Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Spider Scarf

No blocking or sewing to report, and the spider scarf is still my only active yarny WIP.

I worked up to row 156, then had to decide whether or not to swap up to a larger size of needle (as indicated in the pattern).

The problem (as you may recall from the previous post) is that the pattern is written for laceweight.  You start with four strands of yarn and gradually work your way down to fewer and fewer strands-- and larger and larger needles. (You also gradually end up with fewer stitches per row.)

I'm using a single strand of worsted weight throughout and had intended to stick with the same size needle for the whole thing, but started questioning that plan (which was based on something I read in someone's project notes, I think).  Maybe it's better to increase the needle size, after all-- if not as drastically as in the pattern, at least slightly.

In the end, I decided to put in a lifeline for the last row before the first needle swap.  If going up a couple of needle sizes doesn't seem to be working out, it'll be much easier to rip back with a lifeline in place.  Otherwise, there is almost guaranteed to be much gnashing of teeth-- and a dog or two will probably be running for cover.

(Luna is particularly bad about that.  If I so much as sigh loudly, she slinks away from me and skulks under Donald's desk.  To see the way she acts, you'd think I was in the habit of mistreating her in my grumpier moods!  I do naaaaaht!  (Oh hi, Mark! --Warning: There's one very slight curse word in that video link, just in case there are impressionable young ears in the room...)  ...Anyway, she's just very sensitive to aggravation-- mine in particular, though she behaves in a similar way if Trixie happens to sneeze. (g))

To return to topic...
Here are a couple of quick photos I snapped a couple of days ago.  It's only a few rows further along, now.

"October is for Spinners" Scarf WIP

"October is for Spinners" Scarf WIP

The seed stitch edging has a definite tendency to flip inward, obscuring the spider design.  I've seen at least one person complain that it did so even after blocking, so that's something to look forward to dealing with...  ;o)

Speaking of blocking, I hope that washing and gentle stretching will diminish some of the very visible "rowing out".  It's funny: I never really worried about "rowing out" until I happened to read about it some place where it was clearly labeled a knitting problem.  It's really only an aesthetic issue, and I'm not seriously bothered by it, but knowing that it's not supposed to look that way doesn't increase my satisfaction with my knitting.  (Whine whine whine!)

Another aspect I'm not completely satisfied with is the cinch at the spider's "waist".  It doesn't cinch enough, because I made it too loose.  (I've since read a suggestion that might've improved it.  Instead of clustering 5 on row 31, you cluster 2, cluster 1, cluster 2.  If I were ever to make this again, I'd give that a try.)  As it is, I'll try to adjust the yarn during blocking to tighten the cinch.  If that doesn't help, I might just put a little knot (or two) in the back to hold it tighter.

To anyone thinking of knitting this:
The spider section looks intimidating, but just take it line by line.  The spider section is entertaining; you watch it emerge one row at a time and it's fairly easy to see if what you've done is right.  There's also a high degree of symmetry in the spider portion, which makes it easier to predict.

The rest of the scarf, which looks so random, is actually more difficult, for me.  It's less predictable, and some of the rows have long instructions that can be tricky to keep track of.  Just take it slowly.  Keep careful track of which row you're on.  (Ask me why!)  If it helps, you can even tick off each element of a line as you complete it.  If in doubt, stop and check the row you've knitted against the pattern.  It's easy to get thrown off by some of the stitch patterns that repeat within the same row.  More than once, I've had to tink back to the previous row to get things straight in my head, and once I just fudged it when my stitch count was off by one.  Do what works for you.  One good thing about this pattern is that there's plenty of room for deviation and fudging!  No-one will be any the wiser.

There are a fair number of small errors in the pattern.  (As of this writing, they still haven't been corrected in the pattern.)  I highly recommend going to the (no longer very active) knit-along Ravelry group mentioned on the pattern page.  There's a thread for corrections that is very helpful-- and it's also worth browsing some of the project notes marked as "helpful".

