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.


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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

One keeper, one frogger...

Getting a head start on next winter, I decided to start working on a little drawstring bag with a snowflake design.  The design is one of three patterns in the Christmas Gift Bags set.  And to tell you the truth, I'm just about ready to call it quits.

I've honestly never had so much trouble crocheting colorwork before.  I'm realizing (with this project) I'm not a fan of doing colorwork while crocheting on the front and back sides of a piece (as opposed to crocheting only on the front side  - which requires crocheting in the round).  But to make matters worse, I seriously complicated this project by double-stranding my cotton thread.  Which means I'm working from four balls of cotton, which takes a good deal of effort to not tangle up as I work.


I see mistakes in my work above and while the design is small and it would seem a simple thing to just frog it and re-crochet the design, I now know (from experience) just how difficult this yarn is to keep untangled.  As sad as it makes me, I feel like I should just cut my losses, cut the yarn - throw away what I've done so far and start over with some other yarn.  I'm beginning to contemplate starting over and crocheting this little bag in the round, and eliminate most of the headache that I'm struggling with trying to crochet this by turning my work. What pains me most is that below that snowflake design is the other half of the bag.   That's a lot of cotton thread to just throw away.  

Sigh.   I'll think on it some more before I do anything.  (ETA:  I'm back to report that I did manage to unravel the bag and only had to cut the thread once.  It's all usable again, so I count this bag a learning experience and I'm going to try to crochet the pattern in the round.  Hopefully, I'll have an update next week.)


To get back to my happy place, let me show the third mandala I crocheted a few weeks ago:

The Vernal Season Mandala from the book, Modern Crochet Mandalas, was easy and gratifying to make.

BUT, it is the third mandala I've made from this book that had errors in the written pattern.  By the time I got to this pattern, though, I was relying heavily on the diagram so the mistake was a quick find.  But then someone else told me  they had found at least one error in a diagram in this book so there goes my thought that relying on the diagrams will get a person through.

Considering the errors I've encountered, I, personally, would not purchase this book (not at retail price), but I do recommend trying the patterns if you have access to the book through, say, the library or even interlibrary loan.  (That's how I got my hands on this book.   It's one of the few current books on crochet my library has.)   The designs are pretty and after working a couple of these, I have found the hardest stitches become intuitive.

And that's all from me today!  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A new YOP year...

Today is the first day of another Year of Projects year.  It's always fun to start anew, isn't it?

Many YOP participants will be sharing goal/project lists this week, but since I hardly ever pay attention to the list I create once I've posted it, and since, in the end, I don't find such a list motivating, I'm going list-free this time around!

That said, I'm not completely goal-less.  There are a few things I'd like to have happen (or begin) this summer.

  • I'd really like to finish my two Spicier Life Blankets.  I'm getting tired of saying I'd like to finish them, so the time has come to just get 'em done.  They're both a little over half finished:

  • And I'd like to make up some quick projects to have handy if called on to host a weekly CAL in Our Happy CAL Place (which I am one of the moderators for).  Those projects will show up here without any fanfare or explanation other than "here's what I made this week".

By the way... last week in the OHCP group this cute cup coaster was the CAL project that another member hosted:
It was easy and fairly quick - and had a video tutorial, even.  I think it might have taken me longer to weave in the ends than it took to crochet. 

  • And I'm pretty sure I want to make more hats and scarves for the Bundle UP! charity drive that happens each autumn.  Hot weather is a perfect time for making these small projects.

  • And I want to continue to whittle down my stash.  I haven't bought yarn for over 6 months, and I'd like to continue that streak for as long as I can manage it.  I'm open to buying yarn if it's needed to finish a project, but I'm finding the longer I go without buying yarn the more creative I actually become in using what I have.  I'm enjoying that.

Overall, I just plan to enjoy crocheting (and knitting and whatever other creative pursuits I decide on).  I like crocheting whatever strikes my fancy and discovering its purpose later - which is exactly what I've been doing the past few years.  

So...  watch this space and we'll see what shows up.  I don't think it will look any different from years past, really.  I'm just skipping the list.


Speaking of making whatever strikes my fancy...  I've been on a mandala kick lately, and here's my version of the Picarequese Poppy Mandala:

And just in case you missed it last week in the collage of many projects, this Vintage Petals Mandala got finished and I truly do love how it turned out:

It sits on my kitchen table under a bowl of garlic and onions and I love how the gold flowers peek out from underneath the bowl:

My kitchen table isn't a place where we sit and eat.  My kitchen isn't large enough for a sit-down table and chairs.  So a bowl of onions and garlic as a table centerpiece isn't as weird as it may sound.  If it sounded weird.  😉

And that's all for today!

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Year of Projects Round-Up (2017-2018)

I think this is my favorite post of the whole year.  It's my Year of Projects Round-Up where I put all (or at least most) of the projects I've crocheted or knitted in the last 12 months in one spot.   It's so much fun to see all the yarny things I've managed to make and think about where the projects have gone (or are waiting to go or be used).

Let's start!

I'll admit it, this year my favorite projects were the quick ones.  In that category are dishcloths, potholders, motifs, bookmarks, bags...


Other small and/or quick projects I made this YOP year were hats and scarves.  These items were donated to Bundle-Up! - a local charity event where these kinds of items are distributed to kids and teens in need.  

And I've gotten an early start making scarves for this upcoming autumn's collection drive:


I also made a couple of scarves and a little sweater that became (or will become) gifts for some special someones:


And some things I made just because...


