Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Patriotic Quilt Top

I committed recently to finishing one quilting UFO a month (see the 52 Quilts website for more details), and while I was finishing my June jelly roll project, I pulled out some fat quarters that I won during last year's Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour.

I am determined to use up my stash!  So I cut up the fabric in June, creating another UFO.  As if I didn't have ten UFOs already!  But this one looked so easy!  I couldn't wait to start sewing.

The patriotic theme of the fabrics fits perfectly with July 4th, although I didn't finish the top until July 13.  Yes, some of the fabrics are more modern than the others.  Yes, some of the white is white-white, and some is cream.  Who cares?!

I followed a pattern by Gail Abeloe from Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove.  It's from a booklet called Top 10 Saturday Demo Patterns.

I added a couple of borders to make mine larger, since I had half the amount of fabric the original pattern called for.

I decided just the top counts as an FO, and even though it is still rather small, it would be a challenge to quilt it on my home machine, so I gave it to kindhearted Debbie to quilt for the Quilting Angels charity.

She has a longarm machine!  And she knows how slow a quilter I really am.

Fabric in, fabric out!  FIFO!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Free Pattern Link: Frankencowl, a.k.a. the Shoreline Moebius

Wrapped copiously, doesn't look bad

Some months ago in a land not far from here, I was given this very cool Moebius cowl pattern to make as a shop sample.  The free pattern is the Shoreline Moebius.  My copy was fresh from Skacel Knitting, the yarn was gorgeous Simplinatural by HiKoo, the pattern stitches were simple but nicely textural, and I was looking forward to it.

Now, this was not my first Moebius.  I have made several, but it was awhile ago, so I wanted to refresh my memory on how you cast on for this, because the Moebius cast-on is its own remarkable technique.

I went to the link provided by Skacel Knitting, where they say they have "detailed instructions" on the Moebius cast-on, and I watched the famous Cat Bordhi YouTube video where she demonstrates this cast-on in a perfectly clear and sane manner.

She tells you to count only the top cast-on, even though clearly you are getting stitches on the bottom cable as well, i.e., double the stitches.  The pattern I received said to cast on 400 stitches, so, following her directions to the letter, I counted to 400 and ended up with 800 stitches.

It seemed like a lot to me.  An awful lot.  Then again, the pattern called for a 60" circular needle.  So who am I to question the great Skacel?

I went on Ravelry, I googled a bit; I couldn't find more than one sample of the cowl, and nobody was complaining about the cast-on, or giving any extra info or errata, so I boldly began to knit, AS PER THE DIRECTIONS, I re-emphasize here.

The pattern says you can actually get two cowls out of the number of skeins and colors required.  It seemed like I was using an awful lot more yarn than that per color.  How odd.

But then again, when you look at the directions for the Moebius cast-on for the umpteenth time, and you look at the ones you followed with your original Moebius that you made years ago that turned out fine, and it says "cast on 80--and you will end up with 160," well, if you're me, you just keep on knitting.  Call me crazy.

No, really crazy.

I kept having a bad feeling about this, but when everything is bunched up on a circular needle in a Moebius, all twisting on itself, it's kinda hard to tell how big it's going to be.  One could do some math, but one would be confused and one would still not be able to figure it out.  ("One" was me, in case that wasn't clear.)

I finally started to cast off.  I was running out of yarn.  But then again, the pattern calls for an I-cord cast-off, which uses a lot more yarn than a regular cast-off, so who am I to say that this is a big mess and I got it wrong, and am I really going to rip everything out and start over?  Hardly.  Roxanne threw another skein of yarn at me for the casting off, and the cowl was slowly inching off the needles into its amazing enormous cowl-ness, like a great twisting shawl for a giant, or a slide at a water park, or a multi-colored jumprope for hobbits.

When it was finally off the needles, petite Michelle at the shop tried it on: it hung to her knees.  I should have snapped a picture but I was too upset.

I felt somewhat on the defensive.  I really thought I had followed the directions correctly, and to have it clearly be WAY too big was embarrassing.

I even asked a friend, "Have you ever made a Moebius?"
She said yes.
I said, "If you got a pattern that said to cast on 400 in the Moebius cast-on, how high would you count?"
She said, "400."
I said, "Thank you!"

Then someone else from the shop wanted to make one, and was asking how many to cast on.  Yes, she too wanted clarification of the cast on.  I was not alone, and now someone would benefit from my misery.

So I explained a bit about Moebii, and said, when it says to cast on 400, only count to 200, and she said, huh?  It turned out that by the time she got her copy of the pattern, the great Skacel had CORRECTED the TYPO, and the pattern now said to cast on 200.  Which meant you would end up with 400 cast on.

Much grumbling about people who don't edit their patterns and test them within an inch of their lives ensued from the peanut gallery.  (Me.  I am the peanut gallery.  In case you weren't sure.)  Are you hearing my frustration and annoyance?  Is it coming through the computer?  But of course, we all make mistakes, we are only human.

