Cute flower wraps in review and a new project

Who can resist a new project when you already have several on hook? Certainly not me! What’s on hook right now? I’m glad you asked! First we have the traditional Buds on Stems, the motif tunic, and the shades of peach hexagon motif wrap. All are a joy, none are done. I keep working at them, though, so someday.

What made it into the finished pile? Those mittens with the motif embellishments? Those are finished. The ends are woven and everything! It’s very exciting. The linen wrap is all stitched. I talked about finishing that project in last week’s post. Now for the ends.

And they’re done before it’s cold out!

I’ve been weaving ten ends every evening. Given that this had over 100 to start, it was going to take some time. Last night, despite wanting nothing more than the meditative solace of moving yarn around with a hook, I wove 10 ends! This despite driving six hours to get half way across the state and back. My parents are doing well, thanks for asking. It was nice to see them. Despite this, it was a long day after which I wanted to just sit and crochet. But no. I made myself weave those ends. Look how dutiful I was! I should get extra credit for this somewhere. I’m going to give myself a sticker for diligence and perseverance. With a quiet demerit for masochism.

All of this end weaving time has given me space to critique my project. What do I like? What don’t I like? What really should have been done differently? In the interest of documenting my learning experience, here are my conclusions.

I like the way it’s slightly shiny. It’s like an apology for being slippery.

What I like:

I like the way I handled colors. I really wondered about how often to change colors and how to make it look intentional instead of like I just dropped in one color after another as weird, ever decreasing color blocks. I really thought that would look like I wasn’t trying. I alighted on doing the two row, two row change after reading about how to weave the ends. This was one of the points I was worried about, but the divide and conquer end weaving scheme seemed to give me some leeway to attempt color changes. It worked, at least I’m happy with it, so success!

I like the drape and opened of the project. I know linen is naturally a drapey material, so I was not overly worried about this being stiff. Despite that, I went with a large hook for the yarn size-4.5 mm for fingering weight yarn. This worked. Interestingly, working this as crochet so that the S plied yarn unplied a bit as I went has resulted in the unpredictable. The unplying, or physical, and possibly spiritual, undoing of the yarn as I am amusing myself by thinking of it, has made the chains in the flower loops look a bit more filled out and less like the sharp chains that I might have gotten from a single ply yarn. So that made me really happy. All of this makes the wrap liquid drapey and beautiful.

The ease of the increase was a happy thing to find. I didn’t quite like the rate of the increase-I wish it was a little wider as it went-but I do not think the pattern would take well to internal shaping to make that happen and there isn’t much more to do at the edges. So there’s that. I tried to sort this with a border that would get wider as it went up the side, but it looked weird. So ease of increase, yes! Rate of increase, hmmm.

I absolutely loved how quickly this worked up and how easy the pattern was to remember. Those are both very nice when one insists on having too many projects going at the same time.

What I didn’t like:

Linen yarn. Or maybe it’s just the darn plied stuff. This was not a fun yarn to work with in terms of the yarn splitting and being difficult. Should one try it for the experience? Yes. Will I make something from the ends I have left and the hank I did not use? Yes. Will I buy more plied linen? No. Just no. These ends are terrible and slippery and I fear they will unravel just to torment me. I think I need to work in the happy, fuzzy yarns I normally do.

Weaving the ends. I said it. I stand by it while at the same time remembering that they are the price of excellence. Sometimes we can despise that which brings delight.

What I would change if I did it again:

The damn yarn. Just say no to plied linen. I will admit, quietly so the other projects do not hear, that I have started another of these wraps. This one I am doing in two strands of two ply, s twist, lace weight, silk and alpaca. You know what the ends are going to do? Stay put. I love that. To sleep well at night, I need to know that ends are not just silently and sneakily working themselves back out. It makes me feel like the laws of my personal crochet universe are working.

First, lichen table! Second, can you find the feet peeking from beneath?

I think I would start with less stitches in the first row. I thought it looked anemic in the linen yarn, so I started with four chains and worked three flower loops. In the new design, I started with two chains and worked one flower loop. This did cause a slight change in the number of turning chains needed to make each row make sense early on, but I worked it out and only had to frog once. That’s a good project in my book.

The hook size needed adjustment for the new project. Despite the two strands of lace weight, I dropped the hook size to a 3.5 mm. That is working well.

So much for that project. On to the next project!

My preferred crochet ribbing. More to come on that next week.

I had a cake of color transitioning yarn that I have been moving around and thinking about for the better part of nine months. I finally decided to make it into a cowl. I started it last week and it’s coming along nicely. I’ll write it up more next week, but for now it is my fast moving project and I like that.

How far I’ve gotten. I like the vertical rows worked horizontally.

Happy crafting!

This one rivals my childhood pets in wonderfulness.

Linen is fun until you weave the ends

Disclaimer: I wrote this on a bad allergy day in which I took a strong antihistamine on top of all the other stuff I normally take. As it turns out, this is not a good idea if I wish to function intelligently at all during the day. Ragweed. Tasty to bunnies, bad for me.

When I started to crochet, I used the standard issue craft store yarns. I got magazines that used fancy yarns, and I made lists of the skills I wanted to gain to be able to do the designs I saw, but I did not buy the expensive yarns. I wanted to crochet a lot of things and inexpensive yarn was the gateway to a large stash without thinking about finances. Then my mother asked me to do a vest for her in an expensive yarn, and I did. Until that moment, for some foolish reason beyond my understanding, I thought all yarns were created equal. I was horribly wrong.

I made a thing!

