Fingerless gloves for the man who isn’t sure he wants fingerless gloves

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to make every member of my immediate family a pair of fingerless gloves:  Hannah gets the fuzzy, striped ones; Adia gets the color worked ones; Dave gets the short black pair with ribbed edges.   

I have been sitting on the yarn for his gloves for a while.  The first time I asked him about the possibility of a pair of fingerless gloves, he said he wasn’t sure he wanted them.  But the thing was, I wanted to make them for him.  As a crafter, I think I get ideas for what people need and will look good in, and they had better just hang on.  I can make a thing; I think you would like the thing; I am making you the thing whether you want it or not.  Enjoy!  So, despite his initial reluctance, I kept asking, and he kept defining his perfect pair of gloves as little more than a 1980’s style wristband.  I thought he would amend this opinion, but he did not.  So, when I decided he was getting gloves for Valentine’s Day, whether he wanted them or not, he needed to make some hard decisions.

As per Adia’s method of glove construction, I made a ribbed band for the wrist. Adia would have started with the band for the fingers, which, in hindsight, is a way better way to do things, but here we are. I had it in my head that I really liked working gloves from the bottom up, so I started with the wrist band. This went well at the beginning. I divided for the gusset properly, with rows between, and everything. Only it wasn’t quite big enough. My calculations were flawed. So I just kept adding rows and increases as needed until the darn things fit. I think part of the issue was that a certain person kept moving the gloves (which if you recall were to be very short) farther and farther back his arm when he tried them on and saw how very nice and warm such an item could be.

See, you can’t even see where I ripped out one thumb.

Despite this design challenge, I kept copious notes on a very small scrap of paper that required me to write on both sides and in all directions to get all of the rows noted.  I transferred that over to a notebook before I worked the second one, so I’m pretty sure they are the same.  Or, the same enough.  They’re siblings anyway.  

I topped them off with another band of ribbing so his fingers are nice and free to move around happily.  Ta-da!  Nearly finished gloves that Dave was starting to get a little excited about despite them having little resemblance to 80’s wrist warmers.

The thumbs were next. I hate doing thumbs. I know they are necessary for warm and finished looking gloves. I just hate working them. Invariably, I get a different number of stitches from one glove to the other and have to fudge that to make them match, or the chains are hard to work into, or the chains want to get all stretched out and icky looking. Something about the thumbs always goes awry. If ever I figure out a way to make a pretty thumb cover that doesn’t look weird and can be worked separately and then attached after the fact, that will be my new way of making thumbs forever.

From this angle, the thumb looks just fine.

I put the first thumb on and ended it off.  It wasn’t right, but the process was pure me.  I hated what I was doing, I just wanted it to be done, so I pushed through it and kept going even when it didn’t look right.  Let me stress to you how not right this thumb looked.  One could have worn these mitts and acted out little Jack Horner.  Somehow, they had a weird entasis that far too closely resembled a plum.  I knew they were wrong and bad.  I ended them off anyway.

I worked the second thumb a different way (and had to make notes on its construction beside the other thumb’s notes to see which would be left standing).  Of course, that way was better because it looked like a thumb and not a plum, so I unpicked my knot and frogged the first thumb.  Neither way was really perfect, which is likely because of my weird increases and build up for the palm part of the glove.  But, by God, those gloves are done, thumb and all.  

As a final touch, I brought out some red hand spun lace weight of Hannah’s making and had Adia crochet a tiny heart that I then stitched inside the glove. You know, Valentine’s Day and all. It’s very cute in the quiet way that lets you be inwardly cute while being outwardly a standard pair of guy’s fingerless gloves.

So here’s the thing, those gloves are made in fingering weight. That red hand spun is really that thin and fine and perfect, as is the workmanship on the little heart.

I think I learned an important lesson with this pair of fingerless gloves, beyond that I somehow need to fail at something to see my way to the correct path.  I might think I work fingerless gloves best from the bottom up, but apparently my arithmetic skills are better for top down.  I think that’s good to know.  I wonder if I could pull off a sweater if I did top down?  I wonder if I am that brave?

Happy crafting!

Is it really even sleeping if you aren’t pushing someone while you are doing it?

The tale of the mohair mitts

I finished the second pair!  Two cheers for me!  I am just so very happy with myself.  One more pair and my Valentine’s Day gift idea will be a reality!  (Truth be told the third pair is done except for one thing.  I’m just not talking about them now so I can talk about them next week).

