Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Pattern: Shapeshifter Scarf

A few years ago, I found a skein of Schaeffer Heather yarn that had beautiful tropical colors, and I found a stitch pattern I liked, did a little math, and started knitting a scarf.  But as you probably know, fingering weight is relatively thin and goes a long way.

I hate to say I started getting bored with the pattern (especially since I want to encourage you, dear reader, to make one!), but there you have it.  I was ready for a change.

Instead of setting the scarf aside and starting a different project (always a temptation), I found another stitch pattern that seemed to blend with it.  In fact, the first one morphed into the second as if it were Meant To Be.

So, of course, after a few repeats, I found a third motif.

I was going to morph back into the second and then the first again, but I realized that once the scarf was draped around one's neck, one side would appear to be upside down in relation to the other side.  Heavens, no, that would never do!

Solution?  Make two identical sides and graft them together!  The join is practically invisible, as you can see, or rather, not see very well at all, I hope, in the pic below.

I also thought, as you can also see, quite clearly, these stitches would look even better in a solid color.  Sometimes variegated distracts me from the stitch patterns.  I tend to like variegated yarns on the skein better than I like them once they are knitted or crocheted.

We could psychoanalyze this for days, but for now, let's say that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

And the Shapeshifter Scarf is just a really cool scarf in any color way.

Directions are included in the pattern for both grafting, a.k.a. Kitchener stitch, as well as an optional three-needle bind-off join, if you prefer.

Thanks always to Lauren for modeling!

Friday, April 4, 2014

How Herbie Got His Ears

I knitted them, for heaven's sake!  I guess you saw that coming.

See previous post for more pics of Herbie and his friends!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Free Pattern Link: Bunny Fever

Everyone around here has been making bunnies from this cute-as-anything pattern that is so simple, even a beginner can knit one.  The bunny is cleverly made from a single knitted square.  It's genius!

A bounce of bunnies
I resisted for awhile because I have so many projects going, I didn't want to take time to knit even a square.

A row of rabbits
But they are so darn cute, I finally caught Bunny Fever, and I realized I probably had a swatch or a sample square from some test pattern or other lying around that would work fine for a bunny.

I raided the stash--yes, I even have a stash of swatches that can be used to teach classes and/or may become a blanket someday for charity.

Anyway, here's the link for the free pattern by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer:  Bunny from a Square.

Here's the beginning of my bunny, with his head and one foreleg stuffed.

Below, both forelegs stuffed!

"I can but aspire!" says Herbie Bunny.

I ran out of polyfil stuffing but took him to the shop anyway, to confer with Lorrie's bunnies (the three on the left) and Betty's (the two more traditional bunnies on the right).

Lorrie gave me more stuffing!  Yippee!

Below is Herbie Bunny (so named because of his sage green color) fairly well stuffed and ready for his tail, and maybe a little nose, or eyes, or something.  And definitely, ears.

I wish I had put a little more stuffing in his back legs.  Maybe I can find a way to poke some in with a chopstick.

Even though Herbie isn't quite finished, I wanted to post now so more people can find this bunny pattern if desired.  'Tis the season.

Be sure to sign up to follow my blog--I offer new patterns all the time, many of them for free!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Return of the Festive Fish (Creatures from the Black Lagoon)

The fish have been hibernating for months.  They got so relaxed at the spa, when they were getting their acupuncture (a.k.a., blocking), they went into a deep, meditative state and haven't been interested in participating in Life on the Earthly Plane.

They have not been nibbling at my toes, sending out subsonic squeaks, flash mobbing my yarn stash, or otherwise causing havoc in their usual way.  Even when I watched Stargate for the 50th time, they didn't wake up!

But it is Maryvale season now, and the potential need for a comforting blanket for a deserving Someone has roused the Bodhisattva Fish nature.

They pushed their fishbowl-like plastic project bag off the shelf and spilled themselves onto the floor in the living room in perfect order!

I am now sewing them together.  I may need to make at least five more in order to make a decent teenager-sized lap blanket.  Reminder: do not use sport weight yarn for fish, or else be prepared to knit fish forever.

Borders of some kind will be required.  Fat borders.

Sewing them together once they are blocked is much easier, fyi, for those of you who are thinking of knitting the fish.

I don't have all the colors I want; I was kind of wishing for a rainbow concept, but this will do.  I've decided it evokes sunlight through water.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Class Act

As some of you know, I've been teaching a couple of drop-in help classes for knit and crochet at the LYS/LQS.  One of my faithful students, Betty, had the Cedar Leaf Shawlette in her stash of works-in-progress.  She'd had it for awhile and sort of given up on it, I guess, or maybe just got distracted by shiny new patterns.  Happens to me all the time.

Anyway, we worked on it for weeks together, as it presented quite a learning curve for her.  Much frogging occurred.  We finally agreed it was best to just work on it in class, so I could be there to administer urgent knitting care as needed, and whenever I was busy with another student, she patiently crocheted away on her Project Linus blankets.  (Three cheers for Betty, for her charity work!)

Despite the steep learning curve, she persisted like a champ, and she came in yesterday, triumphantly wearing the finished shawl!

I wish the pictures were less fuzzy, but her smile is clear!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mission: Maryvale

Not Mission Impossible, I hope!

Maryvale has eight graduates this year!  You can read all about my involvement with giving new, handmade blankets as graduation gifts to the girls here, here, here, and here.

I swore that this year I would have at least two blankets finished by this time, but one of them was going to be a quilt, which I actually started over a year ago, and though I have the excuse of having many other projects in the works, I am still possibly the slowest quilter in the West.

