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

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.

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.)

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.

Friday, December 4, 2015


I just found this old draft of a blog post that I never got around to "publishing".  I was probably waiting to publish until after I'd taken photos, but by the time there were pictures, I'd forgotten about it.  I guess today is its lucky day. ;o)

- - - - - - -

"Pretty Baby" Doily

Scratch another one off the list!  I've finished the "Lotus Bloom" doily!

"Pretty Baby" by Elizabeth Hiddleson

Circulo Clea, white

Apparently, Doris Chan revised this pattern for a publication that was printed in late 2012 (months after I started crocheting it).

"Pretty Baby" Doily

There were definitely things about this pattern in need of revision.  My own project notes on Ravelry indicate a couple of instances of possible errors.  (I say "possible" because there's a chance I was confused/missing something, but I'm pretty sure they were mistakes.)

Then there were at least a couple of times when I saw how the pattern could be improved (imho) and did so.  (I reduced the stitch-count in a repeat by one so that an element on the next round could be centered.  Seven trc instead of eight in the middle section of the "fans", round 28.  A couple of rounds later, I increased the middle section of the fan from six trc to seven-- again, to make the numbers better for the next round.) 

"Pretty Baby" Doily

Beyond that, the pattern was written in what was either Hiddleson's own style or the style of the time-- I'm not sure which.  To the modern crocheter, spoiled by (ideally, errata aside) precise directions, standardized abbreviations, and having everything spelled out plainly-- the quirks of Hiddleson's pattern-writing may be confusing, at times.  There are places where she essentially tells the crocheter to read the pattern from her photos (kind of a "primitive" version of reading a charted pattern).  That might be okay for an experienced crocheter with a large, crisp photo, but it's not ideal.

...Personally, if I'm following a written pattern, I prefer having it all spelled out-- word for word, step by step.  There's less room for confusion, that way.  I often end up assuming I know what the pattern "means" without reading it all that carefully, but I like knowing that if I run into trouble, I can go back and actually read it.  ;o)

I might try another Hiddleson pattern, at some point, if I find one that is particularly appealing, but until that happens, I'll be happy to return to clearly charted or fully detailed written patterns.

- - - - - - -

As for the thread, I've written about that already in a recent post. (December2015me, here...  I did? I don't remember that, but I'll take your word for it.  That would've been several months ago, if ever, by the way.  "Recent" is relative when the blog post has been delayed for this long.)

Basically, it seems like a decent thread, but it's only 2-ply, and I don't like that it has less sheen than some of the other threads I'm used to.  It feels like it might be less durable than some other threads, so I wouldn't recommend it for an "important" or special doily.  (And honestly, considering how much time they usually take, aren't they all?! (g))

On the plus side, it's very reasonably priced (or at least it was when I bought mine, years ago), and the large balls offer excellent yardage.  

"Pretty Baby" Doily

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reuters Bans RAW Photos (and Yarn-Craft Updates)

This is a fairly off-topic post from the usual fare, but I suppose photography is a "craft", too, so it fits well enough.  In any case, it's something that interests me, as an amateur photographer.

Maybe it's not readily obvious in my recent photos-- because I tend to take fairly blah WIP and FO photos, lately-- but I do enjoy photography.  Particularly nature photography and macros.  Part of the hobby is editing the photos.  Post-processing.  Polishing them to show them at their best.

Some years ago, Donald introduced me to shooting in RAW (instead of "just" JPG), and now that's my preference.  (Actually most of the time, we shoot in RAW + JPG, but if a RAW version is available, that's the one I'll choose.)  RAW allows you much more control and flexibility in post-processing than JPG does.  There are times when a JPG is simply not usable, but if you have a RAW version of the same photo, you can correct the exposure and tone (warmth, coldness, etc.) more effectively and end up with a decent result.

Well, one international news organization (Reuters) has announced that its freelance photographers (of which I am decidedly not a member (g)) will no longer be allowed to use RAW photos.  They're only allowed to use JPG.  This is supposedly an issue of speed and ethics, with a heavy insinuation that photos taken in JPG are less "manipulated" than those in RAW format:
“As eyewitness accounts of events covered by dedicated and responsible journalists, Reuters Pictures must reflect reality. While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news.”
The thing is, there's no reason why a RAW photo should be less a reflection of reality than one taken in JPG.  The JPG is the exact same photo, just with less options for fixing things like problems with exposure (lighting, basically).  Also, it is completely possible to digitally manipulate ("Photoshop") a JPG-- even to the point that it's a blatant lie.  RAW photos, at least to my knowledge, are not more easily "Photoshopped" in that way.  So... I'm just puzzled by this move-- and I'd really love to see some of the photos Reuters thinks were over-edited.

