Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mysteryghan Finished!

The 2014 Mysteryghan/Deco'Ghan is all done.  Ends woven in-- washed-- dried.
Photos, anyone?

It's not my favorite afghan I've ever crocheted (the colors...), but it's not hideous, either (imho). Of course since it was a mystery crochet-along-- and I was trying to stash-bust-- some of my color choices/placements could have been better, but I don't think it looks bad.  Even the dreaded harvest gold is alright in this context, I think.   (To tell the truth, the longer I look at it, the better I like it...)

Although this is not a huge afghan, it's still been on the WIP list for months and months, so I'm happy to have it completely done. :o)

2014 Mysteryghan

The pattern (Deco'Ghan) has plenty of variation to keep things interesting.  ...Well, there are several of some of the motifs... Twenty of one type of square, I think-- but that's nothing compared to making an entire adult-sized afghan from one type of square.  Lots of fpdc, though.  If you hate them, I think the designer included another option for the center medallion.  I don't hate them, myself, but they do make that center square very thick, compared to the rest of the afghan. 

The downside of this kind of afghan is putting those different-size, different-shape pieces together.  Making sure everything matches up and is in the right place.  All that slip stitching.  All that fudging.  I managed to mess up one of the joins (put it together the wrong way)-- bad enough of a mistake that I "had" to rip it out and re-do it.  Joining is a fair amount of work, all told.  (That's why I insisted on join-as-you-go for the current hexagon motif afghan.)

2014 Mysteryghan

The squares in the four corners are a complete departure from the pattern, by the way.  I just didn't like the look of those squares.  Not my style... I'm not sure that my substitution (something I made up, attempting to keep the stitch count/size right) is really my style, either.  It's okay. 

2014 Mysteryghan

That rope cable border is interesting.  I doubt I'll ever use it on an afghan again-- possibly on a pillow.  It's time-consuming, but the results are attractive-- impressive.  It looks more difficult than it is. 

2014 Mysteryghan

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One last photo! Here's the promised progress photo of the Simply Soft hexagon-motif stash-buster:

Hexagon Scrapbuster Afghan

Ahhhh.  Soothing colors.

It turns out I had more shades of green and fewer varieties of blue than I thought.  That's fine.  Blues.  Greens. Whatever.  ;o)

Another Hobby?

I've been playing around with paints-- acrylic and watercolor-- off and on (mostly "off"), for the past several months.  Just for the fun of it, mind you!  No formal training, as they say.  I used to love drawing and coloring with crayons, markers, and color pencils, as a child.  I still like doodling, on occasion.  However, while I was fairly good at drawing-- for my age-- as a child, I'm afraid that my artistic skill stopped developing, at some point.  Sadly, I can no longer say I'm a decent artist for my age.  ;o)

Well, if I can make something I'm not ashamed to hang in our own home, that'll be satisfaction enough.  I can only improve with practice, right?  And it's a very engrossing pastime... Pleasant, too, until you realize you've just messed something up royally and will have to try to fix it, somehow.   

Donald has painted/drawn pictures as gifts for members of his family, before, but he's yet to make anything for us to keep.  I've asked before, but he has other hobbies he enjoys more, I guess.  Maybe if I nag with enough persistence... Or if I hang twenty or thirty of my own "masterpieces" throughout the house, perhaps he'll be inspired to contribute to the gallery.  (g)

I would ask for kindness, gentleness, etc.-- but I've long since turned off comments (because I'm shy)-- so there's no need.  ;o)

Until today, I hadn't photographed the first "dabbling" with acrylics on canvass, because it was such a copy-cat project.  I took the idea from something on Pinterest.  It turned out okay, but I think I probably went a little overboard with too many little dots of color (and not enough nuance).  The original is much nicer, but at least this was still fun to make (and looks better from a distance, I think):

Pinterest Copy-Cat

For the second canvass, I went off in my own direction, and it looks... :o/  Like something you'd find hanging in the room of a 7-year-old who loves pink glitter and purple ribbons and asks Santa to bring her a unicorn for Christmas?  (g) 

Pink Sky wtih Cartoon Clouds

See that weird purple moon?  That's what happens when you try to paint the silhouette of a bird in flight-- something better than the old "M" birds we all know so well-- are horrified with the results, gripe and stomp for a while, then settle down to figuring out what in the heck you can do to salvage the mess.  Hm... Purple moon it is, then!

