Third time’s the charm

Another baby, another 12-point star blanket. This is such an easy project to work up, simple to memorize, and I love the way it looks when finished. I’ve previously made this pattern (two ways) with Red Heart It’s a Wrap Rainbow in “foggy” (Levi’s blanket, Sami’s blanket); this blanket is for Mayah, an old friend’s baby girl, and since the package finally made it to her I can blog about it now!

This also uses Red Heart It’s a Wrap, but in their “Sprinkles” line rather than Rainbow. As you can see, Sprinkles is an apt name for it! All those lovely long colour changes are still present, but one of the four strands is variegated, which breaks it up visually and disguises the change-points somewhat. This colourway is called “sundae” and I got it from YarnCanada.ca (that’s not a referral link; they’re just my go-to).

As usual, this blocked up nicely. This is in my tiny little basement craft room, and it’s got almost the last bits of carpet left in our house — which I suppose I can’t get rid of or I’ll have nowhere to dry large projects!

And now that this is finished — both blanket and post — I’m going to take a drink and a book outside and enjoy the sunshine in our backyard. Happy Sunday!

Pattern: Easy Child’s Crocheted Ruffle Scarf

This is an easy scarf for the child in your life who loves all things ruffled! It was inspired by the “Mindless Mandala Scarf” from Trifles & Treasures; the biggest difference is that with my pattern you’re only working on one side of the starting chain, which gives a spiral effect.

This works up quickly. I used some Lion Brand Mandala in “Thunderbird” that I had left over after finishing Anselm’s afghan, and I love the effect of the long bands of colour. Between the shape and the stripes, this scarf made me think of turkey tail mushrooms the whole time I was making it.

Anyway, here’s the pattern!

Child’s Crocheted Ruffle Scarf

Abbreviations used:

  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet
  • hdc = half-double crochet
  • dc = double crochet
  • st = stitch

Materials: Any 4-weight (worsted) yarn with its suggested hook size; adjust as needed if you’d like a longer or wider scarf.

Foundation: Ch 150.

Row 1: Ch 1, turn, 1 hdc in each ch across

Row 2: Ch 1, turn, 2 hdc in each st across

Row 3: Ch 1, turn, 1 dc in each st across

Row 4: Ch 2, turn, [2 dc in first st, 1 dc in next st], continue across

Row 5: Ch 1, turn, 1 hdc in each st across

Row 6: Ch 1, turn, [2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next st], continue across

Row 7: Ch 2, turn, 1 dc in each st across

Row 8: Repeat row 7

Row 9: Ch 1, turn, 1 sc in each st across, fasten off

Happy crocheting!

A few recent crochet pieces

None of these were intensive enough to warrant their own posts, so here’s a quick roundup.

1. Hat for Tertia

I started by following the pattern for this hat from Five Little Monsters, but I got bored/annoyed eight rows in and just freehanded the rest. Yarn was Lion Brand Mandala in ‘Thunderbird’ (left over from Anselm’s afghan) and I used an I/5.5 hook.

She thinks wearing hats is hilarious. It’s the best.

2. Dishcloths!

I wanted better dishcloths so I bought some scrubby cotton yarn and whipped these out over a couple of evenings (not pictured: a few more that are either in use or in the wash). It was a good chance to also get in some practice with changing colours! This is Red Heart Scrubby Cotton in the colourways ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Blissful Print’. I used a G(4.25) hook and they’re all just simple half-double crochet squares.

3. Tertia’s Christmas stocking

Only briefly alluded to in my Christmas-rehash post, here is the thing itself, hung by the chimney with care. Obviously it’s got her real name underneath my hasty scribbles; this was the first year I remembered to do the embellishment before crocheting the two sides together. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, it was much easier that way. Yarns were random basic acrylics from my stash (probably Red Heart and/or Bernat) and I probably used a G hook. Maybe. I don’t know; I just wanted to finish.

Virus baby blanket

I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy to finish a crochet project in my life.

 

This is a “virus” pattern baby blanket made for a baby girl at church, due to make her arrival next month. I like the pattern ok; it’s identical to a virus shawl except for the setup rounds, so it took very little concentration. I like the colours ok; they remind me of a soft summer sunrise. But I am never, never, never using this yarn again.

This was made with Lion Brand’s Big Scoop yarn in the colourway “Parfait” and it was infuriating. I should have remembered that, because this is actually the third project I started with the same skein (the first two got frogged). Nearly every time I pulled a length of yarn, I got a tangled mess of yarn barf from the middle. Some of the tangles were so bad I actually had to cut the yarn (three times!!) because I couldn’t get them undone. ALSDKFGDLFKJGFDLJGSDFG.

 

One thing I am pleased with is the little flower I self-drafted to embellish the centre. It was just pale blue mass, so I thought I needed a little something. Here is the pattern for anyone who is interested:

Quick Crochet Flower

Chain 4, join with slip stitch to make round. Single crochet 7x in the round. Join with slip stitch, chain 1, turn.

2 single crochets in each single crochet below (14 stitches total). Join with slip stitch.