Anyway, let’s talk about the fabulousness that is a finished pair of gloves! They’re sort of, loosely and if you squint, based on the gloves Alice wears in the Tim Burton reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. I’ve been looking at those for years and thinking I would like to make such a thing in crochet. But what material? I thought about merino lace weight yarn, but that seems too sharp for stitch definition. They needed to be a little mushy in their presentation. Something needed to blend a little, not too much, but just enough. I think there’s some deep analysis to be done here about the gloves as a representation of childhood literature and dream states, but that’s not for today. I went with mohair. This pair features light pink and gray yarn worked into narrow, two row, single crochet stripes. I think this best captures the look of Alice’s gloves. I’m happy with them anyway, so I don’t really care what other people think. I wonder how that would be analyzed?

The shadow, while not photographically appropriate, is a symbol of my failures.

The good points of these are:

  1.  They fit properly.  I make all of my fingerless gloves by the seat of my pants for a custom fit.  It’s really not hard once you get the hang of it.  If anyone wants to see my process, complete with incomprehensibly bad drawings, leave a comment and I will explain.  It all comes down to measuring and math and gussets.  
  2. They are soft and warm.  Soft and warm is wonderful in the winter.  These are going to be a great gift.
  3. The colors go well together and the stripe width is just right.  I hit the Goldilocks factor right on the head with this pair.  So happy!
  4. They really do make me think of the pair Alice wears despite that pair being knitted.  Down to the thumblessness of them these are right, but that was unintentional.  

So what went awry?  I could lie here and say nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  The whole process was great.  I’ll be making another pair any day now.  But I won’t.  I’ll tell you the truth.  I panicked and messed them up and just let it go, which I think says something really terrible about me.  But I did it and I’m just going to stand by it, owning my horror.  

To understand what happened here, I have to tell you a story of fuzzy yarns and beloved rabbits and precocious spinners and love.  You see, the last super fuzzy yarn I worked with was handspun Holland Lop fiber.  This stuff is the sort of soft you want dandelions to be when they betray us and end up sort of scratchy.  It was wonderfully soft and squishy.  Even after washing, it still had a faint, and glorious, smell of dearest Calcifer, my daughter’s Holland Lop who is secretly only part Holland Lop, the other parts being dragon, soot sprite, vanilla bean, and fire demon.  

It was the perfect yarn.  And it was not an easy thing to obtain.  First, Calcifer is, as mentioned, a Holland Lop.  She weighs a whopping three and a half pounds.  Her hair is about an inch long.  You need to have a LOT of that precious fiber to have enough to make a decent sized bobbinful of yarn.  And you have to really know what you are doing to spin it.  For instance, let’s say this spinner would be someone who has been spinning since they were seven and is now seventeen.  They would also be someone who fears nor heeds any spinning rules or guidelines about what fiber is too short to spin because, dammit, it’s going to be an awesome yarn.  That person can spin straw into gold or short, stumpy rabbit hair from a short, stumpy rabbit into a respectable hank.  And she did.  Then the light of the angels shone upon me as she gave it to me to make something wonderful, so we could all live happily ever after.  Enter the stress demons.

It was a very fuzzy yarn.  It was spun very well, but because of the length of the bunny hair, it had a lot of bits blooming out.  And it really liked to shed.  Possibly more than Calcifer did, which is saying something because Calcifer is a shedding monster.  

The pressure was immense.  I sat on it for a long time.  And then one day I felt I had to move on it.  Try one was a complete failure.  I messed up, tried to frog it, and realized (because of the ridiculous amount of fuzziness from a short fiber spin), that frogging was impossible.  Gulp.  I berated myself for a day about my stupidity and tried again.  Simple and easy, that was my path to success.  Just a nice, open v-stitch.  Where to put the hook is abundantly clear.  Where each row (I was working in the round) begins was very clear.  This was all good.  It worked beautifully, and I was able to make a cloud soft cowl.  It really is mystifyingly soft.  When you touch it, it feels like you might not be touching anything at all.  And wonder of wonders, I made it successfully.  

I was really happy with myself about this project, but it left me in fear of fuzzy yarns.  So when I took up my hook for these mitts, I was plenty fearful.  I worked the upper hand bit to the thumb divide without problem.  I counted stitches and used markers and gave myself no room for errors.  I created the chain for the thumb space, again without problem.  Then I started the gusset.  I had written notes, measurements, and a plan.  I had my plan checked by Adia who pops off fingerless gloves in a matter of hours despite the lace weight yarns she chooses.  I panicked anyway.  

Normally, when I do gussets, I work out the rate of decrease and then I space it over the distance. I got the rate of decrease just right. I just completely forgot about the distance. The gusset that should have taken like 18 rows took 6. This did not dawn on me until I had completed all 6 rows because I was so focused on not messing up the decreases. Hannah very, very graciously told me that they fit just fine, which is kinder than I deserve, and told me to continue on. When all was said and done, that first glove did turn out alright. The gusset isn’t quite the way I like it, but it works.