Before you drop a stitch (intentionally, according to the pattern), take just a second to look down your work.  If there's a YO in the same column, further down, that's where the "run" will stop.  (This may seem like common knowledge, but not necessarily so for us relatively inexperienced knitters...)  If you don't see a YO below, you're probably either in the wrong column-- or you may have made a slight mistake in an earlier row.  You can still drop the stitch, of course, if you want to.  Either let it run (knowing that in theory it could run all the way to the bottom of the scarf, if nothing in the pattern stops it) or do a "controlled drop" and hold it temporarily in place with a safety pin, lockable stitch marker, or scrap of yarn tied through the stitch.  Later on, you can tack it in place to keep it from running further down the scarf.

Another suggestion for anyone else making this:
Rather than fiddling with the special twisted stitches (right twist, left twist, purl right twist, purl left twist), I've read that you can treat them like tiny cables.  Apparently the results look very similar, if not identical, and I found them much easier to work that way (though that may be mainly because I already had some experience with cabling without a cable needle).

If you choose to try this method, here's how I understand the process to work:

RT (Right Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the back (and knit both)

Detailed version:
Skip first stitch. Slip needle into front of second stitch (as if to purl) and slide it off the left-hand needle.  The first stitch will also slide off, in the process.  Holding the right-hand needle to the front, pick up the loose stitch (the first stitch) with the left-hand needle.  Slide the slipped stitch back onto the left-hand needle.  (At this point, both stitches are back on the left-hand needle, but they have changed order.)  Knit each stitch to complete the "twist".

LT (Left Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the front (and knit both)

Detailed version:
Skip first stitch. Slip needle into back of second stitch (as if to purl) and slide it off the left-hand needle.  The first stitch will also slide off, in the process.  Holding the right-hand needle to the back, pick up the loose stitch (the first stitch) with the left-hand needle.  Slide the slipped stitch back onto the left-hand needle.  (At this point, both stitches are back on the left-hand needle, but they have changed order.)  Knit each stitch to complete the "twist".

PRT (Purl Right Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the back (and purl both)

Detailed version:
Same as for RT, but purl the two stitches at the end instead of knitting them.

PLT (Purl Left Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the front (and purl both)

Detailed version:
Same as for RT, but purl the two stitches at the end instead of knitting them.

If you need a visual aid, here's a video (from VeryPink Knits) demonstrating the "cabling without a cable needle" technique.  It looks scary, but keep in mind that with this pattern, you'll only have one stitch hanging loose-- not three.  As long as you don't make any drastic movements (and don't have someone "helping" you by suddenly yanking the yarn), that live stitch won't have a chance to go anywhere before you scoop it back up again.  :o)

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And here's something not exactly craft-related, but since I no longer maintain a blog where this sort of thing really fits, it's either here or on the gardening blog...

Earlier this week, I made what I think was the first yeast bread I've ever baked all by myself from scratch!  This photo shows half a batch of "Swedish Round-Loaf" from my mother-in-law's recipe.

(Each loaf is maybe nine inches or so in diameter.  The loaves are cut into wedges-- usually six per loaf-- then sliced to make room for cheese or anything else you like.  Lunch meat, veggies, sprouts, etc.)


Yeast bread is no big deal for a lot of people, I know, but for some of us (those not caught up in the recent trend of rediscovering the art and science of bread-making), it's still intimidating.

When I was growing up, my mother made two kinds of "from-scratch", non-dessert bread, that I can recall-- cornbread (including the occasional "Mexican"/spicy variation on cornbread) and biscuits (of a type that I guess would be called "drop biscuits").

As an adult in my own kitchen, I've always had the impression (not uncommon, particularly in recent generations) that yeast bread is more difficult and/or time-consuming than other types of homemade bread.

Based on the recipe I used (translated from the Swedish by Donald), it does take a lot longer, from start to finish, to make even these simple round loaves than it does to whip up a pan of cornbread or drop biscuits, but not that much time is spent actually handling the dough.  Most of it can be spent doing other things while you wait for the dough to rise.

