Thursday, April 14, 2016

More Afghan Blocks Finished

"Shattered" (by Margaret MacInnis).

"Shattered"

I guess I already wrote about this first one, in the last entry.  It has some interesting textures.  Popcorn stitches.  Puff stitches.  Spike stitches.  Front-post and back-post stitches.  Lots going on, here.

- - -

"Kingsley" (by Polly Plum).

"Kingsley"

I wrote about this one last time, too.  I like the way it turned out-- particularly the "leafy"-looking design-- though I had to make some small changes to make it (more or less) match the other blocks in size.  I can't remember if I just left off a couple of rounds or shortened some stitches... I think I just left off some rounds.

- - -

"Beware the Ides of March" (by Margaret MacInnis).

"Beware the Ides of March"

I left off the tapestry crochet and also left out one round to make the block match the others in size.

This is another that I chose from my queue-- not a block that has (as yet) been specifically included as part of the CAL.  It's a while before the next "official" block will be available, so I'll probably choose another from my Ravelry queue.  There are plenty waiting!

Though I tend to gravitate towards the ones with opportunities for lots of color changes, I probably need at least a couple more with larger blocks of color, to balance out this afghan's first block, "Puff Wheat".

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Denna" Crochet Block Completed

I finished "Denna"!

I started out making the 12” square but realized after the 10th round that my block was coming out too big. (My other blocks for this afghan are all smaller than 12” squares, before adding the border.) So I ripped back that round and switched to the instructions for the 9” square.  To get the block to the size of my other squares for this afghan, I needed something in between the 9” and 12” block, so I adjusted the last two rounds slightly.

I think there are some minor number errors in at least the last round of the 9” pattern. It looks like it was copied and pasted from the 12” pattern, and the designer forgot to adjust some numbers. Of course, by the time you get to the last round of the pattern, you can probably figure out what to do, just from the photo, and since the pattern is free (and available in three sizes), we can’t really complain. ;o)

I love the way this block turned out!  It was pretty easy to crochet, too, which was nice, after the more complicated blocks I’ve been working on lately. I’d like to make this one again, sometime. :o)

Though it isn't a difficult pattern, I realized toward the end of the project that I'd put one of the front post stitches into the wrong place.  It was a slight mistake, but one that would've nagged at me every time I saw it.  Fortunately, it happened to be right near the loose ends of that round, so I was able to do a makeshift repair without ripping back multiple rounds.  It's still not perfect, but it's good enough for me.

Denna

I haven't taken a photo of my next completed block, yet, but it's done.  All the ends woven in and everything.  "Shattered" (without the Canada Goose block border):

Shattered WIP

I had fun making this one, too.  Somewhat less fun when the puff stitches reared their ugly heads, maybe... ;o) ...but still fun.  I need more practice making puff stitches, but I don't really want to practice them, because I don't enjoy making them.  (A real conundrum, huh?)  My main problem seems to be pulling them up tall enough.  I feel like I'm making them tall, when I start, but by the end, they seem shorter than they ought to be.  Ah, well, they're passable.

- - -

I'm currently in the middle of "Kingsley".  That's the pattern that Polly Plum designed especially for the BAMMM Kazaam 2016 CAL.  I believe the coupon that drops the price to .99USD is only good until the end of April, so if you're interested, don't wait too long!  (You don't have to participate in the CAL to take advantage of the deal.  The coupon code is on the pattern's Ravelry page.)

I don't have any progress photos of my "Kingsley"; next time, I hope.  I'm enjoying the pattern-- and it's a real looker-- but you really have to pay attention, on some of the rounds.  (~glaring in the general direction of Round Eleven~)

The photos labeled with stitch groups are very helpful.  Be aware that there are some errors in the pattern, though.  So far, I haven't come across any that I didn't immediately recognize, but they could be confusing for someone with less crochet experience.  There's a link on the pattern page for errata, so I'd suggest giving that a look before starting.

