Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

It's another FO reveal post (as promised)!

This time, the finished object is my Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan, which was a MCAL I participated in last summer.

The designer is Polly Plum, one of my favorite afghan block designers.  However, while Polly Plum is generally known for her interestingly textured blocks that offer wonderful opportunities for interesting color-play, these blocks are designed to be worked in solid colors.  They're so highly textured, there's still plenty to hold your attention.

I made two of each of the 24 block patterns, so I ended up with a total of 48 blocks.  Here's my project page, if you want to know more about the block patterns and yarns used.

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Stardust Melodies Texture'ghan

Ah, another finished project finally photographed!

These blocks were fun to make-- highly recommended if you're a fan of strongly textured crochet.

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Here it is, a long overdue afghan "reveal" post! 

I'm not even going to embarrass myself by looking up when I started it/finished it/whatever.  I will simply acknowledge that it's been a long time coming and just share some photos of the finished afghan.  

This started out as a CAL, but I ended up just going my own way and choosing my own blocks.  At some point, I decided to call this the Whispers of Spring Afghan.  It's a sampler made up of 24 different blocks from a variety of designers (though there's an emphasis on Polly Plum's patterns, because I love her designs).  

Information about the exact block patterns, yarns, hook size, and border pattern used is available on the Ravelry project page.


Without further ado, here are a bunch of photos!

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Whispers of Spring Afghan

Looking at this one for the first time a long while, I was reminded of how lovely some of those block patterns are.  There are some really good ones in there!  I'm especially partial to the star-themed ones (and there are several of those, since I made a conscious decision to choose starry patterns). 

There's another overdue FO post coming up, and yet another will follow as soon as I take another round of photos.  (The recent granny square afghan was in the wash when I took these pictures.)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Orion, Crazy Crumbs, and Arkansas

(How's that for a weird, random post title?)

First up, Orion!

After setting it aside for a while, I'm back to crocheting "Orion", a doily pattern from Grace Fearon.

There are tons of popcorn stitches in this one; fortunately, I like crocheting popcorn! There's also something the designer calls a "special small bullion" stitch.  It sounds kind of scary (to me, at least), but don't let it intimidate you.  They're actually pretty fun little stitches to make, I think.  I like them and hope they'll make an appearance in some of the designer's future doily patterns.  (What I did have some frustration over was the dtr6tog, but they didn't turn out too bad.)

Here's a photo of my progress from a few days back:

"Orion"

Second topic: crazy crumbs.

This project has been evolving for a long while.  It started out with using up crumbs left over from my first string quilt.  Those first crumb blocks were fairly small-- something like 5" or 5.5"?  Then I had the brilliant idea of joining them together and making larger crumb blocks of 12.5".

...The thing is, crumbs are by definition small, and when you start trying to make a large crumb block, it's not easy.  There's a certain temptation to start using larger pieces-- which is fine, but maybe doesn't really create a true crumb quilt, if that's what you want.

Personally, I don't care if this quilt is "crumby enough" by anyone else's definition.  It's my own ugly utility quilt and doesn't have to meet anyone else's standards.  (Isn't it nice to thumb your nose at the rules from time to time?)

I had a basket of scraps I didn't want to use for any "real" quilts (too thin, not really quilting cotton, etc.), so I used up a lot of those to bring my crumb blocks up to size.  (I've also used some of those reject fabrics to make string blocks that will eventually be turned into a dog quilt.  No photos of those at the moment.)

I'm tossing in things that aren't remotely crumby, too-- such as two pumpkin prototypes I pieced when I was pondering the "Dancing Pumpkins" window covering pattern.  (Might as well go truly off the rails, right?)

Anyway, I've been working to get those crumb blocks ready to turn into a finished top.  This is a project I'd like to see finished soon.  The piecing has been valuable-- entertaining and educational-- but I'm not really a "crazy crumbs" type of person, generally speaking, and I'd like to get this one wiped off my mental slate.  When I try crumbs again, I might approach it from a different, more restrained angle.  Monochromatic crumb blocks, maybe... In the centers of stars... (I love stars in quilts!)

