Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Fabric Collage Art


“Kaleidoscopic Fish of Colors”

I know I started this blog as a knitting blog but somehow in the 15 years it’s evolved. There has been long periods of time that I did not post but I have forgotten how much fun it is to keep a blog. As this pandemic has taken over our lives, somehow I have not had the patience to knit. I’m not sure why, but such as it is. Then I started sewing because at the very beginning of all this masks were hard to come by. 

Now that we are into this mess for over 10 months and the mask market is plentiful, but I love the colors and the fabrics my masks are made from. The custom fit is better than any commercial mask out there. It’s not an N95 but it’s serving it’s purpose.

Now I have a ton of little bits of material. Left overs from cutting out the masks. I’ve had lots of time to watch YouTube  videos of how others handle these scraps. Most quilters know of this and there are hundreds of suggestions of how to utilize all the scraps. One of them was Quilted collages, some I saw were absolutely amazing. Way over my capabilities, quilting is very involved and most of the quilts are very large. More than I could handle but I am interested, if I had the space and time I would like to do that. 

For example Susan Carlson made a life size alligator. 

I think it said that this was 20 foot. I wish I had a studio where I could make a 20 foot anything. My tiny “Kaleidoscopic Fish of Colors” is a mere 12”x12” as they say you have to crawl before you can run marathons. For now I’m making tiny fabric collages. 

No sewing jut like a jigsaw puzzle then it gets framed hung on the wall and each time I look at it I smile. It makes me happy to see all the colors and to remind me of the beautiful fabrics from my scrap collection.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Corona Mask Makings


Unfortunately the world is turned upside down for us. This Covid-19  virus is the most frightening enemy I've ever lived through. It's a war but you can't see it and you can't hide from it, all we can do is to take as much precautions as we can. To protect ourself from passing this virus from one another we need to wear masks. I'm thinking this may be a way of life for the rest of my life. Granted I'm old so I'm more vulnerable than young people with good immune systems, so I have to be extra careful. 

On a personal note, I've already had the virus. Early at the end of February I took a flight from Los Angeles to San Jose, California. The airplane was full and I did notice there were a couple of people wearing masks, I wondered if I should pull out my mask and put it on. You see I've had a mask for years that I would pack with me when I traveled especially if I sat next to somebody coughing and sneezing. I already knew that being crammed into an airplane like sardines for hours was somehow fraught with problems. The desire to travel somehow overrode the fear of catching something. 

 I was headed for a Fiber Convention in Santa Clara, California. Convention center full of fiber crazed people. Lots of old friends that I have not seen for a long time, lots of hugs and kisses. I had a wonderful time. I heard that more than 11,000 people attended this event. It's called Stitches West and it's one of my favorite events. I have attended many times and each time my memory holds a huge smile of enjoyment. Months later I come to find out the the first outbreak of the Corona virus was very close by traced back to a nail salon. I already heard grumblings about a virus but just like everybody else thought it was just a bad kind of flu. I had no idea what I was in for. A couple of days after I got back home I was at the Emergency room sick. Fever, breathing problem, exhausted ........ well now we know all the symptoms... 3 weeks I was quarantined trying to stay away from my family. Luckily nobody else got sick in the household. The lingering labored breathing and being out of breath easily lasted for a couple of months. The good part was that I had developed antibodies. So from here on in I started wearing masks.

I've made several different mask styles but this current one seems to be the easiest to make and the most comfortable to wear. Not so long ago, although time is so warped these days, during the first shut down the first mask I made took me 3 days. I know it sounds ridiculous but getting aquatinted to "sewing" and how to operate my machine, thread the machine, break the needle, find a new needle, figure out how to change the needle. Watch some YouTube videos, dig out my material stash, wire? and etc. 

Mask Tutorial

If you like my video please hit the subscribe button and leave me a comment. Let me know if you have made a mask and how you like it. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Good tools 'are half the work'

A good tool can make a job easy and fast.  My advice is, buy the best tool for the project you can afford.
I have always paid very close attention to tools. My dear mother used to tell me (in her Hungarian accent) "You always tool up elegantly.” By this she meant that when I had a task to do I always tried to collect the best tools for that job. As the saying goes "You are as good as your tools."
Not everybody agrees with me, but no one has ever been able to convince me otherwise. I love to work with my hands and no matter what I am making, the right tool can make the difference between a fun, easy, pleasurable task or a miserable task.

