Finished a cowl!

I think I need a personal end weaving assistant.  

I started, and finished, a cowl last summer.  LAST summer.  And it then sat in a little moth-proof bag waiting for the day when I was tired of seeing it enough to weave its ends.  It took almost nine months.  I made a bunch of other projects, and wove their ends, in that time.  So why did this project languish in end weaving purgatory for so long? 

(On the subject of moths, have you seen the episode of Santa Clarita Diet in which a man shoots a moth with an arrow and decries its attempts to eat his woolens? Excellent.)

 

It was blue and everything. Why did the ends make me suffer so?

I don’t know.  Maybe because it had a lot of ends?  Maybe because I had a lot of other ideas?  Maybe because I hate weaving ends that much?  I just don’t know, but it’s out now.  Why now?  That I can answer.  It was one of three projects waiting to be finished before I can do a trial run at making a YouTube video.  

I’m sort of excited about this new adventure. I enjoy watching other people create things. It’s calming and amazing to see the things other people do so well that I could never do. It gives me a greater appreciation for handmade objects and makers. I hope I can live up to other makers’ awesomeness. I’m thinking of aiming for something between a friendly neighbor chatting over tea and Bob Ross. I want to have a nice camaraderie with my listeners but also be really supportive of new crochet people. I, for one, don’t believe you should worry so much about making you work look just like everyone else’s as much as you should worry about making a fabric and project you really love. I hope I can be encouraging with this in a friendly YouTube way. I’ll let you know when it’s up and you can tell me how I do.

So many ends

This is the last thing standing in the way of the channel. It’s a shrug with about 350 ends. I used to think it was 500 ends, but I think I was inflating the number for the shudder factor. It’s coming along, and now it is the hurdle to new adventures.

I do have a pair of mittens started, but I think we can work those into the new stuff. The same with a large triangular wrap made from hexagons.

Excitement is brewing here and I can’t want to get started on new projects!

A mini skein cowl waiting to happen.

A year in the plague times

Today marks one year since we started hiding from the plague.  In some ways it seems weird to mark a year passing.  It’s been a year or some period of years from a lot of things.  My older daughter turned twenty.  My younger daughter is a week shy of losing her appendix thirteen years ago.  The birthday we celebrate with fond remembrances and happiness.  The lost appendix we remember because we all made it through, even the scariest bits are over and done with.  Though, in truth, I think more changed in my life from becoming a mother for the first time than by hiding from disease for a year, I feel like I need to stop and be quiet today in a way I don’t so much with birthdays.  Today I need to remember, to reflect.  I think this is different because we all went through it, and the world is a different place now.  We see our family, friends, and neighbors differently:  Some we have forged closer bonds with; some we look on with a new distrust; some we will never speak to again.  In America, this is as much politics as it is disease.  Maybe even more so politics.  We have reached an impasse as a nation.  We shall have to wait and see where this lands us.  

But I don’t want to talk about that.  I want to talk about something a bit more fun.  I recently read an article about what you would tell yourself if you could go back one year and prepare yourself for the year ahead, sort of like that Julie Nolke bit on YouTube but with more specifics.  Time continuum be damned people, there are things we should have known.  If we could alert ourselves to do things that would have made our world brighter and happier in the midst of everything, what would we say?  I’ve thought about it a lot, and this is what I think I would have told myself.

Dear Self,

I am writing to you from the future.  I know things look very bleak and scary right now.  The reports out of Italy are terrible, and you are dreading what will happen here.  I need you to know that it will be okay.  You will hide well.  No one in your house will get Covid this year.  You’re going to get a new bunny!  By the time a year is over, you will miss seeing friends and parents, but you will be happy because you are an introvert with enough books and projects never to get bored.  You will be fine.  Relax.  Maybe get some toilet paper in, but you will be fine even on that point.

Here you see your cat and your rabbit looking into the hallway at night when no one is there. So you might get a ghost this year, too. That’s exciting for you. They don’t seem to be a threat.

There are a few things that will make your year better, though.  Really, barring the disease and the politics, you are going to have a pretty good year, but it could be even better!  Here’s what you need to know.

