Posted in Crochet, Finished object, Knitting, Life in general, Work in progress, Yarn stash

It’s A Thrilling Thursday Throwdown!

The above blog post title came about because I’ve missed WIP (aka Stitch-Along) Wednesday and Freshly Finished Friday for the last few weeks, despite my best intentions.  This evening I found some time to take a few photos and do a little mental composition; thus, a blog entry!  Ta da!

Said blog entry (that would this one, the one you’re reading, right here, right now) will contain:

  • Photos of an unfinished project!
  • Photos of a finished project!
  • Photos of a project that has yet to be commenced!
  • Yarn p04n!
  • And a flimsy explanation for the recent lack of activity (plus a bonus excuse for a future lack of same)!

Isn’t that thrilling?  Get it, thrilling?  Because it’s a “thrilling Thursday throwdown”?  Oh, never mind.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Mom's Tunisian 18First, the unfinished project.  The Tunisian Terror approaches the end of its crocheting phase.  I have one more solid square to finish in the coffee colorway, two to make in the cranberry colorway, and then eight striped squares.  Once the striped squares are completed, the crocheting is done.  Then will begin the cross-stitch component of this blanket.  Yes, each of these squares will have a cross-stitch design embroidered on it.  Have I mentioned I don’t do cross-stitch?  That’s my sister’s craft.  But, for my mother, I will do my best.

Bryony 5Next, the finished project.

Pattern: Bryony Cap by Tammy Eigemann Thompson; found in Interweave Knits Weekend 2010Click here for the Ravelry project page.

Yarn: Malabrigo Rios, colorway Marte, roughly 162 yards

Needles:  Addi Turbo circs, size 9 for the ribbing, size 10 for the cabled body, and size 10 DPNs for the crown

Satisfaction with end product:  Very pleased.  If this hadn’t been intended as a gift, I’d have gladly kept it.  I’ve never used Malabrigo before, and now I understand why fellow yarncrafters fall all over themselves for it.  It’s a dream to stitch: soft and squishy and satisfying, not to mention flat-out gorgeous.  Pure tactile pleasure! The pattern itself was well-written and easy to follow.  I made a few minor adjustments.  The pattern called for Bryony 6using a US 10.5 needles, but the ribbing in the 10.5 needle was far too loose for my tastes, so I switched to US 9s and cast on the same number of stitches that were required for the cable portion of the hat (rather than increasing after the ribbing as the pattern specifies). After the ribbing and a no-increase knit row, I switched to the larger needle (a 10, rather than the 10.5) and carried on as written. Using the smaller needles meant row gauge was short, so I did two and a half repeats of the cable section to get sufficient height before starting the decrease. The extra half repeat meant adjusting the decreases to get the same pattern effect at the crown, so I shifted the k2tog and ssk sections by…um, I think it was six stitches.

Purple Shawl 1The project yet to be commenced is also a gift.  I want to use the yarn pictured, which is Miss Babs Cosmic Handpainted Sock in colorway Swan Princess, because the gift is intended for a purple-loving person. The pattern pictured, Bellingrath, is the current champion of the Ravelry “what’s in my library?” search.  I’m just not sure it’s the right pattern for a colorway with such high contrast.  I’m afraid the lace will get lost in the color changes.  I have another sock yarn in stash that is a much lighter purple and much more subtle in its color changes, and now I’m waffling back and forth between the two, plus still stalking Ravelry for patterns. Thus, the “yet to be commenced” part of this project.  I suppose one could say that the only thing I’ve decided here is to make something purple for a particular individual.  Thrilling, yes?

And now, the promised yarn p04n.  I’ve been on a bit of binge recently.  Ready?

Yarn Acquisitions 1Wait, here’s another angle.

Yarn Acquisitions 2Some go-to workhorse yarn (the Cascade 220, along the back), some vibrant look-at-me sock yarn (four skeins at the front left), and that gleaming alpaca-rayon blend Folio in a deep charcoal on the right.  Heaven only knows when I’ll get to use any of it…well, that’s not true.  I bought the Cascade because I needed those colors for specific gifts.  The rest was whimsy.  It’s the whimsy that gets me in trouble.  I am quickly approaching SABLE status.  (That’s “Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy”, for the uninitiated.) I’ve already achieved BABEL status.  (That’s “Books Acquired Beyond Expected Lifespan”.)

