Baby Girl Blanket

I love making gifts for people, because everyone really seems to love receiving them. Or they are really good fakers. But regardless of whether or not people are faking it, I’ve set a precedence for myself when it comes to baby items. I feel obligated to make a baby afghan for each of my cousins’ children, even though afghans are the bane of my existence!

I lucked out again with this baby. Actually I suppose I lucked out with the baby’s parents, as they are the ones who decided to reveal the baby’s gender before she is born, so I knew I could go with girly colors. Of course, of all the massive amount of yarn I own, there is not a lot of girl colors, so I got Loops & Threads Snuggly Wuggly Big! baby sport and used the entire thing using a Lion Brand Pattern. It taught me a thing or two about paying attention to instructions, because Lion Brand’s suggestion of 10-ply Pound of Love is pretty different from Snuggly Wuggly. Ravelry claims it is 8-ply, but I’d venture to say it’s finer than that. But, in the end it was a blanket, and the path to getting there doesn’t matter as much as the end result, as long as you like it!

I did get to use up some scrap yarn, however, when I made flowers to sew onto the hood. I just made three, positioned them on the hood and sewed them on. Easy peasy.

Blanket on Ravelry
Flowers on Ravelry

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The Mighty Frog & A Rebirth

Three or four years ago I made an afghan for my boyfriend. Since it is an early work I’ve come to hate it. The pattern is fine, but looking back I always thought it should have been wider.

Also there’s this

OMG I CAN'T EVEN

I’ve BEGGED for it to be thrown out or hid in a closet or something, but was always met with a stanch NO, so when I came across the Dusty Snowflake Throw, a light bulb went on – I could IMPROVE the afghan by DESTROYING it. And there would still be an afghan! A win-win situation, really. And, with the blessing of the afghan’s owner, I began The Mighty Frog.

It took almost two days for everything to come apart; I attribute this to the afghan’s age (the fibers have all rubbed together at this point and were a little knotted) and also because it was just kind of big. As I took everything apart, I learned WHY it came to be in such a terrible condition…well, I know it’s because what I did was completely wrong, but I couldn’t even figure out what I had done. But now as an older and wiser crocheter, I know not to make the same errors anymore, whatever they may have exactly been.

Getting started on a motif for the pattern was easy, and I got as far as completing the first row of snowflake motifs AND a row of the smaller motifs before I ran into problems. Even after watching the helpful videos posted on YouTube, I still couldn’t wrap my head on where to slip stitch for the next rows. I took a break for a few weeks, went back, and saw I had too many joins which was making it lumpy – this is MUCH easier to work on if you have a space you can lay it out on, so you can actually see what you’re doing. I tried like hell to blame it on the pattern, but it was 100% operator error.

Something else I find helpful is weaving in the end as you go. And by helpful, I mean “more likely to actually complete,” because there’s nothing I hate more than finishing an afghan only to find I have to weave in the ends of every square/motif that I’ve done.

This Project on Ravelry

December CAL Square & The Finished Afghan!

Ah, the culmination of a year of work. I’ve been excited to finally get to this point, because the last afghan I put together was three or four years ago, so this was almost a challenge to myself as to if I could actually finish it. AND FINISH IT I DID!

First, the December square:

I want to say this was my favorite square, but I have a terrible memory so that’s not something I can be held to. I think I just really like the bullion stitch. I also like that on (what looks like) round 8, I used three different shade of blue. This project was a stashbuster for me where I was just trying to use up as many blue shades as I could find in the seemingly infinite amount of yarn I have, so I didn’t have enough of any of those colors to make an entire round. Although I may have mis-estimated, as I still have a bit of each color left.

As for deciding how to arrange the blocks, I just winged it. I was eyeballing how much of any certain shade of blue I used on some of the squares because I didn’t want one shade monopolizing the entire afghan (I have an absurd amount of light blue, so that could have happened pretty easily). By October I started trying to decide which squares should go next to eachother, so by December I was prepared to have a diversely blue afghan.

When I finalized the layout, I had to figure out how to put them together…this was actually a difficult decision for me. I used white as my anchor color, and decided in January to use that color to attach the squares to one another and to use white as the border. Since it was also the only color in each square, I wanted the stitch to be visible. I toyed with the idea of single crochet with the wrong sides together (so there’d be a visible ridge), but it’s not symmetrical and I knew that would bother me. In the end, I went with a stitch I rediscovered by accident (as in, I originally discovered by accident) – backwards single crochet. It’s just single crochet working from left to right, but it creates a cool spiral-ish rope effect that had all the qualities of the joining stitch I was looking for.