- - -

I'm not sure which block will be next up.  Maybe "Florentine" (by Margaret MacInnis).  It's not technically part of the CAL, but it could certainly be an extra or alternate block.  If you act fast (again, by the end of the month), you can get this pattern for free.  (Click the link above and read for the coupon code.)  The designer is releasing it in incremental clues, so you can work it as a mystery block, if you so wish.

There are quite a few blocks already in my queue, too, so I might start one of those, first, and wait for more clues to roll in before I decide whether this block belongs in my current afghan.  "Florentine" is described as masculine and geometrical, which may or may not go well with my soft spring pastels.  Oh, I'm sure it would be fine, but there might just be other blocks that would be even better for this particular project.

Photos of a finished "Shattered" and "Kingsley", next time!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

English Garden Block Completed

My English Garden block (designed by Julie Yeager) is finished!
I changed the last couple of rounds slightly-- mainly to increase the size.  More details on my Ravelry project page (linked above).

English Garden

I've started on the next block-- shattered (by Margaret MacInnis)-- but I'm waiting for the last day of clues (released tomorrow) to be able to continue with that one.  I have a progress photo from yesterday (not up to date on my progress so far) at the Ravelry link above, but since some people are working on this one as a mystery CAL, I guess I won't post that here, just in case.

April's block is from another guest designer, Polly Plum, but we're still waiting for that one to be available (seeing as it isn't technically even April, yet).  In the meantime, I decided to try another of that designer's blocks.  She has some stunning ones available.  I started with a freebie that's been in my queue for months: Denna.  I'm not sure my color placements are the best possible arrangement, but I'm sure it'll be fine.  It's a fun block to make, so far.

I laid out the few completed Whispers of Spring blocks (BAMMM Shazaam CAL blocks) on the bed to get an idea for how many I might want to make.  I'm thinking 4 x 5 looks about right.  Twenty blocks, then.  At the moment, it doesn't feel like I'll be willing to drag this project out for the rest of the year-- but then again, the heat of summer might make it easier to set aside in favor of a lace project... Then there's also a lot of gardening to focus on, in the next couple of months...

Also, I'm very seriously considering jumping in on this other afghan CAL:  Frida's Flowers Blanket.  Stylecraft (the UK yarn company) is hosting this event.  The free pattern will be released in sections every two weeks over the course of four months.  (The first bit's not coming out until the 5th of April, but there are a couple of "gearing up" informational PDFs available now.)  The designer is Jane Crowfoot, whose patterns I've often admired.  This one is beautifully floral-- one of my favorite styles of crochet.  I'm still not sure if I'll make this right away, but it's a definite possibility.

Friday, March 25, 2016

BAMMM SHAZAAM 2016 CAL

How's that for a cryptic-looking post title?  ;o)

I was feeling in need of a new blanket project-- a sampler, preferably-- when I came across a crochet-along for 2016.  The BAMMM Shazaam 2016 Afghan CAL (Ravelry pattern link) is being hosted by designer Margaret MacInnis, a.k.a. Muggins, at her Ravelry group.  (Here's the thread devoted to the CAL.)

The afghan is a "block a month" crochet-along, and you can read all about it at the links provided above.  Some of the 12" blocks are totally new designs; some (maybe just the alternates/"fillers" for people who want more than a total of 12 blocks for their afghans?) are patterns that have been around for a while.  Most will be the work of the main designer/hostess, but there will be at least five blocks from guest designers, too.

From what I understand, most of the blocks are free, but at least some of them will be paid patterns-- with a (temporary) coupon code for a significant discount.  (So far, the paid patterns have been reduced to 99¢ for people from countries without a VAT.  They're a little more in countries with a VAT.)  I think the coupon code is good for all of 2016, but if you're interested in participating, I would  hurry and check into that yourself, in case I'm mistaken.

Each block is edged using a pattern called "Canada Goose Border", and when the blanket's finished, at the end of the year, there will be a special whole-afghan border to tie it all together.

- - - - - - -

I selected several colors from my stash of acrylic to start my version of this sampler afghan.  With the beginning of tender leaves just showing in my garden, I gravitated toward springtime pastels. (There's a list of the yarns I'm using on my project page on Ravelry.)