Can you guess what this is?  

It's my row counter for my knitting projects. It's simply a piece of string with stitch markers tied on to it. Making sure that the last one is different. In the picture above the last row which is the 10th row is green so I know I need to do something every ten rows. 

I have several options, there is one that fits on my finger like a ring. This option is good because it keeps the counter on my hand so I don't forget, but somehow I still miss some rows. The red, cylindrical counter with the loop is good because it's on the needle and I have to touch it to move it, but I need both hands to turn the little wheel and that can be awkward for me. Oh yes there is always the paper and pen option but I usually either misplace the paper or the pen. My simple string row counter is always attached and always on the correct row. 

This simple piece of string and some stitch markers works the best for me, especially when I'm knitting a sweater with sleeves and I would like the sleeves to match

The way it works is this:

I am knitting a sleeve in the round on this top down sweater. I want both sleeves to match exactly. (A novel idea, sometimes difficult to achieve.) I use the loops as stitch markers to mark the beginning of my rounds. When I complete a round I transfer the loop to the next one and when I reach the green one I know I've knit ten rounds and I need to decrease.

Row Counter in action.

Here is another version I made that is even simpler, just a string and knots with a marker at the end. This one is a five row repeat I needed and did not have spare stitch markers. Easy Peasy.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Designing a new project

I'm calling this new project Veska. My naming game is a whole other story, sometime I'll write about it. To be able to identify which project is which, each project needs a name. Sometimes my pick is a good one and other times I have no idea why I picked that name. I usually try to pick a name that is catchy, that has a sense of humor also has some meaning to me.

This is a project that I've already made once or twice, but I wanted a new version of it. The vest I'm wearing in the picture below is very warm, it is too hot for our climate. I wanted to make a sweater version and a lighter smaller gauge. I think I want sleeves this time but I'm leaving that decision till later. I may be satisfied with a vest. I'm not sure if I have enough yarn for the sleeves and if I could do stripes to stretch the yardage or how that may look. 

These are the numbered "standard" knitting yarn measurements. The bulkier (fatter) the yarn usually makes the garment warmer. This vest I'm wearing is made with #4 or worsted weight wool, and has a felted collar. It is warm, even without sleeves. 

The new project is #1 sock yarn, much finer and lighter weight. I need to make some design adjustments to accommodate this fine yarn. 

I will post the progress. 


Monday, September 19, 2016

Niddy Noddy? What is it do you need one?

One of my mistakes when I was searching for this was spelling it right, for the longest time I thought it was "Knitty Noddy" but it turned out that the correct spelling is "Niddy Noddy". Thank you Google, what did I ever do without Google?

The question is does a knitter need a Niddy Noddy?

Spinners have a great use for this because they can skein their yarn to be able to wash it or set it or the next step in the process. But does a knitter need one? I think it can be handy if you take a project apart and your yarn is curly, this is the way to straighten it out. 

You would wrap your yarn and wet it and let it dry while it's still on the Niddy Noddy. This is another advantage of having plastic pac pipe so it can get wet. If you have a wood one the wood may warp. 

It is a brilliant invention and the simple pvc pipe version is simply genius. Easily can be constructed as a DIY project but can be purchased online for about $10.00. I'm looking at one on Etsy. Here is one I found for $15, this one is adjustable and it has a drawstring storage bag. It will depend on the size of the skein you want to make, 1 yard up to 2 yards.

For me it’s worth the money, I’m lazy and don’t want to go looking for the store to get the pvc pipes and either have them cut or cut and assemble and sew a bag. It’s worth $15 but as I say easily made at home.

If you already have one and it's not adjustable like the one I have here is the way to figure it all out. One wrap around this Niddy Noddy is approximately 56". To figure yardage for your skein, count the number of wraps around and multiply by 56". Take that number and divide by 36" and you will have your approximate yardage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Wash Hand Knitted garments

Wishy Washy

How do you wash your hand knitted garment?

