How about a blanket in the summer?

So here in Toronto, summer temperatures can fall anywhere between 20C and 45C. I can’t think of a better time to invest myself into making a hardy winter blanket.

That being said, I decided to make one for two reasons:

1. I have amassed many quarter or half-used (some new!) balls of yarn that need some sort of project to go to and I can only make so many hats and sweaters.

2. It’s always a smart idea to make a heavy, thick blanket in sweaty summer months.

So the second point is just more of my sarcasm, but the first one is still valid. So I set off trying to figure out the best approach to doing this. My first requirement was I want this project to work up fast. I threw out the idea of knitting one because not only would it take me well into next summer, but I also didn’t have the needed tools for this. One day I will buy an interchangeable needle set, but only when it’s all metal/aluminium/nickel and comes with a goddamn 16″ cable option as well. (so: never)

Crochet it was then. Armed with this book I experimented with various stitches to see what would work best. I really wanted something that would be easy to remember (I’m not going to keep that book next to me at all times!) and visually appealing for many, many different yarn colours. I ended up starting and stopping a bunch of stitches, until I found The Granny Chevron.

(Although I used my book, you can easily take a look at this YouTube tutorial for it.)

And we’re off! I started this blanket July 1st and I’m attempting to have it done by the end of this month, though in reality I’m probably looking at the end of August since I have 20 other WIPs going on. (Okay 4 other ones, but they feel like 20.)

Here’s its journey so far:

The first week of making this.

Last week. I’ve since added another 7 rows to it. I am digging the autumn feel it’s got going for it as well.

Hope you all enjoyed my “first blanket ever” post. 🙂

Crochet Hook Snobbery: or why I now own two 5mm hooks for no reason.

Confession: I’m a crochet hook snob.

Other confession: I’m not even a fancy one.

Once I decided that I should give crochet a try, I went to my LYS and picked up a basic hook to use. As the wall was literally covered with different hook sizes and materials, I literally closed my eyes and chose a 4.5mm hook from a brand called HiyaHiya. I wasn’t disappointed. First off, it’s Aluminium – perfect for a person like me that will snap a bamboo or plastic one in half just out of sheer frustration over the craft. So already right there, I have a hook that will not succumb to my flimsy hands. (I mean, I’m pretty weak but I can snap those other ones easily.) Also one time I sat on my upright 4.5mm hook and ended up with a bruise on my ass so clearly if it can withstand that it can take anything.

Another reason why I love them: For the way the hook bends. Unlike another brand I tried which I will get into soon, the hook curves in softly, not sharply. It doesn’t snag or divide up my yarn while I’m crocheting. Case in point: I could not for the life of my find a HiyaHiya 5mm hook at my LYS and settled instead for a Susan Bates one that A) has chipping paint after like 1 use, and B) has a hook so sharp I couldn’t properly use it. It also hurt my hand a lot, something the HiyaHiya ones don’t do.

So I ended up doing all 5mm projects with my 4.5mm or my 5.5mm. And eventually I donated the Bates one to my knitting/crochet club.

And then a magical moment happened last weekend. I wandered back in my LYS and found that rare 5mm. It was seriously like finding a shiny Pokemon or something less nerdy. I picked that up, along with a 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm. Now I have a rainbow of these fantastic hooks and my collection would seriously be complete… if it wasn’t for the missing 7mm one. 😦

Also a 2mm, but how often would my worsted-weight yarned self use that? (Hint: never)

In conclusion: if it’s not HiyaHiya, I’m not using it.

So if anyone’s reading this, what are your favourite hooks? I demand pictures!

Have another book review, plus some pictures.

Hey, how about a book review to distract from the fact that I have 4 current projects going on and no willpower to complete them. In case anyone’s keeping track of them, they are:

  • The sweater. (Haven’t touched that other 10 inches in stockinette yet…)
  • A seed stitch cowl. (I did two rows today after forgetting about it for a few months, oops.)
  • The Dudester.. I ACTUALLY HAVE A PICTURE OF THAT. HERE YOU GO, LOOK AT THAT ASYMMETRY 
  • The Leyla Cowl. (Fantastic One-Skein wonders project, you can see an example of it here on Ravelry!)

