Goldi's Locks of Yarn

My place to discuss my raging obsession with yarn and crochet along with happenings in my life and the world at large

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year from your AWOL blogger!

Hi folks,

I know I've been awol for quite awhile, have been going through some rough times both healthwise and financially (as a result) and just have not been able to keep up with things in the online world. I apologize for disappearing and affirm that my New Year's resolution is to get back in touch with you all and try to keep my little blog here more up-to-date.

I will (maybe) eventually go into more details about my health issues, though that has never been the purpose of this blog so I haven't really felt all that comfortable going on about those. I started this blog to have a place to crow about my crochet achievements and stash enhancements first and foremost, and I would like to keep that focus here.

Thanks to those afore-mentioned health issues, progress - when there was progress - has been incredibly slow with the few projects I did manage to get done over the past several months. Let's see if I can get some of them up, so this last post of 2006 will be more exciting! I don't have a lot of time - should have been gone by now, so descriptions will be sparse at best on these items I am posting. Below are most of the projects I managed to complete in the last half of this year. There were a few other items, mostly a small assortment of dishcloths, that I completed and promptly lost so I couldn't get pics done.

Here is a dishcloth, and the water bottle cover I started (I believe) in summer 2005? I can be sooo slow sometimes! But at least it's finally done...
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Granny Ripple Baby Blanket - making this was a real saga of stupid mistakes and many visits to the frog pond, but it turned out quite nice, worth the effort! Now all I need is to get the layette set done I want to include with it...
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A towel and dishcloth set - this one is actually not completed yet, I have those infernal ends to hide and a button to attach on the towel, but I really like this set and plan to make more.
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It took seemingly forever - and I will have to save the story of my spectacular screw-up that caused this to almost go into UFO status, but I finally completed my Patricia Pepe skirt from the Crochetville CAL. I do need to finish the tie on it and add a lining (or get a slip), but the skirt is otherwise complete, and it turned out pretty darn good!
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When my daughter's eyes lit up upon seeing my skirt, I knew what her Christmas gift would be. I will provide more details on both skirts later if anyone is interested, but here are several shots of the Purple Pepe Skirt (she also needs either a lining or slip - I would have made her one if I had a sewing machine):
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Hopefully things will improve for me in 2007, and I will be working hard to make that happen. I have a tremendous amount of catching up to do - all my online activities had to pretty much be shelved as I was simply unable to keep up with anything. I will try to give more info next year, but now I do have to leave. Hoping everyone has a safe and enjoyable time tonight - and see y'all next year!

(ps - if anyone has been waiting to hear from me, I will try to get back to you sometime in the next week, and sorry to have made you wait.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

July update, so far

Sometimes I find it really hard to write, to communicate, and I'm in one of those phases right now. I know I owe several people a response, but please be patient with me. I need to work my way past this current phase and then it will become easier for me. In the meantime, I will try to keep you up to date on my crafting activities. They may be moving slowly - more slowly than I'd like, but at least steadily. I know it may seem like I'm being over-hard on myself as far as my crafty productiveness goes, but keep in mind that I do have a LOT of time available to engage in it, and have been doing little else to excuse my slowness. I've just been... well, slow at everything, and it bugs me when that happens! I know what I'm capable of and I'm not operating at full efficiency right now, so that's where I'm coming from when I complain of my own tardiness. But I appreciate the words of encouragement nontheless!

I ended up spending part of the holiday weekend babysitting Bella, my little furry four-footed "grand-daughter" and I took that opportunity to get Short 'n Sweet wrapped up. I also grabbed the chance to get some shots of me modeling it as well as my infamous pineapple shawl - my previous modeled shot not being as good as I would have liked.

I'm having some major issues with my computer and it is pure luck that it has given me access in order to post this message (and my pics), but I don't know how long my luck will hold out. I have some major maintenance to do on this thing - the dreaded "format C:" and rebuild everything from scratch, but with an upgraded version of Windows that I hope will help to solve some of my problems with this thing, as well as make certain features I am hoping to use accessible to me. In the process of preparing for this upgrade, I have run into one roadblock after the other, with several times having my computer become completely non-functioning, while trying to back up all my important files. It certainly hasn't helped my anxiety levels to have these things happening, let me tell you! So I am going to try and keep this short.

Maple remains on hold for now, minus a sleeve edging and a sash as well as an attempt at an ingenious solution to the floppy ruffled neckline. I guess you could say I'm dragging my feet on that, but I haven't put it away - it sits on the couch glaringly balefully at me every time I sit down to work on something else. Sooner or later I'll cave in and pick it up again...

