Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Diamond Dreams Revisited

Lately, I've been wanting to revisit some of my older knitting and crochet patterns.

I get to give my brain a rest from planning and designing, I get to use up yarn in my stash more quickly, to take some new and better photos, and besides, gosh darn it, I like my designs.  They're fun to make.

Diamond Dreams is one of my oldest crochet patterns.  I'm using James C. Brett Marble Chunky, 4 balls total.

This is what my dining room table looks like as I sew the squares together.

I admit, doing the mattress stitch to join the squares is the only part I find mildly annoying, but I do like the result.  The colors in this next photo are truer, too.



Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Selvedges and Their Annoying Cuteness

Have I mentioned I have a lot of fabric?  I believe I may have let that slip once or twice.

Do I really need to be spending time making things using selvedges, the roughly 3/4" wide sliver of more densely woven fabric at the edge, that we trim off before using the actual fabric?  No, don't be silly, of course I don't.

Yet sometimes selvedges have interesting symbols on them, or pretty dots, or just more of the beautiful pattern of the fabric itself.  I didn't really think about that when I first started quilting.  I considered selvedges scraps and threw them away, until I took a workshop a year or three ago from a woman named Kristin Otte, who creates really beautiful objets d'art using selvedges.

And we hate to be wasteful, right?  Didn't Mom teach us, "Waste not, want not?"  Of course she did.

Using a stiff, double-sided fusible interfacing and a bunch of selvedges, many from Kristin's stash, I made this little wallhanging in class.  To me, it looks like an Easter egg.


This is the back.


After that, I couldn't resist hanging onto selvedges.  I had a plan to make a big, impressive project that, once I started it, was taking way too long, and getting boring and irritating.  So I gave all my selvedges to Kristin.

But then, there were more.  Because I kept making quilts and wallhangings.  Some selvedges are too darn pretty to throw away.

I decided on a smaller project, and I did finally make it.  It hangs in my office and is a good reminder to remain calm.  Especially in the face of the tons more irresistible selvedges I keep collecting.



I toy with the idea of making something else with them, but I have so much fabric, I think I'm ready to stick with using bigger pieces.  Kristin may be inheriting more "scraps."

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Experimental Shawl

I finally finished this thing.  Thought I would never be done.

I was experimenting with three different stitch patterns, hoping it would become a pattern I might like to publish.

And I don't like to publish it, no, I do not, because the third pattern is way more complicated when doing increases in a triangle shape than I want to bother writing.  Call me lazy.  Call me a quitter.  Hurl all the epithets you want, I am moving on to another project!




I also would've done less of the third pattern and more of the second band of the first pattern (if that makes any sense) had I really been planning ahead, but I was just messing around, and the shawl got big enough that it seemed silly to keep going.

So I let myself off the hook--or the needles--and I'm calling it "done."

As my friend Elisa says, "Better done than perfect."


Friday, July 19, 2019

Birch Trees

For a long time I've had this modern, easy quilt project in my queue.  I thought it would be a great way to use up scraps.  And it is!

It's a pattern I found at "crazy mom quilts," but I just tried to find you the link, and it no longer exists.  At least I can't find the webpage today, with my limited tech skills.

I made my top with fewer blocks because I plan to quilt it myself--someday.

I'm not usually great at the "random fabric selection" concept, but for those scrappy strips, anything looks good.  You really can't go wrong!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Finding My Marbles

This bag of Marble Chunky yarn has been sitting in my office for months, looking luscious.  It's a "yum of yarn," like a flock of birds, or a pride of lions.

There are four different color ways in there, and a long time ago, I had a design idea for using all of them together.  I've worked on this brilliant idea sporadically, and it just never quite comes together.  Maybe I'm not in the mood.  Maybe it's not that brilliant.


I finally decided to use color way MC32 for a River's Edge Ripple throw, only instead of crocheting strips and sewing them together to get a vertically striped blanket, as in the original pattern, I am letting the gentle flow of color changes in this wonderful yarn speak for themselves.



With an "I" crochet hook, I chained 112 to begin, a multiple of 9 + 4, and then followed the directions for a strip of River's Edge all the way across.

