Making a Spinning Wheel Accessory Bag Pt. 1

Valentina, my newest spinning wheel, needs a bag to hold her accessories.  I’ve seen some nice knitted ones on pictures of other people’s wheels but I had a bag in mind for Valentina and just couldn’t find one already made up that looked like my vision so I decided to make my own.  I wanted one that had a rustic look with a folk art feel to it.  So today I gathered my materials and started working on the bag.  Here’s what I’ve done so far.

The first thing I did was make some sketches of the sheep that I wanted to applique on the front of the bag.  I decided to use the design on the right so the next step was to draw and cut out each individual piece of the sheep.  If you’ve ever done applique before, you know that you need to cut out each piece of the design separately, i.e. the sheep face, the legs, the main body, the ear, and the pieces of the blanket over its back.

The next step was to gather bits of felted wool and other bits of wool that I’ve collected for projects such as this.  I had decided to make my bag out of felted wool, line it with a cotton print, applique the design on the front in wool, and outline the edges of the bag in a buttonhole stitch.  Once I decided what colors I was going to use for each piece of my pattern, the next step was to trace the pattern on the wrong side of the wool and cut it out.  For some pieces, I fudged and just pinned the pattern to the wool and cut around it.

The next step involved deciding how big I wanted the bag to be and cutting two pieces out of the wool for my bag.  Now I was ready to start appliqueing the pattern pieces to the front of the bag.  I had decided to just do a quilt stitch around the raw edges of the sheep pieces.  Since I’m working in wool, I don’t really have to worry too much about fraying and since I don’t plan to be throwing this bag in the wash, again…I’m not worried about turning under my raw edges.  Any stray threads will add to the charm.

You might be wondering how I got that little tail on the sheep.  The grey wool was actually a beret and the little “tail” was in the center of the beret.  I wasn’t using this beret any more so decided to cut it apart and use the wool for applique.  When I saw the little tab, I immediately thought, “sheep tail” and incorporated it into the design of the sheep.

An important thing to remember when sewing an applique pattern is that you want to start with the pieces that are on the bottom layer of your design and work your way to the top layer.  In other words, the sheep’s face and feet where the first things I sewed down.  Next came the sheep’s main body.  Now, I’m working on the “bottom” layer of the decorative blanket and will working upward, finishing with the smallest circle.  Finally, I’ll sew on his ear.

That’s all I got done today on it because I was also teaching a friend of mine how to machine quilt so most of my time was spent doing that.  Tune in Saturday for the next steps in making the accessory bag when I’ll (hopefully) be sewing the front and back of the bag together, inserting the lining, and adding a strap.

Not ANOTHER Snowstorm!

Holy Moly!  The Commander told me this morning that another snowstorm is headed our way.  Snow is to begin this afternoon and then get heavier tomorrow with 4-6 inches expected on our side of the river and 6-12 inches expected on the other side of the river.  What always makes it tricky is that we live less than a mile from the river (the mighty Susquehanna River) so it could go either way where we are.  That being said, the logs are stacked in the fireplace and we’re ready to gather around with hot cocoa and watch the snow fall.  Actually, that’s our gas fireplace so the logs are fake but the effect is still lovely.  I can’t say as much for the snow at this point.  We were just starting to see some grass in spots here.  Oy!

In the meantime, I’ll console myself with the fact that my new spinning wheel, a Schacht Matchless DT is scheduled to be delivered today.  I’ve checked the UPS tracking and it made it to the distribution center right across the river yesterday so it should be on the truck today.  I’ve been busy spinning, in the meantime, on the Louet Victoria.  The more I spin on that little beauty, the more I am enjoying it.  For some reason, the height and angle of the orifice is just perfect for me.  I am finding the Lendrum, with it’s downward angle of the orifice, is harder on my back if I’ve been spinning for long periods of time.  Maybe it’s the osteoporosis and the fact that I’m starting to angle downward more now (drat) but there you have it.  With the Victoria, I can comfortably sit back in a variety of different chairs without slouching and still comfortably spin.  Just to give you a physical comparison, I’m around 5 ft. 5 inches tall but my legs are pretty long,  if you are considering buying a Victoria and wondering how it might work for you.

In knitting news, I finished the Julie H. Levy square of the Great American Aran Afghan.  I am almost finished with the Marian Tabler square, which I am knitting in a light brown heathered color.  Tonight I have another class where we will be beginning the Meredith Morioka square.  So slowly but surely our class is working through the squares of this somewhat intimidating afghan.  The trick is definitely to take it one square at a time (and getting pointers in a group setting is a definite plus).

