Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bountiful BaaBoo

Hearthside Fibers is at it again:  providing major yarn support with their beautiful yarns.  I mentioned several design ideas to them, and they sent me these fabulous fiber-y treats.

First, for a one-skein knitted shawlette, their BaaBoo yarn in the Galway Bay colorway.  It's variegated, as you can see, with soft colors that blend really well together.

I love the BaaBoo!  It is luscious to work with, featuring Merino wool (the Baa) and bamboo (the Boo), and a smidgen of nylon, making it machine washable and great for all our fingering weight projects, even kids' stuff.

It's about 438 yards per skein, perfect for a shawlette or a pair of socks.  Plus, it's really fun to say, "BaaBoo."  Irresistible.

I also got enough BaaBoo for a larger knitted shawl I have in mind.  I've got the Wingtips colorway (the grey), and a skein each of Grape Jelly and Orchid for dashes of color.

I've worked on a prototype--I still have some math to figure out to give it the shape I want, but I'm zeroing in on a plan.

Last but not least, they sent me more of the wonderful Polwarth and Silk DK weight that I used for the crochet Symphony Infinity Scarf.  This time it's the "Extravagance" colorway, about 280 yards per skein.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet, but I might just crochet another Symphony.

Can't wait to wind this stuff and get down to some serious fiber play!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shadowbox for Beginners

 I chose a block of the month from a past Guild newsletter for this charity quilt.  After I started making the blocks, I saw a friend who was making a similar pattern, only she had the wits and experience to do some strip piecing first for the boxy bits, which makes it much easier.  If only I had thought of that!

Live and learn.

I'm not crazy about the end result here, especially the atrocious pieced backing.

At least I used up some less-than-stellar donated fabric, and practiced free motion quilting some more.  Here's hoping someone at the hospital will appreciate it despite its imperfections.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Clean a Squeaky Wheel

I finally finished plying most of the pound of teal fiber I bought over three years ago.  There is just one partial bobbin that has a thicker single than the rest, so I've set that aside for now.

Clearer photo
The reason this fiber took so long to ply, never mind spin, is that my Louet S-10 had become a squeaky wheel.  It sat around unused for so long, it developed a very loud, complaining sound, and every time I tried to ply, it was pitiful and painful to hear.

I thought it probably needed oiling, even though the S-10 supposedly is made in such a way that it never needs oiling.

An expert spinner friend of mine agreed it needed oiling, so I went on the hunt for some wheel oil at the nearest fiber festival a few weeks ago.

No one had any wheel oil for sale, and I was feeling frustrated, until friend Elisa guided me toward yet another woman spinning away at her booth.

I explained my situation and the wheel in question, and she said (and I paraphrase), "You don't need oil.  Just take a wet wipe and wipe down all the parts where dust has probably settled, and that should solve the problem."  She even offered me a wipe.  People are so generous!

I said I would use just a damp paper towel or something, and she said it would be better to use something with a little more cleaning power than plain water.

Closer to the actual color
I am well-stocked with wipes myself, so I came home, grabbed a couple of wipes, carefully removed the bobbin with the partially plied strands of singles coming off the other two bobbins, and wiped down wherever anything joined or poked into anything else.  Twice.  Then I carefully put everything back together, with only minor tangling and cursing, and it really worked well.  Still a bit of squeaking, but nothing so painful as before.

Now that I am done plying, I am going to give the wheel another cleaning.

And now I have hundreds of yards of what appears to be fingering weight yarn--yippee!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Totally Cool Tote

Results of latest class:

Yes, I made this!  With much help from the instructor (thank you, Debbie).

Note how it stands up, all on its own!

And look!  It has pockets!

Pockets and ability to stand are both requirements for project bags, in my opinion.  The last thing you want to be doing is trying to knit or crochet and having your tote fall over every time you pull out another length of yarn.

This tote has already found its first project.  You can see the little red row counter nestled next to the knitting, which unsurprisingly is color-coordinated with the bag.  (How did that happen?!  Ha ha ha, it matches what I'm wearing too, of course.)

I actually was not last to finish sewing in this class!

I actually had enough time in class to finish the object in question, and not to go home with yet another UFO!  This is unheard-of for practically every class and workshop I take, regardless of project, teacher, location, or the weather.

I am determined to make more totes, too.  It was so much fun watching this take shape, literally.

I've already cut out the fusible interfacing, called Inner-Form-Plus, for a couple more totes.  Way cool, and useful too.

Who knew I would branch out from quilting?  (Probably every other quilter in the world.  I'm the last to know….)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Quilt Gestation, Part 2

Welcome to Why It Takes So Frickin' Long to Quilt One Lousy Quilt, Part 2.

Today we investigate further the mysterious elasticity of time, the root cause of which appears to be quilting.