I'm loving the result so far.  The pattern repeat is only 2 rows, so it's mindless crocheting for me.

I will probably add a narrow border to the sides to finish it off.

If all goes well, the finished blanket will measure approximately 42" x 48" using 4 balls of James C. Brett Marble Chunky.  It's all acrylic, machine washable, so start your crochet hooks now!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour 2019

We did it!  And fit in a couple of extra stores along the way, because they were so close to the ten shops on the CCQS tour.

I got four batiks I have earmarked for certain projects, including a mostly black one that will work for all kinds of things.


I got some other batiks Just Because.  They look pretty garish all together!  But they will go in different projects (some day.)



Then the fabrics I needed/wanted for a big English Paper Piecing project that is maybe halfway done.




And more fabrics, two of which go with projects in the queue inside my brain, and two of which are Just Because.



Then notions, including Sashiko thread, hand quilting thread, and regular thread for the English Paper Piecing project.

I love the 3-color Bohin marking pencil, and needed another one to go in my hand quilting bag-of-tricks.  The circular cutting tool from Creative Grids was on sale, half price, so who could resist?  Well, my friend resisted:  she handed it to me!

Not pictured: some stiff double-sided fusible for another project I have in mind.


Along the way we all got freebies, which we love, including little patches to sew on things (which I probably won't, but they are cute), a kit to make a pincushion, a batik mini-charm pack, and sew on and sew on.  Plus, some very handy little scissors, which were the prize for going to all the shops and turning in your stamped passport.



I have decided I can't go shopping again until I finish at least six projects.  We'll see how long that idea lasts!

For those who are wondering, I promise I will get back to blogging about some yarn-y stuff soon.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Startitis: Is There a Cure?

Some months ago, I came across a group on Ravelry discussing the topic, "How many projects do you have going at once?"

I am amazed that there are some people who can do one project at a time, or maybe two or three, and they finish them before starting seven others.

It turns out that I'm not alone in coming down with Startitis on a regular basis.  There are others like me who have at least twenty projects going on hooks, needles, spinning wheels, looms, sewing machines, or all of the above.

Right when I think I have my project queue under control, it seems there is a new class or workshop happening.  For example, here's another result of the Rami Kim fabric folding workshop I took:


I almost got sucked into making more of these cute kimonos, but I couldn't decide what fabrics I wanted to use, so I was spared further Starting (or was that Continuing?) and got back to a project I was already working on.

I sometimes think I'll choose, say, three projects out of my enormous queue of UFOs and WIPs (UnFinished Objects and Works In Progress), and that I will work only on those until they are done.  Hilarious, right?

Then a quilt show happens, or a stop at a fabric shop, with shopping-enabling friends, and Startitis resurfaces.  (The Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour is coming up this weekend!  Yikes!)

I used to keep track of how many projects I have going at once.  I lost count about six years ago.  I gave up.  It's exponential growth.  They're like bunny rabbits.

No matter how many projects I finish, with major Startitis outbreaks reoccurring as often as pollen allergies, or backaches when it's cold outside, it is impossible to keep track unless one wants to make it a full-time job, which I don't.  If I kept track, it would take time away from trying to finish all those dang projects!

There is no known cure for Startitis.  Some people have it, some people don't.  But apparently it's contagious!  All my friends have it!


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Cranes

I finished this charity project awhile back.

I'm really proud of how quickly the actual quilting went.  I pinned the quilt sandwich together, and decided to do a great big free motion meander across the whole top, by maneuvering around the pins, so I hardly had to remove any pins while quilting.
Project pinned

The back


I know some people like to spray baste, and I've done it a couple of times, but pinning is still my habit, so far.

Very happy with how it turned out, and it has already been donated.  Hooray!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

On the Needles

A couple of people have been asking what I've been working on lately.  I've been neglecting the blog.  But now Mom has asked, and I can't say no to Mom.

I've been hand sewing a lot, so it isn't exactly "Yarn In, Yarn Out."  More like, thread in, thread out.

I took a Sashiko (Japanese embroidery) workshop in January.  Here's what I did in class.  The bottom square, in process, is a design that appears as you work on a grid.