Now, I am no stranger to the knitted or crocheted Franken Object.  I have made a Frankenhat (which actually turned out fine), and a Frankenbear, which some child probably loved, and I usually can find a way to laugh at myself, but it has taken me quite a few months to get to where I can laugh about this cowl!

Finally I am able to reflect with equanimity.  The yarn was, and is, yummy, and now that it's CORRECT (emphasis mine), the pattern is fun!  So I can recommend grabbing those 60" circulars and giving it a whirl!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Baby Bolero

This utterly adorable newborn baby or doll sweater is another shop sample I made using one of my favorite new yarns, Simplinatural by HiKoo.  The pattern is from One Skein, 30 Quick Projects to Knit and Crochet by Leigh Radford.  Very fun to knit.

I didn't have an utterly adorable baby to pose wearing it, so was reduced to putting it on a stuffed…monkey, I think it is?

Note the cute bit of decoration in the back:

I only had to frog here and there because I was busy chatting with people and not completely paying attention to the perfectly clear directions!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Building (Quilt) Houses from Scraps

One of the most amazing quilts I've seen was at the Seven Sisters Quilt Show in San Luis Obispo recently.  I have been fascinated with Log Cabin patterns and house patterns for a long time, in part because I have moved so often.  Lots of ideas have been percolating in my brain about how I would do a quilt of many houses.  Then I saw this!

And read about it, above, and went to the Building Houses from Scraps website.

I don't know if I would make one myself, but it certainly gets the creative juices flowing!

Monday, June 30, 2014

UFO Sighted!

During the Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour this year, friend Elisa mentioned she found a website called 52 Quilts, encouraging people to finish one UFO (unfinished object) a month (not every week, thank heaven).

The idea is, you bag up your various projects and give them each a number, and then the woman who writes the blog picks a random number each month which tells you which of your projects to finish that month.

Finally finished!
Like, wow, man, this backing is psychedelic!

I didn't want to get quite that organized, but I love the idea of finally finishing up some quilts, and one a month sounds doable.

I only have about ten in progress.

I haven't counted my crochet and knit UFOs in a long time.  Let's not even discuss that right now!

Squaring it up
This quilt is made from the Jelly Roll Race directions--super easy, and probably the second or third quilt top I pieced, back in October 2012.

And then it languished while I worked on other things.  Eventually I got the borders on, and it languished some more, and then I sewed the backing pieces together.

And then, more languish.  At least, not anguish.

Then Elisa helped me pin the quilt sandwich back in November 2013, over a year since I had started the darn thing.

Other projects took precedence once more, and the jelly roll languished.  I finally pulled it out again and started quilting a few months ago.  Then my sewing machine quit working.


Then I found out it was only because I had the free motion foot set too high to catch the bobbin thread.


I tell you, it's quite the quilting roller coaster of emotions around here!

By the time I heard about the UFO a month concept, I was already working on this one again, so, with the sewing machine all threaded and bobbined and ready to go, this is the one I stuck with for this month.

Hallelujah, I finished it several days ago!  It measures 54" x 68", way too big to do on a home machine, in my opinion.  But obviously I did it anyway.  Which is how I know it is way too UFO-ing big!

I quilted the whole thing, mostly doing free motion quilting.  I didn't bother drawing designs on there.  I just wanted to play with the technique and have fun, and get used to it.  I can see my progress, working from the center out.  Definite improvement with practice!

It will probably go to one charity or another.  I keep vacillating as to which.

Do I save it for Maryvale next year, or is it too big?  We've been giving smaller ones mainly.

Should I give it to the Quilting Angels, who have let me hang on to scads of fabric for months on end?  Even though this is not made from their fabric, I feel beholden.

Or shall I just hand it over to the local guild's community quilts project?  They can always use more donations.

The other day, I told friend Debbie I would give it to the Quilting Angels, but then I realized, I have put a label on it with my name, and the date it was finished.  Did you know people label their quilts like they are works of art?  Which they are.  Even mine, beginner-y as they are.

So I shall have to see what the protocol is on that.  More will be revealed.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rebooting the Office

I have a little den.  Sort of an office.  Kinda small.  I had hoped it would be my sewing room, but there really isn't enough space.  I am not a fan of the small room.  Some people find small rooms cozy.  I do not.  I find them confining and cramping and lacking in storage space.

But this little den/office has great built-in bookshelves.  Below are cabinets with doors (preferable, to keep out dust) and above are shelves suitable for whatever, as long as you have a good duster.  (Are you getting the impression that I like things to be clean?)

When I moved in here, a year ago almost to the day, some things got organized well (the kitchen, for example), and others did not.

For a year, the shelves have been a mass of odds and ends, files and papers, and the fifty million things I plan to research or organize that I never get around to, and I absolutely loathe walking into this office and looking at the mess.  I bought some pretty binders and magazine holders and such, hoping that would help, but it just wasn't enough.

