Friday, June 30, 2017

Big Huge Afghan - GrannySpiration Challenge

  I've never made a big, huge afghan with smaller squares, and I don't think I'm about to start... Although I love the classic look and any project that uses up scraps, I just don't have the ambition to keep working on the same thing over and over. I get bored and lose interest. (And I hate weaving in end after end!) So for those like me who still wish they could make a large blanket with granny squares, here's a project that helps fight the boredom and reduces yarn tails:

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After the pattern, be sure to check out last month's features, see what others in the Granny-Spiration Challenge are making this month, enter the giveaway, and you can share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup, too!

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  My project started as one big square, with no strategy in mind other than to build as I went to use up the horribly-greenish Taupe that would never fit into my coffee-themed afghan, then give it to Dad because the color actually looks good in his house... And it ended with using up (almost) all four of my One-Pound skeins by the time I decided to call it "done"! Most agree that maybe it's a bit too large, but with the instructions I'll give you, the squares can easily be adjusted in size for a smaller blanket with the same sort of design. You can click here for the rest of the story behind the project.


Skill level:
Easy!

Yarns and colors used:
Color A - Red Heart Super Saver in Sage
Color B - Red Heart Super Saver in Frosty Green
Color C - Caron One Pound in (horribly-greenish) Taupe
Color D - Caron One Pound in Espresso
Color E - Red Heart Super Saver in SH Browns (Discontinued, but look for the color "Shaded Browns"; I think it's the same thing! Hmm, with such a similar name, could it be? Could it???)
Color F - Caron One Pound in Off White
Color G - Caron One Pound in Lace

Notes:
I used a hook size J/10 - 6.00 mm. These are just simple granny squares - Use whatever hook size works for you!

Squares begin with the magic circle.

All rounds begin with chain-1 and a double crochet; skipping over the chain-1 to join.

Begin in a corner with 3 double crochet, completing the corner at the end of the round.

Skip the last chain-1 of the corner space before joining the round, and join with a single crochet stitch to count as the chain-1 corner space.

Directions for joining squares are after the patterns, but I highly suggest you review them before you begin. The squares are NOT all joined together at one time, with extra borders added to the strips to make the stitch counts match up.

Instructions:

The big square:
Worked in the classic granny stitch (3 double crochet, chain-1), and using (3 double crochet, 1 chain, 3 double crochet) for corners.

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2 rounds Color A
2 rounds Color B
4 rounds Color C

Repeat to desired size.
(2 more times for a width of about 40" / 102 cm - And keep in mind that's just the size of the Big Square!)

Bind off, weave in ends.

*Optional* Use Color E (variegated that reflects all the browns in the project) and the surface crochet slip stitch to highlight a design around some of the rounds. I only added this detail between Colors A and B.


Medium Squares:
Worked in the same pattern as above. Six of these were made to (almost) match the width of the Big Square, for three on each side.

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(Shown here without last round worked)

(Make 4) Version 1:
2 rounds Color A
2 rounds Color E
2 rounds Color B
1 round Color F

(Make 2) Version 2:
2 rounds Color E
2 rounds Color B
2 rounds Color D
1 round Color F

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Small Squares:
Worked in a variation of the classic stitch to save yarn and lighten up the pattern - (2 double crochet, chain-2), with (2 double crochet, 2 chain, 2 double crochet) corners. Twenty-six of these were made for a total of 13 on each side.

afghan, Big, blanket, Caron One Pound, free, giveaway, granny square, granny stitch, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, linkup, pattern, seamless join, stashbuster, Super Saver, surface crochet, Yarn,

(6) Version 1:
1 round Color C
1 round Color D

(4) Version 2:
1 round Color E
1 round Color F

(4) Version 3:
1 round Color B
1 round Color D

(4) Version 4:
1 round Color A
1 round Color C

(4) Version 5:
1 round Color E
1 round Color B

(4) Version 6:
1 round Color D
1 round Color F


Joining:
The seamless joining method was used to put all squares together, but not all at the same time! This makes "mapping" the project a bit easier but much different than the usual way. Just check the diagrams and follow the directions starting from the top...

Where the map calls to "work regular", just work across the squares as usual. (I used the 3 double crochet, chain-1 granny stitch in each chain-1 space.) Where it calls to join: *Work 3 double crochet, chain 1, remove the hook, insert in the opposite chain space, pick up the loop. Chain 1.*
Repeat from * to * across the remainder of the square.



For the corner space on the joining side: Work the stitch, join, then make another (3 double crochet, chain-1) in the same corner space.


Using Color D, join the Medium squares together in strips of three in the following order - Version 1, 2, and 1.
Bind off Color D after finishing the join.

