Saturday, May 31, 2014

Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour 2014, Part 1

Last year on the Quilt Shop Tour, my friend Elisa and I innocently said we weren't going to try to go to all the shops, we were just going to set out at a bearably early hour on the first day and see how far we got.  Well, we got pretty far--hooray!-- and finished up the last few shops on our own over the weekend.  Some retracing of steps was required, though, to get back to the places we couldn't hit the first day.

Old Town Quilt Shop, Orcutt

Retracing?  Unacceptable!  Time-consuming and ecologically unsound!

This year, we were determined to do all nine shops north of us--well, north of me--in one day, thereby eliminating the need to retrace. Then we'd finish up over the weekend again.

(Btw, I don't have a photo from every shop this year, not to play favorites, but because some of the pics just didn't turn out.)
What I bought there this year

Checkout at The Quiltery, Paso Robles

Quilters Cupboard has some batiks
I google-mapped everything just to see how much driving time was truly involved.  I vowed to bring wet wipes and take out my Invisalign braces so I could eat in the car.  No time would be wasted sitting down to eat lunch in a restaurant!

I have a cooler!  I would BYOL (bring my own lunch) and even a thermos with iced coffee.  No stopping at Starbucks this time around.

I got to bed earlier than usual the night before, but had trouble sleeping, due to excitement and knowing the alarm was going to go off way too early for me.

I lay there awake, thinking about a certain annoying person I have to deal with, and a fun new project I'm going to do, and reminding myself, "Don't TRY to fall asleep, that just makes me tense, just rest," and then, "Since I'm awake, I might as well get up and email so-and-so and get that off my to-do list."

Anyway, my shopping judgment may have been affected by lack of sleep.  Because I had a particular quilting project in mind, and I knew I needed 1/8 to 1/4 yard of 15 to 20 different fabrics, because it's a Bargello kind of thing, so naturally I really needed 1/3 to 1/2 yard of each fabric in order to:

1) allow for beginner quilter boo-boos
2) have some left over for another project?
3) give myself an excuse to shop more.
4) all of the above.
Choose one.

So does Sew Fun have some batiks (like, a lot!)
And if you're going to shops you only go to once a year, you want to buy unique fabrics you haven't seen anywhere else.  (Should that be an "I" statement?  I have a feeling I am not alone.)

More batiks at The Cotton Ball!

And Betty's in SLO

I did pretty well with focusing on batiks for my intended project.

Occasionally I got distracted.

Who can resist these adorable fairies?
 There are musicians in the family.  Might need these someday:

The only danger is that Mom might feel compelled to play those notes!
Meanwhile, our friend Debbie was working the shop tour herself, and had this wild idea to ask us to pick up a fat quarter for her at each shop.  She entrusted us with a little sock purse full of cash (silly girl!) and trusted us to use our good judgment.  Did I mention I left mine somewhere in the middle of the night?  Possibly in an email?  Anyway, she trusted us to pick out fabrics we thought she would like, and wouldn't it be interesting to see what we picked?  "Interesting" is a good word!

Seriously, despite our mildly mad rush, we found some very pretty fabrics that go well together.

I ran into a couple of acquaintances along the way and I hope I wasn't too rude in not stopping to chit-chat for long.  We were on a mission!  (No offense, but for us, this was a quilt shop RUN, folks, not a quilt shop walk!)

Batik dragons!  From The Cotton Ball
And while we ran, the drive was beautiful.  "Poor us," we said, "having to deal with all this perfect weather, and the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other.  Boo-hoo."

We hit the last of our nine shops with half an hour to spare!

I was home before nightfall and able to go for a walk to stretch my legs.  Bravo to Elisa, Best Driver in the West!

Last night, before stumbling into bed, I had just enough energy to spread out my newly acquired stash on the floor; if I unfolded each piece, it would cover the whole living room.  I see I did a pretty good job of homing in on my required colors, but maybe repeated a few tones more than necessary.  I didn't really keep track as I shopped.

There are a few gaps in the color palette I need for the intended project, so I will do my best to focus, focus, focus as I finish up the tour.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Free Pattern Link: Evolution Shawl

This shawl is so much fun to knit, never boring, and the results are stunning.  I used the Rylie yarn by HiKoo:  baby alpaca, silk, and linen.  It drapes beautifully, it's soft, and it offers a bit of "bloom" without shedding all over the place.
Lorrie models the shawl in the shop--Thanks, Lorrie!

Go to and scroll down for this great pattern (I offer just a few errata notes below); you can get the charts, as well as directions written out line by line.  You might want to double-check for errata on the written directions; I didn't use them, so can't give you a heads-up on those.

WORDS OF WARNING:  Be aware of the idiosyncrasies of the charts!