As a hobbyist taking photos for my own amusement, I do sometimes push the boundaries of strict realism ever so slightly.  But bumping up the warmth or richness of some colors is sometimes required to more accurately capture the feeling of the place or subject.  I'm just very curious about the kinds of photos Reuters has been receiving.  Where are some of these photos that "artistically interpret the news"?

. . . . . . .

To get back on topic...

I finished the brioche cowl.  (Ironically, there are no photos.  ;o) Or is that an incorrect use of "ironic"?  I'm always a bit nervous about using that word!  I usually wimp out and reword my sentence to avoid it entirely.)  It's squishy-soft and plush, and I'm looking for an excuse for more brioche knitting.

Next up is a project pulled out of hibernation.  I started my Old-Fashioned Sampler (afghan) in summer 2013.  From what I can recall, it was going pretty well until puppy Luna got into my workbasket and made a big mess of the yarn.  After untangling the yarn, I disgustedly put the project into time-out.

Finishing that last partially-crocheted block didn't take long, and then I spread all the squares out on the bed.  There seemed to be enough of them to make a nice-sized afghan, so I began the joining process.

I'm following Cherry Heart's (Sandra's) tutorial.  After all, it was her afghan that inspired this sampler, and I love the look of her join and edging.  Since she so generously shared her pattern, it's available to the rest of us.  (Just remember that it's written in UK crochet terms, so if you're used to US terms, you'll need to do a little translation.  It's not complicated, though, and once you're familiar with the terms, you can probably just translate it in your head.)

I imagine I'll be working on this afghan for days to come.  Photos will follow!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning Brioche Knitting

I forgot when writing the last entry that I meant to mention thread holders.

Most of the time, I put the ball of crochet thread into a glazed ceramic bowl, where it can spin around freely.  It keeps the ball off the floor; I'm usually satisfied.  For times when I need the project to be more portable, I just pop it into a plastic food storage bag (the cheap, un-"zippered" kind, though the zipped ones work, too).  These bags have the added benefit of providing a spot to store the WIP away from dust and dirt.

For some reason, though, when I was working on the latest doily, I began to wish I had a "real" thread holder.  (Maybe because the ball is so small, it was moving around more than I'm used to.)

There are some pretty ones for sale, online.  (The commercially available ones are sometimes called "string holders".)  You could also make your own fairly easily with a piece of dowel and a block of wood for the base.  Then there's the "toilet paper" design, where the ball of thread hangs horizontally instead of sitting around a vertical post.  All interesting for future reference, but I wanted one right then, without spending money or bothering with woodworking.  

 Fortunately, one of the pictures I found in my search jogged a memory.  Some crocheters use an empty CD (or DVD) spool to hold thread!  (I might even have done this myself, before, but I'd completely forgotten the trick.)

Makeshift Thread Holder

This particular spool is fairly short, which works fine for small balls, like Cébélia, but for something bigger (Aunt Lydia's, for instance), a taller spool would probably be sturdier.

So... If you haven't seen this before (or if you've forgotten it, like I had), I can recommend this "crochet tool" that you may already have in the house.  It worked really well for me.  I'll try to remember to use it again, next time I'm crocheting thread.

- - - - - - -

Here's a progress shot of the current WIP:

Brioche Cowl

I think the colors go together pretty well, and I'm glad to finally be using up that variegated yarn.  I wouldn't have bought that color if it hadn't been in a clearance bin.  Highly variegated, "contrasty" yarn can be so difficult to use in a pleasing way (imho), but this seems to be working out.

I started out planning to knit a modified version of the "Newsprint" pattern, but after reading more project notes and watching more videos, I changed my mind.  The patterns are essentially the same, I think, but they're written differently, and this one has that rolled edge.  Mainly, I chose this one because the designer had posted a video tutorial that I found easy to understand.

I don't think the pattern's in Ravelry's database... I thought about adding it, but the designer is on Ravelry, herself, as is a project entry for her own cowl, so maybe that's a sign that she doesn't want the pattern in the database...

In any case, you can find the pattern for free on her website, Milkshed.  Here's a link directly to the pattern and video for the cowl in question:  Two-Color Brioche Cowl.

I'm still a long way from finished, as you can see in the photo, but I've been pleasantly surprised by brioche knitting.  I really, really like it!

