Another Year, Another Project List!

Now that the holidays are just about over, I have a bit of time to catch up on blogging. I know I owe y’all pics of the All Tied Up In Knots shawl, so here it is…modeled by its new owner, my friend J.

Jennifer1

The front of the shawl. There is a nice amount of overlap, so it can be held close with a shawl pin if needed.

edging

Closeup of the edging. The back filler and the edging are all one piece. For the back, I used three columns. I stopped at the center and continued the split with the two separate columns. This is just a simple twist cable, but the seam itself adds some texture and interest.

seamfiller

A closeup of the back. Three simple twist cables and an easy over/under seam stitch to connect the two panels with the middle.

Jennifer2

Here you can see the filler with the three columns. It also adds a little stretch, and the loose stitching allows it to breath so she won’t get too hot.

Jennifer3

Here is the front right panel. As you can see above, there are two repeats on each side, one front and one back. The Celtic Knot was designed by Becleigh Durham of Australia.

The Celtic Knot pattern is available on Ravelry or on Becleigh’s blog, The Thick Plottens. As you can probably tell, it took FOREVER to finish it! It is essentially four baby blankets and a scarf all sewn together, just to give you an idea of the time factor. However, I can truly say that I am now a post stitch MASTER!

With that out of the way, I can move on to new (and old) projects! Last night, I started on the “Plum’s the Word Shawlette” from Crochet! magazine. It’s only available to subscribers or CGOA members, as it is a web extra and is not published in the magazine.

Plum's the Word Shawlette

Plum’s the Word Shawlette as featured on the Crochet! magazine website.

I’m also working on a couple of original designs, so you’ll be seeing those later on this year.

I still have a few old projects to either finish or frog. I’m working on my son’s afghan that will likely be ready next Christmas. I’m also going to try to get some wedding wear done to post on Etsy. Most importantly, I need to take photos of all the other completed projects that I found lying around in my craft closet!

In between crochet work, I am organizing my craft studio, so you’ll be seeing pictures of before and after (prepare to be horrified!). I have a few chain maille projects lined up, and I need to create room for my daughter to work on her sewing projects. She received two sewing classes for Christmas, so she’ll actually know what she’s doing! Besides her sewing, I will be working on a simple strip quilt made from jelly rolls that I found at Big Lots, of all places! They were only $7.50 for each roll! This will be my first attempt at quilting, so wish me luck.

As we start the new year, I wish everyone joy and prosperity, and the energy and will to finish all of your UFOs (unfinished objects)!

 

Between the Rows

I’ve discovered that the best way to avoid repetitive stress strains are to have multiple projects going at one time. I’m super excited because last night, our new washer and dryer were installed, which means I can now wash all the fabric I got to make rag dolls. Because I believe in diversity, I bought light beige, dark tan, and chocolate brown fabrics for the bodies. I also bought felt for the hair, which I’m going to return for fleece (Aubrey’s idea), since it is much softer, and comes in better colors.

I love this pattern, in spite of the fact that the embroidered faces on the envelope look like psychopathic killers.

I figure this is a great way to practice my sewing skills, teach Aubrey how to pin and cut, and they’re perfect for putting on Etsy for Christmas sales, assuming I can get any done in time. Worst case, they’ll be ready for next Christmas, right?

For the clothes, I have two stacks of fat quarters that Aubrey got for Christmas a few years ago, and I bought half yards of different calicoes and batiks. I’m hoping the sewing will go fast, and since much of the accessories are felt, there isn’t much hemming required. I intend to use Velcro instead of buttons, so that they are toddler safe. The best part is I doubt anyone will be upset if a seam isn’t absolutely perfect on a doll dress, whereas for a kid’s dress, I would personally be much pickier.

That is the problem with growing up with a master seamstress for a mother. I can instantly spot poor seaming and a bad cut, and refuse to pay for shoddy work. Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t sew much anymore, which is a great loss to the local fashionistas. She could whip up a Vogue wedding dress with lace and buttons and sequins, all in a matter of days, and without a dress form. I can’t count how many formal gowns she made me when I was in high school, usually the day before an event. She would show up at school and make me try it on in the bathroom so she’d have the hem done in time. For my wedding dress (which was really a fitted blouse and a British walking skirt), she had three days. We were pretty loopy by the day of the wedding, as we were surviving on just a few hours sleep here and there. In spite of having to tacky glue the pearls to the lace at 4:30 am, just hours before the wedding, my outfit was amazing.

On top of my dress, she also made ribbon roses for all the bridesmaid dresses. We had searched around for summer formals, and managed to find one style that was in different colors and sizes…on sale for $10 each. Although we managed to find a size for each bridesmaid, they ended up in four separate colors. My mom’s solution was to get plaid ribbon that exactly matched the four colors. She made about 40 roses, and sewed ten along each of  the tops of the bodice, which fell in a ruffle under the roses. My bridesmaids were out $23 total, because my mom didn’t charge them for her labor.

