Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Pattern: Tuck Me In Preemie

Ask and ye shall receive.

I was going to wait until I designed a more complex "companion" pattern to this preemie blanket to "roll out" the designs, but my friend Janet (hi, Janet!) said she liked the preemie pattern so much, I was spurred on to sooner heights, if not greater.

See what a little praise can do?

I even took another photo, because with a name like "Tuck Me In," it seemed to me like something needed tucking in.

Here is Little Bear, cuddled up and cozy in the Tuck Me In preemie blanket, at least for now.  It's getting donated somewhere soon.

The pattern has directions for how to make larger blankets too.

I used Ella Rae Amity Prints yarn for this--it's super soft and self-striping (the "4 Ss")--but any worsted weight yarn will work great.

And here's the link for this inexpensive pattern:  Tuck Me In.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Shawlettes and a Preemie

Finally, I have finished blocking the parade of shawlettes I made last year.  Shawlettes, as most of you know, are great travel projects, especially using fingering weight yarn which takes up so little room in luggage, purse, or car. Plus, these are knitted, which uses less yarn than crochet.

But I kept putting off blocking them, because let's face it, there are way more fun things to do in life than block a finished project.

Now that my office desk has become my quilting table, however, my dining room table is free for blocking.  The fish are there now, getting their acupuncture treatments.

Who in the crafting world actually eats at a dining room table?  No one I know.  We have our priorities straight.

Before I show the shawlettes, this preemie blanket was the first of the travel projects I finished.

I have a plan for a bigger blanket which will use this stitch pattern in the center, and others around it.  Lots of texture and fun techniques in our futures!

As soon as I finish designing and making the larger one, I will donate this to charity.

The next travel project finished was the Crest of the Wave Baktus, which became a gift for Sonja.

This is a fun pattern, free on Ravelry, all garter stitch but with just enough increases and decreases and yarn-overs to stay interesting without being too vicious a challenge for the travel-weary brain.

I used Colinette Jitterbug.  Love this yarn!

Along the way, I found some wonderful, soft Pagewood sock yarn at Compatto Yarn Salon in Santa Monica.  I had to have it!  I used it to make a small Summer Flies.

The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn, but I added a few more rows with judicious increases, and the result is large enough, and light enough for summer, just like it's supposed to be.  A summer evening in California, perhaps.  Or a typically air conditioned place in Tennessee.

Has everyone in the knitting world made at least one of these shawlettes?  Thousands of Summer Flies all over the globe!  That calls up a less than pleasant image, doesn't it?

But in truth, the pattern is another fun freebie that turns out beautifully every time.

Then I finally got around to knitting this one, designed by Diane at Monarch Knitting.  It's called "Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn Shawl."  Not the most flamboyant name, but very clear!  I used Noro Kureyon sock yarn that I've had in my stash for a couple of years, along with Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply, another of my favorite yarns.

I love Diane's pattern--I've made two of these, one with the pink colorway and another with a blue, and I get tons of compliments on them.

Now I must go trace a rose design onto squares of muslin for the fourth and last Quilting 103 class.  My finished roses will have these colors in them:

One square already traced, three to go!

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Pattern: Frilly Granny

The squares I made for Yarn-Bombing Los Angeles (YBLA) were mostly basic grannies--just whipping 'em out quickly and getting 'em out the door, using up yarn stash.  They wanted five inch squares, they got thousands of five inch squares (though I only sent a dozen or so.)  Their installation is supposed to go up in May, btw, and it looks like it will be fantastic.  Check out their website here.

After making a few basic squares, of course I wanted to do something more than basic.  Typical me.

As mentioned in an earlier post, one of my squares was not quite five inches.  Another double crochet or even half-double crochet round would have made it too big, a single crochet round would have been too small, so I did a little chain, not quite a picot.

It ended up looking a little like a frill, and like the porridge in the story, it was just right.

So I did another, and added a frill in the middle as well.

Once I was done with the YBLA squares, I raided my stash of Plymouth Encore and made a charity blanket.

Since I now had no color or size limitations, I went a little loony.  I put frills on the edge, frills in the middle, frills willy-nilly all over the place, with whatever leftover bits of yarn I had.

I added them as I went, I added them after.

Of course I ran out of the pink yarn, so I grabbed some lavender Mom gave me (thanks, Mom!)

This wasn't really my first choice as a color combination.  I think the final effect is a bit garish.  But I was determined not to buy more yarn to finish a stash buster project.  I do that often enough as it is!

