Pattern: My own version of designs I saw on Ravelry
Yarn: Knit Picks Brava Worsted for the pink and purples, Deborah Norville Everyday Worsted, and Vanna’s Choice for the brown and beige (100% acrylic).
Started: November 7, 2013
Finished: November 20, 2013
Let’s just get it out of the way, right up front. I suck at embroidering faces on dolls. I’m sure that part of my problem is simply a lack of experience and expertise. That said, I’m sure that it’s mostly because I lack patience. So just ignore Little Miss Monkey’s poorly stitched features and instead just look at the whole. On the whole, I’m pretty pleased with how she came out! The monkey will be a gift for my niece whose birthday is a few days after Thanksgiving. FYI: I would have been done over a week ago if I hadn’t run out of the brown yarn and needed to get more.
I took my inspiration from this elephant blanket doll, but I didn’t care for the monkey version with no arms and the solid blanket body, so I winged it completely on my own. The blanket “body” was easy, it’s just a large granny square. The hardest part was using up the right color of leftover yarn in sections that wouldn’t cause me to run out early. I was just a wee bit short on the brown and had to buy another skein, of which I only used maybe 1/10th.
The head was more of a challenge because I needed to figure out how to make the lighter colored face section just so, with the bumps for the eyes, and then grow the rest of the head from there. I’m particularly pleased with how I got the top of the eye brow ridge to look all ridge-y like that. All in all, it came out really well, and the addition of the arms makes a big difference for me. She looks more like a doll, and less like a disembodied head on a blanket.
I would highly recommend any of the many patterns like this on Ravelry for anyone who would like to make a quick to crochet/knit baby gift that’s just a little bit out of the ordinary. It’s quick and easy to make, and best of all a good way to use up leftover yarn. They are pretty unisex too, so you can easily make “boy” versions of just about any of these type of dolls.
Let’s go back over that cowl I made for my mom’s Christmas gift, shall we? She told me she really, really wanted an infinity loop kind of cowl, and I didn’t have anything else to go off of other than that. Mom and I scoured the JoAnn’s Etc. near my workplace but, though their selection is rather large, it seemed every color she liked was in a wool blend yarn… and she doesn’t “do” wool up against her neck by choice. Finally, we found Saturate by Deborah Norville/Premier Yarns. Like I said, it’s basically acrylic fluff suspended in a nylon mesh tube. Beautiful, and exceedingly soft.
I found a pattern that I liked very much and thought she’d enjoy as well and cast on. The Shimmer Cowl pattern was written for worsted weight and my yarn was bulky, but that’s good since she wanted a cowl you could loop over twice or leave hanging down long. It looked interesting, but not too complicated.
The pattern has you start with a Foundation Single Crochet. Now, I haven’t done one of these before, but let me tell you… IT’S AWESOME. What a great way to start a project that has you cast on a large number of stitches! It’s very obvious in a bulky yarn, but I can see it being very unobtrusive in a lighter weight. So, that was fun. I worked half the larger fringe section because my yarn was so large, and then things got weird.
The body of the cowl seems to be made up of some sort of solid linen stitch, but if you follow the instructions as written you’d end up with a netting like filet crochet. Apparently I’m the only one who had this problem on Ravelry, but that’s ok. I just sort of winged it from there on out and I love the resulting fabric. It really works with the long color repeats beautifully. I also winged the upper lace border. I gave the whole thing a good soak and then blocked the heck out of it to get some more width so it would hang longer on the neck.
Now all I have to do is wrap it up and see what mom thinks come Thanksgiving, which is our Christmas this year as mom and dad are snow-birding again this year and won’t be home for actual Christmas. Not a bad two-day’s work.
I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I promise. I’ve just… retreated a little bit once we finally got through the rush and push of Rhinebeck and company during the show. Amy , John, Baby Z and mutual friend Amanda all came up from Viriginia just before the show and stayed with us until Monday morning after it ended. It was wonderful to see them, and to meet the baby for the first time. Amy is such a great mom, and I love how her family of two is even better as a family of three. They were gone too soon, however, and I miss them all.
