Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Little Bit of Everything

Been a while, huh?

I haven't yet washed and photographed the sampler afghan.  I just haven't felt motivated, for a number of reasons, but I do plan to do so before too much longer!

My main project, lately, has been making a pair of hedgehog mittens for my youngest sister.  The Christmas before last, I offered to make her something, and right around the 2016 holidays she made her request.  (She recently got a pet hedgehog, which inspired her choice.)  She knows the mittens might not be done in time to use this winter-- and honestly, this winter has been so warm in our area, aside from one or two cold spells, that there may be little need for mittens, anyway!

She shared some cute mitten photos she'd found online, and I tried to find a pattern that would match them as closely as possible.  Unfortunately, most of the patterns I liked were sized for children-- but the basic concept seem fairly straightforward:  Make a pair of mittens in the right size, using a plain mitten pattern that has a fairly pointy finger area (because that's the hedgehog's nose).  Make two rectangles in furry yarn.  Attach the furry rectangles to the mitten tops.  Embroider the eyes and noses.  Oh, and if you want ears, whip up a little something and attach those, too.

Of course, this would be a lot easier if I'd ever knitted mittens before.  ;o) So far, it's working out well enough.  I'm learning along the way, which is good, though if I'd known/remembered some of these things before, this pair of mittens would look somewhat nicer.  I think they'll turn out ok, if not perfect.  And really, nothing I've ever knit has been perfect.  That's part of the charm of hand-knit, right? (g)

In any case, I'm up to the point where I need to finish the thumbs, then I can move on to the furry yarn and the embroidery.  All of these parts intimidate me.  (g) And I'm not even 100% sure they'll fit, so I really ought to get her to try on the plain mittens before I dress them up.  If they don't fit, I'll have to start over or... I don't know... Is it worth it to rip back?  I'm not sure what I'll do, in that case.  Starting over would give me a chance to make some improvements, but it would also take more time, of course.

I'm glad that this project pushed me to try making mittens, at least, because now I can feel more confident trying some of the other patterns I've had my eye on for years, including fingerless mitts and socks.  I took the trouble of learning to make these mittens two-at-a-time with magic loop because I knew that would be my preferred method for making those other projects, down the road.  (Also, I worried that making the mittens separately would yield two differently sized mittens, if my tension changed too much from one to the other.  My knitting tension is far from rock-solid reliable.)

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Okay!  Enough of the "wall o' text".  (I do have a tendency to ramble...)

So, other projects.  I wanted some extremely simple projects "on the side", so I decided to use up some things that have been languishing in my stash.

There were some small remnants of kitchen cotton which turned into "color block"-style pot holders/trivets.  I used linked double crochet, which creates are more solid fabric than traditional double crochet.  Linked double crochet has a nice rhythm to it, too, and is fun to do.

Extremely Simple Pot Holders

You can't get much simpler than that...

Extremely Simple Pot Holders

They're not going to win any beauty contests-- the last one in particular, with its true "use it up" scrappy style-- but they'll serve a purpose in the kitchen.  ...And I like a little of that make-do aesthetic (especially in small things like this that can be hidden away from sight, if need be).

Extremely Simple Pot Holders

Next project!

I’ve had this next passed-along skein of vintage acrylic in my stash for a while, but because it is “Christmas-colored” and I have no wish to make a seasonal project with it, it’s just been languishing. Now I’ve decided to use it for some very practical dish-scrubbers. Sure, they’ll be Christmas-colored, but that doesn’t really matter to me. (I don’t typically leave my dish-scrubbers out on display, anyway!)

The yarn is named “Merry Pop’n Christmas Yarn”, in the “Old World Christmas Green” colorway, which is predominantly dark green, with a strand of dark red.

Boring Dish Scrubbers

These are also linked double crochet.  (It's an addictive stitch.)

These still need their ends woven in, and there's more of the skein left to crochet before the project's done, but I've set it aside for a bit.

Boring Dish Scrubbers

Still on the theme of using up some stash yarn, I decided to turn some nice, mercerized cottons into mesh bags.  They're commonly called market bags, but of course you can use them for toting anything that won't fall through the holes of the mesh.

Crochet Mesh Bags

The pattern is Haley Waxberg's "Grocery Bag".  I've used it a couple of times before.  There are a number of similar patterns for crochet (which this is) and knitting.  I made a slight change at the end of the bags.  It's nothing big, but I like to crochet another round along the top of the bag for increased sturdiness to the top edge of the bag and the two handles.

Crochet Mesh Bags

The yarn is some I found in a clearance bin years back.  Patons Grace in 'Spearmint' (pictured below) and 'Tangelo' (above).  I get one bag per skein, with a little bit left over.  Highly variegated yarn is rarely my cup of tea, but since these were the only colors in the clearance bin... They work fine for something as utilitarian as a mesh bag, but I do think less boldly variegated yarn looks nicer.

Crochet Mesh Bags

The final yarn project that I've been dipping into lately is what will probably be a "dribs and drabs" long-term project-- another granny square scrap-based afghan.

Scrappy Granny Squares

I just love making granny squares!  They're soothing-- they're fun-- they're carefree-- they're whatever you need them to be at the moment.  (Going overboard?  Well, only a little.)

They make me happy.  What more can you ask?

Scrappy Granny Squares

The current plan is to keep them small, three rounds each, then connect them using continuous join-as-you-go.  I think I'll probably try to calculate and buy enough yarn to use the same color to join the whole blanket-- probably a light/medium gray-- but there's also the option of joining them into four-patch or nine-patch blocks with a variety of colors for joining.  Either way would work.  The benefit of the latter method is that I could work from stash only.

Scrappy Granny Squares

For the time being, I'm just enjoying making my little three-round granny squares!

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And before I close this long blog post, here's a sneak peek at the machine piecing I was working on a week or so ago.  It will eventually be a curtain for the window in the kitchen door.  Just don't look too closely or you'll see all the imperfections.  (My sewing skills could use more practice!)

Piecing in Progress