Category Archives: Crafting

Blocking Acrylic Yarn Success!

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When I started my cousin’s going off to college blanket, I made the starting chain very loose. I hate working into those chains! As I added height to the blanket, I ended up with about a 5 inch section at the bottom that was probably 4 – 6 inches wider than the rest of the blanket, though.

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If you look at the picture above, you can see that I have bunched up the bottom and it is still wider than the top. Of course, I didn’t notice this problem until I was well into the blanket–way too far to want to rip it out–so I decided this would be the perfect project to attempt acrylic yarn blocking. I hated the way it looked, but I was on a deadline, so I didn’t want to start over.

I completed the entire blanket, including the border last Friday night, Saturday morning I washed it alone in my washer, and Saturday afternoon I pinned it out on a gray mat in my bedroom. That was a more strenuous job than you’d think, because there was barely enough room to put the mat next to my bed, so I had to do a bit of contortionist bending to get the pins in place. I pinned it all, then rearranged the pins several times, getting the top stretched out and the bottom pushed in a bit without puckering.

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Once I got it pinned in place, I left the ceiling fan on and closed the door to keep the dog out and just left it there to dry in place. I crawled into bed from the foot of the bed that night because I wanted to leave it overnight just to be sure it was fully dry.

Sunday morning, I unpinned it all and folded it up to see if it worked. I call it a success!

folded in quarters

It is not perfectly square when folded up, but it’s a heck of a lot closer to squared off than it was. When I folded it before, the bottom part would engulf the top and there would be 2 – 3 extra inches on both sides. I really hated how it looked. Now it looks like a normal blanket. And most importantly, when I delivered it to my cousin on Sunday afternoon, she loved it, too!

folded MSU blanket1

This is actually the first major blocking that I have done. I believed what I read online at various places or heard in conversations–there is no point to blocking acrylic yarns, blocking is only for natural fibers. This turned out so well, though, I will be doing more blocking in the future.

Do you do blocking? I would love to hear more experiences as I get more into this aspect of yarn crafting.

Another Work in Progress for Me

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I started this project the day of my grandmother’s funeral. After the funeral lunch, many family members convened in my aunt’s condo to spend a bit more time with the out of town visitors and continue to support each other. Of course I had brought a crochet bag with me–the combination of the connection to my grandmother and the fact I knew I would be sitting chatting for quite some time required that I bring some stitching with me.

I bought the yarn at a local yarn shop because it was a combination of my two favorite colors, purple and green. I try not to buy yarn without some project in mind, but I loved this yarn so much, I couldn’t resist.

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I sat on my aunt’s couch, a bit numb, looking at the yarn. I wanted to make something beautiful, but I wasn’t sure what to make. I didn’t have a thought in mind beyond some kind of shawl. I started a chain, and I thought about doing a fancy ripple, but I couldn’t remember the pattern. Anyway, there were a lot of people talking, and I couldn’t keep a count in my head. I wanted something relaxing to do. So, I started making half double crochet stitches across.

I thought it would make a nice border for whatever lacy pattern I decided to use for the main part of the wrap, but as I went, I found I liked it a lot as is. The yarn is so pretty, and the color striping added enough interest alone, I thought. Plus, I really like HDCs! That sounds odd to me, but it is my favorite stitch. So I have kept going.

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It is a nice pattern to carry around with me, because it doesn’t take a lot of space, and the lightweight yarn is cool to work with, even in the summer heat. Plus, it requires almost no thought, so I can keep my hands busy in all kinds of situations.

It is time-consuming, though! The rows go quickly–about 10 minutes a row–but you need a lot of rows to add length. The picture above is about 88 rows, or 14+ hours of work. I have a long way to go, too–I think this may be only about ⅕ of the way done. I picture a long stole that drapes around my arms and has plenty of length to throw over a shoulder. We’ll see how long it gets–it is very relaxing to make, so I enjoy working on it, but as it gets longer, I am going to be anxious to wear it, I know. It is so pretty already (in my humble opinion…).

De-Stashing

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I know I am not the only one who sits in a house full of yarn, then goes to the store and buys still more yarn all the time. My kids roll their eyes at me when I buy more: ”You have so much at home already,” they say. “Yarn is taking over our house,” they say.

They are exaggerating–I have a system to organize my supplies and there is no yarn in the kitchen, bathrooms or their bedrooms, for instance–but they may be partially right.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ever want to be without a stash. I frequently discover a need in my life (glasses case, fingerless gloves, a project that I just HAVE to start) and go to my stash to get the yarn to fill this need. I need to have some yarn available for this sort of thing. However, I have been noticing lately that I have so much that I would like to use that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Also, it is back to school time, which means lots of other expenses cutting into my yarn budget (like I am organized enough to have a yarn budget…rather than just buying a bunch of yarn when I can no longer resist!), so I am doing a de-stashing challenge.