I haven't decided how many blocks I'll make, so I haven't yet made any of the filler blocks.  In fact, I'm still not sure if I'll even stick to the suggested schedule of blocks for the whole year, but for the time being, I am.  There are some very pretty blocks in the group, already.

Here are some quick photos of what I have so far:

Puff Wheat
Lots of puff stitches and front-post double crochets (fpdc).  I'd never really taken the time to learn to do puff stitches properly, before, so this really did feel like a lot of them.  They're still not my favorite stitch to make, but at least now I know I can do them (after a fashion), if they're in a pattern I simply can't resist.

I've already added the Canada Goose border to this block.  I'm planning to add it to each one as I go, to have them ready to join when the time comes.  The border might be a little challenging for a beginner, but once you get going, it has a nice rhythm to it, and the textural appeal is great.

Puff Wheat Block

Promise Me Spring
This felt like a fairly complicated pattern, to me.  It's one of those blocks where you start out with small motifs (the leaves) and then join them in subsequent rounds by crocheting into them at various points.  The instructions spell everything out in plenty of detail, but you do have to pay attention (or at least I did).  I really like the results!

Promise Me Spring Block

Promise Me Spring Block

English Garden
I haven't gotten very far in this one, yet, as you can see, but the finished project photos on Ravelry show that this block can be gorgeous.  (This is one of the paid patterns, by the way, but I can easily imagine making more of this one, for future projects.  A whole afghan made in this motif, with slight variations in color placement, for instance, would be beautiful.)

English Garden Block

That's all I've done for this project, so far.  I'm looking forward to spending some time working on the English Garden block tonight!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Old(er) Project Photos

I found some photos of projects from late last year that I'd never processed and uploaded.  It's good to fill in the blanks on some of those projects on Ravelry.  It looks so much nicer with a photo!  (g)

Textured Turban
(Free pattern.)  I made this one as an extra to put in my niece's Christmas present.  It's a cute little hat, but if I were doing it again, I'd use a seamless join for every round, because every time I think about this project, it still bothers me that there was a visible seam down the back.  (g)  Yes, seamless joins take a little longer, and there are (many) more ends to weave in that way-- but the nicer result would be worth it, for something like a hat.

Textured Turban

Irish Mesh Cowl
This is another free pattern.  It makes a really pretty cowl, I think, and it works in a variety of yarn weights.  This was some light fingering that I dyed myself.  I did have some issues with the pattern, but I think that was my own fault and not a problem with the pattern.  (See the project notes on Ravelry for more info, if you're interested.)

Here it is blocking.  (I finally used my blocking wires!  They were fun and pretty easy to use, too, so there's no excuse.  I need to do more blocking soon!)

Blocking an Irish Mesh Cowl

And here it is post-blocking.  A little wobbly on the edges, but that should be less visible with a little wearing.  I added some crocheted flowers to hide the problem area referenced above.  This was a Christmas "extra" for one of my sisters (Carrie).

Irish Mesh Cowl

Meret and Meret the Third
Yet another freebie.  I've made this hat three times, in three different sizes. (g)  It's a fun pattern, and I like the results.  The first one turned out too small, though, so I decided to give that to my niece, and the third Meret I made (which has come the closest to being "just right"), I gave to her mother (my sister Carrie).  The second version I made is BIG, so I kept that one for my own fairly large noggin, though I may eventually either donate it or unravel it, depending on my mood.

Anyway, here are the two Merets I've given away:

Merets

Merets


Meret


Tribbles
I was in the mood for mindless knitting.  Dish scrubbers are perfect for that type of "useful and uncomplicated" project.  I like to make them from variegated acrylic.  The variegation keeps the knitting interesting (ooh, watch the pretty colors change! ;o)), and the acrylic is just right for scrubbing dishes-- better than cotton, imho.  Oh, and yes, this is another free pattern.

This time, I made them in two colorways.
Red Heart "Bon Bon Print":

More Tribbles

More Tribbles


And Red Heart "Mexicana":

Tribbles from Mexico

Tribbles from Mexico


Cables and Lace Advent Scarf 2015
I have almost finished this one.  I just have to decide how I'm going to finish it.  I started with a provisional cast-on, because I thought I might want to graft the two ends together for a long cowl.