For one thing, it's fun to say.  ;o)
But seriously, I'd gotten the impression that brioche was Tricky and required Extra Concentration.  Intimidating, in other words.  However, so far, it's really not difficult at all.  Once you get into the rhythm, it's easy, and for some reason, I find this particular rhythm pleasant and fairly effortless.  I've had much more trouble messing up the rhythm with seed stitch and linen stitch, by comparison.  (That video tutorial helps a lot, if you're new to brioche-- especially if you knit Continental style.)

Some of my purl stitches (the pink vertical stripes inside the cowl) are a bit wonky, but I think I can even them out when I'm finished.  That said, if you're like me (tend to "row out", purl gauge not a perfect match to your knit gauge), I'd definitely suggest using the yarn you want to be most prominent as color A (i.e. not the color of the rolled edge).  Though brioche is reversible, I'm finding that the front of my cowl (the part facing me as I knit) is neater-looking than the back.  Maybe washing and gentle blocking will make it more even in appearance.

So far, I haven't used lifelines, though they're frequently recommended.  I can see why.  I got off-rhythm at one point.  (Something felt wrong, and I knew it, but I foolishly kept knitting!  Argh!)  I had to tink out at least a third of the round, and it was pretty messy in a couple of spots.  ...So, yes, I'll try to make myself put in a lifeline on the next round, to be on the safe side.  Because as fun as it is to knit, this cowl is a slow-grower, and it would be extremely frustrating to make a mistake that I couldn't figure out how to fix.

I imagine that this is the easiest brioche project ever.  In the round.  Two colors (which makes it easier to see what you're doing, I think).  No twists/cables.  No decreases/increases.  But if this goes well, there's a brioche hat or two I have my eye on... (Check out Katrin Schubert's designs!)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Two Blocked Doilies

Latest crafty doings:

-- Sewed a dog toy for Luna using a scrap of polar fleece.

I've made a few of these for her, and she enjoys them.  They're as easy as can be-- especially if you have a sewing machine (though you could sew it by hand).  For this one, I took a long strip of polar fleece (which is more durable against chewing than other fabrics I've tried), folded it together lengthwise (right sides together) and sewed along two sides, leaving one of the short ends open for stuffing.  I stitched along those sides twice to make it extra sturdy, then turned it right side out.  I stuffed the tube loosely, alternating wads of polyfil with a couple of plastic shopping bags (which make crunching sounds that dogs find interesting), then sewed the end shut (by hand, because it didn't want to fit under my sewing machine's presser foot).

Voilà!  Stuffed dog toy on the cheap, and no eyes or noses for obsessive chewers to remove and eat.
 (No photo, but it's not much to look at.)

 -- Seamed the reworked Wham Bam cowl.

I frogged the original cowl because the yarn wasn't bulky enough to make it useful, then I knitted it again with two yarns held together-- the original yarn and another ball in dark grey.  I finally got around to seaming it, this week.  I like it much better now, though it's nowhere near cold enough to wear it, yet.  (A high of 86°F yesterday, with high humidity!  Funny, the calendar says it's November...)

"Wham Bam" Cowl

"Wham Bam" Cowl

"Wham Bam" Cowl

-- Bound off the spider scarf.

I should've used a different bind-off, probably, because it could do with being a little looser... I wasn't in the mood to do a sewn bind-off (as suggested in pattern), so I just did the standard BO instead.  I guess I could still go back, rip out that BO and try a different one... *sigh*  We'll see.

I'm not feeling particularly excited about this project anymore, because I don't know when I'll ever wear it.  It's also a bit short for a scarf (for my tastes), even after adding extra rows.  Still, negativity aside, it was an interesting project, and I don't regret making it.  I still have to weave in the ends and block it.  Photos, after that!

-- Finished a doily.

I finished "Bewitching" this week.  It was one of the first doily patterns that I looked at and really, really wanted to make, back before I had crocheted with thread.  It became one of those "someday" patterns, put on a pedestal, behind glass, waiting for the day when I would finally be ready (i.e. good enough of a crocheter).

Then I started it to have it ready to work on during a vacation-- but I turned out not to feel like crocheting it then, after all, so it was put away for another couple of years.

Now that I've finished it, I'm not sure I see what "Newbie Me" was so excited about.  It's a pretty doily, but it doesn't stand out to me now quite as much as it did, back then.  Also, it was far from the most fun doily I've ever made.  (Some doilies are just more fun to make than others!)