After the incident of the horrifying bird, I thought that maybe it was time to take a break from the acrylics and try my hand at watercolors.  Donald had bought some watercolor supplies back before we met.  I'd tried them once before, but I was a bit too "sketch something in detail and then stay inside the lines" with that attempt.  This time, I found an example of a somewhat looser style and let that be my inspiration. 

I was actually happily surprised by that attempt:

Watercolor Dabbling

Sure, there's plenty of room for improvement, but it's not too far off the mark of what I intended.

I tried another little watercolor that same day...

Watercolor Dabbling

The trees are more than lacking, but I liked the clouds...  And it was fun

After that, there was a pretty long break from painting of any kind...
Then some floral doodling colored in with watercolors...

Watercolor Dabbling

Also fun, and a good way to learn a little more about how the watercolors behave under different circumstances. 

Here's the latest effort in watercolor:

Watercolor Clouds

This was my own idea, even.  (Oooh, aaaah... ;o)) 

The current WIP is a pair of abstract acrylics-- another Pinterest inspiration.  I'll be sure to share a photo and a link when they're done. 

- - - - - - -

From now on, there may be the occasional painting project post, in addition to the typical crochet and knitting.  I'd really like to start sewing blocks from that string quilt kit my mother put together, too, so maybe there'll be sewing-themed blog entries soon.  (Actually, I know there will be sewing blog posts, because I sewed a curtain a month ago and have yet to photograph it-- and there's another curtain cut out but not yet sewn together...)

Monday, October 20, 2014

No FOs!

I still don't have any finished objects to show!

1.  Donald was sick with a cold most of the week before last.  It always throws things a little out of kilter when one of us is sick.

2.  Now that the cool weather is finally here (after cruelly teasing us, then deserting us again), we've been trying to get a few things done outdoors.  I've been pulling weeds.  (SO MANY WEEDS.  Piles and piles of them.  How did they grow so quickly?!)  Then over the weekend, we took out a rotted fence post and put down a new one, which involved clearing some overgrown grass and pulling/attaching the fencing material.  Also, we started work on the round "stone bed" over the septic tank.  Took out the stones (as many as possible), put down old asphalt shingles to serve as a barrier, and put the stones back on top.  (Lesson: Stones work their way into soil with alarming speed, without some type of barrier in place.  Or at least these did.)  We still need more stones to finish the job, but it's much better already.

- - - - - - -

A brief summary of WIPs:
--  The two-color doily.  There's been real progress on that one.  I'm nearing the second band of the accent color.  The only trouble is that I'm not positive that I have enough of the main color.  Thread always seems to last longer than you think it will, though.  If not, I'll probably add in a third color-- white-- and just make the most of the situation.

--  The Simply Soft hexagon scrap-buster.  Fun to crochet, less fun to weave the ends, but I'm caught up, now.  A photo next time?

--  The 2014 Mysteryghan.   I've actually finished that one-- all but the end-weaving.  I should be able to do that tonight, though, so maybe there'll be a photo session tomorrow.  It's not a breath-taking beauty, unfortunately, but at this point, I'm just happy that it's almost done. 

- - - - - - -

For a while, I was also pondering the possibility of casting on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I've never knitted mitts, gloves, or mittens before, but I've been meaning to give it a try.  I was comparing patterns for hours, dithering among three or four "finalists".  Then I decided which one to use-- and some distraction promptly appeared-- right on schedule-- so I haven't given it another thought since.  Maybe once I finish the Mysteryghan and the two-tone doily it'll be a good time to start something new.

I wonder if I'm up to the "two-at-a-time" technique..

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This and That Crochet

The doily is going along very sloooowly.  I think it'll be pretty when it's done, though.  :o)

Doily Progress Shot

Should I admit that I've already made a mistake?  There are some rounds with long chains and lots of single crochet into those chains, and though I went to the trouble of counting and marking up my chart, I referred to the wrong number on one round, which made it impossible to work part of the next round into the very center of those many single crochets (because there was no exact center).  Eh, it'll be fine.

- - - - - - -

A long while ago, I sorted through my stash of yarn and pulled out all the Caron Simply Soft and similar yarns.  (I've decided not to buy more of it, because I don't love it, and Simply Soft's skinny version of so-called worsted weight doesn't work well-- imho-- with other, chubbier worsted weight yarns.)