Having worked my mother’s vest in a very nice bamboo, the craft store yarn felt gross. I turned to the not dark but sometimes deeply jewel toned, hand dyed side, and began to work in really nice natural fibers. When I taught a friend to crochet, I gave her and suggested natural fibers. Is it reasonable to use those as a beginner? No. Is it such a joy to work with them that you want to keep making things even if your skills aren’t that good yet? Yes! And besides, the project does not look that bad if the fibers you start with are amazing.

To that end, I bought myself linen years ago. I had not worked out how not to squeeze the ever living life out of my yarn yet, so the very act of making the wrap I made was painful, and I thought I did not like using linen. Recently, I got it into my head to retry cotton, which I also thought of as a painful yarn. And you know what, it’s not bad when you don’t yank it so hard and tight that it makes your hands ache.

So what about linen? Could I work with linen now that I had actively made myself handle my yarn better? Was I up to this challenge? I browsed the linen colors at Quince and Company and decided that indeed I was. Blame it on the colors. Blame it on my desire to have all the yarn. I ordered and watched the mailbox with eager anticipation.

Okay, yes, I like the project, but that lichen dotted table just makes me so happy!

When the yarn came, I spent some time dividing it into color piles and dreaming of what I would do. I put it in the pile of yarn to be used “sooner” and there it sat. Then one day it started whispering that it needed to be used. I needed to find a stitch pattern that spoke to its crispness and colorful joy. I decided on one with lots of chains and single crochets because, well, it looks sharp, but I don’t have to work any tall stitches that need extra tension. I found what I was after, ignored the times I tried to start the project with a complex lace stitch, and off I went.

In case you feel an intense desire to weave far too many slippery ends, here are the colors I used of Quince and Company’s Sparrow: Catmint, Pink Grapefruit, Eleuthera, Hibiscus, Birch, and Banyon. I used most of each hank except the green and the blue. Of course, any color will do. If I was to redo this in another yarn, say a nice merino that likes to be woven at the end and kindly stays in place once it’s there, I would likely drop the hook size back to a 3.75 or 4 mm. I really do think I want to try this again, but maybe as a rectangle. First because I enjoyed this one and second because I am obsessed with rectangular wraps right now.

Here is the stitch pattern I used. It lends itself easily to a nice little increase with two single crochets in the last petal of the petal rows and, at least in my opinion, does better without a border. I used a 4.5 mm crochet hook (on a fingering weight yarn), which might seem big. Because this was a four ply yarn, it really liked to split into individual strands as if each of them saw the others as the most repellent beast they had ever seen. Thus the big hook. It had a nice blunt nose and didn’t split the yarn with each and every stitch.

Arrows because it can be confusing. The first row into the chains also contains the petal bits which are slip stitched into the tops of the single crochets from which they emerged.

I worked this with stripes of the various colors (color block, two rows of new color, two rows of old color, new color block, repeat to the end). I worked the first color until I ran out (Planning for the color change stripes, of course. Or, at least, that’s what I will tell you. In reality I frogged it and put in the changes. Yeah, planning but only in a mystical sense.), and then a natural pattern emerged in which each color block was four rows less than the last one. I kept this up for the rest of the blocks except the last one which looked sad and lonely with only two rows of blue. I added a third and fourth row even though it broke the pattern, and I will argue that this works forever. I’m happy; it’s my project; so there. Of course, if you try it , do it your way. But, a piece of advice, do it in wool.

I made some notes. I hope they help if you needed a bit more information.

So here we are. It turns out I liked working with linen. Was it because the stitches were crisp and exact? Yes. Was it because it worked quickly when every project on hook is taking forever? Yes. Was it the colors? Yes. Was it because there are still stupid moths in the house and they do not like the taste of linen as much? YES! Mostly, though, I think it is because I am better at crochet than I was when I first tried working with linen. Now I need to try a single ply so nothing splits, and I can try something more elaborate.

Of them all the dark pink/nearly red color was my favorite, which is weird for me.

I was about a third of the way into this project when I bothered myself to research advice on weaving in the ends of linen that refuses to sit beside other pieces of linen without sliding around. The advice of people who regularly work with the stuff? Divide the plies and weave each end separately. I’m doing this in fits and starts. I do so hate weaving ends, but I love this wrap. Ends are the price of excellence.

See where the purple touches the green? If I am using purple and green in a project together, they will touch. I always go out of my way to make them touch.

Repeat until I die: Ends are the price of excellence. Ends are the price of excellence. Ends are the price of excellence.

Sigh. I still hate them. Stupid ends.

I think next week I will have a new project to show you. Two ends this time. TWO ENDS!!!!

Happy crafting!

She’s helping! Also, look at her little tongue! How cute is she? I love this cat!

If you want to see me weaving the stupid ends and talking about life around here, check out my Youtube channel.

The return of overly dramatic wraps

I had been working on the tunic a lot recently when the linen called and demanded a space in the project rotation. These two put the long, rectangular flower wrap on hold, which is sad because I really like working that one. It feels dramatic to work.

Look how pretty without the ends!

I see it finished and sliding around me as I emerge from bed in the morning. The morning is crisp and tea will soon be ready. The house is still quiet as I am one of the only people awake. My cats join me in breaking my fast. We watch the news to see what burned down, physically and metaphorically overnight. The numerous catastrophes of modern living are more than can be borne at that hour of the morning and I wrap my shawl tighter around me and retreat to the safety of the bunnies who greet everyday with joy and popcorns, having burned nothing down that didn’t deserve it.

