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!

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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

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

Ravelry CAL Afghan – April

I really did finish this in April.

I liked making this square. Participating in the crochet-a-long has made me realize how much more there is to squares and afghans than granny squares; afghans are only as dull as you make them. By making numerous different 12″x12″ squares, it take the torture out of the process.

This project on Ravlery

Ravelry CAL Afghan – January REDUX!!

As you may or may not remember (if you don’t remember YOU ARE IN LUCK BECAUSE CLICK HERE), I committed to doing a block a month crochet-a-long on Ravelry. The group is huge, and complementary and supportive, and I absolutely recommend everyone join. <a href="http://www.ravelry.com/groups/2011-crochet-block-a-month-cal&quot; target="new"(the group can be found here). I was slightly disappointed with my January block, only because I didn’t really care for the colors, which were just colors I didn’t like and wanted to use up. This is not a strategy I recommend for something you intend to keep and use regularly. I ESPECIALLY don’t recommend it when you don’t bother to check if you actually have the colors you have randomly chosen match anything else in the stash you are trying to use. You can see where this is going, I’m sure. I pulled that hot mess apart; here is my NEW January square!

I am so much happier with this. I think it goes to show that instinct is usually right; I never liked that other pastel mish-mash.

This project on Ravlery

Ravelry CAL Afghan – January

I believe I have mentioned in the past how terrible I am when it comes to large scale projects. While things like afghans certainly look ambitious (and therefore a conversation piece) and keep me snuggly and warm, I can’t help but avoid starting them, knowing that something like a hat will take a few hours. I mean, it took me two years to finish Drew Embrosky’s Flying Afghan (the squares were part of a crochet page-a-day calendar from 2006; I started the squares, misplaced the calendar, found the calendar years later and the finished; I only had to make up part of it!).

But lately, I’ve begun to notice that the zig zag afghan has seen better days. By which I mean, I have come to call the zig zag afghan “poopghan,” because where ever I attached a new color fell apart and I had to MacGyver it back into a sort of decent afghan, but I still hate looking at it. But since the boyfriend is sentimental and refuses to let me salvage it or throw it out (I HAVE SO MUCH SHAME), I’ve decided that the only other solution is to just make a new one.

So, a few days ago, I joined a group on Ravelry that picks an afghan square each month to complete, with the intentions of completing an afghan at the end of 2011. With no room to match any colors to, and since poopghan only gets used for laying around on the couch (in other words, not necessarily a central interior design piece), I decided to make this one a stash buster. I have lots (SO MUCH!!!!) pastel yarn; so especially considering I’m not a huge fan of pastels and want to get rid of some of this yarn, a pastel afghan it will be!

This month’s square was Maggie’s Square by none other than Drew Emborsky. So as it turns out, I’ve already made this square once, for the aforementioned flying afghan (I think on my version it’s the one on the bottom row, second from the left). I used Red Heart in Watercolor and Frosty Green, (Frost Green is one of the colors used in Watercolor, so they blend together and you can’t really differentiate) and I dipped into my Vanna’s Choice in Eggplant to jazz it up a bit. I’m interested to see what the next 11 squares will be, but I’m more interested to see what color combinations I’m going to be able to come up with using my ridiculous stash.