Friday, April 30, 2010

My First Saturday Project!

I posted here about making a point of doing charity knitting/crochet on one day every week--Saturdays, for me. Well, I finally finished my first project made this way, a baby blanket. While I didn't work on it every Saturday, I didn't work on any other needlework on Saturdays.

The blanket was made out of two skeins of Red Heart Super Saver my father-in-law sent to me. While that wouldn't have been my first choice of yarn and weren't my taste in color, they are perfect for charity work: low-maintenance, durable yarn is perfect for items given to children or the homeless. However, in crochet, Red Heart worsted really feels too thick for garments, but works well for blankets.

With two skeins of Super Saver (total 728 yards), I theoretically had enough for a baby blanket using a relatively open stitch and a size H of I hook. I started making traditional granny squares. At the end of the first skein I could tell how many squares I would end up with, but that number wasn't promising: 11.5. I needed to reserve some yarn to edge the blanket, too, so rather than 11.5 squares per skein totalling 23 squares, let's assume 18-20. In order to assure a generous edging, I went with 18, which does not tile well. A 3X6 square blanket is awfully long and narrow for a satisfying blanket.

By setting the squares diagonally, I got the most bang for my buck, creating a blanket with 18 squares approximately the same size I would have gotten from 20 squares. However, the resulting zig-zag edge can't be edged in a normal way, so I used chevron stitch (alternating rounds of single and double crochet) and finished it off with a round of light crab stitch (reverse single crochet, but worked [1rsc, 1ch]).

Until I have enough items to donate to my chosen charity (they take donations via pick-up, not drop-off), though, I have to store what I make. In this case, I'm letting my 15-month-old son play with the blanket, and the unusual shape has been a huge hit. He especially likes the corner squares, which he uses as a hood.

Using a diagonal arrangement of squares has been a really good choice. It's an economical use of yarn, adds visual interest, and is fun for children.

Next up? Toddler sweater. Stayed tuned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Frog Picture

I posted a while back about using frogs as closures on garments (here). Now that my computer problems have been resolve I can share a picture:

This is a sweater a I made for my son. The frogs are crocheted Romanian cord made from some leftover size 10 bedspread cotton.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm out of thread, now what?

(found through Flickr, not my work, but the same pattern I used)

Recently, I crocheted a doily as a thank you gift for some friends. The pattern was from a designer whom I really like but whose work I had not yet tried. Moreover, the thread was an unmarked skein I had lying around. I thought it would have enough yardage for a doily of the size I was making, but I found out three quarters of the way through the project that I was very wrong. What was I to do?

First, I had already put a lot of work into the piece, so I was frustrated at the thought my efforts might be wasted. I put it aside for a few days (or a week) to let myself think. I didn't want to act out of emotion. Then I went back to it with fresh eyes.
I had stopped work when it became apparent that I had insufficient thread, rather than waiting until I actually ran out. So, looking at the pattern photo, I tried to visualize which rows (other than the final one) would make good stopping points.
I then looked at the pattern itself. Because the doily was round, it didn't have specific increase points. One row would involve a ridiculous amount of increasing and then be followed by several rows with no increases (until the piece went from ruffled to flat). Most lace patterns that are worked in the round provide information at the end of each round for the purposes of stitch counting. But because stitch counting can be difficult in crocheted lace, numbers are often provided in terms of "ch-3 loops per round," "shells per round," or some such.
I looked at the rounds in my pattern that I had not yet worked, and searched for numbers that were similar to the numbers for the last round I had completed. My last completed round included a lot of chain loops, so I looked for something with a comparable number of shells. I found a round about three rounds down in the pattern that fit the bill. I skipped to it, worked it, and then went around the whole piece in crab stitch. It worked beautifully, and I actually wound up with a few yards to spare.

The doily was smaller than I had planned, but definitely big enough to serve a purpose (about 12 inches across), and the recipients loved it. Being able to work with the unexpected is an important skill in needlework, but often involves working with numbers. However, learning that skill is incredibly satisfying and can produce surprisingly good results.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Let others learn from my error:

When traveling, be sure to bring appropriate hooks/needles for your yarn. It's frustrating when you have yarn you can't use [sigh].