Baby

His other grandma has sheep and lambs and has very generously given me three bags of wool (I jokingly asked for ‘three bags full’ lol) – the first is lamb (three fleeces I think), the second is yearling (two to three fleeces) and the third bag is adult (haven’t counted them but I believe it holds two fleeces).

Grandma wool - three bags full

The lamb, unwashed…
Lovely lamb

The yearling, unwashed (or possibly the adult)…MUCH dirtier than the lamb. I plan to soak this in a cold soak for a few days before washing it…
yearling?

These fleeces MUST be a mixed breed but are sooooo soft I’m pleasantly surprised! I’ve washed some of the lamb, so far, and it’s coming out lovely. Very short fibers but lovely AND it helped motivate me to learn how to spin short fibers. Happy to say that after two days of utter failure…. I CAN DO IT! πŸ™‚

The lamb…clean…
washed lamb

Here’s some blended short fibers that I’ve successfully spun…YAY!…it’s camel, yak, silk and lambswool blended on carders and then spun for a two ply thick and thin yarn….(it truly is soft as butter)
short fiber mix - camel etc.

I’ve sold one of my spinning wheels – the Bordua that I bought last fall – to a really nice Ravelry member who will truly appreciate her. I’ve also begun selling some handspun wool yarn and some spinning fiber (the above mentioned alpaca) through my local kijiji. I definitely spin more than I knit and the wool is piling up!

Some recently spun yarns…
handspun yarn
(Left to right…lambswool, spun from the lock very finely for a four ply fingering weight yarn; alpaca, spun from combed fiber, two ply; grammalamb spun two ply; the soft as butter blended camel 2ply; a skein of laceweight, handdyed silk two ply approx 800 metres.)

Oh – Almost forgot! There IS news on the knitting front….

lamb, silk, alpaca mix for socks - three ply

I’ve spun 900 metres of silk/lambswool/alpaca (in approximate thirds, blended on carders and then spun fine for a three ply lace weight) to make a really beautiful pair of lace knitted stockings. So pretty, so impractical. Of course I had to have them πŸ™‚ I’ve only just begun the knitting but it’s coming along well…

socks!

Lace Stockings - heel detail

As if that isn’t enough, I’ve also been working on some orifice hooks…
orifice hook - loves red

Flowers on a spiral

I am also working on the spinning wheel at the beginning of this post – she needed a few things and a bit of a facelift. I should have pictures to share very soon πŸ™‚ I believe she is a german parlor wheel but who knows for sure…

And just because…I’ve decided it’s time to make a quilt. A really special quilt I’ve had a picture for for ages…known to me and those that know me as “THE ONE”. It begins something like this….

Tammys Quilt

The Acadian Wheel Spins!!

Hello πŸ™‚

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I am so happy! I’ve been working on finishing the restoration of the Acadian Wheel – I made her new leather flyer bearings, new axle bearings (also from leather, soaked in water and shaped into a ‘u’ shape and allowed to dry in place with the wheel in place as well), tied on a (temporary) string footman and figured out how her alignment works!

So, how she looked when she had her first (undrilled) bearing made, and all fitted…
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I discussed making that bearing here, using shoe leather and an old belt…I ended up dying it with leather dye, after creating a hole for the orifice, using first a drill and then carving it a little bigger…

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I used a bit of belt leather, dyed it with leather dye, for the back bearing – you can kind of see it (undyed) in this picture…

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Since she was flyer and bobbin-less when she came to live with us, my Vezina Slider has graciously offered to share her flyer and bobbin. She very wisely realised that I can only spin on one wheel at a time. I’m going to keep my eyes open for a suitable replacement.

She has no tensioning system so I had to figure out a way around that. I’ve made the back maiden (which holds the flyer with a leather bearing) the mobile maiden so that the flyer can be removed by removing a peg and twisting the maiden. The leather bearing itself I made with longer ‘tails’ than usual to allow the bearing to slip forward, in order to allow me to tie on the drive band and then, by pulling it back towards the maiden, to adjust tension on that band. I then used a square nail (one of the many ‘bits’ from the wheel that are left over) to wedge between the two ‘tails’, from the back of the maiden, in order to hold the leather in place where I put it. I think, in theory, this will allow me to somewhat tension the wheel.

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It turns out, with this flat rim wheel, that the angles are all important. The wheel was made with large pegs that fit into the wheel uprights, beneath the table. These, it turns out!, adjust the angle of the wheel, allowing you to line it up with the flyer properly. I have managed to make her work as a double drive wheel – which I believe she always was, judging by the double groove worn in the wheel rim.

