Friday, December 27, 2013

Best Gift

Without even knowing it, daughter #1 has given me a wonderful gift.  The gift is not something that she wrapped and presented on a special day.  The gift is larger than that.

She who crochets has absorbed hook and yarn into her life completely. 

It is hard to explain how thrilling it is to know that the generations of Francois women who take up a craft and make it art will continue.  She could have chosen embroidery, sewing or knitting.  But like her grandmother, she chose crochet.

One day, she announced that she was going to learn to make socks.  And faster than you can find the end of the yarn in the ball, she was off and stitching.

Check out her blocking talent.  The shawl edges naturally need to be the same and so she folded on the center spine and pinned it into a state of matchy matchy.

That girl makes her mama and her grandmother and a great-grandmother that she never met, very proud.  It is the best gift ever.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Milestone Missed

Geez Louise.  What kind of a writer am I?  Oh sure, I can tell a might fine yarn and I can work up yarn like a pro.  But math is still an issue.  That whole counting thing.

The last post - the one about the Ida blanket - was post #500!  Yippie.  You never knew it, but that was my personal goal.  I set out to write "hundreds of things" about yarn and such.

I did it. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Stitches of Ida

She is not yet ready for her close up.  But perhaps you are curious about the stitches of Ida.  The last post was about the post work edge, so I'll spare you additional detail.

Pay attention to the red numbers.  If you click on the photo it might magically grow larger so you can see better.

*NOTE:  in all sections, gauge is what it wanted to be.  I'm not too particular.

Section 1  Knit, seed stitch.  Malabrigo Chunky which is a kettle dyed pure merino.  Size US 11.  A rectangle.

Section 2  Crochet, Tunisian simple stitch.  Plymouth Yarn Encore Chunky.  Size 13 hook.  Worked on two sides of Section 1 with a short row corner.

Section 3  Crochet, double crochet.  Universal Yarn Classic Shades Frenzy.  Size 13 hook.  Connected to Section 2 and using an increase corner.

Section 4  Knit, garter stitch.  The Malabrigo like Sec. 1.  Size US 11 needles.  Picked up from the crochet of Sec. 3.  Also uses a short row corner. 

Section 5  Crochet, extended single crochet.  The Encore like Sec. 2.  Same size 13 hook.  Used an increase corner.

And then the border is worked all the way around.  Still confused.  This should help.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home Stretch

Call me a woman ahead of her time.  Truly.  The 2014 blanket is in the home stretch.  The edging started today.  It took a lot of thinking to decide how best to end this wad of warmth.  Not the first part of the thinking; that was easy.

Because of the construction and changing of stitches without regard to that five letter word [gauge] the edges needed to be harmonized with good old single crochet.  Working single crochet around the whole thing went a long way toward straightening out the dips where knit met crochet and the curly edge of the Tunisian Simple Stitch.

Digression for an observation:  I often forget that Tunisian crochet curls in the same way that knit stockinette curls.  I have to remember that because normally I use crochet to combat curling.  Oh, well. 

The quandary became what to do after the single crochet. It needed to be easy to work in the wool boucle I was determined to use and a stitch pattern that worked up flawlessly because frogging  boucle is not a thing that makes one happy.  I knew  this final edging would be worked with Mama's crochet hook.  After all, the whole point of the Ida blanket is to use Ida Mae's crochet hook and blend in my love of knitting. 

Owing to my total disregard of gauge, the blanket has stretches of wonkiness.  Nothing more than two or three inches in a spot.  But there are a few places that need to pull in a bit.  What, I asked myself, stretches and contracts?  Crochet post work!

That's right.  The whole edging is being worked in basic front post/back post crochet so that it adjusts to the blips in the stitches.  Round and round I go.  There is almost 800 yards of the super wash boucle, so the border will take some time.  I'm happy, and Ida Mae is happy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Have You Heard?

The word of the month (for moi and many yarnista friends) is Felf.  Click on over to Cat Bordhi's site and learn all about Felfs.  This just might be the best ebook ever.  Even if you do not knit, buying the ebook will do wonders to further important research.

