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!

The honeycomb blanket (free pattern)

This blanket made it safely through the mail to its recipient, so I can finally blog about it!

Dear friends of ours are expecting their third child very soon, and since the sex is a surprise I thought a nice neutral like yellow would work well. This is Lion Brand Scarfie yarn in the colourway “cream/mustard” which reminded me very strongly of bees and honey — and so the honeycomb blanket was born! I’d never used Scarfie before, but it’s a delightful wool-acrylic blend, warm and very soft, that I would be happy to crochet with again.

The construction of this blanket is relatively simple. If you can crochet a granny square, you can crochet a granny hexagon, as the principle is exactly the same. Once you have the basic pattern down it’s easy to just keep repeating until you’ve achieved the desired size. In this case, I used almost four skeins of yarn for a toddler-sized blanket.

Start with a magic circle (or if you’re rather not punish yourself, ch 4 and sl st to join).

Chain 3 to serve as your first dc, 1 dc — this is your first granny cluster (six sides requires only 2 dcs per cluster as opposed to the regular 3). Ch 1, and repeat until you have 6 clusters joined with a chain stitch in between each. Slip stitch to close the round and move over to a chain space.

Ch 3 to serve as your first dc, 1 dc, ch 1, 2 dc — this is the first corner cluster of your second round. Repeat pattern in each chain space around; you will have 12 dc granny clusters, with a chain space in between every second cluster. The chain spaces will be the corners of your hexagon (although it can be a little hard to discern them in the early rows this will become very obvious soon). Slip stitch to close the round and move over to a chain space (corner).

Repeat the general cluster pattern, doing two clusters joined with a chain in each corner of the previous rounds, and a single cluster in between each non-corner cluster. Go until your hexagon is as big as you want it, then sc around for a nice finish.

Happy crocheting!

The blanket so nice I made it twice

Remember the twelve-pointed star blanket I finished a couple of weeks ago? It seems like everything’s coming up babies around here, so I made it again. Same pattern, same yarn, but this time I reversed the colours by working from the outside of the skein instead of the centre.

Once again, this is Red Heart It’s a Wrap Rainbow in the colourway “foggy”, with a G/6 hook. I wish there were a way to let people touch yarn through the computer — it is very fine and soft, and with a larger hook like I used (larger relative to the yarn weight, I mean) it has an incredible drape. It would be a lovely choice for something like a miniature version of the Trio Blanket — which is definitely on my crochet bucket list.

Of the two star blankets, I prefer this version; I find the dark centre and lighter edge more pleasing to the eye than the reverse. But I’m pretty sure that part of my preference has to do with how much quicker and easier the second run through a pattern always is. I’ll be able to make these in my sleep soon.

This blanket is for Sami, who lives next door and is very small and precious.

This is why my library books pile is so high right now

Six colours, three stitches, 35 rows, plus 54 ends to weave in… equals one baby blanket. And now that it’s finished, I may finally have some time to attend to my reading!

This is a self-drafted pattern. I started out with two skeins of varigated DK acrylic yarn I’ve had sitting around for a couple of years — that’s where the white and the pinks come from. For the central granny square, I basically followed their original arrangement in my rows, alternating with the blue that acted as my neutral. The pattern is ABA, blue, BCB, blue, CDC, blue, etc., until it wraps around again to “A” (white) as the middle colour of the triad. I don’t know if I explained that well, but if you look you should be able to see exactly what I mean.

After the last row of blue granny stitch, I went all the way around in single crochet in order to establish a good base for my border. For that, I did two rows of moss stitch in each colour from the white-pink skeins, followed by blue loops to finish it all off (single crochets in every other moss stitch ‘hole’ below, joined by a five-stitch chain in between).

I am very pleased with how this turned out. It will be gifted to a much-anticipated little girl who is due in September, and I hope that she will use it for many years.

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!