Monday, 23 December 2013

gloves - argh!

I decided to crochet something for Stepmother (who isn't wicked, much) for Xmas. I haven't been brave &/or organised enough to crochet anything for anyone else, not this year anyway. Mum & Stepfather would be very difficult as I'm living with them and they'd see me crocheting it + Mum's had a baktus, that she knew about, so it's not as if I've never crocheted for her. Dad doesn't wear scarves, gloves - the handmade woolly kind at least - and doesn't wear socks at all so I honestly don't know what I could make for him. Cousins' children and step-nieces &-nephews could have hats/scarves/etc but I would've had to have started back in, oh, January 2013. 

[Note to self - start crocheting in January 2014 for next Christmas]

Anyhoo, I faffed about a bit, as is my wont, and found a scalloped cowl pattern using wool I've already got - not because I'm a cheapskate but because my opportunities to buy wool specially for her were extremely limited, there not being a wool shop anywhere that I can get to unassisted, which would mean roping Mum in, which feels a bit weird: "can you drive me 20miles to the wool shop so I can buy some wool for your ex-husband's wife's Xmas present?" She's cool and all but I think that's a bit much, no? I think also in the back of my mind was "use wool you've already got and then, if it turns out a total sh*tstorm that you wouldn't give to your neighbour's annoying barky dog to chew, you won't feel like you've wasted too much."
The cowl has worked out brilliantly, even though I eventually realised I'd read the first round of the pattern wrong. Twice (you do half the cowl then go back to the foundation row and work in the opposite direction so the beginning's in the middle - not rocket science but pretty nifty). So, it looks a bit handmade, but then it is and I predict (hope, I hope!) she'll be impressed with the handmade-with-love-i-ness more than anything else.


(extended nautical metaphor alert) 
So buoyed was I by this success, finished days ago (i.e. before even the slightest bit of can-I-get-this-done-in-time-will-she-accept-an-i.o.u. panic had set in) that I decided to push the boat out and make a matching set of long, pretty wristwarmers/fingerless gloves. (Despite the fact Stepmother really feels the cold in the ends of her skinny fingers, I am not even going to think about fingery gloves, forget it.). 
I looked on ravelry.com, I found lots of patterns, I narrowed my choice down, I paid for and downloaded the pattern. 
I tried, and tried, and tried to follow the pattern, which says this:

"ch1
pull up loop,"

What loop? From where? 
Apparently "By doing the ch1, pull up loop, you create a more seamless looking join. This makes it so you could wear the gloves on either hand (no left or right designated glove)"
THIS DOESN'T HELP AT ALL!
Neither, depressingly, do the pictures on the .pdf, which I think are supposed to show how to do the above but I can't make it out at all :(
Nor can I find any reference to this on the Interweb.
Reader, I gave up.

I had another look on the Interweb and found a free (yay!) pattern for similar gloves. it's for worsted, not aran weight but I figured it'd be alright. 
Last night I tried, and tried, and tried to make it work. The pattern decreases are difficult to follow, I'm not sure exactly where I'm supposed to slip st into and the pattern repeats were difficult to keep track of. I made it past the first few rounds on the third (fourth? I'd lost count - we were watching Die Hard and Bruce Willis was still wearing a shirt, that's all I know) attempt and although I wasn't at all confident that I was following the pattern right, I kept counting my stitches and it was the right number so I battled on. 
One of the reasons I was worried about following the pattern was because the glove was getting smaller, and smaller, and, you get the idea! I got so worried about this that I tried pulling it over my own wrist a few times to check (Stepmother is generally skinnier than I am but I've kept my girlish skinny wrists). At 16 stitches/round, I could only just tug it over my hand, with a lot of effort.

Bother.

I have now paid for and downloaded a third pattern. I really really really hope this one's the charm.

It feels churlish, but I'm miffed that I've paid for these patterns & I haven't been able to follow one of them / may not be able to follow the other. They're only a couple of £'s and I'm sure it's my own incompetence rather than a fault with the pattern. But there's no way to say "hey, I'm not going to make these after all - can I have my £2.56 back?", except my actually complaining to the author that I couldn't follow the pattern and I don't want to be That Woman, no thank you.

All this for a pair of gloves I wasn't even thinking of making 48hrs ago. Definitely need to chalk this up to experience, when I've stopped weeping/swearing. And the third pattern has worked. And I've made 2 of 'em. Tomorrow.


-x-

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Mood knitting

Sometimes I get a new project in my head and it just sticks there, until I realise I'm not going to get anything else done so I start it, thereby adding to my list of WIPs.

The most recent example of this is a new sock using the DROPS Fabel wool I bought a while ago. I really really really really should be cracking on with the blue baby blanket and the two beanies and the large-gauge sock in the same wool and the nesting baskets and the owl (yeah, remember that one?) but....

I'm using my favourite sock needles and some pretty wool and I'm happy!