Crazy Crumb Blocks

The last item: Arkansas.

As in Arkansas Crossroads.
I'm still new enough to quilting that my vocabulary of even well-known traditional blocks is very limited.  I gather that the Arkansas Crossroads quilt has been around for a long time, but I hadn't noticed it until recently, when trying to find a good leaders and enders project.

The last time I tried to have a leaders and enders project (my version of "Rainbow Rows"), it wasn't long before it became my primary project.  (...And now it's still waiting for one more seam to become a finished top.  So lacking in discipline!) So, what are the chances that this will not stay a leaders/enders quilt for very long?

In any case, I'm excited to see how this will come together!
So far, I've only cut out my pieces.  The plan is to make 12 big (16" finished) blocks, 3x4 layout, so I needed a whole heap of 2.5" colorful squares and a smaller (but still hefty) stack of 4.5" background squares.

For the background, I wanted to use something from my stash, and I don't really have much yardage in my stash... What I ended up doing was using three different cream-on-cream prints that can be mix-and-matched.  (They're actually leftovers from my very first quilt-- the herringbone design made from half-square triangles.)

The smaller squares are more fun.  I started with a stashed jellyroll from Michaels (thank you, coupon!), which took care of somewhat less than half the squares.  Next, I went through my collection of strips... Then moved on to some scraps I had left over from "Rainbow Rows"... And finally pulled out a handful of uncut fabrics to round things out.

Arkansas Crossroads

Since taking that photo, I've paired the squares up (and given two to each background square, as well).  In the pairing process, I had some second thoughts about some of my fabric choices, but it's too late (imho) to question things, now!  I'm sure it'll work out ok.

- - - - - - -

Those are the crafty things I've been doing, lately.

I'm also starting to get more involved with the garden again.  (It's that time of year again, believe it or not!)  There are new daylilies waiting to be planted, seeds to get started, and about a trillion weeds in need of urgent attention.

I've also started taking the doors off the kitchen cabinets, because we're finally going to paint our cabinets white.  (I've wanted to paint them since we built the house.  White-painted cabinets weren't available from our builder, so we chose the lightest wood they offered and planned to just paint them ourselves.  That was well over ten years ago...  Yes, it's time to just paint.)

We've also decided to upgrade our floors soon.  We're replacing our original carpet and sheet vinyl with "luxury vinyl plank flooring" that looks like wood (but is waterproof and scratch-resistant, ideal for those of us with indoor dogs).  That's sure to keep us busy for a while, once we've settled on the color and placed our order.  Just getting rid of the carpet will be a a job.  (The plan is to do all the work ourselves.)

I'm getting tired just thinking about all of this!  Fortunately, we can work at our own pace for most of these things, so there should still be time to do the things we enjoy, in between the DIY projects.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pot Holders

Where did February go?! 

First, there's a bit of "old business". 

I decided to drop the 365 Crochet Flowers project.  The flowers are fun to make, but I just couldn't think of anything I really wanted to make from so many irregularly shaped/sized worsted-weight acrylic flowers.  Crochet thread would've yielded more useful flowers, but those would've been less enjoyable to make (for me).  Some lightweight (but not thread-weight!) mercerized cotton would've been better, but I still didn't have any specific, motivating project in mind for them. 

Also, there's the fact that even one little flower a day takes time to make, and it adds up.  It would be worth it if I knew what I wanted to do with them, but without a sense of purpose...?  No, not really worth it (again, for me).

In the end, I decided that I'll eventually make something from the flowers I'd already crocheted, but for the time being, I'm not making any more of them.  I'd rather put the time and energy toward other things. 

One of those "other things" has been joining and edging the scrappy granny square afghan.  I'm still on the last round of the edging, but soon there should be a project reveal.  (And I think I never actually took any decent "finished project" photos for two other afghans I've crocheted in the past however-long-it's-been, so one day soon, I hope to have "ta-da" posts for each of those, as well!)

