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 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.

Two small blankets

Finally I can blog about these! Both blankets were made as gifts, and both were much delayed in their gifting for various reasons, so I’ve had to sit on them for a while. But here they are!

This first was for my Grandmother, in a German Shells “virus” pattern. It’s sized so that she can use it as-is on her lap, or fold it in half to get a triangular shawl for over her shoulders. I used just about two full skeins of Lion Brand’s Shawl in a Ball Metallic yarn, in the colourway “Namaste Neutral” — or as I tend to think of this palette, in warm coffee-shop colours. The pictures don’t show it very well, but there’s a thin gold metallic thread that runs throughout, which give it a very pleasing sparkle. Using a G (4.25mm) hook kept the shell pattern nice and airy, and it has a beautiful drape.

I finished this in July and was supposed to deliver it by hand, as we were planning to visit my Grandmother on the last leg of a short road trip. On the day we were supposed to head over there, Anselm and Perpetua both had sore throats, and so we had to cancel our visit as they wouldn’t be able to pass the covid-19 screening of the facility where she lives. It was a super bummer… but as it turns out, her facility ended up going into outbreak status & a lock-down later that morning! So at least we found out we couldn’t go in before driving all that way to either be turned away at the door, or be let in and then get exposed. (Grandma is fine, by the way!) So I didn’t give her the blanket in July as planned; it came home, got unpacked, and then sat on my shelf for a month until I finally remembered to mail it.

The second blanket is for someone way on the other end of the age spectrum: my cousin’s daughter, who is about four months old now.

This is yet another iteration of my trusty twelve-point star blanket, which I’ve made… at least six times now? Something like that. Mostly I’ve done it with self-striping yarn, so using a couple of different yarns and manually changing the colours was a fun little twist for me.

This was a stashbuster project, made with Stylecraft Special DK leftovers from my Eastern Jewels blanket in the colours Sage, Duck Egg, Violet, and Buttermilk. (I forget what hook I used; probably an H.) That worked out really well until I ran out of Sage, which meant I needed to order another skein and wait for it to come, which meant I started another project in the meantime, which meant further delays… well, you get the picture. But at last I had all of my supplies at hand, refocused, finished it off, and got it in the mail.

I finished the blanket with a row of crab stitch, a new one for me. Crab stitch is made with a basic single crochet stitch, everything the same except that instead of moving across the fabric from right to left, which is the regular direction for crochet stitching, you go from left to right. It wraps around the edge and makes a beautiful little border. It doesn’t stand out super well in the photo above because it’s the same colour as my final row, but here is a good example of a crab stitch edging on someone else’s work. I have to say, it felt realllllly odd to be working backwards like that. But I love the effect, and I’ll definitely be tucking this stitch away in my toolbox.

And so there you have them. Two smallish projects, finally in or on their way to their new homes. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I’m working on now, which at the moment is also small, but won’t stay that way for for long!

Process vs. Product

Sometimes you make something and it just isn’t what you envisioned. It’s hard to know what to write about it in this case: “here is a thing, and it disappointed me” is not the tone I usually strive for. But here we are! I made a thing! It wasn’t fun to make and I don’t like the outcome. TA-DAA.

I mean, it’s not objectively hideous. But I am very conscious of the following things:

  • I had forgotten how much I dislike making amigurumi. It’s all small hooks and super-tight hand-hurting tension and counting, counting, counting all day. Forget it!
  • Because I don’t like crocheting ami, I shortened the ears by a good ten rows and completely omitted the arms. The pattern was for a sleepy bunny, rather than the… generic animal head? that I ended up with.
  • I didn’t have any polyfill and didn’t feel like driving across town to get some, so I stuffed the head with scrap cloth. In many ways that’s fine, but it kind of throws off the balance (though with a heavier head and the blanket trailing behind this would probably be great for throwing).
  • The ears appear to be different lengths. An optical illusion? Did I add or omit an extra row? I don’t know, man, counting stitches is annoying.
  • Also I’m not crazy about spirals. Working in the round is fine, but I’d much rather join at the end of each row than work continuously.
  • I used some of the crappier acrylic from my stash and it’s just not that nice to work with.

What this all boils down to, I guess, is that I am even more of a “process” crafter than I realized. It was already obvious to me that I’m not attached to my finished products — I have no qualms about giving things away or chucking them into the back of a closet no matter how much work I put into them. Out of sight (or perhaps, off of hook), out of mind. But what’s clear now is that whether a project is a success or a failure in my eyes has almost everything to do with how much I enjoyed the creative process and almost nothing to do with the actual result.

For my own records; I used Bernat Super Value yarn in white, Red Heart Super Saver in “Monet” (leftovers from Perpetua’s blankie), and the eyes and nose were done with Stylecraft Special DK leftovers from my Eastern Jewels blanket. I used a 3.75mm hook for the animal parts and a 6mm hook for the lovey portion.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a gift for someone’s baby… but I feel weird enough about it that I’ll just make something else. This can go into the toy bin for my daughters to fight over and I’ll pretend it never happened.

Oh well. At least someone likes it.

It’s finally finished!

Way back in 2019, I decided to buy myself a birthday present, and ordered a crochet blanket kit: Janie Crow’s beautiful “Persian Tiles” pattern, in the “Eastern Jewels” colourway. After 2.5 years of on-and-off work (mostly off), I finally finished a night or two ago. Here it is:

I’ve made some variations on the pattern. If you look up other Eastern Jewels blankets, you’ll see that there is no black in the original. I wanted to really separate the tiles in a way that highlighted their colours, going for a stained glass effect — which I think I’ve achieved! To do this I made all of the square and octagonal motifs as written, and then added a row of single crochet in black around all of their edges. This also made it very easy to do a no-show join, as I simply whip-stitched the pieces together with the same black yarn.

The other variation had to do with the triangles. The pattern calls for sixteen of them: twelve between the octagons on the outer edges, and four on each corner. I decided to omit the corner triangles entirely. For the inner group, instead of following the pattern and making coloured ones (to look like the square tiles, halved) I just made granny triangles, again in black. Because of my chosen stained glass aesthetic, I didn’t want it to look like any “panes” were incomplete.

The border is a simple one. Once the blanket was all sewn together, I did a row of single crochet all the way around, followed by two rows of moss stitch. After that, I did two rows of loops (chain five, skip a stitch, anchor with a single crochet stitch, repeat) and… that was that! I toyed with the idea of adding a third row of loops, but decided I’d rather be done. It will be very easy to add on later if I decide I really want it.

The blanket was made with Stylecraft Special DK yarn in twelve colours (storm blue, pistachio, tomato, spice, violet, duck egg, mustard, sage, fondant, vintage peach, buttermilk, black) and one ball of Stylecraft Life DK in fuschia. This made for a lot of ends to weave in. Like… a lot lot. Over 500 if I’ve totted it up correctly! Weaving all the ends may have taken more time than crocheting the squares; it definitely took more time than the assembly and border. Good thing I don’t mind doing the ends (and that the results were worth it).

All in all, this was an enjoyable project. I’m glad to have done it, and I’m really, really glad it’s done.