One of the pegs was missing so I used the existing one as a pattern…and a bit of old lath, lol – we’re doing some renovating. I had to wittle the lath down because it was a little too thick at first…

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You can see, in this picture, how the uprights are not in a straight line – they help the wheel align with the flyer…

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The angle looks like this…

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I Can Weave!

Good morning!

I am so pleased to say that the weaving loom restoration project is coming along beautifully πŸ™‚ I’ve managed to clean her all up – the reed and the heddles were very rusty (all 643 of them!) and the harnesses were lightly rust stained as well. The harnesses aren’t perfect – they could seriously use a nice coat of paint this summer – but the loom itself is now in working order…

Here are some pictures as the work progressed…

After cleaning, the next step was to wind a warp. Now – I don’t have a warping board, or a warping reel. A bit of a problem except I was intrigued by the idea of using just a couple clamped dowels and I’m a little too impatient to wait for the correct tools or wood to build them! I decided to use a workmate bench, with three dowels clamped to it tightly, as the ‘cross’ end of the warp and a large clamp as the other end of the warp…

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Not only convenient for holding the bobbins and winding the warp from but also handy to hold the clamp πŸ™‚ And moveable!

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The next step was to braid the warp from the beginning to the ‘cross’. Voila… (sorry, impossible to take pictures while I’m doing this)…

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I’m using mystery cones – one of a beige shiny type yarn, one white – both textured. I like the way they look together.

The first step, in dressing the loom (according to the book “Home Weaving” which is my weaving bible) is ‘spreading’. Spreading is where the warp is fed through the reed, from the front beam toward the back, in order to spread out the threads to the width they will be in the weaving. In my case I decided to use 30 threads per inch on a 15 dent (space) reed (per inch). This meant that two threads will end up in each dent in the final arrangement and to spread the threads I spread each little ‘portee’ in each fourth dent. So that was 8 threads (per wind or ‘portee’) in a dent, three dents empty – repeat until done. I left the portees tied individually and I am probably paranoid but as I wound the warp I tied the portees individually as I went, rather than trying to tie them at the end.

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Since I was working alone I used a pvc pipe to hold the portees behind the harnesses during the spreading step….

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After spreading, the warp is wound onto the back beam. Lease sticks should be at the back when this is done but I forgot and left them in the front, lol. Happy to report, the warp wound on just fine anyways. When I was done this step, I tied the ends to the front beam in groups to keep them straight while I was doing the next steps – threading heddles and the reed. Oh yes – I placed paper between the layers as I wound the warp in order to prevent tangling and moved the lease sticks to the back of the loom. My lease sticks are really pvc piping but they are working great πŸ™‚

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I very carefully worked, one section at a time, to thread the ends through the correct heddles and then the reed. I tied these threads off in groups of four (two dents worth) to keep them from falling back through the reed (again, working alone) and when they were all through the reed I tied one group with another (now 8 threads, four dents worth) around the metal bar that is tied to the other metal bar at the front winding beam. LOL – I cannot remember the name of those bars!!

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I had to retie the harness to the lams and make sure that everything was working smoothly and then…I got to try weaving!!!!!

As the weave begins, it looks messy – I cut the first thread after a few passes to restart the piece I’m working on. It will be (with any luck) a table runner for our dining room – possibly with matching placemats if the warp holds out that long!

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Where To Begin…?

Yes, it has been a while! I’ve been stuck in this place called ‘the rabbit hole’ since I bought that first antique wheel. The rabbit hole looks something like this…

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The wheels are abundant…and beautiful…

I’ve been busy cleaning them and oiling them and doing my best to get them spinning well. Grandma is doing very well with her new spokes! She’s also glowing from her blo treatments…her old self is shining…

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I carved her spokes from a dowel, since I didn’t have a lathe. It began because I was thinking of putting dowels in place, temporarily, until I could get replacements made. Necessity is the mother of invention, for sure! I just gave it a try and figured it out along the way…

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And then she had her clean-up…

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And now she is much more beautiful… πŸ™‚

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She spins really well! I’ve spun a two ply superwash merino (approx. sock weight), so far…

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Winding those bobbins of singles was enough to convince me I NEEDED to built a bobbin winder. More on that coming up tomorrow. I used a formerly-useless spinning wheel type object to do it!

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full…..

