Friday, October 31, 2014

Three by Three: More In Threes Sweaters!

Guess who is churning out baby sweaters faster than a newborn can count to three?  No, not me--Lorrie!

She is one of our cherished regulars, when she's in town, at my knitting and crochet help classes.

In town or elsewhere, she is becoming quite the dedicated and accomplished knitter.

(Do you love the cowboy boot buttons or what?!)

Just had to share these, they are so cute!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free Pattern: L'il Surfer Board

You can read all about the original Li'l Surfer Dude here.

I put the surfboard pattern up for sale, but it turns out there isn't a huge demand for knitted surfboards--go figure!  I just don't understand it!  I sold one or two, but I really think it's time to put this one up for free.  Sign up to follow my blog and be the first to know when I post a new freebie!


© 2014 Reyna Thera Lorele

PLEASE NOTE:  This pattern is for the surfboard only, not the doll. The Li’l Surfer Dude in the pic is made from the Purl the Little Knit Girl pattern book by CiD Hanscom.

My finished surfboard measures about 6 inches long and 1.75 inches wide.

small amount of DK weight yarn
#4 knitting needles
small piece of lightweight cardboard or plastic such as quilters’ template
darning needle
not crucial

m1L = make one left:  insert L needle into bar between sts from front to back, k into back of lp
m1R = make one right:  insert L needle into bar between sts from back to front, k into front of lp

I made the back piece with garter stitch so I wouldn’t have to block it.  I made the front with stockinette, though, because I wanted to add a stripe using duplicate stitch.

I then sewed the front and back together with the plastic template or cardboard inside.  Leave long tails when casting on--you can use these to sew.

If you want a bigger board, use thicker yarn and needles, or simply do more increase rows at the beginning of each board (and don’t forget, you will do more decrease rows later!  And forgive me for stating the obvious.)

With main color, CO 3 sts.
Rows 1, 3, 5, and 7:  k across
Row 2:  k1, m1L, k1, m1R, k1
Row 4:  k1, m1L, k3, m1R, k1
Row 6:  k1, m1L, k5, m1R, k1
Row 8:  k1, m1L, k7, m1R, k1
Now k every row until surfboard measures 5.5 inches from the tip (or length desired).

Row 1 (RS):  k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1
Row 2 and all even-numbered rows:  k across
Rep these 2 rows until you are down to 5 sts.
Next RS row:  k1, sl2, k1, psso,k1
Last row:  p3tog
Cut yarn, leaving long tail for sewing later, and fasten off.

With main color, CO 3 sts.
Row 1:  k across.
Rows 2, 4, 6, and 8:  as for garter stitch board
Row 3 and all remaining odd-numbered rows: k2, p across to last 2 sts, k2
Now continue to k even-numbered rows, and rep row 3 for every odd row, until surfboard measures 5.5 inches from the tip (or length desired.)

As described above, but in stockinette.
Cut yarn, leaving long tail for sewing later, and fasten off.

Use duplicate stitch in contrasting color to adorn your board as desired.

Trace around one piece of your surfboard onto a piece of lightweight plastic or cardboard.  After tracing, cut within the lines so it will fit easily inside your boards.  This will keep it from flopping over when posing beside a surfer dude or dudette on the beach.

Then make your board sandwich--back, plastic, and top--and sew front and back together.  Cut yarn, fasten off.  Weave in ends.

CO = cast on
k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 together
L = left
lp = loop
m1L, m1R = make one left, make one right
p = purl
p3tog = purl 3 together
psso = pass slipped sts over
R = right
rep = repeat
RS = right side
sl = slip
ssk = slip 2 sts one at a time knitwise, then k together with L needle
st, sts = stitch, stitches
WS = wrong side

Aldean made our shop Surfer Dude some swim trunks!  Here he is, hanging high above the customers' heads, looking for a wave.

Surf’s up!  I hope your doll or stuffed animal enjoys the beach!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset

I've been working off and on for months on this quilt.

One reason it took so long is that most of the fabrics for the top were donated to the Quilting Angels.  Since there wasn't enough of any one color to do all the sashing and binding, let alone the backing, I got to be creative with arranging, rearranging, and re-rearranging the colors until I was happy with the result.

Another reason this quilt took so long is that I couldn't decide on the borders.  Shopping occurred.  I chose something, got it home, didn't like it after all, and started all over again with scraps.  I still didn't have just the right shade of pink for the bottom right corner.

More shopping ensued, and more arranging and rearranging of more scraps.

When I finally got the top sewn together, and pinned it to the backing I bought and the batting I won on the Quilt Shop Tour last year (free batting!  Yay!), I couldn't decide how to do the actual quilting.

Much contemplation was required.

Finally I hit on the "rays of the sun" idea for the black and white squares, which picks up on the general sunrise and/or sunset aspect of the sashing and borders.  (I wonder how much of one's personality can be determined from answering this question: is the glass half sunset or half sunrise?)

After I did some quilting in the ditch and some sun's rays, there was the literally knotty problem I had of switching to free motion quilting and forgetting to change the needle to the right size for the variegated thread I was using, and also forgetting to lower the feed dogs on the machine.

Surprise!  It really, really helps to lower the feed dogs, folks!  Cue the seam ripper.

I planned to finish this quilt in January.  I planned to finish it in…August, with any luck.

I planned to finish it in September.  I finally finished on Friday, October 10.

Binding sewn on the front, ready to flip

Usually I machine sew the binding to the back, flip it over and machine sew it on the front.  Supposedly this holds up better to many washings for children's quilts, plus it's so much faster to sew.  Given how long it takes me to make a quilt, I am all for faster!

