I actually have two finished projects that I could share here (meaning that they weren't secret projects), but I have yet to photograph them-- and with today's overcast skies, it'll have to wait.
In the meantime, though, how about a little rambling chitchat on a variety of completely random subjects?
Gold or Platinum Embroidery Needles--
Not so long ago, I noticed that the blunt-end (tapestry? darning?) needle I use for weaving in ends of yarn had tarnished/the shine had worn off in just the spot where I touch it most. I had another, so I switched to it. Now I've noticed that it is also beginning to show the same signs. Frustrating! I'm sure my lovely skin chemistry is to blame. *grumble*
I'm not sure if this wearing off the of the nickel plating is a real problem, but I'd rather it didn't happen. If nothing else, I think I started noticing a metallic smell every time I used the more worn needle. It probably wouldn't hurt anything to continue using a worn needle (though I suppose it's possible that it could discolor light yarn), but it likely reduces its smoothness... and I simply don't enjoy metallic smells that much. (Such a weirdo.)
Anyway, I started researching the subject, and it turns out that you can buy gold- and even platinum-plated embroidery needles. They're more expensive than the typical nickel-plated options, of course, but if they're not that pricey, and if they lasted long enough, it might be worth the difference.
However, I then read this interesting article (from an embroiderer's point of view) about the comparative value of gold-plated needles vs. plain... and now I'm not sure they would last any longer. In fact, some people have found that the finish wears off of them even faster than the nickel-plated needles!
In the comments of that article, a reader who happens to be a metal smith/jeweler wrote that plating of any kind will eventually wear off anything, but for some people it happens faster (due to differences in skin chemistry). When you feel a "tacky", sticky sensation on the needle (or whatever else), that is the plating starting to come loose from the metal underneath. She went on to say that the closer in chemical composition a plating is to the underlying metal, the longer it will last, so nickel-plated needles generally last longer than gold-plated. In theory, a solid gold or "gold-on-gold" needle would be ideal-- but I don't know if such a thing exists. Even if it does, I'm sure it's more than I'd be willing to pay for a needle! (g)
For now, I've bought another package or two of nickel needles on sale, and we'll see how long they last. They were so cheap (less than $1 for 5) that I don't have to feel too wasteful if I get out a new one every few months. I would be curious to try a platinum needle, someday, though, if the chance ever presents itself.
Note: I've used rubbery plastic needles, too. I had one that was given to me that I really liked-- but it broke. The others I bought to replace it I haven't liked so much. I think I'm harder on yarn needles than plastic is designed to take, so I prefer metal.
Thread Crochet Tips--
I remember finding and reading over this website (Thread Crochet and Snowflakes) a long while back-- probably when I was first getting started crocheting with thread. I recently happened upon a link to it and browsed it again. I think I'm better able to understand and appreciate it this time around. This page in particular-- Beginnings and Endings-- has some useful tips for anyone who is new to crocheting with thread. (And you don't have to be a snowflake crocheter to find it helpful. The tips work just as well for doilies, angels, bowls, etc.)
Unfortunately, some of the pages no longer work. That includes the one on picots*, which is the other section I want to suggest as potentially useful. If you hurry, it's still (just barely) accessible through the good ol' WayBackMachine. If you find it helpful, I suggest saving/printing a copy before it's gone forever!
* Related Confession: I suspect that my picots are rather ugly, if examined closely. I'm not one to skip picots in a pattern, but I dislike blocking them, and I'm self-conscious about them.
One of those blanket patterns I've been admiring lately is another great one for using up small scraps. (In fact, it makes me wish I didn't already have the So Ugly It's Cute afghan in the works. But I do, so this one will have to wait its turn.)
The pattern is called "Granny's Daughter". Basically, it's a bunch (hundreds) of one-round granny squares in a variety of colors that are joined together (with one unifying color) in strips... which are then joined together into a blanket.
It's on Ravelry in a couple of places, and there's a version of the pattern available for free here: motif and assembly.
I think I like it best with a large variety of colors joined with cream yarn. Definitely adding this to my queue!
In the Meantime...
I'm taking a short break from gift-making. (I need one! My current "main" project is not fun at the moment. Maybe a day or two away from it will help.) I pulled out my smaller scraps and have crocheted another twenty squares for the Ugly-Cute Scrapghan. Once I've woven in the ends, I'll decide whether I'm ready to go back into gift mode or if another ten or twenty mini-grannies are required. ;o)