Sunday, August 12, 2018

Doilies...

Inspired by all my colorful new threads I bought a week ago, I've been making doilies. 

First, I finished the Winter's Breath Doily:

This is an easy, very well-written pattern that makes an 8-inch (approx.) sized doily (when crocheted in size 10 thread and with a size 7 steel hook).  It took me longer than it needed to simply because I felt uncertain about working with a tiny hook and thread again.  While it took me several days, in retrospect, there is no good reason it took me so long.  I'm looking forward to making more from this pattern.


~~~~~

Inspired by how easy the above doily was to make, and thinking 8 inches in diameter about the perfect size for my purposes, I went looking for another smallish one that I especially liked.  In my search I happened upon a video tutorial for making this doily with a very humble name:  Easy Doily



I believe the designer used size 3 thread and her results look a little more "solid" (which I actually like better), but I'm happy enough with how mine turned out using size 10 thread.

Joanna Stawniak has numerous video tutorials on Youtube of other pretty crocheted items.  For this project I found her instructions very easy to follow and will consider more of her tutorials.


~~~~~

I was in such a groove making doilies, I decided to jump right into making another one:

The Summer Splendor Doily seems to be a fairly simple pattern, but it looks beautiful in photos, so hopefully it will be a nice addition to the other two.  And hopefully, I'll be able to figure out how to modify it (if I need to) in order to keep it at around 8 inches.  The designer's finished doily measures 11 inches.  If I have to make mine that large, I suppose that will be okay, but I'd really like to keep it a tad smaller.

These doilies are to be a going away gift for a young Japanese lady I've been serving as a volunteer ESL tutor for.  We've only been together since April and her husband got called home much earlier than they anticipated, so our meeting together has gotten cut short.  But I have grown very fond of her. 

Yuko and her little family are planning on coming to dinner a week from tomorrow and it is my intention to give her the three doilies at that time.   I figure small(ish) doilies will be easy to pack away, possibly even in a suitcase.  If, in the end, she doesn't care for doilies I hope, perhaps, she'll find another home for them after she returns to Japan.   I'm thinking of suggesting she give one to her mother, if she likes.  I don't know...  is that an okay thing to do?  Give someone a gift and suggest she share it?  Or maybe I should just tell her that I'd like her to pick one to give to her mother from me.  Is that weird?   Her mother is my age and it tickles me to think of something I've made being enjoyed by someone(s) on the other side of the world.  But maybe her mother doesn't like doilies...


I'm overthinking this.  As always.  Weigh in with thoughts if you have them.  

And that's it for me this week!  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.







Sunday, August 5, 2018

I blew it...

Yep, I blew it this week.  I really blew it.

It all started when I wanted to make this Winter's Breath Doily:




 ...and I couldn't find the teeny tiny crochet hook I needed to make it.  I knew I had one somewhere because I used it to make the only other doily I've ever made -- two years ago.

After I searched off and on over a couple of days I decided I just needed to buy another one.  It's a Yarnology hook available at Hobby Lobby and I really like the cushioned handle.   A hook like this is just a few dollars and with a 40% off coupon this is no. big. deal.  Right?

Wrong.  I knew stepping into any craft store was dangerous business for me, a yarnaholic who's been sober on a yarn-buying moratorium for the last 6 months.  And might I add, just the day before I had posted my "stash-used" totals in a goal thread on Ravelry.  All confident-like I reported that with my yarn usage to date, I was really hopeful I would be able to meet my goal of using up 100 skeins of yarn this year.  Maybe even surpass my goal.

Well...  That was Thursday.

On Friday I headed to Hobby Lobby.  

I knew I needed to be strategic. 

Once inside I made my way straight to the crochet hooks.  They had been moved since I was last in there, and much to my dismay I had to walk to the end of  a yarn aisle (where every color available of Hobby Lobby ILTY was stacked to my left).  I pretended I had blinders on and didn't dare turn to look at it.   

I readily found the hook I needed.  Hook in hand, I then did what I knew I shouldn't do.  Instead of just walking straight back out the way I came in, I went the direction of the cotton thread - you know... just in case they had a new color I might want to make my doily in, as opposed to simply using any of the colors I already had...

I turned the corner from where the hooks were hanging and saw that their Artiste cotton thread was on sale.  At 30% off.  Wow!  I don't think I've ever been in Hobby Lobby when this cotton thread has seen that kind of discount.  The best I'd ever been able to do was use a 40% off coupon, but when doing that I could only ever buy one ball at a time.  But do you think I could just buy one ball of cotton thread and walk away that day?

Nooooooo.

They had new colors.  They had many more colors than I ever recalled seeing before.  It was mesmerizing.  I started picking them up.  Soon, I had several in my hands and realizing I had too many to hold I went to get a basket to carry them in.  I came back with a basket, and after arguing with myself that while I didn't go in there to buy crochet thread, since I'm on a moratorium wouldn't it be smart to get what I want now - or else... what???  I'd never be able to buy cotton thread again????  

