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  • A Sweet Bit of Sunshine

    I'm crocheting the Sunshine pattern from Blankets for Toddlers.  So far, so good!

    This is one of those patterns where you make a chain, work your set-up row, and then crochet the same row for a million eternities or until you reach your desired length.  This is excellent murder mystery TV crocheting.  Just absolutely fantastic.  I'm making this for some friends' niece, who is a small baby.  This is supposed to be 45" long, but that seems like a bit much for someone who is not actually a toddler.  So I'll probably work on this until it's as long as it is wide and work a quick single crochet border around this in bright pink.  It's going to be great. 

    I picked this pattern because I love shells.  I love crocheting them.  I love the way they look. 

    And I love that the pattern is named "Sunshine."  I know light purple is more of a sunrise or sunset thing, but I like it for this blanket.  I have three skeins and this pattern will use up all of them.  It's just about the perfect yardage requirement, so now you know.  Three skeins of Red Heart Super Saver = one blanket. 

    Oh!  I can't believe I'm just thinking to mention this!  You could need more.  Each of the patterns in Blankets for Toddlers have instructions on how to modify the blanket to be crocheted with one strand of yarn, or with two strands held double.  Then you would need more yarn.  An afghan crocheted with two strands would be great for play pallets or toddlers who live in chillier climates.   It sounds fluffy!  And like an excellent stashbuster. 

    I'm more than happy to stick with my one little strand of yarn, though.  I'm making good progress and I think I'll have this finished pretty soon--maybe even by the end of this weekend!

    Good luck with your works-in-progress this week!

  • I'm Going to Learn Crochet Intarsia! I am So Brave!

    Hello, how are you?  I hope your week is going well and you're making excellent progress with your projects.  I'm about halfway through a swatch.  Yup, that's what I'm actively working on right now.  I decided to get crazy with color work and try out the Beginner's Guide to Crochet Color Work.  I've always wanted to knit or crochet a throw pillow for my living room, and the Kilim pillow pattern really grabbed me.  There is a project for each of the techniques explained in Beginner's Guide to Crochet Color Work--stripes, mosaic, Intarsia, woven Fair Isle, and combinations of these techniques--and the Kilim pillow is the project for Intarsia.

    This is so pretty!

    And what exactly is Intarsia?  Well, I'm so glad I get to pretend you asked!  According to the guide, "Intarsia color work draws highly graphic pictures onto a crocheted fabric, using many colors on each row."  So that's what I'm trying out because that sounds awesome! 

    I had thought about starting with something a little less intimidating like the super pretty Ripple Cowl, which is for striped work.

    Let's be honest, though. I'm still going to make this sometime soon. This looks awesome.

    But I already know how to crochet stripes and I really liked the look of that pillow.  So even though I knew I would need bobbins for this project, I went ahead and plunged into making the gauge swatch.  I know it's a little thing, but any time a project calls for tools I don't normally use--even something as simple as stitch markers.  Those used to freak me out--something in my brain decides that I should panic and get scared of something as simple as a new crafting technique.

    This picture should not trigger a fight-or-flight response, but it did.

    But I was a super brave adventurer and just went for it!  I carried some strands of yarn and pulled yarn from both ends of the skein for one color.  And after that, I decided I would be a firm believer in bobbins.


    This is a tiny little bit of crocheted fabric and I've got all kinds of tangles in the back of this work!  I'm incredibly glad that I just jumped into swatching instead of jumping into the entire pillow because I would have been in some awful level of crochet hell if I had.  Actually, I would have had to unravel this anyway because I need to go down a hook size.  This is looking pretty loosey-goosey.


    But!  I'm still totally going to finish this swatch.  I am going to treat this little bit of crocheting like my Intarsia trouble-shooting experiment.  I literally cannot wait to see what else can go wrong with this project!  No really, I mean that.  This has been a fantastic practice.  I have now crocheted six whole rows of Intarsia and I'm feeling a lot less intimidated.  And I think I might use different colors.  Or the same colors in a different arrangement.  Or something.

     I'm going to keep thinking about it as I finish up this swatch.  This is the practice run for Intarsia where you work out different techniques and work on your tension.  So I'm going to work on this AND probably work the recommended gauge swatch before I make the pillow itself.  It looks beautiful and I can't wait to have it on my couch this fall.  It's going to be a lovely piece of decor and I'm going to be super pumped about having finally made a throw pillow with yarn!  It's going to be awesome.

