Friday, September 22, 2017

Stash Enhancement

sock yarn and tea
After the tour of the woolen mill on Saturday, we drove north to Sheridan, WY to visit The Fiber House, a wonderful yarn shop, stuffed with luscious yarn. With great difficulty, I kept my stash enhancement limited to one fun-colored skein of sock yarn. The tea from Mystic Monks Coffee - also located in Wyoming - was purchased at the woolen mill. More information about the monks can be found here.

To help break up the three-hour road trip, we played games on the bus (thank you, Sara for this idea). I selected a skein of sock yarn (big surprise, right?) and a cute box to store knitting notions from the prize bag.

The trip was enjoyable - I did some knitting, chatted with friends, learned a great deal about the processing wool into yarn,  and saw a lot of Wyoming through the windows of the bus.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Knitting Hats

baby hats knit with scrap sock yarn
The two hats on the top were knit with scraps from this pair of socks, the pink tone hat was knit with scraps from a shawl that has yet to be blocked, and the small hat in the front was knit with assorted scrap sock yarn. I enjoy the helical stripe technique when using assorted scraps, especially when I use a solid yarn for the coordinating and dominate color.

The helical stripe technique is easy and fun technique - have you tried it yet?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Preparing & Pouring the Bronze

testing the temperature of the molten bronze
August 2017
Eagle Bronze Foundry
Lander, WY
As Sue and I exited the plaster and drying room, we discovered two men preparing to pour molten bronze into molds. One of the men tested the temperature of the bronze with a long rod with a thermometer at the end.
removing the molds from the kiln where the wax was
melted, leaving a mold of plaster
As the temperature increased, the molds were removed from a kiln. The kiln melts the wax inside the mold, leaving only a mold of plaster. Our guide told us the melted wax is captured and reused many times.

The  molds were placed in a bed of sand. You can see the glowing crucible of molten bronze with a bar clamped on it.

carefully, the molten bronze is poured into the waiting molds
the amount of strength it takes to handle the crucible
 filled with molten bronze was evident. 
The man on the right without the protective gear came in and help with the pour because a new worker did not have the strength to handle the crucible. Our guild told us, it was imperative the metal be poured while it was at the correct temperature or the crucible would be ruined. Any bronze remaining after the molds are filled are poured into the metal ingot molds near the man's feet.

Ten minutes later, the bronze is cooling in the plaster molds.
Note the mold on the bottom left was not poured because
there was not enough bronze left in the crucible.
Once the bronze-filled molds have cooled completely, the plaster is broken away.
components of a bronze statue with the plaster mold removed
box of bronze ingots - destined to become statues
Next, assembling the statues. . .

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Using Fabric Strings

hot pads and coaster
Last week, Mary H. showed the sewing group her technique in making coasters and bowls using clothesline and fabric strips. I have several of Mary's coasters and have admired the bowls she's made and was thrilled when I heard the September program was learning the technique.

I made the light blue table pad the day of the class, and the large hot pad (9 x 13") and a mug coaster (5") when I got home.

I haven't tried making a bowl yet, but I will soon. Thank you Mary for a fun class.

The coaster technique is explained here and the bowl technique is explained here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Woolen Mill Tour

Mountain Meadow Woolen Mill is one of the few
mills that processes wool from the raw fleece to the
finished product of roving or yarn. 
Saturday, I joined several Guild members for a three-hour bus trip to the Mountain Meadow Woolen Mill in Buffalo, WY.  We ventured over the Big Horn mountains and encountered snow on the summit, but once we arrived in Buffalo, the roads were dry and the air crisp.

The mill is small but inclusive: they process from fleece to yarn in the large warehouse building. I hope you enjoy seeing the photos from the trip. 

Guild members began the mill tour by learning some of the background
on how and why the mill was started ten years ago.
Mountain Meadow Woolen Mill, Buffalo, WY
September 16, 2017
The skirting process was explained 
Ben explained how the skirting process not only removes vegetable matter
but also short cuts that can occur during shearing 
wool grease is a by-product of the scouring process.
The equipment in the mill ranges in age and some machines
were manufactured and/or obtained overseas. The machines
 often came without instruction manuals or the instructions
were in Spanish or Portuguese. The mill had to be innovative
to get the machinery running.
The wool is sent through drum carders as well as
pin drop machines to make sure the wool fibers
are parallel. Guild members were able to feel the
difference between the processes from the samples
shown in the box
The pin drop machines have fine combs that separate
the wool fibers. The wool is put through the process
several times. 
The wool is guided through a pin drop machine
drum carders
spinning the wool onto bobbins
one of the many boxes of wool being spun into yarn at the spinning machine

The spinning machine was turned on during our Saturday visit, and Ben demonstrated how quickly a broken strand could be repaired.

