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November-- It's officially yarn-craft season! Well, yarn-craft season lasts all year, but there is something especially exciting about crocheting and knitting something when there's just beginning to be that snap in the air. Of course, I think just about everything feels better in autumn. The absolute best time of the year.
I have been steadily adding to my Ravely queue over the past several months. So much for the resolution to pare it down! Nope, I've been frequenting the "free patterns" forums, saving lots for later use-- and I find myself using the queue to remind myself of patterns I might want to make, rather than patterns I will definitely make, in such-and-such order.
There are some beauties in my queue, as well as some works in progress that I'd like to finish, but I may not get to them for a little while. Christmas is fast approaching, and even though I'm going to try to not overdo the handmade gifts this year, there's one I've had planned for months... and then I found another little thing I'd like to make for a few people... and now there's yet another gift that I feel I "ought" to make... You know how it goes. I'm truly going to do my best to reign it in, though, and find the right balance. If it's not fun, it's not worth it, since none of these planned gifts are really needed.
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Blocking. I don't love it, to be honest. (It seems that few do.) However, it makes such a difference that it really has to be done, for some things. There are a hats, cowls, and doilies waiting, waiting, waiting.
On top of the "to block" stack is my Glam Cowl. (It'll look so much better if I can convince the edges not to roll so much! If I make this again, I might consider making a garter stitch edging... or something other than stockinette...)
I ended up holding the yarn doubled, so it doesn't have that featherweight, floaty feeling that some of the other examples on Ravelry seem to have, but on the other hand, it'll be warmer this way.
Most of the pattern is very easy-- just knitting in the round, so knit, knit, knit, not a purl in sight. Every 8 rounds (or so), you have an "eyelet round" of yarn-overs (also easy) and k2tog. I don't remember knitting two together being quite this tricky, when I've done it in the past. I guess it has something to do with the lightweight yarn. Whatever the reason, it can be a little difficult to get the right-hand needle where it needs to go. I have to get the two stitches to be knitted together up pretty high on the left needle's point in order to finagle the other needle into them. My technique improved with practice, but it was still a little irritating at times-- such as when I get the two stitches a little too close to the tip and they pop off and have to be carefully placed back on the needle. (Frustrating!) Fortunately, there weren't that many eyelet rounds.
(Update: I actually just blocked this, yesterday. If it's dry, I'll unpin it today. Maybe I'll even manage to take a photo or two. The blocking looks like it made a big difference, but I'm curious about how much the edges will roll when there aren't a ton of pins holding them down...)
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I did make myself block a few doilies a week or so ago.
I'm not sure where the first two patterns came from-- printouts of some charts from somewhere...
The purple thread is more of the America's Best Country Cotton (size 10). I bought quite a bit of it in a variety of colors after they closed down the mill and have been slowly working my way through the stash. I have three balls in a couple of colors, and one of these days, I plan to make a really large runner-style doily to go on our coffee table-- or maybe the sideboard... or the kitchen table...
The blue is Cébélia size 10, and this is the first doily I made with that brand. It is definitely a firmer thread than the Country Cotton-- or any of the threads I've used, so far as I can remember. I imagine it will last better than the lighter-weight threads. (I need to make a textured, PK-style doily with some of it.)
That last doily is "Diamond Fantasy" by Chantal Chevallier. It was marked as "advanced", so I was curious about how it would turn out-- but I didn't find it that difficult to crochet (though maybe my results leave something to be desired, as some of the diamonds are a bit... I don't know.. "off"?). Unfortunately, I didn't love crocheting this doily. (Maybe that was the "advanced" part? That it takes willpower to even want to finish the thing? (g)) It just wasn't the most fun to make, for some reason. I had a similar experience with another pattern by the same designer-- "Under Glass". I have yet to block it (so no photos), but it too was simply not as much fun to crochet as some doilies are. It seems a little funny that there's so much difference in how pleasurable a doily pattern is to crochet, but there really, really is.
Anyway, "Diamond Fantasy" turned out ok, but I don't plan to crochet that one again!
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What else? In addition to blocking the Glam Cowl, I went ahead and blocked a couple more doilies, too. One was a disappointment, the other a joy. Photos (and details) another time. I also knitted a couple of hats and have already given one of them away as a gift... Got temporarily sidetracked by popcorn stitch beauties... And have been working on a few "Secret Projects". (So no photos of those until after Christmas, probably.)