Eastern Jewels: the squares (work in progress)

One of the things I’ve learned about myself as a crocheter/crafter is that I often suffer from project boredom. By the time I’m 3/4 done a project, I never want to see it again, can hardly be bothered to finish it, and will just add it to my pile of “I’ll finish it one day” abandoned projects if I don’t force myself to keep going. See, for example, the queen-size quilt I started back in… 2009. Which was eleven years ago, which makes me feel very suddenly old.

What helps, though, is having more than one thing on the go at a time, so that when I start getting bored with one project I can switch out for something else, and then rinse and repeat as needed.

Along with the virus shawl I finished earlier this week, I’ve been making some slow progress on the Eastern Jewels blanket. This is a pattern that was designed by Janie Crow and originally released as the Persian Tiles blanket in a blue/orange/red colourway. It was subsequently re-coloured by Lucia of Lucia’s Fig Tree¬† and called Eastern Jewels. I absolutely love the colours Lucia picked for this blanket, and so last year I bought the blanket kit as a birthday present for myself.¬†

(Note that the squares haven’t been blocked and I haven’t woven in any ends yet. I keep telling myself that I should do them now instead of having a huge amount to do at the end… but… I think we all know that I’m going to have a huge amount to do at the end.)

The blanket is constructed out of multiple repeated motifs: nine squares (pictured above), sixteen large octagon tiles, and then sixteen triangles. After those are all made and sewn together, there’s also a pretty border to go around them. It’s going to take… a while. But I really like having those small motifs to work on when I’m getting tired of a larger project (like the shawl) that just goes on and on and on…

I decided to start with the granny squares in part because I just like making granny squares. My tension was a little tight on the first one, and so I might end up re-making it at the end if I have enough yarn left in the appropriate colours. But overall these were very pleasant to work on, and even taught me a new stitch (the longer buttermilk-coloured “posts” that dip down and wrap around a previous row). I think there are one or two squares that I managed to do without any errors — no shade on Janie Crow for that, as the pattern is well written and easy to memorize. Blame my faulty memory for things I have allegedly memorized.

Since the octagons are so much larger than the squares, I decided to take a different approach with them. Instead of doing them all one at a time, I’m taking more of an assembly-line approach where I do round one sixteen times, then round two sixteen times, then round three, etc. Here they are all strung together on a long piece of yarn so that I don’t get their order mixed up; only three more iterations of round four to go. I’ll post better pictures when they’re finished!

Anselm’s Afghan (finished)

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy: I have finally, finally finished the afghan I’d been making for Anselm.

I’ve been working on this blanket for so long that I had to go back into my own archives to figure out when I started it. The answer? August 2018. if you read that post, you may notice that the final design is quite different from my initial plan. Well… this was a learning project, to be sure.

As far as the actual method goes it was easy enough: the whole thing was worked up in moss stitch, which I can pretty much do in my sleep at this point. I used a size-I hook and the yarn (Lion Brand Mandala) only changed in terms of the colourway. Ha ha ha! No! That was a lie. The yarn was supposed to only change in terms of its colours, but the weight was surprisingly — shockingly — inconsistent which led to all sorts of issues, like strange bunchings and accidental trapezoids where no trapezoids should be.

Somebody at Lion Brand owes me a drink.

Anyway, besides fighting with the yarn I had to come to grips with my own errors and faulty assumptions, especially as regards the design phase. I realised about halfway through that my original idea would result in a blanket that was a lot longer and skinnier than in was supposed to be, and so I redrew things on the fly, and then did that several more times as things continued to… evolve.

In the end, though, I ended up with a cosy, lightweight afghan that is approximately twin size — different than I had imagined it, but still perfect for warming up one sweet and snuggly little boy. I’ll take it.

Anselm’s Afghan (III)

Good news: I’ve finished the third panel on Anselm’s afghan! Bad news: I totally pooched my counting and it’s gone kind of trapezoidal. Good news again: this is a gift for a four-year-old, and so while I’m not exactly trying to screw it up, I’m not especially worried about it either. At this point, we’re shooting for completion rather than perfection.

