Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ventura County Fair Crochet

This year, I was asked to be one of the judges for the crochet items at the Ventura County Fair.  A pleasant feeling for the old ego.

I've been a clerk/scribe for several years, having a great time helping the judge (my buddy Elisa).  While we hated to split up our team, there were 191 crochet items submitted to the fair this year!

Here is a sampling--there were two other looooong tables filled with crochet items on either side of this central one:

Three judges in total made it doable.

I had a lot of fun, with a very efficient clerk of my own, saw a lot of beautiful items, some incredibly cute items (a crocheted lavender octopus, anyone?  A crocheted OTTER?!  So cute!), and some items that… well, we try to give helpful suggestions for next time.

(For those of you planning to submit crochet items to fairs or contests, some very basic things to remember:  submit new things--nothing old, worn, dirty, or, heaven help us, smelly!  Weave in those yarn ends, too.)

When we were done, Elisa and I went out to lunch, our reward for a hard day's… or rather, morning's… work.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Split Variable Star

I inadvertently started a new project.

"I didn't mean to," she whined, "it just happened."

You know how sometimes you're just walking along, minding your own business, and suddenly you fall into a new project?  Ouch!

I blame the Quilt Guild.  Every time we get a new Guild president, the members make blocks, following a theme of some kind, as a gift for the OGP (outgoing president.)

This year, we are doing stars again, and the OGP likes Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

I happen to have a small stash of Fassett scraps, all gleaned from the Guild's Treasure Table.

And I have a pattern from Quilt Ventura, called the Split Variable Star, finished size, 6 inches.  Perfect!

(If you were to contact Quilt Ventura, I bet you could get a copy.)

So I made one.  I figured I'd crank it out and be done.  But it was so darn cute!

Besides, due to the way one makes half-square-triangles, I ended up with an extra center piece.

What's a quilter to do?

Make more blocks, of course!

Then I realized, since one corner of the block is different from the other, a secondary motif would emerge if one were to make a whole friggin' bunch of the darn things, which are, as I mentioned, going to finish at only 6 inches each, so one would need a whole friggin' bunch if one wanted to make a whole friggin' quilt, wouldn't one?

Actually, these are really fun to make, and the arranging possibilities are endless, so, let the scrappy quilting continue!

I made a different block for the OGP.

Sorry, but the split variables are mine, all mine!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Cupcake Strikes Again!

There's nothing quite like the Cupcake Beanie, designed by Debbie Ware.  She sells her patterns as well as finished items in her Etsy shop.

She has designed a lot of cute patterns, but this is one I go back to over and over for newborn babies.

The first time I made this hat, I was a new knitter, and found the learning curve to be high.  Knitting AND purling?  In the round??  With slipped stitches?  And bobbles??!!

I was determined, however, and I am so glad I stayed with it.

I even adapted it once for a grown-up friend:  I cast on more stitches, and knitted a few extra rows here and there.

This latest one turned out a bit more ruffly around the top because I added extra rows here too.  I'm thinking the original is better, but, oh well, too late now.  It has already been gifted, and the baby will grow into it eventually!

Instead of my usual Tahki Cotton Classic, I used Baby Bunny yarn, which has a dash of angora--yum!--yet is still machine washable.  Alas, it is a discontinued yarn.

I decided to go with a little I-cord topper this time instead of a pom-pom.  I attribute that decision to laziness.

More new babies are on the way.  Back to the knitting needles!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Free Pattern Link: Knitted Elephant Hat--and a Fair Isle Technique

A lot of my friends are expecting grandbabies these days, and I heard one of the mothers-to-be is leaning toward neutral colors and elephants as a general nursery theme.  I used this as an excuse to knit this child sized hat, from a free pattern I found online:  Elephant Hat.

It's a little too large for a brand new baby, but I wanted to make it anyway.  I like those elephants!  The pattern is straightforward, as far as following the color changes in the charts.  Since it calls for more than one color in each row, I had a chance to dust off my skills with "throwing" the yarn.