You are going to receive a handwritten letter in January.  Start writing those now.  Pick a friend or two and write them real letters.  It will bring you great joy.  If you pick the right people, and you know who they are, you will get letters back.  It’s going to be awesome.  You will feel both happy and somehow historically important, like an 1800s woman hoping not to get consumption as you read poetry, do small handcrafts, and sit quietly in the sun when available.  Go you!

Leave Facebook! Do it now.  Burn the whole computer down if you have to.  DO NOT under any circumstances put the damn app on your phone.  Do not scroll through reposting every good article and funny meme.  It will blow up in your face.  Just back up your stuff and get off.  Facebook should just march itself to the dustbin of history and stay there.  

Start Duolingo sooner.  I know, I know.  Between watching the news 24/7 and doom scrolling through Facebook, how will you get time for one more thing?  Mind the last point.  Ditch Facebook, pick up Duolingo.  Learning a language because you think it might be fun is way different and better than learning a language because some administrator said that you have to for your degree.  Just do it.  Enjoy it.  It will come back to you if you pick one of the languages you have already studied.  By the end of the year, you’ll be that much closer to reading Goethe’s poetry in the original German, and won’t that bring you some pretentious amount of joy?

Keep a journal.  You do not have to go back and read it later.  You can just have it.  It will be good, maybe, someday to be able to go back and read what really happened and how you really felt about it.  If you will not do this (I know how much you hate journals) start marking up the margins of your books with thoughts and comments right away.  Put them aside in happy piles of read and noted books.  Someday, when you are gone, your children can pick these up and have a chat with you over a book.  It will be a fond remembrance for them.  Do it.  Also, keep up that dream journal.  Dreams are going to get seriously weird this year.  

Rearrange your house.  Look, you are not going to be going out except to pick up food and scurry it back to your house like some sort of masked red squirrel.  Everyone will not only be working at home, you will all be at home all the time.  You will need to have a sense that there are different spaces for different things.  In addition, there will be some rooms that just don’t make as much sense used and set up as they are now.  You aren’t going to be greeting guests at the door.  You might think about how the entrance could be used differently.  You don’t need seating for guests in the family room.  Maybe think about how chairs could be moved to other spaces to give a new quiet place to be.  You still haven’t done this, but you have read a ton of articles on it this year.  It’s very appealing.  Maybe next plague.  (Unless you go and do it.  If so, awesome!  I hope it brings you joy and happiness.)

Use your crochet to tell time.  Each week, start a new small, easily finishable project.  Perhaps you could try out new stitch patterns making hats?  Figure out what the perfect cowl looks like?  (Hint, it’s a tall, super drapey tube.  Long infinity cowls (Google docs is trying to make that be infinity cows.  What are they?  Do they strive for good or evil?  Infinity cows.  Yes.  We need those.) look like they will consume your head.  Don’t do that.)  Fingerless gloves are always a joy.  At some point in the year, you are going to want to just start wearing your going out crochet and weaving because whatever.  Dress up those leggings and hoodie with a nice handmade scarf.  Start little projects and give yourself more options to wear.  If you start lots of these little, quick projects, by the end of the year, you will have a pile of things, and they will make you feel more productive.  Right now, finishing things will feel good.  You’ve done some nice big wraps and such this year, but it’s going to start to feel like the projects never end.  A new small project each week will feel good to finish.  Maybe telling time with crochet will become a thing.  It’s better than calendars anyway.  

More than anything, remember that you will be fine.  Remember when the children were just wee small and brand new and you stayed home a lot as they figured sleep in a world with daylight?  Remember how good that felt because you were a new mom and no one expected you to be bright eyed and out on the town?  You had societal permission to stay home and just find your way?  It’s all back.  Relish it.

Love, 

Your future self who is starting a new small project today so something feels like it gets finished

All of the motifs are done for this. You just have to sew it together. You are so close!