Whenever I finally decide and do that (and weave in the ends and block it), I'll give this project its own blog post.  I really loved knitting this!!

The pattern is currently unavailable.  It was a free mystery knit-along for December 2015, and the designer is now making corrections and adding photos to the pattern, after which point it will be available for purchase.

Cables and Lace Advent Scarf 2015

Cotton Pot Holders
These last several photos are from a not-so-old project.  I was in the mood for crocheting motifs, so I made some cotton hot pads/pot holders.  All the motifs I used are from Edie Eckman's Beyond the Square and Connect the Shapes books.  My color choices were determined by what I had on hand, which (if nothing else) forces you to work at least slightly outside your usual comfort zone color palettes.  (g)

Crochet Hot Pads

These next two photos are the two sides of a single hot pad.  An interesting motif-- #33 from Connect the Shapes.

Crochet Hot Pads

Crochet Hot Pads


Crochet Hot Pads


Crochet Hot Pads


That does it for those photos!

I have two active yarn projects, currently.  One of them-- another crochet afghan-- will probably be the subject of my next blog post.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Little Doilies and a Granny Square Afghan

I've been away for far too long.  Time to get back into the blogging habit (maybe).

One recent project was whipping up a few of the "little doilies" from Patricia Kristoffersen's 99 Little Doilies.  I wanted them to go with my mother's birthday gift, and I was pleased with how they turned out.

I chose simple patterns, because I needed them done quickly-- and I was too distracted by worrying about my husband's travels to want anything too complicated.  (I'm one of those people who can't completely accept that flying is statistically safer than driving.)

Stack o' "Little Doilies"

#32:

Doily #32

#18:

Doily #18

#54:

Doily #54

For this last one, #25, I tried using a particularly small partial ball of thread.  At some point, I realized I wouldn't have enough yardage, so I adjusted the pattern (removed a few rounds).  I think it turned out well enough (though teensy).  I'd like to try this one again, sometime, in full size:

Doily #25

- - - - - - -

I finished my Old-Fashioned Granny Squares scrap-ghan in January, but I only got around to taking a few photos yesterday.

I'm happy with the results, but if I ever make another, similar join-as-you-go scrappy afghan, I'll try to resist joining squares until I've crocheted about half of them "loose".  Otherwise, when working with limited amounts of colors (especially when using up scraps in dribs and drabs, instead of starting with a blanket's-worth of scraps from the very beginning), it's difficult to achieve an even distribution of a given color across the whole blanket.  And while that's not strictly necessary, I find that it can make or break a scrappy afghan, in my personal estimation.

Granny Square Afghan

But as I said, I'm happy with this afghan...

Granny Square Afghan

...and I had fun making it, which is of course the whole point of crocheting for most of us, these days...

Granny Square Afghan

There's something very comforting and cozy about granny squares.  No wonder they've been around so long!

Granny Square Afghan

The border is in a style I've used at least a few times before.

One round (in red) of 1 sc in every stitch/space, with 1 sc in between each pair of granny squares and 3 sc in each corner of the blanket.

Seven rounds of Edging #149 (from Edie Eckman’s Around the Corner book).

Then back to the red. One round hdc and a final round of improvised scallops.

Granny Square Afghan

I wondered if the red would feel a little out of place, since there's not any of that exact shade of tomato-red in any of the squares-- but looking at the finished product, I don't find it jarring.  Maybe I've just gotten used to it, though. ;o)  In any case, I had a lot of red yarn, so red it was!

- - - - - - -

And here's a peek at a current work in progress:

Brioche Cowl in Progress


This is a quick snap of a brioche knitted cowl.  (Did I ever share a photo of the first brioche cowl, completed?  I'll have to check...)

I've also been knitting quite a few dish scrubbers (tribbles, according to the pattern), and there are a few other things I need to photograph or otherwise prepare for blog-fodder.  Sometime soon, I hope.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Old-Fashioned Sampler Finished!