Later in the day, I realize that we are out of ice cream when ice cream is the only thing that will soothe the pain that comes with seeing stupidity rule the day in every corner of life, and I throw myself down in a wordless tantrum, my wrap following in a quiet flutter, mimicking my own anguish.

Or this real life example of the effective use of a large, fine shawl: I’ve just finished putting away the grocery order and I run the new soap upstairs because this will give me more steps in my endless step-count driven attempt at exercise, only to remember, as I sit back down to write, that I took the step counting watch off because it gets hung up on the laptop. Swoon and fade to black.

Anyway, the flower wrap is calling with its delicate melodic voice to be worked again. Also, I came across some really interesting images of grids as borders in the Crochet Workshop book and it made me excited to do the border, which is impossible yet as I’m not finished working the body and there are those 800 plus ends to weave in. It’s going to the ends that kill this effort. I’m going to put the border on around the ends, just watch me.

If you are curious what I am doing, I’ve drawn, with great difficulty because drawing is very hard for me, a diagram with real symbols and everything. I had Hannah paint it so it would look all aesthetic and such. Ta da!

I have not officially decided on the border yet. I’m torn between a chain and double crochet based grid with picots OR love knots. For a little bit, I entertained a fringe made entirely of chains but that feels like it loses the formality of the rest of the wrap. I’m leaning toward the grid with picots. We shall see. Maybe something else will strike my fancy before I actually get to start it.

I’ve been spending more time on Pinterest lately looking at borders and now I have ideas for a bunch of other projects. I’ve also been doing a weird nearly meditative thing as I fall asleep and that has yielded some very happy solutions to crochet issues I have been puzzling over. I was reading (Or I could have been watching it. Was it maybe the Netflix thing about sleep? Or meditation? I’ve started both of those. Could have been either. Everything runs together into a weird slurry of information now.) something that said if you think about questions as you fall asleep in a short time you will have a dream about the solution. It’s working some. I’m going to keep trying it.

All of this means that my brain is happily churning out intricately elaborate projects that will yield hundreds of ends and take months to finish. I think I know how I work now: I work with complexity and elegance. Yeah, that sounds better than over the top difficulty for something that need not be so damn hard.

If you want to see me actually working this wrap, check out my YouTube channel here:

I have drawn up the diagram for the linen thing I’m doing, but I am not ready to release it yet. There’s a funny story with it about errors and frogging, so stay turned for that.

I hope you have a happy week crafting!

Meggie says “Hi!”

My morning writing buddy.

One last thought. It’s almost noon as I write this and, I have to say, I am excited for lunch. Do you get excited for lunch? I think I may get inordinately excited over the normal things people do each day. Lunch? Joy! Tea? Excellent! Bedtime? Heavenly! I think I might be weird.

I did not mess up the armpit part!

Behold my glory! I did not mess up the armpit part of the tunic I am crafting! I would like to tell you that I looked at the diagrams of how to make tunics out of motifs and I got it. It just made endless sense and I went and created a perfect connection.

This is all lies.

I nearly cried. It made sense in a speculative sort of way. Of course, if you have a square object you should, theoretically, be able to put the same sort of square on a diagonal and plop into the other shapes. I can see this. The sides are all the same. The connection points are all at the same places. That part I could see my way to pulling off.

Behold the excellence!

But where to attach it? I got that you had to connect it to the last two motifs at the end of the arm before it becomes the body. Check. (Note how hard it even is for me to explain this clearly. Shapes, people, they are tricky.) But which of the next two do I attach it to? I thought it was the next two in the tunic, you know, the next two motifs on the same row? It was not. This was all lies. I frogged it back, unpicking several finished motifs and redoing them.

Next try. I called in my husband and asked him to figure it out. He, the math gifted computer programmer, told me he did not know how the garment in my hands related to the picture on my phone. Yeah. Nearly ready to cry and remembering every example of sweater angst I had ever had, Hannah and I sat and moved the bits of tunic around until it made sense. The fact that I got it makes me endlessly happy. I really feel like I should keep making motif sweaters just so I can smugly use the armpit motif insert to impress the uninitiated.

Look at how cute it is!

Anyway, I did it! I am so very proud of myself.

Now I really have to think about how to do the increase. To that end, I have pulled crochet hooks ranging from 2 mm to 3.75 mm, increasing by .25 mm with each hook. So we go from small motifs to motifs that are about 1 1/2 to 2 times the original size. Perfect. See? You can do shaping with motifs. You just need to think about it. I had also been contemplating a different motif that was a little bigger, more rows to the motif I had, or turning more of the motifs on their sides to create some sort of gusset. I’m still not entirely convinced to not do the gusset thing. I’ll have to think about it more. The bigger hooks are going to create airier motifs, so I need to decide if I like a tunic that looks like it becomes less substantial as it goes or if I hate that.

A bigger little motif

Now I just need to do the sleeves so I can see how each row grows and how big they get. Thank goodness these motifs are easy to unpick and redo because my plan seems to be chaos reigned it at the last minute.

Maybe this is why I get sweater angst? Reigned in chaos is not always a joy.

If you would like to see a badly drawn, rough approximation of what I am doing. Or, at least, an attempt at such a thing, here it is. I do apologize for my lack of drafting/drawing skills. My schooling did not always prepare me for my life.

I’m sorry. There’s a reason I’m an art historian and not an artist.

I hope you have a wonderful and calm week of crafting!

