Blog Archives

Woodpeckers, Eco Print Dyeing and More on Knitting

Here on the West Coast we had a cool start this morning,  the hummingbirds were busy looking for nectar but the silly birds kept going to the one feeder where the sugar solution had frozen. I had put out a new smaller feeder with fresh solution but they kept going back to the frozen one ….silly birds, so I brought the frozen one inside for a while to thaw out and it gave them a chance to find the good stuff!

We have all kinds of woodpeckers here in our garden, Downy, Hairy, Pileated and the Northern Flicker. I had never seen the first two types but now that we put out Bark Butter….they come everyday and eat it as quickly as I can get it out there. It is a spreadable suet that can go into a small log feeder.  One and half inch wide cavities have been drilled into a small branch or log, pack these holes with the spreadable suet and hang somewhere away from squirrels. ( That is quite a challenge around here.) My log has a small eye screw on the top to make hanging it a bit easier. All the small birds love it too  including chickadees, nuthatches and bush tits.  Even juncos fly up to it although I have to say they look a bit precarious, they are usually ground feeders and don’t quite know where to land on the log and madly flap their wings, most figure it out and eat quickly.

Downy WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker

 

Various Bird FeedersMy apologies for the rather poor quality of the above picture but I was inside looking out but I hope you can see the log feeder hanging below the squirrel proof suet feeder. There is a tail prop feeder close up with some bark butter spread on this side and a hopper (House) feeder in the background. The woodpecker photos came from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Pileated on the left and the Downy on the right.

Now onto other things…the knitted mitts. I am not sure if I will make this into a pattern to sell, as much as I would like to, I don’t know how too ! so I have a little learning to do first. Here are some of the proto types.

new patternThe yarn in the top pair is Patons 100% wool with added felted cuffs and the pair below are made from handspun silk and wool. ( not mine,  but a lovely lady called Lyn who lives locally.)

Lastly I would like to show you some more of my eco dyeing projects. Some went well others not so good but all have been  great fun….now I have to decide what to do with them. I think I will definitely hand stitch over some of them. The one with the pink lines in it was a mistake I tied the bundle with bright pink yarn never thinking the dye would come out I thought it was acrylic ! oops…oh well maybe it will be better with added embellishments. As you can see one of them is very yellow, I used saffron which a friend had given to me….but I was rather heavy handed with it … a little goes a long way !

eco bundle results

 

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Merry Christmas To You

snow That time of year is here! and I am not really ready for it yet,but I would like to wish you all a very happy healthy and fun filled year ahead. May you create new and exciting designs and most of all enjoy whatever you do. All the best
from Woolbrain

A New Year

Well here we are again another year. I feel as if time flies the older I get! I distinctly remember as a youngin’ that the days where long and I couldn’t wait to be a grown up and now it all flies by in a rush or is that just me? Anyway whatever the time frame I plan to crack on with my new years plans, not resolutions but plans! and always subject to change.

My hope for this year is to perfect my spinning skills, this will involve lessons and the hope of purchasing my own spinning wheel. My intention is to take some lessons and hopefully test run a few different types of wheels and go from there.
I would also like to dye some wool and fabric this year using environmentally safe products. All this of course combined with working, keeping up with household chores, enjoying time with friends and family and staying creative!

I have been working on a small felting project that I started back in the summer! As you may know I do most of my felting outdoors so the summer months are my busiest. I wet felted a large piece onto a grey mesh fabric and added some silk threads and tussah pieces. I really liked the colour combinations but not the overall shape of the design. So I took my scissors and cut it up into smaller bits and stitched them together to create a new piece. I worked some small hand stitched designs onto the project and now I am almost finished. I need to find a way to make some “cool” closures and a collar. Here is a sneak peek at the project.
The reveal will be soon!

Wet felting using mesh fabric base.

I wish you all a very happy and creative year whatever your endeavours.

Wet Felting

I have been very busy wet felting the weather has been unseasonable warm and so I have been taking the perfect opportunity to wet felt outside. This really saves on clean up time! My latest work has been inspired once again by my natural surroundings, mostly our garden but also the gorgeous coastal areas of the wonderful Westcoast of North America, where I feel very fortunate to live.

