WIP: Autumn Sprigs Lace Shawl

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Pattern: Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf via Make My Day Creative
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro

Back in February, I spent a few days with my grandparents while my grandma had surgery. Not knowing how many days I’d be away for, I filled most of my small suitcase with clothes (winter clothes take up so much room!) and just grabbed a ball of lace weight wool and a size 0 hook to fill in the cracks and fill up hospital waiting time. I’ve used this yarn twice before in shawls, it’s perfectly lovely and I still have 1000+ yards of it. Previous projects: Internet Friend Shawl & Mother’s Day Scarf

I think all of us imagined a long afternoon of sitting about quietly at the hospital waiting for Grandma to come out of anesthetic. Perfect time to start a pretty project that starts with the tedious first instruction: Chain 386+1.

However, we soon learned that nothing keeps my Grandma down, not even major surgery, and she was sitting up and chatting with us within an hour of coming out of the OR. She came home first thing the next morning. No long hours of waiting for her and us!

Still determined to get a little crochet done, I began on my chain, trying my best to keep track of the count while nurses came in to check on her, chat, and read out numbers on her blood pressure or weight or age. (The nurse that didn’t check her chart at first to see her age, and then afterwards inadvertently exclaimed “Holy crap, you’re old!” because she thought Grandma was a good 10 years younger than her actual age was a hilarious moment.) All well and good, but I kept losing track of my count.

My aunt and uncle soon got into the game, calling out numbers at random periodically to throw me off.

Finally I decided that even if I was 20 or so chains short, it wouldn’t make a huge difference, and set about making the first row of single crochets back along the chain. It took a long time.

Eventually I was able to start the lace. By the time I left Michigan a few days later, I was three rows into the pattern. Each row took over an hour, but that’s lace weight and a small hook for you, right?

As the months have gone by as I’ve slowly picked up and put back down this lovely shawl.
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But I began to realize that something was really wrong. It just seemed so big… maybe instead of undercounting, I’d made too many chains at the beginning?

I checked the pattern to see if it could give me any insight into how far off I was. It says that the first row should have 35 pattern repeats total.

How many pattern repeats do I have?

49.

How far off does that put me?

The pattern repeat is 11 chains. 49*11= 539.

I’m off by 153 chains. That’s impressively wrong!

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So that’s why I’ve called this a shawl, not a scarf. And renamed it to be an autumn shawl, rather than summer. I’m making decent progress, but there’s no way it will be finished this season.

Oh well, at least I know I have enough yarn! And that it will be really pretty whenever it is I eventually finish it!

WIP: Super hot granny shorts

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2015 is really turning into year of the granny square. That’s not all I’m working on, but granny squares make up most of the projects I’ve started and finished by the year’s fast approaching midpoint. (Midpoint? Augh, where did it all go?)

Anyway, yesterday I completed the last of the 50 squares that will come together into a pair of ridiculous shorts for Shef, which I last wrote about back in April.

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Excited by that progress, I finished the first row, of two, for both legs and tried the thing on. Shef & I are different sizes, but you get the idea.

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With only one row of squares, the inseam is just 4.5″, too short for my taste. All that’s left now is to work the final green rows, joining as I go, on the last 10 squares, maybe add some edging along the leg bottoms and top, figure out some way to keep these up (lacing is in order, I think, and maybe some elastic), and sewing in ends.

Oh right, see all those ends hanging down?

At 50 squares with 4 color changes per square, that comes out to 8X50 ends to sew in.

400 ends.

Gah. My favorite.

Finished: Cooperative prayer shawl

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I think it may have been over a year ago that Angel gave me this prayer shawl to finish for her.

She’d knitted almost the whole thing in a feather and fan pattern but then set it down for too long to remember where she’d been in it. I went around it with a few rows of crochet – double crochet on the narrow ends and single crochet down the long sides. I was so close to finishing it for months, dreading making the fringe (which I find annoying).

Finally I sat down last week and gave myself a stern talking to about procrastination.

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Now after a good wash (cat hair again, of course), it’s getting donated back to church where Angel and I got the yarn for it in the first place, so long ago that the ladies running the group have probably forgotten all about it!

Nearly finished: Granny square baby blankets for donation

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I think I’m on my final row of this granny baby blanket:
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I like how by just trying to use up one tiny scrap of white yarn, I’ve inadvertently created a heart at the center. Must remember that for future granny squares!

After this, I think all the other completed blankets are getting a good washing (cat friendly home makes for less friendly donations on the off chance someone is allergic) and I’ll mail everything off to Granny Squares of Love. I may make a few baby hats with other yarn remnants. Quick and easy is all I have mental energy for right now, but the simple act of working on crochet also helps me feel a lot better about all the other busy things in my life.