I just know that once I felt decided about my final selections... once I had chosen colors I felt I really couldn't live without...  I had no fewer than 10 new balls of cotton thread in my basket, and then as if I wasn't in control of my own legs, I found myself walking to the front to check out.

As I walked, I kept telling myself, "Don't do this.  Don't do this!!!"  I even meandered through a few aisles hoping for sanity to take hold.

But it didn't. 

I came home with a new hook and 10!!! gorgeous shades of size 10 cotton thread.  

Because I was mesmerized by all the pretty colors.

Sigh.

Well, as luck would have it, on Saturday, in Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry, this week's CAL turned out to be bookmarks.  Bookmarks that use size 10 cotton thread and beads!

I really was in luck.   

Not only did I now have a pretty collection of different colors of cotton thread, but I also have a humongous hoard collection of beads.  Unfortunately, I only had a few beads with holes large enough to use with these bookmarks, but fortunately sanity had once again taken hold and I was resolved to work with what I had.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out:



In fact, I was happy enough with how my first one turned out, I decided to make several so I can give them as gifts to some friends I've been doing a book study with this summer.  Wednesday is our last day to meet and while I previously felt no compulsion to bring gifts to our last gathering, I'm sure my friends will all think these are fun. 

So...  

Now I only need to make several hundred more bookmarks, or dozens of doilies, or frankly... I don't know what else I might be able to make, to use up my cotton thread.  

All I know is my goal of using up 100 skeins of yarn in 2018 doesn't look quite as attainable as it did just three days ago.

But I'll keep plugging away at it.

Or maybe I'll just admit defeat and give some yarn away.

How's this?   If by year's end I haven't met my 100 skein goal, I'll re-home however many skeins I need to to meet that goal.  That sounds like an idea I may be able to do.

Meanwhile...  I'll keep crocheting.  Trying to beat myself at my own game.  Though I have no idea how I'm supposed to win if I'm playing with a cheater...

Sigh

That's all she wrote.

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














Sunday, July 29, 2018

A LOT of rocks, a little yarn...

I wish I had a picture of all the rocks we've had in our driveway recently, but you're just going to have to believe me when I tell you in the last week and a half we've moved 6 tons of river rock - with the help of some young friends, I should quickly add.  Some things we wouldn't dream of turning into DIY projects, but after getting an estimate for having a professional do this, we decided moving rocks couldn't possibly be that hard. 

And, at first, it wasn't.


And then upon starting the shoveling of the 4th cubic yard we began to think the $900 a local landscaper wanted for the job was possibly in the neighborhood of reasonable.  But at over three tons in I guess we felt we were committed, so we paid our young friends generously and put our own bodies to the test, and I'm happy to say we survived for maybe a little over half the cost the professional with heavy duty machinery would have charged.  I'm trying to decide if I want to know the precise final cost so I'm putting off figuring it out.  The memories we created are priceless.  And the swearing (when the young folk weren't around) will hopefully be forgotten and forgiven in time...

Now, if it would just rain and wash the rocks clean and pretty so I can fully believe it was worth all the effort...   and swearing...  and forgiving...

Not that I spent much time with my yarn this week, but onto yarny things now...

Earlier in the month I made this little mandala:
Little is the operative word here.  That's a little dessert cup sitting on top of it.


And starting to get in the mind of donating some kid's scarves come cooler weather, I began making a squishy ribbed one:
I plan to trim it with big pom poms when I'm finished.  I hope someone grabs it who loves orange! 

And that's really about it.   Aside from shoveling rocks, it's been a good week with various activities that had me out and busy most days, but honestly...  I've missed playing with yarn.  Here's hoping next week sees more hook and/or needle time. 

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





Sunday, July 22, 2018

Little yarny bags and cakes...


I finished another of the Christmas Gift Bags this week:

And started on the fourth (and I think my last) one:

Super cute and easy to make now that I've found a suitable (for me) yarn to make them in.  I'd like to mention something in case anyone looks at this pattern and wonders about how the designer carried her yarn on the back...  She doesn't cover the yarn on the back side of the fabric, but all those long crisscrossing threads on the back would make me crazy, so I carried my unused yarn under the stitches of the yarn in use.  With a more solid yarn, or a less dense fabric being created, carrying the yarn under the stitches normally creates some show through, but I accept that as normal when doing crochet colorwork.  Using this stonewash-look yarn in these bags, though, makes the show through virtually undetectable.  Which makes me even happier with how these turned out.


~~~~~

And I learned something new this week!  I learned how to hand-wind skeins of yarn into cakes!  There are a number of videos on Youtube that will help you understand how to do this (if you're interested),  but I used this one:




I also found the following tutorial helpful in seeing how she holds the yarn. I found slippage a bit of an issue and look forward to trying this again by using my left-hand thumb as a guide for the yarn being wrapped.




Not having a nostepinne, or an empty TP tube, for that matter, I went on a hunt around my house for something round with the right amount of thickness.  I had no idea what I might have that would work, but when I saw a short closet rod that wasn't being used I grabbed it and gave it go. 
While it's just a tad long (about 17 inches long) it worked great!   I found making yarn cakes so addicting I didn't want to stop.   

I only stopped because I didn't want to make cakes of any yarn I wasn't looking to use soon.  But you can be sure I'm eyeing some skeins of yarn that are sitting in a basket waiting to be crocheted up into my Spicier Life blankets...



The little rolled up pieces of paper in the middle of the cakes is the ball band from the skein.  I just rolled each one up and put it in its respective cake.  So far I've been able to pull the yarn from the center, leaving the label inside.  It's a great way to store the label, and when I want to weigh the cake before using it next time I can just pull the label out and put it back in once weighed.

I couldn't be more pleased with this new skill I've just learned.  And I'm now going to be on the lookout for a nostepinne that I like. While my rogue closet rod works for now, I know eventually I'll need to put it back.  I have to say, I really like how the sides of it are straight instead of tapered (most nostepinne's seem to be tapered) and I like the nice size hole it makes in the wound cake.  Maybe I should just find a shorter dowel rod that has a similar circumference and diameter.  

It's been a great week for me.  I didn't mention it before, but earlier in the week I learned how to voice text and how to open group text messages on my half-witted cell phone.  I'm limping into the 21st century finally.

And now I can make yarn cakes!  

Life is good.  😊

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





Sunday, July 15, 2018

Always learning...

You may remember that last week I attempted this snowflake design (which is one of the designs in the set of Christmas Gift Bags) and I wasn't happy with my first attempt:

Edges were all jagged and it appeared that I had made some mistakes.  


So I tried crocheting it in the round, thinking the problem was the back and forth (front and back) crocheting that was creating the uneven edges.  But when I crocheted in the round, I noticed that the design was slanted:

If you can't see the slant, just believe me.  The snowflake is slanting.  To the right.  And the edges are messier still.

Sigh...

Now, I've done crochet colorwork before and I know the edges of the design aren't going to be what anyone would call smooth but I don't recall it looking this messy.  Ella (of Un-Becoming Me) suggested trying this project with a different yarn.  As I thought about that, it occurred to me that in using smooth mercerized cotton thread, the edges of the design (which aren't smooth to begin with) were going to look even more messy contrasted with the fine yarn.

Thank you, Ella!  You got my head in a better place about this project.

Oh, and let's be honest... trying do colorwork with doubled strands of yarn (of each color) was kind of crazy.  That just complicated the whole thing.

So I gave up the double-stranded smooth thread and fished out some sport weight cotton/acrylic yarn I had in my stash, and decided to give the pattern one more try crocheting it as a flat piece of fabric (back and forth) - the way the designer intended:



Oh my...   this is so much better.   It's not that the edges are any smoother, but using a yarn with even just a bit of fluff to it, the ragged edges become part of the homespun design.  I'm not sure if it's possible to get a totally smooth line when crocheting colorwork, (though this article makes me want to try) but for now I think I'll just forgo trying to combine such casual designs with smooth thread.  Thread that is meant to produce a finer finish than the casual design would suggest.

I was so pleased with the results, I'm making all three designs in the set:
The Christmas Tree is, by far, the easiest design. 
I suggest starting with this one.  And then the next two will be a breeze.  


And soon I'll have the reindeer bag finished:

Using Scheepjes Stone Washed sportweight yarn in cotton/acrylic, I intend to make one or two more of these little bags before I call this whole project finished.   At the moment I have a plan to use these bags as part of something Christmas related.  I'm not giving away my secrets just yet, but if I manage to get this larger project done, I'll be sure to post about it when the timing is right to do so.  Probably after Christmas (which will be here before we know it!)

Having had success now, I definitely recommend the pattern.  Look at the designer's projects and follow her lead regarding yarn.  A yarn with a bit of fuzziness, and small amount of variation in the colors will serve this little project well.


~~~~~

While I was cooling my heels a bit between these little bags, I whipped out another market bag:
I'm not even following a pattern at this point.  Once one gets the bottom a good size, it's just a matter of crocheting UP!

I made the body of this bag a little shorter, and the strap not as long as most, the whole while imagining that I may just eventually perfect the humble crocheted market bag.  Stretch is the thing with these bags.  Too large a bag with too much stretch and it's hard to feel confident in its holding power (that, and they're just awkward to carry).  Too small, though, and they don't hold much.   I'm (sort of) feeling the challenge to find the perfect size and stretch quotients for such a bag.  Goodness knows I have enough cotton yarn to make dozens more in my quest for the perfect market bag.  Until I tire of experimenting, that is...  😉

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




2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  31.22/100 Skeins




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