What I was pleased to find was that my theories about how it would work to join up with the other panels while working perpendicular to them were correct — and if I had been paying better attention while doing the entrelac, it probably would have ended up closer to rectangular. Oh, well… it will have some lumps and bumps. (Actually, as I type this I remember that one of the challenges was that this skein was woven a little thicker than the other two despite being the same weight of yarn — so that extra thickness is also playing a role).

Here is a close-up the join between panels 1 and 3. The colourway for this third panel is “Spirit” (still Lion Brand Mandala) and it’s the last colourway to be added — the next four panels will all be repeats: one more each of Spirit and Genie, and two of Thunderbird.

It’s not perfect by any stretch, but I’m pretty pleased with how this is coming along, especially since it’s my first time planning and executing such a big project. The colours work well together — next up comes another long panel of the Thunderbird, for a big pop of colour in the centre. I might start running out of couch space for displaying it after that point… this is going to be pretty big.

Anselm’s Afghan (II)

Recently I realised how much work this afghan is going to be. I don’t have a specific date in mind for finishing — it would be great to have it done for Anselm’s birthday, but if not, there’s always Christmas (or… Twelfth night, or Valentine’s, or St Patrick’s…) — but I don’t want to have it hanging around half-finished for longer than I need to, either. So in the last week or two I have made a couple of big pushes and have now finished the second panel:

I’m still using Lion Brand Mandala yarn; this second colourway is called “Genie”. I quite like the way the greys and greens fade into each other, and I love love love the grey next to the orange from the first panel:

Next comes the most challenging part of the project so far. Heretofore it’s just been about a million moss stitches in long rows. For the third panel, I’m keeping the same stitch, but I’m turning the whole project and working perpendicularly to what I’ve already done. The two panels right now make a sort of “L” shape; the third panel is going to fill out the empty space of the L, and then wrap around the first panel. If you look at the first picture above, I’ll be working from the middle towards the left-hand side, and when that empty space is filled I’ll be elongating my row to cover all the way up to the edge of the first panel (along the top of the couch there). Because I’m going to be working at 90 degrees to my first two panels, I’ll have to hook my row ends into the first panel. I think it will work well — I can picture it quite clearly in my head — but of course, the real test is in the doing! Stay tuned to see how (and if!) it works.

Anselm’s afghan (I)

This post marks the beginning of what will be a small series documenting a large project of mine: I have decided to make my son an afghan. He has a baby blanket which he loves but which is getting very small for him, and I want to make him something he can grow into. So I found some yarn I liked, and a plan was born:

It’s pretty simple: seven panels with three yarns. I picked Lion Brand Mandala because it’s very enjoyable to work with and I like the colorways they offer. This would have three panels of “Thunderbird” to frame it, which is sort of a darkish rainbow gradient, for some pops of colour. The other two, “Genie” and “Spirit”, are more muted: blues and greys and greens and whites.

Well, that was the plan. But since I’m more of a guesstimator than a measurer/counter I realised about halfway into my first panel that the proportions were all wrong: if I continued the way I was going, it would be strangely long and much too narrow according to its length. But I had already put in six or eight hours of work on the first panel, so I really didn’t want to tear it out and start over.

Enter plan two:

This is how I think it will work. I will still have the pops of colour on the ends and in the middle, but I will extend one of the other colourways around the first panel to make the whole thing wider. That centre band will end up thinner as a result but I think it will still look fine. Some of the panel work will be a challenge — I don’t want to sew anything so I will be joining all of the crochet together by fudging some sort of entrelac on the edges — but I think I can do it. I suppose we’ll all find out!

Anyway, here is the first panel, which I finished this afternoon. My friend Lisa (hi, Lisa) pointed out that it’s sometimes hard to tell how big my crochet projects are so I have included a banana for scale:

The edges are quite straight in person; it draped a little funny on the couch. But there it is. As you can see, it’s going to end up pretty large by the time it’s done. But that’s fine. After all, this is something that I hope he’ll keep for the rest of his life!

The technical deets, such as they are: moss stitch, size I hook, an unknown number of stitches across because who has time to count all that? Not me. Obviously. Which is why we’re on to plan two — stay tuned to see if it will work out or if a further revision will be needed.