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)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Three FOs

I have photos of three recently finished objects to share!

First, here are some photos of the finished "Rustic Shawl"

Pattern: "Isis" by Anastasia Roberts (not currently available)
Yarn:  linen/cotton blend (reclaimed from a thrift store sweater)

Rustic Shawl

I haven't blocked it and don't know that I intend to do so right away... 

Rustic Shawl

Honestly, I'm not even sure I'll ever wear it, but if I do, I think it looks fine as it is.  

Rustic Shawl

I added some rows to make it larger, and by the time I decided it was long enough, it didn't seem to need a fancy border/edging.  I didn't really want it any longer.  (And maybe I just wanted a fast edging, so I could scratch it off the list).  I put simple 3-chain picots evenly spaced (every five stitches, I think) across the bottom of the shawl. 

Rustic Shawl

For the front/top edge, I ended up with three rows of single crochet.  The pattern calls for two, I think, but I felt that one more wouldn't hurt, to even things out a bit more. 

Rustic Shawl

Though I'm not sure I'll wear it much, I'd recommend it to those who do wear shawls.  It was an easy pattern with a nice result.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, it's not currently available, unless you added it to your Ravelry library before the designer took down the pattern.  Maybe she'll put it back up sometime in the future...

- - - - - - -

Second FO-- Ruby Cardiff Cowl 

Pattern: "Cardiff Cowl" by Lion Brand Yarn (free pattern)
Yarn:  100% merino wool (reclaimed from thrift store sweater)

Cardiff Cowl

I borrowed an idea from another Raveler's project page and made this an infinity cowl.  I also widened it by 14 stitches.  If I were to make it again, I think I might leave it the original size... I'm not sure.  I haven't been able to give it much of a test drive, yet, because it's July. ;o)  Fortunately, cowls "work" at almost any length/width, so I'm sure it'll be fine. 

Cardiff Cowl

Oh!  And another idea I borrowed was to turn the work, every round.  Because it's crocheted in the round, technically I could've just crocheted around and around without ever needing to turn the work.  However, the fact that it's an infinity loop would mean that the "wrong" side might end up showing, at times... To avoid that, you just turn and work in the opposite direction every time you get to the start of the round.  VoilĂ !  Reversible!

Cardiff Cowl

It's not easy to get a good photo of an infinity cowl without modeling it-- and maybe not even then. ;o)

Cardiff Cowl

I enjoyed crocheting this pattern, and the yarn is wonderfully squishy and soft-- should be very nice to wear.

The infinity aspect added to this project's interest.  It's oddly amusing to start in one spot and go around both edges of the cowl before coming back to where you began.  (Some of us are easily amused.)

- - - - - - -

 The most recent FO is the Cozy Cottage Popcorn Pillow.

Pattern: Cozy Cottage Crochet Popcorn Pillow (free pattern)
Yarn:  supposedly 100% cotton, but there's a certain slight acrylic sheen to it, so I wonder if its a mislabeled blend... (reclaimed from a thrift store sweater)

Crochet Pillow Cover

This one was... fine.  Not the most exciting thing I've ever made, but a perfectly good pattern.  You could jazz it up with some color changes, if solid colors are too boring.

Here's the back.  I did follow the pattern, because it turned out to be a plain square.  It's written so that the back and front match perfectly in stitch count.  (As all pillow patterns should, imho.)  

Crochet Pillow Cover

I think I may have overstuffed the pillow insert, but I like firm pillows, and it'll flatten somewhat with time and use. 

Crochet Pillow Cover

- - - - - - -

That's it!  

And so we come back to the eternal question:  Now what?!

I have several more hibernating WIPs I could pick up again...

Three afghans... (But it's so hot!  I don't want to have a heap of fabric on my lap until it cools again.)

A couple of doilies (including one that's barely even begun)...

A knitted scarf that has feet to go, yet...

A wreath I was going to cover in crochet flowers... (Only I've lost all interest in that and may mark it as "frogged", even though I won't bother frogging the flowers I've already made.)

Those miniature amigurumi cacti I was crocheting... (Meh.)

The "Granny's Step-Daughter" pillow project... (That one's more interesting, but I'd have to relearn/reverse engineer how I worked the first half, if I wanted the two sides to match.  I've forgotten the precise details of the joining method!)

...And two other projects so boring that I'd forgotten all about them until Ravelry reminded me.

