Sunday, January 29, 2017

Small Things...

It's been a crochet-lite week.

First saw these two 12 Point Round Dishcloths whipped up:

An easy pattern for a fun-shaped dishcloth.

Then I tried my hand at an Entrelac crochet pattern called Around the World Throw.   I had such good intentions of doing this CAL, but after spending nearly 2 hours crocheting to only come up with this:
Ugh.   I decided I no longer cared to make a whole blanket using this stitch.   My tension is all wrong - totally inconsistent -  and the stitch pattern is way too tedious for my tastes, so out that blanket is going to go and I'll use the above yarns for something I'll (hopefully) enjoy crocheting much more. As much as I wanted to give this pattern a go, I'm trying to see it as a positive that I decided relatively quickly to throw in the towel on it.

Having said that, though...  To get over having quit a project so readily and, I'll admit -  feeling a bit like a failure,  I whipped up this Log Cabin Granny Square Potholder yesterday:

I shamelessly (almost completely) copied Casey at knits and what-not, as I made this.  Casey was my original inspiration for my Potholders for Posterity collection, so I figure it's fitting I copy at least one of her creations.  :)

And, well...  except for noodling around a bit on my Moroccan Tile Afghan, that's it on the crochet front this week.

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Here and there in crochet...

What crocheting I accomplished this week was on the quick and easy side, or simply making a little progress on my Moroccan Tile Afghan:
I really enjoy the color changes in this blanket and the challenge to come up with all the color combinations I will need.  I just measured this week and found that each section is 6 inches long.  I want a blanket approaching 72 inches by the time I finished, so I've just recently realized I need twelve color combinations.  Yowza. It was not easy picking out and coordinating that many combinations.  We'll see as it grows how successful I am at all my choices and placement of those color combinations.  :)

This blanket is my late-night, I-can't-sleep-so-I-might-as-well-crochet project so it's kind of slow going, but one day it will be finished...


And there were some fun Starfish Dishcloths (try this link if that one doesn't work) that I didn't want to stop making:

But stop I did so I could whip up this quick little Knotted Headband  for a Crochet-a-long in Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry:
It's a super easy headband that can be made with scrap yarn.  


And this past week I began teaching another friend to crochet.   It's taking longer than I thought it might, but she is determined.  So I am too.  After struggling with tension and holding onto everything, it occurred to me that some extra bulky yarn and a larger hook might be easier.  I dug some out of my stash and it was amazing to see how much easier those were for her.  I'm thinking if she can get the coordination of all the moving parts and the tension down, she can easily transition to a smaller hook and yarn later.

But we only got as far as mastering (I thought) single crochet stitches on Friday so I sent her home to practice.  This morning at church she admitted she hadn't been practicing (like it was a confession - ;^),  She told me when she pulled it back out she'd lost her confidence that she knew what to do.   She's funny.  And a dear lady. She remains determined, though, so hopefully this week we'll get together and practice single crochets some more.  Maybe we'll even get to double crochets the second time around.  :)

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I've got a plan! Again.

The response to my squares last week was interesting. I was intrigued that anyone liked (even, more intriguing to me was that a couple of people preferred) the square I disliked the most.

In the end, though, while I appreciated the kind comments and suggestions, and though I liked a couple of the color combinations I had worked up last week, I knew I wouldn't be satisfied working with those sweet colors for a year's worth of blocks. So I went back to Ravelry and looked at more examples of finished blankets made with various types of blocks. I concluded that what excites me most is not the carefully selected and perfectly tended color schemes (as beautiful as they are to behold), but rather, my heart always does a little flippity-flip over the really colorful blankets -- blankets that are crafted with bright, often riotous, sometimes dissonant colors.  They don't just make my heart happy, they fascinate me.  I need to study these blankets some more (to understand better how and why the really spectacular ones work), but I've decided this kind of colorful blanket is what I truly want to create in my first BAM CAL (that's Block-A-Month Crochet-A-Long, in case I haven't mentioned it before).  Even if mine doesn't turn out spectacular, I want to try my hand at making one.

I think, in my heart of hearts, what I really want is to make a true "scrapghan", but I don't have enough scraps to actually do that so back to my stash I went.

In my previous searching through finished blankets, it occurred to me (or maybe I actually saw) that Lion Brand Heartland yarn would make a nice looking blanket - with its slightly heathered look in a good number of different colorways.  I had some skeins of Heartland in my stash and with a sale at Jo-Ann's (plus another discount coupon =^)  I pulled together some colors that I thought might work:

Hmmm...   Well, that's a start to some interesting color combinations, but honestly...  I don't think I care for the construction and design of this square much.  It's flimsy and floppier than I think I'd like to have in this blanket, but I'll keep it in case it comes in handy.

Then I made this:
Oooh...  Oooh yeah

First off, I love the design of this square (it's called Floral Dimension).  While I was going for something of a fall mum effect with these colors, I'm hopeful that some other (non-autumn) colors will work alongside this square (in a "scrappy" sort of way).  If I end up with a year's worth of autumny colored squares I can't imagine being unhappy, but I'm holding out hope here at the beginning that I can work in more colors - colors that aren't (at first glance) natural companions of the colors above.

