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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday - New Patterns!

Published by Erica at 8:36 AM

I received an email last night from crochet designer Carolyn Christmas, announcing the release of a new pattern book. Upon seeing it, I ordered it immediately! Not that I need another afghan project...

Check it out - an afghan inspired by IKEA's colorful fabrics and designs - "Birgitta Afghans."

The link to order is here.

Please note, as Carolyn explains in the front of each book, she only sends patterns out via US Mail, not email, because patterns are unfortunately so easily pirated. However, this is my fourth order from her, and the book always arrives before I expect it to! She's very prompt, and her patterns are well written, easy to understand, and all are fabulous!

Her crochet patterns include Tunisian crochet, clothing, toys, afghans, baby items, and more. You can find her on Ravelry, or on her own website.

And if you are a Crochet Today subscriber, you may recognize her artistry in this creation!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mosaic Monday - Ripples

Published by Erica at 8:55 AM

Please enjoy these rippled beauties. I have begun working on a ripple afghan myself (following Lucy's pattern) and will post pictures on Wednesday.

1. Rainbow Ripple - April, 2. WIP more ripples, 3. ripple again, 4. Close-up of ripple, 5. Work in Progress - Ripple Blanket, 6. Baby Ripple Crochet , 7. Ripple crochet, 8. Ripple dreams... part 4, 9. Zig zag baby blanket, 10. crochet ripple blanket, 11. crochet ripples, African flower, leaf, 12. rippling along - WIP, 13. Full view of the crochet ripple blanket

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WIP Wednesday #5 - The Big Reveal

Published by Erica at 8:17 AM

It all began with the completion of this wondrous (if I do say so myself) blanket. Following Lucy's wonderful Summer Garden Granny Square pattern, but going nuts with nearly 20 shades of Vanna's Choice yarn...

I found myself with a box full of lovely, leftover yarn balls. Naturally, there are many things one can create with such a stash... but I had long admired other crochet blankets featuring bright colors framed by a single neutral shade, be it white, black, dark brown, whatever.
So I started fiddling around with the yarn, whipping up a batch of scrumptious yarn cookies. And, as often happens, the "baking" got out of hand, and I wound up with 192 circles. I couldn't stop experimenting with the color layout, and it just grew and grew...

So there was nothing to do but buy a metric buttload of white yarn and get to work! The blanket occupied much space in my thoughts (and my home) as I worked on it.

Along the way, others were right there by my side, providing moral support and quality control testing.

A few of my favorite squares, below. Unfortunately, the photos don't capture the precise colors.

I hit a snag in progress when it came to the border. A particular shade ("Rose") was required for one round, and to my surprise, none of the local big-box yarn stores (none of them!) carried this shade. It could only be procured online. So I waited until there was a coupon for $5 flat-rate shipping from, and ordered my one measly skein of yarn. (Along with additional yarn for future projects, maximizing the value of the coupon! Any excuse for more yarn...)

Seen below, a skein of "Magenta" ready to become the final round, dovetailing so beautifully with the elusive "Rose."

And seen below is the final product. A cozy blanket measuring about 77" x 58" (195x147 cm). Here it is laid out across my king-size bed. I had to stand on a step-stool and hold the camera above my head, doing my best to get the whole thing in the shot. (Mind your hands under the ceiling fan!)

I especially like the way the color layout turned out. Each half of the blanket has a distinct tone to it. Like the old McDLT sandwich (from McDonalds), it's warm on one side, cool on the other.

A close-up of the edging. The colors remind me of the "Old Country Roses" pattern of china.

And yes, as noted in one recent post, there are 1,152 yarn butts to weave in. I didn't crochet over the ends because of the gaps inherent in granny squares, and I didn't weave them in as I went, perhaps upon completion of each row. I may act different next time, and I may not. Oddly, I do sort of like weaving in ends. I just plug into my iPod and get absorbed in the music and the weaving. It will get done eventually.

