05 Feb

Ripple

Today is my mom’s birthday! Which means, I can now show the Ripple Afghan I made for her. Like the one I made for me, it is attic24‘s “Neat Ripple” pattern.

I started with a chain of 157. After some trials, that was the right length to get two stripes from each skein of yarn. I don’t have the right kind of stitch markers for crochet, but the rolling hook thingies for track-mounted drapes worked just fine, and I have lots of those.

I used Mission Falls 1824 (3 Thyme, 3 Sprout, 6 Earth, 2 Denim, 3 Oatmeal, 2 Russet, 3 Amethyst), superwash merino wool and 2 balls of Dream in Color Classy (Blue Lagoon and Strange Harvest). I’ve completely forgotten the final size, though it’s perfect for snuggling on the couch.

And this is all that’s left of those 26 skeins of wool.

17 Aug

Ripple Afghan: Finished

Ripple Afghan, originally uploaded by Umzavi.

I did it! I finished the Ripple Afghan.

The specs:

Neat ripple pattern by Attic24.
14 skeins of Plymouth Encore poly/wool blend yarn.
56 stripes (the red/orange stripe counting as one).
Barely four stripes per skein.
My starting chain was 214 stitches.
Final size was 57″ square.

It’s wider than necessary for a lap blanket. It seemed right when I started but it gained width as I added stripes. Odd. The length is good. And now it’s done just in time for the two hottest months of the year!

19 Apr

Still Scattered, But Slightly More Content About It

You guys are right. I can’t separate it all. Although my head says that showing the public a focused side of me where they can predict what I’ll produce (be it art quilts, craft ideas, a lifestyle type blog…) my heart knows that it’s just not me. What I really have to come to terms with is that to be the better person I want to be, I need to let go of the expectations or conventions of others. I need to stop comparing what I’m doing to what others are doing, and I need to define success for me only.

This post is evidence of that inability to separate that which excites me. I had what I thought was three separate posts swimming around in my head, but they kept converging. Bear with me as I just throw it all out at once.

I think it begins with the Ripple Afghan which is coming along nicely. I ripped it out and started over when I decided that I wanted more white. I contemplated leaving out a few colors, but once I added the white and toned down the orange with a half row of red, everything decided to play together well. I had originally imagined the color scheme as a beach wedding with red coral accents, but my daughter pointed out that it looked like lava to her and I love the way that tied my greyer colors in conceptually. So now, it’s a beach on a volcanic island (which I guess I really was from the start anyway).

As I’m rippling away, I’m watching the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. I’ve decided that I really like the ancient chanting dances known as Kahiko Hula. It’s very different from the Don Ho hotel show style that usually comes to mind, and it’s not the coconut bra, wild hips of Tahitian dance either. I highly recommend going here to KITV’s Merrie Monarch page and look for the column of videos. Under “Watch Hula Kahiko Hälau Performances” are videos that will probably challenge your ideas of what Hula is. Check out the Hälau Hula O Kahikilaulani under Wahine Kahiko. I love the way their grass skirts move! Hälau Ka Liko Pua O performed a chant from the coronation of King Kalakaua (you may remember him from one of my 12 x 12 chair quilts). Kane are men, and you might want to check them out too — there’s more than a few bare chests.

(via the Polynesian Cultural Center)

Under the same general list of videos, Cherissa Käne, Kaholo Panui, and Pohaikau’ilani Ann Nu’uhiwa show a nice variety of costume and style within the chant category. I found myself fascinated not only by the rhythm of the chants but also by the outfits. The sheer yardage amazes me — just think that all woven cotton fabric would have been imported by ship in the days after “contact.” Before that, when these story-telling Kahiko were at their peak, I’m pretty sure the dancers would have been wearing Kapa cloth meticulously pounded from tree bark and then patterned using small bamboo stamps. I can’t imagine pounding or purchasing enough cloth for the full Pau skirts. I believe the puffy hip wraps I saw on both men and women were meant to represent kapa cloth, which would probably tend to puff rather than drape. Even with those, there was a variety of ways they were fastened. And the tops were fascinating to. At first I thought they were all variations on the tube top, but I realized that the tight fitting ones were actually ingeniously wrapped around the womens’ torsos. Again, they looked like they’d need lots of yardage. The men wore all kinds of loin cloths or skirts over pants. Again, the fastening of all the fabric intrigued me. There were dry grass and fresh Ti leaf skirts too. Amazing.

