Monday, September 26, 2016

It's almost pumpkin time!

Today's post is short and sweet as this small project was all I could muster after a week of dealing with vertigo again.    I get these episodes very infrequently, but when I do they really mess with me.  Today, I'm feeling nearly symptom-free and it was so good to pick up my crochet hook and whip out this little cutie:

Every fall I get the urge to make some of these and today I pulled aside some new yarns to play with as I make some more.   I think it will be a fun thing to do tonight as I watch the presidential debate.  I wouldn't think of not watching the debate,  but I have a feeling I'll need something to keep me sane as I do.   The pumpkin above is made with Vanna's Glamour in the color Bronze.  It has some sparkly specks in it which just made it even more fun to make.  The yarn is a thin worsted, and crocheted with a size F crochet hook this little mini pumpkin measures just 2 inches in diameter and 1 3/4 inches tall - from bottom to top of stem.  I know - it looks a lot bigger than that in the picture, doesn't it.  ;^)

If you're interested in how I made the button stem, I wrote a tutorial last year that you can find here.

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit this week's thread on Ravelry!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A little spice in my life...

I've been getting ready for a garage/yard sale next weekend and with all the purging and pricing involved in that, I haven't done much crocheting lately (or any knitting, for that matter).

I haven't ignored my crocheting completely, though.  I'm enjoying getting back to my second Spice of Life Blanket:

I do love these colors.  They put me in the mind of autumn.

And a blogger last week took a picture of some wonderful vintage pattern books she recently obtained and that reminded me that I had a similar treasure I unearthed a few weeks ago when helping set up for a Friends of the Library booksale.  

All these vintage crochet magazines and pamphlets pictured above, and four really cool knitting books:

I'm a sucker for old pattern books.  While I've earmarked several patterns I think I might try to "modern up" a bit, even if I never actually make anything from these books, the pleasure I get just browsing through them is enormous.  While there is a nostalgia factor, for sure, I also find inspiration in browsing these old books.  I wonder what things inspire a creative mindset in you.

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our thread on Ravelry!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

When yarn color disappoints...

What do you do when you receive yarn and the color disappoints?  For a week I waited patiently for a yarn order and when I received Deborah Norville's Everyday yarn in the color Violet Heather I was unimpressed with how little it looked heathered.  It's hard to get a good picture of this color of purple, but below is a picture that shows the ever so slight amount of black (or dark gray) that is in this yarn.  If you can't see it, it's not you.  I have to look hard and tell myself it's actually there before I think I can see it.

Seriously now...  would you call this heathered?

The violet is really much darker than this picture shows and in normal lighting the heathering is completely unnoticeable.  The flash used puts a bit of a shine on this yarn that simply isn't there in normal lighting.  What may look like a bit of heathering is really the contrast created by the shine on the purple.  What isn't shining is basically what is black (or dark gray) - or shadows.   

So what's a person to do?   It's not worth it to send it back.  And I didn't need any more plain purple yarn. 

I let it stew for a bit, knowing I wouldn't be using the yarn for the project I had hoped to make with it.  But then I got an idea.  Combine it with another yarn to make something of a different heathered look.   And that's what I did.   I added some laceweight Loops & Threads Woolike in the color Mauve and this is what I got:

Not bad!  The purple is still a bit darker than this picture shows, but the mauve lifts the dark purple to something prettier than it appears by itself.   Though the purple is actually darker, this picture is a fairly accurate representation of how the tones in the two yarns work together.   I'm still not making what I had hoped to make with this yarn, but I think this casual poncho will be kind of fun in this new colorway I created.   I may only wear it around the house, but I look forward to having something easy I can toss on temporarily to cover chilly arms.  And just in time, too.  We're beginning to enjoy evening temps in the 50's.  A little early for fallish weather, but it's glorious nonetheless.

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

Sunday, September 4, 2016

With just a little bit of yarn...

It's the weather.  I'm excusing my lack of direction and inclination to work much with yarn on this beautiful weather we're having.  It's been in the 70's for the last half of this week with overnights in the 60's and 50's.  It has me happily gadding about in my free time, not doing anything particularly worth mentioning, except that well, you know... errands need running, groceries need buying, friends sometimes need lunching with...   And I've been enjoying doing all these things in the context of glorious days after several weeks of trying to avoid spending unnecessary time out in the spiteful heat and humidity and rain.

To be clear, though,  I'm not complainin'.   I'm just explainin'.   My heart goes out to those who've experienced hurricanes, tornadoes and floods in recent weeks.  How is it in your corner of the world?

What I did manage to start and finish this week are these cute little Apple Coasters:

And this simple autumn-ish doily kind-of-a-thing:

Both of these projects were short CAL's on Ravelry.  And both were made with just a bit of yarn. One of the apple coasters will sit on my computer desk this autumn.  And the doily kind-of-a-thing will hopefully find something to rest under.  A plant maybe.  Or maybe I'll just put it out with this little kitty creamer.  :)  The kitty creamer is an antique that I believe at one time was my grandmother's.  It's from the 1940's I'm guessing from what I can find online.   And the yellow formica counter top is only a couple decades younger than the kitty creamer.  Yep, that's my kitchen counter.  My sad old   stylishly vintage yellow kitchen counter.  ;^)


On the knitting front...  I have decided not to post pictures of every single dishcloth I make, but I will report that I knitted two more simple ones this week.  One had some mistakes I tried to turn into design elements - I accidentally knitted a row on the purling side and for some reason thought purling on the knitted side later in the cloth would give me two nice" ridges", but all I really got was one nice ridge and one loosey-goosey sloppy row of purling.

