Bandwagon Crochet

No. I’m not making “the pocket shawl”.

IRL, I’m not a joiner. I don’t love large group activities (my local knitting people may remember how I dug in my heels about not attending “Stitch n Pitch”). I avoid (consciously or subconsciously) the Popular “thing” (current best selling books, fitness fads, fashion trends, pop music). Maybe its part of my nature to go against the grain. Or I think it’ll make me “edgy”, unique, or counterculture cool?

From Thursday

I digress, my bandwagon project. Now that everyone has moved onto the next big crochet pattern, I feel free to explore the Virus Shawl. Don’t laugh, I FINALLY decided to tackle this project. I’ve been going back and forth between the Virus Shawl or the Lost Souls Skull Shawl. I also recently purchased myself a cake of Scheepjes Whirl (60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic: 1000m) in Salted Caramel Matcha– a yarn that has been experiencing a moment. The yarn was the deciding factor on which pattern to make. I decided I wanted to make the Skull Shawl in some kind of obnoxious PINK shade, irony and all that.

I’m about 3/8 through.

Last week, I took the kids up to visit with my parents for a few days. They hadn’t seen each other since Mid-December (2019). It was time, we’ve all be practicing social distancing and taking the proper safety precautions. My dad has even embraced technology and started doing grocery pick-up! We had a nice visit for a few days, the kids rode bikes up and down the driveway, played with my old Barbie stuff (a couple pieces actually belonged to my mom when she was a kid), and even slept in the (new to them) 1995 RV my dad has been fixing up since spring.

This means I was able to make some headway on my shawl. The yarn caught my mom’s eye, and she really likes the “open” stitches. Which means she will be the recipient upon completion. She has an animal fiber sensitivity, so the cotton/acrylic blend is great for her. The chart is hand-drawn, so some of the rows need a bit of close inspection the first couple times through. Honestly, once you work the first 11 rows, you just work rows 8-11 until you are done. Super easy, but it LOOKS difficult. I’m using my Furls Odyssey Hook (H/8) The hook has a bit of heft, which is nice with such a light weight yarn.

So, if you are one of the 3 people who crochet (who hasn’t done this shawl), I highly recommend it. It is a minimum effort, maximum effect project. I may choose to do another one in the far future with a thicker yarn. Fingering weight yarn is not something I regularly crochet with, so I feel like I’m moving at a snail speed. I like the yarn itself and will use it again in the future (maybe a knit sweater)! I like that it has a twist to the ply, that makes it easier for me to work with. I made THIS out of a similar concept yarn, Lion Brand Wrap Star (which I think is discontinued), the untwisted ply was a bit annoying and splitty.

Deadlines and Rambling

Arbitrary deadlines to stress about to be exact. I’m participating in a Ravelry based challenge in one of the Stash Down groups. It runs from May 1st to July 15th. I initially had 5 projects. PlumBody to Love (still procrastinating on pictures and wrapping up pattern writing), Faire Stripes Sweater (also procrastinating on pattern grading, pictures, testing, writing), Wide Garter Stripe Shawl (actually finished), the Afestos Shawl (from the lost knits file), and my Say Yes to Pie Socks (smaller size). I also added 6 additional projects. 2 adult sized crochet blankets and 4 hats. July 15th is coming up SOOOOOON (like 2 days). And my old WIP is still not QUITE done (it’ll be its own post). There are no consequences for not finishing my projects. No one is going to flagellate me or take away my maker license. There are LITERALLY NO CONSEQUENCES for bailing or failing. Conversely, there are no prizes or awards for succeeding either.

Stalled.

When I started my socks on July 4th, I was feeling REALLY confident about my timeline. I finished that first sock in a couple days, I immediately cast-on that 2nd sock, worked through to halfway through the ribbing (of a toe-up sock) and got distracted. Seriously. I had less than an hour of ribbing and the heels to do (3 total hours of work). And then, I got distracted. Of course I did. Because finishing isn’t my strong suit. It isn’t just fiber arts. My spouse gets on me about my procrastination ALL THE TIME. The errands, folding the laundry, my assignments when I was in grad school. It NEVER takes as long to do or be as obnoxiously complicated as I have in my mind.

I got side tracked by a post July 15th project. A crochet granny square blanket/afghan. I usually do a boring basic granny square. But this time: I have other ideas. I’m reinventing the wheel friends. Or rather I’m starting out with a wheel and finding the best way to square it… because I don’t know if I want to seam octagons.

