Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Progress

A couple of quilts I'm working on:

This one is for charity, a project I started many months ago, and never had time to finish.  A couple of borders to add, and then I can start quilting!

I've shown a few pics of the next one in an earlier post, but here are the sampler blocks, labelled and lined up together on my design wall.  I've already attached some of the blocks to each other, learning a quilt-as-you-go technique, so soon I will have more pictures.

I've also managed to finish quite a few scarves and shawls, despite the move, such as this one, earmarked for charity:

I will have more knitted items to show, once they've been blocked.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Backstage at the Ventura County Fair

I was going to enter something in the Home Arts department at the Ventura County Fair.  My friends kept talking up the new Tunisian crochet section, and how everyone ought to enter something.  It's a new category and they really wanted it to be popular enough to stay around for awhile.

A few years ago, I came up with a Tunisian baby blanket pattern--which is for sale in my Etsy shop, btw--so I thought, I'll just whip out another one and enter it in the fair.  Here's the most recent version of the Marble Bear Binky:

"Just whipping one out" sounds like it took half an hour, doesn't it?  It took quite a few half hours.

And then came moving.

I finished the blanket, but I just couldn't deal with one more thing to do, like dropping off a blanket at the fairground, and/or filling out a form.  I was already running far too many errands and filling out far too many forms.  Rental agreements.  Changes of address.  Yadda yadda ad infinitum.

Besides, I was moving out of that county.  It just didn't feel quite right.  You're supposed to be a county resident.

Plus, I kept hearing that only amateurs could enter their items, and considering that I do sell patterns and Finished Objects, and I sometimes teach, and I work in a yarn/fabric shop, and I do repair work, and so on, does that not qualify me as more or less professional, I asked?

I got some hemming and hawing and avoidance in response to that question, and I am assuming that means they just REALLY wanted more entries.

An earlier one
So when my pal Elisa, a great crocheter, Tunisian and otherwise, asked in an email if I were going to enter anything in the fair, I cringed inwardly and avoided answering.

Then we met to knit-crochet-chat at an LYS, and Elisa asked again if I had entered, and I cringed again, and sheepishly (or llama-ishly) said, "No," and she seemed to think that was good news!

Turns out, she had been asked to judge the crochet items, and she needed a clerk, also known as a scribe, a title which, of course, I love.  If I had entered something, I wouldn't be allowed to scribe or judge.

The scribe keeps track of section numbers and item numbers, which are next to the names of the contributors, and the judge is not allowed to see the names, in order to remain impartial.

Naturally, I agreed at once.  A fun day at the fair with friends, BEFORE THE FAIR OPENS!  First look at the entries.  No crowds.  Sign me up.

Another earlier bear binky
Double Bears!  From way back when.

I meant to take some pictures of the huge building full of dozens of tables piled with quilts, knitted and crocheted items, jams, gourds, and all manner of what-not, but we got busy right away with the judging and before I knew it, I was done, but with no pictures.

It was fun to see what people had entered--some things were really cute.   Met some neat new people and saw some familiar faces too.

But no Tunisian blankets had been entered.  Mine would have been the only one.  I am delighted.  Getting first place by default is not particularly flattering.

Now, next year, I want to see lots of Tunisian at the fair, everybody!  Get your crochet hooks ready!  (I can't enter, so why don't you make a bear?!)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Free Pattern: Able Cable Cowl

This is where it all began--well, maybe not "all," but at least my free Able Cable blanket pattern began here, with my simple Able Cable Cowl pattern.  It's the "yes, you can cable!" which is especially kind to beginners, i.e., easy.

Feel free to scroll down for the free pattern--or indulge me and read on as I discuss cowls and related topics, like double chins.

You could probably check out the blanket pattern and do the math and figure it out for yourselves, but since I've already done it for you, why not take advantage?

The cowl is actually a little different from the blankets:  there is no extra line of stockinette ribbing in between each cable.  I love it with self-striping yarn, as it makes a vertical stripe, which is so slimming for the Neck of a Certain Age.

I can just hear you saying, "Oh, yes, it's our necks we're all worried about."

(Btw, the double-chin-free young woman pictured above wearing the cowl is not me!)

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with someone the other day.  She was waxing poetic about a certain garment which was so very slimming compared to a similar sort of garment which was not made of the same magical fabric.  (Okay, it was a swimsuit, and we all love to go swimsuit shopping, don't we?  If only they would stop putting those funhouse mirrors in the dressing rooms.  Not to mention the garish lighting that makes us look even pastier than we do in real life, as if we are a species of albino cave-dwellers who would be scorched and blinded by daylight.)

She said how much better the magical fabric swimsuit was than any other swimsuit she tried, and I said, "So it's basically a girdle," and she agreed.

