Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tatting and Legacy Threads

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the single tube-woven hemstitched pillow case that I had purchased from a thrift store years ago and devoted a couple hours to the simple embroidery using hand-dyed variegated floss that I purchased even more years ago.

I decided I needed some hand-dyed tatting thread and purchased 100 yards of Marilee Rockley's hand-dyed Lilac Sea.
This is a photo of her size 20 listing on etsy , where she sells various sizes of thread and floss as "Yarn Player", although I purchased it in size 30.  She also teaches a Craftsy course on needle tatting that I purchased ages ago and finally got around to watching.  I'm guessing that we both learned to tat about the same time. She uses DMC Cordonnet Special--which was my favorite thread until a couple of decades ago when even my friends travelling to Europe could not get it.  Lots of dyers use Lizbeth thread from Handy Hands, in Paxton, Illinois, about 70 miles from my childhood home of El Paso, IL. Lizbeth too is a truly lovely thread, although it's not available in size 30, the size I ordered from Marilee in DMC.  (There are also a lot of needle tatting resources available at Handy Hands; however, I strongly suspect that some frustrated want-to-be tatter invented needle tatting when she could find no one to explain how to "flip" the knots.)

Since I like to do wider edgings to use on pillowcases, 100 yards doesn't go very far. (However, it appears that many, many tatters are making jewelry from size 20, and for them, the 50 yard-skeins most hand-dyers sell are more than adequate for multiple pieces of jewelry.)

I think I have enough of the Lilac Sea edging now, but the vintage pillow case has a hem-stitched edge that has not been trimmed, and I think I'll have to give it a very, very narrow hand-stitched hem before applying the tatting.  I'll have to dig out some of my antique tatting-edged and hemstitched hankies and see how our ancestors did it.

 I remembered I had a skein of cotton thread that had never been wound into a ball.  I'm not sure if it was my paternal grandmother's, who died in 1932, or if it was given to me by someone else.

It looks like it was stored in a cedar chest or on unprotected wood for decades; or perhaps it was in a wooden or cardboard box that got wet and stained the thread.

So, I tied a few extra threads around the skein and have it soaking in a bath of oxygen bleach and Dawn detergent.

We'll see how it works to even the tones, and then, since I have decades of experience dyeing fabric for quilting, I'm thinking of putting that experience to use hand painting tatting thread with Procion Dyes.  I did not take off a few yards to test tat to see what size it is.  However, I'm guessing there are probably a couple hundred yards in this hank.

I'm going to continue stirring it occasionally for the next few hours. I'm thinking of adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the final rinse, although I may postpone that step until it's  been dyed and rinsed thoroughly.

In the process I also found some high quality six-cord in size 40 from J.P. Coats--probably from the 1950s or earlier.  It's in 225 yard balls, and some of it is also stained.  That means that if I decide to hand paint it, I'll have to put it into skeins and clean it up first too.  Since it needs to be in skeins to be hand painted, that won't be an extra step.

I also found a few things from my decades of tatting, beginning when most tatting thread was size 80 and larger sizes of appropriate high quality thread were hard to find.  I'll save those for a later post.

This is what solidified my desire to learn to tat.
 Although I'd been surrounded by Grandma Shreve Scheer's tatting for years and had made numerous failed attempts at tatting, when this lovely linen handkerchief arrived in the mail inside an unsigned graduation card and with lovely handwriting that none of us recognized, I determined that someday I would learn!
To this day, I have no idea what sweet lady in the El Paso-Gridley, Il made this.  She used at least size 100 thread (size 80 was common).  Even the hem-stitching was done by hand!

 School began August 2, so I did not finish the quilts I intended to finish.  Summer just goes way too fast.

Happy quiltmaking, knitting, tatting.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gone Fishing--A Prayer Quilt

I think Ruth created this pretty little prayer quilt.  I had fun quilting it with a lot of new improvised quilting designs.

She chose wonderful fabrics that made quilting this even more fun.  We're trying to get quilts finished for an upcoming prayer quilt blessing.

Weather:  I'm starting to think that the purpose of thunder is to taunt us about rain that will fall elsewhere (not at my house) or will evaporate before it hits the ground (virga).  In the last several days I've heard a few drops hit the skylight.  I'm thinking a huge percentage of New Mexico's rains are three inch rains--drops three inches apart and lasting no more than three minutes.  I'm kind of hoping our luck will change!