I had a difficult time with the border, because I don’t like fluffy frilly things and I felt like everything I tried looked fluffy or frilly. Or terrible. In the end I went with a regular shell stitch – I thought it would look too grandmother-ish but it turns out it just looks like a subtle wave.

The finished product. It looks small because it’s laid out on a queen size bed, but it was meant to be a lap blanket anyway. I’m pretty happy with it considering I went about making it with no direction or plan. I would totally do it again in 2012, but if I do I’ll be starting a bit late because there is just too much going on my life right now, but we shall see!

What I’ve Been Up To

It seems I’ve been getting a bit lazy with blogging. This is something I’m going to try to remedy, because I actually do enjoy it. (I have a plan that will force me to blog more regularly in 2012, WATCH OUT NOW.) So, what have I been up to in the past few weeks? I have definitely been crocheting…

me with beard hat, and then actual-beardMy friend turned 30 at the beginning of November, and I knew he would appreciate a beard hat. I was totally right, he really liked it! At least, he faked liking it well enough to fool me. (This project on Ravelry).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I PROMISE I’ve been working on my crochet-a-long afghan squares! Admittedly, I did October’s square in November, but hey, I did it. I started putting the squares together as well – it’s exciting to see something you’ve been working on for a year come together into something that is actually useful. (October square on Ravelry) (November square on Ravelry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
In other news, my father announced we would not be putting up Christmas decorations this year, as we’re mourning the death of a family member who passed away at the beginning of the month. It feels wrong to be so celebratory. But, that person was also the person who first taught me to crochet, so I decided it was entirely appropriate to crochet a Christmas three instead. I made one for my then-brand-new cubicle in 2007, and found the same pattern and just made another one. This project on Ravelry
 

 

 
And lastly, I’ve been making Christmas gifts for people LIKE A MACHINE. This includes crochet, general paper crafts, and what is about to be my first adventure in Mod Podge-ing. Since they’re gifts, I don’t want to post anything yet, but that just means there will be an INSANE post-Christmas post after the holidays.

Ravelry CAL Afghan – September

September’s CAL square was Sunshine Jewel Granny Square, found on the Internet archives.

What I really love about this square is how different each square looks, depending on the colors and on which rounds you change the colors. I have to admit, the way I decide which colors I’m going to use for my square each month is hugely dependent on other group members’ photos of their own squares. Doing an entire square in a single color vs. using four colors can make all the difference in the world. In the case of the Sunshine Jewel (sounds like it should be a Cam Jansen book title), I don’t think I’ve seen a bad combination or order of colors yet – even any solid color blocks look impressive.

This project on Ravelry

A Baby Cometh (Where I Finally Make The Ripple Afghan)

I like to think I’m pretty close with my extended family on my father’s side. I’m the sixth of ten grandchildren, but only the second girl, so my elder female cousin became the older sister I don’t have. She is pregnant with her second child, a girl, and I was excited that she didn’t keep the gender a secret this time (her son was a surprise the day of his birth) so I could make things that weren’t gender neutral – I was more excited when she told me it was a girl because (1)everyone seems to be having boys lately, and (2)my yarn stash is FULL of little girl colors.

Mary Jane Booties: When my cousin gave birth to her son, I whipped up a pair of the Chuck Taylor booties, so for her little girl it only felt appropriate to make Mary Jane booties. I’ve made them once before for a coworker, and they’re still unbelievably adorable. I just wish they were so darn small – it gets pretty tedious working on something so small. (Pattern for both pairs of booties found here.)

Tulip Hat: There’s so many adorable baby girl patterns out there. I almost passed up the tulip cap because she is going to be an October baby and this was more spring-ish to me, but I went ahead and did it anyway. It’s worked kind of oddly (completely open until you put the stem on at the end), but I suppose that’s because of the ripples that form the petals. The pattern calls for you to just crochet the stem on top, but I didn’t like that it was open otherwise so I went ahead and stitched everything on top. If I did this pattern again (which I might!), I would try to find a way to make it so that it was worked in the round and then rippled, if that’s even possible. (Pattern can be found here.)

