Monday, August 29, 2011

dyeing wool while the wind blows....

Who knew that bees like Eucalan? This fellow was captivated for more than 20 minutes...

After spending 12 hours working (my real job) on Saturday, I was looking forward to having a whole day of being lazy on Sunday -- until I looked outside and saw how fiercely the wind was blowing. Dyeing up a bunch of slub this Summer has been on my list of things to do since Spring. And just being on my list is pretty much as far as it had gotten.

Slub yarn that has been dried in the wind is fluffier and softer....and just plain better than when it dries in the sun or with my big fan blowing on it. The difference is considerable -- and I really wanted to take advantage of the windy day. You can see how much it was blowing in this picture....

By the time I stopped to rest, I had dyed over 15lbs (50+ skeins) and all but these last few hanging up were already completely dried.

Of course, there was still a lot of mess to clean up.....but that's when I am awfully thankful that bleach was invented. It makes the job soooooo much easier!

Although I don't really keep detailed notes of what and how I dye each time, I have started taking quick snapshots of the colours I'm combining. That's about as detailed as the notes get, I'm still on my own to guess at quantities, lingering shadows in the pan from the previous batch, last minute tweaks, etc. I tried keeping meticulous notes once....but found that it took me 5 times longer to dye -- and made it a lot less fun. Perhaps if I had an assistant.... ? ;-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

still here

I've just been busy planning my trip (just 3 weeks away now)....and planning my wardrobe! Although I am planning on packing light, I still want to bring some handmades and hand-knits to wear along the way. Since most of my sweaters are classified as "winter", it was time to knit something new. This is where I gush a little bit about Ravelry....

If you haven't already heard about it, Ravelry is a wonderful community site for knitters. After you join, you can search for pattern ideas and even buy individual patterns on the site (some are free). The possibilities really are endless. Once you settle on a potential pattern, you can easily look at pictures of finished versions of the sweater (that other people have posted), see the various yarns people have used, read about modifications they made, discover any errata (a general lack of errata is a great thing I've noticed about downloaded patterns vs. those in a book). In fact, you can even search by yarn type -- to see if anyone has knit your desired sweater in your desired yarn yet or not, or to see a list of all projects that people have made using the yarn in your stash.

The best thing about Ravelry for me, is that I am a lot more confident about my knitting projects. Being able to see so many versions of the same sweater pattern (on all different body shapes and sizes) helps me to make better choices and thus have better outcomes (i.e. sweaters that I love, and that look better on me than most other sweaters I've made in the past). If you knit and you haven't checked it out yet, you definitely should....

So now back to the knitting. I love Veera's designs -- this is the 2nd of her patterns I've knit and I'm pretty sure that my next sweater will also be one of hers. That is, when I can decide between all of those I love..... :-D What can I say -- the patterns are just the right combination of simple with a few twists, and the fit really works for me.

This was a very fast knit for me -- not counting the days I had to take off to wait for my new needles to arrive, it was less than two weeks. The yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Cousteau, purchased from Julie at The Needle Emporium. I love it....and just want to make sure that it wears okay before I stock up on more.

My little mountain of sweaters waiting to be blocked has now grown to I had best get busy. It's just hard to make it a priority when it's been so nice and warm this summer. In the meantime, I discovered some CP prototypes in a basket yesterday, all abandoned due to some problem encountered during the finishing...and I'm hoping to have them all finished up in the coming days. Will post pictures soon.

Monday, August 08, 2011


One quick, last-minute run to the fabric store for elastic later, it's all done. And I couldn't be happier. Well, maybe there are one or two little things I'd change next time.....but there probably won't be another next time.... :-D

Friday, August 05, 2011


There were a few more start and stops.....but I really do think that I am starting to get the hang of this FMQ (free motion quilting) thing. Of course, I also recognize that a class or two would help tremendously. Not too shabby though for my first efforts, but I guess the true test will be how it wears.

The piece is fully quilted and trimmed, the binding is cut and pressed, the wool lining is chosen....and now if all goes according to plan, my iPad will be sleeping in a cosy new bed tonight.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

more playing

I'm starting to get my groove back. I ordered some pretty teal yarn and bought a new pattern yesterday. So now the rush is on to finish the iPad cover before it gets here.....and I get lost in the knitting. It would make a great September in England sweater, non?

