Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pretty Little Pineapple Top Bag

This week saw the finish of my Pineapple Top Bag:
It was an easy project and I love how it turned out.   Tied up like it is above, it would make a really nice gift bag; or lined, and with the lacy top folded down over the top of the bag (like pictured below), and with maybe a chain handle, I think it would make a pretty little purse (I’d want to add some sort of closure to the top if I did this):

To print out an easy-to-read pattern, I used the website, Print Friendly. Just plug in the URL for the page the pattern is on and you can remove unnecessary pictures and print out a clean copy of the pattern.  Learning about this site recently from a fellow Ravelry member was game changing for me.  If you haven't tried Print, I recommend it.  

My entire bag (from bottom to top) was worked with two strands of Size 3 crochet thread (Aunt Lydia's in Bridal White and Copper Mist, to be precise).  My bag measures about 8 inches wide and 12 inches tall from bottom of bag to peak on the lacy top (the bag portion measures 8 inches wide by 7.5 inches tall). The size of the bag can be changed by changing the yarn and hook size.

I worked the body of the bag longer than the pattern called for - I think I worked 15 rows beyond the base before working the lace top. Rows were worked in a spiral (not joining and chaining up) until I reached the top of the bag. The lace top was worked as directed (starting it on the side where it was less noticeable for me to change color).

A note on ending the body of the bag and transitioning to the lacy top:  About three stitches before I decided to stop the body portion of the bag, I began to shorten the height of my stitches. I went from a dc, to a hdc, then a sc, then a slip stitch or two (until I reached the side of the bag). Then I joined the new color of yarn here and began the lacy top.   When starting the lacy top part, you'll want to pay attention to where the center front stitches will end up (you'll want to straddle two dcs in Round 12 with the the center front of the body of the bag).  This doesn't have to be precise, but you want it close.  This is the round a drawstring or ribbon can later be threaded through if making a drawstring bag.

Unfortunately, there is a mistake in the written pattern on Round 13, (of the lace part) and I recommend keeping a picture of the pattern’s chart to refer to. Once you start doing this round, you will quickly recognize there is a mistake, but to correct it, you'll just ch 3, sk ch-1 sp, sc in next ch-1 sp, ch 3, sk next ch-1 in between each shell and each set of 5 dc’s.  After that the lacy top should be smooth sailing.
To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry!

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.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy New YOP Year!

I'm joining fellow bloggers again in my third Year of Projects. The concept is simple.   Each blogger creates a list (however s/he wants to fashion it) and for a year posts about the progress made on this list.  My goal is to post every Sunday (July through June).  This weekly goal is hugely motivating for me.  

My weekly posts are progress reports (of a sort) with pictures, but I keep my actual list here and try to update it as the year progresses.  There's also a tab (under the banner of my blog) that will take one to my current YOP list.

The first part of my list is about processes. Techniques and new skills I hope to challenge myself to do throughout the year go here.  The second part of my list (Projects Completed) is basically an idea mill where I can plug in things that grab my attention (or as I start or finish them) during the year.

So here we go:


Tunisian crochet - learn new stitch patterns. 

Knitting - challenge myself beyond the humble dishcloth.  Though I do love my knitted dishcloths...

Use a crochet or knitting tool I've never used before. 

Try to learn how to read a charted crochet pattern.  

Challenge myself regarding photos of finished objects.  Learn about and practice better picture-taking. Learn how to better use my camera.
         Read and apply lessons in Understanding Exposure
         Participate in Ravelry: Project Photography group
Read & review at least 1 book on fiber or textile arts.  

Continue creating a crafting space that is inviting and that works well for me 


Projects Completed

In the spirit of creating actual projects my idea list includes:

- Item(s) for the home
       practical, but pretty:

       and purely aesthetic or whimsical:
- Finish BAM CAL blanket I began in January, 2017:

- Finish my Flower Garden Blanket:

- A shawl or poncho
          (finish my Lost In Time Shawl):

- Gifts given     
- Items made with the intention of someday gifting (but no current recipient)
- A garment

- Thread crochet 
- Something from a vintage pattern

- Something whimsical (I need more whimsy)
- Something(s) for charity/ministry
        Twiddle Muff  (finish the one I started last year): 

- A container  (a basket, a bowl, a box...)  
- Any number of items that just strike my fancy, but don't seem to fit anywhere else
- Knit items 

- Felting 

- Embroidery and/or cross stitch 
         Embroidered pillow cases  (finish these!):

- Sew something for the home  

- Sew an article of clothing 

- Crochet (or knit) from my stash - goal: diminish stash by 50% 

- Crochet my library - crochet from books or publications I own 


Okay...that's good for starters.  I'm sure this will evolve over time, but I work best with a list that's open ended and idea-generating and, most importantly...flexible... as I progress through the year.

If this sounds interesting to you (to either join in with your own Year of Projects, or just see what others are doing), check out the Year of Project group on Ravelry.  While the YOP year begins on July 1st, you can join at any time!