Sunday, May 27, 2012

Able Cable Update

Wouldn't you think that making a larger version of a preemie pattern would be a simple matter of doing some math?  Have I mentioned I am somewhat math-challenged?  At least on alternate Thursdays?

I kept doing the math and things kept coming out wrong because my brain just wouldn’t cooperate with the calculator.  At first I cast on too many repeats, and I didn’t like the way the yarn was looking anyway, so I ripped that out and went for a different color, with one less repeat, and finally it started coming together.

The new math for the "normal" size baby blanket has been added to the original Able Cable pattern.
The Plymouth Encore yarn I’m using for this larger one comes from four sources, a donated skein from Monarch Knitting & Quilts, a donated skein from Haus of Yarn, a leftover partial skein from Carole’s Secret Grandbaby Binky (for more info on that, read this post: River's Edge Ripple), and my overflowing stash (a.k.a. my everflowing stash.  Or my never-ending stash.)

I'm happy to report that my free patterns have been getting a lot of hits, and here's hoping many babies will be cuddled up in versions of these blankets soon.  Thank you, everyone, for your interest--and I hope you'll let me know how you're progressing with yours.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Tomorrow, I'm heading out to the post office to ship my blankets to Maryvale.  There are six graduates after all this year, so Susan and I are each sending three blankets.

First, the happy Hinterlands, which I finished weeks ago, as they are so quick to crochet.

Did I mention, I think this pattern is GENIUS?!

Sure, I always point out that there are, as Susan says, "alottaerotta" in the original pattern (published in the May 2011 issue of Crochet! magazine, which is downloadable on their website, along with the corrections.)  But I mention the errata, not to criticize, but to inform and encourage crocheters so they will not become frustrated by the labyrinthine directions that go on for pages and pages only to be not exactly accurate to the extent that one wonders if one is going slightly mad.

Or alotta mad.

Truly, once you have done a dozen rounds or so, the pattern begins to make sense, and it is clear what to do in each section.  A few rounds do change the repeats slightly.  Pay special attention to rounds 21, 28, and 29.

Also, in round 26 of the revisions (my copy is dated 7/15/2011), there's an extra "dc in next st, ch 1" right after the first revision in that round.  I leave those extras out and it works for me.  If anyone out there makes this throw and finds that they have the same experience, please let me know!

For the third blanket, I decided to do a little designing of my own.  I made filet crochet squares of various colors of Tahki Cotton Classic yarn, some of which was donated by Haus of Yarn to Threads of Kindness, and some of which I bought.  I am happy with several squares.  Others need work.  But here is the result:

I'm calling it the "Throw Confetti Throw"--designed in celebration of this year's graduating class.

I will be posting the chart and directions for one of the squares as a freebie on this site soon.

So that's it for Maryvale this year. Hooray for the graduates and everyone there who helps them reach their goals!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Free Pattern: Able Cable Blanket

The “Yes, You Can Cable!” pattern
design by Reyna Thera Lorele
© 2012 Reyna Thera Lorele
Ravelry: captainhook

If you can knit and purl, you can make this blanket.

This pattern is a perfect introduction to cable stitches for beginners, and a breeze for the more experienced. A simple left twist cable repeats five times in the cable row (twelve times for the larger size), so beginners can get a lot of practice.  Then, take it easy on the five rows in between:  there’s a garter stitch border, and on all the other stitches, it’s basically knit the knit stitches and purl the purls.

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The blankets pictured here are being donated to Alive Hospice through Threads of Kindness.

Directions are included for two sizes, preemie (premium?) and "regular."