    I hope your works-in-progress are awesome this week, too.  Happy crafting!

  • Afghan Mania and the African Flower Motif

    You know what I should be making?  If you guessed "another dadgum blanket," you're so right!  So what if I have a couple of other blankets that I haven't finished!  I've wanted to make the Squared Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs for a while now and last week I snapped a little and got started.  I'd made a square from this once before, and I think getting the hang of it before beginning an actual project helped a lot.  Once I had my colors picked out, I was all set!

    I'm using an I hook and worsted weight yarn in red, teal, and yellow.  I knew that skein of teal yarn from the blanket I talked about a couple of weeks ago would come in handy!  I also had quite a bit of red and yellow yarn, too.

    Obviously, I have already run out and I'm barely halfway through.  Whoops!  Afghans are big.  I don't know why I forget, but I always do.  This takes a lot of yarn!  I bought my third skein of Caron One Pound--okay, my third skein of yellow--for this year and I might be buying more because this is my border color.  And it turns out I grabbed a skein of Hot Red yarn instead of Cherry Red yarn when I was stocking up on more red yarn.  And you can tell.

    But I'll be using Hot Red for all of the rest of my squares, so I think it will look fine.  This is not a state fair blanket, and I'm trusting that the friend I'm making it for will love the almost garishness of the bright colors.  I love red and blue and yellow together, and I love that the blue is more of a teal.  In case you were wondering, the model in the book looks like this:

    And that's lovely.  But I take everything pretty literally, and I haven't seen a lot of blue or green flowers.  And this is coming from someone who has grown a ridiculous amount of zinnias.  I wanted my 'flowers' to have more vibrant colors, and now that I think about it, I may have had zinnias on the brain.  Those, or Gerber daisies.  But something bright and beautiful for sure.  And this is really fitting the bill.  I've made all ten of the Square 1 squares.

    And now I've made one whole whopping Square 2.

    I love them!  This makes a big square (about 10 inches) and this afghan is supposed to measure 44" X 55".  The squares are working up fairly quickly, and I have the pattern mostly memorized.  I really like the African flower motif, and I think I'm going to love how a blanket full of them looks.

    And I'm halfway to finding out for sure!

  • Knitting a Summery Stripey Blanket!

    I'm still working on the Basket Weave pattern from Car Seat Blankets and I love it.  I haven't shown you a picture of this project since it looked like this:

    That was a while ago, and I am very pleased with how it's turning out.  It's for a friend's nephew, and I'm hoping this blows his mind.  The friend, that is.  I'm not sure how much babies care about handknits one way or another.  But I do think that the bright colors will go over really well.  I love bright colors for little developing eyes, and I think these colors are perfect.

    They're pretty summery looking, which I enjoy because I started working on this in July.  And this stripey blanket will brighten up a dreary winter day for sure.

    This is worsted weight yarn and I'm using #8 needles.  I'm not sure if I'll work all of the pattern repeats or not.  I'm supposed to work the four-stripe pattern 5 times and I think that might make this little blanket too long.  It's going to be fine regardless, and I'm not especially concerned with it.  What I'm more preoccupied by is dealing with the aftermath of all these stripes.

    Whoa Nelly.  I'm going to have a LOT of ends to weave in!  I knew this when I started the project, but it didn't seem like such a big deal back before I was making new pieces of fringe every six rows.  Now I'm looking at it and fretting a little bit more with every row I knit.  I may take a break from knitting to weave in some of these ends.  I'd like to keep adding rows and be finished with the knitting portion of this, but I think my future self will really appreciate it if I get a head start on some of this end-weaving now.  I guess I should rewatch this video:

    I hope your WIPs are coming along nicely this week!

  • WIP Wednesday: Taking a Cotton to this Cowl

    I'm crocheting the cowl pattern from the Textured Set in Hats & Scarves, and I'm taking a cotton to it.

    And I'm using cotton yarn.  I'm really sorry.  I'm so very sorry about everything.  But I had to do it.  I hope you understand.  Moving on!

    I like this Lion Brand Nature's Cotton yarn, and I think 'take a cotton to' is a cute way to say that you like something.  And in this case, it's appropriate.  Nature's Cotton is a soft and fluffy yarn, and it turns out it's a great choice for a cowl.  The cowl's texture comes from alternating single crochet stitches and double crochet stitches, and the rustic fluffiness of the yarn lends even more texture.  It's lovely.