Love Your Blog Challenge – Gratitude

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Last year around this time, I was up to my ears in yarn, having received three huge packages of it in the mail from crafters whose own stashes were overflowing. I was, to put it simply, incredibly grateful for it all.

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At the same time, they had passed their overflowing yarn stash problems over to me. A problem I actually quite enjoyed, of course.

A bag or two of yarn went to my grandmother, who knits and crochets for charity. A smaller box went off in the mail again. (If yarn could speak, it might say it was getting awfully tired of all that travel!) I used a good amount of the new yarn in projects that I gave away and I’ve since been plugging away at those granny square baby blankets that will eliminate a lot more yarn from my stash.

Back in January, I spent a few hours dissecting my entire yarn stash, reorganizing it into different bins, designating an entire 16 gallon (68 liter) bin for yarn that I’d be happy to see find a new home. Instead of vaguely telling friends I have yarn I think they might like, this bin lets friends pick through all the yarn that’s up for grabs and make their own choices, without the awkwardness of anyone asking to have yarn that I might already have plans for.

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Last Thursday, I was able send a good friend home with a grocery bag full to overflowing with wool and wool blend yarns in a rainbow of colors, all yarn that she never would have bought for herself. All gifts to me, now gifts to her. She’s inspired and said she’d spend the whole evening browsing Ravelry looking for new projects.

All in all, I’m grateful for giving – for the blessing of being a recipient and the joy in being a giver.

A Playful Day

Crochet (?) in the wild

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I’ve been staring at this shawl in two Taiwanese music videos and I’d like to hear what you think.

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It looks like a simple filet with alternating filled squares and empty squares, but the V shaped chains in the empty squares is throwing this off.

What do you think? Is there a stitch pattern that makes this kind of fabric? Is this machine crochet, which doesn’t use the same approach to constructing fabric as hand crochet?

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Image 1 source: CHTHONIC-Kaoru(acoustic ver.) Music Video 閃靈-薰空(民謠版) MV
Image 2 source: 閃靈、元千歲-暮沉武德殿(民謠版) CHTHONIC-Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace(acoustic)

Love Your Blog Challenge – Ugly

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Not all yarn is beautiful.
Not all crochet and knitting is beautiful.

For example, this is a project that's been abandoned to a bag buried in the back of my closet.

For example, this is a project that’s been abandoned to a bag buried in the back of my closet.

Even so, Pinterest is filled with gorgeous photos of potential projects, my crochet board included. So much beautiful stuff out there to make with beautiful yarn.

Take a peek at comments on craft blogs, Ravelry projects, r/crochet threads, etc., and look at the outpourings of positivity and compliments. The online craft world is overwhelmingly kind, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of that kindness.

Everything is lovely.

And when it isn’t, we say very little or nothing at all.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing.

Uninvited criticism on something someone’s spent weeks or months on making, someone who then has the courage to put it out there in the public eye, that criticism is uncalled for and unwelcome. So I will never criticize someone’s personal work on their blog, their Ravelry project page, or anywhere else they put it out there online.

Even when they're just goofily wearing hand-dyed yarn on their heads.

Even when they’re just goofily wearing hand-dyed yarn on their heads.

But sometimes I really just want to point out that some segments of the craft world are bonkers. Mostly the free patterns offered by large yarn companies like Red Heart and Lion Brand, where unlike a curated Pinterest board, the beautiful is mixed in with some head-scratchingly (literally, in this case I think) weird projects. I have a whole folder on my computer dedicated to “bad crochet,” filled with screenshots of free patterns that make me feel sorry for the models or the pattern testers.

I find (perverse?) joy in ugly/weird patterns, which sometimes I’ve shared on this blog

Indefensible crochet
Indefensible crochet: terrifying toys
A Book of Men’s Sweaters
Glorious (?) Crochet Sweaters
Oh. My. (<—-seriously, of all of these links, this is the one to click. you won’t be disappointed)

Writing this post sent me back to some of those free pattern pages, where to my great discomfort a “reviews” section has been added to the patterns. How can I make fun of a bizarre baby hat covered in worms when enthusiastic crafters are gushing about how adorable it is especially when you add more worms than the pattern is designed with?

Bonkers? Ugly? To me, yes.

But somewhere out there, someone is genuinely rhapsodizing about how exciting a pair of fun-fur bracelets look, or how dashing a granny square snuggie will look on the man of the house. Or about putting more worms on a baby’s head.

And who am I to judge? Maybe I need to revise how I began this post.

All yarn is beautiful to someone.
All crochet and knitting is beautiful to someone.