But I do still like "Bewitched", and it's good to know that I can make a whole doily in size 20 thread-- especially good to know since I have more balls of it bought at the same time!  (I came across a sale on size 20 Cébélia a couple of years back, so I stocked up.)

As (almost) always, there are some goofs, but I don't think any of them are immediately obvious to the casual observer, so I left them in.  (Ripping back multiple rows to fix an innocuous mistake?  Life's too short!)  Oh, and I didn't really follow the pattern on the last round, either.  It's nice to be experienced enough as a crocheter to feel comfortable changing the pattern, when I want to.  (For some people, that level of confidence probably comes early; for others of us, it may take years to reach that point.)

"Bewitching" Doily

"Bewitching" Doily

"Bewitching" Doily

"Bewitching" Doily

-- Blocked another doily.

Since the blocking supplies were already out, I blocked another doily that had been waiting for a while.  Pattern: "Pretty Baby" by Elizabeth Hiddleson.  Another not-favorite-to-make doily, but with a nice result.  This one gets big when crocheted in size 10 thread.  Mine measures about 26" in diameter.

"Pretty Baby" Doily

(Luna sneaked into that photo... "Hey, watcha doin'?  Is that thing for me?")


"Pretty Baby" Doily

"Pretty Baby" Doily

"Pretty Baby" Doily

"Pretty Baby" Doily

-- Cast-on for new knitting project.

Last night, I did the cast-on and first five rows of a modified "Newsprint Cowl".  Today I'm trying to decide whether to keep on with it (adding in the second color of yarn!) or rip back and make it another 20 stitches bigger.  I'm procrastinating because this is my first try at brioche knitting, and I'm a little nervous!

Knitting Something New

This is my yarn project for the weekend.  It's supposed to be off-and-on rain this weekend-- perfect knitting weather!  :o)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Spider Scarf Done! (Well, Almost...)

I've all but finished the spider scarf (pattern: October is for Spinners).  Alright, I admit it: it's still on the needles, because I haven't bound off, yet.  That of course means that it also still needs blocking, but given that there's no way it'll be cool enough to wear it in the next few weeks, motivation is nil.

To do the last several rows, I needed size 13 needles, but they were still stuck in a WIP-- a Wham Bam Thank You Lamb cowl I was reworking.  That prompted me to go ahead and finish knitting that, too, so there's another project off the list.  (Except the reworked cowl wasn't technically on my WIP list...)

The spider scarf was an interesting pattern.  Definitely one to keep you on your toes.  I'm still not sure when I'll ever wear it, but it was fun to make.

Here it is in its bowl (along with the leftover yarn).  The pink yarn is some scrap kitchen cotton that I used for a lifeline before switching up needle sizes.  I don't use lifelines often enough.  When craft-disaster strikes, they can save hours of work (and your sanity), but I'm just too lazy to stop and do them.  ...No, no, that's not it.  I'm too excited to stop?  I'm too optimistic to believe that anything could go wrong enough that I'd ever need a lifeline?  Must be one or both of those.

Awaiting Final Touches

That's the "Wham Bam" cowl in front of the scarf.
I still need to weave in the ends and seam it.  (Procrastination Mode: Activated!)

Bulky Garter Stitch

Since finishing the scarf, I've been working on the hexagon afghan (formally titled the "Earth, Sea, and Stone 'Ghan").  It's a slow progress project.  Crochet a row or two of hexagons, then stop to weave in the ends.  Repeat until boredom drives you to find/start another project to work on instead.

Ok, that's a bit too negative.
It's an okay project, in small doses.  Part of the problem is that I just don't really like the yarn I'm using-- Caron Simply Soft.  (And that explains why I started this afghan to begin with: it was-- and still is-- intended to use up my remaining stash of that yarn!)  Also, it feels like you don't get much crochet time before it's time to stop and weave in the ends, again.  And while I like JAYGo well enough (especially the fact that it eliminates the need to sew or crochet pieces together at the end of the project), every third round of this project is JAYGo.  It's a lot of JAYGo is what I'm saying, and I have my limits.  (g)

...Then the weather (which had turned delightfully cool and autumnal for a few days) became warmer, and it was suddenly no longer pleasant to have an afghan-in-progress on my lap, so I brought out yet another hibernating WIP.  (Whittling away at the stack...)  I had done about eight rounds before putting it away, way back in 2013, so it was only barely begun.

The pattern is Patricia Kristoffersen's "Bewitching" (from the booklet Doilies with Charm).  It's my first doily (I think...) in thread thinner than size 10.  Size 20 Cébélia in "Sea Mist Blue".  I believe I'm using a larger hook than is typically recommended for this thread-- 1.5mm instead of 1.4mm-- but there's a certain amount of leeway available in these matters.

