2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Loving Round Ripples...

This past week saw the finish of the first Round Ripple Baby Blanket that I started a couple of weeks ago.  I went bold and bright for this one and, hopefully, someday a little one will enjoy the colors and snuggly warmth of this fun blanket.

With Thanksgiving preparations this past week I didn't manage to crochet much else, but we did have a nice little celebration with the extended family on Thursday.  We hosted and everyone pitched in for a scrumptious feast.   Mmmm-Mmmm

And now I'm focusing on finishing up some projects that have been lingering (a Linen Stitch Scarf and an Arrowhead Afghan).  And waiting in the wings (actually sorted into a box) is yarn that is stocked and ready to become a Kilim Throw.  The Kilim looks so fun to make, I'm telling myself the Arrowhead Afghan needs to be finished before starting another larger blanket.  Let's see if I can keep that resolve...

Close up of the detail on the Arrowhead Blanket

Come see what other Yoppers are working on this week in our Ravelry thread.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Round Ripple Baby Blanket Finished!

I finished the latest Round Ripple Baby Blanket late last night - and good thing, too, as it was a gift for a baby shower this afternoon.

For anyone interested in making one of these, I strongly encourage checking out samples that Ravelry member, AFwifeCrochetNut, has come up.  Note:  AFwifeCrochetNut isn't the designer of the pattern, but rather she came up with the way to make a "ripple effect" in this blanket.  The link I provided takes you to one of these blankets she made, and in her project notes she gives instructions for how to lay out the pattern of rows so that they look like they're rippling outward from the center.  Don't be daunted if the written directions for this don't seem clear.  They weren't to me at first.  Read her explanation and study a close-up of the blanket and you'll see the pattern and her written instructions will begin to make sense once you work a sequence of rows that creates a ripple.  That's how it worked for me.  Now that I've finished this blanket I can say that how she created this cool effect is actually super simple. I don't even have to think about it now.

For the sake of transparency regarding my design process, I'm going to admit that this blanket was a bit of an experiment.  I started out with the colors Bright Green, Teal, 2 shades of Gray, and White.  Actually, I didn't start out with White, but I decided these colors needed the contrast of white to lighten up the whole thing and bring definition to the colors.  Okay, good enough...   I started somewhat daringly with that small circle of green in the center thinking I'd repeat it later in the blanket, but I found that following AFwifeCrochetNut's directions I would have a mammoth blanket if I ended up using the green and teal a second time in later rows.

It was a last minute decision, but I ditched (make that, frogged) the second repeat of green after giving it a try.   Then I tried just a single row of green, but even that didn't make me happy.  In the end, I decided to just go with a that green center as the only touch of green in the whole thing.  And act like it was intentional all along.  :^)

And then, I don't know...  it kind of grew on me.  Truth be told, I think I'd like that green center better if it was a tad larger (like maybe just one more row).  Ah well...live and learn.  I have a feeling every one of these blankets I make will end up being an experiment, so I best get comfortable with that. 

In the end, it was very favorably received at the baby shower today.  That said, it was the fifth crocheted baby blanket opened, so I think I may come up with another gift idea for the next shower I attend.  I loved using baby blankets when I had babies, and I was happy to have several, so I don't know that multiple gifts of baby blankets is a bad thing.  But it is a little embarrassing to be the giver of the fifth, and final one opened.  lol

To see what other Year Of Projects participants are up to this week check out our thread on Ravelry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another Rounded Ripple Baby Blanket

I know, I know...I'm not finished with the baby blanket I started last week, but I decided I wanted to try another color scheme and am thinking this one will be for a gift for an upcoming baby shower.  It's one thing to be a little unsure of something I'm randomly making (as was the case of the blanket I showed on Sunday), but it's quite another thing to be questioning a gift for a specific someone.   So the following blanket is being made with more intention, but my color choice and placement is still a bit of an experiment.  I'll be finishing it with some rounds of white followed by green and teal.  I'm really hoping the finished effect is nice and has a bit of "style". 

Pictured is my non-rainbow version of the Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket

And autumn being my cozy mystery reading season, I'm almost finished with another one.  All Sales Final by Josie Belle is a fun and light read.  Maggie, a consignment shop owner and her fiancé, Sam Collins, find themselves with a haunted house they've just bought.  It's really not spooky, but kind of entertaining as they uncover some interesting secrets the house has been holding for many, many years.

