Quilt and Sew In Retreat

This past weekend (Thursday through this morning) I attended a Quilt and Sew In Retreat in Blowing Rock, NC put on by  heARTS Desire Creations.  This was the first “retreat” I’ve ever attended.  I’ve attended quilt shows and fiber festivals many times.  I’ve taken classes along the years, but this was totally different and refreshing.  First, there was no “must do” agenda.  Participants were free to come and go as they pleased, to sew or not sew as they pleased, and no expectations were implied!  A chance for me to totally relax.  I had no phones, except what I chose to use my cell for, no animals demanding attention, no chores that had to be done, just free time to create as I wanted to (or not).


The lighting in the room was great!  I took my Ott Light and never took it out of the bag.  Everyone had their own table to work on, but the tables were in clusters so you had company to talk with if you wanted to.  And there was a lot of joking and kibitzing over the weekend.

Thursday after arriving, I set up for sewing, and did a little.  My goals for the weekend were to finish the hand-quilting on “Hope”s border, to make some scrap blocks for my 2009 Block in the Box from Lake Norman Quilters, and to make some Hunter’s Star blocks for that same project (aka UFO), as well as to spend some time knitting.  I accomplished some of them and would have finished all if not for my machine, but I’ll tell you about that later.


First I finished the hand-quilting on the border of Hope.  This was from a long ago class by Susan Brubaker-Knapp on hand applique.


I had originally thought to hand quilt the entire thing.  Quite an ambitious project with the arthritis in my hands that I quickly gave up on.  I machine quilted the center and decided I would only do the borders by hand.  Finished one motif and gave it up for “another time” (UFO).  With the arthritis more under control now than it was back then, I spent one day hand quilting the remaining border motifs while away.  And while my stitches are far from the even tiny ones that I used to make years ago, I’m pleased that I can still hand quilt a little.


After that I started working on some scrappy (kind of) blocks.  I had no plan for these.  Before I left I looked at a couple of my Accuquilt Go Dies and thought “these should go together” and cut some pieces.  Then the play started and I like the results.  These are for the aforementioned 2009 Block in a Box project that I hope to finish soon.



Of course the project needed more blocks, so I used the GO to cut out pieces for eight Hunters Star blocks using the colors above and a white as background.  While I didn’t finish them, I am well along.   All the halves are pieced.


And two of the blocks were pieced, but I’ll be re-doing them as I’m not happy with the centers.


The fault of the centers was my machine.  I took along a 1941 Featherweight that I just love.  And while it goes great for some things, when I encountered the bulk of the center, the machine consistently wobbled around the bulk rather than over it.  I did this block twice, then tried on another block and each time the same thing, wobbles between the arrows so I put it aside to finish on one of my newer machines.


In the evenings I did some knitting, the red sock is a test knit for Mary Hough Designs, and the striped sock is my go to plain vanilla sock.



Of course, who among us, goes on retreat, or on vacation and never shops at all?  And I did do some shopping, at both of the two quilt stores in Boone where I added to my collection of batiks and splurged on a jelly roll (I LIKE those things!).



As well as the yarn store in Blowing Rock.


Will I go again?  Most likely if I either the husband or the son are going to be home that weekend to care for all my critters!  If you get a chance, I highly recommend this particular retreat as a fun long weekend away!


The felted wool project, stage 2

Or should I call this post reclaiming blazers, the do’s and don’ts ?    Yesterday I posted that I had found some wool blazers to reclaim the material in for wool applique for my 1847 Bride’s Quilt.  And even posted a picture of where I was at in the reclamation.  Last night I finished tearing apart deconstructing the wool blazers and got the last of them started on the washing machine felting process.  I ended up with way more reds than I’ll use for a long time to come, and only a bit of blue and green.

DSCN1244 DSCN1245

The green was a very loosely woven wool and will need at least one, if not two more washes before it will be in useable condition.  The blue only needs one more wash.
While I ended up with a LOT of reds and pinks from the blazers I had (6 in total ranging from size 6 to size 16), and while it’s more red than I can use for quite a while, it’s overwhelming to me to look at.  It’s that whole visual overload thing, when something is that messy and disorganized my mind goes into a frantic “what, where, how” mode and ends up being very paralyzing.  I am much better with a stack of wool like this to work from:


All of these, with the exception of the charcoal piece at the bottom are 9×12 pieces.  They all came from Vickie at Annie’s Keepsakes at a reasonable price and I’ve collected them a few at a time over the years with no concerns about major storage being required.


