Archive for June 30, 2012

Play Day

Today was a day to just have some fun with my yarn. I need to take a break from making afghan squares, and just do some little piddly projects. I think another stash bag qualifies as play, don’t you?

My orange stash bag I started a few days ago is nice, but I decided if I’m going to make very many of those things, I need to find a quicker way. And so, I decided to make a mesh bag.

Double strand, K hook, lots of chains, and very little actual crocheting!

purple-stash-bag01

The base of the purple stash bag

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First I started out with a couple of rows of single crochet, to create a good firm bottom edge for the bag. Then, I simply worked chains, chains, and more chains, round and round and round until I decided it was long enough.

purple-stash-bag02

All finished and ready to fill

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

purple-stash-bag03

Oh my goodness! This thing will expand so much, I could use it as a sleeping bag!!

 
 
 
This thing is massive…. and not even half full. It’s going to expand to hold more yarn than I can even carry! Next one, I think I’ll make about half as tall, and a bit wider!

Special Bear Square

I got invited to do a really special project yesterday, by the Yarnplayers afghan group. Many of us are also bear-makers for the Mother Bear Project, and we are going to make a very special afghan to present to the lady who started the Mother Bear Project! We are each going to make one square with some sort of bear on it. The squares will then be joined together into a blanket which will be presented to Amy as a surprise for all her hard work. This is going to be a very fun project. Already tonight I have completed a little bear for my square. He is a miniature of the bear pattern I normally use for all my bears and he is quite a cute little guy, if I do say so myself!! Oh, how I wish I could be there to see Amy’s face when she receives her blanket!! Let’s hope someone takes lots of pictures!

I think I may have to make myself a blanket of teddy bear squares!

special-teddy-square01

My little baby bear

special-teddy-square02

Background finished, and all ready to sew together

Dodie Discovers Some New Stitches!

I encountered a pattern today which called for a ‘half treble’ crochet stitch. Since I’d never heard of this, I decided I needed to do some experimenting. So I got out my hooks and my yarn, engaged my brain, and began swatching.

The half treble is similar to a half double in that you start out as if to create a treble stitch (yarn over hook twice, then insert hook and draw up a loop)…. But then (just as in the half double), you do not work the loops off the hook two at a time, but rather, yarn over and draw through all three! So it’s a wee bit shorter in height than a regular treble stitch.

comparing long stitches01

Three swatches comparing three different stitches


I discovered extended stitches a number of years ago, but it never occurred to me that one could make any other half stitches. Like the half double and treble, the extended stitches were invented (by a gentleman by the name of William Elmore) to use when one needs a stitch a bit taller or shorter than the standard crochet stitches. They can be used to create a very gradual slope in a row of stitches.


There are many ‘how-to’ videos out there which are probably far more helpful for learning these stitches, but I will explain basically what they are. Any stitch can be ‘extended’. You begin the stitch in the standard way, then as you are working the loops off the hook, insert one or more extra steps. Normally, the loops are worked off the hook two at a time. Let’s say you want to extend, for example, a double crochet stitch. You would yarn over once, insert your hook and draw up a loop. Then,yarn over and draw through only one loop (this is the extension step). Next, complete the dc as usual by doing a yarnover and draw through two loops, twice. You can also extend on the second step (or second and third, for a treble….second, third, fourth for a double treble, etc.) Theoretically you can yarn over as many times as you want to for the initial stitch, and then work each loop off in two steps: yarnover and pull through one loop, yarnover and pull through two loops, repeating until all loops are worked off the hook. This makes a mighty long and very fun stitch to use in freeform projects!

Have fun extending those stitches!!

Stash Bags

stash-bag-pattern

This seems to be a very popular stash bag. I found many pictures of it online.


All that organizing yesterday got me thinking…. so I went googling in search of stash baskets. Oh my goodness, the options we have for stashing our yarn! This one is one of my favorites. So I set out to make one, in nice subtle colors, of course. ‘Cause that’s just the kind of girl I am–not one to stand out or make a splash! ;)

Of course, I already have a dozen different projects in progress, some of which have time deadlines. But I never let that stop me from starting something new and, therefore, more fun!

I’m not at all sure how other people make this thing this big using only one strand of yarn. I used a double strand of worsted weight, and a K hook. I figure, I’ll be packing it so full, I’ll need the reinforcement!

stash-bag-orange01

A wee bit of color to brighten things up a bit

stash-bag-orange02

And now the hexagon magically turns into a circle

stash-bag-orange03

Little by little, the sides go up

stash-bag-orange04

This sure isn't growing very fast

stash-bag-orange05

So close, so close! Only one more repeat of the pattern and I think I'll be ready for handles.