So!  Rather than an actual color scheme, I guess I have a yarn theme for my blocks.  Using the Heartland yarns as my inspiration, I will plan to use various colors of heathered worsted weight acrylic yarn to make my BAM CAL squares this year.  And we'll just see how varied the different squares actually get - and we'll see if they actually go together.  I definitely feel like I can play with these (and more) colors for the next 12 months.


And for some instant gratification, yesterday I decided to whip up these little Crocheted Stars:
Mine are made with Paton's Grace 100% cotton and a size F crochet hook, so they turned out really small (2 1/5 inches from point to point). The pattern was offered up in Our Happy CAL Place for last week's CAL Challenge and what a happy, easy challenge it was.   :)  

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Starts and restarts...

Yep, starting, stopping, restarting...  that was my week last week.

I lost track of how many times I ripped back my Moroccan Tile Afghan before I finally figured out the pattern.   It's not that it's hard (once I got it down), but I found the edges tricky (until I got it solidly in my head how they are to be handled).  They are handled differently depending on whether you're working a "grout" row as opposed to a "tile" row, and then they are handled differently depending on where the tiles land (each row has the dots staggered from the row below).  Then add to that, I decided to do my color changes differently than the pattern directed, and that changed how the edges are done all over again.   The video tutorial was immensely helpful, but it did take watching it a couple of times before I nailed the edges.  And even now, I have to concentrate a bit as I approach them (though it gets better and better with each row).

I know I'm probably causing someone to be hesitant about giving this pattern a go, but let me encourage you...  it really isn't a difficult pattern.  And the video tutorial makes it a great pattern.

Here's a picture today after I transitioned to the second set of colors:

It's going to be so fun watching the colors change on this as it grows.

The next project that saw a number of do-overs were my first blocks in the 2017 BAM CAL on Ravelry.  I thought I had figured out my colors finally and it would be smooth sailing.

Well...   my idea of going "colorfully vintage" turned out to be a bust.  Using Stylecraft Special DK yarn, I decided to start with some dusty pink and rose colors, gold, silver, and parchment.  I found I was rather underwhelmed by the colors:

Actually...  underwhelmed is an understatement.  My overall feeling as I looked at my finished square was "Blech.  What  a dingy looky square."   I didn't even want to show it here, but hey - this YOP thing is as much about the processes of learning as it is about finished projects - for me, anyway.   So there you have my first block - in all its underwhelming lack of glory.  I felt a bit lost when I finished it, as I knew I couldn't spend the year working with these colors.  But I was so sure of them last week.

So I had a re-think about it all.  For some reason I was stuck on wanting to use the parchment color (that's the dingy "off-white" color in the picture above), so I came up with a completely different color scheme using it:

Now, if I was making a blanket for a guy, this color scheme isn't exactly bad, but it doesn't excite me enough to spend a year making similarly colored blocks.   Offering no inspiration, this square was a bust as well.  But something interesting that I learned is that dark and bright colors kind of lift the parchment color from dingy to well...  not so much.  That is valuable to know - especially since I bought a bunch of skeins of this yarn.

At this point I didn't know what to do. But I did realize it was time for another re-think about colors. I love the idea of vintage, but I don't want "dingy".  I also love the idea of something vibrant and colorful, but I'm not sure I'm ready to make something really raucous.  What to do?  What to do?

And then... a bit of serendipity happened.   A book I had put on hold weeks ago at the library came in. The book is Modern Crochet Mandalas by the Editors of Interweave.  It's a brand new book and I am the first one to check it out.  I was so excited!

I knew inside the book were going to be some wonderful mandala patterns and was almost giddy as I started to flip through it.  My brain needed a break from my crocheted blocks.   And then something unexpected happened as I was browsing the pictures.   It occurred to me that the beautiful color combinations that looked fascinating in the mandala patterns would surely look just as wonderful in a "granny" square type block.  What a rich collection of pictures and patterns to peruse.  Whether I make any of the mandalas or not, the pictures were very helpful to me in seeing color combinations I hadn't thought of before.   The hardest part was narrowing down and figuring out what colors I could pull from my stash to replicate some of the combinations.

I decided to give these colors a try:

Whoa...   much, much better.  These colors satisfy my desire for colors (and the opportunity to possibly make red tones predominant - which I kinda like the idea of), but the pale blue left me a little unsure.  It looks better in the picture, but in real life this color, Duck Egg, is kind of "dusty".  If I had no other light blue to use, this one was workable, but after looking through my stash again, I decided to change the Duck Egg to Sherbet and the bright Green (which is another brand of yarn) to the softer Stylecraft Lime, and change the dusty Pale Rose to a bright and clear Fondant. and this is what I got:

Interesting... (and yes, it's a totally different pattern.)  The end result is softer in some ways, crisper in others.  But overall, while I don't dislike it, my sense is that it is just "too sweet".   I don't mind the idea of making one large girly, even overly sweet blanket, but I don't think I want to make a year's worth of squares in these tones.  So I'm rethinking my colors all over again.

