Monday, July 24, 2017

County Fair Entries - 2017

It's a small contingent going to the fair this year. I think I've worked on projects less over the last year and I think my time was more concentrated on a few projects. (I'm looking at you, Farm Girl Vintage quilt and Red Nine Patch.)

I mentioned that I'm out of town the weekend it starts so I'm not going to be able to help with the canning department. (Canning department sounds pretty impressive, but it's just me.) I think I'm more regretful that I won't be able to hear some of the judges' comments and won't have an inkling of how I've done before I go and see the results.

Someone is willing to bring my stuff for me and I'm glad it's not a lot this year so I don't feel like I'm imposing too much.

First up is the quilt block for the raffle quilt. This year's theme was "Day at the Lake." As always, I'm looking forward to seeing the different interpretations.
2. I've entered my Tilted Pi Shawl in the handspun category. The lightest colour is not handspun but I thought enough of the shawl is handspun that I could justify entering it. It's usually a pretty light category so they could use some entries anyway.
3. My striped dress is in the "Knitting-Any Other Item" category. I'm going for best of show with this one, people. #fingerscrossed.

They probably won't like that the stripes don't match on the side but I hope they at least notice all of the lovely facings.
4. The Farm Girl Vintage quilt which falls in the "Full" size. (Full, Queen and King are judged together). This quilt is in the "pieced" class. (As opposed to applique.)
5. And finally, my long cable socks. I haven't shown them here before because they're not really finished. I need to add the ribbon and fur pompoms. (I know, right. I'm excited about fur pompoms too.)

I decided not to try to do that before the fair, but to enter them just as they are. I'm not sure they would appreciate fur pompoms.

Maybe these will win best in show instead of my dress. They're pretty awesome.

And in case you're saying to yourself " 'The fair! The fair' She's talking like we all know what 'the fair' is.", I am referring to the Cass County (Michigan) Fair (established 1851). It's the perfect size to see in an afternoon. There are rides (which I don't do) and there are barns and barns of animals you can admire.

If you want to take a little more time, it can be very interesting to watch some of the sessions when the kids are showing their animals. It's the best when the judge is chatty and tells you why the winner is the winner. Or it's fun watching the class where they have to ride a horse and put it through all its paces.

There's a nice "home arts" building where all the things people have entered are displayed. You can buy tickets for the raffle quilt or bid on the pillows. Nothing else is for sale, though. (We have people ask often enough!) Right next door are the 4H displays in case you are more interested in what the kiddies have done.

And of course there's stuff like concerts, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, etc, etc in the grand stand. (Not that I've been.)

You can find it all on O'Keefe Street in Cassopolis. Check out the specials (like free admission on Monday for Veterans; free on Thursday for seniors; etc). Even without the specials, it's only $6 for adults/$1 for kids. July 31 through August 5. See you there!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What Happens When I Try to Declutter

Two years ago I started a sweater for Wool-Aid. Remember them? I haven't been knitting much for them. I think it was getting stuck on this project that kept me from doing anything else for them.

I'm using a pattern that's more like a recipe. You provide the measurements and it tells you how to get there with your gauge. I had a bunch of Lopi that my sister found at a second hand store and I figured out a way that I could use the different colours and have enough (I hope) for a sweater.





I liked the various colours (teal, plum, light purple) and I liked the tweed colour and thought it would be good for a stripe between the colours. But the "oatmeal" and "light brown" weren't going to contrast with the tweed enough.

So I tried to dye the light brown to a green with KoolAid. It was not pretty. It was mostly green, but the brown came through as an orange undertone and highlights. Really not pretty.

And the project sat for two years because continuing meant I had to figure out what to do about the dye and included the risk of ruining the yarn for this project.

In the meantime, I had purchased some Wilton icing dyes, something I had read a lot about from others who have dyed with KoolAid. Being an icing dye, it's still food safe and can be easily handled in my kitchen. But it also comes in many more colours and the liquid ones can be combined in many ways to make even more colours. It's also a little more complicated because you have to add acid separately to set it (unlike KoolAid which contains the acid).

So just recently, (probably when I was trying to clear up some clutter and found this project bag in a corner of my living room), I decided to give it another try. I took the horrible green and put it in the pot with a recipe for a deep brown. I took the "oatmeal" and put it in a pot with Wiltons Juniper Green.

Besides adding more green to the pot, I was very happy with the results. The colour was very even and deep. The tone is not perfect with the other colours but is within the acceptable range.

Here's the brown:

And the green:

And so I picked up my needles again and was able to continue the project.
It's a very thick wool being knit into a dense fabric, so not the best summer knitting, but I like to be warm so it's all ok. :)

I'm also happy to say that I kept good enough notes that I could decipher them and think I know the plan for this sweater.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Almost Time for the Fair

At some point this spring I realized that the weekend I will be at family camp is the same weekend that the fair starts. So I was going to miss the morning you turn in your projects.