I was, for the most part, rather unspecific when I listed out my June challenges, and most of the things I started in June have been completed, except for Maple. So I guess I could consider June to have been a successful month, even though nearly nothing actually got finished before the end of the month itself. But I won't quibble over such minor details! I wrapped up Short n' Sweet on July 2, and completed Seasprite on the 3rd - after deciding that scarf length was the best after all. Here are a few pics of both:

Short n' Sweet, front (head deliberately cropped out - I looked atrocious!)
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Back
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I made this with Lion Cotton in Seaspray, and while it looks very nice, it is a bit on the bulky side. Still, it does fit nicely. I couldn't resist starting another one using that marvelous textured (but still thin) cotton that I made the pineapple shawl from, and it's looking mighty pretty so far.

Seasprite, modeled over a blouse so you can see the length. This is the front view:
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And the back:
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I can say with total certainty that this is one very cuddly scarf, and I know it is going to be seeing a lot of action, as it is also quite warm, not to mention awfully pretty! It took just a little bit over one ball of the Featherwisp yarn to produce this little lovely, so I still have nearly two full balls of it for something else, yet to be determined.

So, I am currently working on another Short 'n Sweet, as mentioned above. I am partway through the left front piece already and hope to be joining the fronts and back soon, at which point I will have to decide how long I wish to make it. I made my first SnS a bit longer than the pattern, though I did not lengthen the sleeves. I have modified this one to allow for larger armholes as I noticed they were a bit too snug for me on the first (I did this by adding one whole shell sequence to each piece, as if I were doing a large, although I am still following the instructions for the medium size, which I am, just not in arm circumference). I may leave this one a little shorter but make longer sleeves, perhaps 3/4 length, we'll see when I get to that point. I will say this is one of the things I really like about this pattern is it's versatility as far as changing the length of the jacket and/or the sleeves goes, and it's actually a pattern that goes pretty quickly too, especially now that I've figured out how to get those additional stitches in on the front pieces without tying on a separate little piece of yarn, with resulting extra ends to deal with!

In addition to this new Short n' Sweet, I am also working on a doily, the Spider Web Doily by Elizabeth Hiddleson, which can be found here. Other than switching from a size 9 hook up to a 7, I am doing very well at following the instructions which can, at times, be a bit, uhm, different from what I'm used to. It's actually a pretty easy little pattern and is also working up quite fast, considering how often I keep jumping between it and SnS due to my restless inability to concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time. I've completed 17 rounds out of the 22 and anticipate completing this in a few days, if all goes well. I had to switch to the larger size hook because I almost immediately split and tore the thread with the smaller one. Mine will be in Ecru, from Caron.

I just now realized that I failed to take a picture of my second completed dishcloth, which I also finished up on the 4th of July weekend marathon crochet session. I'll try to remedy that the next time I'm doing a photo-shoot. I had started on #3 but had to frog the dang thing today when I realized I hadn't made my chain long enough and was going to end up with a cloth that was far too small for my liking. This will be the third cloth made in the same easy pattern, which I found here. I must say I find it rather funny that she states this pattern makes a "loose, thinner dishcloth", and that her pattern is 28 stitches wide. For me, I guess I'm working a tighter stitch (I'm using the same size hook as called for in the pattern) since mine is nowhere near "loose" or "thin", and I found 28 stitches to not be wide enough for me, as I like my cloths to be larger than 7 inches square, so I added an additional 4 chains to the starting chain called for in the pattern, and I am also working a sc edging all the way around the cloth to finish it up (wow, how's that for one heck of a run-on sentence?!). Still, these are nice little portable projects for me to carry around and keep my hands busy when I'm feeling a tad anxious (which could also account for the tighter stitches). As far as what I will do with them, I'll just have to wait and see how many I end up with before I decide. I have a LOT of cotton, and the agoraphobia I seem to be saddled with creates a lot of anxious moments lately.

I have several other projects waiting in the wings, so to speak, which I will probably consider starting soon. I have a couple of baby blankets I'd like to make as well as a few baby outfits, and some summer tops for me. Which ones get picked up first is wholly dependent on what mood I'm in when I reach into the stash for the supplies, but I will be putting them all on my July challenges list and we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, I'll get back in the mood to make some squares again soon too. Oh yes, and I plan to continue working on my knitting lessons. I'm trying to wrap up my current practice piece so I can move on to learning increasing and decreasing, which is the next (and most important to me) lesson to master. I'm hoping that once I learn that, I will be able to tackle Steffie, since (other than the increasing and decreasing) the knitting part of it doesn't look like it would be too hard to do, and I really like the style of this particular pattern.