- - - - - - -

My mother's birthday was late last month, and one of the items on her wish list (yes, I'm one of those people who request a wish list, most of the time, unless it's a blue moon and I've managed to think of something on my own)... As I was saying, one of the items on her wish list was pot holders, so I thought I'd try to make a handful to go in with her gift. 

I made two very simple ones by cutting squares from a felted 100% wool sweater (bought from a thrift store during a "10 items for $10" sale).  I don't have a photo of those, but you're not missing much.  While it felted up nice and thick, the sweater wasn't the cutest thing ever, so the resultant pot holders were also a bit dark and drab.  I thought it might be fun to give a variety of types for her to try, though.  I have a couple of felted wool pot holders from my mother-in-law, and we do use them a lot. 

(Did you know that wool is naturally flame-resistant?  It can still burn, of course, but it tends to burn itself out rather than going up in flames all at once.) 

For the other pot holders, I wanted to start with quilt blocks.  Rather than cut into new fabric, I used scraps.  (That's my preferred aesthetic, anyway, and for pot holders, scraps are perfect.) 

The last time I made pot holders, I had a heck of a time with the binding.  Ugh.  I'm really not great at joining the ends of the binding strip on any project, but with pot holders, it's just so much worse!  So on the first one of these, I thought I'd be sneaky and just not use any binding at all.  I watched a tutorial or two and gave it a go. 

While the resultant pot holder should be functional, it came out looking a little sloppier than I'd have liked...

Here's the front:

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

And the back, which I prefer to the front...  (I made pieced backs for all of these, in an effort to use up scraps-- and also because I find pieced backs more charming than plain ones.)

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

Oh, and I also had serious trouble with my thread skipping stitches, during the putting-together of that first pot holder.  (The machine punched holes for all the stitches, but the thread wouldn't always "catch" like it's supposed to, so it would just be lying on the surface of the fabric.) 

I had read recommendations to use only cotton thread (after doing most of the piecing of all of them with polyester), so I'd just switched to cotton and thought maybe that was the problem (though the piecing had gone okay with cotton).  I switched back to polyester, made a practice sandwich, and found that I had the same trouble with poly thread-- but with both thread types, it only happened intermittently.  (Ugh. Sewing machine problems are sooo annoying!) 

Anyway, to cut the story short, I finally switched to a new needle, and that seemed to resolve the problem. 

Lesson:  Listen to the advice you see/hear/read everywhere, and change the needle more often!
(I need to make a bulk purchase of needles so I can stop feeling so stingy about them.  I think I'm afraid I'll run out...)

...So, where was I?

The second pot holder!  The theme was "anything remotely red".  This one turned out better, if I do say so myself. ;o)  I'm sure this basic layout of half-square triangles has a name, but I don't know what it is.  I just made a stack of HSTs (8-at-a-time, my favorite way) and played around until I found an arrangement I liked. 

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

As you can see, I decided to go back to binding, after the disappointing result from the no-binding method.  (It may work well for some people, but it's not for me.) 

To get around the tricky bit of joining the binding strip, I followed a tutorial video that showed how to make a hanging loop from the binding.  (Personally, I rarely use hanging loops on pot holders, but if it means I can avoid the joining part, I'll put a hanging loop on every pot holder I ever make, from here on out!)

Here's the back of the red pot holder:

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

Last but not least, there's one in blue.  Because of my habit of perpetually "winging it" (and not being too bothered about such things), the binding ate the points of the blue star.  ...But ...It's a pot holder.  I'm pretty sure it'll still hold pots, points or no points. 

I like how this one turned out, too.  Again, I'm sure this simple layout has been used for centuries, but I have no idea what its name might be.

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

The back is a little boring, but it does the job. 

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

While making these, I learned that I've been using Insul-Brite incorrectly.  You're supposed to use either two layers of the insulating batting or one layer of Insul-Brite and one of another heat-resistant material-- usually cotton batting. 

In the past, I've just used one layer of Insul-Brite and called it a day, so those handful of pot holders might not be optimally protective.  For these three, I used a layer of Insul-Brite with a layer cut from an old towel (terrycloth).  I think that should do the job. 