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Using Color F, join the strips of Medium squares to the Big square.
Once the join is complete, continue around the outer edge of the pieces for a second border-round.
Bind off Color F.

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Using Color G, join Small squares together in two strips of 13, in the following order - 6, 5, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 6.
(You can use the map for the medium squares - Just add more squares in the row.)
Continue around for a second border-round; bind off Color G.
Join Color F; work 2 rounds; bind off.
Join Color D, work 2 rounds*; bind off.
*Optional* Knowing the blanket would be heavy, I changed to the (2 double crochet, chain-2) stitch for those last two rounds.

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...And just for a tip, you can make the sides a little narrower if you make an extra Small square for that strip. You won't have to work as many border rounds to gain the length needed to join all pieces together. (But you're on your own with counting those stitches!)

Using Color G, join the strips of Small squares to the remainder of the project; starting at the corner of one strip of Medium squares, across the Big square, and to the next strip of Medium squares.
Once the joins are complete, continue working around for a second border-round.
Bind off Color G.

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Could it be done now? YES! Did I stop? NO!

Border:


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I continued around all that with a lacy border of (single crochet, chain-3), working two rounds of each of the following colors:
Color C
Color D
Color F
Color G

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Could it be done then? YES... Did I stop? Still NO!

I transitioned from the lacy stitch with one round of Color D, worked with the (2 double crochet, chain-2 stitch).


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Working in the classic granny stitch again, I finally finished with a border of one-round color changes in the following order:
Color C
Color F
Color D
Color G
Color C
Color F.

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afghan, Big, blanket, Caron One Pound, free, giveaway, granny square, granny stitch, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, linkup, pattern, seamless join, stashbuster, Super Saver, surface crochet, Yarn,


Okay. Now that I can barely pick it up on my own, it's DONE! I never did get an exact measurement of the final size, because my sewing tape measure was too small and my big tape measure is missing from my toolbox... But we know that when spread out, it takes up the whole length of Dad's 6' (2 m) long couch.

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Happy Crocheting!


Whew... And now that it's finally done, can we get on to the Granny-Spiration Challenge?

Last month's most-clicked links:

linkup, link party, features, GrannySpiration Challenge 2017


1. Largest Blanket from Hobbyloes

2. Crochet Baby Blanket and Hats from Julie's Creative Lifestyle

3. Granny Square Stash Buster Blanket from Sum of their Stories


Go see what everyone in the Challenge is creating:



And enter the giveaway:

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The July linkup will open 12 a.m. EST July 1, 2017, and runs through midnight on Thursday, July 13.

This month's linkup is sponsored by me! One winner will receive a free copy of the latest pattern in my Ravelry store, the 1-2-3 Beautiful scarf, plus three skeins of Caron Simply Soft yarn in your choice of colors.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Psst... And something special for Granny-Spiration Challenge visitors: You can purchase the pattern for the 1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf for half-price by using the coupon code GrannySpiration at checkout! The code is good until 11:59 p.m. EST on August 1st, 2017.

Now, share your granny-inspired projects!

New Granny-Spiration Projects will be shared from your hosts the first Saturday of each month. Post times will vary. You will be able to link up from 12:00am EST on the first Saturday of the month, through midnight EST on the second Thursday from the start date - specific dates are on top of the Rafflecopter form - giving you almost two weeks to link up and enter the giveaway!

Please share projects that are family friendly, and GRANNY INSPIRED through use of regular granny square or solid granny square, granny stitch pattern or other afghan square in the form of a free pattern, pattern review, or inspiration piece. Not limited to crochet or knit.

Please make sure to link to your post, and not your home page.

*If you don't have a blog, you can still share with us by creating a Free Flickr Account - powered by Yahoo. Add your projects there, and then come back here with the link for the project.

*Link ups cannot be to Etsy listings or Ravelry pages where patterns are sold. You can link to blog posts, Flickr or Facebook pages, Pins, etc that are directed towards it, but can't directly link to it.
To be clearer though, Raverly pages of finished projects are okay to share. Sorry for the inconvenience! That's per InLinkz guidelines. Thanks!

Features may be chosen at the discretion of each host. By linking up, you give us permission to feature your item.




Thursday, June 29, 2017

Look, a Couch!

  This post might not be about crochet itself, but I know there's many crocheters out there that fight the same fight as me... We just seem to hoard crochet projects and yarn, and sometimes(?) it starts getting messy. Long-time followers, you know I've battled to empty my couch of all WIP's for a while. I took a few computer-free days this week, and it got me motivated to work on cleaning it off some more. And finally - Finally - You can see more than a corner of my couch!


