Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dragonfly

When I first saw some hand appliqué wall hangings in a local quilt shop, I admired them greatly but had no desire to make one.  I was under the impression that I hated hand sewing.

Then I took a tile quilt workshop, and discovered that needle-turn appliqué is kind of addicting.  Having the right needle and thread for the job really helps.  (A thin milliners #11 needle, and thin enough thread to get through the eye of that needle, in case you were wondering.  And a really good needle threader.)

The swoop of that needle, that turns the edge under so beautifully (with a little practice), is mesmerizing.  And I love seeing the shapes take shape, as it were.

So when a two-color quilt class was offered again recently, I signed up, and lured my friends Deb and Elisa to join me.

I snagged one of several patterns I coveted, fresh from Quilt Ventura (or you can go to Pacific Rim Quilts, which publishes the patterns), and I spent a lot of time fussing over which fabric to use, as usual.  I actually used fabric from my stash!  Will wonders never cease?

You can see a little of the pattern I traced onto my top fabric, on the far left.  Then came pinning and basting the top fabric to the background fabric.

Then began the cutting, just snipping carefully with scissors, to reveal the magical design.









A little here:


A little more:


Ooh, pretty!



We three adventurous souls had a sewing day outside of class and worked on our appliqué.

Elisa's doing turtles.


Debbie is doing sunflowers.

I envy her perfect petals!  I can but aspire!

But I am improving, and having fun along the way, and that's all I ask.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Yes, It Rained!

Everyone out here has been doing a rain dance, at least internally, for months.   Prayers, wishes, hopes, dreams.  Finally the cosmos cooperated.

Here are the clouds saying, "So long for now."  Rumor has it they will be back next week.  Continue the dance!



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sometimes a Sock

Sometimes you have to make a sock.  Not because you want to, but because you have to.  The sock-obsessed knitters among us will understand this on a deep and cosmic level.



The rest of us, who have experimented with socks and discovered we don't really care for making them or wearing the finished product (I know, it's hard to believe), sometimes have to make them for shop samples.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the socks;  there are so many beautiful patterns.  I just don't want to make them.

I do like sock yarn, though, and feel it is perfect for shawls!  And bakti!  (The plural of baktus.)

Luckily, I only had to make the one baby sock.  Finished items have a tendency to walk away from the shop somehow, and how much easier for an itty-bitty sock: imagine if there were a pair!  They would be irresistible to the kleptomaniacs and downright thieves.

I do like the result, even though the project required frogging and starting over six times with different size needles until I got the gauge I wanted and understood why they wanted you to start the 2 x 2 rib pattern with just one purl stitch.

The pattern is from a booklet by Kreativ called "My First Regia," for Schachenmayr Regia sock yarn, which comes in tiny adorable skeins of bright, charming colors.  The booklet includes a baby hat pattern, a pattern for booties, and one for the baby socks.



There are general instructions in three different sections, a table for how many stitches to cast on, how to arrange heel stitches, length of foot and so forth, for different sizes, in another section, and step-by-step instructions in two other sections, separated by the general instructions and the table, strangely enough, and written in a way that I find remarkably obtuse.  (Who, me, complain about how a pattern is written?  No, never!)

But once you figure out where the actual directions are, as opposed to the overview of the techniques, it comes together easily.

I turn in the sock today, and it's on to the next project!






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Free Pattern: Pebble Beach Baktus

I have been messing around for awhile with this new pattern, first using leftover yarns from other projects.  In case I made a mess of it, I didn't want to use scrumptious, brand new skeins.



The brightly colored version of this shawlette took half a skein each of two different colorways of Noro Kureyon sock yarn.  Obviously, you could use just one skein, and therefore, one colorway.  Or use up leftovers in your stash; why not?

If you are using one skein only, you may want to weigh it before you start knitting.  When you have used up almost half, begin the decrease section.

The grey version is made with Cascade Heritage 150 sock yarn.