The way things move

Right now I have these things on hook:

  1. A tunic in blue cotton lace, hook size 2 mm. The ends cannot be woven yet because I might have to tear one out. This I will keep telling myself until the very end when tearing them out would be a nightmare.
  2. A triangular motif wrap made of peach colored hexagons. I really do like this wrap, it just keeps getting shoved to the back. I do not know why. I think about it every day while I work on other things.
  3. Little flowers to decorate a pair of mittens I finished earlier this year. I think I need about 90 flowers and leaves. I have less than ten. I tell myself that these just need to be done before November, and maybe late November, at that. I have time.
  4. A Buds on Stems rectangular wrap in three colors with 846 ends. I have woven some of these ends. Most I have not. I will obviously need to tackle this. I kept telling myself that if I crocheted two rows and then wove six ends that I would catch up. But I’m over halfway done now. It’s getting more toward crochet 2 rows and weave ten ends. Soon it will just be weave the damn ends. Then it gets a border. The border is, as yet, a nebulous and frothy idea of a border more than a tangible border. I think I can work it out while I weave all those ends. If nothing else, I can use them to procrastinate on the border.
  5. A dark gray-nearly black-lace weight wrap that I have masochistically decided to do as a half round (read lots of counting) textured wrap with a 2.25 mm hook. At least there are very few ends until we reach the elaborately colored and worked border.

All of this lives in my very full work basket, which is a real basket that I tote around the house as if I am transhuming my fiber from my cooler downstairs to my warmer upstairs. Also included in the basket are two pairs of scissors intended for small children and a small bag of yarn ends that are big enough to become something else interesting and that I might need if I run out of things to work on. You just never know.

This seems like a good list. Maybe even too much of a list, given that I do not work on all of them every day, let alone every week. The perfect time to add a new project.

Little hexagonal flowers

Cue the linen. Now I want to like linen. It’s pretty, it’s crazy drapey, it gets softer with washing, it absorbs the dye colors in ways that animal fibers do not, which is good fun. It’s just really slippery, I tend to hold on to it too tightly, the ends are a weaving nightmare, and the darn stuff I tend to buy has an inordinate penchant for splitting into its individual plies. In the spring, I ordered myself a little plop of linen. It’s been sitting on my desk whispering to me for a bit now. Given that summer is ending and linen season is nearly over, why not use my remarkable sense of timing to start a linen project. So I did.

And then I ripped it back and started it again.

And again.

And again.

Then I refused to even look at it for several days out of contempt for its unwillingness to work as I wished it to.

And then I had thought about it some more. What if . . . . What if I used a nice big hook, and that’s anything over 4 mms since I’ve been using 2 mm hooks, and worked mostly in chains? Drape? Yes. Interesting to look at? Yes. Fact that the chains and loops make little flowers even though it’s worked straight? Excellent. Ease of increase to make it into a triangular wrap? Wonderful. Fact that there will be ends, slippery linen ends, everywhere. Damn.

It’ll look better once it’s blocked, but ta-da!

Well, I will just start it anyway and figure those ends out. Which led to a search last night, while losing faith in humanity because I was watching Sexy Beasts on Netflix, on how to keep linen ends from being problems. Apparently, you divide the plies and weave them individually. Sometimes, you pass them through and around the stitches. This way, the little devils are trapped. Perfect. Of course, each end is now six ends. Joy. But I cannot even think about weaving them until I have finished the wrap and blocked it. Oh darn. No ends here. Just happy hours of counting chains and watching flowers grow.

In other exciting news, I have a Youtube channel now. It is not an instructional channel. It is a friendly crochet and chat channel that you might listen to while you craft. It’s my present project, life, and funny things happening with the two. Take a peek if you like. You should be able to find it here: (If I got the link right. There are no guarantees.) There are only two videos up so far, but I will be adding more each week.

Happy crafting!

A finished one!

I finished a project!  And more amazing still, I have yet to start a new one.  Even better?  I wove the ends.  Indeed I did-sitting right at my kitchen table and using natural light like some sort of stricken Victorian woman.  It was nice to finish a project and have that include the stupid ends.  I’m really good at finishing projects but leaving the ends for months on end.  Ha ha.

Here it is!

Behold it’s glory, both as a traditional cowl and as a shield against the world.  It has grandeur in its fluffiness; boldness in its subtly varied color; comfort in its warmth; and protection in its finishedness.  Behold my armor and fear my resilience!

I have five pictures to share with you so that you, too, may behold this splendor.

Look! An actual human made and wears this piece of excellence.

This is it on my neck.  There are no pictures that include my face because, first, I haven’t showered in two days.  And second, the sun is super bright and I cannot stop squinting.  Here’s what you should actually notice instead of my unshowered state and my messy hair that I have carefully cropped out.  Drape, drape, and more drape.  It’s practically a liquid.  Stiff crochet my bum.  

The border.  I put a border on!  I planned it that way!  It looks finished!  Also, everything is in puffy stitches which make me very happy because they are squishy and textural.

Well, dammit it all if I didn’t take a picture of the seam. Like right in the middle of the work. Way to go me.

Next is the whole thing laid out so you can see the fabulousness. We solar dyed the roving, so it had light and dark areas which Hannah manipulated a bit as she spun it. It came out as a pleasantly varied yarn, which I think gives the final project more depth and appeal. Behold the wonder!

Shhh. There it is. Lichen. Did you catch it?

This is the bottom edge. Wonderful in its own right, notice that there is a cute little border of weird almost marguerite stitches, a row of foundation doubles, and a row of linked doubles before the (very cute) puff v stitches. Happy, happy, happy squishiness!

How much sharpening is too much sharpening when the picture is of fuzziness?

