Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Distractions and a Little Crochet

We had a major home repair done last week.  Monday, we found yet another leak in our pipes.  This has been an on-going problem, and it turns out that this particular type of piping has been discovered to be prone to problems.

Rather than continue to patch leaks as they happen-- never knowing when or where the next one will pop up or how much damage it might do (especially if we're away from home at the time)-- we'd already decided to have the whole house re-piped.  But you know how that is. You make the decision, but one thing and then another gets in the way, and before you know it, oops, here's another leak!

Anyway, we went ahead and had it done, and it was finished in a couple of days.  Well, except for the holes the plumbers left behind.  We'll eventually deal with those ourselves (complete with some repainting). 

In addition to the plumbing distraction, we've been working outside a lot.  I'm continuing to mulch and pull weeds-- and now plugging good sod into the weediest patch of lawn.  We're also working (slowly) on the raised vegetable beds.  But the biggest project of the moment is gravel.  My father used a tractor to clear the sod from a backing out/parking area in front of our garage.  We're cleaning up the edges that he couldn't get to with the big machinery, then we'll put down heavy-duty landscape fabric/weed barrier and have a load of gravel delivered.  Then we can tackle the pathway(s) inside the yard.  It's a large project, and I'm sure it'll drag out longer than we'd like.

If you're interested in the continuing Saga of the Gravel (and Other Thrilling Tales of the Garden), I've started a garden/home-centric blog.  Maybe I'll be able to keep myself on crafty topics in this blog, with minimal distractions, but sometimes different interests in life overlap.  They certainly affect one another! 

- - -

All that to say that I haven't been spending a lot of time crafting, lately.  When the plumbers were here, I did some crochet, but that's about it.

First, I crocheted a doily using yellow size 10 thread and the pistachio-handled 1.75mm hook.
The pattern is a chart I found online and printed out years ago, with no name or other identification.  I thought it was a new-to-me pattern, but after a while, I recognized it as one I'd made for Granny L. in white thread, quite some time ago.

The pattern's not bad, but it's not outstanding, either, and since I didn't find it especially fun to crochet, I've thrown it away to prevent another repeat.

Here's a photo (in its unblocked state):

Unblocked Doily

It definitely needs a good, hard stretching.

When the doily was done, I still had time to fill, so I turned to some "kitchen cotton" Mom gave me.  I originally intended to make a few dish scrubbers, but I don't really like the way that thick cotton works for dish scrubbers.  (I prefer acrylic.  Thick cotton takes too long to dry and gets so heavy...)

I think these will serve as fabric trivets instead.  They're too full of holes to be good for pot holders, but they'll work fine for protecting the counter-top. 

Cotton "Trivets"

The two above are an extended version of Motif #33 from Edie Eckman's Beyond the Square book.  As you can see, I've started putting yet another extension on one of them, but I'm having second thoughts... Maye they're big enough as they are.  I might rip that back and call them done. 

That motif, by the way, is very easy-- great mindless crocheting.  The only downside is that the "skinny rounds" (orange, in my samples) don't leave you a great place for hiding the tails.  That aside, it could be pretty-- or clean and simple-- or manly-- or whatever-- in the right colors.  Not complicated, but something a little different from the standard granny square.

Cotton "Trivets"

These are Motif #89 from one of Edie Eckman's other books-- Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs.  They're okay, I guess.  Even better if you like eye-searingly ugly 60s/70s color combos.  ;o) 

I didn't love crocheting this motif.  I definitely would not want to make an entire afghan out of this one.  On the plus side, it's pretty bulky, so it should keep hot pots well off the kitchen counter-top. 

- - -

And that's all!
I haven't touched the sewing machine since the last blog post, I think.  (I want to, but I'm afraid it's going to feel like jumping over a hurdle, getting back into that particular groove, again.)

The hexagon-motif afghan and the old-fashioned granny square scrapghan have gone back into temporary storage.  (This isn't blanket weather.  I am so uninterested.)

None of the many UFOs are calling my name...

I'm not sure what I'll work on next, but I'm feeling the need for something to do with my hands in the evenings, again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A This 'n' That Post

Spring is here in full force, with highs in the 80s already, so I'm trying to get things done outdoors.  Despite plans to get big things done during the winter, most of it is still unfinished.  (Isn't that how these things usually go?)  Mostly my Need-to-Do List is mulch-mulch-mulch and weed-weed-weed, but there are also seeds to start, seedlings to tend, raised vegetable beds to prepare for planting (we moved them this year, and they need more soil), and "rustic obelisks" to build.  Also, we went to a plant show late last week, so there are a few new plants to place.  (Yay for new plants!  I've blogged about this elsewhere, if you're interested.)

Maybe it's as a result of spring that I'm feeling the urge to set aside the cool-weather crafts... Thread crochet is sounding better by the day.

