The thing that surprised me most? How much fun it was. Every day I looked forward to coming home from work, hopping on my computer and joining the ongoing discussion.
“How did sweater shopping go?” “What colors did you find?” “Who’s got a blanket ‘first draft’ laid out?” “Are you making yours for a girl or a boy?”
I miss it!!
Finally—here’s a little gallery of our work. I figure we were able to complete about 15 blankets, and here are 11 of them. The variety reflects the regions in which we live, what our resale shops held the day(s) we went shopping, aaaand…our many personalities. (Click on each photo to view it larger.)
The best part: how these bright and talented people made our virtual classroom feel pretty darn near to a real one.
Patti’s ready to ship
Ranae’s final draft
Ranae’s finished blanket
Ranae’s ready to ship
Linda’s finished blanket
Pocket finger puppets
Linda’s ready to ship
I love pockets :)
Ana Maria’s blanket
Annie’s with red border
Annie’s ready to ship
Annie’s black border
Timary’s first draft
Timary’s final blanket
Pat’s final blanket
Details on Pat’s blanket
Cris’ final draft
Cris’, awaiting binding
Cris’ finished blanket
Diane’s finished blanket
My finished blanket
¹”Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Argyle! Stripes! Patchwork! Puppy applique! There’s been a flurry of activity on the Facebook page where close to 20 creative women sewed their own sensibilities into felted wool blankets. I coached them with Green Sheep-style techniques and these sewists brilliantly took it from there.
We have been virtually planning, sewing, struggling, encouraging, and finally FINISHING our blankets alongside each other. I am charmed to see the beautiful work of these women and to imagine their gifts in the hands of youngsters around the world, via the simple shoe boxes we’re madly packing to be collected by Operation Christmas Child this week.
I made a blanket right along with the class, filming the process as I went. I made it for a boy this time, in the 5-9 age range. (I wanted to mix it up, as last year’s was for a girl.)
This blanket has cashmere and merino wools, a striped bias binding, and best of all, two pockets that button. I called it “Wacky Pockets” because one of the pockets is upside down.
Or maybe the other one is. It’s hard to tell.
Anyway, it’s been fun to think about a little boy this year, especially for this mom-of-two-daughters. I enjoyed picking out small, interesting things to pack in his shoe box.
So much stuff can fit in there! Because I am a container lover, I bought three for this little guy. One for his soap, a lock-top one in which the socks are packed, and a round, screw-top one. The Slinky and some awesome rubber-tip clips (from the hardware aisle!) fit perfectly inside it.
And now it’s off. Wing your way, little box, to a precious boy who could use your stuff.
I’m pretty sure this wish is the same for all the other women in our class. May the kids be blessed as much as we have by this little project. ♥
Last weekend I was at Art in the Barn 2017 in Barrington, Illinois. Although it was 94 degrees (!!) it was a wonderful couple of days.
I’m grateful Walmart still had battery-operated misting fans on their (clearance) shelves. I was able to share them and keep cool myself. I’m also grateful to my hubby for filling our ice chest with chilled waters to hand out to people through the weekend. Without the fans or the water, The Green Sheep may have had a two very tough days. It’s wool, people!
(By the way, those misting fans? They are a huge hit with young boys.)
I don’t do many shows (because so much of my work is custom orders), so it’s extra fun for me to meet people who enjoy wool and its colors as much as I do. Thank you to every single one of you who stopped by in the muggy heat and dared to think about blankets. I loved talking with you. Special recognition to you who tried on wool vests (and then bought them!). I commend you for your imagination for cooler weather ahead, and I hope you’re having fun making outfits with your new vests now that fall is really here.
Thank you all too, for your gate tickets and other purchases that contributed to the Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Auxiliary and their worthwhile causes. It’s much appreciated.
[Photo credit: artinthebarn-barrington.com]
A surprising highlight came at the very end of Day 1, when I was folding up blankets to close down my tent for the night. Master juror Eulalio Fabie de Silva and chair Sharon Vogel approached me with an award for Best of Fiber 2017. A very fun honor!
Several of you told me you follow me online—what a kick that was for me! Many of you are fellow sewists and I love comparing notes. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to get a photo with you until it was too late. Next time, okay? I would value keeping names, faces, and stories together.
