Monday, March 30, 2020

Mask making

Okay, so, there is a LOT of info out there for and against wearing a mask during this Covid-19 crisis...especially one that is "home sewn" and while I had planned to stay out of it, I changed my mind and decided to dedicate this post to making one for yourself.

There are a great many tutorials out there, probably the only real difference is that I have included an extra  layer of protection in the form of a Hepa filter in the ones I have made.

* Warning, you want to be certain that such filter material does not contain fiberglass or any other harmful materials.

Please understand that I am not advocating one way or the other for the reasoning behind why one might want to wear a mask, I am not in any way suggesting these be made for health care workers.....or others in that support chain unless your are specifically asked to do so.......make them for your own personal needs and that of your family.  note: at the bottom of this post you will find a link to a video where a Doctor shares his thoughts on when and why someone not in the health care sector may want to wear a mask.
Before I get into the tutorial, I am gonna preach here a minute.....These masks are NOT intended to be a substitute for the measures we have been asked to practice. Many people still don't seem to be getting the message that is so very important! Stay home, when you do have to go out stay away from others at least 2m - (6 feet), wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Keep yourself healthy and keep the rest of us healthy.

warning, this post will be photo heavy....hopefully they will help where my explanation is not clear enough.

Supply list:  High stitch count cotton or other words a densely woven fabric, elastic of some form, wire ( I used long twist ties doubled up) and lastly a vacuum cleaner bag...I am using a Hepa bag.

cut fabric as follows.
1 piece at 15" x 7"
2 pieces at 2" x 4.5"
cut 2 pieces of elastic 10" each
I cut the vacuum bag into pieces measuring roughly 6" x 6" ( I will refer to this as the filter)

we are ready to begin
start by stitching the filter in the photo you can see the is placed on the wrong side of the large piece of fabric, centered and roughly 1/4" down from one of the short edges.  stitch all around the filter

Next fold the entire piece bring the short ends together right sides together, stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance. Finger press open and turn right side out. ( avoid using an iron throughout the process as the filter has barrier film that could be damaged by the iron) 

once this piece is turned right side out, fold this piece so that the "seam" is about 1/2" down from folded edge. sew a line of stitching close to the fold and another line of stitching just under and close to the seam (see photo)

these 2 lines of stitching creates a place to insert the wire (twist tie) that will help mold the mask to the face, insert the twist tie and then run a stitching line close to it.

note that 3rd stitch line close to the inserted twist tie

the next step is to stitch all around outer edge

now we can mark for pleat placement.  the side that has the stitching that holds the filter in place is what I am calling the front of the is the side of the mask that will face the public.
To space the pleating I marked the following: I placed a mark on both right and left sides, starting from the bottom edge make a mark at 1", from this point I will give you the measurements I marked, each one is measured up from the last one you made. so the spacing will look like this. 1", 1 and 1/4", 3/4", 1 and 1/4" 3/4", 1 and 1/4" (hope this makes sense)

the pleats will face upward, begin folding the pleats upward from the bottom, the first mark  goes to the second...the third mark folds up to the fourth and so on.....fold each pleat and pin at the edge as you go.

stitch down the pleats and finger press. (again, resist the urge to use the iron here)

 time to add the binding and elastic

the binding pieces are the ones you cut 2" x 4.5". On each of these, fold in 1/4" along one long edge and press.


how it looks on the reverse side.......stitch in place

this will now fold to the front, but 1st we want to add the elastic
place one binding piece on each edge as shown in the photo......if you are unfamiliar with binding an edge.....look at the series of photos to see how this process goes.  Of course, I know that all of you in the quilting community are well versed on binding an edge

if you don't have elastic like this, you may have to improvise using hair elastics or rubber bands. You could stitch the elastic in if you wish. I did not. I tied a secure, double knot in my elastic and put it in place prior to stitching down the binding, then adjusted where the knot is. because this binding is being applied in this manner, leaving an opening top and bottom, I have access to be able to remove the elastic, put in a new one or adjust the length if need be. Stitch the loose edge down on each side and you are done.

here are the ones I made, I managed to get a total of 8 from my hepa filter vacuum bag

those of you who have been reading this blog for many years know full well that I do a lot of "testing" when I work on pretty much any project, in this case I did wash a mask and just a piece of  the filter to see if it would hold up to washing, I washed in warm soapy water and left it to air dry. I wanted to be sure that these could be washed and reused....each of us will have our own mask with our names in them. I want to know that I have a clean mask ready when I might feel the need for one.

