Sunday, January 13, 2019

Shawling along...

I thought I'd have my Lace-Edged Poncho finished this week, but I got sidetracked by a pattern shared in a Shawl CAL on Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry.    People were whipping out this fun striped shawl in no time and I decided I needed to give it a go.

Once you start making this thing, it's difficult to put it down.  So I kept going and had it finished over the course of three days: 
Pattern:  Cakes Two To Tango

To be completely honest, I'm not too sure about the colorway.  It's the color Spirit in Lion Brand Mandala yarn.  Made up in this shawl, I go from thinking it's pretty and interesting to thinking the bright turquoise color is just too much.

But the experience of working this pattern was a happy one and I may try it again with other yarn.  Mandala is a DK weight yarn and it made a nice weight shawl/scarf - even if the bright turquoise isn't exactly my thing - in winter, anyway.  

I don't know, though...  maybe if I had a dark gray coat (or maybe a coat in colbalt blue 😃), I'd love these colors.  See what I mean?  I keep flip-flopping.

I like the pattern, though.  And I think this would be a fun project made from individually selected colors along with a neutral color (as opposed to using self-striping yarns). Or maybe that's just me wanting to be more in control.  😉

Here's a picture showing it more "shawl-like":
I do love the picot edging


And while the colors in my January/February Temperature Shawl are going to be all over the place (and also leave me little control), I'm enjoying this month (or two-month) long project:


And lastly, my Lace-Edged Poncho got just a little love this week.  

I'm not real sure what I'm doing with the colors here.  I had some idea of doing graduated widths of each color as I progress down the shawl, but I didn't start out with a concrete plan so I'm not sure how this is going to end up.    I'm also considering not making the lace edging.   I don't know.  I like the concept of this short poncho.  But I may find I'm doing too much adapting of the pattern.  We'll see. I'll just keep crocheting and hopefully next week I'll be finished and will like it.


And now finally...  
with this post, my 2019 Stash-Down begins!

My goal this year is to use up 
100 skeins (or more) of my yarn stash.   
I'm happy to report 
I'm starting the year out strong:

2019 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  6.4/100 skeins

While I don't expect anyone to keep close tabs on my stash used vs projects made, for the sake of my own personal accountability I'd like to put down here that this week I ended up donating two skeins of yarn after trying it and not liking it.  I don't know how often that will happen, but I'm giving myself more encouragement to get rid of yarn I know I don't care for.  My "getting rid of" will be my gain - and hopefully someone else's.   Again, not that I expect anyone else to care, but I will probably make note of that kind of thing in YOP posts when it happens.

And this year, behind the scenes, I plan to be knitting more dishcloths to use up some of my kitchen cotton stash, and the yarn used for those will show up in the week's tally that the cloths are made in.  But I only plan to show those cloths (in one picture, most likely) in the last YOP post of the month.  

And that's it!

To see what other YOPers are up to, 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

New Beginnings...

Let me begin this post by hoping for you all that you have a great 2019.   I'm content to have wrapped up 2018 and be moving on to whatever is in store for the new year.

Speaking of wrapping up...  I was able to complete some projects this week that were begun in 2018, and I began some new projects.  I'm not sure which excites me more.

Okay, okay...  I'm probably most excited about finishing my second Spicier Life Blanket this past week (pattern here):

While these "Spice" blankets are really fun to make, and I don't even mind all the end-weaving, the most challenging part of making these  is dealing with how the different stitch patterns behave throughout the blanket (making for a wide variety of widths among the many rows).   I try to minimize this problem by using different sized hooks, and then before crocheting the borders on, I pin these blankets out hard, and give them a steam blocking (taking care to not touch the hot iron to the yarn).  

It's also very easy to second guess my colors the whole time I'm crocheting, and wish I had followed someone else's plan, but having finished four Spice blankets (two different designs) I've yet to be unhappy with any of them.

Seriously... who wouldn't love lounging under all these cheery colors?

And I can't help but smile over so many happy stitches and the pretty border.

Okay... I suppose that's enough of that.  Thank you for indulging me.  😊  

On to my new projects...

Yesterday I wrote about starting a Temperature project.  If you're at all interested, you can read the details here, but I'll just be brief today and explain that this will be a one-month (at most, two-month) project and I'll show a progress picture here each week.   While I'm only doing a short-term scarf/shawl (using this pattern), others in Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry are making year-long blankets and scarves.  Consider yourself invited to join along if something like this sounds interesting!

This is 6 days into my Temperature Shawl:


Another CAL at Our Happy CAL Place is a Shawl/Poncho... CAL going on during January.   Jenn from Jenn's Crafty World made this cute Lace Edged Poncho (and is wearing hers in this video).  I love Jenn's multi-colored yarn, but not having anything that cute, I decided to work with my stash of Lion Brand Heartland yarn.  