That's the first way I learned to knit, holding the working yarn in my right hand and throwing it around the needle to make a stitch.  It's a bit unwieldy, and in my case, tended to cause losing the right needle entirely since I had to let go of it.  Which caused loss of stitches.  Which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I finally learned the Continental style, holding the yarn in the left hand, and just "picking" it with the tip of the needle.  Being a long-time crocheter, it made a lot of sense to me.  I knit almost everything this way now.

But the first time I knit something resembling Fair Isle, I held both colors of yarn in the left hand, and picked the one I needed as I went, causing much tangling of yarn, which in turn caused much pausing to untangle the yarn, which caused concomitant irritation and frustration.

Then I took a class where I learned to use both knitting techniques at once.  In case you haven't done this yet, here's how it works:

Hold one color in the left hand and the other in the right.  Knit the left hand color Continental style, and use the throwing technique with the other color.  Far less tangling!

Here's a link to my photo tutorial on how to catch the yarn you aren't using every 3 to 5 stitches, so you can carry it along invisibly on the "wrong side" of your project.  (Just scroll towards the bottom on that page to find the tutorial.)

Now I'm thinking, I really need to make more baby hats for all my other friends' grandbabies.  But I'm not promising anything!  And I'm not promising elephants.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Free Quilting Pattern Link: Frogs in the Serengeti

These froggy fabrics, donated to Community Projects, make me so happy--the little critters look like they're having so much fun!

There were a few fishy fabrics as well,  a seahorse or two--love those--and one with cute little bugs (the yellow fabric.)  Throw in a few lizards and you've got quite a party going on.

I found a great free pattern online that I thought would work well with big prints. Check out the free patterns on Jinny Beyer's website and look for Serengeti.

It's a very easy pattern to throw together:  not a lot of points to match, big pieces of fabric, a good time to be had by all.

I only had one scrap of frogs in spaceships, so I was happy to find a pattern that let me use the whole scrap without cutting it up.  Makes me giggle every time I see it.

I chose one color family for the thin sashing, using scraps from my stash and from Community Projects.  A slightly contrasting blender fabric made the inner border, then mad seashells on the outer border.

It's a busy little quilt top, but I think it's cute.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour 2016

Elisa and I started our shop hop at Roxanne's this year.  I had the idea that this year I would take some cute pictures of the shops along the way.

Back entrance to Roxanne's

Then this happened.
Roxanne's wonderful mermaid batik

And this.

And we were trying to hit nine shops in nine hours, and we were also shopping for our friend Debbie, who had a theme for her fabrics that seemed to us both specific and vague at the same time.

Figuring 4.5 to 5 hours of driving time alone, that doesn't leave a lot of time to shop!  Especially if you hit major slowing down traffic (a.k.a. "the T word"), which we did, twice.

We thought we'd be driving by the last shop at 5:59 and yelling out the window, "Can you run out here into the street and stamp our passports?"

But we made it with eight minutes to spare!

Somehow, Elisa managed to take care of her own and most of Debbie's shopping, and she was forever standing around waiting for me while I either grabbed one last fabric cut, or made a pit stop.

We love getting our goody bags at each shop, and some of the shops have little games to play, like a bean bag toss, to win little prizes, which is always fun.

We got to experience some wonderful California microclimates:  59 degrees on the coast in the morning, 104 in Paso Robles by 12:30, and when it's that hot inland in June, the coast a few miles away is often getting our famous "June gloom."  Here's the fog, waiting for us as we were heading home at the end of the day, blessedly cool.

More shopping to come!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

I came home from swimming the other day to find a package at my door:  my free copy of the new Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies book!

I have two patterns in it.  Notice that my Zucchini Cocoon, a.k.a. "sleep sack," with its matching hat are featured on the cover!  (Bottom right pic.)  Very exciting.

Storey Publishing always does a great job with book design--on the cover and inside--so I feel honored to be included in such a class act.

My Christening Cloud pattern is in here too.  You can get both of my patterns singly on Ravelry or Etsy, but if you shell out a few more bucks, you can get all of these adorable patterns created by a variety of talented designers.

Peek inside the book on Amazon.

And get hooking!