Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day Four

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Whatever happened to your __________? Write about the fate of a past knitting craft project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

I've crafted many, MANY gifts over the years. This includes knitting, crochet, cross stitch, quilting, beading... you name it. For whatever reason most of them have never been seen again. I admit some of those gifts may have missed their mark due to poor planning or mis-interpreted enthusiasm on my part, but I always try to put a lot of thought and effort behind my crafted gifts. I truly enjoy sharing my love of crafting with those around me.

Sadly, several years ago I decided that I would no longer be giving hand crafted gifts to friends and family members. That is with the exception of my children who, (I think... I hope... at least this is what they tell me,) appreciate my thought, time, and effort. They make specific requests and are honest with me about what they like and don't like. I don't gift anything that hasn't been discussed and planned with them ahead of time, whether they know it or not. I can be sneaky that way. hehe

Others are not as enthused as my children though, even when they specifically ask for something. Several years ago my grandmother asked for an afghan I had made. It was already finished. She knew exactly what it looked like. I felt pretty darn confident (and rightfully so, in my opinion) in knowing that she would like it. She displayed it on the back of her couch for all of about 3 months, then it disappeared. When I asked her what happened to it, she said, "Oh, that old thing? I gave it to Goodwill."

OLD??? I was furious! But I got over it. A few years later she saw a pillow I was working on. She raved about it. It was so pretty. She wanted one. I gave it to her. It sat in the gift bag in the corner of her bedroom behind the door for well over a year, then one day it was gone. I never got the nerve to ask, but I knew...

When I started thinking of all the gifts I had ever given, and never saw again, I can't help but wonder if they met the same fate. I love Goodwill. I shop there often and have picked up some awesome deals. I donate to them quite regularly old clothes; household items and the like. But it was never my intention to craft for them.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day Three

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

I only pretend to be an organized person. I mentioned my proposed attempt at organization in this post. I did manage to get a few things moved around and even put some yarn away. And I moved some boxes that contained non-crafty items to the basement for storage. But it's still a mess in that room. It's not completely disorganized. There are small bits of order to be found.

My RHSS is organized by color with a separate cubby for variegateds. I've also got 2 cubbies each for ILTY, Simply Soft, and Vanna's Choice.

And I've got my fabric neatly folded and put away on a small bookshelf. I don't do much with fabric these days so it's easy to keep this area in order.

But pull away from that bookshelf and the chaos reveals itself! Boxes, tubs, and baskets of yarn and other craft supplies waiting for a home to call their own.

What it comes down to is do I take the time to organize? Or do I crochet? Duh, we know what that answer is! I do spend small bits of time in my "Yarn Room" in the name of organization but, for the most part, I just go in there to gather supplies and take them elsewhere to work.

The truth is I desperately want a perfectly arranged space to work in. Who doesn't? But my current situation doesn't afford me that luxury. I can see it in my future. It's on the horizon. Eventually I will have that ideal workspace, but for now I'll have to settle for almost.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day Two

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Today's post was a hard one to write. I've been crocheting for 35 years, and while I believe there's always something new to learn, there's just not anything in the past year that I see I'm doing any differently. I haven't learned any new techniques or skills. No new stitches or unusually complicated patterns. I've done both tunisian and single crochet entrelac. I know how to crochet cables (and knit them too.) I've even made a sock! I've never met a pattern I couldn't conquer. From the very beginning I took to knitting and crochet like a duck to water. It all seemed to come naturally to me.

I think the hardest thing I've ever done was teach my daughter how to crochet. As you probably already know I am left-handed. As a lefty I'm used to looking at the world backward. I can look at what a right handed person is doing and reverse it in my mind and know what to do. Imagine learning to crochet with nothing but mirror images where left is right and front is back. I learned at an early age to make this compensation and it has been an invaluable tool to me ever since.

My daughter on the other hand (pun intended) is right handed. For her the world is just as it should be. So looking at me and trying to reverse the images wasn't working. Even when I guided her hand... So what was a mother to do? I sat down, crochet hook in right hand, and started awkwardly crocheting right along with her. We both struggled at first and created some wonky looking stitches. But we made it through and she is now a fabulous crocheter and designer!

As for myself, well I never could get past those beginner wonky stitches and was quite happy that she was able to catch on quickly. I am a proven lefty and always will be.

Knitting on the other hand is a different story...


Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day One

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns. Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

I just learned about Knitting & Crochet Blog Week a couple of weeks ago so this will be my first year participating. I hope you enjoy my commentary.

I am far from an expert on fibers. My yarn experience has been mostly limited to budget yarns. Worsted weight acrylics bought at the local discount store. I have had occasion to sample some of the "luxury" yarns picked up at my old LYS, but my experience with those are quite limited.

Because of this lack of hands on experience I had a difficult time choosing the 2 yarns to discuss. Should I go with one of the Noro? (Which I absolutely LOVE by the way.) Or maybe the much dreaded (too hard to crochet with and better suited to knitting projects) boucle? Or better yet, assess my stash and choose the two yarns I have the most of and use most often? BINGO!