Taming My Stash

stash-disaster

Oh my goodness! How can anyone live like this?!?!


If you’re a yarn collector like me, you probably know that feeling when your yarn stash threatens to overtake you. That’s when it’s time to take drastic action. What does this mean? Usually it means gathering up all the bags of yarn and projects that have made their way into the living room, and if not putting them away, at least finding a tidier way to stack them. I had a brainstorm today.

stash-buster

Now, let's see if I can assemble this thing without blaspheming....


Sitting in the corner was a box that I purchased, oh, sometime last year, with every good intention of having a new laundry hamper in my closet. But this sucker turned out to be 3 feet wide by almost as tall! That would fill half my closet! So it’s just been sitting here, waiting for me to figure out a new use for it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s definitely not because I was just too darn lazy to even open it up and put it together!!)

stash-under-control

See the full bag on the right? Blues, greens, whites, silvers.... my next afghan swap! :)


Turns out, this handy-dandy apparatus is going to be just perfect for a ‘stash-on-wheels’ cart!! When company comes, I can roll it down the hallway out of sight. When I’m home all alone, I can let it sit right here where I can admire it!! Of course, if you think this is my entire stash, you would be woefully mistaken! This is just the yarn I’ve purchased in the last few months. The last few years….? Well, that would be tucked away in ‘The Yarn Room’. All I will say about that bedroom is, I can still walk in there…. barely. :) I do love to buy yarn! And when I die, someone’s going to inherit quite a treasure trove!! ‘Cause there’s no way I could ever use up all that yarn in a hundred years! Although, I am furiously working on it every day!!

my-nest

No matter how often I clean it up, it always comes right back!


Now, back to my nest…….

Creative Juices are Simmering

my-friendship-squares

All those squares.... what to do, what to do....?


I feel like I’m on one of those cooking shows where they give the contestants an odd assortment of ingredients and say, ‘Make a winning dish!’ All these varied and unrelated squares, from a variety of people with different tastes and talents…. and it’s my job to pull them together and make something really outstanding…. I’ve been putzing around with my leftover beige/tan/taupe yarns, and I have a core idea, but beyond that…. not much. Suddenly it hit me: You’ve got to get outside of the box! Boxes are confining. Boxes are square. Boxes just don’t leave much room for the imagination…. stop thinking square!!

So, off we go!!

YFA#1-center-block01-red-border

Let's start with a nice long chain, and a couple of rows of single crochet.......

yarn bobbins

Next, let's go back to our beige yarn bag, and wind some little balls of yarn....

 

 

I’ve never worked with this many colors at once before. And I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing yet. But whatever it is…. I’m sure it’s going to turn out great……

YFA#1-center-block02

Add a little frustration...... and shake well!

 

 

 

By the time I completed the first row, I’ve figured out, I have no patience for this whatsoever. So….. Plan B…… Each individual color, each individual ‘thing’, can be done one at a time. It’s only two rows, but still… the annoyance factor is just too great!

YFA#1-center-block03

Oh yeah, this is gonna work out great!

 

 

Sure enough–now isn’t this much better?! He-he-he!! It’s a good thing I know what I’m doing here. Otherwise, I might be getting a bit discouraged by now.

YFA#1-center-block04

There they are.... all the little 'things' in a row.....

 

 

Ah, yes…. this is exactly what I envisioned. But something’s off still….. I’m still stuck in that box…. So what’s missing??

YFA#1-edging01

Inspiration comes from the most ordinary items

 

 

Hmmmmm….. look how pretty this pinkish-reddish color looks along with the beiges and browns. It reminds me of…. a lovely bag of yarn that’s been languishing in the back of my yarn room: ‘Red Heart’, Cherry Chip…. I think I’ve got it! COLOR!! What’s missing is a touch of color. A touch of…. cherry! Alrighty, I’m off now to see what I can do with all these beiges, and a little touch of cherry..

Next Phase of Beige

my-friendship-squares

Here are the squares I received (all but one which is coming in the mail soon), trying to decide how to arrange them

And I thought the fun was over….. :( Nope, a whole new phase of fun is just beginning: I got my box of squares yesterday from the ‘Beige Afghan Swap’!! Oh what fun! Oh what excitement! Oh, how just like a little kid at Christmas!! The bloke stood there and snapped photos as I pulled square after square from that little box, and oohed and aahed over each and every one. I love them all! So now, I get to decide: How do I want to attach these together? Do I want to go conventional and make a tidy little 4′ x 5′ afghan to stretch across my bed? Or do I want to try something clever and creative, since this is my very first swap ever, and make it a bit special? I think……um…. the latter! Something unusual that I can hang on the wall, and be reminded, each time I glance at it, of all the new friends I’ve found since I joined the Yarnplayers Afghan Swap group. To remind me of the fun I had creating all those squares, and of all the fun that is in store for me in the future! (Yes, I’ve already committed to three more swaps!! :) )

 

I had already seen photos of the squares, so I knew what I was getting. But there’s nothing like getting my hands on the real deal! Studying and examining, figuring out who did which ones, and how they did it. This one still has me stumped:

mystery-knit

That amazing knitted block that I saw online..... just as mysterious in person!