Of course, she also did all the flowers, while I crafted bluebonnets for the groomsmen to wear. My first husband and I were married on the Bluebonnet Miniature Train as it rode through the park, so it seemed appropriate. I had bluebonnets in my bouquet, too. My mom is equally an amazing florist as she is a seamstress, and she managed to pull off the entire wedding for $500.

I know that back then, I never showed the appreciation that my mom deserved. I could be an entitled spoiled brat (what do you mean not every teenager had their own couture wardrobe on a dime?), and while I always said thanks, I don’t think it was ever enough. Now that I’m old enough to realize how lucky I was, and I am now the one behind the machine, I really mean it when I say thank you for going above and beyond, not just once or twice, but all the time.

Simple Pleasures

After a several week heat wave (as is customary for fall in Texas), once again it is finally cool enough for a fire. Last night, I put a new, thick comforter on my bed, with my denim quilt on top. This morning, I am cuddled up under my quilt with a pile of warm yarn in my lap and a fire next to my bed. Now that Aubrey is awake, hot tea is on its way. I just need Oreo to come snuggle and my simple pleasures will be complete.

Warm and toasty!

Fall is my favorite season, although New England does it better. Still, I love crocheting in the fall as we barrel towards Christmas. It makes me feel connected to my prairie-inhabitant ancestors, whom I am sure did some kind of needlework. I imagine my grandmother in Colorado sitting in front of a fire, working on a pair of socks, or a quilt, or a cross-stitch sampler. She was a nurse, and considering how much Aubrey looks like that side of the family, I’m sure she was beautiful.

I have my projects in queue; my friends Celtic knot shawl, a butterfly shawl for Aubrey, and I need to finish Matt’s blanket that I started last year. In between, I will be working on rag dolls while Aubrey works on creating new clothes from existing clothes.

After enjoying the experience of having a giant craft room with a fireplace and a bed in it, I don’t think I could ever live without one. At least I’ll know what to look for when we move up north. Yes, my room is always messy, but mess is part of the creative process, right? Of course it is!

So today is a stay in bed, watch tv, and crochet kind of day. Life is good.

Knot Anywhere Near Done

After a two day crochet-athon, my wrists are inflamed, and I have a chafed spot on the side of my arm where it rubbed against my shirt while I’m stitching. I gave myself last evening off, but today, I’m back at it.

As you can see, I’ve made quite a bit of progress, but it’s still only about a sixth of the way done. This is the first full repeat, with three more to go. Then I will make four strips of a simple cable stitch, and seam them all together.

I asked my friend at StitchKnit if she had any tips for the chafing problem, and she said she uses a small towel folded up and tucked into her armpit. Sounds bizarre, but it worked!! My arm is able to rest comfortably while maintaining a safe distance from my shirt. I’m really grateful to have a needlework mentor who is happy to share her knowledge.

Today, I’m breaking up the crochet work with other Etsy related business things. You may have noticed I’ve switched up the blog a bit and added an About page. I also plan to add jewelry to my shop, so that means pictures, pictures, and more pictures. Then there is adding the descriptions, measurements, etc. I will be the happiest girl if I ever manage to sell anything! After all this work, I hope it pays off enough to keep me in yarn…

All Tied Up In Knots

After losing an entire day due to sleeping off the anesthesia from a minor surgical procedure, I lost even more time after deciding to frog my four completed rows. I was trying to do it all in one panel, even though one pattern is done in hdc and the main pattern is done in dc. I gave up on that (nightmare) and went with separate panels instead. It’s much faster, as there isn’t as much counting to be done.

I am in love with Becleigh’s design, as it is original and intricate. It’s also a pain to follow, but I broke out the stitch markers and that has helped substantially. When I first learned to crochet, I refused to use markers, trying to act all tough and edgy. Now I can’t imagine stitching without them. I like the rounded plastic ones with a little slit on one side. I bought all the makings for pretty jewelry style ones, but I’ve never gotten around to assembling them. I may put aside a few hours next week and make them to put in my shop.

Meanwhile, here’s the new center panel as opposed to the middle of the one big panel!

1/28th of the way through the middle panels!

Related Posts: http://thethickplottens.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/celtic-knot-cables.html

Celtic Knots and Cables

I finally finished the Blue Heart shawl! Unfortunately, my daughter went out clubbing last night and wore the wrong shoes, so she has blisters all over her feet and can’t model for me today. Obviously, it was her first time to ever go to a club, and although she had a blast, she knows what not to wear next time.