Not only would I not be able to help with the canning department (I'll miss my friendly judges and I know they'll miss me!), but on a personal level I wouldn't be able to turn in my projects.

Ack! I couldn't let that happen could I?

I thought on it for a while, whether I could impose one someone else to turn in my entries. I could think of a few people, but I wasn't sure I wanted to ask. And then a couple weeks ago, I saw my raffle quilt kit and pulled it out to see what I could come up with.

The theme for this year's blocks is "A Day at the Lake." They provided a 14" square piece of white and 10" squares of blue, "sand", a bright stripe and a dark brown. Early on I had the idea of a kayaker on a lake.

First step was looking at pictures online for a general layout and doing some sketching on paper. The kayaker, I traced onto double-sided adhesive and I traced the kayak onto a paper pattern.
 I stuck the adhesive onto the fabric (backside) and cut out the shapes.
For the background, I calculated how I could cut up a 10" square of blue (minus the selvage edge that they included in the measurement) and get the maximum coverage over a 12.5" block. Then I had to piece together the 10" piece of "sand" so it would cover 12.5" as well.

I used the white for the sky and I added a piece of yellow for a morning sun. (You're allowed to add two of your own fabrics.)

I cut away the white from behind the blue to reduced thickness. And after I had stitched the kayak onto the water, I decided I could cut the blue from behind it as well.
Since the kayak was only held in place with a little of glue stick (and not double sided adhesive), I could peel it back quite easily.
I used a stick-on/tear-away stabilizer when doing the zig zagging around the applique pieces.

It tore away easily enough, except where it was trapped behind the zig zag stitches. I thought about leaving it, but I just couldn't.
So a little time with a a dull needle and a pair of tweezers and I removed all of the stabilizer from behind all of the stitching. It'll make the block smoother and easier to work with while quilting (and satisfies my OCD at the same time!).

I used matching thread on most of the pieces with just a few touches of contrasting thread where needed, like here where I wanted to simulate the water on the paddle:
The last thing to do was to hide the loose ends where the stitching lines started and stopped.
I used the trick of using a separate thread on a needle to wrap around the ends and pull them under. (Works on short ends and you don't have to keep re-threading the needle!)

I pulled the ends in between the layers of the background and applique and you can't see a thing:
Here is the final block:
Once I had the block done, I knew I would have to find someone to turn in the block. Other projects I could submit next year, but this block is only relevant this year.

And the good news is that I did find someone who's willing to lug my stuff to the fair. :) I don't think I'll send everything I could, but I'll pull together a few projects. Which is nice...I'd hate to miss the fair entirely.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Day of Quilting

...but it's not what you think.

My sister and her family came for a visit over the Canada Day/July 4 holidays. She and I had planned on a half-day of working on a quilted wall hanging kit that we had each bought a year or two ago. Monday morning we got the machines set up and started to work on it.

When asked, her daughter and son said they would like to work on a project too. Her daughter wanted to work by machine, so I got her set up on my extra one. I had her choose some of my 2.5" strips and got her going on strip piecing.
I even had her working with the rotary cutter and she did well.
Anything I told her, she put into practice on the next step. It was amusing to overhear her talk herself through each step. I could tell she's been around quilting because she was familiar with the lingo and was able to evaluate each block on whether her points were matching well enough or if she should redo it.

Pretty soon she had some very good 4-patches:
While trying out a layout for a top, she decided she didn't have enough and set herself up for making some more.

Her brother wanted to sew by hand, so he worked on a 9-patch (on and off) all day.
You may have seen this one on Instagram.
He also chose fabrics from my 2.5" strips. But we subcut into 2.5" squares first, then he laid out his blocks. I had him trace a 1/4" seam on the squares to help him with his seam allowance. Every time he finishes a seam, I showed him which one to sew next.

He was very proud when his block was done:
He didn’t work on it steady so I wondered if his interest had waned, but no--as soon as the one was done, he asked if he could start the next. (Well, of course!)

And in case you aren’t impressed enough, I even had them furling their seams:
Yes, they did all their own pressing too.

Meanwhile, his sister had put together her top:
But I found out she wasn't done...she wanted to add borders. Well, ok! She looked through my fabric and found one that would work. (And that I would let her use. Let's be honest--I wasn't giving over my latest favourite batiks!)

I showed her how to measure the top in three places and to use the average for cutting the length of the border and that you add it to two ends at a time. In no time, she had it finished:
Something to be proud of!

And that is how I didn't get much sewing done but had a very enjoyable day of quilting!

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