The two yarns that are predominate in my stash are Red Heart Super Saver, RHSS for short, and I Love This Yarn, also known as ILTY. Both are worsted weight acrylic "budget" yarns. The RHSS is best known for its durability and value, while ILTY can attribute its popularity to its softness.

First up is the well known RHSS. I love it for its durability and affordability. I know a lot of people don't like it, but for me it's the obvious choice since my budget is often limited. I do love that it's available nationwide from Walmart and most other major chain craft stores so availability is rarely a problem. I've heard many people complain about its scratchiness but a quick trip through the washer and dryer will take care of that nicely. But most importantly is its durability.

Below is the throw I made for Cyndi about 7 years ago. It has suffered the usual abuse but is still hanging in there. It's just a regular 5 row granny made with RHSS in black, Plum Pudding, and Banana Berry.

And this is a throw I made for myself around the same time as the above. It's the Traditional Classic Afghan. The pattern originally called for TLC Essentials, but I used RHSS in its place. The afghan has held up exceptionally well through nightly use and multiple washings. It's one of my favorites.

ILTY is the Hobby Lobby store brand of yarn. It costs a little more than Red Heart, and has a tad less yardage, but what it lacks in frugality, it totally makes up for it with softness. Hobby Lobby is not yet a national chain, but they are ever expanding and they do sell from their website I wish I could attest to its durability, but the fact is that I've only been working with it for a few years and so far haven't held onto anything that I've made with it long enough to see how it wears. I love to use it for charity items, especially scarves as shown below.

I did recently complete the Regency Square afghan for myself with ILTY in Light Sage. We'll see how it holds up over time, but for now it is very soft and snuggly to cover up with.

Just as a bonus, and for contrast, I thought I'd throw in a commentary about another yarn that is (unfortunately) abundant in my stash. It's is at the opposite end of my "rate-o-meter"... It's Boucle. Doesn't matter which brand it is, it's all hard to work with in my book. I went crazy buying a bunch of it several years ago when I was still building my stash, and those same skeins are still sitting here taunting me. I do like the colors, and I've used a few to make shawls, but for the most part it's a yarn I avoid. It's hard to work with, the little nubs make it hard to form the stitches and nearly impossible to frog. I've had minor success with using a larger hook with it, but it's still not a yarn I look forward to using.

Shawl made with Rainbow Boucle by Sensations from Joann's. Pattern is Silver Shawl from Lion Brand.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Thumb

Finished Size: 6 or 12 inches

Materials: Worsted Weight Yarn: approximately 2 ounces in each color A, and color B; US size "H" hook; tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

12 inch example (shown above): Pattern was worked using Red Heart Super Saver in Spring Green for color A, and Red Heart Super Saver in Paddy Green for color B.

6 inch example (shown below): Pattern was worked using Red Heart Super Saver in Paddy Green for color A, and Red Heart Super Saver in White for color B. (*See note below for instructions for 6 inch square.)

With color A ch 4, sl st in 4th ch from hook to form loop

Round 1: ch 3, 15 dc in loop, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3. (16 dc)

Round 2: ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3. (32 dc)

Round 3: Working in BLO: ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next st, (2 dc in next st, dc in next st) around, sl st in top of next beg ch 3 to join, fasten off. (48 dc,)

Round 4: Working in unworked FLO from Round 3 join color A with sl st in first st, (skip next st, 5 dc in next st, skip next st, sl st in next st) around, join with sl st in beg sl st. (40 dc)

Round 5: Join color B with sl st in top of beg ch on round 3, ch 3, [(2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, dc in each of next 3 sts, hdc in next st, sc in each of next 3 sts, hdc in next st, dc in each of next 3 sts] 3 times, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, dc in each of next 3 sts, hdc in next st, sc in each of next 3 sts, hdc in next st, dc in each of next 2 sts, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3, fasten off. (40 dc, 12 sc)

Round 6: ch 3, dc in each of next 2 sts, [(2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next ch sp, dc in each st across to next ch sp] 3 times, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next ch sp, dc in each rem st across, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3, fasten off. (76 dc)

Round 7: Join color A with sl st in any ch 2 sp, ch 1, 3 sc in same ch sp, sc in each st across to next ch 2 sp, (3 sc in next ch sp, sc in each st across to next ch 2 sp) 3 times, join with sl st in top of beg sc, fasten off.

Round 8: Join color B with sl st in center st of any corner, ch 3, (dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same sp, dc in each st across to center st of next corner, [(2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, dc in each st across to center st of next corner] 3 times, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3, fasten off.

Rounds 9 - 12: Repeat rounds 7 and 8 twice more. Weave in all ends.

*NOTE: For 6 inch square work as follows:

Rounds 1 - 5: Work same as rounds 1-5 of 12 inch square, fasten off at end of round 5.

Round 6: Work same as round 7 of 12 inch square. Weave in all ends.

Pattern designed and written by April Moreland
© 2011 All rights reserved

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