Okay, are you ready for a wool parade that was the second half of the Cal-Co Quilter's Guild meeting in Battle Creek Monday night? (I blogged about the show and tell portion of the meeting here, if you missed it.)
As a reminder, Nancy Conn of The Hen House shop in Charlotte, MI was the guest speaker. She showed us some neat projects and gave us some great pointers for working with wool. Here goes the parade! I'll give her pointers at the end of the parade of projects.
Here's a close up. I think she said her template for the larger circles was a can of baking powder. I can't remember what the smaller circle was. Perhaps a salt shaker? Too funny. You can see these are stitched on with a blanket stitch. (Some people call it a buttonhole stitch.)
I liked all the detail on this one. She said she has switched from using a blanket stitch to just using a whip stitch to attach the wool. Doing so gives a less finished and more primitive look. She enjoys the more primitive look. I have only worked in the blanket stitch. It would take me a while to get used to this more primitive look, I think.
It opens up like this. See how the thread can be stored in the main compartment? The little flaps open up for needle storage, and you could include a little pair of scissors in the pocket. Super cute!
And how about this cute little pincusion? I loved it! It's stuffed with really nice sand. She says she goes to Lake Michigan beaches to grab some! Very fine and nice feeling sand. And this was HEAVY! I like the texture of the pinecone and the needles on the branches. I also love that plaid wing!
Nancy said she doesn't buy any wool from popular quilting fabric companies like Moda. She said she likes to be unique. So, she buys regular bolts of wool, like this. See how it's thinner, would ravel easily and is more loosely woven?
She said she wads it up, ties it in knots, and then overdyes it all either with dyes or just by putting different colors in the same vat of boiling water so their colors bleed onto one another in some spots. Then, she dries it in the dryer (after washing in hot water, with soap, and agitation). See how it becomes felted? It is now thicker, more tightly woven, and is not fraying on the edges. For this reason, you can cut out your appliqué shapes and either whipstitch them on or use the blanket stitch to sew them on. No edges to turn under, and you allow your stitches to show. It's one reason I really like working with wool. I love the uniqueness of overdyed wools.
I love it enough that these two little springy colored pieces of wool that she was selling came home with me. These cute buttons seemed to find their way into my bag, too. They are so cool. They are Sumac branches cut up and coated with a varnish. Aren't they neat?
Here are a bunch of the other buttons she brought. They are by Buttons by Nature, if you are interested. (I tried to link you to their website, but it appears to be under construction. The URL is www.buttonsbynature.com if you want to try it later. POSTSCRIPT: I JUST LEARNED YOU CAN GO TO THE WEBSITE AND ENTER YOUR NAME TO BE ON THEIR MAILING LIST FOR WHEN THEY DO GET THE SITE UP AND RUNNING. IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK, IT WILL TAKE YOU TO THAT.) Each was made from different types of wood. They were all so beautiful. They reminded me of some other buttons I have in my stash that are made out of sage brush limbs. One of my students gave them to me when I was teaching in Utah or Idaho. He handmade them for me. It was a very special gift. And I have cherished them. They are rough and not varnished. I have been saving them for that special project. I have a tendency to do that sometimes...save them instead of use them. I really need to use them so I can enjoy them more. Hmmm....Must work on that.
Okay, so here are some wool working tips:
- Nancy suggested, as many do, that you can get wool very inexpensively by going to thrift shops and buying up wool suits that people have discarded. There's green quilting for you!
- If you go this route, buy 100% wool. Do not use washable wool, as it will not felt up nicely. Neither will wool blends. So avoid those.
- If you come across some wool and you're not sure if it's 100% wool, snip off a few threads. Hold a match to them. If it turns white and disintigrates, it's 100% wool. If it balls up instead, it's not 100% wool and contains synthetic materials.
- Try overdying your wool. There are lots of ways to do it. Here is a nice little photo tutorial on how to do it using dye. Nancy said a man named Gene Shepherd has some nice video tutorials for overdying wool. I haven't been able to find them yet. I'll let you know if I do. She said many people even dye wool with Koolaid. I found a tutorial for that here. It's for dying unspun wool, but I would assume the process is the same for wool fabric.
- Try using fun threads, like Aurifil's wool thread, to stitch on your wool applique (instead of pearl cotton, which is probably most common). I love their wool threads. I used them for my applique on Lucky Charms, if you'll remember. I was really happy with the effect!
I was thinking about my friend, Michelle, all night during this parade of projects. I missed her. Even though I have my new quilting buddies, I still miss a couple of my close quilting buddies from Idaho, like Michelle (and Jill). She would have loved it. Michelle, I hope you enjoyed the virtual parade! I heard you've been ill and hope you are feeling better!
Before I close, a few words on Japan:
Papa Pea e-mailed our friends in Japan. We've been so worried about them with all the radiation leaks and potential for it now. We told them if they needed somewhere to go, they were welcome to come here, and they could stay at our house as long as they needed. I thought I would share their response with you. For me, it was sort of chilling to read. I can't imagine the fear they must be living in right now. Here is Yosh and Yoko's response to Papa Pea:
It is Wednesday 9:30 am here. Yoko and I are thankful for your proposal. It is growing dangerous with Fukushima Nuclear Electric Plant.
It has six reactors. People’s foci have been on No.1, 2, and 3 reactors which had serious trouble for the first few days. But, this morning, TV is reporting the danger of N0.4, 5, and 6 reactors, which are not working at that time, but contain used fuel rods in the water to keep them cool. Now the water in the latter reactors is evaporating and the used rods are becoming naked. They are now letting off big amount of radiation, TV reported.
Our cabinet does not give us ongoing exact information formally and has been reluctant to do so. It is sad some people of Tsunami victims also suffer from the radioactive contamination of the reactors.
People living in Tokyo including us are safe at present, but have trouble with scheduled blackout due to the shortage of electric power coming from the Plant.
Thank you again for your extra kindness and would like to accept your proposal at the last resort. We pray and hope not to have total collapse.
Yoko & Yosh
Can you even imagine it??!!! I e-mailed them and asked if there was anything they or their friends/family needed. I would be glad to try to send it if I can get it there. I will await their response and let you all know if there is stuff they need. Perhaps we can all help. I just feel so helpless and want to do something. Somehow, throwing money at some fund doesn't seem to get it for me (although I know it's probably helpful). I'd like to do something more personal, you know?
By the way, have you counted your blessings today?!
On a lighter note, I cannot WAIT to tell you about the Kalamazoo guild meeting on Tuesday night. It was totally spectacular! Miniature quilts, some with over 4,000 (yes, that's right 4,000!) pieces in them. Truly amazing. Come back tomorrow. You won't want to miss it!
I'm looking forward to being home tonight with Sweet Pea. Tonight will be my first evening spent at home since March 8! Can you believe that?! Whew! And Sweet Pea and I get to have a girl's night, because Papa Pea is teaching class tonight. I asked her what she wants to do together tonight. She said she wants to color together. Awesome.
Until next time,