A lot of it seemed to fall together into a decent color scheme (or so I tell myself).  There are blues-- white-- grey-- and a little green/blue-green.  I thought they'd make a nice afghan.  I was envisioning a tiled effect of single-color motifs-- probably hexagons-- and Ravelry's pattern search came up with just the thing:

Moody Blues 'Ghan

The pattern is Elizabeth Trantham's "Easy Hexagon"-- free on her blog.

Though I love the way they looked stitched together as described in the pattern, I do not love the process of sewing pieces together, so I'm opting for JAYGo. 

Also, I'll probably be making the rest of the hexagons with 2-chain corners instead of three, because it works out better for JAYGo.  (I'm hopeful that the switch from 3-chain corners won't be visible... I don't think it will be, in the finished project.)

Making the little hexagons is fun.  Seeing the blanket grow piece by piece is fun (and pleasantly reminiscent of a tile-laying game).  Weaving in those ends... not so fun.  Must keep up with end-weaving!

- - - - - - -

The other day, I was reminded of some steel crochet hooks I bought in a thrift store on our last trip to Sweden (summer 2013).  I'd completely forgotten them.  I wasn't going to bother, because they're so tiny that I doubted I'd use them, but Donald insisted, and they cost next to nothing, so home they came!   

Old Crochet Hooks

Two of them are plain old "Boye" brand.  Size 10 (1mm) and size 11 (0.8mm).  The size 11 is marked on the other side of the thumb-rest with the price-- 15¢-- which is kind of charming, I think.  (I'm pretty sure the favored, clay-covered, 1.65 Boye hook I've used for most doilies was also marked with a price.)

The Milward hook is size 14, marked "Made in England".  I have no idea what size 14 is in millimeters, but it's definitely not the 2mm that the first Milward chart would suggest.  (It's the leftmost hook in the photo below.  See how tiny?!) 

In U.S. sizes, a 14 would be 0.6mm...

Ah, here's someone saying that Milward hook sizes 13, 14, 15, and 16 are used for tatting threads-- #60 and #80.  Phew.  Um, maybe not.  I'll just give this hook a nice place to live, for the time being.  Maybe someday it'll find a new home with someone who doesn't shudder at the thought of crocheting with tatting thread. 

Old Crochet Hooks

The last of the four hooks-- the one marked with a "W" on the thumb-rest-- has "NORICA" engraved near the bottom of the handle:

Old Crochet Hooks

That one's a bit of a mystery.  I'm having no luck at all finding anything about crochet hooks marked with a "W" (inside a symbol of the sun... or the compass...) or "NORICA".  There's also no size marking, but I'm less interested in that than in just learning what company made the hook.  I'll keep looking...

Frosting Cowl Finished!

Last week, I decided to call the Frosting Cowl finished.
(And now I'm going to blather on about it for paragraphs.  Apologies.)

"Frosting" Cowl

I weighed my leftovers (from two balls, because there was a knot near the end of one, so I went ahead and joined the next ball early), and it turns out I used less than I expected-- 2.62 skeins (531 yards).  I could've kept knitting on it, but it was time to stop, and I think it's plenty big enough. 

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that this was my first time using a provisional cast-on.  Are there multiple methods of provisional cast-on?  I imagine so.  Anyway, I used one that starts with a crocheted chain of scrap yarn.  (You'll find a link in my Ravelry project notes-- see link above.)  It wasn't exactly difficult, but getting the knitting needle into the chain wasn't the smoothest thing I've ever done, either.  Undoing the chain and "reclaiming" the loops seemed much easier.  The whole process wasn't bad at all, though, so there's no reason to avoid patterns that call for a provisional cast-on.  (Another technique in the bag of tricks!) 

The lady in the video I used for picking up the stitches again (see Ravelry project notes) had a tip for avoiding the fluff that gets in your project if you use yarn for the provisional chain.  Simply make the crochet chain from something other than yarn!  She recommended using a thin ribbon or cord-- something smooth.  Because it comes off neatly in one piece, you can use it again and again, too.  (Of course, I didn't have that much trouble with fluff from the scrap yarn.  There was a little, but not much, so I'm not sure I'll bother, if I even remember this tip for next time...)