I don't think I'll be trying the most advanced bread recipes anytime soon, but this particular bread is still just new enough of an accomplishment to make it interesting.  (How long before the novelty wears off?)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In Anticipation of October

Sorry, still no photos of anything that was awaiting blocking (because blocking hasn't happened), but here are a couple of photos of the finished (but not washed) crocheted pillow covers.  The pillow inserts aren't yet in existence, so it's just the covers by themselves.

Crocheted Pillow Covers

Crocheted Pillow Covers

I ended up only doing part of the ruffled edging, because I was afraid the yarn wouldn't hold out through the final round. Fortunately, I think it looks good even without the last round.  (Otherwise, some other white acrylic would probably work fine in substitution.)

- - - - - - -

Looking through my Ravelry queue (which is way too long and should be pared down), I came across a pattern I'd completely forgotten: "October is for Spinners".

It's kind of an odd-looking knitted scarf.  You start out normally enough, though the motif (the spider from Barbara Walker's Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns) is perhaps a bit unusual for some of us.  Things only get weirder from there.  A few "holes" dot the fabric, and the further along you go, the bigger the holes get.  By the time you've reached the other end of the scarf, it's practically in tatters, with a definite spider web vibe.

I have no idea if this is the kind of thing I will ever actually use, but it appealed to me enough that I queued it, and it stopped me in my tracks when I rediscovered it there.  Strange as it is, I find it fascinating, and since I'm eagerly anticipating October (spider season), it seemed like the perfect time to try knitting it.

Now, the pattern calls for laceweight.  You start out holding four strands together, then gradually drop them (and switch up to progressively larger needles) as the scarf "deteriorates".  I love the look, but I don't have enough yardage of any single color to knit it in laceweight.  I didn't want to wait for new yarn to be shipped-- and honestly, I'd rather not spend money on yarn right now, anyway, when I have a perfectly good little stash already-- so I'm following the example of a few other Ravellers and trying my hand at converting the pattern for worsted weight.

As far as I've seen, there are no full "translations" of the pattern for worsted weight.  Most people seem to have just worked the whole thing with a single strand of yarn and one needle size.  That's what I plan to do.

For the first part of the scarf, you just knit according to the pattern.  The tricky part comes later.  If I understand correctly, the pattern's stitch count decreases as you swap up to larger needles.  I don't know how that will work out with worsted weight-- probably not very well.  If nothing else, you can wing it.  You just have to be sure that the stitches you drop (to create the strategically placed holes) have something (a k2tog? I'm not completely clear on that, yet) below them to stop the dropped stitch from just running (opening up) all the way down the scarf.  (ETA:  I think you need to be sure there's a YO below a stitch to stop it from running, though it seems fairly common for a k2tog to be next to a YO, probably to help shape/widen the hole while maintaining a more-or-less even stitch count.)

...I think this will be a learning experience!  (g)

I'm still in the spider section, and I'm surprised by how enjoyable it's been!  I never would've thought this type of knitting could be so entertaining.  It's a little like a doily in that every row (or round, in the case of most doilies) is different, so it keeps you on your toes, but whereas doily rounds can be painfully slow to complete (as they grow and grow in size), each row of this spider is fairly quick to do.

In Anticipation of October

In Anticipation of October

- - - - - - -

October is for Spinners (free on Ravelry)

Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool

I started with "Natural" (cream/undyed) and used food coloring (Wilton's gel) and vinegar to dye it into a blue-green semi-solid.  (I used this method of dyeing.  Here's my blog post about this particular dye job, from over a year ago.)  I think the bottom photo is probably closer to the true color.  Many more photos will follow, when it's finished (whenever that may be).

Incidentally, Ravelry has Fishermen's Wool listed as aran weight-- not worsted.  Fortunately, it's a scarf, so gauge won't matter one way or the other.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Checking In

This is a boring "checking in" post with no photos to share.  (Next time?)

-- I finished knitting the scarf from last post.  Have yet to weave in the ends and block it.