Check out other yarnie goodness at Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along this week!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rounded Ripple Baby Blanket

This past week I was inspired to try crocheting a rounded ripple baby blanket.  The pattern name is actually called Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket, but the most beautiful I've seen aren't rainbow-hued at all.  For my first one I opted to go bold and bright.  I didn't have to think too hard about color that way.  As long as the colors complimented each other in some way, I figured it would work.

I like how crisp the colors I'm using look together, but I confess...  I'm a little unsure over whether it's too much - maybe a little too bold for a baby blanket?  I'm thinking as I'm working on this that while I love colorful things, my eye is also very drawn to neutrals and more subtle color shifts.  Now that I know how easy this pattern is to do, I'm looking forward to trying to make a gradient one soon.

I do love the pastel rainbow ones for a newborn, and I've "favorited" so many various ones on Ravelry I could spend the rest of my days making these and never run out of new ideas for color and color-placement.   It is a rather addicting pattern.  Well written and very easy to do. 

Another project I finished this past week was this hat:

This is another well-written crochet pattern and very easy to do.  And interestingly...I found out (when I turned it inside out to weave in the yarn ends) the hat looks great on that side too.  I don't know if the pictures show it well, but on the outside the pattern makes rows of bobbles, but on the inside, it appears there are subtle ridges.  As long as the yarn ends are woven in carefully, this hat is totally reversible.  While it's the same color inside and out, it's still kind of cool to have two patterns that could work as the outside.  Below is a picture of the hat turned inside out, showing the ridges:

And I can't resist posting one last picture this year of my fuschia plant.  We've had such a wonderfully mild autumn so far I still have some blooms left.   I haven't even really protected this plant from the frosts we've had (maybe I pulled it close to the house a few times, but that was all), and it's just kept on blooming.  I don't know when cold weather will overtake it, but for now I'm still enjoying my pretty purple and red "dancing ladies".

Speaking of how nice the weather has been...   today it's in the mid-60's (in central Indiana) and I decided to trim up my potted mums to see if I can't coax some more blooms out of them in time for Thanksgiving. 

To see what other Year of Projects participants are working on this week, check out our thread on Ravelry.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Another Cowl...

Another item finished!  I finally finished my Sandy Cowl (that I call my Wine Cowl).  If you're curious why mine is longer than the one at the link above, you can see the modifications I made to the pattern on my project page.

It was so easy, it's ridiculous how long it took me to finish this cowl.   Mine is made with Knit Picks' Brava in the color Wine.   I love the color, but I'm not so sure now what I think of the yarn.  Earlier this year I finished an afghan using Knit Picks Brava and my overall review of that yarn was unfavorable.  I used the color silver in that blanket and that yarn was on the thin side of worsted and many skeins had knots and unevenly spun places - to the point of frustration and some serious waste.   This wine color was thicker (more what I'd expect in a worsted-weight yarn), and I didn't have many problems with knots.  It was actually a pleasure to crochet with. 

That said, in this cowl, I think this yarn produced a little too stiff of a fabric.   I'm curious how it may soften and even drape after I've washed and dried it.

The pattern was easy, but I had some trouble with the joins (getting them to look smooth and be invisible).  I'm not sure someone else would see my joins and notice the awkward seam.   But I see it.  And it bugs me - a little.  I'd  kind of like to try this again without creating a seam - instead crocheting each row round and round (without turning), and just ending when I'm done.  I don't know why it wouldn't work.  But I do think I'll find me some softer yarn if I decide to make this again.  The designer of this pattern used Lion Brand's Heartland yarn, and hers looks pretty drapey. 

That's about it.  I've been focusing lately on finishing some projects and for some reason that has slowed me down.  I guess it's not as exciting to plug away on WIPs as it is to start new projects. ;^)

Check out the Year of Projects thread on Ravely to see what other Yoppers are working on this week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Yarn Along...