I will live with the shame of my error for the rest of my days. Or until these wear out and I have to redo them.

The very worst part of this is that I had to knowingly commit the same atrocity on the second glove.  Could I have frogged it on the first?  No.  Could I have started over?  Yes.  Now that they are finished I realize that I could have started over, but mid-project I was worried I would run out of yarn.  Clearly this was very bad reasoning on my part, but it was part of the freak out that happened between beginning to work in mohair and doing a gusset in mohair.  

I did attempt, after completing both gloves to add a thumb bit to these.  It looked terrible.  Working into the chains for the thumb increase just looked loopy and poorly done. I thought about making separate little tubes and attaching them after the fact, but I think that would have looked weird too. Fortunately, the pair Alice wore had no thumbs either, so I intend to claim I am following the original and not that I am just not crocheter enough to stand up to the challenge.  

The next time will be better.  I think I’ll wait a few months for it though.     

Happy crafting.

Could you fail her fiber and then look her in the eye? Could you?

Learning despite myself

Behold the wonderment of my success!  I have finished an entire set of fingerless gloves in a week.  I even wove the ends (enter chorus of angels).  The gloves are now washed and happily resting as they dry.  I am a master of handmade gift giving.  I have set myself a goal of making three pairs of fingerless gloves as Valentine’s gifts and I have finished, in the really and truly completed and done sense of the word, one of those pairs before the holiday!  I say really and truly completed because I have a knack for declaring a project finished when the crochet part is done.  The rest is all clean up, right?  So what if it has so many ends that weaving them will take longer than crocheting the thing did in the first place.  It’s clean up work.  I’m done.    

So let’s talk about what I did. I downloaded Mijo Crochet’s Odella wrist warmers pattern. I know, I know, not my own pattern. But I’ve been looking at some patterns with multiple colors, one worked on top of the other to create the color work, and I wanted to try someone else’s success before I tangled some yarn irrevocably. Jimmy Bean’s had a cowl pattern with a brown-ish ground and blue worked over it, but you could see bits of blue poking out where (I think) you should not have seen them. I think this was because they worked a row (or several) of brown and then a row of blue, all in the same space. I was trying to figure out how I could work a cowl with two colors (one entirely on top of the other) more to my liking, and I came across the Odella pattern. There aren’t pops of the “wrong” color where they aren’t wanted, so I was game to learn something new.

I didn’t even have to hide the ends. I wove them like a responsible crafter.

The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn (so I used two strands of single ply lace weight) and a 4 mm hook (so I used a 5 mm).  I started with a foundation double crochet instead of the chain (and a different multiple of four since I used different yarn and hook size), because I wanted it to be a bit stretchier, and then topped that with a row of single crochet.  Then, miracle of miracles, I actually followed the pattern for the body of the glove.  

The pattern is a little fussy and requires one to remove the hook from one color, place a stitch marker in the live loop so it doesn’t pull out, and work the other color to create the pattern.  I will admit to mussing it the first time around by letting the red fall to the back thus making it nearly impossible to work, though I tried because I am like that.  Once I had that frogged back and fixed, it went really smoothly.  

I wanted to have a little space for a thumb to sneak into at the top so, after the first row of single crochets, I did a chain space over about ten stitches to use as my thumb opening. I topped that with two rows of single crochet. The second row is to make the row worked over the chains lay nicely and be prettily spaced. I always work stitches over chains with the best of intentions, which means they always need a row over them to work out whatever madness I have managed in my over chain stitches.

Look at the squish! These gloves are so squishy and wonderful you will be happy for the cold that forces you to wear them.

I only had four ends to weave per glove, which was just wonderful.  I did it in no time, and then I washed them and laid them out to dry.  The double strand of yarn makes them so squishy and warm.  The 5 mm hook lends a nice flexibility to the stitches so they don’t seem cramped or squished, but they are not too open and holey.  

I learned a lot about working one color on top of another too. First, while the idea I had floating in my head that involved working two entirely separate pieces and joining them top and bottom would work, there are better ways. I think what the Jimmy Bean’s pattern was trying to do in working both colors together, switching colors every other row (and I’m guessing here because I have only seen pictures) was to hide the chains and other pieces of crochet architecture that allow one to move the yarn from place to place without having to break the yarn. It works, but it isn’t as pretty as it could be. The Mijo pattern solves that by working the front color literally in front of the background clusters while allowing the clusters to work over the chains and other crochet machinations that move the front stitches around. It was really interesting to work. I’m glad I did it. I need to think about how I will use this knowledge going forward, or if it’s just going to be boxed up in my brain and labeled as “Crochet things I have learned and am still thinking about”.