-- Still haven't blocked the three "Meret" berets...

-- Still haven't weaved ends and blocked the Hiddleson doily ("Pretty Baby")...

-- Haven't done much on the quilted table runner...

This isn't sounding good. (g)

What I have done (aside from knitting the scarf) is pull another languishing project-- the "Granny's Step-Daughter" project-- back out of hibernation, as part of the campaign to reduce the backlog of UFOs.

I wrote a long post about these pillow covers over a year ago, but then (for some reason) set them aside.

I've just finished crocheting the last (fourth) panel.  I guess I'll go ahead and turn them into throw pillow covers, though at this point, we don't really need more pillows.  (I've made at least another couple of other crocheted pillows since putting this project into hibernation.)

One alternative I've considered is to use the panels as blocks for an afghan, but they're not big enough on their own, so I'd have to devote more yarn to the project-- expand it with a group of supplemental afghan blocks.  I don't think I'm excited enough about it to do that.  So pillows it will be!

I'm thinking of making them removable covers (instead of crocheted closed).  I'll probably add a ruffled edge like the one on this pillow (Ravelry link).

Photos soon, I hope, but no promises on when they'll be done (because I also have to make the pillow inserts).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Laceweight Scarf and String Block Table Runner

No new blocking since last time.

I decided to put off "Wisp" for the time being and instead knit "Petits Trous de Printemps".  I read a lot of project notes, thought I understood some modifications that I wanted to copy, and cast on.

Oops, realized I wasn't doing something right.  (Bead placement, I think...)
Frogged it (slowly, as this yarn is 70% mohair).

Cast on again.
Soon realized that again something just wasn't right.
Frogged it again!

This time, I decided to put it in the corner for a few days.
When I looked more closely at the pattern, I just couldn't figure out one of the modifications.  People kept saying they were adding an extra stitch for improved symmetry, but in my quick, primitive charts (scribbled over and over again), the extra stitch seemed to lessen the symmetry.

Finally, I asked for help on Ravelry, and right away someone explained it in a way that made complete sense.  (Lesson for next time: Just ask for help!)

I doubt this will make sense or be of interest to anyone, but in case it might... If you're adding beads to the scarf-- on every k2tog or just alternating ones-- and want to make it more symmetrical (though apparently it doesn't make much difference if it's perfectly symmetrical or not) you shouldn't bead the first k2tog.  Start beading on the second one, instead.  That way, the first stitch (which is slipped) and the second stitch (formed with the k2tog) will be two stitches before the first yarn over (which creates a lacy "hole" in the scarf.  The two stitches before the first yo will be balanced at the other end of the scarf if you add another stitch to the cast on.  Knit the last two stitches instead of just the last one.

I don't know why it was so hard for me to see that... I guess because I was so focused on bead placement.  I just assumed you'd bead the first k2tog.  Nope!

The first beaded row was a nightmare, for some reason.  By the second or third beaded row, I had it down.  It still requires a certain amount of concentration, though.  It's not exactly difficult, but I have to make sure everything's in the right position and that I'm holding at all the correct spots to prevent dropped beads or stitches.

Now that I know what I'm doing, it's a very enjoyable project.  The mohair/silk yarn is interesting to knit with, though I think I'd reserve it for relatively simple patterns.

"Petit Trous de Printemps" Scarf

I think this is one of those patterns that looks best after blocking.

- - - - - - -

There's been a little sewing, too.  The string block bug has bitten.  I couldn't justify starting another quilt until I finish at least one quilting work-in-progress, but a table runner seemed like a different matter altogether.  Besides, it'll be a good way for me to learn how to make a quilt sandwich and practice binding.  I've never done it before, and I'm nervous!

I'm using a picture from this page as my inspiration. 

String Block Table Runner

It shouldn't take long to finish the blocks, but I'm already starting to stall, because I'm dreading learning about binding.  (*eyeroll at myself*)

Sooner or later...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Block Party

How many crochet and knitting blog entries do you think have been written titled "Block Party"?  ;o)

Ok, so it's probably not that original.  It's still accurate!  Yesterday afternoon, I threw a little block party.