Rhinebeck was, by the way, fabulous. As in, “oh my god, I can’t believe it went that well” kind of fabulous. It’s overwhelming though, you know? A good problem to have, don’t get me wrong! But I feel like butter spread thin across too much bread. There’s not enough of me to go around and I rebel by planting myself in my recliner and saying “enough!” So, I catch up on Netflix and my WIP list gets attacked with ferocity. The days get colder and trees grow bare. The fireplace gets set up with iron accoutrements and I put my foot down about needing fire to keep me warm. This the wooly time of year.
Despite the busyness of October, I managed to just squeak out that Cotton the Sheep doll I was crochet for Baby Z. Go me! I basically winged it once I got done with the first portion of the head (the face) because I couldn’t see what I was doing due to the boucle yarn I chose. I’m all right with that, however, and very pleased with how the doll came out. I didn’t get to see Baby Z play with it much during Amy and John’s visit, but they told me she’d face-plant herself onto the doll while playing on the floor.
I haven’t finished much else aside from a cowl for my mom for Christmas, started and finished in just two days in a brand new yarn from Deborah Norville called Saturate. Mom picked it out with me at JoAnn’s to go with her new coat. The yarn is a deliciously soft acrylic/nylon blend that’s basically yarn fluff encased in a slightly shimmery netting tube. The colors (grey/pink/wine) worked up in long, slow color changing repeats and since it’s bulky it took very little time to finish. It helped that one of the two days was a sick day, however. I just have to weave in the ends.
The current sock project is getting a lot more attention since I started working on it while I read at lunch. I foresee finishing it up before the end of the month. That’ll give me my last pair of socks for the year, probably. I’ve also started and almost finished a crochet monkey-blankie and a crochet shawl. More on those soon as I feel this has gotten rather longwinded.
So, you all know that once late summer hits it’s all about the autumn show season and time to DYE-DYE-DYE, right? I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been dyeing here and there all year, but this is when shit* gets serious. It’s also a money thing. Jersey is a very good show for me and so I take that influx of cash and pour it right back into Rhinebeck. Speaking of Jersey, you can read my show wrap up over on the business blog here. The dyeing starts in earnest this weekend and I hope to be done by the end of the month so I’m not rushing like crazy the weekend before Rhinebeck. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, I’ve finished up some of the WIPs I’ve had hanging around for the last few months. First up, we have the Alethea Shawl (with mods). What a PAIN IN MY ASS this shawl was. I pretty much winged it for the most part. I really, REALLY hate non-charted crochet patterns. Like, with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. If I had the software I’d have tried charting it on my own, but that’s neither here nor there.
I ended up with probably 1/3 of my skein of Afterglow left over. I’m going to put it in for competition at Rhinebeck, even though I don’t think it’s “show stopper” quality. You never know and it’s just $2 either way. This one is a gift, and I have a sneaking suspicion that SOMEONE opened their pie-hole and told the recipient they’re getting it. Maybe. I’d rather it were a surprise but even if it’s not at least I know the person already loves it.
Next up is the Vogue ruffled wrap that I started god knows when. I decided it was long enough sometime last week and that I really didn’t like the squared off, abrupt ending to each side. So, I made a decreased point on the working end and picked up my cast-on stitches on the other. That ended up looking kind of fugly but I’m past caring at this point. I just wanted it to be done!
Luckily, a bath and block helped even out the worst of it. I loved working with this yarn. It’s Yarn Tree, which is discontinued now, I think. I used 2.25 balls out of the 10 I bought years ago on Ebay. I’m so glad I have another bag of a different color for another project some day.
* I just realized I almost never curse on the blog. This is odd because those who know me in real life can attest that I curse like a drunken sailor. One of my super-powers is creative blasphemy, in fact.
I’ve been knocking out the gifts items lately, which actually has been a theme for this year. I’d have to look back at my project notebook on Ravelry to be sure, but I think I’ve made a lot more gifts this year than I normally do, and certainly I’ve not bucked my norm and haven’t waited for autumn and “holiday knitting” to do it. I think it’s mostly to do with my new baby relatives. Actually, I’m sure it’s mostly to do with them.
Some have turned out better than others, but my recent gift projects have all taught me something valuable. For instance, this Ten Stitch Twist baby blanket in Aran weight yarn from JoAnn’s. Definitely a pattern I’d do again, but next time I’d like to do it in a brighter color with higher contrast color changes. You know, like Noro, but baby friendly. I also feel like it needs some kind of border. What do you think? Perhaps an i-cord? It’s a very bulky yarn, and acrylic, so that doesn’t really lend itself to lace. I won’t see the family it’s for any time soon, so I have time to figure it out. For now, I’m calling it done.