I’ve scrapped this outside edge and have a second circle with the lavender center.

But I Digress!

Two feet. Two socks. CORRECT SIZE!!!!

My socks. They did get finished on the 11th. My kitchner on this pair is ON POINT too. This coming weekend, I’m going to try and get my spouse to model the larger size sock for me. I tried months ago, and he wasn’t feeling it. Having a too big sock on my foot isn’t that attractive. If all else fails, I can a.) put on a hiking sock as a base layer and put the big sock over top or b.) fashion some sock blockers to model them (which I should do anyway). With the limited amount of work left to do on the pattern (continuity and flow editing, pictures) I am looking at a release by July 25th! Stay tuned for that official announcement.

Now, I’m off to watch Warrior Nun on Netflix (I love watching borderline cheesy shows) and make some progress on my (slightly modified) Afestos Shawl.

Knitty Pile! Knit until I’m out of yarn or there are only a few stitches left. Whichever comes first.

No Raygrats

OK, maybe one regret.

I stayed up WAYYYYY too late last night. I HAD TO FINISH my giant Randclaw Blanket. I was so close, that I just wanted to have it done. Yeah, I wove in the ends and sewed them down to secure them. Me from last night had no respect for me of this morning. See our kids are completely incapable of “sleeping in”. I’m not talking about a 10 am wake up, no. My kids are completely INCAPABLE (seemingly) of sleeping until 7 am- ANY DAY OF THE WEEK (and the later they stay up the earlier they wake up). I’m tired today. Not exhausted, but impatient and easily annoyed.

Batman and LOL doll for scale.

There are too many toys on the living room floor for me to spread out this monstrously huge blanket to measure it properly. Its so fluffy that it doesn’t fold neatly. When I hung if over the banister in the world’s tiniest “foyer”, it cascaded down the handrail. It weighs about 5.5 pounds (2-ishKG). My best guess, using myself as the measuring tool, that its 67″ by 63″ (not having done the conversion I’m guessing its 1.8 x 1.7 m give or take .25 m).

The Blanket

This blanket is a variation of my Randclaw Blanket, a rather giant version of it. I chained 100 stitches, then followed the pattern from there. I used 7 total balls (1540 yards) of Bernat Blanket Yarn. 5 of the Baby Blanket Stripes in Mulberry Bush (discontinued) and 2 in Vintage White. I brought out my trusty P/10mm Furls Streamline Hook for the job.

Furls Crochet Hook Virgo Streamline Swirl Hook in P/10mm

This stitch made a super dense, highly textured, snuggly warm blanket. It would look equally great in a solid, short repeat varigated, or striped yarn. You could substitute the Bernat Blanket for Lion Brand I Wanna Make a Blankie, you would need to purchase 4 balls. A “t-shirt” tape yarn of the same weight and equal yardage could also look good, but it will be REALLY heavy!

How to Modify for Different Dimensions

The chain can be any even number. Easy, right?? Now you know the secret to modifying the Randclaw Blanket.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate marketing liks. I make a small commission for purchases made from links contained herein at no cost to you.

Shabby, Not Chic

My shabby looking chair.

The year was 1999. I was a college freshman. It was Fall. I needed a chair. I went to Ikea, picked out an inexpensive chair and a coordinating cover. The cover was a pale pea green. It moved from apartment to apartment. My first, second, third. A brief move back in with my parents. My next apartment. Then out of state, to two more apartments. I dyed the cover Purple in my bathtub. I was afraid to use dye in my apartment’s tiny stacked washing machine- it was strictly prohibited in my lease (to use dye in the machine). 7 years ago it made a move into our current home. It has been in my office (RIP). The (finished) basement. My bedroom. In 2015 we purchased a new undyed cover and proceeded to dye it orange. It matched my daughter’s room perfectly. Once she moved from a toddler bed to a twin a few years later, the chair moved into the living room. Where it has become my favorite spot to sit. Its still comfortable, after 20 years of heavy use. The legs are a touch wobbly, but as long as you don’t plop or scoot the chair, you would never suspect.

Just knitting a sock and drinking some tea- Like I do.