Probably because of all the mesmerizing drums of the Kahiko I’m feeling the urge to work on my tropical fabric designs (I realize that even if that’s a go-nowhere direction for me, I still have the urge to pursue it).

I’ve been working on other fabric-y art quilt stuff too. Earlier in the week, I decided to play with my Setacolor light sensitive paints. I wasn’t too happy with the results, which I attribute to my using a loosely woven, re-purposed duvet cover and cardboard stencils. Today, I tried again, with finer PFD fabric, plus I found some eight year old cyanotype fabric I had forgotten I had. I cut shapes out of fun foam, and it worked a treat. I don’t have photos of today’s work, but here’s my secret project from November. I wrote a proposal for my Süße Sac shoulder bag pattern using various types of complex cloth one might have around after trying the many techniques found in Quilting Arts Magazine. They rejected it, but now you get to see my summery, tropical (the convergence part) version made with sun printed fabric!

Aloha.

12 Apr

On Creativity, Productivity and a Ripple Afghan

I like to have several projects going at once. Preferably, different types of projects: something on the sewing machine, something to do by hand, something that requires deep thought, something totally brainless. I can’t move linearly from start to finish on one thing and then go to the next. I suspect most people are like this. That way, I have something creative to do no matter what the circumstances. That’s also why I don’t feel too bad when I drop one thing to pick up something new and shiny.

My mom was just here for a visit, and to help me out, and my dad spent time with us during the winter break. I did not do any art quilting during either of their visits. I did very little crafting as well. My head just wasn’t into it. That’s not to say that it wasn’t worth having them here to “help me out.” Other things get done. My dad fixed a furniture problem that I though was going to be big, but he made it small. He fixed a broken sprinkler too. Those count for peace of mind. My mom was in my corner versus the kids. I hadn’t really realized how nice it is to have someone on my side when it comes to chores and homework, but it makes a huge difference.

So, with Spring Break, my mom’s visit, and a long weekend, there hasn’t been much deep thinking art around here. No worries — the kids will be back in school Monday and I will have lots of alone time. Meanwhile, the Ripple Afghan is the perfect mindless thing to work on with kids and guests around. In fact, it’s downright addictive. As soon as I’m done with this post, Ripple and I are going out to the lanai.

Some Ripple details:

Jan pointed me to Attic24’s perfectly timed Neat Ripple Pattern. It is exactly the waves I wanted, and it comes with great step by step photos, perfect for people like me who haven’t picked up a crochet hook in 30 years! My specific yarn needs were that it come in lots of browns and a good orangey orange, that it be washable, and that it be cheap. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the Baby Cashmerino yarn that seems so popular for this project on sale and I wasn’t prepared to pay full price.

I visited one yarn store on the island, but they just didn’t have the selection I needed. In the end, I ordered online from Kaleidescope Yarns and was very happy with their customer service. This will probably make yarn purists cringe, but I ended up buying Plymouth Yarns’ Encore, a worsted weight 75% Acrylic/25% wool blend. It came in a good range of colors, is washable, and costs half as much as the other yarns I was looking at. I chose worsted weight over DK because I hoped it’s thickness would make the project go faster (not having crocheted in 30 years, I wasn’t sure how committed I’d be). I may regret this heavier yarn when the blanket is done, but as Gerrie said, I’ll have the blanket much longer than I expect to be living in Hawai’i. Funny thing is, the cream color is back ordered, but as I’ve been working away, I feel like I need to add cream and soon. I checked Plymouth Yarns’ site to see if there were any local retailers and sure enough, the other yarn shop on the island carries it. Should have gone there first. I can’t go until Tuesday though, so I’ll have to pace my crocheting until then.

