Trials and Triumphs with Crochet

As you are probably aware, I’ve been on a crocheting kick for about six months or so. It’s nice to take a break sometimes, even though I’m still a knitter in my mind! I did finally finish the rug or afghan I’ve been working on and wanted to focus on what I learned from my first mosaic crochet project.

Finished product — only took two months!

First, I love mosaic crochet, as long as it’s in the round. Doing it back and forth requires cutting the yarn on every row. Nope. That’s not gonna happen. I look forward to trying something else, maybe a little less chaotic, in the future. I always like techniques where you gradually build up a pattern, because wanting to see how it comes out keeps me going. That’s why I like fair isle knitting, mitered squares, entrelac, and lace.

Edging

Second, I’m happy with the sturdy fabric I ended up with, because it can be used in more than one way. So, I’ll consider this one a triumph.

It is a good pet comforter.

Third, the negatives. I ended up having to use two shades of black (one actually charcoal gray) and in my zeal to make the project a little larger chose accent colors without enough contrast. Oh, and the yarn with the long self stripes should have been managed in a more disciplined fashion. There are a few awkward bits of color in there. Nonetheless, it’s a cheerful thing.

See how some look black and some have splotches. Not ideal.

Now for the trials. I didn’t have a new project set out for an immediate start (I want to do a temperature blanket using mitered squares for high and low temperatures of the day but haven’t picked yarn or colors – I made a small one for the Tempestry project a few years ago but seem to have neglected to upload it to Ravelry). What I did have was some organic cotton yarn that had been sitting in its original box for many years, probably close to 30 now. It popped up when unpacking stuff from my old house and was nagging me.

So, I thought to myself, hey, I want curtains in the tack room. I could make curtains out of this rustic-looking stuff. All I have to do is wind it up, find a pattern, and go. I could do filet crochet! It’s a thing that gradually builds up a design and is lots of fun (it uses a mesh to make images).

This photo is from the excellent Interweave article linked above.

Yeah, right. There aren’t as many filet crochet patterns out there as I had hoped, and of course my ancient books full of patterns are still packed up. I also think I searched when I was sleepy. But that’s okay, I eventually found a free design of a crow, which fits rather well, since the Hermits’ Rest has a murder that I enjoy watching often.

Oh, if only mine ended up looking even vaguely like this, I’d be happy.

I was ready to go! However, that lovely Rowan California Cotton that has a lot going for it is not lovely to wind up.

See, it’s ll natural.

I put the first hank on the swift and started to wind it. That was an absolute disaster. The hanks are rather large, so the swift ended up very high. It simply would not wind, even if I tried to lower the yarn with my hand. I ended up having a real mess to rescue the first hank that included cutting it in half and dealing with oh so many knotty areas.

Sad little balls of yarn

Luckily I’m creative and have helpful family members to give me ideas. I ended up dragging my aluminum step ladder into the office and attaching the ball winder to it. Ta da! The heights worked out much better.

It’s working!

I’m pretty sure I wound the rest of the skeins of yarn in less time than I did the first one. That was a little frustrating.

Here you can see the ladder better, and evidence of my love of clutter.

Then I started to do my project. Of course, I had to add to it. There are now checkerboards on the ends, which look all right, I guess. I also decided to crochet the crow from end to end rather than from bottom to top as was suggested. I think that means my crow will be a bit more squished and look more like a robin or something, due to filet crochet squares not being actually square.

The right side shows the branch beginning. Yeah, not so great.

Well, I’m the only person who will care, since very few people go into the tack room other than me. Maybe it will be a tablecloth instead. It turns out the thing’s pretty big. Most filet crochet is done with crochet cotton, not DK weight yarn, you see. I have a feeling I’ll be trying something else to fulfill my filet crochet itch, a project that makes me appear more competent!

Let’s hope I have enough yarn.

PS: Just to let you faithful readers know, I have come up with some ideas to make the blog more interesting again, so stay tuned. I will get my blogging mojo back!

Thursday in Pictures

Almost done! Black finishing border next.
Young pond slider checking to see if I’ve left yet.
Explorers
Sparrows inspecting my dressage markers.
I bothered a huge fire ant colony by moving an upside down feed tub.
What a beauty.
Pollination process
Flies are also pollinators.
Sunset
Start of the final edge
He makes everything good.

This week has exhausted me. I will be more wordy tomorrow, maybe.

