Monday, August 26, 2013

Wings Over Water

I started this shawl a few months ago, when I signed up for a class at a local yarn shop.  I already understood the directions;  I just wanted to get out of the house and meet people.  This also seemed like a great way to use up stash, and for once, I didn't buy more yarn!  Just shelled out for the pattern, the Aranami Shawl.

I decided to add some beads at the top of each "wave," because I also have a ton of beads left over from another project.

Here's how I did it:

When I got to the last three stitches of each wave, I slipped a bead onto one of my super-tiny crochet hooks.  Then, with my right needle, I slipped the first stitch on the left needle purlwise, and let go of the right needle making sure that stitch wasn't going to slip off.  Then I grabbed the second stitch on the left needle with my crochet hook, slipped the stitch off the needle, slipped the bead onto the stitch, and slipped the beaded stitch back onto the left needle.  Last but not least, I slipped the stitch that had been resting quietly on the right needle back onto the left needle.  Then I proceeded with the directions as given in the pattern.

Sounds like lots of pointless, insanely picky slipping, but really, it was easy.  I tried adding a bead without doing quite as much slippage, but then the beads didn't align as well.  The ones I used do blend in a little too much, except for on the black yarn, but at least I didn't go shopping for more beads!  I think it would look even better with contrast-y colored beads.

This shawl is a good shape for me; I actually draped it around my shoulders for a few minutes one day and it didn't fall off!  The way so many of them do....

So, maybe I will even wear this.  It could happen. Regardless, I am pleased with the result.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

You Know You're a Yarnaholic When...

Several finished projects finally made it out the door, on their way to their unknown future homes.  I called a local hospice, and they were happy to take a few things.

I am endlessly awestruck by the beauty of my new "hometown," and the grounds surrounding the hospice are both striking and serene.

This is a non-medical hospice.  They provide emotional, mental, and spiritual help, such as counseling, for patients and their loved ones, including kids of all ages, FREE.

They don't get government funding or insurance reimbursement or anything like that; everything is volunteer and/or donated, as I mentioned, FREE to their clients.

This is so unusual in this money-driven culture of ours.  I am so glad I found them.

Their storage space is limited, so I only took a sampling of cuddly stuff.

Marble Bear Binky
I had thought my contact person would look through my offerings and see what, if anything, they could really use, but it turns out, they just took the bags, no questions asked, and didn't even look inside while I was there.

I was deprived of the usual oohing and ahing over my creations, but then, that's not the real reason I like to give things to charity.  It's just a perq!

(Btw, my dictionary lists "perk" as an alternate spelling for "perq," short for perquisite.  I know you were all dying to find out about that.)

The yellow stripy bear above is the latest rendition of my Tunisian crochet Marble Bear Binky (the inexpensive pattern is for sale in my Etsy shop.)

The ocean-colored blanket is one I designed and made and then decided it didn't quite suit my home.  It is large enough to cover the top of a queen-sized bed, and I already have a comforter.  It, too, is based on one of my designs, the River's Edge Ripple.

I thought the hospice might send it back home with me, actually, because mostly they need lap blankets.  But, they didn't look in the bag!  So, surprise!  They will open the bag and a monster blanket will leap out!

I also gave them the Tuck Me In blanket...

...another knitted blanket and a couple of scarves (just the two in the middle of the pic)...

...and an Able Cable Cowl

(click on the name for the FREE pattern.)

So that's it.  Feels good to get these things out of the house, like losing several pounds, mostly off my shoulders.  I have many more scarves and hats, and several blankets, and it looks like I will find lots of opportunities to donate around here.

Which is lucky, because I am addicted to knitting, crocheting, quilting, spinning, and I can't hang onto all this stuff!  I would need storage the size of the Hearst Castle!

You know you're a yarnaholic when you look at a castle and think, hmm, extra yarn storage....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Santa Barbara Fiber Arts Guild Faulkner Gallery Show

At long last, I made it to the Santa Barbara Fiber Arts Guild show at the Faulkner Gallery in the downtown public library.  Right after I dropped off my submissions, I got sick, so I missed the opening reception that evening, and the guild meeting a couple of days later, then missed coffee with a friend and a wander-by-the-show that we had planned last week.

Many things were rescheduled as the days passed, but I am slowly recovering enough to do exciting things like wash my hair and do a load of laundry.

Today, it was my turn to sit in the gallery and chat with people who wander in, which is really fun. Here's one of my favorite quilters, Linda, who had the shift before mine.

I brought my cute little travel wheel, which you can see perched to the right of the table.  My friend Diane joined me, bravely lugging her big wheel.  People were fascinated by the spinning--great conversation starter.

Note Linda's zebra quilt wallhanging

My handspun and a beaded scarf  I knitted
Serendipitously, I got there just as a man and his young son were commenting on my handspun.  The son has been learning to knit at a knitting club at his school.  They mentioned the club had mostly girls, and I mentioned there is a tradition of men knitting as well as women.  I like to encourage people.  They were already aware, so that was great.

I pulled out some of my roving and let the boy experiment with drafting and seeing how long the fibers are.  He was already quite knowledgeable about carding and such, and when I mentioned how they shear the sheep, he said, "Alpaca too!"  Gotta love this kid!

A portion of a future yarn-bombing event

We had a lovely chat with a visitor from China; wish I had thought to take her picture.

Next time I go, I will try to take more close-ups.  My camera battery chose to run out of juice right when I got there today.

I am so inspired by all the beautiful work my fellow guild members have created.  With so much variety, and so many ideas that are "out of the box," they take what some people consider to be "mere hobbies" from the level of crafts--not that there's anything wrong with crafts--to the level of art.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


That's perqs as in "perquisites," not perks, as in coffee.  (I can't help myself; once a writer, always a writer.)

Look what I get to play with--for FREE!

Yep, that's two skeins of Anzula For Better or Worsted, a hand-dyed yarn I hadn't seen until I had some flung at me (gently) when I was asked to knit a shop sample of the popular Cedar Leaf Shawlette, designed by Alana Dakos.  Check it out on Ravelry.

The pattern calls for DK weight yarn, but this is a light worsted that drapes beautifully and feels delicious.  It has a lovely "hand," as they say, super-soft and not splitty at all, so it's easy to knit.  It's made of 80% superwash Merino wool, 10% cashmere (ooh, cashmere!), and 10% nylon.

The pic below shows the gorgeous color better.

To start the shawl, you cast on many more stitches than is convenient for the standard long-tail cast-on.  Though you could use one tail from each skein, I chose to use one of my favorite methods, the crochet cast-on, where you use a hook to wrap the yarn around the needle.  (Click here to watch a video of how to do it.)

The first time I tried this method, since I've been crocheting longer than I've been knitting, it only felt for a little while like I was casting on using my toes instead of my fingers before I got the hang of it.  The technique creates a pretty edge and a little stretchiness without being floppy.

Do I sound like I'm wine-tasting?  "This cast-on has a hint of oak, sophisticated without being snobby, with a piquant nose."

Anyway, I highly recommend using stitch markers every 30 stitches for ease of counting as you cast on.  Then you knit the body, after which you add the leafy edge.

The pattern has just enough complexity to keep it interesting while still being able to have a conversation or watch TV.  I'm already halfway through the beautiful border.  Once I block it, it will look even better.

Love the yarn, love the pattern.