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Crochet

Moby Blanket aka The Great White Afghan

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It started with a couple balls of Noro Silk Garden over a decade ago.  I’d planned a little felted bag or two – but the first bag didn’t turn out like I wanted.  So I frogged the second one, and slowly collected more Silk Garden, for a variety of failed ideas over the years. That first little bag was finished on a car trip with my then-new boyfriend (who is now my husband of almost eleven years).  Sometimes projects take me a while*.  I’m sure you all know how that goes.

In the early summer, I was amalgamating my stash**, and collected all my Noro Silk Garden, both yarn and partially complete projects.  I, uh, have a significant amount.

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I divided the yarn into piles – sort of neutral*** and sort of colourful, then partnered the colourful up with Cascade’s Eco yarn (which I also had a goodly amount of).  I don’t crochet much, and when I do, most of the time it’s this Circle-In-A-Square .  It’s what I used to try and make a replica Crunchie for E___ years ago; it’s what I use for baby blankets. img_0792

I spent the early part of the summer cranking out the circles; I got about 4.5 circles from a ball of Silk Garden.  After I finished about 75 circles, I started turning the circles into squares with the Eco; I could get about 16 circles into a square with one big bump of the Eco.  I used a 5.0mm hook; and as is the nature of any stash busting project, I OBVIOUSLY needed to go and buy more yarn.

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I needed more yarn a couple different times.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise – I borked the background colour choice a couple times and actually have three slightly different tones of ‘natural’ or ‘off-white’ or ‘cream’.  I didn’t notice this until well into the process… and I couldn’t face frogging back, waiting for the right colour to be ordered in, buying yet more yarn, and then re-crocheting the circles back into squares again.  I’d finally found the right project for the yarn and I was feeling every bit as obsessed as Captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick… which is how I named the blanket Moby.

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By late summer I’d finished eighty squares and decided I was ready to start joining the things together.  I’m truly unable to embrace randomness, so I headed to the backyard with a white sheet and good intentions.  I thought maybe if I just laid them out willy-nilly… or maybe if I rearranged them… or maybe if I… or maybe… (Don’t I look optimistic in that selfie? Little did I know that deciding the order of the squares would literally take more time than joining them.)

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Hours passed and it got dark and dewy (and I suspect my mom and S___ got tired of virtually identical texts from me that said ‘what about this one?’) so I came inside and rethought my strategy.  After a couple days, I grouped my squares from light to dark by colour family.  I sort of swapped them around to be roughly equal, then filled out my blanket shape with the darkest in the corners, shading to the lightest in the center.

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The cats supervised the process closely.

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I basted the squares together with neon acrylic (just because), joined them with Eco, and went around the edges with Silk Garden.  Then I tossed the whole thing into the washer then the dryer.  Start as you mean to go on – and if this blanket is an every day, used-by-everyone blanket, it is going to be machine washed…

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The cats and the rest of the family love the blanket.  This is me, rolling myself up in Moby Blanket, just to give you a sense of scale.  I’m 5’10.  Moby Blanket is LARGE.

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He lives on the couch; and because I derped the background colours and he’s not ‘perfect’, I don’t need to live in dread of the first time someone drops something on him.  (As well, see above, about machine washing.)

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Moby Blanket took about five skeins of Cascade Eco; and about 18 skeins of Noro Silk Garden.  There’s almost 4,000m of glorious yarn in Moby Noro… and don’t mention to non-crafters about what that much yarn is worth…

Once I actually decided what all the yarn was SUPPOSED to be, the project went by quickly enough, I guess!  June 7 – September 15 2016, according to the date stamps on my photos :)

*Lets not talk about the quilt I started in 1995 or so for S___.  Or fine, since we mentioned it, I have an unfinished quilt that is, uh, like twenty years old. Whatever.

**Totally a thing, if you keep your stash in more than one place.  Which is totally a thing for me.  I keep my favorite skeins in my office, so I can pet them more often.

***Yes, I know, I have just as much of the neutral as I did of the colourful Noro.  Shhh.

An Afghan for the Big E

We woke up to snow.  The kids are happy about it and I don’t even mind that much – but this photo of roses from Costco made me smile so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it matches the afghan.

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Anyways – we sometimes call  my father -in-law the Big E.  He recently changed his living situations and in lieu of trying to tell him how much we all care and how we think and worry about him, I turned to what many would turn to: yarn*.

