Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ogee Afghan Progress

Ever since my last blog entry, I've been working on strips of motifs for the Ogee afghan.  I'm not cranking them out at top speed, but slowly the jumble of ogee strips is growing taller.  Part of what slows down the progress is stopping to weave in all the ends, every few motifs, but I've learned through hard experience that it's better this way.  I'll thank myself later.  ;o)

Crochet Afghan (Work in Progress)

The individual strips aren't stunningly beautiful, unfortunately.  They have a tendency to curl up and generally look a mess.  I'm also second-guessing myself on the colors-- but I have faith it'll all work out in the end.  It usually does.  Once joined, the strips will look much nicer (and flatter), and the color scheme will be warm and slightly exotic.

Crochet Afghan (Work in Progress)

Looking at other people's ogee-motif afghans, I noticed that some of them had joined them on the diagonal, instead of having the longer dimensions of the ogees running the length or width of the blanket.  I like the look, so I'm seriously considering joining my strips of motifs that way, too.  The downside would be more ends to weave in, but if you prefer the way diagonal stripes look, it's worth a little extra effort.  It will also require a bit more attention to detail, to make sure I end up with the right number of strips in the correct lengths and with acceptable color distribution-- not exactly tricky, but more so than just making X number of strips all of the same length.

Crochet Afghan (Work in Progress)

Well, back to the ogees!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Two More Doilies

I have no further progress to report on any afghan project, because all crochet-time lately has been devoted to doilies.  Thread crochet is ideal for hot, summertime weather, so when the doily bug bit, I didn't resist.

Unfortunately both these latest doilies are unidentified charted patterns I found online, so I can't provide pattern information.  Sorry about that!

I'm calling the first doily "Rosy-Fingered Dawn" in honor of the thread color.  (I'm not particularly great or clever at naming things...)  The thread is more from my "going-out-of-business" clearance-priced stash of America's Best Country Cotton Crochet Thread (size 10), and the color is "Rose Pink".

Doily

Doily

I used a smaller hook size than I typically use for size 10 thread, just to see if my results might be nicer or "tidier" in some way.  Instead of my usual size 1.75mm or 1.65mm, I used a 1.5mm hook.  You wouldn't think such a small variation in size would make much difference, but it was actually noticeably more difficult to handle the size 10 thread with the smaller hook.  It was worth a try, but from now on, I'll stick to the slightly larger hooks.  (For size 20 thread, the 1.5mm hook is just fine, incidentally.)

Doily

Doily

This is one of the rare times I wish I had tried to measure the doily before and after blocking.  It grew a lot during blocking.  Of course, I do tend to block things within an inch of their lives, but the difference would probably be impressive even with a gentler blocking.

Doily

Doily

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The second doily (also unidentified) is in the same "Nile Green" Cébélia Cotton size 20 thread I used for the recent PK doily, "Momentous Occasion".  Again seeking inspiration from the thread color, I named this doily "Krokodiler på Nilen", which is Swedish for "Crocodile on the Nile".

Doily

Doily

I don’t really love making these open, “meshy” doilies with tons of chain spaces-- though they are sometimes very pretty.  The impressive photo that accompanied the chart convinced me to give this one a try, and I'm happy with the results-- but I don’t ever want to make this pattern again.  I don't know what it is about these meshy doilies, but they trip me up.  It's not an especially difficult pattern, as doilies go, but I've made multiple minor mistakes that I've had to rip back long rounds to fix.  Annoying.

Doily

Doily

On the last round, I pulled out the remnant from a matching dye-lot (left over from "Momentous Occasion").  I thought it would be enough, but just a couple of repeats shy of finishing, it became clear that it wasn't.  (Argh!)  So I pulled back yet another round and decided to make my own very streamlined, thread-conserving border round, to be absolutely sure there would be enough the second time around.  My simplified final round is nowhere near as fancy as the one charted in the pattern, but I think it's fine.  The only way anyone will ever know it's not "as written" is if I make a point of talking about it (and then they'll probably just try to change the subject to something other than crochet).

While blocking, I found that I'd skipped one of the picots in the last round.  I suppose I could go back and add one in as an afterthought, but I'm not sure I'll bother.  At this point, I'm just glad to have it finished.  Let me reiterate: I never want to make this doily again.  It is pretty, though... Blocking makes all the difference in the world!

Doily

Doily

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After that last doily, I'm looking forward to working with worsted weight yarn again, for a while.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Doilies and Spring Sampler

Last time I wrote (about a month ago), the sampler was on hold and the ogee afghan was the Project-in-Chief.  Oh, how the tables have turned... (Or something.)  Now it's the ogee afghan that's in time-out, and the sampler is back in the spotlight.