NOTE:  Pattern repeat is 11 stitches + 7
k = knit
p = purl
sl = slip
st, sts = stitch, stitches
WS = wrong side 
kf&b = knit in front and back of next st
k2tog = knit next 2 sts together
Special Stitch
C4L = sl 2 sts to cable needle, hold in front of work, k2, then k2 from cable needle

Finished size:  15.5 inches x 15.5 inches
Gauge:  in pattern, 2.25 inches wide per pattern rep, 6 rows = 1 inch 
Materials needed:
Worsted weight yarn, 200 yds.
# 8 (5 mm) needles, or size to get gauge
Cable needle

Finished size:  36 inches x 36 inches
Gauge:  in pattern, 2.25 inches wide per pattern rep, 6 rows = 1 inch 
Materials needed:
Worsted weight yarn, 1000 yds.
# 8 (5 mm) needles, or size to get gauge
Cable needle

DIRECTIONS--Preemie Size
CO 63 sts.
Knit 3 rows.  Knit 4th row, increasing 5 sts evenly across as follows: k3, (kf&b, k13) 4 times, kf&b, k last st.  (68 sts total)
NOTE:  Garter st border = 3 knit sts at beginning and end of each row.  You may want to k3, place a marker, knit the pattern in Row 1 below for your center sts, place a marker, and knit your last 3 sts; the markers will remind you to knit your border.
Begin Pattern (center sts only):
Row 1, 3, and 5 (WS):  (k3, p1, k3, p4) 5 times, k3, p1, k3
Row 2:  (p3, k1, p3, C4L) 5 times, p3, k1, p3
Row 4:  (p3, k1, p3, k4) 5 times, p3, k1, p3
Row 6:  Same as row 4.
Repeat Rows 1 through 6:  14 times, or until length is 14.5 inches, ending after a Row 3.
Knit a row, decreasing 5 sts as follows:  k1, (k2tog, k12) 4 times, k2tog, k to end.  (63 sts total).
Knit 3 more rows.
Bind off.  Block lightly.  Enjoy!

DIRECTIONS--Baby Blanket Size

CO 137 sts.

Knit 8 rows.  Knit 9th row, increasing 12 sts evenly across as follows: k2, (kf&b, k10) 12 times, k3.  (149 sts total)

NOTE:  Garter st border = 5 knit sts at beginning and end of each row.  You may want to k5, place a marker, knit the pattern in Row 1 below for your center sts, place a marker, and knit your last 5 sts; the markers will remind you to knit your border.

Begin Pattern (center sts only):
Row 1, 3, and 5 (WS):  (k3, p1, k3, p4) 12 times, k3, p1, k3
Row 2:  (p3, k1, p3, C4L) 12 times, p3, k1, p3
Row 4:  (p3, k1, p3, k4) 12 times, p3, k1, p3
Row 6:  Same as row 4.
Repeat Rows 1 through 6 until length is about 35 inches, ending after a Row 3.
Knit a row, decreasing 12 sts as follows:  k2, (k2tog, k10) 12 times, k to end.  (137 sts total).
Knit 8 more rows.

Bind off.  Block lightly.  Enjoy!

If you like this pattern, you might also like this free pattern: Preemie with a Twist
and these inexpensive patterns:  the adorable Tuck Me In,
and the easy-as-pie pattern, The Ribble, which you can also read more about in this blog post:  The Amazing Ribble.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Binky Patrol

It was November, 2002 or so, in Los Angeles, a typical day by the beach: partly smoggy with a chance of sea mist slowly burning away in the late morning sun.  Binky Patrollers from two chapters, Redondo Beach and Santa Monica, converged in the parking lot of the King-Drew Hospital with a van and two cars full of huge bags of blankets, a.k.a. binkies.

We lugged bag after bag back and forth from the parking lot to the lobby.  When you think of a baby blanket, you think of a little, light thing, so precious, but when you have a garbage bag holding twenty or more blankets, they are heavy.  I'm just sayin'.

We split into small groups, each with our own nurse escorts and hospital supply carts loaded with binkies.  Hospitals are so confusing--thank heaven for our guides [and for all the great things nurses do, btw]--and the smells and the pain you can practically breathe in the air make it worse.  I have vague memories of hallways criss-crossing, and many doors and elevators, rooms full of children and their worried parents, and their sad smiles of gratitude as we gave away blankets.