(Really, you must see these to believe they exist. I laughed so hard I cried when I posted it last year.)

A Playful Day

Crochet mischief (ongoing)

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Let me review earlier mischief involving my neighbors’ lawn ornament.

First, I made her a sunhat back in 2012.

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Then I made her a winter hat in 2013 and took the sunhat away to be bleached of the moss that had grown on and in it.

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Then last spring once it really seemed like spring was here to stay, I replaced the sunhat and retrieved the winter hat, throwing it away because its fabric had gotten rather gross and since it wasn’t white, I couldn’t bleach it.

When winter rolled around again last year, clearly I needed to make her a new hat, and I did, but then forgot to photograph it. Also, in my hurry to get the new hat on her without detection, I couldn’t untie the sunhat’s knots and so it ended up hanging on her single arm like a purse.

Earlier this week, I was incredibly amused to discover that my neighbors have apparently decided spring is here to stay and switched her back into her old summer hat, using the winter hat as her purse.  I may have to snag the winter hat, wash it, and think about what else I could do for her instead this year.    Maybe a real purse with some flowers in it?

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Also, someone that wasn’t me added the dinosaur.  I love it!

Love Your Blog Challenge – Beginnings

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Like many participants in A Playful Day’s “Love Your Blog” Challenge, I went back through my early blog posts while thinking about what to write this week in fitting with the “Beginnings” theme. Good thing too as I was able to fix a bunch of broken picture links from before I hosted my photos with WordPress. Aside from being reminded what it was like to be building a yarn stash rather than working through destashing, I didn’t find much inspiration there for this post, however.

To be honest, my mind has been on endings more this year than beginnings. Getting ever closer to the end of my graduate career with no new beginning in sight yet. Supervising the dissolution of what remains from a retired professor’s personal book collection. Groaning when the alarm goes off, always too early, at the beginning of the day and looking forward to it ending, back in my very comfortable bed.

How does craft fit in with all this?

Those little remnant balls of acrylic yarn, odd ends of old projects – others’ and my own, are finding their new place in a silly project I’m working on for an old friend, Shef.

Shef & I almost exactly 10 years ago.

Shef & I almost exactly 10 years ago.

Shef was one of my roommates during the first two years of college, back before all this graduate school and job hunt began. She was there when I was first learning to crochet and made a few ill advised projects, including a horrid looking coat-of-many-colors out of leftover yarn from my grandmother’s stash and a scary monkey doll.

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A couple months ago when that post about men’s shorts made from vintage crocheted blankets suddenly started popping up on all my social networks, I joked to Shef that in the tradition of making ugly things, I should really make her a granny square one. In all seriousness, she said that she’d love it, and so I began.

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It’s been hibernating for a month or so, but I’m confident I can finish it sometime this summer so that Shef can dazzle her friends and neighbors with its kitschy brilliance.

A Playful Day

Love Your Blog Challenge – Interaction and Community

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Two forces have come together to inspire my return to blogging.

First, yesterday Gene and I did some serious organization of some of my craft supplies, taking advantage of the little library card catalog cabinet I picked up (for free!) last Friday. After spending an enjoyable hour sorting and organizing, we ended up with this:

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Gene said I should post about it on Gossycrafts, and I replied that Gossycrafts was basically dead because I haven’t been making much lately. Which is really a pity, isn’t it? I still get traffic and I still enjoy thinking about crafting, even if I don’t give myself the time to indulge in it much anymore.

Secondly, Kate from A Playful Day is kicking off a “Love Your Blog” Challenge today, hoping to inpsire craft bloggers to fall back in love with their blogs, starting off with blogging about “Interaction and Community.”

When I started Gossycrafts ages ago (almost 5 years ago, I think), I hadn’t anticipated the kinds of connections I’d end up forming, and the immense kindness of the online crafting community. I’ve made friends (Quince Tart and Yulianknits come first to mind, but there are certainly more) , found new blogs to follow (including A Playful Day).

The connections I’ve formed have even inspired the projects I am (slowly, intermittently) working on over the past few months: Granny Square baby blankets

Inspired by the enthusiasm of Granny Squares of Love, and the joy I get from the simple, meditative process of making granny squares, I have been working to use up odds and ends of acrylic yarn on baby blankets, which I’ll eventually mail off to North Carolina. A connection I would not have found but for this blog.

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So far I’ve made four blankets (which are all roughly 30″ wide) and have started on a fifth.

I’m only using yarn in quantities that will allow me to make at least one complete row around the square, meaning I still have a bunch of little balls of acrylic left – for another granny square project that’s slowly coming together. More about that another day, I promise!

What are you working on?

A Playful Day
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