Tag Archives: afghan

Why isn’t this working?

I have a question for you.

Why don’t projects progress if you ignore them?

Honestly!

It’s been a couple weeks since I picked up my crocheted blanket, and honest-to-goodness, it hasn’t grown at allIt’s very frustrating.

I keep it in a nice big project bag in my studio, protected and safe, yet it refuses to crochet itself.  What gives?

Why can’t it just hang out and grow on its own like a potted plant?  I’ve thought about breaking it out from time to time over the last couple weeks… shouldn’t that be enough?

Sigh.  I suppose if my “ignore it and I’m sure it’ll be finished eventually” strategy isn’t working, I’ll just have to go to plan B (“get it out and actually work on it while binge-watching Masterpiece”).  Too bad.  I had hoped that maybe I’d just invented a new, more efficient way of working on projects.

Do you have any projects that you’re trying the “leave it in the closet and maybe it’ll magically get finished” strategy with?

On My… Hook

I figured out what my next project is!  Yay!

It’s a simple, stripey, crochet blanket.  I haven’t crocheted in a long time, and I haven’t made a blanket in years, so I figured it was about time.

I love crocheting blankets, even more than knitting them.  Crochet goes so much faster than knitting, is much thicker (in other words, cozier) than knitting, and you don’t have to worry about it rolling up on you like stockinette.  It’s really the best thing for blanket-making.

I picked three shades of gray (OK, two shades of gray, plus black), along with a lovely medium blue for a pop of color.  (Jo-Ann’s was having a pretty good sale on Lion Brand Wool Ease, so I stocked up.  It might not be the fanciest yarn, but it’s soft, warm, and sturdy- perfect for blankets.)  I cast on about 5 feet of stitches (I didn’t even bother counting- another thing I like about crochet- it’s so easy to improvise!), and started working in a simple V-stitch.  I’ve made a handful of V-stitch blankets before.  They always look good, work up quickly and stay looking nice for years.  I’m kind of winging the stripe pattern, but I think I like how it’s turning out.  I just hope I got enough yarn!  (Though, if I end up having to go back to Jo-Ann’s, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world…)

Do you ever dabble in crochet?

Inspiration: Is it just me, or is it cold out there?

It’s been dang cold here in Seattle lately.  (Yes, I know it’s January, when it’s supposed to be cold, but still.)  We even got a bunch of snow over Christmas!  It’s been in the 30s in the mornings!  I’ve been wearing my wool coat along with my big cabled sweaters!

(OK, I’m not really complaining- I love getting to wear extra-cozy sweaters and having an excuse to drink hot cocoa.)

But, it’s the time of year when people start working on their year-long temperature scarves and blankets.  Have you heard of this?  Every year I think “Great idea!  I’ll do that next year.”

The idea is that you start a simple project (usually a scarf or afghan, but I suppose you could do this with any project) on January 1st (or 10th, and then you play catch-up).  Every day you knit or crochet a single row or a single square (depending on your design), and then you repeat it every day through the entire year.  But the trick is that each row’s color is determined by the temperature outside that day.  So, if it was super cold, maybe you use a teal yarn.  But if today is in the 60s, you use lime green.  (Or whatever you decide your system is going to be.)

It’s a cute idea!  Simple, fun, and attractive to people like me who like starting long-term projects.

Some people have made cute ribbed scarves.

My Year in Temperatures Scarf by Kristen CooperAnd some people have made gorgeous afghans!

Temperature Gauge Afghan by Nancy StengelI don’t think I’ll be participating this time around, but maybe I’ll get my act together and make one next year.

Have you made any long-term projects like this?

Apparently It’s Leftovers Month

I feel like I’ve been talking about using up leftovers a lot lately.  I suppose, I have been trying to use up my stash before I go buy more (I’m almost out of space in my yarn bins).

And this week isn’t any different.

Over the years I’ve collected a bunch of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in a selection of natural heathered colors from off-white to dark, chocolate brown.  I’ve used this yarn in a bunch of projects- mostly blankets, and no matter how carefully I plan, I always end up with a bunch of half-skeins leftover.  I even had several half-skeins of the same colors, but different dye lots.

I had to figure out what to make with this ragtag bunch of yarn.  Anything fancy, like a sweater, was out because of the weird amounts of each color yarn.  Anything that took a lot of planning was out, too- I wasn’t in the mood to do a lot of math on this one.

So, I arranged the yarn in a gradient from lightest to darkest, dug out my crochet hooks and just started making a granny square.