- - - - - - 

Though I've yet to take photos, I finished the second Meret.  (...Did I even mention that I was starting a second one?)  I made the second hat larger than the first, which turned out more child-size than expected.  In fact, I was afraid that merely moving up a size to "large" wouldn't be enough, so I increased two repeats, starting with a cast-on of 96 stitches (iirc).  Anyway, it turned out pretty big.  I'll keep it for myself, I guess.  It "works", but might blow off in a gale, since it's a little loose.  Lucky I have a big head, I guess. ;o)  One of these days, I may make a third Meret, this time sticking to "large".  But right now... I think I'm tired of knitting hats.

Wham Bam Cowl Reworked

Wham Bam Cowl Reworked

A long while back, I knitted a "Wham Bam Thank You Lamb" cowl, but I never really used it.  The yarn wasn't bulky enough, so the resultant cowl felt skimpy.  I unraveled the cowl and am knitting it again, holding the old yarn (Yarn Bee Andes Alpaca) together with a strand of another yarn (Yarn Bee Effortless Chunky).  I think I'm pretty close to having knit enough.  It's set to the side for now, waiting to be measured, bound off, and seamed.  There's no need to rush, since it probably won't be cowl weather again for a while.

- - - - - - 

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

I needed some mindless crochet, earlier this month, so I pulled out the on-going scrappy granny-square afghan.  It really is looking scrappy.  Since I'm joining squares as I go and introducing new scrap yarn as it becomes available, I think this will turn out to be the most truly random afghan I've ever made.  No careful planning.  Not even a lot of artful "looks like it's random but it's actually not" arrangement-- or at least, not as much as I'd normally do.

- - - - - -

And finally, there's the quilt.  (I really need to come up with a name for this one... "Half Square Triangle Quilt" feels a little too dull.  The pattern reminds me of some sort of grass or grain, so that will probably be the inspiration...)

I haven't done a ton of work on it, lately, but there's been some progress since I took this photo:

HST Quilt Progress

There are now three completed strips, and I've joined the first two strips together.  Whew!  Long strips like that make me a little nervous, but it seems to have worked out okay.  Photos next time, I hope.

Meanwhile, I've started cutting some 6-inch squares so I'll have a "Leaders and Enders" project to work on while I continue piecing this half-square triangle quilt. I had been sewing the remaining HSTs as my leaders and enders, but then I went ahead and finished them up (so I would more easily see exactly how many I have of each color, for even distribution).  Now I have nothing but a little thready scrap of fabric to start and end with, and I feel guilty about it, for some reason. (g)

My leaders and enders project is not at all carefully planned out, at this point.  I found a small picture of part of a quilt and loved it-- and it looks simple.  I'm not sure what this pattern would be called... It's a type of four-patch quilt with alternating diagonal lines of four-patch squares and solid squares, with darker/brighter colors forming diagonal lines within the four-patch "stripes".

...After a little more research, I think it may be "Rainbow Rows" by Lyssa Alexander.  The pattern's available in the April 2015 edition of American Patchwork and Quilting, if anyone's interested, and there's a link to a free size chart on this page.

I can see that I'm making my squares smaller than they "should" be (if it's even the same pattern).  Well, that's no big deal.  I doubt mine will come out at all the same in feeling as the one in the photo, but that doesn't mean it can't be nice in its own way.  :o) 

Finished Meret

I just found this draft version of a post.
Oops!

Here it is, albeit late:


I weaved in the two tails on the Meret, today.  It still needs washing and blocking (not sure how much I'll block it), but here it is, fresh of the needles.

I tried it on to see how it fits me, for future reference.  It did turn out a little small for my tastes.  The brim fits, but it's snug, and the body of the hat was much less loose and beret-like than I'd like.  I think it would work well for someone with a smaller head, though.  Maybe a child. 

If I were to make this pattern again (and I might) for an adult, I'd go up to the large size and work at least two extra repeats.  (This time, I worked one extra.  Without that, I think it would look very odd.  But then again, I don't usually like tight/small hat styles.) 

Fit aside, I really enjoyed this pattern.  It's just complicated enough to keep it from being boring-- great for knitting while you listen to TV or an audiobook.  The new needles were great, too.  I think I'm liking these sharp tips! 


And here's the finished hat (but not a very good photo of it, I'm afraid):

 I haven't washed or blocked it, yet. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Be of Good Cheer Samplerghan

The "Be of Good Cheer" Samplerghan is in its new home tonight (with my mother, in celebration of her birthday), so it's time to write the final blog entry about that particular afghan and bid it a fond farewell. 

This one has taken its time.  I started the first block just before Valentine's Day in 2013, finished the last block in June that same year, then put it into a heavy hibernation until early 2015.

After putting off the dreaded joining for a year and a half, it came together fairly quickly with a flat braid crochet join.  (I like that joining method.  I'd like it even better if the blocks to be joined were more uniform in stitch count.)

For the border, it was the perfect time to try out a pom-pom edging.  The pom-poms were fun to make, but it did take a while to crochet.  And then the skein of yarn I was using ran out!  With only eleven pom-poms left to make!!  (Fortunately, it wasn't a rare, one-of-a-kind, impossible-to-match yarn.  The match is pretty good.)

