It has been one year since I began making and sharing videos, and it has been a year full of so many wonderful adventures. Now with the beginning of another Tour de Fleece at hand, I took some time to select the fiber I hope to spin and reflect on the stories that accompany most of my fiber. Like many other spinners, I enjoy purchasing fiber from the breeders who know and love their animals. It is such a joy to learn of the animals, and in some cases meet the animals that provide me with such lovely fiber.
It has been a joyful year of fiber, filming, and fun. I look forward to another year yet to come, and anticipate all the new challenges I will give myself in order to keep growing as I unwind with fiber and fabric.
Every year when Tour de Fleece nears, the chatter includes discussion of challenges and goals. Tour de Fleece (TdF) is a wonderful opportunity for personal challenge, and for growth as a spinner. In years past, I have spun through large quantities of fiber and tackled challenging spinning techniques. This year I plan to take a different approach – to go Wild & Free – to keep it simple.
In its own way, this will be the challenge.
The only prep for this year’s fiber has already been completed – everything has been through a bath (except for some of the alpaca which may or may not get spun this TdF). I have Angora, Pygora, Cashmere, Alpaca, Bison, Mohair, and many different sheep breeds to choose from. Each day I will spin 1 ounce of fiber (different animal every couple days), and will ply the singles every 4-5 days. Certain fibers will spin up fast and others will take longer – 1 ounce of fiber can take a long while to spin when it is ultra fine Angora, but is a breeze to spin when it it Leicester Longwool.
No carding, no combing, no dye, and maybe some time spent spinning in nature – 23 days of keeping things simple.
I put together a short video of my sample spin. This sample helped me decide that 1 ounce rather than 2 was wiser if I hoped to get anything else done each day. Plus it reminded me of just how much I do enjoy spinning Wild & Free.
A creative splash of inspiration can be shoved aside when stress dominates. It is easy for creativity to be subdued by lack of energy, health issues, worries, and demands on our time. Yet if we think of those splashes of inspiration as miniature pieces of art unto themselves, we can treasure them up until the right moment allows us to develop them into something much larger.
This week a couple of my splashes of inspiration finally found their way into completed items. A pattern designed, a technique tried, a task completed – all in their due time.
In patchwork quilting, as in life, something might look more complicated than it really is. Taken as a whole, a problem or a quilt, might intimidate us and cause us to doubt our ability. However with a bit of deconstruction, a simple solution is often revealed.
In this video, I will show what happens when you mix two simple blocks. This particular pattern is basic and may not trick the eye as much as other combinations will. That is why I chose it. It changes the way our eyes see the blocks, but it doesn’t play tricks on our eyes (I will have one of those to share soon).
I have made this quilt pattern such that any combination of 12″ blocks could be substituted. Calculations for fabric would be slightly different depending on the designs chosen, but the calculations should be good estimates for other blocks. Over the next weeks/months, I will be adding more basic blocks to the collection. While the patchwork pieces will get ever-so-slightly more challenging, the use of the blocks in a quilt top will stay basic.
Embracing the good things of the past does not require for us to embrace the less good things as well. It is possible to cherish the good, and leave the bad as a remnant to gather dust rather than a relic to invite worship.
Learn from History rather than Ingest the Myth
It is not erasing history or rewriting history when we acknowledge that history if full of imperfect people. Nor is it protecting history when we whitewash over the sorrowful things imperfect people did or wrote before better practices and choices were available.
What we should strive not to do is to celebrate the bad as well as the good. We should carefully evaluate what history teaches rather than simply ingest the tale that we call history.
After taking a week off to do a bit of spinning, I am ready to share another patchwork project – or two.
These are two of my favorite blocks. One of them may look familiar to those who have been following my blog and videos. I used it for the Festive Placemats last year. The other block looks a bit more complicated, but with a little trick in the sewing, it comes together quite quickly.
The principle that when the complicated is broken down into pieces, a simple path forward is usually exposed is one of the great lessons patchwork quilting teaches us.
Once again, I am sharing the patterns. You can find the download links just below the video of each project.
In an effort to help answer the question, “How do I begin?” or more specifically, “How do I begin quilting?”, I have embarked on a project of creating simple patchwork quilt projects.
I believe that pointing in the direction of a path, and providing a map, is often better than holding a person’s hand as they journey on the path.
It is with this philosophy that I have embarked on my current adventure to create simple patterns and accompanying videos. No fuss and nothing to sell, just tip-n-tricks, and a bit of pithy ponderings.
There are many wonderful tutorials on the internet and in libraries, both in book and video formats. These materials can help the quilter on their journey, and I highly recommend seeking them out. However when I am asked the basic question of how to get started, I often do not have a concise direction in which to point. So I have resurrected a project I began years ago, and I have tried to make it better fit into the modern world – a world where the video helps us learn when classrooms are often out of reach.
I have created a playlist on YouTube for ease in finding these specific projects. In this first project video, I demonstrate the basic construction of the classic Nine Patch block and the construction of a small quilt featuring this block. I have also created a PDF pattern for free download.