Harvey 1Speaking of books, I’ve read several good ones recently.  No, I haven’t blogged about them.  Yes, I feel guilty.  But (here’s the flimsy explanation portion of this blog entry), I’ve been busy.  With this.

Yes, that is a script for a stage play.  After three years away, I auditioned for a local community theatre production and was cast as…

The female lead.  Veta Louise Simmons, sister of Elwood P. Dowd, he of the white rabbit fame.

It’s nice to know my acting chops have not failed despite their lack of recent use.  It’s not so nice to realize I have over 200 lines to learn and must be totally off book, not even calling for a line, by NEXT TUESDAY!!!

Harvey 2Just look at all that yellow on those pages.  It’s like that throughout most of the show.

Actually, I have a good grasp of about half of my scenes, and between now and Tuesday night will be spending virtually every moment that I’m not working with my nose buried deep in that script.  I intend to drive my husband insane by making him run lines with me every night when he gets home from work.  I expect I’ll make the other riders on MARTA think I’m insane by constantly muttering to myself while commuting back and forth to the office.

We open in May, so (and here’s the excuse for future absence bit) don’t expect much in the way of activity here for the next couple of months.  I hope to get back here and read some of your entries for Knit & Crochet Blog Week, but there’s no way I can take part this year. *sad face*

Hey!  I have one more photo for you, and would like a little feedback on it.  When I sat my camera on my desk to upload the photos I had taken today, I noticed something interesting in the viewscreen, so I quickly snapped a couple of shots.  After some judicious editing and cropping, I came up with this:

Yarn Book Banner 3Books, yarn, music…pretty much everything I ever write about.  And a pen to indicate the writing.  I’m thinking I might make this photo the banner for this blog.  Or maybe stage a better one.  What do you think?

Freshly Finished Friday(Edited to add:  I’m going to link this to Hard Knit Life’s Freshly Finished Friday.  Well, it contains an FO, doesn’t it?  Click the badge over there to go to the link party.  You know you want to.)

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: What Once Was Lost Edition

A funny thing happens when one straightens up the clutter in one’s craft room. One finds a project that one had forgotten one started. By the way, one = yours truly, in case you hadn’t figured that part out yet.

Orange Sampler Afghan 1This is a sampler afghan made from some vintage Rowan Plaid (the orange multi) and a chunky wool blend (the solid) from um, Plymouth? Plymouth Encore Chunky, maybe? The ball band is long gone on the solid rust-colored yarn, so I’m relying on a vague memory. I have enough of these two yarns left to make another square plus a border. Each piece is roughly one square foot, so it currently measures about 3×4. With the addition of a thick border, maybe in simple double crochet or perhaps more decorative in some kind of shell stitch, I can finish it off at about “lapghan” size. Boom! A Christmas present for somebody somewhere.

Mom's Tunisian 16Speaking of presents, I’m also still plugging away at The Tunisian Terror for my mother. Egad, how bored am I with this project? *hangs head in shame* So bored that I look for any excuse not to work on it, but gradually the squares are adding up. Currently at 34 squares, so not quite halfway done. According to the pattern, I’m almost finished with the solid squares; the multi-colored ones are coming up shortly. At least that will be something different.

Rustling Russet 2Further speaking of gifts, and guilt, I’ve officially started my first Christmas gift of the year. I know! It’s a miracle! Here’s where the guilt comes in. I looked at my list of people I had promised to make gifts for (or had decided on my own they were deserving of a handmade item because they were generally all-around awesome human beings), and nearly fell over. This is a list of somewhere around 40 names, because it includes the last three years’ worth of “pay-it-forward” hand-made gifty challenges I had left undone. *more head hanging in shame going on* And one name that had been crossed off had to be added back because his present vanished somewhere in the mail between Atlanta and the West Coast city where he resides. (Don’t even get me started on that loss.) That being said, and no longer wishing to live as a guilt-ridden hag, I started a hat with stash yarn (Copper Corgi Savannah Sock in “Devil’s Kiss”) and a stash pattern (Rustling Leaves by Alana Dakos).