I'm not sure what the next project will be, but I'll probably try to keep working through the old UFOs.  It feels good to scratch things off that list!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Working Through Some UFOs

I've been making an effort to work through some of the backlog of UFOs (unfinished objects, to the uninitiated).

I finished the "Rustic Shawl" and even weaved in the tails, though I've yet to photograph it.  (I haven't blocked it, either, but I'm not sure I'll bother... It's definitely a casual-- one might even say "rustic" ;o)-- shawl, and if/when I ever wear it, I think it looks fine as-is.)  I'll try to take photos soon. 

Then I picked up a project that has been in hibernation since the summer of 2013-- the "Ruby Cardiff Cowl".  I'd crocheted it on the plane ride across the Atlantic.  When I got home, I put it away, and though I've thought about it from time to time, I didn't want to get it back out, because the next thing to do was to decide how big it should be and whether to cut the yarn or keep going.  In the end, I added a few more rounds, but I'm still not sure it's the ideal length.  In any case, it'll be wearable.  There are ends to weave in, then it'll be ready to photograph, too. 

The most recent UFO to come out of hibernation is the "Cozy Cottage Popcorn Pillow".

I'm getting close to finishing the front, and I think the back is just a plain square.  There are instructions for the back in the pattern, but if they're not for a plain square, I might just not follow that part of the pattern!

Cozy Cottage Popcorn Pillow

The popcorn stitches are fun to make, and I enjoy the texture they add to crochet.

The yarn is a very soft cotton reclaimed from a ($1) thrift store sweater.  Beige is kind of boring to work with, but it's a perfectly serviceable color-- particularly for a cushion cover. 

- - - - - - -

Luna was posing prettily when I got the camera out to take that quick snapshot of the pillow cover, so of course she had to have her picture taken, too.  (They're a bit grainy, because we're keeping the curtains and blinds mostly closed against the crazy-hot sunny days of mid-July.)

Serious Luna:

Little Luna

Smiling Luna:

Little Luna

- - - - - - -

I've been keeping an eye on a couple of summer mystery crochet-alongs (MCALs) for afghans.  I'm feeling tempted, but there are already three hibernating afghans on my list of on-going projects.  (They are the scrappy granny square afghan, the "Simply Soft" hexagon afghan, and the blues-and-greens sampler afghan.)  Technically, I should probably just work on one of those until the mood passes.  And yet-- for some reason-- I've jotted down the yarn requirements for one of them and have been thinking through the contents of my acrylic stash... There's plenty of yarn there.  Just a matter of taking the plunge...

If anyone else is interested, here are links to the two crochet-alongs in question:

Julie Yeager's (or JulieAnny's) "Summer Mosaic" Mystery'Ghan 2015
Go to her group on Ravelry for more info, or here's a link directly to the pattern page
If you act fast, you can join this MCAL and get the pattern (with updates) for free!

I participated in her past two MCALs and had a lot of fun with them.  This year's pattern is written for a bulky-weight yarn, which is something new.  It sounds like quite a few people will be using worsted weight, though.  The resultant blanket will be smaller, of course, but most afghans can be increased in size by adding motifs and/or wide borders.

The teaser photo is gorgeous.  I love the scrumptious yarn she's using, but if I were to participate this year, I'd stick to stashed yarns.  (Too much stash and too many other things I'd rather buy with that money...)

Melinda Miller's "Mrs. Ghan" MCAL
Go to her group on Ravelry for more info, or here's a link directly to the pattern page.
Again, if you "purchase" (free with coupon) the first clue early enough, you'll get the subsequent clues for free, too.

This one's described as a "full-sized feminine afghan", which sounds very interesting... (I love feminine afghans!)

I've crocheted at least a couple of this designer's blocks in the past and enjoyed them-- and if you're not familiar with her work, you can browse her designs on Ravelry to get a feel for her style.  (Actually, if you're not worried about seeing spoilers, you can sneak a peek at MCAL participants' results from following the first clue, since the CAL has already started.  Just go to her group's forum and find the thread that's labeled for spoilers.)

Well, back to the pillow cover!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Finished Pillow Cover

The latest crocheted pillow cover is done!

Here it is with another pillow made (years ago) using the same pattern:

Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

Front: Pretty Petals Potholder #9378
This pattern always seems to ripple when I make it-- too many increases, I guess.  I have to fuss with it to get it flat, and it doesn't want to stay that way.  However, if you're using it for a pillow cover, that doesn't matter as much, because the pillow front won't be perfectly flat, anyway.

