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?

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 2

Previously: part 1

In the second part of this crochet-along afghan pattern, we’ve gone from this:

To this!

This section of the pattern involved first squaring-off the centre motif — I wanted to call it a circle, but I guess it’s more of a blobby octagon? Anyway, it magically transforms to a square through using stitches with different heights across each side: triples, then doubles, then half-doubles, then singles, and then reverse it all on the way to the next corner.

After the square came the construction of this funky mesh, which uses both bead and puff stitches for lots of texture. I messed up on my second row of bead stitches; somehow they crossed in my mind with popcorn stitches and I added a slip stitch / chain when finishing each one off. This left me with a lot of extra stitches to account for when I started the next row! Fortunately I noticed before I got too far along, and was able to fudge some adjustments instead of having to frog it. Ordinarily I might have gone back and redone it correctly, but bead stitches are so terribly tedious…

I do have some rippling as a result, but it’s not dire, and I think once I go on to part 3 things will start to even out again. And as this is still just a small centre portion of what will be a much larger blanket… well, nobody’s going to notice once it’s actually in use!

Even the back has its own sort of prettiness, now that I finally bit the bullet and sewed in all of my ends. Note to future self: sew your ends after every section from now on.

Onward and upward!

Faith CAL, part 1

Here’s what’s been occupying my crocheting time for the past week or so:

This is the beginning portion of what will be a large afghan when finished — somewhere between double-and queen-sized if my math is correct. It’s the “Faith” crochet-a-long (CAL) pattern from designer Helen Shrimpton, who creates amazingly intricate and beautiful patterns. The section pictured above is part 1 (of 8), complete to row 21 (of 96), and is just about 11″ across.

It’s hard to express how much I’m enjoying this pattern. Every row is different, which is basically like handing my brain a big bag of candy. And it’s really highlighting the architectural potential of crochet for me — look at all that squishy three-dimensionality! The construction is super clever. It’s also been an opportunity to learn some new stitches as well as practice a few that I haven’t used much.

I’m using the suggested yarn for this CAL, which is Stylecraft Special DK (truly a workhorse yarn), but I’ve chosen my own colours instead of following one of Helen’s combinations. The seven I’ve picked are Royal, Aster, Cloud Blue, Cypress, Mustard, White, and Silver, and they’ll carry on through the whole blanket. I’m very excited to see how the whole thing will come out.

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.