Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birthday Blankie

Birthday Blankie
I made this last year for Miss E, just in time for her birthday.  It didn't start out as a birthday blankie, but I rushed to finish it in time for her 6th.  With lots of encouragement from her.  "Are you working on my blankie?"  "Mommy, why don't you work on my yarn blankie?"  "Here Mommy, here's your crocheting."

Miss E's bedroom fabrics
I used Lucy's Neat Ripple Pattern and Stylecraft Special DK acrylic yarn.  I love this yarn for blankies!  It's lighter weight than our standard US acrylics from the big box stores, and the price is right.  The color selection is amazing, but sometimes all colors are not in stock.  I ordered my Stylecraft from Deramores in the UK.  At the time, there was a Rav coupon and free shipping to the US.  It was so exciting to receive the packages in the mail.  The kids pulled out all the skeins and started making "yarn trains" through the house.

My color inspiration was Miss E's coverlet and valance that I had sewed up a couple of years ago.  Of course, she wanted PINK, but I managed to talk her into adding some turquoise and green.  I'm pretty sure we ordered one of each pink shade that was available!  Then to temper all that pink-ness and bright turquoise-y-ness, I chose a yellow and a camel just in case.  It was difficult choosing colors online.  I like to lay things out and move them around when I decide on colors.   Once the yarn arrived, I was able to play with it, and lay out different color sequences.  I originally wanted to use a random sequence...well, something that looked random (but of course, is not, because I can't do random).  Miss E wanted a rainbow though, and since it was her blankie, a rainbow we have.

Miss E's Rainbow sequence                        Random (not really) sequence                            Light-Dark sequence
As you can see, color placement really affects the final look of the blanket.  I recommend laying out your skeins in different ways to see what sequence you prefer.  I've been known to sit in the aisle at the yarn store and make pretty rows while contemplating my color choices.  Doing a sketch with colored pencils is another way to visualize your color sequence.  It doesn't have to be a real drawing, just coloring thick stripes on your paper will help you to see.  Another method would be to cut out colored strips of paper and rearrange them.  Take a picture with your phone of sequences that you like so that you can recreate them.  (This works when you are arranging skeins too!)  Don't be afraid of color, have fun with it!!!

Love these together!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I woke up to little voices saying "Happy Mother's Day!"  Miss E (almost 7) and Mr. M (5) then went out and admonished me to stay put.  Soon they came back in, Miss E carrying a tray with a blueberry Eggo waffle, all toasted and buttered, and a bowl of coffee ice cream with a chocolate egg in it.  Breakfast in bed!  Mr. M had made me a card that said "Mommy, I love you" with all sorts of happy face pictures around it.  What a great start to my day!

My mom and her husband then came over for brunch, and she and I cooked together, making "scrambied" eggs,  bacon (the maple kind), pancakes, berries and "Promosas" (prosecco and oj).  We had a pretty table, yummy food, and very nice company.  But wait, there's more!

So. I have the best husband in the world (aka TBHITW), and he said for Mother's Day my gift was CASH to go shopping at Nordstrom!  Hooray!  I am sadly in need of some new clothes.  Then we decided I would go shopping ALONE (hooray again!) and that I could also have some CASH to go to Imagiknit in San Francisco.  ALONE!  See ya, family!  I love them, but really, mommy needs her alone time.

At Nordy's I didn't find much.  Murphy's Law, when you have money to spend, they don't have your size.  So the sandals I had been eyeing online were not available but I found a cute pair of gold t-straps.  Also found a cute pair of dark purple linen shorts.  They are pretty short but they are really cute!  Did I say they were cute?  (They are)  I ended up getting some tanks and tees at Target with the rest of my CASH.

Ok, now for the good part.  I drove up to the city, singing loudly the whole way (remember:  ALONE!).  Imagiknit is in the Castro, but a few blocks off the busy area.  Parking is a little challenging, but I got lucky and found a spot nearby.  The store is on the corner of Sanchez and 18th and it looks pretty small from the outside, but wow, when you get in there, look out!  There are two rooms, with very high ceilings, and very high shelves, packed full of yarn.  Luckily I'm super tall so I could reach all the yarn, but I don't know what you would do if you were a shortie.  The store is organized by weight of yarn and also by type of fiber.  The first room has the cash register (needles and hooks behind the counter), and has animal yarn and fiber.  They must have every color of MadTosh ever made.  There are many luxury yarns and also staples like Cascade 220.  I saw quite a few local yarns, some others that I had only seen online, and many that I had never heard of.  The second room has plant-based and man-made yarn, and a large selection of books.  They have a good sale section too; it looked like most things were 25 percent off and there was quite a bit to choose from.

