This year’s color is “Living Coral,” a color I’ve been complaining about for at least the last five years. It’s a color that looks good on few and downright terrible on others. Target has been pairing it with a medium, dusky blue for years. I continue to be unconvinced that the shades go together, that they belong on clothes or that they belong in this decade.

Image via Pantone.com

Living Coral is supposed to be bright, but understated. Humanizing, reminiscent of the past but bringing us into the future, light hearted and life affirming. Or some such.

Previously:

I guess something had to be the color of the year and it’s unlikely to be a shade to my taste. Not with my general dislike of bright colors or pink. Any pink. All pinks. At least it’s not “Millennial Pink.”

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I’ve been working on my husband’s Dodger beanie. Well, I really haven’t. The cat will not let me work on much of anything. When it’s cold, sometime your just have to cuddle!

Last night I got some work done. Turns out it’s hard to keep 4 yarns from tangling and to keep good tension on the logo portion. I’m not sure about the right side of the logo; it seems a bit short. We’ll see.

I removed the typical outline, reduced the height in a couple places with minimal white and the width in the vertical white sections to make up for Tunisian stitches being taller than their width.

Cat cuddling! Look at those feet!

I’m not making a lot for Christmas this year. Actually, I largely don’t know what I’m doing. Eek, that’s not going to turn out well for me, is it? I have a crocheted blanket to complete and I’m making my husband (who I seriously doubt will read this post) a Dodger beanie, semi-on-request, in Tunisian crochet in the round.

The pink logo test. What else am I going to do with that terrible yarn? And yes, I’m going to have to modify the pattern. Tunisian stitches are taller than they are wide, giving the bottom of the A too heavy a foot.

I thought the Caron Simply Soft yarns would be nice. Simple, washable, I already had white and just needed to buy blue. Well it turns out gray is a nice addition, but the blue (now in my possession) isn’t quite the right shade. I started the project, but the color was disappointing, so a-hunting I went.

At dreaded MalWart, the only place that is close to me and open after 5, I could only find the right color in the ever cheap SuperSaver skein. It’s useful yarn for big projects, but cheap and scratchy. Some of the colors have an odd, almost foamy, texture, while others are stiff. I bought the right blue and a good gray (which is surprisingly soft). I already had white. I started the project again. And again, I was disappointed. The yarn is thicker (yes, it’s #4, but technically so is the Caron) and scratchier than I’d like. So a-hunting I went.

I looked at several major yarn retailers and loaded my cart with the blue (and coordinating white and gray) yarns for further review. Between DK and sport weights, a recommended website and the very evil-in-a-good-way yarn.com, I had 7 different sets in my carts. The problem is that almost no one comes out and says “this is Dodger blue,” and I can’t find accurate hex code or pantone equivalencies, so I’m guessing. There are a lot of great choices with different compositions on yarn.com. Acrylic, superwash wool, cotton, bamboo, nylon, polyamide, cashmere, angora, etc., and pretty much every conceivable combination. There is a superwash wool/ bamboo viscose that particularly caught my eye.

I got rid of everything in one cart and reduced the other from 5 sets to 3. My thought was to pick two and return one set after viewing them in person and making the best choice.

Then I thought, ‘what the heck am I doing!?’ It’s nice to get the right materials, but I’m being wasteful. I already have two sets of not quite right. Now I was going to add two more? Shame on me.

Today I read about a company that a friend introduced me to last year, Love Your Mellon. They make beanies and donate 50% to cancer charities (they used to donate a beanie for each sold, but stopped after they hit something like 45k). With those kinds of numbers they clearly make (made in the USA) and buy in bulk, so they have a lot of options. I’m sure, like the garment industry, they are able to have yarns made to their specifications, unlike us mere mortals. In fact, Love Your Mellon’s latest hats are made partially of reclaimed ocean plastic. Good for them. Good for the environment too, as long as the reclaiming process is also environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately, there is a continued divide between available supplies for commercial makers and what we small time folks can get. My local options are MalWart (barely an option), Joann’s, Beverly’s and Michael’s and a couple independent stores that closed by the time I get off work. And the internet, of course. I’m limited to inferior mass production or expensive and hard to get to semi-mass production. Yes, there are other options, but not great ones for my current needs and situation.

Where does that leave my hat? I’m still waffling about which of my two versions to work up. Each isn’t quite right. When I do decide, I’ll finish it and let my husband decide if he’ll wear it as is. If not, I’ll offer him the option of one of those other yarns and make non-rushed, smarter decisions. Maybe someone offers swatches. Maybe some small retailers and independent retailers just need better websites. Maybe I hate shopping.

Or maybe I need to relearn patience and practice less instant gratification. Back when I had to save and plan for every single purchase, I would find something I liked and carry it around the store. If I was still interested when I was ready to leave, I’d get it. Other times, usually for bigger purchases, I’d put it back. If it was still there a couple days later and I still wanted it, I’d get it.

For further reading.