As usual, we had received many more of the cute, adorable baby binkies, small and cherubically pastel.  Never mind that research has shown that babies respond more to bright, primary, contrasting colors than they do to pastels.  Never mind Women's Lib; people automatically assume it's blue for boys and pink for girls, and hooray for yellow and green which can go either way, as binkies for boys tend to be scarce.  And appropriate sizes and colors for teenagers and pre-teens?  Forget it.  Really hard to find.

On some level or other, in some wing or other, we came across the young boy/man whose face I can't forget.  He had to have been close to eighteen years old, at the top end of our giveaway age range.  He was tall, barely fitting in the hospital bed.  He was lanky, with tubes and monitors hooked up to his arms.  He looked, not surprisingly, miserable.

As always, we didn't know what accident or illness had put him in the hospital, what his name was, or anything else about him.  He watched us as we hunted through our piles of adorable, cherubic binkies for something--anything--that wasn't pastel pink, or covered with ducks or bunnies, or crib-sized, something that was at least remotely boyish or teenager-y, since manly was out of the question.

Finally we found one that was close to big enough, at least.  Made of various shades of denim and cream-colored patchwork, this was one of those quilts where the unfinished, ragged seams are left on the surface.  Binky Patrol, bless them, says there are no ugly binkies, but between you and me, let's just say that some are not "not uglier" than others.  Of course, whatever the blanket, someone is going to love it.

We held the quilt up for the young patient to see.  He didn't smile, just pointed to one we had set aside as too small and too cutesy for such a large guy, and he said, "I want that one."

It was stroller-sized, a tiny quilt with red and white patchwork hearts.

"But it's so small!" one of us said.  "This other one is much bigger."

"I want that one," he said.

So the nurse took it in to him and laid the hearts across his chest.  As we rolled our cart away, I looked back at him.  He was staring miserably up at the ceiling, with the little heart quilt barely covering his belly.  I hope it gave him some comfort.  I will probably never know.  But I remember him, and I remember, boys need binkies too!

Check out the Santa Monica Chapter of Binky Patrol:

Monday, May 7, 2012

River's Edge Ripple

You can buy the pattern for this blanket in my etsy shop:

I've been crocheting for about forty years.  I've probably made a few dozen ripple blankets along the way.  There's the "Crayon Ripple" and the "Comfy Cozy" ripple and the "Crochet Cluster Point" ripple and the "Someone Donated This Hand Drawn Pattern In a Bag of Yarn with a Half-Finished Blanket and Can You Finish It?" ripple, and so on.

After awhile, the standard ripple patterns I found began to seem. . . well. . . standard.  Dare I say it? Boring.  Ho-hum.  Even (oh, horrors!) trite.

But now and then I run across one that has something extra.  When I found the basic stitch for this ripple, I thought the gentle wave it created was appealing.  I decided to throw in some front post and back post stitches, accenting the crest of the wave, and adding texture and vertical movement.

For this version, rippled strips are crocheted, then joined together to create even more interest and contrast to the standard horizontal wave.

If you've never done post stitches, fear not!  They are just like regular stitches, except that they go around the post of a stitch instead of into its top loops.  You repeat the same two rows over and over as you make each strip, so it's easy to get the hang of it.

The blankets pictured here have both been donated to Alive Hospice through Threads of Kindness.  I did actually buy the yarn for the shades-of-green blanket (yes, I do buy yarn.)

Here's how I got my hands on the pink and variegated yarn:  Carole was having a grandbaby.  A bunch of us are Carole's knitsibs.  So naturally, we conspired in a Top Secret Mission to knit a baby blanket.  Many Top Secret Emails ensued.  Secretive Shopping also.  Everyone started knitting squares.  Well, some of us started, and some of us apparently had other things to do (like jobs, for example?)

Someone volunteered me to crochet them together, as I have the temerity to call myself 'captainhook.'