And kept on going- using up one skein after another.  (The little bits leftover are going to turn into another Mother Bear– I think I have a problem.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe blanket ended up about 4 feet by 4 feet- a nice size for a lap blanket or maybe a baby blanket (though I don’t know if I’d give a baby an itchy wool, non-washable blanket).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOllie seems to like it.  He saw me taking pictures and came over to give it the official “Dog Seal of Approval.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And then he fell asleep- because he leads a very high-energy, stressful life.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat have you been doing to use up your leftover skeins of yarn?

Inspiration: Mermaid, mermaid, mermaid

A couple weeks ago, someone posted a link on my Facebook page.  People do that from time to time, as I’m sure they do to you, too.  Once people know you’re a knitter, anything vaguely knitting-related gets posted to your wall.  Often they’re something I’ve seen before or something I have no interest in.

But this time, the projects blew my mind.1962699_10153195383503330_642696267624178778_n[1]Mermaid blankets!

Can you think of anything better for a kid to snuggle up into while reading their favorite book or watching The Little Mermaid for the millionth time?  I know about three dozen kids that would lose their minds if they saw this.

I suppose, technically they’re not blankets; they’re more like cocoons.  But still.

So, of course I had to go searching Ravelry for mermaid blanket patterns.

Maybe your Barbie needs a mermaid blanket?

Mermaid Tail for Dolls by Ansley Bleu

2844392201_5643108549_z[1]Or maybe your baby.  (Although I wouldn’t leave them alone in a mermaid tail.  That seems like a strangling hazard.  But maybe I’m paranoid.)

Merikelpoinen by Emma Tavi

vxc_medium2[1]Of course kids would love this super-snugly mermaid tail blanket.

Mermaid Tail Blanket by Creative Crochet by Becky

IMG_8561_medium2[1]But, if we’re being honest, we (I) all really just want to make grown-up sized ones for ourselves.

Mermaid Tail Lap Blanket by Angie Hartley

IMG_0446_medium2[1]And now I have this song stuck in my head.

 

Wedding Blanket- the Last-Minute Edition

As a knitter, I use any excuse to break out my yarn.  Whenever a friend has a baby, they get a sweater.  When a friend gets married they get a blanket.  That’s just the way it goes.

Usually, I pay attention to the schedule of these things.

Except, for some reason, I totally spaced on my friend Michel’s wedding.  It’s next weekend.  I started her blanket last weekend.  I’m a dumbo.

I knew I had only about two weeks to do it, so I had to pick my pattern wisely.  I decided to crochet the blanket, since that goes faster, even for me.  And, I wanted something super simple, without any seaming, so granny squares were out.

I considered making a ripple blanket for a while.  I particularly liked this one.  The white against the brightly colored stripes is super cool.l32025a_medium[1]Modern Ripple Baby Blanket by Lion Brand Yarn

But, a couple rows in, it turned out I had messed up on my counting and I had to rip it all back.  So, I decided to try something a little simpler.  Something I could work on while binge-watching Parks and Rec.

1_medium[1]V stitch by Sucrette

Totally cute, right?  I used the V-stitch pattern, and a made up a semi-random stripe pattern inspired by the first blanket.  But, in a very cool (if I say so myself) neutrals-and-neon color palette.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think it turned out pretty well.  It’s a good size for snuggling under with a good book and a cup of tea, or throwing over the back of a couch.  I hope she likes it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I’ve got to go put ice on my wrists from crocheting too fast!

Do you ever knit to a (ridiculous, self-imposed) deadline?

 

Inspiration: Knitting the Sky

My friend Jenny visited me last weekend.  We have known each other for years (since college).  Actually, we met through the Knitting Illini, our university’s student-run knitting club.  (I’m still trying to find a knitting club as fun and welcoming as that one, but that’s a whole other story.)

Anyway, Jenny pulled out her needles and several shades of blue and gray yarn.  She whipped up a couple little garter stitch squares and put her knitting back in her bag.  I was curious what she was making, and she said she was “Knitting the Sky.”  I had never heard this concept before, and had her explain.

Apparently, Knitting the Sky is the idea that you put aside a few minutes each day to look at the sky and then pick a yarn color closest to the color of the sky to make an afghan square, or a few rows of garter stitch to add to a scarf.

As far as I can tell (and correct me if I’m wrong), the first person to do this was Leafcutter Designs.  They sell a kit (yarn plus directions) to make a Sky Scarf.  It’s a simple garter-stitch scarf, but the subtly shifting grays and blues make the scarf look almost like it’s made with hand-painted yarn.

sky-scarf-kit-3 Gorgeous, right?