I decided to make him an afghan.  The colour choices were predicated both by his room decor and his favorite hockey team**; the fiber was chosen because of the anticipated laundering techniques.  And it’s a crochet blanket because for some reason, blankets are better if they are crochet.***

I started off using Fireworks Blanket by Becky Simmons.  As usual, I am bad at following patterns,  so it became more of a guideline for me.  That is purely a reflection of me – the pattern was well written and clear and it’s a clever way to make a granny square really engaging.  I used Uptown Acrylic Worsted, and it’s a very fine yarn, for something that is acrylic and meant to be machine washed and dried.

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I was making excellent progress, and actually almost finished, when I noticed something.  I had borked a notch; about three rounds back I’d forgotten one decrease.  Now, I rip back work merrily all the time, but I was at the point in the blanket where a couple rounds of used a whole ball of yarn.  The picture above is what was SUPPOSED to happen, and did actually happen in three out of four spots.  The two pictures below are what was actually going on in that one darn spot.

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I decided to try to fix it without frogging the whole darn think.  So, armed with time (Z___ had an ortho appointment) & my Swiss Army knife (which I actually got in Switzerland), I cautiously snipped and reworked and wove ends in. IMG_8877 IMG_8878

First, I nipped the thread and unwound a certain amount of that row.  Then I did the same for the next row, and the next, until I was back to before the spot where I’d missed the decrease.

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Note the three little balls of yarn, and the staggered missing rows.  I reworked the rows in order, tied a solid knot between the sections of each row, and wove in the ends.

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I don’t know if this is actually the way to do things with crochet – but it seemed to make sense.  And the big knot seemed right because crochet is really just a series of knots, anyways.  I’m really much more of a knitter.

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Ta-dah!  It took less than an hour – and that’s much less time that it would have to rip it all back and rework it.  If you know what you are looking for and you are actually holding the blanket in your hands, you can tell it’s there, but for the muggle or everyday use, it’s not noticeable.

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The finished blanket is about six feet square – I was aiming for something nice to snuggle under while sitting in a chair.  The Big E was a tad confused but pleased by the gift, and I hope he’s using it today while it snows.

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(This is a sort of terrible finished object picture – it doesn’t show the blanket off to it’s best.  And it’s before I’d washed and dried and washed and then hung it dry – the shape has properly flattened out and all the joins held.)

I’m off to the gym – I’ve already shovelled the driveway but my fair weather habit of exercise should carry into the winter work-out, right?

-K.

*“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman

**The Edmonton Oilers.  I found it funny watching Calgarians admire the afghan in progress, and then recoil when they realized it was the OILERS.

***Totally irrational.  Also, not always true, I made a lovely knitted blanket once.  Godzilla vs. Evenstar

The First “along” of Dollybird Workshop!

A word to the non-knitting, non-Ravelry using public:  A knitalong (KAL) is a project where multiple people commit to making the same project at the same time.  It’s a fun way to support each other, get help with any questions you may have, and be encouraged to actually finish things.  KAL*’s have evolved in several different directions, and for the first one that I’m hosting in the Ravelry group**, “Dollybird Workshop”, we’re going non-traditional and having a UFO***-along.

What qualifies? Any project of yours that has been in progress for a while, but is stuck for whatever reason. A knitting project that got put in the bad knitting box for a time-out, a spinning project that was superseded by holiday deadlines, a crochet project that you set down and just haven’t got back to… heck, for the first ‘along’, we’ll accept any projects. Paper mache? Macramé? Woodwork? If it’s something that you’ve started and would like to actually finish, go for it.

Because we are picking up projects that have already mated yarn and pattern (or whatever), we’ll start off today; and it will run until Saturday Feb 15th (six weeks, ish). I’ve decided to make things a little fun, and have a little contest. A random winner will get their choice of one of three skeins of yarn. (I’ll troll through my destash box when I get home, then post a pic.)

To qualify for entry in the contest? Post a photo of your UFO in it’s current state, and post an photo of the progress you make with it. (Some projects do meet completion in the frog pond, it’s true.)

I also want to hear about why you began the project, if you remember why it’s been in a time out, and why you’d like to finish it up.

I’m hoping to finish my version of Zigmund – I spent a lot of time deciding  on the colours; I knit almost to the armpits, and then…. I put it in a bag and set it under my desk.  For no reason that I can recall.  Maybe it was full summer and a worsted-weight stranded sweater was too hot to sit under as I knit?  At any rate, it’s the perfect weather to wear that sweater now… so I’m going to get it done!