Okay, one last time for the pineapple shawl. My daughter didn't even tell me it was laying on the ground as I spread it out
behind me! This picture gives you the best idea just how large this shawl is:
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And here's a shot of me wrapped in it (the act of wrapping it around my body gets it off the ground, fortunately), and yes, again, I've cropped my head out. It was not a picture-worthy day for my face. Lucky for me, it was a relatively cool day, as this is one very warm shawl!
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One last thing before I post this and go. Jackie, you wanted to know what pattern I used for my filet head scarf, I guess I forgot to include the link. Here it is: Triangle Scarf With Rose Just remember, in the instructions for Row 1, you want to put your first stitch in the 6th chain from hook, not the 8th as stated. That was an error I found when I worked this pattern. Also, ignore the word "steel" when selecting your hook size. A size 3 steel hook is far far too small and you will end up with a doll-sized scarf if you use it (as I did!). This is still a pretty small sized scarf when worked with a C hook and #3 thread, so you may want to try a larger size hook or otherwise adjust the pattern if you'd like it larger.

To everyone who has left comments - thanks! To those waiting on a reply from me, please be patient, I'll get to you as soon as I can. Hopefully I will be able to get this posted without any problems! Until my next update...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Update on my "June Challenges"

Although there's not a huge amount to report, I thought I'd provide a couple of updates on some of my projects. I seem to be locked into a "slow speed" setting lately, which is driving me nuts, with the wicked critic in my head singing the usual "should" tunes at me as I contemplate how little I seem to have accomplished so far. I normally do best when I stay focused on one project from start to completion, but I have SO MANY projects I am DYING to do, and so much yarn waving at me to pick it up and work it, that I find myself constantly distracted by it all, and therefore getting nowhere fast, it seems.

I have managed to resist the temptation to start another half a dozen projects until I get at least 2 out of my 4 current WIPs completed. The 4 projects are (in no particular order other than what springs to mind and fingers first) are:

1 - Maple, the wrap top/bolero from Berroco, which is very close to being finished - finally! It ended up taking me two extra balls of the Incredible ribbon for this, even though yardage was the same as for the Zen, and I'm thinking this may be due to the differences in the types of ribbon yarn they are. I need to pick up one ball, as I was short (by the new yardage requirements), so as soon as I have that, I can finish it. I am not providing an update shot of this one since it's so close to finishing, will post an FO shot of it once I can call it that! Which, hopefully, will be soon.

2 - a super-simple dishcloth that I started last week to have something I could work on while in an important interview I had, plus this is my portable project. I am about halfway through with this one. I will save pics on this for when it is done, whenever that may be.

3 - Short 'n Sweet, from the Happy Hooker book. I am currently focusing on this one, as progress has been slow to this point. I finally finished up the left front piece and have started working the body as of last night. This pic was taken after I fastened off on the left front and before I started the body. I took some time to hide the numerous tails that I had created from following the directions, there being only 2 less due to the fact that I managed to find another way to get those extra stitches onto the beginning of Row 8 without following their silly instructions for it. My plan is to make this little jacket about waist length, as I don't feel comfortable with jackets that stop just below my (rather ample) bust - I don't think it's flattering on me at that short of a length. I am still feeling a bit uncertain about my choice of yarn for this project - I am using Lion Brand Cotton - it seems a bit too thick and is a b-*-t-c-h to work with for this project, probably a bit too bulky for such a textured stitch, but we'll see. I do definitely plan to make another (perhaps more) of this pattern, as I really do like the style and the versatility of it, and I certainly have plenty of yarn choices to make it in several colors/lengths if I so desire!


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4 - and last but not least, my Seasprite Seraphina, which is patiently waiting for another turn on my lap. Because of my discovery of the stretchy property of this Yarn Bee "Featherwisp" yarn (I can be a bit slow sometimes!), and the observation of weight and stretchiness of my shawl so far, I have decided to make this more of a "scarf" length rather than a full-blown shawl. I currently am on the 4 row sequence that will bring my total shells per side to 9 and I will work one more set of 4 rows, bringing the total to 11 shells per side, at which point I may finish this off and call it an FO, if it looks like it's enough. If I were to attempt another shawl with this material, I would definitely match it up with a non-stretchy yarn to give it more stability, but boy is this thing a piece of eye candy! Not to mention how incredibly SOFT it is - and slippery as a result, so it may have trouble staying put on my shoulders! I am definitely eager to use this yarn in some other projects as well, stuff that needs that kind of stretch it provides. I have a pretty good supply of Dancing sock yarn from Knit Picks that I am thinking would work well paired with this yarn for a stretchy fitted tank top, so that is close to the top of my "to do next" list.


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So there's my current progress. Next chance I get, I need to sit down and draw up a list of all those items I have had circling around in my head hollering for me to do it next. Maybe if I get it organized into a list with some kind of prioritizing scheme, I will be able to quit driving myself nuts with distraction over them all and actually start to chip away at that list!