I love when something considered women’s arts (for lack of a better term) is used to subvert those stereotypes in an unexpected way. It’s even better when the woman in question did so well over a hundred years ago!

Sarah Baker’s Solar System quilt, 1876 (image from Wikipedia)

This quilt really caught my fancy – and it’s for science! A teacher, Sarah Baker, completed it in 1876 to use as an Astronomy teaching aid. And it’s beautiful! The level of hand work is really stunning. I’m not a huge fan of quilts generally as physical objects (through the stories that go with some of them can definitely sway me), but this one is stunning on its own visual merit with it’s starting black background and delicate contrasting hand stitching. It even depicts, most likely, Halley’s Comet, which was a huge topic of conversation when I was a kid in 1986 (maybe around the same age as Sarah’s students) and could be visible a second time in my life (next sighting should be 2061).

The quilt is rather large at 89″ x 106″ and is made of a wool top section with appliques, silk and wool embroidery threads, wool braid and cotton back. It took 7 years to complete!

You can read more about Sarah and the quilt on Wikipedia. The quilt is currently in the Smithsonian collection.

If you’re interested in historic quilts for science, Sarah’s was not an anomaly. Such quilts were entered into country and state fair completions and likely adorned other classroom walls. Thought perhaps not with quite as much style! There are also modern art/science quilts.

My first complete test project in Tunisian crochet! Tunisian Simple Stitch with half double crochet edge to make it lay flat.

I also tried Tunisian Stockingette stitch (knit stitch). I can see where it can be used to make ribbing, but in general it’s very thick, which is the opposite of what attracted me to Tunisian Simple Stitch.

I was thinking about upcoming holiday gifts recently when I saw a post on Ever the Crafter where they used crochet linen stitch. How lovely and dense looking, I thought. Then I remembered various random sightings of Tunisian or Afghan crochet and these unique bamboo hooks I bought several years back at MalWart. They were cheaper and had some instruction. This was back when I still didn’t have crochet figured out. Thanks left handedness! But then S stepped in with a simple and clear how-to book with left and right hand versions and everything clicked!

But I digress. The MalWart purchase is supposedly some crochet/knit combo thing (as if they came up with something new and special), but I now believe that it exclusively shows Tunisian Stockingette stitch (while making it slightly more complicated than necessary). But I do love the bamboo hooks. They have a little hole in the far end where you thread a cord through, thereby extending the length of the hook. Perfect for Tunisian crochet!

And I was off to the interwebs. I happened onto Purlsoho.com, where they have a great basic explainer for Tunisian crochet with free patterns for washcloths, a scarf and a pointed hat.

After a couple fumbling starts, where I got used to holding the starting chain (I use foundation half double crochet for most projects, which is easier to handle) and preparation row comfortably, I was off!

First try on Tunisian simple stitch, front

First try on Tunisian simple stitch, back

I’m pretty pleased that it comes together so easily. Tension almost isn’t even an issue except at the start/end of rows and holding onto stitches as they move on the hook. The biggest challenge for me seems to be getting used to holding the work on the hook and moving it smoothly. Once I decided to let half of a 42 stitch piece fall off the hook into the cord and to not try to put it back until I’d done the return on the first half, things went much more smoothly.

I dislike knitting, but have always disliked the holes you get in crochet for things like washcloths. I think Tunisian crochet is going to be an excellent substitute and that will be my first small project.

Did I figure out what I’m doing for Christmas gifts? Did I get back to the 90% complete pineapple pattern crochet blanket I almost finished making my mom last Christmas? That’s no and no. But I did find a fun new project!

Look what I just got!

Sugar Skulls for Ashley, Seahorses and Starfish, and Octopus and Sea Turtles

Seahorses and Starfish, Octopus and Sea Turtles and a cheater quilt with a third smaller scale fabric with seaweed

At some point I heard about Spoonflower and started occasionally designing my own fabric, mostly for holiday projects. Getting a Spoonflower package in the mail is always a great way to end the day! If you are unfamiliar, I suggest you check them out. They have thousands of unique designs available on a number of different fabrics and even wallpaper. Should you happen to purchase any of my designs I receive a designer percentage credit (and if you do, thank you!).

Sugar Skulls for Ashley is a variety of hot pinks and red on a pale pink background. I designed it for my friends Ashley, who is into dia de los muertos and loves pink. The face in the heart is basically her. Each framed face is about 2″ wide in this version, though I printed the sample at a smaller scale. This fabric will be a dirndil skirt.

There are three Sea Creatures fabrics designed to go together. They are intended for some baby items, so I wanted to keep them pale overall with the animals in navy blue. There are also pale blue, bright and pale green and a little bit of gray detail in the fabrics.

The main sea creatures item is a cheater quilt featuring groups of three to six continuous squares of each fabric. The back will be the version with the white background and I’ll be doing a wide boarder of the version with the sea stars, which is the brightest one. I’ve never made a quilt, so I figured a cheater version was the way to go, especially if I want to get it to my cousin before his son is no longer a baby!