I spend many hours of knitting on a project and want to preserve it's shape and drape. After carefully picking out the fiber, colors, the pattern I want to keep it as new looking as possible for the longest time. Many trial and error hours spent, I have found this guideline to work the best for me.

It may work for you:
  • Hand Wash Do NOT throw in the washing machine!
  • Some fibers are more sensitive than others. Use common sense. 
  • Cool water, not too cold and not scalding hot. It needs to be gently warm. Not shocking the fiber or your hands. 
  • Fill the wash tub with water first, Do NOT run the water on top of the garment.
  • Add mild Soap ie. shampoo, mild dish detergent like Dawn. If it works well for your skin it will work well for your fiber. Wool and hair are related! Swish around so the soap is dissolved in the water. 
  • Add the garment and gently make sure it is covered with water. Squeeze and get it all wet evenly.
  • Let it soak for a little while, I sometimes leave it for an hour or better. 
  • Do not agitate, gently squeeze. Give it a massage and gentle massage. 
  • Rinse well, soap residue is attracts both bugs and dirt.
  • If you have scratchy wool use hair conditioner to soften the fibers. This sometimes works on synthetics also. 
  • Do NOT wring use clean dry towels to get moisture out. Hand squeeze gently and place in towel and roll gently. You may need to use more than one towel. 

I use Pantene on my hair so it's handy smells nice and it works.

When storing hand knit delicate fibers we do not want bugs or critters anywhere near. Air them out once in a while and before storing make sure the garment is clean. Keep it dry and airy place, plastic bags are not recommended. 

What to do if you accidentally "felted" or "shrunk" your garment? One solution is to make something else out of it. But first try one of these methods which may work. What do you have to loose? Warning you will never be able to get it back to the shape it was originally. At least I never have but give it a try.

  • Soak the garment in a solution of cold water and hair conditioner. Let it soak overnight. Check once in a while and try and gently pull and "stretch" the fabric.
If that does not do the trick. 
  • Soak the garment in a solution of cold water and a half a cup of vinegar.
It that does not work here is the most extreme method. I've never tried this but have heard that this may work.
  • Make a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. Put the garment in a large pot and gently boil for 10-20 minutes and check how it's progressing 
Good Luck. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

I named it "Big Bear Hug"

Have you ever had a big bear hug? That is exactly the way this shawl feels. Everybody needs a big hug once in a while. This shawl is big and soft and it just feels like a protective arm around you. The mohair and silk is light weight yet, very warm and the sock yarn is strong and stable. This combination of fibers feels soft as a cloud yet is strong and wears well.

I like to travel and this shawl is my perfect companion for those long flights. It is easy to pack. It can be worn as a casual wrap or if you add a beautiful shawl pin or brooch, you are dressed up! Designed with all quick and easy knit stitches, no purling! Great for those times when you just want to knit without much attention. I knit with friends often and the lively conversations at the tables sometimes takes my attention away from intricate knitting patterns. This project is perfect for those occasions.

If you want the pattern send me an eMail: bananaknits@gmail.com

Monday, September 05, 2016

My favorite stitch.

A long time ago my aunt showed me her favorite stitch and how she did it. When I was visiting her daughter many many years later she looked at one of my projects and recognized the stitch. She told me that was a family stitch. A family stitch? Yes we all learned it from our grandmother. Wow I did not even know this. Then she ran in the other room and searched for knitted projects and there it was the family stitch. I'm sure it has a name and I'm sure my grandmother did not invent it but we all learned it and added it to our knitting dictionary. Now I love the stitch more than ever.

Here is a picture of my aunt and my father and when I looked closely I see she has a sweater on that she knit with the "family stitch".  We all knit because that was just what you had to do if you wanted to stay warm in the cold winter months. 

I made a YouTube video on how I do it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hug me Now Shawl

I was looking for a summer shawl, to cover my shoulders for those heavily air-conditioned places. As a rule of thumb I usually knit shawls with a “looser” gauge than suggested. A looser fabric also drapes better and you get the most out of the yarn’s yardage. 
The sample I knit is in a gauge that I am comfortable with. I think it’s more important that you create a fabric that you are comfortable with rather than trying to match my exact gauge.
This shawl is knit in two stages, section one is a top down triangular shawl with 4 sts. increase every other row. The center “spine” is 3 sts. knit in the back leg, this gives a little bit of texture and lays nicer (Knitters choice). The increases are at the beginning of the row, at either side of the center spine and at the end of the row. This is the right side, wrong side is knit all the stitches. Section 2 has 6 wedges. 