De-stashing has two aspects in my crochet world–using up some of the yarn, and finishing some of the many works in progress. I always have a lot of projects going at once, and like my stash of yarn, I have no interest in reducing that list of projects down to 1 or 2 at a time. I actually get more done when I have multiple projects going. I like to switch off when I get bored with a given project–I can move to another project or just stop altogether, so it works out to more crocheting getting done. However, I have some projects that have been waiting to be completed for quite a long time, and I think it is time to get back to them.

So, here are my goals:

  • Don’t buy yarn (unless it is to finish an in-progress project) until September

  • Complete at least two long-term projects before the end of the year

I know these don’t seem like very ambitious goals, but I want to set some goals that I have a chance of reaching! Plus, I have not bought any yarn for nearly a month already, so that is a fairly long time to go. I crochet a lot, too, so I can do some damage to my stash in a month–I am already noticing a small depletion from my short bit of restraint since the first week of July.

Also, Christmas is coming up, and I have a lot of Christmas crochet crafts, so I don’t want to commit to too many projects for me. That is why a lot of these projects have been languishing–they have been put aside in favor of gifts for other people.

Here are some of the projects I have crying out to be finished:

PicMonkey Collage

1. Lancaster Quilt – I love this pattern, and it seems to be going well, but it is time-consuming and other projects have taken precedence.

2. Ribbon blanket – This was originally going to be for my cousin for Christmas last year, but I loved it so much, and she wanted something purple anyway, so I made her this v-stitch blanket instead and kept the ribbon blanket for me.

3. Light Purple Shrug – This was supposed to be a test, doing one for me then one for my daughter; it was put aside when I realized I had made several errors at the end of rows, resulting in a non-squared shrug that would need to be ripped out and done again.

4. White Lapghan – This was the first blanket I started; I liked it a lot, but I ran out of the white yarn I was using, and it took me a while to find an acceptable replacement (the yarn I was using came from my aunt, and I could not find the same brand).

5. Summer Flower Baby Throw – This was another early project; I made all the squares, but I could not figure out a good way to join them. If I do this pattern again, I will join as I go.

6. Vintage Vertical Stripe – This one is so huge, it takes forever to make some progress! I started it Spring break of 2012, then I had to put it aside during summer because it was too hot to work on. I didn’t pick it up again until after Christmas, and I made a lot of progress, but it still had some rows to go when it got too hot to wrestle with such a big blanket.

This isn’t all of my wips, but some of them are gifts I don’t want to post. I think there is a good chance I will finish those, though–these are my challenge projects!

I don’t think I need to do any planning for the yarn de-stashing. If I can refrain from adding to my stash over the next month, I should be able to make a dent there, because I will definitely be using lots of yarn.

Anyone else working on de-stashing yarn or wips?

Another Finished Blanket!

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I am still, as ever, obsessed with blanket making, even though it is summer. We have had some unseasonably cool weather lately, which has given me some extra time to work on these warm projects. This is very awesome, both for working on blankets and for my electric bill; I have had my A/C turned off for almost a week now. I am hoping that it lasts a bit longer so that I can finish the blanket I am making for my cousin’s daughter before she heads off to college, but that is a story for another post.

This post is about the blanket I finished this weekend:

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Isn’t it great (if I do say so myself)? This v-stitch pattern is so quick and pretty. It is surprisingly warm, too–I found myself getting too warm when I used to to cover my legs in a cold movie theater. I did have a sweater on, but I was surprised that it made such a big difference.

I tried to work on small gift items while it is hot, and I did get some done, but I just love making blankets so much. Anyone else making blankets in the summer heat?

Making Things: Crocheted Dish Cloths

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For a long time, I resisted crocheting dish cloths. All that effort, just for something to clean dishes with? Something that could be ruined by grease and staining foods? It seemed wrong somehow.

Lately, though, I have been thinking so much about making things rather than buying them that I am much more into the idea. Plus, if we have to wash dishes anyway, why not do it with something pretty? It is also much more comfortable on a hot summer day to make a small dish cloth than to work on a large blanket.

So, I have two new dishcloths to add to my collection:

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I got the patterns from (where else?) Pinterest: Cloth 1 and Cloth 2 They are so quick, I will probably be adding more, especially since I bought a bunch of cotton thread when the Ben Franklin in my town went out of business. I am thinking these might make nice spa cloths for my Christmas pampering baskets, too.

