Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Pattern Link: Simple Scarves for Knit or Crochet

Does it really count as being in your stash if someone just gave you a ton of yarn?  For free?

Does it count as stash if you plan to use it for charity?

Does it count as stash if you have nowhere to store it, so it's piled up on the floor in the living room?

Truer colors
Clearer pic

Someone (I blame Elisa) gave me the opportunity to swoop down like a vulture on a big bag of mostly novelty yarn.  I've gone through phases of liking and then being bored with such yarn, but lately, I've gotten back into using it for scarves for this wonderful charity, Handmade Especially For You.

They have several simple free crochet and knitting patterns for their scarves; check them out.

I like the fact that I can use yarn that isn't necessarily machine washable.

Most charities prefer a machine washable item, and while that is completely understandable, it limits my yarnaholic desire to work with other kinds of fibers.

Here's what I've been doing lately:

Chain away with a big hook until you have a chain about 60 inches long, then single or double crochet a row or two, changing yarns whenever you feel like it, until the scarf is about 5 inches wide.

No need for fancy stitches, as they don't show up in the fluffy stuff anyway.  I'm a fan of fancy stitches, but sometimes I don't want to have to concentrate on what I'm doing.

I do tend to feel twinges of guilt when I greedily snag lots of yarn or fabric, so I sat down last night and made this little number for charity out of the new yarn.

Here are some others I've made from stash I've been lugging around with me for years; these will probably go to charity as well:

Several women in our local fiber arts guild have started making scarves too, so whenever we have enough to fill a box, I will ship them off.  We've already sent 20 from our guild!

So, we get to play with yarn AND do something kind for someone?!  Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Moving Needle

The moving needle knits, and having knit, moves on….

I checked my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (everyone has one of those, right?  Next to their thesaurus and their etymological dictionary?  Where are my nerds?)

The original quote is, "The Moving Finger writes; and having writ, moves on."  -- Edward Fitzgerald, from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

The point (no needle pun intended) is, I am taking a sabbatical from teaching in order to spend more time with my stash.

I'll be designing and writing more, and I plan to give away many more patterns here on the blog, and sell more in my Etsy shop, YIYO Designs.  I have quite a few new ones that just need typing up.

As far as the supposed loss of income from teaching, let's face it, my working in a yarn and fabric shop is like an alcoholic working in a liquor store.  I'm sure I spent my whole paycheck and then some.  I can't afford to work there!

Even with 20 or so projects in the works, it's hard to resist the urge to start more:  I definitely have a case of startitis.  Plus, I keep taking classes and learning new skills, which always requires starting something new.

At least I "finished" the sample of hand quilting from the class I took a week and a half ago.  Well, it isn't a finished quilt, and I may add a lot more to it, but for now, it's done.  I practiced the hand quilting and actually enjoyed it.  It's meditative.  Having a good teacher makes all the difference (thank you, Dee!)

So glad other people are willing to keep teaching!

I'm also taking a series of classes on the Underground Railroad sampler quilt.  I'm making a scrappy square before each class just to test myself and see if I can understand the directions.

Quilting directions used to baffle me; now I'm starting to get them!

Then I'm making another square in class, getting helpful hints from another great teacher (thank you, Debbie!)

The first square is Jacob's Ladder.

In class

Next is a Monkey Wrench.
In class

That's it for now;  I am off to sew!

"Unborn to-morrow, and dead yesterday,
Why fret about them if to-day be sweet!"

(more from Edward)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

About That Orange

I hope I haven't offended any of my friends by going on and on about orange in my previous post.  Everyone has different tastes, after all, and that's peachy, no pun intended.  But I think I might have touched a nerve.

Yesterday, just before a quilt class, I wandered about the shop and saw some fabrics I just had to have.  (Batiks.  Big surprise there.)

One of them is what I consider to be a burnt orange, which has long been an entirely acceptable shade as far as I'm concerned, but that's just me.

 Well, did I ever get some ribbing about choosing a color in the orange family!

"It's burnt orange," I said, somewhat defensively.

"It's orange," I was told, firmly.

"It's burnt orange," I insisted.

"It's orange," was insisted right back at me.

We carried on like this a few more times without one iota of variation on the theme, and I realized that from now on, any time I pick a color that even remotely resembles anything orange, teasing will rain down upon me like a Biblical plague of locusts.

I brought it upon myself.

This morning, I pulled an orange (the fruit) out of the fridge to prove my point, to me, at least.  And the orange (the fruit) is indeed orange-ier, brighter and more glaring, than the fabric, so there!

But y'know, the fruit orange kinda looks good next to the burnt orange.  It's a pleasing gradation in color.


Quilting does this to people.  I've heard about it.  An unexpected combination or pop of color you thought you didn't like can really set off a design and make it better.  You can't hate any color.  Not for long, anyway.  It doesn't serve you well.

So, okay, fine, I like some oranges.  I always liked coral, for example.

(Or did I?!)
(Insert ominous music here.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Quilting Challenge

I blame Elisa.  She's the one who came up with the idea for a quilt challenge last November for her, Deb, and me.  Not that there was any arm-twisting involved.  An excuse to buy more fabric?  We were in!

We were each to buy a yard each of three different fabrics that we LOVED (not just liked), and cut them into thirds and share them.  We had to use at least some of each fabric in a quilt top, which we would keep secret until the tops were finished.  We could use any design or theme we wanted, and we could add a yard of any fabric or fabrics from our stash.