I’ll leave you with a picture of me “entertaining” my little Mika.  I call it “Me and Grumpy.”  I still have the uncanny ability to put my granddaughter into a less than happy mood.  Someone said that this was God’s way of making it easier for me to say “goodbye” to her soon.  It would be so much harder if she were snuggling up to me at every turn and clinging to me.  Right?  Hmmm, I don’t know about that.  I think it’s going to be hard either way.

Well, hopefully tomorrow I’ll have pictures of my new Schacht to show you.  In the meantime, somebody out there has to be enjoying warm, Spring-like weather.  Enjoy it for me.

Ain’t Singing the Blues!

It’s January, a month when the blues can easily catch up with a person.  I recently received an email from a friend with pictures of real letters that children had written to God.  One was asking God to please throw in another holiday after December because things get a little bleak between Christmas and Easter.  Yes, January is when the “gales of November” become the “howls of winter” and any sane person battens down the hatches, grabs some hot cocoa, a good book, a down comforter and stays indoors.  It’s not my favorite month.  But nevertheless, this was a good week and since it is Friday and time for a “Fave Five” recap, here are my highlights.

1.  I received a shipment of glorious fiber to spin up from a very talented fiber artist. Bee Mice Elf has an Etsy shop where she sells colorful concoctions of fiber for spinning like the beauty on the right.  What is even greater is that the name of the colorway of this particular wool is Naughty Librarian.  As soon as I saw it and saw the name of it, I knew that I had to have it.  How perfect is that name for a booklover who has retired from library work?  I’m going to have fun spinning this up into yarn and even more fun knitting it into something to wear.  Just knowing the name of it will have me chuckling whatever I make out of it.

2.  Mika’s quilt is all finished. I’m particularly happy with how the blue binding just sets off the whole quilt.  I think it brightens it right up.  And the bright green backing with little swirls in the colors from the front really adds to the cheerfulness of this little quilt.  I had lots of fun when I was quilting it by quilting words on the quilt.  She’ll certainly never see them now but as she gets older, she’ll have fun trying to pick out where I quilted such words as “Meow, Moo, Yarn, Knit, Cow, Woof, Nana, PawPaw, and We Love Mika.”  I also quilted different qualities that I hope she will grow up to have on the sashes, such as “Joy”, “Compassion”, “Peace”, and “Laughter.”

3.  My new exercise hoop arrived today. If you read one of my earlier posts from several weeks ago, you’ll know that my first attempt at obtaining an exercise hoop ended in disaster when it came all folded up and when I tried to uncoil it, I ended up putting a bad kink in it.  This time, I ordered from another company and ordered a collapsible hoop that came gently coiled, not folded.  I also put it in a sunny room and let it warm up before I tried to uncoil and snap the ends together.  Voila!  I didn’t break it.  And what’s more……I can hula hoop.  Yes, despite the fact that I haven’t done any serious hula hooping since my high school years (many moons ago), I got that hoop spinning and kept it up.  I even walked around the room with it going.  Yay!  I’m telling you, it is a workout just doing that much.  Wait until I start doing hoop dancing routines.  Oh yeah, baby!

4.  I finished my Mondo Cable Shell and it fits.  It’s a miracle.  Usually when I finish a knitted top, I don’t like how it fits.  But this pattern is just right.  It doesn’t gap around the armholes, it isn’t too low at the neckline, and it isn’t clinging tightly anywhere.  I had envisioned wearing it over a t-shirt but I think I could easily wear it just like this in hot weather and it would do fine.  You can’t really see the big cables running down the center because the yarn is pretty busy but they came out nicely, too.  I’ll definitely be using this pattern again but will probably pick a different yarn in a solid or semi-solid color that would show off the textured pattern more.

5.  With my spunky new hairdo, I’m thrilled to see that my granddaughter is taking after her Nana. Actually, I did cut my hair and when my son sent me this latest pic of Mika and her lovely head of hair looking so much like my own hairdo, I couldn’t resist a little fun with my photo editing software to give her a pair of matching “specs.”  Apologies to my little sweet pea.

What were your fave fives this week?  Pop over to Susanne’s site at Living to Tell the Story and see what others are listing for their top five highlights this week.

That’s It In a Nutshell, er, Suitcase!

I’m feeling quite pleased with myself today.  The mystery gift that I ordered for my granddaughter has arrived, one whole day ahead of schedule.  Can you guess what it is?

I’ll give you some clues.  It’s 11 pounds, it’s portable, it folds up into this little suitcase, and it can probably be used by Mika until she is two or possibly three years old.  For size comparisons, I’ve put it up against a four-drawer bureau of mine and it doesn’t quite come up to the second drawer from the bottom.

