Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Designer's Dilemma

Despite my best intentions to give myself a break from designing and just knit someone else's pattern for a change, once I started working with my handspun, I ended up getting another idea.

I had swatched away with #6 needles, and then #5 needles, and I thought I was happy with #6.  I liked the drape.

Once I started making the actual shawl, however, I wasn't seeing the kind of clear pattern I prefer.  This yarn is fairly evenly spun and plied relative to my earlier efforts, but not as even as, say, Debbie Bliss Merino 4-Ply.

Plus, I found this particular handspun to be a bit stretchy.  Very nice to work with, but not as eager to hold its shape at such a loose gauge.

So I frogged the little bit I had knitted, and started again with #4 needles and my own simple (so far) design.  I like it much better with the #4s, and have more ideas for jazzing up the pattern.

I also started the Trousseau again using a different yarn, fingering weight, perfect for that travel project I need.

Meanwhile, I have been busy attempting to design something for a crochet publication, with a deadline coming up in about a week.  I've tried a dozen different ideas and hated the results of each one.  Some things look better in my head than in the yarn.

I've shelved the project for today.  I'm working on something I really like, but they want something for a spring issue, and this is more of a fall or winter thing.  Pooh.  I may submit it anyway, just for kicks.

In other news, I missed the beautiful Blood Moon the other night, but I did get to see an amazing sunset a couple of days prior.  Better "live" than in a pic, but you get the drift.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What Women Want (for Their Birthdays)

Obviously, all women don't want the same things.  But those of us who craft--call it "craft" or call it "art"--usually want more of the same.

In other words, more yarn, more fabric, more fiber.  Or more paper, more pens, more paint, more canvases--just more, of the materials we need to feed our creative souls.  And the good stuff ain't cheap, is it, my friends?

Some people just don't get it.

The reason I'm writing this is because of a conversation I had yesterday with a certain relative.  Let's call her… Q.  She may have a different take on what happened but she doesn't read my blog, so, tough on you, Q!

Anyway, our birthdays come around the same time of year, and our talk went pretty much word for word like this:

Q:  Have you made your birthday list yet?

Me:  What do you mean, "birthday list?"

Q:  A list of all the things you want for your birthday.  The people around me never seem to know what I want.  They give me things I have no use for.  I was thinking of making a list and sending it out to everyone, reminding them, "My birthday's coming up on the ___th, and here are things I would like!"

Me (thinking, obviously, that I would get her something from her list):  And what would be on that list?

Q:  Oh, snacks, fruit, food of any kind.  And there are several perfumes I like.

Me:  The only thing I'd really want is a gift certificate to one of my favorite local quilt shops.

Q:  Oh, that's no good!

(Excuse me?!)

Q:  You would shop there anyway!

Me:  Yes, that's what I would want.

Q:  Oh, no, you should get something special that you would never buy for yourself.

Me:  I would love to have the money.  I could get what I want without spending my own money.

Q:  You don't need the money!

Me:  Well, you want what you want, and I want what I want, and that's okay.


Me:  It's like you think I should want what you want.


Me:  I'm just pointing out, it's kind of funny really, that I'm saying what I would want and you're arguing with me.

Q:  I'm not arguing with you!  I'm just trying to give you a different way to think about it!

As if I had asked for a different way.  As if I needed a different way.  As if I should not want what I want.

Discretion got the better part of valor, and I simply said, "I understand."  There was no point in discussing it any more.

Little does Q know or understand the many times I have gotten half a yard of fabric when I wanted a whole yard, the times when I wanted four different fabrics and only bought two, or when I saw the latest MadelineTosh yarn, drooled over the colors, and bought none.

I have some friends who have the same experience.  Yet heartwarmingly, others say things like, "Oh, my husband knows:  Christmas, birthday, Mother's Day, our anniversary--he just gets me a gift certificate to my favorite (knit, quilt, whatever) shop, and he knows I'm happy, and it's so easy for him!"

Others listen somewhat enviously as the friend in question describes what, in that moment, sounds like the perfect mate!

He may have his faults, but he knows what you want for your birthday, gosh darn it!

So, with Q, well, nobody's perfect, I love her anyway, and sometimes you just have to accept people as they are.  And having failed in my attempt to be accepted as I am, I just changed the subject.

But I know you, dear Reader, understand!!