Happy quiltmaking......,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thrifted Treasures

For several years I've been trying out new quilting designs on a large piece of layered white fabrics destined to become a mattress cover.
The matress pad/cover I had quilted 21 years ago is reaching the end of its life.  So now I've realized the cover I've been making will only fit a twin sized bed.  I have absolutely no idea why I made it so small.  That left me with the opportunity/challenge of finding vintage 100% cotton sheets to make one that is actually big enough for my bed.

I did find one sheet from the 1950s in the past several weeks, but thought I'd have to settle with lining it with a pale beige sheet.  The one from 21 years ago had white cotton on one side and unbleached muslin on the other.

Yesterday I decided to make a stop at a nearby Salvation Army resale shop.  I frequently visit that shop but seldom buy things because the manager insists on pricing things rather high, as if she'd purchased items wholesale instead of receiving them for free.  This week I got lucky.

 Two new, never opened twin flat sheets.

 100% cotton percale, so the thread count is higher than muslin.  My mom always preferred percale to muslin, and, I admit, I prefer that texture too.

Given the postal zone on the wrapper, these were manufactured before 1963.  I'm also familiar with the labels from the 1950s, and they were not this orange color.

I have a couple of quilts to finish first, so it will be a while.

I also found [an also over-priced] tatted doily; I'll take a photo of that too later.

Happy quiltmaking and knitting,.....

Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer Romance I: Quilting Update

I've been quilting and taking a few photos to make the rest of the quilting easier.  I love quilting and using lots of variations to add interest to the quilt.

 I have no idea how all the variations would be received in a quilt show.

 However, through all my years of quilting prayer quilts, I developed a practice of stitching a variety of variations because it seems to me that when someone is too sick to do much of anything, he or she might find the variations somewhat like a puzzle.

 That idea now carries over into all my quilts.

 It's also true that doing exactly the same thing over and over again would not keep me as well engaged when I'm quilting.

 I'm tying and burying knots, but only in the white.

 The stops and starts, fortunately, are not at all obvious except in the white.

Not to the halfway point yet, so probably lots of photos ahead.

Happy Quiltmaking and Knitting,......

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer Romance I Quilting: Corners

Yesterday I stopped and fiddled in my sketchbook to decide what to do in the corners.
These were both possibilities.

However, I do like to draw spines into the quilt, and I knew my blue and purple markers were almost dry, and Busy Bee Quilts was having a 25% off sale on everything if I got there before ten.  They were out of blue markers, but one of my favorite clerks talked me into buying Frixion markers--which I've been terrified to use.  She told me that if I got them and didn't like them, she'd buy them back from me.  So I bought a package, came home, wrote all over a white scrap and watched in amazement as it disappeared in seconds with heat from the hair dryer.  Okay, I was willing to try it on the quilt (and am hoping it will never reappear, although I do launder my quilts). Yes, I have friends who swear by them, but I was still skeptical.

Of course, when I actually stood in front of my quilt, I changed my mind about how to quilt it.
Quilts do have a way of speaking about what they want.
These large corners are going to feature what I sometimes call the Oklahoma Seed Pod, which is the larger portion of the photo above.  I call it that because I've only seen it on one other quilt (except for mine), and that was made in 1903 in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  I traced the design sometime around 1986 and love to use it and a few of its variations in my quilts.

For some reason, I was really struggling with the quilting today; then it occurred to me that I had invested in Hartley Micro-handles, so they went on the machine, and I'm doing better now--although I still seem to be doing sub-par work for me.  Nevertheless, after I take this break, I'm going to get back to work.

I'm also very unhappy with how much my starts and stops show up, so I'm going to start tying off and burying my knots--which will be pretty easy and fast for me after several decades of hand quilting, but will take more time than anchoring by machine.

Before my daughter left for her manicure and a few hours with her best friend, she came into the quilting studio to tell me goodbye, and asked, "Is that quilt for us?"  Yes, it will be part of her inheritance, but I hope to sleep under it for several decades first.

Happy quiltmaking and knitting,...

P.S.: I'm getting some lovely comments from no-reply commenters (is that a word?) to which I cannot respond.  So if you are a no-reply commenter (you might want to check your profile to be sure you have it set the way you want it set), please know I'm not being unappreciative or ugly about what you have to say.