Oh yes, I DO have wool!!! :)))

I’ve been accumulating a variety of wools and fibres this year. It’s the ‘year of the blend’ around my house. Last year I had a couple different types; shetland and jacob and some very dirty suffolk/dorset (actually unknown – this is my best guess). This year, I bought two shetland fleeces, both silver and cream — one is silver thel and cream/brown tog and the other is cream thel and silver tog. Absolutely soft and silky. Though I don’t know the micron count (and frankly am not too concerned with it), I’d guess they would class as fine or superfine. They both came from youngish animals, possibly yearling fleeces. They are my faves….a repeat purchase from a fantastic seller here in Canada. I’ll go back year after year!

Ok, so, to begin at the beginning – the shetlands; (approx 10 lbs total before washing)

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Then, I was given some beautiful alpaca, in shades of honey and brown (which I had already blogged about), also from Canada, Ontario actually. I haven’t any idea of weight but it’s at least one full fleece and parts of another or two?

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Some sari silk waste fibre caught my eye. I bought 100 grams and love the effect it has carded with wool! You could make a really nice silky tweed yarn with this! (I like it so much I’ve now bought another 100 grams – hopefully arriving soon) Gotta love ebay. It seems I didn’t take any pictures of this…

I purchased one pound of border leicester fleece. It’s a lovely, strong, long and shiny fibre which cleaned up nicely….from a yearling ewe.

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I was then sucked in by some beautiful red mohair…lovely stuff! I purchased one pound and have tried it with some of the shetland — truly beautiful πŸ™‚

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Icelandic fleece (again, from ontario) was my next find. 2.7 lbs of black and white (mostly white, really). I haven’t done anything with this yet, besides cleaning it. It seems very soft and silky (the softer undercoat does, at least)

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Then, of course!, I couldn’t help but order more of the lovely mohair. This time I bought a pound of charcoal/silver/black. Seems not as fine as the red but the fibres are longer. I think it’s going to be beautiful mixed with the right wool or perhaps the brown alpaca….

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Romney fleece became available and I thought – why not? I had never tried romney (actually have not tried most things and how do you know until you experience it for yourself?) and wanted to so I purchased 2.5 pounds and washed it up. I had to flick the tips before washing to get it to come up white but it was worth the work. Beautiful bright white and very soft!

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This next picture is after flicking, but before washing!

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My one, ‘non bargain’ purchase was some local (very local – we could drive to pick it up), very long, fine, white alpaca fibre. The staple is 6 or more inches. I WAY overpaid for these two pounds of alpaca but I don’t even feel badly about it since the fibre turned out so very very perfect! The fleece was absolutely covered in burrs and so I had to hand comb the locks before washing in order to clean them. It hadn’t been sheared in two years which is not usual and is why the staple is so long.

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I am waiting for some mulberry silk top (500 grams) – thinking this would ply beautifully with the white alpaca…perhaps for my next up pattern Multnomah Falls by Magit Sage of Fiber Fiend. Very beautiful, isn’t it?

And then, on Saturday, I was given four fleeces! Suffolk/dorset or a mix of some sort – the shepherdess isn’t sure since they are more pets than anything. One is deep black and seems to be a lamb fleece. One is charcoal, one silver and one (very large one) is white. The blacks are cleaning up easily and the white is a little more difficult – there is a bit of vm in there that’s too fine to come out without combing. I’m positive it will be fine once I comb it out. All of the fleece is fairly soft with the black black one being the softest of all.

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So, I’m overwhelmed. A little. I’ve been washing fleece for what feels like forever since I can’t handle leaving it to do later. I’ve got the silver and the white free fleeces to wash but the rest of the list is washed and waiting in pillowcases to become some very beautiful yarn this year! On the plus side, I haven’t bought any yarn since I began spinning and my yarns are a higher quality and much more interesting than anything I could buy πŸ™‚

Yes, I Have Been Slacking

I haven’t blogged in SOME TIME….wow, too long, really.

My beautiful daughter had her beautiful baby!! He’s the most beautiful boy in the world…of course, I am a little bit biased…just a little πŸ™‚ She says I must ‘blog’ him, so here is a picture of cuteness itself….

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So, perfect, right? I’m one proud grandma, though that’s something to get used to — I’m so NOT used to being a grandma!

Certainly the excitement of new babies explains my blogging-slacking behaviour, doesn’t it?