Quilt begun months ago, now gestating
This phenomenon has never before been logically explained, nor will it be now.  We interviewed dozens of quilters about it.  Okay, maybe not dozens, maybe only three or four.

Yet all agree that the old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun" applies here in reverse.

"You're having fun, and yet the months drag on," says one quilter who prefers to remain anonymous.

Says another, "That little crib quilt with the cute yellow duckies on it, that you think you can quilt in an hour or two, ends up taking six months!  And all because you suddenly decide to outline every damn duck with free motion quilting.  It's the middle of the night, the baby's long since born, and you get all fancy-schmancy with the quilting.  Happens every time."

Quilt finished months ago, still haven't blogged about it
Says yet another, "I gotta tell you, I was hurt when my first grandson absolutely refused to take his baby quilt with the adorable bunnies on it, just because I only got it done in time for his high school graduation.  I think it would have looked charming in his college dorm room.  Some people are so ungrateful!"

The sad truth is that while many quilters experience extreme elongation of quilting time, there seems to be no cure, and no money set aside to search for one.  It all goes for more fabric and batting, apparently.

Or thread.  You always need more thread.

If you are interested in supporting my research, feel free to donate through my PayPal account.  (Although I reserve the right to spend it on fabric instead.)

Also gestating

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Quilt Gestation: Why It Takes So Frickin' Long to Quilt One Lousy Quilt

Challenge fabrics
Welcome.  As promised weeks ago, today we finally discuss the gestational cycle of the quilt top.

The question, "Why does it take so frickin' long to quilt one lousy quilt?" is one that has been asked for millennia.  Here we present some possible answers:

A)  The quilter is a perfectionist.
B)  The quilt top design is unusual, requiring an unusual design for the actual quilting itself.
C)  The quilter is sloooooow.
D)  The quilter is continually distracted by other projects.
E)  The quilter is a beginner and has very little clue what she is doing.
F)  All of the above.

Let's follow the gestational cycle of one particular quilt.

This quilt was born of necessity.  A quilting challenge was issued, the gauntlet was laid down, and the challenge was accepted.  The seed of an idea was planted--several seeds, in fact, most of which never germinated.

Finally one seed began its tenuous journey towards life.  Were there moments of stress and regret as the quilt top grew?  Of course.

Did a high wind blow many of the pieces off the design wall one day?  Of course.

But in the long term, the quilter was happy to have accepted the challenge.

Notice, it is a "modern" quilt.  Not only was it made recently, it bears no resemblance to traditional quilts of yore.  Or your.

No pattern was followed;  no pattern was written;  it is one of a kind.  One might call it an "art" quilt.  Or one might call it a disaster.

Whatever you call it, once any quilt top has reached its full growth, it frequently goes into a state of suspended animation.

Quilt tops are larvae which do not always metamorphose into actual finished quilts.  They can gestate for months, even years, in cocoon-like project bags in closet or garage, before they are ready to emerge and begin their journey to full adulthood.

This quilt top, however, skips the cocoon stage, due to the urgency of a deadline for a quilt show.

The top migrates a short distance to batting and backing, is pinned into a quilt sandwich, and then… we wait.

Many hours are spent staring at the quilt trying to figure out how to quilt it.  Ideas are considered, tossed aside, then reconsidered.

At last the stitching begins.

And continues.  On and on.  For many moons.

First comes straight line quilting with the walking foot.

Then we see a bit of free motion with the free motion foot.

Then comes ripping out the free motion bit because it looks dreadful.

Then, more free motion.

Is it overly busy?  Perhaps.  Are we ripping any more stitches out?  Not on your life!

The back

The binding is sewn on just in time to find out the appearance at the quilt show has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Never mind!  It's a UFO that has become an FO!

More of the back
Thanks to Joey and Deb, it is hung at a local shop with the other two challenge quilts, for several weeks.  (Gee, it looks so small next to the others!  After all that work!)

Now it's hanging in another show at the Faulkner Gallery in the downtown Santa Barbara public library.  The FO has a journey of its own….

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One-Skein Wonders for Babies

Hooray!  The book is out!  How about that adorable cover?

The inside is full of adorableness, too.

One-Skein Wonders for Babies includes my knitting pattern, "Tuck Me In," which uses only one skein of James C. Brett Marble Chunky for a preemie size blanket.

The pattern includes directions for making a larger blanket as well.

©Geneve Hoffman Photography
Note the beautiful photo they took of my blanket.

My home-grown photos are cute, but there's nothing like a professional photographer (with a professional baby!) to capture the cozy essence of the "Tuck Me In" blanket.

As always with the One-Skein Wonders series, this is a classy compilation of beautiful patterns by some great designers.  I feel honored to be in such good company.

The book is available now on Amazon and at your local yarn shops.

Indulge today!