If I get a chance later, I'll try to provide a bit of an update on the other areas of my life. But for now, I am already running behind in getting out to take care of my general "to do" list for today! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and I hope all is well in your lives and that the yarn flows smoothly through your fingers!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

FINALLY! A FO to report!

With the way my attention span has been going lately, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to manage to actually finish anything this month. But I grabbed myself by the ears this afternoon and forced myself to sit still long enough to get this kerchief done, finally! It is the smallest of my projects, but I still feel a sense of accomplishment from hiding the last tail and getting to try it on. Ain't it purdy?

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This is making me feel ambitious enough to see if I can't get closer to the finish line with Maple now! I'm not sure I will be able to get that top completed tonight, but who knows - I might surprise myself! It does have some stiff competition though, from both Seasprite and Short 'n Sweet, so we will have to wait and see...

Now that I have finished this one, I have another kerchief to get started on as soon as possible. This next one will be worked in a new stitch I have never tried before (a second "first" for me, ha ha!), called the "Delta Crochet Mesh" (tutorial available here), which I discovered thanks to Jackie through her Show & Tell over on Crochetville. After seeing all those lovely kerchiefs she made for her sisters, I just had to add this pattern to my (infinite) to-do list! Besides, I need a summer scarf wardrobe, so far I only have two, and my hair seriously needs this protection.

Off to keep things rolling along!

Speaking of Seraphina...

The other day, in an effort to provide some clarification on the pattern to someone who had written requesting assistance, I drew up a schematic diagram to illustrate the increase zones. This schematic may be helpful to anyone who is struggling to visualize how the shawl is supposed to "grow" as you repeat the 4 row pattern sequence rows. I figured I'd make it available here for you. Click on the thumbnail below to be taken to a full-sized version of this image, where you can right-click and save it to your computer for printing and viewing. I know this project has felt very daunting and complicated to many, but I can promise that once you are able to grasp the repeating pattern sequence (and understand where the increase stitches are always made), you will find that it really isn't all that hard at all! You can make it over that initial hump!

My only major tip beyond that is to remember to look upon the V stitches as a single element. What screwed me up repeatedly in the beginning was my difficulty in differentiating the dc stitches that were part of the V stitch from those building the increases - I kept (incorrectly) making stitches into those dc's. So watch those V stitches! Also, for those working from the original pattern - there should be ch-1 stitches made between all shells and sets of 3 dc "ribs", even if it's not specifically mentioned in the pattern. Some of them got overlooked.

Click on the thumbnail for the Seraphina schematic:



I just couldn't resist it!

I was just plain bored yesterday with my current projects and looking to start up something new. I had some fabulous yarn I was itching to turn into something, and after a bit of fooling around, decided to fall back on the old reliable standby - a Seraphina! I have named this new baby "Seasprite", which happens to be the colorway name of this luscious yarn, another winner from Hobby Lobby's Yarn Bee line called Featherwisp. This is a very thin furry-ribbony yarn with a very generous 293 yards on the skein - and I just a few moments ago discovered it has another property that increases it's possibilities for projects: it has stretch! Had I realized that sooner (as in before I started up this shawl), I would have seriously considered it for the fitted tank top I've been dying to make! Well, there's always later. This yarn is going to become a permanent fixture on my yarny "wish list"!

So, I managed to lay down 10 rows on this shawl yesterday, and I think this project will go very quickly. Although the yarn is a bit fiddly (it's extremely slippery-soft), it has not been hard to work with. My only concern is that I do my best not to have my usual spate of stupid errors, as this is NOT a frog-friendly material! It snags on itself easily when trying to undo stitches, and will not come loose for love or money, so I will have to be VERY careful! I will keep my fingers crossed I catch my errors quickly, and that those not caught will be minor enough to slip by without notice. Fortunately, this is a type of yarn that will allow that.

So, here's my baby Seasprite,

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This one's going to be a knockout, I can tell. I can hardly wait to finish her up so I can wear her!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Couldn't pass this up

Just went to check on Meeps, see if she was ready to come in. 

Doesn't look like it!  Pic taken a couple of minutes ago...
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Pineapple, modeled

I knew I was forgetting something! I finally got a pic of me wearing my pineapple shawl. This isn't the greatest shot - due to the length, I was worried about the shawl edges dragging through the bird seed on Phil's balconey and was also in a hurry to get the picture done since it was not a shawl kind of day. And, we were shooting into the setting sun, causing the hazy effect, but the options were a bit limited on that narrow balconey. At any rate, here's me, looking like a bird about to take flight!

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Someday I'll get a chance to do a good photo-shoot with my daughter manning the camera, she's a bit better at it since she owns the same equipment and knows how to use it well. But this will have to do for now!