A finished project and what I did

A friend of mine asked me to design a wave pattern wrap for her. The original idea came from a knitted wrap. From what I could find, increases in a crochet wave pattern are tricky, at best, to make look nice. I tried things and thought about it for a while, and then I saw Stephen West’s Woven Chevrons. Well, there’s a straight forward and easy increase if ever there was one, so I ripped it off.

I used two strands of lace weight yarn held together and a 4 mm hook.

The result is a stepped wrap with blocks of color. It was quick to work and nicely drapey. Depending on what you want to do with it, you could work it in one color and weave bits through the open rows for bits of color. Or, as I did, you can do blocks of color. I wove one little line of chains through just to see.

(The color on this is all wrong. Stupid southern exposure. The rest have happy and, oh so aesthetic, northern light. Anyway, the idea is there.) This is one row woven. To do it make a row of chains, weave them through, pop of color. I like to make the chain, put a marker in the last loop so it won’t pull out, weave it in, shorten the chain to measure, and end it off. Perfect chain length.

I like the color. So why not do more, you ask? Because I am impatient and I have another project I’m itching to start. I can always go back later.

I don’t plan to write this one up formally. If you want to make one, let me know and I can tell you what I did. 🙂

Projects to finish, and one done

I am trying, rather against my own will, to finish three projects before I start another one. I want to start the four I have pulled yarn for. I want to try new stitch patterns. I want to see new things fall from my hook. I should finish three projects first. Grumble.

It’s like a long forgotten nightmare that comes back unexpectedly.

Two nights ago I had a nightmare that I was sleeping in my childhood bedroom, and my daughter came into my room to ask for help. At that moment, another her emerged from the closet that housed all of my childhood monsters to tell me the daughter I was talking to was a fake. This brought back so many memories of childhood that it stayed with me all day.

This scarf is the cousin to my dream. I sort of forgot about it lurking in the bottom of my work basket. It is just about entirely made up of ends. I think once they are woven, there will be just ends woven into each other. The horror. It must be finished.

It makes me think of happy summer days, which makes it acceptable.

Have you ever been working on a project for a while, did the math to see how much more you had to go, got excited about how soon it would be finished, only to realize your math was wildly off? Did you ever, in your adult life, have it come really clearly back to you why your college career followed the path it did? Yeah.

I’m sewing these together at the rate of crochet one and add two each day. Or so. Whatever. Sometimes I add motifs. It should be done for fall 2023, which is also when COVID will end.

There is another. It is a reading wrap. I refuse to photograph it. I’m not sure it shows up on film. It’s got that sort of vibe developing. I think it might be sentient. I think it may be unraveling itself in the night as it acts out its own Odyssey myth.

But blessings upon this one project! Not only is it finished, but I love it too! And not just because I finished it.

Behold! I can finish projects!

These are fitted gloves that make me astoundingly happy. They were quick to make; have fun colors; fit my fairy-esque aesthetic; and look really nice, if I do say so myself. I think I want to try a similar pair with lacing up the side. Maybe a little looser? Maybe a little longer? But guess what? I cannot start those yet. No. I have yarn picked. I have notes made. But no. I must live in the pile of yarny drudgery that I have created until I work my way out, so I can make a new pile. 😉

Happy crafting!

I told you I was impatient

I finished two projects. The one with the hand spun lace weight and the love knot wrap. So that left me with the hexagons, which I like; the shades of blue reading wrap, which is easy to work and soft; the weird ’70s colored reading wrap, which works quickly and I actually remember the row ends for now; and the end weaving on a scarf. This was enough to keep me busy and happy. Most of the projects, barring the end weaving which is just evil, are easy to work and quick. I can see my progress after just a row or two. This makes me happy. This should be enough. It is not.

I started a new project. I’m not apologetic at all. It makes me happy, the year is such a crap shoot of joy and fear, I wanted a new project.

Impatience means you have many projects

The plan is that this will be a fingerless glove. It will be a little fitted to the wrist (but not tight), flare back out for the hand, have a real thumb bit, and end off with some nice lace. I’m working it in lace weight so that should take the better part of forever, but I do not care.