Now I am moving on to a cabled split shawl that a friend has asked me to make for her. I love making cables in crochet…I’m sure it’s the Irish side of me that longs for Aran sweaters and shawls, and filet crochet Celtic knots. My friend is going to a Ren Faire in two weeks, so I have to move fast. So a K hook it is (don’t want it too lacy), with Simply Soft in Autumn Red. I love the color and sheen, and it will have a great drape. The problem with cables is they can sometimes make the fabric too stiff, so using a soft yarn should overcome that. Here are the two patterns I’m blending and adapting for my pattern:

http://thethickplottens.blogspot.com/2012/02/celtic-knot-cables.html

Picture and pattern by Becleigh Durham

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/GwenAnne/starter-scarf

Picture by GwenAnne, Pattern by Joyce Nordstrom

I’m about to be out of shows to watch while I crochet. I’m almost done with Gossip Girl (I know, I know), and it only got 10 episodes for their series finale. Fringe is also on their series finale, with only 13 episodes. So my question to you is, what do you watch or listen to while you crochet? What’s your favorite tv series? Perhaps it is one I haven’t heard of, and will give me something new to watch!

The Frogging Blues

Sigh. No crochet project would be complete without the need to frog somewhere along the way. For those of you who don’t know, frogging is slang for unraveling…reason being that when you unravel, you “rip it, rip it.” In some ways, frogging is the secret word that proves membership in the exclusive club of fiber artists.

While most of the time, my need to frog is my mistake, today’s unraveling is due to a pattern error.

Author: Doris Chan

Book: Amazing Crochet Lace

Pattern: Blue Curacão

Error: Row 20, “SHELL in ch-sp of next shell, next 2 ch-3 sp” should read “SHELL in ch-sp of next shell, SKIP next 2 ch-3 sp”

Hopefully this will save someone an hour or two of trying to figure out why Row 21 doesn’t make any sense!

This is what it looks like up through Row 20:

Blue Heart

One would think that by now, I’d learn my lesson about crocheting at bedtime. Nope. Most mornings, I wake up with hook and yarn in hand, a pattern on my chest, and a whole lot of frogging to do. It never fails…bedtime crochet is always such a disaster.

Fortunately, with my current project, I am having a hard enough time following the reps while I’m awake. For a change, I was smart enough to put it all away when I started to feel sleepy. As comforting as it is to crochet while the rest of the house is asleep, I didn’t want to spend my morning unraveling a disaster.

I’m currently working on Doris Chan’s “Blue Curaçao,” which is a pineapple lace shawl. I’m using a finer yarn than the pattern calls for, so I will likely have to add another row of pineapples…or call it a shawlette. Hm…that sounds much easier.

I wonder if she meant to call it “Blue Coração.” Coração is Portuguese for “heart” and is pronounced much like “corazón.” While there are many differences between Spanish and Portuguese, there are also many similarities, if one knows the code…like “ão” is pronounced “ón.” My daughter works at a Brazilian Churrascuria, and is slowly learning the different words, as several of her coworkers are from Brazil. Since she is fully fluent in Spanish, it’s not a difficult leap.

This particular shawl could be quite festive if made in bold colors, however I’m using a frosted blue. I am trying to decide if I should block it, or leave it loose and ruffly. Here are the first 14 rows:

It’s actually much easier to see the pineapples in the picture than in real life. I forget how pretty they are, because at the moment, all I see is a pile of stitches. I’m hoping to finish this today.

Do you have a favorite pattern type? Do you prefer clusters, fans, pineapples, cables, or motifs? Or do you stick to straight stitches?

A Place For Thoughts of Yarn

I did it! For years, I’ve thought about opening a shop on Etsy. It took me forever, but I finally got it done. Now I have a place to show off my yarn creations (on Etsy) and a place to talk about how much I love yarn (here).

I LOVE yarn. It’s more of an addiction. I have more yarn than some yarn stores. I love how beautiful the colors are, how soft the fiber is, but most of all, I love all the potential. With a mere plastic hook, I can create a sweater, blanket, hat, shawl, or socks. From a piece of a string to a piece of clothing. How amazing is that???

My niece, Julia, is a crochet master. She learned when she was seven, and taught me how to crochet when she was 21. I’d tried to learn a million times, and I could make a chain, but I didn’t know how to do anything else. Patterns were unintelligible, and made as much sense to me as when I tried reading Russian. Somehow, Julia pushed me past all of that into a world of color and creation that I never imagined would be possible.

I think the reason it finally clicked is because she started the foundation and first two rows for me, then let me take over. Instead of my fumbling around and fighting with a floppy chain, I actually had a bit of fabric to hold onto and follow. After two days, it all clicked. Chain, single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, turn.

For me, crochet is meditative. Counting stitches, pushing the hook through, wrapping the yarn around, pulling it through, then doing it again…it calms me and slows down my ever-racing thoughts. Sometimes I’ll crochet while I’m watching TV, or listening to music, or standing in a line, or waiting in an office somewhere. But sometimes, I do nothing but focus on the feel of the yarn as it slides across my hand, counting double crochets like some people count sheep.

I hope that if you know how to crochet, you will welcome me into your fold. If you don’t know how, hopefully I can inspire you to pick up a hook and a skein and make something. If I can do it, anyone can.