I’m going to give it a try. I can tell it is knitted corner to corner, in garter stitch. But that center openwork area?? Clueless! It may be as simple as repeated yarn-overs and decreases. Or it may be some intricate combination thereof, which I can only imagine. When it comes to crochet, I can usually study a piece and find a way to duplicate it. But knitting….that’s an entirely different story. It’s still all pretty much magic to me when those intricate designs come together and create a pattern!

 

Doug took two dozen pictures, all pretty much the same: me holding up different squares and grinning from ear to ear! But what the heck–I’ll post ‘em all! I’ve got plenty of server space! He-he-he!!

digging-in01

Let's start at the very beginning....

digging-in02

Look at Dodie dig in! She's pulling those squares out of the box so fast, the bloke's camera can barely keep up!!

checking-it-out

Okay, let's see who made this thing.....

if-it's-turquoise

So.... if it has a turquoise marker, it must be......

from-Cathy-Mc

Yes, it's definitely turquoise!

from-Tedi

This one, from our fearless leader, the lady who started it all

from-Lorin

A very nice, creamy knitted piece in bulky yarn

from-Jessica

Oh, what tiny, delicate stitches!! This lady must be really fast! I prefer to work with large size hooks and needles because I am so s-l-o-o-w!!

from-Kim

Brown marker.... now who made that? I know, I know!!

from-Lisa

Pretty flowers!!

from-Yayang

It took me a while to decipher this color, but I finally got it!

from-Ana

Yippee!! I got one of the dragonflies! And there's my name tag, worn by my proxy who went to the exchange and picked my blocks for me (and a good job she did, I might add!!)

from-Ana02

What? Another dragonfly??? How cool is that?!

from-Ana03

Yep, two--count 'em--two, dragonfly squares! And both with the same color marker. Oops! I lucked out, didn't I?

from-Kathy-T-A

Some more knitted magic--I could probably do this, if I had very accurate instructions, and followed them precisely. But I guarantee, I would still be amazed if it worked out! All those little lines snaking all over the fabric.... it's all magic to me!!

from-Jane

I KNOW this yarn--I have a stash of it in the back room! Very nice! (And the crocheting is pretty awesome too!)

from-Lorin02

Oopsie!! Here's another hot-pink marker! That's okay..... I like this one! Double strand, large needles... produces a very soft, drape-y fabric. One of my favorite things to do!

from-Sabrina

Here's another one that's easy to figure out--gray marker, right there at the top. Check out that nifty center square. Neat-o!! (OMG, I'm 61 years old--did I just say 'neat-o'??)

from-Sabrina

Super-soft, chenille! Like velvet.... love it!!

from-Mary

Delightful and delicate, like a snowflake.... better enjoy it quick, before it melts!

from-Liz

And here it is again.... that mysterious knitted piece that I have become so fascinated with....

from-Rachel-by-Liz

Peek-a-boo!! Not sure why I'm hiding back there. I guess I wanted to peek through the holes that make up the heart.

from-Taryn

**giggle** This looks suspiciously like the very first block I made for this swap! But I know it can't be--mine had a tan border. Great pattern--great minds must think alike!! He-he-he!

from-Dodie

And last, but not least--a square I made for.... myself!! By 'stealing' someone else's idea, I was able to whittle this one down to size!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there you have it–I think that’s enough photos of me for tonight… Tomorrow…. on to the design and connect phase!!

Beige-Latte Afghan Swap is Now History

Well, it’s a done deal! Yesterday was the big get-together for the ‘exchanging of the squares.’ Without me, of course, as California is very far away! But not to worry… I had an excellent proxy who chose me some delightful squares, and I can’t wait to get started creating my Friendship Afghan! And here they all are, lined up like little soldiers:

blocks-I'm-getting

All the pretty blocks soon coming my way!

Oops!! Notice the third block from the left, top row?? He-he-he! That’s one that I made. But I already pointed it out and one of the ladies was happy to exchange with me to receive that one. So I will be receiving this one instead:

replacement-block

A knitted piece with lots of 'eyelets'

other-two-choices

The two that I had to 'let go'

connecting-yarn

I can already see that this yarn will provide a good coordinating contrast for all the squares I'll be receiving


Kind of a tough call as I had two other knitted squares to choose from, and I liked them all.