After fluttering about for most of the night, I finally settled down to sew a little bit before bed. Truth be told, I was a little hesitant to start again - worried that I had waited just a little too long to get playing again. Not being able to remember which foot (of 2) I had experienced the most success with on the weekend didn't really help me feel I just guessed. I was lucky.

The overall size of the piece I'm quilting is going to be plenty big enough this time around (I wasn't going to make that mistake again so soon)....and I'm hoping that I will be able to finish off the rest of the FMQ tonight, playing a bit with some other threads in my drawer to add some more colour on the topside.

I'm still debating about how the assembly will come together in the end.....but luckily there is still a bit of time to decide. I dug out my favourite travelling purse last night and happily discovered that my iPad will fit inside, so long as the sleeve is not too puffy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

how to: turn a belt into a purse strap....

Sometimes it can seem impossible to find a good leather purse strap. In many of my purse classes, we've discussed how to make a purse handle/strap from an old belt....which is a great way to re-cycle or up-cycle something that is just collecting dust. In response to a recent e-mail request for long straps (which I no longer carry, as they've been discontinued), I decided to write it all down to share. And so now I'm sharing it with you.....

I hope it makes sense....please don't hesitate to get in touch should you have any ?? or need clarification. If you click on the picture above, it will display larger and should be readable.

Monday, August 01, 2011


A few weeks ago, at the local Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show, I was fortunate enough to meet Arounna of Bookhou. Mind you, I had heard so much about her from Christine, that I almost felt as though we already knew one another, but it was wonderful to meet her and see all of her lovely work. I purchased a few things - a tea towel for me and some other gifts for others - and we got to talking.....

Somehow the topic of my coin purses and a possible trade came up. I sent her some pictures a week or so later, and I was thrilled to receive a parcel of wonderful items in the mail on Friday. Sometimes Canada Post can be super speedy -- both of our parcels were delivered the very next day! I can't share everything - again some are gifts for OP, but here is a peek at the things I am keeping for myself....

It's a step in the right direction towards my desire to have a home filled with only things made by hand. The tea towels are all washed and ready to be put into action....definitely the nicest set I've ever had! I still have to decide what is going to go in the storage tote. Perhaps some knitting - I am in between projects, after all! :-)

Trading seems to harken back to an earlier time, when bartering was commonplace. People exchanging goods in lieu of cash. It also reminds me of all of the unique gifts my mum would give at Christmas -- products of her own trades when she was doing the craft show circuit and items that she would likely never have purchased with money, regardless of how much she may have loved them. It's such a win:win scenario. I hope there are more trades in my future....

* not sure if I'm right, but that's how I imagine sounds when spoken aloud....

P.S. Underneath the items is the beginnings of my iPad Sleeve, version 2.0


What a great weekend! It combined just the right amounts of sleep, swimming, eating, reading and making for me. After finishing off one sweater on Saturday, I finally dug Juliet back out again and was delighted to discover that instead of the days of knitting that I had imagined, it only required a couple of hours. So I'm happy to report that I finished knitting two things this weekend. Pictures to come soon.... (To be completely honest, I still need to find buttons for one, sew the closure onto the other, sew in the tails on one, and block both....but really, that's nothing, right? ;-) )

(Practically) finishing off a couple of things gave me free license to start a new project. So yesterday I dug through my fabric basket and settled on a piece of batik to form the basis for my iPad sleeve. Once decided, I was very keen to get going, so I quickly figured out a pattern, found some batting, pressed a piece of wool for the inside.....and started sewing. I sewed, and swore, and sewed, and smiled, and sewed and swore a little bit more. It's not always easy to learn a new thing -- especially when you are trying to teach yourself. Just when I was starting to get in the grove and feel like I knew what I was doing, I decided to 'try it on' my iPad. Big mistake. In my haste to just get started, I didn't allow enough surplus for the shrinkage that resulted from all of the quilting. In short, it's too short.

So needless to say, I will soon be starting over. A new print, a new (larger) pattern, and a new sense of understanding of how to bring my vision to life. It's a new week, after all :-D
I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with my WIP....