Sunday, February 28, 2016

A colorful finish...

This was a successful week in that it saw the finish of my Kilim Throw.  The Kilim was a very satisfying blanket to work on and it was really pretty quick work.  I started it on January 23rd and finished it on February 23rd.

Made with double stranded worsted it's super thick and will make a great winter time blanket. I finished just in time to enjoy this beautiful weekend (it's 65 degrees here in central Indiana today). Aaaahh... spring is in the air.  :^)   While it may be some months before I can truly enjoy this blanket, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Made with just about every color in Vanna's Choice yarn (which I find a bit muted anyway, and stranded with another color - even more so), it's got something of a vintage-y feel to it.

It would be fun to work up in some other (even more vibrant) colors.  Maybe?

To see what other Yoppers are creating visit our thread on Ravelry.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's the little things...

I've finished one blanket this week and have this Arrowhead Blanket still to go.  Late last night I found a mistake about 6 rows back and while I had missed it previously and told myself probably no one else would ever notice it, in the end I decided to rip back to correct it.  It was mildly discouraging as I had woven in yarn ends on several sections and had to sacrifice a few yards of yarn to cutting out those places, and I suspect I'm going to be playing yarn chicken as I finish this.  But I will be happier, in the end, knowing those mistakes are not there.  And my resolve to check after each row or two (two rows together create the "arrows") - and again before weaving in ends - is redoubled.

After working with a chunky wooden size N hook and double-stranded worsted for several days, going to a size H hook and a single strand of worsted feels almost like I'm working with a tiny steel hook and making lace. Which is kind of funny because this Arrowhead Blanket is really pretty thick for one made with just one strand of worsted weight yarn.  It's a bit of yarn-eater, but the easy pattern and lusciousness of the blanket more than makes up for that one downfall.

The book I'm reading this week is A Life Less Ordinary by  Zoe Ellison and Alex Lengendre.  These two English women from different walks of life met as young adults, became friends, and eventually partners of the business called Igigi, store in East Sussex, UK (eta: this business has been dissolved),  It is (was) a lovely place where they sold reclaimed and sometimes refurbished items.  

Their book is at times a sort of "lookbook" of decorating ideas using very simple and mostly unassuming reclaimed items, but is also a collection of stories and thoughts about friendship, family and home.   The uncluttered pictures make me want to clean my house, and the stories make me want to be more intentional in my relationships.  It's a beautiful book on so many levels.  And looky there, how it goes perfectly with my blanket I'm crocheting. :)  It truly is the little things...

Joining with Ginny Sheller at Small Things

Sunday, February 21, 2016

When giving up is still a win...

I had an honest moment this week.  I had been dragging my feet about sewing a lining for a bag I'd crocheted up last fall.  This was the last picture I posted (complete with fabric that was to be the lining - fabric that I love, by the way):

Once I found this cute fabric, I committed to finishing the bag.  Except that I didn't.  Didn't commit or didn't finish?   Well, obviously, I didn't finish, but I sure thought I was committed to doing so.  And yet it's nagged at me.  For months.  I've told myself I'm just procrastinating getting the lining made, but I think I knew better.  Don't get me wrong...  I can be a world-class procrastinator -even about things I want to do, but the honest-to-goodness-truth is that I've been ambivalent about the bag.  For a long time.  Now the fabric for the lining, I love!  And that may have actually made it harder for me to make myself line the bag since I wasn't sure I was going to love the whole thing when I was finished. So I put it off.  And told myself I'd do it "someday".

Okay, and the handles nagged at me, too.  Part of me wishes I had not crocheted the handles, but rather, found a way to attached other, more durable handles to the bag.  The more I thought about it, the more I imagined those handles becoming all stretched out and worn-looking, all the while the pretty lining would haunt me for having relegated it to the inside of a bag that I didn't like all that much to begin with.

And on and on all those negative thoughts nagged at me every time I saw this yet unfinished bag, and I grew more and more apathetic about the whole thing.

