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!

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