Some time ago (and I do mean some time), I saw some knitters somewhere (over on Knitting Paradise?) discussing affordable alternatives to the special foam mats sold specifically for blocking knitted or crocheted objects.  Someone mentioned that Harbor Freight sells four-packs of large (25in²) foam mats that interlock to create either a large square or a long strip (depending on what you're blocking).

Here's a link, if you're interested:  Anti-Fatigue Foam Mat Set.
At the moment, they're on sale for just under $10.  You can use a coupon on them and get them even cheaper-- which is what I did.

Yesterday was my first time giving them a try, and I'm very happy with the results.

A few things you might want to know, if you're in the market for your own set of foam mats:

--When you first open them, they will stink.  To high heaven, I mean.  We are talking a serious P-U factor.  They smell unpleasantly of new plastic.  If you have a garage or some other out-of-the-way spot, I'd recommend letting them sit and "off-gas" for a while.  Definitely don't think that you'll be able to use them the day you bring them home.  I mean, I guess you could, but I wouldn't, for fear that the plastic stinkiness would transfer over into the fibers of the finished object.

--There are three different products/product numbers on the Harbor Freight website, and they all look like the same thing, but apparently some of them have different "puzzle edges" and won't work interchangeably (based on a review comment).  This should only matter if you buy one set, then go back and buy another set, expecting them to all work together.  (I have no idea which product number my own are.)

--These mats are half an inch thick.  That's thicker than some smaller (1-foot square) interlocking foam mats I'd tried previously.  Those were the kind made for kids to play on, and I was never satisfied with them.  For one thing, they were too thin.  Also, the smaller size made them messier to use, in my opinion.  These bigger ones seem like a denser material, which is nice, and each mat is large enough to handle a pretty big doily.  (I'll use the kiddie mats for something else... Maybe as garden kneeling pads.)

Okay, enough of that!
On to the doily photos!

The first is a doily I crocheted back in 2012:  Lemondrop Doily.  (Yes, you read that right.  Well!  My usual doily blocking thing-um wasn't big enough.  ...And yes, I am ashamed.)

The pattern is a freebie: Double Pineapple Doily.
It's supposed to have eight repeats, but I accidentally only worked seven.  It seems to have worked out fairly well, all the same.

It came out to about 23" in diameter.

Lemondrop Doily

Lemondrop Doily

Lemondrop Doily

Lemondrop Doily

Lemondrop Doily

Lemondrop Doily

The second doily is more recent, since I started it "only" almost a year ago:  Lacy Scallops Doily.

I'm not sure where this pattern came from... I think it was a charted pattern, but other than that, I'm not sure.

This one's about 21 inches across.

Lacy Scallops Doily

Lacy Scallops Doily

Lacy Scallops Doily

Lacy Scallops Doily

Lacy Scallops Doily

Lacy Scallops Doily

I also bound off the latest Meret, yesterday.  The ends have to be hidden, and then there's blocking.  (Actually, I haven't blocked either of the two previous Merets, either.  Time for another block party...)

I'm trying to decide what to work on next.  I'm thinking of starting Wisp in "Tranquil" (aqua) Aloft.

Our miserable summer may be relenting for a few days.  It's still too hot for anything approaching comfort, but for an hour this morning, the weather was blissfully cooler and drier.  Sure, I broke a sweat just watering a few plants and tying the rose to the arbor, but I could breathe.  The humidity was at a much more reasonable level than it has been for weeks (if not months), and there was a hint of smoke in the air that could almost have fooled me into thinking of autumn.  (Dare one even dream of it, in mid-August's heat?)

...All that to say that it's still going to be summer here for another several weeks, so a lightweight project is likely best. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Revisiting Familiar Patterns

On August 1st, I finished the Hiddleson doily named "Pretty Baby".  I'll put up a blog post about that once I've blocked and photographed it.  (Whenever that might be...)