Both colors remind me of Pebble Beach:  the bright one evokes a sunset at the end of a crystal clear day, the grey is for the many foggy mornings.  The lace border looks like ocean waves, and I added "pebbles," in the form of knitted bobbles, along the shore.

The body of the baktus and the lace border are knitted at the same time, horizontally, from short end to short end.  Enjoy!

PEBBLE BEACH BAKTUS

© 2014 Reyna Thera Lorele
YIYO Designs

Finished size:  approximately 52"L, 14"W at widest point.

Materials
450 yds. fingering or sock weight yarn
#4 knitting needles (I used 24” circulars)
stitch marker

Gauge
6 sts per inch and 12 rows per inch in garter

SPECIAL STITCHES
m1L = make one left: slip L needle under bar between sts from front to back, k into back of st created
mb = make bobble:  k, p, k into same st, turn work, p the 3 sts just made, turn work, sl 2 tog knitwise, k1, psso

NOTE:  The lace border alone has 13 sts on row 1.  After row 2, 15 sts; after row 4, 13 sts; after row 6, 12 sts; after row 8, 11 sts; after row 10, 10 sts; after row 12, 11 sts, and after row 14, 13 sts.

DIRECTIONS
CO 16 sts.
K four rows.

BEGIN INCREASE SECTION
Row 1 (WS):  k2, p9, k2, pm, k to end.
Row 2 (RS):  k to 2 sts before marker, m1L, k2, sm, k4, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 3 and all WS rows from now on:  k2, p to 2 sts before marker, k2, sm, k to end.
Row 4:  k to marker, sm, k5, sl1, k2tog, psso, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 6:  k to 2 sts before marker, m1L, k2, sm, k4, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 8:  k to marker, sm, k3, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 10:  k to 2 sts before marker, m1L, k2, sm, k2, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 12:  k to marker, sm, k1, skp, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 14:  k to 2 sts before marker, m1L, k2, sm, k2, mb, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.

Repeat these 14 rows until shawl is width desired (or half your yarn is used.)  End with a row 14.  (I did 17 pattern reps total for the grey shawlette.)




BEGIN DECREASE SECTION
Row 1 (WS):  k2, p9, k2, sm, k to end.
Row 2 (RS):  k to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, sm, k4, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 3 and all WS rows from now on:  k2, p across to 2 sts before marker, k2, sm, k to end.
Row 4:  k to marker, sm, k5, sl1, k2tog, psso, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 6:  k to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, sm, k4, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 8:  k to marker, sm, k3, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 10:  k to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, sm, k2, skp, k2, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1.
Row 12:  k to marker, sm, k1, skp, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 14:  k to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, sm, k2, mb, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.

Repeat these 14 rows until you are down to 3 sts before the marker with RS facing you.

K four rows.  Bind off.  Cut yarn, fasten off.  Weave in ends.  Block and wear!

ABBREVIATIONS
CO = cast on
k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 together
L = left
m1L = make 1 left
mb = make bobble
p = purl
pm = place marker
psso = pass slipped stitch (or stitches) over
R = right
RS = right side
skp = slip 1 stitch knitwise, k1, psso
sl1 = slip 1 stitch knitwise
sm = slip marker
sp = space
st, sts = stitch, stitches
WS = wrong side
yo = yarn over

If you like this pattern, you might also like the Milan Lace Scarf or the Christina Cowl.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

On Pins and Needles (and Hooks)

Here's a quick overview of some (not all!) of the projects I'm working on right now.

This grey shawlette is for a pattern I will post soon.



Finished this quilt top and its backing, which are now hanging in the closet, waiting to be pinned and quilted for the Quilting Angels.






The beginnings of a scarf for a shop sample.

And the beginning of a baby sock, also for the shop.


One of my crochet blankets;  I'm planning to publish the pattern soon.  It just looks like a clump of fabric right now, doesn't it?  More will be revealed!

