Sunday, August 21, 2016

Revelling in my Ravellenics' Accomplishments...

Along with the ending of the Olympic games tonight in Rio, the Ravellenics will also come to an end.  Rather anti-climactic-ly, it feels at this point (evidently, Bobicus Maximus has been chasing his tail for two weeks and the "medal machine" has had glitches so most of us are still waiting to be called to our respective "podiums" to receive our electronic awards), but still...   though I'm ready to wrap it all up, I'm excited at what I accomplished.  And happy to show my latest makes.  

First is a Linen Stitch Scarf I made with Red Heart Unforgettable in the new colorway Tealberry (my prize yarn received from Red Heart last month).



Normally, I make these with two different colorways, but this yarn had enough different colors in one skein I thought it was unnecessary to use a second colorway.  Yay! I thought - over having fewer ends to weave in.  Well...  Of course, self-striping yarns don't always work out the way you hope.   Where particular colors lie, how long the color runs are, how large (or small) the peice is that one is making -- all conspire together to either make a beautifully striped, or oddly color-pooled finished object.  As I was making this scarf I concluded that I didn't want more than two rows of the same color laying side by side together.  And I couldn't have one color dominating one end of the scarf while another color dominated the other end.  Which, of course, kept wanting to happen.  Sigh.

So there I was...  with my self-striping yarn (that I thought would be a piece of cake to make one of these scarves with) clipping and re-rolling the yarn to get to just the right color in the skein (over and over again - many times needing to do this in the middle of the row) to keep any one color from dominating any one part of the scarf.  And of course, all those starts and stops meant ends to weave in.  I'm pretty sure, by the time I was finished, I had woven in far more ends than if I had simply started each new row afresh - alternating colors from different skeins, as I normally do when making one of these from two different colorways of yarn.

So for my tenacity and hard work, I will receive a gold medal for successfully completing the Scarf Hockey event.  Yay me!

~~~~


Next I finished a Coozie Disc for a medal in the Toy Toss event, and laurels in Colorwork and Stash busting:  



I see more of these in my crocheting future (like this upcoming week, I think).  They make great flyers and every one is unique.  Great gift ideas for kids and adults alike!

