29 March 2009

And I'm done!

I started these potholders last Sunday after signing up for the swap. Two days later and I'm already done my homework: 5 potholders in the same pattern. It's the perfect project. All the satisfaction of crocheting blocks for a blanket, without having to make 200 blocks which is quite the test for any attention span. I browsed all the crochet potholder links suggested on the swap's blog sidebar and narrowed it down to a few possibilities. My favourite being the pattern I chose. Though the pattern calls it daisy, it's definitely a star.

An afternoon of raiding my stash for suitable yarns yielded several contenders for this project. The major players came down to worsted weight cotton combination and the Briggs & Little/handspun combination. After working one potholder, I was sold on using the handspun.

I did find it surprising that I had enough of the handspun for 5 potholders. I even have a couple of the mini-balls left over! I think I'm going to make some of these for myself. I really love how the handspun is featured in this pattern. The crochet hides the inconsistencies in my early handspun. The barberpole effect from the two ply also looks great here though it's really not something I enjoyed when I spun this yarn.

This is one of my most photographed projects. I really like how pre-blocked these look like starfish. And everytime I took pictures, I wanted close ups of each potholder. I just can't get enough of the handspun squishy star goodness.

Pattern: Daisy Hot Plate Mat & Pot Holders
Materials: Briggs & Little Heritage natural and BFL Handspun
Start Date: March 22, 2009
End Date: March 24, 2009

Hooked on crochet

It seems to be rather fashionable of late to be all about crochet. And this time I'm firmly a part of the trend. I can't get enough of the hook. I've got it so bad that I've been working on crochet blocks while eating my breakfast in the morning. I can often be found with a hook and project crumpled up in my bag walking around Montreal. I don't necessarily work on the project when I'm out and about, but it's comforting to know that it's there.

The Hexagonal Blanket is not enough for me. I need MORE crochet projects! I have to crochet ALL the time! More more MORE!

So, uh, I joined a swap.

And I started a bag.

And yeah. Hopefully that should keep the craving satisfied. At least until I get a chance to cut out all those hexagons.

27 March 2009

There's a hex on me

I have a new love affair. Hexagons. They are my shape of the moment. Hex hex hex. I heart the hex. I'm LOVING the simple awesomeness of the Hexagonal Blanket I'm working on. Working with a repeat number of twelve and increases the stitch grouping to make the circle, then alternate a corner with a straight side and wham bam you've got a hex!

A hex on me, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

1. patchwork detail , 2. Hexagons, 3. 37, 4. Hexagons!, 5. hexagon update, 6. Quilt blocks, 7. My Grannys quilt, 8. Close Up, 9. 8two8 February - Tine's block, 10. Hexagon Doll Quilt, 11. paper piecing grows, 12. Hexagon Patchwork, 13. working on the flower garden, 14. WIP, 15. Hex's, 16. Tablemat, 17. the hexagons are growing..., 18. HPIM5876, 19. hexagons, 20. 11,239

I REALLY want to take my current hex love to the point of obsession. I have in mind to make a hand stitched mini hexagon quilt as recently blogged by Jane Brocket. I found a tutorial on English piecing through Flickr and want to start right away but cutting out a million hexes from my deck of quilter's quarters acquired a few years ago.

I really like the waving lines idea built from the hexagons rather than the more usual hex flowers. Maybe I'll go for more of a random hexagon strategy. Who knows at this point. But I should definitely start cutting out the many many paper templates.

25 March 2009

Just in time for spring

This is part two of my mom's Xmas 2007 gift. Part one was the Puffs Beret that I knit over my Christmas holiday 2008. I had pledged to finish her scarf by her birthday, February 29th. I didn't quite make that deadline but finished it soon after. I did procrastinate blocking the scarf, but now I have no excuses. I should mail this sucker straight away before any shred of winter is gone.

I really enjoyed knitting this scarf even if the yarn wasn't forgiving to work with. Backtracking really sucks as the little bits of cashmere fluff stick like a mofo. Paying close attention was also key as this yarn is too fine to tell what's going on by touch. I reduced the border to 3 repeats to keep it more scarf than shawl once finished. But the berries are as written.

Pattern: Scarf with fir cone lace border by Jane Sowerby from Victorian Lace Today
Materials: 1.3 skeins Filatura Di Crosa Superior 12 blue
Start Date: January 22, 2009
End Date: March 8, 2009

Knitting pattern went rather quickly. After knitting the first border in an evening, the center took me a couple of evenings. Then another few for the second border. It did live on my couch halfway finished for a while, but overall quick and enjoyable. It gave me an appetite for some more lace. I'm pretty sure my mom will like the scarf. The beret has gotten nothing but rave reviews so far.

23 March 2009

The Hexagonal Crochet Equation

I'm crazy. Or to be more specific, I can tend towards obsessive compulsion when it comes to some crafty projects. Like back when I was obsessed with making little paper stars and cut up the equivalent of a ream of paper and over months and months made thousands in every colour of paper I could find. So it should really be no surprise that I developed a rather complicated production line technique for working on this blanket.

As I was working on the first couple of blocks randomly picking colours for each round I started to think about how many colour combinations I could come up with from all the colours I was using. And if I had paid more attention during grade 12 math, I would have calculated all the permutations and combinations. Instead I decided to start working on the blanket with that methodology.

I grabbed a colour and started making little circles completing rounds one and two of the patterns. I even worked in the ends on each little disc as I worked with the added bonus of not having a million ends to deal with at the end of the project. I made enough discs in each colour to complete the next round with every other colour with my current group of colours. I had 10 colours total, so I made 9 little discs for each one (that's the only thing I remember from math class, one less than total number).