I didn’t really believe other Ripple bloggers when they said they just couldn’t stop, but it’s true! You just have to keep going to see what the next stripe will add. One hiccup was a crisis of confidence last night. The blanket was looking more 70s and less contemporary and I suspect it’s because some of my yarns are a little heathered (or maybe it’s all the brown). I considered removing the heathered yarns, and making all my lights the cream, but then I thought about all the blankets in the Flickr pool that I like and I definitely think more color is better. So, I’ll keep going. If I get to the cream and it doesn’t help, then I’m prepared to rip out lots of stripes. This afghan really does go easily enough that I don’t think I’ll mind.

29 Mar

Pattern review and a Query

Thanks for all the Katja blog and Mushroom Quilt love. We appreciate it!

This weekend, I pretty much ignored the kids and just sewed. I made a shirt for my son from some Hawaiian fabric I wasn’t going to use for anything else. It turned out fine, but not worth photographing. The real winner of the weekend was the Daily Spice Apron by Heather Bailey.

I saw this on her blog a million years ago and passed on many an apron pattern while I waited to see if she’d share it (it’s not like I actually USE aprons, I just like the way some look). As soon as the pattern came out, I ordered one, but as it was for me, and not a gift, I chose standard shipping. After waiting weeks and emailing Heather to see what happened, it ends up the pattern (and fabric) I ordered had been returned to sender for an undeliverable address (I must have had help typing from the cat — it happens). Anyway, Heather and crew were very nice and after a couple stumbles, I finally got my pattern and fabric. Luckily, the project was worth the nearly three year wait.

Description:
A retro look halter apron that looks modern rather than costume-y. The pattern is for three sizes, but no style variations. It’s pretty easy to imagine though, that by mixing up the fabrics and/or adding embellishments like applique, embroidery or trim, one could get dozens of different looks.

Instructions:
The apron comes in three sizes. I chose small which fits just as I’d expect it to. The writing is clear without being too wordy. There are plenty of diagrams, and I almost could have made the apron just looking at teh pictures. I say almost because I did trip myself up not reading exactly what lines up with what when sewing the bodice to the waistband. As soon as I read the instructions though, it all worked perfectly.

Degree of Difficulty
I sort of expected this to be fiddly, especially with teh instructions to stay stitch and clip curves before sewing on some pieces, but it all came together very easily. I think that even a beginning sewer could probably make this. certainly someone with a few projects up his or her sleeve would have no problem. I made this easily in one day, including cutting the fabric.

Conclusion
I really like this pattern and would make it again, maybe as gifts for foodie friends. Katja has already put in an order as well. Next time, I’d like to add “stuff” to it just for fun. You might notice that the waist ties are a different fabric. I had originally intended the bodice to be the terra cotta print and the waist and ties to be that different green floral, with the lining being the floral on cream, but when I tried it out, I preferred the bodice and skirt in the same fabric so I just turned the bodice over and sewed it in the other way around. For Katja though, I might try a riot of fabrics. I think for the right person, some Luziapimpinella woven ribbon would look great with ric-rac along the bottom and pockets.

I would recommend this pattern. I give it 12 muffins!

Now for my query. I’ve been feeling the itch to make a ripple afghan. I’ve been resisting for years now, but it is like the Borg. Resistance is futile. I haven’t crocheted in forever, but I’ve looked at some free online patterns and it doesn’t look too hard. I considered knitting it, like the Chevron Scarf, but I really like the look of those fat, flat, soft wave stripes. The problem with generic online patterns like this though, is that there’s not a whole lot of info on yarn. I know people have made the afghan in cotton, but for such a big project, I’m wondering if I might prefer something a little springier. Of course, I live in Hawai’i now, so full-on wool is probably overkill. Maybe I need a cotton/linen blend, or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino? An alpaca blend would be nice, but I’m thinking too expensive. Or do I just submit to the acrylic? And how much? Can I get away with one 50 gram ball of each color as long as I get five or more colors? I’d like to use the beach wedding color palette, so I’d need yarns that have lots of browns and tans and a good orange. Does anyone have any experience with this? Kirsti?