I’d give you a demonstration of it and have the Commander take a video but then that would spoil the surprise for Mika’s parents.  So that is all I can tell you at this point.  If you want to guess, I’ll email you back to tell you if you guessed correctly or not.

In related news, when my daughter-in-law was in the hospital in labor with Mikayla, I was spinning up this yarn……and spinning up this yarn…..and spinning, well, you get the picture.  I spun all of it while we sat here in Pennsylvania during the 56 hours of labor that it took to introduce Mika to the world.   It was Bluefaced Leicester fiber purchased from Cosmic Fibers Yarn and it has become some very nice soft, squishy yarn.

I navajo-plyed this yarn  and am calling it “Oh, Happy Day” since it was indeed a happy day when we received the word that Mikayla had been born and all were doing fine.  Now my challenge will be to find something that I can knit for her out of it.  There are only 90 yards of it so I’m thinking it will probably become a hat.  And in a nice twist of fate, it will coordinate very nicely with one of the baby sweaters I already knit up for Mika.

Eureka, I’m Spindling!

Some years ago, before I purchased my spinning wheels, I tried my hand at spinning with a drop spindle.  I didn’t know anybody who spun that way but I had exchanged emails with several spinners around the country who liked to spin on spindles.   So I purchased a little Bosworth mini-spindle and got some merino fiber and gave it a go.  It was a disaster!

I didn’t know anything about how the twist can run up into your fiber supply and make it impossible to do any drafting, which was exactly what was happening.  And in an effort to avoid that happening, I wasn’t giving my fiber enough twist so it kept breaking on me, sending my little spindle flying across the room.  I finally stuck it in a corner of the closet and moved on to other things.

Since that time, I’ve become better acquainted with the mechanics of spinning on a wheel which gives me a better idea of how to work with fiber but I still didn’t think I had it in me to spindle spin.  Then along came Abby Franquemont and her excellent book, Respect the Spindle and after reading reviews of it up on Ravelry and Amazon and hearing all the great buzz about it, I decided to order it and give drop spindling another go.

Being the compulsive person I am, I had already joined several spindling groups up  on Ravelry and gotten excited about all the neat spindles that are available.  Some of these are absolute works of art.  By golly, if I never were to spin a yard of yarn on a spindle, I could still enjoy owning quite a few just for the joy of owning a thing of beauty AND supporting craftspeople who take real pride in their workmanship.  I ordered a spindle made by Steve Kundert with a walnut whorl and cherry shaft and it arrived about the same time that Abby’s book did.

I sat down and did a quick read through her book.   Let me tell you that it is not only clearly written but has amazing pictures that clearly illustrate what the author is telling you.  And I grabbed my Kundert and the fiber that the Bellwether folks had nicely provided when they shipped my spindle, tied on a leader and hooked it up with the fiber as Abby illustrates and started flicking, parking, and drafting.  By golly, it was working this time.  For one thing, this spindle is a wonderful weight, coming in at about 1.5 oz. as opposed to my Bossie, which weighs about .9 oz.  I also decided to not try to draft the yarn so fine this time.  I figure that will come later, as I develop more confidence.  Then I can get out my Bosworth and the finer fibers and try again but for now, I’m happier and less frustrated just getting the basics of the movements down, giving my hands a chance to “memorize” the motions.

I’ll never give up my spinning wheels to do spindle spinning only but this is a nice alternative when I maybe just want to throw a spindle in my purse and some fiber and practice just about anywhere.  Oh, and I have three more spindles on order……two Kunderts and one supported spindle designed for spinning while you’re riding in a car.  Whee!  And I have my sights set on a Tabachek spindle, among others.

Bumper Messages

Bumper Stickers LeftI was watching NCIS Los Angeles last evening  and got a chuckle out of one bit where the unit’s pyschological profiler is analyzing the bumper stickers on one of the character’s cars.  He indicated that if the owner was a younger person, the bumper stickers could indicate a sense of humor or playfulness, among other things and a sense of non-conformity.  Then he went on to say that, if the owner was middle-aged or older, bumper stickers could indicate a tendency to challenge authority.  Oh boy, what does that say about me?  I like to think that I have a pretty well-defined sense of humor.  Some would call it more of a sense of the absurd.  As to challenging authority….well, let’s just say that since I spent so many years in the military, I became quite adept at conforming outwardly while challenging the heck out of the authority figures around me IN MY MIND.   And I do tend to question almost all attempts to “make” me do anything these days.  So maybe that fellow wasn’t so far off.

Bumper Stickers RightBut what do my bumper stickers say about me?  Well, for one thing, I do have a fondness for Texas and Texans.  Maybe it’s the fact that Minnesota and Michigan winters were COLD and I appreciate the allure of Texas winters a lot.  Maybe I just like the way Texans kind of do their own thing with no apologies.  There’s that non-conformist, authority challenging thing going on.  Maybe I just like the fact that there is still so much of Texas that isn’t wall-to-wall over-developed.