That being said, let’s talk about the book I got the Leyla Cowl from:

Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters Around the World

edited by Judith Durant

Amazon Link

Amazon Description: Finally, a One-Skein Wonders book just for crocheters! Edie Eckman and Judith Durant offer 101 great crochet projects — from jewelry and scarves to bags, hats, dresses, and home dec items — that each use just one skein of yarn. Whatever your experience level, you’ll find something here to delight you!

Level: Some experience needed – the usual sc, hdc, dc things, plus the ability and knowledge to do more (like how to make a foundation double crochet or magic loop)

My Thoughts: So we’re already familiar with the fact that I have a lot of yarn. More often than not, I’ll need 2 skeins of something and end up using a whole skein, plus like a literal fucking whisper of the other skein. I’m sure that’s how this yarn stash problem started. I was really happy to find One-Skein Wonders at my local, awesome book store. Finally, something to do with yarn other than leave it in the Jeffrey Campbell shoe box to metaphorically die.

What I immediately liked about this book is that it arranged all the projects by yarn weight, the options being from thread to chunky and everything in between. I pretty much jumped myself to worsted and went from there, bookmarking projects of interest with my little sticky tabs. A good sign is that I have around 10 that jumped out instantly as “good idea, I’ll do that” while doing this.  The projects themselves vary a ton, with scarves/cowls, hats, gloves, purses, jewellery, socks (!!!), baby clothes/accessories, home decor, amigurumi, and even a blanket. With such variety, I’m already thinking of gift-giving situations so I can make a bunch of this stuff. Each project has a couple of clear pictures to show it, material/hook/gauge specifics, step-by-step instructions, as well as any special stitches needed and diagrams.

I picked the Leyla Cowl to start off with since I recently bought a new 5mm hook and had a ball of beautiful yarn that fit the yardage. I almost bailed on this book – as in almost shut the book and threw it across my room – when I saw that it required me to A) do a foundation double crochet and B) join in the round. Let me tell you about these things: I spent almost an entire weekend trying to learn FDC and could not. I also attempted to join in the round without twisting at least 20 times that same day as well. Something was just not computing for me. HOWEVER, One-Skein Wonders has a really, REALLY helpful appendix with a glossary that finally made FDC not look like gibberish. Nailed it. Also nifty: there’s an abbreviation chart as well, since I had no idea what FDC stood for to being with… (for those of you still here, you’re probably wondering how I even use a crochet hook or knitting needles, yes? I wonder sometimes too.)

I’m currently on the last set of rows for the cowl, and found the row-by-row instructions easy to read and simple. I should also add I started this last night, so if they were really vague and complication I probably would still be at the “FDC 80” part. 🙂 The diagram of what each row should look like was really helpful as well, and I notice that diagrams are pervasive in the book, so super great for visual learners that need that additional information.

My one beef with the book is that the way aforementioned blanket pattern calls for 1000+ yards of yarn, so I find that stretching the “One-Skein” part of the title just a little bit.

Overall though, this is a really cute book with a bunch of awesome, easy to make patterns that just might help you unload that leaning tower of yarn you’ve amassed.

“Stash” is such a harsh word, I prefer “disorganized pile of hopes and dreams”

Before I launch into this whole mess, I just wanted to say that the original intent of this post was to busy myself until this awesome seamless fashion knitting book was delivered to me. And it almost worked, except it arrived today and this post is still not created. SO, expect another book review soon, but for now let’s take a look at every knitter/crocheter’s simultaneous pride and shame: the stash.

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Other than the fact that it’s starting to resemble the leaning tower of Pisa, it looks harmless enough. I mean there’s a box, my books, my WIP, and the hat box right? So there’s a bunch of yarn sticking out of the hat box? It’s still good, it’s still good.

Let’s take a gander in the shoe box – which is the best stash box in the existence. God Bless u, Jeffrey Campbell.

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Here we have new skeins of yarn, leftover skeins, yarn labels, my first ever knitting and crochet instruction book that I bought for $1 in Walmart, and (I barely believe this fits in here) the unfinished work of a blanket I’m going to get rid of shortly to make more room in the box.