Lately I’ve been thinking about replacing it. I’m not sure how many years it still has in it. There is a part of me that wants to just run it into the ground. How many years will that take? 3? 5? 17 additional years? Just HOW LONG can I use this chair? Before it gives out. Honestly, I throw a leg over the side. I can sit cross-legged (criss-cross-applesauce-style). BUUUUT, its looking a bit frumpy these days. I’ve been eyeing $2000 leather armchairs from West Elm and Joybird. But I just can’t bring myself to make that purchase. Like somehow I’m not adult enough to own an expensive piece of furniture. I abuse this chair, could I let myself sit comfortably with a cup of tea in a chair that’s 10x the cost?? I’ve also thought about replacing it with the same chair from Ikea, but new. I will be disappointed if I don’t get AT LEAST 20 years from my next chair, regardless of how much I pay for it!

Fiber Related Content:

I’m “approaching” the heel placement row of my “Say Yes to Pie” socks in 24 +/- rows ! I can’t wait to get this pattern released! Its so much easier to write a sock pattern than a sweater pattern- much less grading involved! My contrast color has enough remaining to become at least one additional pair of socks! Talk about getting great mileage from a couple of skeins of sock yarn!

Best Laid Plans

If you asked me 12 hours ago what I expected to be doing this morning, my answer would be going hiking with my kids. Apparently my kids just want to stay in the house all day- because despite my requests to get dressed, they remain in the jammies.

I know its been over a week without project updates or equipment musings. Have no fear, things here are pretty normal. I took some time to go visit my Grandmother for her birthday. My plans to go visit her back in March were thwarted by COVID-19. Even though we are still in the midst of the first wave (part 2), I took into account that we have been really good about following isolation protocol. I haven’t been around any groups of people, all activities have been designated as very low risk, I mask up when leaving the house, and I wash my hands frequently.

Faire Stripe Sweater

Its off the needles!! Blocking and ends remain.

Its done! I finished on July 3rd. I haven’t wove in the ends yet, but its in the 90 (above 32 C). It will be MONTHS before I can actually wear the piece. I have the pattern grading to do, then its testing. So we are looking at a late August release.

I LOVE this finished piece. This yarn (Alien Worsted) was so awesome to work with! It is plush and soft and the beautiful colors just GLOW. Terri at AT Haynes House Yarns is a fiber magician! I honestly can’t say enough nice things about her or her work! Not only does she do beautiful work, she is really committed to engaging with the fiber community. She does frequent live feeds via Instagram.

The full chest measurement of this sweater is 46″ pre-blocking: about 1-2″ of positive ease at the chest and 10″ at the waist. Its comfy and not at all fitted in the body. I like relaxed fit sweaters a lot more now that I’m post-kids and quickly approaching 40. If you like a sweater with waist shaping, it would be really easy to add some. I used virtually ALL of my 4 skeins.

All that remains.

Say Yes to Pie Socks

Progress through yesterday morning

I started my second pair of Say Yes to Pie socks on Saturday (before I left my Grandma’s house to come home). I put in the heel marker (I’m doing an afterthought heel variation called the Peasant Heel) and am currently working on the short leg before the ribbing. If things continue to progress as quick as they’ve been, I’ll finish this sock, sans heel, tomorrow and cast-on the next. I’m absolutely going to have this pair finished before July 15th, a “deadline” for a Ravelry Challenge I decided to participate in. Pattern release scheduled for Late July, STAY TUNED!!

Giant Randclaw Blanket

Its monstrously huge!

This blanket is SOOOOO big! The 5 balls of Blanket didn’t yield a blanket as large as I thought I wanted to make. And with the striped yarn being discontinued, I decided to go with an off-white. It looks cool. IT IS ENORMOUS. I’ll capture pictures and measure it once I finish it. With the P/10mm hook it goes SUPER fast! I have an intended recipient- I’m not sure if I’m going to wait to give it in-person or mail it. I seriously don’t know if I have a box large enough to ship this huge thing!!

Up Next….

Yarns, patiently waiting for use. Left: Handspun Cowl, Right:Scheepjes Whirl for crochet shawl, Center: AT Haynes House “Its Nobody’s Birthday” for the “Merry UnBirthday” hat.

As soon as I finish my socks I can start on my “Merry UnBirthday!” hat, its a knit/unslouch version of my Wintery Mix Slouch Hat. The gauge is smaller, and I’m not sure I’ll be adding a pom-pom. I also have a handspun cabled cowl, that will also be suitable for commercially available yarn (such as Spin Cycle). Also in the queue, a crochet Skull shawl or Virus shawl out of Scheepjes Whirl- I haven’t decided which pattern I’m using.

I also have some projects for the Lost Knits File to finish. They are a bit of a low priority, but I still want to get them completed so I have more space to organize my supplies.