Ana Petrova and The Knitting Tree, LA teamed together - with Cat's blessing - to encourage knitting of Felfs.  Each participant purchased a copy of the ebook and procured yarn from the store.  We made measuring devices and last night we gathered to determine our unique "F" number and do a bit of math.

An untended lesson that amazed me was the wide variety of felted pockets (go buy the book) that were produced by the participants.  Yarn selection, needle choice, stitch gauge, method of fulling, how long and vigorous the agitation, use of baking soda or not, &tc, &tc, &tc all accounted for the differences.

Ana includes little extras in her classes.  In addition to the wonderful world of Felfs, we discussed needle felting, alkaline water, and  balls.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Slip Sliding Away

Voila!  The knitting is done. 

Alas the seaming still needs to be done.  And sewing seams is not my favorite part of yarn work. 

Luckily, the pattern (yes, sometimes I start with a real honest to goodness published pattern.  I might not stick to the pattern, but I start with it.)  specifies seams be crocheted together on the public side. 

This is the first time that I recall seaming seed stitch to stockinette. . .
on a diagonal. . .
where the side of the diagonal seed stitch needs to match up with the the bind off of stockinette.

All manner of panic set in.  Mostly related to the difference in row gauge of the seed stitches meeting up to the stitch gauge of the stockinette.

Panic be gone - - - it is slip sliding away.  The phrase easy peasy comes to mind. 

All these years of handwork and I still get giddy when something works out perfectly.  Yippie!

Monday, December 9, 2013

F-UFO Sighting

In the far reaches of darkness it flashed.  A dull light color amidst the dark.  What could it be?  It was obviously larger than a dropped stitch.  Was it a forgotten donation?  A gift that did not get mailed? 

With some trepidation, I reached my hand into the deep dark forgotten space and gently grabbed the wad o' stuff.  A F-UFO.  Forgotten UnFinished Object.  Yes, I had totally forgotten that this crochet blanket even existed. 

Sixty minutes.  A short hour of time.  That is all that it took to Remember and Finish the Object.

 Here it is.  A mirror image bit of crochet that results in a baby blanket.  There is not much of a real pattern.  It is just double crochet shells worked in three colors.

In the second photo, the arrow points to the middle strip where the "mirror" work begins.  The arrow shows the starting chain.  First, rows are worked in sequence from the chain.   Then the exact same "mirror" sequence is worked beginning from the base of that starting chain. 

No, it isn't rocket science.

No, it isn't an award worthy pattern.

No, it doesn't build lots of new connections in an aging brain.

But it is a sweet and useful baby blanket that deserves love.

And it is finished!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twist & Turns Of Loyalty

A few months back, a shawl of loyalty came off the hook and ended up in Louisiana.  There was still yarn left and to show my continued loyalty no matter the twists and turns of the gridiron, the remainder of the yarn was used up during the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Sitting in the sunshine is a favorite pass time of mine.  Luckily I get to enjoy warm rays often.  Especially when hanging out in Palm Desert.   Sitting outside to work the yarn and watch football requires one of two things.  One needs either an outdoor television (which I do not have) or an open doorway with a clear view to the indoor screen which is what I do have. 

Sunshine, yarn and college football.  Those three go together like peas and carrots.  Well, peas and carrots is only two things, not three things.  But you get the drift of my thinking.

Working up this colorful cap was quick and fairly mindless.   The construction is top down and other than the increases and remembering to use both school colors, not much brain power is needed.

Stretchy crochet is produced with alternating front post and back post stitchery.  It makes ribbing that is comparable to knit ribbing.  The best thing about ribbing is that it fits - - almost everyone.

Yarn:  Naturally Caron Country in Louisiana colors.  This yarn is discontinued.  The point is to use team colors.  Of course if you toss in green to the purple and gold the hat will be appropriate for Mardi Gras.

Hook:  I  5.5mm

PatternKnit-look Ribbed Hat from The Laughing Willow blog.  This is a great pattern if you want to practice crochet post stitches.  Click over and give it a try.