I have been using different wools, this time I have been working with polwarth this is a mix of two well known breeds, Merino and Lincoln making for a very versatile and soft wool.

Other things in my life schedule have changed and I will not have has much time to felt and knit has I have had in this past year. So I am rushing on to fit in as much outdoor work as possible. I must make felt while the sun shines ! I hope you are having fun being creative.

Sewing A Skirt

Here I am making another attempt at the Alabama Stitch project skirt. I have made one in plain oatmeal coloured jersey…but the waistline was a little big, I know that is a good thing !!! but to unpick all that hand stitching and re-do each seam, six in total seemed (pardon the pun!) daunting.

I had another skirt cut and ready to sew, this time I thought I would do the leaves stencil from the aforementioned book. No problem, I used my sewing machine to baste each seam plus the waistline to prevent bagging or stretching while working on the appliqué stencil work. Each panel was laid out to start the stencil, I then realized I had stitched each panel (gore) to the backing fabric. So I decided to draw around the leaf stencil with a Sharpie pen.

At some point along the way I made a decision to appliqué all the leaves. I started out with the creamy coloured fabric on the grey, but I wasn’t sure I really liked it. So I had some cream fabric that I had done some practice stencils on and so I cut out the shapes from this and placed them on the drawn leaves to see if that made it better or worse. I liked it and so began the process you see now.

My creamy fabric has been painted on with a mix of green and cream fabric paint and I used real ferns from the garden to get some leafy designs. I just painted onto the backside of the fern with a sponge and then lay it onto the cream fabric and pressed down gently. Pull off the fern and you have a very delicate imprint of the ferns leaves. Remember to heat set your painted fabric BEFORE cutting out you pieces. I cut my appliqué leaves out of this fabric, some have more defined leaf designs than others, I just went with what I liked the look of at the time!

As usual I cannot follow the basic design….my mind goes off at a tangent…I believe that is called being creative !!!

If you like let me know what you are working on that gives you pleasure, happy summer sewing to you 🙂

Market Bag- Alabama Studio Style

Here is my own design of the lovely market bag from the wonderful Alabama Studio Style Book by Natalie Chanin. I love the designs from this book and the previous one, aptly named Alabama Stitch Project.

The work is slow and therapeutic and uses old gently used cotton t-shirts. I had originally thought I would be making the skirt from the first book (ASP) when I designed this stencil pattern. But on closer inspection I decided that the pattern for the skirt would not fit me! So the fabric with the stencil painted on languished in the corner of my sewing area for a REALLY long time! Finally I hauled it out and planned a market bag shape and used the sewing instructions from the second book (ASS)

I will have used three t-shirts in total, one turquoise, one pumpkin with a Pennsylvania logo, and one for the lining. At this time I am not sure what colour I will use for the lining but I am leaning towards green, always one of my favourite colours. I do have leftover turquoise pieces from the skirt but I would have to piece them as I did for the front of the bag and I would rather not have to piece the lining, you will have to wait and see what I do! I still need to make handles for the bag BUT I am almost finished. Just a little note about thread, I used jeans thread which comes in a lovely array of colours, it is polyester and is made by YLI corp and comes in 200yard / 180m spools and is called Jeans Stitch.

As you can see from the photos I also made a hat band in the same method using small scraps of leftover t-shirting. I think the process so far as taken me about a month. But I also knit in between!

I have knitted up a green shrug to go with my blue dress that I made a little while ago. I didn’t use the Alabama style completely for the dress. I did however use the spiral designs in green and the rosebud stitching and I added pewter grey beads around the swirls. I am hoping to add more spirals and stitching to the dress before I wear it again. The shrug came about because the dress is sleeveless and I sometimes need a little extra warmth. I had thought I would make just a pair of knitted long sleeves but it morphed into a shrug. I have to say it is very cosy.

