MA Sheep & Wool

Last weekend I visited a friend in Holyoke, MA, and on Sunday we went to the Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair. There, we saw a whole lot of sheep (as expected).

Some were very curious:

Some had horns, though I didn’t get pictures of the ones that had four horns:

And some were clearly destined to be sheared for spinning wool, and had silly jackets:

As for me, I liked the bunnies:

We trawled the vendors barns as well, and I picked up a bit of spinning fiber, but I don’t have any pictures of it just yet. Back to quilting on Friday. (Schedule change: updates twice a week, on M/W/F.)

Handspun instead of quilting.

The quilt I’m working on has been very stubborn today, and I’m about to rip out a piece of sashing for the second time in the hopes that this time the squares will line up on either side. Needless to say, I’m not going to post about that today in any more detail: maybe Friday.

Meanwhile, I’m on break from classes for the next several days, so yesterday I sat down, turned on the TV, found a movie I wanted to watch, and spun on my Ashford Traditional. It was really relaxing, and it was nice to sit down and just spin at my ‘default’ yarn without putting too much thought into it.

4 ounces of fiber came out to about 200 yards of 3-ply. The fiber was a Ultraviolet BFL roving from Fiber Optic Yarns.

I picked up several rovings from Fiber Optic Yarns when I was at Greencastle a little over a year ago. And while I really want to knit with them, the colors are just so gorgeous that I’d been having a hard time making myself spin them up. Thankfully, the My Precious Quilt-Along has reminded me that, really, working with the pretty materials can be a good thing!

I’m really happy with this yarn: the color doesn’t come through clearly in the picture, because it’s been raining and awful all day, and the light is completely flat. Go look at the picture I linked to: there you can see how the purple dips into and out of an almost black hue.

Knitting WiPs, or, sock roundup.

Apologies for the silence here! I was wrapping up the semester and then at the medieval congress in Kalamazoo, and that all added up to not very much getting accomplished, craft-wise.

Today’s post is a knitting round-up. I tend to have a few projects going on at a time (this is probably evident in how I’m going about starting quilts right and left) and I have a couple too many knitting projects going on right now. Hopefully this will incentivise my finishing one or two of them.

There are socks for my mother, which are this close to being done:

They’re actually a lot of fun: the yarn is Malabrigo sock, which I’d never knit with before – it’s a joy. The pattern is 2k-2p-inside-out, and I really like the way it forms little ribbed chevrons down the foot.

Then there are the blue socks for me, which are the only socks I’ve knit for myself in at least a year (what can I say, I have a family that appreciates hand-knit socks!). I”ve just started the second one, and I have about three inches of it — it’s slow going, but it’s good subway knitting.

They’re in Claudia Hand-Paints, which I love knitting with, but always knit from toe-up, because its skeins are on the small side, and my feet? Well, they’re on the large side. Better safe than sorry, no matter how easy it is to call different-colored toes a “design feature.”

There’s also a red sweater that I started two Novembers ago as an attempt at National Sweater Knitting Month — I got almost all of it done, realized my gauge on the bottom half of it was wrong, ripped it all out, and haven’t picked it up again for ages because it’s so disappointing to have to re-do so much work. It doesn’t get to have a picture, because I don’t love it enough right now. Also because the red yarn photographs really badly in artificial light.

I have two projects that are so close to being done that, apparently, they have encountered Zeno’s Paradox and will now never be finished. I started to teach myself how to knit entrelac last summer, got almost to the point where I’d have to bind off the scarf, and completely lost interest. I also knit a baby sweater for my little cousin (the same one who got the ladybug quilt) and didn’t finish it in time for her to still be small enough to wear it. Hopefully I’ll finish at least one of them over the weekend, and be able to post them next week. I figure someone I know has to have another baby eventually, so the sweater can just lay in wait for that. The scarf, though, is probably going to be re-purposed as a pillow, since it’s too wide and short to make a reasonable scarf.

Finally, there’s the “I have the brainpower of a really small rock right now” project:

It’s the Log Cabin Baby Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knits, done in Cascade Eco Wool and Cascade Eco Plus (which is the same thing, only dyed all kinds of colors). It’s great for watching television or sitting in the car, because it’s all garter stitch, and there’s no thinking other than stopping once in a while to find out you still have way more ridges to knit before you’re done with that block. I love that the blocks are asymmetrical and the pattern doesn’t expand in a traditional log cabin fashion: I can’t wait to have this finished and be able to curl up under it, though at the rate I’m knitting, I’ll finish it sometime in June.

I think that’s all the projects I have going at the moment. Wednesday, back to quilting!

