Faith CAL, part 6

Previously: part 5, part 4, part 3, part 2, part 1

It’s been a while since the last update on this project! After finishing part 5 in December I took a good break to work on other, smaller projects. (It’s also now much too large to easily haul around for crocheting on the go.) At any rate, back in December the Faith blanket looked like this:

And it’s now wholly outgrown the easy chair and must be photographed on the loveseat instead:

Part 6 added a few inches to each side, first a section of crossed double crochets to match the lower border of part 5, and then the light blue band with the integrated green embellishments. This was constructed in five rows, the inner three of which were done with both yarns held together. This is the same sort of technique as is used in tapestry crochet; it’s mildly annoying to manage the two yarn balls without tangling, but the actual colourwork isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it.

This is how the colourwork section ends up looking on the back side:

And with part 6 finished, I’m really into the home stretch now. Part 7 is quite short — only eight rows — and Part 8 is even shorter. The only question that remains for me is whether I’ll have to add an extension at the end to get the final size I need. No way to answer that except to keep going, of course — just as soon as I finish sewing in this section’s ends!

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 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!

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.