Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Starburst Quilt

I meant to make a bunch of bright stars for this charity quilt out of cheerful donated fabrics.  But after I made a few star-like things, I sorta wanted to mix things up.

Here are a couple of pics of the planning stages.

I found drawing out a plan on graph paper to be immensely helpful in figuring out where to place what, and how much sashing I would need in between.

Every square represented 2 inches finished.  I added a 1/2 inch for the two 1/4 inch seam allowances on each edge of a given block.

I just did a little (or a lot!) of that four-letter word that so many of us cringe upon hearing:  math.

That black and white checkerboard is a cheater:  the squares are already in the fabric.

I also experimented with the actual quilting and I learned a lot about what I like and what I don't really like, even though I thought I would.

My next soon-to-be-finished quilt has much more minimalist quilting on it.  But this one was a ton of fun.  And it's already out the door, on its way to the hospital.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gateway and Beyond

One more Gateway Infinity Scarf for the road--in fact, I think Hearthside Fibers is taking it on the road, to various shows, including the big one for The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA).

Since Larry and Lael at Hearthside are putting kits together, they wanted me to make another sample using the variegated Ty-Dy.

I really am making other things, I promise, but the Gateway is pretty addictive.

I am planning a Block of the Month pattern giveaway for next year on this blog, so, stay tuned, and in the meantime, Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 2, 2016

One More for the Road

Another quilt done, very similar to another one I did earlier this year.  Soon it will go out the door, probably to a local charity that helps families with domestic violence issues.

Quilted it on my home sewing machine--yippee!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Metro Sweater Joy

Well, I finally made a sweater that not only fits me but feels good to wear--and you, too, can make one!  It's the Metro Sweater.

It is perfect for the weather here, with 3/4 length sleeves, and an open front.

The pattern is well-written and is just complex enough to be interesting to me without causing mental conniptions.

The only changes I made were when I picked up stitches for the arms.  I could see partway through the first arm that it just wasn't going to be big enough for my big old wobbly upper arms.  So I frogged back and picked up a few extra stitches instead of the number given; there was plenty of room to do so on the armholes themselves.

Then I knit a few extra rounds here and there as I went along to give myself plenty of arm-room.

And it worked!  I've even had a chance to wear it a few times already.  So happy.  Plus, the yarn has been sitting in my stash for a long time, Garnstudio's Angora-Tweed, 70% merino wool and 30% angora.  Feels great to use up most of it.

And it basically looks like faded blue jeans, one of my favorite colors.  It speaks of comfort!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Yet Another Cupcake

Who could ever get tired of making these Cupcake Beanies?  Not me, obviously.  Go to Debby Ware's website and look for the Cupcake Beanie pattern.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Clown College?

Here I am with my friend Debbie, clowning around as she teaches me how to use her longarm quilting machine.

I enjoyed trying it out.  It made the actual quilting go a lot faster--especially since I followed a relatively simple pattern and wasn't making it up as I went along, which is my usual (lack of) technique.

This quilt is already out the door, earmarked for the Quilting Angels and the hospital.  The fabric was donated to them, and after I chose to put all these colors together, it looks pretty clownish to me.  A bit garish, but fun.

"Someone'll love it." That's what we always tell ourselves when we're not entirely pleased with the end result!

For a free copy of the block pattern, click here.  Then scroll down to "Tam's Block."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Two for Two

The Gateway Infinity Scarf pattern now has directions for making a two-color version as well as a single color.

I made two samples for Hearthside Fibers, using their Extravagance yarn.  They already have kits available for both color combos!  Click here to get started.

Really happy with how these turned out!  The first one uses their Spice and Straw colorways, and the one pictured below uses Wingtips and Poinsettia.  They have many other beautiful color options in their yarns as well--so tempting!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Pattern: Gateway Infinity Scarf

My newest published pattern is the Gateway Infinity Scarf, now available on Etsy and on Ravelry.

You can wear this long or wrap it twice around your neck for a cozy cowl.

It's an intermediate to advanced pattern--easier than the Symphony Infinity Scarf.  If you've never crocheted post stitches before, this pattern is a gateway drug (hence the name)!  Post stitches are easier than you might think, and once you get the hang of them, you might find them addictive.

In brief, you are simply crocheting your normal stitch around the stem, or "post" of the stitch indicated instead of into the top of it.  So, if it's a double crochet, you'll double crochet around the post.  So easy!  (I know, easy for me to say!)

I first made a sample with Sublime DK, this purple one.

Then I made one with the wonderful Hearthside Fibers Extravagance, using the color way, "Teal We Meet Again."

