By Judy Moore Pullen
Working and playing with wool is wonderful, whether it is wool for applique, a wool background, or Persian Wool Yarn for stitching. It is also such a joy to stitch with friends like the Blanco Quilters on the Square. We met together to learn, stitch, and enjoy the company of like-minded friends for the day in the charming hill country town of Blanco, Texas where there is more creativity and generosity than one can shake the proverbial stick at.
Guild members and several guests, including a teenage granddaughter, Nora, gathered around several tables to conduct the necessary business of being a quilt guild, promoting education, and serving the community. Then things heated up when we turned on several crock pots and dyed wool using onion skins, transfer of color from pieces of red and green wool, and dip-dyed with Kool Aid. While the wool cooked, we discussed how and why to felt wool for applique, the benefit of felting wool, and sources for obtaining this wonderful fiber.
Kits contained everything needed to stitch an 11” square block that could be the beginning of a table topper, book cover, or center of a table runner. Pattern pieces were traced on freezer paper, cut out, and pressed to felted wool. Wool shapes were then cut out and positioned on a white wool background. Students were encouraged to use the accompanying photo for placement or to arrange pieces of wool however they and their hearts desired. What a joy to see and hear students interacting with each other, complimenting and encouraging friends.
In preparation for playing with threads, students were instructed to position Colonial Needle Grip-Its on forefinger and thumb on their dominant stitching hand. The repetitive motion of gripping and pulling a needle can result in hand and finger stress, but the Grip-Its are so helpful in pulling a needle through fabric. Then, Presencia Perle Cotton in several sizes, Presencia Floss, and Colonial Persian 100% Wool Yarn and their uses were demonstrated and samples were passed around. Students practiced threading John James Chenille and Tapestry Needles with Colonial Needle Threaders. Stripping floss for appliqueing with embroidery stitches was demonstrated. Students were encouraged to consider combining several strands of floss with a contrasting color of perle cotton just for fun, creating their own original variegated thread effect. We began appliqueing with a simple running stitch and chenille needle. Then, a tapestry needle was threaded with a contrasting color of thread to slide under the running stitches and weave back and forth, creating a one-of-a-kind serpentine effect.
Wool applique is often done using a whip stitch with matching thread color. However, playing with Colonial Persian Wool Yarn for applique was great fun. We talked about how and where to begin a blanket stitch, wrapping a perle cotton running stitch with wool yarn, appliqueing down the center of a leaf or around a heart shape with a daisy chain and wool yarn, then wrapping the outside edge of the stitch with a contrasting color of perle or floss.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon playing with wool and threads, snacking on treats from the dessert table, and doing the Great Reveal: showing the results of our crock pot dyeing. Each dyed piece was a surprise, and several guild members went home with samples. Quilters love door prizes!!
And I loved spending the day with friends who were so eager to learn, to share, and to stitch. Students were encouraged to return to next month’s guild meeting with a completed wool applique piece from the class. I am always learning from my students. My students inspired me to stitch and dye more with wool, and to vacuum less…
Judy Moore Pullen