Bloggity blog blog

Okay, so it's been a bit difficult lately for me to keep things up to date here on this blog. I have things going on in my life that I don't much feel like discussing here - I prefer to reserve this space for focusing primarily on my crafty interests, at least for now, and while I have certainly NOT stopped crocheting or otherwise maintaining my crafting activities, I have been finding myself with not as much to report as far as accomplishments. So far, anyway. Of course, by the time I'm done with this little session, I may find much reason to dispute that statement. I know I can chatter on about the many things I WANT to accomplish, but to be honest, I'd rather be off actually accomplishing them, sitting here yakking on about it doesn't get that done! However, I've decided to go ahead anyway, as lately I've been finding it difficult to get mentally organized about exactly what I DO want to do and getting things started. Maybe if I take some time to talk about it, I can finally get my projects prioritized in my mind.

It started with my attempt to draw up a list of the challenges I wanted to tackle for June, for the yahoo-group I belong to for help in keeping on track, the Crochet Challenge group. This is the group that was started during the Crochet Olympic event, and when it was over, it was decided that the concept of having a place to discuss our ongoing projects with mutual encouragement provided would help us all to accomplish more of our crocheting goals. I had hesitated about joining in at first, because I already belonged to many other groups as well as my moderating duties on Crochetville. I wasn't sure I could handle it. But I have ended up receiving more out of this little group in the way of encouragement, commiseration when projects have gone wrong, and a lifting of my spirits through the camaraderie and just good fun that it provides, led by the dynamic gals Sara and Norah. This group of gals has helped me to keep on going, and I've managed to get several projects completed with their encouragement. I can't think of a more fun place to hang out!

But anyway, back to June, and my attempt to draw up that list... Because of other weightier matters on my mind, I found it difficult to get focused, and so I went stash-diving, through both the yarn stash and the pattern stash, looking for inspiration. What I got instead was overwhelmed! I had some general ideas of what I wanted to make this month, mainly some shrugs and boleros to wear over my tank tops. I promptly got hit over the head with more options than I could possibly dream of. Then came the dilemma of selecting the right yarns for these projects, further complicated by the fact that there were certain yarns in my stash that I was dying to use. And that included my custom-combined threads, which I created the beginning of this month. So, in addition to trying to come up with yarns to match some of the patterns I wanted to do, I now also needed to come up with patterns to match the yarns I wanted to use! With all of these possibilities tantalizing me, I went into overload and my productivity screeched to a halt. Instead of creating that bolero of my dreams, I found myself endlessly drooling and dreaming over patterns and petting and rearranging yarn! Finally I pulled myself together a little bit and began preparing some of my materials for use, starting with the threads. Having found it nearly impossible to work with them on those large cardboard tubes they come wrapped around, I have been busily working on winding as many of them as possible into smaller, more compact balls which will hopefully be easier to pull my working supply from. Having learned the hard way that thread (and laceweight yarn) can NOT be used as a center-pull, I have these small cakes (as my winder creates them) parked around deflated t-paper tubes and will work them from the outside in. My plan was to wind as many as possible so I wouldn't have any delays in starting projects when the muse hits - all I have to do is grab my supplies and dive right in!

After the spectacular results I had obtained with the scarf I made for skater, one of my first winding projects involved combining more #10 thread with that wonderful rayon multicolor strand I was loaded with. I had a few balls of the double-strand Aunt Lydia in a red/burgundy, and so I started by winding those with a strand of the rayon, and was thrilled with my result. But I only had a total of 600 yards of the stuff and had notions of making a summer top and matching jacket or bolero/shrug with it. In my stash, I had several individual balls of the red and burgundy threads, these from Caron and with a generous 500 yards each and so I proceeded to wind up several balls of these - more than enough, I believe, to make my twinset and probably a few other things as well. And that was in addition to the original double-strand, which, however, was not a close enough match to use in the same garment. While I was at it, I also began winding up all of the remaining blue thread I had on hand with the rayon, and grabbed some balls of yellow too while I was at it. I was picturing at this point, something made with these primary colors in a motif pattern, which I think could be a real knockout! I have not settled on anything yet, but the thread is wound and ready to go! Here are a couple of shots of my fancy thread inventory (and this is only a part of it!):

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So, I am still mulling in my mind exactly what I want to create with all of this lovely thread. The only thing I know for certain is that it will be wearables!