Crafty Crafting

It’s nice to be back to normal. Life here is just fine, working hard, playing with horses, and enjoying new plants as they return each season. No complaints.

Shepherd‘s purse is back!

I’m glad I’ve relaxed about a lot of things, like caring about people’s opinions of me, trying to lose weight…etc. One thing I’ve also let go of is trying to be perfect in my crafts. I always used to beat myself up over mistakes. Now I just go with it.

I’ve been putting a very bright border on the mosaic rug I’m working on. About halfway through, I realized the first row should have been the orange color. Shoot. But I just kept going. Now that I got to the end, I got crafty.

The example, with slip stitch embellishment at top.

I decided to add some embellishments in the right color and I think it looks cute! I’m just slip stitching, and I think it looks correct from a distance and interesting up close. I’m going to add another border repeat in two other colors. Then poor, patient Rollie will finally get their Christmas gift!

Here’s to crafty crafts and embracing imperfections!

Rug Making

I finally got all the squares for the rug or thick blanket I made for a Christmas gift sewn together. That was not easy on my hands and arm, because I used a twisty joining stitch, the same one I’ve been using, but tighter. I’ll be glad for a break from that!

Así feared, the dark squares didn’t work out.

Yeah, I knew the dark purple would not contrast enough. But up close it looks all right. Maybe the recipient will put furniture on that one corner.

And some of the multiple colored ones look funny.

I did learn a lot about the mosaic technique, though, and I sure enjoy it. Look how cool the back looks.

Spirals!

I like the technique so much that I decided to make a mosaic border in two of the brighter colors. It will look like a Greek pattern. Here’s the chart.

I think it will end up cheerful and useful.

In the meantime, here’s the sunset.

Day is done.

And here are horses who thought they’d escaped but foolishly ran back into the other pasture. Silly beasts.

Oh, Germs

My strep symptoms are NOT going away as fast as I’d like. Oh well, it rained off and on all day again, so I couldn’t have done much other than work, anyway. At least I didn’t have to talk much.

Since I took no pictures today, let’s play spot the snapping turtle from last week.

Other than thinking about project lifecycles all day, the highlights of my day were finding some snow geese in the sky and having a good talk with my dear friend, Mike. He reminded me once again that he will listen to me. Of course, when I’m all overwhelmed with negativity, I never remember to call my support network. Maybe my first tattoo should say

Remember your true friends

Tomorrow should be a good day with sun and true friends and horses. Come on, antibiotics, kick in! Back to Starburst: the blanket.

Hello from Strep Land

No wonder I feel bad! Lee took me to a very nice urgent care place in Temple where I told them I was pretty sure I had strep, but to check for other stuff, so they did. I don’t feel like I have the flu (that I can remember since I haven’t had it since flu shots were invented).

There’s always plenty of crafting to do while waiting one’s turn in the car. I ain’t going near sick people if I can help it. And of course I masked to keep my germs to myself.

Yep. I have strep, which I’m pretty sure I made myself vulnerable to when my mental health drained me. At least it’s something you can get fixed. So good ole Penicillin is fighting the bacteria. Whee. And today I’ve rested rather than running around in the rain and cold all day like yesterday.

Carlton and Goldie entertain me.

I want to be better so I can work with Drew a lot. Poor guy probably wonders what’s going on.

Huh? Who’s gonna feed us? Suna has no backup. (Answer: eat that hay)

Luckily, Lee has been feeding me, and I’ve been cozily watching football and getting Thanksgiving nails. I probably needed a break, anyway.

I bet I’ll be fine tomorrow and able to work and do my chores. There’s a lot of poop to shovel from when the horses escaped.

Thanks to all for your incredible support and kindness over the past few days. It’s helping me get back on track! I know some of you are also struggling and want you to know I’m thinking of you, too.

Good day for a cozy blanket

Well well. I had good timing in finishing the main part of the rather large blanket I’ve been making for myself to sit under at the tack room. All that’s left is the border, which will be simple black clusters.

That’s the border up there by the crochet hook.

I’ll share the finished look when I’m done with it all, but it sure is long. I had to use all the colors three times.

It could make you dizzy.

While I was riding in the car to go get some groceries with Anita, I looked for other ideas for little projects. I wanted something with texture. So I made a flower square.

Five petals in a square!