I wanted to show you how the filter material handles liquid, this bead of water sat in place unchanged for 3 hours. The barrier film on the filter does not allow moisture to permeate through.

and finally, here is a link to a video that was shared by a friend who is a retired health professional.
It is VERY good, lots of useful information direct from a NYC doctor on the front lines who deals all day long with Covid-19 patients. it is nearly an hour long, please take the time to watch to the end.

please stay go wash your hands   :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Problem solving

A while back, I showed you an Indian Book Charkha that was given to me. At the time, I did not realize I was missing some essential bits.  I did play with it, learned how to use it, but then put it away as I could not actually create much with it. 

here is where the problem lies. I could spin, but I kept running into issues with the yarn working its way up the spindle shaft and eventually getting caught up in the mechanism which just chewed up the yarn I had spun.

Why? well because there is supposed to be a little disc that works as a stopper of sorts, I did not have those so I needed to work that out, and that was only one of the problems, I also had to figure out how I was going to get the yarn off the spindle smoothly to be able to ply it....I worked that out too!

lets start with the is how one should look... notice the little metal disc.....(this is a screen grab from The Woolery)

and here is what my spindles look like.....can you see what is missing?

I should point out that I did not get it quite right the first solution evolved so I thought I would show you the whole thing (not just the end result)

I looked around the house for disc like things.....metal washers had too large a hole, were too heavy....cardboard degrades too quickly, I needed something lightweight, rigid, super smooth and the right size to still allow room for the spindle to spin. I grabbed some fridge magnets that looked about right....I popped out the magnet itself, made a small hole with and awl in the plastic and inserted the spindle.....YES! that worked, and worked fairly well.....trouble is that these things have a very rounded edge and so I would not be able to put a lot of fibre onto each spindle before the yarn I was spinning would fall off the edge.

So, I again combed through various drawers and boxes and came across some plastic that I used to use when I made costumes.....this stuff is what I used when I needed to build rigid elements into pieces.

I cut some discs from this plastic and began using with the plastic disc from the magnets.....I now had a better, flatter surface to build the cop.......I think it took a day or so for the light bulb to come on.....I no longer needed that thick fridge magnet plastic......I could use the spindles with that cut plastic only. the image below shows the end result, it works even better than I had hoped.

my next problem was how to get the yarn to pull off smoothly so that I could ply it. I needed something to hold the spindles in the right position for this.....and that was an easy fix. I grabbed my lazy Kate that I use with the bobbins for my spinning wheel. On the side I placed some screw eyes that would allow the spindles to sit in and spin easily.  This ultra simple little modification works amazingly well.

 you still see those thicker plastic discs here because this is the yarn I spun before the light bulb came on.

I am now using the spindles modified with the white plastic which is wonderful because everything still packs nicely inside the book Charkha, and finally, here is my test mini was spun using the book Charkha and then chain plied using my spinning wheel...the fibre is merino and silk.

I should note that traditionally these Indian Book Charkhas are made for spinning cotton....I currently don't have any cotton but I was not about to let that stop me from using it

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Long overdue

Whoa!....... I have not posted here in nearly a the heck did that happen?!!

It is not that I haven't been creating, I suppose it is just that I have not spent as much time documenting my process as I used to.  But I do have some photos to share that will give you an idea of what has consuming my creative time these days.
In my last few posts I talked about my journey into that point I was using spindles to spin yarn but that all changed last summer when I had the opportunity to acquire my very own spinning wheel.
Those of you who have followed me for years know that I LOVE a challenge. My wheel was new....but here is the left the factory in 1985 exactly how I got pieces, in a box, in need of sanding, finishing and the brand new wheel I put together in 2019 was actually 34 years cool is that?!

here it is assembled and working wonderfully

In July, I was gifted this vintage Book Charkha which is a fascinating device with such an interesting history.

You likely also know that I kinda like to try to build my own tools when I can. Because I have a nice supply of raw fleece to process, I was interested in getting some wool combs for prepping fibre that I could spin on the spinning wheel....but holy cow they are very expensive and while I am sure they are worth the cost I was not prepared to spend a lot of $$$ until I could see if it was something I would enjoy doing I set out to make my own.