But for this one, I decided to do a more traditional binding, machine sewing it to the front, then hand sewing it to the back.  I already had so much wild and woolly quilting going on, I didn't want to add another line of stitches to the front.

Another reason this quilt took so long is that I love it so much, it's hard to let it go.  But I turned it in yesterday, and although I kinda miss it already, a part of me is glad that an unknown someone in the hospital will, I hope, find some cheer and comfort with this quilt draped over them.

And I get to keep lots of pictures, and the memory of how much fun it was to make.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Pattern: Trinity Fingerless Gloves Unleashed!

A friend wanted some fingerless gloves, specifically for playing the ukelele outdoors.  She is a ukelele enthusiast, and she designed and manufactures the fabulous UkeLeash, which I've heard is the best ukelele strap around.  Check out her website and watch her video for a demonstration.

Learning to play the ukelele sounds like fun, but I'm so inundated with fiber projects, the uke will have to wait, alas.

The caveat for making the gloves, however, was that she is allergic to anything woolly, alpaca-y, even baby llama-y.  So cotton was the fiber of choice in this case, especially since I still have oodles of Tahki Cotton Classic in my stash.

I experimented with my own design, and the Trinity pattern, now available, is actually the second one I did.  (I'll be posting about the first in due course.)  I call it "Trinity" because I used three colors, and because the stitch pattern calls for some simple increases and decreases in threes.

You aren't limited to cotton; you certainly could use another yarn for this pattern if you prefer.  I suggest a DK weight or light worsted.

The pattern is not complicated, and it's a great way to use up leftover scraps of yarn.  So dig into your stash and have fun!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Brandon Mably Persian Poppies Knitting Workshop

Yesterday, thanks to Roxanne, I got to sit in on a color knitting workshop with Brandon Mably, friend and colleague of Kaffe Fassett.

We all brought yarns from home, each student received four more little balls of the Rowan Pure Wool Worsted Weight superwash--it's a lot like Plymouth Galway or Naturespun worsted in general cushiness, and is nicer to work with than Cascade 220 in my view.

Everyone tumbled their yarns out onto the floor to share.

I don't think we have enough yarn, do you?

With a little coaching as to which colors were likely to work best together, Brandon encouraged us to grab a yard of one color here and another color there, tie them together (in unseemly knots) and just start knitting away according to the Persian Poppies chart.  To be more precise, we each chose 6 different light colors for one ball of yarn, and 6 different dark colors for another.  One ball makes the background, and the other is for the poppies themselves.

We had to vow: no whining (thank heaven for that one) and no frogging.  You make a mistake, you learn from it, and no harm done.  Love that attitude.

It's fun to see how the colors work together (or not, as the case may be) and the somewhat random nature means lots of surprises as you knit, usually serendipitous surprises, I'm happy to say.

It's also fun to see how many different color combinations people come up with, and how good most of them look.

Lousy lighting for this pic, sorry, but in some ways, the blur helps show the colors off.

Here's my swatch:  the bottom section I did in the morning, and after we broke for lunch, I decided to experiment some more for the top section.  It kind of looks like a multi-colored owl….

I've done Fair Isle before, and I like to hold one yarn strand in my left hand for Continental knitting, and one strand in the right hand to "throw."  This keeps the yarn balls from getting tangled as much as they do when trying to "pick" from both strands held in the same hand.  I usually catch the yarn I'm not using every third stitch or so, but Brandon was having us do it every other stitch, and the back really looks better that way.

After we experimented with the knotted strands for awhile, Brandon revealed that when he does this, he doesn't knot them together first, he just starts knitting and then grabs the next color when he's ready. That's definitely the way I would go if I do this again, since catching all those knotted ends causes major posterior clumping (and none of us needs that!) and annoying extra tails flopping about and getting in the way.  (And none of us needs that either!)

Brandon is entertaining and encouraging, the soundtrack he brought was good (flashbacks to the past, Beatles included, singing along irresistible), the lunch provided was yummy, and I got out of the workshop in time to wander through the Farmers Market and get some grapes and persimmons.  All in all, a good day!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Just How Hot Was It?!

Mom came to visit last week--alas, she's gone again--and I warned her to bring t-shirts, because it was going to be Hot.  Very Hot.  And I do not have air conditioning.

Just how hot was it?  High 80s to low-to-mid 90s, for the most part.  We actually did quite well with closing all windows and drapes in the morning, and hunkering down with a jigsaw puzzle in front of the fan.  Because it was also Very Dry.  Humidity was so low, I had a sore throat.  Or was that from talking and talking and talking?  We have lots to talk about!

We drank iced coffee, ate lots of salads (no turning on that oven to cook, no way!) and at night, it cooled off, thank heaven.

We ventured out for some exercise as early in the mornings as I could drag myself out of bed.

Here's how some of the other critters were handling the heat:

Notice the thin line of shadow across the drying grass in the center of this photo.  That thin line is the shrunken shadow of a palm tree.

What are those lumps in its shadow?

Closer inspection reveals: ducks.

Talk about getting your ducks in a row!

"Hey, is there room for one more?"

The pond water must've been pretty hot.  Hope the turtles were finding cooler water under the lotuses (loti).  Or are they waterlilies?

"Hey, got room for one more?"
After Mom left, it finally cooled off enough to hand sew the binding onto that charity quilt I have been working on, off and on, for many moons.  I love the quilt and will reveal it in all its glory soon!