I had been eyeing these:

I bought enough for the challenge and then some!

I know my friends like purple.  I like purple too.  They also like batiks, sometimes.  Why did I imagine they would buy purple batiks?  Wishful thinking.

We met for the fateful fabric exchange.  Debbie picked these:

 Elisa picked these:

I thought each set of three fabrics worked internally, more or less, but I confess I wasn't too happy with how the three sets of three looked together.  We also had a lot of semi-solids in somewhat medium-dark tones.  I liked the turquoise and purple, I liked the flowery stuff, and of course, I loved my batiks, but heavens above, how to put them all together?

Here's my gloomy take on the nine of them.  Note the tiny bit of orange I'm hiding at the top.  Next is Elisa's much brighter and more hopeful pic.

Of course, everyone has different tastes, there's nothing wrong with that; I love my friends, but I don't always love every fabric they love, and no doubt they feel the same way about my choices.

Sorry, gals, but I didn't feel these fabrics were playing nicely together.  I felt they needed to be separated.  Firmly.  The batiks could sit at the front of the room, and the other colors needed to be separated at the back of the room.  Or maybe in another class.  And no passing of notes and giggling!

My stash fabric would have to be something neutral, either white or cream.  Anything darker, I thought, would make the whole quilt top too glum.  Far too reflective of my state of mind in the face of this challenge, to be honest.

My first idea was a traditional windmill pattern.  I thought the teal with the orange would be a fun contrast, and would help alleviate the intense orangeosity of the orange.

Let's talk about orange, shall we?

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I was married.  My then mother-in-law once asked me what my favorite color was.  I said, "I love all colors except orange."

Turns out the mother-in-law was quite the seamstress, and the next Christmas, I opened a gift from her and pulled out a beautifully tailored yet fiercely orange matching skirt and blouse that she had made for me.

I was horrified.  And this was really a "navel orange" orange.  Not burnt sienna.  Not rust or brick, melon, peach, or coral, all of which are perfectly lovely colors.

Wearing the outfit this thoughtful lady made for me would have been like wearing a giant traffic cone.

What to do?  I decided that if I didn't speak up then, I was in for a lifetime of orange gifts.  I wasn't planning on getting divorced at the time, although all that orange might have been grounds for it.

So I said, as kindly as possible, "Thank you so much, these are so beautifully made, but I really don't like orange."

Her face turned a shade of blood orange with embarrassment--she had misheard me (or maybe she wasn't listening all that well in the first place, a common problem), and she had thought I loved orange.  We had quite a laugh over it, once we got over the awkwardness of the situation.

Now and then I did wear the skirt with a white blouse, or the blouse with blue jeans.  They were very well-made and lasted forever.  Life is full of challenges.

Back to the quilt challenge:  I made a bunch of triangle pieced squares for the windmills, slapped them up on the design wall, and promptly hated them.

Followed many hours of rearranging of fabrics and ideas.  I tried draping those fabrics in every conceivable configuration and every one was as noxious as the last.  At one point, I was ready to back out of the challenge.  But I kept telling myself, "That's why they call it a challenge, dear.  Hang in there."

True confessions: my quilter friend Sonja came to visit and we spent many happy hours attempting to make sense of these fabrics.  (Well, nobody said I couldn't have outside help!)  She seemed to agree with me that this was not the most congenial group of colors, to put it mildly.

We ended up with a kind of chevron idea, especially since I wasn't ready to rip out those triangle squares.

After she left, around midnight, it hit me:  just go full-on modern, don't try to make it make sense.

I spent many more hours messing around with this, but it began to be fun rather than frustrating.

I started to appreciate the fact that this was forcing me to create something completely different.

By the way, here's what happens when you open the windows on a windy day.  Luckily, putting a checkerboard back together is fairly simple.

I tried lots of different configurations--just fun, cheerful, and slightly mad.

Finally, the finished top!  I ended up barely using my favorite fabrics, strangely enough.  Just a little taste here and there.

Elisa used even less!  She made this really fun one:

Debbie's was also cheerful and modern:

And the fact that the orange fabric is one of Elisa's most favorite fabrics ever just means, when we go shopping together, more batiks for me!  All is forgiven.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Free Pattern: Beaded Rib Ten Inch Square (10")

This pattern is so easy, you will probably almost be able to do it in your sleep, yet it has a decorative texture that looks good on either "right" or "wrong" side.

Our guild is setting out to make squares for blankets for a local hospice, and we figured a ten inch square would be a good size.

The rib will pull in at the sides and look smaller until you block it to ten inches.

For more free patterns in my 10" square series, click on title here:
Patriotic Star
Patriotic Stripe
No Mistake Rib

Beaded Rib Square

© 2015 Reyna Thera Lorele
YIYO Designs

Finished size:  10" square
Materials needed:  worsted weight yarn  (I used slightly less than 100 yds of Plymouth Encore.)
Gauge: 4.5 sts per inch in stockinette

CO 43 sts.
Knit 4 rows.

You will now keep a 3 st border at beginning and end of each row.

BEGIN PATTERN (center sts only):
Row 1 (RS):  k2, *p3, k2, rep from * across.
Row 2:  p2, *k1, p1, k1, p2, rep from * across.

Rep rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 9.5 inches from cast-on edge.

Last 4 rows: knit.
Bind off, block, weave in ends.

CO = cast on
k = knit
p = purl
rep = repeat
RS = right side
sts = stitches
WS = wrong side

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