So, the big question is do I keep the hat or send it off to Louisiana?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Crochet Knit Connection

Yes, it is a theme.  Ida, the blanket that has consumed me, is all consuming.  Perhaps I love her so much because each section is attached while it is worked.  When she is finished, she will be finished with no seams the sew.  Gotta love that.

Never before in my entire yarn life have I attached knit garter stitch to plain old double crochet stitches.   Never before had I even thought to do it.  One thing that working Ida is teaching me is that the crochet knit connection is sturdy, strong, and deserves to be celebrated.

I did not even look up options for accomplishing the task.  With boldness as my partner, I took a circular knitting needle to the back loop of those double crochet stitches and picked them up.  Notice that I did not pick up and knit.  I only picked up each loop.

With the live stitches from the double crochet stitches on the knitting needle, it is a simple matter of knitting the dc loop together with the last knit stitch so as to connect the two sections.  If you have ever knit on an edging, you'll recognize the k2tog join as being a typical method of joinery.

FYI and because I know you are curious, the in this section the crochet  is worked with a bulky yarn to which a chunky yarn is coming to the party up. 

Check out the resulting join.  Lookin' good!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turning A Corner. . .

. . . in Tunisian Simple Stitch is simply a matter of short rows.  And working short rows in TSS is an easy peasy thing.  For Ida (the 2014 blue blanket), ninety degree corners are needed. 

Step 1 is to make steps.  This is accomplished by working one less stitch on each forward pass.

Step 2 is to keep repeating those short rows until one stitch remains.  Notice the neat forty-five degree angle. 

Step 3 is to add one stitch to each forward pass.  On the forward pass on the "other direction" simply pick up the "end stitch" from the short row along with the last stitch of the forward pass.  So, the original one stitch becomes  two stitches on the first forward pass.  Yes, work the reverse pass in your normal way.  On the next forward pass of the TSS adding one stitch (from the short rows) results in three stitches on the needle.

Very easy.  When all short rows have been worked, there will the the same number of stitches as there were before the short rowing began and a nice tidy corner will be turned.

Ida is taking shape rather well.   You will want to know that the blue section of knit seed stitch is a chunky yarn.  The crochet TSS is a bulky.  And those two different weights of yarn play together better than I expected.

Yarn - - it's a happy thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Yarn That Binds - Connecting TSS To Knit Edges

The first afghan/blanket that I ever made was some forty years ago.  Mama crocheted the granny squares.  I crochet squares using the "afghan stitch" which is now known as Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS).  Mama sewed the whole thing together and off I went to my first dorm experience at Louisiana College.

TSS is quite popular (finally or once again.  I can't figure it out) and has many variants and extensions such that Tunisian Crochet is a genre unto itself.  I still consider it that old stitch from way back when.

TSS has made it into the 2014 blanket.  Oh, don't get started lecturing me about it still being 2013.  I am an artist.  I am whimsical.  If I want to work on the 2014 blanket in November of 2013, I can.  Just smile and nod and go with the flow.

Meet Ida.  She is the 2014 blanket of my own design and is sketched out in this post.  Because I am not Mama (Ida Mae), I avoid seams whenever possible.  Each section will be attached to the previous as it is worked. 

The first section is knit in seed stitch and all edges are slipped so as to create a chain that is easy to pick up.  Section 2 of Ida is TSS that is connected to Section 1 on the bind off edge and a slipped stitch edge.  It is very easy to accomplish. 

 Let's assume that you already know how to work TSS or you watched a video.  To connect TSS to a knit edge is quite easy.

1.  Work the TSS forward pass until ready to pick up the last loop.
2.  Pick up for the TSS stitch AND the back loop from the knit bind off or slipped edge.

3.  Yarn over and draw through both the knit edge loop and for the TSS  loop to create the last stitch of the TSS forward pass.

4.  Connection is made!
5.  Work the TSS reverse pass in the normal way. 

It is so easy.  Working through the back look on the knit edge creates a decorative twist where the different styles of yarn work meet. 