Chain 5, turn. Skip stitch, join with slip stitch to following single crochet below. Chain 5, skip stitch, join to following stitch as above. Repeat until end of round, join with slip stitch to first stitch (7 petals).

Turn. Slip stitch into next empty single crochet below. Chain 7, skip stitch, join to following single crochet below. Since you’re working on the back of the existing petals, you’ll want to watch that your yarn doesn’t grab any of them. Repeat until end of round, slip stitch to join (14 petals) and fasten off.

 

 

To finish this off, I added a quick border to the last set of virus shells consisting of four rows of moss stitch. Overall I am pretty pleased with how it all came together, but my gosh, Big Scoop — you’re the worst.

 

Transplanting

The last time we moved, a friend sent me an excerpt of a letter from Mr. Rogers to Amy Hollingsworth, a longtime friend who had moved to a new community (I think her husband was a pastor though I am having trouble tracking that detail down). He wrote,

Just as it takes a tree a long time to begin to grow again once it’s transplanted, so you can give your healthy roots time to find the nourishment of your new soil in your new community. (Quoted in The Simple Faith of Mr.Rogers, Amy Hollingsworth, p. 6)

We too are transplanting. Or being transplanted. Or however that works. Settling into the house, setting into the community… all that jazz. It is often hard to be patient with the process, even though we’ve done several of these big moves before and know (or should!) how it works. As the song from the Daniel Tiger movie about moving goes, It takes time, it takes time to make a new house feel like home.

One of the joys of where we’re living now, for me, is that we have a small back yard, and so I have been able to do some literal transplanting. I am very much brand-new to gardening, but I got eight plants in the ground this past week (2 ea. of foxglove, lupine, black-eyed susan, and English lavender). Here are some of them looking brave & perky:

We’ll see if they take — I am hopeful, though. So far so good. In our front there were already flowers waiting for us: some lovely hyacinths (they are done blooming now but I will dead-head them and see if that forces a second round), some tulips ready to open soon, and something else coming up that I haven’t yet identified. I can’t wait to see what’s there.I also have a new project on the hook:

This is the “Lotus Flower Blanket” from Hooked by Robin, and it is gorgeous. It will be a circular blanket, probably close to a meter in diameter once it’s finished, and uses a whopping kilometer of yarn!

I splurged with some gift money and bought the recommended Scheepjes Whirl yarn, which has an incredibly beautiful slow gradient — you can just see the pink lightening in this shot as it moves toward the edge. This is far and away the most intricate project I have ever done, with the most delicate (and most expensive) yarn I’ve ever used. So far so good.”So far so good” is about the status of our family transplant right now. We’ll get there. We’re getting there.

Perpetua’s Blankie (expanded edition)

About a year and a half ago, I made Perpetua a blankie, which I detailed here. She’s grown since then (kids: it’s amazing what happens if you feed them) and so it was covering less and less of her. Time for an expansion! Here’s the before shot:

And here’s the after:

What I ended doing was simply flipping it around so that the long edge became the short edge, ordering three more skeins of the yard I’d used, and continuing the pattern from where I had left off. It’s a simple repeat of three rows of single crochet, followed by four rows of triple. I ended up using the whole of two skeins, and somewhere between a half and two-thirds of the third, so the size of the blanket has more than doubled.

For the border — yes, a proper border, look at me getting all fancy here — I first did three rows of single crochet followed by a row of triple, echoing the pattern of the blanket body. After that, I did two rows of chained loops (chain five, skip one, single crochet, repeat) to make a nice floppy fringe. And there you have it.

Several times I found myself wishing that I had used a nicer yarn when I originally started this project. Red Heart With Love is a sturdy workhorse sort of acrylic that will wear really well, but it’s stiff and a bit coarse straight out of the skein, and it splits like crazy. It just isn’t fun to work with. The end result will be ok, though; the older part of the blankie, which has of course been through the wash several times, is very soft and drapey. Tomorrow I will put the whole thing through once or twice and that will make a big difference. In the meantime you can see exactly where the old yarn stops and the new yarn starts:

After a big push to finish this tonight, I’m feeling a bit crampy in my hands. It’s totally worth it, though. On the one level, I’m always happy any time I finish a project and get it out of my queue — taking something from the idea stage all the way through to its completion is always a bit of a rush. But more than that, it’s very special to me to be able to give something to my daughter that I’ve made especially for her, that she will (hopefully) be able to use for many years to come. Not even the Red Heart can take away from that!

Chunky striped baby blanket

Another one bites the dust.

Back in the fall, Anselm and Perpetua each chose a skein of yarn for me for my birthday. I wasn’t sure what to do with them: they’re both bulky weight which I don’t typically work with, and one skein each was probably too small for most of the things I usually make. A few weeks later, though, I found yarn in the “special buy” aisle at Aldi (that aisle is a veritable wonder-of-wonders) that more or less matched the weight, in complementary colours. Problem solved. I don’t remember which child chose which yarn, but I’m glad to have put the first to good use.