I’ll add photos in the next post.  All of my stash (for prizes) and UFO’s (for shame) are at home, and I’m currently ensconced in the glorious silence of the public library.  I’m so glad school is back in session.  The holidays were lovely, but the lack of schedule wreaks havoc on my productivity.

*KAL – knit along, CAL – crochet along, SAL – spin along, etc.

**I started a Ravelry group, http://www.ravelry.com/groups/dollybird-workshop .  There’s the “along”, a thread all about cute animals we know or covet, an errata thread, etc.

***UFO – Unfinished Object.  Although you could be very meta and start knitting a flying saucer… that would be pretty funny, actually.

And Then There Were Two!

Two Crunchies, that is.  I finished Crunchie II yesterday, including a machine wash and dry.

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He’s rather splendid, if I do say so myself.  And I’ve learned several things, given that this is my first finished crochet project.

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I’ll be starting another one shortly, I’m sure: Amoryn has requested a Crunchie of her own.  And judging by the coaching Eleni was giving me, she’ll be crocheting on her own soon!

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PS: Dear USPS Parcel Tracker website – maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but I find “CANADA” as a location to be a little, well, general.  Could you narrow it down just a tad?

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

Actually, more like the Bad, the Mildy Surprising, the Good, and the Unfortunate.

We had a serious alarm last week.  Crunchie, El’s beloved blankie* went missing.  He was gone for several days, and this added to the man’s business trips added up to some very sleepless nights.  (This was Bad.)  Auntie S___, the wizard, pep talked El into thinking of the charms of a new Crunchie – Crunchie II!


(Eleni and Crunchie.  Tuckered out after a busy day….)

Of course, Crunchie is crocheted.  Which gave me a wild sense of doom… as I’m a bit of an idiot when it comes to crochet – or I used to be!  Apparently, after 25 or 30 years, crochet sunk in.  I actually think A____ had a lot to do with it – we were texting about it, and I lamented “And WHY is a half double a half double and not a single?!?”.


(Rainier cherries for moral support.  And brain food.)

She actually gave me an answer that made sense.  It’s because “A half double you wrap twice like a double but you pull through all the loops”.  AND SUDDENLY IT ALL MADE SENSE!** (This is Mildly Surprising.)

No, really, it did.  I would confidently say I can crochet.  I even have evidence….

Behold, Crunchie II!  El picked out all the colours, and after a couple tries, I found a pattern by Olivia Rainsford called Circle-In-A-Square, and I’ve modified it to drop one layer of the outer square.  (It’s a free pattern on Ravelry – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/circle-in-a-square-5 .)  I’m just going to keep making squares until I run out of yarn, in the random colors that El chooses.  The only rules I’ve imposed is that the center color is the same as the edge; no brown or black as the center/edge colors; and take turns making the colors.  A square of each color, then repeat the run.


(There are more now – and oddly, as individuals, there are some I like and some I don’t, but as a whole, it has definite charisma.)

Fortunately, Crunchie was found after four days missing and two days of manic crocheting.  (Good for El, Good for me – forcing hands to learn new skills and then using that new skill for hours and hours is a great way to lead to muscle cramps and carpal tunnel.  The crochet rate has slowed.)

In other news, ugh.  The bathroom reno continues to drag on, although it’s close.  It’s so close… it’s functional now, it’s just the finish on the cabinets and the backsplash.

I’d also like to say UGH.  We seem to have been visited by the four horsemen of the apocalypse; at least, if the four horsemen were barf, diarrhea, migraine, and major appliance death.  I admit to finding it deeply inconvenient that the dryer has chosen to leave us while the kids are so busy creating laundry (and bio-hazards).  I know that compared to many problems in the world, dragging my migraine ridden-self and two kids to a store to buy a new dryer is no big deal.  Still feels Unfortunate, but I’m trying not to dwell on things.

And now I’m going to take myself to bed.  Each girl has been tucked into bed with an acking*** bowl; and it’s been almost twelve hours since the last ack so I’m hopeful.  Things are air-drying as fast as possible, but there’s only so far ahead of the curve we can stay!

*”Crunchie is my friend.”

**No really, I had a total light bulb moment.

***Acking is Am’s phrase for vomiting.  If she’s sick, I set her up a little nest on the couch with a bowl or bucket to ‘ack’ in.