While I worked on the blanket I also worked up a couple of washcloths that ended up more like pot holders. They were supposed to be for my brother and his wife, who have recently moved to Minnesota, but now I’m not sure. The idea was to send a package with the washcloths and some nice handmade soap. I couldn’t find natural colored cotton yarn locally in anything lighter than worsted weight, and since they’re crocheted, I think they came out rather bulky and ungainly. I’m pleased with how they came out of the wash though. They were a little coarse as-is, but since the yarn (Bernat Handicrafter ) is 100% cotton, I had a feeling it would wash up nicely. They’re soft to the touch now, but I have no idea what to do with them now. Anyone want them? I’d happily mail them out to the first person who thinks they’d give them a good home.
Take two will be made out of this MUCH softer, finer, and more elegant yarn I got on a recent visit to Trumpet Hill. I nearly pounced on the last two of three balls she had left in Cream. The yarn is Bamboo Pop, by Universal Yarn, and it’s fabulous! The blend is cotton and bamboo, which gives the yarn a silky, buttery feel. It seems to be plied individually which means if you look very closely at the yarn you see how the color takes differently in the cotton and bamboo strands, and there’s a bit of shine. I’ve cast on for a knit washcloth pattern that is more traditional in shape and has a light texture. It’s the second option out of this set, the green one (Chinese Linen stitch). I already want to make ALL THE THINGS out of this yarn, but unfortunately it only comes in tropical/baby friendly colors, and not the muted and jewel tones I prefer. Still, baby gifts? Oh yes.
And yes, I’m still working on the Aleatha Shawl; also a gift. I’m into the modded “let’s make the leaves grow out of the spine more organically” part of the project, which means I’m in uncharted territory. And have I mentioned it’s not charted? I know, free pattern. I shouldn’t complain. I hope to have this done in time to submit as a dark horse to Rhinebeck. It’s not going to be a show-stopper, but I really don’t have much to submit this year, unfortunately. We shall see.
My right now is full of the icy, barely green-ish white yarn. It’s quite minty, if you like. It wasn’t on purpose, it just happened to work out that way. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever looked down at your WIPs and discovered you’ve got a whack-ton of varying shades of blue in the queue? Funny how that happens. It makes me wonder if I don’t sometimes sleep walk through yarn selection.
Let me introduce you to the shawl I’m working on right now. Meet, Aleatha. I’m working on the modified version, wherein the spine-to-leaf sections are more gracefully merged. The mods were graciously documented by a crocheter on Ravelry, huzzah! The shawl is a gift, a SUPER SECRET gift, with no particular deadline. That’s good, because the Tour totally knocked it out of my evening craft time rotation for the last month. The yarn is my own Afterglow, in the Betwixt colorway. I was going for Iceling, which is pale mint and white, but this instead. Happy accidents and all.
My next introduction is a baby blanket born of desperation. We have a family member who’s due to have her baby any minute now and I don’t have anything knit up for her gender-unknown child. Enter my other pale green/white yarn, purchased at JoAnn’s at 50% off. I love the Sensations Rainbow acrylic. It’s very soft, has long and slow color repeats, and is a great value, even at full price. At $5 for a ball bigger than my head? It’s fabulous. I needed a gauge-less project due to the bulky weight of the yarn, and the Ten Stitch Twist Blanket was the perfect fit. It looks complicated, but as long as you know how to do short rows it’s really actually very simple. It would be much more exciting in Noro, but perhaps another day.
I will say, however, ten-stitch garter-stitch short rows make me VERY happy I taught myself how to purl backwards earlier this year.
Pattern: True Love by Michele DuNaier
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock, colorway S279
Notes: I worked only one row of wheel/fans for the trim because I ran out of yarn in the middle of trying for the two-row version. I used 2.8 skeins of NSGS from my stash.
