Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pouches, a Potholder, a Cozy, & Doilies

Let's see... What have I been up to (crochet-wise) since last time?  Not enough blocking and project-photographing, unfortunately...

(Maybe posting on this blog again is just the kick in the rear I need to make that happen.  The problem is that as much as I enjoy crocheting doilies and taking photographs as separate hobbies, for some reason, I just don't get as much pleasure from photographing my doilies.  The pictures never come out as sharp as they ought. ~shrug~)

At least I have been crocheting, though!
After the Summer Splendor doily and the granny cushion, I tried my hand at pouch-making.

MP3-Player Pouch

I muddled (and modified) my way through that first pattern and was dissatisfied with the results. (Ended up frogging it.  Figured I might as well use the yarn for a dishcloth rather than leave it as a pouch I'd never use.) The stitch pattern is pretty and unusual, though.  You can find the free pattern here: Star Stitch Coin Purse.

My Day 21/31: Star Stitch

By that time, I'd decided I wanted a pouch for my mp3-player, though, so I improvised a simple pattern. It worked out ok... (Alright, it was so simple it almost couldn't not have worked).

MP3-Player Pouch

After all that urgency and insistence that I must have a crocheted mp3-player pouch, have I actually used it for the intended purpose?  No, not really.  Said mp3-player is always left out where I can to it quickly and easily.  Oh well. At least it has "a place", even if it's never in it.  (g)

...That was a boring project.  The best part of it was that I got to use a couple of polymer clay buttons I made back when I actually did polymer clay.  (I do mean to get back into claying...)

Next up was a potholder.  I've used this pattern twice before, with good results.  It's a vintage pattern, which I always think is fun.  (It appeals to the same part of me that gets excited about genealogy and the occasional "antique-y" find at a thrift store.)

In the past, I made this potholder pattern in red; this time, I used pink.  (I know, everyone says red and pink clash, but I find a perverse pleasure in pairing them, from time to time.  I fully intend to hang the red and pink potholders together-- side by side-- in my kitchen.  I'm such a daredevil!)

Pretty Pink Petals Pot Holder - Front

Here's the (very simple) pattern: Pretty Petals Potholder (from 1946).  (It looks like you have to use the Wayback Machine to access it, though, so I suggest printing out a copy, if you're putting off making one for a while.)  I like making mine with one ruffled, frilly side (the front) and one plain round (the back).  It uses less yarn that way, and seems thick enough without the double-sided ruffles, but of course that's a matter of personal preference.

After the pouches and potholder, I was ready to get back into doily-making.

Sunflower Bloom (blocked, not photographed)-- an attractive-enough, smallish/medium-sized doily-- not all that difficult-- but for some reason I had a heck of a time with (part of) it.  Plus, while making it, I ran into two knots in fairly rapid succession in my ball of thread, which only added to the frustration.  I think it would go better a second time around, but I don't really need two of it.  (Ok, I don't even really need one of it, but the doily-making addiction cannot be denied.) This doily taught me that I really don't enjoy making bpdc (back post double crochet) pairs. Yuck.

I wanted to make a doily as a gift for my grandmother, next.  I decided to try a different PK doily:  Pretty Pineapples.  Overall, it was easier than expected, but I never really love making picots.  (This pattern doesn't have that many picots, but the "large" ones were still a bit of a pain.)  The last round felt a little odd to crochet, at first, but once I got into the rhythm of it, it wasn't difficult.

Pretty Ecru Pineapples Doily

The pineapple portion of this doily was a little denser than I tend to like, but the overall effect of the doily is nice.  I like the raised stitches, and that last row-- the one that felt odd to crochet-- also gives it a unique touch.


Side note:  I don't like blocking doilies that are very noticeably round or have elements (like the solid band in the middle, there) that are supposed to be round.  I'm not good at getting them perfect.  At least with "pointy" and meshy doilies, it's not as immediately obvious when a person's blocking skills are lacking.  Still, it was blocked well enough.  I guess they can always be washed and re-blocked.

Next up-- another doily, but for a change of pace, I wanted a charted, non-PK doily.  Actually, I chose this pattern because I thought it would be smaller than it actually turned out to be.  (I neglected to notice, when selecting the pattern, that it was made of trebles instead of dc.)  I'd scored a bag of thread from a thrift store very cheaply, but it was a brand I'd never used before-- South Maid-- and I wanted a quick project just to test it out.  

Cross Process 22/30:  Crochet

The results were mixed.  The doily turned out ok (though very plain, especially compared to a Patricia Kristoffersen doily), but the thread itself was a disappointment. 

I'd read awful things about South Maid, but hoped they were exaggerated.  (After all, some people cringe and turn up their noses at acrylic yarn, yet I find it perfectly fine to work with.)  A few of the reports do seem exaggerated to me, but there's no denying that this is some rough, stiff, dry yarn.  It's almost crispy, compared to the other threads I've used!