I’ve done some spinning, some knitting and some beautiful fleece purchasing – all since I’ve been on the blog last and some of which I’d like to share here since I’m really thrilled with some of the results πŸ™‚ I’ve been on a bit of a yarn/fleece diet this year, and trying to use up the fleeces and fibre I already have rather than buying more. IF you could see the yarn closet you’d definitely agree that the diet is necessary. It’s that or we have to expand the yarn closet, lol, or trade it perhaps with the children – their room would really make a good storage! πŸ˜‰

I spun some navy and royal blue superwash merino fibre which I had bought last year at the Black Lamb (www.theblacklamb.ca), from Laurie, who is wonderful. I plied it (two plies – I’m a lazy spinner with two bobbins) and knit it up into the Gooseberry Cardigan pattern. I’m more than happy with this sweater – it’s comfy, it’s soft, it’s quite possibly my new favorite all time sweater!

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Not the best picture and I can’t believe it BUT, it seems I forgot (?) to take pictures of the spun wool or the spinning itself. I must be losing my grandmother mind!

Bonus! Found a picture of the spun yarn…
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I made a little crocheted top – the Avalon Top by Doris Chan. Love how it turned out too….

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I also made a little pair of socks, from my handspun superwash merino sock yarn…three ply this time….

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I prefer ankle socks so when I made up this design, they seemed the way to go!

Seems like forever and like I’ve got too much to say for one day. Instead of jumbling it all together we’ll have to finish this up tomorrow – when I’ll show the new alpaca fleeces I just washed and the beautiful shetlands I’m processing!!!

Have a great day! πŸ™‚

Update Time!

I finished the handspun sweater I’ve been working on…

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It’s the 97-18 Tailored Cardigan by Drops Design – a free pattern which I modified only slightly in my version. I worked without seams and used a three needle bind off for the shoulders. Also, I used small size but medium length throughout. I think in the body I could have gone a little longer still.

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I ended up with a little more yarn than I needed, even!

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The grandbaby isn’t here yet but should be here any day now. I’m so excited! I’ve made a little blanket – probably the last in the ‘baby collection’ for now.

It uses the ‘curve of pursuit’ idea though not the pattern (since I don’t have it). I like it very much….

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I am now working in spinning some beautiful GREENS – again, superwash merino from The Black Lamb in Port Hope.

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I was mixing up the colours in a certain-yet-random-way and NOW I’ve run out of some of them. So, I’m working on making a coordinating yarn to go with the 770 metres, or so, of the first yarn. There is a tunic I want to crochet. Badly.

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We’ll have to see how it goes….

Back To My Spinning Wheel…

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I’m hoping to spin enough 2 ply yarn for a light weight sweater πŸ™‚ It feels good to be working with fibre and using my wheel again, after so many months of focusing on other things!

Since finances SUCK this year for us, I’m using mostly stash yarns and fibre in all my projects. I am out of sweater-lots of wool so if I want to knit anything bigger than socks I will have to spin first!

I have lots of bits of superwash merino in different colours and am going to combine them to spin up some yarn for knitting. It means combining colours and is a surprise every time. I made this a couple days ago – it’s a mixture of three or four blue shades, 2 ply, approximately 260 metres. I’m thinking socks for the baby boy, or a little sweater, perhaps πŸ™‚

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Another project I’m working my way through is combing through the leftovers from last years fleeces. I have about a pillowcase full of jacob wool and another partial case full of rambouillet. Some of it is ‘second combings’ since I HATE throwing out anything and there is a lot of saveable wool left over from combing in the first place.

Happy Spinning!

Turning It Into A Wallhanging!

Good morning πŸ™‚

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I managed to back my latest crochet portrait on the weekend, and thought I’d share how I did it.

I wanted to build a back with a ‘bare’ frame around the outside, which wouldn’t show but which would cause the picture to hang flat, square (in terms of 90 degree angles – it is a rectangular picture) and stretched. I also wanted it to allow for cleaning and storage. I think I’ve accomplished all of what I wanted!

Materials used : unbleached muslin (for backing) – prewash in HOT and machine dry, to preshrink the fabric – pressed
measuring tape
lengths of dowel – 1/2″ diameter is what I used for the side(s) and bottom dowels
– something a little heavier and longer than the picture for the top dowel – mine was 7/8″ approx.
sewing machine and thread
tissue paper
sewing pins (quilting pins work well since they are longer)
iron/ironing board to press backing fabric nice and flat before cutting.

Ok, now – how to do it!

I measured my picture – it is 22 x 25″ (approximately – I round up if it’s in between inches because there is room in this picture for a little stretch and I want it to be pulled tightly.

I then cut a piece of muslin, leaving 1″ seam allowances all the way around. In my case I cut 24″ x 27″. Press the seam allowance down towards the ‘back’ of the backing, all the way around. I then folded out the corners, trimmed them and folded them back in as mitred corners.