Can I get a Voila?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Year, New Blankie

Being ahead of my self imposed time line gets my giddy on.  And I am giddy over this. 

copyright FSD, 2013
It came to be in a blink.  After futzing with several possibilities, including perfectly a symmetrical option, I have settled on the design for my 2014 blanket.  There are kinks yet to be worked out. That will happen in the making. 

I can't quite see the solution to short rows worked in one of the particular stitches I've chosen.  Hopefully, by the time I get the thing cast on and work to section three, something will present itself as the right way to accomplish the task. Maybe short rows is not the answer.  Right now it feels like the elegant way out and I do love elegance.  Rather than fight the design specifics right now, I'll just go with my gut and cast on.  Somewhere during the knitting and crocheting of sections one and two, it will settle in my brain.

For now, my fingers are itching to get started.  I've already wound skeins in anticipation and all is ready in a separate project bag.  This one is ahead of the time line and I've got my giddy on!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rebellion Through Needlework

Books and patterns abound that mix crochet and knitting stitches.  Perhaps the most prevalent is the somewhat dreaded but ever popular crab stitch edging (crochet) around a knit opening.  There are other ways to mix it up.  Like Tunisian crochet work that transfers the forward pass to become live knit stitches.  OK, that might be a tad advanced for some to envision, let alone tackle without moral support. 

How about the simple crochet edging on a sewn project?  That mixes it up.  A simple embroidered  blanket stitch provides the foundation to something spectacular.  Such as this - - -
A dresser scarf that is amongst the trove of Mama's things now in my possession.  (check out the last several posts for all the goodies I now own).

Yes, there was a time in my youth when my eyes were sharp enough to do such delicate thread work.  Adding edging like this was never something that I enjoyed and so I left this type of creativity to others. 

Here is a bit of the embroidery on the scarf.  Oh, the hours I spent as a teen learning to embroider!  Stem, lazy daisy, chain, satin, french knots, and feather stitch were my friends. 

For the most part I learned on cotton and linen like a dresser scarf.  That was Mama's doing.  But then, I transferred my needle work skill to jeans.  Oh, come on.  You remember those summer days in The Sixties when we spent afternoons adding just the right embroidery to jeans and peasant blouses so that we could be rebellious.  You know you tried to jam that thick denim into a flimsy wooden hoop.  Just like me you embroidered a daisy - a delicate yellow daisy - on your clothing.  [please do not ask if I ever painted a matching daisy on my cheek] 

And we thought we were so ANTI everything.  Often Anti-home/family where we learned the needle skills that allowed the rebellion.   And don't get me started on the Home Ec class at my high school where the girls crocheted ponchos with long fringe. 

What were we thinking?  Rebellion through needlework!  Such a radical idea.  It is crazy to use needle, hook or stick with yarn to express rebellious thoughts.  Far fetched if you ask me.  Off the wall wacko.

Wait a moment. . . .

Rebellion through needlework. 

We still do that. 

Only now it is called yarn bombing. 

Geez.  I do love a good yarn no matter how it is applied.

Carry on!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Too Young To Remember

There are those who accuse me of being too old to remember everything that I'm supposed to remember.  This is a case of me being too young to remember something. 

 Did a newborn Lenora ever wear this?  Unless a photo can be located, I may never know.   If it did, I was too young for the memory to set within my neurons.

It is a classic crocheted newborn jacket and bonnet.  The stitches are delicate and perfect.  Time can not diminish the beauty of a loving hands creation.

Here is a close up of the stitches with the embroidery dancing down the stitches.  Be sure to click on the photo to get a better look at the workwomanship.   Note the even gauge.  Check out the picots.  Enjoy the little blessing of hand made baby wear.

I sure hope that I did wear this.  It would be an honor to be a part of this family heirloom.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Still Wandering Down Memory Lane

From the hands of my mother to me, this hook has had a long dark journey.  Being hidden away for almost two decades is not exactly what a well used tool deserves. 