Afterwards, I just grabbed one of the nearest UFOs-- the Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan.  I've been working on it ever since, one square at a time.  With the two pieces joined, it's getting to a decent size, but I think I'll set it aside again, for a while.  It's just too hot to have on my lap, and since it's a JAYGo project, the last round of every square means melting under heavy layers of acrylic.

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

(If I were particularly eager to have it finished soon, I'd try a tip I've seen online about putting the blanket on a table.  This keeps the bulk of the blanket off your lap, which helps keep you cool.  Of course, that's often not the most comfortable place to sit while you stitch, so it's a trade-off.)

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

I'm also running into a bit of rut, color-wise, since it's a scrap project, and I have a limited palette of scraps, at the moment.  If I set it aside a little longer, maybe another few new colors can be tossed into the mix.

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

Quibbles aside, I was loving making those granny squares.  There's something soothing about them.  They're a wonderful comfort project-- repetitive, but with plenty of room for playing around with color, if you're so inclined.  I find that I don't get bored making the same easy square over and over again, so long as I can make them in a variety of color combinations.  If I had to make a whole blanket's worth of granny squares in the same exact scheme, however... Not interested.

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

Old-Fashioned Granny Square Afghan

- - - - - - -

Back before I got started on working through the UFO backlog, I'd set out the materials and tools for my third Meret.  They've been waiting all this time, and now there's enough of a dent in the mountain of WIPs that I feel justified in starting something new, so Saturday afternoon, I cast on and started knitting.

The first time I made this pattern, it turned out far too small--  maybe even child-size-- though I'd cast on 80 stitches, which should've been "medium", according to the pattern-- and I'd added a repeat to increase the slouch.  (No, I didn't check my gauge.  But I... just don't swatch.  I don't think I ever have.  I probably need to start, though, for things like hats.)

...Anyway, I kept the hat.  I may have someone I can give it to, when the weather turns cooler.

Now that I knew the pattern, it was easy to try it again.  This time I made it "extra-large"-- that is, even larger than the "large" version in the pattern.  I cast on 96 stitches and worked three repeats (instead of the two called for in the "large" pattern instructions).  Well, at least that hat wasn't too small.  In fact, it was probably a bit too big (and this from a person with a fairly large head).  I'm not sure the intended recipient would want such a slouchy, loose hat, but I set it aside.  (I might end up keeping that one for myself.)

For this "third time's the charm" version, I'm working the pattern's version of "large".  The plan is to follow the pattern exactly, but if it looks small, I might add another repeat.  I cast on 88 stitches, according to pattern, and we'll see what happens.

The first two hats were knit from the same yarn-- Patons Classic Wool-- but for this one, I thought I'd try something different (mainly because I ran out of Classic Wool and would like to work from stash).  It's 100% wool reclaimed from a sweater and over-dyed for a kettle-dyed effect.  Greens and blue-greens.  I like the colors, but when I was casting on, it felt a little "dry".  Now that I'm in the body of the hat, it seems nicer, but when the hat's done, maybe I'll give it a conditioning treatment.

Here's the hat so far:

Meret (Yet Again)

I don't love the way my 1x1 ribbing came out.  It looks clunky, but maybe a little evening out during washing and blocking will help.  

Now I'm at the point that I have to decide if it needs another repeat for extra slouch.  I'm leaning toward no extra slouch, as it feels pretty big already.

This pattern works up quickly and is a fun knit. (Oh, and it's free!)  Highly recommended for an easy beret. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Billowy Delight" Finished (and Current WIPs)

In an effort to continue whittling down my WIP list, I began knitting on the Billowy Clouds of Alpaca scarf again.  In a relatively short time, it was done!

The pattern is Billowy Delight by Aimee Alexander.
The yarn is Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in "Wonderland Heather".

I love the look of the finished pattern-- and even my own humble version, with its uneven tension, is pretty and romantic and "billowy" and puts me in mind of sea breezes and the beach in general.