In the meantime, there have been several patterns I have been itching and dying to make. Thanks to my generous daughter, I am the proud owner of the new Crochet pattern collection from Takhi Stacy Charles (not to mention their knockout knit pattern book that led me to the crochet collection, with that bell-sleeve top featured on the cover being the honey that drew this bee in! It is patterns like this that provides my primary motivation for learning to knit!), and there are several items I've been raring to go on as soon as I can figure out what yarns to use. It would be great if I could use their yarn, that Cotton Classic is very yummy, but budget says "NO!", and so we go rooting around in our (fortunately) substantial stash, a broke gal's best friend. Then there were a couple of patterns that Berroco provided that hit my hot button (hard), again causing me to stash-dive for a more economical substitute to their VERY expensive but luscious yarns (believe me, if I could afford it, I wouldn't hesitate to spend the money for these high-end yarns. They are sooo worth it!). I am still contemplating the stash for Celia and Stephie (this knit/crochet combo shrug is on my very short shortlist to make, and that includes finishing learning enough knitting so I can make it! I know I could probably do it all in crochet, but I'd much rather make it as written as it would be less bulky, and I do love a challenge.), but I got lucky with Maple when I determined that my stash of Incredible ribbon yarn from Lion Brand would work for this pattern, and I had more than enough in the colorway Copper Penny. I am near completion on this project, believe it or not, though technically behind schedule with it. The edging is taking me forever, mainly because I can't seem to sit with it for more than about 15 minutes at a stretch, thanks to the old ADHD I seem to be suffering from lately. I have a round and a half to go yet for the body, then the sleeves and the sash before I can finally announce completion. Here's my latest WIP shot of it, taken just last night:

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When I couldn't stay focused on Maple, I decided to start another shorter project. This was a triangular filet rose kerchief, a piece of headgear I am seriously in need of now that summer is here and I drive with windows wide open (no a/c). I need this to protect from having to re-nickname myself "goldi-tangle-locks", my hair does not need much encouragement to become totally unruly and unmanageable! I had some nice DMC Senso in metallic gold (yet another segue here, I seem to be full of them today! I had purchased several balls of this yarn on the 40% coupon plan over a period of several months and from 3 different Hobby Lobby stores, trying to build up enough for a tank top. Unfortunately, I did not notice until I had finally reached my quantity goal that I had two different kinds of this color! It is the gold metallic, and half of my stash has a gold foil metallic thread wound with the cotton and the other half is a clear rainbow lurex thread - drat! So, no tank from this yarn, only small things.) and had snagged the pattern from the About.com website, here. I was eager to give this a go as it would be my first attempt at filet crochet.

The pattern was very easy to follow and worked up very quickly, but it became apparent to me early on that there were some problems with it. Despite that, I stubbornly kept at it until I had finished the graphed triangle, and then I frogged it after taking this pic:

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I found that there were 2 errors with this pattern. The first, and (to my mind) the most glaring was instructing to use a size 3 steel hook! Although it was a tad difficult working the #3 thread with the #3 hook, it wasn't impossible, but what I ended up with was a doll-sized kerchief! After frogging it, I switched off to an E hook (a D is also considered a size 3 but not the same size 3 as the steel one in my set! I was worried that the D would produce a size that would also be too small, which is why I chose to use the E). I completed the graphed portion of the project last night and took another pic:

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Quite a difference, eh?

The other error I found in the pattern is one you should definitely remember if you decide to save this pattern to try yourself, as it will throw your pattern off: After making your chain of 92, you are instructed to make the first dc in the 8th chain from hook. This is incorrect. It should be the 6th chain, otherwise you will come up one mesh short on the row.

Even using an E hook, this scarf is still a bit too small for my needs, so when I do the finishing round on the edges, I plan to add something extra, to make it bigger. But I now feel confident in tackling other filet patterns, although I won't try my hand at a significantly more complex one unless I have my brain on straight. Which unfortunately doesn't seem to be too often lately...

Well, these two patterns were still not enough to keep me fully engaged, and so I jumped onto yet another pattern I had been dying to get started on - the Short & Sweet shrug from the SnB Happy Hooker book, which I had gotten from my library (yes, I want this book! There are several patterns in here I want to make. If it turns out well, I will probably want to make a few more of this one, however. I am making this first one out of Lion Cotton in the color Seaspray. As of last night, here's my progress on this project:

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I have since managed to reach the point where I am starting on the right front piece - would have been further along, but I got a bit confused about the fastening off of the back piece and then reattaching to start the right front and had to stop and think about it for awhile.

So, these 3 are my currently active projects, am hoping to wrap them all up within the next couple of days, and then it's back to contemplating all my other choices and picking among them!

Since this is yet another book-length post, I will wrap it up for now. At least now you know that I'm not just idly sitting on my empty hands!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Catching up (or trying to)

I haven't been in a real chatty mood lately (in case anyone has noticed) and all indications are that this will continue for awhile. But I thought I would at least post an update on my crafting ventures with some pics just so you know I'm still alive and kicking. So far, anyway!

I started to write up one of my usual long-winded posts describing the visit I had with my best friend skater. As happens too often lately, I ran out of juice and drafted the thing, which remains in limbo. Knowing me, I will probably never get back to it, but that's no reason for me not to at least share the pics of the items I made her, now is it?