A well used tool deserves to be used well!  Now that I have Ida Mae's "rug hook" in my possession, I am planning how best to put it back in service.  Right now, I am thinking that it will be perfect for working the crochet sections being planned as part of the 2014 blue afghan.

A few personal labels were discovered in the same stash of memories.  I still have - and wear - two sweaters that have this label.

There is something permanent about handing down tools of the trade.  My brother thought my reaction to Mama's crochet hook was a little over the top.  How could it be? 

Like Mother, like daughter, like granddaughter.  Life goes on. . . .

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blast From The Past

A recent trip back to my home town was quick, too short, and resulted in a few tears.  Not tears of sadness.  The kind of tears that leak fond memories and good times.  It seems that my brother was cleaning out a trunk and re-discovered things that we packed away almost two decades ago.  

Check out the ephemera.   Two copies of The Workbasket are now a cherished part of my reference library.  Why these two issues were saved by my mother is unknown.  It does not matter at all.  These are just fun and enjoyable.  

I love the Irish crochet collar on the cover of the April, 1959 issue.   Yes, the full instructions are in the issue.  Alas, 1959 was before crochet charts and symbols came into existence.   Thankfully, the entire printed pattern is intact.  I doubt that I'll ever make this, but I have the whole pattern and that is important.  

By the time these issues were printed, the magazine was accepting advertising.  A lot of advertising.  A lot of fun advertising.  Two pink daffodil bulbs are offered for 25 cents, post paid.  An electric hot pot cost only $2.88.  And, as I would expect, Postum offered wives who worry about their husbands an alternative to "give those over-coffeed nerves a rest..."  Gotta love that marketing plan.

The April, 1958 issue includes this fabulous Modern Motif Rug.  Please know that the rug is made of three colors (ecru, black, and brown) but the magazine is printed in black & white.    The rug is just a sixteen row repeat with a border worked all around.  It includes reverse single crochet that shocked me.  
Today, we work rss (aka crab stitch) from left to right on the right side of the work.  RSS is considered an edging.  Not so in this 1958 pattern.  The stitch is worked on the wrong side of the work and from right to left.  Get out your hook and give this a try - 
"Make single crochet as follows:  With yarn in front of hook, insert hook from back to front in next sc, wrap yarn around hook and draw lp through, yarn over, draw yarn through both lps on hook,  repeat." Workbasket, April, 1958.  

I might be making a rug just to try it out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Every year I force myself (because it really is not my thing) to make a blanket.  Sometimes the result is a decorative throw,  sometimes a lap blanket.  There were a precious few baby blankets.  And the occasional big afghan. 

This year, I set out to knit for a family member.  The original post (with directions) is in this post.  The design is a simple garter rib that looks manly and is totally reversible so that no matter how he tosses it around, it will look worthy of my time.  Not that I think he will be less than gentle.  It's just that most men in my extended family are not known for their ability to decoratively arrange pillows, let alone know how to artfully toss and display a loving hands creation.

 I call it DeConstructed because I am so fed up with camo themed yarn that holding another strand of the stuff cause me to shudder.  So, I deconstructed the colors down to green and brown and got on with the knitting.

Once again - in case you did not click over to the original post - I offer the reversible beauty of garter rib.  It looks great on the obverse.

And it looks fabulous on the reverse.  So good in fact that it is doing the stitches a dishonor to call one side reverse and the other obverse.  The look is that interchangeable.

Finally, the last section of brown is coming to life.  Then it is only the ending section of green and this 2013 blanket will be completed. 

This is a good time to confess that due to my lack of internal fortitude, three different yarns are now hiding in a project bag on the dark side of the stash closet.  It is looking like 2014 will be a tad blue.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Twirly Swirly

This is my new twirly swirly shawl pin.  Perhaps you should click the  photo so as to more clearly see how beautiful it is.  What follows is the story of how I acquired this new piece of sparkle.

