Category Archives: I crochet

Scrappy little thing

I’ve gotten rid of a lot of yarn over the last couple of years, but through every purge, I’ve held on to a big bag of fingering-weight black and gray yarn. Most of it isn’t anything special, but some of it is, and I knew that the collection wouldn’t get any love at craft swaps or Goodwill or on Ebay. I’ve made a couple of attempts at blankets with the yarn—you can see a couple at the top of the photo below: a chevron blanket that was crocheted too tightly and a couple of double-stranded single-crochet squares that were different enough in gauge that I knew a blanket made that way would look terrible—that didn’t end up sticking.IMG_4536_edited-2
The new one, though, at the bottom of the photo, is a keeper. I’m doing it in half-double crochet, which I think is my favorite stitch. I’ve never liked the look of double crochet and while I like single crochet better, I think it’s too dense for blankets. I’m using two strands held together: one dark gray, which will alternate between Valley Yarns Huntington, which I had bought seven skeins of for some unknown reason, and some dark gray alpaca I’ve had for yonks; I’m hoping that having one constant background color will make the finished blanket look like harmonious and tweedy, instead of crazy. The other strand will include all of the black and lighter gray yarns. I’d planned out the progression to make a more or less symmetrical striped pattern, but the way the blanket is sucking up yarn is making me think I’ll run out before it’s as long as I’d liked it. I’d started this blanket as a way to use up scraps I’d had hanging around and don’t relish the idea of having to buy yarn to finish it, but needs must, as they say.afghan closeup
I’m a little surprised at how much I’m loving working on it, since it’s just a big rectangle and the same stitch over and over (and over and over). But the yarns change enough to keep things interesting and it’s a nice change from my current knitting project, which I adore beyond reason, but requires a lot of attention. I’ll post more about it this weekend, but in the meantime here’s a sneak peek:
blocked back Exeter


Sunday productive Sunday

P1090128Now that the weather is warming up, my craft focus has started to shift back to spinning and sewing. I’ve been carding the Gotland fleece I got at Rhinebeck last year with some hand-dyed mohair top I’ve had since before I moved to New York, so 1999? 2000? I know I bought it on eBay from a seller whose name I can’t remember who sold different base fibers dyed in the same range of colorways and that this one was called Vienna Woods. I bought the plain wool and the mohair, spun them separately, plied them together, and knit an oversized seamless raglan cardigan out of the yarn. I’m not sure what happened to the sweater. Maybe I gave it to my mom at some point?

Anyway. I had close to a pound of the mohair left over and it’s been sitting in my stash, moving with me [counts] either seven or eight times, depending on where I was living upstate when I bought it, and I’m delighted that I’m finally doing something with it. My original plan was to ply this blended single with a plain Gotland single for yarn for a big, wild, wooly pullover. I may still do that, but I think I’ll have enough of the blend to ply on itself and still have sufficient yardage for a big, wild, wooly pullover.

I had my favorite kind of day yesterday, the kind where I spend my time moving from project to project, making demonstrable progress on a number of things. I made a batch of spicy peanut sauce to have with noodles and vegetables for dinner and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for a work party today. I worked on my cashmere/merino cabled cardigan (the back, two fronts, and one sleeve down; the last sleeve, assembly, collar, and ribbing left to go), the scrap chevron afghan I’m crocheting, and the handspun log cabin blanket I’m knitting. I made a batch of soap (scented with orange, clove, and cinnamon) and cut out fabric for a Scout tee. I got caught up on The Americans (I really like the show, but have kind of forgotten what Larrick’s damage is in the first place, so I’m not as fully invested in what’s going on as I could be), watched an episode of the original Swedish The Bridge, and listened to a fair chunk of The Alienist audiobook. Looking at my calendar for the next couple of months, I’m not sure when I’m going to have another full day just for puttering, so I’m glad I put that one to good use.

Chevron crochet

P1090125Since I wrote this post, I’ve ripped out the Elegant Granny Square Stripe blanket I was making out of doubled fingering-weight scraps and repurposed the yarn into a plain chevron blanket (seen here on top of a blanket my Oma crocheted out of some fabulously 70s acrylic that’ll be keeping the cockroaches warm during the nuclear winter and beyond). I think the first pattern I was using looks fantastic at a fine gauge, but clunky and unattractive at the gauge I was making it in. I’m much, much happier with this one. It’s the Sierra stitch pattern from Jan Eaton’s 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns, and I’m making it more or less throw sized. I’m much happier scaling this one down a bit since the single crochet takes a lot longer than double-crochet-based stitch patterns but it looks great and I know I’m going to love it whenever it’s finished.

Blanket statement

Over the last few years, I’ve crocheted a few blankets for gifts, but haven’t kept any for myself. I seem to be bound and determined to change that, starting a new blanket every few months. They’ve all been conceived as ways to use up scraps or to repurpose larger quantities of yarns that aren’t ideal for garments or whatever project I bought or spun for them originally, but I know I’ll like and use the finished objects whenever they’re done.

P1090108I’ve mentioned the handspun log cabin blanket before. It continues to grow slowly, especially on cooler evenings when its warmth is welcome in my lap and its utter simplicity makes for mindless knitting. Even though the days are going to be heating up, I think it’ll still see a lot of action in the mini-season known as My Landlady Turned the Heat Off, but It Isn’t Really Warm Yet.

I haven’t done much with the crocheted hexagons over the winter. They’re such a good warm-weather project though, I expect to make some progress with them this summer.

And I just started the third one this week. It’s the Purl Bee’s Elegant Granny Stitch Blanket, though I’m doing it at a bigger gauge, which dials the elegance down a bit. I have a big bag of assorted fingering-weight yarn in blacks and grays and am working with two strands at a time, switching new yarns in as the balls run out and trying my best not to micromanage the randomness.