There were two more firsts in this project-- fake moebius and Kitchener stitch.

Though the pattern mentions the possibility of flipping one side 180° before grafting, I hesitated, because the “right side/wrong side” thing confused me. How would that work?  Wouldn't the wrong side of the cables show?  But then I read somewhere on the forums that the moebius is meant to counteract the effect of twist that naturally happens when you wrap the cowl around your neck twice. That’s how I plan to wear this, so I gave the moebius a try.  (It's not cold enough to wear, yet, but it'll be interesting to see how that works out under "real life" conditions.)

As for the Kitchener stitch, it wasn’t nearly as complicated as I'd expected!  I did have to undo/redo a bit of it, though, because I got distracted and messed up something.  Distraction is likely, because it’s a little mind-numbing-- but still complicated enough (for a newbie, at least) that it requires attention.  It also made my hand go a bit numb with the unaccustomed motions, so I wouldn’t want to do tons of it at one time. Repeating the mantra (knit off, purl on; purl off, knit on) aloud as I performed each step was helpful. …So it's probably best to not do the Kitchener stitch in front of strangers.  ;o)

"Frosting" Cowl

I’m not sure how well I did it, because since I did turn this cowl into a “fake moebius”, I was grafting right side to wrong side.  As such, it would be perfectly clear where the join happens, no matter how skillfully the two ends were grafted together-- but I think it looks pretty nice, and I’m happy to have Kitchener stitch under my belt for future projects!  It's certainly nothing to be afraid of.  I just need to remember to focus on what I'm doing, not let my mind wander, and keep repeating the mantra (aloud, if necessary). 

"Frosting" Cowl

I suppose I'll wash it, next, but I'll skip blocking-- just flatten it out to dry-- because this yarn has a reputation for growing like crazy, and I'd rather this cowl didn't stretch.  (If anything, I'd have preferred tighter stitching.  Yeah, I know; I should've swatched. ;oP)

After that, it'll be stowed away in the appropriate drawer to await the first serious cool snap.  It shouldn't be too long, now.  Some local forecasts predict lows in the upper 40s on Sunday morning!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rubber-Handled Crochet Hooks

The Tulip Etimo Rose hook arrived earlier this week, so I decided to pull out all my similarly sized rubber-handled hooks and do some comparison. (I left the Clover Amour hook mostly out of it, because that's a steel hook and the handle is not likely to be quite the same size as a Clover Amour aluminum hook would be.)

I'll include a few photos at the bottom of this entry, but first things first...

Tulip Etimo vs. Tulip Etimo Rose: 

The differences appear to be nearly entirely cosmetic.
The Tulip Etimo handle is a brown, and the metal is a very warm golden tone.
The Tulip Etimo Rose handle is pink (thus the "Rose" part), and the metal is a silver tone. 

The brand and size markings vary slightly between the two, but in every other way, they appear to be identical.  Same length.  Same handle shape and size.  Same style of tip and length of shank.  Both are aluminum hooks with a fairly matte finish (for metal).  Both have an "elastomer" handle with the same texture and feel in the hand.  The packaging of both includes a warning that the hook should be used for "crocheting purposes" only.  (You knitters out there, don't get any ideas about using this hook to fix a dropped stitch. ;o))

So, unless I'm missing something, you can pay slightly more for the silver/pink hook, or save a couple of bucks per hook by opting for the exact same tool in brown and gold.  The pink is pretty, and it looks like the different sizes come in a gradient of tints of pink (though each tint is repeated across the range of sizes, because the gradient goes from pale to deep pink, then back down the pale again), whereas the handles of the brown hooks are all the same shade.  However, I have to wonder why they wouldn't just make them in a variety of colors, so you can even more easily tell them apart.  (As Clover does...)  Of course, then the "Rose" part of the name wouldn't make as much sense...

If I ever add more Tulip Etimo hooks to my collection, I'll probably opt for the cheaper version.  (That said, I'm glad I have a pink and a brown one, now, because it'll be so much easier to tell them apart, at a glance.)

- - - - - - -

Tulip Etimo vs. Crochet Dude (Boye):

Boye hooks have a very obvious "seam" down each side of the handle. (Could possibly be carefully trimmed with a blade.  I may give that a try, sometime.)
Tulip hooks are pretty much perfectly smooth; there is a visible seam, but it's very subtle.  