Finally, a special “thank you” to my faithful friend and photographer Kellyann Harmon of Kellwood Studio Photography for loaning me her vintage dress form and her wavy mirror for my “fitting room.” They were perfect :).
I challenged myself this year to design and refine a vest pattern for Art in the Barn 2017. YES! I’m loving the result. And now I have 5 vests ready for the show THIS WEEKEND!
These are one-size-fits-most/medium, with variations in length and give in the fabric. The pattern’s throw-back cowl neck and loose, swingy fit create a vest that lays well and looks attractive on many body shapes and sizes. Allow me to introduce:
#1 Blue and Gray Inspired by my obsession with turquoise and silver $195
#2 Black and Tan Versatile! $195
I see gourds and leaves. What do you see? $195
#4 Foresty Green Named for the evergreens that beckon us toward winter $195
Art in the Barn 2017 is soon here! I’ll be there, centrally located at space 45, and honored to be among such a fine group of artists and artisans. Mark your calendar if you’re local—it’s Just one more month until this enjoyable show opens! It’s a great size (175 artists, so not overwhelming) and the quality of art is wonderful. It’s a perfect time of year to appreciate a Midwest fall, and not too early to think about holiday gifts. If you’ve never experienced a Green Sheep blanket in person, come wrap up in one!
With Art in the Barn coming up quickly, I’ve continued work on The Beatitudes blanket series enthusiastically. There are now four completed blankets, with ideas for the rest. “Blessed are the Meek” and “Thirsting for Righteousness” were posted earlier. Today I have two more.
It is hoped for but seems unlikely.
It comes when it is not deserved.
It comes in waves, on a swell of relentless love.
It comes in layers, emotional, immense, overwhelming.
Its arrival throws one off-balance.
It comes with surprises and it surprises when it is given.
This is a question I am frequently asked! Actually, I leave my narrow seams raw. It means the back of a blanket is a lot like the inside of the shirt or jeans you have on. (Spoiler alert: This is not true for the blanket in the current post!)
Reason #1 I love the drape of these stitched-together swaths of wool. They’re malleable. They move with cohesion and lightness. They can do this because there is no back to impede this.
Reason #2 To apply a backing to the various shifting, stretchable knits (from a mixture of sweaters) that comprise one blanket requires a LOT of careful and precise stabilizing. Yards of hand-basting and dozens of safety pins come into play. Except it’s more workout and less play! It takes a strong back to hold, pin, and baste while leaning over the work surface for an extended period. The time needed to do this well translates into a higher cost per blanket.
In sum, if an appropriate backing does not spoil the drape and the hand of the finished wool piece, it can be a lovely thing. Yet its cost in time, money, and back wear is high. STILL! Despite my carefully studied conclusions above, I have a backed blanket to show you.
It happened like this:
My client wanted a wedding gift of a lap blanket for her niece and husband. Serendipitously, for a project I was experimenting with, I had recently assembled several sweaters into a piece in the very colors she desired. I showed her. Perfect! But the fabric was too lightweight to hold its own as a lap blanket.
This client has worked with me before—she’s mylap-size blanket aficionado—and knows I’m a no-backing kind of gal. But she asked if I’d consider putting one on this time. I contemplated. If ever there was a time to try my hand at this, it would be with this manageably-sized blanket. I said yes.
I chose a very soft cotton flannel for the back, keeping the blanket cozy and pliable, and bound the edge with cashmere. While I considered doing some fancy quilt-type top stitching, I don’t have enough experience to know how to effectively conquer the shift and bunch-up challenges caused by the knit. I instead stitched along the stripe lines of the blanket.
Mid-project, my client brought to me some pieces of satin and lace she had found from her mother’s wedding dress. Could I use them? If so, the niece would have “something old” from her grandmother’s wedding dress permanently part of this wedding gift blanket.
There was enough lace to span two long edges, and enough satin to sew up three bridal flowers. I love the touch of antique white and the family presence and significance that comes with it.
Congratulations, Erica and Brian!
Like lace, may your marriage be unique and ever-intriguing;
like satin, may it ever be deep and rich.