I have friends who knit. I have friends who crochet.  I have friends who spin.    I have friends who design.  I have friends who weave.  I have friends who teach one or more of the above.  (Yes, there is a theme)

The odd thing that happens to creative artsy people is that they sometimes veer off into other modes of expression that have nothing to do with fiber.  Hard to believe - but 'tis true.  Take me for instance.  I think that I can write a good yarn.  Therefore I keep trying to spin these rambling stories and you keep reading with the hope that one day I will write something that is worthy of the time you spend reading it.

It is not like that with friend Ana.  Everything this talented woman tries ends well!  She knits, she designs, she teaches, she writes, she dyes yarn, she. . . .  You get the idea.  So, one day Ana decided to take a jewelry making class.  What happens?  Perfection.  Right out of the starting block, she creates lovely things.  (Does her mind ever take a rest??) 

Last weekend, at a guild meeting, she is carrying around a little zippered pouch.

"What do you have there?"  asked Lenora.
"Oh, some wire stuff," she casually replied.

"Can I see it?"
"OK.  Let's go over to the counter and lay it out.  I'm trying to design shawl pins."

My eyes almost leap out of my head.  Trying?  Trying!  Lady, you got it in one.  Fabulous shawl pins, perfect for controlling my humble knits.  I chose, according to Ana, a plain one.   She has others that capture a felted ball within the top part.  Those are fun and jazzy.  I can't wait to discover what she dreams up next. 

While I have direct access to the source, it is possible that in the near future these hand made shawl pins will be available at the every friendly The Knitting Tree LA.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Short Memory

Forget Washie.  I'm quite over her.  Meet my new best friend.

 This is Miss Scrubby Dubby.  She is a sturdy gal due to her internal fortitude of TSS

The double pass of Tunisian crochet is too thick for delicate projects, but it is perfect for something that will be used and abused like an afghan, pillow, rug or wash cloth.

Both sides of the TSS field have texture.  Especially the reverse side which is all bumpy.  That textured cotton is ideal for gently washing skin.  Indeed, for some five or six years now, the only cleansing device (other than my hands) that touches my face is a hand made wash cloth. 

Like Washie before her, Miss Scrubby Dubby has my signature crochet chain edging that wads up into a brilliant buffing ball of cotton and then dries quickly for the next use.

Even before her first use, I am looking at MSD and thinking that perhaps she does not want to live in the bath where it is sometimes dark and lonely during the day.  Her bright happy yellow tint is perfect for the sunshine.

Just look at her edging!  Absolutely lovely and ready to live under a window in the sunshine.  Yes, I do think that MSD wants to live an active and rigorous live in the swimming pool known as the kitchen sink.  She will be perfect for a life twirling around glassware and removing evidence of too much coffee from the mugs.

Welcome to my world, Miss Scrubby Dubby!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Washed Up

Definition of washed up (thanks to Urban Dictionary)

     Something that has once had it's peak of greatness far too long ago, and is now still being over used,. . . . . even though it's gotten extremely old, bland, worn out, and is just sad to still see around.

 Exhibit A (offered as evidence that definition above is accurate).
My favorite organic cotton washcloth, crocheted from the fertile imagination of yours truly is all washed up.  Click the photo and look to the red indicators for visual proof.  

After 2+ years of faithful service to my face, Washie is, well, all washed up.  She is ragged around the edges.  Her cotton is starting to look fulled - if that is even possible.  She is old, bland, worn out and it is just sad to see her still around.

Please understand that Washie is not my only face cloth.  There are many others.  But she has been favored above all.  Once I hit on the idea of simple chain fluffery around the edges, my wash/dish cloth making efforts produced better results.

All of the frills do make Washie very feminine.  Never would I do this for a man.  But that edging becomes a great exfoliating soft scrubber when wadded up and liberally applied in circular motions.  It works on the face, the legs and other body parts. Yes, it is time to retire Washie from her service to self.  

So long, faithful friend.  You will be missed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Little Ends

Using up stash is a good thing.  Using up little bits of stash is also a good thing.  Perhaps my new scarf should be named Good Thing.  That would be appropriate.  However, I refer to it as Little Ends.