    I love a good soft and squishy cowl, and this brown yarn feels pretty perfect to me right now.   This is a fairly small cowl pattern.  When it's finished it will be worn just like this--no looping around a few extra times.  It's pretty simple and adorable.  I think it will be a great accessory.

    I feel like I should be saying more about this, but that's it!  Sorry!

    I will review a little bit.  I like this cowl pattern.  And I like some other patterns from Hats & Scarves, let me just tell you.  No really, I can tell you!

    I loved making the Cuddly Cowl and wish I knew where my daughter has hidden this because I would LOVE to wear it this fall.

    I really like the cowl pattern from the Toasty Set and I can't wait to give it someone as a gift.  It was a quick project, and I love how huge it is.



    The Modern Chullo is awesome.  I wasn't especially great at my first attempt at crochet colorwork, but this hat is adorable and its intended recipient loves it.  I want to make one for myself because just look at this thing.


    This little booklet is full of winning patterns!  I think I'm going to try out at least one scarf pattern from this book, and I know for sure that I'm going to include this textured cowl as another great pattern when I finish it.  

  • When Crocheters Feel Competitive

    I am still working on the Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet Circles into Squares.  I've just wanted to, and it's awesome to throw myself into something I enjoy so wholeheartedly.

    To be clear, I've been interested and/or enthused about nearly every Leisure Arts pattern I've worked and written about here.  There are some projects that I've finished and thought, "Well, now that I know what that's like....I never want to try it again."  There are others that I attempted just because I'd never tried them before and I wound up not only liking them, but trying out new things related to the technique/pattern/aesthetic.  And then there are patterns I've worked on where I have to keep working on them and also maybe writing about them, blogging consistency and standards of nonobnoxiousness be darned.

    This afghan project is one such project.

    This tends to happen with just about any square pattern, any book of baby hats, and anything that lets me get crazy with color.  And let's be super obvious for a moment and mention that this blanket has a lovely amount of color.

    I had originally started this to use up some scrap yarn, and this was a fabulous scrap yarn project.  But I messed that plan up a bit this weekend.  I knew I would need more brown yarn, and some dark green yarn for the green circles.  But I needed teal and aqua yarn for my sixth color combination, and I didn't have either of those colors in my stash.  I had planned to crochet more blue circles, but then it hit me.  I wanted to enter this in the state fair.  The judges would not like the extra blue.  If this were a gift, a rational person might accept this as a designing quirk or graciously assume that I had stash issues.  But a judge?  A judge would know I had deviated from the pattern in some way and s/he would not approve.  And then I might not get a ribbon.  And that is not something I think I can handle.  Not for this.

    So I spent an extra $6 on some Red Heart and made some more circles.  You can almost never get peace of mind for so cheap! They're lovely, and I know I'll use up this yarn in no time.

    I crocheted up all of my circles in all of my colors before going to my knitting group's potluck this weekend.  That was on a Saturday afternoon and it felt great.  I had all of my colors!  Everything was set!  I took my circles and my brown yarn to a friend's house and I got right to work.  Okay, I got right to work after a lot of cheese-based dishes and three desserts and several shouting conversations about....whatever it is we wind up shouting about when we get together.  And then I crocheted nearly 30 squares around those circles.


    I was methodical, and slightly obsessed.  And I think that's okay.  I'm really enjoying this pattern. I'm really excited to enter an afghan into the state fair.  I'm really excited about being excited about a project.

    And I'm really excited that I only have 6 more squares to make. 

    If my excitement can carry me through the seaming process, then this will all be perfect.

  • More Happy Scrappy Afghan Adventures!

    I picked up my happy scrappy afghan project again.  I haven't done a whole lot with the Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet Circles into Squares, but I really like what I've done so far. 

    And you may have noticed that some of these circles have been crocheted into squares!  I decided to go with brown because I'm really into brown afghans right now. 


    I think it's a great contrast to the bright circles, and I have quite a bit of brown yarn in my stash.  I think I'll be running back to the yarn store for more, but that's fine.  I needed some dark green for my green circles anyway.