I was really debating over the last few months where I wanted to take my crochet. I did some designs. They were fine. Some of them got lots of traffic. That was nice. But the projects didn’t challenge me as much as I wanted them too, nor did they ignite my fancy.

I debated a YouTube channel in which I did my designs in various qualities of yarn to demonstrate both the pattern and why different yarns lend themselves to different projects. I even went so far as to get some inexpensive yarns to try this with. The yarn itself is not terrible. It is not right for the projects I was trying it with, though. It made me really sad. I am used to my projects looking a certain way. They didn’t. I’m not saying that inexpensive yarn is bad. I’m not saying it isn’t right for some projects. I’m just saying it is not how I work. So that route is out.

I debated really working at testing patterns and actually selling them. But the thing is, while I have lots of ideas for patterns, it doesn’t make me happy. It’s just crochet. The magic is not there.

When I really looked at what I was making and which projects brought me the most happiness, I see that I like the things looked a bit fantastical. And I realized something: I want to make things that look like someone picked them up in a shop that’s only there in odd numbered years when the moon is full and the wind blows just right and there is rain at midnight and you only get to find it once in your life. I want them to look like they were made by fae hands. I want them to carry some level of enchantment with them to keep the boring real world away. Talismans of whimsy, if you will.

So I scrapped all the plans I had for reasonable and relatively easy patterns and I have started drawing up plans for things that one might wear if they spent 30 years in Fairy and wanted to keep a bit of the look as they reintegrate in the real world. At least I hope that’s what they look like. Will I do a Bernadette Banner-esque YouTube channel with my works? Maybe. That could be fun. I think I would like that. I’ll see how things go.

Anyway, these gloves are project one. I’ll keep you informed how it goes.

Happy crafting!

I’ve gone and brought back the ‘70s

Did you ever try to make someone something only to have them turn up their nose at it? Yeah, here we are. I was all proud of myself because I started all the holiday things in a timely manner. I even found reasonably quick working stitch patterns. My father was pleased with his, or at least he had the good graces to pretend effectively. Not so my mother.

Now I should not be surprised. My mother can be difficult to shop for/make for/etc. But I really thought I had it. I picked colors she liked. I put them in what I thought was a pleasant stitch pattern. She was not impressed. Desperate to save the project, I pulled a yellow I had set aside for another project and an orange from the birthday yarn I’m not supposed to be in yet.

They worked well with everything else. There was a fall leaves color way to the thing. I was happy. But the more I worked, the more the color seemed familiar. Eerily familiar. Like somewhere I haven’t been for a while but I should remember. Where could it be? And then it hit me. I have recaptured my parents’ circa 1974 living room.

Is this bad? I don’t know. My mother clearly once liked these colors enough to decorate a whole room in them. Does she still like them? I don’t know. They don’t reflect anything in their house now.

The thing is, I cannot stop seeing it. The moist avocado green textured carpet, the lurid floral furniture in fall tones, the glass top tables with weird lamps, the box near the entrance that held some sort of rock.

Let’s pause a moment on that rock. It lived, because to this day I believe it did live and still might, in a wicker basket by the entrance. The basket was kept closed with little wicker latches. Strong? No. Creepy? Yes. Inside, it had a little bed of some sort of soft fabric. Was this to protect it from damage or to appease it? I don’t know. It was sparkly and deadly sharp. It drew children to it with an unholy attraction, every single one of whom was cut: The thing drew blood. I think this sustained it until it could build enough strength to leave its wicker prison and commit heinous crimes. My parents no longer have said rock. I believe it has made its escape.

I see the soul of that rock in this scarf. Perhaps I have inadvertently created a siren call for the rock. Soon it will begin to make its inexorable journey back toward me to exact its revenge.

Beware of rocks in wicker boxes!

There it is. What do you think of? Fall leaves? Cool nights? Avocado carpets? Rooms too precious for children? Rooms that hold concentrated evil in a flimsy wicker basket? Rocks that call for human blood?

I think I’ll go a bit more in this pattern and then send her another picture. I can only hope that the new colors help it without calling to the forces of evil.

Happy crafting.

Oh! The lichen!

