Yaaaaasssss!

It only took me *cough* three years to complete the thing, but it’s done. I present to you, the Red Heart Pineapple Squares throw blanket. Ta-da!

The table it’s sitting on is a 4′ x 4′ square and you can see it overhangs.

My camera decided to make everything very yellow, so I had to tweak all the pics, which blew out the backgrounds. This yarn is a vibrant blue-teal in real life, technically Peacock.

I used the Red Heart With Love yarn instead of the Super Saver the pattern calls for. The With Love yarns are delightfully soft. I’m pretty sure it also altered my scale so I might have an overall slightly larger blanket. The pattern calls for 6 skeins @ 364y each, but the With Love has 315y. I believe I bought 8, but I can’t be sure anymore. I got all worried last year, when did the bulk of the work, that I wasn’t going to have enough, so I bought a lot of three skeins in a panic. I can tell that I have those three new and one original left over. Thankfully I love this color.

The pattern is listed as intermediate and I’d agree with that. It’s not really a pattern you can work while watching TV, since every round is different and there are different size clusters in different places in each round. That said, once you get the swing of things you do make the same thing 12 times.

I initially started this with some leftover yellow yarn from the Monster Slippers, as a test run. Making one (some errors included) wasn’t too bad. I think I got through my first peacock square without too many mishaps, but it took forever somehow and it was clear that I would not be finishing for Christmas. I also felt like it was a bit too complicated for my skill level. My next big project was a Virus Blanket, which was easier than the pineapples, but more complicated than other things I’d done. It was a good way to prep myself to get through this blanket.

Being a South paw crocheter has some special challenges. It’s not just a mirror image of normal instructions. Things don’t always work in reverse. There are a couple very simple edge stitches that I can’t even do. In the round it means you sometimes need to start in a slightly different place than instructed, like at the next stitch or motif over. It’s entirely possible that I missed something somewhere and if I made this pattern again I could start my rounds as instructed (even though I’ve made 13 if these squares…), but I find the need to start elsewhere pretty consistent over different in-the-round patterns.

What all this means is I have to rewrite the instructions. In this case I did so more than once (the forest year and the second). These aren’t really written for anyone else and don’t say things like where I start subsequent rounds, but it gives you an idea of what I need to do to get through a pattern. What I love are diagrams. If a pattern has one I hardly need to make any notes at all, just find my starting place.

Left to right: my notes on the original, half of my version 1 and both pages of version 2, with a diagram of the first 8 rounds.

Did I enjoy this project? Yes.

Would I make it again? Maybe, but not any time soon. I really don’t like to do the same thing over again. I prefer a challenge. I did actually make something else with pineapples last year, a shawl, so that was similar.

Would I change anything if I did make it again? Yes. I think I’d add another row of squares so it would be 4 x 4 instead of 3 x 4. That should be around 64″ x 64″ overall.

What did I dislike most? I hate sewing in ends and sewing together. That’s why I will probably never make anything with Granny squares. I think 12 squares is my minimum. That said, if I made this again, I might figure out how to crochet the squares together as I went instead of sewing them together at the end.

No, it hasn’t been blocked and I frankly don’t care.

Look at those pretty pineapples! (A thing I would never say if it was food!)

This is the fill in motif. You start with a magic ring, add clusters, then complete by crocheting the little motif into the available space.

This is the center of a four pineapple square. Looking at it now, it doesn’t look quite symmetrical. I might have goofed something up. I know there are a couple places where I have a 3dc cluster where a 4dc cluster should be and visa versa, but I didn’t notice any central motif errors while I was making them. C’est la vie!

All folded up and ready to give to my mom for Christmas!

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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.

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!

I love inventive crochet and knitting. By now we’ve all seen the kids’ stocking cap with attached lumberjack beard and the very cool crocheted Viking helmets. Love them.

This mom has been tackling Halloween via crochet. First she made a full suit crochet Predator costume, which was great! As a child of the 80s her other creation holds a special place in my heart – and yeah, of course he glows! Check out Slimer!

It sort of reminds me of the inchworm costume I insisted my mom make me when I was about 5 (only cooler, sorry Mom). I’d totally be Slimer for Halloween.

Slimer! Via Crochetverse via boingboing.

Check out the rest of the story on boingboing.

Check out Crochetverse’s website here.

Happy almost Halloween!

Christmas 2014 saw me doing exactly zero sewing. That’s not to say I didn’t work with fabric. I stretched my crocheting knowledge and stenciled designs on a pre-made napkin and pint glasses. Here are a few pics:

chevron scarf 1

Chevron Crochet Scarf. Double Crochet.

More after the jump. (more…)