Current projects

I find it helpful to once in a while drag all of my works in progress out into the light. I can take stock of where everything stands, possibly get excited about a project I haven’t worked on it a while, or decide that something isn’t worth finishing and then either rip it out to reuse the yarn or just make the whole thing go away.

Happily, I still like everything in this particular crop.
20140118-140928.jpgClockwise from the upper left, we have a long-term project making crocheted hexagons from worsted-weight scrap yarn–it’s going to be spectacular and it’s going to take for-fucking-EVER; then a log cabin blanket from worsted and heavy worsted handspun in purples, reds, blues, and grays–I had a lot of those in quantities that weren’t enough for garments, and most of them are too coarse for next-to-the-skin accessories; an Alga in my ombre handspun, which is going to be a knockout; the beginnings of a cabled cardigan using some cashmere/merino I’ve had stashed for a while, and a handspun seed stitch tunic in alpaca/silk, which is probably the closest to being done except that working on it is pretty tedious and I have a hard time making myself do it. Still, I’d love to be able to wear it this winter, so efforts shall be made.

Previously unblogged gift blanket

The morning of my wedding, I got to give my friends Erin and Brian their long-overdue (by about a year and a half) wedding present:

It’s my favorite kind of ripple blanket, crocheted here in more than a dozen shades of Cascade 220 and sized for a queen bed. A few neutral shades alternate with heathery rainbow hues so the same colors are never next to each other but it still feels cohesive and like it makes sense somehow. One of these days, I swear, I’ll make one of these blankets for myself.

Erin was one of my bridesmaids–she’s to my right in this photo that Brian took, which happens to be one of my favorite photos from that day.

One of my favorite parts of the day, which I hadn’t planned at all, was before the event. Rob and I and our families and wedding party had been taking some group photos and portraits outside the venue and when people started arriving, it just felt natural to stay where we were and greet our guests instead of running off and secluding myself inside in order to make some sort of big appearance. I loved being there as all of these people we loved arrived and that I got to kiss everyone hello and welcome them to our wedding and be like, “CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE HOW GREAT EVERYTHING IS RIGHT NOW?!” It was perfectly in keeping with the kind of event we’d been hoping to have: clearly significant and special, but unfussy and fun, retaining the traditions we wanted to honor, but not bothering with the ones that didn’t have meaning for us. If I had been sequestered in some back room, I would have missed out on all of that.

Ripple me this…

A very good friend of mine was married a couple of weeks ago. I offered to make them a ripple blanket as their gift, since I knew she’d liked the others I’ve made and I’d just been waiting until I could see all of the Cascade 220 colors in person before I got started. I went to Webs this past week while Rob and I were gallivanting around New England and came up with a combination of three neutrals and nine colors that I like together.

I’m two stripes in and like it so far, so we’ll see…

In other project news, I’m a few inches short of the armhole on a Folded out of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn that used to be a bright bubblegum pink, but I overdyed with a little bit of black. And I started a Milkweed Shawl with a random ball of tweedy Shetland that may or may not be enough to finish it. If not, I have enough black yarn of a similar gauge that will work. It’s a very easy project, but still requires enough attention to keep from getting too bored; I’m enjoying it.

Season two of Sherlock is on PBS tonight, which is pretty exciting news in this household, I have a big pot of green chili with pork and hominy ready to go–I should take a picture of it later and write up the recipe; it’s quick and delicious–and still have to knock out a freelance piece, run a couple of errands, and figure out what I’m wearing to my first day at the new job tomorrow(!) before I can relax for the night. On to it…


Celia, you’re breaking my heart

Except not really, because this pattern is awesome. I am one slow crocheter and even I managed to knock out Kim Werker‘s Celia Circle Scarf in three days. It would have taken even less time, but I didn’t bring a spare skein with me when I was out of town this past weekend (rookie mistake). Here it is after weaving the stitches in, but before blocking.

For some reason that I can’t quite figure out, the pattern stitch in the lower portion of mine appears to be on the diagonal, while the upper bit in the same stitch has a much stronger vertical line the way Kim’s original did. No matter. I learned some new ways of putting stitches together and towards the end, was much better at reading the fabric than I was at the beginning, which were my main goals for this project. Plus, I was able to support a friend’s creative endeavor, used up some cashmere/silk tweed yarn I’ve had hanging around for a while, and got an adorable and useful scarf out of the deal. No complaints here.

Homemade gifts

I did two homemade gifts this year, which is about my normal. All of my immediate family members have enough stuff from me at this point that I don’t feel compelled to make something for everyone, but I do like making stuff, so a couple of things for other people snuck into the rotation.

1. A crocheted ripple blanket in Berroco Vintage for my brother and sister-in-law (who occasionally reads this site; Anna, if you see this, at least you have some time to practice acting surprised.)
 2. A pair of Ultra Alpaca fingerless mittens (this pattern, which seems to be no longer available due to a copyright disagreement) for R’s mother. I hate buying people presents just to give them something, and I don’t feel like I know her well enough to pick out something actually thoughtful. But she has dogs to walk, so I figured something to keep her hands warm while allowing for dexterity would work.

Drive-by blogging

Some things!

1. A ripple blanket. I think I’m going to end up giving this to my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.

2. A striped sweater! Making the third attempt at the neckline I want.

3. Spinning! Some finished merino/tencel and alpaca/silk in the works.

4. A lace scarf! This is the porcupine stitch from one of the BW treasuries. I love it. It has an odd number of rows, so is automatically reversible. #neato

5. Bacon jam! The full, glorious jar and spread on bread with ricotta. Recipe here.

6. Silkscreening! I took a workshop last weekend, which was really fun, even though there were a lot more chemicals involved than I was expecting. Jenn has a much more comprehensive report here.