Well, here we are again. Six projects either on hook or in need of ends woven and I want to start another four. In an effort to guilt myself into finishing what I started, I’m going to tell you about them. I feel like I need a boiler man screaming at me to finish what I started. The little soot sprites crocheting near me would be infinitely inspiring.

Project one: paralyzed by ends

The lichen is the best part of this picture.

This is a cowl. Right now, it is only a cowl in spirit. It is still a flat piece of fabric riddled with ends. I used a single crochet, chain, 2 double crochets shell with randomly chosen color changes. (Randomly chosen means that when I picked a new color I made my various family members pick a number between 1 and 6. It’s very effective.)

I liked this because it worked up quickly. I hate this for its ends. It’s been in the work basket (yep, a real basket overflowing with projects) for months because I refuse to acknowledge its end weaving needs. I keep coming up with little games like weaving just two ends a day, but even that seems an onerous burden.

Next!

Project two: Why don’t love knots go faster?

The sun came out and ruined my semi-gloomy rainy day aesthetic.

First, please note the very sexy lichen. I’m not one to objectify much of anything, but that lichen is a sexy little beast.

I am never parting with this table and its charming lichen.

Seriously! Behold the lichen!

Okay, so this is a love knot wrap. In the first picture, you might notice a slight angle to the outside edge. This is a trapezoidal wrap so that I can wrap it around myself and have a longer edge for the bit that will hit at my elbow for greater range of motion.

Just kidding. I messed it up. My knot loops are longer in the most recently worked bits. I think this is me trying to run out of yarn. I did this with two strands of yarn (one lace weight single ply and one lace weight, hand spun double ply) held together. One row of knots is straight across and the other zigzags. Overall I like it. I just feel like it should go faster. It goes faster than a normal project because the stitches are so open, but I feel like it should be even faster. Like done in a day fast, which, with lace weight, is ridiculous. But I’m up for a little crochet magic. I’m not getting any, but I would accept it.

Project three: Stupid pile of stupid ends

Stupid sun. This almost reads like a nice fall day.

Yeah, there’s lichen in this one, too. This is my motif project. To be honest, I really do like this project. I don’t even mind the ends as much. So, either this project has broken me completely or end weaving disdain could vary as per my overall love for a project. Hmmm. Interesting.

Project four: Hand spun fairy lace

A tiny peak of lichen! And lots of sun. It has no respect for my oeuvre.

Of all of the projects, this one brings me the most joy. It’s a lace pattern from a new pattern book I’ve been obsessed with. It blocks out into a drapey, open lace. Done, as I am doing it in a hand spun, it speaks of fairy revels and moonlight in days before women were persecuted as witches. I love this wrap. And! Best of all, eight ends. I owe a yarn brownie a bowl of milk or two.

Project five: Holidays with alpacas

This blocks almost all of the lichen.

This is the reading wrap for my father for sometime in the future. It would be nice if that sometime was in the last bit of December. I make no promises.

The first border end is done and I have started on the middle bit. Yes, the yarn baby that took three hours to ball up bit. I don’t think the color is pooling. I’ll have to do a bit more and see. I’m going to swear it’s a design feature if it does. I’m going to advocate loudly that yarn has its reasons for pooling or not pooling and we deny those whims at our own risks.

I’ll likely just frog it and break the big balls into little ones and start that section again. But I will believe in my heart that I have denied the yarn its voice.

Project six: Third time’s a charm, right?

Lichen, lichen everywhere!

This is my mother’s reading wrap. Again, no promises. It’s done when it’s done! It’s going to be a mess of ends, so maybe I’ll finish this in 2022. We will likely still be in quarantine, so I’ll have time.

I tried this as a motif wrap. The motif is nice, my patience said no. I tried this as a row of single crochets, row of double crochets, rows with singles and double front post crochets dropping down. Hated it all. I found the present stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary. I really like it and it works up really quickly. Nice. There are, of course, two ends per row. Why do the patterns I love betray me this way?