Next we have the top edge.  I put three doubles into each chain space thinking this would serve as the first solid row of doubles so it would echo the bottom.  The thing is that it just looked open and anemic and sad with one row of linked doubles on top.  So I did two and then the border of delightful puffs.  Does the border look taller to you?  If I am out in public, I am going to say that I used a taller stitch to set off this edge.  I also think I will flip this side and make it the bottom.  

In truth, there were some variations in the spinning, which is not surprising since this was an early Hannah spin. She’s much more consistent now. It really doesn’t matter. I like the taller puff border for the bottom, and I think it compliments the three doubles in the chain spaces above it. Almost like it builds itself up. Like a castle fortification. Like a barrier against the evils of the world, be they pestilence or humanity.

There is just something about a puff that makes me smile.

Last image, so soak it in while it lasts. Enjoy the squishiness. Appreciate how each puff nestles into those below while graciously welcoming the puffs above it. Notice how the little color variations create a dramatic tension to the overall work, lending to its power as a protective shield against the world. This cowl knows its business and its business is defense against cold and peril.

A joy to create!

Happy crocheting.  We shall see what mischief I get up to next week!

A new project with secret super powers

Before I had my children, I bought myself a luxury:  A cashmere tee.  I did not need it and I did not buy it for a specific purpose, I got it just to have it.  Me being me, it is still here and doing quite well.  When the kids were small and headed to one of those mandatory but horrific childhood birthday parties in which the parents are a captive audience, I layered that tee under another shirt.  For the most part, I did not know it was there.  It kept me warm and that was enough.  But it had a hidden super power.  When I crossed my arms, the tee would brush up against my skin, and it was so soft and wonderful.  It was like the very best security binkit remade into a suit of the softest armor.  It made me smile every time.  I probably looked like a horrible grump walking around a children’s party with my arms crossed across my middle, but I was enjoying my secret cashmere.  

I find I really like the idea of some piece of clothing being a secret luxury to carry me through something I do not want to take part in.  To that end, I am crafting an alpaca cowl.  It is soft and squishy and looks just like something that keeps me warm, but it has superpowers.  

First, it’s a hand spun, soft, purple alpaca.  We already have a win.  The hand spun nature will make me think of Hannah and all the hand spinning adventures she has had.  The color reminds me of the dyeing we did before we went even hippier and decided to do only natural dyeing.  The alpaca is soft and plushy and wonderful.  I will look like a woman decked out against the cold, but secretly I will be wearing a powerful talisman of happiness.  

Let me introduce you to my decadent, private, frill.  

So much potential for me to ruin this unsuspecting ball of yarn

The yarn: The yarn alone is enough to bring joy. It is a z twist hand spun fingering weight with a loosish spin endowing it a fantastic halo. The stitches it makes sort of squish warmly into one another creating a dreamy cushion of fabric. Because of the solar dyeing we did, the yarn has a really nice purple gradation going on. I love this yarn. Part of what took me so long to use it was the fear of messing it up.

This circle of fuzzy goodness will be ready for winter and fate.

The pattern: I really did fret over messing it up. I mean, it’s a hand dyed, hand spun, crafted by my daughter. It could be messed up and it would be all my stupid fault. So I spent a lot of time pouring over stitch dictionaries worrying about which stitch to use. Too closed and it could be hard to work because of the halo. Too fussy and it amounts to a lot of work for stitches lost in the fuzz. Something just right was absolutely called for.

So many shades and tones of purple. So much to love.

Interestingly, I found both the body and the border in the same border stitch dictionary.  I picked the border first, it’s sort of a weird almost marguerite stitch with three different puffs all joined together.  Puffs are one of my stitch weaknesses, I love a good puff.  I especially love a puff made with yarn that melts into itself forming a perfect little wonderland of yarny goodness.  Joy.  That seemed like a really good component of a cowl with super yarn powers.  

Puffs are a sign of joy rarely explored

The body stitch for this cowl is adapted from a a v stitch border pattern.  As written, there should have been four rows of single crochet and then v stitches (double crochet, 2 chains, double crochet) for several rows, and then more rows of single crochet.  My single crochet tends to be a little stiff and tight, so I wanted to avoid that.  I decided to do two rows of double crochet and then adjust the normal v stitches into, you guessed it, puff v stitches.  So now there is a three double crochet together puff on each side of the three chains.  Why three chains?  First to give more space for the puffs.  Secondly, because I am doing that wrap with the Buds on Stems pattern that has the same v stitch.  If I have one pattern with two chains and one with three chains, I will muss that up. 

The repeat is every three stitches, magically for both the border and the interior bit.  So that was meant to be.  I really tried to do a foundation chain in which I picked up the back chain to make the edge all pretty for working both sides of it.  It just was not going to happen.  Instead, I ended up working a foundation double crochet.  That was much better.  At least, I like it better and that is really all that counts.  Once I finished that foundation row (with a size 5 hook), I worked the puff border.  

Oh, puff border.  I tried to do the four chains after the puff and then work into the fourth chain for the new puff.  Yeah, not that.  The preceding puff really needed a tight little chain to tidy up the stitch.  After that, I found I liked my work better with three more chains, and the new puff worked into the third chain from the hook.  Much better.  I made a note in the book so I will remember the next time I try that border stitch.  Because I will use it again.  It was puffs!

Once I finished that, I broke the yarn, flipped the work, and put on another row of double crochet.  But that looked weird.  I frogged it and instead worked a row of linked double crochets.  Much better.  It looks solid and together while remaining drapey and happy.  The puffs, as if everything has come together by divine intent, work perfectly for repeats into the double crochets.  I’ll keep going until I try it on and it looks like it’s going to eat my head and then I’ll end it off.  OOOOO!  I love this cowl! 