So that's it. Ta-da! Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and kind comments along the way. And of course, I'm already hard at work on several other highly superfluous blankets. I guess it's better to be addicted to crochet than to something less savory... nothing immediately springs to mind. :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mosaic Monday - Yarn Cookies

Published by Erica at 8:33 AM

We do love our yarn cookies, don't we? Whether we convert them to squares, hexagons, something else, or just arrange them prettily in a jar to invite admiration, there is something compelling about these guys.

1. 100 pices all done , 2. Second Round, 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled, 5. WIP - Spotty Afghan, 6. rings in yellow, 7. Circles, 8. why I need to learn to crochet - Japanese crochet book I have been drooling over, 9. Ciranda, cachecol de crochê, 10. Circles, 11. circles done! (C365:234) [Sept 16, 08], 12. crochet circles, 13. Circles ready, 14. crochet circle motif, 15. circle crochet, 16. Playing with circles

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Heart Yarn Sales

Published by Erica at 9:03 AM

Usually I showcase a bit of amigurumi on Fridays, but I have nothing new to show this week!

Instead, I'll just tell you about my happy find yesterday. I had to stop by Michaels (our local big box craft store) to get a picture frame for my dad's cross-stitch piece. While I was there, naturally I had to visit the yarn section. I almost always order my yarn online now because I can get better prices for a full color selection, and free shipping... plus the attitude of the Michaels employees usually varies from indifferent (at best) to surly (at worst). Not all of them - there are a couple of exceptions. Mostly, I can't stand going there.

BUT! Yesterday I saw that they had all their Lily Sugar & Creme yarn on sale for $1 each, instead of $1.79. So I filled a cheerful little basket (which will go onto my new shelves, specifically for storing kitchen cotton) with new yarn. I certainly didn't need it, of course. But I was weak-willed and I wanted it. Looks like my family and friends will be receiving kitchen towels for Christmas this year!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Potpourri - Geek Craft!

Published by Erica at 9:13 AM

Father's Day is this weekend in the U.S. I have had to set hook and yarn aside (not entirely) for the past couple of weeks while I worked feverishly to finish this creation for my dad. I'll be sending it out to him today.

It nicely juxtaposes his love of old-school science fiction with old-school video gaming (Space Invaders, in this case).

The design is not my own; I found the pattern here.

The only other thing I have cross-stitched lately (within the past year or so) is also video game-themed; a Mario mushroom bookmark for myself!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tools of the Trade - Yarn Storage

Published by Erica at 9:55 AM

I've built up a sizeable yarn stash over the past decade, though nothing like some folks I've seen out there. In fact, I invite all my fellow bloggers to write a post showcasing your stash, sharing any special notes or stories about how it got that way! And let me say from the start, I am no yarn snob - I adore acrylic yarn. I love all yarn, in fact. However, that is a subject for another post.

Back to my point. Let me show you what "a lot of yarn" looks like:

(I'm sorry, I don't remember whose stash this was; I saw it on Ravelry once in a "Flash Your Stash" message post, possibly from 2009.)

And then this one - I recommend visiting this link to get the whole story about it with lots of nice close-ups. I love the writer's descriptions of actually being in this room, especially this: "...[this room] reflects the way that Bonney actively uses her stash as a resource and inspiration, instead of an untouchable Museum of Yarn."

I myself have been storing my yarn in various plastic tubs throughout the house, mostly in my closet and under the bed. Okay, and at work. This is not me hiding my addiction at the office; it's just that I do a lot of crochet on my lunch breaks, and it's nice to keep the stash handy there!

For our most recent wedding anniversary, my husband and I agreed on two things: for his gift, he would get a dog (our lovely Olive, the Scottish Terrier), and I would get to convert our seldom-used dining room into an actual sitting room for the two of us.

Time went by, as it does. Olive is now nearly a year old... but at last, the sitting room is coming together. The biggest obstacle was finding a new home for the dining room furniture, a beautiful mid-century Ethan Allen set that my grandparents purchased for their first wedding anniversary. Lovely though it was, it is not my taste, and I preferred to use that space for something we'd all love, instead of showcasing someone else's past. I still have the memories of dinners on that table, without needing the ACTUAL table!

