Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Project Updates

It's been a while!
Since my last entry, I've worked a few more squares for the "Be of Good Cheer" Samplerghan.

Sunflower Square

Sunflower Square. (from 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet)
I enjoyed crocheting this one (another square from one of the new books on my shelves), but I actually prefer it in the colors shown the book.  It needed several more rounds to bring it up to 12 inches.  Simple "granny rounds" did the trick.


Veronica's Rose Square

Veronica's Rose. (freebie online)
This one was quick, easy, and fun to crochet.  That said, I'm not 100% sure I love the results of my first round of petals.  Not sure if I did something wrong... or what... but it's only just "ok".


Happy Hearts

Happy Hearts (freebie online)
This will be the last "heart"-themed block for this afghan.  Of the heart blocks I made, I think I'm least satisfied with this one.  The hearts seem to get lost in the pattern, somehow.  Outlining each one in a contrasting color yarn (slip stitches, maybe?) might help, but on the other hand, it might just make things worse.  For now I'm leaving it as-is.


Rose Garden Square

Rose Garden (from 50 Fabulous Crochet Squares)
I like this one better... though if I were doing it again, I might try to convert the "granny rows" to the type with somewhat smaller holes.  The flower is quite thick with those three layers of petals right on top of one another-- but there was a bit more of a gap than I like between the petals and the center of the flower, so I added in the yellow bit.  It's just short chain loops anchored to the base with an occasional single crochet.


Lavender Blossom Square

Lavender Blossom (from 50 Fabulous Crochet Squares)
The flower worked out nicely.  Once I got to the point where I had to add my own rounds, something went awry.  A little pulling gets it into decent shape, though, so I'm confident that it'll be even better when it's attached to other squares.


Sunflower Throw Square

Sunflower Throw Square (freebie online)
This was my first time making puff stitches, and I think I would benefit from more practice. (g)  It turned out alright, though.


The next block is already started (though it's just been sitting there for a few days, now), and then I think I only need one more to reach my goal of twenty!


I took a few minutes to go back and count (and record) the stitch-counts (per side) of the blocks I've made to date.  The numbers vary, of course.  *sigh*  It's inevitable, with this kind of sampler.  You either do your calculating and make adjustments "in process" (which seems tricky and not much fun) or you crochet along your merry way until you have enough blocks and then find a way to ease them together at the end (also not much fun, but possibly less tricky, depending on your perspective).  I'm trying not to let that impending part of the project dampen the joy of this part.  It'll work out.  :o)

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Warning:
The remainder of this entry is long-winded.  More so even than usual.  It was written a bit at a time, when the mood struck me, and now it's gotten a bit out of hand, to tell the truth!

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When I needed a break from the samplerghan, I pulled out my two plastic shoeboxes of scrap yarn and crocheted (and more significantly, wove in the tails afterwards) 30 mini-grannies for the "So Ugly It's Cute" afghan.  That brings me up to 200 squares, total.

According to an earlier Ravelry project note, I apparently decided that I needed at least 300 squares, but I don't remember how I reached that conclusion.  It's probably about right, though, which means there's still a long way to go.  Crocheting the mini-grannies is pure fun, but weaving in the ends tires my poor fingers, so it's best to make them in small batches.  

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Another crafty thing I've been up to lately is unraveling that knitted beret (the one that had unfortunate pooling/mottling) in preparation for re-knitting it.  Won't be able to wear it for months, but it'll be ready and waiting for the first cold snap. 

So, unraveling the "old" hat.  It wasn't too bad.  If you're an established knitter, maybe the thought of unraveling a mere hat-- as opposed to a whole sweater, for instance-- doesn't seem like much.  Keep in mind that I'm not a speedy knitter.  And I'd had to unravel and rework the brim of the hat, too, to get the fit right... which required bravery, at my current level of skill. (g)  In this case, I think the beret will look so much better when it's been re-knitted that there was no call for tears. ;o)

The first time around, I noticed too late that some people had added little i-cord "stems" to the top of their berets.  I like that look, so this time I've copied it.  That's my first time making i-cord!  It's not difficult, but I don't see myself making tons of it, all the same.  If I were, I'd consider getting some double-pointed needles.  Making it on a loooong circular needle was a bit messy and time-consuming.

Unfortunately, I ran into some problems (realized I was using the wrong size needles) and had to frog the bit I'd managed to finish before the awful realization.  I was so disgusted with the whole project by that time that I set it aside.  Again.  Heh, this hat may not be ready in time for the first cold snap, at this rate!
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I took another break from the afghan (and the beret) to deal with some sweaters from the thrift store.  The last two or three times that our local Goodwill had its (monthly?) "10 Items (of clothing, excluding outerwear) for $10" sales, I made sure to carefully scan the racks of sweaters.  I've scored several sweaters for felting (including some 100% cashmere that would've been too delicate for unraveling)-- and several more for unraveling.  For a buck apiece, it's too good a deal to pass up!

The sweaters for felting are easy enough to "process"-- though I can tell you from experience that you'd better sniff them for mothball scent carefully before tossing them into the wash.  (Also: Never ever EVER put a mothbally sweater into the clothes-dryer.  You will be sorry.)  ...And if you're going to felt a sweater in the washer, it's a good idea to put it in a closed pillowcase (or similar) to catch the balls of fuzz that come off.  (That one I was prepared for, thank goodness.  Washing rag quilts at home has tattooed that ounce of prevention onto my brain indelibly.) 

But back to the mothballs.  Washing a mothbally sweater (and then stupidly putting it into the dryer-- don't know what I was thinking!) somehow amplified the smell and made half the house reek (of mothballs, bien sûr) for at least a day or two.  (I'm not sure how long, really, or what I finally did to banish the odor.  Apparently the stink was so traumatic that my brain employed some sort of defense mechanism to block the memory.  It's a good thing my husband is understanding; this is the sort of thing that could put a serious strain on a marriage.)  

The solution to mothballed sweaters is to hang them out in the sun for a few hours-- or more-- until the smell magically disappears.  It works.  I've tried it multiple times with success. 

The sweaters for unraveling require more of an investing of time and patience.  There are a variety of ways to handle them.  If you're interested, the UnRavelers group on Ravelry is a good place to start. 

In my current handful of sweaters for unraveling, there was one that had a tiny hole I hadn't previously noticed.  It might have been from a snag on the price tag, but just in case there were moths, I decided to take preventative actions.  Namely, bagging the sweaters and cycling them through days in and out of the freezer.  The precise number of days recommended seems to vary, but someone who described herself as an entomologist said that three cycles of 24 hours in the freezer and 24 hours at room temperature would be enough to kill any bug, so that's the method I selected.

When it (finally) comes time to actually unravel the sweaters, I wind the balls by hand and use the "finger" method* to prevent winding too tightly.  (*By which I mean that I wrap the yarn around the ball itself and 1-3 fingers of the hand holding the ball, to provide some built-in "give".)

Here's the yield of a recent unraveling:

78/365 - Reclaimed Yarn

It's 360 grams of worsted weight yarn for one dollar.  This sweater ended up as a bunch of medium-to-small balls (issues with the construction, knots in the yarn), but because it's feltable, 100% wool, I may use felted joins to cut down on the amount of end-weaving.  Another sweater I unraveled at about the same time came out much more neatly in large balls of yarn, but I don't have any photos to share.  (Yet.) 

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A little thread crochet has sneaked its way into my crafting lately, too.  Maybe that's a topic for next time...