Quilt sandwich
I did finally get the quilt sandwich pinned with the help of pal Elisa.  I think that was in November.  And so it came to pass that in January or February, I actually got it out to start quilting!

Then I did something that was meant to be responsible and smart.  I obeyed the manual, which stated that one should clean certain areas of the sewing machine once a month, take out the bobbin case, for example, and do a bit of dusting with the tiny brush provided.  So I did that.  And I followed all the directions, really, I did.

The manual is actually not as obtuse as most manuals these days.  It is quite thorough.  In fact, in the section that shows drawings of all the parts and accessories, and lists the names of said parts, it actually lists "instruction book" and there's a little picture to show what the instruction book looks like!  (Inside the instruction book!)  Hilarious!  (I mean, because, if you hadn't found the instruction book and opened it up, you would not have found that picture.  Right?  Are you with me?)  Ha ha ha it is to die laughing.

Anyway, I put everything back together as per the instruction book, and my sewing machine began misbehaving.  The bobbin thread was making an unholy mess on the backside of the quilt.  Thank heaven for that wonderful seam ripper Elisa encouraged me to buy, the kind with the razor sharp flat blade that can slide under even the tightest tiny stitch.  Best three dollars and change I ever spent.

I tried changing the bobbin, re-threading the needle, changing the thread--everything I could think of, and nothing worked.

Our wonderful local repairperson, who makes house calls and is in much demand, was finally able to get over here, and he began pointing out how things work (as in, gee, I didn't know that threading the machine is easier with the foot up, and threading the needle is easier with the foot down; did you know that?!).  He was here for a couple of hours, oiling this and that, unscrewing and opening and adjusting and re-adjusting and resealing this and that, and along the way, he showed me that I simply had the free-motion foot adjusted too high, and therefore it could not be close enough to the fabric to allow the needle to catch the bobbin thread, so really there was nothing wrong with the machine, just the operator!

No big surprise there, huh?

But both my machines were due for service anyway, so it worked out fine.

Blanket-wise, however, my main partner-in-crime, Susan, who is also point person this year for contacting Maryvale, suggested that we might want to relax our stringently high standards and perhaps make slightly smaller blankets, since we have so many to make.

She suggested traditional granny squares as well, since they are a "fast crochet" for most of us.  The quilt I am making, however, is larger and less traditional, and I thought, I wouldn't want it to become a source of envy among the girls if it were a lot bigger, and then I knew I was trying to control things that are beyond my control.  Back to quilting, and if I get it done in time, fine, and if not, there's always next year.

Luckily, I had decided a couple of months ago to make another of my River's Edge Ripple blankets.  I wanted better pictures for the pattern, and I had this yarn lying around, waiting for its turn at the hook.  Dark browns and blues generally are earmarked for boys, but in this case, I think it will work fine for Maryvale, especially since IT'S FINISHED!

Right now, it's at the LYS as a shop sample, to help sell some copies of the pattern there, but I have promised it to Maryvale, so I may just have to whip out another for the shop.

It's crochet, I can do it in my sleep.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Pattern: Li'l Surfer Board

It all started months ago when I was asked to make a shop sample of Purl the Little Knit Girl, from a pattern book by the same name by CiD Hanscom.  The book is filled with adorable patterns, charming and inventive, but inwardly, I was cringing.  I generally don't like to knit fussy little toys and dolls, or fiddly little stuffed objects of any kind, no matter how darn cute the finished object is.

My first foray into the field of stuffed knitted objects was a number of years ago for the Mother Bear Project.  I think Sonja was the instigator that time.  I didn't realize that there was already a crochet pattern available, so I kinda modified the knit pattern and made up my own crochet version, and the bear was HUGE.  We called him Frankenbear.  (Read more about another Franken-object I have made here.)

Off he went to Africa, to scare--I mean, comfort--a needy child.  (No, really, he was still cute.  He was just a bigger, taller bear than any of the others and was probably perfect for some child somewhere who needed extra comfort and protection.)

But back to Purl:  I felt I needed to make whatever the boss said I needed to make, despite my misgivings, so I agreed, full of false cheer, and she threw a skein of DK weight HiKoo Simplicity yarn at me, and off I went.

To my surprise, I actually found myself enjoying knitting this little doll.  I started out grumbling, but the pattern is so clever, and it works!  You just do what it says to do, and those little fingers and toes and belly button and nose just appear!  And the eyes are not sew on or glue on, which would have really annoyed me, but snap on!

I had some fiberfill lying around that Meg at Haus of Yarn had given me ages ago, and I told myself I would probably never make anything fiddly again, so I used most of it up for this doll, stuffing the little legs and belly and arms as I went, as per instructions.

Once I attached the hair, the directions said to tie it up with a bit of ribbon or yarn, but I loved the way it hung down in disarray.  I thought my Purl the Little Knit Girl looked more like a Li'l Surfer Dude.  Perfect for a shop in a little beach town!

Obviously, he had to have a surfboard!

I searched for a pattern, but didn't see any I liked, so I grabbed some scraps of DK weight yarn and came up with my own.

My pattern is adaptable to any size yarn (or board) that you desire.  I call it the Li'l Surfer Board.  (Remember, this pattern is for the board only, not the doll.  To make the doll, go to Purl the Little Knit Girl.)

Anyway, I hope my adventures encourage you to try something new, something you would normally scorn or shudder to make.  It just might surprise you.  It could be fun!  It could turn out great!  Or it could be a Frankenbear, but that's okay too.

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