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  Rip van Winkle picked up some storage bins for his stuff, and ended up with an extra one he didn't need. With the pile already being a mess on the couch, I figured it would be better off as a mess in a box. But as I started cleaning, I found things (garbage, really) that had been buried under everything else. Yarn labels, discarded tails, and scraps of fabric that weren't suitable for making into yarn. So I've discovered that I'm being messier than I thought!


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  With the rubbish thrown out, I started to organize yarn scraps into bags. Seeing that it would take a long time, I decided to stop organizing and put the rest in the bin as the mess that it was. Some was already bagged up, and I found room for it back in the bin from which it came. It went along with the other bin to the corner I'm trying to turn into my office... Well, at least you can see my couch now:


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  As for the office, it's not what I really wanted. When work started spilling all over the house, I knew I had to get organized before it was too late. I had plans for the perfect desk and work-space, but something gets in the way every time I get close to achieving it. The car, the air conditioner, the disaster of trying to sell Rip's truck... And how much else? The more my office was put off, the more my house looked like it was already too late to fight the mess. But at least now you can finally see the couch:


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  Yay, kinda... It's not much of a couch to look at; a futon, really... But you can see it, so: Yay! The office is even less to look at, with storage bins crammed underneath a folding table and a mess of my notebooks still to find a home on top. But, it is my office. It's better than WIP's on the couch and dinner table, and it beats sitting in front of a file cabinet with no leg space.


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  With most things stashed away in bins, I hope to be able to concentrate more on one thing at a time. I used to be really organized, and I don't know how this has happened to my house. The more I set my mind to that "one thing at a time" plan, I find myself completing projects faster... And I know that might seem like "well duh, of course you finish things when you keep working on them", right? If only the crafty side of my brain would see it as common sense, I wouldn't be in this position in the first place.


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  I'm as disgusted with the fresh sheet on the couch as I am by my recent lack of organization... I absolutely hate the pattern of that set, but it's the only spare I have left. The rest were showing wear, so they got cut up for a fabric yarn project that's being neglected in a bin. And now I've discovered a rip in this one, so I guess I've been letting a lot of things go around here. Fresh sheets and a fresh start: Please do not ever let me get back to this place again!


yarn, stash, organization, cleaning, WIP's, work in progress, crochet, projects, storage


  There's work left to go in the "office" but I suppose it's usable as-is... After all, I'm sitting here writing this post, with my feet propped up on one of my storage bins. (They make a pretty nice footrest, actually!) There's that little pile of WIP's on top of the bins behind my chair, but they're being left out because I plan to finish them soon. And if I don't get to them in a week or two, I think I'll stash those, too. Sometimes we make cutesy jokes about having an addiction to crochet and too many WIP's, but I'm over thinking this is funny. I need my organization back!

Happy Crocheting!
And Happy Organizing, too!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Be Square Top - Part 3

  This part of the tutorial will only cover a basic explanation of the pattern and the taller stitches used in the Be Square Top. Unfortunately, the photos I took for this part of the series didn't come out well. I'll be demonstrating the stitches with a different project so you can see how it's done, and I don't want the mix to get too confusing. Although this holds back the progress of the tutorial, I've managed to include some extra tips so you can use these stitches in multiple applications.

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  I've also been experimenting with better ways to hide the beginning chain in a round, so you'll see a few different methods used as I show you the stitches... But I do think this is all something that would be better shown in a video. I'm working on it, and I'll update here whenever it's finished.


Be Square Pattern design:
The Be Square Top was worked to just below the bust in the granny stitch, then I changed to a V-stitch variation. You can work your top in any stitches you want, but this pattern really saves on yarn!
-In each chain-1 space of the granny stitch, you'll work (1 stitch, 1 chain, 1 stitch).

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*And yes, that's one-less stitch per multiple. As explained in the previous tutorials, I had to dramatically decrease the number of stitches to balance the amount of stretch in the V-stitch pattern. I could have left the stitch count the same for a baggy fit, but I wanted a form-fitting top. If you don't want to decrease, then you could add a chain in between the V-stitches to keep the count the same.

-After the double crochet granny stitch, I began the V-stitch design using triple crochet stitches.

-The height of the stitches increases by one yarn-over every two rounds for the remainder of the pattern.

-Work the stitches in the space between each V-stitch, skipping the chain in the middle of the V-stitch itself.

-If you need to increase, you can work in extra stitches in the chain-1 of the V-stitch.

-In order to make a less-noticeable decrease, spread the V-stitch out over two spaces: 1 stitch in the first space, 1 chain, and 1 stitch in the next space.
...You can also leave out chains as I did, then skip over the decreasing stitches the next round. This is more noticeable, but takes out extra room quickly:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial



The stitches:
I'll show you those tricks for your beginning chain in a moment, but first let's start with the tallest stitch I used in the pattern: Six yarn-overs! If you can tackle that one, then making any of the shorter stitches will just be even easier.