A million perfect things becoming one.

Given how everything has come together so well, it seems I was meant to have this protective fuzzy shield against the world.  I wonder what the fates see coming my way that this should be so?  Should I worry?  Should I start concocting more wooly fiber shields for myself and my family?

Happy crafting!

Week three with Buds on Stems

    Week three with a sixty year project!  Woo hoo!  It’s a foot long and 62 rows.  So for seven feet, it should only be another 372 rows.  So if the first foot took three weeks, then seven feet should be 21 weeks or about five months.  Five months.  I am a sucker for torture.  I wonder how many weeks it will take me to weave the 868 ends?  

This is close up because there is only a foot of the damn thing.

    I have three projects on hook, because why have one project that takes forever when you can have more.  The Buds on Stems project, a motif project, and a mitten decorating project are all, hypothetically, in progress right now.  Despite this, my fingers itch for a new project.  Something small with a slightly bigger hook and a closer finish line seems in order.  It would need to have wonderful yarn as further justification for its existence.  You know, the yarn called to me, what was I to do?  What if the moths got it?  I needed to use it now so I can keep it safe.  The precious yarn.  So precious.  

Yes, just one more project.  What can it hurt?  It’s just yarn and a hook.  I have both!  I can start a new project.

    The motif project is utterly stalled.  Why?  Because the bunny is sick and needs lots of care.  When it comes down to it, crochet will always lose to a sick pet.  So I have not even been making a pretense of hauling the bag around the house pretending that I am working on all three projects I am doing right now.  But I will pick it up soon.  Calcifer is nearly better and is entirely sick of us feeding her.  I think soon she will find a nice mole who works part time as a lawyer and sue us for harassment.  

The mittens are stalled because I just do not know how to decorate them.  I bought some really plushy silk alpaca blend lace weight yarn with the intention of crocheting tiny motifs.  I tried that.  Turns out that an s twist plied yarn, a tiny hook, and my tight gauge are not going to be a happy mix.  The ply kept splitting in a most unaesthetic way and making ugly loops at the fine edges of my flowers.  I pulled a couple of hanks of lace weight z twist from the stash, but I have yet to make the flowers.  I know it will work because I have used this yarn for such things before, but I procrastinate.  Or not.  Perhaps I am mulling over the exact flower to use so the mittens are perfect instead of putting off starting a bazillion tiny flowers with 2 bazillion ends all crying out to be woven right now.  That must be it, I’m thinking.

See those nice textural bits? Those make me very happy.

The Buds on Stems project is humming along at a low level background hum sort of like a cricket but shaped more like a luna moth.  The project is going to take forever, it has way too many ends, and the yarn is tiny.  BUT I love this project.  It impresses me every time I pick it up.  It is light and beautiful and, somehow, I made it.  This is the most surprising part to me.  It’s like I become a different person when I crochet.  Whoever I am, I know just what to do with the hook.  I feel like the crafter behind the Buds on Stems wrap does not have a messy house that needs a good dusting.  She doesn’t refuse to pull weeds with the excuse that it gives the baby birds somewhere to hide from the neighborhood cats.  No, her house is put together neatly and prettily, just like her stitches.  She has a training class for the baby birds so that they learn to fly faster and more safely.  Perhaps crochet is my superpower and the messy woman I am is my alter ego.  In this case, no one is ever going to guess who the woman behind the hook really is.

So a new project.  Is it reasonable?  No.  Do I have time for it?  No.  Should I do this?  No.  Will I anyway because I am contrary and enjoy making work for myself?  Yes.  Oh yes!  Making work for myself is seemingly one of my very favorite things to do.  

New surprise project information coming next week!

Here’s something else exciting!  Hannah is spinning a hanks of Calcifer fiber, Callidora fiber, and a Holland Lop/English Angora blend.  Then I get to make something out of them.  I’m so excited!  That goes on hook as soon as it is finished.  No questions, no hesitation.  I am SOOOOO excited!  Bunny fiber is so soft and wonderful to work with.  I need to figure out which stitch pattern to use.  I think I will got with a large hook size so the yarn can just fuzz out to its maximum fuzziness without those darn patterns getting in its way.    

Have you watched Dress in the Age of Jane Austen?  It’s a talk about a book (of the same name and which I now must have) on YouTube.  Hannah and I enjoyed watching it yesterday.  I am very taken with the idea that Jane Austen (may she be doomed to read only the Twilight saga for the rest of eternity) used sewing as a sort of artistic meditation for writing.  I wonder if I sat in a nice quiet spot away from the evils of technology with just my project and a notebook what I would come up with?  Maybe some new and interesting thoughts on crochet.  Maybe a way to crochet and have pets and have time to clean the stupid house.  At the very least, maybe I could figure out which flowers to put on those mittens.

Have a wonderful week! I’m not off to ball up some yarn for a new project . . .

It’s hand spun alpaca. Hand dyed, too. I had to use it. It called to me. By name.

One week of a new project

I have completed week one with my new project. I did not get much done because we have an ailing rabbit who needs our care – read assist feedings every three hours even at 2 am. I’m glad we can help her and that she is perking up each day. But those 2 am feedings! I am so glad I had my children earlier in life. I cannot imagine regular 2 am feedings, or more, for a human child. Just no. That being said, by the time I got to doing a little crocheting each day I could barely keep my eyes open. I think I’m lucky I got any of it done.