I wouldn't want to think I had to use only South Maid thread for the rest of my life.  I can't imagine paying full price for it, either.  (It's not much cheaper than Aunt Lydia's or Royale, is it?  Yet both of those-- Aunt Lydia's, particularly-- seem much better quality, or at least much easier on the hands.)  Still, I'll use the rest of what I got in my thrift store purchase, and I might even buy more, if I find it at an irresistibly low price.  (That depends on how I feel after I make another doily with it, though.  If it's too unpleasant, it's not worth using, even if it's free.  This is a hobby, for goodness' sake.  It should be enjoyable.)

Cross Process 28/30: A Doily a Day

(There's the doily again, still in it's unblocked state.  If you're wondering about the varying colors, well, I was experimenting with "cross process"-style photography last month.  I prefer the colors in the second photo.  I wish it were that lovely antiqued aqua color, but it's actually closer to the blue in the first picture.)

After all that doily-ing, I needed something different, so I made another granny tissue box cover.  This was my third time using that pattern.  It's worked well every time and is always a quick and easy project .  (You just have to remember that it's written in UK terminology or else you'll have to rip and restart.)  This time, I made one to order for my youngest sister, to match her bedroom colors of black and purple.  (Still no photos. Oops... I haven't given it to her, yet, though.  There's still hope.)

I really need to update this blog more often.  I'm wearing myself out, writing about all these projects at one time.  (Plus I've probably lost half my readers by this point in such a long entry.  Half.  That means there might be two of you still reading.  (g))

Around this point, there was a clearance bin at Michaels with 99¢-a-skein yarn.  This was very exciting, because yarn is not cheap, these days.  (Or at least I don't think it is.  Of course, I am usually a penny-pincher, so maybe it's just that I have a skewed view of what is and is not cheap...)  One of my finds in the bin was sock yarn.  I bought some with fingerless mitts in mind, and that's just what I made from it!

This is the pattern I used:  Firecracker Gloves.
I read through a lot of project notes on Ravelry, trying to figure out how big to make the gloves.  You can find my (way too long and detailed) notes on my project's Ravelry page, but essentially, I found that to make the pattern fit me, I had to use a larger hook (F) and start with more stitches than specified in the pattern.  I also used foundation sc (instead of foundation chain) and made the cuff longer and the thumb and finger sections shorter than called for in the pattern.

The mitts aren't difficult to make.  Figuring out how to get them to the right size was the most challenging aspect of the project, by far.  Once I got that figured out, I enjoyed the pattern stitch.  It was one I'd never heard of before-- the herringbone half double crochet (hhdc).

Here's the yarn I used (again, with slightly weird colors, because of my cross-process month):

Cross Process 27/30: New Project

I got two fingerless mitts out of one 99¢ skein.  Not bad!

Admittedly, this (Patons Kroy Sock "Fern Rose Jacquard") probably isn't the colorway I would've chosen if I'd had my pick of the litter. ;o)  It's a little bit crazy (though I wouldn't go so far as to call it "clown barf", as I've seen it described elsewhere), but I'll be wearing them around the house, mostly, and their colors won't matter as much, then.  Besides, these colors are... youthful and playful.  Adventurous.  (Right?) (g)  Meh, whatever.  I try not to care (too much) about what people think of my sense of style, anyway.  So long as I'm comfortable, everyone else can just deal with my atomic clown barfy fingerless mitts.  Yo, haters!  Talk to the mitt!  (What?  Too dorky?  Ok, sorry.)

That brings me up to my current project-- PK's Treasure, done in red.  There aren't a lot of projects for this pattern on Ravelry.  I wonder why... It's not textured like some of PK's doilies are, but it's still pretty.  The large holes in the design give it an unusual look, and so far, it's been very easy.  The hardest part is that you have to crochet into the chain a couple of rounds.  I don't enjoy crocheting into the chain, but I can endure a little of it.

I'm already thinking ahead to my next project.  (That's a sure sign of crochet addiction, isn't it?) 

There are so many things I want to make... I want to get a few gifts done by Christmas, but that's months away, so I'm not feeling the need to rush on those, yet... I'm planning to make another afghan, and I even have the pattern and yarn all picked out, but I'm not sure it's time to start that, yet, either... (Maybe I'll wait to start such a big project until after I've gotten a gift or two finished.)  I'd like to make the Between Meals Centerpiece, one of these days.  (Twice now my husband has seen me looking at this pattern and commented that he likes it.  This is clearly a Sign that it is Meant to Be.)  This scarf (seen over on Pammy Sue's blog) looks like a fun way to use up small remnants of favorite yarn (as if I need yet another scarf)... Some day, I'd like to make this Hinterland Throw, but I'll have to buy enough yarn in a single color... I usually go for a mix of small amounts of lots of different colors of yarn, but that won't do for this project. If I don't make the Hinterland Throw, I'd like to make a doily pattern in yarn... Or-- here's a novel idea!-- maybe I'll do both.  (g)  Can't ever have too many decorative throws, right? 

...But I'm also in the mood to finally try filet crochet.  I want something small, just to give myself an idea of how it works and whether I like it.  Eventually, I'd like to make a wall-hanging or two in filet, but I'd rather not start with something too ambitious.  I'll just keep looking until I find something suitable.

And with that, I believe I'm all caught up!