Its HERE!

Yesterday I was telling you how excited I am for my new Stanwood Winder. Well, ITS HERE! I took the opportunity to take it out of the box and use it straight away! I only wound 5 skeins, because the progeny were getting TOO interested in what I was doing.

The box was smaller than I expected, but the winder itself is HUGE. I had a couple pieces that I needed to attach, the instructions were helpful.

Unfortunately, this winder doesn’t fit on my dining room table either. I’m still using my ratchet set-up for now: an old stool and an unstable tv table. Maiden voyage yarn: AT Haynes House Yarns Haynesville Fingering (100% Superwash Merino, 415 yards) in VKL Exclusive Colorway: It’s Nobody’s Birthday. I have a hat idea that I can’t wait to work up in this yarn, for reals. The new winder makes a TIGHT cake, my only “complaint”. Once I took it off the cone, it relaxed a bit. I remember reading that you can damage your yarn if its wound too tight and stored too long.

Next, I wound 7.9 ounces (223.97 g.) of this beautiful handspun! The winder easily worked this into a nice cake. I spun it sometime between 2013 and 2018 (because I’ve barely spun in the past 18 months). Unfortunately, I don’t remember the wool type, the dyer, or the colorway. I will update if I find out the information; I’m always finding tags in with my spinning supplies. I DO know that I set it with tension, and when I wash it, its going to bloom. Right now its about 11 WPI, putting it in DK/Light Worsted territory and therefore between 400 and 500 yards. Like my modeling pics? This yarn is destined to be worn around my neck. These colors suit my skin tone, with or without purple hair.

Lastly, I wound up approximately 600 yards of a green hand-dyed. I have no idea what this is destined to be, but at least it won’t get tangled in storage.

So- my initial thoughts on the Stanwood High Capacity Winder, I like it. No major mishaps, all the inconsistencies are from where I had to stop and start again; user error as opposed to product issue. The mechanism is a bit louder, but again, it is significantly larger in size to my previous winder. I’m excited to use it again in the future. I am please I decided to upgrade my previous model to this one.

The Waiting Game

It’s Nobody’s Birthday

I hate waiting. When I want to do a thing, I want to do it NOW. No matter if I have procrastinated previously. Right now, I’ve got the bug to WIND ALL THE YARN. The problem, my winder. When I wound up a bunch of yarn a couple of months ago it was a HASSLE. You see, my 10-year-old trusty $20 KnitPicks winder is on its last leg. I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it, that’s for sure. But anymore it won’t wind a good ball. I have to wind it 2-5 times to get an ALMOST-KINDA-SORTA usable center-pull ball. And even then… some parts are just barfs of yarn. Really annoying.

If I only have a singe hank of worsted, I’ll do it by hand. But I have a dozen hanks I want to get prepped. Half of it fingering. I would rather be working a project, thanks.

So the solution is to buy a new winder (my wood swift is still prime condition). Which I DID. A Stanwood Winder (affiliated link). It shipped from the company out in California within an HOUR of ordering it, back on 6/23. Now… I’m playing the waiting game. Its a 2600 mile journey across America- this package obviously did not make the journey via plane. It should be here TOMORROW. Tomorrow is SOOOO long to wait! You can be sure that Tuesday will likely be me telling you that A) I’ve wound a ton of yarn, and B) How I really feel about my new toy.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been plugging away on my “Giant Randclaw”. ANNNNND, the 5 balls of Bernat Blanket Stripes I purchased back in July 2019 isn’t going to be sufficient. I have also discovered that this version of Blanket yarn is discontinued. Whomp, whomp!! But no fear, I’m going to flank it in an off-white on either side from the same brand- I am optimistic that it’ll coordinate. I have 2 balls on order that’ll be here next week some time (they were on sale, bonus). This project has no read due date, so whenever I finish it- Cool.

After 4 balls it measures 66 x 36. I’m NOT ripping it back.

My other large project, Faire Stripes Sweater, is making reasonable progress. I’m just working on 12-14″ of body before I add the blue back to the body and work a bunch of ribbing. Then ONTO THE SLEEVES! The are going to be half sleeves. Or until I run out of yarn. I’ve 860 yards total to make this 44″ sweater. I haven’t knit a worsted weight sweater in a couple years. Its going REALLY quick!

7″ of body stripes are a go.

Virtually Normal

Storytime!

I’ve had a busy couple of days with no real “progress” on my main projects. But its all good stuff!