Back: Plain flat round shape in double crochet.
Start with 12 dc in first round.  Increase evenly by 12 each round.  For the 13th and subsequent rounds, add another increase between the 12 you've already been making.  (See this video for a demo.)

Lion Brand Pound of Love, "Antique White"
I used quite a bit of the skein.  There's a good amount left over for the scrap basket, but I think it took at least 3/4 of the skein to crochet the front and back. (It's a pretty big pillow... About 18 inches in diameter.  You can make it bigger or smaller, depending on what you want/need or the size of your pillow insert.)


Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

I made my own pillow insert because I had the "fiberfil" stuff already on hand.  Pillow inserts can be pricey!  If you're going to be making many pillow covers-- and if you have a sewing machine-- I think it's worth the little extra effort of making your own.  (But to each her own way, of course!)

I used a piece of a cheap ($1) cream thrift store sheet-- leftovers from lining some curtains.  Because I was in no mood for attention to detail, I just doubled my fabric, eyeballed the circle (which I drew on in plain old ballpoint pen ink ~gasp~), pinned it, sewed it, stuffed it, and closed the stuffing hole by hand.  My pillow insert is far from perfect, but once it's covered in crochet, it really doesn't matter.  (Whew!)

Confession time?
I'm really not great at making things to a specified size.  Sewing a pillow to an exact finished size?  Um, no thanks.  (I can try, but I make no guarantees.)  I'm much happier making the pillow first, then adjusting the crocheted cover to fit it.  So that's what I did.  

I added another couple of rounds to bring the two halves of the cover up to the right size, then joined the two circles, slipped in the insert, and finished stitching them together.  (This pillow cover will not be removable, by the way.  It shouldn't get very dirty, where it's headed, but when needed, I'll either hand wash or just throw the whole thing into the washing machine.) 

To slightly cinch the pillow in the middle, I wanted two large buttons, so I pulled out the polymer clay supplies and made them myself.  If you've never made polymer clay buttons before, you might want to check it out.  It's fun, and the possibilities are endless.  Size, shape, color, "style"-- all up to you.

(And there's no reason to limit yourself to buttons, either.  Polymer clay can make nice, comfortable handles for crochet hooks and beads/baubles for decorative stitch markers-- and apart from craft-related objects, it's great for making so many other things, including jewelry, vessels/boxes, figures, dollhouse miniatures, and more.) 

Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

I used three colors of clay for my buttons-- translucent and a mixture of white pearl and ecru.  Then I whipped up a simple cane with a translucent core wrapped in a sheet of "ecru pearl", which was in turn wrapped in another sheet of translucent.  After reducing the cane (squishing and rolling it to make it thinner), I chopped it into a bunch of pieces (of relatively the same size), then stuck them together in two groups-- one per button.  After flattening them out, I made the button holes and cured (baked) them.  A little sanding and buffing on a piece of denim gave them a nice finish-- and they were ready for the pillow.

(I didn't get any really great close-up photos of the buttons, but I hope the basic idea comes across.  I was happy with how they turned out.  Kind of an organic-feeling result from an easy, fun clay session.)

Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

Crocheted "Petals" Pillow

- - - - - - -

With the pillow finished, I decided to bring a project out of hibernation. 

This shawl went into snooze mode back in 2012.  It's high time the thing was finished!

"Isis", designed by Anastasia Roberts
(Unfortunately, the Ravelry page says it's "temporarily unavailable"... Actually, it looks like all of her patterns are unavailable at the moment-- with most saying "no longer available", which sounds forbiddingly final.  There's a note somewhere about reworking/improving some patterns, but based on comments on "Isis", that note may have been up for a while.  No telling when or if these patterns will ever be put back up on Ravelry-- or elsewhere...)

I'm using "reclaimed" yarn from a thrift store sweater.  It's a linen/cotton blend with a rustic feel-- which is why I'm calling this my "Rustic Shawl".  Very creative, right?  ;o)

Rustic Shawl

Rustic Shawl

I'm adding a repeat (or is it multiple repeats? don't remember...) to increase the size of the shawl, because it was working out to be too small for my liking.

I am determined to finish the shawl, this time, so there should be photos up, sooner or later.  :o)