 
 
 
So…. now, I just have to settle in and be patient…. and wait….

I have already chosen the yarn that I will use to connect all these squares together: Bernat Camouflage, ‘Desert Sand’. Not sure of the layout yet. That will be determined when I have them in my hot little hands and can start playing with them! :) However, I will be using the same variegated yarn that I used to ‘cinch up’ the knitted square I made (and didn’t send) because it turned out w-a-a-a-a-y too big!! The colors should be perfect to highlight each individual square!

There were so many pretty and interesting squares, I thought I’d show off a few in a little collage. First time I’ve ever attempted something like this, so there are a few little cracks and crevices. But all-in-all…. I think they’re pretty impressive!! Good job ladies–I enjoyed participating in this swap, and am well on my way to completing the squares for the next one!! :)

lots-o-squares

This is not all of them by any means. There were a total of..... let's see..... 20 people, 20 blocks each.... LOTS!!

Popcorn Plus

peacock-block13a

Here's my completed square in the pattern stitch, blocked, and coming up short by an inch or so

 

Today I decided to try the challenge of making a square from a photo of a stitch pattern posted by one of the ‘Peacock Swap” participants. It doesn’t appear to have a name, so I’m going to call it ‘Popcorn Plus’. I won’t guarantee that mine is exactly like the photo, but it sure looks close enough to make me happy!

I’ve drawn a chart to show how I made it. I thought that might be easier than writing out all the instructions. After drawing all those little tiny symbols, I’m not so sure now. :) I may write it out later anyway. At least for now, I have a record of it, in case I want to try it again.

Following are instructions:

POPCORN PLUS
(Peacock square #13)

peacock-block13--chart

Click on chart for larger size;

Chain 40
Work rows 1-5 from chart.
Repeat rows 2-5 until desired length
End by working one row of dc

TO MAKE POPCORN STITCH:

  1. Work 5 double crochet (dc) stitches in the same stitch.
  2. Drop the loop from your hook.
  3. Insert your hook from front to back under the top 2 loops of the first double crochet of the group.
  4. Grab the dropped loop with your hook and pull it through the stitch.

This square ended up a bit small, so I worked a round of double crochet in contrasting color to finish it off.
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

What do you think? I think it’s a pretty good match!

popcorn-plus-original-photo

This is the original photo that I worked from

peacock-block13d

My completed square--one round of dc added and it is now a perfect 12"

Color!!

peacock-colors

All the peacock colors I will be using in my next afghan swap. If you look closely, you might just see a partially finished block, waiting for some more flowers

Been away a while… but

:
:
:

I’ve…
…been…
……busy!

Having finally completed all my beige blocks, and then taken a few days off for some reading, I’ve already forgotten my vow to work on UFOs. I jumped right back into that basket of peacock colors!

peacock-block07-11

Just playing around, trying out ideas


A little doodling and dawdling–a flower, a spiral, a variation on my Four Petal Square, then I settled in to try a pattern from one of my books, in a nice rust color.

:

This one is a design called ‘Lacette’ from the book, “108 Crochet Cluster Stitches.”

peacock-block11

This one turned out to be quite lacy and open. Gee, maybe that's why they called it 'Lacette'!

I’ll come back later and finish those ‘doodles’ if an inspiration hits me.

Or, in the case of the spiral, whenever I locate the design I so carefully drew a couple of weeks ago!
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

peacock-block07a

A freeform flowery surprise!

 

 

A freeform piece that totally surprised me! It needs, I think, to be surrounded by lots and lots of tiny little flowers!! Maybe knitted ones??

 

 

 

peacock-block12-back

Oh my goodness, do I really want to weave in all these ends? How about if I just leave it 'as is' and call it 'wild-and-crazy-freeform'??

stripe-inspiration

The picture that inspired me to make stripes

peacock-block12-front

I did it--I did it!! I do believe I LIKE this one!!

This last, colorful, stripe-y square was inspired by a summery top on the cover of the Summer/August 2012 issue of “Interweave Crochet” magazine, but as usual…. it didn’t work out exactly like the picture! So I changed my plans and started over from scratch. I lined up all the solid colors from my peacock basket of yarns, then repeating the sequence of colors over and over, I used strands of yarn about seven feet long to work rows of hdc. I had to spend an entire evening weaving in all the ends, but I think the result was worth it!! (Started with 37 or 38 chains, I believe, using an I hook)

Tomorrow…. I have a great idea from a book entitled “Patchwork Knitting”. It should be fun, but unfortunately it may involve lots more weaving of ends. :(