You'll need 500 yards of DK weight yarn (2 skeins of Extravagance will give you plenty), a G (4mm) hook, and some optional locking stitch markers if you want to make it easier on yourself when counting your beginning chains.

I also tried a multi-color one, using a small amount of a contrast color for the edging and for Round 7.  So, lots of options here.  I want to thank my buddy, Judith, for posing for photos again.  What would we do without our friends?!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Free and Easy Quilt Pattern Link: Framed Four-Patch

I didn't mean to start another project.  (Where have we heard that before?)

Once again, I blame our Guild.  Last month's Block of the Month looked so easy and refreshing, and the juicy fruit and vegetable fabric rectangles were on offer for free at the Guild meeting.

Since I am the Scavenging Freebie Queen, I took two sets of rectangles, as did my friend Judith.

For the FREE pattern, click on Framed Four-Patch.

I found a good blender and some white scraps from my somehow unshrinkable scrap stash, and one and half hours later, DONE!

I turned these in at last month's meeting, and one lucky quilter won everyone's blocks.  I was actually happy not to win--I didn't want another UFO!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Yarn Basket

I'm getting ready for the boutique at the quilt guild show, which is coming up soon.

I will be selling (I hope) some of my handspun yarn.

My skill progression shows up right there in the basket:  earlier attempts yielded chunky yarn, and the newer stuff is DK or fingering weight.

Obviously, I lean toward teal, turquoise, and purple.  There's that lone pink and grey skein on top.  I definitely plan to branch out color-wise in future!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tubes of Color

I was sad to hear a (relatively local) shop is closing, Village Spinning & Weaving in Solvang.  The owners are retiring in order to travel and relax, although they do plan to keep their website going, so do check them out here.

Naturally, they are having a closing sale.  I wasn't really interested in shopping--there's a new one!--but I and my friends had planned to go there for a long time, and just never made it.  Until now.  There is nothing like a sale to light a fire under us.

Speaking of fires, here is the view from my deck about ten days ago.

That is a cloud of smoke from the Rey fire.  A little unnerving.  I conferred with my friends re evacuations, traffic, and potential smoke inhalation, but they were not to be deterred.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, not too hot, and not too smokey!

The shop had lots of wonderful yarns and wheels and looms and fibers, but this is what drew me the most.

I'm eager to spin more gradients and self-stripey things, and these were all ready to go.  And on sale!  Think of the money I saved!  Ha ha.

Actually, I almost bought twice as much, but I held back.  Apparently, there are still only 24 hours in each day, despite the ongoing need to create more beautiful stuff, so I tried not to go totally crazy with the fiber frenzy.

Next in my spinning queue is the red-grey-black.  I've split each color in two sections so I can spin them separately and create a two-ply yarn.

I almost can't wait to get started, but I am determined first to finish plying another blue-green yarn I've been working on.  Will post a pic when done!

Oh, and the bonus for going to Solvang:  there is an incredible bakery on every corner.  I got something called a lemon boat, and if I were a real foodie, I'd have taken a pic to post before devouring it, but no;  it really didn't have the potential to last long enough to take a photo!  Way too delicious!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ventura County Fair Crochet

This year, I was asked to be one of the judges for the crochet items at the Ventura County Fair.  A pleasant feeling for the old ego.

I've been a clerk/scribe for several years, having a great time helping the judge (my buddy Elisa).  While we hated to split up our team, there were 191 crochet items submitted to the fair this year!

Here is a sampling--there were two other looooong tables filled with crochet items on either side of this central one:

Three judges in total made it doable.

I had a lot of fun, with a very efficient clerk of my own, saw a lot of beautiful items, some incredibly cute items (a crocheted lavender octopus, anyone?  A crocheted OTTER?!  So cute!), and some items that… well, we try to give helpful suggestions for next time.

(For those of you planning to submit crochet items to fairs or contests, some very basic things to remember:  submit new things--nothing old, worn, dirty, or, heaven help us, smelly!  Weave in those yarn ends, too.)

When we were done, Elisa and I went out to lunch, our reward for a hard day's… or rather, morning's… work.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Split Variable Star

I inadvertently started a new project.

"I didn't mean to," she whined, "it just happened."

You know how sometimes you're just walking along, minding your own business, and suddenly you fall into a new project?  Ouch!

I blame the Quilt Guild.  Every time we get a new Guild president, the members make blocks, following a theme of some kind, as a gift for the OGP (outgoing president.)

This year, we are doing stars again, and the OGP likes Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

I happen to have a small stash of Fassett scraps, all gleaned from the Guild's Treasure Table.

And I have a pattern from Quilt Ventura, called the Split Variable Star, finished size, 6 inches.  Perfect!