I found some onions holders on a clearance rack which was great cause if the experiment did not work, I wouldn't be out much.....Bonus!

I cut the plastic handles off, used some very strong double sided tape to hold them together slightly offset. I used a "found" hardwood shelf to cut into a couple of blocks of wood that the "tines" would be placed into. I borrowed my son's Dremel tool to hollow out a cavity in those blocks. that was a little labour intensive but remember....I do like a challenge. 

Once the cavity was clean and smooth I filled it with the onion holders, sawdust and wood glue. handles were made very simply with doweling. (if I ever do this again I will do something different as this is not the most ergonomic on the hands)

in the image below you can see the raw fleece locks on the left and the combed fibre on the right

These combs may not be pretty but they are holding up to the rigors of combing and actually work quite well.

My latest obsession is a result of this book I got a couple of weeks ago. It is Arne and Carlos Field Guide to Knitted Birds. oh my.....the book is gorgeous and these little birds are just way too much fun to knit and a wonderful way to use small bits of my hand spun yarn ( all but the black one in the photo have been knitted with yarn I processed, dyed and spun.)

I will try not to let so much time pass before my next post....but you can always find me on Instagram
just click the Instagram icon in the upper right corner of this blog.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Another Stash Busting Project

Okay, first of all let me was someone else's stash...and I had help (thank you Susan). A few years back, a good friend showed me some wool fabric she was planning to rid herself of. She had been a rug hooker for many years but had pretty much given up that hobby for several others, so of course, I could not resist these beautiful hand dyed wools and said that perhaps I could do something with it. Well...guess came to my house only to sit on a shelf until I finally decided I had to use it or move it on.
The challenge was that because it was a rug hookers stash, it was not "yardage", it was pieces/strips. But it was beautiful quality in a gloriously rich, wide, range of colours. I decided to make a wool throw.....something just right for draping over oneself while knitting, watching TV, reading or maybe even a little lazy afternoon snooze.

This is where Susan came in, I had way too much and needed help using this stuff up. We split the stash...I took predominantly blues and greens...Susan, reds and oranges. We also used some thrift shop finds to supplement....a kilt, a man's suit and a few other pieces were disassembled and in some cases dyed to give us exactly the extras we needed. (for some reason I don't have any of the greens pictured here)  the pile on the right was the result of some dye experiments.

I created a conceptual diagram of the sort of thing we were trying to achieve and we were off.

The next step was to make sure everything was cleanly trimmed (the trimmed bits looked too pretty to toss away.)

and to sort the pieces by size....some were as much as 11" long, others closer to 4". then we just played laying them out to make workable rows.

We decided that we would sew them together in an unconventional that we would not be dealing with tons of seams, my reasoning for this was that I knew I wanted to do big stitch quilting at the end. I think Susan was more clever and took hers to a long-armer  ( I will explain shortly)

Once we each had a pleasing layout, the pieces were simply machine stitched by butting the raw edges up to each other and using a triple zig zag which was such a pleasant sewing process.  Long vertical rows were created, then each row was attached to the next in the same manner

While I stayed very much in a subdued colour scheme, Susan on the other hand, added some brilliant, unexpected pops of colour to hers.

Susan and I each used a thin batting and found some nice Robert Kaufman flannel for our backings

A piece of soap served to mark the concentric circles which I would hand stitch using 12wt Aurifil cotton. The flannel for the back was only 45" needed to be pieced to get the required width, Susan pieced hers entirely with the flannel

...I chose to add a row of the same wool pieces used on the front to create my pieced back

These throws finished at 60" x 50" and are super cosy

the texture added by the machine quilting is fabulous!

I used striped cotton leftovers from the backing of a previous quilt for my binding.....Susan pieced wool to create her binding

I LOVE that Susan kept the labels in place from one of the up-cycled clothing pieces

Now.......time ( and use ) will tell if not having sewn traditional seams will have been a poor decision.....I must admit that I am a little concerned about how much stress the joins will endure over time. I think Susan was wise to have her quilt machine quilted as I think that will help its sturdiness and durability.

But, I have been using mine every evening for several weeks and it is not showing signs of any problems yet....."yet" being a key word.  I may go back and add more stitching to mine just the same.

oh....and btw......we were not completely successful at "stashbusting"  LOL! 

Copyright Jill Buckley