But Jenny is an overachiever (in the best possible way), so instead of just making a sky scarf, she’s making a sky afghan, like this one.

Finished+Sky+Blanket+4How beautiful is that!  Who could have imagined that wrapping up in cloudy and rainy days could be so cozy?

And, imagine extending the idea of using a color to represent a day in other projects.  How about a striped cardigan that shows your mood each day for an entire year?  Or what about a pair of mittens that represent what you ate for breakfast for a month?  OK, I’m getting silly now.  But, the point still stands.

This is a fantastic idea, and a great way to get some knitting in while getting more in touch with the world around you.  Too bad that if I was to make a sky scarf it would end up being a uniform Seattle-gray.x354

Pattern: Grandma Anna’s Counterpane

My Great-grandmother Anna was a remarkable woman. She was married at 16, lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and raised 11 children (and nearly a hundred grand-children). And through it all, she spent every free moment knitting and crocheting to keep her family warm. She even won a blue ribbon at the Wisconsin state fair for her knitting!

I never got to meet my great-grandmother, but her legacy lives on in the projects she has left behind. I like to imagine that every piece of her knitting is a friendly little “hello” through the decades to me and her other descendants.

Zimmer CounterpaneThis counterpane is based on a bedspread that one of my mother’s cousins inherited from Great-grandma Anna. The pattern has been lost, so I decided to come up with my own. The original was made with white worsted-weight cotton, like most traditional counterpanes. Feel free to substitute your favorite fiber, or change the color to give the blanket a more contemporary feel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern here:

Grandma Anna’s Counterpane

Keeping Warm, Old-School Style

A few months ago, my mom visited one of her cousins.   She showed my mother a bedspread she had inherited from their grandmother (my great-grandmother).  And, knowing my love of anything fiber arts, especially anything related to fiber arts with a sentimental back story, Mom sent me a picture:

Zimmer Counterpane

It’s a beautiful crocheted counterpane.  Counterpanes are traditionally knit or crocheted bed spreads, worked in white or off-white cotton yarn.  They usually are comprised of separately-worked pieces (squares, octagons, etc.) which include textural elements that work together  to make a bigger pattern once sewn together.

See how this blanket is made of large squares, sewn together?

Zimmer Counterpane large squaresBut, when the big squares line up, smaller squares appear?

Zimmer Counterpane small squaresMy great-grandmother was a prolific knitter and crocheter, but through the years, most of her projects have been lost to moths, given away, or otherwise misplaced.  I always get excited to see a piece of her work that has been kept safe over the years, especially as beautiful and well-preserved as this blanket.

Leftovers

I am convinced that every knitter is a bit of a pack-rat.  Or at least has some pack-rat-ish tenancies.  I catch myself doing it all the time, and have to consciously make myself stop it when I go to far.

I’m not talking about buying more yarn than you could ever knit (which would be a problem, but I’m not convinced that it is possible.  At least, I haven’t reached a critical mass of unknit skeins yet).  I’m talking about those little bits of leftover yarn that you end up with at the end of every project that you are sure you can use for something else.  You can’t just throw away 50 feet of merino hand-spun.  That would be heresy!

So, when those little bits of yarn get ready to overflow your craft bin/closet/room, what to do?

I organize my scraps by weight (worsted together, sock yarn together, etc), then i pick a project.

I am a big fan of scrappy afghans to use up my little leftover bits.  My Call the Midwife-inspired blanket sits on my couch, and used up approximately a metric ton of sock yarn scraps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m in the midst of making a great big Yo Yo Lapghan with all my worsted weight scraps.  I can make a handful of yo-yos during a rerun of Law and Order.  And, once I have about 2000 (no joke… they’re pretty small), I’ll crochet them together.  I like this pattern especially because, even though I’m making thousands of little circles, if you do it right, you have no ends to weave in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother afghan that people are going head over heels for is the Beekeeper’s quilt.  I’ve never made one; I think knitting that much at such a tiny gauge without ending up with a pair of socks (or ten) would give me an aneurism, but if that’s your jam, I say: Go for it!  It looks like a super cozy blanket when it’s done.DSC_0518_medium2[1]Don’t want to make a blanket?  Think about stripes.  Match up your scraps of a similar weight, and make a cool abstract striped sweater, or a pair of fraternal twin socks.

Whatever you do, just don’t let the yarn just languish on your shelf.  Yarn is for knitting (and crocheting) and keeping you cozy and warm, so let it do what it wants to do!