Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pinkspun

This is my first effort at spinning a gradient yarn ("gradient" meaning, for those of you who don't know, it goes from one color gradually to another, or gradually to lighter shades of the same color.  Not exactly self-striping, but related.  At least, that's my definition.)

I didn't think to take a pic of the fiber before I spun it, silly me, so you can't see the magical transformation.


I don't remember if someone gave me this fiber, or if I bought it in a moment of major out-of-the-box thinking, because when I finally pulled it out to spin it, after having it in my stash for several years, I thought it was one of the ugliest things I had ever seen.

It had these grayish-brown blobs mixed with hot pink glops--blecch!  Definitely not my style.

The good news is, I had no qualms about potentially ruining it while trying to separate the different colors.

I planned to split the fiber in half and spin it on two different bobbins, then ply the resulting singles in such a way that it would be a gradient.  I haven't yet tried Navajo plying (watch a video on that here), and I didn't want a three-ply yarn anyway.

To my amazement, I actually like this yarn!  The grayish-brown morphed into a sort of purplish-gray-brown, that got lighter, almost tan, which melded with the pale pink, which then became a warm, but not overly hot, pink.

Proving once again that there are no ugly colors.  Not really.  Not even orange.  I may not like a color, but it will have its uses somewhere, someday.

And I've got about 250 yards of fingering weight yarn--not bad!




Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tiny Tote

 I meant to make a small tote I could carry for errand-running in the neighborhood.  Errand-walking, actually.  Something lightweight, that could hold maybe a credit card, a pair of sunglasses, and my keys.  I wanted to use up scraps of fusible interfacing, and I thought I had the perfect pieces.

It turned out a lot narrower and longer than I had planned, despite my best efforts at measuring and math.



It's the perfect size for carrying a bottle of wine to the beach!  But I never take wine to the beach.



I've used the tote a couple of times to walk errands, but I may have to make another tote that works better for that.  In the meantime… well, at least it's cute.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Free Pattern and Tutorial: Four-Footed Friend Rug


This pattern can easily be adapted for a larger or smaller blanket, and does not need to be felted to be attractive.  It's a great pattern for showing off different colors, or using up scraps.

My goal was to make a small, felted throw rug, or maybe a pet blanket, with some 100% wool that friend Elisa gave me for my birthday.

If you do decide to felt, you will need to use 100% natural fibers (no acrylic, for example), and be prepared for it to shrink quite a bit.

How much will it shrink?  Hard to say--it depends on what fibers you use and how long you decide to run it through the washing machine.

Also, if you plan to felt, use a larger hook than you normally would, for the same reason:  felting shrinks things.

To the right, a closer look of the blanket, pre-felting.

Below is a pic of my blanket only partially felted.  Since I use a community laundry room with pay machines, I can't keep stopping the machine and turning it back to the agitation part of the cycle.


So I ran the blanket through a whole cycle once, with a towel and a few rags, a color catcher, and hot water.  It began to felt but I plan to run it through again.  It make take several washes at this rate, before it is truly felted.

If you have access to your own washing machine, and can keep resetting it to the agitation setting, you can just keep doing that until the blanket felts.  Or you can throw it in a big bucket or the tub with ultra-hot water, and wrangle it around for an hour or ten, if you're in the mood to go off the grid and get a lot of exercise!  I wonder if stomping on it as if you were stomping grapes in a vineyard would work.

I recommend the washing machine.

Now for the pattern.  There's a photo tutorial at the end to clarify.

FOUR-FOOTED FRIEND RUG

© 2016 Reyna Thera Lorele

These are basic guidelines.  My rug measured 42"W x 32"L before felting.  I will update this measurement once I get it felted enough.

MATERIALS
The yarn labels gave no yardage, but I weighed each skein, and had:
3.6 ounces green
4.3 ounces purple
4.4 ounces red
So,  roughly 4 ounces of each color, for a total of 12.3 ounces of worsted weight yarn.
Appropriate size hook for your yarn.  I used an L (8 mm).

GAUGE
Variable.  See notes below.

NOTES:  If you want to do a different size (like a blanket for a human, perhaps), or if you are choosing not to felt, I recommend doing a swatch with your own yarn and hook so you can determine the stitch gauge and, from there, plan the size blanket you want.