Not too long, not too short, not too much around the thumb. Even Goldilocks couldn’t find fault with these gloves.

One down.  Two to go.  And it’s not even February yet.  I need to get the other two sets done before the Universe figures out I am ahead.  

Coming next week, fitted mohair fingerless gloves with stripes in the spirit of Alice’s gloves in the Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland!

Happy crafting.

There is no cat as perfect as the one that sings you to sleep at night.

Steadfast little end weaver

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of January, not a resolution mind you, a goal.  Totally different.  The tunic for Hannah would be finished by the end of the month, if it cost me every scrap of spare time. It was just one project, so this was a completely reasonable goal.  All it meant was that I had to finish and attach all of the motifs for the skirt; decide on (in this case, design) a border for the neck, bottom of the skirt, and sleeves; and weave about 300 ends.  Easy peasy, right?  Sure.  Whatever.  Challenge accepted.  Release the ends!!!

Close up sexy texture shot

Because I refused to think about how much time this would actually take, it seemed super achievable.  Besides, I really need to see an end to the projects I have on hook right now. I keep coming up with new ideas I want to crochet, Hannah is spinning some beautiful yarns I want to play with, and I feel a bit trapped under the pile of time consuming and complex projects I have set myself.  Time for a whole new pile of complex projects with more ends than should be allowed.  Or maybe a month of easy and quick to finish projects, so I can just love my craft for a bit and have something finished to show for it.  That sounds nice.  I wonder if I can hold myself to reason for that? 

The good news is that I finished the tunic!!!!  And ahead of schedule.  I am such a master of crochet scheduling and end weaving.  Look at me go!  Behold the majesty of its doneness!!!  The winsome Gods of Crochet, Time Management, and Project Completion are all smiling down upon me and offering blessings for the steadfastness of my end weaving.  I bow my humble head in their glory.  We shall not look at the condemning Gods of Exercise and House Cleaning and their frowning faces for they are a fussy lot who refuse to have a sense of humor about much of anything.

I had an assistant cat who was “helping” too much, so this shot

So here we are. What to do next. I could work on the other projects I have on hook. That would be responsible and get me closer to my goal of finishing up all of the projects on hook right now. Or I could choose a few quick projects that I could wrap up by the end of the month and ready myself to tackle another project in the basket in February. That could also be fun.

Behold the ingenious shaping despite the uncompromising motifs

Or, better yet, I could take February as a month of new, hopefully, quick projects that I could just knock out and enjoy.  And I could pull all of the yarn from my stash so I don’t have to buy anything new. Yes, that seems nice.  A year of months alternating between finishing one existing project and a month of a new project.  What a pleasant thought!  Yes, I like that.  I think I’ll do that instead of just muscling through all of the projects in my workbasket one right after the other.  So what will the end of January and February be?  It needs to be quick and easy to accomplish.  Hmmmmm . . . 

Fingerless gloves!  They’re quick and happy and I can finish them in less than a week.  Well, the reasonable ones I can.  Like the ones I will make for Dave-simple ribbing top and bottom with single crochet in between.  The mohair ones I will make for Adia and Hannah will be quick, which I know because I already made one for Hannah (read: I sat yesterday watching Disney movies and crocheting), so I just have to work up another and that project will already be done.  The long striped gloves with a bit of lace edging for Adia will be equally quick despite their length.  But the intricate lace ones I plan to execute in lace weight yarn instead of the DK weight the pattern calls for, not so much on the quick and easy.  I mean, they’re the only pairs I won’t be designing on the fly, so I can’t very well just make them as the pattern describes, can I?  Where is the challenge in that?  And the lace cuffs with ruffled edges that will be perfect with Hannah’s new jacket?  Those are going to need thread and a 1 mm hook, but they’re going to be fantastic and whimsical and magical and just right in the event that she finds a Door and ends up in another land.  I must make them.  She needs them.  They should only take a month each . . . 

Yeah, whatever.  When there are no deadlines, you can crochet with reckless abandon and never think twice about it.  Embrace the madness.

Happy crafting.

She’s a goddess of something and she has come with her judgement

Shhhh

Sometimes I just need to start another project. Is it reasonable? No. Do I already have five on hook? Yes. Are they all, to a project, complex with a thousand ends that I have yet to weave? Yes and yes. Does it matter?

NO!!!!

This time, it really was not my fault. There was this yarn . . . You know how it is: You get new yarn thinking it will make something nice someday only to find that you keep looking at it, petting it, thinking about what an awesome something it’s going to make. I pulled out a book of stitch patterns, but I couldn’t really find something I was happy with. So I went onto Pinterest and found a really nice open grid made of chains, little picots, and double crochets. Perfect.