The first item was just a dishcloth, but I had been wanting to make her something for her "new" house for a couple of years (hence the quotes on "new"). This dishcloth is only the first of several items I have in mind to make for her for the house (whenever I can get to it), and it did turn out quite nice though pretty large because I made it with a larger hook - the pattern I used called for a G, I used a J because the yarn seemed too thick and hard to work with on the G, and I didn't want it to be stiff. I ended up using most of a large ball of Sugar n Cream cotton in variegated yellow and white for this dishcloth, and it took 4 separate attempts before I landed on a pattern that I found satisfying for it. This one is #94 from the Leisure Arts book The Big Book of Dishcloths.

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The main gift I chose to make for her was one I spent most of my time and energies on because I really wanted it to be special, and I think I succeeded! I wanted to make her a nice scarf, and it had to be primarily blue - because she loves scarves and blue is her favorite color. Because of where she lives, it needed to be a summer-weight material, such as cotton thread. I had some Caron's Gramma's Best #10 cotton thread in my stash in a lovely shade of medium blue, and it just so happened to match up perfectly with a special variegated rayon thread I'd bought a large quantity of from an ebay seller at the beginning of the year. This rayon thread is very very thin yet textured, almost like a thin boucle, and is in rich jeweltone shades of blue, turquoise, red and yellow. The blue in the rayon thread was an exact match for the #10 cotton thread I had, and so I had my materials. Now I needed a pattern!

I wanted something that was going to be lacy but still have some body to it, and so I went digging through my Harmony Guides books of crochet stitches and found the perfect stitch pattern to use in the second book. It is a 10 row pattern repeat, which I worked up using a size F hook.

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A closeup, with a better color representation:
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I am happy to report that she loved her gifts and was particularly thrilled with the scarf! It's always gratifying to know your work is well-received.

I've already posted pics of the pineapple shawl which followed the above projects. It may be a while before I can get a modeled shot of it, will post as soon as I can once I do.

A short segue now, because I wanted to share this picture:
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We spent skater's last few hours in Milwaukee at one of the local art museums, and this particular painting just grabbed me. This picture of it just doesn't do it justice, lemme tell you! I didn't have the foresight to write down the artist's name and naturally can't remember it, or the age of the painting. All I remember is that it is Dutch. And gorgeous!

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled crafty chatter...

Since then, and mainly due to other factors which I'm not going to get into here, I've been struggling to seriously land on another major project. Not that there aren't a bazillion of them vying for my attention, nor is it due to lack of materials on hand to make them. I just can't seem to find my focus lately. While I browsed my stash and pattern library, I opted to start another dishcloth and completed it last night - it only took me a week to get it done! Not that I'm THAT slow, but I couldn't sit still with it long enough to reach the finishing line any sooner. It is a nice one, though, another one from the above-mentioned book of dishcloth patterns, and on this one I used the recommended hook size (G). I showed it to Phil yesterday and his eyes lit up when he saw it - I think he likes it! I haven't decided what I will do with this one yet, though, but I know I'd have at least one happy recipient if it comes down to that, lol! Here's a shot:

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This is definitely a "guy" kind of dishcloth, I think, not too frilly and fancy yet still not plain. My plan is to continue making these as well as some other small projects along with my larger planned ones, mainly to keep me going when I have trouble staying focused. If I can build up enough of these things, I may try to sell some of them. No guarantees on anything at this stage, however. My life is in too much of a state of flux with the future unknown for me to be able to plan that far ahead yet. Anyway...

When I couldn't settle on my next major project, I finally decided now might be a good time to temporarily set that hook aside and pick up some sticks. While at the library the other day, I had placed the new crochet Stitch n Bitch book on hold (both copies were, naturally, out - I'm a tad ticked, though, as they were both due back by now and both are now overdue from whoever has their sweaty greedy little paws on 'em! All I know is it's not me, yet! Hmmph!). While doing so, I noticed that her original SnB book on knitting was in-house so I decided to take it out, along with the book on crocheted socks that I'd been wanting (and still want - no way I can get to these projects that quickly and I can't keep the book forever, like those folks who have MY copy of the Happy Hooker hostage! Grumpy?! What - me?!!). After browsing the book a bit, I took a deep breath, grabbed a ball of acrylic (I know - anathema! But I'm not about to waste the precious stuff on my stumbling first steps!) and a pair of size 8 needles and cast on my first 20 stitches. Casting on was incredibly easy - at least this version which I believe is called a "long tail cast on"? I quickly determined that I would be much more comfortable using the Continental style and proceeded to knit my first 30 rows and bind them off per the book's instructions:

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I'm still totally unsure of myself as far as keeping an even tension goes, and I did also learn that I have to watch out for my needle splitting the yarn and not coming through cleanly - I have a few fuzzy spots in that swatch to show for it. I suppose I should have knit a scarf-length piece in garter next, to perfect my knitting technique, but I'm an impatient gal and there's a ton of lace patterns out there calling my name! LOL - yeah right, like I'll be ready for THOSE anytime soon! Not that I won't try, though, as soon as I think I've gotten enough of these techniques down well enough. I can be stubborn that way, refusing to stick with the (boring!) simple beginner (boring!) projects and diving straight into the expert (exciting!) stuff! Crazy? I've been accused of that...