I'm happy to send this blanket on its way!
I think it has lived up to its promise.  Cheerful?  Yes-- maybe a little insanely so.  (g)

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

"Be of Good Cheer" Sampler Afghan

Monday, February 23, 2015

Now for Some Knitting!

I finished weaving in the ends on the Be of Good Cheer Samplerghan!
~streamers and confetti~

Some of them were problematic to hide, because there was no handy good spot, but they're all tucked in there, somehow, and with any luck, they'll stay relatively put.

I'll share some photos of the completed afghan soon.

- - - - -

I wanted to start something new, after the press to finish that afghan, so I cast on a fresh knitting project.  The pattern is "Meret (Mystery Beret)".  There are over six thousand versions of Meret on Ravelry, so I guess you could say it's popular.  ;o)

"Meret"

I'm using a skein of Patons Classic Wool (Jade Heather) from the stash, and because I really wanted to try one of my new (from months ago) fixed circular needles, I moved up one size from what's recommended.  Instead of size 7s, I'm using size 8 Hiya Hiya Sharp needles.

Technically, I don't think that many (most?) knitters feel this type of pattern calls for a sharp-tipped needle.  If anything, I believe I've read that some find the sharp tips less ergonomic/efficient for "plain knitting".  Sharps are more typically for lace, if I understand correctly.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.  I'm finding the sharps nice when I come to sk2po's and knitting in the back legs of stitches.

I can have a tendency to be a "pusher", meaning that I often push back the tip of the left-hand needle with my fingertip in order to more easily reach the next stitch.  With these sharps, you can't do that too often or you'll regret it.  Fortunately, I'm not a committed pusher, so it's not too difficult to avoid.

I'm using the magic loop technique with this 40" circular, and I'm glad it's no shorter than that.  There's enough room, but a slightly longer cable might be even better.  (Something to keep in mind, if I ever order more fixed-length circulars.)

Enough about the needles!
The hat!

"Meret"

I'm making the medium size with the brim that is half rolled/half ribbed.  (I love that rolled brim!)  Right now, the brim looks a bit smaller than I'd expected, but I have the vague feeling that I always think hats look too small, at this point in the knitting process.    

Knitting is fun-- especially after such a long break-- but I'm trying to pace myself.  Not too much knitting in one day (even on the weekend!) for fear of straining something-- thumb, wrist, or arm.

- - - - -

I need to put in some work outside-- raking and hauling pine straw, particularly-- but I've been easily persuaded to stick with indoor tasks, today.  It's chilly and damp out there-- and will be for at least the next couple of days, if the forecast is correct.

Well, after a little doggy playtime outside (quality time with frisbees and the jingly ball is a daily requirement), maybe I can get in a few more rounds on the hat... ;o)

Trixie

Monday, February 16, 2015

Joining & Edging

I finished joining all the blocks in the Be of Good Cheer sampler.  The flat braid join worked just fine, and despite the difference in stitch counts among the blocks, it seems to have evened out well enough.  I'd definitely use the flat braid join again. 

In between joining blocks, I considered what to do for the edging.  I bookmarked a few borders in Edie Eckman's Around the Corner book...  Then I happened upon this neat edging that mimics the look of the flat braid join:  Reproducing a Braid Join Around an Edge.  (I'd give better credit, but I found it on Pinterest and am uncertain of the designer.  The site that hosts the PDF seems to have nothing to do with crochet at all, so it's a bit of a mystery.) 

In the end, I decided to stick with the cute pom pom edging I mentioned last time.  The flat braid join left the "unfinished"/unjoined sides of the blocks with all these chain-space loops, so I'm using them as places to anchor the pom pom loops (with single crochet).  The pom poms are a time-consuming border to crochet, but I think these pom poms are the perfect icing for this particular cake. 

I haven't forgotten the quilt, but now that I'm in the home stretch of this afghan, it's best to avoid distractions.  ;o) 

Photos next time-- maybe of the completed afghan! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Piecing & Joining

Quilting first?

Half-Square Triangles

I've pieced together a few more blocks-- enough for one strip across the width of the quilt top. There are already one or two spots where my points definitely aren't perfectly lined up.  From a distance, I don't think it'll be obvious.  Especially if I quilt the top.  (I'm not sure yet if I'll try a simple machine quilting or stick with "just" tying it.)

- - - - - - -

Crochet.

I've started joining the Be of Good Cheer Sampler using Muggins' (Margaret MacInnis') Flat Braid 3-Chain Crochet Join.  There's a photo-heavy tutorial on Ravelry, if you're a visual learner.  I'm really liking it, so far!

"Be of Good Cheer" Afghan

Joining will probably take me a while, because the blocks are all over the place in stitch count.  Then there will be 40 new ends to deal with, all due to the joining.  (Bleh.)

"Be of Good Cheer" Afghan

But when that's done, it'll be time to choose an edging.  I'm thinking something open and lacy... I recently discovered this nifty Pom Pom Edge pattern in my queue.  Not sure yet if I'll use it for this afghan (and if so, whether I'll combine it with something else for a wider edging), but I love the pom poms and think they'd go really well with this blanket's style.