 ~~~~~

Then, late in the games I was inspired by a post Casey wrote a few weeks ago titled "My Yarn Story".  In that post is a composite picture of a bunch of Casey's beautiful crocheted potholders and I decided I needed to start a cute collection.  So this week I did.  Here's my first potholder (for a medal in the Household Heptathalon event and laurels in stash busting):


~~~~~

And then on Saturday, I decided to concentrate on finishing a doily I began last April.  It's called April Showers

Can you see the little umbrellas ringing the center?

I know April showers are long behind us, but last week it rained nearly every day, so it was a fitting project to work on.  This was my first attempt at making a doily, or crocheting with a tiny steel hook and a single strand of size 10 thread for that matter.  It's hard, let me tell you - especially if you've got middle aged eyes and fingers.  But once I got back to it, I actually found I enjoyed it  - in between sessions of rubbing the back of my neck as it got achy from holding this thing close and bending over it.    While it was challenging (for me) and tedious, it was also very interesting to watch the pattern emerge.  I think I'll be wanting to make some more.  Or, at least, another one.  Someday...

And that wraps up another YOP week and Ravelery's Ravellenics for me.   It was fun while it lasted, but I imagine next week to not be nearly so prolific.  To see what other Yoppers are up to visit our thread this week on Ravelry.



Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Spice of Life!

Today marks the end of Week One in the Ravellenics!   And I'm happy to have crossed the finish line in WIPS Wrestling and be able to show a finished Spice of Life Blanket:


The pattern was written for DK weight yarn, but using worsted weight yarn, and making it exactly as the pattern is written (except for adding some rows for length) it measures approximately 54" across and 78" long.  Does that sound crazy?   Written down it sort of does to me, but in reality it's actually pretty perfect for tucking one's self up in.  What can I say?  I like my blankets big.  :)



I've been keeping up practicing knitting, and have 2 more dishcloths to show:


Not perfect, but getting better! 


I really like this pattern and using a stripey yarn makes it even more fun to do. I basically just switched back and forth from garter to seed stitch and back again whenever the color changed.

This may just end up being the year of the knitted dishcloth.  If I master the humble dishcloth, maybe I can move onto something bigger.  But I'm liking using my new knitted dishcloths, so I'm fairly content for the time being knitting away on them.

It's a rainy weekend, with the beginning of the week promising even more rain.  No complaints from me.  The grass is green (not the norm for August in Indiana) and the temps have come down a bit (into the mid-80's.  Maybe high 70's by Monday.)  What a relief that sounds like.

Later today our sons are coming over and we're having a lasagna lupper (that's a late lunch/early supper).  It's a real trip trying to coordinate three adult young men to come to Mom & Dad's house anymore.  I thought they would fawn over the offer of a home cooked meal, but it was like wrangling cattle to get them to agree on a day and time.   I'm still not sure if middle son is going to make it in time for eats.  But these days I take them when I can get them.  :)

And that's a wrap for this YOP Sunday.   To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

The games have begun...

In Rio, as well as in the homes of Raveler's around the world!  


Before starting some smaller projects, I wanted to get my Spice of Life Blanket to a stage where finishing it over the next two weeks was feasible.  


I'm feeling good about the progress made and I'm happy to say it's nearly finished.  Just a few more rows of double crochet and then the edging!  I'm hoping to finish it in another couple of days. though maybe that's a bit optimistic. I have a feeling crocheting a border up and down the length of this thing will take some significant time, but hopefully next Sunday I can post a finished picture.

There are also a number of small projects I hope to finish during the Ravellenics.   There's a linen stitch scarf and a knitted dishcloth, and a pair of fingerless mits I hope to make.  And I'm going to try to finish a little doily I started last April.  There are a few other things queued up onto my Ravelry projects page I may get around to, but I'm also well aware that I've probably planned far more items than I'll likely actually finish before August 21st.  We'll see what happens over the next two weeks while the Olympic games are going on in Rio!  Who knows.  I may come up with entirely different projects in that time.

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit this week's thread on Ravelry.   To open any of the links on this page a (free) Ravelry membership is required.  If you're not part of Ravelry, come see what it's all about!








Sunday, July 31, 2016

Slowly she goes...

I'm not sure where my time has gone this week, but it's not been into crocheting.  Much.  I did try to catch some of the Democratic Convention, and that is prime crocheting time. :)  Much like last week while trying to take in what I could of the Republican Convention I crocheted happily on both of my Spice of Life Blankets this week.  They are about half way done and I'm hoping to finish one during the Ravellenics which are to begin next Friday.

And I'm knitting another dishcloth.  No pattern, just a border of garter stitching with stockinette in the middle.


I guess there's some improvement overall, but I'm finding I have problems when I rip back to a mistake and start a row over again.  I think there must be a trick to getting the stitches back on the needle in the right direction.  The problem is I can't tell from looking at the stitches what the right direction is.  At the moment this remains a mystery, but I'm going to hope I'm able to figure that out.

On another fun note...  last month I won a drawing in the Red Heart Lovers' Ravelry group for their June CAL.  That month we were to try a new technique or learn a new skill.  I learned how to do tunisian crochet (simple stitch) and I made this Shadow Stitch Pillow.  Each person who participates in the monthly CAL is entered into a drawing for that month, and I happened to be one of the winners.

And a week or so ago I received my prize:

While it was fun to get some new-to-me yarns in the mail, I'm most excited about the Unforgettable yarn in the foreground.   I love this yarn for making scarves and what they sent is a brand new colorway (called Tealberry) and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works up.   I think I'm going to use it to make a linen stitch scarf for the Ravellenics.  :)

To see what other Yoppers are up to visit our thread this week on Ravelry.






Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trying my hand at knitting again...

Except for crocheting a few rows on my two Spice of Life blankets, I've only done a little playing with yarn and knitting needles this week.  I've put on my YOP list that I want to challenge myself to learn to knit this year.  To work on something every month.  So this week I began.  Again.

And all I can say is...

Knitting.  is.  haaarrrd.

Actually, after a try at some simple garter stitch and stockinette - which I thought went pretty well (for me):


I decided to try my hand at a garter stitch dishcloth.

After trying out several video tutorials, I decided I really liked this one by Jewberly Emiris.  Her instructions are simple and clear (I think), she gets right to the point, and she's sweet and happy.


Not too bad, I thought, half-way through my first knitted dishcloth attempt.  I see some mistakes and the uneven tension, but I was beginning to think this knitting thing wasn't as hard as I came to believe the last time I tried.

But then I started decreasing and by the time I was done, this had happened:


When I finished I had no idea how it had gotten all pointy.  I was sure I was following the instructions.  Actually, this is when I went looking for another tutorial and I found Jewberly's linked to above.  Watching her video I realized I was putting an extra stitch in every row - where the holes are created.  So while I was decreasing, I wasn't doing it quickly enough.  That's how I got Mr. Pointy Head dishcloth there.  And by the way...it took me 4 or 5 hours to finish that awful thing.   Sigh.

But realizing my mistake and following Jewberly's to-the-point video I set right to work to make a second cloth.   I thought this should be a breeze the second time.  Right?

Well...  on the needles it looked to me to be not too bad, but once I had the thing off the needles, I was like, GEE WILLIKERS!  It's worse!


It's square.  ish.   But wow, is it ever rough?!?  And I had no idea it was this rough as I was knitting it.  I think that troubles me most of all.  That I was happily (mostly) knitting along thinking I was getting this knitting thing.  Only to find this at the end.

There are some places where I see I dropped a stitch, and I can see where the tension is uneven.  But even with those things... I just wasn't expecting this!

Maybe I'm just not cut out for this knitting thing.

I feel like I have the movements pretty well (at least in making a garter stitch pattern).  I made these cloths mostly using continental-style knitting.  Easy and quicker than the English method, I find.

But there's a whole lot of some other stuff  I obviously don't have.  Stuff like even tension (Okay, I get that consistent tension will come with practice).  The ability to recognize when I've dropped or otherwise mangled a stitch.   (When I'm doing it - will this ever happen?)  And patience.  Aaah. That's the big one.    I'm just not sure I have the patience to endure what I may have to endure to get even mediocre at knitting.  I'm not even hoping to become a good knitter at this point.   But I'm not sure it's worth the pain and effort just to strive for 'not pitiful'.

Sigh.

To soothe my weary fingers and wrinkled brow I'm putting the needles down for at least 24 hours and I'm going to crochet me a pretty dishcloth.  That will make my heart light again, I hope.

And just so I don't leave feeling completely defeated, I'm going to post a progress picture of my bright and cheery Spice of Life blanket I'm crocheting.


There now.  That's enough to make me smile again.

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.








Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cottony things...

I was inspired recently to make some drawstring bags, and this simple Round-base Goody Bag caught my eye.  I made this first bag in Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton yarn. The colors are Antique Gold, Old Leaf (which is no longer available), and Red.  This yarn makes a very soft fabric. And the bag would be a nice thing to hold something that needs some projection from getting scratch, scuffed or otherwise damaged.  What that would be, I haven't figured out yet, but it makes me smile to imagine it holding or storing something that it's dedicated to.


While I was making this first one, I wondered how I could make it taller or bigger around.  Turns out it's really simple.

Made according to the pattern with worsted weight yarn and an I hook, the bag should measure approximately 8-9 inches tall if completed as written.  If I want a bag larger in circumference I simply need to make a larger circle base.   It can be any size as long as the number of stitches in the beginning round is a multiple of 3.   And if I want a taller bag I simple add more "granny stitch" rows, or hdc rows until the bag is as tall as I want it to be.  Where the drawstring threads around the bag I did a row of double crochet stitches (instead of hdcs).  I just thought that would work better with the size drawstring I knew I wanted to create.   And I added some height by adding some extra rows of trim color yarn at the top.  I have a total of 34 rounds (from the center of the base to the top of the bag. With the changes I made, mine measures 11.5 inches tall and approximately 21 inches in circumference.

Then I was curious what the same bag would look like made with crochet thread.  So I made a smaller bag using a size E crochet hook, and a combination of Aunt Lydia, Artiste, and Red Heart threads - size 3 crochet thread for the pink and purple rounds, and two strands together of size 10 crochet thread for the salmon colored center.   This bag measures 7 inches tall and approximately 16 inches in circumference.  There's a 3 oz (or so) size ball of yarn in this bag - just to give you an idea of what could fit inside.


The cords on both bags are made with a simple chain (I didn't measure them, but trust me when I say you'll need a cord longer than you think you'll need) and then slip stitched back to the beginning of the chain.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these bags, but they are cute.  So cute, I'm having to resist the urge to make more.  If I had a really good purpose for these bags, I'd make oodles more.