After I had gotten about three inches into the hat, I realized I should have used a long tail cast-on instead of a knitted cast-on because that bottom ribbed edge isn’t really sturdy. I mean it won’t unravel or anything, but it’s kind of wobbly and insubstantial. Stitch Along WednesdayAt that point in the knitting, however, I also realized I didn’t want to rip back the last three days’ work and start over, so I’ll persevere. I think it will be okay. When the hat is worn, no one will be able to tell, anyway, right? Right? Please tell me I’m right.
~~~~
This post is part of Stitch Along Wednesdays, hosted by Gracey’s Goodies. Click that badge over there to see what other folks are up to this week, and link your own WIP Wednesday story!

Posted in Crochet, Finished object, Knitting, Technique, Work in progress, Year in review

2014 in review: Yarn

2014 wasn’t a productive year for yarncraft. I finally figured out why this past weekend, after Jacquenetta was gone. When she became so ill, she spent so much time in my lap during the evenings that knitting and crocheting came to a virtual standstill. I couldn’t work on projects without getting her fur all over them, but I could read, so I traded yarn for books. Snuggling her for the last few months of her life was worth every moment, and be damned to lackluster productivity in the yarn arena.

Projects finished in 2014: Three.

Wanderer Scarf 2The first, finished on New Year’s Day 2014, was the Wanderer Scarf, seen here modeled by spouse. The pattern and the yarn are from Rowan. It was intended as a gift for a friend in Washington, and finally was mailed off to said individual shortly before Christmas.

Buds and Blooms 21Next was my new favorite cardigan, A Rose in Winter, finished January 31. The pattern is “Buds and Blooms” by Alana Dakos. The pattern calls for endless endless stockinette, but that only serves as a backdrop for the gorgeous details: the buds and vine pattern up the back, the flowers on the pockets, the deeply ribbed collar. I also loved the yarn I used (Chris by Schaefer, now sadly out of business), and that gorgeous pomegranate color.

Penny's Granny 2The only other finished project was a giant granny square baby blanket, made for the new grandbaby of one of my colleagues. I grabbed a variety of high quality acrylic leftovers in my stash and threw them together to come up with the color scheme for the blanket. This is the fastest, easiest baby blanket I’ve ever made, and the pattern become my go-to pattern for quickie shower gifts.

Projects started in 2014 and not yet finished: Three.

Wildflower 6The day after the Rose in Winter cardi was finished, I cast on another of Alana Dakos’ patterns, the Wildflower Cardigan, using Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in a deep caramel color. This is another cardigan with vast expanses of stockinette but exquisite little details that make those vast expanses worth the tedium. The back of the cardigan is finished; the right front has been sitting here in my craft room, waiting patiently for me to pick it up again. Soon, my darling, soon.

Tunisian Terror squaresAt Christmas 2013, Mom picked out a blanket pattern in one of my afghan books. In April 2014, she bought the yarn and shipped it to me. Thus, the Tunisian Terror was born. The thing that slows me down with this project is the boredom. Each square is the same: one color surrounded by a border of black single crochet. The pattern calls for some multi-colored squares, but I haven’t got there yet. And each square, once finished and assembled, will be cross-stitched, so there’s some excitement to be had down the road. The finished blanket has 63 squares. I’ve got roughly half of those done.

Ultra Pima cardi attemptCome summer, I decided I needed to knit a lacy cotton cardigan to wear over sleeveless dresses, which serves two purposes: warding off the air-conditioned indoor chill that is everywhere during summer in the South; and making said sleeveless dresses appropriate for the office. Yes, I know it’s old-fashioned of me, but some reptilian portion of my brain won’t quite accept that “sleeveless” is now in keeping with professional office attire. I am determined to use this turquoise-colored Cascade Ultra Pima that’s been hibernating in my stash for several years, but have had nothing but trouble in finding the right pattern. I think I’ve started three or four separate patterns with the Cascade and ripped each one of them out after getting roughly five inches into the piece. I’ll keep experimenting until something clicks.

Projects started in previous years but not finished: Nope, not telling. Let’s just say there is more than one (*cough*spouse’s socks*cough*)

New techniques learned:

  • Tunisian crochet: Learning Tunisian crochet (Tunisian simple stitch only) was easier than I thought. I will no longer shy away from Tunisian patterns, even if they call for something other than TSS, because if I can learn that stitch by reading the directions, I can learn them all!
  • Mitered squares: This technique was taught me in a class at Stitches South in April. I have yet to put the technique to use, but the instructions and my practice swatches are sitting right here in my craft room, just waiting.

Stash acquired: Um. A lot. A good sight more than I used, that’s for darn sure. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Stash used: Not very much. As noted above, I only completed three projects. I’ll never go cold sheep, because such is beyond my willpower, but this year will probably be a diminished year in stash acquisition because I’m not going to Stitches in April. It’s been moved to Nashville and the travel budget just isn’t available. So, yay for the bank account? And yay for shopping the stash!

So, here we go, 2015! New year, new crafting opportunities, new patterns to read, new AND old yarn to fondle, new techniques to learn or put into practice. It’s going to be a good one.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: The Return of the Yarn

It’s been forever since I wrote about yarnie goings-on. Mainly that’s because I’ve been in a slump for several weeks — um, months — and have hardly touched any of the pending projects. In fact, I just took a look back and the last time I posted anything yarn-related was in June.

*sigh*

Tunisian Terror squaresThe only project that’s seen any significant progress is the Tunisian Terror. This picture was taken in July. Since then I’ve completed several more squares but haven’t taken any more recent photographs. If I buckle down, it’s possible I might get it completed by Christmas, which would make Mom happy, but part of the trouble I have with this project is the process of making the squares bores me silly. After about the third or fourth square, I’d mastered the Tunisian simple stitch and there’s simply no challenge any longer. Something to look forward to, though: The pattern calls for several squares that require color changes; however, due to some color and yardage Wildflower 8
Wildflower 6limitations, I had decided to wait until all of the solid squares were completed before getting into the mixed colors. I’m regretting that decision. It’s still the right decision, and I won’t change my mind, but I keep looking longingly at the directions for the multi-color squares…

The Wildflower Cardigan has had virtually no progress. The back was completed several months ago, and the left front was started, but once I got into the part where I had to follow the chart for the pocket design, I fizzled out. Again, this photo was taken in July. I have done some work on the first few rows of the pocket chart, but again, no pictures. In the meantime, please admire the scalloped bottom detail. And those little flaps on the stitch holders are the pocket backs. 🙂

Ultra Pima cardi attemptThat turquoise blue cotton lace shrug stalled right at the point the ribbing was done and the lace pattern began. I hated the lace pattern, so I put the poor thing in a bag for a time-out while I rethought the whole thing. Here we are, months later, and over the weekend, I finally did a couple of fresh Ravelry searches, which resulted in a few other lace cardigan or shrug patterns that may work. I just have to grit my teeth and rip this piece back to the beginning. Again.

Spouse's socks 6And the less said about spouse’s socks, the better.

Normally, I’d refer you to Tami’s Amis for the usual WIP Wednesday roundup, but there isn’t one for this week. If you’re on Ravelry, though, you can look in the group The Blog Hub for the WIP Wednesday thread and catch up there.

Posted in Crochet, Life in general, Work in progress

WIP Wednesdays: Squares R Us

Mom's Tunisian 11Slow but steady progress on the Tunisian Terror, as seen here. I’ve noticed my tension seems to have relaxed some on the later squares, now that I’m comfortable with the Tunisian Simple Stitch. This means the later squares are slightly larger than the first few. I’m hoping this won’t create a major issue when it comes to assembly. Someday in the not-quite-foreseeable future. Ten squares down, 53 to go.

I hope my mother realizes how much I love her. 😉

After the highly unusual feat of posting for seven consecutive days last week (yay, Blog Week!), I took a short break to read a little, spend some time with the spouse, pamper the critters, and start getting my mind in gear for our upcoming class. I’m a technical and policy instructor for a government agency; and we have almost 300 students registered for our next 14-week course, with more expected, so I may be a little scarce around here very shortly. But I will also do my best to keep up with WIP Wednesdays, and maybe a book review once a week.