"Bewitching" Doily

Back when I used to lurk on a couple of doily groups, there were people using size 100 thread and talking about how they no longer liked using "bulky" size 10 and preferred the finer threads.  It's a bit mystifying-- like people who are "addicted" to running and can't stand it when something keeps them from their daily jog. ;o)

Maybe it's still too early to say, but I don't think I'm headed that way quite yet (on the fine thread or the running, unfortunately).  It's getting easier to work with the thinner thread, but I don't think it's really any more enjoyable than chunky size 10.  I do love Cébélia, though.  It's definitely a cut above most other crochet threads I've tried.

- - - - - - -

Serious Luna (just because she posed when I had the camera out for this post's photos):

Little Luna

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Spider Scarf

No blocking or sewing to report, and the spider scarf is still my only active yarny WIP.

I worked up to row 156, then had to decide whether or not to swap up to a larger size of needle (as indicated in the pattern).

The problem (as you may recall from the previous post) is that the pattern is written for laceweight.  You start with four strands of yarn and gradually work your way down to fewer and fewer strands-- and larger and larger needles. (You also gradually end up with fewer stitches per row.)

I'm using a single strand of worsted weight throughout and had intended to stick with the same size needle for the whole thing, but started questioning that plan (which was based on something I read in someone's project notes, I think).  Maybe it's better to increase the needle size, after all-- if not as drastically as in the pattern, at least slightly.

In the end, I decided to put in a lifeline for the last row before the first needle swap.  If going up a couple of needle sizes doesn't seem to be working out, it'll be much easier to rip back with a lifeline in place.  Otherwise, there is almost guaranteed to be much gnashing of teeth-- and a dog or two will probably be running for cover.

(Luna is particularly bad about that.  If I so much as sigh loudly, she slinks away from me and skulks under Donald's desk.  To see the way she acts, you'd think I was in the habit of mistreating her in my grumpier moods!  I do naaaaaht!  (Oh hi, Mark! --Warning: There's one very slight curse word in that video link, just in case there are impressionable young ears in the room...)  ...Anyway, she's just very sensitive to aggravation-- mine in particular, though she behaves in a similar way if Trixie happens to sneeze. (g))

To return to topic...
Here are a couple of quick photos I snapped a couple of days ago.  It's only a few rows further along, now.

"October is for Spinners" Scarf WIP

"October is for Spinners" Scarf WIP

The seed stitch edging has a definite tendency to flip inward, obscuring the spider design.  I've seen at least one person complain that it did so even after blocking, so that's something to look forward to dealing with...  ;o)

Speaking of blocking, I hope that washing and gentle stretching will diminish some of the very visible "rowing out".  It's funny: I never really worried about "rowing out" until I happened to read about it some place where it was clearly labeled a knitting problem.  It's really only an aesthetic issue, and I'm not seriously bothered by it, but knowing that it's not supposed to look that way doesn't increase my satisfaction with my knitting.  (Whine whine whine!)

Another aspect I'm not completely satisfied with is the cinch at the spider's "waist".  It doesn't cinch enough, because I made it too loose.  (I've since read a suggestion that might've improved it.  Instead of clustering 5 on row 31, you cluster 2, cluster 1, cluster 2.  If I were ever to make this again, I'd give that a try.)  As it is, I'll try to adjust the yarn during blocking to tighten the cinch.  If that doesn't help, I might just put a little knot (or two) in the back to hold it tighter.

To anyone thinking of knitting this:
The spider section looks intimidating, but just take it line by line.  The spider section is entertaining; you watch it emerge one row at a time and it's fairly easy to see if what you've done is right.  There's also a high degree of symmetry in the spider portion, which makes it easier to predict.

The rest of the scarf, which looks so random, is actually more difficult, for me.  It's less predictable, and some of the rows have long instructions that can be tricky to keep track of.  Just take it slowly.  Keep careful track of which row you're on.  (Ask me why!)  If it helps, you can even tick off each element of a line as you complete it.  If in doubt, stop and check the row you've knitted against the pattern.  It's easy to get thrown off by some of the stitch patterns that repeat within the same row.  More than once, I've had to tink back to the previous row to get things straight in my head, and once I just fudged it when my stitch count was off by one.  Do what works for you.  One good thing about this pattern is that there's plenty of room for deviation and fudging!  No-one will be any the wiser.