But first, I have a couple of completed doilies to show!

I mentioned in the last entry that I'd made yet another "Summer Splendor"-- my fifth:

"Summer Splendor"


Pattern:  "Summer Splendor" by Denise Augostine Owens

Thread:  (discontinued) America's Best Country Cotton Thread (size 10) in "Raspberry"
(I used only part of one 350-yard ball.  Quite a bit left over.)

Hook:  1.75mm Clover Amour (No. 0)

As always, this is a relatively simple, repetitive doily pattern-- ideal, I think, for someone new to doilies or for any time you want to be able to just sit and crochet thread without having to refer to a pattern very often or keep intricate counts in your head.  And the results are always so pretty!

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Last time, my main focus was on a more challenging Patricia Kristoffersen doily.  Here it is, my "Momentous Occasion":

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

Pattern:  "Momentous Occasion" by Patricia Kristoffersen

Thread:  Cébélia Cotton (size 20) in "Nile Green"
(I used most of a 415-yard ball.)

Hook:  1.5mm Clover Amour (No. 2)

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

"Momentous Occasion"

There were some tricky rounds.  I think Round 11 was the worst for me, but there were one or two more, later on, that also required some very careful reading of the instructions to understand.  I would not suggest this pattern for a beginner, unless that person is a thread prodigy. ;o)  That said, it's really not as scary as it might seem.  Once you get into the pineapple rounds, especially, the pattern seems to simplify (though the picot sequence in the final round might be a little tricky, if I recall correctly).

I was surprised to have so much thread left over, as I'd been under the impression that I'd need two balls.  It turned out that I didn't even have the open the second one!  When I was researching the pattern and choosing my thread, I checked the project pages of people who'd also used size 20 thread, but either I made a mistake or they did... or we just used different amounts of thread, for some reason.

If I ever make this pattern again, I'd like to use more than one color-- or maybe more than one shade of the same color.  There's a project on Ravelry that combines shades of white and grey, and it's just gorgeous.  The use of subtly different shades really makes the textures of this doily pop.

Looking at this doily again makes me want to start another PK doily... They're addictive!

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After a long delay, I picked up my "Triquetra" block and finished it.  I'd been putting it off mainly because I knew i'd have to change the pattern slightly to match the size of my other sampler squares-- something I don't really enjoy doing.  It turns out that I did have to omit some rounds (and I may have changed one round, but I can't remember for certain).

Here it is with the Canada Goose border.  (It's a little wobbly-looking, but I'm sure that'll all straighten out when the blocks are joined.)

"Triquetra Celtic Knot"

Pattern:  "Triquetra Celtic Knot Afghan Block" by Joyce Lewis

I love the way this turned out! The central motif (the Celtic knot) looks completely mystifying-- especially to non-crocheters-- and the “frame” around the motif is lovely, too. It’s a beautiful design that I'd be happy to crochet again.

(Maybe next time I'll be able to use the whole pattern exactly as written.  My first block for this afghan must've turned out a little too small, because almost every 12-inch block pattern I've made for this sampler afghan has needed to be downsized to match it in size.)

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Then came "River":

"River" (Afghan Block)


Pattern:  "River" by Polly Plum

This one was fun to make, too (though there were one or two rounds where it was tricky to find a good place to hide the ends.  Yet again, I had to leave off some rounds and make some changes to get it to match my other blocks for this sampler.  I definitely plan to make this one again.

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This last one's not finished, but here's a sneak peek...

"Ilsa" (Afghan Block WIP)

At this point, I'm not really participating in the CAL.  I have too many other blocks I want to make, so I'm just picking blocks from my queue, instead.  However, I'll check in with the CAL group every so often, in case they're making a block that I can't resist.

Oh, and I've started a simple doily, so there's something lightweight to work on in between and around afghan blocks.  More on that when it's finished!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ogee Progress and New Doilies

I've been a bad craft blogger.  I apologize, but I can't honestly promise I'll do better.  This time of year, when the blogging urge hits, I'm more drawn to my garden blog... But I'll still post here from time to time, because of course there's always a craft project in the works.  ;o)

The sampler afghan is still temporarily on hold.  (I'll get back to it soon enough.)

Instead, I've been working on the ogee afghan.  I'm making strips, which I'll join toward the end of the project.  This should be a good plan for tweaking color distribution, but it also makes it harder to get a good "in progress" photo, since the unjoined motifs tend to curl up a little.