A few weeks or so ago, I finished the border, weaved in the last loose ends, and put the Old-Fashioned Sampler into the washing machine for its first bath.  It's done!

I feel like the actual working-time on this afghan wasn't that long, even though the project was "open" for over two years.  It's always exciting to finish a big project-- and this one's finished just in time for the main blanket season.  (Well, this time of year is supposed to be blanket season, but this particular December has been unseasonably warm and humid.  There are still a couple of months of potentially cool weather ahead, though.)

None of my photos turned out great, but they'll do, and if I work up the enthusiasm, I might take a few pictures of it in the better light outside (once it dries out enough, which might not be for a while).   I had an especially difficult time getting the color adjusted on these photos.  They weren't even close to correct, straight out of the camera, and adjusting them proved tricky.  The photo below, for instance, is really slightly too green (on my monitor).  Tone and focus issues aside, they give an idea of the finished blanket.

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Pattern:
There wasn't one for the whole blanket, really.  It's based on Sandra's (Cherry Heart's) scrumptious Sampler Blankie, which uses an assortment of squares from the book 200 Crochet Blocks, by Jan Eaton.  I have the book, too, so I followed her example.

Each block is worked in a single color, which really speeds up the process.  Because there would be no color changes within each square, I chose blocks with lots of texture and in some cases added even more texture by working in the back loop only, for certain rounds.  I made two of some of my favorite blocks.  (There's a list of the specific blocks used on my Ravelry project page.)

I'm mostly happy with how my squares turned out, though there are a few where the "row-up bumps" (the spot where you slip stitch to join the round and then chain up to the next level) are very obvious.  Once, that wouldn't have bothered me; these days, it strikes me as a slight imperfection.  If I were doing those squares again, I might consider using the seamless join.  That does necessitate the weaving-in of many more ends, but for the more solid squares, where joins tend to really show up, it might be worth a few more minutes of work.  That said, I think they blend in well enough when you're looking at the blanket as a whole.  No biggie.

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Joining and Edging:
For the join and border, I followed Sandra's notes.

The join is explained in detail in this blog post.  It's a lacy join-as-you-go method, with instructions for how to evenly distribute your stitches across squares with slightly different stitch-counts.  This was my first time using pins to mark where to place stitches on crochet blocks, and I was surprised at how much I liked it.  I'll definitely be using the pin method again in the future, the next time I make a sampler.

For the border, see Sandra's Ravelry project notes.  Her border (and mine, since I copied!) is a combination of several rounds of her own design followed by border #93 from Edie Eckman's Around the Corner book.  It's a nice, thick, lacy edging that takes a fair amount of time to do, but the result is luxurious.  The border also takes a lot of yarn.  I ended up using most of a skein of Caron One Pound on the border alone!  The join took even more-- very nearly an entire skein of One Pound.

Yarn:
I used a mix of acrylics, drawing from my stash to keep to the color palette plan.  As a result, I ended up using a few different brands-- all worsted weight.  (For specifics, see the Ravelry project page.)

Hook:
H (5.0mm)

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

Old-Fashioned Sampler

I crocheted the border without really stopping to look at the blanket as a whole, as I worked.  I was in the crochet zone, you know.  ;o) Anyway, I wish I had looked, because for some reason the corners of that thick border feel a little too tight for the blanket.  (And there's no way I'm unraveling and redoing that whole border.  Nope. No way.  Not a chance.)  If I try to get the whole thing perfectly flat, the corners want to curl, unless I'm actively holding them flat.  Apparently I needed a few more stitches, at some point...

It's not awful, and I doubt it'll be obvious when it's in use-- but it was still a disappointing discovery to make, when I pulled it out of the dryer (and would have been even more frustrating had this afghan been intended as a gift).

I'm considering using steam to stretch and set the corners, but I've never tried it before, and I don't have an ideal tool for steaming.  My iron doesn't have a steam "boost" button, so I'll have to just sort of hover it over the fabric for a while, I guess. (g) If I do try it, I'll take before and after photos to record the results.