I've been wearing this shawl very happily and I named it the Hug me Now shawl because it does feel like a big hug when I put it on. The yarn I used made a very light weight and very soft fabric. It's been my go to shawl all summer. When I see knitting friends I'm always asked what pattern I used. Not pattern I just made it up, knit what the yarn dictated. 

But I want to make one too they say, ok I wrote the pattern. This turned out to be a big job for me. First of all I have to reverse engineer it, then write down every single step. No “that goes without saying” everything has to be written down. Often I am a bit insecure with my writing because English is not my mother language and my grammar is ….. well could use some improvement. I have trouble with the commas and the running sentences….. oh well…. Sometimes dear friends will help out! Thank you Ellen Bloom!

Happy Knitting

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I miss my blog

I started this blog August 4th 2005! And have more or less kept it going for years. Periodically I have taken a hiatus because of different reasons. Sometimes I just got tired of creating content out of laziness but I always miss it.  I blog about my knitting which is why I started this blog to begin with.

I am a "recipe" knitter and I needed to keep a record of the details for the project I was working on. Writing notes in different scraps of paper or even having notebooks etc. was not efficient. I needed pictures details and most of all a searchable data base. A knitting blog seems to be the perfect solution, I could post pictures stories and details of the projects and when I needed to remember how I did something I could look it up. With the very handy search option "search this blog" on the upper left margin.

You might wonder what I mean by "recipe" knitter. I call it recipe because to me it's sort of like cooking. There is a basic recipe for say an omelette and there can be variations of ingredients within the parameters of an omelette. To me it's sort of the same, say a basic sweater, the shape is the same but the details of the stitch patterns can be varied.

I grew up in Budapest and when I learned to knit as a small child we did not have patterns published or magazines so it was just like family recipes we shared for cooking. We also had family recipes for knitting, a sock recipe, a sweater recipe, a hat recipe etc. If you wanted to get creative and make yours look different you could add in your own stitch that maybe somebody showed you or even as a playful kid make some of them up.

When my mother died and I was going through her house and belongings I found these gloves she had saved. Carefully put in a plastic bag in a special spot where she had her little momentos saved. I remember knitting it, at the time the choice of yarn was very limited, the war was over but we still did not have luxury items like that available to us. After all we were behind the "Iron Curtain" and living under Communism and standing in long lines for everything was our daily life. 

When I was given this angora mix in yellow, yellow it was. It was part of a set I knit I was about 11 or 12 years old. I made a scarf and a hat and gloves to match. Only found the gloves the hat and scarf were long lost. 

Notice the fingers are a bit short, I guess my hand was smaller then.

BTW, I have the gloves saved too, in that very special spot where I keep my momentos. I wonder if my son will ever realize what this meant to his grandmother and I, sweet memories. I miss my mama.

Monday, June 01, 2015

A Knitting Cruise Boston to Quebec, Canada

It was a Craft Cruises event! Always a first class organization, Melissa and her staff do a terrific job. Every detail is taken care of no matter how many times you ask, Melissa or her staff patiently answer.

Boston to Quebec

Arrival in Boston

I took the red eye and not a direct flight. I think I'm too old for red eye flights. Arrived really exhausted and asked if Uber was allowed in the airport, I was told NO. This was a lie but ok. So I took a cab, a filthy torn seat cab. I felt like my clothes would tear from the worn out dirty seats this cab had.

They don't like Uber! Check out the sticker on the cabbies window. The fare was $47 dollars and if I took Uber it would have been half that. No wonder the cabbies do not like Uber.

Got to my hotel, and realized that there was a yarn store near by so I headed there. After having a bite to eat I found a friendly face at the yarn store! Welcomed me and made me feel at home. The neighborhood was charming.

