Sunday, July 23, 2017

Alley Cats...

My Alley Cat Kitty Cat Afghan is finished!  I love how simple this pattern was to do, and how fun the finished design is.  I've dubbed it Alley Cat because the variegated gray I used for some of the rows makes me think of tattered, gray alley cats.  It's a yarn I almost got rid of once upon a time because I didn't like how it looked crocheted up.  I'm glad I kept it, though, because I think it found its destiny in this blanket.   Now, I LOVE it.

After searching and searching for a border I liked, I finally just made up something.  I needed the border to be simple, but interesting.  I think this fit the bill: 

My border was made thus (to the best of my ability to remember and see what I did):

First, with the lighter variegated gray, I slip-stitched a foundation row down both sides of the blanket, taking care to crochet into only one loop for a smoother look on the "back side".  Note:  the ends of the blanket don't require a foundation row  - and in my opinion, you don't want to do a foundation row on the top and bottom edges or you'll have a thicker border there - because the slip stitches virtually disappear along the sides when you single crochet into them.

Then I did a round of single crochet stitches all the way around.  It appears that I did 3 sc's in each corner - my goal here was to just create a pleasing shape at each corner, so I suggest doing whatever number of sc's does that for you.

Then I did a round of half-double crochets in every single crochet stitch, making 4 or 5 hdc's in each corner (again, whatever number created a pleasing shape around the corner).

Finally, for the last round, I switched colors to the darker gray and crocheted around the hdc's of the row below - alternating front-post double crochet stitches and back-post double crochet stitches (just to provide a bit of textural interest) doing 5 dc's in each corner.  Note:  I had to fudge a couple of times as I approached the corners.  The best look here is to do a front-post double crochet bordering both sides of the 5 dc's in each corner.  Here's a super close up of the corner detail:

And that's it!  Super simple.  It feels like the perfect border for my Alley Cat Blanket.  Simple, but full of texture.

As for the "running stitch" that was formed on the "back side" (when I slip-stitched into one loop on the "front side"...  it looks completely fine (as you can see in the above photo).  In fact, I took a whole set of pictures with that showing as the front side and I didn't even notice until I downloaded the pictures and starting looking for the running stitch.   I couldn't tell the difference which side was the "front" and which side was the "back" until I studied the pictures closely.  To be clear, I've written "front side" and "back side" in quotation marks because there really is no front or back to this.  You really can't see an appreciable difference when it's all finished.

This was a stash-buster  for me and the yarns I used were:
Premier Dream in Baby Fern
Red Heart Super Saver in Dove (the variegated gray)
Vanna's Choice in Charcoal Grey
Vanna's Choice in White

I love this blanket and can imagine making more (it's so easy and gratifying).  And I really love having discovered a new way to make a foundation row around the blanket before adding the border. I look forward to using this technique in some of my future (multi-colored) blankets.   If you missed it above, there is a link to a video tutorial in last week's post showing this slip-stitch border-foundation row technique.


And as I wrap this week up, I'll just give you a tease as to what new project I started this week:

It's the beginning of the Uwila Shawl.  So far, it's working up perfectly.  I think I'm about half-way (row-wise) to the cabled owl border.  I say "row-wise" because as a crescent shaped shawl, the rows are getting longer and longer, and it's going to just get slower and slower to complete those rows.  I've got a feeling this could take a while...

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cleaning up the edges...

No finishes this week, but I have some in-process pictures, and a new-to-me technique I'm really excited to share.

A few days ago I started making A Simple Pineapple Top Bag.  It should be noted that there is an error in Round 13. Little did I know when I was working the pattern the designer's page on Ravelry contained the errata for this error.  When I was feeling stuck, I was thankful to have a chart I could refer to and and pleased with myself that I figured it out on my own.  I'm not terribly adept at chart-reading, but maybe I'll get there...

It will take me another day or so to finish it and figure out a drawstring, so for now here is a picture of the beginning of the pretty top:


And I nearly finished with my Kitty-Cat blanket.   Just as the end of it was nearing, a friend posted a video to Ravelry showing how to prepare an uneven edge for a border that is made of multiple colors of yarns.   Now, if you're adding a border to a solid color crocheted piece, the standard way to prepare the edge is to make a row of single crochet stitches all the way around the piece - using the same color yarn that is used in the blanket.

But for a piece that's made up of different yarns (and more importantly, different colors) doing the above can still result in a wobbly and messy "prep row" let's call it.  I didn't think there was any way around this, so up until now I've just carried on with crocheting sc's around anything I want to prep for a border - completely clueless that there might be a better way.  

Now, if you are familiar with Esther from It's all in a Nutshell, you'll know she has a wonderful way of explaining things and her video tutorials are terrific.  My first exposure to Esther's video tutorials was when I did the Mandala Madness CAL last year, where she made that project a piece of cake. 

This new-to-me video did not disappoint either.  Esther shows how to prepare an uneven edge using slip stitches instead of single crochets.    Here's the video in case you're interested:

If the video doesn't play for some reason, here is a link to it on YouTube.

Now, Esther uses a heathered or multi-toned yarn that blends well with the other yarns in the piece she's crocheting slip stitches around.   Using the color she did, her slip stitches pretty much disappear into the larger piece.

Mine don't disappear (yet), but they do make a neat row of stitches along the edge of the blanket:

Unfortunately, the first time I tried this, I found my slip stitches weren't so neat on the back.  Since all my colors contrast with each other, the back edge was still pretty sloppy.  (I wish I'd taken a picture, but just imagine a lot of uneven stitches visible on the back side of the above - the same as if I had just crocheted single crochets all around.)  A messy back kind of negates the whole point of using slip stitches - which are a tad more tedious to make than single crochets, I might add.  Hmmm... what to do?

Seeing that Esther sometimes slip-stitched under just one strand of yarn, I decided to try that all the way across and I noticed that the effect on the back was significantly neater.  It was still visible, but it was much, much better.  Rather than a bunch of uneven and jagged stitches, I got this cleaner "running stitch" effect:
And then, once the slip stitches were finished, I could begin crocheting single crochet stitches into the slip stitches, and that's when the magic happened...

My slip stitches virtually disappeared on the front of the blanket:
The edge is clean and straight - even where it runs along the contrasting colors.    Wow!  Is that cool or what?!?

When I'm all finished and can show a picture next week, we'll see if the back "stitched" lines bother me at all.  They don't bother me now, so I can't imagine they will bother me once a complete border is on this blanket.

Check out what other Yoppers are up to, by visiting our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

See the kitties?

Last weekend, I began crocheting the Kitty-Cat Afghan (in a child-sized blanket) and I'm nearly half finished already.  Can you see the kitties?

The pattern is super simple, and made with contrasting colors the kitties stand out and make a cute design for a child or cat-lover. I'm hosting a CAL (from July 1 - September 30) using this pattern in Our Happy CAL group on Ravelry.

And that's all I've got this week.  I think this may be my shortest post ever!  It's been a busy week, what with the Fourth of July and several days of celebrating with different out-of-town friends, and I just didn't see much yarn time.  So far, that seems to be how my summer is going...

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

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