 Little Ends because when knitting with lots of little bits of color means that there are lots of little ends to weave and snip.

A L.O.T of little ends.

Doing this much weaving and snipping is not high on my list of ways to spend a lazy afternoon.  Eagle-eyed viewers will see that round wad of golden foil in the upper left corner of the photo.  That, gentle reader, is the remains of the chocolate that I ate so as to keep my concentration focused and my fingers energized.  It took a lot of chocolate.

In the end (pun intended) a colorful scarf was born.  This one is for casual wearing - perfect for jeans on a crisp morning.

It is a study in color.  It is a study in reversible stitch work.  It is functional - - and full of Little Ends.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Color My World

Holes.  What is it about knitting or crocheting a hole that thrills me so?  Well, technically one does not knit or crochet a hole.  Technically one knits or crochets stitches that leave a blank space, aka hole. 

 These holes are a major design element of Color Craving from the nimble mind of designer Stephen West.  I participated in the Mystery KAL which brought a whole new twist to the project.  While there was video support for some of the tricks involved, there was no photo released during the phased pattern release.

And it was fun!

Yarn choice was left up to each knitter.  I chose La Jolla from Baah!  If you are making your Holiday Wish List, put this yarn at the top.  Utter perfection.  As in perfect yarn.  Skeins that do not get all tangly when you wind them.  Yarn that glides through your fingertips and slides into stitches with nary a hiccup.  Colors that make your skin glow.  Can you tell that I love me some Baah!?

If you plan to knit the unusual triangle, be warned that the final blocked shawl is "of a size."  It is huge in one direction.  There is plenty of stitch work to wrap around a person in a multiple of unique ways. 

See for yourself how tall/long it is.  Easily over six feet.  Much of that is a gradually narrowing point to the triangle.  Don't go thinking that the narrow end will keep you warm.  That narrow part is best put to use as accent for the larger field of stripes, holes, and color bands.

 I love this piece of art.  I love it so much that it went on an outing to the theater before I shared it with you.  Only after I wore it, did I allow she who crochets to touch it and serve as model once again.

This is one that I will make again - - as soon as I rush out to get more Baah!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nola - Accent On Heritage

The older I become, the more that family history and culture soften my heart.  During my teens and early twenties, a constant dream was leaving Louisiana.  I just wanted out of that farm and oil way of life and to experience the world.  My dream can true.  I left Louisiana in the late 70s and have never looked back.  My Dave loves the world and has friends in far flung places.  So we travel, take a rest, and then plan the next outing.

Now, approaching yet another birthday, it seems that my thoughts and my heart long for a hefty dose of HOME once or twice a year.  We still love our dual homes in California - one on the west side of Los Angeles and one in the desert.  We just returned from Barcelona and will be headed to India at the end of the year.  And in between?  Yep, a trip back to the home of my youth for a hefty dose of family and real culture.

Meet Nola.  Nola is a narrow accent scarf with a hefty dose of Louisiana that gives her some character.  You might think that Nola is named for New Orleans, LA.  She sure looks like that could be the case.

But Nola is named for my youth.  Miss Nola did for our across the street neighbors.  She practically raised all the kids on the block.  Nola would make the best popcorn - huge bowls of the stuff.  And then fuss at us for eating too much and "ruining our dinner."  Nola would kick us outside when we made too much noise.  And then wonder where we were.  Oh, freedom.  Small town Louisiana in the 1960s was a time of open back doors, knowing not to ride your bike too far without telling someone and neighborhood kids who fought real fights and then stayed friends.

Some days I miss living immersed in my Louisiana heritage:
- where the term "double first cousin" is part of every family
- where home cooking means that your gumbo tastes different than your neighbor's gumbo
- where a well placed nap is a thing of value
- where going for a ride is a perfectly acceptable family activity
- where azaleas grow bigger than a man and so do the tomatoes
- where memories sustain your for a lifetime.