The two brands have a slightly different "tip" style.
Boye has a bigger tip.
Tulip looks more like a hybrid between Boye and the "in-line" Susan Bates style.  

Boye hooks have a slightly more rubbery, "cushy"-feeling handle, compared to Tulip.

The shape of the handles differs.  Tulip's thumb-rest seems to have all the "indent" on the top and be flat on the bottom, while Boye has an indent on top and bottom/underside.  The underside of the Boye handles "bell out" more around the metal than the Tulips do. 

Boye has its logo in raised texture on the front of the thumb-rest.
Tulip has its raised logo (and "JAPAN") on the lower back portion of the handle.

Boye hooks are available in a variety of blues and greens.  However, each specific hook size is only available in one color, and some of the colors appear more than once across the full range of sizes.  For most of the hooks, the metal is a fairly light color, but a few (such as my G hook) are a very dark blue.  (For a description of the colors of the Tulip hooks, see the section above.)

Boye hooks have the size printed near the bottom of the front of the handle.  It looks unsealed and very easy to wear away with heavy use.

Tulip hooks have the size printed in that same general location, but it appears to be sealed.  It looks like it would be more durable, but again, could wear away, eventually.  (I would prefer an "engraved" size marking, but oh well...)

I've noticed one thing that applies to both brands of hooks-- and to any other hook with a permanent handle.  That one thing is this: You can't very easily use a hook/needle gauge to measure the hook's size.  I have a gauge and thought I'd measure these hooks just to see how accurately they were milled-- but then I realized that it won't work, because the tips are bigger than the shaft-- the part that needs measuring-- and the handle prevents you from sliding it in the other way.  You could always measure them with a ruler, but that seems fiddly.  Anyway, it's not a big deal, but it never occurred to me before that sizing them the old-fashioned way simply won't work.  (If the sizes ever start fading away, I need to mark them with a Sharpie.  Much better than holding them side by side with marked hooks and guessing.)

Both are aluminum hooks that have some type of rubbery handle. 

Three of the hooks are almost identical in length-- right around 5.5 inches.  The G/4.25 Boye hook is about a quarter of an inch taller than the other three.  (...And come to think of it, that may be my doing!  The G hook is the one I noticed was spinning around in its handle, and I gave a gentle, experimental tug or two to see if I could get it loose.  Yeah, that was probably due to me.)

- - - - - - -

A Word on Hook Sizes
Do you ever wish that the world had just gotten together and decided on a universal sizing system for crochet hooks (and knitting needles)?  I mean, sure, there's the whole measurement in millimeters thing, but I tend to remember knitting needles and aluminum hooks by their ascribed number-- not their size in millimeters.  (Strangely, the same does not hold as true for steel crochet hooks.  I find it easier to remember "1.65mm" than "7".)

It can be confusing.  If I refer to a hook using a letter ("G", for instance), non-American crocheters may not really know what I'm talking about.  If I had to guess the size in millimeters... Well, I might be able to give a good guess right now, because I've been paying attention-- but ask me a month ago, and it would've been a very wild guess.  I simply don't think in millimeters! (But maybe I need to start trying, at least as far as crochet hooks go!)

What makes things even more befuddling is that there can be variation even within the same system of sizing.  I've read over and over again, lately, that a "G" hook is 4.00mm.  Yet when I look at this Boye (Crochet Dude) size G hook, it's marked 4.25mm.  ...What?  I guess Boye lives by its own set of rules. 

Boye's not the only one guilty of confusion, though.  These Tulip Etimo hooks are definitely two different sizes.  One is 4.00mm and the other is 4.50mm.  Yet they are both marked a size 7!

A very small change in gauge-- such as switching from a 4.00 to a 4.25, mid-project-- may not be the end of the world (as long as you're not making something that has to fit perfectly), but it's probably a good plan (if you can't just leave the hook with the WIP from beginning til end) to write yourself a very specific note about which hook you were using.  Not just "G", but which G hook you used ("Tulip size 7" or "dark blue G hook")-- or the exact size in millimeters, if your hook is marked.  (Those of us who use clay-covered handles often have just the letter size to go by-- but I know that all my clay-covered hooks are Boye brand, which helps.)