So while I’ve done the reclaimed wool project, I don’t think I’ll be traveling that road again given the time involved in the process and the overwhelming pile of bits and pieces that I now have to determine how to store in an orderly manner.


Although it may be less expensive (on the surface) to reclaim blazers, once I factor in time, electricity cost for processing and storage space  the best decision for me will be to continue to purchase from a vendor whose product I love for my wool applique quilts.


As for the don’ts of the project, well……   If you have dogs (specifically young dogs or pups), don’t let any pieces fall to the floor as you work unless you want to play a game of chase the puppy.   And have your broom very close by the washer and dryer to repeatedly sweep the floor as you transfer each load of wool from the washer to the dryer.  Oh and you may want to have an extra bag near the dryer for the lint that will come off the filter (and out of everywhere) as you remove the wool from the dryer.


As for the do’s of the project.  DO have a sharp pair of dressmaker shears as well as  a sharp pair of small pointed tipped snip scissors handy.  DO take the blazer apart at the major seams first so you’re working in only pieces. I found it easiest to take the dressmaker shears right along the seam to separate the pieces.  DO just cut away the hemmed or top-stitched edges (removing those stitches is insane and won’t result in that much more wool.  Think hard about how small of a piece you want to reclaim, the collars from the blazers ended up small enough to cut 3 or 4 one inch wool circles from, but not much more and took a lot of time to open the seams from.


And if you happen to get a blazer that is lined with fusible interfacing my recommendation is to just give up on the ones that the interfacing doesn’t come off easily in.  I spent over an hour on one blazer removing the interfacing in bits and pieces.  While that doesn’t seem like a big deal, I can hear people already saying “tv time”, for my life and my schedule that’s an hour that could have been spent much more productively.  And the next one that had that situation went to the garbage bin instead of fussing with it.  Most of the interfacing (and you will find it in there under the lining) came away nicely, so I decided not to mess with the ones that were stuck clinging for their life and coming away in 1″ or less bits.


That’s my take on reclaiming wool from blazers, I’d love to hear about your experiments with it.  And in the meantime, I’m off to contact Vickie with the list of greens I will need to work on my quilt.


October 1, a new month, a new project!

Well, it’s October 1, 2013 and while there are many topics I could comment on today, most of which would raise my normally low blood pressure to a steaming level, I think I’ll talk about my troubles tendency to suffer revel in startitis.

On the other hand, that has probably been well documentated and demonstrated, so let’s just get to the new project!  A while back I saw a quilt that I fell in LOVE (yes, in caps) with.  But every option I explored to make it was out of my price range.  The quilt is the 1847 Bride’s Quilt.  Have you seen it yet?  It’s a wool applique quilt with a very symmetrical layout, black background with medium bright wool applique and an interesting corner applique treatment.  Here’s a pic I grabbed off the web if you haven’t seen it yet:


But, as I  mentioned, I couldn’t afford the price tag on the options I was finding.  Thanks to a good friend, who is also a superb enabler, I was able to find an outlet for the patterns without purchasing all the fabrics to go with.  A great step in the right direction.  And while I have a small (but ever growing) stash of wool felt that I’ve purchased over the years from Annie’s Keepsakes I didn’t have enough to make the quilt.  And I wanted to try out this idea of reclaiming wool garments for wool felt or felted wool.

My first stop was to the second hand shops where I’ve collected a bag of used wool blazers:


Removing each blazer, I started by taking off any buttons that were on them:


Then cutting out the lining and cutting the seams apart so I had a basket of blazer parts:


At this point I realized, while taking them apart, that this was going to be a bit more work than I anticipated as most of them had fusible interfacing applied to the fabric.  So I set myself to ripping off the fusible interfacing as best I could, leaving me with a basket of miscellaneous lining, unusable parts and interfacing bits:


And while I’m not totally through the bag yet, I have most of the red toned blazers into what I hope are feltable pieces now:

I’ll continue this project a little bit at night until I have all the blazers hopefully felted.  And if it doesn’t work (that fusible interfacing has me concerned), I’ll break down and purchase more of the felt I need to make this quilt.

This won’t be a short-term project, it will be a long term handwork project that I can take with me to my sewing bee or when I need to sit and wait somewhere (like the car wash or the Dr’s office) and I need a different project than knitting.  My theory is that with the arthritis in my hands I need several different handwork projects to work on so my hands aren’t always stressed with just one motion.  (hey, that’s my theory excuse!).  And while I’m at it, I believe it may be time to implement a sidebar with projects in progress on it for easy tracking of exactly what I’m working on.  Perhaps that will cure my tendency to startitis……then again I seriously doubt there is a cure.  😉