"Oh, you're so good at crocheting," they said.  Being a sucker for praise, I agreed.

Everyone did a great job on their squares, but of course, the baby is even cuter.  Well, what can you do?  Baby's have an edge.  Finally the squares were assembled and we had a grandbaby shower. (More pics on knitsibs websites; check some of the blogs I follow, like Tennessee Knitter, Olives and Mermaids, and One More Row.)

Avery's binky

Some of the squares I did:

Along the way, I mentioned to my co-conspirators that there would be yarn left over, and being the sneaky, greedy little Yarn Hog that I am, I suggested we use the leftovers for charity, in this case, Threads of Kindness, knowing that my knitsibs are:

A) generous, and
B) have such enormous yarn stashes, they would let me keep this yarn so I could play with it like a kid in a candy shop.

Mission Accomplished!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free Pattern, Preemie with a Twist

design by Reyna Thera Lorele

© 2011 Reyna Thera Lorele
Ravelry: captainhook

Most hospitals prefer a preemie blanket that is closely woven so that tiny fingers and toes won’t get tangled up in it. This is one of my favorite “on-the-go” projects, as it is small, portable, and requires little brainpower, so I can chat with friends and family and still avoid mistakes.

Finished size: about 17½” x 17”

4.5 ounces worsted weight cotton yarn,
or about 200 yds any worsted weight yarn

Size 7 or 8 needles (or size to get gauge)
Stitch markers if desired

4 sts per inch

Right Twist (RT):  As if you’re going to knit 2 together, insert right needle into both the 2nd and 1st stitches on left needle.  Pull a loop through as usual, but leave both stitches on left needle.   Now knit again into 1st stitch and take both sts off left needle.

I use stitch markers to separate the border k5 stitches, and different colored markers before every RT for superior mindless knitting.  However, markers are optional.
CO 72 sts.
Knit six rows.
Begin pattern:
Row 1:  k5, place marker (pm), k5, pm, RT, k5, pm, RT, k10, pm, RT, k10, pm, RT, k10, pm, RT, k5, pm, RT, k5, pm, k5.
Row 2:  k5, p across to last 5 sts, k5.
Row 3:  repeat row 1, slipping markers.
Repeat rows 2 and 3 to desired length (for this size, about 16½ inches), then knit six more rows.  Bind off, weave in ends, block, and donate!

© 2011 Reyna Thera Lorele

If you like this pattern, you might also like this free pattern:  Able Cable Blanket
and these inexpensive patterns:  the adorable Tuck Me In and the easy-as-pie The Ribble pattern, which you can read more about hereThe Amazing Ribble.
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RDA of Fiber

I found fiber in my tea.  I'm going to end up having a hairball.

I was going to do back exercises.  I needed to fold my laundry.  But I really wanted to spin.  Just for a minute, I told myself.

I lied.  Then the yarn got tangled, and I was supposed to meet someone for breakfast in twenty minutes, and I told myself, Never never never start spinning when you only have five minutes to spin because you know perfectly well that, once you start, you can't stop.  (I have a habit of starting to ply at midnight--just for a minute.)

Anyway, I got the yarn untangled, and I started to take that last sip of yummy green chai tea, and there was fiber in it.  Little floaty strands of delicate merino wool.  Mmm, delicious!

Not really.  I'm a fan of fiber, but not to drink.  At least not this kind.  It just doesn't go down smoothly, you know?  But things could be and have been worse.  Unpleasant things found unexpectedly in tea/coffee to be revealed someday in my memoirs!

Fiber Falls
I have a plan for this handspun yarn, and I may even end up keeping the result.  It's so much fun, it's worth a hairball or two.  By the way, a lot of the above yarn was spun from Daily Fibers fiber, hand-dyed by Jan.  I love her colorways, and she has an Etsy shop,  No pics up yet, alas, but I highly recommend the Granny Smith Crunch and the Crispy Kale.  Mmm, now that's delicious fiber!