Large bobbins filled with yarn
Once the yarn is on the bobbin, it is skeined and then
wrapped on cones.
This machine wraps the yarn from a skein onto a cone
Some of the yarn is also dyed at the mill, and the
mill store has many gorgeous skeins for sale.
Buyers can also purchase roving from a variety of
sheep or exotic breeds. 
Finished wool items are also for sale (sweaters, hats,
mittens, throws) in the mill shop

The owners and founders of Mountain Meadow Wool share their story in the following video:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sue's Eagle

patriotic panel embroidered by Sue O.
August 2017
Sue O. gave me the eagle panel for a Quilt of Valor, and I pondered a design that would complement and showcase Sue's work.

I searched for patterns online and in magazines, and finally found something that I thought would work in Evelyn Sloppy's Sew One and You're Done book. I sketched the design, calculated the measurements, cut the fabric, and started sewing.

Sue's Eagle
Quilt of Valor
58 x 70 inches
I love how it looks and how the eye is drawn into the center panel. Sue, thank you for making this Quilt of Valor possible.

Sue's Eagle is Quilt of Valor #121

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Quilt of Valor
58 x 70 inches
Community was made with 2.5 inch scraps from previous quilts, backings, and bindings. I love this pattern (Simple Simon by Daniela Stout, given to me by Sheri H.) a couple of years ago. It's a great and quick way to use the strips.

I tried Bonnie Hunter's "webbing" technique while sewing the blocks together.

Community is Quilt of Valor #120

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finishing the Molds

Plaster room
The large drum mixes the plaster of paris that coats the wax molds. Once the mold is covered with the plaster, it is then covered with sand.

Wax molds covered with plaster and sand.
The birds in the photo clearly show the hollow legs and pan that were added to the wax mold in the earlier step. The mold has been covered with plaster and sand and are left to dry completely in an air-conditioned room with a lot of fans.

Next: Preparing and pouring the bronze. . .

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Webbing a Quilt Top

close-up of rows, webbed together
Bonnie Hunter is a name that most quilters will recognize. She occasionally hosts live quilting sessions, and she demonstrated a technique called, Webbing, on one of her recent Quilt Cams.

I tried the technique over Labor Day weekend, and I found it easy and much quicker than my usual method of sewing blocks and rows together.

six rows of blocks "webbed" together

Here's the video if anyone is interested in trying her technique.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Elusive Mural - Found

Running on Time
an original mural - not a reproduction
by Jerry Antolik
August 2017
I finally managed to find the final mural on the visitor's booklet list, but it wasn't easy. The booklet gave the location as 4700 Airport Road, which should have been easy to locate, as the road dead ends at the airport terminal.

I entered the address in my phone and headed out to snap some photos. Hmmm, the GPS indicated the mural was located in a large vacant field on the west side of the road. I meandered around the area and saw no sign of the large mural.

The day that Sue and I toured the foundry in Lander, we made a big loop back to Riverton. Sue entered the mural's address into her phone, and the GPS indicated the mural was on the west runway. Clearly, the address in the booklet was incorrect. I drove in the area of the old terminal and there was the mural on the north side of an adjacent building. There was no way it could be seen by someone casually driving by or from Airport Road.
Found on the north side of the AV Fuel building on Airport Road.
Take the road toward the new airport terminal and turn right as the road
angles toward the terminal. Drive east through the gravel parking lot. The
mural will be on the side of the building on your right.
A list of all the murals can be found in this earlier post.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Creating the Wax Molds

adding a fine layer of wax to the rubber mold
The foundry uses the "lost wax" process. You can read about it here.

After the clay model is shimmed and the pieces separated, a rubber mold is created. The gentleman in the photo is adding a layer of wax to a mold. The workers in this area of the foundry were working on a moose sculpture. (These photos are not necessarily in the order, but are the order that our guide explained them to me and Sue.)
some molds are small and hollow, so wax is poured
into the cavity.
This woman is adding hollow "legs" to the mold of
a moose antler. The legs allow the bronze to enter
the mold. Unless the molds are three dimensional,
most will have these legs attached.
A wax mold with hollow legs and a pan attached.
The waxed mold of one section of the moose head .

Next . . . finishing the mold

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