(If you were to contact Quilt Ventura, I bet you could get a copy.)

So I made one.  I figured I'd crank it out and be done.  But it was so darn cute!

Besides, due to the way one makes half-square-triangles, I ended up with an extra center piece.

What's a quilter to do?

Make more blocks, of course!

Then I realized, since one corner of the block is different from the other, a secondary motif would emerge if one were to make a whole friggin' bunch of the darn things, which are, as I mentioned, going to finish at only 6 inches each, so one would need a whole friggin' bunch if one wanted to make a whole friggin' quilt, wouldn't one?

Actually, these are really fun to make, and the arranging possibilities are endless, so, let the scrappy quilting continue!

I made a different block for the OGP.

Sorry, but the split variables are mine, all mine!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Cupcake Strikes Again!

There's nothing quite like the Cupcake Beanie, designed by Debbie Ware.  She sells her patterns as well as finished items in her Etsy shop.

She has designed a lot of cute patterns, but this is one I go back to over and over for newborn babies.

The first time I made this hat, I was a new knitter, and found the learning curve to be high.  Knitting AND purling?  In the round??  With slipped stitches?  And bobbles??!!

I was determined, however, and I am so glad I stayed with it.

I even adapted it once for a grown-up friend:  I cast on more stitches, and knitted a few extra rows here and there.

This latest one turned out a bit more ruffly around the top because I added extra rows here too.  I'm thinking the original is better, but, oh well, too late now.  It has already been gifted, and the baby will grow into it eventually!

Instead of my usual Tahki Cotton Classic, I used Baby Bunny yarn, which has a dash of angora--yum!--yet is still machine washable.  Alas, it is a discontinued yarn.

I decided to go with a little I-cord topper this time instead of a pom-pom.  I attribute that decision to laziness.

More new babies are on the way.  Back to the knitting needles!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Free Pattern Link: Knitted Elephant Hat--and a Fair Isle Technique

A lot of my friends are expecting grandbabies these days, and I heard one of the mothers-to-be is leaning toward neutral colors and elephants as a general nursery theme.  I used this as an excuse to knit this child sized hat, from a free pattern I found online:  Elephant Hat.

It's a little too large for a brand new baby, but I wanted to make it anyway.  I like those elephants!  The pattern is straightforward, as far as following the color changes in the charts.  Since it calls for more than one color in each row, I had a chance to dust off my skills with "throwing" the yarn.

That's the first way I learned to knit, holding the working yarn in my right hand and throwing it around the needle to make a stitch.  It's a bit unwieldy, and in my case, tended to cause losing the right needle entirely since I had to let go of it.  Which caused loss of stitches.  Which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I finally learned the Continental style, holding the yarn in the left hand, and just "picking" it with the tip of the needle.  Being a long-time crocheter, it made a lot of sense to me.  I knit almost everything this way now.

But the first time I knit something resembling Fair Isle, I held both colors of yarn in the left hand, and picked the one I needed as I went, causing much tangling of yarn, which in turn caused much pausing to untangle the yarn, which caused concomitant irritation and frustration.

Then I took a class where I learned to use both knitting techniques at once.  In case you haven't done this yet, here's how it works:

Hold one color in the left hand and the other in the right.  Knit the left hand color Continental style, and use the throwing technique with the other color.  Far less tangling!

Here's a link to my photo tutorial on how to catch the yarn you aren't using every 3 to 5 stitches, so you can carry it along invisibly on the "wrong side" of your project.  (Just scroll towards the bottom on that page to find the tutorial.)

Now I'm thinking, I really need to make more baby hats for all my other friends' grandbabies.  But I'm not promising anything!  And I'm not promising elephants.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Free Quilting Pattern Link: Frogs in the Serengeti

These froggy fabrics, donated to Community Projects, make me so happy--the little critters look like they're having so much fun!

There were a few fishy fabrics as well,  a seahorse or two--love those--and one with cute little bugs (the yellow fabric.)  Throw in a few lizards and you've got quite a party going on.

I found a great free pattern online that I thought would work well with big prints. Check out the free patterns on Jinny Beyer's website and look for Serengeti.

It's a very easy pattern to throw together:  not a lot of points to match, big pieces of fabric, a good time to be had by all.

I only had one scrap of frogs in spaceships, so I was happy to find a pattern that let me use the whole scrap without cutting it up.  Makes me giggle every time I see it.

I chose one color family for the thin sashing, using scraps from my stash and from Community Projects.  A slightly contrasting blender fabric made the inner border, then mad seashells on the outer border.

It's a busy little quilt top, but I think it's cute.