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I then (because I’m a little bit overly careful) pinned it to the portrait, just to see how it would work. This is just a ‘check’ and will be immediately unpinned to begin constructing the frame.

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You can see that the backing appears bigger than the picture. That’s the ’round up’ factor and will be fine in the end. To pin, have someone help you if possible and, while holding the two edges, ease the fit by stretching the portrait evenly as you pin — begin pinning on the corners, then the centre (of whichever edge you are working) and then between pins. This will spread the ‘extra’ out evenly to prevent distortion or lack of squareness.

Now, unpin your backing from the portrait and set the portrait aside. Cut 4 strips (for dowel holders to create our frame) from the muslin about 4″ wide (less if you’re comfortable) and about the same length as the top, bottom, and the sides. Depending on your dimensions these may or may not be the same length.

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I began with the sides. Turn under a narrow hem and use your machine to sew this down (it will be a problem in time if it’s just pressed down) on one end of each piece of muslin for the side dowels. Be sure, for each side, that when the piece is folded (with the turned down seam at the top) that the fold is toward the outside of the backing, and the raw edges are toward the inside of the backing. The bottom end of each of these will be a closed end (at the bottom edge of the side dowels – to prevent the dowel simply falling out!) You should press under a bit at the bottom (approx 1/2″) and this fold will be to the inside of the dowel sleeve and also stitched down to create the closed end of the sleeve (later).

Wow, I hope that made some sense!

Next, I place, fold and pin the sleeves at the side, ONE AT A TIME, with the dowels inside them (for a close fit) and sew them using the zipper foot on my machine. This worked great for the 1/2″ dowel but not with the larger dowel (unfortunately). I checked the amount of space needed on top (for the larger dowel to fit behind the backing) and bottom, marked these with pencil and measured to mark them identically on the other side. You can see the larger space left on top compared to the bottom in the following pictures. Near the bottom of the backing, at the bottom edges of the side sleeves, you will need to pull the dowel out at least a little (or all the way if you like) to sew across the bottom of the sleeve to create the ‘stop’.

A picture of the top of the side sleeve;
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The bottom (with the dowel removed) of the side sleeve;
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Once done the sleeve, pull out the dowel and trim the underneath piece of the raw edge to 1/2 the width of the top piece. Use the top raw edge to fold around the bottom piece and press and sew in place. Make sure, as more sleeves are added, that you don’t catch a sleeve in this seam treatment. Treat all of the sleeve raw edges like this – it is strong and neat/tidy looking.

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After completing the side sleeves, create the bottom sleeve in a similar way but WITHOUT any ‘stop’ or closed section. If you sew it with the zipper foot, snug against the dowel, you shouldn’t have any trouble with it coming out unless you want it removed to wash or store the portrait. Don’t forget to do your seam treatment to eliminate raw edges.

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Now the top dowel sleeve – This is created the same way but with a wider dowel. You may wish to prepare the sleeve (narrow hem on each end) and then pin it tightly as we did before and then use a pencil to mark that crease/seamline – pull out the dowel and then sew along the line with a basting stitch (longer machine stitch), check the fit and then secure with shorter stitching once you have it right. I did not do this and ended up going a little tight in spots and having to rip parts of my seam out and redo it.

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Cut your dowels, if you haven’t done so already – a tiny bit bigger than their sleeves (the three smaller ones) and the larger should be long enough to extend and work as a hanger with the correct hardware or hooks of some sort.

To attach the portrait to the frame, remove all dowels and set aside. Pin the portrait to the back, stretching and pinning evenly as described above. I sewed it with my machine, regular foot – using tissue paper between the portrait and the feed, to prevent it beign sucked into the machine and RUINED. (My machine and I have trust issues) I sewed it with about a 1/4 – 1/2″ seam, making sure the crochet extends a TAD bit more than the backing and going slowly to prevent catching any of the sleeves!!

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Insert your dowels – sides, bottom then finally top – and VOILA

It’s a wallhanging!

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With the added advantage of being easily taken apart for washing or storage!!

Bringing Baby Home

Good morning πŸ™‚

I’ve finished my latest crochet portrait…created from a photograph from 20 years ago, of me holding my eldest daughter on the day we came home from the hospital…

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The original photo…

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A bit closer up….

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Perspective makes a huge difference with these fibre creations! Up close, they look so much like nothing but when you step back a few feet, the picture is so clear.