And suddenly this week I had a little epiphany.  Don't line the bag!   Just get over not loving it already, and use it as is until I don't want to use it anymore.  Nobody is going to care what I do with this bag, or the fabric I bought to line it with.   I don't get bonus points for finishing a project I'm not interested in finishing - not this one, anyway.

I looked around to see if anyone was going to dispute these thoughts, but there wasn't a naysayer to be had.

And just like that, I decided to put the fabric away for some other pretty project, and put the crocheted bag to use already. Even if only for yarn storage.

And as of yesterday the unlined bag holds skeins of yarn I've recently purchased for making a blanket for the living room sofa.

While this isn't like some great accomplishment or anything, I do feel like I had a success here.  Normally I'm not too terribly bothered when a project doesn't thrill me or simply isn't quite what I hoped for.  I'm no stranger to ripping out and moving on.  I don't know why I hung onto this one for so long.   

I don't know that it matters whether or not I ever really understand my waffling for so long over this one bag, but once again I've learned that letting go, even changing direction, is every bit as much a part of the creative process as moving forward can be.  In fact, the freedom gained from giving up something that is a negative almost always leads to greater creative energy.

And with that freedom and energy I now press on to work on the two blankets I am fond of (Kilim and Arrowhead), and eventually a third one with the yarn above.  After months and months of searching for the right blue-green shade for a living room afghan, my eyes just happened to land on this yarn recently (when I wasn't even looking for it) in the I Love This Yarn aisle at Hobby Lobby and I'm so excited about it I can hardly wait to start working with it.  But I'm telling myself I need to finish at least one of the other blankets before starting this one. 

We'll see if I can keep that resolve as the soft blue-green of this yarn has been calling to me - ever since I found it - did I mention it was on the very bottom shelf? - as if someone had hidden it down there - nearly out of sight.   And it was on sale!  I think it was fate that we found each other.  :^)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yarn Along...

I mentioned a week or so ago that a friend had asked me to teach her to crochet.  She got along pretty well after our first lesson together and seeing a pillow on my couch she liked, she decided she wanted to try to make a similar one.  It's just something I made up using the Corner to Corner stitch pattern, so not having followed an actual pattern the first time I decided the best way to show her how to make one was for me to make another one right alongside her.   I was crocheting slowly so I didn't get too far ahead of her, but now she tells me she may be more than half way through with her first full panel!  I'd better get a move on.

As for reading...  Last night I picked up Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie.   It's a little book, but there seems to be a lot here.  Told in the voice of a young man who was sent far from home to a mountain village to be "re-educated" in the early 1970's during the Chinese Revolution under Mao Zadong, this story is authored by a man who experienced a similar re-education along with hundreds of thousands of other Chinese youths,   It's astounding what corrupt governments are capable of doing to their own, often innocent, citizens.  Knowing little about the details of this time period in China, I'm finding learning about it both fascinating and terrible at the same time.  These things were happening just before and during the time I was in high school, and knowing now that these things were happening on the other side of the globe, I find it amazing?  ironic?  unbelievable that one of my Social Studies teachers was something of a fan of Communism.  No wonder my father became so angry when I came home spouting ridiculous commie platitudes I was being exposed to. I'm half-way through and, so far, I highly recommend this engaging and fascinating little book.

Linked with Ginny Sheller's weekly Yarn Along.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Easy Cabled Slippers

While I'm still working on my larger projects I'm tossing in some smaller, fun projects to keep thing interesting.

This week I made a pair of slippers I've liked ever since I first saw them on Moogly:

I have to admit they look cuter on Moogly, though.   I don't know how well you can see the cables, but it was the cables that drew me to the pattern.  I just thought they made a basic crocheted slipper look fun.  And while it doesn't really seem like a big deal, note that the cables begin on the side of the slipper and gravitate toward the center when you finish them.  Again, it doesn't seem important, but my pictures don't show this clearly. The picture I've provided below shows it best.

Okay, now... if anyone's interested in making their own pair, let me say, while those cables weren't hard to make, I strongly recommend watching the video tutorial.  In fact, I suggest following the video to make your whole first slipper.  Once you watch the video, making the cable is easy and it will make total sense.  And while there isn't a video for the left slipper, the written instructions for the left slipper will make much more sense after watching the video.  (I'm not sure the written instructions are as clear as they could be for the cable.)