There are a fair number of small errors in the pattern.  (As of this writing, they still haven't been corrected in the pattern.)  I highly recommend going to the (no longer very active) knit-along Ravelry group mentioned on the pattern page.  There's a thread for corrections that is very helpful-- and it's also worth browsing some of the project notes marked as "helpful".

Before you drop a stitch (intentionally, according to the pattern), take just a second to look down your work.  If there's a YO in the same column, further down, that's where the "run" will stop.  (This may seem like common knowledge, but not necessarily so for us relatively inexperienced knitters...)  If you don't see a YO below, you're probably either in the wrong column-- or you may have made a slight mistake in an earlier row.  You can still drop the stitch, of course, if you want to.  Either let it run (knowing that in theory it could run all the way to the bottom of the scarf, if nothing in the pattern stops it) or do a "controlled drop" and hold it temporarily in place with a safety pin, lockable stitch marker, or scrap of yarn tied through the stitch.  Later on, you can tack it in place to keep it from running further down the scarf.

Another suggestion for anyone else making this:
Rather than fiddling with the special twisted stitches (right twist, left twist, purl right twist, purl left twist), I've read that you can treat them like tiny cables.  Apparently the results look very similar, if not identical, and I found them much easier to work that way (though that may be mainly because I already had some experience with cabling without a cable needle).

If you choose to try this method, here's how I understand the process to work:

RT (Right Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the back (and knit both)

Detailed version:
Skip first stitch. Slip needle into front of second stitch (as if to purl) and slide it off the left-hand needle.  The first stitch will also slide off, in the process.  Holding the right-hand needle to the front, pick up the loose stitch (the first stitch) with the left-hand needle.  Slide the slipped stitch back onto the left-hand needle.  (At this point, both stitches are back on the left-hand needle, but they have changed order.)  Knit each stitch to complete the "twist".

LT (Left Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the front (and knit both)

Detailed version:
Skip first stitch. Slip needle into back of second stitch (as if to purl) and slide it off the left-hand needle.  The first stitch will also slide off, in the process.  Holding the right-hand needle to the back, pick up the loose stitch (the first stitch) with the left-hand needle.  Slide the slipped stitch back onto the left-hand needle.  (At this point, both stitches are back on the left-hand needle, but they have changed order.)  Knit each stitch to complete the "twist".

PRT (Purl Right Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the back (and purl both)

Detailed version:
Same as for RT, but purl the two stitches at the end instead of knitting them.

PLT (Purl Left Twist)
Briefly:  hold slipped stitch to the front (and purl both)

Detailed version:
Same as for RT, but purl the two stitches at the end instead of knitting them.

If you need a visual aid, here's a video (from VeryPink Knits) demonstrating the "cabling without a cable needle" technique.  It looks scary, but keep in mind that with this pattern, you'll only have one stitch hanging loose-- not three.  As long as you don't make any drastic movements (and don't have someone "helping" you by suddenly yanking the yarn), that live stitch won't have a chance to go anywhere before you scoop it back up again.  :o)

- - - - - - -

And here's something not exactly craft-related, but since I no longer maintain a blog where this sort of thing really fits, it's either here or on the gardening blog...

Earlier this week, I made what I think was the first yeast bread I've ever baked all by myself from scratch!  This photo shows half a batch of "Swedish Round-Loaf" from my mother-in-law's recipe.

(Each loaf is maybe nine inches or so in diameter.  The loaves are cut into wedges-- usually six per loaf-- then sliced to make room for cheese or anything else you like.  Lunch meat, veggies, sprouts, etc.)


Yeast bread is no big deal for a lot of people, I know, but for some of us (those not caught up in the recent trend of rediscovering the art and science of bread-making), it's still intimidating.

When I was growing up, my mother made two kinds of "from-scratch", non-dessert bread, that I can recall-- cornbread (including the occasional "Mexican"/spicy variation on cornbread) and biscuits (of a type that I guess would be called "drop biscuits").

As an adult in my own kitchen, I've always had the impression (not uncommon, particularly in recent generations) that yeast bread is more difficult and/or time-consuming than other types of homemade bread.

Based on the recipe I used (translated from the Swedish by Donald), it does take a lot longer, from start to finish, to make even these simple round loaves than it does to whip up a pan of cornbread or drop biscuits, but not that much time is spent actually handling the dough.  Most of it can be spent doing other things while you wait for the dough to rise.

I don't think I'll be trying the most advanced bread recipes anytime soon, but this particular bread is still just new enough of an accomplishment to make it interesting.  (How long before the novelty wears off?)