Monday, April 21, 2014

Tile Quilting: An Offering of Flowers

Earlier this month, I took a workshop from Bobbi Finley on how to make tile quilts.  I almost didn't sign up.  I thought the samples were pretty, but money saved is money earned, after all.  I learned that playing low-stakes poker.

But at the last quilt guild meeting, I felt myself waffling, and once I found out I wouldn't have to schlep my sewing machine to the workshop, I waffled right over and signed up.  (That's waffled, not waddled.  I do not waddle.  I sail forth like the prow of a magnificent ship.  That's how I choose to think of it, and you can't stop me.)

Then came the delightful task of wildly pulling out supplies from my stash.  The fabric was flying.

I even had some plain white left over from the last workshop, to use for the background.  I was going to try for something with a little more texture, but all my other fabrics were so busy, I decided white would look best after all, since very little of the background would be showing anyway.

In short, and leaving out all of the technical and helpful hints, first you pick a pattern--I chose Bobbi Finley's Lotus pattern--and every section is numbered, and you trace and cut out pieces from freezer paper, and you lay your background fabric over the pattern itself, and you iron the freezer paper pieces on your other fabrics, and you cut and pin and baste the pieces onto the background and at first, the background really isn't showing, unless you're sloppy, as I am.

I was neither looking forward to nor dreading the enormous amount of needle-turn appliqué that was in store.

Center tile turned under

I've done a tiny bit before, and at the time, I found to my surprise that I kinda enjoyed it.  "Kinda enjoyed," however, was not "love love love," and I really didn't expect to do much more than learn an interesting new technique and sock it away in my repertoire for a rainy day.

But tile quilting is so much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and watching the picture come alive, I ended up being a complete kid-in-a-fabric-candy-shop.

The endless auditioning of fabrics!  One of my fellow students was bemoaning how long she took to choose fabrics, and I said, "But that's the fun part!"

Actually, the whole process is the fun part.
More pieces turned under

I became obsessed and spent the whole weekend doing needle-turn appliqué whenever I got the chance.

Here's my first finished tile square.  I left off the dark edge pieces after all; I originally planned to just have the flowers floating, then changed my mind, then changed it back.  Sometimes changing your mind isn't about waffling; sometimes it's just being creative.

Check out Bobbi Finley's blog for more information on tile quilts in particular and other related info, as well as gorgeous photos.

Bobbi's teaching style is down-to-earth, clear, and helpful, btw.  You might want to put a workshop with her on your bucket list.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bunny Tail

Herbie got his tail!

Oh, the excitement around here knows no bounds!

I used one of those little plastic Clover pom-pom makers, and it works great.  I had given up on pom-poms, as mine always came out droopy, overlong, and under-puffy.  I was using that fancy-schmancy wooden thingamabob with the pegs--some of you know which one I mean.  Essentially worthless as a pom-pom maker as you just can't get the pegs close enough.

I thought it was me, I just didn't have the knack, but after much pom-pom discussion at the knitting group, it turns out I'm not the only one who has issues with the thingamabob.

It only took me a couple of tries to get the Clover thingamadoozy to work, and it makes tying the center of the pom-pom so easy.  I used dental floss on the advice of a friend.  Well, I use dental floss on my teeth on the advice of my dentist and dental hygienist, but who would have thought to use it for pom-poms?  They never told me!  A serious oversight on their part.

Anyway, here's Herbie Bunny, greeting my stable of models, the bears.

They are all eyeing the cat fabric with suspicion.

Meanwhile, back at the beach, the sun is burning through the mist.  Happy Easter and Passover, everyone!

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!