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Yarn over the hook six times:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial


Just like any other basic stitch, you'll insert the hook, yarn over, and pull up a loop.

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(Yarn over, pull through two loops on the hook) 7 times to complete the stitch. You'll have one less loop on your hook each time you complete a step:

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Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial
Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

Now that you've seen the stitch in action, let's go over some options for gaining height at the beginning of rounds as I make some of those shorter stitches...


Beginning rounds:
Here I'm starting a motif that uses the chain-2/half double crochet beginning "chain", but I'll be working flat in the round instead of a cylinder as for the top.

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Let's start with a better-known stitch: 2 yarn-overs; the triple or treble crochet...
-We all know that making a chain to count as the first stitch is easiest, but I feel like it's flimsy when used with taller stitches.

-Typically you make two more chains than the number of yarn-overs in a stitch. (Triple = 2 yarn-overs = 4 chains high; and let's forget how the double crochet doesn't match up with 3 chains.) But either the taller stitches don't fit into this formula, or I'm just pulling up extra slack in my beginning chains. It creates a noticeable space like with a double crochet and chain-3, so I only chain one more than the number of yarn-overs in a stitch. (Triple = 3 chains high.)

-If you want to use this beginning method, then you can decide for yourself... Chain 2 more than the number of yarn-overs if needed. Here you can see that I made 3 chains for the beginning stitch, plus one more for the chain-1 of the V-stitch:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

The height matches, but I don't care for how thin the chain looks next to an actual stitch.

And trying my preferred method when beginning a double crochet: Chain one less, make a stitch, and skip over the beginning chain when joining...
This looks absolutely horrible next to taller stitches!

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(I won't waste my time finishing and joining the round. You can see how bad that is, right?)

So, we can move on to some other methods that require a bit more skill, but they're still really easy...

1. Put a twist on it!
Yarn over the required number of times, insert the hook, and pull up a loop:

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Twist the hook around: Bring the back of the hook towards you and spin all the way around.

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You'll know if you went the wrong way! The correct direction will pull the beginning chain over the stitch, making the loops match the direction of a stitch. Do this backwards, and the stitch will pull over the chains instead. It won't look right!

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No matter the height of the stitch, you'll twist after each time you pull through 2 loops. I tried skipping a few twists on the taller stitches, but the chain pops out from the side of the stitch.

2. Long loop + twist
Chain 1 to anchor the beginning, then pull up a long loop to the height of your stitch:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

This requires a bit more attention to detail, because you'll need to hold this loop secure as you yarn over and begin the stitch.

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

Yarn over the required number of times (5 shown here), insert the hook, and pull up a loop. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops once, then twist before each time you pull through 2 more loops:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial
Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

Psst... Can you tell I twisted the wrong direction before the last two loops?

You can better judge the length your loop should be by comparing it to the stitches in the previous row/round:

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

And I get it... That doesn't help much for the very first stitch in a pattern, but it gives you a starting point everywhere else.

Okay, here's where we end this part of the tutorial for the Be Square Top... 
If you're not interested in anything else, then class is dismissed! But if you want to earn a little extra credit, you can stick around.

To work in a cylinder for the Top or to work in rows is easier because you can keep your stitch count the same. To work flat in the round using these stitches, you'll have to make increases to keep your work from puckering.

Well, that's easy if you've ever crocheted a circle, right?

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You just double your stitches the second round, then on the third round you work one/ increase in the next... And for each round after the number between increases gets bigger... RIGHT?

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Nope, not necessarily true when working with taller stitches! On this motif, I worked a V-stitch with a chain-1 in between for the first round. I doubled the stitches on the second round by making the V-stitch in each chain-1 space.

The stitches shown in the previous photo increase in height every round: 2 yarn-overs, 4 yarn-overs, and 5 yarn-overs.
-Although doubling the stitch count on the second round was enough to keep the work flat, you can see how the stitches are more spread out because the pattern is beginning to pull.

-For the third round, nothing short of doubling the stitches again would keep the work flat.

Be Square Top, blouse, Caron Cakes, crochet, easy, granny square, how to, pattern, shirt, square, sweater, taller stitches, tank top, top, tutorial

The outer circumference of the circle is increased rapidly by the taller stitches, therefore you'll need more stitches to keep the work flat.

If you're working with the same stitch height each round, then you'll be able to fall into the old circle-making format. But if you want to change stitch heights within the project, you'll find yourself playing with stitch counts along the way.


Happy Crocheting!

Find Part 2 of the series here

Start at the beginning with the GrannySpiration Challenge