A week of work is not much when you have a sick pet

I made some changes to my plan once I got into it. First, I am turning the work every row. It just looked weird. The slight offset in crochet stitches made it look like all of the flowers were just a bit off their stems. Maybe there was a blight? A strong wind? A weird botanical reenactment of the French Revolution? I do not know, and I do not like it. Turned rows are back. I did break the yarn after each row and add a new color fresh each time. I think this is good. At least I still like it. As far as I have gotten, even if I hate it, it’s staying because I am not starting over. Nope. If I do not like something now it is just going to be a lesson to me in better planning.

I weighed my yarn to see how big this lacy monster will get. About 65 inches, I think. That is the size if the yarn works as I think it will, if I measured correctly, if my calculations about blocking are right, and if the scale was cooperatively working that day. Who knows? It’s a rough estimate. That’s fine.

But what else does this mean? It means I will run out of yarn before I even think about a border. Clearly this needs a border. It would just look dull and unfinished without some semi-elaborate border. What does one do when one needs more yarn? One goes to look for the yarn to order more. And what does one find? One finds that one of the yarns is no longer made (vintage stash), one would be a radically different dye lot because it is also years old, and one is available but there is no guaranteeing a color match. Back to the stash. I found another pink, we shall call it medium pink, that will make a nice border. I hope. I’m going to believe it will and thus wish it into being.

I posted it to Instagram and the woman who authored the stitch dictionary I took the pattern from liked it, so that was my little fan girl moment of the week. It was the high point in a week of worrying about holding the life of a beloved pet in my hands.

A closed up of slightly muddled unblocked lace.

Once Calcifer is better, I’m hoping this takes off. Here’s the hitch. I super want to start like five more projects. I want to do a tunic with sleeves. I want to do a weird puff stitch wrap with a variegated yarn that I thought I would hate but that I love as a puff stitch. I want to do a hat in this pattern with a size 2 hook. I want to do a pair of fingerless gloves in this stitch pattern that I use slightly larger and smaller hooks to make increase and decrease adjustments with. I want to do a Koigu Pencil Box project. I want to do a reverse v-stitch pattern triangle wrap. I can justify this by saying that I am using up stash yarn and that means I am better organizing and tidying my house. Look how pleasantly industrious I am!

Of course, there is still a motif wrap and a pair of mittens awaiting crocheted adornment that I have on hook. But we don’t need to talk about those right now, do we?

A dramatic wrap for dramatic times

Woe unto the village!  I’m back.

I have a confession to make.  Until recently, I had never read Sense and Sensibility.  I consider myself to be a fairly literate person.  I score well on those lists of 100 books in which you check off the ones you’ve read compared to other people, and they can tell you what sort of bagel you are.  Despite this, I have never read anything by Jane Austen.  The collection I bought started with Sense and Sensibility, so I did too.  Was that my mistake?  Was my mistake not reading the one with sea monsters?  Do sea monsters make it better?  Do the sea monsters eat everyone?  Because if they eat everyone, and I mean everyone, in the book, I think I would like that version better.  If only those sea monsters could have eaten Austen!

Because I really seem to like to compound my suffering, I followed up the reading with watching a BBC presentation of Sense and Sensibility.  It was better.  The people had a little more substance, and though I still wish there were ravenous sea monsters eating them all up, I think I could watch Jane Austen on television.  Reading the books is killing me.  I need to be able to pause, walk around, walk away, walk somewhere else so I can listen to people who are less obsessed with marriage and more concerned about anything else.  

The one aspect of the televised version that I really liked was the clothing.  Now maybe that means I should be eaten by sea monsters, but hear me out.  It was fun to see what they were wearing.  Period costume appropriateness be damned, I just like looking at different ways to put clothing together and how that impacts form and function.  I was especially taken with the long, dramatic wraps that they draped across themselves as they threw themselves into relationship histrionics.  

Sticking roughly with the Regency theme, I recently watched Bridgerton on Netflix, too.  Full disclosure, I read the first Bridgerton book as well.  I plan to keep watching the show but not reading the books, for completely different reasons than for Jane Austen and her books, though.  I think those Bridgerton books would make Austen blush clear to death!  Do you know what those Bridgerton ladies had though?  Long dramatic wraps!  

In both of these series, their wraps were super drapey fabric, longer and wider than a scarf, and very often beautiful in their own right. Just the presence of such a wrap elevates a moment from whining to deep existential dread. I need that. I need a piece of clothing to help me truly exhibit my insatiable angst.

Does it have that thrown aside in a fit look?

To that end, I tried out the “Buds on Stems” stitch pattern on page 232 of the Crochet Every Which Way stitch dictionary with a hank of Malabrigo sock yarn in lettuce and a little handful (okay, 12) mini-skeins of yarn from Lichen and Lace.  Ta da!  A little flower garden of happiness!  It didn’t end up as wide as I wanted it to be, though it has lovely drape and is thin so it will not get in the way of throwing myself down on a couch in a swoon of anguish.  But the width!  I need a wrap to be both dramatic for indoor use and appropriate for setting off alone through my tick-filled yard to find some peace by the stream to ease the burdens of my tortured soul.  

Try two.  

This time, because drama in the creation only adds to later dramatic potential, I will use two hanks of MadTosh Prairie in Ciruela and Malmo to create my tragic masterwork of yarn and suffering.  Prairie is a single ply, z twist, lace weight yarn.  This makes it really good for right handed crocheters because the yarn does not untwist as it is worked, unravelling into a useless puddle of its own destruction.  Okay, not so dramatic, but still.  Crocheting naturally twists the yarn a bit.  Z twist handles this most effectively because it does not untwist.  I like to use singles instead of plied yarn because the singles do not add any more confusion to the stitches.  (And since this is a wrap to express MY drama, I do not want anything distracting from my present situation like confused stitches.  Can you imagine?  “I hear you saying something, but this stitch is a bit hard to read.  Can you repeat yourself?”)  Each stitch is well defined and pretty to look at.  Lace weight yarn is really good for fine projects in which you want a lot of drape because it naturally lends itself to draping.  The thinness of the project will both keep the weight down and make it seasonally appropriate for year round melancholy.