Please note:  the photos here are of beautiful fabric I bought for my birthday last year with birthday money.  Thank you, Mom!  (Mom gets it.  Although I seem to recall it took awhile to train her!  xo)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bay Breeze Blue Denim Delight

I am planning a trip soon, so naturally, it is crucial to figure out what project I want to take.  I'm thinking knitting because crochet uses more yarn, and I need to pack lightly.

I spun this wonderful Merino wool and Tussah silk roving many moons ago--you can read about my adventures in Fear of Plying here.

As you can see, it's a lovely, denim-y color, which was called "Bay Breeze," and which I call "Den-yum."

Today, I finally decided to wind it, and maybe knit another, bigger Trousseau shawl.

There are 882 yards of yarn here by my reckoning, more than enough.  I'm hoping this will be my travel project.

I want to work on someone else's pattern.  I don't want to be designing anything of my own on my trip;  I need a break from all the thinking and planning and note-taking, trying things and frogging them in a perfectionistic funk.

Anyway, I'm proud of myself for realizing that I couldn't wind all 882 yards into one big skein.  In fact, it would be foolhardy to have one big skein.   I need smaller ones that will fit in my purse and will smoosh into nooks and crannies in a suitcase.

I plan to swatch this evening.

Here's the first Trousseau shawlette I made using Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply, one of my favorite yarns due to its smoothness and stitch definition.

Being handspun--especially being my handspun--the Den-yum will be less defined, but I'm hoping it will still be beautiful.

Wish me luck on the swatch!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Asian Vase #1

One UFO crossed off the list:  the second vase from the second workshop this past weekend.

I do wish the inside showed more; live and learn.  

I'm going to press it so that the top opens a bit more, but there's only so far it can go.

Hidden inside

I am definitely putting more vases on the agenda, though!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When Workshops Collide

When workshops collide, they apparently generate a lot of heat.  This is clearly responsible, in part, for global warming.  Not to mention UFOs (unfinished objects, for those of you who don't know.)

Someone else's project in process on Friday
Here's what happened.  I signed up weeks ago for an all-day fabric vase class.  Then I signed up for an all-day quilting workshop through our guild, scheduled for two days before the vase class.

I told myself I could handle it, as long as I kept the middle day free, to rest up, get some exercise, wash the dishes, or whatever else needed doing.

Little did I know that scheduling two workshops almost back to back could create our third major heat wave of the summer.

Here on the coast, hardly anyone has air conditioning, because we are all still living in a Past Paradise when we didn't need it.  We might have had three or four days a year that were too hot, and we would suffer through it knowing that the other 361 days of the year were perfect.

Many of the older buildings here are not retrofittable for air conditioning either, especially for us renters.

As the days marched suffocatingly on and the air quit cooling off even at night, I felt lethargic and headachy and just plain mean.  There were times when I couldn't even knit or crochet!  I was too exhausted from the heat, and I couldn't bear to touch anything yarn-like, even on top of the ice pack on my lap.  THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE!  I have knitted my way through many a heat wave, but I finally reached my limit.

I doused my head with water 20 times a day, and wore a cooling bandanna that has little gel beads inside that swell up and retain a tiny bit of cool (that was more or less useless).  I sat directly in front of the fan with an ice pack on my lap, and any time I had to move out of the range of the fan (like every 45 minutes when my ice pack was almost as hot as my sweaty body), I complained loudly to the Universe.

Luscious triangles soon to become a quilt
Even the thought of getting in the car to go anywhere that might have air conditioning (a movie theatre, a library, a Starbucks) was just too much effort.  Plus getting in and out of a 120 degree car--I couldn't face it.

Then came the first workshop.  Really fun patterns:  Strip It Three Ways by Nancy Rink.  I had a beautiful batik jelly roll--yay!--friends joining in the fun--yay!--and a fan or two that stirred the hot air around, mostly wherever I wasn't sitting.

We had three hot irons going full blast all day due to the need to press fabric constantly, because in quilting, when you sew a seam, you often need to press it before sewing the next seam.

I kept saying, "I don't think I can take this.  I might have to leave early."

My friend Judith gave me a banana.  The potassium helped!  Not to mention someone caring that I felt like crap.

The weather was a major topic of conversation for everyone, not because we had nothing else to discuss, but because we needed to talk about the experience in order to survive it better.

