Welcome to A Tranquil Nook Blog

We welcome you to follow along on our crafty adventures. Frank is a farmer by day, jewelry and hand braided cord-maker by night. Jane simply fiddles with fabric and fiber any time she can. We share things about what we make, how we make it, where you can get it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine Theme Apron using Vintage Pattern

Red & Gold scroll heart shapes cotton print pair with gold tone silk dupioni to create this vintage inspired frilly Valentine theme apron. This was my first time using this pattern so maintained the sizing and not many changes to the original details of Simplicity 4479
However, the waist tie was kept small and the shoulder straps were cut in 1 piece instead of two. Always needing to add an original touch, met that need by creating a hair bow to compliment the apron.
Apron front view:

Apron Back View:
Well this is a very slim dressform, and still the back does not close nearly as tightly as the pattern shows Whoo Whee - this one size fits all pattern, really only fits a slim person. Waist 24 to 28 inches. Well gosh, I have not seen that size in 40 years. So it will take some revisions to make this style fit a wider range of body sizes. :D

Still, it is cute and will look lovely on a slim frame. I think it will be worthwhile to revise, alter and update this pattern. The frills are enchanting. It was fun to make the ruffle, even though time consuming. My ideas are: to lengthen the bib to come higher on a fuller bust; to increase the width of the center panel just a tad; to make neck straps that tie/or a halter strap, rather than shoulder straps; keep the waist tie narrow.

For those of you who, like me, revel in details, here are some specifics.

To make the ruffle, torn crossgrain strips of silk dupioni, tiny hemstitched on one edge, basting stitch (5.0) on the other edge.
Because the full length to be ruffled and sewn onto the apron center and sides was so long, the center was done in two pieces. Gathered to half length of ouside circumference of center piece then pined and sewn in place like so:
leaving about 3 inches open at start and finish. Then pinned & sewed the other half in place. Stitched the ends together, gathered, and sewed that section of ruffle down.
To neaten the seam edges, serged them together, pressed, added rick rack to top, as shown below.

The hair bow is an oval, with the same ruffle and rick rack detail. Covered the back with a piece of the silk dupioni and hand sewed the hair clip in place.



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tutorial: Basic needle-felting: Part 1: gathering supplies

Needling for Newbies - a series of tutorials for people goofy enough to use wicked sharp barbed needles to create soft lovely felt stuff from sheep fleece .

Some of the things I've made by jabbing sheep fleece with barbed needles:
Want to see more examples? click here.

Needle felting is relatively easy and many people can achieve a nice product.
HOWEVER - There is a risk of injury to self or others. The needles are loooong, barbed and extremely sharp - will really tear flesh. Kind of like a multi fanged fish hook without the bend.
To make felt, the needle is jammed repeatedly into the fleece, thus endangering fingers is a real risk.

It is important to find a quiet work space where one can focus and remain attentive while felting. Being bashed with a ball, bumped by someone roughhousing, or having a young child or pet grab the needle can lead to disaster and Pain.

Store felting needles with the tip covered or stuck in a wool ball in a closed box or canister; out of reach of young children and pets.

Still want to try it? Here is what you will need:

***Felting needles
one will do but two is grand
look for
36 or 38 gauge -- the workhorses -- bigger of the two (needles get smaller in diameter as the number gets bigger)

40 gauge -- the finisher -- takes forever to make a project with this fine needle, however it leaves a smoother surface- so great to use at the end to fine finish the project

The odd, unfriendly to hold, shape is due to these being industrial needles. Manufactured to fit into huge many needled looms that pound into fiber to create commercial felt. Fiber artists began using the loom needles for hand feltmaking in the early 1970s.

Some people find the skinny needle tops difficult to hold and make handles out of corks, clay or tape. Personally, I use them as is when single needling. These days a number of needle holders are available:
These are ones I own, hand turned wooden holders. Some similar ones are available through Mielkes' Fiber Arts. There are also longer ones, more pencil like, I just never felt the need to try them as I like using the plain needle for detail work. Some commercial needle holders may also be available in your local craft store.

***Wool fiber for felting Wool Batt and wool roving
Wool batt is lightly processed sheep fleece - it has been washed and carded. It is rolled off the carding drum and packaged. (Batts from woolen mills usually come in huge big rolls - are mostly used inside quilts and comforters, also for inside of futons, and for wet and dry felt making). Lovely large natural ivory/white batt is available locally from Bemidji Woolen Mills.

There are now smaller personal use carding machines and some people are making and selling smaller batts on sites such as Etsy and Zibbet. Some are natural colors, some are hand dyed by the sellers. Specialty fiber shops such as Mielkes' Fiber Arts and Outback Fibers are great sources for batt and roving.