Haven't gotten very far, but this seems to work up fast:

The only other thing I did this week (yarn-wise) was to finish up a little knitted dishcloth - the likes of which I've shown many times here already.  Unfortunately, it only used up a half a skein of yarn.   But that little 1/2 skein got counted in my yarn used total!


And with that, it's now time for my final report of how much yarn I used up last year.  After tallying up my yarn used on projects I began in 2018 and finished this past week, I got really close to my 100 skein goal.  

Get ready for it ...  

Drumroll ... 

2018 Yarn Stash-Down Results: 
 94.8/100 Skeins !!!

I was (sort of) hoping my Spicier Life Blanket would push me past the 100 skein mark, but honestly...  I'm super happy to have come this close.  And as of this writing, I have boxed up 6 skeins of yarn for donating - to bring my total destash to 100.8 skeins.  

I plan to keep on keepin' on with this de-stashing business.  In 2019 my goal will again be to diminish my stash by 100 skeins (and privately will be hoping I can actually do more than that).   I don't know that I will give myself a moratorium on purchasing yarn, but I will definitely be selective and any yarn brought in will mean I'll need to use up that much more yarn to reach the "100 skeins" goal.

On that note, I am reminded of the 10 or so balls of cotton thread I bought last summer to make doilies with.  Considering that, I actually did use up more than 100 skeins.  One hundred and five skeins, if I'm figuring correctly.  So that's nice to know.

With it being January, I'm filled with enthusiasm and great expectations.  Let's hope my enthusiasm is warranted, and my expectations are met come December of 2019.  😉

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

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Temperature Scarf ...

A few days ago I spent some time figuring out how to do a 1-month temperature scarf/shawl.  It was not as easy as I thought it would be.  But never one to shirk from taking a simple crochet project and making it complicated, I set myself to the task.
Let me explain my reasoning for even doing a temperature scarf (instead of a blanket).  The main reason is because Our Happy CAL Place is hosting a Temperature CAL this year and I didn't want to miss out on the fun.
But not for one minute believing I had the fortitude, commitment, capability, okay... discipline to intentionally make a blanket slowly over the course of the year, I knew jumping into making  a Temperature Blanket was something I should, without hesitation, say no to.  And I did.  For about 2 days.   Then there was talk of some making temperature scarves and that idea appealed to me, but I still didn't think I could keep interest in it over the course of a year.

Then inspiration struck!

I would make a temperature scarf over the course of one month.  Thirty-one days.  I can do anything for 31 days!  When I first thought of this, I imagined a pretty scarf where the colors might shift subtly because January doesn't change all that much normally.  I mean, it's cold.  It's usually snowy.  And it's cold.  There's just not much else to say about January in Indiana.   I could probably make a scarf in 3 or 4 colors!  And I could spread those colors out over the say, 40 degree range we might have - having each color represent a 10 degree range.  Yep.  Simple.

But with New Year's Eve being unseasonably warm (by 40-some degrees), I decided to look at the weather forecast for the month on January.  I saw that the first half of the month is predicted to be unseasonably warm, but by the end of the month we may get colder than normal.   My 40 degree range suddenly became possibly a 60-70 degree range!  And I was likely to end up with a scarf that was divided in half into two completely disparate color schemes.

So much for a pretty scarf.

Okay... so giving up the idea of subtly shifting colors or even anything that might approach "pretty", I decided to just have fun and embrace a variety of color.  After giving it some thought, I also concluded that to get anything interesting in a 31-day period I should make my temperature increments very small. I kept whittling down the increments until I landed on something that I think will provide some interesting variety - increments of 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

I know...  that sounds crazy.  And if making a temperature project over the course of a year, that would be crazy.  But over 31 days???   I figured I could do this with 18-20 colors (knowing I likely won't actually use all those colors).  
Searching my yarn stash, I was both thrilled and embarrassed that I had that many (actually more) colors of one brand of yarn in my possession,  so I can do this. With 20 colors, I will attempt to make a Temperature Scarf using this pattern.   And not that I think anyone is actually still reading about this funny idea, but here is a breakdown of the temps and colors I plan to use:

Daily High (degrees Fahrenheit)
Below 10 °F Black Canyon 
10-12° Great Smokey Mountains 
13-15° Lake Clark 
16-18° Hot Springs 
19-21° Kings Canyon 
22-24° Olympic 
25-27° Isle Royale 
28-30° Yosemite 
31-33° Cuyahoga Valley 
34-36° Glacier Bay 
37-39° Biscayne 
40-42° Joshua Tree 
43-45° Badlands 
46-48° Kenai Fjords 
49-51° Sequoia 
52-54° Redwood 
55-57° Danali 
58-60° Bryce Canyon 
above 60° Yellowstone

Snow - Mt. Rainier
And I've concluded that using is the simplest and quickest way for me to find the high temperature for each day.
So...  with all that explanation over with, I've begun my first temperature project.  This may be the most fun thing I've done to date, or it could very possibly be the ugliest.  Depending on my feelings about it come the end of January, I may just continue into February and make it into a a shawl.  Or it could make a trip to the burn barrel.
We'll see!

