Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Butterfly Shawl Revisited

I promised I would show this once it was all blocked, so, behold the butterfly.

I think it's beautiful, even though I made it with sport weight yarn instead of fingering, so it's more like a diagonal blanket than a shawl.

Meaning it's kinda heavy.  Meaning I will never wear it.  (Meaning hours and hours of work and tons of yarn and I will never, never wear it.  And yet, that is nothing new!  Insert mad laughter here.)

While I was making it, I thought, "This is so much fun, I'm going to make another with fingering weight yarn!"

I didn't have enough of the colors I wanted to use for Butterfly 2, though, and I successfully resisted buying more yarn and adding to my Enormo-Stash--you know, the Stash that Ate Los Angeles?

And then, well, by the thousandth wrap and turn, I admit I was getting a little sick of it.

But once it was blocked, and enough time passed, I started thinking of knitting another.

I have a nice gradient yarn that would look gorgeous, but as I said, I didn't have enough.

I knew my friend Elisa had a skein of the same yarn, however, and I offered to buy it, since she hadn't used hers yet, and lo and behold, she GAVE it to me!!!!  I mean, GAVE.  Sorry, didn't mean to shout, but y'know, it's really nice yarn, meaning it ain't cheap, and it's pretty, and she just GAVE it to me.  I knew she was a good friend, but this is ridiculous!

So, now I simply have to make this again, don't I?  If you are drawn to it, click here for the pattern.  Not free, but worth it.  Lots of pics, line-by-line directions, and so fun to watch the butterfly emerge from it's yarn-ball cocoon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Happy Bears

Just looking at this quilt makes me happy.

The blocks and their yellow borders, as well as the smaller pink, black, and yellow squares, were all scraps from the Treasure Table at the Guild.

In other words, free!  More happy dancing!

The middle square actually showed up many months ago.  It has been hanging out in my stash, waiting for its cue.

The other "balloon animals" showed up recently, and they seemed made for each other.

I couldn't resist working on this, while other older projects languished.

The sashing (white paisley), blue border, backing, and binding came out of my stash.

I've been watching Angela Walters (free) Free Motion Quilting Challenge videos, and I tried out a couple of the techniques she shows, like stippling.  I have seen videos on how to do this before, but she makes it so easy and fun.

Click on her name above, and it will take you to her YouTube channel, where you can access all her videos.

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Blocking for Beginners

I blogged about a scarf recently, and I said it had not been blocked yet.

It has been brought to my attention by my sainted mother that some people, who aren't knitters or crocheters but who read my blog (mainly because my sainted mother sends it to them), don't know what "blocking" is.

In short, blocking helps with shaping.  I hope you can see from these photos the difference blocking will make with this shawl.  Maybe not a huge difference, but nonetheless noticeable.

In the photo, it's clear things are a bit poochy.  Even when I smooth out the shawl and try to get it to lie flat, it refuses.

Stubborn shawl refusing to lie flat

Handmade items can sometimes appear a bit wonky, even when well-made, sometimes just because you're working with fiber, which has stretchy and smushy properties ("smushy" being a technical term.  I know this because the computer keeps trying to auto-correct my spelling of it.)

Plus, some days your stitches can be a little tighter or looser than others.  This can happen for a lot of reasons.  Say you watched the news as you knitted (reason enough to make myriad mistakes, let alone have your stitch tension be really tense!)  Maybe you didn't get enough sleep, or conversely, you did get enough sleep, or you were hurrying to finish a row before you had to get back to work from your lunch break, or the weather was humid, or you were distracted talking with your knitting buddies, or it was Wednesday.

So you can pin the item in question to a towel or a flat piece of styrofoam or special wonderful blocking mats such as the ones I have.  Pin the item to the shape you want, like straight edges for a scarf, for example, spray with water, and let dry.  Boom!  It's blocked.

We knitters and crocheters use T-pins for this, as that crossbar at the top of the pin keeps it from potentially poking all the way through, as a regular sewing straight pin would.