And here's the wall hanging I'm making with all the sample squares I made.  The grid is the second square from the top.  I'm doing a little hand quilting in the borders, to enhance the machine quilting I already did.  Not the tiniest of stitches, but it's actually the look I'm going for, although it may be hard to tell from this pic.


Next is what I'm making with a Sashiko pattern I bought from the teacher, Nancy Ota.  I've never been interested much in embroidery, but I love Sashiko:  we use a big needle and thick thread, and I love the geometric patterns.  It's very relaxing and because the thread is so thick, progress is made quickly, which is satisfying.


I've also pulled out one of the two-color needle-turn appliqué projects I haven't quite finished, and I'm hand sewing the borders down so a little of the background colors will show on the sides.  Then it will be ready to quilt.



And I just took a fabric folding workshop with Rami Kim.  Not sure what I'm going to do with this hexie flower, but it's an interesting technique using fusible batting, so each piece is sandwiched and quilted as you sew them together.





And I've been machine piecing a nifty modern quilt top:


This one required serious frogging halfway through.  I was initially using some tropical-themed fabrics for the centers, replete with parrots and palm trees and lurid sunsets, and the whole thing looked busy and horrible.  I conferred with my quilting friend, Elisa (as in, "Am I right that this looks horrible?")  She, of course, was very tactful as she agreed with me!  So I got out the seam ripper and went to town, and it was worth the extra work.  I like this much better.  All I have to do is finish sewing all the blocks together, sew a backing, create the quilt sandwich, quilt it, and bind it!  Almost done, right?!



Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Houses

Last month, our guild collected 10.5 inch square quilt blocks in the shape of houses to send to a quilt shop in Northern California.  These will be made into quilts to give away to people who lost their homes in the fires last year.

I made five--they're laid out on my cutting mat in the photo.

I searched for patterns that would come out to just the right size, and ended up changing a few measurements and otherwise tweaking things to make a simple pattern using 2.5" strips or squares of fabric for every section.

Easy!  And stash-busting.   I also omitted chimneys.  I decided under the circumstances that anything even remotely hinting of fire was undesirable, and considering I am also lazy, well, that clinched my decision.  My blocks aren't as cute or detailed as some of the others that were donated, but at least mine have playful cats in the windows.  One is even dressed as a ballerina!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Presidents Day Project

Actually, I pulled all this fabric out just before Valentine's Day.  I figured it would be good to make a patriotic quilt during that holiday and the Presidents Day weekend.

Our guild donates patriotic quilts to the local hospice, to be given to veterans, and the hospice has run out of quilts, so guild members are already busily making more.


One 12.5" block in process

Four blocks together


I've got the fabric and the time, so I'm making a double bow tie pattern, a freebie on the American Quilters Society website.

Lots of open space for quilting, but I will probably quilt something very simple.

As a friend of mine says, "Done is better than perfect."

Of course, this is nowhere near finished yet.  Maybe by St. Patrick's Day?


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Free Pattern: Double Diagonal Shawl

I hope this first photo isn't false advertising.

Let me explain.

Many moons ago, I started this shawl with the simple stitch pattern you see in the lower triangle section.  Then I added a couple of other stitch patterns, planning to make a more complex and interesting shawl.

But I became so obsessed with quilting, this has been sitting in its project bag, patiently waiting for me to come back to it.


And waiting and waiting, while the siren song of English Paper Piecing lured me away.

I feel I've been leaving my knitters and crocheters in the lurch, blog-wise, as I haven't offered up any new patterns, let alone freebies, in a long while.


So I've decided to give the easy, beginning section away for free, and if I ever finish the rest of it, well, I'll be sure to let you know!

The bottom line is, this is more of a recipe than a pattern.  I don't have exact yarn weights or amounts, or finished dimensions.  You can make this triangular shawl as small or as large as you want, and you can use fingering weight, dk weight, or whatever yarn pleases you.

For the sample shown, I'm using sport weight Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  I love this yarn and I still have a ton of it in my stash.


DOUBLE DIAGONAL SHAWL

© 2019 Reyna Thera Lorele

DIRECTIONS
CO 3 sts.  K 6 rows.  Pick up 3 sts along the side of the small piece just made, then pick up 3 sts along the cast-on edge.