I was making this for a shop sample, and I was given a pattern with just the charts.  Which is fine, I am perfectly capable of reading charts, however, not to sound overly whiny or bitchy, but not everyone vets their charts as carefully as we might like.  Now, we all make mistakes, typos happen;  I get it.  Technical writing is challenging.  And the pattern is free, after all!  So one doesn't like to complain.  Much.

BUT, perhaps to save space, or for whatever reason, the charts only show half of each row.  Then you are supposed to do your center stitch action, which is not charted--which is fine, because you have placed your markers and you have a brain--and then the pattern says, for the other half of the row, to "mirror" the diagram.

Weeeelll, not exactly.  Sorta, but not exactly.

Braintwister #1:  An accomplished knitter will notice that if, for example, you did a k2tog just before the center stitches on the right half of the shawl, you will want to do a ssk on the left side.  This is not marked or even mentioned, and a newbie knitter would probably just do another k2tog, and this is not a big deal unless you want your lace to look, well, the way it's supposed to look.  As in, your lacey bits and decrease bits are slanting the right way.

Keep this in mind for your k4tog's and ssssk's and so on as you work on the charts.  No big deal.

Braintwister #2:  Usually, when reading charts for flat knitted objects (i.e., not knitted in the round), my experience is, you read:
row 1 from right to left
row 2 from left to right
row 3 from right to left
row 4 from left to right
and so on.

But in these charts, even though they have numbered the rows traditionally, with odd numbers on the right, and even numbers on the left, DO NOT READ THEM THAT WAY!  Or you will be very sad.

I should speak for myself.  I was very sad.  At first, my brain twisted into little knots and even required me to pause the television.  (The horror!)

For this pattern, you read from right to left for the first half of each row, then do your little center stitch action, then read left to right on the same row.  And do this on EVERY row.  You never start a row on the left.  Even when you are knitting the so-called wrong side rows, you still start right to left.  Then do the center stitch.  Then read left to right.

Am I crazy, or is this highly unusual charting?  Never mind, once I figured it out, it was no problem.  But their brief direction to "mirror" the chart was not particularly clear to me.  (But they didn't ask me to edit before they went to press, did they?  No.  They never do.  Sigh.)

This is the second free Skacel pattern I've made that has had a misprint or misdirection;  the other one had dire consequences!  I will tell you all about "Frankencowl" another time!

Meanwhile, minor problems notwithstanding, if you like to knit shawls, I highly recommend this one.  Very satisfying to knit!

Blocking half a shawl at a time

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crazy Cute

Just a few of some of the crazy cute things people are knitting in my drop-in classes at the LYS:

Lorrie adapted a washcloth pattern to make this beautiful Rocking Horse blanket!

Baby's on the way;  how about some booties?

Betty's adorable hats, bear and bee:

Happy knitting!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another Ripple in the Pond

Quickly crocheted this latest River's Edge Ripple for a shop sample.  Roxanne chose the colors, in keeping with the energy in her shop.

The self-striping multi-colored yarn is Noro Taiyo, and the solid green is HiKoo SimpliNatural, one of my favorite yarns, so soft and easy to work, with great stitch definition and not splitty at all.  Besides, it's baby alpaca, merino wool, and silk.  What's not to like?!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Festive Fish, Part 297

Yes, the Festive Fish are finally cooked!  Or rather, done.

Finally joined them into a blanket--at last!  at last!--and crocheted many rounds of edging to make it just big enough for a somewhat small person's lap.

Herbie Bunny carefully inspected the fish.  He gave a thumbs up.  Well, maybe an ears and tail up.

The bears took turns cuddling under the fish.

They gave their seal of approval as well.

Then it was time to say goodbye.  So we have two blankets I made for Maryvale, the fish and one from the River's Edge Ripple pattern, all boxed up and mailed to their destination with gift bags, ribbons, and tissue paper.

And we have these three blankets made by dear Susan, also going off to Maryvale this year.

With more to come, from L.A. and Texas, I believe, though I don't know if I will get pics to share.

In the meantime, happy Spring from the Botanic Gardens in Santa Barbara!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crochet Meets Quilts in Better Homes and Gardens

I wouldn't say my Granny Paints the Town blanket is featured in the Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler magazine for Spring-Summer 2014.  More like, it snuck in like a bandit, draped in the corner  of a picture in the story which does feature Roxanne's A Wish and a Dream shop.

Well, some wonderful person (Roxanne?  the cameraman?) probably put it there; they are careful about staging photos for these things.  (Or did the blanket come alive and stage its own yarn-bombing?!)  Either way, it's pretty exciting.

You'll have to check out the magazine itself to see their pic, and many more cute photos and stories about Roxanne's shop, as well as other tantalizing quilt shops around the country, including one in Franklin, TN, near my old stomping grounds.

Click Granny Paints the Town for a copy of this fun crochet pattern (which is great for using up scraps in your stash, btw.)