I’ve also finished the first pair of crocheted and felted baby boots. It’s a pattern of my own which I’m working on, off and on, here and there. They are fastened with velcro at the sides/backs of the booties.

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I attached the velcro with the same wool (fishermens), sewn on by hand. The velcro is sewn along the back of the ankle section and the edges of the front flaps. I’m unsure, at this point, if I chose correctly when I put the ‘hook’ section on the fronts and the other section on the back.

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These have been given to my husband’s friend for his new baby boy. He’s going to be my first test wearer πŸ™‚ On a side note, his little daughter has a pair of my felted slippers (the pattern I made late last year and am still working on) and she LOVES them…they are the only slippers she’s ever worn!! πŸ™‚ She calls them her ‘ballerina shoes’ and was QUITE impressed with them! I single stranded my ladies medium size and felted them down for her little feet.

I also made the grandchild to be a couple things…

Some braided balls to play with;

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I found the pattern, free on ravelry. It’s called the gevlochten bal.

And, a little improvised sweater, in sock yarn, on 3.25 mm needles;

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I have a few ends to weave in and some blocking to do before it’s completely finished.

A Change Of Pace!

I needed a change of pace – was going CRAZY with the repetition of the portraits (though I DO love them) and needed a nice continuous project to clear my head and let the creativity flow a little.

My grandbaby is due in a short while – only 2 months to go now!! I went looking at all the felted baby booties/slippers that there are on ravelry and I really like the sort that look like little boots. I noticed one pair had a genius idea of making the ‘tongue’ (which tucks inside) be at the back, from the heel up with the front sections tying in the back, around that ‘tongue’ type piece. Genius! And also a pattern I don’t have.

So – being me – I wondered why I cant make them up in crochet?! (I’m a little caught up with the crochet hooks at the moment)

Here is my first attempt – I looked at the shape, noted some foot sizes from a good baby size chart, calculated how much bigger they should be to felt down to a newborn size and then WENT FOR IT.

Here is my first attempt;

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Obviously pre-felting πŸ™‚ I made the pattern to be constructed as one piece with NO sewing up whatsoever. I think in the end I will use velcro as fasteners though – instead of any sort of tie.

Post felting;

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Pretty cute, huh?

I’m trying a second pair with a slightly smaller hook and no other changes except using doubled fingering weight wools instead of fishermans wool (as I used in the first pair)

I’m starting a baby pullover/sweater as well. I wanted something for a tiny new baby and there isn’t a lot out there, free pattern wise. I ended up using the Cirrus pattern from petit purls but I’m modifying it somewhat.

So far;

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I’m letting the colour do the ‘design’ work and skipping the textured pattern though it does look great in the pattern. Also switched to sock weight yarn and smaller needles for a smaller sweater. I think 18 to 20″ should be more than wide enough.

Off with me – ’tis my daughter’s birthday and I have a cake to bake!

I’m Hooked!

Another portrait to show today…and I do apologize, since it was done on the 16th, but I’ve been so busy with the NEXT project in the row!

My parents in law…a picture from 45 years ago…

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Not bad, considering that I accidentally made the pattern with seven shades of colour rather than the 8 I planned on!

I’ve found out that choosing the ‘right’ picture means choosing one with good contrast between the subject(s) and the background. Too much of a similar tone results in a lot of ‘blend’ between subject and background, like in the Luke portrait which I did first.

I’ve learned that I’m likely going about pattern making the super slow way, since I use photoshop and a good old pencil and paper to create a pattern – along with hours of work. I looked at the ‘knitpro’ site and though it looks like it makes things easier, I’m just so comfortable with my ‘hands on’ approach. I believe, for now, that I’ll stick with it since I like the results and I (at least now) can spare the time.

I’ve been wondering about the whole ‘pulling through the ends’ thing that I’ve seen people who are working on these patterns mention. I’ve always been taught to place an end where you want it BEFORE you move on which eliminates all that pulling through business.

Like this;
-you are working on the wrong side and are ready to change colours-

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-I attach the new colour with a slip knot-

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-pull the slip knot tightly down to where it meets your work and cut the original colour and tie a square knot to fasten-

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-now, pull the knot to the back and hold it, down and out of the way while you work the first stitch. The knot will be held by the first full stitch and you won’t have to pull through ends, anymore!-

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I have my own (possibly used by many others though!) way of dealing with the frog pond. I’ll take some pictures of that and talk about it in the next post! I’ve found a way to waste very little wool and very little time when mistakes happen. And, inevitably – they do! πŸ™‚

Have a great day πŸ™‚