SET-UP ROWS
Row 1:  k1, yo, k3, yo, pm, k1, pm, yo, k3, yo, k1.  (13 sts)
Row 2:  k2, p across to last 2 sts, k2.

BEGIN PATTERN (Notes:  for the first rep of Rows 1 and 5, you won't have far to go before the center st marker.  Also, just slip the markers when you come to them.)

Row 1:  k1, yo, *k2, yo, k2tog, rep from * to 1 st before first marker, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, *ssk, yo, k2, rep from * to last st, yo, k1.
Row 2:  k2, p across to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 3:  k1, yo, k to ctr st, yo, k1, yo, k to last st, yo, k1.
Row 4:  k across.
Row 5:  k1, yo, k2, *k2, yo, k2tog, rep from * to 3 sts before first marker, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, *ssk, yo, k2, rep from * to last 3 sts, k2, yo, k1.
Rows 6, 7, and 8:  rep rows 2, 3, and 4.

Rep rows 1 - 8 until the piece is as large as you want.  You can bind off, or maybe knit a couple of rows of garter st for a simple border, as follows:

POSSIBLE "BORDER"
Row 1:  k1, yo, k to ctr st, yo, k1, yo, k to last st, yo, k1.
Row 2:  k.

Bind off, weave in yarn ends, block as desired.

ABBREVIATIONS
CO = cast on
ctr = center
k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 sts together
p = purl
pm = place marker
rep = repeat
ssk = slip, slip, knit
st, sts = stitch, stitches
yo = yarn over








Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Great Shawl Debacle of 2018-2019

You'd think someone like me, who has roughly 2000 sets of knitting needles--okay, I'm exaggerating, it's 200, max--would easily have the perfect needles for making any project under the sun.

You would think that, but you would be wrong.  (It's not your fault.)

It all started last spring, probably, when I was trying to find a good travel project for the inevitable looooong trip back east to see the folks.  I wasn't going yet, but I knew I couldn't put it off forever.  (I love my folks, I just hate to travel.)

So, I thought I'd prepare the most important part of packing ahead of time:  the travel knitting or crochet project.  Something small and portable, fairly untaxing to the brain, but not utterly boring.

I settled on the Holden Shawlette designed by Mindy Wilkes, a beautiful pattern I've had in my queue for several years.  I found a suitable yarn in my 2000+ skeins of stash--okay, maybe not 2000, maybe more like 1950--and I went to find a #4 circular needle.  No problem, right?

Again, wrong.

I had two sets of 16" long #4 circulars:  too short.
I had one set of 47" long #4 circulars:  way too long.
I needed maybe 24" or 32" long needles, and the only ones I had were my much-loved Lantern Moons.  You would think, "Problem solved," right?

So I led myself to believe.  I told myself, "It doesn't matter that the yarn is very dark and the wonderful Lantern Moons are ebony, i.e., black.  It won't matter that the light in the airport, airplane, hotel, and/or parents' den is not all that bright.  I'm a good knitter, this is not a problem."

I cast on and got the project just barely going, and stuck it away in a bag for that fateful day when I would have to face the dreaded so-called "vacation."

Several months later, travel time could no longer be avoided, so I pulled the project out and gave myself a quick refresher on what I was supposed to knit for the first 88 or so rows.  It's very simple, a breeze for an Accomplished Knitter such as myself.

I ignored the still, small voice within that said, "Um, excuse me, I don't mean to trouble you, I know you're stressed out about making travel arrangements, but this yarn is quite dark and the needles are black, and are you sure you want to commit to this combo?"

I refused to pay attention.  Off I went on my travails--I mean, travels--and I did a bit of knitting here and there.  Literally, here and there.  And along the way, I realized that with the shoving of the project in and out of my carry-on and/or purse, and working on it for five minutes or half an hour in this or that plane/hotel/den, that I had completely lost count of what row I was on, despite the use of a row counter, because I forgot whether I had decided to count rows or count repeats of a 2-row combination.

"No problem," I told myself, "I'll just count how many stitches I have," because the designer had thoughtfully included how many stitches I should have.

Funny thing, I was off by two stitches.  Every increase row was supposed to add four stitches, but I was not.