Saturday I sat at home in a stupor, barely able to move, with wet hair and ice pack(s).

(Have I mentioned yet that it was HOT?)

Then came the Sunday workshop, in a beach town that is usual several degrees cooler than my home town, so I thought, "This'll be great, what a relief."

Turns out, not so much.

It was a sweatshop.  The sea breeze was on vacation in Hawaii, I guess.  We had one heavy yet inefficient fan that had a way of twisting and turning on itself until it was facing the wall, so we had to keep unraveling its cord and trying to lug it several inches around to face us again.  Hilarious!  (Curse, moan, shake fist at fan.)

And three hot irons going full blast all day due to… you know the drill!

I kept saying, "I'm not sure I can take this much longer.  I'm going to have to leave early."  Several times, I sat back, overwhelmed with the heat, the sweat pouring off me, completely unable to function.  I felt like my brain was parboiled.

My friend Elisa, who has lots of experience dealing with whiny children and grandchildren, got up and helped me move my sewing station closer to the fan, which was also closer to her, which was way more fun than where I had been forced to sit at first, next to someone who tends to be even grumpier than I was (I know, that's hard to believe), because I had arrived late, which I would also like to blame on the weather, because I was so lethargic I couldn't load my car and get on the freeway any faster.

I have apologized to my friends for whining and complaining endlessly about the heat, but they all say, "Oh, I hardly noticed," or "I didn't hear you complaining."

They are so darn sweet!

Ready to sew

So I stuck it out, and learned some new skills, and managed a laugh or two.

And behold, it has gotten a few degrees cooler each day for the past 3 days, and we've even had about 217 drops of rain!

I have some beautiful new projects to work on, and one finished vase.  I almost feel human again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Harlequin Bowl

Yes, I made another bowl.

Yes, I love it!

The primarily yellow fabric I got on the first Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour.  Or was it the second?

Well, it was the shop in Orcutt, the Old Town Quilt Shop--one of my favorites.

The harlequin-style fabric was a free fat quarter I got as a thank you when I went to a Community Projects (charity) sew-in.

Don't you love it when fabrics you didn't "plan" go together so well?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Scrappy Symphony

This is the last Symphony Blanket, I promise.  For now, at least.

Just one more test of my pattern, using up tons of scraps of NatureSpun, Cascade 220, Plymouth Galway, and other worsted weight wool or wool blend yarns.

Making this brought up fond memories of many a sweater, blanket, or cowl I've made along the way:  my third sweater, which a friend fell in love with and insisted on buying from me.  My fourth sweater, which I still wear.  The afghan I made for my wonderful aunt.

I think this pattern lends itself to major scrap usage!  (Scrappage?  I think I've coined a new word!)

If you like this pattern, you might also like the Symphony Infinity Cowl.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Free Pattern: Lace Trellis

I like the laciness of this pattern mixed with the more solid vertical line.

The stitch pattern repeat is a multiple of four, and it's easily adaptable to scarf, shawl, cowl, what-have-you.  The directions below are for a scarf.

It's drapey and lacy when using ribbon yarn and slightly larger needles than the yarn label calls for (see below).

It's more compact when using regular worsted weight yarn and size 7 or 8 needles.

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© 2015 Reyna Thera Lorele

Materials needed:  depends on the yarn and your gauge.  I would figure on using around 350 to 400 yards of worsted weight yarn using #8 needles, for a scarf measuring about 6" x 50".

CO 24 sts.
NOTE:  Slipping the first stitch of every row with the yarn in front gives a nice finished edge.

Knit 5 rows.

Pattern row:  wyif, sl first st as if to p, wyib, k3, *yo, k2tog, k2, rep from * across to last 4 sts, k4.

Repeat the pattern row until scarf is about the length you want, then knit another 5 rows in garter st (i.e., knit every row.)

Bind off, block lightly, wear!

CO = cast on
k = knit
k2tog = knit two together
p = purl
rep = repeat
sl = slip
st, sts = stitch, stitches
wyib = with yarn in back
wyif = with yarn in front
yo = yarn over

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fiesta Fabric Bowl

This Fiesta Bowl is not a football stadium/play-off.  It's a fabric bowl I made, that my mom bought for a dear friend's 80th birthday.

This is my favorite bowl so far!  I hear the birthday lady loves it.  Mission accomplished!