I turned it in to charity, so, off it goes into the wild blue yonder.  I hope some child somewhere will love it.  And the free pattern is here.

The YBLA project was a catalyst for another cool granny-esque pattern, which I will be offering soon, so stay tuned.  And if you think these colors are bright, just wait 'til you see what I have in store.  (And yes, I had to buy more yarn for it last night.  Had to.  Because I needed more yellow.  Trust me.)

If you like this crochet pattern, you might also like this one:  River's Edge Ripple.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

I found another great knitting group yesterday, and was invited to a fun-sounding spinning group, which meets on the same day as the charity quilting group, which I can't attend next month anyway because I'm taking a knit-along workshop at an LYS, which means I can't attend the next fiber guild meeting either.  Meanwhile, the quilting class I'm taking meets when Binky Patrol meets, so I can't go to the latter again this month.

It's wonderful to have such a rich fiber arts community here.  I just wish I could do it all.

In the meantime, I've been getting some repair and custom work.  I mended several spots on a lovely machine-crocheted dress.  Here's just a section of it:

Tiny stitches in black!  Truly eye-straining.  I couldn't work on this for more than a half hour or so at a time, but I was really proud of how it turned out.  Luckily, my yarn stash is so large, I was able to match the color without going shopping.

Today I found more matching yarn for another job, a granny square baby blanket from New Zealand that needs mending.  Naturally, the boo-boo has occurred right smack-dab in the middle of the blanket.  The original yarn is quite soft and sweet.  Those New Zealanders know what they're doing, yarn-wise!  It is a sport weight yarn, so again, short work sessions in bright daylight are in order.

And a few weeks ago, I was hired to knit some baby booties, from the Baby Uggs pattern which was free on Knitty Gritty, I believe.

I've designed some new patterns and am writing them down (or up).  A few finishing touches and about twenty-seven photographs, and they'll be ready to show.

In the meantime:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kitty Cat Quilt--Life Imitates Art

I got the fabric:

I started cutting and piecing:

I did the tossed nine-patch, a.k.a. the disappearing nine-patch pattern.

You make some nine-patches as pictured to the right, then you cut them in half twice through the middle, and then supposedly you toss all the pieces in a bag and grab them at random to place them for your quilt top.


I couldn't bring myself to be completely random about placing the patches.  Having some balance in colors and shapes appeals to me.  (Judge not lest ye be judged, all you random-happy people out there.)

So mine wasn't exactly tossed.  Mixed, maybe.  Or more precisely, tossed and then re-arranged a lot.

Finished top

When it was time to do the actual quilting, sewing across the little kitty faces was unacceptable to me, so I couldn't do a straightforward, repetitive stitch pattern.  This means some of the squares are quilted differently than others.  How's that for semi-random?

Finished quilt!

No kitty faces were harmed in the making of this quilt!

Learning how to stitch the binding on with the machine was a fun learning curve as well.  I didn't want to hand stitch the binding for this one.  I wanted something sturdy enough for a baby blanket.

One of the decorative stitch patterns on my cheap but sturdy little sewing machine finally came in handy.

I was taking pictures of the finished quilt when I glanced out the window and saw this:

This kitty spent a long time preening and cleaning, then curled up for a nap on the roof--

-- in the same direction as in the quilt fabric!

Synchronicity--I love it.

© 2013 Reyna Thera Lorele. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Festive Fish Part 3

Last Thursday, one of my new knit night pals asked me, "How are the fish?  We haven't heard from them lately."

I assured her that I have been dutifully knitting them all along.  I have gotten to be a pretty fast fish knitter, too.

Here they are, practicing their schooling on the dining room table.

All those yarn ends are supposed to be for sewing them together later.  Hmm.  We shall see about that.  Crocheting might be in order.

Naturally, this project is not turning out quite as I had planned.  Naturally, I don't have enough of certain colors, and I never had any of certain other colors that would create a rainbow effect, which was my initial vision.

I am just myopic enough to have managed to block from my brain the information that I didn't really have all the colors I wanted.  I just started knitting fish willy-nilly, trusting it would somehow all work out in the end.

When I started laying the fish out to see how they would look, I was not well pleased.

Did I go buy more yarn?  For once, NO!  (Shocking, I know.)  Idena Juvel is a discontinued yarn, and I'm resisting the lure of Ravelry stashes around the world that might have more.

Because I have also reached a point where, quite frankly, Scarlett, I am sick of knitting fish!  (Festive Fish: good.  Sport weight fish: bad.)