Then, for a larger or smaller blanket, your beginning chain can be increased or decreased by a multiple of 6.  The actual stitch requirements for the pattern are a multiple of 6 plus 3 plus 1 for the beginning chain, but I have already added the extra 3 and 1.  (That extra "1" is the stitch that works as the turning chain for the first row, in case you were wondering.)

DIRECTIONS
Ch 76.

Row 1:  sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across.
Row 2:  ch 1, turn, sc in flo of each sc across.
Row 3:  ch 1, turn, sc in blo of each sc across.
Row 4:  rep row 2.
CHANGE COLOR
Row 5:  ch1, turn, *3 sc in blo, 3 dc in unused front loop of row below current row, rep from * across to last 3 sts, 3 sc in blo.
Row 6:  rep row 2.
Row 7:  rep row 3.
Row 8:  rep row 2.

Rep rows 5 - 8, changing color on row 5, as many times as needed for your rug/blanket.

To finish, ch 1, sc in same st and in each st across and along the sides, doing 3 sc in each corner space.  Weave in ends.  Felt if desired!

ABBREVIATIONS
blo = back loop only
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
flo = front loop only
rep = repeat
sc = single crochet


Yarn over (yo)



Insert hook into unused loop of stitch in row below

YO again
Pull up loop

Finish your double crochet
















Enjoy!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Late Night Knitter Repents

I may have mentioned this before;  I certainly know better than to do this!  Yet last night--one more time--I was working on one of my new shawl designs, and it was going well, and I was knitting faster and faster, and in my haste and sleepiness and overconfidence, I dropped a stitch.

A prototype
The stitch patterns are relatively easy.  Each row is simple.  But there are some slipped stitches and yarn overs in the honeycomb section that are a bear and a half to fix when I drop a stitch.  And I'm sorry to say, this ain't the first time I've done this.

And did I use a lifeline?  Of course not.  Remember the "overconfidence"?  Do as I say, not as I do, and use a lifeline, my friends!

Figuring out what goes where, now that I suddenly have a yarn over that could go around the needle at least three times in three different places, is above my pay grade.  This isn't just a bear, it's a grizzly!

But picking out entire rows of 498 stitches each is, shall we say, frustrating?

The evil honeycomb
After some cursing and self-destructive self-talk, I say, in my best, New Age-y, modulated, somehow annoying-rather-than-soothing tone, "This is just part of the journey.  Knitting is fun. Tinking is part of the process.  What difference does it make if I spend time un-knitting or knitting?"

Yeah, right.

Finally I set the dang thing aside and went to bed.  Later today, but not too much later, I will tackle this again.  I repent!  I repent!  This calls for prayer, a cuppa joe, and a magnifying glass.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Placemat Party

Awhile back, a friend designed a very cool pattern for placemats.  It's the "Set of Four Coordinating Placemats" by Debbie Bayer.  I think the pattern is still available for sale at Quilt Ventura.


I don't usually use placemats, but hers were so darn cute, I wanted to make them.

I was going to take a class and make the placemats there, but something came up, or it was scheduled for a day I couldn't go, and I ended up with the fabric and the muslin lining all dressed up (washed and pressed) with nowhere to go.






It turned out, another friend had bought the pattern and wanted to make them too.

After much delay, resulting from having a zillion other things to do, and also from both of us feeling slightly trepidatious due to what we relative newbies considered the complicated nature of the pattern, we finally set a date to get together and bravely begin.

I got started ahead of time, mainly because I had said I would help my fellow newbie, and I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to do so.  The directions were a bit of a brain teaser for me, but I was able to figure them out.  Hooray for me!




The only thing I don't like is my sewing on the finished edge.  I haven't run across this way of doing a binding before.  Maybe it isn't new to someone more experienced.


At first, try as I might, I could not figure it out.  There's a template involved.  There's a flipping and folding activity involved.  I was stumped.

Finally, I was washing the dishes one night around 11:30 p.m., and I was mentally drafting an email to Debbie confessing my utter confusion and pleading for mercy and help, and then suddenly, I understood.  I just suddenly Got It.

It is so clever!



But apparently, I'm not a good enough sewist for something this clever.

Or, maybe next time, with practice, I will be able to make it look less Obviously Homemade.  On the other hand, why would we want it to look store-bought?

Anyway, my friend and I had fun on our sewing days, and I'm sure all this mental activity will prevent Alzheimer's as well.