These are small, so I grouped them into four and made a larger square. I’m not sure if I like it or not. I may do a row of the flower color on the outside. Or I’ll try something else. Who knows. Maybe I’ll combine it with knitting.

Flower power

First I’ll finish the corner-to-corner blanket.

By the way we got over 1.6 inches of rain! the ponds aren’t full, but they look good.

Shiny and pond-like

Declan helped me set up the greenhouse I got from the Red House when we bought it. All my vulnerable plants are in there, because we’re getting a hard freeze (about the right time of year). I’d love to get bougainvillea to over-winter!

Hmm. This is interesting!

Looking forward to finally getting my horse lesson tomorrow, even if it’s cold! The horses are nice and fluffy.

Cozy

There isn’t much going on. It threatened to rain here all day, but didn’t until evening. Lee and I went to the Lowe’s and Target stores in Temple (the town, not a synagogue, even though it was Friday afternoon), where it did rain a bit.

Two crocheted items, my finished ruana and in-progress blanket, have me cozy.

Dodging raindrops got me chilly, though I was glad we got most of the bedding for the vacation rental so it can get going soon.

I got home in time for a dinner and gabfest with Anita (and the very nice server at the Central Avenue Bistro), where I got all caught up on Pickle the dog’s adventures.

I dressed up! Lipstick and green jewelry. Much better than the hay encrusted ensemble I had on five minutes earlier.

Nice normal day other than the rain that we humans welcome and the thunder the dogs hate.

Sorta makes me dizzy.

Stay cozy, my friends.

Corner to Corner Crochet Success

I’m late to the party on this, but when I saw a friend’s scrappy and fun blanket made with this technique (also called c2c by the cool kids), I knew it had to be the one I’d use for the blanket I wanted to make for the tack room, for which I’d bought two sets of ten skeins in different colors of the same yarn (Brava Stripe), along with a LOT of charcoal heather for an accent. Hey, the yarn packet is on sale now!

Image from link above.
Here’s the beginning

Apparently, this technique, corner-to-corner crochet, is quite the rage among crocheters who talk to each other, a group of which I am not a member. So, I went to the internet and looked up how to do it. Here’s where I admit that I don’t learn very well with videos, so I looked and looked for written instructions. I finally found some, but of course it was on one of those extra irritating pages where you have to read through paragraph upon paragraph of blah blah blah interrupted by repetition of the same irrelevant advertisement before you finally arrive at what you went to the page for. The world wide web disappoints me these days. (Yes, this blog has ads, but I don’t hide the useful content, at least.)

The instructions I found are much less hard to read on the computer screen than on the phone, though, and this Sarah Maker page has fewer ads and more clear content than a couple of the other ones I looked at. So, if you wanna know how I did it, go there.

Close up that shows how each row has clusters going a different direction.

Anyway, off I went. Once I got the idea, the stripes went quickly, and I’ve really been enjoying this project. It’s easy to do while listening to lectures, riding in the car, watching television, and such.

It’s nice and warm while I’m working on it, too, which came in handy at the conference hotel over the weekend.

I’m though one repeat of the colors, and it’s as wide as I want it to be, so I stopped making a giant triangle, which is how this technique starts, and I’m now making one side wider and one side shorter, which creates a rectangle shape. When I’m finished with another repeat of all the colors, I’ll start decreasing on both sides, to close up the rectangle, and boom. I’ll have a blanket made of diagonal stripes.

It’s a bit wider than this, because the edge fell off the side of the chair. You can see here how it’s starting to be a rectangle.

It should be great for chilly days in the tack room and should be okay in there, because it’s 100% acrylic, which is not delicious to moths or mice. I hope. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this project preview!

Hearts and Borders

Yesterday was lots of fun and I’ll share pictures tomorrow. Today I took it easy, other than cleaning, and got the border put on the heart afghan.

Not too bad. Needs blocking!

I was glad the squares matched up well. The border really sets off the heart and triangles. It needs one row of a border and it will be done.

It’s cheerful!

The center pattern is called Tune My Heart. It’s a bit weird, but I did it. I now know better ways to make the squares.

I’ll figure out something fun to do with the leftovers. I have black yarn that will look great with the pinks. There’s leftover cream that looks good with the purples. Maybe I’ll make something a little less “beginner” crochet or knitting.

I did my nails spooky, too. Best job application-wise in a long time. The webs work well for the Master Naturalist conference next week!

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