I even dreamed up a possible border last night when it was 4 am, and my body thought it was morning. I stayed in bed wondering if I should get up and get something done or just stay there and hope sleep found me again. It turns out, I can do both! I was ready for sleep because I stayed in bed. But, since sleep had gone elsewhere, I spent my time thinking about a possible border for the new scarf. I wrote down my thoughts this morning, so I will test that when I finish the body of the scarf. I really hope that doesn’t become a designing trend for me: Up in the middle of the night with a great idea. Am I sacrificing sleep to my art? I guess I’m glad I don’t have to make a blood sacrifice.

Side note: The television is on the background, and I just saw a crocheted wrap in a commercial. A new idea has been born based on the one I saw. I’m off to search my stash when I’m done writing this. New project announcement next week? Maybe. Dammit.

Clearly I am going to keep starting new projects, even if I haven’t finished any others yet, but that’s okay. It isn’t piling too much on if there are no deadlines. It’s just responsibly using the stash yarn I am hiding from the occasional moths.

So allow me to introduce you to my new project! It’s going to be a scarf appropriate for mermaids. The main bit is done in a sort of greeny-blue, merino, fingering weight single ply in a very open grid. It’s mostly chains with some double crochets to pull it together. I had a bunch of it done but ripped it all back because the picots are much tighter and prettier if I pick up two loops of chain instead of one. I’m much happier with it, but I wish I figured that out earlier.

I like the flat merino yarn combined with the shiny alpaca silk

I was just going to leave this project as a simple grid, but, well, I can’t. It’s like two ends. What sort of challenge is that? So I pulled a silk and alpaca blend lace weight, and a dark and medium green merino lace weight. I plan to make some sort of little flowery motifs and stitch them onto the grid. Overall, I think it has an ocean/seaweed (in a good and flowing way) color scheme. I’m quite pleased with myself for this one so far. You know, on the first row, without any motifs made, with one end to weave, and a possible border on a sheet of scratch paper. Yep. It’s going to be awesome!

True to form, I have planned a simple project and then figured out how to add motifs that mean it won’t be done for months and months. How are your holidays?

Happy crafting!

Week 1 of the 4 month crochet plan

I would like to begin by stating that I really did try to follow the schedule I laid out for myself.  Not only that, I pulled it off for two whole days before it fell into chaos.  I faithfully did crochet every single day.  I did weave some ends occasionally.  Despite this, I did not weave nearly enough ends nor did I complete as much of each project as I set out to.  

So what did I do?  I mostly worked on the tunic.  It’s striking my fancy right now and I think it is calling loudest to be finished.  I have it down to a reasonably countable number of motifs to be completed-just under 200.  That number seems really manageable.  I could even have that one done by the New Year, which would make me overjoyed with a sense of completion and power.

The other projects are quietly sitting in the work basket waiting for their moment of inspiration to strike.  This is how they are falling out right now:  The flower garden shawl in pink and green is a mess of ends that really do need to be woven before I do the border bit, and I do not wish to just weave ends right now;  The hexagon wrap is very nice, but I have so many motifs made that that one is also mostly just weaving ends;  The purple wrap that only needs the flower border is fine, and I enjoy working those motifs, but the problem is that I mostly work on it at night and the dark gray is dark enough that I need brighter light to work it (Yes, that point in the life of my eyes.);  The secret tiny motif project that none of the other projects know about is fun and does work if, again, I am using a lighter yarn.  These last two will need some daylight hours of working to find their way to the finish line.  

This little plan has taught me that, in contrast to how I like to read lots of books at the same time by reading little bits each day, I crochet best when I set myself a group of projects and a deadline.  I can work anything I want for as much time as I want.  I can be swept away by a fancy for one project and ignore all the others for days or weeks.  I can tire of one project and pick up another for part or all of an evening.  These are all happy ways for me to work.  What I cannot, must not, do is add another project.  No matter how much they call.

And, oh, they do call.  I’ve long been fascinated with the idea of making fantastical little “bird” nests for imaginary and magical bird-like beings that would, clearly, take up residence in my house.  I want to try different construction methods until I find a way to make it just so, which is messy but recognizable as a nest.  I think that any magical animal that moved into my house would appreciate untidiness, and they would have the security of knowing that their artistic-minded, messy nest building would be appreciated in my house.  To this end, I tried a ball project years ago.  I was not entirely happy with it, though it does have a home in my house, and I want to try something more nest-like and distinctly more messy.  The ball was just too clean and neat looking.  Such a tidy being would not be pleased with my house.  I need to make a nest with ends all over the place, motifs woven in haphazardly, and maybe some random beads. If the chinchillas would happily call it home, I think I am on the right path.