Miss Q in the SunshineIn other news, my ancient tabby Jacquenetta (who turned 20 earlier this year) has made a remarkable comeback from the health scare she gave us several weeks ago. Seriously, I thought when we took her to the vet that day in late April that she wouldn’t be coming home again. She’ll be on medication the rest of her life, but she’s regained a good portion of her strength and can once again climb up and down the stairs and jump on the sofa under her own power. There she is, having a wash and enjoying the sunshine. She just loves a good stretch out there on the warm concrete of the front walk.

ab2a5-tami_wipThis post is part of the WIP Wednesday Round-up hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click that badge over there and go see what other crafters have been crafting this week, and tell them avantaknits sent you.

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Miscellaneous, Yarn stash

5KCBWDay3 (Blog Week Day 3) — Photography Challenge

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Refresh your skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures.


 
I’m not sure I ever had any skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures in the first place, much less any skills to refresh. But the prompt included ideas such as using props and scenery. Looking around my craft room, I have plenty of things that might make suitable props. The challenge lies in creating a fresh environment — you should read that as “clear out the frakkin’ clutter” — in which to take an attention-grabbing picture.

So what I did was shoot a few of my props. Tell me what you think.

Styrofoam Heads

I’ve used these styrofoam heads before.

Chemo hats 2Chemo sunhats 1

Admittedly, they were posed on an ironing board, so the aesthetics weren’t ideal. However, I’m sure I can find a better place to shoot them. Maybe out on the deck? The photo of the Moorish Mosaic Afghan looked fabulous, in large part (I think) because of the outdoor location. And the curious dog.

Mosaic Afghan 12

I also have all sorts of little knickknacks floating about that could probably be incorporated in project pictures. One of them is up there with the styrofoam heads. Here’s another of the same family.

Coffee to the RescueThese are Zingle Berries. My husband bought them for me years and years ago because the little female figure reminded him of me. I have several of these little statuettes, and they’re each more adorable than the next. Sadly, the line is discontinued, but you can still find a few on eBay. Anyway, I can see using one of these figurines in a photo with, say, a small item like a scarf or pair of mitts.

The challenge I face, really, when it comes to interesting finished object photos, is the items I usually make tend to be large scale: cardigans and blankets for the most part, with the occasional shawl tossed in for good measure. I’m open to suggestions on how to stage photo shoots for these projects.

I do like shooting yarn porn. In fact, I’ve decided from now on, I’m going to start all projects with a yarn and buttons combo shot. Like this:

Purple with Lime Green Buttons 2

Gray with Buttons 2

Blue with Glass Buttons 2

Apricot and Green with Resin Buttons 3

Yeah. Yarn porn. That’s what I’m good at.

Posted in Crochet, Technique, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: Tunisian tidbits

Mom's Tunisian 9
Five squares done. Well, technically, they’re rectangles, but I’m not going to argue semantics here. There’s not a chance in hell this blanket will be finished for Mother’s Day. Or for Memorial Day, either, which is the next time we’re planning to visit Alabama. I have to make 63 of these frakkin’ squares! And then sew them together and cross-stitch all over them. Wait, cross-stitch, then sew. Regardless…Mom, count yourself lucky if you get this by your birthday in November. Yes, I owe you a margarita. Several margaritas, in fact. Because this:

Margaritas for Mom

5 down, 43 to go, but I’m not tired of making these little squares yet, so no further progress has been made on the Wildflower Cardigan. We’ll see how things go in the next week.

ab2a5-tami_wipThis post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see the progress other folks have made this week.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Technique, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: Tackling Tunisian

Mom's Tunisian 5I started on The Tunisian Terror Sunday evening. And you know what? It’s not so bad!