So, this little scarf is Nola.  Like so many residents of Louisiana, she is a blend of cultural backgrounds.  The yarn is Legong from Mango Moon.  It is hand spun in Indonesia. The metal fleur de lis was found at a bead show in Pasadena, CA.  And an aging Cajun from Eunice, LA combined the two to create a reminder of her foundation in family and culture. 

Life.  A strange and twisty journey.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Knitting Dimension

Finishing the afghan square for the group effort charity project consumed me.  A breezy afternoon combined with stupid television programs that did not require much attention and VOILA!

The texture that was developing from the alternating rows and the crisp mitered corners made me want to keep going to find out how it all would turn out.  Working from the outside inward meant that each round took progressively less time.  And then, almost before I was ready, it was time to work a bit of weaving on the live stitches to make the center star.

All in all this was a wonderful and relaxing few hours of knitting.  These square patterns would be great for learning or practicing techniques.  There are decreases, double increases, slipped stitches and just a wee bit of counting. 

Are you fascinated?  The booklet can be downloaded here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Slightly Ahead Of My Time

This annual post is a few days early.  But that's OK.  It is never too early to ask, "what have you knit or crocheted for others?"  That's right.  This is my recurring reminder that doing for others is the best gift you can give to yourself.

For this week, I have put aside the chemo caps and am working on a group project.  Twenty knitters - with a wide variety of skill levels - have linked needles to make a blanket for a local organization that provides support for women who need a little extra care.

The blanket is pink.  We are each knitting a square - a pink square.  The pattern is familiar to me because I have seen others complete the designs.  And if they can do it, so can I. 

The squares are all selected from  the Leisure Arts publication Sculptured Squares.  The squares are worked by casting on the outer edge and working in the round toward the center.  That's right.  One knits in the round and produces a square.  I find that absolutely hilarious. 

The organizer of our endeavor has assigned me to make the "X Star" square.  The only difference between my square and all the others will be the way that the center is worked and how the final weaving of live stitches is done.   It will be a new experience for me. 

Don't you just love it?  I get to learn something new, practice getting gauge so as to match other knitters' gauge, and donate a blanket to someone who needs a little extra love. 

Life is good!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Candy Cane Short Of a Holiday

 As soon as a new shipment of holiday candy canes arrives in the stores (should be any time now as it is after Labor Day), my new felted bowl will be filled with the tradition of red and white stripes.   

Look!  I learned, at the simple beginner step, how to make a felted bowl.  She already has a name:  Miss Holly Day.   I like traditional red because it can be used successfully for so many holidays here in the good ol' U S of A.  It just happens that the next opportunity for a red and white scheme is in late December.  Unless you count Veteran's Day which does not have a traditional candy.  But I digress way off the point.

Let me pause in self admiration to state the obvious:  the thrill of acquiring the skills related to a new art form is surpassed only by the opportunity to start a new stash.

Must rush out and buy roving.  Must start saving sealed air in the form of bubble wrap.  This without using the stuff as a stress moderator.  Must get to a craft shop and stock up on a few sheets of foam stuff.  Must use the bamboo mat for something other than rolling sushi. 

Oh, the thrill of it all. 

Check out this second photo.    It shows the bottom of Miss Holly Day and looks quite different from her top side.  She has bits of roving felted in so that she resembles crushed candy canes.  Just a little wacky fun on my part.  I think it is hilarious. 

And speaking of hilarity, notice that her space for inserting said candy canes is slightly off center.  Just like the maker.  Yep, I cut that hole off center and askew on purpose.  Be warned.  Cutting a hole in wet felt that is purposely not centered nor distinctly on the edge is no easy task.  Wonky, on purpose, takes talent, skill and precision.

Miss Holly Day is the result of a class offered by the talented Sara S. of Felt Evolution.  She is teaching workshops all over the southland.    Her classes require no knitting talent.  Crochet is not needed.  Taking a Sara class requires only a free spirit and the desire for an upper body workout.  

Miss Holly Day and I appreciate your admiration.  Now, where can I hide a stash of roving?