What I would do differently:   Use a bulkier yarn - something labeled "Chunky" maybe - or use double stranded worsted.  I used Lion Brand Tweed Stripes which is labeled as bulky, but I think this pattern begs for something thicker than this yarn is.  The slippers might have been less "holey" with bulkier yarn, though I don't really know for sure.  I was able to use my long tails of yarn that I began and ended with to close up some of the "holes" that appear near the cables. 

Also... I can see now that a solid color or maybe a heathered yarn would be best, because the cable gets a bit lost in my self-striping yarn.  I'd skip any obviously multicolored yarn for these.  

While my yarn choice wasn't exactly perfect, I still kind of like my yarny slippers.  They're more like socks, but that's pretty perfect when I don't want to wear shoes inside, but just wearing socks isn't quite enough - especially this weekend when it's supposed to get to single digits.   Brrrr.  Another layer makes for perfectly toasty tootsies.  :^)

To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit this week's thread on Ravelry.  Consider joining us (now, or when we begin a new YOP year in July).  Knitters and crocheters alike enjoy sharing their creations with each other.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A little of this and that...

I'm very happy this week about finally being able to coordinate with a friend who had asked me several weeks back if I would teach her to crochet.  We met on Thursday for an hour and a half and it was fun and encouraging to see her progress even in that short length of time.   So YAY! for being able to share the love of crochet!

I'm still plugging away on my Kilim throw.  I finally realized why it's going slower (than it felt like at the beginning).  I'm trying to weave in the ends as I go.  Not immediately after finishing a row, but after a number of rows I stop crocheting to weave in some ends.  Of course, that's slowing down the growth of the blanket.  But it's growing steadily and hopefully by being proactive about the ends as I go, finishing it will be a true joy.

I really love working with double-stranded yarn and using a big hook.  What a hearty, thick fabric it creates.  :^)

And since Valentines' Day is next Sunday...
... just for fun, I made a couple heart dishcloths.
The pink cloth is made from Lily Sugar n' Cream (which I like just fine for this pattern), but the red cloth is made with Premier Home Cotton - which I want to talk a little about.  It's 85% cotton, 15% polyester.  It has a soft cottony feel, but has some nice properties of synthetics - namely, it doesn't fade nearly as fast as many "kitchen cotton" yarns and it feels a bit more polished even after washing. It's lighter weight than Sugar n' Cream, which I count as a plus (I'm not a big fan of bulky dishcloths) and you get 140 yards on a solid color skein that can often be purchased for $1.00 apiece when on sale.   It does split a bit more than some other cottons, but the good qualities outweigh this slight negative in my estimation.   I originally bought this online, but have since discovered that Meijer carries it.  I love it when I can buy something locally that I like to use.  :^)
And finally...this weekend I'm working on a project for a CAL I'm hosting a week from now.  Hopefully I'll be happy enough to show it in next week's YOP post, but here's a tease today:

To see what other Yoppers are working on check out this week's thread on Ravelry.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yarn Along...

Still working on the Kilim Throw...   It seems I've slowed down, as last Wednesday I was nearly half finished and now a week later I'm just a little over the half-way mark.   I did decide to add some rows to make this longer so my half-way mark moved, but still...  I hope to get some more momentum going on this and get it finished soon.  Then again, it's been such a mild winter I'm not sure it will get cold enough to really enjoy this lusciously thick blanket before spring.   No complaints from me on that count!

Last weekend I picked up Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and I can't believe how good this story is.  It is a Christian fiction novel that is meant to parallel (in many ways) the book of Hosea in the Bible.  It's a story about a man who marries a prostitute and remains faithful (in spite of incredible odds) to helping her heal from the damaging things that have been done to her - from childhood on.  It's heartbreaking, insightful, and inspiring.  This story is a beautiful analogy of all that we're told in scripture about God's capacity for forgiveness and His desire to redeem the broken and lost.   I highly recommend this book.

To see what others are making and reading, click on the graphic below to go to Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along.