I read through the pattern once more before chaining a single stitch and discovered I had missed something the first go-round. Something really important: the majority of the colorwork is applied AFTER the crocheting is done. A few squares have minimal crocheted color changes, but the rest of it? It’s cross-stitch! Can you say major sigh of relief? I knew you could.

Mom's Tunisian 7The technique isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming. I crochet faster than I knit, so I’m accustomed to flying through a crochet piece. Tunisian is much slower than regular crochet, so I’ve only finished one square and started on a second in three evenings of work (haven’t made a stitch as of yet today, but that will be remedied once this blog entry is posted). For someone who’s accustomed to whipping out one or two crocheted afghan squares in an evening, it’s a little frustrating. But this is a new technique, too, so maybe my speed will increase with practice.

It’s amazing how much Tunisian looks like a square of stockinette knitting. A far thicker fabric than a square of plain stockinette, but still… And the back even has “purl” bumps. What do you think of that? I think it’s pretty cool.

Wildflower Cardigan 5As you may have guessed, the Wildflower Cardigan has gone into hibernation for the nonce. I may alternate between the two projects: do four or five squares on the afghan, knit several inches on the cardigan, lather, rinse, repeat.

I left off just at the point where I was to start the pocket on the right side. The pocket linings were knitted first; now the exterior flap with its pretty flower motif will be made and the lining attached. Note to self: remember to read through the entire directions on the pocket again when you return to this project.

ab2a5-tami_wipToday’s post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see what other fabulous projects are in the works.

Posted in Crochet, Project planning, Technique

Next project: The Tunisian Terror

Remember how much my mother wanted this afghan?

Mosaic Afghan 12
And I told her no?

I also told her I’d make her an afghan of her choosing, as long as she bought the yarn. So at Christmas, when she was here in Georgia, she looked through my afghan books and picked out a pattern. The pattern that caught her interest is pictured below:

Mom's Tunisian 3

Blue Ribbon AfghansThe book is Blue Ribbon Afghans from America’s State Fairs (click the pic to be taken to the Amazon listing), and the pattern is the Take-Along Sampler Afghan.

“Sure, Mom, no problem!” I said. “Next time I come to your house, we’ll go look at yarn.”

The day after Christmas, when all the family had gone home, I sat down and took a good look at the pattern. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. “It’s Tunisian crochet. I’ve never done Tunisian crochet. And it’s colorwork Tunisian, no less. Oh boy.” But I said nothing to my mother, because, you know, I can do it, Mom, really I can.

The next time I was at her house (which was sometime in March), I told my mother that Tunisian crochet would be a new technique for me, but I had always intended to learn it, so this was the perfect opportunity. We went to the local yarn store with the book and ordered the yarn. The box of said yarn was delivered to my house about two weeks ago, whereupon it sat, unopened, while I ignored it and my obligation because, um, Stitches was coming up and then our anniversary trip to Savannah, and then it was yesterday morning and my mother asked me, “How’s my afghan coming along?”

Busted.

I confessed I hadn’t even opened the box, but I had read an article on Tunisian crochet the day before and I planned to start the afghan with one of the squares that didn’t involve a lot of color changes. Then I went upstairs and opened the box.

Mom's Tunisian 1

*gulp*

Wish me luck.

Posted in Crochet, Finished object

FO Friday: Baby Granny Redux

My first FO Friday in months! This giant granny square baby blanket was finished some time ago, but because I somehow managed to go two months without a single blog entry, it was never properly documented. I made it for the first grandbaby of my colleague Penny, and she reports her daughter and new grandson think it’s fabulous.

Penny's Granny 2
Pattern: Great Granny by Katherine Eng, from Crochet Today! Jul/Aug 2010
Yarn: Bernat Berella 4 in Soft Taupe, Burnt Orange, Burgundy, and Natural; Patons North America Canadiana Vintage in Oatmeal and Brown. Total yardage due to use of partial skeins, approximately 500 yds.
Hook: US H
Satisfaction with end product: As usual, the acrylic became soft and drapey once washed and dried. I’m happy with how it turned out. And, as mentioned above, its recipients were quite pleased, which pleases me. Because with a gift, it’s how the giftee feels that’s important.

7cde9-fofridayThis post is part of the FO Friday roundup, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see what everyone else finished this week!