Then I allowed myself onto Pinterest the other night when the bunnies decided I did not, absolutely and without pause, need to attend to their petting needs.  What did I find?  Boxes.  Intricately stitched little fabric boxes.  These little delights were covered in embroidery and beads and various fabrics.  They are wonderful!  I want to make boxes!  I want to cover mine in layers of motifs and different stitches and embroidery and beads and magic.  So now I need to make nests and boxes!  Maybe nests inside boxes!  Ooo.  

What I really need are more hours in the day and more time to sit in the nice bright sunshine and crochet.  But don’t we all?

Happy crafting!

He, too, longs for little magical creature friends.

My four month plan for finishing projects

I am down to four projects on hook. Over the last two weeks of non-Covid related sickness brought about by a severe allergy attack from, of all things, the neighbor cutting down some trees, I managed to crochet away enough to finish two projects. Well, one is finished. The other is awaiting its border of hundreds of tiny motifs because Craft is made excellent by the addition of thousands of ends all crying out to be woven.

It’s drying and it’s huge and there’s snow on the ground and there is no good way to photograph this right now.

I really, really, really want to start new things.  I have yarn in the colors of carrots waiting to be crafted into itty, bitty shapes so I can try to make a Kaleidoscope.  I have a few bags of yarn hiding from late season moths that might become another Kaleidoscope or some other equally time intensive item that will test my sanity with ends.  I need to make some fingerless gloves for myself, preferably something that will nearly be a mitten with finger options, to combat the winter cold.  I really like the striping and colors on the wrap above and I want to try things with more blocks of stripes. Maybe something inspired by quilts made up of small striped rectangles all sewed together to create a magnificently colorful whole is in my near future. I want to try a grid with little triangles or circles put in for pops of color. I want to play with shaping the chain flower grid in the purple wrap below. I have some ends that are enough to make a fun hat. I want to try to make a crocheted cloche.

And that does not even touch the decorating things I want to try.  Have you watched HGTV’s Handmade series on YouTube?  Don’t.  It will give you ideas and ideas are dangerous when you have things to do. The videos are amazing and the homes shown will only make you want to pick up a hook and make your own home into some sort of avant-garde den of craft and color.  To that end, I have been looking at the work of Paul Klee and wondering how some of his ideas would translate into crochet.  Which I should not wonder about.  It will take me down paths of delighting in color and texture and motifs that will lead me a merry dance away from finishing these four projects on hook already.  And I will finish them.  Dammit.  I must finish them.  I don’t deal in UFOs.  I will not start now.

So I made a plan as I fell asleep last night, a pact with myself to finish these projects BEFORE I start something new and decorative and with motifs smaller than quarters.  The only rule in my planning was that I have to have them finished in four months. Why four months? Because I thought I could finish each one up in about a month and there are four of them. I sort of thought maybe I would have some amazing dream about time management and finding extra hours in my day to crochet.  That was too much to hope for.  Instead I had dreams about not being able to get the classes I need to finish a degree and roller coasters that mimicked plane crashes.  But I do have the plan I created while I was still awake and in charge of the fear factory that is my sleeping brain.  I’ll just go with that.

Project 1:

More of crop top than a tunic right now, but it will get there.

This is a tunic for Hannah.  It’s actually going really well.  I like the motif I am using; I figured out a way to make each block have only one end to weave; and I know how to handle the increases.  This all bodes well for this project.  It actually looks like a tunic, albeit a short one, which makes me want to work on it.  

The problem?  I can only do so many blocks before they start to stare at me in a funny way and I need a different project.  There are also those damn ends.  So this is the deal I made with myself.  Two motifs a day for the next four months.  In addition, I need to weave four ends.  That should take care of the new ends I make on any given day and some of the ends I have conveniently been ignoring.  

Project 2:

Behold the magnificence even upside down! And look, I wove some ends.

This is a large rectangular wrap ala the Regency Period. It makes me think of fancy balls and romantic stories and other such things.  I like this project.  I also have worked on it enough to get it to the border part.  That’s really making me quite happy.  What stands in the way? Those 800 ends.  Stupid ends.  It’s always the ends.  I think I need to have some sort of quasi-religious reason for doing ends.  Weaving each end is the time I take to contemplate a shortcoming in my life.  I’m allowing for a lot of shortcomings.  Some of those personal blemishes are going to have to be crafting projects with so many ends.  I fear that sort of meditative process would result in each end being a meta diatribe.  

This is what I came up with to finish this one:  Each day I can do only one row of the border, but I must weave ten ends.  It’s only ten.  I can do ten.  Ten is okay.  800 is a daunting story of my fall into cackling gibberish.  Ten is practicing resilience.