Here's what the shelves have been looking like--and this is on a good day, and after I had already moved some of the piles of papers and fiber-related magazines and books out of the way.

Sorry for the blurriness;  in the mornings lately we are having what most people call "June gloom" and what I call "refreshing ocean mist that burns off by afternoon because we are the luckiest people in the world."  Even the flash on my camera was muted by the mist, however.

Anyway, these shelves have been my project for the last couple of days.  First I tried putting all my fabric on the shelves, the way my professional quilting friend Debbie has hers at her house, and her shelves look fabulous!

Well, mine looked like crap.  Back the fabric went into the bins in the master closet.

And out came the yarn!  Or a small sampling of it.

Here's what the shelves look like now.

It's like having my very own yarn shop in my very own home!

To the right of the built-ins is my remaining folding bookshelf, the one that wasn't damaged in the move prior to this one.  This controlled chaos in the corner doesn't bother me so much.

Of course, the floor is now covered with those piles of papers and magazines and quilting books.  But since I have now moved yarn out of my filing cabinets and onto the shelves, I can put files of piles of papers in the filing cabinets, the way "normal" people do.

Anyway, the office feels much more welcoming, even with the mess on the floor.

I like seeing all those puffy scrumptious skeins of yarn sitting on the shelves waiting for me.  I have plans for all of it.  In fact, I have had plans for much of it for many moons!  I am only amazed that I have so little Plymouth Encore left.  Only enough for about three or four blankets.  I have been better than I thought at using up that part of my stash.  So proud.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, one of the local yarn shops is having a big sale next weekend, and so is the quilt shop next door, and oh, dear….  I do want to support my local shops, and I kinda want to go so I can hang out and chit-chat with everyone--after the intense, vulture-like swooping down upon the sale bins that we all do, of course.  But I think I had better leave my credit cards at home.  For the sake of storage, if nothing else!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Free Pattern: Peasant Scarf

As promised, I gave the Equinox Scarf the ribbon yarn treatment.

Then, for fun, I threw in one of the stitch patterns from Catch A Mermaid.  The combination reminds me of the lace in some of those white peasant blouses I used to wear in my flower child days.

Adding a third stitch added to the effect.  I was going to switch between the three in a free and random fashion, but instead, as usual, I ended up being consistent with the number of rows of each.

My nature clearly tends to the organized.  At least, in knitting.

The finished scarf is just about the right size for Handmade Especially For You. They give comfort scarves to battered women in domestic violence shelters.  I am planning to send this to them as soon as I can gather a few more.

Now I'm trying one with chunky yarn, or carrying along two at a time.  I cast on 12 and I'm using #11 needles.  This time I am randomly changing the stitch patterns.

Also testing some beautiful beaded mohair, Schulana Kid-Seta Pearl, which I got from Roxanne's.   I cast on 24, using #10 needles.  I'm making it a little wider because it's so floaty and ethereal.

To me, this pattern looks good with any yarn!

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© 2014 Reyna Thera Lorele

See below for list of abbreviations.
Finished size:  about 5" x 65"
Materials needed:  about 200 yards worsted weight yarn.
#10 needles.  Or use any weight yarn and size needles that give you a lacy effect.  Gauge is not crucial.

Cast on any multiple of 2.  With worsted weight, I cast on 16.

Knit 52 rows as follows:
k1, *yo, skp* across, end with k1

Row 1:  k1, *yo, k1*, rep from * across to last st, k1
Row 2:  k1, p across to last st, k1
Row 3:  k1, k2tog across to last st, k1
Rows 4 and 5:  k1, *yo, k2tog*, rep from * across to last st, k1
Rows 6 and 7:  k

Rep rows 1 through 7 two more times.

Repeat EQUINOX for 16 rows.
Repeat MERMAID MESH 7-row sequence, twice.

Row 1:  *yo twice, k1*, rep from * across.
Row 2:  *k2, p1, pass k sts over p st*, rep from * across.  (See Note below.)

Rep rows 1 and 2 three more times.

Note: Row 2 of the Knot-Stitch Mesh is a bit tricky.  You k the first st, then k the first yo, then p the 2nd yo.  Now pass both k sts over the p st.  Just be careful, when you k the first yo, not to slip that 2nd yo off the L needle before you p!

Repeat MERMAID MESH 7-row sequence, twice.
Repeat EQUINOX for 52 rows.
Repeat MERMAID MESH 7-row sequence, twice.
Repeat KNOT-STITCH MESH 2-row sequence, four times.
Repeat MERMAID MESH 7-row sequence, twice.
Repeat EQUINOX for 16 rows.
Repeat MERMAID MESH 7-row sequence, three times.
Repeat EQUINOX for 52 rows.

Bind off, weave in ends, block if desired, and donate!  (Or wear.)

k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 together
p = purl
psso = pass slipped stitch over
rep = repeat
sl = slip
skp = wyib, sl 1 if to p, k1, psso
st = stitch
wyib = with yarn in back
yo = yarn over