My years of charity knitting and crocheting with donated yarn come in handy at times like this.  I like the challenge of using leftovers of various colors and kinds of yarn, even colors you usually might not put together, and turning them into something beautiful.  (At times like this, I often hear Dolly Parton's song, "Coat of Many Colors," in my head, spurring me on to ever greater feats of color combinations.)

So I says to myself, I says, "If I don't have all the colors, and if I have way more of the golden fish than the pale yellow fish, for example, or way more dark fish than light, well, I'm going to make it work anyway."

But I also started out with the silly idea that all the fish smiles should be right side up, or smile side down, depending on how you think of it.  That's how they are in the pattern picture, after all:  the happy fish are swimming about in their school, with their little fishy bellies facing the bottom of the sea, and the tops of their little fish heads bobbing up toward the surface of said sea.

But my fish, as you know if you've been keeping up with my soggy fish saga, are mischievous little critters, and it turns out some of them are just going to be swimming against the crowd, against the current, swimming to the beat of a different drummer, or whale song, as it were.  (Oh, metaphors, how I love to mix thee!)

In short, some of them will be swimming upside down.

But is this not a commentary on life?  Sometimes it is the upside-down fish that create the perfect pattern.  So saith the Zen Master.

Anyway, here are the fish--
--no, wait, these aren't my fish.

They snuck in from the Monterey Aquarium.  Note how they won't look me in the eye, the sneaky devils.

Here are MY fish practicing their schooling on my desk.

We have the rainbow effect (blurry due to my obstinate refusal to use the flash on a cloudy day because the flash sucks all the color out of the photo.)

Ready, set, sew!
And we have the checkerboard effect, which I actually chose.  Temporarily.

I thought, it could be like sunlight rippling through ocean waves.  (Apparently, these are saltwater fish.)

I even lined them up on the couch in order, and I STARTED SEWING THEM TOGETHER!!

There was joy in Mudville.

But it turns out, it's too soon to declare a national holiday in celebration.

I got two fish joined, and they looked so lopsided, it was embarrassing.  For me and the fish.  They were not well pleased.

And honey, you don't want to upset the fish.  They are tricky enough as it is.

You don't want one fish's tail whacking another fish in the eye, after all.

I took the seam out and decided, these fish need blocking big-time.

Here they are at the "spa," getting acupuncture, resting quietly, having been sprayed with a nice misting of water to help their fibers relax.

In looking at the schooling photos above, I do like the rainbow effect more.  I am going to send all the fish to the spa, perhaps even sign them up for a yoga class or some Tai Chi, and when they are all aligned, centered and balanced within themselves, then they can go to school again on my desk and swim around in various configurations until everybody's happy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fibonacci Had a Farm

Fibonacci had a farm...


And on his farm he had a Romanesco cauliflower...


With a cauliflower here
And a cauliflower there

Here a fractal,

There a fractal,

Everywhere a fractal,

Fibonacci had a farm...


The other day, I had the good fortune to attend a mini-workshop on "Mathemagical Design" led by Jennifer Moore, a master of double-weaving--not that I knew what that was, not being a weaver myself, but no matter.

She taught a gaggle of us Fiber Arts Guild members a ton of information about the Golden Proportion, Golden Rectangles and Triangles and how to construct them, the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, fractals, and how all these concepts relate to one another and occur in art and nature.

I will not attempt to explain any of it here with my rudimentary knowledge.  Google at will!  Or check out Jennifer's website,, for more information and some photos of her utterly gorgeous work.

During our lunch break, another Guild member mentioned she was heading over to a nearby Farmers Market, and I tagged along, happy for a chance to walk a little and talk with someone new and interesting.

We came upon a booth with at least a dozen Romanesco cauliflowers that demonstrated everything we had been learning.  Yes, that bright green color in most of my photos is for real.  And yes, each one of those tiny bumps is a perfect replica of the larger bumps.  Although "bumps" is not very poetic sounding, is it?  How about "spires?"

I wish I had taken a picture of the table full of these otherworldly-looking vegetables, but at least I got a few pics once I got home.  Then I sliced it and oven-roasted it with red potatoes, lots of spices, and olive oil.  As they might say back on the old homestead, them fractals is mighty good eatin'.

At any rate, if you ever have a chance to take a workshop with Jennifer, jump at it!  She explains things so clearly, even the mathematically challenged among us were nodding our heads.  And she has a great slide show besides.  So dig in!