Usually wool batt felts well, fairly quickly, and gives a firm tight felt

Roving - the next step up the fiber chain. Roving develops from a lengthy carding process; the drum keeps circling until the fibers run straight and lay in large wrist thick strands on the carding drum. Roving is easier to handle and dye than batt, so you will find it in many colors. Roving is used to spin yarn - so if you know a spinner find out where they get their roving or see if you can get some odds and ends of roving from them.

There are good felting rovings and poor felting rovings.

Romney roving from Mielke Fiber Art Farms is very consistent. It felts firmly with medium level of effort, works up fast with the workhorse needle (38) and will look best if surface is finished with the smaller size needle (40) if a smooth surface appearance is desired.

*** caution: Avoid superwash roving - I know because this is what is available in my town - I was so excited roving was locally available- alas- It turns out it has been treated with a process called superwash to make it washable and keep it from shrinking. The spinners like it, because they can spin it easily and then when they knit things, the item can be laundered easily with no shrinking. However, the superwash calms down the natural scales on the shafts and those scales are what make the wool fiber felt well.

Wool YarnWool yarn can be used for details, wrapping, etc. Incorporating wool yarn in needle felting is a great way to use up scraps and bits. Tapestry yarn, Needle point yarn, Crewel yarn, single spun, twisted, handspun -- look for 100% wool. The more loosely spun, the easier it is to incorporate into a needle felted item.

Foam cushion or pillow for work surface

At least 1 inch thick, 2 inches is better. Identify a work space at a table with plenty of room for the cushion on top of the table.

Felting needles are fairly brittle. Needles break easily if twisted when poking into the felting piece or if hit on a solid object -like the table top. The foam work top makes the work safer and easier.

Cookie Cutter or Play Dough Form

Definition of carding, roving and picture of carding drum

Ayala Talpai "The Felting Needle: from Factory to Fantasy, second ed 2001; published by Diligence Woodwork & Design, ISBN # 0-9706453-0-9

all about needles - a great description many sizes and types of needles, plus how, when, why of using each one

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Organizing and Cleaning

In the Studio, things have changed...... FOR the Better! Hurray Hurah!
Yay, just had my most successful "organize and spring clean" of a room ever. Yep, just one room, the main studio workroom. But my oh my it feels good to have it pretty, shiny, and functional.
In the past, I've always stopped/given up before getting the last bits accomplished. AND - am so proud, did not do the shuffle - you know just dump stuff from the room being cleaned into another room :D. I channeled the owners of Let's Clean House: Jenn for organizing and Tammy for cleaning; so glad I did! Thanks to both for coaching and working with me to get myself to this level.It feels so good. (*disclaimer, they did not ask me to post this.) I started out hiring them to come out and help me downsize, arrange and clean. They were so great and the main house is so much nicer, mainly because it is more functional. It is easier to clean and put things away. Now have their twice a month house cleaning service, so that at least 2x a month the entire house shines. While I've gotten better, am still not Tammy fast and cannot seem to get all rooms polished in one day.
Anyway, have learned enough to tackle the studio on my own. It is slower, still, am feeling so good about being able to do it, and do it well on my own.
In parting my cheer is: whether you want skills, concepts, encouragement to do it yourself; or if you need physical help to get it done faster, Let's Clean House, is an excellent choice. One I'm so glad I made.

Thanks Ladies!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Garden Planning

Here at Tranquility Pastures, Frank draws up a garden plot plan about this time every year. First he reviews last years plan.

Tranquility Pastures Garden 2010

We change direction of rows each year and row placement. Plus we check the freezer packed/canned record to see what veggies we have aplenty and figure out how much we hope to put up from this year's garden. From that he determines amount to plant.
As an example here is part of the blank record that will be filled in for 2011 -- Tranquility Pastures Food Storage Log template

This year we are factoring in purchased produce too; such as heirloom potatoes from Chill Creek Ridge, lettuce from Full Moon Farm, celery and basil from Kroeger and Rixen Farm, sweet corn from Molnar Gardens. Our own garden will focus on vegetables we freeze or can, such as beets, peas, tomatoes, carrots.

That is how we plan our garden plot, totally functional for our food needs. And looking to others for specialty items or things they simply do better than we do considering our soil and light conditions.

I love the home grown food, will work the garden, can and/or freeze the fruits and veggies; but admit am not much of an outdoor or kitchen person, prefer to be inside working with fabric and fiber. Now making the hat to shade my face and neck while grubbing in the dirt, or the apron to wear when canning, that is where my passion lies. :D

What is your story? Do you put up your own food? Grow or buy produce? How do you plan your garden, if you garden? Tips, tricks, thoughts to share?