I don't think I've made very much progress on my Sandy Cowl since last week, but I am back at it.  This simple cowl WILL be finished by the weekend.  I hope.  I just really want to be able to call it done - it's pretty, and simple, and there is just no good reason why it's taking me so long.  Well, except that other projects have tempted me more, possibly.  Yeah, that could be the reason.  ;^)

And in spite of it being 75 degrees outside on this near record-setting November day in Indiana I am reading The Christmas Sweater.   Twelve year-old Eddie makes something of a mess of Christmas when he opens a less than desirable gift (a hand-knitted Christmas sweater) and is less than appreciative of it and his actions lead him to serious regrets.  As Beck lets us into the mind of self-tortured 12 year-old boy, I find I am transported back to my own childhood and I can relate to the disappointment Eddie feels and the actions he displays.   Something tells me that Eddie is going to find out the true meaning and cost of the gift of love - and the Christmas sweater is a key to that discovery. 

To see what others are reading while they yarn-along this week, check out Ginny Sheller's Yarn-Along.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Curlicue love...

Last week I showed a picture of my first Curlicue Hat and said it wasn't the last I was making.   These hats are fun and easy to make so it's a little hard to resist the pull of making more.  Here's a link to the pattern for anyone who might be feeling the pull to give it a try.  ;^)

Fortunately for me I thought of some young girls I could make some for.  So I finished three more this week.  They are going to sisters, and I wanted them similar to each other, but not identical, so I chose three different colors of the same yarn.

After trying out several different yarns that I either had on hand, or could buy locally, I found Red Heart Gumdrop yarn to produce the most satisfying results for the young ages these are made for.  The colors are bright and fun and the variegation is short and scattered enough that pops of color appear pretty randomly, as opposed to pooling or creating odd or irregular stripes in the finished project.  I don't think I could be more pleased with how these turned out.

Here is the first hat, done in the color Apple (the green is more vivid than it appears in this picture):

And then came Grape (this color, too, is a bit more vivid than it appears here):

And finally...Cherry (this is pretty true to color - though I think the picture could have been crisper):

As a yarn review, I want to say I love how this yarn crochets up in terms of the proliferation of pops of colors, and absence of pooling or irregular striping.  Being completely honest, I like it better crocheted than knitted (having looked at various knitting projects created with this yarn).  The pops of color just seem to beg for larger stitches to show them off.

Now then... as much as I like how these hats turned out, I need to also say I'm not sure I'm a fan of the yarn itself.  And that hurts my heart.  A lot.  It hurts because it's soft and pretty perfect for baby and children's items, but it is terribly splitty when working with it.  And of course, frogging and reworking it just makes it more splitty.   I disliked this splitting tendency so much that I ended up returning the extra skeins that I had purchased when I was first enamored by the various fun colors.  Well, that and I was enamored at the sale price and an additional coupon discount I was able to use where I bought it.

The texture of this yarn when working with it is reminiscent (to me) of Caron Simply Soft.  But it's also similar to Red Heart Soft yarn.  I've used both, and I while I prefer working with RH Soft over Caron SS, neither of these yarns are my favorite to work with.  Having said that, the items I've made with RH Soft and Caron SS are beautiful.  You'd never know looking at the finished projects that I struggled with the yarns.   The reality is this Gumdrop yarn is somewhere between these two yarns in terms of softness, spin, and feel of the finished project.   For anyone unfamiliar with the above two yarns this paragraph may be useless, but if you either love or dislike the above yarns, this may be helpful.  And keep in mind... I'm just reporting what my personal experience and opinion is.

I'm not saying I wouldn't buy it again, but if I do buy it in the future, I will be selective and only buy for a specific project.  I know me  - if I buy it at a great price to stash it, it will nag me as a difficult yarn and I'll likely resist using it.  If I buy a small amount for a specific project, I'm much more likely to work it up because I'll be so eager to see what it looks like again.  

Having just explained that splitting is a problem with this yarn, I will say different colors seem to split differently.  Cherry was, by far, the least splitty and Apple the most (of the three colors used here).   Happily, that works for me because Cherry is my favorite color.  :^)   I do think I want to try out all the other colors, though. I'm really wishing I had picked up a skein each of Smoothie and Orange as well.  Having seen some finished projects using those colors, I've got a feeling they may be among my favorites too. 

In short, if you're in the market for easy care acrylic for children's items I recommend the yarn for its pleasing palette of colors.  And it finishes up nice and soft.  But be forewarned that it may split as you work it, so know your tolerance for that and buy (or not) with that in mind.

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit this week's thread on Ravelry.  There's always something interesting in the works.