The Stitch House in Dorchester in the Polish Triangle
 (Happening Hoods: The Polish Trianglewcvb.com)

As if I needed a reminder! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Millinery Techniques for Knitters: Felted Fedora Class.

I'll be teaching a class in making this cute Fedora Hat at the Knitting Tree L.A. on March 22nd, 2015 and April 11th, 2015 9am to 11am.

The Knitting Tree, LA | 6285 Bristol Pkwy | Culver City, CA 90230 | (310) 395-3880 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm back to almost "Normal"

I can almost walk normal, sort of but definitely on the road to recovery. Yes I can drive any time anywhere I want to. One forgets how precious this simple privilege is, I took it for granted but no longer. It has been a learning experience for me, this is the first time I've broken anything and literally could not walk!

Side note is that I discovered Uber, it's an app on your smart phone. Very clever and worked like a charm. It really depends what area you are requesting a car. On the West Side of Los Angeles there are cars available day and night. The most I've had to wait is 3 to 4 minutes. A whole lot better than taxi cabs. And certainly cheaper.

The price between a Taxi cab and Uber can be half. You do have to sign up and link your PayPal account but money never exchanges. You do not tip and you don't have to worry about having the exact change. You are able to request an estimate on how much it will cost and when you request a car it is there in minutes. Both the driver and the passenger get star ratings and you are able to pick a different driver if you don't like the one you got.

When you request a car you are sent a picture and make & model & the driver with their ratings. If you don't like the car or the driver or the ratings, simply cancel and request again. So far every driver and car I've had has been very satisfactory. Actually better than many cabs I've taken. The cars have to be 3 years old maximum, so you sit in a fairly new car. The driver handles the traffic and you sit back and relax.

I still have a slight limp and minor pain but definitely much much better. Thank you to all my friends who helped me I am very blessed to have good friends. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

An event that changed my life!

October 23, 1956

This is the 58th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. This is the event that changed our lives, my mother and father and we became Political Refugees. We had to flee our home and homeland.

War is ugly no matter where or when it happens! The memories are still vivid and dark!

This is the apartment we lived in the address was Lenin Korut 101. Before the Communist renamed the boulevard it was called Terész Körut and again after the cummunists regime fell it is again called Teresz Korut as it is today. Located about a block away from the "Nyugati" (West) Train Station. Click Here for a Map of Budapest.

We lived on the first floor apartment #10. The tree was right in front of our windows. This is one of the main "round" streets in Budapest so during the revolution there was a lot of "action" right in front of our building. This is a picture I took about a year ago when I was visiting.

During the revolution this was our view of the tree.... yes including the dead body hanging by his feet....Now that I'm writing this it sounds so horribly ghoulish but at the time we were numb to all of the horrors.

This is what the street looked like, the building on the left is our building. The debris on the ground included human body parts, sometimes the tanks ran people over....

Here are some more images from 1956 what we left....

This is a magazine that Life Magazine issued as an extra addition and sold for .50 cents and the proceeds went towards helping the Hungarian Refugees. I found a copy at an old magazine store on Main Street in Santa Monica. A couple of years ago I paid $50 dollars for it but to me it is one of my treasured posessions.


PestCentric a Blog about Budapest in English

Hungarian Dictionary

The Terror House Museum
This one is in Hungarian about the Revolution

Friday, August 15, 2014

Then this Happened!

I fell and could not get up! Rushing around with two bags of groceries in each hand, not watching where I was going carefully, it happened. I tripped at my back door and went down with my right foot twisted under me! OUCH!

Talk about seeing stars! I immediately knew that I hurt something bad. Got my husband to rush to help me as I was laying on the ground. He came running and it kind of freaked him out too. I asked him to please get some ice! Ladies believe it or not he asked where we kept ice? That's a frazzled husband for you.

Sure enough after x-rays it turns out that I broke my ankle and my 5th metatarsal bone. As you see in the pictures my whole foot turned black and blue. Then I got this lovely boot. Recovery time is estimated 4 months. Which will take us into November.

The good news is I have plenty of time to knit. Here are the projects I have finished. 

I will post the details and patterns in a future blog post. 

The good news is I have plenty of time to knit. Here are the projects I have finished. 

I will post the details and patterns in a future blog post.