Looking at my other car stickers, you can guess that I like knitting…..A LOT!  You probably can tell that I wear glasses.  I like to blog…no surprises there.  And I don’t really consider myself to be “one of the cool gals.”  Never have, probably never will.  No, I wear the label of ‘geek” proudly.

Bumper Stickers BottomThe rest of my bumper stickers give you the clue that I’m a pacifist, or at least try to be.  I’ll admit that it makes me a little unusual…being a military veteran and a pacifist and I get some strange looks when I go on the local military post but hey, I don’t know many military folks who love war.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t pray for and send care packages to those who are currently over in the hot spots we are stuck in.  They are brave men and women.  And I wish every one of them were home safe and sound.

So what do your bumper stickers say about you?  Or are you one of those who wouldn’t dream of slapping anything on your car?  I’ll bet your house is pristine, too, right?  Not mine!  It’s pretty quirky, as well.

Victoria in BagI’ll leave you with a peek at my new Louet Victoria spinning wheel, still in its carrying bag.  It arrived yesterday and the first thing I did, after opening up the bag to make sure everything looked ok, was pull out the backback straps and walk around the house with the wheel on my back.  How cool is that?  I simply can’t believe that I can carry a spinning wheel so easily on my back.  This opens up all sorts of spinning opportunities with the portability of this little wheel.  Watch for future blog posts as I get her unpacked and try her out.

Shawl We Rave for Fave Friday?

FFF fall leaves 2Well, I certainly am behind the eight-ball today.  Here it is after 3 p.m. and I’m just now getting around to writing up my fave five’s for Friday.  However, I may be late but I still have plenty of things to rave about.  I hope your week has been as enjoyable with the crisp fall temps and the leaves turning colors (if you happen to live in an area of the country that experiences the changing seasons).  At any rate, here is what has me jumping this week:

Gale Closeup1.  I have my Gale Shawl pinned out and blocking in the guest room. Oy, sometimes I think I’m getting too old to be crawling around on the floor pinning shawls but still, the end result is always worth it.  This shawl, if you’ll remember me mentioning it in an earlier post, tends to skew somewhat because of the way the thing is knitted so the designer suggests that you block it vigorously.  Well, believe you me, I inserted wires and pinned it vigorously and I think I have it pretty much in a rectangular shape.  We’ll see how it ends up looking once I unpin it.  I promise to post pictures of the final product once it’s dry.

Traveling Woman2.  I finished my Traveling Woman Shawl and have that blocking as well. This is a red-letter week when I have TWO shawls blocking at once.  The Traveling Woman Shawl was a lot of fun to knit.  I’ll be posting more about it in the coming week but just to whet your appetite, here is a wee pic of the shawl pinned out on my new blocking board.

Miniature Sweater3.  I finished one miniature sweater for the nephews’ gift cards. One down, one to go…..maybe more, if I get ambitious.  I put a Sharpie pen next to it to show you the scale.  This was really a lot of fun to knit up.  Since I used the Magic Loop method of knitting it, I didn’t have to fiddle with DPNs and that made it even easier.  The plan is to use these little sweaters to slip gift cards into for Christmas presents.  Then the recipients can reuse the sweaters for Christmas tree ornaments next year.

IMG_46644.  Fresca the Wonder Dog is feeling much better. Fresca had some strange crusty blisters on both eye rims AND she was doing a deep hacking cough on occasion.  I knew she didn’t have kennel cough because we’ve religiously kept her vaccine for that up-to-date.  To me it sounded like bronchitis.  As for the eyes, I couldn’t figure out what in the world it was.  So I took her to the vet and he diagnosed it as hmmm, well, irritated eyes probably due to some allergy.  The cough was a canine version of allergic bronchitis.  So now she is on an antibiotic and on some steroids and the eyes have completely cleared up and I haven’t heard that cough in days.  She’s hungry as the dickens, though, probably because of the steroids.  I’ll be glad when those pills are finished.

Victoria5.  Last, but not least, I just ordered my second spinning wheel…..a Louet Victoria. This little beauty weighs only 6 pounds and folds up and packs into a bag the size of a large backpack, small enough to go into the overhead bins in an airplane.  I can hardly wait to give her a spin when she arrives, which shouldn’t be too long a wait since I just got the tracking information from the Loopy Ewe, indicating that it has been mailed off to me.

If you’d like to write about your own Friday Fave Fives or read about what others are writing about, visit Susanne’s blog at Living to Tell the Story.