Oooh, okay...  Here's a picture:

Of course, I figured out several rows after I did that loose purl row that I should have just knitted on the purl side again - and I'd have a nice tight ridge like the first one.  It was a head slapping moment, and I consider that a good thing.  That means I'm learning!

The second cloth, I'm happy to report is a work of art.  In a kindergarten knitting class, that is.  I'm getting the tension tighter on my purling.  I still don't know how anyone manages to have such perfect enough tension that they nonchalantly make lovely large items like shawls and blankets, but I'm contenting myself with seeing some slight (and somewhat consistent) improvement in this area in my humble washcloths.

On that note I want to thank you, reader, for indulging me and encouraging me in these weekly posts about my knitting progress.  I truly hope to look back on this time as a quaint and innocent period of my knitting life.  Innocent of what magnificent creations I eventually may be capable of.  :)   Wow. Where did that come from?  A week ago I was a happy humble dishcloth knitter.  This week I'm aspiring to magnificence.  =^/

This week (hopefully) I will get back to my second Spice of Life blanket.  Making two at a time seemed like such a good idea when I started these in July, but having laid one aside in order to finish the other during the Ravellenics I find that I've become a bit apathetic about finishing the laid-aside one.  But finish it I will.  I trust that just picking it back up again will overcome the inertia I'm experiencing at the moment.  This is such an enjoyable pattern to crochet and I actually like these colors better than the colors in the one I finished already, so really... I imagine it will fly off my hook once I get going on it again.

Here is the last progress picture I took of it (back in July):

I've crocheted a good number of rows beyond this point and I'm sure I'm about halfway finished, so really... I should be able to knock this out in a couple of weeks.  And that's so good, as I have ideas brewing.  I may have to start them before my Spice is finished if the yarn I'm waiting on arrives, but that isn't likely to happen for a few days at least.   My main goal is to accomplish something on this Spice this next week.  And probably knit another dishcloth.  ;^)

To see what other Yoppers are yopping about, visit our thread this week on Ravelry!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gotta Love Sunflowers...

For some reason I started off this week kind of 'meh' about doing anything with yarn.  Until Saturday, all I had managed to make were a couple of dishcloths (later in this post), but yesterday, a rainy Saturday, I was on you tube - not sure now what I was looking for, but I stumbled across a video tutorial for a Sunflower Hotpad.  I immediately thought it would be a great addition to my new potholder/hotpad collection.   So I went through my stash of yarn and found some workable cotton.  A couple of hours later this is what I had come up with:

I love it!   If I find some orange-y yellow cotton, I may just have to get it and make another one, but for now, this one makes me happy.  I added an extra row of yellow, and because of that it took most of a skein, but the brown and green were just scraps.  And the pattern is so easy.  Looking at the finished pictures in the tutorial I would never have guessed how easy it is.  There is no written pattern, or link searchable on Ravelry, but here is my project page - on the chance that anyone would benefit from the details I've put there.


Back to the dishcloth knitting, though...   Somewhere around Tuesday I started noodling around with the knitting needles again and in a couple of days I had finished another simple dishcloth.

I feel like this is my best knitting so far.   Of course, all those speckles help hide some unevenness, but I'll take it.  The progress I feel I've gained, that is   :)

And when that one was done I started another Seeded Stripe dishcloth:

Now, my looser stitches don't show so much on this cloth (because there's so much going on), but this cloth gave me a great opportunity to really see how my stitches went from mostly nice and even (the garter stitch stripes) to all loosey goosey (the seed stitch stripes).  You can't see the loosey goosey stitches in the picture (and even in person it doesn't look bad finished), but I knew I was having some problems.   And somehow, even though I could see my stitches loosening up as I was knitting, I had no idea why it was happening.  Googling what causes uneven tension led me to some helpful sites (the most helpful being that explained to me that my tension problem is probably due to purling looser than I knit.  I practiced some more and sure enough - that was my problem.  The seed stitch rows gave plenty of opportunity to pay attention to tension while switching back and forth between knitting and purling.   I haven't yet achieved correct tension while purling, but knowing what the problem is is a huge help.  Assuming I can conquer this, I feel like this knowledge will move me much further along in my knitting ability and what I may even want to try to make.

I hope it doesn't sound lame, though, to be fairly content just knitting dishcloths for the time being.  I see beautiful shawls, socks and hats and think I should be wanting to make those things, but I'm not overly drawn to try to knit them.  Knitting a dishcloth is about as relaxing and "instant gratification" as it can get for me while still working on basic stuff like tension, and eventually new stitches. And I love using my new knitted dishcloths.  I have some crocheted cloths that I like, but I'm pretty picky about my dishcloths.  They can't be too holey and they can't be too stiff or thick. Finding that perfect combination in a crocheted cloth is tricky.  But a knitted cloth, I'm thinking, pretty much always fits both of those criteria.  So for now I'm just a happy dishcloth knitter.  :^)


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

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 piece 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.

But I'm glad to say... for my tenacity and hard work, I will receive a gold medal (someday) 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!

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