The pink yarn (my birthday yarn) is Lion Brand Hometown USA in “Phoenix Azalea,” and the off-white is Easy Home Chunky Yarn in “Cream”. Since both yarns are so thick I worked them up on an N hook, the largest I own. At that size, this project came together incredibly quickly, probably only 3 hours or so all told.

The pattern is simple: chain until it’s wide enough, do five rows of moss stitch in colour A, 3 in colour B, then alternate 10 rows of A with 3 rows of B until it feels long enough, and finish up with 5 rows of colour A. Weave in ends. If you use the yarns I did, prepare for some frustration on this step because they both fray like crazy. You can see a few puffs of yarn end in this picture because of that. I mostly fixed them after taking this… by which I mean I got them all sticking out on the same side.

I didn’t think to grab something to show the scale, but this blanket is probably about eighteen inches on the short side, and long enough to drape comfortably over my lap with room to spare on either end. This will probably be the last project I make for the ministry at church as we prepare to move (OH, did I mention we are moving?) but I am so glad that I got to be a part of it for these past few years.

“Carrot Cake” lap blanket

Unlike the last project I posted about, this lap blanket offered me no frustrations at all: just smooth sailing from start to finish, plus the fun of using a new yarn. I was given a gift certificate to the local fancy yarn store, and so this is actually my first foray out of acrylic-land. This was worked up with three(ish) skeins of Ella Rae Seasons yarn, in the colourway “carrot cake”. I liked it; it’s a soft, springy wool blend with long gradient transitions between colours that ended up making a wonderful stripe. Best of all, it promises — despite the wool content — to be washable.

I worked this up using (my beloved) moss stitch, with a J hook. At that size, the individual stitches really stand out — which gives an effect that reminds me a bit of houndstooth:

The “ish” designation appended to my skein-count is because I had to chop off several lengths each time I changed skeins, so that the pattern would be more or less consistent. I don’t mind; making prayer squares for church means that I always have a use for those little balls of scrap yarn.

It even works as intended!

Flat-worked crochet Christmas stocking

Last night I finished a project that has been the bane of my existence for probably about two months now. Behold, my new Christmas stocking, made to match the family set:

There are… so many things wrong with this project I’m not sure I even want to list them. I had to start the whole thing over when I was 85% finished because I realized that a) I had used too small a hook and would never be able to get the letters on, and b) I had forgotten to make the heel. That involved ripping everything out because I was low enough on white yarn that I wouldn’t be able to make a second stocking without cannibalizing the first. I had to do the top red muff section twice because the first time I was accidentally increasing on each round instead of staying true to size. When I was joining the two white sides together it ended up wrinkly because one of them was shorter — but only on one side. Don’t ask me how because I know very well that’s impossible. Because I was using frogged and re-balled yarn it was super kinky and I was constantly fighting splits. My letter spacing is all sorts of wonky and my ‘S’ is upside-down.

And you know what? I don’t even care. It’s FINISHED.

The big problem, I think, was just my own hubris: this is a pattern I created, and I’ve made it three times before. I relied far too much on my (faulty) memory of how it went, instead of digging out the actual pattern, with the above results. Ah, well… a lesson learned, I supposed.

Assuming that you’re making it correctly, this is actually a very easy pattern. The entire thing is worked flat and then joined, and only uses single crochet (with, optionally, some double crochet at the top just to make it go faster). I used a 4-weight yarn (good old Red Heart) and a G hook for this:

  1. Chain 31, turn. Single crochet across (30 stitches). Chain 1, turn.
  2. Repeat until you have 50 rows.
  3. On the turn, skip a stitch (to decrease) and then sc across. Ch 1, turn.
  4. On the return, skip the stitch right before you last one. Ch 1, turn.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have 11 rows in your decreasing section; this forms the heel. (On step 3 you will work 29 stitches across, on step 4 you will work 28 stitches, and so on.)
  6. Rotate your work 90 degrees. Single crochet 20 across. Ch 1, turn. Repeat 10 times.
  7. Decrease 2 stitches per row (one on each edge) to form the toe. Repeat six times or until your top row is 8 stitches across. Tie off, weave in end.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 to make second half of stocking.
  9. If you are going to be adding letters or any other embellishment, do those now. I used surface crochet to add my letters, but you could also do yarn embroidery, sew on felt, etc.
  10. Join the two halves together with a contrasting colour by single-crocheting around the edges.
  11. Make the cuff: single or double crochet around, joining your rows with a chain stitch and turning so that you’re alternating working the inside and the outside of the stocking (this prevents you from creating a spiral which will look uneven). When it’s long enough for your taste, form a chain of 20-30 loops to create a hanger. Join the bottom of your chain to the inside of your stocking near its beginning, tie off, and weave in ends.

And there you have it. I’ve not added dimensions because — to be perfectly forthright — I’ve made four of these and they’re all different sizes. A lot will depend on your hook size (I recommend a G but you may want to size up or down), yarn weight, tension, etc. If you’re not sure, make a swatch and see how you feel about it (ie: be cleverer than me!).

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.