Project three:

Isn’t it going to be striking with tiny motifs along the edges? And it’s alpaca silk yarn so it is a joy to work with.

This is a wrap based on the linen one I made earlier this year.  The body of the wrap is done, ends woven (there were only six), and blocked.  Now for the motif border.  I have three motifs I plan to execute:  1 leaf, 1 small flower, and 1 larger flower.  I tried holding two strands together but the resultant flowers looked uncomfortably bulky.  I cut that to one strand making them cute and petite, a nice compliment to the geometric, stylized flowers in the body of the wrap.  Happy day.  

The deal here is this:  I may do one (This yarn is so nice! There’s a reason the wrap was finished so quickly.) of each type of motif each day.  The ends will come later when I sew them all together, so this is an exercise in pushing those ends down the road, but so be it.

Project four:

All the warm summer colors of peaches. I hate peaches. And summer.

I have literally been picking at this project for two years.  It needs to be finished.  I have kept it in my work basket and never officially gave up on it, but its time is now.  And it was an easy deal.  Three motifs added each day from the giant pile of motifs (with ends) that I have already made.  If I need more motifs, I can make and add up to three each day.  All of the ends need to be woven each day except those needed to attach more octagons.  This is what I have been doing when I bother myself to work on this, so I think this should go well.  

Eventually, I need to work out a border and put that on, but it’s going to be solid lace worked in nice rows with two ends.  

Secret project number five:

My finger is there for size. I believe I may not like myself.

Okay, the stupid HGTV stuff really got to me.  Paul Klee, as it turns out for someone not really attracted to modern art, is very inspiring.  Yesterday I pulled little remnants of lace weight yarn from the mess that is my yarn jar and started making tiny motifs with a 2 mm hook.  I’m using a 2 mm hook on three projects now.  Oh, I do like to suffer.  Thank the Fates for my reading glasses!

As a challenge on this one, I am insisting that I can only use scrap yarn, none of the blocks can be attached until the end, so the ends will be needed to attach them, so it’s just a single motif a day we’re looking at here.  One per day, that’s it.  They’re tiny things that take almost no time to make up. This is not an impediment to my goal. This is me honoring my creative spirit. And look at me using up leftover yarn!  I’m so environmentally conscious, so responsible, such a mess adding new projects secretly to an already overflowing workbasket.

Those are the bargains I made for my crochet soul.  How will it go?  Will I stick with it?  We shall see.  We shall see.

Happy crafting.

Why would I crochet when I can gaze upon his majesty?

Obtuse isosceles triangles are suspicious but not without their charms (Crochet soliloquy 15)

Funny story.  Well, maybe funny in the odd and sad way, not in the amusing way, but here we are.  I ordered the yarn to finish the pink stripes on the gift shawl, but it has not come yet.  I could have ordered it from a yarn store that delivers quickly and nicely, but I did not.  I ordered from a small seller on Etsy.  Why did I do this?  Because I was embarrassed to keep having to buy a hank here and there from my normal online supplier to finish this project because I planned poorly in the beginning.  It feels weird.  What if they are judging?  

Well it’s biting me on the butt now because the yarn is not here yet.  The seller, after thinking that I was confused about what I bought based on, well, nothing from me but seemingly her own ideas on what constitutes confusion, said she would ship it this week.  Still no shipping info.  I wrote and asked for tracking information, nothing.  I’m going to end up ordering from the normal place anyway.  And I’m going to end up ordering some consolation yarn for myself because everything got so weird.

So I pulled out one of the projects put on hold in my rush to finish the gift.  This is based on the same stitch pattern as the linen wrap I did earlier this year, only this time when I reached the middle, I brought it back in.  I am using two strands of Malabrigo’s Silkpaca in Violetas and Abril.  I like the two together because it gives the overall look a little more interest without being intrusive to the stitch pattern.  I am using a 3.5 mm hook.  Below, you will find just the stitch pattern marked out with rows in different colors and the same drawing with my notes on it.  I hope those provide any help or clarification you might need.  

If you try this one on your own, you need to know that holding two strands of lace weight yarn together can get fussy. Sometimes one strand escapes and you NEED to frog back and get it, otherwise you have little loops just hanging around waiting to snag on things and destroy your work. I highly suggest working this in either a fingering weight yarn or a yarn without silk in it. A slippery little devil is silk yarn.

    The heavy use of chains in this project makes it especially drapey because it is so open.  If you want something with more structure than overcooked spaghetti, use a smaller hook or a different yarn.  I wanted this to be liquid drapey, so silk and alpaca it is.  

The other thing you need to know about this project is that it will require serious blocking. Here it is without blocking.

Squishy

The same section stretched out.