Next I dealt out all the discs into stacks for the rest round, one of each colour for each stack for the round 2 colour and continued on with the crochet factory. More crocheting and then re-dealing for the next round, etc. etc. until all the rounds (and blocks) are completed. Then BOOM 90 blocks are done!

The other cool thing about this blanket is that it's pretty much made with leftover yarn. It started off with the plentiful leftovers from the Jelly Bean Scarf and I spent some time raiding my stash for suitable colour substitutions as the original jelly bean palette runs out. I did spend some time this weekend replenishing the palette with some fresh jelly bean flavours at Effiloché but for the most part it's leftovers.

But the one wrinkle with my insane methodology is that this pattern connects the blocks in the final round. So now I have a whole stack of finished blocks not connected to each other. My preferred look for this blanket is when the blocks sit right next to each other. I did spend some time making a couple rows of connected blocks but it kind of smells having to take out the final round of every other block to connect it to it's neighbors.

Instead of being even MORE crazy and redoing my work, I think I'm going to move forward with the next batch of blocks and connect them to the old blocks when I get to the final round. That was I'll also be able to distribute the original colours with their replacements more evenly over the final blanket.

ETA: I later came across instructions for this hexagon block over here on Attic24.

9 March 2009

Golden ticket socks

Remember how I won a Golden Ticket? Well once I realised that it was a real treat, I immediately went to the online Knit it up! shop and picked this fabulous skein of my newest colour combination obsession: yellow and grey.

When the yarn came in the mail I immediately knew what pattern I wanted to use it for. Cookie A's awesome Marlene pattern from Knit.1 Fall/Winter 2008 and cast on straight away with my trusty 2.0mm circular.

Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A. from Knit.1 Fall/Winter 2008

But after working several inches I tried the socks on and realised the tension was way too tight. No I didn't swatch, but I don't mind ripping and restarting. I ended up switching to 2.75mm double points when I restarted these and it looks like they'll be quite nice.

Though I think it will take me a while to finish these socks. I've been rather smitten with the Jelly Bean Afghan lately.

8 March 2009

Jelly Bean Afghan

After finishing the Jelly Bean Scarf I found myself with quite the stack of leftover balls of super yummy squishy alpaca goodness in a lovely palette of jelly bean colours. I thought I'd make another version of the scarf for someone else, but then Mr. Peabody and Mr. Pare suggested a jelly bean afghan. Brilliant!

I was super excited about the idea that I grabbed my hook and my favourite granny square pattern and started hooking away.

Pattern: Willow by Jan Eaton from 200 Crochet Blocks

I created some simple rules about how to go about making this blanket. I'm a big fan of creating simple almost computer program logical algorithms when I'm working with leftovers or don't have a specific idea in mind for the finished product. Yes, I'm a dork, but who isn't really?

I really like the effect of this square in one solid colour. Using one colour draws more attention to texture created by the arrangement of stitches which I really like. So my rules were to make as many solid blocks as possible with any given yarn. And then when I couldn't complete an entire block, I'd leave the last complete round and then start a new block and go as far as possible until all the yarn ran out.

1. Popsicle Pink + Raspberry, 2. Burgundy + Raspberry, 3. Blue + Raspberry

After working through 2 balls of yarn, I had a whole stack of blocks to evaluate.

I started laying them out and really wasn't a fan of how it was going to turn out. So I thought maybe I'd divide them into two blankets, one of the solids and then one of the leftover-multi-bits. But after pondering for a week or so I decided I really didn't like the idea.

Though I really like the Willow block, I don't like it as much when it's multicoloured. But with the gauge of yarn I was using, the blocks are too small to really get a sense of the texture created in each block. Really I was trying to recreate my lovely Ginormo Granny Square blanket with a substitute set of yarn that was available and in my price range but the heart wants what it wants.

I went on the search (Ravelry and Flickr) for another suitable crochet blanket pattern that suits fun bright jelly bean colours and came up with this:

Pattern: Hexagon Blanket by Kazekobo (風工房) (reverse crocheted from Flickr photos)

I have no experience hunting those fantastic Japanese craftbooks and a search for the ISBN yielded nothing so I set about reverse-crocheting from Flickr photos instead. Judging by the date of other people's version of this blanket I figured it would be quite hard to come by anyways. I think I've come quite close though and have been happily crocheting away.

And yes, the dork in me has been having fun too. After working up a couple of blocks where I randomly picked the next colour, I started with a whole mass production, permutations and combinations style thing with all the colours. But more on that later.

7 March 2009

Rudy Stripey Socks

Yes these socks have been finished for a month now and I haven't yet shown them off.

I did really enjoy knitting these and managed to wear them a few times before the weather warmed up (and then cooled off but not quite as cold as before). They're super lovely silky feeling when I wear them.

I kept knitting until I ran out of yarn making these another pair of not-quite-but-just-about knee socks. So they tend to slouch even though they're ribbed from toe to cuff. I did a short-row toe where I picked up stitches from the cast on edge. Yes it makes a ridge but I enjoy that interior toe ridge feeling of store bought socks so I'll likely use this method again.

Pattern: 4x2 Ribbed socks, Short row toe-up
Materials: Knit it Up! Silky Sock Yarn Cinema for December: Rudy
Start Date: January 14, 2009
End Date: February 7, 2009

Can't think of anymore interesting details at the moment which says to me I shouldn't leave it so long to post about these sorts of things.