Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Call For Quilters And A Surprise For Sheepie

We don't often talk about it. I like to think that everybody just politely ignores it. But, I think that, by now, we are all familiar with The Sheep's strategy for taking up new hobbies. It is unique in it's very lack of strategy.

It all starts with me saying something like, "I've got a great idea!" This idea marinates for a while. A short while... And before I have completely thought the process through, asked any really pertinent questions, read the directions and donned the appropriate safety equipment, I'm off and running. More often than not you will find me, many dollars later, sitting in a pile of fabric, needles, pine cones or glitter muttering, "I don't know where I went wrong..." My thirty or so loyal readers sit back in either abject horror or well-meaning amusement as I fight my way back to the starting point and try again to achieve the desired whatever-the-heck-it-was that I was aiming for in the first place. I will go through this process several times before I finally get there. And, by the time I have arrived, I have, more often than not, come up with some other brilliant scheme for creating beauty out of raw materials.

It makes for good entertainment for you and is the only learning curve that works for me. What can I say? I enjoy a good symbiotic relationship...

This is how I do stuff. It is my way. However, it is not Mommy Sheep's way. Mommy Sheep reads the directions. She takes the time to figure out what she is doing well before she cuts up fifty dollars worth of designer fabric or mahogany dowels. She measures twice, cuts once. Daddy Sheep is like that, too. For that matter, Baby Brother Sheep is a rather methodical sort of fellow... What the heck happened in my genetic makeup????? I mean, you'd only have to see us all together to rule out adoption. There is no mistaking the family link, here. Sheesh...

Any-hoo...Mommy Sheep just got herself a brand new and rather fancy sewing machine. To say that she deserved it would be an understatement since her old model was the one I remembered from my childhood and I am somewhat "vintage" myself. It does all sorts of amazing and wondrous things and she has asked me if I might know of anyone who could recommend some good beginning quilting resources. She, being a reasonable sort, is looking to start with a table runner. (some of you will remember that I plunged ahead last summer on a full sized nine patch with rather sad results...) If you know of any good books or websites for the newbie quilter, would you please leave a comment for me? Mommy Sheep would be grateful and I think we would really all prefer it if she got her advice from people who know what they are doing rather than my stepping in on this one.

There was a time in my life when I wouldn't have believed that I could just type up a few paragraphs, hit "Publish Post" and be guaranteed that a response would come. But I know now that there will be some help on this one in my in-box before I can say, "Gee, I wonder if anyone is even reading this thing..." Because, you see, people are nice. Very nice. How do I know this? Well, there are examples of it every day and so many people have been nice to me right on this very blog. Sometimes, though, you get a reminder that is overwhelming in its generosity. Sometimes, you get an email from none other than Snooze.

For those who don't know of Susie, she dyes things. Beautiful things. Specifically, she dyes woolly things. And people buy them. They buy them so darned fast that I don't know how she keeps up. Last summer, when I had a pair of socks go tragically wrong, she sent me a skein of her hand painted sock yarn to soothe my ego a bit. Now, all my handknit socks are favorites in their own way...but these babies saw a lot of wear. The colors were perfect, held up to washing and went with darned near everything I owned. And the yarn? Mmmmm.....

So what is a Sheep to do when someone this talented notices that she is a spinner and offers up some handpainted roving for sock yarn? A Sheep says yes, that's what she does! And when Susie learned that I am a self-taught spinner who would like to take a stab at doing things the right way for a change, she even offered to send a book along that would be helpful in mastering techniques. Wow!!!

I awaited my package with all the giddy anticipation of a school girl! I was expecting a smallish box with the average two to four ounce package of roving and a book. Imagine my surprise when I opened the not-so-smallish box and found this:

No...I am not kidding.
Along with the hand dyed merino came a sample of almost every wool known to sheepkind with Susie's hope that I was feeling better and would enjoy experimenting and playing with different fibers. I was stunned...stunned beyond words for a moment, there. (believe it or not)

Even Desdemona was beside herself...she is a great lover of the woolly things. Note the somewhat greedy expression in her little eyes. I may have to watch her...
I won't list all the lovely fibers that came in this box 'o happy as you will be hearing all about them when the hit the dye pot, spindle and wheel over the next few months. I'll just let you look forward to I am!!! There are really no words that can begin to express my thanks for such a wonderful gesture. A simple Thank You is the best I can do and yet it seems like so little. You are the best, Susie! I will follow your directions to the letter, play with it and enjoy it to the utmost! You made my day! Heck, you made a good chunk of my summer vacation!
Now, I must bid you all good day while I go whirl various spindles and wheels, make some needles click and review the dye supply. 'Cause, ya know what?
I think I have a great idea!!!