~~~~

And this week I also crocheted my first (and possibly last) hand towel.  


I'm not unhappy with it, but it's significantly limper than I expected it to be.  I guess I've grown too accustomed to my thick store-bought terry towels.    I know from my experience with knitted and crocheted dishcloths (which I use exclusively) that once washed, they begin to look worn fairly quickly.  The nice thing about a dishcloth, though, is that when you get it wet it looks all pretty again (the colors brighten up and the shrunken cloth stretches out to its original size).  A washed  & dried crocheted (or knitted) dishcloth may not be the prettiest thing in the drawer, but my favorite ones are a delight to actually wash dishes with.  A towel, on the other hand,  is only useful if it's dry, and I just don't see this looking all that nice after it's washed & dried.  We'll see, I guess.  Glad I made one (I've been curious how much I'd like a crocheted towel), but let's just say I'm not picturing giving up store bought towels any time soon.

To see what other Yoppers are up to this week, visit our thread on Ravelry.






Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The More of Less...

I'm continuing to crochet along on two Spice of Life Blankets.  The blanket below is the more vibrant one I'm making. At the moment it's feeling like quite a chaotic combination of colors, but I'm holding out hope that when the border goes on, the whole thing pulls together.  We'll see.

I do love how fast this crochets up and how interesting it is to change colors and stitch patterns.


And I'm coming back to a book I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  The More of Less by Joshua Becker.  I was skeptical that I'd find anything really different in a book on minimalism, but I do think I have found something different in this little book.  So much so that I'm planning on buying my own copy so I can re-read it and more carefully contemplate the profound points he is making.

I knew Becker was onto something I need to pay attention to when I read this:.  Ask yourself, Am I buying too much stuff because deep down I think it will insulate me from the harms of a chancy world?  And if so, what is that costing me?  I don't know if that means a lot without the context of his discussion on what motivates us to accumulate too much stuff, but when I read that I knew he had me. This is exactly what's going on when I buy something I don't really need (or sometimes don't even want) to buy.  It's the 'scarcity' mentality that causes the logical part of my brain to just turn off (or get staticky).  So much more from Joshua Becker here at http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

Aside from the personal benefit of having a book I don't have to return the library, I feel better about buying a book on minimalism (an action that is completely antithetical to the whole point of paring down) because Becker is using the proceeds of this book to fund The Hope Effect - nonprofit organization created to meet the needs of orphans.  I'm in no way associated with Becker or The Hope Effect.  I will be doing more personal homework, but today I'm just passing along some information I've dug up as I've become intrigued by Becker's message and how he is living out his passions and life purpose as a result of clearing out that which is just distraction.

Check out what other crocheters and knitters are making and reading at Ginny Sheller's weekly Yarn Along.


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