What are your thoughts on making this sort of practical item–the kind that gets dirty? Is it a great way to be less of a consumer and more self-sufficient? Or, do you prefer to make pretty things that won’t see such hard use?

Thinking About Christmas: Gift Baskets

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I know Christmas is far away, but I really want to make as many gifts as I can this year, and that means starting early. I am planning on making a few blankets, and those take time, and I am going to finish a few things that I started last year that I didn’t get done in time, but I also need to throw in some easier gifts. Trying to do 15 big crochet projects in about 3 months is crazy– I know, because that is what I tried to do last year!

So, I am combing through my Pinterest boards trying to find some easy projects I can start working on now, and get some things set aside before life gets too hectic with school and work and the holidays. I want to start now while the kids are off for the summer and I am not volunteering at their schools all the time. Plus, if I start now, I will feel motivated to keep going. If I clear out a shelf in my pantry, I can have a growing stash of gifts to look at and feel good about! (Mental note: pantry needs a thorough re-organization and purge….)

With this in mind, I am thinking about making gift baskets/kits. I like the idea of giving several small things I have made grouped together–it makes it easier for me to space out the projects, and it seems like an abundance of gifts, 🙂 .

I am in the early planning stages, but here are some ideas I have so far. I have several similar projects grouped together. I probably won’t do all of them, but I like to have a range of choices when I start to work.

Pampering Kits

Image credit: paulaparrish.blogspot.com

I really love the soap socks in particular–what a neat idea! The sock felts as you use it!

Reading/Relaxing Time Kits

This idea is very crochet-intensive, which sounds more time-consuming. I really like the idea though, and the small projects may be doable. The notepads would be a lot of fun for standalone gifts, too.

Bling/Glamour Kits

Image Credit: foodpluswords.com

I am hoping my daughter will work with me on the jewelry–I like doing things like this with her.

So, those are my beginning ideas. Even with the relatively quick projects, you can see why I need to start doing something about this now! I haven’t even mentioned that I would like to make up a bunch of Christmas ornaments so that I can attach one to the packaging for every gift I give…I guess I should get a start on those, too.

Am I the only one crazy enough to be planning out Christmas gifts in July?

Three finished blankets

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Since the beginning of this summer, I have finished three crochet blankets. I know, it is crazy to be making blankets in the summer, but I can’t help myself, I have all these blankets that I NEED to make–both because I have gift plans, and because I just feel the need to make them.

The first blanket I finished was actually mostly done long before summer:

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I started this Go Graphic throw right after Black Friday last year, after I had gotten a great deal on some of the yarn. I was going to give it to my friend Barb for Christmas, but I didn’t get it all done in time. I made all the squares, but I didn’t get them sewed together, and I obviously didn’t do the border either. Right after Christmas, Barb and her family moved to Denver, so I ended up putting the blanket aside and working on other things. I started sewing together the first row, but I had other projects calling my name.

In June, though, we went to Denver on our vacation! I brought the unfinished blanket along with me, planning to get it done while we there, leaving it as a combined Christmas/hostess gift. I eked it out on our last day there.

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When I first started sewing the squares together, I found it very tedious, but when I got into the swing of it, it wasn’t that bad. Plus, I love the way it turned out! Barb seemed to like it, too, which is what is really important, ;).

Ravelled with a few more details here.

The second blanket I finished was for my son, and it was a huge hit–I made him a Tardis!

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I have made my daughter so many little things–scarves, hats, a scoodie–but it is harder to make things for the boy. When I came across this pattern, I knew it was perfect for my son! Of course, it is perfect for my daughter too, so I’ll need to make another one at some point.  Ravelled here.

I would have finished the Tardis a bit sooner, but I started another blanket on the car ride home from Denver. I wanted to make something quick and pretty for a gift I have in mind, and I got some new yarn, so I couldn’t resist starting right away.

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I’ve done this pattern before, so I knew it would meet my criteria–I finished my last one in about a week. This one took me a bit longer, but not much at 2 1/2 weeks.

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I really need a better camera, or more photo-taking skills (or both!), because I can’t believe how different the colors look in these pictures, but I think you can see that it is a very pretty blanket. Yellow is not a color I use a lot, because I can’t wear it–it makes me look very jaundiced with my warmer skin tone–but I do think it is very pretty, and I particularly like this yellow. It is pale without being washed out or too pastel, if that makes any sense.

So, here is some of what I have been up to lately. I am sure I will do something creative besides crocheting blankets at some point, but these blankets sure do make me happy, :).