 

 

Ripple Afghan: I hate making afghans. They take forever (the way I do them anyway) and I almost always wind up running out of some color right before I finish one. My plan was to not make an afghan for this baby, since I made one for her brother when he was born and it was a huge undertaking. But a few days after I decided that afghan was the general baby afghan for their family, my cousin sent me a picture of her son, now almost 3, snuggled with that afghan, captioned with a comment of how he still carries it everywhere and has a name for it. It became obvious he wasn’t going to give that up for his new sister, but I didn’t have as much time to make one this time, so it was going to have to be something a bit smaller and easier (for the record, that ABC afghan fits on my queen size bed. AND IT’S FOR A CHILD. Anyway.), so I decided to finally try out the baby ripple afghan using my “girl color” stash. I didn’t run out of colors this time, since I was just kind of making up the color pattern as I went. It came out alright, but I think I would have liked it better if I had actually chosen the colors, as opposed to grabbing whatever I could find in the basement. Also round afghans are odd in general, because in order for them to fit length-wise they wind up being absurdly wide, and it’s just a whole mess. (Pattern found here)

Ravelry CAL Afghan – August

August’s square was the Nordic Star square by Priscilla Hewitt. Pattern note via the Ravelry group: “Round 8 correction: replace the number 5 with the number 6 for both repeats.” To be honest, I didn’t even notice it was wrong, because I was going by instinct of how many repeats of stitches there ought to be. Also, I wasn’t listening to anything this time, so I didn’t have to tear it apart and re-do it three times!

But I still like making things difficult. I used regular worsted weight yarn for all the blue bits, but the white yarn is fingering weight. It was all I could find, and I wasn’t about to go out and buy MORE yarn on top of what I already have, so I decided to just make do. And it’s not that bad! It actually reminds me of a snowflake.

I’m glad I went with mostly white with this one, it will add some needed contrast to the finished afghan. It’s probably about time I laid out the squares I’ve completed to see what should go where, and what colors I ought to use for the last four months (I can’t believe there’s only four left!).

Ravelry CAL Afghan – July

For July, the group chose Mum’s The Word by April Moreland. Here is my version of it.

Something to note when making this square – rounds 3 and 5 are missing a chain 2 preceding the clusters. However, this is something that becomes obvious once you you take a closer look at the pattern/your project. Also (and this is something I only confirm looking at pictures) it seems that the double clusters in round 8 should be in the cluster stitch from the previous round, not in a chain 3 space.

I learned something very important doing this square, as well. I cannot listen to or watch anything when trying out a new pattern. I had to pull this square apart three times because I was listening to various YouTube videos and podcasts on iTunes (including, of course, YarnCraft and CraftLit) and playing Tiny Tower because I am just so ridiculous. The problem with all these distractions is that I kept losing track of where I was without realizing. It got to a point each time that the square was so atrocious it was unsalvageable and I had to pull it all out. (For example, the first incarnation resembled a child’s hat.) If you’re trying out something new, donate 100% of your concentration to it, even if you think you are learned enough in the topic that you don’t need to pay attention.

Ravelry CAL Afghan – June


A pretty cool looking block to come from a fairly simple pattern. It also gave me the opportunity to learn something new – the chainless starting double crochet.

A word to anyone who may be like me, though; read the directions thoroughly. I skimmed over the cluster instructions, thinking I’ve done cluster stitches so many times now that I didn’t need to bother reading. The square would have ultimately turned out alright, but don’t assume you know everything.

Of course, as with the May square, I remember being a bit baffled by something in this pattern, but looking back at the pdf file I can’t pick out what it was. My goal for the July square is to actually make notes as I crochet, so when I go to try to explain my thought process I can, you know, explain my thought process.

This project on Ravelry

Ravelry CAL Afghan – May

I Love The V-Stitch!


Don’t I indeed. It amazes me that every granny square really is just one stitch repeated; theoretically you could make a square with ANY stitch. But I digress.

This square has a very interesting look stemming from such a simple stitch. I remember some of the way it was written seemed a bit off – looking at the pattern now, I can’t pick out what it was; I should have made a note of it. Whatever it was, it wasn’t all that confusing since I ultimately figured it out. If you made this square and know what I’m talking about, leave a comment about it – maybe it’ll help someone who is having trouble with this.

 

 

I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done with an afghan and it isn’t driving me crazy!

This project on Ravelry