But of course, no one calls it a girdle these days, because that is terribly old-fashioned, and if we call it something else, like, "Magic Pants," or "The WonderSuit," we can pretend it is some miraculous new fashion-forward type thing instead of an inner-organ-compressing, blood-flow-curtailing, mercilessly uncomfortable how-can-you-breathe-wearing-this-thing?

Luckily, she just barely stopped short of telling me I ought to rush right out and try one on, which would have sounded an awful lot like saying, "And by the way, you're fat, and you need this."

I use a good old Speedo swimsuit, a style I buy without even trying it on anymore.  No funhouse mirrors for me.  I know this style sufficiently covers all my bulges so I can swim laps and stay healthy without anything immodest flopping out inappropriately, and I couldn't care less whether I look slimmer in it, but that's just me.

I do know someone who crocheted a swimsuit for herself, or rather, a lie-on-the-beach-and-look-gorgeous bikini, and she could pull it off, if you'll pardon the kinda-pun.  Meaning she was cute enough.  She couldn't swim in it, as it would have sagged and probably fallen off, but swimming in it was not the goal.

Anyway, fall will come--cowl weather!--so all my friends who say they haven't put on a swimsuit in years, take heart!  And here, at last, is the free pattern.

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© 2010, 2013 Reyna Thera Lorele
Ravelry: captainhook

I made this cowl with James C. Brett Marble Chunky, which has enough yarn in one huge ball to make 3 cowls!  One place you can find this yarn is The Yarn Attic.  They are on Facebook as well.

Finished size: 7.5 inches high by 25 inches circumference

Gauge:  3 sts per inch

110 yds. chunky yarn
Size 10.5 needles
Cable needle

k = knit
p = purl
sl = slip
st, sts = stitch, stitches
WS = wrong side

Special Stitch:
C4L = sl 2 sts to cable needle, hold in front of work, k2, then k2 from cable needle

Cast on 28 sts.
Knit 3 rows, increasing 2 sts on 3rd row (30 sts total).

Begin Pattern:
Rows 1, 3, and 5 (WS):  k6, (p4, k3) 3 times, k3
Row 2:  k3 (p3, C4L) 3 times, p3, k3
Row 4:  k3, (p3, k4) 3 times, p3, k3
Row 6:  Same as row 4.

Repeat rows 1 - 6 until length is around 24 inches, ending by working a WS row.
Knit 3 rows, decreasing 2 sts on first row.
Bind off.
Join beginning and end together to form cowl.  Weave in ends.  Block if needed.  Enjoy!

If you like this free pattern, you might also like this easy, inexpensive one, the Christina Cowl.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Can You Say "Jacaranda?"

I have moved.  I am in the new place, with towers of boxes obstructing my otherwise fabulous views of pine trees all around--and in the city!  A walkable neighborhood, but pretty!  Will wonders never cease?

While all the chaos of looking for and finding an apartment, packing and moving was going on, spring was leading us into summer, and the jacaranda has been blooming.

Jacaranda in the mist

People wax poetic about the redbud and dogwood, forsythia and irises in the spring in Tennessee, and they are absolutely gorgeous and all praise is well-deserved, but here we have the delicious scent of jasmine, eucalyptus, and lemon blossoms, our roses bloom all year, and we have explosions of jacaranda.

By now, many of the blooms have fallen, but they are still carpeting the streets and sidewalks.

Some people pronounce jacaranda "jack-a-ran-da," as in, Jack ran down the hill.  Others of us say, "ha-ka-ran-da," as in "Ha ha!  Help me Rhonda."  We think we are so darn smart, because we think it is a Spanish word, and we are ever so clever to be pronouncing it with some semblance of authenticity, when in fact we have no idea what we are doing, and we are going to google it right now.

Okay, I'm back.  Wikipedia goes with the Jack and Jill pronunciation, but then, they start the page with saying the information is disputed, right?  I didn't have time to look at more than a few sites, and none of the others risk offering a pronunciation.

But apparently, jacarandas are controversial.  Who knew?!  A friend was telling me about this the other day.

Apparently, some people don't like to park under them because the blooms give off a sticky residue.  And sometimes parking space is difficult to find, so they're stuck under a jack-a-ran-da.  Or the blooms gum up the gutters at the house, or the koi pond, or what-have-you.

Other people don't care, or are willing to deal with it for the sake of the beauty.  Some of us don't wash our cars often enough anyway, so what's a little sticky residue--I was going to say, 'among friends?'

Meanwhile, I have been going through a kind of fiber withdrawal.  Much too much going on to do any quilting, because quilting for me requires Brain, and my brain is already overworked.  I've done a bit of easy knitting, a bit of crochet, but I haven't done any spinning either, because I have boxes everywhere and nowhere comfortable yet to set up even my little wheel.

And now it's time to go back to busy work, changing contact information with 97 different institutions from the bank to the fiber guild, and everything in between, and trying to keep up with paying bills, and work.  Someday soon, though, I will have fiber fun to report!