And, of course, no year would be complete without some blankets:


Lastly...  while these are yet to be finished, I started two Spicier Life blankets this spring that have hours of crochet invested in them, but still surely have a mile or so each of crochet to work before they're finished:

And that's just about it!   There were, of course, projects that either got put into time-out or were frogged, and there are still a couple of projects languishing from years prior, but this compilation of projects are the ones that got attention this year.

To see what other Year Of Project participants have been up to this past YOP year, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

So many ends...

I can't believe this Year of Projects is almost over!  Next week is our wrap-up week and then we're off again into another new YOP year!  Whoo Hoo!

I guess because I hadn't made enough things, this week I got the urge to make a new Market Bag.
This design took more time to make than other mesh-type market bags I've crocheted, but I'm curious if that solid bottom will stretch less than the other ones I've made.  I look forward to trying it out.  

AND I finished crocheting my Vintage Petals Mandala!   Yay!
Sorry for the tease of a picture, but there are so many ENDs in this thing and I want to sew them in before I show the front finished.  

Believe it or not, what's pictured is only half of all the yarn ends - I'm so glad I stopped midway and sewed in all the ends up to that point before continuing on.  All in all, there are 38 ends in this smallish project.  So many ends!!!  

Next week I'll post a picture after it's truly finished and blocked.  I finally got over my color-angst and it turned out some better than I anticipated.  😊 

And that's it from me this week!  Check out our group on Ravelry to see what other YOPpers are up to!

2018 Yarn Stash-Down: 24.18/100 Skeins

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Out for a walk...

After a bout of vertigo last week, heat, and then heavy rains this week, it felt good to be out on the greenway trail again.  Now that school's out I can easily access the trail from my neighborhood.  The entrance closest to my home is accessed via a school property and somehow walking through the school yard doesn't seem the thing to do during the school year.
It seems towns everywhere now have a refurbished one-room school house.  Ours is on the school property at the end of my street.

Cool, not-too-humid mornings are few and far between now so I'm glad I felt up to a walk today.  It was great walking weather.  And anytime I can get in over 6,000 steps  before lunch makes for great progress toward my personal training.  What am I training for?  The rest of my life, of course!
Every walk begins with a good stretch.  And there's always a stretch somewhere in the middle of the walk and toward the end, too.  I am so thankful for benches that dot the greenway trail in our town.  And I really love it when one happens to be in the shade.  😉

Along the way I noticed these beautiful lilies in a small butterfly garden just steps off the trail.

On my way back home, I encountered this red-winged black bird who kept chasing me, diving at me, and when sitting in the tree screeched loudly at me.   This has never happened to me before, and at the time I thought he was just being friendly, but when I got home I found some entertaining videos that explained their territorial behavior.
I'm onto you now, Mr. Blackbird.

Oops...  Looks like I won't be going this way for a while.  The town is building a new roundabout:
I wonder how they will work the greenway trail around the roundabout?  It may be a few months before I find out...

So back home it was... an hour after I began with just over 7,000 steps on my pedometer. Making progress!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Just small things...

Mid-late this week, I remembered I was signed up to host another weekly CAL on Our Happy CAL Place this upcoming week. Fortunately, about that same time I started feeling better from being knocked low earlier in the week.  So I got busy and was able to crochet two of these cute potholders:

The pattern leaves me a bit confused where it transitions to the ridged part, but once I figured out how to do it (by fudging), these were super easy to make.   I did have to fudge a bit in a couple of other areas, too (namely, I did away with the chain spaces in the white part of the flower square, and the edging required me to hdctog (make some half double crochet stitches together) occasionally in order to not have a ripply edge.  And I did have to steam and stretch it a bit to get the whole thing perfectly square, but once I did all that I thought the finished project was kinda cute.

Sounds like a lot of bother, huh?   It kinda was.  But they're kinda worth it.  Simply because it's an interesting design.  

Since I don't know how these will behave once washed, they are going straight into my potholder drawer and I'll enjoy using them this summer.  If they wash up nicely, I think these would make a fun gift.  Well, not these.  But I might like them enough to make up some gifts from the pattern.   We'll see...

That's truly all I managed to crochet since last weekend.  My mandala didn't get any love, so maybe next week...  

And I don't recall when I finished the Boxes Dishcloths pictured below, but I may have just forgotten about them last week as I know I haven't knitted since last weekend.   Once I started making them, it seems I couldn't stop until I'd made no fewer than four!

The first time I made these I found them challenging, but I really liked the texture and how they look.  This time when I made them I fell in love with the simplicity of the pattern.  I can't believe how when I made the first couple of these last year I had to refer back to the pattern for every single row and keep close track of which row I had just knit (or make note of where I had left off).  This time around, I quickly figured out how to read my knitting and I knew exactly the stitch pattern that each new row needed to be and I could lay it down mid-row and go back to it, even a day later, without any trouble.  Yay!  Progress!

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

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  21.29/100 Skeins

The Yop year is fast winding down.   Our new YOP year begins on July 1st and in that post we share our goals, lists, or whatever it is we use for planning our next Year's worth of Projects.  As for me, I'm a great list maker, but when it comes right down to it, for me hobbies and lists don't coexist well.  So my list is always very open-ended.  It's not a project list so much as it is an idea list.  And I'm thinking of how I might simplify it even more.  Make it even less of a list.  Hmmm... I wonder if I can YOP without a list?  I might have to try and see if I get kicked out.   That's the great thing about this YOP project, each participant can make it fit their personality and style.

If you have a blog and would like to participate, please do!  All of us are crocheters and/or knitters, but the projects we share go beyond those crafts.   It's very fun to see what other YOPpers are working on  - whether it's knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, cross stitching, painting, gardening...  It's all creative and inspiring.  You just need to be a member of Ravelry, join our group, and then join the fun!

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