So here is the cluttered and awful "before" picture:
(and no, the rest of our house is not THIS cluttered - this room was just a catch-all for all the junk and disorder)

And here is the more peaceful "still-in-progress" picture:

Note that "Medium Blanket" is resting peacefully over the back of the sofa, just the perfect size for it - and I didn't even plan it that way. The walls will eventually be painted a more serene color, and I may cover the sofa... but for now, I love it.

The three cabinets are from IKEA. If you're interested, the center piece is a PAX wardrobe with Komplement baskets that pull out on tracks. The two flanking pieces are Expedit bookcases. The little table is a LACK (costing only $8 USD).

And now for a little close-up...

The yarn is mainly organized by brand or type. Of course, it's all acrylic or acrylic blends, with a bit of kitchen cotton. (And believe me, there's still plenty of yarn tucked away upstairs.)

My crochet magazines are hiding in those two white magazine boxes; I have a nice assortment of crochet hooks, scissors and even knitting needles in the jar. A fresh gardenia from the yard on top of the clock (placed there by my wonderful husband). On the shelf below, some of my favorite crochet books, my hook case, and a box containing sundry items like stitch markers, measuring tape, crochet thread and other bits and bobs.

My goal is to keep this room simple and neat, not to overload it with Things Going On - that only stifles my creativity, because if I see a bunch of unfinished work, I have a hard time deciding which one most needs my attention!

Interestingly, though I intended this room to be for me and my husband - an oasis away from the occasional chaos of the living room, where my children and their friends congregate - it has turned out to be THE new central location for the entire family. It is smaller than the living room, but on any given evening now, you will find all four of us humans (and our two pets) tucked away in this room - which has no TV, so it's good family time.

I am loving the change in my house as a result of this re-purposed room. I have been wanting to change it almost since we moved in (TEN YEARS AGO) and I'm so thrilled with it now.

Anyway, reiterating the call in my initial paragraph - would love to see your stashes, folks!!

Happy Tuesday...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mosaic Monday

Published by Erica at 2:38 PM

Green inspiration today... greenspiration?

Busy weekend full of yarn cabinet construction! Can't wait to share pics very soon. Have a wonderful week...

1. Lime Green Scarf with Flowers, 2. Stack of Squares, 3. Juice Box, 4. tiny cotton nesting bowls set of 3 - mixed green and yellow, 5. Pineapple afghan, 6. Handmade blanket in green colors, 7. Virkad grön hjärtväska!, 8. Green Yarn, 9. John Deere Blanket

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Potpourri

Published by Erica at 12:51 PM

I don't make many baby afghans, though I feel called to crochet them and give them away for charity. Selfishly, I have not made the time for this endeavor.

I'm not always a big fan of baby afghan books, especially since so many crochet books seem to be of the mid-80s to mid-90s vintage, with lots of dusty country colors - just not my style. (Picture the classic bonnet-wearing geese against a gingham background - ick.)

Anyway, I recently acquired this book of baby afghans, which is chock full of very decent patterns, indeed.

Out of the 30 or so different patterns in this book, I would be interested in making more than half of them, which is a VERY decent ratio for any published crochet pattern book. Especially since I managed to look beyond all the pastels and traditional baby shades, and thought in more brightly colorful terms. I did a sample motif using "Lucy-ish" colors and it definitely updates the square for something I could enjoy in my own home, or as a gift.

I'll post more motif samples as I get around to working them up. :-)
That's my short post for Thursday - a busy week at work, and not much time for posting! Also it's the last day of school for my kids - summer vacation is finally upon us.
Oh, the book is available here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mosaic Monday - Lovely, Lovely Yarn

Published by Erica at 4:56 PM

Just some color to inspire you at the start of the week. I absolutely LOVE looking at pictures of yarn. If, ten years ago, you had told me I'd ever say that, I'd have laughed. :-)

Happy Monday!

1. Colours, 2. Muskat in many colors, 3. B rainbow 4, 4. sherbert colored handwound yarn balls, 5. DSC01303, 6. ripple-icious, 7. Yarn for my Attic24 hexagon!, 8. cotton, 9. Yarn Balls

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Potpourri

Published by Erica at 9:59 AM

Thank you for all the comments yesterday (here and on Flickr) on the nearly completed afghan. I will be edging it this weekend. In the meantime, I have received several helpful notes about crocheting over the ends as one goes, in order to avoid the endless weaving-in of yarn ends. I appreciate those suggestions!