Stretched

Also keep that in mind when you look at it and think how very wee it looks.  It will grow.  A lot.  Be prepared.

If you have a question that isn’t answered by the diagrams, drop a comment and I will get back to you right away.

If you would like to see me working this project, you can check out my Youtube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VoPSz9arJ6dl2D_H0Vlog

If you would like to see more pictures of my projects and my pets, you can find me on Instagram at crocheted_elephants.

Happy crafting!

Stupid pink yarn (Soliloquy 14)

I ran out of pink yarn. I cannot even with myself right now. I plan horribly. I am a planning monster. I also have no sense of how much yarn goes into a project if I make it with different colored stripes. I know that my wraps need between 1200 and 1600 yards of yarn. Yes, that’s cute.

Nasty little yarn ending too soon

    But once stripes are involved, and the stripes have blocks of color, those bets are off.  You know, I should have stuck to my original plan.  That would have worked with the yarn I pulled in the beginning.  Lesson to self, reassess yarn needs when you redesign the project.  Further lesson, plan ahead when you cannot buy more yarn easily.

    I have five stripes (ten rows) and a border to do.  Is it too late to pull it back and start again?

If you would like to behold the madness of me working on this project, check out my YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VoPSz9arJ6dl2D_H0Vlog

    You can also find me on Instagram under crocheted_elephants.

I hope you have a delightful weekend. Happy crafting!

Steadfastly working away (Crochet soliloquy 13)

Welcome back happy readers!  

I’ve been working quite steadfastly on the only gift of this holiday season.  I am so very close to being done.  I finished the red and orange section this week and I have moved on to the pink and red section.  It’s working up very nicely.  There’s a nice squish factor to the fabric.  I should, fingers crossed, finish the pink and red section and start the pink and purple section, also known as the last section!!!!

I had enough of the orange (I started with two full hanks) to finish all the orange rows with more left over than I thought I would have. This was a sort of test for how the rest would work out. If I had enough yarn here, then I should have enough for the next section. Aren’t these little yarn games delightful? No stress involved there at all. Why do I torture myself? Despite that, the yarn holding out should bode well for the pink in the next section. Fingers crossed. In fact, cross everything and I’ll coo some happy things at the yarn. That should help.

As a minor miracle, there actually are the same number of rows in each section.  For each section there should be 17 rows.  They should begin and end with the dominant color.  I counted them the other day and miscounted, so it looked as if there were some sections with 13 rows and some with 15 rows and some with 17 rows.  On an up note, each section did begin and end with the same color and the right color.  I laid the wrap out and recounted the rows in each section.  They all had 17 rows.  I don’t know why I can’t count sometimes.  Counting is a skill people do not give proper respect to.

The orange section was a bit experimental because I held two colors of orange together. I was trying to keep my yarn bill to a minimum, so I pulled two different hanks of orange from my stash. They were close in color but not quite the same. I held them together through each of the orange rows and it blended really nicely. I did the same thing for the pink rows but the pinks were not as close in color-one was more bubble gum and the other more dusty rose. I was worried about it, but they actually blend really nicely to tempered bubble gum color. Perhaps this bubble gum has spent some time decaying in the sun on a busy bit of pavement. That’s a pretty image, isn’t it? Well, the nice blending is making me happy, so there’s that.

I’ve tried this sort of blending before but it doesn’t always work, at least not for me.  Of course, in the past, I’ve always tried to blend things like purple with blue, not different shades of the same color.  I wonder how far apart I can take the colors and still have it work?  I’m guessing not far.  I’m very picky about colors.  I like the look of Sophie Digard’s blended colors, but my attempts at such things always make me pointedly unhappy.

For the last section, I need to hold the little remnant bits of purple together. They’re all from different lots, so I am hoping to make their small differences a bit less obvious. Having pulled off the pink and the orange successfully, I’m feeling pretty good about the purple. I’m sure this confidence means that there will be marked differences between where one purple ends and the next begins. Such fun!

I need to round up all my projects and try to figure out how much of each one I need to do each day to make them all go away. I’m really excited to start new projects. I want to do some dresses and something with kaleidoscopes. I’m very excited about that, but I’m not starting any of it until I have several more projects finished. I will begin 17 projects and take all year to finish them as I get more frustrated that I cannot start more projects, if I am not careful with my planning. I need a self-imposed limit on how many projects I can start at once. I think five is really pushing it. Maybe if they weren’t all giant projects, it would help.

That’s where I’m at this week.  If you would like to hear a ghost story and see me working this project, check out my Youtube channel, you can find it here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VoPSz9arJ6dl2D_H0Vlog

If you would like to see more of my projects and my pets, you can check out my Instagram under crocheted_elephants.

Happy crafting!