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Crochet Hook Comparison

From top to bottom:  Tulip Etimo, Tulip Etimo Rose, "Crochet Dude"/Boye (x 2), Clover Amour (steel hook-- see last blog entry for more information).

Crochet Hook Comparison

Left to right:  Boye, Etimo Rose, Clover Amour, Etimo, Boye.

I think you can see what I mean about the different shapes of the tips, in this photo.
The Boye hooks have a very slender, tapered neck, and the tip is quite rounded-- curved/convex front.

The Tulip hooks also have a neck, but it's not as long and super-slender as the Boye, and the tip is less rounded-- much flatter in front.

I don't have a Susan Bates hook to photograph for comparison (not my brand), but you can find photos online.  Bates hooks are "in-line", meaning (to the best of my knowledge) that the tip doesn't protrude from the profile of the shank/shaft.  It's "in line" with the rest of the hook.  The neck is a very different shape-- flatter and wider-- the tip smaller and usually more rounded, without that "point" you see at the very tip of all the hooks in my photo.

Preference of one hook style over another seems to usually be strong, one side vowing to never use Boye and the other scorning Bates.  ;o)  I started with Boye, and that's pretty much all I've used, except for one or two things I've crocheted with a lighted hook.  I gave the Etimo Rose a quick test drive last night, and it worked fine.  It's still too early to say whether or not I notice any difference between the Boye and Tulip hooks, but I'm hopeful that I'll find the Tulip tips just as pleasant to use as the Boye-- maybe even better.

I do think the Tulip (and Clover) production quality is superior to that of these Boye hooks.  They feel more finished, without those unsightly seams.  Also, I've already had an issue with one of the Boye hooks-- the one that is spinning around in its rubber handle.  It's possible that I'll run into the same problem with the Tulip or Clover hooks-- but I kind of doubt it.  (I've also seen reviews of "Crochet Dude" hooks on-line from other customers who've also had a hook rotating in its handle or who have gotten a hook with a rough spot on the metal part of the hook. Not good at all!  On the other hand, there are plenty of reviews by crocheters thrilled with these hooks.)

Of course, the Boye hooks seem to run at least a few dollars cheaper than the Tulip or Clover, so you have to take that into consideration.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to pry the hook from the handle, glue it back in place, and go about my merry way.  Still, that's time I could have spent crocheting, so it's an annoyance. 

Crochet Hook Comparison

One last photo to show the textured/embossed parts of these hooks.  They all have something sticking out in relief from the surface of the handle.

The Clover Amour hook (which I've only mentioned in passing today) has "JAPAN" embossed on the very lowest part of the back of the handle, and "CLOVER" embossed on the very lowest part of the front-- right beside the "engraved" sizing information.  The font is tiny, thin, and inobtrusive, but I have been feeling it when I crochet that doily, and that's the kind of thing that can easily rub on your finger or palm until it creates a sore spot... 

The Tulip hooks both have "Tulip JAPAN" embossed on the bottom of the handles.  I haven't used these enough yet to say whether or not I've noticed that while crocheting. 

The Boye logo is engraved-- rather strangely, I thought-- on the top of the handle, right in the indented thumb-rest.  I suppose they chose that location because in a bare metal hook, that's where the branding/size information is usually placed.  Maybe it's not that strange of a choice.  I never thought about it on those bare aluminum hooks... I don't remember noticing the embossed logo back when I was using these hooks, either.  It just looks like it could be irritating.  (g) 

- - - - - - -

I'll try to remember to come back to this subject (in later entries), if I make any potentially interesting or useful observations about these hooks.  It's hard to know yet which ones I'll love best... (And it's probably a completely personal judgement, anyway!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That

Last weekend, I started the border for the Mysteryghan.  I'd just started the time-consuming cable round before becoming completely sidetracked.

"Frosting" Cowl

Then I picked up the Frosting cowl again.  I'm on to the third (and final) ball of yarn, trying to decide how long it should be before I have to figure out how to seam it-- and whether or not I can/should make it a moebius.  (It definitely has a "right" and a "wrong" side, and I'm not sure how that'll work with a moebius.)

It's an enjoyable project, but it needs to be finished to make room for another WIP!  I've gotten fully into the groove on this one, now: I no longer need to refer to the pattern to remind myself-- just in case-- what to do for each cable row.  (It's a simple pattern, but it's knitting, you know.  That makes it harder for me to memorize and feel confident that I'm doing it correctly.)  Funny how that always seems to happen.  Just when you really get into the flow of the pattern, it's almost time for it to wind down. 