Then we have the yarn overflowing from the hat box

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And a look inside the hat box, featuring more leftover yarn balls, all my knitting needles, and all my crochet hooks. Also some unseen tapestry needles and ribbon embellishments I will totally use one day. Don’t look at me like that. Don’t judge me.

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In a perfect work, I’d love nothing more than to have a cute looking space to neatly organize everything. Maybe some day I will and I can make a new post. In the meantime, I’ll continue to marvel at the fact that a year and a half ago I had like 2 knitting needle sets, 0 crochet hooks, and 2 balls of yarn.

And before I get totally sentimental with that – what’s your stash look like? I’d love to see a comment here, or a post sharing it. Anyone? Bueller?

Still Making a Sweater: Now with Filler!

So I’m still battling the sweater. At this point in time I’m two inches away from (temporarily) finishing row after row of suckingnette. On the plus side, I am now able to knit while reading, watching tv, and probably while sleeping IT’S THAT MONOTONOUS OF A STITCH. I took this photo on Friday to showcase my ~dazzling~ progress

I would also like to share that while working on it, a friend’s mother commented that I have “excellent tension” and it was probably the best comment I’ve ever received. I think by next week I’ll be ready to start my contrast colour on this!

In the meantime, I’ve been combating the mind-numbing chore of this sweater by engaging in other things, like starting a seed stitch cowl in multiple colours!

This was way easier than I assumed it would be, so long as I remember what row I’m on and to switch colours. I love the yarn as well… who would’ve thought DeSerres carries an awesome selection of yarn now?! (Hint: not me.)

I also grabbed some super bulky yarn because I’ve never used it before and made myself a really thick warm scarf. I thought I wouldn’t need to use it until next winter, but given that on this lovely spring April day we had 5cm of snow and it was a balmy -9C I actually took it for a spin!

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And that’s my half-assed yarn update for today. I’ll leave you with what my entire “”””stash”””” looks like – yes I’m using my Litas box to store yarn and yes I really like neutral whites/creams/greys clearly.

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How to properly destroy your soul while engaging in the yarned crafts.

I’m my biggest critic when it comes to making things. While you’re sitting there in awe wondering how this human took yarn and made a bunch of consecutive loops in it to form a perfect hat, I’m sitting there repulsed by my flimflam. Attaching things with yarn? Wow, way off. Did you even follow the pattern? Probably not, words are hard. So lately (and thanks to a lovely conversational thread on smash_club – will get into that later) I’ve taken to offering myself some scathing criticism to really up my yarn game. Some lovely gems I’ve mumbled to myself in the middle of a brioche stitch scarf that honestly makes my wrist hurt, a basketweave knit scarf that was frogged last night, and several crochet projects of varying importance:

“You call that a stockinette stitch? More like suckingette stitch.”

“Your purling has made me seriously consider hurling.”

“This is genuinely a thing of knitmares.”

“Double crochet? More like double fail.”

Since there is a huge time gap between what I wrote above and what I’m currently writing (two months later, I decide to blog moar) I’d like to update that I’m still very good at self-deprecating yarn crafting. Tonight, my start of making a sweater began with cautious optimism and was shortly followed with several froggings and a lot of, “what the fuck did I just do with this thing? Circulars? Actually, circuFAILS.”

It’s really got me thinking that the main purpose of this blog (yes, I’m changing it again) should be an online recording of all my knitting and crochet successes and losses. Because I really want to scream about not getting a pattern right. Or showcase my latest “nailed it” piece.

I hope you enjoy the crap I will be spewing on here from now on. 🙂

How even more terribly neglectful of me.

I mean, I’m incredibly good at updating my classroom blog to the point where parents approach me with, “You are so on top of your blog posts, I read it every night!” and all I want to tell them is, “Well my personal blog is in shambles, so you’re welcome.”

My knitting and crochet hobbies are limitless in bounds. Since October I’ve taken the plunge into the exciting and rewarding world of hats:

 

So this has given me some newfound confidence to up my knitting game and make a sweater soon: http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/5/3/lauras-loop-cap-sleeve-lattice-top.html I look forward to getting circulars and cursing everything in sight.

I have a great next post that I promise I will actually post before 2015.