2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A LOT of rocks, a little yarn...

I wish I had a picture of all the rocks we've had in our driveway recently, but you're just going to have to believe me when I tell you in the last week and a half we've moved 6 tons of river rock - with the help of some young friends, I should quickly add.  Some things we wouldn't dream of turning into DIY projects, but after getting an estimate for having a professional do this, we decided moving rocks couldn't possibly be that hard. 

And, at first, it wasn't.

And then upon starting the shoveling of the 4th cubic yard we began to think the $900 a local landscaper wanted for the job was possibly in the neighborhood of reasonable.  But at over three tons in I guess we felt we were committed, so we paid our young friends generously and put our own bodies to the test, and I'm happy to say we survived for maybe a little over half the cost the professional with heavy duty machinery would have charged.  I'm trying to decide if I want to know the precise final cost so I'm putting off figuring it out.  The memories we created are priceless.  And the swearing (when the young folk weren't around) will hopefully be forgotten and forgiven in time...

Now, if it would just rain and wash the rocks clean and pretty so I can fully believe it was worth all the effort...   and swearing...  and forgiving...

Not that I spent much time with my yarn this week, but onto yarny things now...

Earlier in the month I made this little mandala:
Little is the operative word here.  That's a little dessert cup sitting on top of it.

And starting to get in the mind of donating some kid's scarves come cooler weather, I began making a squishy ribbed one:
I plan to trim it with big pom poms when I'm finished.  I hope someone grabs it who loves orange! 

And that's really about it.   Aside from shoveling rocks, it's been a good week with various activities that had me out and busy most days, but honestly...  I've missed playing with yarn.  Here's hoping next week sees more hook and/or needle time. 

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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Little yarny bags and cakes...

I finished another of the Christmas Gift Bags this week:

And started on the fourth (and I think my last) one:

Super cute and easy to make now that I've found a suitable (for me) yarn to make them in.  I'd like to mention something in case anyone looks at this pattern and wonders about how the designer carried her yarn on the back...  She doesn't cover the yarn on the back side of the fabric, but all those long crisscrossing threads on the back would make me crazy, so I carried my unused yarn under the stitches of the yarn in use.  With a more solid yarn, or a less dense fabric being created, carrying the yarn under the stitches normally creates some show through, but I accept that as normal when doing crochet colorwork.  Using this stonewash-look yarn in these bags, though, makes the show through virtually undetectable.  Which makes me even happier with how these turned out.


And I learned something new this week!  I learned how to hand-wind skeins of yarn into cakes!  There are a number of videos on Youtube that will help you understand how to do this (if you're interested),  but I used this one:

I also found the following tutorial helpful in seeing how she holds the yarn. I found slippage a bit of an issue and look forward to trying this again by using my left-hand thumb as a guide for the yarn being wrapped.

Not having a nostepinne, or an empty TP tube, for that matter, I went on a hunt around my house for something round with the right amount of thickness.  I had no idea what I might have that would work, but when I saw a short closet rod that wasn't being used I grabbed it and gave it go. 
While it's just a tad long (about 17 inches long) it worked great!   I found making yarn cakes so addicting I didn't want to stop.   

I only stopped because I didn't want to make cakes of any yarn I wasn't looking to use soon.  But you can be sure I'm eyeing some skeins of yarn that are sitting in a basket waiting to be crocheted up into my Spicier Life blankets...

The little rolled up pieces of paper in the middle of the cakes is the ball band from the skein.  I just rolled each one up and put it in its respective cake.  So far I've been able to pull the yarn from the center, leaving the label inside.  It's a great way to store the label, and when I want to weigh the cake before using it next time I can just pull the label out and put it back in once weighed.

I couldn't be more pleased with this new skill I've just learned.  And I'm now going to be on the lookout for a nostepinne that I like. While my rogue closet rod works for now, I know eventually I'll need to put it back.  I have to say, I really like how the sides of it are straight instead of tapered (most nostepinne's seem to be tapered) and I like the nice size hole it makes in the wound cake.  Maybe I should just find a shorter dowel rod that has a similar circumference and diameter.  

It's been a great week for me.  I didn't mention it before, but earlier in the week I learned how to voice text and how to open group text messages on my half-witted cell phone.  I'm limping into the 21st century finally.

And now I can make yarn cakes!  

Life is good.  😊

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

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!