As always, Michele’s patterns are a joy to crochet, with True Love being possibly my favorite so far due to its versatility. For instance: I broke my own shawl rule (quiet yarn for busy pattern) with this one, but in a calculated way. Normally I’d never use a so strongly variegated a yarn for a shawl that wasn’t primarily plain, but here I took a gamble on Noro’s long color repeats and it worked. Yes, the stitch pattern recedes into the background, but somehow it still works (at least for me). The point here was to be a stash buster project and in that it definitely succeeded.
For some reason I wasn’t sure I’d like the shawl for myself, being so multi-colored, and so I’d decided that it would be a gift. Of course then I wore it all weekend at Cummington due to the cold and fell in love with it’s comforting weight and how securely it stays on the shoulders. Too bad for me, however; I’ve already assigned a giftee in my head and that’s that. I know she’ll love it. What’s the occasion? Being a friend who stuck by me through thick and thin these last few dark years, even if ‘just’ from afar. Those ended up being fewer than I’d thought, and are all the more precious for it.
The pattern had enough variation in it to be enjoyable, but I’d definitely consider it an intermediate level project. Honestly, an advanced beginner could do it, it’s just two or three basic stitches throughout, but a rank beginner might become overwhelmed by all the charts and the time commitment. Michele’s patterns are all written and charted, so there’s no hassle there for either camp. I’m a chart girl all the way, and I like how clearly hers are presented.
The next time I make this shawl it will be in my own yarn, and it’ll be a two-color kettle dyed version. Because the shawl is broken up into distinct sections with dividers it really lends itself to carefully planned color changes. There are a few really inspired versions on Ravelry that convinced me to give it another go. The difference between the two shawls will be striking and I can’t wait to see it take shape. The next one won’t be for me either, I’ve dyed two new colorways especially for the intended recipient. I think she’s going to flip when she sees it!
Huzzah! True Love, she is done. Now all that’s left is a good block, which will most likely have to wait until after I get back from the Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend. I finished it up Monday night and had plenty of yarn left to spare. Not enough for another repeat of edging, mind you, but enough that I can happily call the shawl done and decide who the recipient will be.
Do you ever knit or crochet something just for the fun of it? While most of the time I make things for myself, I often make gifts for friends and family. However, I’ve never made something without knowing who it would go to ahead of time, so this feels strange. It’s going to be glorious once it’s blocked and I know that whoever gets will have to love it. How could they not? Well, at least not as long as I pick someone who likes lots of bright colors. Come to think of it…
I probably won’t start anything new while I’m getting ready for the show. I have a travel sock that’ll fit the mindless knitting bill well should I want to stitch. Most of the time I just spin at these shows anyway, and it’s not like I’ve been pouring on the fiber these days so that’s good. Circe misses me, I’m sure. I’ll swap out the bobbin of roving I’m working on for some of my own fiber and demo something soft and pretty.
If you’ll be at the show please make a point to stop by the booth in Barn 5 to say hello. I’ve said it before: I love meeting readers and customers. I might even hug you, so watch out. Oh, and as always, if you wish me happy birthday you’ll get 10% off your order (not valid with any other offer).
True Love still isn’t done, but she will be done later today. I’m literally that close! I had a bit of a setback earlier in the week. Here I thought three whole skeins of Noro Silk Garden Sock would be more than enough, but alas, it wasn’t. I was halfway through my last row of the 2-wheel version of the edging and bam. No more yarn. What to do? Was I going to spend $20 on another skein, plus shipping? Not happening. I bought my initial three from Little Knits for $10 each, and cheap-ass me wasn’t going to put any more money into this shawl. You know what happens then… rip, rip, rip.
I ripped back to the first row of wheels and started the picot edging. Have I mentioned how damned annoying a bazillion inches of picot are? I feel I should, that it’s an imperative I warn the unsuspecting how annoying picots are en mass. I have the same lack of patience for picots that most people have for nupps or kitchenering closed their sock toes, both techniques I strangely enjoy. Anyway, I’m down to the last foot of edging and I know that it will be done tonight. As long as my little ball of reclaimed yarn doesn’t fail me.
At this point I’m actively struggling with what to make next. I have two stalled shawl/scarf projects right now that I really should get back to, and the travel sock (which doesn’t count). The Madrona shawl (you remember that, right?) has languished forever and if I’m going to enter it into Rhinebeck I need to get a move on it. But first, I must finish True Love and figure out who I’m going to give it to as a gift. Who does it remind me of?