Here's what I have finished on January 5th:

I'm pretty sure, when all is said and done, I will conclude that this wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had, and there are probably better ways to go about making a 1-month temperature scarf.  But I'm committed to a plan now.  And I'm looking forward to seeing what this ends up looking like!
If you want to join the fun, pop in to the Ravely Group, Our Happy CAL Place.   You need a free Ravelry account to access this link.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Burn Through Stash Like Crazy - Weeks 3 & 4

Since I didn't produce a YOP post last week, I'm playing catch-up today.  

Sometime over the past two weeks I finished two more scarves made with a simple rib stitch that's shown in this video.

In both of the scarves below I used the same Red Heart Boutique yarn in the colorway, Heirloom, but combined it with two different colors to see which I liked better:

Combined with Hobby Lobby ILTY in the color, Graphite 

And then combined with a light gray color. 

It's really interesting how a light and dark base color changes the appearance of the colors in the multicolored yarn.   I like both scarves, but I like them differently.  

Jenn asked me a couple of weeks ago how much of the Boutique yarn these scarves take.  For the darker one above, I cast on 29 stitches and made this thing long (about 3 inches above my knees), and I know I used just over a skein of the Boutique yarn (I estimate that I used ~316 yards). 

For the smaller scarf, I cast on 25 stitches and it's not nearly as long (would fit a child or small adult), and I used nearly 90% of a skein (or about 250 yards).

I don't know how helpful that is since yardage could vary depending on a person's gauge, and the size scarf one makes.  But since I was asked, I did want to report what it took for me to make these.


Does this look familiar?:
This is my second Spicier Life Blanket, and it's nearly finished!   It just needs a few ends woven in and then a hard steam blocking before I finish it up with a pretty border.  Next week I should be able to show a finished blanket!  

I will be doing a tally of yarns used once this blanket is finished, and will record it under my 2018 goals since most of the crocheting of it was done this year.   I'm not thinking I'm going hit my 100 skeins goal, but this blanket will certainly bring me closer.  Trying to diminish my stash by 100 skeins of yarn in a year's time was a good challenge for me.  It's totally doable (if I'd just stay focused), so I'm going to challenge myself again.  The challenge will be to surpass diminishing my stash by 100 skeins of yarn in 2019.

I think I can...

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

2018 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  82.46/100 Skeins

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Chocolate Crackles & Moments with Ruth...

Yesterday I was called to work with Ruth and we made some Chocolate Crackle cookies.  

Chocolate Crackles are cookies I've made for years, but have no idea where the recipe came from.  For some reason the recipe rarely gets pulled out of my recipe file except for Christmas time, so I've come to think of them as Christmas cookies.   

So that makes now a perfect time for me to share the recipe!

These cookies are fudgy and pretty enough to be kind of sophisticated, but the powdered sugar makes them fun and playful.  

Truth be told, while I love me some chocolate, I'm not really a chocolate cookie fan, but these are yummy.  Let me rephrase that.  These are melt-in-your-mouth yummy!

When I told Ruth what I had brought to make she didn't look overly interested.  Sympathizing, I asked her if she liked chocolate cookies, and as politely as she could she told me she wasn't really a fan.  I knew trying to convince her with words wasn't worth trying to do, so I didn't.

But I did ask her if she'd like to join me in making some anyway, and she obliged.

Some words of warning:  I added a tad too much water (like maybe 1/2 - 1 tsp too much) and these ended up being very messy to roll into balls, and they flattened more when cooling than they normally do.  While they were still delicious, I recommend following the recipe exactly.  Let me repeat that in case you weren't paying attention...  Follow the recipe exactly.

Get ready to hang onto your hat, 'cuz these are the quickest and easiest cookies you'll ever mix up and bake.

Chocolate Crackles
 ~makes approx. 2 dozen

1 Devils Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1 Tbs. water

Mix all ingredients together (the dough will be thick like cookie dough), roll into balls, then roll balls into powder sugar (coat them well).  Place 2-3 inches apart on cookie sheet.  (3 inches is best)

Bake at 375୦ F for exactly 8 minutes (they will look like they're not quite baked enough).  Pull them out and let sit on cookie sheet for a minute or two (just until you can slip a flipper under them without messing them up).  Transfer cookies to cooling rack or paper towels to finish cooling.


We played some checkers while we waited on the baking cookies.
Ruth was way ahead of me at this point in the game. 

Below is a picture of some Chocolate Crackles  I had made over the weekend, this is how these lovely delectables should look when they're finished:

But even a bit flattened, they were still chewy and delicious.  
And Ruth liked them!   
I wasn't the least bit surprised.  😊


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