Some "these'll-have-to-do" progress photos:

Ogee Afghan WIP

Ogee Afghan WIP

Ogee Afghan WIP

Ogee Afghan WIP

Ogee Afghan WIP

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I've also been getting into doily mode, lately.  I think it has something to do with the warm weather.  Doilies are the perfect hot-weather project, since they use nice, cool, smooth cotton thread and don't require holding a heavy project in your lap.  They're also very portable, so they're easy to take outdoors in nice weather.

As a matter of fact, I started the first recent doily on the beach.  It's yet another version of Denis Augostine Owens' "Summer Splendor".  This was the fifth time I've made this pattern.  Safe to say I like it. ;o)  It's repetitive, but sometimes that's a good thing.  This time I used some raspberry-pink thread.  I've yet to block it, though.  Photos next time, I hope.

My current "most active" crochet project is "Momentous Occasion" by Patricia Kristoffersen.  It's a fairly advanced pattern, and I'm working it in some size 20 thread, which makes it slightly more difficult, in my opinion.  (Photos of this one next time, too.)

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Today, I actually used the sewing machine for the first time in a long while.  Picked up a simple string-quilt-style table runner I started months ago.  Maybe I'll get back into sewing again soon... There are certainly a number of projects already started, not to mention the ones that are still just ideas swirling around in my head.

Now, which project should take priority?!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Another Block and a New Project

I decided on the next block for the sampler afghan-- Triquetra Celtic Knot Afghan Block by Joyce Lewis.   Like those of her earlier designs that I've hooked (Crocodile Flower and Simple 10-Petal Afghan Square), I'm finding it very pretty-- and also innovative.  It requires that you pay close attention to what you're doing, on certain rounds, but the pattern is extremely detailed and clear.

I still have rounds to go (not to mention the block border), but I snapped a (flash) photo of the block as it stands.

Triquetra Crochet Block (WIP)

It's currently at a stand-still, partly because I'm going to have to start measuring it and probably making adjustments to get it to the same size as my other blocks-- but also because I've been sidetracked by another project.

I've started another afghan.  No, we don't need another afghan, but I like making them, so I will.  If it's a vice, it's a relatively harmless one.  Besides, I already have the unassigned yarn.  Why not have fun with it?  I might have to start pawning spare afghans off on unsuspecting strangers, though... ;o)  (Or donating the ones I don't like as much to some charity organization or other...)

Anyway, excuses aside, I'm making an afghan of these motifs.  Unfortunately, I don't have any more info about the pattern than what's on the link, which I came across in a forum on Ravelry.

The motif looks a lot like one in a recently-released pattern by Jane Crow.  For a while, her pattern was not available except as part of a rather expensive kit for a shawl, but she's now released the pattern on its own, as well as two other versions of it-- one of them being a blanket.  By the time the blanket pattern came out, I'd already started making these motifs, so I figured I'd stick with them.

I haven't made many, yet, as you can see...  I'll be joining them in semi-random strips as I go, then at the end, I'll join the strips.  I love choosing colors for each motif.  Definitely the best part of making a scrappy or many-colored afghan.

Tessellated Ogee Motifs

The downside to the motif-only pattern is that it doesn't demonstrate how to join these ogee shapes.  (There's also not a pattern for half-motifs, if you want them.  I'm not sure yet if I'll try to devise my own pattern for that.  I kind of like the uneven/jagged-edge look, at the moment...)

I think I've figured out joining-- to my own satisfaction, at least.   Here's my joining test.  I've tweaked the pattern ever so slightly.  Two single crochets in each of the treble clusters, rather than the one-per-stitch called for in the pattern.

Tessellated Ogee Motifs

On the back, you can see that I tried joining with single crochet and slip stitch.  I think I prefer the flatness of the slip stitch, but either would work.  Of course, you could also sew them by hand with possibly neater results, but that takes me forever (not to mention that it really hurts my hand), so crochet it is!

Tessellated Ogee Motifs

My tails in the photos above are longer than I usually leave tails, because I realized after I'd crocheted a few of them that I'd made them incorrectly, so I had to go back and fix them (leaving extra-long tails with the excess yarn).  If you follow the pattern at the Google Docs link, don't make my mistake of thinking that the treble crochet cluster is three plain treble crochets.  There's a difference. ;o)  (I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention!)

While looking through my stash of acrylic yarn, choosing colors for this new afghan, I came across a loose yarn band from some second-hand yarn.  I have no idea how old this yarn is-- not that old, since it has a bar code-- but I got a kick out of the font and name... Pop'n Yarn.  "Premier Quality Yarn".  I use a lot of 100% acrylic, so I'm not exactly a full-fledged yarn snob, but if this is premier quality, you hate to think what the standard and bargain yarn was like...

Pop'n Yarn


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.

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"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.

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"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.

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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.

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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!