So... I love the idea of vintage, but I don't want "dingy".  I want colorful, but raucous kind of scares me.  I tend to be pretty predictable and yet I want something completely unpredictable in this blanket.  This is tough. And I had no idea I could be so fickle!

I'm not sure what I'm going to end up with as my color palette for my year's worth of blanket squares, but I'm not giving up easily.  I have some more ideas brewing, but for now I think I need to give it a rest.

I hope it's not a year spent just trying out different combinations of colors, but you know...  there could be worse things.   While I have a rudimentary understanding of color theory, I could certainly use some real practice putting color combinations together.  The end result could end up being a raucous looking blanket after all.  And something about that kinda makes me smile - even if a little nervously.

Hmmm...  that smile may be a clue how to proceed...  Tune in here, I guess, to see what I come up with next!  :)

To see what other Yoppers are up to click on the graphic below to go to our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year ~ Happy New Projects!

Today, the first day of the year, is a glorious free-from-commitment day in the middle of a very good and full new year's weekend.  And as soon as I post this, I'm going to commemorate...?  celebrate...?  accept...?   the transition from 2016 to 2017 by - you guessed it - crocheting!   I can almost hear you thinking  "how redundant".   Aahhh... it's anything but redundant, my friend.   I've been waiting excitedly for three new CAL's to start today.  Three new CALs!  That's Crochet-A-Longs for the uninitiated.

Oddly, I've hardly crocheted at all since right before Christmas, but it has not been time completely devoid of yarn.  What little yarny time I had last week was devoted to perusing ideas and finally choosing colors and yarns for the upcoming CALs.  So... while I have no pictures of finished projects (or even wips), I'm happy and excited to show you the colors of my upcoming projects.

The first CAL is one I'm hosting.  In the Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry, we're doing our first ever blanket CAL, and for this first blanket CAL we're crocheting the Moroccan Tile Afghan.  The  CAL will run from January 1 through March 31 of this year.  Some people are starting later, but the "hook-off" officially starts today.  Consider yourself personally invited to join us there - if this blanket appeals.

I pulled yarns from my stash to make a blanket that closely resembles the original Moroccan Tile Afghan:
In a basket, I'm thinking all those colors might look a bit clownish, but hopefully in the finished blanket it will look great.  One thing's for sure, it will be fun to switch colors and watch this thing grow and change.  I can't wait!!!


Another CAL I joined is in the Red Heart Lovers' Group.  We're all doing a blanket called Trip Around the World using a tunisian crochet technique called Entrelac.  While I've done some small projects using a simple tunisian crochet stitch, this will be a leaning experience.  I'm making a baby blanket and I picked out much softer colors for this CAL (here's my project page if you want the details):
And here's the thread for that CAL in case you're interested in checking us out and joining us. This CAL will also run from now until March 31, 2017.


And last, but definitely not least, I joined the 2017 Crochet Block-A-Month (BAM) CAL group on Ravelry and am so excited to make my first pieced-together blanket this year.  I've admired these types of blankets for a long time -- in fact, one of my first projects (when I first got back to crochet six or seven years ago) started out as a granny square blanket, but after years of on again-off again working on it, I ended up quitting and donating what squares I had crocheted up to that point - hoping someone else would finish what I couldn't bring myself to work on anymore).  

I think making squares in the company of other crochet lovers will be the motivation I need to actually complete a blanket like this.  I sure hope so, anyway.  I'm giving it a go!   While the first blocks were revealed today, and I plan to make at least one of them this afternoon, for now I have a picture of the yarns I'm hoping to complete a full-sized blanket with:

My inspiration came from various blankets others have made, and it was difficult trying to decide what colors I truly wanted to work with for such a project, but the overall look I decided to go for was "colorfully vintage".  I felt like that satisfied my desire for something soft-toned, but interestingly colorful.  All of the yarns above are Stylecraft Special DK and the main colors I'm working blocks in are:  Silver, Stone, Lime, Gold, Soft Rose, Raspberry and Parchment.  Accent (and shading) colors will be Duck Egg, Storm Blue, Claret, Mustard and possibly Cream.  That's the plan, anyway.  We'll see if those colors evolve over time.

This project goes all year and I look forward to sharing the blocks here as they are made.  Feel free to join - while the CAL officially started today, truly anyone could jump into the BAM CAL at any point. Many people's large blankets are made with blocks they've crocheted in various BAM CALs, or blocks they've pulled from other sources, but if the idea of crocheting a surprise (often a newly designed) block each month appeals to you, you could join in at any time.   I know some other YOPPERS are also doing this CAL - in fact, those YOPPERS are the reason I was inspired to jump into this one.  :)  It will be fun seeing how the same squares will look different from one another because of the different colors we work them in.  Squares are already showing up on Ravelry and it's fascinating.

I'm sure I'll also be working smaller projects in the mix of these large CAL projects, and I plan to keep up my simple knitting, but boy am I excited about these CAL projects and to share my journey on them here.

And that's it from me!  I'm ready to get my hook and yarn and start crocheting in the new year!

To see what other YOPPERS are up to, click the graphic below to visit our group on Ravelry.

And HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!