Some people soak the item, roll it in a towel to remove excess water, then pin to shape and let dry, but I never bother with that because I am lazy.  Or maybe because I would rather be working on the next project.  Yes, let's say it's the latter, that sounds much better.

I know!  It's because I am saving water in the drought!!!!

When the whole thing is blocked, I will post a pic of the finished shawl.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Another LYS Bites The Dust

Not so long ago, one of my favorite local quilt shops closed its doors, Quilt Ventura.  The yarn shop next door managed to hang on for another year or two, but now it is going away.  So this is a fond fare-thee-well to Anacapa Fine Yarns.

It was one of my first stops when I moved here.  I knew I would meet My People there, and indeed, I did, at knit night and classes.  I made a couple of good friends just from showing up at that shop.  And I still have some yummy yarns I bought there, that haven't yet found their perfect project.

It's true I haven't spent as much money on yarn lately as I have on fabric, since my yarn stash was enormous, and I was building my quilter's palette, mostly from local shops.

So here's my pitch to you, dear reader, to support your local yarn and fabric stores.

As a rule, I will only resort to online purchases if I truly can't find what I need in a real brick and mortar store.  Sure, you often pay a little more, but you get to see the actual color of yarn and fabric in real time, not distorted by whatever camera lens was used to photograph the product, or by whatever computer screen you're using.

In a "real" store, you get to feel the fiber and be sure you like it.  You also get customer service, which in most local shops is great.  I mean, your web-based store has its place, but they can't help you when you make a boo-boo in your knitting!

And then, shopping local is good for the local economy.  Think of the children!!!

Here's hoping we don't lose more local shops any time soon.

Happy crafting to all, and to all a good night.  And thank you, Anacapa.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Serenity Stitch

Sometimes you just need not to think.  Sometimes, garter stitch is the answer.  No stress:  just cast on, and knit knit knit.

For years, I've had this one ball of James C. Brett Marble Chunky (341 yards) that wasn't as marled as the yarn usually is.  It was, shall we say, an oddball.

I always thought it would make a great scarf.  A wide, squishy, throw-it-over-your-shoulder scarf.

Since acrylic doesn't respond well to blocking, garter stitch seemed a good choice for this yarn.

In fact, I haven't even tried to block it yet.

I have four completed projects that would benefit from at least a little blocking;  they are draped on various chairs and quilt racks, and they stare at me with woebegone expressions as I walk by, but I've been busy quilting and can't seem to muster the enthusiasm for boring old blocking.

I'll get around to it someday.  Maybe.  You can see I'm not making any promises!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wheelchair Lap Quilt

I really wish there weren't a need for one of these in my family or anyone else's, but since I cannot wave a magic wand and heal my mother, or lift her bodily from hospital bed to wheelchair and back, or really, do much of anything to change the situation, I researched lap blankets and quilts that might be useful for those in wheelchairs, and I found lots of good tips, like:

Have cut-outs or a shape at the bottom that leaves room for feet on the wheelchair foot rests.

Use flannel backing for a quilt, as it will help keep it from slipping off the lap.

Add pockets (I didn't do that, but it seems a very handy idea.).

Some people also attach ties to the sides of the quilt so it can be tied onto the arms of the wheelchair, to keep it from slipping, but that seemed like it would make it too difficult to get it off when necessary.

The only problem is that Mom says this is too pretty and doesn't want to use it because it might get dirty.

So, next time I will try to find some really ugly fabric, just for you, Mom!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Where to Begin?

Hello, dear readers.

Due to various health problems, mostly minor, and family crises, mostly major, followed by the Thomas Fire and the recent mudslides in our area, I have not been blogging much at all, as you may have noticed.  Just can't get into it.

I do have a new pattern to type up, not sure when that will happen.  And I do want to keep the blog alive, as I know people like the free patterns.

We shall see what this new year will bring.  Here's hoping it's better than the last!  And I hope whoever's reading this has a good year and that you're still having fun knitting and crocheting.  Those hobbies and others help keep me (relatively!) sane.  Not to mention:  thank God for good friends!

Stay strong, everybody!