Mundane Desk Coffee

I miss teaching even more than sitting in a cafe alone with a book, my knitting/crochet and a steamy hot soy chai. After 3 months of NOT teaching, I was contacted by one of my students asking if we could do a virtual group class. OF COURSE! So once we agreed on a day, time, and platform, it was time to jump into creating class samples AND our instructions! Two of my students started the year with the KAL Afghan Block-a-Month at the big box store I teach at. Because of copyrights, I won’t use the teaching materials provided by the store. So we came up with two options to work up: an easy eyelet and an intermediate cable. I adapted both stitch patterns to meet the needs of our long-term project and both stitches have instructions on how to turn the stitch into a scarf using a different weight yarn.

I’m so excited to teach my first virtual class!

A sneak peak at my class squares!

Process V. Project

No such thing as too many knits. Circa Nov. 2019

What kind of creator are you? Do you create for the joy of creating or do you create for the desire of a finished project?

For the longest time I was a process knitter and a project crocheter. I frequently knit to knit and crocheted when I have something specific (usually a gift) to complete with a deadline. And by knit to knit, I mean, I started a LOT of projects and abandoned them when something more interesting presented itself. Sure, I finished projects, but not as many as I started.

Since I’ve seriously started designing this year, I’ve seen myself become a project knitter as well as a project crocheter. I have project milestones for pattern design, and these require focus. Even though I’m transitioning to a project-focused creative process, its not a monogamous project situation. I need at least 2 active projects going at once. In a perfect world, I would have a knit and a crochet project going. But it all depends on what deadlines I’ve looming.

Right now I have 3 projects: My Faire Stripe Sweater (fall release??!?!?), my Currents Scarf (an old, unreleased pattern of mine that I’m re-knitting and releasing), and a giant Randclaw blanket that I started this afternoon.

Faire Stripe Sweater (in AT Haynes House Yarns Alien Worsted. Curry Goat, Brownie, The Good Ice). Ready to split the sleeves off!!

Since my knitting has changed to project focused, my yarn buying habits have changed as well. I’m still working toward minimizing my stash so I can purchase specific for design, and not have to be worried about storage. Seriously, I want ALL of my stash to fit into one area without overflow. I have ideas for MOST of my stash, sweater quantities for 3-4 (adult) sweaters, a handful of cowls and scarves, the obvious sock. I also have some mohair (not kid silk, but worsted/bulky grayish/brown stuff) to de-stash. I have NO idea what to do with it. I can’t wait to keep working through my stash (and my overflow trunk stash) and get everything stored neatly in my closet where it belongs!

Free (Not A)Pattern: C2C Cupcake Throw

As of this morning, I officially have NO active projects. Old WIPS don’t count, by the way. I finished my C2C blanket for a friend, and it looks AWESOME! The only thing left to do is wash it and mail it! Since learning the C2C technique back in April, this is my 3rd throw/blanket. It was really fun; this will definitely not be my last!

As stated above, I don’t really consider this an official pattern. More of a guide to how I worked this project. I used the yarn (DK weight) held double and a larger hook than recommended (6.0 mm) on the ballband. I included the amount of increases, straight rows, and decrease rows; literally to take the guess work out of this project for you. I had 0.8 oz , about 89 yards remaining from each ball. Your yarn mileage may vary from mine depending on how you crochet.

My Desk Chair Modeling the Finished Product

How I Made My C2C Throw (not a real pattern):

8 balls of Lion Brand Cupcake Yarn in Sea Breeze (approx 4720 yards total)
Size J hook (6.0mm)
Other Notions: Yarn Needle to weave in ends.
Optional Notions:Stitch Markers to keep track of rows.

Dimensions: 45×57

WITH YARN HELD DOUBLE (throughout the entire project)

55 rows of C2C increase
17 rows no increase or decrease
55 rows of C2C decrease.

Weave in all ends. I recommend washing before use, big pieces like this get unwieldy and tend to pick up detritus.

Don’t know how to do C2C? No worries, I got you covered:

This is my favorite C2C tutorial: Winding Road Crochet
It has text, pictures, charts, AND videos. It also has left-handed directions!
Be advised, there is a LOT of information, and not necessarily in the order you will need it in for this throw. I think its increase, decrease, “straight” (no increase or decrease)
This site also has instructions on how to put on a border- I thought my blanket looked fine without the border (as did my spouse). You may have different opinions for yours. A border will require additional yarn!

Using 2 balls held together really helped blend the color changes!
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