I will still use the “Buds on Stems” pattern from the Crochet Every Which Way stitch dictionary on page 232 because I like the idea of a happy garden bed of beautiful flowers.  Perhaps it could add a touch of happiness to those rather repeatedly stricken women in Sense and Sensibility.  Nice, innocent flowers.  Unless it’s a Bridgerton wrap.  Then those flowers have seen some things and maybe they do not want to talk about it just yet.    

On to step one, the stitch and gauge samples.  

So many choices!

The recommended hook size for lace weight yarn, like Prairie, is 2.5 mm or smaller. So I’m going to do a swatch with a 2 mm hook because it symbolizes suffering. I think, for the Goldilocks-ness of it all, I will also do a 5.5 mm sample and a 3.75 mm sample. I want to try out some pattern changes, so I am going to use other hook sizes – a 2.75 and a 3 – to play with the pattern and get just what I want. For ease of comparison, I made each sample with the same number of stitches.

My goal for the wrap is to have a nice open and lacey stitch while maintaining good drape, which is paramount to its effectiveness as a conveyor of emotional pain.  So if a stitch pattern is too closed or so open that it loses the look of the stitch, it’s out.  Let’s look at the samples.  I’ve given all them a pretty tight wet blocking, so that the stitches really open up.

One sample was too small.

The first sample, done with the 2 mm hook, is a little more stiff than I want it to be. The yarn sort of mushes into itself and the stitch pattern is not as sharp as it could be working this small. It also does not open up the way I want it to for a lacey wrap. It almost reads as a solid fabric. If I was making fingerless gloves, I would use this hook size for this yarn and pattern. (Note to self, try fingerless gloves with this pattern.) So this meets neither my requirement for drape nor openness. I am calling it the Fanny Dashwood sample. On to sample two.

One sample was too big.

A 5.5 mm hook blows this pattern up way too much in my opinion, though it has all kinds of drape. I want the stitches to hold together a little more tightly. If my goal was a more deconstructed flower garden I think this could work. I can see this hook size used with a solid green for the stem rows and a pretty variegated yarn for the bud rows creating a very airy and almost impressionist feeling wrap. I may have to give that a go, too. Now that I say it, it feels more appealing than I thought it would. I think I have the right yarn in my stash, too. Hmmm. Is this a two project production? Perhaps this would be good for the Queen in Bridgerton.

One sample looked right at first but lied.

The 3.75 mm sample still feels a little big and blown up. Hmm. I thought 3.75 mm would be my guy, but looking at it, I do not think so. The drape is still really good though, it’s the look of the stitches that isn’t making me happy. On to the next sample. We shall refer to this almost there, but missing the mark sample as the Marina, from Bridgerton, sample.

One sample was still a little small.

I wanted to see if I could add some pop to the pattern by adding some front post triple crochets to the stems. My goal was to make the stems stand out a bit more as stems and less as just stitches to work the buds on. I find the more textural look quite attractive, so that stays, but the drape is vanishing on me. If I was making a hat this would be a really good hook choice, but hats are not going to express the level of drama I need. (But maybe a nice house hat in this stitch pattern would be nice. I think I may need a collection of pretty house hats. Not that my house is that cold, I just think I might like accessorizing for the fun of it even on slouchy days at home.) We shall call this the Margaret Dashwood sample as that poor girl deserved more book time. Maybe she could have pulled her sisters together and set them straight.

And one sample was just right.

Last try. 3 mm hook, front post triple crochets on the non-bud rows, two colors, no turning so the stitches alway face front, ending off at the end of each row. Note my first row – the stems are popped to the back. Pay attention to which way those post stitches go, I clearly did not. We shall call this the Penelope sample as she is the most interesting character in both books or shows.

The drape is good. I like the two colors. I was going to end up with tons of ends anyway because I cannot carry the yarn, but that makes sense. It adds to the considerable effort of making the thing. The better to display my agony!

So it begins

I’ve opted to do a foundation double crochet row to start this project.  This will allow me to just make stitches until I like the width, count them to get the right number, and be off and running.  Also, this will give the wrap a nice finished looking edge to the starting side and I can end the other side with a row of double crochets.   

After the foundation row, I’m going to go back to the beginning of the row, working my first stitch into the top of the chain from that row’s first stitch, and start with a double crochet.  There are two ways to accomplish this.  I could use the hook to pull the yarn through, chain up, and be on my way.  I hate working into chains, though, so I am going to put a slip stitch on my hook, yarn over, insert the hook (with the yarn over) into the top of the chain from the previous row, and work a double crochet as if it was attached.  Ta da!  A free standing, chain free, double crochet.  I prefer this because it eliminates the chains and looks a bit neater.  It’s more fiddly, but worth it.  

Now I can work the pattern as written.  At the end of each row, I will break the yarn, go back to the beginning of the row, switch colors, and, without turning start again.

The only pattern change I am making is to switch the double crochet “stems” in the stem row to triple crochet front post stitches.  I like the longer looking stems this gives and the added pop of texture this creates.  

This is where I am so far. I like it. It’s going to be all ends again, but I think I can suffer ends for the perfect aesthetic.

Now that’s aesthetically perfect