Sunrise/Sunset Shawl

I enjoy all sorts of crochet projects, both practical and decorative, but there’s no question that some projects really highlight the beauties of the craft. This is one of them. I recently completed a shawl for a friend of mine who is going through one of those life-altering transitions that hit us from time to time—and I was also thinking about the transitional times of day, sunrise and sunset, when I chose my materials. I wanted something that would look like a dark sky over a lightening horizon, and I wanted to make something fine and lacy. So I picked a beautiful colourway from YarnArt’s “Rosegarden” line (colour #326), and over a few weeks, effected the transition from this:

… to this:

Rosegarden is a 100% cotton yarn, which comes in a 250g/1,000m self-striping cake. With long gradient cakes like this one sometimes I’ll just let the colour changes flow, but for this project I wanted them to be at least semi-controlled. When the colour changes were simply different proportions of the same colours in the strand (like moving from 1:3 to a 2:2 ratio of orange:yellow, for example) I let the changes fall where they would. But when the change involved adding a new colour, I cut the yarn to make sure it came in right at the edge instead somewhere in the middle. This meant sacrificing a bit of length—I had 16g left over, so about 64m—but I think it was worth it… even with the mini heart attack I gave myself when I made the first cut. No turning back after that!

It had been quite a while since I’ve worked with a 1-weight yarn, so it took a few rows to get my sea legs back. But things went well after that, especially since this pattern was a joy to work with. It’s the “Klaziena Shawl” by designer Kirsten Bishop, and she has put together one of the most well-written patterns I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, it’s amazing: clear written instructions, sharp photographs, and charts. After two foundation rows, the pattern repeats rows 3-20, which became satisfyingly mindless after my first time through. I had enough yarn to go to row 52, falling just four rows short of three complete repeats. It still ended in a logical place, though, so I don’t mind. The shawl was completed with a 4mm hook; the pattern calls for 3.5mm but I wanted it to be a little more open. I’m curious to try it with the smaller hook next time; this is definitely a pattern that I will make again!

Faith CAL, part 5

Previously: part 4, part 3, part 2, part 1

This project has hit a major milestone: now measuring 39 inches across, it’s gotten big enough that I need to turn it corner-on for pictures! Here’s where we left off at the end of part 4, all the way back before Hallowe’en:

And here it is now (with better lighting, to boot):

Even though there were not that many rows in part 5, this section took a while since I stopped several times to complete more urgent projects. But after putting in a solid 2.5 hours yesterday (with apologies to my right wrist) I was happy to come to the end of this section. Not that it was particularly vexing; although I’d heard from others that this was their least favourite part of the CAL, I didn’t find it as finnicky as some others. Mostly I was just glad because finishing a project — or in this case, a discrete part of a project — is very satisfying to me.

Along with the fairly straightforward blue rows, this section features some interesting netting that reminds me sometimes of waves and sometimes of a monster mouth. All it comes down to is a series of stitches that move from shortest -> tallest -> shortest (or vice versa) sitting on top of each other. The varying heights balance out in the end, so that even though there is all that topsy-turviness on the inside, the final row of navy blue is level. (It still looks wavy in these pictures, but as soon as I add the next row it will be pulled quite straight.)

All told, this was a pretty enjoyable section. I needed to make some adjustments here and there because I’d rather fudge after than count before, but there were no major headaches. And since the blanket is now at that weird size where it’s too big for a lap blanket but too small for anything else… I guess I’d better keep going, eh?

In which I do not knit a hat

This week I started thinking about winter hats. It’s getting nippy where we live — not cold enough for me to bring out my heavy coat yet, but cold enough that most mornings I get a block or two into our walk to school and think “hmm, maybe I should have put a hat on.” Last year or the year before I made myself a toque from some alpaca yarn, and while it generally fulfills the brief I don’t love it. The winter hat I love the most is actually my mother’s; she left it at my house after a Christmas visit one year, and I wore it for the next winter or two before finally resigning myself to giving it back. That hat is a four-hour drive away now and, yes, technically somebody else’s property. I miss it.

So then I thought, well, maybe I could just knit a hat like it. I’ve got some lovely yarn left over from my last baby blanket; I’ve got needles in the correct size; if I just knit a panel and then sew it up construction will be easy; what could go wrong? So I found my needles and got out my yarn, watched a video to remind myself how to do the long-tail cast-on, and began.

Those of you who have been reading for a while may have questions at this point. “But Christine,” you may ask, “I thought you hated knitting! Didn’t you have a whole post about how much you dislike it? Didn’t you write it less than a year ago?”