Side to Side Knitted Cardigan

At last I am wearing my creation. Although with all the work and effort I am a little dissatisfied with the end result. I really do believe that I enjoy the process far better than the results. Funny ‘eh!
I know that there are things I would change, for example one sleeve is slightly longer than the other and the same goes for the front bands which I knitted in moss stitch. I think if I knitted the front bands with a slightly smaller needle then I would not get the “drag or pull” on the front. The reason the sleeve is longer is that I knitted one sleeve separately because I wanted to be sure I had enough of the different yarn choices included in it. I should have transferred the knitted sleeve stitches again as I added it to the last side. Instead I just joined it on with a three needle cast off. Experiments….that’s what this is all about.
The cardigan is lovely and warm and I love the colours. I used two yarns that I would not use again or better still I should have used doubled, they were to thin on their own. I love the moss stitch collar front bands BUT not the way it drags downwards. On my next one I will change this part of the design and only use the moss stitch for part of the collar and front.
I look forward to the next one or even two !

The many yarns that I used in this project : Cascade 220 Heathers and Plain. Chunky Mochi by Crystal Palace Yarns. Ella Rae Classic. Patons Classic Wool. Ultra Alpaca from Berroco. Tekapo Pure New Zealand Wool by Ashford.

Have you knitted anything similar? do you have any helpful suggestions?

De-Stashing Yarn A Knitted Project

My latests de-stashing project is a knitted cardigan using various odd balls of yarn. I used to buy yarn one ball at a time, I would see something great and think OH! goody what can I make with one ball from this gorgeous colour. Also it was affordable BUT not very economical or smart. Nevertheless I have a few balls to use! so begins my side to side knitted cardigan. I have admired other knitted side to side projects that I have found on Ravelry and thought surely I can do this too ! I have knitted from the top down, making a sweater with Barbara Walker’s helpful guidance. So I felt sure I could use a little help from Debbie Bliss to make my side to side cardigan. This is it so far…


I am surrounded by these colours in my world…the greens of the garden, the blues from flowers, sea and sky and the purples from the flowers in our garden.

Are you inspired by your surroundings ? what have you made ? would you like to share ?

Stash Busting and String Quilting

I have been feeling the urge to Spring clean lately…how about you ? I know this is the sort of thing one expects at this time of year but I am a great saver of things, hoarder! …we don’t use that word in our home. All my “saves” have wonderful plans, right! So I knew I was having a moment when I found myself checking out my fabric stash, I was just looking for the ” just right fabric” you know the one your sure you have somewhere if only you could find it !

Then my daughter and some of her friends came over for a night of …just chillin’. They started to look at the fabric stash as well and started to put different colour combinations together. I said please go ahead and have fun, well they had loads of fun and started to make piles of their favourite colour mixes. I was thrilled with all the choices they had made for me, sometimes I find a new set of eyes can produce wonderful and exciting results. They all enjoyed themselves and left with their personal choices listed on paper with small snippets of each fabric choice taped in order of preference.

Consequently I have been busy making many variations of my small string quilted purses. Each one a designer original.

As you can tell by the pictures they really are unique and fun. When I made each of these purses I cut small strips of cotton fabrics in varying widths and stitched them at an angle onto a base fabric. After this I made up the purse shape as I do with my other designs. How do you like the colour combinations? please leave us a comment we would love to hear from you. Maybe you have been stash busting too!

Earth Day

So here we are my Earth Day slippers. I did not end up using the tie, it was not the look I wanted but I do think that the bias binding idea from old ties is a very workable option. I will work on it at a later date.
For now though I am working on some small eco friendly change purses. I am using small scraps of handmade, hand dyed fabrics using the string quilting process. I think they have turned out really well, I love the more muted tones. I believe this is from using plants such as madder,indigo and marigold. No matter which fabrics I put together they all look lovely. Such is the way of nature….I really must pay more attention to her !
Still cool and blustery here but I have at last managed to get my laundry to dry outside on the washing line, how I love that smell when I bring it in to the house nothing beats it for me.

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The Procrastinator Dyer's Diary

A Journal of Observations

rosiepink

Adventures with Felting, Dyeing, Knitting and other stuff

The Creative's Tribulations

From the perspective of a frustrated creative.

Adventures with Felting, Dyeing, Knitting and other stuff

lil fish studios

Adventures with Felting, Dyeing, Knitting and other stuff

Attic24

Adventures with Felting, Dyeing, Knitting and other stuff

FeltUnited

Uniting the world wide felt community

feltingandfiberstudio

An international collective of felt and fiber artists

dyefeltsool

documenting the process

tremblinginsidethecocoon

Just another WordPress.com site