Post Post Script:  Yes, I'm still quite nervous about the Frixion pens, but if white lines appear, they will at least be white lines on white fabric.

Friday, July 1, 2016

At Last! My Quilt

This quilt has been in the works for over a year, and in my head for much longer. When I started it, I named it Summer Romance I, knowing I also want to design and make a blue and white quilt that I will call Summer Romance II.

I'm now at the quilting stage--and I'd be quilting right this minute if I didn't need electricity and if we weren't having much needed thunderstorms.  (We're getting typical New Mexico three-inch rains--which means the drops of rain are falling about three inches apart.  We hope to do a bit better than that.)

You can find more posts about the making of this quilt top here and hereor just have a look at posts from July 2015.(although I'm pretty sure I started this Memorial Day weekend of 2015).

All but the white fabric in this quilt is from Eleonor Burns' Zoey line for Benartex.

 I'm quilting with several Glide threads from Fil-Tec, also known as Bobbin Central.

 I marked only the spine of all the feathers on this quilt so far.

 I made only general decisions about how I would quilt, so when I actually started, I needed a couple of homemade tools.  I used a piece of card stock to make the flowing spine above for a two inch wide border.
I cut the paper above to make a more unusual spine for the five inch borders.
I used a plastic lid to plot the spines in the outer border at the top of this post.

The main blocks of this quilt were inspired by a Blackford's Beauty quilt I saw in a magazine around 1983.  I've also seen this block called Snowflake, and someone said Bonnie Hunter has designed a quilt using this block. I didn't know that, and I don't think I'll go look at Bonnie's quilt until I'm finished.  In any case, this is now my block in a unique setting with lots of room for the quilting to shine.

I wanted to get this quilt done ages ago, and I was thinking I could finish it this weekend, but since I'm using electricity instead of a treadle to quilt this,  I have to unplug whenever there is danger of lightning in order not to risk a power surge frying my machine.

I did get to spend a lovely morning (or most of it, anyway) at Dough-Re-Mi Bakery & Cafe catching up with a friend and getting an original quilt she'd like me to quilt very soon--as soon as Summer Romance I comes off the machine.

The last time I checked, the Dog Head Fire was at 96% containment, so we no longer have to worry about that, although we continue to pray for the people who did lose homes.  Despite the devastation, there was one family church still standing although everything around it had burned. Another fire started on the other side of the mountain yesterday, about 11 miles from Tajique.

If the stormy stuff continues, I need to go work in my sewing room and, with luck, put those treadles to use!

Happy quiltmaking and knitting,

Monday, June 6, 2016

Linen Rescue One

I washed the vintage linens I rescued this weekend and then put them in to soak with a washerful of Oxiclean.  I just let the washer fill on the soak cycle, turned it off, and then went in several times to let it agitate for a few seconds.  Then, around noon today, I put them through another wash cycle, but with no detergent or oxygen bleach.

If you decide to try something like this, it's important that they air dry, not dry in the dryer.
If they air dry and need to go back into an oxygen bleach solution, they can do that.  If they go into the dryer, the stains will set forever.

I'm thinking I may need to re-soak the pillow sham and the dresser scarf once I determine whether I can live with the very slight discoloration.  I think I would like to quilt both of them. It would be nice if a vintage quilted dresser scarf would motivate me to keep the top of the dresser clear.

The linens that are off-white or almost eggshell color fascinate me.  I wonder why the women of the mid-1950s to 60s decided to leave white and go to off white with that beige/gray embroidery.  I need to talk to some of them before we lose them.  One of the beige embroidered napkins looks like it had already met bleach some time in the past.  The rose-woven damask napkins are so old that their corners and hemstitching were done by hand.  They do make my heart sing!

Our little town's internet service got "backed up" as in "traffic jam" yesterday.  Some customers got re-routed; some of us just were disconnected.  I think we're back on now, but it was a throw back to old times for nearly 24 hours!  Twenty years ago all this internet connectivity was pretty much just a dream.  We've come a long way since then.  Twenty years ago I hadn't yet had the opportunity to crawl in ceilings and pull wire through a school building.  Now we are wireless.  Very nice progress!

Happy quiltmaking,

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