Well, yes. All of that is true. All I can say is that the memory of my knitting pain had faded and I was focused on the hat-to-be — perhaps in the same way that a woman will forget the pain of labour in her eagerness to have another child. And much like a woman in labour, there came a point where realization set in, as my text messages with my super-knitter friend Rebecca attest:

So that went well.

Anyway, here is my new hat. Which I crocheted.

Stay tuned for the next time I forget I hate knitting, ETA 8-12 months from now.

Neutral baby blanket

Today I finished a baby blanket, for a little “probably a girl but they’re not totally sure so we’re not officially announcing it” who is arriving in early January — but, more to the point on my end, whose shower is this Saturday. I started a bit later than I had intended, and so needed to put in some very dedicated crocheting time in the evenings to finish before the deadline. But finish I did, and here it is:

This was an attempted reprise of the honeycomb blanket I made a year or so ago. I used the same pattern, and the same yarn — but I hadn’t noted the yardage of the skeins. Apparently this yarn (Lion Brand Scarfie) is now sold in a different size! Last time it took almost four skeins to make the blanket; I stopped this one after using about 2 & 2/3rds of a skein, and it’s much bigger than the first. I’ve got plenty left for my stash, at least.

The colourway I used this time is “silver / cream” and I adore it. Grey is a very underrated colour, and I would totally wear a cardigan or winter accessories made with this yarn. Scarfie is a washable wool-acrylic blend, and it was worked up with a K (10.5 mm) hook.

Rest warmly, little one.

Faith CAL, part 4

Previously: part 3, part 2, part 1

Finishing part 4 of this crochet-along marks the halfway point, at least as far as the individual sections are concerned. Time-wise it’s hard to say, as the rows get progressively longer as it grows. But I can really see the size building now, and over the course of part four the blanket went from this:

… to this!

I think I’m going to have to start turning it on the diagonal from now on, if I’m going to keep using this same chair for staging. But anyway, here is part four, which again added a lot of that lovely Helen Shrimpton trademark texture — albeit of a subtler type than in the last few sections. No bobbles, puffs, beads, or popcorns here:

I’m having a terrible time trying to get a picture that captures this section properly. Oh well. These colours are a little bleached out from the sunlight, but you can see the rows pretty well; two green and blue bands made with stitches worked in front and behind each other, green star stitch in the middle of those, two rows of plain dc with my base colour (the navy), and then the top section is made with a row of single crochet, a row of fans, and then alternating single and triple crochets in and around the fans, plus a row of sc to finish it off. Phew!

I didn’t do too much counting this time around, trusting that things would work out OK given that I know I started in the right place. Was this foolish? We’ll all find out when I get to part five! I’ve heard from other crafters that it’s a bit of a doozy, so… we shall see. I’ll let you know how much I regret my decisions on this round.

This project hit a much-anticipated milestone as I got toward the end of part four: it’s finally big enough to keep me warm while I work on it!

On to part five…

Faith CAL, part 3

Previously: part 2, part 1

Over the past two weeks, my afghan has gone from this:

…to this:

Part 2 squared the squodgy octagon, and now the blanket will continue growing as a square until it’s finished. This next section only added ten rows, but those rows pack a lot of visual and textural interest! It started with the first base row of fans (in white), and the height difference between the top of the fans and the single-crochet stitches in between them meant that there was a lot of space to fill with various tall stitches until everything evened out together. (Mostly.)

The fans were built with a cluster of treble stitch, followed by a cluster of double and treble stitches made sort of on top of each other. Honestly I’m not sure why that one wouldn’t just be another row of trebles, as all the doubles seemed to do was add bulk on the back. After that came some double crochet clusters in the light blue, and the top rows are mostly singles.

In between the fans, I got to do more popcorn stitches (new favourite), and the ridges were built up by alternating double crochet stitches with front-post trebles.

For some reason it was those blue DC clusters that gave me the most trouble. There are supposed to be eleven of them on each fan. My fans do have eleven clusters… except for the ones that have ten. Or twelve. (This is one of the consequences of most of my crocheting time being relegated to after the kids are in bed.) I didn’t notice until my stitch counts stopped adding up properly in the silver row! Fortunately I’ve been crocheting long enough that I knew how to fudge things to get back on track — some skipped stitches here, some extra stitches there — and I didn’t have to rip anything out. It’ll do. Everything from the silver row onwards is correct, so I don’t anticipate any problems joining the first row of the next section.

If I were making a lap robe or fancy baby blanket, this is probably where I would stop. But I’m not! On to part 4! Tallyho!