And I'm knitting a cabled hood with a surprising color effect evolving out of the variegated yarn.







A scarf for charity, probably, using up leftovers.
On the spinning wheel (still--the same old fiber I've been spinning off and on for ages):


A quilt I am in the middle of quilting, also for the Quilting Angels:



The other day, I pulled out a belly roll, i.e. half a jelly roll, and started messing with these strips.  I've already created some shapes, and these are going to fit in somewhere; I have no pattern or plan, I'm just winging it.



Next we have some challenge fabrics; haven't started on this yet.  Wondering just how crazy I had to be to agree to Elisa's quilt top challenge idea.  Very cool idea, but… when exactly was I planning to make this????  Luckily we haven't firmed up a finish date.  Luckily, it is tentatively set for sometime in early spring!
Also taking a class in two-color fabric appliqué.  Traced the pattern onto the fabric, pinned, then basted, ready to cut and then sew.


Also just took a workshop on Judy Niemayer's paper piecing techniques.  Will have pics to post as soon as I have something remotely ready to show.

And I have another scarf in the works, probably for charity, trying to use up this ribbon yarn.

So… off to work on at least one of these projects!



















Saturday, November 15, 2014

Design by Nature

Eye candy from a walk on the beach.





I didn't arrange these, the waves did.






Although I might have had something to do with the footprints!

Birds of a feather flocking together:




A couple of them were having a lengthy conversation.


The guy to the right looks bemused.

"And another thing…!"

Seaweed in the beak: a prize catch

All this and the ocean, too.










Thursday, November 6, 2014

Free Quilt Top Recipe: Scrappy Squares

Last month, I decided to take my local quilt guild's block of the month challenge, a Sixteen Patch.  I hadn't done one of the monthly challenges yet, but this one looked so easy, I asked myself, how long could it take?

I think that about a lot of things. There's a class I want to take?  Sure, I have time for that.  And then that other class?  Well, why not, it's on a Friday and the other's on Sundays.

Sure, I can knit a hat for a friend while I am also designing two blankets, a shawl, and a hood, and making four quilts at once; why not?  How long could it take?

Usually longer than I think, alas.

This square actually didn't take that long, except that I like to spend forever picking and choosing fabrics.  A less--shall we say, playful?--person could have done it in half the time.  (We are not going to say "obsessive."  We are not going to say "crazy."  We are going with "playful" or "creative.")

When I saw the block at the guild meeting, I wasn't too impressed, but once I started making one, I saw how the idea comes together and is quite charming.

THE RECIPE:  You need a solid or neutral color to go with the other scraps.  These were 3.5 inch squares (3 inches once sewn), but you could use whatever size you want.  The brighter and scrappier the scraps, the better.  And that's it.  A bit of chain-piecing and you're done.  (Obviously, if you are making a whole quilt top, you will need more than one Sixteen Patch.)

So I finished the square, and was about to get back to my regularly scheduled overscheduling, when I got an email encouraging us quilters to make one block each for a certain person for a certain gift.

This gift is top secret, hush hush:  the intended victim--er, recipient--is not supposed to know about it.

A colorful beginning
I feel safe putting it up on my blog, though, because I barely know this person and I doubt we would recognize one another walking down the street.  I am 99.99% certain she neither knows my name nor of my predilection for blogging.

I just wanted to participate.  I didn't like the feeling of opting out just because I'm not even entirely sure who this lady is.







Coming together
We were told to use bright colors on a beige background, if background was needed.  Beige wouldn't have been my choice, but "in for a penny, in for another quarter yard of fabric," as the saying goes.

Making this taught me something:  I have an amazing stash full of incredible fabrics, but very few solids or neutrals.  And sometimes solids and neutrals are necessary to set off the design.

So I actually bought a bit of beige for this, but the rest came from my stash, courtesy of Debbie, who gave me the cheerful stuff a few months ago.

Finished
It kinda looks like a circus tent.  Really hope the victim likes the circus.