    And.  I didn't realize that there are some circles that are more of a teal with aqua!  The shopping list for this pattern was so long that I completely missed both the word "teal" and the word "aqua"!  I promise I would have paid closer attention if I was buying yarn, but I was using up scraps and I'd already decided to swap out lilac with purple for light yellow with mustard.  The teal/aqua combo look so similar to the light blue/darker blue circles in the picture!  I'm debating with myself about buying more yarn, making double the number of blue circles, or just making an extra circle of each color. 

    I'm also thinking a lot about why in the world I decided I needed to use an H hook for an afghan when the pattern calls for an I hook.  Even if my stitches got a bit stretchy, this would still be a heavy and warm blanket.  If I had to guess, it's because I couldn't find my I hook when I began working on this.  I lose my I hook more than I used to lose my H hook.  I guess I'll need to go out and buy two spare I hooks so that the original will turn up--that's what mostly solved my Missing H Hook Problem.  Anyway, the last two rows feel a bit cramped but the gauge is mostly okay.  The squares are nearly the recommended 7" across (my gauge tends to run a bit large) and I'm sure they'll stretch a bit after seaming and washing. 

    I don't know who this blanket is for, and I'm working on it because I need to finish up some WIPs.  The number of projects I have lying around is starting to make me feel a little antsy, and the only way to feel better is clear some of them out.  It feels a little odd to jump on this project instead of any of the baby projects I should be working on, but I love these colors so much!  And I think this afghan may go in the state fair this fall.  My knitting group decided that we would dominate the yarnwork categories of our state fair this year.  And yes, the word "dominate" was used repeatedly.

     I've been 'assigned' the crochet categories.  I'm actually pretty excited about it.  I always mean to submit something to the state fair, and then I don't.  Something about my friends declaring that we're going to win everything (we're not. But it's nice to have goals) is a good motivator.  Besides, I've done this before.  I was 17 and it was the youth division, but I still won a ribbon!  I entered a lap afghan of my own design using--what else?--granny squares.  Thinking about the state fair is even more motivating than this former 4Her would like to admit.   I know there's a tendency in craft blogging to be all 'oh, little ol' me?' or to at least act like a rational and gracious adult but seriously, if I don't win a rosette....well, I don't know what I'll do but I know I won't handle it well.  I want to dominate.


    I really don't think I'll finish this up this weekend (the wild thought did jump through my head earlier in the week when I was fantasizing about the weekend), but I hope to crochet at least half of the squares I need for this.  This is going to be a beautiful afghan!

  • I Can't Belive I'm Knitting this WIP!

     Well, I finally went for it.  I remembered my New Year's resolutions and decided to jump into Fair Isle knitting with I Can't Believe I'm Fair Isle Knitting!

    I know the back of my knitting is supposed to look like this, but I still freak out a little every time I see it.

    But I am Fair Isle knitting and so far, it hasn't been a disaster.  I'm working on the Columbia River Ear Flap hat.  Please note the ear flaps.  You knit them first and then cast on stitches for the band.  Weird, but true.  I picked the Columbia River Ear Flap hat because it only uses two colors.  I figured that would be the most I could handle for my first attempt.  Also, I liked how outdoorsy the pattern name sounded.  Again, weird.  But true.


    And!  This is knit with worsted weight yarn.  I'm not sure why it would make much of a difference, but I tend to hold thicker yarns a little more loosely than something of a finer weight.  Since I would be carrying my spare yarn behind my stitches, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't grip anything too tightly and wind up with some bunchy colorwork.


    As it is, I just wound up with some messed up colorwork.  Because that's what I do.


    But I don't care that much because 1) this was my first attempt (actually, it was the second row of knitting on the chart, but there was a lot of talking going on at my local knit night while I was working on this), and 2) no one will care as much as I do about this minor mistake.  So if I don't care very much, then I guess people won't care at all.  Or something.  I think I'm going to give this to my husband, and I know he especially won't care.  I have knitted him hats before that didn't even fit, and he wore them.  The man is a saint as far as being a knitter spouse goes.  I have a lot of other complaints about him, but he has knows better than to judge a knitted gift--especially one that I made for him. 

    I think he's really going to like the ear flaps.


    I'm a third of the way through the chart and it's not terrifying.  Hooray! And it's even pretty!  More hooray!  I'm using Patons Classic Wool because I had some in my stash and I thought the colors would go well together in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup sort of way.  Also, and I know this is silly, I felt like I should use wool instead of an acrylic blend for Fair Isle knitting.  Fair Isle feels classic and lovely and real wool seems classic and lovely and I don't know.  I just thought it would look nice.