- - - - - - -

Friday, a couple of crochet hooks I ordered arrived, and I needed to try one of them this weekend.  I'm still waiting to finish that cowl before I allow myself to try my new knitting needles, but crochet hooks... Who can say no to a little crochet project?  They're so quick!  Hardly any commitment at all, right?  ;o)  (At least it's not another afghan...)

I'm not sure of the pattern's name, but you can find a chart on this page of Pammy Sue's blog.   (I must've found my copy of it somewhere else, though, because it has the Russian symbol key.)  You'll find a photo of Pammy Sue's white and pink version on that page, too, and for a photo of one done in white and yellow, check out this entry on Linda's blog.  They're both so pretty!

I'm planning to follow the same two-color scheme, but I'm using more of my leftover blues.  America's Best size 10 in Parakeet (accent) and Light Aqua (main color).  (That brand of thread has been discontinued, by the way.)

Doily in Progress

Now, for some hook talk...

The new hook I'm using for the current doily is a 1.75mm (labeled size 0) Clover Amour steel hook-- one of those with the "elastomer rubber" handle.  I have an old (hand-me-down) size 7 (1.65mm) hook that I gave a polymer clay handle, and that's been my favorite for crochet doilies, ever since.  I would've gotten a size 7 hook this time, too, but I couldn't find one in the Clover Amour line.  (Maybe they're out there, though...)

It's early to say for sure, yet, but I think this may be my new favorite hook style for crocheting doilies.  If I still love it this much by the end of the doily, I'll be adding the next smaller size to my wish list.  (If they don't make 1.65mm, maybe 1.5mm?)

The handle is not quite so soft as I'd expected-- slightly less "squishy" than the Crochet Dude hooks I've tried-- but I'm not sure that's a bad thing, and it's much more comfortable to hold than a plain steel hook.  It's somewhat softer than-- but also slimmer than-- the polymer clay handle.  I think it may have more grip/non-slip texture to it than the clay-covered handle, but the slimmer profile might not be as good for someone with arthritis or other hand-strength/pain issues.

Photo comparisons--

Top: Boye 1.65mm (polymer clay handle)
Middle: Clover Amour 1.75mm
Bottom: Boye (Crochet Dude) 5mm

Comparing Crochet Hooks

I love that pistachio/spring green of the Clover hook-- and the fact that the size is etched into the hook, so it can't (easily) wear off.  (I "carved" the size into the bottom of the polymer clay handled hook before curing it.) 

Comparing Crochet Hooks

The second photo could be better, but at least it gives some idea of the shape of the hook.  I haven't noticed any difficulty crocheting with the Clover hook, so I guess it's not too different from the Boye style (which is pretty much the only style I use).  It seems to have a fairly long... shank? shaft?  Whatever the technical term you prefer for the part of the hook that maintains a stable size before tapering into a larger dimension for the thumb-rest.  (If that part's not consistent enough or long enough, it can be harder to crochet evenly-- especially when you need to have several loops on the hook at the same time.)

I also ordered two aluminum hooks.  Size 7/4.5mm in Tulip Etimo and size 7/4mm in Tulip Etimo Rose.  How they can both be "size 7" with the 0.5mm difference in size is somewhat mysterious ;o) but there you are!

The 4mm hook corresponds to the American size "G".  The 4.5mm hook falls right between American size G and H (which is 5mm).  I didn't have a 4.5mm hook before this, and since the G and H hooks are my most commonly used sizes (for worsted weight), it made sense to add the "in-between" size to my arsenal.

As for the extra 4mm hook... Well, I had a moment of weakness-- and you can always use another hook in your favorite size, right?  (Also, I wanted to see/touch/compare the Tulip Etimo and the Tulip Etimo Rose to determine for myself whether or not there's any difference between the two, beyond color.)  The pink one hasn't made it here, yet, so more on the Tulips at a later date.

Well, there are still a few hours of perfectly good crocheting or knitting time left, this afternoon.  I've got my mp3-player loaded with a happy playlist and an Agatha Christie audiobook (depending on the mood), so I'm all ready to go.  ;o)  Hope your weekend is winding down just as nicely!