Debbie said...

Oooh, quilting! Something I wish I had much more time for. Although I can imagine that catsmum would have some great links, here are some that I've found very helpful, and hope that Mommy Sheep will enjoy them too. All the links have lots of patterns and great directions, as well as other resources including conversion tables, templates, and such. Here goes --

Ronni said...

I'm afraid I haven't got any quilting resources for you. I used to go to my lqs with my questions. Sadly they closed a couple of years ago. And pretty much, I haven't quilted since they did. Keepsake Quilting is kinda-sorta in your neck of the woods For generous values of "your neck of the woods" anyway. Day trip distance maybe? Anyway, they do have a brick and mortar store in addition to the mail-order and online shop I have used. They might have classes or something.

I tend to leap right in, too. Though I have been known to start web searching like crazy a day later in an attempt to get myself out of whatever huge hole I just jumped into. Then when that doesn't work, whatever it is joins the huge pile of unfinished objects and I start all over again.

What a lovely surprise box! I hope you're feeling better so you can play with your new lovelies as soon as possible.

Mel said...

You and Mommy Sheep need to make a trip to Quiltessentials in Auburn. It's quilting and yarn all in one shop and Betsy is wonderful (she was at Spa). All the staff are wonderful, actually, and it's the one (and only) thing I miss about living in Auburn.

Aside from that, she might look into local adult education classes. My mom has taken a couple quilting classes in Waterville and has really enjoyed them.

Beth said...

Hey, that's the spindle book I've been reading! I watched a You Tube spinning video tonight and I think I figured out one of my problems. My yarn is looking a little more like yarn now. :)

What a terrific package!!! Are you going to create a notebook to keep detailed notes about each of the fibers and how they spun up? :)

I'm glad you've gotten some quilting tips for Mommy Sheep. I learned a lot from the classes I took at my lqs.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine learned to quilt at an adult ed class at our local HS several years ago. She makes the lovliest quilts now. Mommy Sheep may want to call the local school and see if they off anything. Other than that, I have no suggestions as I cannot even sew a straight seam.

What a great package you've got there! That should keep you busy for a while. BTW, I think I know what I've been doing wrong on the spindle! I practiced a bit tonight and plan to practice each day until I am spinning something that actually resembles yarn!

Susie said...

So spin already! And feel better!


catsmum said...

Debbie has already given you some really good links ... but what I actually wanted to chime in with is that, even with all the fabbo stuff on the net, I really think that there's no substitute for a good beginners class. That said though, if Mummy Sheep wants to sign up for a class somewhere, whether that be at a LQS or Continuing Ed or whatever, it is vitally important that she ask the right questions. How long does the class go for? What is covered? [ eg.Does it actually cover quilting and finishing or is it assumed that she knows this stuff? ] What experience [of teaching ] does the tutor have? If it's through a LQS, is she expected to buy all supplies there? There are no "right" answers, but it is probably essential to know whether Mummy Sheep is a Product Sheepie or a Process Sheepie. Does she want to know it all or does she just want to make A QUILT ... one quilt ... for such and such a room.
Once she works out what it is she wants to know, THEN it's a lot easier to find the right person, book or website to teach her.

catsmum said...

and of course all of the above also applies to table runners :]

Teri S. said...

I scoured the internet when I was trying to design a quilt for a friend's baby. Here are a couple that I found useful:

The book that I turn to the most (ha ha) is Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!. It's a project book, with some how-to, and the directions are very clear. I made my first (and only) hand-pieced and hand-quilted quilt from this book.

That Susie is awesome. You're going to have hours and hours of fun. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Anonymous said...

M Sheep wants to thank all those wonderful friends of the Shheep that sent on helpful hints. I will be reading many books and visiting web sites to learn more. One suggestion was about a trip to Auburn with the Sheepish One, and believe me that is already being planned. You followers are a gifted group.

Cathy said...

What a delight you must be in person when we all adore you via the 'net!!

trek said...

Go, Mommy Sheep, go!

Hey, Sheepie, guess what came in my mail yesterday! Guess!

Melissa said...

Hi, thanks for the wonderful validation on frogging the ill-fitting socks. I have recently found your blog and am really enjoying it.

I really envy you being able to try all those wonderful fibers. SO far all I have been able to try is BFL & some Louet Northern Lights pencil roving. Your posts are leading me into temptation though. Maybe I need to add a fiber rule to my yarn diet.

Hope you have fun spinning up all that fiber.

Sheila said...

I'm drooling over your new lucky girl.