So, I finished off my first ever (at least since I was a kid, back when the dinosaurs roamed) piece of knitting and proceeded to cast on yet again (this time with some of that precious wool, some leftover Galway from the felted tote project) to get that purl thing down. Oy! As this picture will show, I made it some goodly distance (struggling all the way and feeling clumsy as hell no matter which way I tried to do it) before I discovered that yes, it DOES make a difference which direction you wrap that yarn around the needle! I had opted for what felt more "natural", which was to wrap it clockwise around the tip of my right needle before pulling (or should I say "pushing"?) it through the loop. But my stockinette wasn't looking quite right, and I finally decided on a review with the (decidedly crappy) pictures of the technique in the book, and realized I should be doing the wrap in the other direction. Which put me back to square one, clumsy-wise, as I had finally started managing to make my stitches a bit more smoothly and quickly before I decided to try doing it the RIGHT way. And yes, Virginia - it really DOES make a difference! See?

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I don't doubt that somewhere along the line I'll learn that the way I was doing it is also used and incorporated into various stitch patterns, done on purpose in other words. But it's not the purl that creates the decidedly smooth fabric of the well-known stockinette stitch as my picture so clearly illustrates!

Since this is merely a practice sample, I decided not to frog the whole dang thing and start all over, my mistakes in this piece will serve as reminders of my learning process. So, I will continue on with it, working on becoming more comfortable with doing my purls (and knits) correctly and struggling to understand how even tension is maintained (whatever evenness I have so far achieved has definitely been accidental), and chomping at the bit to learn the next step and the next stitch
and then on to a lacy scarf or two, maybe a pair of socks, and then maybe actually make something I really really want to make - like that gorgeous Sonata Crest of the Wave tank top pattern I drooled so recently over at the Elann site (yes of COURSE I saved the pattern - whadya nuts?!), followed by a long list of other worthy lovely projects. But enough dreaming - I have yet to try changing colors, which needs to be incorporated along with my practice stockinette, to see if I can do it (I know I can I know I can!).

As nutty as I am about learning this knit thing, I remain committed to my first love - crochet - and will be continuing to wield that hook with a vengeance, as long as my brain allows me to stay focused and my energy doesn't lag. I have a small mountain of patterns (with materials on hand) to dig into and get working on. I will have to corral my ADHD mind long enough to pick out which one to start first. Normally I do best working on only one thing at a time, following it to it's conclusion before starting another, but I am going to allow myself a bit more freedom to jump around for a bit and see if it helps me stay motivated to progress. Eventually, one of those items will end up grabbing me and insisting I pay attention only to it until the project is done, and I will go with it when that happens. I have a lot of light summer cardis/shrugs/boleros I'd like to make as well as a few summer tops, and I have managed to amass a pretty good collection of patterns for these. All that remains is to dive in! Hopefully I'll have update photos to share of my progress with these soon! As long as the other areas of my life don't interfere (always a possibility of late).

One last thing to share - after much waffling back and forth, I decided to gift my Iris Seraphina to mom for Mom's Day. I had made it shorter than I normally like for my own tastes, and I suspect that this was subconsciously on purpose, to help me make that final decision (I really really REALLY love that purple alpaca yarn!), and her reaction upon opening it was a major gratification, let me tell you! She's a very tiny gal, stands barely 4 foot ten and weighs about 80 pounds soaking wet, and the shawl fit her PERFECTLY, just the right length. Of course, I didn't have the foresight to bring my camera with me that day, so I have no pics of her wearing it - I'll have to try and remember next time I visit her. But here's a (reposted) pic of it:

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Since I still have a hank and a half of this yarn, I think I may hold onto it with plans for turning it into my very first knit lace scarf. I've got a few beginner lace scarf patterns that I've saved for that momentous occasion when I determine I will be ready for such an effort.

And here is a pic of her gift to me, a handmade tote bag which is perfect for carrying projects around. She loves making these bags, and I really like this one, it's very bright and cheerful!

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Well, that's all I have for now, folks - hope you've enjoyed your visit! Many thanks to those who have previously stopped by and left comments here! I wish I was better at responding to you all, but know that I REALLY appreciate your encouraging positive words - they help more than you can know!