Apparently there are as many ways of insulating pot holders as there are crafters-- all sorts of combinations of Insul-Brite, towels, cotton batting, flannel, and felt.  Some people even use polyester batting in combination with other things, but I think I'll avoid polyester, myself.  It might be fine, but I'd rather not. 

Quilt-Block Pot Holders

I think I've had my fill of making pot holders for a while!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January: 31 Days of Flowers

The first month of the 365 Days of Crochet Flowers is done!

First, here are the last six flowers of January:

365 Days of Flowers

And here's the whole month:

365 Days of Flowers

It's hard to picture a whole year's worth of these flowers.  Just one month of them has added up very quickly!

365 Days of Flowers

The plan at the moment is to see if there are enough to sufficiently decorate a pillow slipcover.  I'll sew the cover from a solid-colored fabric (maybe just simple cream), then tack the flowers on with needle and thread.  (I'm dreading that part.  Needle and thread aren't my weapons of choice, but I don't want to glue them on, and I can't think of any other way of doing it.)

365 Days of Flowers

The only questions are how many it'll take and whether to make one pillow cover or two.

365 Days of Flowers

Well, there's also this question:  If I have enough flowers to make the slipcover(s), what's next?  Am I really up to the challenge of making these in size 10 thread?  Do I want to do that?  Or should I select a new palette and start making flowers for a wreath?

365 Days of Flowers

Or should I just take a break from the flowers?  I'd rather be working on something else, to be honest.

365 Days of Flowers

They're pretty, but the lack of a solid, appealing plan for a year's worth of these flowers has sapped my excitement.  (So fickle!)

Oh, I don't know.  We'll see what happens!

Monday, January 29, 2018

365 Days of Flowers, Continued

I'm still not quite caught up on this one-a-day crochet flower project.  I think I'm only four days behind, so it's possible to catch up in the next day or two.

I have so many flowers to show that I separated them into two groups.

First group:

365 Days of Flowers

365 Days of Flowers

Second group:

365 Days of Flowers

365 Days of Flowers

Stack of all the flowers so far:

365 Days of Flowers

And all of them spread out:

365 Days of Flowers

365 Days of Flowers

365 Days of Flowers

365 Days of Flowers


I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with them... The thought of joining them in a blanket is intimidating-- and exhausting-- but that's what I'm leaning towards, at the moment.  Nothing else I can think of seems quite as appealing or useful, given the material (acrylic yarn), gauge/scale (worsted/aran weight), and color combinations. 

I'm afraid my enthusiasm is already wearing thin.  It's not because making the flowers is dull--  I'm enjoying that part-- but rather because they're piling up so quickly, and I just can't feel confident in my ability to turn them all into something worthwhile. 

I'll carry on for at least a while longer, I guess.  I could join the first month or two into some sort of pillow cover(s), then choose new colors for the next month and make enough of them to cover a wreath (as I've seen someone else do with flowers in at least similar weight yarn)... And I could even convince myself to make a month or so in thread for a framed piece.  There are no rules, of course, and there's no reason they all have to match/coordinate or be used in the same finished project. 

Further updates will follow!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

365 Days of Flowers

Still in the process of catching up on the 365 Flowers project!

(Yes, I still need to work on The Mittens.  I finished the thumbs and weaved in all the ends.  Next is swatching the furry yarn.  There's also a doily that is just barely started.  At the moment, all I can think about, in terms of yarn/thread, is catching up on this flower project.  A moment of crochet flower madness is good for the soul.)

Here are the next five flowers:

365 Days of Crochet Flowers

365 Days of Crochet Flowers

365 Days of Crochet Flowers

And here are all of the first ten together.  (Not quite half-way caught up...)

365 Days of Crochet Flowers

There are already three more that are crocheted (with loose ends still waving free), so the next batch should be ready very soon.

365 Days of Crochet Flowers

Yeah, they're fun to make. 
Highly recommended, if you're a fan of flowers and crochet.  ;o)