I do know about crocheting over ends as one goes (here's a helpful link if you need it). I don't use this technique on granny squares, though, because of the gaps between the 3-dc clusters. When crocheting over the ends that way, you can see the yarn ends in the gaps between clusters, and the yarn end is more likely to come loose and stick out. With grannies, I prefer to use a tapestry needle to weave in behind clusters and completely hide and secure the yarn end before cutting it off.

With a more stitch-intensive square, such as in the Babette afghan (which is entire rows of dc down one side of a square), I do crochet over the ends as I go. One can't see them at all in such squares. See below:

But again, I definitely appreciate the suggestions, and I always welcome comments and advice! If there is a way to crochet over the ends while grannying, without the problem of the gaps, I'd love to know about it.

It's almost Friday... even closer to it for you folks in Europe and points farther east...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WIP Wednesday #4

Published by Erica at 8:08 AM

All squares of the Fruit Salad Afghan (or Box of Crayons Afghan, or Afghan of Many, Many Yarn Ends to Weave In) have been completed and grannied together. 192 lovely squares, all different, all arrayed to my satisfaction in terms of color placement.

But again, did I mention how many yarn ends (I call them yarn butts) there are to weave in? I have calculated that in the squares alone, there are 1,152 ends to manage. It's best not to think of these things, I know, but the mind does what it will. I certainly won't be keeping count as I go!

I had a tough time determining the colors for my edging. I wanted springy, cheerful colors. I opted for several shades of green, with a bit of yellow, pink and magenta for a garden feel. Unfortunately, the shade of pink yarn I really want is not ever stocked at my local big-box yarn retailers. Neither Michaels nor Hobby Lobby carried it; it will have to be ordered online if I really want it that badly.

I thought about caving in and going with a different shade of pink, but it really wasn't what I wanted. And I recently read a very entertaining post from Heather over at Little Tin Bird about her determination to find the particular shade of yarn she wanted for a project, and the many hurdles she leapt through in order to procure it... this inspired me to keep up the good fight and get the shade of pink I truly want.

...and yet, I also really want to finish this afghan. And I'm not dying to place another yarn order.

Hahahahaha, who am I kidding, I'd love to, actually, but I don't need to place another yarn order - not just for one measly skein! Another shade of pink would go well with the border colors, it's just not the one that initially called my name.

So for now, I've got my colors selected and will begin edging this afghan soon. If this shade of pink bothers me among the other desired colors, then I will get the 'correct' pink somehow. But I will give it a try - sometimes color combinations grow on me the more I work with them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tools of the Trade - Project Bag

Published by Erica at 9:10 AM

I always seem to have several (quite a few) crochet projects going on at once. Some are unwieldy (afghans) and remain in one place until complete. Others are smaller and portable, and may travel with me to the office or on road trips.

There are many options for toting a project around - obviously, a tote bag works well! You can buy a tote bag, sew your own from cheerful fabric, knit or crochet your own, or repurpose some other bag. For example, many grocery stores and other retailers are now offering "green" shopping bags, reusable tote bags you can bring back to the store, instead of using plastic bags. These are very roomy and handy, and Sarah London has a fabulous pattern to make yours lovely here (second one on the page).

I have found the ultimate yarn bag, though. My grocery store has a large wine section, and they have begun offering the aforementioned tote bags specifically for wine. This means a smaller tote bag with six divided compartments for holding wine bottles. In other words, it will also hold six full skeins (6 oz) of yarn, which (if they pull from the center) is perfect! Viz:

I haven't yet crocheted around this bag to perk it up since this one hasn't yet left the house - as you can see, I haven't even started it! (This will eventually be a Christmas ripple afghan.) But what a perfect little bag - because these skeins DO pull from the center, I won't have to take them out, and won't have to worry when they become depleted and "floopy" from lack of innards!