    And it does so far!  I hope your WIPs are going just as well.  Minus the mess-ups, of course.

  • WIP Wednesday: Crocheting a Bright and Bulky Dream Hat

    I'm crocheting the Shells Beanie from Crochet Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps!  It's a bright and bulky dream project.  Even if it does look a little like a hot pad from the 1970s right now.

    Which is a fine way to look, I must say.

    I'm using a J hook and a skein of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Jiffy that I hopes lasts me to the end of this hat.  It's a nice, squishy project with rows and rows of shells.  I love shells.  This is so close to feeling like I'm crocheting a large circular granny square hat that I smile every time I think about it. 


    I'm halfway through the body now, and I think I can finish this up over the weekend.  I'm not sure if this is going to go straight to my gift stash, or if I'll give this to my sister for her birthday next week.  But someone's going to love it, that's for sure!  It's been a while since I've crocheted a pattern from Crochet Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps, and I'm not sure why.  These patterns are lovely!  Cooler weather is just a couple of months away, and I want to make a few more patterns from this book before fall!  I love a good slouchy hat, and this hat in particular is just too dadgummed cute for me to not make it.  Hats are a great summer project. 


    Even though this summer has been beautifully not-terrible, I still have a hard time focusing on big cold-weather projects.  I bought the yarn for a sweater a month ago and haven't knitted anything other than a gauge swatch.  My plans for blankets?  Just plans.  All my lofty goals of baby booties and hats?  We don't have to talk about it!  It's summertime and the living's easy!  We're riding high on piles of zucchini and squash and flip flops and long, sunshiny days!  Cold weather crafting is the farthest thing from my mind.  But I know I'll need some warm hats and scarves in my gift stash soon enough. 


    This great bulky weight project is going to crochet up quickly and cutely.  I'm so happy my spellcheck didn't flag "cutely."  I like that word.  And I like this hat pattern. I can't wait to see it all worked up!

    Happy crafting!  And good luck with all of your works-in-progress!
  • WIP Wednesday: Knitting a Precious Ribbed Blankie

    I'm knitting the Ribbed Blankie from Precious Knit Blankies for Babies and it is so very precious!

    I've decided that this is the blanket I'll be giving as a gift this weekend, so I hope I can finish it up quickly.  I'm about a fourth of the way through it, and it's going pretty quickly.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn and #8 needles for a little ribbed blanket that's 26" X 32".  I cast on fewer stitches than the pattern required because....well, I just wanted to.  Blankets stretch and sag over time (something something, joke about childbearing, something something), and I'm not sure how big this thing will be.  Also, let's be honest. I'm pressed for time.

    I'm not sure why I've been so indecisive about picking out patterns and getting started on my baby shower gifts, but it's really kicking my tail now!  I have a baby shower this weekend and I have nothing ready for it!  Yesterday's pixie bonnet doesn't seem quite right for this baby, so I'll need to make some little booties or something to go along with the blanket that I still haven't finished.  Or maybe I won't need to make something extra.  Blankets take time and my time is precious and this blanket is precious because the book title wouldn't lie about that sort of thing!

    Um, that logic seemed a little less circular and a bit more logical before I typed it out.  What I am mostly saying is this:  I am once again a cautionary tale about procrastination and crafting and falling into the habit of yarncrafting for every little baby that comes along.  And while I am incredibly ticked at myself for my lack of planning, I don't think I'll stop making blankets or sweaters or hats or booties or whatever else I'm in the mood to make for every little baby whose mama's belly catches my eye.  Seriously, if we've seen each other in the past year, I'm going to feel like I should make your little one something.  Babies are precious!  They're small and helpless, but also strong and amazing.  I have no idea how they keep growing!  Parents work so hard!  They love so much and need to know that people are rooting for them (something something, breastfeeding joke, something something), and I always felt so loved when people made things for my daughter when she was a baby.

    Plus, this blanket truly is precious.  For the first four inches, I felt weird about not using variegated yarn like the model photo.   Can you imagine how great this would look with Lion Brand Amazing?!?! Because I've been imagining that a lot while I work on this.  But then the work got a little bit longer and I could see this simple ribbing a little better and the dark purple looked simple and beautiful.  I had originally considered crocheting a row or two around this in pink or gray, but now I think it's going to be perfect just as it is.  


    I just have to finish it so I can find out for sure!

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