By this time, I was home again, having successfully navigated four different airports and three hotels, and I even had a little fun along the way, mainly while seeing Mom and Dad, who are a kick.

At first, since I couldn't find a dropped stitch anywhere, I thought, "I'll just keep going and add a couple of stitches, it'll be fine, it isn't going to unravel, and no one will know."  But it bothered me.  The still, small voice knew, and not only would it not let me forget, it was still going on and on about how dark the yarn and the needles were.  (That still, small voice can be a real pain in the patootie sometimes.)

Finally, I decided to frog a few rows and see if that took care of the mistake.  I just slid all the stitches off the needles and ripped out an inch or two of my knitting.  Getting the stitches back on the needle took a little time, because, y'know, the needles and the yarn were so dark, and then I was still off by two stitches.  I considered ripping the whole thing out and starting over, or giving up entirely.  Cursing was involved.

This is not the fault of the pattern, btw.  It really is easy.  This was all my own stubborn fault.

I bit the bullet and got out my 47" Addi Natura needles, which are light in color, but way too long, and I tinked.  In other words, for those who don't know, I unknitted, which takes just as much time as knitting but you're going backwards and have nothing to show for all your work.  This is, of course, insane.  But I kept thinking, "Just one more row and the mistake will be revealed."

I told myself, "Eventually I'm going to have to travel again, and this will be my project, because obviously I'm not finishing it any time soon."

I told myself, "It's the process, not the end result;  the journey, not the destination."  In other words, I continued to lie to myself.

After tinking away for awhile, I was still off by one stitch.  How odd.  I decided more frogging was in order.  Off the needle, ripping out lots of rows, then back on the Addi Naturas, and lo!  There was a chorus of angels singing in the heavens!  There was dancing in the mental streets!  I had an appropriate stitch count.

And then I did the craziest thing of all:  I walked a few blocks up the street to my local yarn store and for a mere ten bucks, bought a set of Knitters Pride Naturalz, 32" long #4 circulars, nice and sharp at the tips, and light enough to work with this yarn.  The cord is black, but that doesn't matter;  I'm not knitting with the cord, just the needles.  And this is what the project looks like today, after probably at least 20 hours of work, and I am not exaggerating about the hours:


I know you're laughing at me right now.  Don't pretend you aren't!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Challenge Met

I joined a new fiber arts group last February called Fibervision.  (Click on the name to learn more about the other member artists.)

The members decided to do a group challenge.  The theme we were all supposed to interpret was "Intersection," and the finished wall-hangings/quilts were all supposed to be 30" wide by 48" long.

I'm calling mine "Eclipse."  There's a little machine piecing, a little hand appliqué, and a lot of straight and free motion quilting, which doesn't show up unless you get close.

This was my October finish-a-UFO-a-month project as well.

I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I might like to hang it this way, too:


But at the moment, it's living on one of my quilt racks and hasn't even made it onto a wall.  This is mainly because I have limited wall space, and the space I have is hard to get at (as in, over my heavy desk.)  I'm sure I'll get around to displaying it eventually.  (Do I need a "display-a-project-a-month" challenge too?!  Heaven forfend!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Fancy Cats and a Fairy Tale Confection

One of our quilt guild members has made a commitment to finish at least one UFO (UnFinished Object) a month.  I've decided to follow her example.  Of course, I start at least three more projects!  But, progress is being made.





A glimpse of the back


I started the Fancy Cats quilt in August of 2016, and the top and backing hung in the closet for months, waiting.  I finally finished it in October 2018.






I started Fairy Tale Confection ages ago, even before Fancy Cats.  Finished it in November 2018 (although it still needs a label).


I did hand appliqué, machine appliqué, machine piecing and quilting.  All the little appliqué hearts have fairies in them.



Doesn't it look like a birthday cake?


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Shawl is Coming

A new crocheted shawl design is coming soon.  I've been playing around with a prototype, and plan to grab some more yarn, and take better notes while making the real thing.



I've gotten lots of compliments on this along the way; I think it's the beach-y, soothing colors.  The next one is going to be a little more dramatic, color-wise, since that’s what I have in my stash.  This one still needs to be blocked.  All in due course.