I had heard some negative feedback on their customer service, so I was prepared to be snubbed, but the people there were quite pleasant, yay!  The owner was there and she was friendly and helpful to everyone who came in.  They didn't greet me immediately but I don't mind that.  Three people were working and each one at some point did ask me if I needed help finding anything.   When I told one person that I hadn't been to the store before, he excitedly pointed out some Malabrigio that was exclusive to the store.  I wandered back and forth between the two rooms and finally chose a few items.  I tried to select yarns that I couldn't get here at my nearby LYS.  They don't wind your yarn for you, but there is a swift and ball winder that customers can use.  They set up my yarn for me on the swift and I wound up my 1,000 yards of Egyptian cotton.

The first room:  animal fibers.  This is part of one wall.  There is probably three times more yarn on the other walls.
The second room:  plant-based and man-made fibers.  The wall to the right is just as full!

My haul today was pretty modest but of excellent quality and was under budget too!  On the left is a small cone of 100 percent silk from Habu Textiles.  The large ball is my 1,000 yards of Egyptian cotton from Blue Heron Yarns. It's hand-dyed shades of light greens and blues.  I'll be using the two of these together on my Irish Crochet Together Challenge.  The two small skeins were on sale, and are Twisted Sisters Petite Voodoo Special Limited Edition 50-50 Merino and Silk.  This yarn is so incredibly soft!  I was thinking maybe a lacy long cowl or something...

This happy mommy came home in time for dinner.  I hope you had a great day too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm so inspired!

So much so, that I've issued a challenge on irishcrochettogether!

Maybe you haven't visited over there, but I also edit the irishcrochettogether blog and you should go check it out.

I buy InStyle now and then...not like before (children) when I had a subscription, but every once in a while I'll get a copy.  I couldn't resist this cover!  That lace dress by Valentino is so pretty!  And of course inspired CROCHET IDEAS!!!  No, I won't be making an entire blue crocheted dress, but I would like to make a little something, even just a motif, using Irish Crochet techniques.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Teaching at Yarndogs

You may have seen this post, where I talk about my "Red Skies at Night" version of Linda Permann's Starry Night Cardigan.  I received permission from Linda to teach a class in making her pattern (student's bought their own copy of the pattern).  I loved the construction of the cardigan and the clear instructive way it was written, and thought it would be a great crocheted garment class for a medium-level student.  Also, you may remember, I LOVE LOVE how mine came out!!!  Gotta share that love!

Yarndogs in Los Gatos put me on the class schedule for last month, for my Appreciation Cowl (more on that later) and for the Starry Night Cardigan.  I have one student for the cardi, a wonderful chatty lady named Gracie, who is cheerful and sweet and makes my classes a joy.  Gracie is the student that has more knowledge than she thinks she does, and just needs a teeny bit more confidence in her crochet abilities before she is off and running on her own.  (Gracie, you can do it!!)  This is her first garment, and she is making it for her daughter.  Her daughter chose Madeline Tosh sock DK, and tried on my sample cardi for fit.  The sample fit her perfectly!  So we just followed my notes for adjustments to the pattern for length and gauge.  The motifs are now finished and Gracie is zipping along on the skirt portion of the cardi.  It won't be long before her daughter can wear this cardigan with pride!

Gracie and her own Starry Night Cardigan in progress (iPhone pix)

My other class, the Appreciation Cowl, was a hit!  I had 5 students!  It was really fun.  I had a repeat student that I hadn't seen for 6 months or so, and it was great to catch up with her.  The students were all happy to learn the foundation single crochet and said they would all use it in future projects.  It is such a useful technique!  Two of the students decide to use a bamboo-cotton blend yarn for their cowls, so they would have a more summery accessory.  We went with a G hook and a thinner DK-ish yarn, for a more open look.  I'm excited to make one like that myself!  This class was only for one hour, and we all realized another hour was wanted.   They may put the Cowl on the June class schedule again.