Friday, July 7, 2017

Progress in Reverse

  If you read my last post, then you saw my impulse buy of a (yummy) new yarn. Now, here's the story of the project that caused the shopping trip:

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  It's a panel blanket. I'm using the seamless join method to attach the panels together, and it was going really fast... Really, really fast after a sleepless night spent joining the pieces. But there I was at 3 a.m. with two panels left to go, and I reached the end of my yarn:

yarn, stash, WIP, work in progress, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, afghan, panels, seamless join, scrapbuster, stashbuster

  For the panels, I used a mix of yarns from my stash. The white might be Red Heart Super Saver, but... The more I work with the yarn leftover from making the Eye of the Emerald set, the more I'm sure it's Caron One Pound. The other two yarns are definitely Red Heart Super Saver - One is scrap left from making the Josephina Elephant rug; the other is a whole Jumbo skein bought for a project, but never used.

  And also a leftover from making the elephant rug, almost an entire skein of Red Heart Super Saver in black. It was still so full that I was fighting to pull the tail out when I began. And I weighed it, too: This 7 oz. ball was only missing half an ounce. I was sure that there would be enough to join all the panels!

yarn, stash, WIP, work in progress, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, afghan, panels, seamless join, scrapbuster, stashbuster

  I really like the look of the joining seam I'm making, but it's eating more yarn than the stitch used for the panels. I thought about ripping it back and changing to a lighter stitch, but I didn't want to chance running out again anyway. I like the seam, and I don't want to change it! So, I went yarn shopping...

yarn, stash, WIP, work in progress, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, afghan, panels, seamless join, scrapbuster, stashbuster

  I went yarn shopping to discover that the local Michaels doesn't carry Red Heart Super Saver. UGH! The only other nearby option for getting yarn right now: Wal-mart... NOOOOO! I don't know the reason why in this town, Wal-mart on a Wednesday is a freaking madhouse. It's not much better any other day, but there's no way I'm going there on a Wednesday if I can help it. Since I'm pretty sure I'm already using it in the project anyway, I picked up a skein of Caron One Pound just in case:

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  And wouldn't you know it... Red Heart Super Saver isn't available at the local Wal-mart, either. I'm not sure if somebody just buys it all up, or if the store never stocks it. All I know is that every time I go to buy it, they have empty shelves. So, I'm glad I picked up that skein of One Pound... But now, to progress in reverse:

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  It may seem like undoing to you, but I know I can rip this project out and have it back together before an online order will get here. So in my mind, waiting for a shipment of yarn is anti-progress, and ripping it out is moving forward.

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  After deciding to re-roll the entire skein as a center-pull ball on my fingers, I'm glad to be a heavy metal fan with devil-horn experience. Ouch, that was a lot of yarn to roll that way... And I wasn't even done yet:

yarn, stash, WIP, work in progress, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, afghan, panels, seamless join, scrapbuster, stashbuster

  Soon enough, I had the last of the Super Saver unraveled from the project. I briefly considered redesigning the seam stitch again, but no, I'm keeping it as-is. With that skein of One-Pound, I'll end up having leftovers when I'm done. I like the texture of the fuller stitches combined with the seamless join. It gives the seam a cabled look, and it was working to beef up this somewhat delicate design that's intended for a boy.
 
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  I find it funny that this project forced me to go buy One Pound in black. I just finished the Big Huge Afghan for my dad, which used up the One Pound skeins that were supposed to be for my coffee-themed blanket... But the taupe never fit in with the coffee theme, and I planned to try again with black once the yarn-shopping-ban was lifted... And since the ban never really was lifted (though I've broke the rules a few times), I decided to create the afghan for Dad and make some room in my stash.

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  Now with a new WIP using up more scraps, I'm forced to go buy the yarn that I was waiting to purchase for another project. Ironic? Yes, but I'm taking it as a sign. Work never progressed on the things I was waiting for, but more-spontaneous ideas have started flying off my hook. I found myself once again enjoying finished projects instead of feeling like a failure for the ones that didn't move forward.

  Sometimes when things aren't working, you just have to progress in reverse. Abandon the idea that is holding you back, or at least put it away for another time... Work on something else that gives you a challenge of a different kind... Such as how my latest work in progress is like putting together a puzzle by using up scraps. It's not a plan; just an idea to follow. There's times I like plans. There's other times I'll rip back an entire skein just so I don't have to wait for a shipment of yarn. Do what you have to do to keep the "happy" in...

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mmm, Cotton Cakes!

Caron Cotton Cakes, cotton, acrylic, blend, yarn, new


  Such a yummy find today! So, I had to go yarn shopping. And when I say "had to", I mean it; I swear! I ran out of the yarn I was using to join the pieces of a work in progress, plus I have a neglected WIP that's also been awaiting the purchase of yarn. As always, you know I have to look for any new yarns that may be on display. (It doesn't mean I have to buy them, right?) The find of the trip: Deliciously soft Caron Cotton Cakes.


Caron Cotton Cakes, cotton, acrylic, blend, yarn, new


  And just because I don't have to buy them doesn't mean I can't buy them, right? Because I totally bought some. After all, No self-respecting crochet blogger would pass up the chance to shout about an awesome new yarn, right? And yes, if you were in the local Michaels, I was the one that was loudly exclaiming "COTTON CAKES? LOOK, IT'S CARON CAKES IN COTTON! CARON CAKES MADE COTTON! OMG IT'S SOOOOOOO SOFT!"... Thanks for looking the other way and understanding my yarn addiction instead of calling the Funny Farm to come get me.


Caron Cotton Cakes, cotton, acrylic, blend, yarn, new


  Anyway, enough silliness about the shopping trip. Let's get to the yarn itself: Cotton Cakes comes in 3.5 oz / 100 g balls; approximately 211 yds / 193 m. Unlike its part-wool big sister Cakes, Cotton Cakes is acrylic blended with... Yup, cotton. Although the label claims to be a worsted weight / 4, it feels much closer to a DK yarn.


Caron Cotton Cakes, cotton, acrylic, blend, yarn, new


  Available in colors similar to the original Cakes, my eyes almost dismissed this yarn for smaller balls of its big Sis. There was a display of Cakes across the aisle from the Cotton Cakes, and I was wondering "why would they put two displays across from each other like that?", then I saw that word: COTTON. So don't go shopping on autopilot, or you might just miss it!


Caron Cotton Cakes, cotton, acrylic, blend, yarn, new


  But no, I didn't miss it. Two balls of Caron Cotton Cakes ended up in my arms, and are now in the stash I'm trying to reduce. Part of me wants to recreate the Be Square Top with it, because wool is just too warm for Florida. The rest of me wants to make something fresh with the new yarn. And if there's anything left of me between "part" and "the rest", it will keep me from starting a new project until all other WIP's are finished.

  What, you laugh and doubt me? (Well, you probably know me, then.) I promise, it hasn't touched the hook yet. As for that little tail that kinda sort-of popped out for me to take a picture, I stuffed it back in so it wouldn't tempt me. Believe me, it's calling... But I have a lot of work to do on the latest WIP on the hook; it's the whole reason I went yarn shopping to begin with. And do I have a story for you about that one! I'll tell it another day, though. For now, I'll leave you with

Happy Crocheting!

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:

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



  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.

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(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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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.

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


Happy Crocheting!


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