-x-

Thursday, 5 December 2013

blue baby blanket

My friend is expecting a little boy at the end of January and she's not having the easiest time of it so I thought I'd surprise her with a crocheted blanket for him and crochet as much love as possible into it so he'll be a lovely happy peaceful baby! Cos that's how it works, right?
I've been looking forward to starting this blanket for months. This last payday just gone I finally treated myself to the wool for it - I've got 7 shades of blue!!!! I decided to make a granny squares blanket as I enjoyed making them so much last time and it's sort of traditional crochet but the blue shades should make it a bit more contemporary. The mum-to-be isn't exactly the mumsy, crochety type, tbh! So I want the blanket to be really nice and not look too arts-n-craft-y or homemade.
My first real plan, after much hmming and hahing, was to make a squillion different granny squares; there are soooo many different patterns out there. I figured that way I could practice lots of different crochet as well, I was a bit worried that granny squares would get a bit repetitive and I want to challenge myself - I can make a basic granny square already.
See, now, reading this back I can already see there's starting to be too much riding on this poor little blanket - but I couldn't see that until just now.
So.
Wool arrived and for the first time I allowed myself to head off into the interwebsphere to look for pattern ideas.
I found a crochet-a-long with about 100 granny square patterns. "Great," thinks I, "I'll just work my way through them, I won't need the whole hundred for a little baby blanket, after all."
At this stage I did have a couple of niggles: 
1 - a lot of the granny squares are: a) flowery - it's a blanket for an un-mumsy mum and her baby BOY so hmmmm... & b) 3-dimensional, not great for a baby blanket, no?
2 - what about TENSION? (my favourite thing in the whole world) I really didn't want to end up with a bunch of different-sized squares that I couldn't fit together.
I dealt with (2) by deciding to join the grannys as I went, although I wasn't massively confident that it's a robust way to join squares together for a blanket to wrap a wriggly baby in (if his behaviour in the womb is anything to go by, this baby is gonna wriggle!)

I began.

I played with different hook sizes
3mm

3.5mm
And decided to go with the 3.5mm, mostly because it's a much nicer hook to work with.

I made my first granny - a plain old granny square. It's lovely, all softy poffs and nice. I haven't got a picture of it so you'll have to take my word for it.

I made the second square from the CAL. It's supposed to have a heart shape in the middle of it, I hmm'd and haah'd a bit about the heart (see above about un-mumsiness) and eventually decided to give it a go. 

Awful. The heart looked cute as a (heart-shaped) button until I attached the square around it, which pulled it out of shape, so it looks like a lumpy butterfly.

Bother.

Unpicking it wasn't worthwhile as I'd already fastened off all the rounds. So I decided not to attach it but to keep it as a backup and see if I fell in love with it later on (or got more desperate!) 

Square #3 was a sunburst with puff-stitches - worked really well and came out the same size as the first one, albeit with 1 round fewer, so I joined it on the final round.

I have a strip of two joined squares - woop!

Square #4 is a sorta hexagon thing with a flower attached to it which I decided to do without the flower (see above, etc., etc.). I must've read the pattern wrong because it's all bunchy. AND it was the same size as the other 2 squares and I hadn't attached it yet - damn!

By this point I'm starting to feel slightly despondent about the whole deal. Plus, having to have the webpage open all the time and keep checking instructions, although formative, isn't exactly relaxing.

Rethink.

I want a really good quality blanket that looks proper professional like. I want to make it with minimal stress. 

I hereby abandon the plan to make a squillion different squares.

Which is good, except now I need a new plan.

Ho hum.

Trawled t'internet. Couldn't make a decision.

Popular options:
(here's my pinterest board, if you're pinterested)

One Giant Granny
comme ├ža:

Hexagons
e.g.

....

Eventually I hit upon this square pattern,
which I think is cute and, best of all, nice and solid. I've abandoned plans to join as I go, having been inspired and reassured by Little Tin Bird and Attic 24 (my crochet heroines, as always) that slip-stitching together at the end will be unchallenging and give a nice professional, robust finish to the blanket. 

Let's see how long this plan lasts, eh?

It's ok to start a project and then rethink it and start again, isn't it? 
I think I'm going to call it A Creative Process, it makes me feel better anyway!

-x-

PS I stumbled upon this tutorial from Little Tin Bird, which shows how to weave ends in to a square which is a lot like the square I've chosen to do - yaaaaaaay! That's another niggle put to bed, Little Tin Bird, you are my shining crochet star!

PPS my ravelry entry for this project is here.

ta-ta!

-x-

PPPS yes, yes, I know the square I've ended up choosing isn't really a granny square. But it ticks so many other boxes I hope you'll forgive me ... 

-x-

Sunday, 1 December 2013

must. stop. looking. at. yarnspirations.com free patterns. want. to. hook. EVERYTHING!!!!!

-x-

two blanket ta-dahs -x-

Finished these two in the week but waited til the weekend to get pictures of them in daylight:

The Beachy Waves Blanket:





I'm sooo happy with the colours and the stitch pattern and the end product is really really soft and snuggly! The pattern says to do 13 stripes or 10. I stopped after 10 as it was already a slightly odd, long strip of a blanket and I thought another 3 stripes would make it a really odd shape. Plus I get to use the remaining wool for something else, which will be nice as it's lovely colours and easy to work with (call that an ulterior motive!).

AND




This blanket was a lesson in Trusting the Stitch (the first 20-30 rows looked a bit bunchy but 50+ rows work together and look great, I think! - The sum is greater than the parts, eh?). I also had to be brave and ignore part of the pattern - it just didn't make sense to me! The pattern says to start the edging in the top left corner and sc all the way round, then make a row of shells all the way round, except of course across the top, as it's already shells. So why sc across the top?!?!? I fretted about this (and left the blanket almost-finished behind the sofa for a couple of weeks). In the end a took a very deep breath and sc'd the three not-shell edges, fastened off and started again with a row of shells on those 3 edges. I think it looks fine and it seems to look like the pattern so maybe I was right. Helpfully, the only picture in the pattern book is of the blanket folded up, so you can't see the top edge. Anyhoo, one lovely cushiony soft baby blanket for a baby who's due in a couple of weeks - fingers crossed for Kiss and Crate and their baby, I know it's been really tough for them to get this far -x-

So, two blankets finished. Yes, that's right. I finished something!!! The Queen of Starting Stuff has finished two projects. It felt goood. 

And what did I do? Started about 6 more projects of course ;)

-x-