I do really like the pattern, though. I’m wondering if I can play with it a bit in order to make a knock off of that Night Shift shawl everyone is knitting? I think I can. I want to. I’m thinking I could call it the Groggy Morning shawl to play off the Night Shift shawl theme.

And that’s everything. What do I want to add to this pile? A pair of fingerless gloves, a Night Shift knock off, a weird sort of abstract thing, and a checkerboard thing. But I cannot. I must not. Not until I finish some things.

Did I already secretly start some of the others. Maybe yes, maybe no. I’m not saying.

Do you want more sexy lichen? I know I do. Wish granted!

Lichen for the win!

Striped reading wrap

I’m off and running, after several false starts, on one of the reading wraps I have planned. This one is going to be striped with blues and grays in lace weight yarn held double (because I don’t have any desire to do a big lace weight wrap right now). This is its yarn palette. I had all of these in my stash so bonus for my budget. I like blue, the gray sets it off nicely, and there’s lots of the variegated hank. Good so far!

Negative point one: balling it all up. I sort of hated winding up that big yarn baby (it was like seven regular hanks). I had visions of really getting a head start on my ten thousand steps for the day by walking around the yarn swift as I balled it up. It turns out that my wrist based step counter doesn’t count steps if your arms are holding a fat yarn ball instead of swinging. I sat down to ball it up, which really tells you a lot about my feelings for exercise.

Negative point two: Let’s talk about those false starts. I want this to be a nice wide rectangle to cuddle in while reading. My plan is for a roughly 30” x 70” wrap. I’m making this for my father, so I want a masculine stitch pattern. I got it into my head that a ribbed stitch would be good. My daughter does really cool hats with ribbed stitches, so I thought I would have a go.

See, Adia can do cool things with ribbed stitches.

I started with a 4 mm hook and a plan to do a few columns of front post ribbing. It was too tight even with thin lace weight held double. This speaks to my way of crocheting, so I upped the hook size. I still wasn’t happy. The beginning of the ribs looked sloppy. I started again leaving a little gap before and after each stitch to be used for the ribs. It was neat and orderly. I, of course, was not pleased. It didn’t bring me happiness at all. Starting a long project that you hate is a terrible idea, so I started again with a simple shell stitch. Happiness abounds!

If I ever get my stuff together and actually swatch stitches before I start, I think my crochet life will be so much better. But I’m impatient and want to start now! Sigh. I’m really good at frogging now. It was a skill I gained early on.

So where are we? We have lots of lace weight alpaca being held double for the squish of it, a 4.5 mm hook, and a relatively simple shell pattern (sc, 2 dc).

I like the squishiness. I like the way the stitch pattern works up quickly. This is a good project.

And look, stripes!

I’m happy and it goes quickly. But I sort of wish I didn’t hate ribbing the way I do. Adia makes it look funky and easy.

Another cool hat that I can only look on with envy.

I’ll post again once I get to the big variegated section. Fingers crossed it goes quickly and smoothly!

Meg says hello.

So I guess I’ll do some holiday projects after all

I wasn’t going to do any holiday projects this year. I was just going to do whatever project made me happy and not worry about gifts. However, thanks to Covid, I will not be seeing my parents for Christmas for the first time in my life. So I’m making them reading wraps. It’s just two projects. I can do that.

This is the first colorway. I’m planning to do some textured stitches. I’m using some lace weight alpaca from my stash. Some are odds and ends, some are whole skeins, one is a yarn baby (that took me three hours to ball up). I am going to hold it double for the squishiness of it. I’ll post more pictures once I get started.

Good luck with any holiday projects you might be working on.

I hate an empty wall

We rearranged our family room today. It’s much better. We can all look at each other in that triangle of conversation thing. H’s shaft loom isn’t being squashed anymore. Meg the fluffy cat beast has access to the window and sunbeams. It’s better. I’m happy about the room arrangement. What I’m not happy about are the now blank walls.

We moved out a bookcase that covered the wall nicely with the joy of unread books. There is little greater in the world to decorate with than books. But now my room is bereft of its books.

Look at the horror! It’s all blank and terrible. I hate empty white walls. I need to browse Pinterest for crocheted wall art.