Blocks of the Month and a Mother’s Day gift

I’ve not yet sewn together the previous two Blocks of the Month, but I have cut and laid out another one.

I think April is my favorite so far:

And just in time for Mother’s Day, I’ve finished up two potholders. Not a terribly interesting gift, but at least they’re useful, and I know she likes the fabrics included.

The pattern is Half-Square Triangle Pot Holders from In Color Order. It was very clear and easy to follow, though I added loops, which might look a little funny. And of course I was brilliant and pinned everything together and THEN cut it all square, instead of quilting it first. It ended up not being a huge deal, but I’m planning on not doing that again.

On other fronts, I’ve completed two of my three courses for this semester, but the third is going to be a lot of work, so I may be just as quiet next week as I was this one — apologies in advance.

Mixtape progress and Block of the Month question

First of all, here’s the rather pathetic progress I’ve made on the Mixtape quilt since the last time I posted about it:

I’m looking forward to finishing it up, but I think it’s going to have to wait until the end of the semester: something about the potential finished-ness of it once I sew in the long sashing strips is giving me pause.

In the mean time, however, I’ve changed up the fabrics I’m using for the Block of the Month quilt:

The new one in the dark blues is the cities print from 1001 Peeps; the yellow dotty ones are Ta Dot by Michael Miller, which I’m fond of.

Here the light blue has benefited from the addition of some Ta Dots as well.

And because just cutting them was putting far too much temptation in my way, here are two blocks that I’m almost ready to sew together:

This is the March block, and I think I’m pretty okay with how it looks.

This is the January block. And for this one, I could use some advice: which orange? Or should I pick something else entirely from the fabrics I showed above? I’d love a second (or third, or so on!) opinion, because I’m really not so sure about this one as it sits now.

Quilted coasters

Following this tutorial, by Jeni of In Color Order, I spent a little while last week putting together and quilting four little coasters.

It was a great chance to try out free-motion quilting for the first time. Most of what I learned was: I need way more practice at this. So there may be more coasters and so on in my immediate future, since they seem to make a nice tiny little playground for trying my hand at free-motion quilting.


You may have noticed the three icons that have popped up in the sidebar. The first one is the My Precious Quilt-Along, which challenges you to use some of that fabric you just can’t get yourself to use — something old, or rare, or out of print, or just something you’ve been hoarding instead of using. I think it’s a fantastic idea, and I’ve loved poking through the images to see what fabrics people have been hoarding.

It’s hard to call my behavior true hoarding when I’ve only been quilting for a little over a month, but there are fabrics in my little stash that I look at and take out and pet and look at, and then put away carefully because WHAT IF I MESS THEM UP!? I had thought that knitting and spinning had cured me of my desire to keep the pretty things instead of using them, because I’m pretty good about knitting with or spinning up that really pretty yarn or fiber. But it turns out that’s really not the case at all when it comes to fabric: I get all grabby and want to just leave them on the shelf, because they’re pretty there, and clearly I’m not nearly a good enough quilter yet to merit using these fabrics.

The ones I’m most inclined to put back on the shelves just in case are from the 1001 Peeps collection, by Lizzy House. It’s not super-old (it seems to have come out in early 2011), but some of the prints are getting harder to find, so I hope it qualifies for the QAL.

I used a tiny bit of it for some Simple Math blocks, but for the My Precious QAL, I’m challenging myself to use more than one of the prints, in more than just a teeny strip. In other words, get that precious fabric off the shelf, and into a quilt. It was like pulling teeth, to get myself to actually pull even just a few of the prints off the shelf and into the queue for the Block of the Month quilt. I’ve ended up echoing the colors of the Blocks of the Month QAL over at In Color Order.

The only one here that I’m worried about messing up is the Illuminate.

Here I’ve got two from the 1001 Peeps collection: Peeps and towers, both of which I’m very fond of. I’m hoping I can sort of fussy-cut a little bit to get people in the triangles.

Here, again, is the Illuminate print, which I thought was too pale for the oranges. We’ll see how it works out in practice.

I’m going to swap out the orange print with crosses or the one with keys for the Scheherazade print in orange, because it’ll provide more of a contrast with the white half-triangles. It only took me sleeping on it for a night to decide that, yes, I could use that one, really. Apparently I really do want to keep some of these fabrics on the shelf.

And then I’ll have one of the prints I’m all grabby-hands about in each color group.

The third button, the Retro Flower QAL, is more of an aspirational project — once I work myself up to the idea of quilting curves, I’ll get going on it. For now, it sits in the sidebar to remind me that there are always new things to learn.