It's not a difficult pattern, either, from a technical standpoint.  However, worked in laceweight, it sometimes seems to go on for-ev-er (or at least it did for me).  It's simple and repetitive enough to make it a good candidate for a TV project-- however, the few times that I made a mistake, it was a pain to fix them!  (Probably wouldn't have made them if I hadn't been watching/listening to something else at the same time, but mental distraction was a sanity-preservation necessity.)  There weren't too many mistakes, but considering how long it took to fix some of them, there were enough!

This scarf would be faster and easier to make in a heavier weight yarn-- but a big part of what makes the scarf beautiful seems to be its airiness and light-as-a-feather look.  If you scale up the yarn too much, you'll lose that breezy feeling.  It might still be lovely, but in a different way.

I'd recommend the pattern and I might even make it again, myself.  Someday.  Not. Now.  (Those rows of purling get tiring after a while.)

Here are a few photos.  I haven't blocked it (yet), though that would probably help even out a few spots.  There's a particularly messy row or two where the needle was during those long months of inactivity.  Still, all caveats aside, I like the result.

"Billowy Delight" Scarf

"Billowy Delight" Scarf

"Billowy Delight" Scarf

"Billowy Delight" Scarf

- - - - - - -

I've resisted the temptation to join one of the MCALs.

Then I resisted the temptation to start another sampler afghan.  I think I will make another samplerghan in the not-too-distant future, but for now, there are just too many other projects I should finish, first.

So here's another item from the UFO list.  This one's from way back in the beginning of 2012-- the year of the Mayan apocalypse, you remember. ;o)

This is an Elizabeth Hiddleson pattern by the name of "Pretty Baby".  

"Pretty Baby" Doily in Progress

I'm about to start round 23 of 32, so there's still a way to go.  The last couple of rounds haven't been bad, though, which is a relief.  I had the impression that this pattern was in some way tricky or difficult to understand, which was part of the reason I'd been reluctant to bring it out of hibernation.

I'm not crazy about the thread.  It's Circulo Clea in white.  It's not bad, but it's not as smooth as a lot of the mercerized cotton thread I've used.  I prefer the higher sheen of other threads for doily-making.  On the bright side, I recall that the price per yard was good, and the yardage per ball is great (1000 meters or 1094 yards).  I just wouldn't use it for a once-in-a-lifetime heirloom-quality doily-- just in case.  I may be mistaken, but it doesn't look like it would hold up as well as some of the shinier, higher-plied threads. 

- - - - - - -

Luna kept showing a little too much interest in those string blocks I had arranged on the craft room floor, so it was time to go ahead and sew them together and get them up out of reach.  That has gone much more smoothly than I expected.  (I'm still a little intimidated about joining blocks.)

String Quilt in Progress

I've joined the blocks into strips and am in the process of pressing the seams open.

Pressing seams open is a part of quilting that I find boring, and if I think I can get away with it, I prefer to just press them to one side or the other.  It's especially annoying when you go to the trouble of opening the seams, only for them to accidentally end up skewed to one side, anyway, when you sew the next step.  I've just been shrugging and leaving them that way, when that happens.  I imagine a True Quilter would unpick the stitches and fix that kind of thing. ;o)  Nope.  "Not I!" said the lazy quilter.  If it adds bulk, I'm ok with that.  Bulk it on up, I say.  (g)  That adds space for trapped air, rendering my quilt even warmer.  (Right?)  Bulky is better-- so on and so forth.

So the quilt is slowly progressing-- but because I have to be back in the craft room to work on it, it's still a back-burner project.  The regular evening project is the doily.  

It's good to have a crochet project on the go, again.  I feel at loose ends without some sort of yarn project to fiddle with in the evenings.  And though I enjoy knitting, too (when it's going well and I'm not repairing a mistake), I generally find crochet more soothing.  The repetition.  The rhythm.  The flow of yarn (or thread) winding its way through fingers...

Ahhhh.... Serenity now! ;o)